Friday, September 16, 2016

European Markets Open Lower As Fed Meet Approaches

By Holly Ellyatt
September 16, 2016

European stocks opened lower on Friday with banks taking a beating after news of a large fine for Deutsche Bank and as global markets look to next week's meeting of the Federal Reserve's policymaking committee.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index opened 0.1 percent lower on Friday with the majority of sectors in negative territory.

Shares of Deutsche Bank were trading 7.7 percent lower - making it the worst performer on the Stoxx 600 index – after the U.S. Department of Justice asked the German lender to pay $14 billion to settle allegations of mis-selling mortgage securities.

The news hit other banking stocks; RBS was trading 4.3 percent lower, Commerzbank was down 1.75 percent, Barclays down 2.1 percent and UBS was down 2.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve continues to dominate market sentiment. The central bank's policy makers are meeting on September 20, although the chances of a rate hike are slim following a deluge of disappointing U.S. data on Thursday.

Initial jobless claims came in at 260,000, slightly below expectations, while August PPI came in unchanged, also missing expectations. Retail sales for August missed expectations, falling more than expected. Meanwhile, industrial production fell 0.4 percent in August, more than the expected 0.3 percent slide.

Market expectations for a rate hike by the Fed next week are just 12 percent after Thursday's data release, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool. U.S. stocks closed sharply higher on Thursday as the prospect of a rate hike dwindled.

Markets will be keeping a close eye on the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) for August on Friday.

In business news, shares of technology giant Apple have gained in what could be their best week in five years thanks to strong demand worldwide for the iPhone 7. The iPhone maker's stock was up 12 percent for the week and it posted its first four-day winning streak with consecutive gains over 2 percent since April 2009.

Elsewhere, 27 European Union (EU) leaders are meeting in Bratislava to discuss issues affecting the region including the U.K.'s decision to leave the bloc, security and growth opportunities.

On the data front, Russia publishes its latest interest rate decision.

Article Link To CNBC:

Brexit Was A Revolt Against Liberalism. We’ve Entered A New Political Era

The past decade has witnessed profound cultural and economic change. Welcome to the post-liberal age.

By Martin Kettle
The Guardian
September 16, 2016

Six weeks ago, the British government unexpectedly turned down the dimmer switch on the Hinkley Point nuclear power station project. Today it insouciantly turned the switch right back up again. The deal – colossal in terms of its £18bn cost, UK energy needs and relations with sovereign investors like China – is still exactly the same in most of its essentials as it was in July.

Yet while it now turns out that there will be no U-turn over Hinkley, the delay has involved something a bit more substantial than a governmental summer screen break. In today’s announcement, the business secretary, Greg Clark, highlighted that the go-ahead for Hinkley was subject to two conditions. One is that the UK government keeps a golden share in Hinkley and similar projects; the other is that ownership of key national assets will be subject to a national security test.

These conditions should be seen as more than mere window dressing. True, similar conditions are the norm in many other major economies. True also, the British government possesses some powers of this kind already. Most people are likely to see them as utterly sensible. What is different, however, is the new political saliency given to such thinking, which accords to government an ineradicable place to act in the national interest. This suggests something bigger and deeper is changing in our politics.

The insistence that government needs the power to exercise judicious control over the ownership of an industry in the national interest may seem sensible and moderate to most people. Yet it also seems revolutionary and radical. It is a break from a recent past in which global market forces have routinely been treated as the only secure basis for ownership decisions.

Much the same goes for a requirement that a national security consideration be given to large infrastructure projects. This too sounds like common sense. Yet it needed saying. The UK’s appetite for inward investment is now so large that even national security is being increasingly relegated to the margins.

The re-examination of Hinkley is actually less important in terms of the substance of the deal than for these wider signals. It is one sign among many that the economic liberalism of the political right, which has been in such ascendancy since the 1980s, no longer eclipses all other considerations, including the human cost. Clark didn’t bury George Osborne’s wish to be open for business – what a vacuous phrase it is – even in sensitive sectors this week. But he drew a line under it and, in a limited way, began to push back.

Not before time, many will say. Not yet enough, lots will add. Both observations are right. But we should nevertheless see this moment in our history for what it is. At the end of the 20th century, the triumph of capitalism and democracy seemed at one stage so complete that an era of global economic liberalism appeared to beckon. Today the folly of that delusion has been made obvious by the financial crisis and its political consequences.

But it is not just the economic liberalism of the 80s that has hit rough water. So too has the socio-cultural liberalism of the 60s, with its belief in universal rights and the meaninglessness of difference. That form of liberalism has not been able to withstand the challenge of militant Islamism, with its denial of any universality except its own dogmas. The impact on liberal politics and liberal nation states continues to be immense, visible in Britain in everything from Brexit to the rise in state investigatory powers.

Liberalism is a Hydra-headed and extremely resilient creature. There are also few words in the political dictionary that mean so many different things in different contexts. Most of us consider ourselves liberals in some respects but not in others. Adherents of 60s social liberalism are not necessarily adherents of 80s economic liberalism, or vice versa. Nor is either liberalism quite as absolutist as is sometimes claimed. Most people are somewhere on a spectrum of views, whether on social issues or economics.

We should not pronounce the death of liberalism prematurely. Just because it is full of contradictions and cannot solve the problems of the age, it does not follow that liberalism is ignoble or that it is doomed to collapse – still less that there is some self-evidently superior alternative. Most people, at least in Britain, still seem prepared to support the liberal democratic order and many of the important liberal social and economic ideas on which it rests.

Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly useful to see ours not as a liberal age but as a post-liberal one. There has been a rumbling discussion about post-liberalism for some years, triggered not least by concerns about the weakening impact of migration on national social democracies. But it is striking that this week saw the publication of a book by John Milbank and Adrian Pabst, which takes post-liberalism as an established reality and as the starting point for the examination of a new kind of politics based on a vision of social and personal virtue and what the authors dub conservative socialism.

In Britain, the arrival of Theresa May in Downing Street in the wake of the Brexit vote is the most striking example of this shift. May is not an economic liberal like Margaret Thatcher or a social liberal like David Cameron. In fact, liberalism of any kind seems almost a marginal consideration in her thinking and her policy making. These are still early days, but May’s speeches, both before and after becoming prime minister, are unified by post-liberal thinking.

All of this poses a particular problem to the one party in British politics that proudly defines itself as liberal. The Liberal Democrats have more immediate hand-to-mouth concerns as they gather for their conference in Brighton than whether liberalism is in terminal eclipse. Nevertheless, in government between 2010 and 2015, the Lib Dems were the victims both of the crisis of economic liberalism, in the shape of austerity, and the crisis of social liberalism, in the rise of anti-migrant feeling articulated by Ukip. Liberals need to get real as well as feel sorry for themselves.

As Milbank and Pabst stress, liberalism is certainly not inherently bad, but it does have defects and inherent problems. Brexit is in part a revolt against a set of characteristics of modern liberalism. We have a new political agenda that no political party can afford to ignore. Whether we consider ourselves liberal or not, we increasingly inhabit post-liberal times.

Article Link To The Guardian:

How Iran’s Ahmadinejad Plans To Propel Political Comeback

In addition to opposition from the public and the Reformists, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces antagonism within his own Principlist camp.

September 16, 2016

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is trying harder than ever to make a political comeback. His path is sure to be filled with many challenges, considering that he faces opposition not only among much of the Iranian public and the Reformists, but even some figures within his own Principlist camp.

Prominent conservative cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday prayer leader of the northeastern city of Mashhad known for his candid Principlist positions, made his opinion clear: “Mr. ​Ahmadinejad was an individual who went astray, died and is finished. Ahmadinejad is not a movement. He stood against the Guardianship of the Jurist and collapsed.”

Though he later denied it, Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor-in-chief of hard-line Kayhan who has been harshly critical of Ahmadinejad in recent months, reportedly told a gathering of university students Sept. 10, “If I wanted to grade Ahmadinejad fairly, he would get a very low score. He stood up against the supreme leader during his 11-day sulk back in 2011. When the Hezbollahis [religious conservatives] see this, they will not vote for him. I think it is unlikely that the Guardian Council will approve his qualifications.”

Aside from its radicals, some of the more moderate figures in the Principlist camp have also criticized Iran’s former president. Senior conservative cleric Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghadam has said that Ahmadinejad lacks the qualifications needed to make a comeback, claiming, “Ahmadinejad is not competent enough to return to power. He has ruined his image among many distinguished figures and this has pushed him to the sidelines.”

Still, Ahmadinejad appears to be more active by the day. His many provincial visits and speeches have even prompted objections from some officials within the administration of President Hassan Rouhani. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli stated, “Ahmadinejad has been warned that the launch of any political campaign before the official election period is illegal. He needs to have legal permits for his gatherings, not to mention that the content of his speeches is controversial and has the tone of an election campaign.” Still, Ahmadinejad continues to ignore these warnings and suggestions and is forging ahead with his activities, just as he did during his time in office.

