Total Pageviews

Friday, July 3, 2015

Whether Greece votes yes or no, the euro cannot survive in its current form

Best case scenario? The EU will undergo years of painful convulsions, precipitating a new treaty that imposes greater centralisation and restrictions on the fiscal independence of nation states
By Allister Heath

Whether Greece votes to back or reject austerity on Sunday, the euro in its current form is dead, and rightly so. The defective structures that underpin it have been shattered by the Greek nightmare, and trust within Europe is at a low ebb. Even a yes vote would not undo the damage, and a no vote would lead to an almost immediate Greek departure from the euro.

Germany’s best-selling newspaper, Bild, is a great barometer of opinion in the eurozone’s dominant power: it is staging its own, fake “referendum” among its readers, asking them whether they want to continue bailing out Greece or whether they should cut them off. There are no prizes for guessing which way the paper’s furious readership is inclined.

Meanwhile, in Athens, the levels of hatred towards the Euro-establishment from supporters of the “No” side are remarkable; it is hard to see how any meaningful negotiations will ever be possible if Syriza remains in power. For all of those deluded Europhiles who believed that enforcing an artificial, imperfect currency on 19 different, divergent nations was a good idea that would help bring about peace, friendship and prosperity, the events of the past few weeks have surely been devastating.

Greece's Yanis Varoufakis prepares for economic siege as companies issue private currencies

Greek finance minister says the country has a six-month stock of oil and four months of pharmaceuticals
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Athens

Greece has stockpiled enough reserves of fuel and pharmaceutical supplies to withstand a long siege, and has set aside emergency funding to cover all the country's vitally-needed food imports.

Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, said the left-Wing Syriza government is still working on the assumption that Europe's creditor powers will return to the negotiating table if the Greek people don't agree to their austerity demands in a referendum on Sunday, but it stands ready to fight unless it secures major debt relief.

"Luckily we have six months stocks of oil and four months stocks of pharmaceuticals," he told The Telegraph.

Mr Varoufakis said a special five-man committee from the Greek treasury, the Bank of Greece, the trade unions and the private banks is working feverishly in a "war room" near his office allocating precious reserves for top priorities.

Food has been exempted from an import freeze since capital controls were introduced last weekend. Grains, meats, dairy products, and other foodstuffs should be able to enter the country freely, averting a potential disaster as the full tourist season kicks off.

The cash reserves of the banks are dwindling fast as citizens pull the maximum €60 a day allowed under the emergency directive - already €50 at many banks. "We can last through to the weekend and probably to Monday," Mr Varoufakis said.

Greek Banks Considering 30% Haircut On Deposits Over €8,000: FT

Last week in "For Greeks, The Nightmare Is Just Beginning: Here Come The Depositor Haircuts," we warned that a Cyprus-style bail-in of Greek depositors may be imminent given the acute cash crunch that has brought the Greek banking sector to its knees and forced the Greek government to implement capital controls in a futile attempt to stem the flow.

The depositor "haircut" would be a function of the staggered ELA haircut that the ECB could impose to escalate the rhetoric between the two sides, and could take place with as little as a 10% increase in the ELA collateral haircut from its current 50% level.

Fearing Spillover, ECB Moves To Shield Neighboring Banks From Greek Meltdown

On Monday, in “Beggar Thy Neighbor? Greece’s Battered Banks Beget Balkan Jitters,” we took an in depth look at the potential for the Greek banking crisis to infect Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia, where Greek banks control a substantial percentage of total banking assets.

We noted that yields on the country’s bonds had spiked in the wake of capital controls in Greece and the ensuing ATM run, a reflection of souring investor sentiment despite assurances from local banking officials that there was no risk of similar measures being implemented outside of Greece. 

“Any action by the Greek government and the central bank to impose measures in the Greek financial system have no legal force in Bulgaria and can in no way affect the smooth functioning and stability of the Bulgarian banking system," Bulgaria’s central bank said, in a statement.

Still, as Morgan Stanley pointed out nearly two months ago, “the risk is that depositors who have their money in Greek subsidiaries in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia could suffer a confidence crisis and seek to withdraw their deposits. Although well capitalised and liquid, Greek subsidiaries in the SEE region may see difficulties providing enough cash if withdrawals are intense and become problematic. In case of a liquidity shortage, Greek subsidiaries in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia would probably create the need for local authorities to step in. Local central banks and governments would most probably provide additional liquidity, but if panic behaviour develops it would mean that certain banks would either have to find a buyer or be nationalised. In this case, the national deposit guarantee schemes will have to repay guaranteed deposits and, in case of insufficient funds, the government will have to provide them.”

Now, with Greece’s future in the EMU hanging in the balance, Bloomberg says the ECB has stepped up its efforts to shield Bulgaria from any fallout. Here’s more:

ECB Primes European Tranquilizer as Greece Faces Banking Chaos
By Jeff BlackScott Hamilton

The European Central Bank claims it can calm any regional market turmoil that follows Greece’s referendum on Sunday. Saving the country’s banking system will be harder.

With two asset-buying programs, international swap lines, backstops for eastern Europe and cash tenders in place, the ECB has a wide range of tools at hand should bond yields surge or money markets freeze after the July 5 vote. That’s a possible outcome if voters reject the terms of a European Union-led bailout.

Yet even if the Greek people back the EU offer, the nation’s lenders, which have been shut and under capital controls for the past week, won’t be able to reopen soon unless the ECB approves more liquidity. To do that, monetary-policy officials would have to take a leap of faith that the government will be able to strike a new deal.

“The linkages to the rest of the euro area are relatively small, though some of the more vulnerable countries may lie in Eastern Europe and to help there is definitely in the ECB’s remit,” said James Nixon, chief European economist at Oxford Economics in London. “None of that helps Greece though. We’re in deep, deep water there.”

The ECB’s Governing Council is due to discuss liquidity support for Greek banks on Monday. Vice President Vitor Constancio said on Friday that “the only thing that matters” is the chance of a deal between Greece and its creditors.

The Troika Turns Europe Into A Warzone
By Raúl Ilargi Meijer

So now they do it. Now the IMF comes out with a report that says Greece needs hefty debt restructuring.

Mind you, their numbers are still way off the mark, in the end it’s going to be easily double what they claim. Not even a Yanis Varoufakis haircut will do the trick.

But at least they now have preliminary numbers out. The reason why they have is inevitably linked to the press leak I wrote about earlier this week in Troika Documents Say Greece Needs Huge Debt Relief. If that hadn’t come out, I’m betting they would still not have said a thing.
The Fed Continues to Project Weak Growth

Happy Fourth of July!
By ComStock Partners

To say the least, the Fed’s own projections of GDP growth continue anemic at best.  For 2015 the Fed now projects 1.9% growth in GDP followed by 2.55% in 2016 and 2.3% in 2017.  We have stated many times that the recovery since the bursting of the “Housing Bubble” is the most tepid recovery since the great depression and as you can see, the Fed is forecasting more of the same.  We have also stated that the primary reason for this is that debt, i.e., government, corporate, household and student loans, are eating us alive.  At the same time, the Fed is predicting relatively “full employment” with an unemployment rate of 5% starting in 2016.  It turns out that the only way to get to a 5% unemployment rate is to eliminate those people that were not able to find work and have given up from the equation.  Our analogy here is to say the Fed is like the golfer that gives himself every putt over 20 feet and then tells everyone he’s “scratch”.  It is not reality!

From time to time, however, there are bright spots that seemingly appear.  One such spot is automobile and truck sales that were very strong in June.  It turns out that those sales were achieved through a record percentage of leases and/or record length car loans.  Said another way, debt is the reason that auto sales were good.  We therefore do not believe this is a “turn for the better”.

If we are wrong, the Fed will have to raise interest rates sooner and faster than the market expects.  If we are right, the economy will continue to grow at somewhere between anemic or even negative rates.  Either way, stocks by almost any valuation measure are expensive and when that is the case the forward rate of return suffers; it always has throughout history and we expect it will now.  This is why we remain so bearish on U.S. equities!

General Motors U.S. Sales Down 3 Percent To 259,353 Vehicles In June 2015
By Chris Ecclestone

Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers in the United States delivered 259,353 new vehicles in June 2015, down 3 percent year-over-year. The results represent GM’s best June for retail deliveries since 2007 and its best June for retail market share since 2011. 

3 Things: Valuations, Employment, Sectors
By Lance Roberts

You Can't Handle The Truth

John Coumarianos recently wrote an opinion piece for MarketWatch stating:

I have discussed the importance of valuations and forward return expectations in the past (see here) but John's commentary is very important because it highlights a huge disconnect between what individual individuals THINK and how they ACT. Specifically, individuals believe they are truly "long term" investors and that they will make investments for very long periods of times (10years or more.)

However, as shown by repeated studies, that belief is confounded by the fact that individuals react to short-term market volatility and other inputs which leads to emotional decision making. Of course, the media/press/blog community is primarily to blame for these actions by focusing a spotlight on each data point within the financial markets rather than helping investors focus on the "long game."

