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dkf

dkf's Journal
dkf's Journal
September 3, 2013

McCain: Obama to Send New Arms to Syrian Rebels

McCain: Obama to Send New Arms to Syrian Rebels
by Josh Rogin, Eli LakeSep 2, 2013 10:03 pm EDT
That’s what John McCain says the president promised to do if it means getting support for an attack on Syria. Josh Rogin and Eli Lake report on Obama's quickening war campaign.

In a private meeting at the White House on Monday with Senator John McCain, President Obama said he plans to give Syrian rebels more advanced weapons, according to McCain. If this happens, it would mark an expansion of Obama’s latest Syria strategy of possibly mounting a military response to Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham met with Obama to discuss the plan, which as currently outlined by the White House involves a limited mission to punish the Syrian regime’s use chemical weapons, as the Syrian president did most recently on Aug. 21, and deter future assaults. Administration officials have made clear that “regime change” is not an objective of the mission. But Obama’s new arming strategy would certainly help the rebels, whose goal is removal of the Assad regime. The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment on Monday.

“He said that he was willing to upgrade the capabilities of the Free Syrian Army,” McCain said in an interview with The Daily Beast, referring to the largest of the rebel groups. “This was a shift in the president’s thought and actions from before.”

McCain and Graham have said they want to know the president’s broader strategy for the Syrian conflict before voting on the war authorization.

Obama didn’t say which weapons he would give the rebels, but McCain said the FSA needs anti-armor and anti-aircraft weapons to shift the momentum on the ground to their side. He said if the administration gives him enough specifics about the new arms pledges, he’ll vote to authorize military action.

“For the first time, we have an outline of action that could lead to the removal of Bashar al Assad,” McCain said. “I’m certainly willing to join in that effort but I need to know a lot of the details.”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/02/obama-to-arm-syrian-rebels.html

Anyone feel comfortable giving Al Qaeda anti aircraft weapons? Anyone? Anyone?

September 2, 2013

Osborne rules out second vote over strikes on Syria if Assad regime carries out further chem attacks

Chancellor says vote ruled out intervention for the foreseeable future

Downing Street maintain that David Cameron maintains his stance that Britain cannot be involved


Britain will not launch military strikes against Syria, even if the regime carries out further nerve gas attacks on its own people, ministers said yesterday.

George Osborne and William Hague rejected growing calls for a second Commons vote.

They said last week’s vote had ruled out British military intervention in the crisis for the foreseeable future.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2408612/Osborne-rules-second-vote-strikes-Syria-Assad-regime-carries-chemical-attacks.html#ixzz2dmPxVpwB
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September 2, 2013

@PhilWilliamsABC: Another huge camp being prepared in Jordanian desert to hold 120,000 more Syrians

@PhilWilliamsABC: Another huge camp being prepared in Jordanian desert to hold 120,000 more Syrian refugees if required http://t.co/iv7sqjNiuy

https://mobile.twitter.com/PhilWilliamsABC/status/374344205415378944/photo/1

September 2, 2013

India’s economic mess is so desperate it’s considering busting sanctions on Iran

The worsening current-account deficit and the falling rupee are driving Indian policy-makers to propose moves that some might consider extreme, if not downright foolhardy.
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In June, Washington exempted India and eight other countries from financial sanctions on trading with Iran for reducing their dependence on Iranian oil. India, which had already cut its imports from Iran by 27% to 13.1 million tonnes (14.4 million tons) in the last fiscal year, imported just two million tonnes in the first five months of the current fiscal year. But now India’s oil minister, Veerappa Moily, has floated a proposal to restore them to last year’s levels. According to Moily’s calculations, doing so will help India save $8.5 billion in foreign-currency reserves, since Tehran accepts payments in rupees as part of a barter system between the two countries.
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The stakes are high. If India goes through with the proposal it could be cut off from the US financial system for six months. But the economic crisis could force India to tread the diplomatic tightrope. The government’s promise to bring the current-account deficit down to 3.7% of GDP from the previous year’s 4.8% has not yet bolstered confidence in the rupee. GDP data out on Aug. 30 showed that the economy was growing at its slowest pace since 2009, and manufacturing activity contracted for the first time in four years. And rising oil prices have made matters worse; India imports 80% of its oil. In the first seven months of 2013, the petroleum import bill has averaged $14.2 billion a month, compared to $13.9 billion a year earlier.
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Moily’s proposal comes after prime minister Manmohan Singh last week asked the oil ministry to work out a plan to reduce the $170 billion annual oil import bill by $25 billion. It seems radical, but there aren’t too many other options. Yesterday (Sept. 1), state-owned Indian Oil Corporation, the country’s biggest oil refiner, raised petrol prices by around 4% to curb imports, but fuel price hikes are an added burden for Indian consumers, whose household budgets have been strained by inflation hovering around 6%. The government has also raised import taxes on gold, the second biggest contributor to the deficit after oil, three times this year.

http://qz.com/120450/indias-economic-mess-is-so-desperate-its-considering-busting-sanctions-on-iran/

September 2, 2013

The Tuition is Too Damn High — Why there’s no reason for big universities to rein in spending

Freddie de Boer is a grad student at Purdue University, one of Indiana's flagship public research institutions. Purdue has a new gym – excuse me, a new "sports center," the France A. Cordova Recreational Sports Center, to be exact. When de Boer went to check it out, he found treadmills that each featured a TV and an iPod dock, a bouldering wall and a 55-foot climbing wall, a spa with Jacuzzi function that can fit 26 people, six racquetball courts, and a "demonstration kitchen" for cooking lessons.