The question is how can a person who won two presidential elections by relying on Principlist support possibly hope to make a comeback amid blunt criticism from the Principlists? Prominent Tehran University professor Sadegh Zibakalam told Al-Monitor, “Ahmadinejad knows that he is the only person who can challenge Rouhani. He also knows that the Principlists have no other candidate except him. [Former nuclear negotiator] Saeed Jalili and [Tehran Mayor] Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf have already faced defeat against Rouhani in the previous vote. They do not have the ability to compete against Rouhani. Also, Ahmadinejad hopes that as the 2017 election nears, he can convince the Principlists to support him.”

Beyond the Principlist opposition, Ahmadinejad also faces the challenge of getting past the Guardian Council’s vetting of presidential candidates. Former conservative lawmaker Ahmad Tavakoli wrote over Telegram back in April, “There are sufficient religious and legal reasons to disqualify Ahmadinejad.”

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Saeed Laylaz, the deputy head of the moderate Executives of Construction Party, said, “We hope Ahmadinejad and everyone else are qualified for the election because we are principally against the disqualifying of candidates. On one hand, I believe that Ahmadinejad’s presence will cause division within the Principlist camp and remove the chance of a Principlist consensus, while on the other hand, it will strengthen solidarity among the Reformists surrounding Rouhani.”

Indeed, speculation within Principlist circles points to the absence of a new and powerful candidate who can compete against Rouhani in the May 2017 presidential vote. In past elections, the conservatives sent all their other potential candidates to the field — and all have met defeat. Ghalibaf has run for president twice: against Ahmadinejad in 2009 and against Rouhani in 2013. Jalili, the favored candidate of radical Principlists, secured only 11.3% of the vote in 2013, coming in third. Meanwhile, parliament Speaker Ali Larijani ran in the 2005 presidential race, but opted for a seat in parliament after receiving less than 6% of votes. Notably, Larijani has close ties with Rouhani and is unlikely to challenge him in the next presidential vote.

It may be that the Principlists’ main problem with Ahmadinejad is his former chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a man whose religious beliefs have come under harsh criticism by the more traditional members of the Principlist camp. Mashaei’s divergent viewpoints have been so persistent and prominent that when Ahmadinejad appointed him as his chief of staff for the second term of his presidency, the supreme leader officially objected to the move.

Hossein Shariatmadari, who was an adamant supporter of Ahmadinejad at the time, has reportedly said, “The supreme leader gave Ahmadinejad a letter asking him to remove Mashaei from the post. But Ahmadinejad did not abide and thus forced the supreme leader to make the letter public.” Shariatmadari, who allegedly made those remarks at the student association Office for Consolidating Unity on Sept. 10, was also quoted as saying, “No one has access to the supreme leader’s secret letters, and this letter was published with his coordination. But Ahmadinejad’s response was to give Mashaei 18 new posts and make him even more powerful than chief of staff.”

Thus, it seems that Ahmadinejad has not given up on pursuing his goal of a political comeback — especially since some of his comments point to hopes for the early demise of the Rouhani administration. Speaking recently at a gathering of his student supporters, Ahmadinejad said, “In the coming months, the pressures of public opinion and inefficiency will rise so much that Rouhani will leave the Cabinet before the month of May.”

For now, it is uncertain whether the Principlists will be willing to accept another defeat to Rouhani or be ready to succumb to Ahmadinejad and his many challenges. Or perhaps Ahmadinejad’s prediction will come true and there will be no Rouhani in the May 2017 vote.

Let Russia Own Syria

The choice isn't pleasant, but it best safeguards U.S. interests.

The National Interest
September 16, 2016

The Syrian agreement recently concluded by Secretary of State John Kerry has spurred guarded optimism for a solution to the five-year-old conflict. In exchange for a ceasefire between the Assad regime and U.S.-backed rebels, the United States and Russia have agreed to coordinate airstrikes against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the local Al Qaeda affiliate.

While the likelihood is slim that the ceasefire will hold, the fundamental problem isn’t the deal’s implementation. Rather, the reality that in a shattered Syria, neither airstrikes nor rebels will achieve America’s chief goal of dislodging ISIS.

From the beginning, our policy in Syria has suffered from an inherent contradiction. The United States insists on Assad’s ouster as a condition of peace, but the groups that have proven most effective against his forces are hardline Islamic militias, which are themselves anti-American.

For years, the United States has ignored this fact and continues to arm and train “moderate” rebel groups. This has fed costly failures, such as a $500 million Pentagon project which trained only five fighters.

In other cases, U.S.-sponsored groups saw many members either defecting to Nusra or transferring U.S.-supplied weapons to them. By continuing to arm and support the opposition, despite clear signs of the regime’s resilience, the United States ultimately helped transform the initial uprising into a bloody stalemate that destroyed the country and produced millions of refugees.

Despite carrying out nearly five thousand airstrikes and killing thousands of ISIS fighters in Syria since 2014, the United States has neither defeated ISIS nor prevented it from carrying out devastating attacks abroad. Similarly, when Russia entered the conflict with an extensive bombing campaign against opposition forces in 2015, the possibility of a victory against Assad largely disappeared.

The Kremlin’s forceful intervention in Syria has presented the United States with a set of stark choices. One option would be direct military intervention to resolve the conflict in terms the United States finds favorable. This is neither practical nor advisable. Despite prioritizing the conflict for some time, Washington has correctly recognized that Syria does not constitute a core strategic interest justifying a military assault and ensuing occupation.

The status quo alternative is equally unappealing. Continuing the proxy war against the regime will only leave the nation divided, lawless and perpetually in conflict. Arming the rebels has proven to be bad policy compounded by intransigence, and the present reality is that Assad is here to stay.

Despite its current economic weakness and the military strain of a simmering conflict in Ukraine, Russia has demonstrated an ironclad commitment to the survival of its client state. Instead of continuing on the current path, the United States should seize the opportunity to let Russia take up the Syrian millstone.

Washington should formally end its support of the rebels and withdraw its air assets from Syria, with the understanding that Russia and Assad are now responsible for the country’s future. This would have three key benefits:

First, it would allow the United States to extract itself from an expensive and unwinnable disaster, particularly as Turkish-Kurdish fighting complicates the conflict by pitting one U.S. ally against another.

Second, it would force a major rival (Russia) to own the burden of restoring order to a ruined nation and bear the cost of failure.

Finally, the Assad government, which is hostile to Islamists and has repeatedly vowed to re-conquer the country, would have to do the fighting and dying necessary to defeat ISIS on the ground.

Permitting a regime victory might sound unconscionable, but for the nation’s millions of traumatized and displaced civilians, peace, even under Assad, is by far preferable to their current reality. The Syrian government, while barbaric, never posed a real threat to American security, and is unlikely to do so in the future. Should they win on the ground, their success would drive ISIS out of Syria, and might finally make it possible for the Iraqi government to re-conquer its country.

The choice is not a pleasant one. However, it is the outcome that best safeguards U.S. interests within the harsh constraints of one of the world’s ugliest conflicts.

Article Link To The National Interest:

How Samsung Botched Its Galaxy Note 7 Recall

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announces recall of Samsung phone.

By Georgia Wells, John D. McKinnon, and Yun-Hee Kim
The Wall Street Journal
September 16, 2016

Samsung Electronics Co., faced with exploding batteries in some of its top-selling phones, exacerbated the situation in the way it communicated with regulators and consumers, say former U.S. officials and people familiar with similar product recalls.

The discovery that batteries on the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone could ignite created a tricky task for Samsung: orchestrate a recall of 2.5 million devices spanning 10 countries for a product that is increasingly essential to daily life.

But the effort has been dogged by conflicting information and Samsung’s failure at the outset to coordinate efforts with U.S. safety authorities, according to former officials with the agency.

That led to delays in providing replacement devices and resolving the problem for customers in the U.S., where Samsung has sold 1 million of the devices and is trying to expand to narrow the gap with Apple Inc.

The two sides are working together now, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission made a formal recall of the device on Thursday.

CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye suggested the CPSC action was delayed because of the company’s decision to pursue its own global voluntary recall. “As a general matter it’s not a recipe for a successful recall for a company to go out on its own,” he said.

The U.S. recall sets a framework that Samsung, phone carriers and retailers all must follow, the CPSC said. Mr. Kaye urged consumers to take advantage of the recall right away “because this product represents such a serious fire hazard.”

The agency said users can request a Galaxy Note 7 with a different battery, a refund or a new replacement device.

Samsung said replacement phones would be available by Sept. 21. “To our Note 7 owners, if you have not yet replaced your original Note 7, please, please power it down and return it,” President of Samsung Electronics America Tim Baxter said in a video statement.

