Iran

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ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Dead, Radio Iran Claims





Following The Guardian's report that ISIS leadder Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi had received serious "life-threatening" injuries during a US-led airstrike in March; in what could deal a severe jolt to the extremist organization, Radio Iran has claimed that the ISIS caliph has died.

 
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US May Use Cyberattacks As Offensive Weapon, DoD Says





In what appears to be an effort to ensure that James Franco and Seth Rogen are never again sabotaged by evil North Korean hackers, the Pentagon is out with a new plan that explains when it may be necessary to take the cyber fight to the “aggressors” in order to “mitigate potential cyberrisk to the US homeland.” Unsurprisingly, the list of cyber adversaries is indistinguishable from what might fairly be called Washington’s “usual suspects.” The villains are: Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea.

 
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America Ranks Below Israel In World Happiness Index





USA USA USA #15? Despite aerial bombardment, growing tensions with every neighbor, and the almost ubiquitous daily car-bombs, Israelis are "happier" than Americans according to Bloomberg's world happiness index. Happiness, it appears, is most abundant a long way from the equator with Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and Canada all topping the list; whereas the unhappiest nations are all in Saharan or sub-Saharan Africa (apart from war-torn Syria and Afghanistan).

 
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Frontrunning: April 24





  • Obama’s Drone-Strike Rules to Be Reviewed (WSJ)
  • Hostage locations difficult to track - and may be getting harder (Reuters)
  • Varoufakis Said to Take Hammering From Riled EU Ministers (BBG)
  • EU Frustration Mounts as Greeks Try to Bypass Aid Process (BBG)
  • Kleiner Perkins seeks almost $1 million in costs in Pao case (Reuters)
  • Google Misses, Caps Costs as Growth Slows (WSJ)... stock surges 
  • Oil prices trade near 2015 highs on Yemen worries (Reuters)
  • Pentagon Announces New Strategy for Cyberwarfare (NYT)
  • Bloomberg Oil at $65 Seen Freeing 500,000 Barrels From Shale Fracklog (BBG)
  • ‘Flash Crash’ Trader Navinder Sarao: It Was Wits, Not Bits (WSJ)
 
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Oil Prices Won't Recover Anytime Soon Says Exxon CEO





There is mounting evidence that oil prices are poised to rebound from a historic bust. But what if the bust is not over yet? Despite the signs of a rebound, ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson has a much more bearish take on oil prices. Speaking at the IHS CeraWeek conference in Houston, Tillerson predicted that oil prices would remain subdued for the next several years.

 
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Middle East a Powder Keg as Saudi Bombing of Yemen Resumes





The Saudi bombing of Yemen is another flash point and will deepen tensions between the U.S., NATO allies and Russia and indeed China. Geopolitical risk remains high and the region remains a powder keg that is likely to explode as has already been seen in Syria and much of North Africa.

 
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Oil Tumbles After Saudis Declare End To Yemen Aerial Bombing Campaign





Saudi Arabia said its campaign of airstrikes in Yemen have succeeded in removing threats to the kingdom and other regional countries, bringing to an end Operation "Decisive Storm." As Bloomberg reports, the Saudi Defense Ministry said a coalition of mostly Sunni Muslim nations has “successfully eliminated the threat to the security of Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries,” by destroying the heavy weaponry and ballistic missiles held by the Shiite Houthi rebels. This comes one day after Gulf envoys told The United Nations that Yemen strikes won't end soon. Saudi Arabia hopes to restart a Yemeni political process and will begin "Operation New Hope," which appears to mean Saudi National Guard ground troops.

 
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Sabre-Rattling Soars: Poland Buys US Patriot Air Defense System, Gold Pops





Just days after Russia lifts sanctions on Iran and prepares to send its S-300 missile defense system, it appears Washington has retaliated. As TASS reports, Poland - on Russia's doorstep - has decided to buy the US Patriot air-defense system (made by Raytheon) for a total cost of around $9bn: "The US proposal has been found to be more profitable from the viewpoint of Poland’s security and implementation of commitments within NATO framework." Washington, keen to ensure Warsaw signed up with Raytheon, has decided to loan Poland a battery of Patriots until the deal is signed.

 
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Saudi Arabia Orders Its National Guard To Enter Yemen War





Over the better part of the past month, the only entities actively involved in the proxy war in Yemen against the local Houthi rebel force have been air force units, mostly under Saudi command as part of Operation "Decisive Storm." Which probably explains why there has been little if any progress to note in pushing back said rebellion which, armed heavily thanks to the US government, has successfully managed to push the current president into an indefinite exile. That changed hours ago, when Saudi Arabia's King Salman ordered the Saudi Arabian National Guard, widely regarded as the kingdom's best equipped military ground force, to take part in Riyadh's campaign against Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen.

 
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Frontrunning: April 21





  • The Fed Still Wants Easy Money (BBG) - you don't say
  • ECB Is Studying Curbs on Greek Bank Support (BBG)
  • Banks Paid to Borrow as Three-Month Euribor Drops Below Zero (BBG)
  • Baoding Tianwei is first state-owned Chinese enterprise to default (Reuters)
  • Major Chinese Developer Says It Can’t Pay Dollar Debts (BBG)
  • Wall Street Has No Idea How Much Money Venezuela Has (BBG)
  • Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Find Different Paths to Profits (WSJ)
  • Does the Collapse of a Chinese Developer Signal the Start of More Defaults? (BBG)
  • Retail Traders Wield Social Media for Investing Fame (WSJ)
 
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Ron Paul Tells Obama: "It's Time To Try Something New"





While some journalists here in the US have started to notice the strange series of opposition killings in Ukraine, the US government has yet to say a word.

Compare this to the US reaction when a single opposition figure was killed in Russia earlier this year.

 
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Noam Chomsky: "The Idea Of A Media Which Does Not Repeat US Propaganda Is Intolerable To American Leaders"





"Take the New York Times -- the greatest newspaper in the world. Take one example, at the first article that appeared today, that the tentative [nuclear] agreement with Iran was reached. It’s a thinkpiece, by Peter Baker, one of their main analysts. He discusses in it the main reasons to distrust Iran, the crimes of Iran. It’s very interesting to look at. The most interesting one is the charge that Iran is destabilizing the Middle East because it’s supporting militias which have killed American soldiers in Iraq. That’s kind of as if, in 1943, the Nazi press had criticized England because it was destabilizing Europe for supporting partisans who were killing German soldiers."

 
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US Navy Sends Aircraft Carrier, Warships To Intercept Iranian Weapons Shipments In Yemeni Waters





Update: Because the report from AP does not play well with "Everyday Americans", US CentCom is denying: U.S. DENIES REPORT SHIP SENT TO INTERCEPT IRAN VESSEL, SAYS SHIP SENT TO KEEP SHIPPING LANES IN REGION OPEN

The 'proxy' war is escalating very rapidly. As AP reports, Navy officials confirm that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is headed to Yemeni waters to intercept an Iranian weapons shipments. Just as we warned 10 days ago, the probability of a major escalation over the latest proxy Middle Eastern civil war escalated substantially when Iran parked two warships off the Yemeni coast.

 
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America's Waning Influence: Beijing To Invest $46 Billion In Energy, Infrastructure For US "Ally"





China is looking to succeed where the United States has failed. Beijing — which, as a reminder, claims it will not use its regional infrastructure development initiatives as a tool of foreign policy — is now set to facilitate the construction of nearly $50 billion in power plants, roads, and railways in neighboring Pakistan. The proposal, which will give China access to the Indian Ocean via the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, is part of President Xi Jinping’s ambitious “Silk Road” Economic Belt, and importantly, will likely include financing for the completion of the "Peace Pipeline," which will carry natural gas from Iranian gas fields across Pakistan.

 
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