Category Archives: International Politic

‘It’s time to propose this’: Trump and Brexit give momentum to EU defense push

Thanks; Gabriela Baczynska &               Robin Emmott, Reuters


European Commissioner Bienkowska arrives to a meeting of EU defence ministers in BrusselsThomson Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s executive is ready to increase support for the bloc’s first ever defense research program, offering more funds to develop new military hardware in its earliest stages after years of government cuts, a top EU official said.

Following a 90-million-euro pilot investment from the EU’s common budget in 2017-2019, the European Commission is proposing 500 million euros ($563 million) for the 2019-2020 period that could rise to 1 billion euros a year from 2021, Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska told Reuters.
“European citizens see security as the number one thing that Europe should provide to them, so it’s time to propose this,” Bienkowska said in an interview.
With Britain, one of EU’s leading military powers, leaving the bloc, ideas for common EU defense are gathering pace in the wake of Islamic attacks in Western Europe. Europeans are also worried about US commitment to NATO under President Donald Trump.
Under the proposal unveiled on Wednesday, at least three firms and two member states would have to submit a joint project to be eligible for financing from the EU budget.
If agreed by governments and the European Parliament, the EU budget would put up 20 percent of the costs of developing prototypes, Bienkowska said.
“The prototype phase is the riskiest one and it is very important to have incentives from the European budget to prepare common projects,” she added.
A European drone is often cited as an example of how EU funding can help get projects underway. Bienkowska said she also hoped to see cyber projects from smaller firms and innovative startups.

She said she wants negotiations and legislative work between the Commission, member states and the European Parliament to finalize by the end of 2018.


U.S. President Donald Trump (R) speaks to Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May during in a working dinner meeting at the NATO headquarters during a NATO summit of heads of state and government in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017.

Brexit factor

The EU’s political capital Brussels hopes it can turn the tables on Brexit – an unprecedented setback in 60 years of European integration – by moving ahead with closer defense and security cooperation, which London had long blocked.
The EU, where most governments are also NATO allies, have also come under increased pressure from Trump, who last month scolded the Europeans for failing to spend enough on their own defense.

Though Bienkowska said work on promoting more security and defense cooperation in the EU has started two years ago, she admitted Europe’s unease about Trump gives it additional momentum: “All developments in the United States will make our cooperation (in Europe) stronger.”

“We will work more closely in the European Union, what we want to achieve is to have a stronger European defense and a stronger NATO.”

Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its subsequent backing for militias fighting Kiev troops in the industrial east of the former Soviet republic also add to the bloc’s security concerns.
The EU estimates it loses up to a 100 billion euros a year on duplication, leaving it with far fewer capabilities than the United States. Years of defense cuts have worsened the issue as national governments jealously protect their own firms.
Europe has 37 types of armored personal carriers and 12 types of tanker aircraft compared to nine and four respectively in the United States, according to EU analysis.
European Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska arrives to a meeting of European Union defence ministers at the EU Council in Brussels, Belgium May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

European Commissioner Bienkowska arrives to a meeting of EU defence ministers in BrusselsThomson Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s executive is ready to increase support for the bloc’s first ever defense research program, offering more funds to develop new military hardware in its earliest stages after years of government cuts, a top EU official said.

Following a 90-million-euro pilot investment from the EU’s common budget in 2017-2019, the European Commission is proposing 500 million euros ($563 million) for the 2019-2020 period that could rise to 1 billion euros a year from 2021, Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska told Reuters.
“European citizens see security as the number one thing that Europe should provide to them, so it’s time to propose this,” Bienkowska said in an interview.
With Britain, one of EU’s leading military powers, leaving the bloc, ideas for common EU defense are gathering pace in the wake of Islamic attacks in Western Europe. Europeans are also worried about US commitment to NATO under President Donald Trump.
Under the proposal unveiled on Wednesday, at least three firms and two member states would have to submit a joint project to be eligible for financing from the EU budget.
If agreed by governments and the European Parliament, the EU budget would put up 20 percent of the costs of developing prototypes, Bienkowska said.
“The prototype phase is the riskiest one and it is very important to have incentives from the European budget to prepare common projects,” she added.
A European drone is often cited as an example of how EU funding can help get projects underway. Bienkowska said she also hoped to see cyber projects from smaller firms and innovative startups.
She said she wants negotiations and legislative work between the Commission, member states and the European Parliament to finalize by the end of 2018.
theresa may donald trump
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) speaks to Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May during in a working dinner meeting at the NATO headquarters during a NATO summit of heads of state and government in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017.Reuters/Thierry Charlier