U.S. carriers have begun offering to take back the phone and provide replacement devices, but some customers had run into trouble with such returns. Unlike Apple, Samsung mainly relies on carriers to sell its phones as it doesn’t have a large network of retail stores in the U.S.

The company’s confused response dented Samsung’s credibility with customers in the U.S., one of Samsung’s biggest markets, particularly with longtime fans such as Michael Lees, 51, of Wallingford, Pa.

“They want you to return your phone, but that’s just not an option for me,” said Mr. Lees, who uses his smartphone to manage an equipment database for a packaging company.

Samsung has offered loaner phones, but Mr. Lees said he would have to invest “a week of time getting that ready, and then I’m going to get a replacement phone and have to set that up again.”

Since the phone’s launch last month, Samsung has received 92 reports of the batteries overheating in the U.S., including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, according to the CPSC.

Mr. Kaye said other Samsung phones are now being investigated for overheating issues, but he provided few details.

With smartphones so essential to the daily lives of their users, some analysts say the recall could hurt Samsung’s credibility for years to come in the U.S., where it has spent billions of dollars to beef up its brand image through advertisements and product placement at events such as the Academy Awards.

“The U.S. is Samsung’s biggest smartphone market so the company must fix any problems there as a top priority,” said Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics. “Samsung cannot afford to lose an inch of competitive ground to Apple in its home U.S. market.”

The U.S. accounted for 15% of all Samsung smartphone shipments worldwide in the second quarter.

Samsung launched its top-of-the-line Galaxy Note 7 smartphone on Aug. 19, bringing it to market just ahead of Apple’s iPhone 7. Two weeks later, it was forced to launch the global recall because of faulty batteries that could explode while charging.

Samsung's Global Recall

The world's biggest smartphone maker is reeling from the fallout of a huge phone recall:

August 2016 --Reports of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 catching fire begin to circulate in the global press.

Sept. 2, 2016 -- In one of the smartphone industry’s biggest recalls, Samsung says it will voluntarily recall 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 phones in 10 markets due to faulty batteries. It also outlines a trade-in program for the U.S. and other markets.

Sept. 8, 2016 -- The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issues a warning urging airline passengers to avoid using Galaxy Note 7 phones on planes.

Sept. 9, 2016 -- 
Samsung loses more than $10 billion in market value after the FAA warning. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issues an advisory urging consumers to stop using the device, noting that it is working with Samsung to announce a formal recall in the U.S.

Sept. 12, 2016 -- Samsung shares plunge again, erasing an additional $20 billion of its market value. It nominates heir apparent Lee Jae-yong as a board member in a move that could speed up decision-making at the tech giant. Samsung also says it will sell its printer business to HP for more than $1 billion.

Sept. 13, 2016 -- Samsung shares rebound, closing up more than 4% and adding back more than $10 billion in market value.

Sept. 14, 2016 -- Samsung says it will offer a software update for users in South Korea, enabling the Galaxy Note 7 to charge up to only 60%. A China regulator issues the recall of some test phones in China.

In announcing the recall, however, experts say, the South Korean company neglected to first coordinate with safety authorities in the U.S. According to U.S. law, the CPSC must be notified within 24 hours after a safety risk has been identified, and recall announcements are generally then carried out jointly.

The U.S. agency didn’t issue a statement until Sept. 9, a week after Samsung’s initial announcement.

“This is completely unusual; companies just don’t issue recalls without the CPSC,” says Pamela Gilbert, a partner with Washington’s Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca LLP and a former executive director of the CPSC.

The delay in a formal recall stemmed from questions about the precise problem with the phones and how best to correct it, according to a person working for a major U.S. carrier with knowledge of the situation.

In response to the criticism, Samsung had said it was working with partners and carriers in each market to execute exchange programs as quickly as possible.

Even so, Samsung’s message to U.S. consumers has been unclear in other ways.

In an initial statement on its U.S. website on Sept. 2, Samsung said there were battery issues with the phone, but didn’t detail the problem, nor did it advise customers to turn off their phones. It also said owners could exchange their phones as early as that week.

A week later, Samsung revised the release, advising people to turn off their phones and saying exchanges would be available “pending CPSC approval.”

Compounding the confusion, some customers say they were given contradictory information when they went to exchange their devices.

Manny Mendez, an information technology consultant in Miami said a Samsung representative told him on the phone that he could get a loaner phone from his carrier.

He said he went to a T-Mobile store but was unable to get a loaner.

“I love my Note 7, but this is a freakin’ headache,” Mr. Mendez said.

Samsung has sent some replacement Galaxy Note 7 phones to carriers, but the carriers weren’t allowed to distribute them to customers until the CPSC approved them, according to the person working for the large U.S. carrier.

“Samsung is committed to producing the highest-quality products, and we take every incident report from our valued customers very seriously,” the company said Thursday.

In South Korea, Samsung is releasing a software update that limits how much users can charge the phones—a bid to reduce the risk of the phones catching fire by limiting the maximum battery charge to 60%.

In China, Samsung recalled a limited number of test devices, which will be replaced with new models.

Article Link To The Wall Street Journal:

Trump Should Give This Speech Every Day To Nov. 8

By Charles Gasparino
The New York Post
September 16, 2016

Donald Trump made his best case yet for his presidential candidacy Thursday. In a speech to the New York Economic Club, he tamped down on needless populism and zeroed in on the No. 1 issue affecting Americans: the anemic Obama economy and Hillary Clinton’s bizarre embrace of the policies that caused it.

Now, if he can only give a variation of that speech every day until Election Day.

Voters have “trustworthiness” issues with both candidates. But when you drill down on what Americans care most about, it’s the economy. And this is where Hillary is possibly at her weakest, supporting and at times promising to expand upon the policies that have given the country low growth, massive under-employment and putrid wage growth for the vast middle class.

Yes, Trump was light on the specifics of how he was going to pay for some of his promises, like child-tax credits and infrastructure investments. And of course no Trump address on the economy would be complete without an obligatory and nonsensical attack on free trade — sure enough he mentioned a possible trade war with China and how he’ll renegotiate NAFTA.

Luckily, he kept much of his trade nonsense to a minimum, and instead offered a stirring, largely Reaganesque vision of America’s economic future where he would cut taxes ($4.4 trillion of them) and simplify the tax code (from seven to just three brackets).

He would also lower our onerous corporate-tax rate to 15 percent, making the United States more competitive globally, and cut job-killing regulations that squeeze corporate profits and of cost jobs.

It was a stark contrast to the policies of the past eight years, which Clinton vows to repeat and build upon.

“My opponent’s plan . . . offers only more taxing, regulating, more spending and more wealth redistribution — a future of slow growth, declining incomes and dwindling prosperity,” Trump said. “If we lower our taxes, remove destructive regulations, unleash the vast treasure of American energy and negotiate trade deals that put America first, then there is no limit to the number of jobs we can create and the amount of prosperity we can unleash . . . Instead of driving jobs and wealth away, America will become the world’s great magnet for innovation and job creation.”

He even took a swipe at the growing chorus of left-wing economists, like Bill Clinton’s former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who have tried to rationalize the current Obama slow-growth economy Clinton wants to accept as the “new normal,” or secular stagnation, that we should all get used to, rather than something produced by left-wing economic dogma that desperately needs to be thrown into the ash heap of history.

“My economic plan rejects the cynicism that says our labor force will keep declining, that our jobs will keep leaving and that our economy can never grow as it did once before,” Trump said.

He added: “We reject the pessimism that says our standard of living can no longer rise, and that all that’s left to do is divide up and redistribute our shrinking resources. Everything that is broken today can be fixed, and every failure can be turned into a great success.”

The politics behind Hillary Clinton’s Obamanomics embrace are obvious: She needs Obama’s help getting elected.

But now she’s forced with defending the indefensible — a point Trump drove home during his speech. Indeed, for every positive report about the Obama economy, like one earlier in the week showing a slight ebbing in income inequality, there are many more demonstrating that Americans still remain massively under-employed and have wages barely budging, as Trump explained.

And he did it with style, at one point quipping that “it used to be cars were made in Flint and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico. Now, the cars are made in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint” — a reference to the water crisis that engulfed the city that has come to symbolize how government these days is bloated and inefficient.

He couldn’t have said it better.

Article Link To Reuters:

Israel Wonders What Happens When Its Fathers Are Gone

By Daniel Gordis
The Bloomberg View
September 16, 2016

News that Shimon Peres had suffered a serious stroke this week struck a deep and sad chord for Israelis. They never united behind Peres the politician, who served as prime minister twice without being elected. They came to revere him, however, when he served as president.

The hospitalization of the 93-year-old Peres evoked a greater response than the final chapters of other countries’ leaders because he is the “last man standing” -- the last of the iconic group of men and women who surrounded David Ben-Gurion in the years before and immediately after Israel’s independence. Israelis are losing their only remaining “father figure.”