"It really is lovely to look at," he concluded. "It looks like…money."

The Cordova Center wasn't an expense that needed to be paid for. It was an expense made because it could be made, because the nonprofit university rewards those who spend money, not those who save it. This basic principle has come to be known as the "Bowen effect."

First elaborated by the late Howard Bowen, an economist and president of Grinnell College, in his book “Costs of Higher Education,” the theory, in its most basic form, is that universities will spend all the money they can possibly raise. If they raise more than they need for educational objectives, they will spend it on non-educational uses like climbing walls and nicer buildings.

But it doesn't go the other way.Under financial strain, universities will seek to increase revenue and avoid cuts at all costs. Bowen summarized the theory, also known as the “revenue theory of cost,” in five rules:

http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/02/the-tuition-is-too-damn-high-part-vi-why-theres-no-reason-for-big-universities-to-rein-in-spending/

September 2, 2013

How Stocks Respond To Oil Price Shocks

The jury is still out on whether the US will attack Syria, whether it will do it unilaterally or as part of a coalition (with France), and how far crude would spike in the case of an intervention. Previously, SocGen presented some apocalyptic (if brief) scenarios that saw oil soar all the way to $150. That may be a stretch, but once the Tomahawks start flying a jump in Brent is virtually assured. Here is what BofA says on the matter: "watch for any escalation of Syria/geopolitical tensions that send Brent oil prices in excess of $125/barrel, the level in 2008, 2011 and 2012 that helped trigger a correction in equities. Historically during oil price spikes, equities have underperformed bonds, which have underperformed cash."

So what would happen to stocks? The mainstream financial media, in order to preserve a sense of calm, took the blended average of equity returns following historical oil price spikes, and concluded that it would be a manageable -2% in the worst case. However, like in the Reinhart-Rogoff case, the average calculation is a function of very disparate value, ranging from -15.5% in the case of the Iraq-Kuwait war of 1990 in the worst case, to +12.9% in the case of the Iran-Iraq war of 1980.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-09-02/how-stocks-respond-oil-price-shocks

September 2, 2013

The 23 Twitter accounts you must follow to understand Syria

The news about Syria has been, and continues to be, important, fast-paced and at times overwhelming. It's a lot to keep up with, not least because every facet of the conflict and how the world responds is complicated and deeply controversial. Smart people can and do disagree vehemently about what it all means - and what to do about it.

These are the people you should follow on Twitter to keep track of what's going on inside of Syria (as well as within relevant circles outside of it), what it means, why it matters and how to think about it.

You should follow the whole list. But if this is too much, skip down to the general observers and start by following them, a great way to ease into Syria coverage.

http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/08/30/the-23-twitter-accounts-you-must-follow-to-understand-syria/?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost

September 2, 2013

French intelligence says at least 281 civilians killed, less than Kerry's 1429

@bbcdavideades: French intelligence says at least 281 civilians killed in #Syria chemical attack. Less than figure given by MSF - far cry from Kerry's 1,429

PDF of French report, for anyone that can read French.

http://www.gouvernement.fr/sites/default/files/fichiers_joints/syrie_synthese_nationale_de_renseignement_declassifie_02_09_2013.pdf

September 2, 2013

RUSSIA NOT CONVINCED BY US EVIDENCE ON SYRIA

MOSCOW (AP) -- The information the U.S. showed Moscow trying to prove that the Syrian regime was behind an alleged chemical weapons attack is "absolutely unconvincing," Russia's foreign minister said Monday.

The United States insists Syrian President Bashar Assad's troops were behind the chemical attack on Aug. 21, which they say killed over 1,400 people, and is considering strikes against his regime. Moscow is Assad's key ally and weapons supplier, and its protector at the United Nations.

Speaking at Russia's top diplomatic school, Sergey Lavrov said the evidence Washington presented was not detailed.

"Yes, they showed us some findings but there was nothing specific there: no geographic coordinates, no names, no proof that the tests were carried out by the professionals," Lavrov said. He did not say what tests he was referring to.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_RUSSIA_SYRIA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-09-02-04-32-42

September 2, 2013

Syria asks the United Nations to stop U.S. strike

Source: Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria has asked the United Nations to prevent "any aggression" against Syria following a call over the weekend by U.S. President Barack Obama for punitive strikes against the Syrian military for last month's chemical weapons attack.

Washington says more than 1,400 people, many of them children, were killed in the world's worst use of chemical arms since Iraq's Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds in 1988.

U.S. military action will be put to a vote in Congress, which ends its summer recess on September 9, giving President Bashar al-Assad time to prepare the ground for any assault and try to rally international support against the use of force.

In a letter to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and President of the Security Council Maria Cristina Perceval, Syrian U.N. envoy Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari called on "the U.N. Secretary General to shoulder his responsibilities for preventing any aggression on Syria and pushing forward reaching a political solution to the crisis in Syria", state news agency SANA said on Monday.

Read more: http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE98105G20130902?feedType=RSS&irpc=932

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