Brexit factor

The EU’s political capital Brussels hopes it can turn the tables on Brexit – an unprecedented setback in 60 years of European integration – by moving ahead with closer defense and security cooperation, which London had long blocked.
The EU, where most governments are also NATO allies, have also come under increased pressure from Trump, who last month scolded the Europeans for failing to spend enough on their own defense.
Though Bienkowska said work on promoting more security and defense cooperation in the EU has started two years ago, she admitted Europe’s unease about Trump gives it additional momentum: “All developments in the United States will make our cooperation (in Europe) stronger.”

“We will work more closely in the European Union, what we want to achieve is to have a stronger European defense and a stronger NATO.”
Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its subsequent backing for militias fighting Kiev troops in the industrial east of the former Soviet republic also add to the bloc’s security concerns.
The EU estimates it loses up to a 100 billion euros a year on duplication, leaving it with far fewer capabilities than the United States. Years of defense cuts have worsened the issue as national governments jealously protect their own firms.
Europe has 37 types of armored personal carriers and 12 types of tanker aircraft compared to nine and four respectively in the United States, according to EU analysis.

“Up until now, member states were doing things completely separately, without any cooperation. I want to appeal to the member states to think about common projects, because the money will be there,” Bienkowska said.
For the future, Bienkowska is mulling a common European defense bond for joint purchases from 2021, though she said no decisions had yet been taken.
Italy is a proponent of issuing joint EU debt, as well as exempting various types of spending from budget deficit limits. Germany, on the other hand, which is the bloc’s largest economy and key power, is opposed to both these approaches. ($1 = 0.8887 euros)
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Paris agreement or not, solar employment looking brighter than coal

Thanks;Andrea Riquier

Published: June 2, 2017 1:20 p.m. ET

Nearly 400,000 people are employed in solar, more than double the number of coal workers

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a sign supporting coal during a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on October 10, 2016.

As he introduced President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden yesterday, Vice-President Mike Pence said the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord was his way of putting “forgotten men and women” first.

And if anyone had any doubt who those “forgotten” souls were, the president himself departed from his prepared remarks to riff, “I happen to love the coal miners”But observers of the energy industry say it’s not that coal miners are forgotten. Instead, a perfect storm of workforce automation, a glut of natural gas, and consumer preferences has combined to make them obsolete.

“There are huge tectonic trends that are almost all mitigating against any near-term recovery of coal,” said Mark Muro, director of policy at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “It simply is not needed given the onset of extremely cheap and clean natural gas and the onset of renewables.”
On Friday, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn was asked about the administration’s emphasis on employment in a shrinking industry. Cohn told CNBC, “At some point in the cycle, coal will be competitive again. We want to keep coal available, we want to be in the coal business.”

But observers of the energy industry say it’s not that coal miners are forgotten. Instead, a perfect storm of workforce automation, a glut of natural gas, and consumer preferences has combined to make them obsolete.

“There are huge tectonic trends that are almost all mitigating against any near-term recovery of coal,” said Mark Muro, director of policy at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “It simply is not needed given the onset of extremely cheap and clean natural gas and the onset of renewables.”
On Friday, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn was asked about the administration’s emphasis on employment in a shrinking industry. Cohn told CNBC, “At some point in the cycle, coal will be competitive again. We want to keep coal available, we want to be in the coal business.”  

But modern technology – particularly in the large-scale open-pit mining centers of the west, far from the Rust Belt – means that “even if demand for coal returned, the jobs wouldn’t. It’s pretty devastating,” Muro told MarketWatch.