When Ben-Gurion died in December 1973, just weeks after the catastrophic Yom Kippur War, one Israeli scholar and novelist noted that Israelis watched his funeral on TV “as if they were watching their own.” If there was consolation to be had then, it was that Israel was an unquestionable success with a bright future.

Israel’s leaders were people -- Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and others -- who had been instrumental in getting the British out of Palestine and establishing the state. Israelis could look to their trusted founders and attribute many of the country’s trials and tribulations to the fact that it was very much a country still in the making.

Peres’s illness bring a sort of finality to Israelis -- an awareness that that fact is no longer true. And that finality comes at a time when the country -- and indeed, many observers of the Jewish people -- is feeling particularly sober.

Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government appears stable, his feud with U.S. President Barack Obama seems to have subsided (at least for now) and the borders are relatively quiet, the quiet is deceiving, and Israelis know it.

Its military prowess notwithstanding, the Jewish state still faces potentially existential threats. Most obvious is Iran, which apparently hasn’t given up its dreams of having nuclear weapons. In a clear violation of the United Nations Security Council, Iran recently test-fired a long-range ballistic missile. Israelis know they are in the reach of such missiles. An Iranian military commander’s claim that Iran could destroy Israel in 8 minutes may not be true, but leaves Israelis little doubt about Iran’s aspirations.

On the diplomatic front, Israel is reaching out to China, India and nations in Africa, largely because of its much-diminished status in Europe. France has threatened that it could soon recognize a Palestinian state; Sweden’s foreign minister has been so hostile that some Israeli officials said she was not welcome to visit; anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are roiling British politics. Tellingly, when he ran for prime minister, Yair Lapid made his case in part by insisting that he was the only one who could restore Israel’s international standing.

The “little engine that could” that many Israelis associate with Peres’s generation often feels as if it is sputtering.

Next year, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank will be a half-century old. In a country that will then be merely 69 years old, 50 years of occupation makes that the default condition. A slim, but decreasing, majority of Israelis (58 percent according to one poll) supports a two-state solution, but most see no way to implement it. The Palestinian street overwhelmingly rejects the very right of a Jewish state to exist, and Israelis fear they will surrender the territory, Hamas could quickly take control of the West Bank and then Israel would face there what it now faces from Gaza. Because most of the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who now live in the West Bank insist they will never leave, the possibility of an internal violent confrontation weighs on Israelis.

This sense of “no good moves on the chessboard” stands in stark contrast to the way Israelis recall the generation of their founders, who always surmounted the insurmountable.

Even American Jews have are losing patience, and the conversation about Israel has become toxic in some circles; many rabbis avoid it altogether. A relatively recent study of young American Jews’ views of Israel revealed that among those 35 years of age and younger, a full 50 percent said they would not consider the destruction of the Jewish state a personal tragedy.

When Peres was in his prime, such sentiments would have been unthinkable.

Israel is a country that has long beaten the odds, and Israelis are thus not nearly as despondent as the above-described situation might suggest they would be. Israel is a high-tech powerhouse, regularly wins Nobel Prizes, boasts some of the world’s finest universities, has a military that has never failed to defend the state, and a young generation much of which is still deeply committed to the enterprise. Surprisingly, Israelis rank among the happiest of the world’s societies.

Still, there is no denying the dark clouds overhead. Now, with Peres’s illness, the curtain is dropping on the Jewish state’s founding generation. There’s an inescapable sense that, with their last father figure fading away -- whatever the future may hold -- Israelis are entirely on their own.

Article Link To The Bloomberg View:

Donald Trump’s Path To Victory

By Rich Lowry
The New York Post
September 16, 2016

If you aren’t seriously contemplating the biggest black-swan event in American electoral history, you aren’t paying attention.

Fifteen months ago, Donald Trump was a reality-TV star with a spotty business record and a weird penchant for proclaiming he was on the verge of running for president. Now, he’s perhaps a few big breaks and a couple of sterling debate performances away from being elected 45th president of the United States.

Trump has no experience in elected office and, unlike past non-politicians elected president, hasn’t won a major war. He barely has a national campaign. He perhaps knows less about public affairs than the average congressman. He has repeatedly advertised his thin-skinned vindictiveness and is trampling on basic political norms, like the convention of candidates releasing their tax returns.

No major party has ever nominated anyone like this. If Trump were to prevail, it would make Barack Obama’s unlikely rise from unknown state senator to first African-American president in about four years look like a boringly conventional political trajectory.

Obama seemed to come out of nowhere, but his steps to the presidency — law degree, state office, US senator — were stereotypical. Trump won the GOP nomination despite — or because of? — attributes that would have seemed disqualifying two years ago, such as, to name a few, his personal life, his longtime support for Democrats, his newly minted, hard-to-credit social conservatism, his disdain for Republican orthodoxy and his basic lack of preparation.

Trump now has a legitimate shot at winning the general because he got the lucky draw of at least the second-worst presidential nominee in recent memory and, pending how she fares over the next two months, perhaps the worst.

All it took for Trump to wipe away most of Hillary’s lead, built at an excellent convention and on Trump’s subsequent weeks of self-inflicted wounds, was acting like a somewhat normal presidential candidate. Have a meeting with a foreign leader. Give policy speeches. Read from a teleprompter. Use his NPR voice when appropriate.

None of this required strategic genius, only a decision not to throw away the election with repeated episodes of self-indulgent stupidity.

Throw on top of that the string of Clinton Foundation stories, the FBI’s document dump before Labor Day and Hillary’s near-collapse at New York’s 9/11 memorial, and the race may be headed toward a tie nationally.

Democrats should be feeling a creeping sense of panic:

They are trying to win with a candidate who is loathed and distrusted and has few redeeming qualities. As Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs pointed out, corrupt and dishonest politicians are often entertaining, and dull politicians are usually earnest and honest. Hillary manages to be boring and corrupt.

No one can be certain that her health is what the campaign says it is.
If Hillary did have a more serious condition than allergies and walking pneumonia, does anyone believe the Clintons would be forthright about it? Even if nothing else ails her, if Clinton has another episode in public like the one on Sept. 11, the bottom might fall out.

President Obama probably can’t close Hillary’s enthusiasm gap.
For entirely understandable reasons (dull, inauthentic and old), the Obama coalition isn’t excited by Clinton. When Obama hit the hustings, we were reminded of what an adept campaigner he is, but there is no evidence Obama ever successfully transferred enthusiasm for himself to another candidate.

If the kitchen sink hasn’t killed off Trump, what else is there? The Clinton campaign has already used his greatest hits of most offensive statements in countless TV ads. I was appalled that Trump mocked a disabled reporter, but even I am sick of seeing the clip every other time I turn on the TV. If none of this has sunk Trump and the race gets even closer, what’s left that is going to have a new and different shock value?

A compelling Trump debate performance could change perceptions of his suitability to be commander in chief.
Hillary is trouncing Trump on this attribute by a 2-to-1 margin in the Washington Post/ABC poll. If Trump shows up and seems plausible during the biggest moment of the campaign, he could vastly improve his standing on this basic readiness question.

All this said, Hillary still has an advantage. Presumably, she won’t be as snake-bit the rest of the way. She has a campaign and Trump doesn’t; that must count for something. Demographics favor her.

A Trump victory may not be likely, but it isn’t far-fetched. And, no, stranger things haven’t happened.

Article Link To The New York Post:

Fans Cheer, But Asia Gives iPhone 7 Subdued Welcome

By Adam Jourdan and Tom Westbrook
September 16, 2016

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) fans from Sydney to Shanghai, the first customers worldwide to snap the new iPhone 7 off the shelves, cheered as they left stores on Friday brandishing their purchases, flanked by applauding sales staff.

But underneath the usual fanfare, the crowds of enthusiasts and overnight campers were smaller than in past years. Some customers complained after the larger version and models with the new jet-black color sold out.

In part, online pre-ordering has made queues unnecessary for all but diehard fans, and in Chinese stores only those who had ordered in advance were queuing to collect.

Yet in markets like China, online interest in the new phone has also been muted compared to past launches, as cheaper local brands amp up their features, design and marketing.

Wu Ting, a 28-year-old from Nanjing, was surprised to find herself first in line at a downtown Apple store in Shanghai on Friday, a holiday in China.

"I found last year that there were crowds of people, but this year almost no-one. I came an hour early thinking I'd have to wait a long time before getting seen," Wu said.

Sales in China will be the acid test for Apple's year ahead: the success of the iPhone 6 in China drove sales last year, while the slower-burn 6S contributed to Apple's first global revenue drop in over a decade earlier this year.

Chatter about the iPhone 7 launch on Chinese microblog Weibo has been far more muted than when the iPhone 6 debuted in 2014. An index of searches on Baidu Inc (BIDU.O), China's most popular search engine, shows the new phone lagging both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5.

