en US Ally Saudi Arabia's New King Likes Beheading People More Than His Predecessor <p>Saudi Arabia is planning to execute dozens of people in a single day, according to Amnesty International who warn that <strong><em>&quot;it is clear that the Saudi Arabian authorities are using the guise of counter-terrorism to settle political scores.&quot;</em></strong><a href=""> As The BBC reports,</a> 55 people were awaiting execution for &quot;terrorist crimes&quot;, while a now-deleted report by al-Riyadh said 52 would die soon; which is on top of the <strong>&quot;at least 151 people&quot; who have been put to death since Saudi Arabia&#39;s current King Salman rose to power</strong> after the death of King Abdullah in January 2015, dramatically higher than the <strong>total of 90 in 2014</strong>.</p> <p><a href="">As Vice News reports</a> Amnesty International criticized the wave of executions, calling it &quot;a grim new milestone in the Saudi Arabian authorities&quot; use of the death penalty.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&quot;The Saudi Arabian authorities appear intent on continuing a bloody execution spree which has seen at least 151 people put to death so far this year &mdash; an average of one person every two days,&quot;</strong> said James Lynch, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International. &quot;The use of the death penalty is abhorrent in any circumstance but it is especially alarming that the Saudi Arabian authorities continue to use it in violation of international human rights law and standards, on such a wide scale, and after trials which are grossly unfair and sometimes politically motivated.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The last time Saudi Arabia executed more than 150 people in a single year was when 192 executions were recorded in 1995. </strong>No one at Saudi Arabia&#39;s Justice Ministry was immediately available to comment on the surge in the numbers of executions.&nbsp; But diplomats have speculated it may be because more judges have been appointed, allowing a backlog of appeals cases to be heard.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Saudi Arabia&#39;s current King Salman rose to power after the death of King Abdullah in January 2015, </strong>and has moved to consolidate authority among his own branch of the royal family. Upon assuming power, he shook up the cabinet, appointed a new minister of justice, and placed functionaries loyal to him in positions of power throughout the state bureaucracy.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Saudi Arabia has long been ranked among the top five countries to use capital punishment. </strong>It ranked number three in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to figures from Amnesty International. The same five countries executed the most prisoners in the first six months of 2015.</p> <p>However, things are about to get even crazier, <a href="">as The BBC reports,</a> Amnesty International has expressed alarm at reports that the authorities in <strong>Saudi Arabia are planning to execute dozens of people in a single day.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>The newspaper Okaz said 55 people were awaiting execution for &quot;terrorist crimes&quot;, while a now-deleted report by al-Riyadh said 52 would die soon.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They are thought to include Shia who took part in anti-government protests.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amnesty said that given the spike in executions this year, it had no option but to take the reports very seriously.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Saudi newspaper reports said those facing execution in the coming days <strong>included &quot;al-Qaeda terrorists&quot; and people from the Awamiya area.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The alleged al-Qaeda militants were accused of attempting to overthrow the government and carry out attacks using small arms, explosives and surface-to-air missiles, Okaz reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Awamiya residents were meanwhile convicted of sedition, </strong>attacks on security personnel and interference in neighbouring Bahrain, it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Awamiya is a town in the Qatif region of oil-rich Eastern Province. Since 2011, it has been the centre of protests by Saudi Arabia&#39;s Shia minority, which has long complained of marginalisation at the hands of the Sunni monarchy</strong>.</p> </blockquote> <p>Among those at imminent risk of execution were<strong> six Shia activists from Awamiya &quot;who were clearly convicted in unfair trials&quot;, </strong>according to Amnesty.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>&quot;It is clear that the Saudi Arabian authorities are using the guise of counter-terrorism to settle political scores,&quot; </strong></span>said James Lynch, Amnesty&#39;s Middle East and North Africa deputy director.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Three of those six activists were sentenced for &#39;crimes&#39; committed while they were children and have said that they were tortured to confess.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p>US ally Saudi Arabia argues that death sentences are carried out in line with Sharia and with the strictest fair trial standards and safeguards in place. <a href=""><strong>Here are 10 sobering facts from Amnesty International&rsquo;s research: </strong></a></p> <p><strong>1. CRUEL, INHUMAN AND DEGRADING PUNISHMENT</strong></p> <p>Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s courts continue to impose sentences of flogging as punishment for many offences, often following unfair trials. Besides <a href="">Raif Badawi</a>, in the past two years the human rights defenders Mikhlif bin Daham al-Shammari and Omar al-Sa&rsquo;id were sentenced to 200 and 300 lashes, respectively, and Filipino domestic worker Ruth Cosrojas was sentenced to 300. <strong>Amputations and cross-amputations are also carried out as punishment for some crimes.</strong></p> <p><strong>2. SPIKE IN EXECUTIONS</strong></p> <p>Saudi Arabia is among the world&rsquo;s top executioners, with dozens of people being put to death annually, many in&nbsp;<a href="">public beheadings</a>. <strong>So far this year&nbsp;<a href="">40 people have been executed</a></strong>&ndash; almost four times the equivalent number for this time last year.</p> <p><strong>3. CRACKDOWN ON ACTIVISTS</strong></p> <p>Besides Raif Badawi, dozens more outspoken activists remain behind bars, simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. The authorities have&nbsp;<a href="">targeted the small but vocal community of human rights defenders</a>, including by using anti-terrorism laws to suppress their peaceful actions to expose and address human rights violations.</p> <p><strong>4. NO SPACE FOR DISSENT</strong></p> <p>All public gatherings, including demonstrations, remain prohibited under an order issued by the Interior Ministry in 2011. Those who defy the ban face arrest, prosecution and imprisonment on charges such as &ldquo;inciting people against the authorities&rdquo;.</p> <p><strong>5. SYSTEMATIC DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN</strong></p> <p>Women and girls remain subject to discrimination in law and practice, with laws that subordinate their status to men, particularly in relation to family matters such as marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. Women who supported&nbsp;a campaign against a de facto ban on <strong><a href="">women drivers&nbsp;face the threat of arrest</a> and other harassment and intimidation.</strong></p> <p><strong>6. ROUTINE TORTURE IN CUSTODY</strong></p> <p>Former detainees, trial defendants and others have told Amnesty International that the security forces&rsquo; use of torture and other ill-treatment remains common and widespread, and that those responsible are never brought to justice.</p> <p><strong>7. ARBITRARY ARREST AND DETENTIONS</strong></p> <p>Scores of people have been arrested and detained in pre-trial detention for six months or more, which breaches the Kingdom&rsquo;s own criminal codes. <strong>Detainees are frequently held incommunicado</strong> during their interrogation and denied access to their lawyers. Some human rights activists have been detained without charge or trial for more than two years.</p> <p><strong>8. ENTRENCHED RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION</strong></p> <p>Members of the Kingdom&rsquo;s Shi&rsquo;a minority, most of whom live in the oil-rich Eastern Province, continue to face entrenched discrimination that limits their access to government services and employment.&nbsp;<strong><a href="">Shi&rsquo;a activists</a> have received death sentences</strong>&nbsp;or long prison terms for their alleged participation in protests in 2011 and 2012.</p> <p><strong>9. MASS DEPORTATION OF MIGRANT WORKERS</strong></p> <p>According to the Interior Ministry, a crackdown on irregular foreign migrant workers in November 2013 led to the <strong>deportation of more than 370,000 people</strong>. Some 18,000 were still being detained last March. Thousands of people were summarily returned to Somalia, Yemen or other states where they were at risk of human rights abuses.</p> <p><strong>10. WHAT HAPPENS IN THE KINGDOM, STAYS IN THE KINGDOM</strong></p> <p>The Saudi Arabian authorities continue to deny access to independent human rights organizations like Amnesty International, and they have been known to take punitive action, including through the courts, against activists and family members of victims who contact us.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="172" height="175" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> China Iran Iraq Middle East Newspaper Saudi Arabia Somalia Fri, 27 Nov 2015 19:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 517139 at Active Shooter Barricaded At Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, Multiple People Shot <p>If there are two things that could unleash progressive hell across the nation, it is the combination of "active shooter" and "Planned Parenthood" in the same sentence, which is exactly what happened moments ago. </p> <p>Moments ago the Colorado Springs police responded to a call of an active shooter in the parking lot of a Planned Parenthood clinic, adding that the area has not been secured, the department said, warning the media not to stage in the area.</p> <p>The Colorado Springs Fire Department said fire crews were called in to assist for reports of a possible active shooter and fire at the Planned Parenthood address at 3480 Centennial Boulevard.</p> <p>According to Twitter reports, the shooter has shot one officer shot and is currently "barricaded in planned parenthood &amp; multiple victims." </p> <p>The Gazette adds that according to the police scanner, at least 4 are injured in the ongoing active shooting situation and that multiple people have been shot.</p> <p>The shooter has been described as a white male, 40 yrs. of age, with a black coat, wearing a hat with flaps.</p> <p><img src="" width="500" height="335" /></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="376" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="376" /></a></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">CSPD PIO responding to call if active shooter in Centennial Bl. The area is NOT secure. Media do not stage in area!</p> <p>— Springs Police (@CSPDPIO) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">MORE: Via scanner, at least 4 injured in active shooter situation near <a href="">@PPFA</a> in <a href="">#COSprings</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>— The Gazette (@csgazette) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING Colorado Springs active shooter one officer shot - reports coming in. Shooter barricaded in planned parenthood &amp; multiple victims</p> <p>— Mike Violette (@fopviolette) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#BREAKING</a>: 11 News confirmed there is an active shooter situation at the Planned Parenthood near Centennial in COS. <a href=""></a></p> <p>— KKTV 11 News (@kktv11news) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING: Colorado Springs responding to report of active shooter situation: Police on Twitter. <a href=""></a></p> <p>— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Centennial Blvd is blocked off near GOD rd because <a href="">#activeshooter</a> near <a href="">@PPact</a> <a href="">@FOX21News</a> <a href=""></a></p> <p>— Kody Fisher (@KodyFisherFOX21) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">MORE: Reports of multiple people shot in active shooter situation near Planned Parenthood in <a href="">#COSprings</a> <a href=""></a> <a href="">@PPFA</a></p> <p>— The Gazette (@csgazette) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Just saw someone being put into an ambulance. <a href="">@FOX21News</a> Not sure who. <a href=""></a></p> <p>— Kody Fisher (@KodyFisherFOX21) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING NEWS..ACTIVE SHOOTER, COLORADO SPRINGS.<br /> Shooter described as a White Male, 40 yrs. of age, Black coat, wearing a hat with flaps....</p> <p>— Mike Brooks (@tvdetective) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="852" height="640" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Fisher Reuters Twitter Twitter Fri, 27 Nov 2015 19:18:15 +0000 Tyler Durden 517145 at 2015: The Year Of The American Identity Crisis <p><a href=""><em>Via,</em></a></p> <p><strong>Race and sexual&nbsp;identity now make up a good portion of all media distractions.</strong> According to political activists,&nbsp;&ldquo;symbols of oppression&rdquo; now include <a href="" target="_blank">Halloween costumes</a>, the <a href=";q=Confederate+flag&amp;sourceid=opera&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;oe=UTF-8#q=Confederate+flag&amp;tbm=nws" target="_blank">Confederate flag</a>, and the color of <a href="" target="_blank">Starbucks coffee cups.</a>&nbsp;So shallow is our collective identity, that this now defines our most passionate debate. While&nbsp;the global economy deteriorates and our government&nbsp;pursues endless conflict across the planet, this is what Americans are most concerned about.</p> <p><strong>Identity issues make the perfect media story.</strong> For the 24-hour TV&nbsp;and internet rage business, these symbolic, but mostly&nbsp;linguistic fights&nbsp;generate strong emotional responses while being non-threatening&nbsp;to advertisers or to the government.</p> <p><strong>These relatively innocuous symbols have become lightning rods for attention, while real issues go ignored.</strong>&nbsp;We wrote in <a href="" target="_blank">a previous article back in June</a>:&nbsp;<em><strong>&ldquo;[R]eal problems like mass incarceration, torture, endless war, the end of privacy, and widespread poverty are&nbsp;ignored. This is more than just a corrupt media distracting us with meaningless trivia. Americans literally cannot tell the difference between symbols and reality.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <p><strong>I have long maintained that these sham fights are a symptom of a society that collectively no longer&nbsp;has any sense of identity. </strong>What makes life worth living?&nbsp;Family? That hardly seems true for many Americans. Family cohesion&nbsp;has been disintegrating for some time. A few of us try to define ourselves by&nbsp;hard work and material gain.&nbsp;Maybe that works for some, but how far does that go&nbsp;in an economy with <a href="" target="_blank">46 million people on&nbsp;food stamps</a> and a <a href="" target="_blank">shrinking middle class</a>?</p> <p>Of course, <strong>many of us do cling to the material aspects of life we hope will fill the void in our lives. </strong>Consider Black Friday, now practically a national holiday of consumer excess. Where employees once took&nbsp;off of work to spend time with family, they now schedule&nbsp;time to stand in lines and&nbsp;acquire larger &mdash; and <a href="" target="_blank">&ldquo;smarter&rdquo;</a> &mdash; television sets.</p> <p>I remember when I was growing up, the terrible <em><a href="" target="_blank">Jingle All The Way</a>&nbsp;</em>movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger parodied toy crazed shoppers willing to step over one another to get a popular toy in time for Christmas. Watching it today, the <a href=";t=1m14s" target="_blank">scenes of barbarity in the toy stores</a> seems more like a subdued documentary than parody.</p> <p><strong>Still, despite the increasing <a href="" target="_blank">depravity of Americans</a> who are&nbsp;willing to pummel, stab, shoot and pepper spray fellow shoppers, Black Friday sales still seem to <a href="" target="_blank">disappoint</a>&nbsp;retailers every year.</strong> It seems many of us&nbsp;can no longer afford to define our lives solely by&nbsp;electronic gadgets and other pieces of useless shit. For a while, naked consumerism&nbsp;was our god; now we don&rsquo;t even have that.</p> <p>In the past, <strong>Americans have had a strong sense of what sociologists call &ldquo;negative identity&rdquo; &mdash; we define ourselves by what we are not. </strong>For example, &ldquo;We are not Nazis&rdquo; or &ldquo;We are not Communists.&rdquo; The advantage of this kind of thinking is that it fortifies the national psyche against external enemies.&nbsp;Ultimately, it&rsquo;s an unsatisfying way to live. When those enemies disappear, we seek out new villains to hate and destroy,&nbsp;the only meaning in life being found in death.</p> <p>Historian and social critic Morris Berman writes that a negative identity &ldquo;can never tell you who you actually are, in the affirmative sense. It leaves an emptiness at the center, such that you always have to be in opposition to something, or even at war with someone or something, in order to feel real.&rdquo;</p> <p>And,&nbsp;if our&nbsp;enemies are not sufficiently threatening, what&rsquo;s left?&nbsp;As&nbsp;Chuck Palahniuk once <a href=";search_version=service" target="_blank">wrote</a>, <strong><em>&ldquo;When we don&rsquo;t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p>The terrorist attack in Paris which killed 128 people prompted a tense reaction across the western world. If there is a similar attack in the United States with hundreds dead, we will pounce on whatever&nbsp;new scapegoat is offered.&nbsp;It will be tremendously frightening.</p> <p><strong>The government will easily rally a bloodthirsty and directionless public into supporting changes to the law that practically eliminate free speech, privacy, trial by jury and the few&nbsp;other protections the Constitution still provides.&nbsp;</strong>The security state is salivating at the potential to eliminate the last vestiges of civil liberties and envelope the nation in constant surveillance and eventually total tyranny. The&nbsp;key to their success is not that they&nbsp;promise security from terrorists, but rather they offer struggling Americans a&nbsp;reason to be alive &mdash; a fight against the &ldquo;other.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Usually, an identity crisis is temporary.</strong> Eventually, people discover a healthy&nbsp;identity for themselves and a sense of stability returns to their lives. <em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>But, under such constant political mismanagement and widespread criminality, what chance&nbsp;is there for a stable&nbsp;future? Very little it seems.</strong></span></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="258" height="119" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Black Friday Global Economy Reality Fri, 27 Nov 2015 18:55:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 517140 at Top U.S. Air Defense Commander: Turkey’s Shootdown of Russian Jet “Had to Be PRE-PLANNED” <p>Lt. General Tom McInerney is an expert on handling threats from fighter jets.</p> <p>McInerney <a href="">served as</a>:</p> <ul> <li>Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) &ndash; the military agency responsible for <a href="">protecting the United States and Canada</a> from foreign jet attacks &ndash; for the Alaska region</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Commander of the Alaskan Air Command</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Commander of 11th Air Force in Alaska</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Commander of the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Clark Air Base, Philippines</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Commander of the 313th Air Division, Kadena Air Base, Japan</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Commander of 3rd Air Force, Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, England</li> </ul> <ul> <li>Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force</li> </ul> <ul> <li>A command pilot with more than 4,100 flying hours, including 407 combat missions</li> </ul> <p>In his role as Norad commander for Alaska, McInerney dealt with more Russian fighter jet incursions (which he calls &ldquo;bear penetrations&rdquo;) than anyone else in the world.</p> <p>So McInerney knows how to tell innocent from hostile incursions by foreign fighter jets, standard rules of engagement of foreign fighter jets, how to read radar tracks, and the other things he would need to know to form an informed opinion about the shootdown of a foreign jet.</p> <p>Yesterday, McInerney told Fox News &ndash; much to the surprise of the reporter interviewing him &ndash; that assuming the Turkish version of the flight path of the Russian jet is accurate, Russia <em>wasn&rsquo;t</em> threatening Turkey, and that Turkey&rsquo;s shoot down of the Russian jet &ldquo;had to be <em>pre-planned&rdquo;</em>, as the jet wasn&rsquo;t in Turkish air space long enough for anything other than a premeditated attack to have brought it down:</p> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script><p><noscript>Watch the latest video at <a href=""></a></noscript> </p><p>McInerney is right &hellip; especially given that a U.S. official <a href="">told</a> Reuters that the Russian jet was <em>inside</em> <em>of Syria</em> when it was shot down:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p id="yui_3_18_1_1_1448421504002_1263">The United States believes that the Russian jet shot down by Turkey on Tuesday was hit inside Syrian airspace after a brief incursion into Turkish airspace, a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>But even if Turkey is right that the Russian jet was shot down over Turkey, the shootdown was still a war crime.</p> <p>Specifically, as McInerney notes in the interview above, Russia was in no way threatening Russia. It was on a bombing run against ISIS.</p> <p>International law expert Francis Boyle - Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, who was responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989&nbsp; &ndash; said by email:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>The Russian bombing of Syria is technically legal because they have the explicit permission of the Syrian government, but of course Putin will ultimately act in accord with his interests, not what is best for the Syrian people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>***</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the International Court of Justice ruled in the seminal Nicaragua case (1986), any use of force even in alleged self-defense must also fulfill the basic customary international law requirements of (1) necessity and (2) proportionality. Even accepting the government of Turkey&#39;s version of events, it does not appear that there was any &quot;necessity&quot; for Turkey to destroy the Russian jet.</p> </blockquote> <p>Washington&#39;s Blog asked Boyle whether this is analogous to the &quot;use of force&quot; by someone with a gun who claims he was threatened by someone else. He answered affirmatively, explaining:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Necessity and Proportionality are each separate requirements for the use of force in self-defense.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">From another [International Court of Justice] case, the basic test for &ldquo;necessity&rdquo; is that the necessity of self-defense must be instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation. Clearly, that was <strong>not</strong> the case here.</p> Fox News Illinois Reuters Turkey Fri, 27 Nov 2015 18:35:43 +0000 George Washington 517143 at Another Data Point To Ignore - There Are The Most Distressed Bonds In 6 Years <p>In the immortal words of Taylor Swift,<em><strong> "shake it off." </strong></em>That appears to be the meme of the new normal.<em> Terrorist attacks - buy em; looming World War 3 - buy it; plunging earnings - perfect!; collapsing capex - bullish; soaring inventories - back up the truck; crashing homeownership - awesome sauce! interest rate are going to rise - brilliant!<br /></em></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 318px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And while the ongoing carnage in the credit market is being ignored for now <em>("well, that's just energy, right?" nope!)</em>...</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" style="width: 600px; height: 359px;" /></a></p> <p>The fact of the matter is, as one manager pointed out that there are the<strong> most distressed bonds trading in six years - warning, "it's not just energy, it's everywhere."</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" width="600" height="296" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ignore that!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Charts: Bloomberg</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="965" height="476" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> New Normal SWIFT Fri, 27 Nov 2015 18:30:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 517138 at Black Friday Stock Sale Dip-Buyers Ignore China, Credit, Commodity Carnage <p>After the overnight dip on the back of a bloodbath in China...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 312px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This was the scene as the stock market opened in America...</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the biggest 2-week short-squeeze in 9 months continues...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 302px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 311px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Futures show the exuberance yesterday and the China let-down overnight - followed by dip-buyer delight during the shortened US Session...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 435px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Trannies were the biggest winners on the day as The Dow struiggled with unch...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 368px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But on the week - aside from the idiocy of the World War 3 dip and rip - the market was very narrowly traded on no volume...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 368px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Small Caps up 5 days in a row for first time since March...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 437px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It appears not everyone in the market is paying attention to Ms. Yellen...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 318px;" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 359px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The US Dollar rose modestly on the week driven today by some serious shocks in Swissy as chatter of a devaluation hit a thin market...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 315px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Treasury yields ended the week lower and flatter with 2Y unch and 10s to 30s down 2-4bps... (bonds havent closed yet)</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 313px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even crude gave back its gain today as the entire commodity complex was slammed...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 312px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Charts: Bloomberg</p> Black Friday China Crude Fri, 27 Nov 2015 18:26:08 +0000 Tyler Durden 517141 at WTF Headline Of The Day: Anti-Gun Police Chief Urges Public To "Take Out" Active Gunmen If Possible <p>D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is an <strong>outspoken proponent of gun control</strong> (in a district which already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation). So, when asked by 60 Minutes how people should respond to being near an active gunman, Lanier&#39;s response was bemusing as The Washington Times reports, saying that <strong>the &quot;best option for saving lives before police can get there&rdquo; would be for citizens to try to subdue, or even kill, the gunman</strong>.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 507px; height: 305px;" /></a></p> <p>In an interview Sunday on CBS&rsquo; &ldquo;60 Minutes,&rdquo; Chief Lanier was asked what should people do if they are in the vicinity of an active shooter like the those who carried out the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.</p> <p><em><a href="">As notes,</a> <strong>to anyone paying the slightest attention to the fight over gun laws in the District, Lanier&rsquo;s statement is curious, given that she&rsquo;s been an outspoken proponent of gun control in D.C., which already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. </strong></em></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><em><strong>&nbsp;</strong></em>&ldquo;Your options are run, hide or fight,&rdquo; Chief Lanier said. &ldquo;I always say if you can get out, getting out is your best option. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>If you&rsquo;re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it&rsquo;s the best option for saving lives before police can get there</strong></span>.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>While gun rights supporters have long advocated for the ability to carry firearms so individuals are able to protect themselves and potentially even intervene in such a scenario, the advice rang hollow for those in the District, where firearm ownership is tightly regulated. <a href="">As The Washington Times reports,</a> Lanier&#39;s advice is a little confusing...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>&ldquo;This is sound advice,&rdquo; </strong>said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. <em><strong>&ldquo;But considering the draconian gun laws in the District, it will remain difficult, if not impossible, for most private citizens to do what the chief is suggesting.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re glad Chief Lanier departed from the usual narrative and encouraged people to fight back,&rdquo; Mr. Gottlieb said. &ldquo;But her advice would have more credibility if she were to take a leadership role in reforming the District&rsquo;s gun laws. You can&rsquo;t fight back if you don&rsquo;t have the tools, and the only way to take a gunman out, as the chief suggested, is to shoot back. That&rsquo;s pretty hard if you don&rsquo;t have a gun.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>It was unclear whether the police chief&rsquo;s evolving view on how the public should engage with an active shooter also might mean a change in her stance on the city&rsquo;s restrictive handgun-carry laws.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Chief Lanier noted during the &ldquo;60 Minutes&rdquo; interview that <strong>her advice was a departure from prior advice dispensed by police</strong>, who typically have encouraged witnesses to report a crime to police rather than to intervene.</p> <p><em><strong>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve never told people take action... This is a different scenario,&rdquo; she said.</strong></em></p> <p><em>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="481" height="352" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 17:50:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 517137 at Why The Obamacare Exchanges Are Failing <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Devon Herrick via The National Center for Policy Analysis</em></a>,</p> <p>I reported earlier this week <a href="">that the Obamacare Marketplace is slowly failing</a>. Three days later the largest health insurer in America, UnitedHealth Group, <a href="">announced it expects to lose $500 million on exchange plans</a> next year and may exit the market in 2017.</p> <p><strong>The issue for many insurers is they were encouraged to participate in the exchange in return for a temporary risk sharing program called <em>Risk Corridors</em>.</strong> Under this program, all insurers paid into a pot of money and the firms suffering excessive losses were to share the funds based on a formula. However, a budget deal passed late in 2014, the <a href="">&lsquo;Cromnibus&rsquo; Spending Bill</a>, required the program to be budget neutral. The losses far exceeded the pot of money collected by the program. Insurers have only received about $0.13 cents on the dollar of what they would have gotten under an opened-ended program.</p> <p><strong>The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has affirmed <a href="">insurers will get their money</a>. But the question is: where it is going to come from? CMS has $363 million to divvy up while insurers have requested $2.87 billion.</strong></p> <p><u><strong>Why are insurers losing so much money?</strong></u> In my original article, I stated the exchange plans are suffering adverse selection due to the perverse regulations which drive up costs &ndash; making health coverage a bad deal for all but the sickest enrollees. The only people enrolling are those who are eligible for the most generous subsidies. Consider what Larry Levitt, a health insurance analyst with the Kaiser Family Foundation, told Bloomberg.</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p>&ldquo;The ACA marketplaces are not yet profitable for most insurers,&rdquo; &ldquo;<strong><em>It&rsquo;s going to take enrollment growth, especially among healthy people, to make it an attractive market for insurers. If enrollment stagnates, we could very well see insurers thinking twice about their participation</em></strong>.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>The solution cannot be gouging healthy people so runaway costs are covered. </strong></u>The Affordable Care Act was support to slow the growth in health expenditures. Just about any economist will tell you the current system is not accomplishing that. Slowing spending requires appropriately-designed health plans with positive incentives among enrollees. The ACA&rsquo;s cost-control mechanisms are the opposite of that; they&rsquo;re akin to pouring gasoline on a fire in hopes it will put it out.</p> <p><u><strong>Why not scrap the perverse ACA regulations and admit it was a pipe dream to ever assume young, healthy people could be coerced into paying several times their expected costs to cover other people&rsquo;s excessive spending.</strong></u> Young people already have a lower demand for health coverage because they don&rsquo;t expect to need care. As I reported earlier in the week, healthy people also&nbsp;know they&rsquo;re getting a&nbsp;raw deal when they are expected to pay $5,000 for health plans that require an additional $6,000 in spending before the plans will begin to pay claims. <strong>Justice Roberts called the penalty a &ldquo;tax.&rdquo;</strong> I know people spending $5,000 for health plans they get no benefit from. They certainly think in terms of their $5,000 premiums as another Obamacare tax they can ill afford.</p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>In addition to this disaster, and on top of enrollment projections that are proving way off, <strong>perhaps the biggest immediate crisis facing the Obama administration&#39;s signature health reform measure</strong>,<a href=""> as Eric Boehm (via notes,&nbsp;</a> <strong>is the utter collapse of many of the so-called cooperatives that were set up by states as part of the 2010 law.</strong></p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p><strong>The Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan, or Co-Op, portion of the health care law established nonprofit health insurers that would receive federal funding and were intended to compete with private, for-private insurers on the exchanges as a way to lower prices. </strong>They were supposed to be small-scale single-payer systems that would be free from the profit motive; a progressive&#39;s dream solution to the problem of providing health insurance for all.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Instead, they&#39;ve turned into a nightmare. So far, 12 of the 23 co-ops have failed, defaulting on more than $1.2 billion in federal loans. Only two have been able to break even so far, and most of the remaining co-ops are eyeing massive premium increases&mdash;as high as 40 percent in some cases&mdash;to stay solvent.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A government program being poorly run is nothing new, of course. But the co-ops established under the health care law were subject to a series of regulations that make you wonder how they were ever supposed to succeed in the first place.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It should be no surprise that so many of them are going belly-up,&quot; said John Davidson, director of health policy for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, on the latest edition of the Watchdog Podcast. &quot;The rules that they put on these co-ops almost set them up to fail.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For starters, the co-ops were barred from hiring anyone who had served at an executive level at any health insurance company in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Think about that for a second. This was essentially a brand new business venture that was prevented from relying on the expertise of anyone who might have the slightest idea what they were doing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another regulation prevented the co-ops from raising any capital aside from what was provided via those federal loans. Other rules prevented the co-ops from being allowed to turn a profit, and if one happened to accidentally make money anyway, it wasn&#39;t allowed to use its profits to help it grow.</p> </blockquote> <p><u><strong>It&#39;s the kind of business plan that would be laughed out of a business school classroom. &quot;The co-ops were essentially amateur exercises,&quot; said Davidson.</strong></u></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="168" height="168" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Fail Medicare Obama Administration Obamacare Fri, 27 Nov 2015 17:25:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 517136 at Chief Of Russian Air Force Accuses Turkey Of Coordinated Ambush On Downed Jet <p>By now everyone is aware of the Turkish side of the story of how a Russian Su-24 was downed by a Turkish F-16 on Tuesday morning, when it allegedly crossed into Turkish airspace for a grand total of 17 seconds, with Turkey supposedly warning the Russian bomber which had been targeting alleged jihadists in the region no less than "ten times." Turkey even produced an <a href="">alleged recording </a>of said warning, which Russia implied was faked as the surviving pilot made it <a href="">very clear no actual warning </a>had been received by the Russian warplane.</p> <p>So now that Russia has had three days to go through the evidence and assemble the pieces of what it thinks happened, here is the summary as presented earlier today by the Commander in Chief of the Russian air force, Viktor Bondarev, which however presents a very gloomy picture with dire consequences for the peaceful geopolitics of the middle east. </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="417" /></a></p> <p>In summary, what Col. Gen. Bondarev said is <strong>that Turkey actively sought to ambush and bring down the Russian jet starting long before the actual missile was fired, </strong>which can be confirmed by the flight patterns of Turkish warplanes which had taken off well in advance, otherwise they would not have had enough time to reach the battlezone.</p> <p>The Russian ministry of defense made this grave accusation quite explicit on Twitter an hour ago, <strong>when it said that Turkey had engaged in a choreographed ambush.</strong></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#SYRIA</a> <a href="">#Bondarev</a>: Two F-16's were in the duty zone for 1 h 15 min (from 9:11 till 10:26) ready to attack from the air ambush</p> <p>— ?????????? ?????? (@mod_russia) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>Here are the details of the Su-24's final hour as <a href="">recounted by RT </a>which notes that a pair of tactical bombers took off from Khmeimim airbase in Latakia at 06:15 GMT, with an assignment to carry out airstrikes in the vicinity of the settlements of Kepir, Mortlu and Zahia, all in the north of Syria. Each bomber was carrying four OFAB-250 high-explosive fragmentation bombs. </p> <p>Ten minutes later, the bombers entered the range of Turkish radars and took positions in the target area, patrolling airspace at predetermined heights of 5,800 meters and 5,650 meters respectively. Both aircraft remained in the area for 34 minutes. During this time there was no contact between the crews of the Russian bombers and the Turkish military authorities or warplanes.</p> <p>Some 20 minutes after arriving at the designated area, the crews received the coordinates of groups of terrorists in the region. After making a first run, the bombers performed a maneuver and then delivered a second strike. </p> <p>Immediately after that, the bomber crewed by Lieutenant-Colonel Oleg Peshkov and Captain Konstantin Murakhtin was attacked by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet operating from the Diyarbak?r airfield in Turkey. <strong>The time needed to get the aircraft ready at the Diyarbak?r airfield and travel to the attack zone is an estimated 46 minutes.</strong></p> <p>?<a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="373" /></a></p> <p>"<strong>The radar surveillance data confirms that two F-16 fighter jets were patrolling the flight zone for an hour an 45 minutes at an altitude of 2,400 meters [some 7,800 feet], which speaks of a deliberate action and their readiness to attack from an ambush over the Turkish territory," </strong>Bondarev told reporter. </p> <p>In order to attack the Russian Su-24 with a close-range air-to-air missile, Bondarev said that the Turkish fighter jet had to enter Syrian airspace, <strong>where it remained for about 40 seconds. </strong>"According to radar tracking data<strong>, it was the Turkish warplane that crossed into the Syrian airspace for about 40 seconds to a depth of 2 kilometers [6,560 feet], while the Russian fighter-bomber never violated the Turkish border</strong>", he said.<strong><br /></strong></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#SYRIA</a> <a href="">#Bondarev</a>: Objective monitoring data proves that Turkish jet was in Syrian airspace for 40 sec and dived 2 km into Syrian territory</p> <p>— ?????????? ?????? (@mod_russia) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p> Having launched its missile from a distance of 5-7 kilometers, the F-16 immediately turned towards the Turkish border, simultaneously dropping its altitude sharply and disappearing from the range of Russian radars at the Khmeimim airbase. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#SYRIA</a> <a href="">#Bondarev</a>: Turkish fighter performed missile strike from 5-7 km, which proves that the F-16 was in the Syrian air space</p> <p>— ?????????? ?????? (@mod_russia) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>The Russian general again reiterated that at no point preceding the attack did the Russian bomber violated Turkish airspace.</p> <p>One of Turkish F-16Cs stopped its maneuvers and began to approach the Su-24M bomber <strong>about 100 seconds before the Russian aircraft came closest to the Turkish border, which also confirms the attack was pre-planned, </strong>said Bondarev.</p> <p><strong><a href=""><img src="" width="500" height="357" /></a></strong></p> <p>"At 10.24 Moscow time the crew carried out bombing and after it the plane was shot down by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish Air Force F-16 that had taken off from the 8th Diyarbakir airbase on the Turkish territory."</p> <p>The launch of a missile was confirmed by the crew of the second Russian Su-24. "[The crew] observed a plume of a white smoke and reported it."</p> <p>And this is where the narrative gets even more convoluted because according to Bondarev the Turkish F-16 was guided to its intended target from the ground and launched an air-to-air missile while the Russian warplane was readying to carry out a second attack on terrorist positions.</p> <p>"The method of guidance of F-16 aircraft into effective engagement zone directly, but not along the pursuit course curve shows that the fighter jet was directed from a ground control station," Bondarev told reporters.</p> <p>The fighter jet stopped maneuvers in the area of patrolling and commenced missile launching a minute and 40 seconds before the Su-24 maximum proximity to the Syrian-Turkish border, Bondarev added.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#SYRIA</a> <a href="">#Bondarev</a>: F-16 fighter started leaving duty zone for offset point in 1 minute 40 sec before max approach of <a href="">#Su24M</a> to the border</p> <p>— ?????????? ?????? (@mod_russia) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>Furthermore, it appears that the jihadist groups on the ground were anticipating an event of this kind playing out above them.</p> <p>Bondarev called attention to the readiness of the Turkish media, <strong>which released a professionally-made video of the incident recorded from an area controlled by extremists a mere 1.5 hours after the Su-24 was downed</strong>. </p> <p>Furthermore, the operation to rescue the surviving navigator took several hours and eventually recovered Konstantin Murakhtin, although one Russian Marine in the team was killed when the rescue helicopter was destroyed by a US-made tank missile launched by the extremists – an incident they filmed and published online within hours of the attack.</p> <p>He also mentioned the memorandum of understanding regarding the campaign in Syria, signed by Moscow and Washington on October 26. In accordance with this agreement, <strong>the Russian side informed its American counterparts about the mission of the two bombers in the north of Syria on November 24, including the zones and heights of operation</strong>.</p> <p><em>"Taking this into account, the Turkish authorities' statement on not knowing which aircraft were operating in the area raises eyebrows.</em>"</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#SYRIA</a> Statements of Turkish party that they hadn't ID'd Rus aircraft are confusing: US AF received data about Su-24M from <a href="">#Hmeymim</a> airbase</p> <p>— ?????????? ?????? (@mod_russia) <a href="">November 27, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <script src="//"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Finally, Bondarev also mentioned the memorandum of understanding regarding the campaign in Syria, signed by Moscow and Washington on October 26. In accordance with this agreement, the Russian side informed its American counterparts about the mission of the two bombers in the north of Syria on November 24, including the zones and heights of operation.</p> <p>This is perhaps the most important accusation, as it ties in with the <a href="">incendiary remark lobbed by Putin </a>at US "protocols" yesterday:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong>We told our US partners in advance where, when at what altitudes our pilots were going to operate. </strong>The US-led coalition, which includes Turkey, <strong>was aware of the time and place where our planes would operate. </strong>And this is exactly where and when we were attacked. Why did we share this information with the Americans? Either they don't control their allies, or they just pass this information left and right without realizing what the consequences of such actions might be. <strong>We will have to have a serious talk with our US partners.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>To summarize, here is what Russia has implied: the US shared the flight path details of the Russian Su-24 with Turkey in advance of the flight, which then Turkey used to ambush and take down the Russian bomber, with the implicit blessing of the Pentagon. Turkey may have further shared data with "Syria Free Army" US-armed jihadists on the ground, who not only recorded the downing of the bomber and the execution of its parachuting pilot, but also were prepared to attack a Russian rescue helicopter (with US weapons) which led to a second casualty - an attack which was also captured on clip and promptly uploaded!</p> <p>* * * </p> <p>If Putin is in indeed onboard with this version, he will deem - perhaps not diplomatically, but certainly in internal circles - Turkey's aggression to be an act of war, and not only by Turkey but by NATO and the US, which provided Turkey with the data it needed to lead to a Russian loss of life.</p> <p>What Russia's next steps will be is unclear, <a href="">however as we reported previously</a>, we expect far more aggressive provocations on the Syria-Turkey border by both sides, especially now that every Russian bombers will have air support, and now that Russian S-400 missiles can reach any provoking Turkish jet in minutes, in effect Russia establishing a "No Fly Zone" above Syria. </p> Middle East Turkey Twitter Twitter Fri, 27 Nov 2015 17:04:23 +0000 Tyler Durden 517135 at China Begins Military Colonization Of Africa With First Ever Overseas Army Base At Key Oil Chokepoint <p>Back in March, when the Saudis were in the early stages of executing Operation Decisive Storm (the air campaign aimed at routing the Iran-backed rebels who had recently taken control of Yemen prompting President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to flee to Riyadh), the world began to get very nervous after <a href="">the Houthis entered</a> a military base at the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait.</p> <p>Bab el-Mandeb is a key chokepoint for global crude and needless to say, just about the last thing Saudi Arabia (or the West for that matter) wanted to see was an Iranian proxy army taking control of one side of the corridor. &nbsp;</p> <p><a href="" style="font-family: 'Lucida Grande', Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 13.3333px; line-height: 17.3333px;"><img src="" width="548" height="544" style="max-width: 100%; height: auto;" /></a></p> <p>At the time, Aden was a veritable warzone as a loose confederation of troops still loyal to Hadi battled to keep the Houthis from overrunning the historic port city. Just as hostilities reached a crescendo, unidentified troops <a href="">showed up</a>, disembarked, and rescued dozens of foreign nationals trapped in the escalating violence.<strong> As it turns out, those troops were Chinese.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong><img src="" width="453" height="197" /></strong></p> <p>At the time, the rescue mission took virtually everyone off guard. China had inexplicably sailed a warship into the middle of a Mid-East proxy war, calmly strolled ashore, picked up some folks and left.&nbsp;</p> <p>While the bold display of naval power came as a surprise in April, it's now easy to put the maneuver in context. Since then, we've seen Beijing project its maritime capabilities on a number of occasions. The PLA's man-made islands in The South China Sea are the most notable example, but don't forget that China also sailed warships within 12 nautical miles of <a href="">Alaska's coast</a> and is also <a href="">readying patrols</a> by a nuclear submarine. In other words, China's impromtu appearance in Aden was part and parcel of a wider effort to make it clear that Beijing is set to build and maintain a true blue-water navy.</p> <p>In that context, consider another map showing the Bab al-Mandeb:</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="368" /></a></p> <p>On one side is Yemen, on the other, Djibouti. As we outlined back in May, <strong>China is negotiating a military base in the strategic port of Djibouti.</strong> Why Djibouti? So China can have a bird's eye view of everything that happens at the Bab el-Mandeb Strait: one of the top 5 oil choke points in the world (from <a href="">the EIA</a>):"An estimated 3.8 million bbl/d of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed through this waterway in 2013 toward Europe, the United States, and Asia, an increase from 2.9 million bbl/d in 2009. Oil shipped through the strait decreased by almost one-third in 2009 because of the global economic downturn and the decline in northbound oil shipments to Europe. Northbound oil shipments increased through Bab el-Mandeb Strait in 2013, and more than half of the traffic, about 2.1 million bbl/d, moved northbound to the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline."</p> <p><img src="" width="500" height="531" style="max-width: 100%; height: auto; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 13.3333px; line-height: 17.3333px;" /></p> <p>Six months later, it looks like those plans are on track. As <a href="">WSJ reports on Friday</a>, <strong>"China plans to build its first overseas naval installation in the East African nation of Djibouti,</strong> expanding the geographical reach of its armed forces as Beijing seeks to protect its growing economic and security interests around the globe."</p> <p>True to form, China is attempting to downplay the effort, calling the installation a "support facility." "This facility will better ensure that the Chinese military can carry out responsibilities such as international peacekeeping, naval escorts in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, and humanitarian assistance,” a defense ministry spokesman said.</p> <p>As WSJ goes on to note, "China has often cited its lack of foreign bases as evidence of peaceful intentions, but has been rapidly expanding its military capabilities in recent years to defend its regional territorial claims and project power far into the Pacific and Indian oceans and the Mediterranean."</p> <p>The US - which also has a base in&nbsp;Djibouti - is adopting Washington's trademark condescending paternalism in discussions with the country's government. "We definitely have concerns and parameters that were communicated in terms of how we think they should manage Chinese or anyone else entering into what is already a fairly congested space."</p> <p>Here's a bit of useful color from <a href="">The New York Times</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>China announced on Thursday that it would establish its first overseas military outpost and unveiled a sweeping plan to reorganize its military into a more agile force capable of projecting power abroad.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The outpost, in the East African nation of Djibouti, breaks with Beijing’s longstanding policy against emulating the United States in building military facilities abroad.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>By establishing an outpost in the Horn of Africa — more than 4,800 miles away from Beijing and near some of the world’s most volatile regions — President Xi Jinping is leading the military beyond its historical focus on protecting the nation’s borders.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Together with the plan for new command systems to integrate and rebalance the armed forces, the two announcements highlight the breadth of change that Mr. Xi is pushing on the People’s Liberation Army, which for decades has served primarily as a lumbering guardian of Communist Party rule.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>A presence in Djibouti would be China’s first overseas logistics facility to service its military vessels since the Communists took power, </strong>said David Finkelstein, director of China studies at CNA, an independent research institute in Arlington, Va.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>“In the grand sweep of post-1949 Chinese history, this announcement is yet another indicator that Chinese policy is trying to catch up with national interests that have expanded faster than the capacity of the People’s Republic of China to service them,” Mr. Finkelstein said.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The new facility would enable the navy to live up to a strategy laid down this year by the Communist Party in a major defense document, known as a white paper, that outlined its ambitions to become a global maritime power.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>China has invested heavily in Djibouti’s infrastructure, including hundreds of millions of dollars spent upgrading the country’s undersize port. It has also financed a railroad extending from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Djibouti, a project that cost billions of dollars. The country has a population of about 900,000, many of whom live in poverty.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Strategically, Djibouti offers an excellent place from which to protect oil imports from the Middle East that traverse the Indian Ocean on their way to China, military experts say. From Djibouti, China gains greater access to the Arabian Peninsula.</em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed they do, and that means not only will Beijing be able to keep a close eye on seaborne crude, they'll also be better prepared to intervene in Mid-East affairs should the situation call for it.&nbsp;</p> <p>As we discussed in "<a href="">Here Comes China: Xi 'Vows Terror Fight</a>'&nbsp;After ISIS Executes First Chinese Hostage," it seems unlikely that Beijing will be able to stay out of Mid-East affairs forever. Although one dead Chinese hostage likely won't be enough to make Xi commit to a full fledged military campaign in Syria, China did send several warships to the Mediterranean in 2013 as the standoff between Russia and the US hit a crescendo and Beijing is already engaged in a fight to curb radicalization among Uighurs in Xinjiang. As Michael Clarke, an associate professor at the Australian National University’s National Security College <a href="">told Bloomberg</a> earlier this week, "It appears that events are dragging China further into the Syrian crisis. On one level, Russian intervention and the Paris attacks have raised the stakes and made Beijing’s preferred option of a political resolution much less likely. The killing of a Chinese national will certainly inject a new variable into Beijing’s calculations about its position on the conflict."</p> <p>Of course China isn't going to build a naval base in a week (although they did just <a href="">build a bridge in 43 hours</a>), so it's not as if the PLA will be sailing from&nbsp;Djibouti to Latakia next month, but the point is that we're seeing a strategic shift from Beijing in line with everything we've observed over the past nine months from the rescue operation in Aden to the construction of some 3,000 acres of new sovereign territory in the South Pacific. </p> <p>Xi is branching out and China is projecting its military prowess. The new naval base has implications both for global energy markets and for the Mid-East balance of power. If Moscow and Tehran do indeed <a href="">pull off a coup</a> wherein Russia replaces the US as the Mid-East's superpower puppet master and Iran supplants Saudi Arabia as regional power broker, China will now have a base within shouting distance of its allies (recall that China generally votes with Russia on the Security Council with regard to Syria).&nbsp;</p> <p>We'll close with the following quote from&nbsp;Andrew Erickson, an expert on the Chinese military at the U.S. Naval War College:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>“China has for decades proudly proclaimed its lack of military facilities on foreign soil, so seeking long-term military access at a quasi-base level is a massive about-face… China is poised to cross the Rubicon.”</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="439" height="293" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> China Crude Crude Oil Iran Middle East national security New York Times Saudi Arabia Fri, 27 Nov 2015 16:30:49 +0000 Tyler Durden 517134 at