It’s very challenging to break out how many people are employed in any part of the energy industry, in part because there are so many different components to each. There are jobs created in the initial energy generation process, and then there are support categories: manufacturers and installers of rooftop solar panels, for example. The Labor Department classifies many of those installation jobs within the construction industry, for example.
The Labor Department reported Friday that 51,000 people were employed in coal mining in May. But BLS doesn’t break out employment in other forms of energy production in any way for comparison.
In January, the outgoing Obama administration Energy Department released a report on energy and employment that showed that over 370,000 people were employed in the solar industry, compared to 86,000 in the coal industry. Over 101,000 people work in the wind power generation industry.
It’s worth noting that solar is so labor-intensive now in part because it’s just gaining a foothold. About 37% of solar electric generation jobs are construction and installation, the Energy Department’s report noted. So it’s likely that over time, solar won’t be as much of a job creator as it is now.
In 2011, Brookings released a substantial research report on what it termed the “clean economy,” which delved more deeply into job categorizations, among other things. The researchers noted that green energy efforts are beneficial in many ways, including by being manufacturing and export intensive. In 2009, the authors wrote, 5.3% of all U.S. goods exports were from “clean economy establishments.”
The clean economy also “offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle- skilled workers than the national economy as a whole,” the report noted.
In May, the International Renewable Energy Agency said the number of people working in the renewables sector internationally could more than double in the next 13 years, “more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world.”

China sparks human rights outcry by ramping up DNA testing in Muslim-dominated region

Thanks;Matthew Brown 

Published ; Wednesday 17 May 2017 07:34 
Police in Xinjiang purchase $8.7m of equipment to analyse genetic material from citizens, prompting fears of state security crackdown

Ethnic Uighurs sit near a statue of China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong in Kashgar, Xinjiang Thomas Peter/Reuters 

China appears to be laying the groundwork for the mass collection of DNA samples from residents of a restive, largely Muslim region that’s been under a security crackdown, rights observers and independent experts said Tuesday.

Police in western China’s Xinjiang region confirmed to The Associated Press that they are in the process of purchasing at least $8.7 million in equipment to analyse DNA samples.
Observers from Human Rights Watch said they’ve seen evidence of almost $3 million in additional purchases related to DNA testing. They warned such a collection programme could be used as a way for authorities to beef up their political control.
The move comes after Chinese authorities last year reportedly required Xinjiang residents to submit DNA samples, fingerprints and voice records to obtain passports or travel abroad.

Xinjiang borders several unstable Central Asian countries, including Afghanistan. It’s experienced numerous bombings and vehicle and knife attacks blamed on ethnic separatists from the native Uighur Islamic minority.

In one of the most recent attacks, eight people, including three assailants, were killed in a February knife attack in southern Xinjiang’s Pishan County, which borders Pakistan.

Chinese authorities seeking to counter religious extremism among the Uighurs have taken increasingly aggressive steps to quell the unrest. Those have included mandatory satellite tracking systems for vehicles in some areas, rewards for terror-related tips and prohibitions against women wearing veils and men growing beards.

The purchases of DNA testing equipment in Xinjiang were confirmed by an official at the regional Public Security Bureau. The official, who gave only her surname, Huang, said a supplier already had been found. In Xinjiang’s Sheche County, suppliers were being sought for voiceprint collection systems and 3-D portrait systems, according to a security official surnamed Yin, who declined to give further details.
If used at full capacity, the new equipment could be used to profile up to 10,000 DNA samples a day and several million a year, said Yves Moreau, a computational biologist specialising in genome analysis and DNA privacy at the University of Leuven in Belgium.
The scale of the purchases raises “a legitimate concern that Chinese authorities could be planning to DNA profile a large fraction, or even all” of the Uighur people in Xinjiang, Moreau said.

Brexit is killing the pound but it’s having a really productive side-effect on Britain’s economy

Thanks;Lianna 


Brexit is having a seriously positive impact on employment.

LONDON – The pound has cratered against the US dollar ever since Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23 last year.

But while that has a negative effect on Brits’ purchasing power, it is actually having a seriously positive impact on another sector in Britain’s economy – employment.