Apple's Greater China sales dropped by a third in April-June, albeit after more than doubling a year earlier, while its market share has fallen to around 7.8 percent, placing it fifth behind local rivals Huawei, OPPO and Vivo.

Apple has been slower to adapt, consumers and analysts say: the new iPhone has few major changes to win over fickle shoppers and the firm's marketing has been generic.

"From Steve Jobs to Tim Cook, Apple has never had any marketing strategy tailor-made for China," said Zhou Zhanggui, a Beijing-based strategic consultant.

"Apple risks losing out more if it does not better cater to local demands in its marketing as well as product design."

In Beijing's fashionable Sanlitun shopping district, several people who had already grabbed new iPhone 7s were hawking them for a markup just outside a flagship store.

But Apple has not lost its shine for all customers.

Marcus Barsoum, a 16-year-old who described himself as a "diehard Apple fan", spent two nights camped outside the Sydney store. By the morning, some 200 people were gathered in light rain to be the first customers globally to own iPhone 7s.

Weary but elated, Barsoum charged into the store at 8 a.m. to the cheers of Apple staff. He emerged with a matte black iPhone 7, although he had wanted a larger 7 plus in jet black.

"It feels great to be the first in the world to have the iPhone 7," he said. "It was 100 percent worth it."

Article Link To Reuters:

U.S. DoJ Asks Deutsche Bank To Pay $14 Billion To Settle Mortgages Case

By Arno Schuetze
September 16, 2016

The U.S. Department of Justice is asking Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) to pay $14 billion to settle an investigation into its selling of mortgage-backed securities, Germany's flagship lender said on Friday.

The claim against Deutsche, which is likely to be negotiated in several months of talks, far outstrips the bank's and investors' expectations for such costs.

While it is yet to become clear what the final payment will be, if it were to be as high as $14 billion, this would be a severe strain for Deutsche's fragile finances and would likely further rock investor confidence in the bank.

The bank's US-listed shares fell 8 percent in after-hours trading.

"Deutsche Bank has no intent to settle these potential civil claims anywhere near the number cited. The negotiations are only just beginning. The bank expects that they will lead to an outcome similar to those of peer banks which have settled at materially lower amounts", Deutsche Bank said in a statement on Friday.

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the department's demands.

The Department of Justice has taken a tough stance in settlement negotiations with other banks, requesting sums higher than the eventual fine.

In 2014, it asked Citigroup (C.N) to pay $12 billion to resolve an investigation into the sale of shoddy mortgage-backed securities, sources said. The fine eventually came in at $7 billion.

In a similar case, rival Goldman Sachs (GS.N) agreed in April to pay $5.06 billion to settle claims that it misled mortgage bond investors during the financial crisis.

That settlement included a $2.39 billion civil penalty, $1.8 billion in other relief, including funds for homeowners whose mortgages exceed the value of their property, and an $875 million payment to resolve claims by cooperative and home loan banks among others.

Deutsche Bank's settlement will comprise a different list of recipients, a source close to the matter said, adding that the lender had already settled some claims three years ago.

In late 2013, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $1.9 billion to settle claims that it defrauded U.S. government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, America's biggest providers of housing finance, into buying $14.2 billion in mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis.

A $14 billion fine, or even half that sum, would still rank among one of the largest paid by banks to U.S. authorities in recent years. In 2013, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) agreed to pay $13 billion to settle allegations by the U.S. authorities that it overstated the quality of mortgages it was selling to investors in the run-up to the 2008-2009 financial crisis. In 2014, Bank of America Corp. (BAC.N) agreed to pay $16.7 billion in penalties to settle similar charges.

Deutsche Bank has not said what it has set aside in anticipation of a settlement over the sale and packaging of resident mortgage-backed securities before 2008. Its overall legal provisions stood at 5.5 billion euros at the end of the second quarter.

Deutsche was once one of Europe's most successful players on Wall Street. Like many of its peers, it has since faced a slew of lawsuits that often trace back to the boom years before the crash. Its litigation bill since 2012 has already hit more than 12 billion euros.

Claims filed by individuals, companies and regulators against Deutsche, outlined in the bank's 2015 annual report, relate to mis-selling of subprime loans and manipulation of foreign exchange rates or gold and silver prices. Other lawsuits are for the rigging of borrowing benchmarks Libor and Euribor, used to set the price of mortgages and derivatives.

In July, Chief Executive John Cryan said he hoped to close the four largest remaining litigation cases this year.

These are the mortgages and FX cases, an investigation into suspicious equities trades in Russia and allegations of money laundering.

Article Link To Reuters:

Twitter Users Cheer Thursday Night Football Live Video

By Amy Tennery
September 16, 2016

Twitter Inc made a smooth debut with its broadcast of a National Football League game on Thursday, attracting generally positive tweets throughout the matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets.

The CBS live feed marked the first time an NFL game had been broadcast on Twitter and the event quickly began to trend on the social media platform in the United States.

Twitter users on computers and mobile devices were able to see tweet commentary running alongside a video feed that featured the same footage and commentary available on the television broadcast.

"In an Uber watching #TNF [Thursday Night Football] on Twitter," tweeted app developer John Shahidi (@john). "The future is cool so far."

Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) tweeted: "Took 5-seconds watching #TNF on [Twitter] to know this is the wave of the future."

Some viewers, however, complained of persistent "buffering" and said that the Twitter video lagged behind the television broadcast. The video on the social media platform at some points was operating on a delay of almost 30 seconds.

"The quality is better than my HD TV, but it being delayed stinks," wrote Twitter user DCBlueStar (@DCBlueStar). "I'll stick to the TV, I reckon."

Available on Twitter's platform worldwide, Thursday's game was the first of 10 that the microblogging site plans to stream as it seeks to make itself a force in mobile video with live events.

Twitter has struggled with user growth and advertising competition, and livestreaming the games gives the social network a new avenue to attract users as it tries to catch up with rivals like Facebook Inc.

Media experts have said the NFL deal helps cement Twitter’s position as a venue for live video.

Twitter’s arrangement with the NFL comes as sports fans increasingly rely on the internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections. Many already use Twitter to discuss events as they happen.

The broadcast was also available through Twitter apps on Apple Inc TV globally and on Microsoft Corp Xbox One and Amazon Inc Fire TV in select countries.

The NFL previously livestreamed an October 2015 game on Yahoo.

The New York Jets won Thursday night's game over the Buffalo Bills 37-31.

Article Link To Reuters:

U.S. House Panel Slams Former NSA Contractor Snowden

By Mark Hosenball 
September 16, 2016

A U.S congressional intelligence committee on Thursday issued a scathing report accusing former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden of leaking information that "caused tremendous damage" to U.S. national security, lying about his background and feuding with co-workers.

In a report endorsed by both its Republican and Democratic leaders, the House intelligence committee said Snowden was "not a whistleblower" as he has claimed.

Most of the material he stole from the NSA was not about invasions of privacy, but revealed intelligence and defense programs of great interest to America's foreign adversaries, it said.

The committee said that while the "full scope" of damage caused by Snowden's disclosures remains unknown, a review of materials he allegedly compromised "makes clear that he handed over secrets that protect American troops overseas and secrets that provide vital defenses against terrorists and nation-states."

The committee released only a four-page summary of what it said was a 36-page investigative report that remains Top Secret, but the summary contained strong words about Snowden's actions and background.

The report contains previously unreported allegations about Snowden and his possible motives for taking government secrets. It alleges that Snowden, who took refuge in Moscow after fleeing to Hong Kong, "was and remains a serial exaggerator and fabricator."

It says his official employment records show that while he claimed to have left U.S. Army basic training because of broken legs, in fact he "washed out because of shin splits." The report says Snowden claimed to have obtained a high-school graduation equivalent, but in fact never did.

It also says he claimed to have worked as a "senior advisor" for the CIA when in fact he was an entry-level computer technician.

While the report says Snowden "stole 1.5 million sensitive documents," other sources who have examined materials he turned over to media outlets say that the total is between 200,000 and 300,000 documents.

Some U.S. officials involved in Snowden-related investigations acknowledge that the U.S. government does not know how many documents Snowden downloaded, and that the 1.5 million figure is an estimate.

The report also disputes Snowden's motives for taking and leaking classified information, saying he got into a "workplace spat" with NSA managers in June 2012 over how to manage computer updates. It says a contracting officer reprimanded him for failing to follow proper grievance procedures, and he began downloading classified information two weeks later.

However, in 2013, Reuters quoted U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the matter as saying that Snowden began downloading such data in April 2012, almost a year earlier than had previously been reported at the time.

The issuance of the House committee report coincided with the release of "Snowden", a movie directed by Oliver Stone that portrays him as a whistleblower and hero. On Wednesday, prominent human rights advocates urged President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden before leaving office in January.

