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Sat, 30 Jul 2016
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Puppet Masters


German police raid Islamic 'hotbed' as 15yo detained for allegedly planning mass shooting

© Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters
Members of German federal police Bundespolizei demonstrate their skills during a presentation of the new unit for arrests and securing evidence (BFE) in Ahrensfelde near Berlin, Germany.
Around 400 German police conducted raids at a mosque and eight apartments in a "hotbed" of radical Islam near Hannover. It came as police near Stuttgart arrested a 15-year-old who they believe was planning a mass shooting.

The raids took place in Hildesheim, a town which Lower Saxony Interior Minister Boris Pistorius described as "a hotbed of radical Salafist" activity. He said that up to 400 police and special forces took part in the operations, though no figures were released regarding how many arrests were made.

"The German-speaking Islamic circle (DIK) in Hildesheim is a nationwide hot-spot of the radical Salafist scene that Lower Saxony security authorities have been monitoring for a long time," the state official said, as quoted by Reuters.

He said he wants to ban the DIK, which he blames for radicalizing German Muslims and influencing some to want to travel to the Middle East to join up with terrorist organizations such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Comment: See also: 'Groomed' teen terrorist hopeful who spent entire student loan on plan to join ISIS sent to young offender institution


Six Michigan state employees criminally charged in connection with Flint water crisis

© Dominick Reuter / Reuters
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette indicted six state employees for their alleged connection to the dangerous levels of lead in the city of Flint's drinking water. "They had knowledge and ability to stop the problem, but they failed," Schuette said.

The charges were authorized by Judge Nathaniel C. Perry II early Friday against three employees, each from the state's health and environmental departments.

At a Friday press conference, Schuette and Todd Flood, the private lawyer leading the attorney general's investigation, said that there will be justice for families in Flint.

"In Michigan the system is not rigged," Schuette told reporters. "There's one system of justice - it applies to everyone equal, no matter who you are."

Comment: Looks like Schuette is only scratching the surface:

Stock Up

Tax hikes? Hillary's list

© townhall.com
Hillary's plan to take a hike.
Hillary Clinton has made clear she intends to dramatically raise taxes on the American people if elected. She has proposed an income tax increase, a business tax increase, a death tax increase, a capital gains tax increase, a tax on stock trading, an "Exit Tax" and more (see below). Her planned net tax increase on the American people is at least $1 trillion over ten years, based on her campaign's own figures.

Hillary has endorsed several tax increases on middle income Americans, despite her pledge not to raise taxes on any American making less than $250,000. She has said she would be fine with a payroll tax hike on all Americans, she has endorsed a steep soda tax, endorsed a 25% national gun tax, and most recently, her campaign manager John Podesta said she would be open to a carbon tax. It's no wonder that when asked by ABC's George Stephanopoulos if her pledge was a "rock-solid" promise, she slipped and said the pledge was merely a "goal." In other words, she's going to raise taxes on middle income Americans.

Hillary's formally proposed $1 trillion net tax increase consists of the following:

Income Tax Increase - $350 Billion: Clinton has proposed a $350 billion income tax hike in the form of a 28 percent cap on itemized deductions.

Business Tax Increase -- $275 Billion: Clinton has called for a tax hike of at least $275 billion through undefined business tax reform, as described in a Clinton campaign document.

"Fairness" Tax Increase -- $400 Billion: According to her published plan, Clinton has called for a tax increase of "between $400 and $500 billion" by "restoring basic fairness to our tax code." These proposals include a "fair share surcharge," the taxing of carried interest capital gains as ordinary income, and a hike in the Death Tax.

But there are even more Clinton tax hike proposals not included in the tally above. Her campaign has failed to release specific details for many of her proposals. The true Clinton net tax hike figure is likely much higher than $1 trillion.

Comment: As Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said: "She's up front saying 'I'm going to lie my way into office.'" It took Obama 16 days to break his 'not-raise-taxes' pledge. Bet Hillary can beat that without blinking an eye.

Stock Down

Numbers game: US admits it 'found a problem' in calculation of GDP

© REUTERS/Keith Bedford
Stormy GDP outlook
For years we have complained against both the BLS' and the BEA's comical seasonal adjustments, which "serve" just one purpose: to goalseek the data to a desired, politically-mandated outcome, and which culminated last May when the Department of Commerce announced it would seasonally adjust last year's woeful Q1 GDP data not once but twice in order to get a better result. Now, it appears that there indeed was a problem: government statisticians announced that they have found "evidence that efforts to adjust the country's measure of economic growth for seasonal fluctuations have not been fully successful."

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said this week that a component-by-component investigation found evidence in quarterly GDP data over different time spans, Reuters reports.

"We did find some evidence of residual seasonality both over the most recent 10-year period and over a 30-year period," Brent Moulton, associate director for National Economic Accounts at the BEA, told reporters.


Russia-Turkey deal could mean game over for U.S./rebels in Syria

© Sputnik/ Iliya Pitalev
Commenting on the results of the recent meeting on Syria in Geneva between Russia, the UN and the US and on the prospects of a possible ending of the Syrian war, Russian political expert Vyacheslav Matuzov suggests that much will now depend on the talks between Russia and Turkey: if they agree, the rebels and their US masters will lose the war.

"Turkish President Erdogan is set to visit Moscow on August 9. Prior to his meeting with President Putin there have already been a number of announcements on the joint economic projects and the readiness to open Turkey for Russian tourists," Matuzov, former diplomat and an expert in Arab studies told Russia's Izvestiya newspaper.