That is according to Sam Bowman, the executive director of one of the world’s prominent think tanks, the Adam Smith Institute, who spoke at a local Conservative party conference in East Croydon, which Business Insider attended on Saturday.
He was talking about how Brexit is expected to affect the UK economy over the short and long term and looked at both positive and negative impacts from Britain planning to leave the European Union.
“Probably many people in this room are like me – frustrated by the tone of the Brexit debate, even eight or nine months after the referendum,” said Bowman.

“It feels like the referendum debate has never ended. On one side we have around 10% some extremely die-hard leavers, who refuse to accept there could be any difficulty on leaving the European Union. And then there is 10% extremely die-hard remainers who refuse to admit there would be any benefits from leaving the European Union.
“In the middle, I think, is the rest of us – 80% who accept the result and want to make Brexit work but also want to acknowledge that it is not necessarily going to be an easy ride.”
He also talked about how Brexit has already had an impact on the UK economy. But it is not all bad. Bowman said he is a “short term pessimist but a long term optimist about Brexit.”
Here is an excerpt from his speech:

“I think employment is likely to be quite strong. It is unlikely that [Brexit] will cause any large scale unemployment. even in a very, very pessimistic outcome – the reason for that being the pound has absorbed most of the costs, meaning that we effectively have real term wage cuts and our purchasing power falls but people become more employable as a result. So there are good and bad [aspects] to the fall in the pound.”
The pound against the US dollar tanked in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum vote. While it has recently gained a little bit of ground to reach $1.28, it is still a far cry from the $1.50 last seen in June last year:

Markets Insider

UK flag glasses

Brexit is having a seriously positive impact on employment.Reuters

LONDON – The pound has cratered against the US dollar ever since Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23 last year.

But while that has a negative effect on Brits’ purchasing power, it is actually having a seriously positive impact on another sector in Britain’s economy – employment.
That is according to Sam Bowman, the executive director of one of the world’s prominent think tanks, the Adam Smith Institute, who spoke at a local Conservative party conference in East Croydon, which Business Insider attended on Saturday.
He was talking about how Brexit is expected to affect the UK economy over the short and long term and looked at both positive and negative impacts from Britain planning to leave the European Union.
“Probably many people in this room are like me – frustrated by the tone of the Brexit debate, even eight or nine months after the referendum,” said Bowman.
“It feels like the referendum debate has never ended. On one side we have around 10% some extremely die-hard leavers, who refuse to accept there could be any difficulty on leaving the European Union. And then there is 10% extremely die-hard remainers who refuse to admit there would be any benefits from leaving the European Union.
“In the middle, I think, is the rest of us – 80% who accept the result and want to make Brexit work but also want to acknowledge that it is not necessarily going to be an easy ride.”

He also talked about how Brexit has already had an impact on the UK economy. But it is not all bad. Bowman said he is a “short term pessimist but a long term optimist about Brexit.”

Here is an excerpt from his speech:

“I think employment is likely to be quite strong. It is unlikely that [Brexit] will cause any large scale unemployment. even in a very, very pessimistic outcome – the reason for that being the pound has absorbed most of the costs, meaning that we effectively have real term wage cuts and our purchasing power falls but people become more employable as a result. So there are good and bad [aspects] to the fall in the pound.”

The pound against the US dollar tanked in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum vote. While it has recently gained a little bit of ground to reach $1.28, it is still a far cry from the $1.50 last seen in June last year:

sterlingUSD1

Markets Insider

Since the Brexit vote, various economists and financial institutions predicted that the UK’s unemployment rate will shoot up as a result of the vote to leave. Credit Suisse, for example, predicts an increase to 6.5% for the base rate, equivalent to roughly 500,000 jobs being lost. However, the last few months have seen the rate remain near its record low and Wednesday’s figures show the trend appears to be holding up.

Unemployment in the UK fell once again in March, according to the latest data released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday.

Headline unemployment fell was 4.7% in the month while employment remained unchanged at 74.6% in the month, equalling a record high set in both January and February, but not seen before that since records began in 1971.

However, wage growth is still poor.