U.S. officials have said Obama is not considering a pardon for Snowden, who is facing U.S. criminal charges for providing classified information to unauthorized persons.

Ben Wizner, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represents Snowden, dismissed the House committee report as lacking substance.

Wizner said the report's release a day before the Snowden film opens "is evidence that people in the intelligence community are taking us seriously, that they are concerned that Oliver Stone's movie will help solidify Snowden's image as a true patriot, which he is."

Article Link To Reuters:

Millennials Lead Private Media Opening In Communist-Run Cuba

By Sarah Marsh 
September 16, 2016

A handful of independent, web-based news outlets in Cuba are chipping away at the Communist-run island's half-century state media monopoly, challenging the official version of reality.

While low levels of internet access across the Caribbean island limits the outlets' domestic reach and they are not fully free to speak their mind, they are opening up the range of voices and sparking a debate about the role of the media in the one-party state.

"State media talks about things no one cares about and hides the truth," said Abraham Jimenez, 27, who co-launched the online, long-form magazine "El Estornudo" (The Sneeze) in March with a group of friends.

"The Sneeze was something of a reaction to this context. We want to tell the truth."

While the Cuban constitution forbids privately-owned mass media and there are no independent newspaper printing presses in the country, web-based outlets have so far been tolerated as long as they are not "counter-revolutionary", a nebulous term generally used against those the government accuses of trying to undermine it.

President Raul Castro's government blocks internet access to dissident media, such as the country's most famous blogger Yoani Sanchez, as well as stridently anti-Castro, Miami-based outlets.

The new outlets, mainly run by millennials, have distanced themselves from dissident groups. Although they are often are highly critical of government policy and describe in detail everyday hardships, they are not calling for an end to Cuba's socialist project.

Jimenez says his grandfather worked as a guard for revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara. He does not consider himself a dissident and says his criticism is not to achieve political goals, but to present a realistic and balanced view of Cuba.

"If you never talk about a country's good things, that's also not journalism," he said.

The new openness is emblematic of a wider, albeit cautious, reform program under Raul Castro, who has allowed Cubans to purchase cellphones and laptops, installed 200 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country and even fostered a small private sector.

For some, the mere fact a debate about the role of the media is taking place is a sea change.

"In the Cuba I grew up in, that debate would never have existed," said Hugo Cancio, founder of media platform OnCuba who says he moved to the United States 35 years ago after being expelled from school for making a joke about revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

The new tolerance may not last. The Communist Party newspaper Granma has published a series of increasingly angry attacks calling for restrictions on the new competitors, who have lured away some of its journalists by offering higher salaries and more freedom.

The critics link the new media to U.S. government financed outlets such as Miami-based opposition Radio Marti and Television Marti that seek to undermine the Cuban government.

"Cuban institutions have a legitimate right to adopt required measures in the face of tendentious journalism," the paper's Iroel Sanchez wrote on Wednesday in a column. Sanchez called the new outlets "Trojan horses" set on attacking Cuba's existing journalists and creating a "media aristocracy."

The new media mavens, like the rest of Cuba's entrepreneurs, already face tough challenges. For one, most cannot get government accreditation as journalists. Financing and logistics are also tricky.

Insiders at OnCuba, which overlooks Havana's sweeping seafront and by describing itself as foreign media has become the only one of the new media crop to win official accreditation, say it has softened its editorial line recently in order to keep its permit.

Cuba remains one of the world's least connected countries. Fewer than 5 percent of homes are estimated to have internet and access at Wi-Fi hotspots around town costs $2 per hour - a hefty sum in a country where state wages average $25 per month.

"We used to leave the office, go to a park to connect and then return," said Robin Pedraja, 29, editor of Vistar, a digital magazine about youth culture, speaking moments before a photoshoot with an up-and-coming Cuban singer at its airy office, decorated with contemporary Cuban art and enjoying a fine views of Havana.

"Now we have a system that grabs the signal in a park and brings it to the office, although we are still paying. It's a bit expensive but better than what we did before."

Vistar is a glossy magazine also popular abroad - each edition is downloaded on average 50,000 times - and says it earns revenue from advertising, including Mexico's Sol beer and Silver Airways, which serves Florida, the Bahamas and now Cuba.

Other more news-focused outlets have a smaller circulation and are cash poor. Collaborators for "The Sneeze" work for free from home, fitting it in around their day jobs. The paper says it rejected an offer of hefty funding from a U.S.-based foundation.

Another publication, "Periodismo de Barrio" (Neighborhood Journalism), run by Harvard-educated 30-year old Elaine Diaz, states in its ethical code that it will not accept financing from anyone that may have been involved in "actions to destabilize Cuba".

Most of the owners of smaller outlets say they finance them with money from other jobs or savings, and avoid foreign funding that could compromise their integrity.

Weapons Of Communication

The emergence of alternative outlets has added to fuel to a smoldering debate between reformists and conservatives in the heart of Cuba's communist system about the pace of economic and social change necessary for the system to survive.

Castro himself lambasted state-run media five years ago, complaining it was often "boring, improvised and superficial".

"We need to leave behind the habit of triumphalism, stridency and formalism in broaching the topic of national news," he said at the 2011 Communist Party Congress.

In a sign of the internal debate this has caused, Granma's deputy editor, Karina Marron, made a closed-door speech in June saying nobody chose journalism to write propaganda and calling for reform. The speech was leaked on the blog of a state media journalist and went viral. The reporter was later fired.

Meanwhile, on Granma's pages, Sanchez and others routinely attack the new outlets, which have a growing social media presence.

OnCuba, which also targets U.S. readers, has 259,616 likes on Facebook, Vistar has 15,776, and younger and more news-based outlets like The Sneeze and Neighborhood Journalism have several thousand each.

For the time being, television remains most Cubans' main source of news, given that internet is still a luxury. Cubans tune in to the thrice-daily state news programs or to foreign satellite programs pirated from the United States.

As such, the new outlets are finding ways to reach their audience without the internet. Each edition of Vistar for example goes out as a PDF on El Paquete, a package of media distributed by USB sticks across the country.

"It won't be like the Berlin Wall coming down all at once and drastically changing perceptions," said Michaelanne Dye, a researcher who co-authored a study on internet usage in Cuba.

"Rather, through slowly increasing internet access, new, unofficial media sources, and an opening economy, pieces of the "wall" are being chipped away, bit by bit."

Article Link To Reuters:

Friday, September 16, Morning Global Market Roundup: Asian Stocks Rise As Weak Data Crimp Fed Hike Chances, Oil Slips

By Nichola Saminather
September 16, 2016

Asian stocks firmed on Friday after weak U.S. data reduced the already low chance of an interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve next week, sending the Treasury yield curve surging to its steepest level in 2-1/2 months.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.4 percent, but was headed for a loss of 2.2 percent for the week.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 advanced 0.4 percent, but looked set for a weekly loss of 2.9 percent as worries grew that the Bank of Japan could cut interest rates more deeply into negative territory and adjust its massive asset buying at a policy review on Sept. 20-21.

Australian shares climbed 1 percent, and were on track for a weekly decline of 0.9 percent. South Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong markets are closed for holidays.

U.S. August retail sales and manufacturing output fell more than expected, data on Thursday showed. The lackluster reports prompted the Atlanta Fed to lower its third-quarter gross domestic product estimate to a 3 percent annual rate, from 3.3 percent earlier.

"Anyone still left calling for a September hike next week from the Federal Reserve must be feeling a bit hot under the collar after further signs of economic vulnerabilities," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne, wrote in a note.

"It’s no surprise to see reasonable buying in the short- to medium-duration U.S. Treasuries, while the longer end of the curve hardly moved," he said.

The gap between five-year note yields and 30-year bond yields US5US30=TWEB widened to as much as 130.10 basis points on Thursday, the steepest since June 27.

Futures traders are now pricing in a 12 percent chance of a rate increase this month, down from 15 percent on Wednesday, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool. Friday's consumer price inflation data is the next test for rates-focused traders.

Dwindling expectations of a rate hike helped boost U.S. stock indexes between 1 percent and 1.5 percent on Thursday.

Wall Street also benefited from a 3.4 percent jump in Apple (AAPL.O) shares, after the company said the first batch of its new iPhone 7 Plus sold out globally.

The Fed will meet on the same dates as the BOJ, which will unveil the results of a comprehensive review of its stimulus program after failing to reach its 2 percent inflation target.

"With inflation negative, a strong yen and modest growth we expect the Bank of Japan to increase its Japanese government bond purchases by 10 trillion yen, bringing the annual amount to 90 trillion yen," Sian Fenner, lead economist at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note, adding that he does not expect a further cut in rates.

"We also look for the BoJ to announce a change to the composition of its asset purchases, with a focus on steepening the yield curve," she said.

Few Japanese companies believe the central bank's aggressive monetary stimulus will achieve its goal of spurring inflation, a Reuters poll found, with firms citing negative fallout from the program more than positive effects.