One of the more useless discussions as of late has been on the irrelevance of high valuations as it relates to market returns of the next 12 months. To wit:

The problem is what I have addressed in the past as a "duration mismatch." Shiller's CAPE ratio is not about what happens in the next year but rather what returns investors should expect over the next 10 or 20 years. After all, we are saving and investing for our retirement, right?

The following two charts show the TOTAL (dividend reinvested) REAL (inflation adjusted) forward returns from every level of CAPE since 1900. I have noted with the red box the current range of CAPE.

YEP ""Happy 4th of July"" because come ""LABOR Day"" the World "IS" going to be VERY Different!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Folks, NO Matter how the "PIMPS"" of Wall Street Spin this Finding in Today's BLS Employment Report, The FACT that America has This many People NO Working "IS" a Huge Structural Problem for the U.S. Economy. And it "IS" yet another ""WTF"" Moment that Shows that this ""FAUX"" Recovery Ain't REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Layoff announcements at five-year high, Challenger says
By Ruth Mantell

Announced layoffs rose to almost 45,000 in June, pulling year-to-date planned cuts to the highest mid-year tally since 2010, according to data released Wednesday by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Employers announced 288,000 cuts during the first half of the year, up 17% from the same period last year. That gain was due to low oil prices, which "rippled through the energy and industrial goods sectors," Challenger reported. 

PUTIN "IS" ROTFLHFAO in Tears at You Socialists in Europe. He's totally enjoying the Crisis in Greece and Hoping like HELL the Greeks VOTE ""NO"" on Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I Will say it AGAIN..................You Folks in Europe have NO Idea of the HELL that Will Follow IF the Greeks Vote ""NO"" on Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The ""PIMPS"" of Wall Street have been Lying their Fucking ASSSES OFF trying to make you Believe Greece "IS" not a Threat to the Economy of EUROPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well I'm Telling YOU the POLITICS of ""NO"" WILL have PROFOUND Effects Across Southern Europe THAT Will LEAD to HISTORIC Effects on the EU and the EURO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


The Troika Turns Europe Into A Warzone
By Raúl Ilargi Meijer

So now they do it. Now the IMF comes out with a report that says Greece needs hefty debt restructuring.

Mind you, their numbers are still way off the mark, in the end it’s going to be easily double what they claim. Not even a Yanis Varoufakis haircut will do the trick.

But at least they now have preliminary numbers out. The reason why they have is inevitably linked to the press leak I wrote about earlier this week in Troika Documents Say Greece Needs Huge Debt Relief. If that hadn’t come out, I’m betting they would still not have said a thing.

It’s even been clear for many years to the IMF that debt restructuring for Greece is badly needed, but Lagarde and her troops have come to the Athens talks with an agenda, and stonewalled their own researchers.

Which makes you wonder, why would any economist still want to work at the Fund? What is it about your work being completely ignored by your superiors that tickles your fancy? How about your conscience?

Why go through 5 months of ‘negotiations’ with Greece in which you refuse any and all restructuring, only to come up with a paper that says they desperately need restructuring, mere days after they explicitly say they won’t sign any deal that doesn’t include debt restructuring?

By now I have to start channeling my anger about the whole thing. This is getting beyond stupid. And I did too have an ouzo at the foot of the Acropolis, but I’m not sure whether that channels my anger up or down. The whole shebang is just getting too crazy.

For five whole months the troika refuses to talk debt relief, and mere days after the talks break off they come with this? What then was their intention going into the talks? Certainly not to negotiate, that much is clear, or the IMF would have spoken up a long time ago. 


Greece crisis live: Greek banks will run out of money on Monday morning as Tsipras urges Greece to reject "blackmail"

Greece to run out of food and medicine for tourists within days as polls are neck-and-neck and legality of vote called into question 

Greece’s Largest Industry Suddenly Takes a Terrible Hit
By Wolf Richter

They’re all coming out of the woodwork, urging international audiences to come visit Greece. Today it was Greek Tourism Confederation President Andreas Andreadis who appeared on Bloomberg TV to explain in English that for tourists, “things are normal,” their “daily reality has not been affected,” they can access their accounts, use their credit cards, etc. They “don’t have issues at the moment,” he said, but suggested, “Obviously, come with some cash as well.”

Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura chimed in: “The tourists that are currently in Greece, as well as those that are going to come, will not be at the least affected by the latest developments and can continue to enjoy their vacations in Greece without the slightest problem.”

We’ve heard similar assurances on NPR and elsewhere. And we believe it. If we had time, we’d to go to Greece immediately. It’s a beautiful country, with great food and wine, hospitable people, enormous cultural wealth, millions of things to do, and warm summers, unlike San Francisco.

And now there might be an additional incentive for us: fewer tourists than during the normal summer chaos.

Tourism is crucial. It’s Greece’s largest industry. It’s the only major industry still growing. It’s vibrant, hardy, and resourceful. It has successfully dodged the economic miasma of the last few years. No government has been able to kill it, unlike some other industries.

It accounted for 17.3% of GDP in 2014 and for 9.4% of total employment, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. The industry also supports numerous jobs outside the industry; direct and indirect jobs combined contributed 19.4% to total employment. “This is expected to rise by 3.9% in 2015,” the report added.

Plus, visitor exports amounted to €12.2 billion last year, or about 25% of total exports! Much of the economic reform package was focused on getting Greece to be more competitive with the rest of the world so that it could export itself out of trouble. Visitor exports would grow by 2.1% in 2015, the report said. Travel & Tourism investment in 2014 reached €2.8 billion, or 13.7% of total investment. “It should rise by 3.6% in 2015,” the report said. More investment is what Greece needs the most…. 

Greek banks down to €500m in cash reserves as economy crashes

The daily allowance of cash from many ATM machines has already dropped from €60 to €50, purportedly because €20 notes are running out
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Athens

 Greece is sliding into a full-blown national crisis as the final cash reserves of the banking system evaporate by the hour and swathes of industry start to shut down, precipitating the near disintegration of the ruling coalition.

Business leaders have been locked in talks with the Bank of Greece, pleading for the immediate release of emergency liquidity funds (ELA) to cover food imports and pharmaceutical goods before the tourist sector hits a brick wall.

Officials say the central bank will release the funds as soon as Friday, but this is a stop-gap measure at best. "We are on a war footing in this country," said Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister.

Greece needs another €50bn bail-out and massive debt relief to survive, admits IMF

IMF concedes Greece needs huge alleviation of its debt burden and another bumper bail-out to stay afloat for the next three years
By Mehreen Khan

 Greece needs at least another €50bn to keep it afloat for the next three years and a substantial alleviation of its debt burden, the International Monetary Fund has found, in a stark analysis of the country's desperate financial woes.

The IMF's debt sustainability analysis for Greece revealed the country will need to undergo a bold programe of debt forgiveness if it is to ever return to market access and stop living off bail-outs from its international creditors.

The report, however, was compiled before capital controls and bank shutdowns were implemented this week, both developments that have led Greece's economy to near collapse. The IMF thinks GDP growth will now fall to 0pc this year from an earlier forecast of 2.5pc.

Greece's 180pc debt mountain can only be deemed manageable if the country undergoes an ambitious process of debt reprofiling, found the report. It recommended that the beleaguered debtor be given a 20-year grace period before making any further repayments to its European creditors.

Political uncertainty and a descent back into recession now “render the debt dynamics unsustainable” admitted the IMF.

"If grace periods and maturities on existing European loans are doubled and if new financing is provided for the next few years on similar concessional terms debt can be deemed to be sustainable with high probability," read the report.

Enough of this charade: Greece must be told to leave the euro

It is no use pretending that the buffoons who pass for a government in Athens can solve this economic crisis
By Jeremy Warner

As the Greek debt standoff approaches its final denouement – oh please let it be so – judgments are becoming easier to make. The most obvious (obvious all along, it might be said) is that the sooner Greece leaves the euro, the better. If a legal way of forcing the Greeks out can be found, it should be used.

In any case, this debilitating charade has carried on quite long enough. For once, the German high command is correct; even if some sort of a compromise could be cobbled together, Greece’s hard-Left Syriza-led government couldn’t be trusted to implement the stipulated reforms, and a few months down the line, we would be back in exactly the same position.

And if Europe did find a way of accommodating the demands of the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, what next for the ever-more fragile political and social stability of this troubled continent – to be held to ransom by the equally deluded populism of Podemos, Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders?

However this weekend’s referendum pans out, there can be no possibility of another bailout as long as the buffoons that pass for a government in Greece remain in power. Greece asks for debt cancellation; let them have it. But the only practical way of achieving such an outcome is to default, leave Europe’s absurdly misconstrued monetary union, and start again.