Dozens dead after Coptic Christian churches in Egypt are hit by Palm Sunday blasts

Thanks;Dahlia Kholaif

Published: Apr 9, 2017 9:33 a.m. ET

At least 36 killed in attacks on churches in Tanta and Alexandria

A relative of one of the victims weeps outside church in Tanta, Egypt.

CAIRO—Twin blasts struck Coptic churches in Egypt as worshipers gathered for Palm Sunday services, killing at least 36 people, as violence escalates against the country’s Christian population.

Security officials said an unknown assailant planted a bomb under a seat in the main hall of the Mar Girgis Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, some 60 miles north of Cairo, in the morning.

The ensuing explosion killed 25 people and wounded another 69, an adviser to Egypt’s health minister told state media. Footage aired on official television showed blood stains sprayed over the floor of the church hall, shattered furniture and rubble sprayed on wooden benches.
Separately, a suicide bomber attempted to enter Saint Mark’s Church in the center of the coastal city of Alexandria, blowing himself up at the entrance after being stopped by security, state media reported.

GROWING CONFLICT IN ASIA SPARKS MILITARY EXPANSION IN JAPAN

Thanks;CRISTINA SILVA 

Publised; 3/22/17 AT 5:07 PM

Growing Conflict
US Defence Secretary sees no need for US military action in South China Sea

Roughly $5 trillion in global trade passes through the South China Sea each year.

Japan unveiled its second helicopter carrier, the Kaga, Wednesday, sending a message of military strength to China amid growing conflict over the South China Sea and other strategic waterways in Asia. The new vessel is the latest sign of Japan’s ongoing military expansion as it seeks greater international influence. 
Roughly 500 people attended the unveiling ceremony at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama near Tokyo. The vessel was parked next to Japan’s other helicopter carrier, the Izumo, Japan wasn’t shy about its motivation. Vice Minister of Defense Takayuki Kobayashi said at the ceremony Tokyo was deeply concerned about China’s construction of islands and military bases in the South China Sea waterway, which is claimed by multiple Asian nations. 
“China is attempting to make changes in the South China Sea with bases, and through acts that exert pressure is altering the status quo, raising security concerns among the international community,” he said.
Roughly $5 trillion in global trade passes through the South China Sea each year. Both Japan and the U.S. have urged Beijing to honor open travel in the waterway. Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim the South China Sea, which is known for its fishing and oil and gas deposits. Japan, meanwhile, is engaged in its own territorial dispute with China over the neighboring East China Sea.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has increasingly called for Japan to seek a bigger international role in global military conflicts in recent years and urged lawmakers to reconsider Japan’s pacifist constitution that forbids using force in international disputes. His remarks have alarmed China and many Japanese voters who enjoy the country’s post-World War II pacifism. 
“If Japan persists in taking wrong actions, and even considers military interventions that threaten China’s sovereignty and security… then China will inevitably take firm responsive measures,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing last week.
Japan plans to send its Izumo helicopter carrier through Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka starting in May before joint naval exercises with India and the U.S. in the Indian Ocean in July.
China’s and Japan’s economies are the world’s second- and third-largest.

HOW ISIS GROOMED IRAQI ORPHANS INTO BECOMING CHILD SOLDIERS

Thanks;REUTERS 

Published; 2/17/17 AT 10:41 AM


Boys from a Mosul orphanage were indoctrinated by the jihadists to become a network of informants and fighters.

http://europe.newsweek.com/isis-groomed-orphans-child-soldiers-557803

Turkey detains 400 Islamic State suspects in nationwide raids

When the boys first arrived at the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) training facility in eastern Mosul they would cry and ask about their parents, who went missing when the militants rampaged through northern Iraq in 2014.
But as the weeks passed they appeared to absorb the group’s ultra-hardline ideology, according to a worker at the former orphanage where they were housed.

The children, aged from three to 16 and mostly Shi’ite Muslims or minority Yazidis, began referring to their own families as apostates after they were schooled in Sunni Islam by the militant fighters, he said.
The boys were separated from the girls and infants, undergoing indoctrination and training to become “cubs of the caliphate—a network of child informers and fighters used by the jihadists to support their military operations.
The complex in Mosul’s Zuhur district, which had been home to local orphans until they were kicked out by ISIS, was one of several sites the jihadists used across the city.
It is now shuttered, its doors sealed with padlocks by Iraqi security forces.
ISIS withdrew before Iraqi forces launched a U.S.-backed offensive in October to retake the city, but during a Reuters visit last month there were still reminders of the group’s attempt to brainwash dozens of children.
A saying attributed to the Prophet Mohammed is painted in black on one wall, urging children to learn to swim, shoot and ride horses. Inside the building is a swimming pool, now dry and full of rubbish.
In another room sits a stack of textbooks ISIS had amended to fit its brutal ethos.
Arithmetic problems in a fourth grade maths book use imagery of warfare, while the cover bears a rifle made up of equations. History books focus exclusively on the early years of Islam and emphasize martial events.
Another textbook entitled “English for the Islamic State” includes ordinary words like apple and ant beside army, bomb and sniper. Martyr, spy and mortar also appear alongside zebra crossing, yawn, and X-box.
The word “woman” is depicted by a formless black figure wearing the full niqab covering. All faces in the books—even those of animals—are blurred, in keeping with an Islamic proscription against such images.
The orphanage worker, who was cowed into staying on after the militants took over in 2014, said girls who were brought to the center were often married off to the group’s commanders.
The man asked not to be named for fear of reprisals by ISIS, which still controls the entire western half of Mosul. He was shot in the leg during recent clashes.
He said the militants, mostly Iraqis, taught the Shi’ite children how to pray in the tradition of Sunni Islam and forced the Yazidis to convert.
They memorized the Koran, were taught to treat outsiders as infidels and conducted physical exercise in the yard, which has since grown over.
A pair of colorful plastic slides and swing sets now sit untouched amid shattered glass, casings from a grenade launcher and a suicide bomber’s charred remains—signs of the militants’ fierce resistance as they retreated late last year.
Reuters could not independently verify the orphanage worker’s comments. But local residents gave similar accounts, and ISIS has published numerous videos showing how it trains young fighters and even makes them execute prisoners.
New batches of children arrived at the Zuhur orphanage every few weeks from outside Mosul, including a few from neighboring Syria, while older boys were sent to the town of Tel Afar west of Mosul for intensive military training for duties including with ISIS’s courts or vice squad, residents said.
“After six months at the camps, some of the boys came back to spend a weekend with their younger brothers. They were wearing uniforms and carrying weapons,” the orphanage worker said, fingering black and yellow prayer beads.
One of the boys, Mohammed, was killed last summer during the battle in the city of Falluja, west of Baghdad, he said, recounting how the other children wept upon learning the news.
A few weeks before the Mosul offensive began, ISIS canceled lessons and sent the boys to guard an airfield near Tel Afar which pro-government forces later seized, he said.
“I told them, ‘If you see the army, drop your weapons and tell them you are orphans. Maybe they will spare your lives'”.

President Trump looms large over stocks despite deluge of earnings

THANKS;Sue Chang

Published: Feb 4, 2017 8:09 a.m. ET

mw-ff152_trumpw_20170203230441_mg

President Donald Trump is keeping investors on their toes.

It may be peak earnings season but the stock market’s main obsession seems to be President Donald Trump. And as investors continue to second guess his next move and decipher what his policies may mean for the economy, equities are likely to continue taking their cue from politics.

In a sign of how large the president looms over the market, an analysis of FactSet data by MarketWatch shows that one out of four companies referenced Trump during their most recent earnings conference calls. Much of the discussion appears to be driven by questions over the impact his policies will have on each company within the context of growth and trade, underscoring the apprehensive mood in the market.

That sense of uncertainty, in part, hobbled the market for much of the week as major indexes languished. The S&P 500 moved less than 0.1% in either direction for three straight days this week, the first such streak since November 2014, according to Dow Jones data.

Analysts blamed the market’s lackluster action on the absence of specific details from Trump’s administration even as the president moved quickly to fire off a string of executive orders on everything from a temporary immigration ban to withdrawing from landmark trade pacts.

The lack of clarity is likely to be an ongoing feature, forcing the market to fly blind, at least until April when the budget is released, said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist for Mizuho Securities USA.

In the meantime, Ricchiuto urged investors to think outside of the box when it comes to Trump, adding that he’s smart enough to pull off many of his campaign pledges.

“Making the assumption that he is stupid is wrong,” said Ricchiuto, who believes Trump’s actions, no matter how irrational they appear to some, are governed by his background as a real estate developer.

“He will always start from a position of power and then moderate to a different position,” he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.94%  advanced 186.55 points Friday, or 0.9%, to close at 20,071.46 but slipped 0.1% for the week while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.73%  rose 16.57 points, or 0.7%, to 2,297.42 for a weekly gain of 0.1%, shrugging off its torpor after Trump took steps to overhaul Dodd-Frank law governing the financial industry.

Market sentiment remains bullish even as “Trump fatigue” sets in with Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Bull & Bear Indicator rising to its highest in 2.5 years, according to the investment bank.

MW-FF149_BAML02_20170203172302_NS.png

Next week, 84 S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report quarterly results. The FactSet scorecard on fourth-quarter earnings shows 65% of S&P 500 companies beat mean earnings-per-share estimates and 52% have turned in better-than-expected sales.

Apart from earnings, financial stocks are likely to take center stage as expectations of a watered-down Dodd-Frank will be a boon for the industry, which had been chafing under the restrictions placed in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Under former President Barack Obama, regulators have applied financial rules under the most severe interpretations. Under Trump, they are likely to look for the most lenient, said Ricchiuto.

Trump Discusses Refugees, Iran, Security Ties With Saudi King

Thanks;WILLIAM MAULDIN

Published;Jan. 29, 2017 5:14 p.m. ET

White House says leaders agree on importance of ’rigorously enforcing’ Iran nuclear deal

BN-RV855_2W6bY_OR_20170129170852.jpg

U.S. President Donald Trump, joined by senior adviser Jared Kushner, Communications Director Sean Spicer and national security adviser Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Sunday. PHOTO: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

President Donald Trump spoke Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman about refugees in the Middle East, the deal to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and improved security relations between the two countries, the White House said.

Saudi Arabia isn’t among the majority-Muslim countries facing a controversial travel ban from the Trump administration, although the list includes several poorer countries in the region that are mired in conflict and prompting an exodus of refugees.

“The president requested and the King agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts,” the White House said in a statement Sunday.

The new U.S. president and King Salman also agreed on the “importance of rigorously enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and of addressing Iran’s destabilizing regional activities,” the White House said. Mr. Trump has repeatedly criticized the deal the Obama administration and other world powers struck with Iran over its nuclear activities.

Former President Barack Obama at times had a difficult relationship with Saudi Arabia as he sought to bring Tehran to the table and forge the nuclear deal.

Mr. Trump and King Salman reaffirmed the countries’ friendship and pledged “joint efforts to fight the spread of radical Islamic terrorism” and improve regional security, the White House said.

It’s time to shine a light on Putin’s American propaganda ARM

Thanks;ELENA POSTNIKOVA Publised; 1/16/17 AT 6:10 AM


Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian broadcaster RT, with the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in the background in Moscow on October 17. Elena Postnikova writes that RT should be registered as an agent of the Russian government because, as FARA states, it acts under the “direction or control” of its foreign principal, and it engages in “political activities” in the interests of its foreign principal./MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS

Why isn’t Russia’s American TV channel RT registered as a foreign agent?

Kurt Eichenwald On MSNBC’s ‘AM Joy’ To Discuss Russia, Trump, And Vladimir Putin

This article first appeared on the Atlantic Council site.

Russia used RT, its TV channel, to influence the recent U.S. elections.

This was the finding of the recently declassified U.S. intelligence report. It concluded that Russia implemented a multifaceted campaign involving disclosures of data obtained through hacking, intrusions into state and local electoral boards and propaganda.
While the American elite is debating an appropriate response, they are ignoring an existing tool—the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). As an immediate step to counter the Kremlin’s influence campaign, the U.S. government should enforce FARA against RT to alert the American people to Russia’s efforts and limit the country’s ability to disguise its “information warfare” as legitimate media activity.
This is not the first time a foreign country has directed “information warfare” against the United States. Similar tactics were also used by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

To address Nazi propaganda activities in the 1930s, Congress adopted FARA, which required persons advancing foreign interests to register as “agents of foreign principals,” who were required to disclose their activities and the nature of their employment. The act aimed to ensure the American people would not be misled into thinking they were receiving information from disinterested sources. During the Cold War, representatives of Soviet news outlets (TASS, Pravda, Izvestia and others) were registered agents. There is a lesson here.
Related: How Russia Wages Information Warfare in the U.S. 

 As a disclosure statute, FARA does not prohibit, edit or restrain an agent’s ability to distribute information. Rather, it compels disclosure of the origin and purpose of the information to help its audience develop an accurate understanding of the source. In doing so, it does not suppress freedom of speech; instead, it serves the First Amendment with supplemental information available to the public.

RT should be registered as an agent of the Russian government because, as FARA states, it acts under the “direction or control” of its foreign principal, and engages in “political activities” in the interest of its foreign principal.
RT engages in “political activities” since its reporting intends to influence the U.S. government and public in order to affect U.S. domestic and foreign policy. RT’s coverage of the recent elections and its impact on public discussion is just one such example.
RT denies that it is subject to the Kremlin’s “direction or control” because of its formation as an “ autonomous nonprofit organization,” TV-Novosti. But this assertion is misleading. Even if a media nonprofit could be considered independent in Russia, in the United States such legal formality has little weight if it doesn’t reflect the reality.
In truth, we know of “not very many” occurrences in Russia that take place without President Vladimir Putin’s knowledge—“certainly none that are politically sensitive in other countries,” according to U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, when testifying before the Senate on foreign cyber threats.
Ofcom, the U.K. communications regulator, investigated complaints against RT and found nine episodes in the last two years when its reporting was in breach of broadcasting standards on impartiality. Each incident of bias coincided with the Kremlin’s policy goals in Ukraine, Turkey and Syria. No other media outlet was close to having as many violations in such a short period of time.
RT claims it does not qualify as a foreign agent under FARA because it operates in the U.S. through a commercial entity to whom RT “simply transfers funds.” What we know of as RT in the United States are two Washington, D.C.–registered entities—RTTV America, Inc., and RTTV Studios, LLC, both of which are owned and controlled by Russian-born businessman Alex Yazlovsky.
These entities are RT’s contractors, which produce video content, tape shows and provide crew services and studio facilities for RT, as well as transmit content to its audience. RT operates similarly in the U.K., where it contracts its services from a local “ supplier,” Russia Today TV Ltd. It’s hard to believe that RT’s U.S. contractors are fully independent from the client who pays for its custom-made products and services.
According to the law, FARA does not apply to foreign news organizations that engage in “bona fide news or journalistic activities.” Such media are usually not owned, directed, supervised, controlled, subsidized, or financed or have their policies determined by any foreign principal.
For example, the U.K.’s BBC and Germany’s Deutsche Welle are considered exempt from FARA because their governance structure protects their editorial policies and maintains their independence from government influence; there is no indication that they are “directed or controlled” by their governments. For this same reason, RT would have hard time proving that it qualifies for this exemption.
When former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul suggested last month that perhaps RT’s employees should be accredited as foreign agents rather than journalists, RT responded with personal attacks, threats of retaliation against American journalists, accusations of infringement on press freedom and complaints that the Russian media are treated unfairly. Their fierce response, however, is not a good reason to avoid FARA enforcement.
Registration would require RT to label its information as “distributed by an agent on behalf of the foreign principal.” Such disclosure would alert the public to the purpose of RT’s reporting. But it would have no effect on RT’s ability to continue working in the United States, conduct broadcasting from its Washington, D.C. studio, or otherwise operate as it had prior to registration.
In any case, RT journalists would continue to enjoy more press freedom in the United States than U.S. journalists in Russia.
Elena Postnikova is a JD candidate at Georgetown University Law Center.