On Thursday, the Swiss National Bank and the Bank of England held interest rates steady.

The SNB warned that significant risks remain after sticking with its ultra-loose monetary policy and currency intervention, while the BOE said it is still likely to cut interest rates to just above zero this year.

"While its minutes show the Bank of England is still willing to wait and see if further easing is needed, should the expected recession not materialize, monetary policy may need to reverse sharply to prevent inflation building," Michael Metcalfe, head of global macro strategy at State Street Global Markets, wrote in a note.

In currencies, the dollar was little changed at 102.06 yen JPY=D4 after Thursday's 0.3 percent loss, and was heading for a 0.6 percent decline for the week.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major peers, remained steady at 95.261, and set to end the week little changed.

Oil prices pulled back on the resumption of exports from Libya and Nigeria and worries that U.S. rig counts would continue to rise. That followed gains on Thursday of as much as 2.5 percent as renewed risk appetite stemmed a two-day rout.

Brent crude LCOc1 slid 0.5 percent to $46.33 a barrel, extending losses for the week to 3.5 percent. U.S. crude CLc1 retreated 0.6 percent to $43.66, poised to end the week down 4.8 percent.

Gold was steady after the resurgence in risk appetite pushed it down 0.7 percent on Thursday. Spot gold XAU= was last trading at $1,314.64 an ounce, down about 1 percent for the week.

Article Link To Reuters:

GE Wins $1.9 Billion Order From UK's Hinkley Point Nuclear Plant

By Alwyn Scott 
September 16, 2016

General Electric Co (GE.N) said it will receive $1.9 billion for a contract to supply steam turbines, generators and other equipment to the Hinkley Point C project, the United Kingdom's first new nuclear power plant in decades.

By approving Hinkley Point on Thursday, the UK government cleared the way for GE to begin building two 1,770-megawatt Arabelle steam turbines and generators capable of powering six million homes and supplying about 7 percent of the UK's power generation needs for 60 years, GE said. They will replace older coal-fired plants, GE said.

The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May approved the controversial 24 billion (18.17 billion pounds)project on Thursday, after putting it on hold in July.

GE had already been doing early engineering work on the project to build one of the largest nuclear plants in the world.

The U.S. industrial company acquired the contract and capability when it purchased the power assets of France's Alstom (ALSO.PA) last year. Alstom won the competition a few years ago, GE said.

The UK decision "confirms our technology leadership and it also confirms that it was not such a bad decision to buy Alstom," Andreas Lusch, chief executive officer of steam power systems at GE Power, said in an interview on Thursday.

New nuclear projects are slowly recovering after a steep drop following the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan. GE is also bidding on nuclear competitions in Finland, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India and China, Lusch said.

"We are involved in all of those projects in the tendering phase," he said.

The UK government's agreement to move ahead with Hinkley Point also established a new UK investment policy aimed at giving the country greater control when foreign states are involved in buying stakes in "critical infrastructure" in the future.

The project, being built by French state-controlled utility company EDF (EDF.PA), includes an $8 billion investment from Chinese state-backed firm China General Nuclear Power Corporation (IPO-CGNP.HK).

EDF said it had agreed with the UK government that it would not sell its controlling stake in the project, raising concern among some analysts about EDF's risk profile.

Article Link To Reuters:

Hanjin Says U.S.-Bound Ship Is Being Held 'Hostage'

By Tom Hals
September 16, 2016

A lawyer for Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd (117930.KS), the failed South Korean container carrier, said on Thursday a U.S.-bound vessel was held "hostage" by disputes over payments, adding to the struggles in getting $14 billion of cargo off its ships stranded at sea.

"There is no clear visibility yet on what will happen with this business," Hanjin lawyer Ilana Volkov said at a hearing, when asked by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Sherwood whether Hanjin was liquidating.

Hanjin, the world's seventh-largest container line, filed for bankruptcy last month, leaving more than 100 ships and their cargo at sea and threatening to snarl U.S. freight traffic as the year-end shopping season approaches.

Some ships chartered to Hanjin have been sold and more are up for sale.

Last week, Hanjin said a Korean judge authorized $10 million to pay tug operators, ports and cargo handlers to unload four of its U.S.-bound vessels.

Since then, the Hanjin Boston, Hanjin Greece and Hanjin Gdynia have begun to unload. But the fourth ship, the Hanjin Jungil, remains at sea off the coast of California, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

"We’re negotiating with every service provider and they are saying 'I'm not going to let this ship berth,'" said Volkov at the Newark, New Jersey hearing. "My client is being held hostage."

She told the court that the Korean court had postponed hearing Hanjin's request to authorize another $50 million that would allow at least four more Hanjin ships to unload U.S. cargo.

As of Wednesday, of Hanjin's 97 container ships, 36 were waiting outside of overseas ports, according to South Korea's finance ministry. Of the reminder, 37 had yet to unload and planned to return to Korea, and 24 had unloaded in Korea and elsewhere, the ministry said.

In addition to the nine "base ports" already identified for Hanjin ships to unload, the ministry said efforts were being made for Bangkok, Jebel Ali, Kobe, Melbourne and Valencia to be available for unloading Hanjin ships.

The company was seeking stay order this week that would allow its ships to unload safely in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, the ministry said, with more to follow.

The ministry said efforts were underway to enable unloading in New York and Singapore by this weekend.

Hanjin still has at least 10 U.S.-bound ships, although Volkov said some ships may not have picked up U.S.-bound cargo.

Cargo owners such as consumer products maker Dorel Industries Inc (DIIb.TO) and the U.S. unit of musical instrument maker Yamaha Corp (7951.T) complained they were the hostages.

They said they were forced to make additional payments to get their cargo or were forced to retrieve it from the wrong location.

"This could destroy American businesses," said Alan Brody, a lawyer for Yamaha Corp of America.

Darren Azman, an attorney for Bermuda-based container owner Textainer Group Holdings Ltd (TGH.N), said Hanjin rejected leases on its 20,000 containers but failed to return the boxes to Asia as required.

However, the judge balked at Azman's suggestion that Textainer could force cargo owners to pay to return Hanjin's containers to Asia to get their goods.

"I will do whatever I can to stop you," said Sherwood.

Article Link To Reuters:

Oil Prices Fall; Market Braces For Nigeria, Libya Supply

By Biman Mukherji
September 16, 2016

Oil prices were lower in Asia trade on Friday as traders brace for an increase in oil exports from Libya and Nigeria, and the increase in U.S oil product inventories weighs on prices.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures CLV6, -0.82% traded at $43.61 a barrel, down 30, or 0.7%, in the Globex electronic session. Brent crude LCOX6, -0.82% on London’s ICE Futures exchange fell 33 cents, or 0.7%, to $46.26 a barrel.

Nigeria and Libya are both preparing to ramp up their oil exports, which may weigh on oil prices. Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil have both lifted force majeures on Nigerian exports after militants had caused the shut-in of supply.

Libya’s state oil company also lifted curbs on sales from three ports on Wednesday, ANZ Bank said. Libya is now planning to resume exports from its Ras Lanuf port and a tanker is due to be loaded with 600,000 barrels of crude.

“Continued oil price weakness, tepid demand growth in key markets and weak financial results will force major Asian oil companies to continue to abide by tight cost-cutting measures, while seeking to improve operational efficiency and become more flexible,” BMI Research said in a report.

It added that oil prices are expected to gradually recover over late 2016 and 2017, but noted that their forecast for Brent to average $45.5 per barrel in 2016 is still 15.1% lower than the average price in 2015.

Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock for September RBZ6, -0.33% — the benchmark gasoline contract — fell to 1.4298 cents a gallon from 1.4302 cents.

ICE gasoil for October changed hands at $412.75 a metric ton, down $2.75 from Thursday’s settlement.

Article Link MarketWatch:

Noonan: Travel Back To An Early Clinton Scandal

Voters have the impression Hillary isn’t trustworthy. She’s been reinforcing it since 1993.

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal
September 16, 2016

The question came up this week at a political panel: Why don’t people like Hillary Clinton?

Why do they always believe the worst? Why, when some supposed scandal breaks and someone says she’s hiding something, do people, including many of her supporters, assume it’s true?

The answer is that Mrs. Clinton has been in America’s national life for a quarter-century, and in that time people watched, observed and got an impression of her character.

If you give the prompt “Clinton scandal” to someone under 30, they might say “emails,” or Benghazi” or “Clinton Foundation,” or now “health questions.” But for those who are older, whose memories encompass the Clinton era, the scandals stretch back further, all the way to her beginnings as a national figure.

Seventeen years ago, when word first came that Mrs. Clinton might come to New York, a state where she’d never lived, and seek its open U.S. Senate seat, I wrote a book called “The Case Against Hillary Clinton.” It asserted that she would win and use the Senate to run for president, likely in 2008. That, I argued, was a bad thing. In the previous eight years she’d done little to elevate our politics and much to lower it. So I laid out the case as best I could, starting with the first significant scandal of Bill Clinton’s presidency.