Like I have SAID Many TIMES........................The NEXT Financial Crisis even the Evil RICH are going to be FUCKED by ""BIG Government""!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Savers Living in EUROPE.....................Be Very Afraid for YOUR Money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Savers hit as Bank cuts protection on deposits to £75,000 for first time since financial crisis

EU rules mean the guarantee is cut back when the euro falls against the pound - a position Andrew Tyrie MP calls "absurd" 
By Tim Wallace

Cash in bank accounts will only be guaranteed up to a limit of £75,000 from January 1, 2016, the Bank of England has said, down from the current limit of £85,000, because of the euro's weakness against the pound.

Senior Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie called the decision "absurd" and urged the Chancellor George Osborne to push for the EU's rules to be changed to allow the guarantee to be raised back up to £85,000.

The level of protection is fixed across the EU - if any bank goes bust across the Union, depositors' money is still safe up to a limit of €100,000. When the level was agreed in 2010, that figure translated to £85,000. But because the euro has fallen against the pound, it is being chopped back to £75,000.

“It is absurd that the 16pc depreciation of the euro largely brought about by the crisis in the eurozone in general, and the Greek crisis in particular, should be forcing a reduction in the level of protection available to UK depositors," said Mr Tyrie, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee.

“In this respect, the EU Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive is defective. It has been designed without adequate consideration for the requirements of those, like the UK, in the EU but outside the eurozone."

DRAGHI.................................DEAD Man WALKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
German FM Steinmeier warns of Mideast 'arms race' without Iran deal

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned of a Mideast arms race if no deal is reached to curb Iran's nuclear program. Several key issues remain unresolved days before a self-imposed deadline.

Speaking to the German Sunday paper "Welt am Sonntag," Steinmeier said that if Iran and six major powers failed to reach a deal, Iran's increasing international isolation could "result in an new arms race in a region that is already shaken by crises."

An agreement, on the other hand, would help bring the country back into the international fold and precipitate political reform that would benefit a young generation yearning for "contacts with the rest of the world, travel and more freedom," Steinmeier said. 

Experts Warn Iran Deal Will Kill Nuclear Non-Proliferation

US experts says American approval on Iran's nuclear program will make it unable to prevent a global nuclear arms race.
By Ari Yashar

Foreign policy experts warned this week that if the US proves itself unable to enforce a hard line against Iran's pursuit of nuclear power, America will be rendered unable to oppose nuclear proliferation on a global scale.

The experts were speaking at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, reports the Washington Free Beacon, in an event just a week ahead of the extended July 7 deadline for a nuclear deal between world powers and Iran over the latter's controversial nuclear program.

"The fundamental problem is that we’re giving ground on what has been a principle of US non proliferation policy for 70 years, which (views) the spread of enrichment and reprocessing to any country, even our allies, as a problem," said Matthew Kroenig, associate professor at Georgetown University.

"What this Iran deal does is make an exception, not just for any country, but for Iran, a country that’s continually cheating on its agreements. So in the wake of the deal, I think it becomes very hard for us to go to our allies and say, ‘we trust Tehran with this technology, but we don’t trust you.'"

Brian Finaly, vice president of the Washington DC-based think tank Stimson Center, added to Kroenig's troubling assessment.

"As we understand how the world is changing, it is certainly impacting how we manage the proliferation threat, and I believe that getting out in front of this, thinking beyond the limited ability of the state to control proliferation in the future, is going to be essential to successful non-proliferation efforts," warned Finaly.

He explained that non-state actors such as multinational companies can play a role in preventing nuclear crises, noting on the conflict between India and Pakistan in the 1980s. 

Are Iran’s Sunni neighbours about to race for The Bomb?
By Kevin Connolly BBC Middle East correspondent, Manama

The holy month of Ramadan could never be described as a time of feverish activity in the Gulf states that sit between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

It is brutally hot even after the fasting daylight hours give way to the feasting hours of the humid evening.

The sound of Koran readings in the ancient mosques drifts across the modern skyline - a reminder of the energies devoted to prayerful contemplation.

But this year the atmosphere feels a little different.

In the Gulf there is a keen awareness that the deadline is approaching in the talks between the US-led world powers and the government of Iran over that country's nuclear ambitions.

The Sunni monarchies of the region follow the issue as closely as it is followed in Israel - which of course considers itself the likeliest target for any future Iranian nuclear bomb.

The Escalating Arab Wars
By Maha Yahya

Maha Yahya is a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center.

BEIRUT – The violence unleashed in Arab countries in the last four years may turn out to be just a first taste of what is to come. Escalating brutality and the actions of governments have put Arab citizens under immense pressure. Without a change of course, the outcome could easily be further conflict and a new wave of uprisings – this time not peaceful.

Not since the end of World War I have Arab countries undergone such a momentous upheaval. Conflict has broken out in no fewer than nine Arab countries, and the carnage has reached unimaginable levels of inhumanity. Tensions are mounting even in countries that are nominally at peace. Long-standing value systems are weakening, and once-solid societal foundations are crumbling.

Fighting in Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen has torn apart entire communities. Ethnic cleansing perpetuated by the Islamic State has reversed centuries of religious, ethnic, and cultural intermingling, and pushed close to two million people from their homes.

Indeed, although the Middle East and North Africa is home to just 5% of the world’s population, it has produced more than one-third of its refugees. In Syria alone, 11 million people have been forcibly displaced within and outside the country.

These population movements are exacerbating preexisting social tensions across the Arab world. In Lebanon, for example, the arrival of more than one million Syrians has sparked worries that the country’s sectarian balance could be altered, undermining its fragile political system.

These huge demographic upheavals are irrevocably transforming the region’s social and political identity. Indeed, throughout the region, warring parties are relying on sectarian identity politics to mobilize support, further polarizing populations along religious, ethnic, and ideological lines. Saudi Arabia and Iran are using Yemen’s internal divisions over historic political and socioeconomic grievances in their proxy war there, presenting the conflict as a manifestation of the historic Sunni-Shia rift.

Israel Closes Egyptian Border, Country on High Alert After ISIS Clashes in Sinai
By Donna Rachel Edmunds

Israel has closed border crossings into Egypt and shut off a highway running along the border. This follows a wave of attacks by ISIS in Egypt which have been described as “full-fledged war”. Hamas is believed to be working with the jihadist insurgents.

As the world mourned the victims of the terrorist atrocities in France, Tunisia and Kuwait which between them claimed dozens of lives, Egypt was fighting its own battles with a home-grown ISIS insurgent group known as “Sinai Province”.

On Monday, the Egyptian state prosecutor Hisham Barakat was killed when a car bomb detonated as his motorcade made its way from the Misr al-Jadida quarter of Cairo to his office. A number of Barakat’s security personnel and passers-by were injured, and 30 cars damaged in the blast, the first in many years to successfully claim the life of a senior official, according to Haaretz.

Then on Wednesday, Sinai Province unleashed a wave of attacks on towns all along the coast, including Rafah on the Gaza border, Sheikh Zuweid and El-Arish. There are conflicting reports on the numbers of casualties; The Guardian reported a source in the Egyptian army putting the death toll at 17 soldiers and 100 militants, although both figures are likely to have been massaged for PR purposes. The paper notes that others have estimated the military’s death toll at around 30, while Haaretz puts the total death toll at at least 50.

Israel Is accusing Hamas of aiding ISIS
By Maayan Lubell, Nidal al-Mughrabi

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli general has accused members of Hamas in Gaza of providing support to militants linked to Islamic State in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, where the Egyptian army has fought deadly battles with Islamist insurgents in recent days.

Major-General Yoav Mordechai, who oversees Israel’s civilian policy towards Gaza, named members of Hamas’s military wing he said were involved in training fighters of Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and smuggling wounded from Sinai into Gaza for treatment.

“We know that Hamas, and I have verified information, that Hamas in Gaza is assisting ISIS Sinai Province both in organisation and armaments,” Mordechai told Al Jazeera in an interview, speaking in Arabic.

He named two Hamas members, saying Abdallah Qishta was involved in training Islamic State members in Sinai and Wael Faraj, a battalion commander, had “smuggled terrorists from Sinai into Gaza Strip hospitals for medical treatment”.

It is not clear how the militants would have been moved into Gaza given that Egyptian forces control the border, but there are believed to still be tunnels between the two sides that Egypt has not yet found and destroyed.

The Iran nuclear deal is brewing, Saudi Arabia is boiling
By Nabil Haissam

The nuclear deal with Iran "reached on all key aspects," Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday. The statement snuffed out speculations about the failure of the negotiations, as the June 30 deadline passed without white smoke rising.

The week-extension to the deadline seems negligible compared to 20 months of diplomacy and negotiations, as a historic deal between Iran and the P5+1 world powers inches closer. 

Based on statements by American and Iranian official, a deal seems inevitable and it is only waiting some details that vary in complexity.

Western conditions and Iranian red lines on regional politics and military logistics stand in the way of the deal, but the fast reaction of negotiators from both sides show commitment to the success of the negotiations.

To better understand the mechanics of the negotiations, one should look into remarks made by the Iranian supreme leader, the U.S. president and the Russian foreign minister this week.

Iran's Ali Khamenei took to Twitter to declare deadlines that are not negotiable to the Islamic Republic, including immediate sanctions relief and sunset provisions for uranium enrichment.

"I will walk away from the negotiations if it's a bad deal," President Obama said in a Washington press conference.

But between the two leaders’ hard-line comments, Lavrov said major world powers have managed to reach a preliminary agreement that only awaits being put on paper.

The Iranian and American pessimism about the deal is being used to gain leverage on the provisions that are still contested.

The lifting of sanctions is among the chief issues where an agreement has not been reached. Iran's economy is struggling with the decades-long trade restrictions. Iran wants all sanctions to be lifted immediately, while the West is negotiating for a gradual lifting of sanctions.

The West also wants to send inspectors into Iran's military facility— a demand the Islamic Republic has rejected, saying that it violates its sovereignty.,-Saudi-Arabia-is-boiling.html

Iran is turning Israel and Saudi Arabia into allies
By Jeremy Bender

Israel and Saudi Arabia don't have official relations and Riyadh still does not recognize Israel's right to exist. But the two states have held five secret meetings since the start of 2014 in order to discuss the rise of Iran, Eli Lake reports for Bloomberg View.

The meetings have led to a level of unprecedented strategic understanding between the two countries.

"We discovered we have the same problems and same challenges and some of the same answers," Shimon Shapira, a retired Israeli general and participant of the talks with Saudi Arabia, told Lake.

The Iranian nuclear deal and the threat of a rising Iran is uniting the two longstanding Middle Eastern opponents.

As Iran expands its influence throughout the region in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Israel have found themselves increasingly united on a confluence of issues. Both countries are concerned over the proliferation of Iranian-backed militias throughout the region and the potential dangers of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Obama Middle East.......................WAR "IS" Coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

BofA's Dire Prediction: Only Direct Government Buying Can Save China Stocks Now

Even after this somewhat catastrophic drop, BofAML warns the Chinese market looks expensive. Deleveraging is likely far from over, they add, concluding that the market is a "falling knife" and only direct buying by the government will mark the bottom.

Via BofAML,

Bottom likely when govt becomes buyer of last resort

After reaching a peak of 5,166 on Jun 12, SHCOMP declined sharply by almost 30% to 3,687 within three weeks. The ferociousness of the sell-off even took us by surprise – although we have a 3,600 target for the index, we thought it would take another six months to get there. Given the momentum, the market bottom is highly unpredictable. As a result, we suggest investors stay on the sidelines for the time being. A few points worth highlighting:

The market is now a “falling knife”: even after all the government directed marketsupporting measures since last Saturday, including comb rate/RRR cuts, CSRC’s loosening of margin lending control & its cracking down on shorting activities, and organized commentaries from high profile local fund managers, the market still dropped sharply on four of the last five trading days and fell decisively through the psychologically important 4,000 level for SHCOMP. The market has clearly lost its nerve and many investors appear to be rushing to exit.

Drastic times calls for drastic measures: the government still has a few policies up its sleeve: it may get affiliated funds such as Huijin and the pension fund to buy, CSRC may suspend IPOs, insurance companies may be encouraged to enter into the market, MoF may cut stamp duty on stock transactions, and PBoC may announce more easing measures, among other possibilities. However, whether or when these policies can stabilize market sentiment is highly uncertain in our view – margin call pressure from unauthorized margin facilities appears enormous; even for those investors not under any immediate margin call pressure, they need to be convinced that the market will go up meaningfully for their leveraged positions to break even (due to high funding costs).

The government to become the buyer of the last resort? 

Capital outflows prompt drop in China's reserves

Holdings fall $110 billion in Q1 as domestic investors look abroad and the PBoC defends the exchange rate; analysts say ECB quantitative easing is probably the real villain The increasing reluctance of China's exporters to exchange foreign earnings in the renminbi, coupled with the People's Bank of China's (PBoC's) determination to keep the currency from dropping in value, are placing downward pressure on the country's FX reserves, official figures show. China's FX reserves

China stocks hammered again as confidence melts

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Chinese stocks tumbled further Friday morning amid a fresh wave of panic selling, as a flurry of recently released measures by the Chinese government and the central bank failed to bolster investor confidence. The Shanghai Composite Index plunged 6.9% to 3,645, adding to the previous day’s 3.5% fall. The benchmark index has sunk roughly 30% from its June 12 peak, falling 9 out of the 13 past trading sessions. The China Securities Regulatory Commission, the nation’s financial regulator, said Thursday night on its website that it had decided to launch an investigation into suspected market manipulation possibly linked to recent market turmoil. At the same time, People’s Bank of China Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan pledged Thursday in an internal meeting that the central bank would hold the line against systemic and regional financial risk. Dragged by the weakness in mainland Chinese stocks, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index turned lower after brief opening gains, down 0.3%, with the mainland-China-tracking Hang Seng China Enterprises Index losing 1.3%. Chinese brokerage firms suffered sharp losses, as Shenwan Hongyuan H.K. Ltd. dropped 7.4%, China Everbright Ltd. slid 6.1%, and Citic Securities Co. sagged 4%. Insurers were also hit hard, with Citic Securities Co. down 6.2%, China Pacific Insurance Group Co. off 5.6%, and PICC Property & Calsualty Co. dropping 3.9%. However, several Macau casino operators bucked the weak trend to add to their recent gains, as Sands China Ltd. advanced 1.4%, and rival MGM China Holdings Ltd. crept 0.4% higher. 

Red Chip Bloodbath Accelerates——-Chinese Market Now Down 29% Since June 12 Peak
By Bloomberg Business

By Kyoungwha Kim at Bloomberg

The Shanghai Composite Index capped its steepest three-week decline since 1992 as measures to shore up Chinese equities failed to stop margin traders from unwinding positions at a record pace.

The benchmark equity measure fell 5.8 percent to 3,686.92 at the close, extending losses to 29 percent since the June 12 peak. Chinese shares have erased more than $2.8 trillion of value in three weeks, marking an abrupt end to the longest bull market in the nation’s history. Just 39 of the 1,106 stocks in the Shanghai Composite posted gains on Friday, paced by PetroChina Co. amid speculation of buying by state-backed funds.

With the Shanghai gauge tumbling more than twice as fast as any other index worldwide, regulators have pledged to investigatemarket manipulation and unveiled measures to revive confidence among the nation’s 90 million individual investors. The steps have so far been overshadowed by concern that leveraged traders will keep liquidating bullish bets after equity valuations exceeded levels during the country’s stock-market bubble in 2007.

“For now, the mood is verging on panic, and it is extremely hard to calm a bear who is in a rage,” said Bernard Aw, a strategist at IG Asia Pte. in Singapore. “Chinese brokers may still be looking at reducing their risk exposure by closing more margin debt.”

The outstanding balance of margin loans on the Shanghai Stock Exchange dropped for a ninth day on Thursday, sliding to 1.29 trillion yuan ($208 billion) in the longest stretch of declines since the city’s bourse began compiling the data. A five-fold surge in borrowing had helped propel the gauge to a 150 percent advance in the 12 months through June 12. 

Guess What Happened The Last Time The Chinese Stock Market Crashed Like This?
By Michael Snyder

The second largest stock market in the entire world is collapsing right in front of our eyes.  Since hitting a peak in June, the most important Chinese stock market index has plummeted by well over 20 percent, and more than 3 trillion dollars of “paper wealth” has been wiped out.  Of course the Shanghai Composite Index is still way above the level it was sitting at exactly one year ago, but what is so disturbing about this current crash is that it is so similar to what we witnessed just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008 in the United States.  From October 2006 to October 2007, the Shanghai Composite Index more than tripled in value.  It was the greatest stock market surge in Chinese history.  But after hitting a peak, it began to fall dramatically.  From October 2007 to October 2008, the Shanghai Composite Index absolutely crashed.  In the end, more than two-thirds of all wealth in the market was completely wiped out.  You can see all of this on a chart that you can find right here.  What makes this so important to U.S. investors is the fact that Chinese stocks started crashing well before U.S. stocks started crashing during the last financial crisis, and now it is happening again.  Is this yet another sign that a U.S. stock market crash is imminent?

Over the past several months, I have been trying to hammer home the comparisons between what we are experiencing right now and the lead up to the U.S. financial crisis in the second half of 2008.  Today, I want to share with you an excerpt from a New York Times article that was published in April 2008.  At that time, the Chinese stock market crash was already well underway, but U.S. stocks were still in great shape… 

Chinese Government "Losing Control": Stocks Are Collapsing, Hitting New Bear Market Lows

As one local reporter put it, despite being told not to say anything negative, "the government appeared to have lost its ability to manage the market." Chinese stocks are down 4-5% at the open, pressing new cycle lows with Shenzhen and CHINEXT now down 25% from last week.

As The South China Morning Post reports, many investors said the government was at least partly to blame for the collapse because it encouraged them to go into the market - for months, state-owned media have issued daily commentaries to encourage people to load up on shares.

And now the payback: even more utter carnage: 

China's Boom Has World Bank Worried
By William Pesek

The World Bank has a timely warning for Chinese President Xi Jinping: Don't let all that money go to your head.                        
The global lender didn't refer directly to Shanghai's stock boom or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (Beijing's attempt to develop a World Bank of its own). Nor did it have to. By urging Beijing to clamp down on wasteful investment, unsustainable debt, and a shadow banking industry run amok, it was delivering a clear enough warning that President Xi should stop fanning China's giant asset bubble. The World Bank was also implying China should get its own economic house in order before trying to change the global economy.

"China has reached a critical phase of its economic and social development path," the lender said in a new report released Wednesday. The economy "will need to be transformed to increase the efficiency of new investments and widen access to finance, enabling China to sustain solid growth and rebalance its economy."

The World Bank's admonishment was amplified by a fascinating milestone the Chinese economy reached this week -- one that presents Xi's government with a complicated image problem. China's 90 mainland stock traders now outnumber its 87.8 million Communist Party members. This changing of the guard, if you will, is taking place the same week the party celebrated its 94th anniversary -- hardly what Mao Zedong had in mind when he led the Communists to power in 1949.

In truth, China's fast-growing legions of stock traders are betting on a type of financial Communism. Everyone knows the Chinese economy is slowing and deflation is approaching, but markets have generally stayed aloft amid perceptions Xi will use the full power of the state to protect investments. Along with weekend interest-rate cuts, authorities have just made it easier to take on even more leverage. Brokerages now have leeway to boost lending by about $300 billion. 

HSBC China Services PMI: Slowest expansion in over a year

FXStreet (Bali) - Chinese business activity expanded at slowest rate in over a year, with the HSBC China Services Business Activity Index posting 51.8, down from May’s eight-month high of 53.5, Markit reports.

Commenting on the China Services and Composite PMI™ data, Annabel Fiddes, Economist at Markit said: “In the service sector, business activity, new orders and employment all expanded at slower rates, while optimism towards the business outlook also moderated.Meanwhile, manufacturers cut their staff numbers at the quickest rate in over six years and output fell slightly for the second month in a row."

Fiddes adds: "Tentative signs of improvement were evident at manufacturers, however, with new orders and purchasing activity rising slightly in June. However, the persistent underperformance of manufacturers combined with a slowdown in the service sector could prompt the authorities to introduce further stimulus measures to ensure growth momentum improves in the second half of the year - and reach the GDP growth target of around 7%.”

Plunge a sign China’s magic wand is losing its power

CHINESE policymakers seem to have exhausted whatever magical powers they had been using to keep their economy aloft. Chinese stocks have been plunging even as Beijing has used every trick it knows to support the market.

The truth is that the plunge in Chinese stocks was long overdue. China’s longest-ever bull market was government-driven, fuelled by central bank liquidity and a public-relations bonanza. The question now is whether Beijing’s policy apparatus has lost its ability to impose its will on stock prices. And there’s good reason to think it has.

Stocks slid 3.3 percent on Monday even after an aggressive three-pronged easing effort over the weekend. People’s Bank of China (PBOC) governor Zhou Xiaochuan cut the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points to a record low of 4.85 percent, slashed the deposit rate to 2 percent and reduced reserve ratios for some lenders.

As stocks plunged anyway, China’s securities regulators tried to cheer traders by announcing they would consider suspending initial public offerings (IPOs) in order to increase demand for existing shares. The sell orders still accelerated. Next, government officials assured the record numbers of individual investors entering the market that the risks from margin trading are controllable. Selling ensued regardless.

Only time will tell if Beijing’s bag of tricks is empty. But if it is, the fallout on global markets could dwarf the impact of Greece’s flirtation with default. The world, after all, has had a few years to contemplate a Greek exit from the euro. But if the world’s biggest trading nation suddenly hit a wall, it would be a catastrophe of a different order, wreaking havoc on economies near and far.

At the very least, it would kill Japan’s nascent recovery, push Australia into its first recession in a quarter century, send shockwaves through South Korea, Indonesia and India, and devastate commodity-exporting nations everywhere. Officials in Beijing get this, of course. That’s why they’re conjuring up every policy they can think of to stabilise stocks. But Beijing is suddenly realising that it can’t pull its usual levers with the same results.


The Problem with the Buy High, Sell Low Scheme in China

An inconspicuous yet widespread practice has some troubling implications.
By Shi Han

Chinese business executives often don’t make money the same way their Western counterparts do. Instead of adhering to the fundamental capitalist practice of buying low and selling high, many state-owned enterprises (SOE) deceive the government by doing the reverse – buying products at high prices then selling them at prices lower than competitive rates. This allows the business executives to make substantial sums in the form of kickbacks.

This illicit buy-high, sell-low business scheme is inconspicuous yet widespread in China and has troubling implications with respect to the proper working of the market signals. The popularity of the practice takes on systemic significance, since state companies generate as much as one-third of China’s GDP.

In a buy-high, sell-low situation, the SOE’s purchasing managers receive part of the additional revenue that the private seller gained by selling at the jacked-up prices. When SOE sales managers sell products at a low price, they receive a portion of the profit that the private buyer makes after he or she resells the low-priced items at higher prices on the free market.

For example, a SOE purchasing manager at a petrochemical plant may instruct a processing equipment provider to sell a piece of $1 million equipment to them for the price of $5 million. In this case, the difference of $4 million would be split between the purchasing manager and the supplier. The purchasing manager has little interest in driving down the purchase price since he makes money by haggling the price up. On the sales front, an SOE sales manager at a chemical plant may intentionally sell a marketable chemical to a customer at half the going rate in exchange for a kickback after the chemical is sold again at the higher rate elsewhere. Since a lower sales price for the private buyer would increase his margin and the kickback, the sales manager is financially motivated to drive the sales price down.

Aside from enriching culprits, the buy-high, sell-low loop creates little economic benefit. The engine is running at full speed but the car is not going anywhere. The busy system is idling.  The loop hurts the economy by keeping state companies in the red and makes them incapable of delivering products and services in a financially viable manner. It disables the market’s mechanism of balancing supply and demand in a way that eradicates inefficiencies.

China’s Stock Market Meltdown

After an astonishing surge, stocks dive. Can China control it?
By Sara Hsu

Just after we posted an article on China’s amazing stock market success in recent months, the bubble burst and the frenzied buying went into reverse. Last week was the worst since 2008. The CSI 300 Index, which tracks the 300 largest companies in China, experienced its biggest one-day loss in seven years last Friday.

The sharp stock market selloff occurred shortly after Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) chose not to add Chinese shares to the MSCI Emerging markets Index, since institutional stock quotas are insufficient, capital controls are cumbersome, and ownership rules via the stock-connect program are unclear. Although this was not the sole reason for the stock slump, it certainly did not help matters when Morgan Stanley also released a pre-market research note predicting a decline in the Shanghai Composite and other analysts followed suit. Fears of overvaluation in the stock market have been confirmed in recent days.

The hype surrounding China’s stock market had mounted in recent months, as news pundits and laymen alike checked in on stock performance with increasing frequency. Millions of individual investors with little experience in the stock market had joined the speculative madness as stories of friends and relatives making large gains in the stock market abounded. The Shanghai Composite Index passed the 5,000 mark for the first time since January 2008 in early June.

The ascent of the stock market followed the bursting of the real estate and shadow banking bubbles in 2014. Some of these funds were channeled into the stock market. The stock market surge was also fuelled by margin loans extended by banks, reaching 2.3 trillion RMB on June 18. Now margin calls are forcing small investors to sell their shares or add more margin to cover their losses. The presence of margin calls has sped up the stock selloff just as rapidly as it accelerated the buying spree. Rules to loosen margin trading and short selling requirements were released for public comment on June 12, but did not end the stock sell-off. These rules allowed for the extension of contract terms beyond the current period of six months.

The Chinese government has viewed the stock market rally as a bubble, which it has attempted to gently deflate. As the market declined, the People’s Bank of China was forced to implement monetary easing policies to prevent a liquidity crunch, cutting the one-year lending rate by 0.25 percentage points to 4.85 percent and reducing some banks’ reserve requirement ratios over the weekend. Easing actions have been dubbed the “Zhou put” by traders who view People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan’s monetary policy as a way to maintain economic activity. Still, the current stock market downturn has managed to deflate only the last month’s speculative activities; the Shanghai Composite Index is back at May levels, with plenty of room to slide further. How long the “Zhou put” can last, at least in terms of bolstering the stock market, has yet to be seen.

""LAB RATS"" of Planet EARTH...................................READ this LINK Below!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

China HARD Landing..........................."IS" Happening NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing Can STOP the 2015 ""GLOBAL RECESSION""................NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ukraine Says Russian Generals Lead Separatists
By Eli Lake & Josh Rogin

Five Russian generals are playing a key role in organizing and commanding separatist forces inside Ukraine, according to a dossier provided by Ukraine's security service to the Obama administration last month.

The document, obtained by us, is a consensus product of the Security Service of Ukraine and dated June 16. It identifies five Russian generals and a Russian colonel as playing a senior leadership role inside Ukraine. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that Russian military personnel are directing military operations inside the country. Top Ukrainian intelligence officials shared the document with White House, State Department and U.S. intelligence officials in Washington late last month.

U.S. officials have confirmed receiving the document and told us that the information it contains generally conforms to U.S. intelligence assessments of Russian activity inside Ukraine. For more than a year, U.S. and NATO officials have accused Russia's special operations forces and its military intelligence agency of aiding separatists in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian intelligence document goes further than previous public information by accusing specific Russian generals of being involved. These include Major General Oleg Mussovich Tsekov, who it says commands two brigades of the Luhansk People's Militia, and Major General Valerii Nikolaevich Solodchuk, accused of commanding the first army corps of the separatist Novorossia armed forces in Donetsk. Other officers named include Major General Sergey Yurievich Kuzovlev, who it says commands regular Russian military operations in the Luhansk region and Major General Aleksei Vladimirovich Zavizion, who commands and coordinates Russian military operations in the Donetsk region. The dossier identifies Major General Roman Aleksandrovich Shadrin as the minister of state security for the Luhansk People's Republic. It also says Colonel Anatolii Konstantinovich Barankevich, a former minister of defense for the Georgian breakaway republic of South Ossetia, serves as an adviser for combat readiness for the Luhansk People's Republic.

Mark Galeotti, an expert on the Russian security services at New York University, told us that the Ukrainian intelligence document for the most part confirmed what he has learned about Russia's role in Ukraine. He said the identification of the Russian generals represented an important development. "Up to now you have seen Russians lieutenants, captains and majors in Ukraine," he said.  "But now they are actually embedding their senior officers; these are Russian commanders." 

Wake Up Europe. Peace Doesn't Preserve Itself
By Stephen Blank

Amid multiple signs of an impending battle in Ukraine, NATO and Ukraine have stepped up their response. But so has Russia. Ukrainian officials claim to have 60,000 troops in the field against an estimated 54,000 Russian forces in the Donbas. A large-scale conventional theater in the Donbas is a real danger this summer. But Moscow is not merely focused on Ukraine. Russia has made numerous nuclear threats, buzzed US and NATO ships in the Black Sea, moved Iskander missiles to Crimea and Kaliningrad, built up a formidable anti-access and area-denial (A2AD) force along the Russian border, conducted major Arctic exercises, and continued its probes against northern European and US targets.

Russia's aggressive measures haven't gone unnoticed. NATO reinforced its forces in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe by sending ships to the Black Sea, carrying out military exercises, and tripling the size of its rapid reaction force to 40,000. The EU renewed sanctions last week. Lithuania and Poland are building LNG terminals, and gas interconnectors are being built across Central and Eastern Europe to ensure greater energy independence from Russia. The United States has pledged to help NATO's rapid reaction force with airlifts, air-to-air fueling as well as with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Washington will also station tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and self-propelled howitzers in six NATO countries on Russia's flank.

Russia argues that NATO's recent moves are unnecessarily provocative and may mandate some sort of undefined military response. But such claims are misplaced. Russia initiated this crisis by its unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. Second, Moscow possesses a huge margin of conventional superiority in all theaters from the Baltic to the Black Seas. NATO's actions have hardly made a dent in that superiority and, if Russia invaded the Baltic states today, NATO commanders are skeptical that those states could hold out for any length of time.

As Russian threats continue to grow, NATO must step up its game. Permanently stationed forces in both the Baltic and Black Sea areas comprising land, air, sea, and information warfare capabilities are needed. Given the size of the forces currently in Ukraine and the high likelihood of more fighting, it's entirely possible that fighting might spill beyond Ukraine's borders.

This is admittedly a sobering message to NATO and the EU, but it is also a message that must be heeded. According to recent Pew polling, all NATO member publics are more likely to think the United States will come to an ally's defense than to be willing to do so themselves.

Russia In Talks To Supply Armenia With Iskander-M Missiles As Battle Lines Drawn Across Europe
By Christopher Harress

Iskander Missile

Russia is poised to sign a contract with the Armenian military to provide Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles, reported Tass, a Kremlin-owned Russian website, on Thursday. The supply of weapons, and long-range missiles in particular, to its former Soviet allies underlines Russia’s continued influence in Eastern Europe and showcases its growing military reach on the ever-fractured continent. 

"The contract has not been signed, talks are underway," a military source told Tass, while also mentioning that "all information on such contracts is secret."

Since annexing Crimea in April 2014 and becoming involved in eastern Ukraine a month later, Russia has managed to drive a wedge between East and West, drawing on allegiances from former Soviet Republics such as Moldova, Armenia and Belarus. But the defense sales also give Russia breathing space as EU-led sanctions imposed for its indiscretions in Europe continue to drag its recession-hit economy down. The falling price of oil earlier this year also has hurt Moscow’s spending power.

In addition to defense deals in Europe, Moscow is selling its hardware to customers such as India, Pakistan, China and Iran, much to the displeasure of the United States and Europe as both are currently negotiating with Iran over lifting financial sanctions there in exchange for Western-led inspections on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.   

KBM, the company that builds the Iskander-M missile, said the systems will not be ready until 2016 at the earliest. In recent months, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan have shown interest in purchasing the missile too.




The Moscow-Beijing axis has outmanoeuvred the old trans-Atlantic alliance

There is a sense among Europeans that their security is no longer central to US strategy, write Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard.
By Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard

Until recently, most Europeans believed their post–Cold War security order held universal appeal and could be a model for the rest of the world. This conviction was hardly surprising, since Europe has often played a central role in global affairs. For much of the past three centuries, European order was world order – a product of the interests, ambitions and rivalries of the continent's empires. And even during the Cold War, when the new superpowers stood on opposite sides of the continent, the central struggle was between two European ideologies, democratic capitalism and communism, and over control of the European lands in-between.

Still, it was not until 1989 that a distinctly European model of international conduct emerged, one that represented a radical departure from the assumptions and practices that still held elsewhere. In June 1989, communist authoritarians in China crushed that country's nascent pro-democracy movement; that same year, communist authoritarians in Europe gave way without a fight as the Berlin Wall fell. For Europe's leading intellectuals, this moment signified more than the conclusion of the Cold War; it marked the beginning of a new kind of peace. "What came to an end in 1989," British diplomat Robert Cooper wrote some years later, "was not just the Cold War or even, in a formal sense, the Second World War", but "the political systems of three centuries: the balance of power and the imperial urge".

Indeed, the Cold War ended without a peace treaty or a parade – it seemed at the time a victory for both sides – and Europe's new system washed its hands of old notions of sovereignty. Continental leaders were not interested in creating new states, as they had been after World War I. Nor did they move people around to secure existing ones, as they had done following World War II. Instead, they sought to change the nature of borders themselves, encouraging the free flow of capital, people, goods and ideas. Political maps fell out of fashion; economic graphs took their place. Diplomats in Brussels came to see economic interdependence, international legal institutions and mutual interference in one another's domestic politics as their primary source of security. And later, in the wake of US failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, military force lost its lustre.

Europeans were aware that this order was distinctive but also believed it could expand well beyond the European Union – to Turkey, to Russia and to the postcommunist countries of eastern Europe. They expected their model would spread naturally, whether through the enlargement of NATO, the extension of EU ties to states on the union's periphery or the ascent of global institutions that enshrined European norms, such as the International Criminal Court and the World Trade Organisation. So long as citizens could choose freely, the thinking went, governments would eventually embrace the European way. 

New questions about America's global prestige(All Thanks to Obama, Hillary and Kerry)

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel 

Clear and Present Danger: A Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East

If the framework for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran's nuclear program is successfully carried forward it will be a major achievement but also a great risk for the region and the entire world, as Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles capable of carrying WMDs throughout the Middle East. Moreover, Iran’s progress on space launch vehicles provides Tehran with the means and motivation to develop longer-range missiles, potentially deterring the USA and its allies.

If the framework for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) announced in Switzerland on April 2 regarding Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program and detailed in a US State Department Fact Sheet is successfully carried forward to an agreed Plan of Action (due to be concluded by June 30), it will be a major achievement, in spite of Israel’s concerns. Being extremely vulnerable in a highly explosive region, its comprehensive attitude should be well understood.

But the Lausanne framework should not be seen as the end of the process. It is a definitive step, but it will need to be followed by a number of concrete actions before we can consider that the Iranian nuclear problem has been resolved.

If the deal is agreed in June, and if it is faithfully implemented, which is highly doubtful, it could perhaps give all parties – Iran, its neighbors, and the wider international community – 15 years of breathing space. What ever the case,  it remains essential to use this time effectively to ensure the deal doesn’t just ‘kick the can’ down the road. During this period decisions need to be made by Iran and the other partners of the deal, to ensure that the Middle East does not end up in a South Asia-style nuclear arms race. It is essential to ensure that the consequences for crossing the threshold remain high enough to deter Iran from doing so. This will require the US to keep a high level of engagement in Middle East affairs and constant alert by intelligence monitoring, for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, judging by its performance  since the outbreak of the ISIS war, this was so far hardly commendable.

It is by no means a forgone conclusion that Iran really wants nuclear weapons, though the Tehran Mullahs no doubt believe that having the capability to produce nuclear weapons within a relatively short time – what is termed nuclear hedging – has major strategic value for the Shi’ite State. Its main objective is to dominate the Sunni majority in the region and especially in the Persian Gulf and thus mainly curbing Saudi Arabian influence.

The U.S. must take a more active role in the region for what will be a race for “nuclearization” preferring energy development over weaponization. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the nations of Egypt, Kuwait, the UAE, Jordan, Qatar, and Turkey will all attempt their own missile and nuclear programs with varying degrees of success and competence Saudi Arabia has been openly planning on acquiring South Korean, French, and Japanese reactors ostensibly to power desalinization plants That leaves Arabs and Persians, Sunni and Shi’a in what can only be described as a struggle of religious and deadly proportions across the spectrum of conflict and in possession of weapons, which cannot be contained, all this atop half the world’s oil and gas, and astride much of the world’s most vital shipping lanes. 

Iran deal: Why is it that every time Iran stands up to US, we back down?
By Cal Thomas

Am I allowed to repeat myself when it comes to the negotiations over the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal?

Why not, since that is what Iran’s leaders are doing. They are repeating themselves by refusing inspections of some of their facilities where only a fool would believe nuclear weapons are not under construction. They are repeating themselves when they demand all sanctions be lifted on the day any deal is signed. And let’s not forget Iran’s weekly “Death to America” chants at Friday prayer services, though publicly politicians in Tehran are said to denounce them. Why would anyone in his right diplomatic mind believe anything these subsidizers of terrorism say, especially when they appear to believe their religion requires them to build a bomb, obliterate Israel, eliminate America and subject the world to Sharia law?

U.S. officials, from President Obama, to Secretary of State John Kerry, repeat themselves with empty assurances that the deal, if it comes after the latest “deadline” has passed, will be a good one for America and the world. Trust them, they repeatedly say. Yet each time Iran stands up to the U.S., American officials appear to back down.

Stephen F. Hayes of the Weekly Standard has listed some of the many contradictory statements made by American leaders about Iran’s nuclear program.

What does the US Military See as its Greatest Threat?

China’s activities in the South China Sea are prominently featured in the Pentagon’s latest strategy document.
By Franz-Stefan Gady

Today, the Pentagon released a new national military strategy that warns that the United States’ comparative military advantage has begun to erode due to a more conflict-prone international system that includes revisionist states that are undermining transregional security as well as violent extremist organizations.

The highest-ranking U.S. military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, notes in the document’s introduction that since the publication of the last National Military Strategy in 2011, “global disorder has significantly increased”.

“We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups – all taking advantage of rapid technological change. Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield,” he additionally underlines.

The strategy notes that the United States is attempting to deter, dissuade and – if need be – defeat potential state adversaries, while simultaneously pushing to degrade and defeat violent extremist organizations across the globe.

However, despite noting that in the past decade, U.S. military campaigns “primarily have consisted of operations against violent extremist networks,” the strategy very clearly outlines that the United States military sees the military potential of nation states as the biggest threat to U.S. national security in the future:

Despite these changes, states remain the international system’s dominant actors. They are preeminent in their capability to harness power, focus human endeavors, and provide security.

The document specifically lists four states that in one way or the other threaten America’s national security: Russia, Iran, North Korea and China. 

The National Military Strategy of the United States of America 2015

Crowded waters
Naval competition in the Asia–Pacific
By Sheryn Lee

A Naval Arms Race in Asia 

Crowded waters: naval competition in the Asia–Pacific and the ADF
By Sheryn Lee

Japan Maritime Self Defense Force

Claims that a destabilising ‘arms race’ is underway in the Asia–Pacific have become commonplace and are supported by reports that regional defence spending has surpassed Europe for the third consecutive year. As my ASPI report released today shows, the corollary of this situation is intensifying naval competition in the region. The implications for Australia and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) are significant.

Decisions on arms acquisitions in the Asia–Pacific continue to be driven by a multitude of strategic rationales and domestic factors. The significant changes underway since 2008 raise questions regarding the primary motivation behind regional naval acquisitions, including their supporting air capabilities.

Maritime disputes between China and its neighbours have increased tensions and affected countries’ military modernisation programs. These tensions have driven the requirement for greater surveillance capabilities and signals intelligence systems as well as more surface combatants with longer endurance and platforms able to launch anti-ship missiles, submarines, and long-range aircraft.

These disputes occur in the context of heightened uncertainty about the future distribution of regional power, particularly between the US and China. Consequently, regional naval arms decisions are increasingly driven by ‘action–reaction’ dynamics—reciprocal dynamics in which developments in offensive and defensive capabilities become an interactive process in which the arms requirements of one party depend upon the known, assumed or anticipated capabilities of the forces of other parties; Those dynamics are manifested in counter-reaction (where one party responds to another’s capabilities) and mirror-reaction (where a party imitates another’s capabilities). In other words, these dynamics display some of the important characteristics of an arms race and show that the Asia–Pacific maritime zone is indeed becoming more contested, and potentially more volatile.

Obviously, there are regional differences between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia. Naval ‘action–reaction’ dynamics are most clearly visible in Northeast Asia. It should be noted that a common argument (see for instance here) against the emergence of naval arms races or serious competition in Asia is that defence spending as a percentage of GDP remains rather modest in most countries. That’s also true for northeast Asian countries. However, this measure doesn’t take into account the real value amount, nor does it consider the sophistication or type of the defence equipment acquired by individual countries. Doing so paints a different picture, one that shows that China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are increasingly reacting to each other’s capabilities and modernisation efforts. US capabilities are a key factor in this equation as well.

The picture in Southeast Asia is more complex. The South China Sea has dominated strategic rationales for increasing capabilities, particularly submarines. Since 2012 the number of naval platforms in many countries decreased while military expenditure continued to climb, indicating substantial efforts to modernise and invest in fewer but more capable systems. Despite these efforts, Southeast Asian countries (with the exception of Singapore) haven’t yet worked out how to develop, operate and sustain sophisticated capabilities. Should the ADF deploy to Southeast Asia in the future, it could face more sophisticated capabilities.

While the ADF won’t lose its ‘capability edge’ in Southeast Asia in the medium term, in the short term investments in certain platforms increase the chance of a ‘lucky punch’. For instance, Indonesia is testing supersonic missiles from its frigates and putting Chinese anti-ship cruise missiles on fast attack craft. With rising economic growth, Southeast Asian countries will better address problems such as maintenance and logistics and increase their combat capability through improved situational awareness and better command and control systems. 

No More Easy Victories for the U.S. Military?

America’s enemies have gone to school and are developing counter-strategies to challenge its military supremacy.
By Franz-Stefan Gady

Last week, in a speech delivered to a Rand Corp. audience in Washington D.C., U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work preached his usual sermon about the slipping technological edge of the United States military and the growing danger posed by effective countermeasures to the American Way of War primarily based on precision-strike regimes (see: “The End of the American Way of War?”).

“Big state powers like Russia and China are catching up,” Work warned. “This is going to require a fundamental rethinking of how the joint force operates.” Precision-guided warfare has slowly spread among U.S. competitors across the globe and, as a consequence, can no longer be counted on as providing U.S. forces with the decisive edge to achieve victory in combat. Consequently, the American way of war has to change Work emphasized:

The first thing on any offset policy is to have a demonstrated capability to win the emerging guided munitions salvo competition. That is job number one. This demonstrated ability to win this competition will underwrite our conventional deterrence in the 21st century, and if we don’t have it, we are going to be faced with a lot of problems that we do not want to face.

As I reported before,  Work believes that it is time to develop a new “third offset strategy” based on robot weapons and remote-controlled warfare on the one hand, while simultaneously relying on conventional and cheaper military hardware such as the new M109A7 Paladin (see: “The US Army’s Deadly New Gun”) –  capable of firing precision munition – on the other hand.

Echoing Work’s remarks, a new report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment (CSBA) points out that  “China, Iran, and others potential adversaries have also developed air and missile defenses, electronic warfare systems, and other active countermeasures to prevent U.S. strike systems and the PGMs they launch from reaching targets. Passive countermeasures such as making weapon systems mobile and hardening or deeply burying important facilities threaten to further degrade the effectiveness of U.S. precision strikes.”

Rather than relying on expensive current-generation precision guided munitions, the CSBA report recommends the creation of new operational concepts including:

Confronting China’s 'New' Military Challenge in the South China Sea
Confronting China’s 'New' Military Challenge in the South China Sea

Beijing is just getting started, and its actions demand a response.
By Prashanth Parameswaran

Earlier this week, China announced that it had completed some of its land reclamation activities on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. As I have written previously, what these announcements really mean is that as we suspected, Beijing is shifting the focus from building new illegal islands to constructing military facilities on them (See: “The Truth About China’s South China Sea Land Reclamation Announcement”). Needless to say, these provocative acts risk further damaging regional peace and stability and undermining U.S. interests. As the emphasis moves to this dimension of China’s challenge in the South China Sea it is worth thinking about what this means and how Washington and other actors can begin to confront it.

The first step is to be clear about what China is doing and what this means for other claimant states, the United States and other interested actors. On the first point, the latest public satellite imagery confirms what some have long known – Beijing is building military facilities on several features, some of which can be used for offensive purposes against other claimants and states (See: “How Close is China to Another South China Sea Airstrip?”). These include an airstrip, troop garrisons, anti-air and anti-surface guns and radar and communications equipment. These facilities will boost China’s ability to patrol surrounding waters and monitor the activities of their claimants, thereby making it easier for Beijing to assert its own (extensive) claims and blunt other claimants’ efforts to challenge it from doing so.

China’s militarization of these islands is destabilizing and violates its own commitments to its neighbors. Most notably, it clearly goes against the 2002 Declaration on the Code of Parties (DoC) it signed with ASEAN, which calls for self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate and escalate disputes and affect peace and stability. While other claimants have some facilities they built in the past as well, China’s will dwarf them considerably. Besides, to be clear, the vast asymmetry in capabilities between China and the other claimants, combined with Beijing’s proven willingness to exploit them through destabilizing actions in the South China Sea – be it seizing Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012, moving an oil rig into Vietnamese waters in 2014, and encroaching into waters in the southern end of its illegal nine-dash line reaching Malaysia and Indonesia – makes any comparison with other claimants rather suspect (See: “Malaysia Responds to China’s South China Sea Intrusion”).

Japan’s South China Sea Strategy

Tokyo doesn’t have a claim to the sea, but it certainly cares about what happens there.
By Mina Pollmann

In recent weeks, the world has turned its collective attention to China’s intensive artificial island building activity in the South China Sea, where the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, the Scarborough Shoal and a number of other features are disputed territory. Although Japan is not directly involved in the disputes – China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims – it is nonetheless an interested party.

Japanese policymakers closely monitor developments in the South China Sea and seek to shape both actual Chinese behavior and the global discourse about such behavior. For Japan, a major concern is that the handling of the territorial disputes in the South China Sea could set a precedent with the potential to negatively affect how China will act vis-à-vis Japan in the East China Sea, where the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are disputed between Japan and China.

If Chinese leaders see their strategy of unilaterally changing the “facts on the water” through increased patrols and island-building go unchallenged in the South China Sea, they may be emboldened to try a more aggressive strategy in the East China Sea. Island-building specifically is not an issue in the East China Sea – what is really at stake for Japan in the South China Sea is the larger issue of offering credible support for smaller states’ sovereignty claims, or at least supporting their right to settle border disputes without threats or the use of force. Japan cannot afford to let the major powers passively sit on the sidelines while China solidifies de facto control over disputed features in the South China Sea through a series of faits accomplis achieved through intimidation.

Dempsey on New Strategy: Global Disorder Trending Upward
By RICHARD R. Burgess

RLINGTON, Va. — The United States military must be “able to rapidly adapt to new threats while maintaining comparative advantage over traditional ones,” the nation’s top military officer said in the forward to a revised national military strategy.

“Since the last national military strategy was published four years ago, global disorder has trended upward while some of our comparative advantages have begun to erode,” said Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when announcing to reporters at the Pentagon July 1 the new strategy set forth in the document “The National Military Strategy of the United States of America 2015.”

 “In this context, the 2015 strategy recognizes that success will increasingly depend how well our military instrument supports the other instruments of national power, and how it enables our network of allies and partners,” he said. “This strategy continues the call for greater agility, innovation and integration of the joint force. It reinforces the need for the United States military to remain globally engaged to shape the security environment and it renews our professional commitment to develop leaders who will bring this strategy to life.”

The new strategy identifies globalization, a diffusion of technology and demographic shifts as key factors in the strategic environment. The diffusion of technology is “challenging competitive advantages” in such areas as precision strike and early warning.

The document identifies Iran, Russia and North Korea as states that are “acting in a manner that threatens our national security interests,” though none are believed to be seeking military confrontation with the United States. The strategy supports China’s rise and encourages it to become a partner, but also notes with concern its tension-increasing activities in the South China Sea. 

Will Russia Really Build 24 Hypersonic Nuclear Missiles by 2020?

By Zachary Keck

Russia will build 24 nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles over the next decade, according to a new report.

This month, Jane’s Intelligence Review published a report revealing that Russia secretly tested its Yu-71 hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) from an SS-19 missile in February of this year. “A test launch from the Dombarovsky missile division site in February 2015 suggests that Russia is actively pursuing the development of a hypersonic glide vehicle that could potentially expand the long-range strike capabilities of its Strategic Rocket Forces,” the Jane’s report said, the Washington Times reported.

However, that test, like previously Russian ones, was reportedly a failure.

Jane’s went on to say that, unlike America’s conventional global prompt strike (CGPS) program, Russia is developing its hypersonic missiles with nuclear warheads in mind. “Russia appears to be considering the option of deploying its hypersonic system in a nuclear, as well as conventional, configuration.”

Along with countries like China and the United States, Russia’s been developing hypersonic missiles in recent years under its Project 4202. The Yu-71 missile is expected to reach 11,200 kilometers per hour (7,000 miles per hour) and is extremely maneuverable. The maneuverability of hypersonic missiles allows the projectiles to skirt most missile defense systems, which are aimed at targeting the predictable trajectories of ballistic missiles.

Moscow has repeatedly expressed concern that America’s missile defense systems threaten its strategic nuclear forces. As such, it makes sense that Moscow would equip its hypersonic missiles with nuclear warheads.

The Jane’s report indicates that by the time Russia’s Yu-71 hypersonic missile enters into service, Moscow may also have its new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile to launch it from. The Sarmat is a liquid-fuel ICBM that is able to carry multiple warheads.

Russian Pilot Shot Flares at Swedish Jet

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden's top military commander says Russian fighter pilots are behaving in an increasingly aggressive manner in northern Europe, flying dangerously close to Swedish Air Force jets and in some cases even releasing flares at them.

Supreme Commander Sverker Goransson told a seminar on the Swedish island of Gotland on Monday that the Russians are breaking the normal rules of conduct for when military aircraft meet in the air.

He said examples include Russian planes breaking formation, flying at unsafe distances and using "countermeasures" that "nearly bounce off the metal" of the Swedish aircraft.

The Swedish military on Tuesday confirmed he was talking about decoy flares designed to divert incoming missiles.

Goransson said he believes their behavior is "sanctioned at the highest level. Otherwise they wouldn't act this way."

New 'National Military Strategy' warns of risk, change
By Andrew Tilghman

The Pentagon's new "National Military Strategy" released Wednesday warns that the threat of major war with another nation is "growing" and significant changes to the military personnel policies and culture will be required to succeed in the 21st century.

The 17-page document was updated to reflect a new global security situation in which the U.S. is facing near-peer adversaries like Russia and China while simultaneously trying to diffuse non-state militant groups like the Islamic State.

"Since the last National Military Strategy was published in 2011, global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode," Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, wrote in his introduction to the strategy document.

"We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups — all taking advantage of rapid technological change," Dempsey wrote. "We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly."

Russia Military!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

China Military!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

US blocks attempts by Arab allies to fly heavy weapons directly to Kurds to fight Islamic State

Middle East allies accuse Barack Obama and David Cameron of failing to show strategic leadership in fight against Islamic State
By Con Coughlin

The United States has blocked attempts by its Middle East allies to fly heavy weapons directly to the Kurds fighting Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, The Telegraph has learnt.

Some of America’s closest allies say President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, including David Cameron, are failing to show strategic leadership over the world’s gravest security crisis for decades.

They now say they are willing to “go it alone” in supplying heavy weapons to the Kurds, even if means defying the Iraqi authorities and their American backers, who demand all weapons be channelled through Baghdad.

High level officials from Gulf and other states have told this newspaper that all attempts to persuade Mr Obama of the need to arm the Kurds directly as part of more vigorous plans to take on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have failed. The Senate voted down one attempt by supporters of the Kurdish cause last month.

The officials say they are looking at new ways to take the fight to Isil without seeking US approval.

BREAKING: Egypt Suffers String Of Attacks…As ISIS Reveals New Terrifying Video

Islamic State affiliate Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis (Waliyat Sinai) simultaneous attacked at least five military checkpoints and a police station.
By Yochanan Visser

Today, Islamic State launched a string of massive attacks on Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula. Islamic State affiliate Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis (Waliyat Sinai) simultaneous attacked at least five military checkpoints and a police station in Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai this morning. At least 100 people died in the fighting that was still continuing hours later. 

ISIS.......................All thanks to Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!