"This means that certain political agreements are also being prepared," he added.

The political analyst further explained that first of all, it could be about closing the Turkish-Syrian border and, as a result, cutting-off of the influx of rebels and arms into war-torn Syria.

Comment: Further developments on Russian-Turkish relations:


'Groomed' teen terrorist hopeful who spent entire student loan on plan to join ISIS sent to young offender institution

© Metropolitan Police
A teenage university student who spent his entire student loan attempting to join Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria has been sent to a young offender institution for three-and-a-half years.

Cubeyda Jama, 19, was arrested at London Stansted Airport in February on a plane bound for Bucharest, Romania - from where he intended to make his way to Syria.

The Finnish national of Somali descent spent his loan on equipment for the trip, including a map of Turkey, protective clothing, torches, a solar-powered charger and a laptop.

A search of his USB stick revealed instructions on how to travel to IS-held territory and 13 copies of the group's Dabiq magazine.

Comment: See also: German police raid Islamic 'hotbed' as 15yo detained for allegedly planning mass shooting

Bad Guys

How the Philippines is being used as a US vassal in the South China Sea dispute

© Associated Press
A protester displays a placard in front of riot police during a rally at the US Embassy to protest the visit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday, July 27, 2016, in Manila, Philippines. The protesters are calling for the pullout of U.S. troops in the country under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA which was entered into by the Philippines and U.S. militaries.
The Philippines was under American colonial rule from 1898 to 1946. Despite gaining independence, the island nation is now being used as a tool to apply pressure on China, America's biggest rival in the South China Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration's non-binding ruling on the territorial dispute between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines is largely misunderstood.

Sovereignty or ownership of disputed land formations were never going to be adjudicated or awarded as many Filipinos and Filipinas thought or were led to believe by the past and present leadership of the Philippines.

What the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal studied were the geo-legal status definitions of the disputed territory. In part, the Chinese claim of sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing refers to as the Nansha Islands and Huangyan Island, respectively, is under dispute because of the status of the "adjacent waters." It is mainly the definition and legal status of the adjacent waters that Manila — and Washington — are concerned about, and what The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration examined. This is the crux of the matter.

Adjacent waters are a 12 nautical mile territorial (22 kilometers) stretch in bodies of water that extends from the shoreline of any land territory. The water that is within the 12 nautical miles of territory claimed by a specific country is to be legally treated as its internal waters or territorial sea. This alone gives Beijing control over a large swath of strategic water.

Moreover, Beijing's official position is that the Spratly/Nansha Islands are entitled to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and that China has legal control over the continental shelf under both Chinese domestic law and under the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Although a country and its government do not have sovereignty in their EEZ or on the continental shelf, they do have "sovereign rights" and jurisdiction over a distance of up to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) for the purpose of exploring and developing the natural resources of the seabed and subsoil in these areas.

Comment: The Philippines clearly does not have a legal leg to stand on in the South China Sea dispute. To make matters worse, Washington has turned what would be a natural ally to China into a hostile bickering neighbor. What a shame that that nations like Japan and the Philippines, who have suffered so greatly under the United States, continue to allow themselves to be used and abused through destructive alignment with Western 'principals'.


Pakistani Minister offers free land to Chinese businessmen

In an effort to attract Chinese investment to a province of Punjab, a Pakistani politician has offered free-of-cost land to large Chinese investors.

The proposal was announced on Thursday by Punjab's Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif during his current visit to China for the Punjab-Qingdao Business Seminar. According to a statement, the minister offered free-of-cost land to businessmen if they invest in Punjab.

The minister also assured Chinese investors that they would be provided with the best facilities for a program of shifting novel technologies to Pakistan.

Comment: Interesting news on the heels of a Chinese 'invasion' in Uttarakhand.


For the 101st time, Israeli forces destroy Bedouin village of al-Araqib

Israeli forces demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev region of southern Israel for the 101st time on Wednesday morning, locals told Ma'an.

The demolition followed several weeks of Israeli bulldozers entering the community to level lands, which escalated to Israeli police conducting raids on the community and detaining several Bedouins after locals attempted to stop the bulldozers.

Local activist Aziz Sayyah al-Turi said on Sunday that Israeli police escorted bulldozers which raided the village in the morning "to take control of about 1,300 dunams (325 acres) of the village's land, which they failed to take in 2011 after angry Arab crowds rushed to defend al-Araqib."

The first demolition of al-Araqib took place a little over six years ago on June 27, 2010, and has been demolished 100 more times as of Wednesday.

The last demolition of the village occurred in June, which destroyed the village for the second time during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, leaving the residents homeless with no choice but to rebuild once again.

Al-Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered "unrecognized" by the Israeli state. According to ACRI, more than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.

Wall Street

West dumping Kiev? IMF further delays Ukraine bailout

© REUTERS/ Yuri Gripas
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that without substantial anti-corruption and reform efforts from officials in Kiev, a resumption of funding could be difficult.

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday said it had not yet decided to resume a bailout of war-torn Ukraine, which the crisis lender halted over corruption concerns last year.

A spokesman for the Fund had earlier this month held out the possibility of a resumption by the end of July.

Since last August, Ukraine has received no new IMF disbursements from a USD 17.5 billion bailout package approved in April last year.

"We expect that Ukraine would be taken up by the executive board sometime when the board reconvenes. Possibly in August or September," IMF spokesman William Murray told a news conference.

Comment: To add to Ukraine's financial problems: Russia plans to file for freeze of Ukraine foreign assets if $3bn in sovereign debt not repaid