It is worth revisiting to make a point about why her poll numbers on trustworthiness are so bad.

It was early 1993. The Clintons had just entered the White House after a solid win that broke the Republicans’ 12-year hold. He was a young and dashing New Democrat. She too was something new, a professional woman with modern attitudes and pronounced policy interests. They had captured the national imagination and were in a strong position.

Then she—not he—messed it up. It was the first big case in which she showed poor judgment, a cool willingness to mislead, and a level of political aggression that gave even those around her pause. It was after this mess that her critics said she’d revealed the soul of an East German border guard.

The Clinton White House was internally a dramatic one, as George Stephanopoulos later recounted in “All Too Human,” his sharply observed, and in retrospect somewhat harrowing, memoir of his time as Mr. Clinton’s communications director and senior adviser. He reported staffers and officials yelling, crying, shouting swear words and verbally threatening each other. It was a real hothouse. There was a sense the gargoyles had taken over the cathedral. But that wouldn’t become apparent until later.

On May 19, 1993, less than four months into the administration, the seven men who had long worked in the White House travel office were suddenly and brutally fired. The seven nonpartisan government workers, who helped arrange presidential trips, served at the pleasure of the president. But each new president had kept them on because they were good at their jobs.

A veteran civil servant named Billy Dale had worked in the office 30 years and headed it the last 10. He and his colleagues were ordered to clear out their desks and were escorted from the White House, which quickly announced they were the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI.

They were in shock. So were members of the press, who knew Mr. Dale and his colleagues as honest and professional. A firestorm ensued.

Under criticism the White House changed its story. They said that they were just trying to cut unneeded staff and save money. Then they said they were trying to impose a competitive bidding process. They tried a new explanation—the travel office shake-up was connected to Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review. (Almost immediately Mr. Gore said that was not true.) The White House then said it was connected to a campaign pledge to cut the White House staff by 25%. Finally they claimed the workers hadn’t been fired at all but placed on indefinite “administrative leave.”

Why so many stories? Because the real one wasn’t pretty.

It emerged in contemporaneous notes of a high White House staffer that the travel-office workers were removed because Mrs. Clinton wanted to give their jobs—their “slots,” as she put it, according to the notes of director of administration David Watkins—to political operatives who’d worked for Mr. Clinton’s campaign. And she wanted to give the travel office business itself to loyalists. There was a travel company based in Arkansas with long ties to the Clintons. There was a charter travel company founded by Harry Thomason, a longtime friend and fundraiser, which had provided services in the 1992 campaign. If the travel office were privatized and put to bid, he could get the business. On top of that, a staffer named Catherine Cornelius, said to be the new president’s cousin, also wanted to run the travel office. In his book “Blood Sport,” the reporter James B. Stewart described her as “dazzled by her proximity to power, full of a sense of her own importance.” Soon rumors from her office, and others, were floating through the White House: The travel office staff were disloyal crooks.

The White House pressed the FBI to investigate, FBI agents balked—on what evidence?—but ultimately there was an investigation, and an audit.

All along Mrs. Clinton publicly insisted she had no knowledge of the firings. Then it became barely any knowledge, then barely any involvement. When the story blew up she said under oath that she had “no role in the decision to terminate the employees.” She did not “direct that any action be taken by anyone.” In a deposition she denied having had a role in the firings, and said she was unable to remember conversations with various staffers with any specificity.

A General Accounting Office report found she did play a role. But three years later a memo written by David Watkins to the White House chief of staff, recounting the history of the firings, suddenly surfaced. (“Suddenly surfaced” is a phrase one reads a lot in Clinton scandal stories.) It showed Mrs. Clinton herself directed them. “There would be hell to pay,” he wrote, if staffers did not conform “to the first lady’s wishes.”

Billy Dale was indicted on charges including embezzlement. The trial lasted almost two weeks. Mr. Dale, it emerged, could have kept better books. The jury acquitted him in less than two hours. In the end he retired, as did his assistant. The five others were given new government jobs.

So—that was the Clintons’ first big Washington scandal. It showed what has now become the Clinton Scandal Ritual: lie, deny, revise, claim not to remember specifics, stall for time. When it passes, call the story “old news” full of questions that have already been answered. “As I’ve repeatedly said . . .”

More scandals would follow. They all showed poor judgment on the part of the president, and usually Mrs. Clinton. They all included a startling willingness—and ability—to dissemble.

People watched and got a poor impression.

The point is it didn’t start the past few years, it started almost a quarter-century ago. You have to wonder, what are the chances it will change?

Article Link To The Wall Street Journal:

Krauthammer: Trump The Shape Shifter

Hillary sharpens, Trump softens. He’s rising, she’s falling.

By Charles Krauthammer 
The National Review
September 16, 2016

If you are the status quo candidate in a change election in which the national mood is sour and two-thirds of the electorate think the country is on the wrong track, what do you do? Attack. Relentlessly. Paint your opponent as extremist, volatile, clueless, unfit, dangerous. Indeed, Hillary Clinton’s latest national ad, featuring major Republican politicians echoing that indictment of Donald Trump, ends thus: “Unfit. Dangerous. Even for Republicans.”

That was the theme of Clinton’s famous “alt-right” speech and of much of her $100 million worth of ads.

Problem is, it’s not working.

Over the last month, Trump’s new team, led by Kellyanne Conway, has worked single-mindedly to blunt that line of attack on the theory that if he can just cross the threshold of acceptability, he wins. In an act of brazen rebranding, they set out to endow him with stature and empathy.

Stature was acquired in Mexico, whose president inexplicably gave Trump the opportunity to stand on the world stage with a national leader and more than hold his own. It’s the same stature booster Senator Barack Obama pulled off when he stood with the French president at a news conference in Paris in 2008.

That was part one: Trump the statesman. Part two: the kinder, gentler Trump.

Nervy. Can you really repackage the boasting, bullying, bombastic, insulting, insensitive Trump into a mellow and caring version? With two months to go? In a digital age in which every past outrage is preserved on imperishable video?

Turns out, yes. How? Deflect and deny — and pretend it never happened. Where are they now — the birtherism, the deportation force, the scorn for teleprompters, the mocking of candidates who take outside money? Down the memory hole.

Orwell was wrong. You don’t need repression. You need only the sensory overload of an age of numbingly ephemeral social media. In this surreal election season, there is no past.

Clinton ads keep showing actual Trump sound bites meant to shock. Yet her numbers are dropping, his rising.

How? Trump never goes on the defensive. He merely creates new Trumps. Hence:

(1) The African-American blitz. It’s a new pose and the novelty shows. Trump is not very familiar with the language. He occasionally slips, for example, into referring to “the blacks.” And his argument that African-Americans inhabit a living hell and therefore have nothing to lose by voting for him hovers somewhere between condescension and insult.

But, as every living commentator has noted, the foray into African-American precincts was not aimed at winning black votes but at countering Trump’s general image as the bigoted candidate of white people.

Result? A curious dynamic in which Clinton keeps upping the accusatory ante just as Trump keeps softening his tone — until she finds herself way over the top, landing in a basket of deplorables, a phrase that will haunt her until Election Day. (Politics 101: Never attack the voter.)

(2) The immigration wobble. A week of nonstop word salad about illegal immigration left everyone confused about what Trump really believes. Genius. The only message to emerge from the rhetorical fog is that he is done talking about deportation and/or legalization. The very discussion is off the table until years down the road.

Case closed. Toxic issue detoxified.

Again, that’s not going to win him the Hispanic vote. But that wasn’t the point. The point was to soften his image in the Philadelphia suburbs, pundit shorthand for white, college-educated women that Republicans have to win (and among whom Trump trails Romney 2012 by 10 points). Which brings us to:

(3) The blockbuster child-care proposal. Unveiled Tuesday, it is liberalism at its best, Big Government at its biggest: tax deductions, tax rebates (i.e. cash), and a federal mandate of six weeks of paid maternity leave. The biggest entitlement since, well, Obamacare.

But wait. Didn’t Trump’s acolytes assure us that he spoke for those betrayed by the sold-out, elitist GOP establishment that for years refused to stand up to Obama’s overweening mandates, Big Government profligacy, and budget-busting entitlements?

No matter. That was yesterday. There is no past. Nor a future — at least for Ivanka-care. It would never get through the GOP House.

Nor is it meant to. It is meant to signal what George H. W. Bush once memorably read off a cue card: “Message: I care.”

And where do you think Trump gave this dish-the-Whigs cradle-to-college entitlement speech? Why, the Philadelphia suburbs!

Can’t get more transparent than that. Or shameless. Or brilliant.

And it’s working.

Article Link To The National Review: