Thursday, December 18, 2014

American troops battle ISIS for first time as they see off attempted attack by militants on Iraqi base

Daily Mail
December 18, 2014

A number of militants have been killed in Islamic State's very first battle with U.S. ground troops after the extremists attempted to overrun an Iraqi military base.
The militants attacked Ein al-Asad military base on Sunday where more than 100 U.S. military support troops are based.
Despite launching the surprise attack just after midnight, ISIS's offensive was swiftly repelled when U.S. troops and F18 jets joined in the skirmish in support of the Iraqi Army.
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A US Navy Seal team secures the airfield at Ein al-Asad base during a visit by former president George W Bush
A US Navy Seal team secures the airfield at Ein al-Asad base during a visit by former president George W Bush
US military experts arrived at Ein al-Asad airbase (pictured) last month to help train and support Iraqi forces
US military experts arrived at Ein al-Asad airbase (pictured) last month to help train and support Iraqi forces
Facing both Iraqi and US troops supported by F18 jets, an unknown number of ISIS attackers were killed during the two hour firefight before being forced to retreat.
Ein al-Asad came under repeated attack by ISIS troops in October, however, now bolstered by the U.S. assistance, it poses a much more formidable target.


The Independent
December 18, 2014

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the foreign media during a toast in Jerusalem ahead of the new year. Netanyahu called on the European Union on Wednesday to keep Islamist militant group Hamas on its list of terrorist organisations, after an EU court ruled it should be removed
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the foreign media during a toast in Jerusalem ahead of the new year. Netanyahu called on the European Union on Wednesday to keep Islamist militant group Hamas on its list of terrorist organisations, after an EU court ruled it should be removed
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the European Union yesterday for removing Hamas from its terrorist list, calling it a staggering example of European hypocrisy and an indication that many on the continent have learned nothing from the Holocaust.
The EU court order to remove Hamas from the EU terrorist list came the same day as a United Nations body in Europe delivered a stinging rebuke to Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank and called for Israel to be investigated for war crimes.
"Today we witnessed a series of examples of European naivete and, may I add, hypocrisy," Netanyahu said before an audience of international journalists in Jerusalem. "They point to the spirit of appeasement in Europe of the very forces that threaten Europe itself. Too many in Europe are calling on Israel to make concessions that would endanger not only the security of Israel but also paradoxically the security of Europe itself, because Israel is the forward position of European civilization. Israel is the bulwark of European values."
Hamas has carried out dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilians. The EU court in Luxembourg said it ordered Hamas removed from the list for procedural reasons, while in Geneva, Israel was called out for potential war crimes. The developments follows a recent surge in European parliaments making moves to unilaterally recognize a state of Palestine.
"What hypocrisy, what a travesty. I ask: where is elementary European integrity?" Netanyahu said in his annual address to the foreign media.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Russia is buying weapons - a lot of them

CNN Money
December 15, 2014

Moscow is going on a huge shopping spree for weapons and military equipment.

Russian defense companies boosted sales by more than 20% last year, driven by demand from the country's military, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
That compares with a 2% decline in sales globally, largely due to a weaker performance by American companies, which account for more than half of the world's arms trade.
Russia has begun investing heavily in upgrades to its military capabilities. President Vladimir Putin plans to spend more than 20 trillion rubles ($700 billion) bringing equipment up to date by 2025.
arms trade who sells
The modernization program is continuing despite an economic crisis that has already forced Russia to adopt an austerity budget for next year.
Defense and national security were the only departments to escape cuts of at least 5%. Spending on the military is set to rise by 85% between 2012 and 2017.
Russia's defense budget is now the third largest in the world, behind the U.S. and China.
Airfields, hundreds of fighter jets and a new fleet of battle tanks are in the works. Russia is also developing new long-range missiles, has acquired an advanced nuclear submarine and is working on eight new vessels for the navy, due for delivery by 2020.

Washington undecided on U.N. resolution for Palestinian state

Yahoo News
December 15, 2014
John Kerry

JERUSALEM/ROME (Reuters) - Israel said it hoped the United States would veto any moves at the United Nations to set a time frame for its withdrawal from territory Palestinians seek for a state, but a senior U.S. official said it was too early to say.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome on Monday to discuss various proposals for a Palestinian state that are circulating at the United Nations.
Later on Monday, Kerry will travel to Paris for talks with European counterparts and then on to London to meet Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and a delegation from the Arab League, who will urge the United States not to use its U.N. Security Council veto to block the proposals.
The hastily-arranged meetings suggested urgency in America's drive to manage efforts among Security Council members to draft a new proposal before Israeli elections in March. Kerry said on Friday he wanted to defuse tensions during the talks.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Obama Quotes Nonexistent Bible Verse During Speech

Washington Times
December 11, 2014

President Obama referred to the Bible on Tuesday as he was speaking about immigration reform in Nashville, but he confused some of the lines and even threw in a proverb that appears nowhere in the religious text.
“The good book says, don’t throw stones in glass houses,” he said. “Or … make sure we’re looking at the log in our eye before we are pointing out the mote in other folks’ eyes.”
The expression “they that live in glass houses should not throw stones" is a proverb of unknown origin that has been used in various form for centuries, The Washington Post reported. It does not appear in the Bible.

The American Dream deferred for young Americans: Living in rentals, inflated college tuition, and low wages await millions of young Americans.

December 11, 2014

The Americans Dream was largely built on a few simple ideals. One was the ability to purchase your own home without needing artificially low rates and dangerously low down payments. Another key aspect of the dream was allowing young Americans to receive acollege education to pursue their future. While more Americans are going to college, many are taking on dangerously high levels of debt to embark on this journey. Another key component of the American Dream was having the ability to have a job that paid well enough to have a good standard of living. That standard of living is eroding as inflation is eating away purchasing power. It is hard to come to terms but the upcoming generation may not have it as good as that of the baby boomers. There is no fast and hard rule saying that each generation should be better. That is why the middle class rising in the US was a historical anomaly. Something worth aspiring and investing in. Yet if we look at history, you largely have one of a small wealthy elite and the rest. The fact that we are looking more like the Gilded Age is not a positive sign. For many, dreams are being deferred.

Building for cash strapped young
Since the Great Recession hit, many builders are realizing that the future for many Americans will be of renters. The flood of money and bailouts allowed big banks to shift properties from regular homeowners that over leveraged into the hands of investors and hedge funds. This has been going on for well over half a decade. At this point, the growth in rental demand is zooming up.
Builders are well aware of this and are focusing their energies on building multi-unit housing:
Rentals and condos. And condos can be easily converted back to rentals should the economy slow down. But this speaks to the fact that many young Americans are having a tougher time pursuing the big box home dream of the suburbs. Why? It is too expensive relative to their wages.
The education dilemma
There is mega inflation going on in college tuition. Since 1985 college tuition costs have soared 538 percent. This rate has far surpassed all other large buy areas:
And for middle class jobs like those in engineering, computer science, accounting, and healthcare there is no choice but to go to college. Blue collar work doesn’t pay as well and there are fewer jobs here as well. The bulk of jobs added since the Great Recession have come in the form of lower paying jobs. Yet college tuition continues to go up. The market is still demanding technical skills but many for-profits target lower income households with paper mill like degrees and actually cause more harm than good. Many of these students would be better off pursuing a technical degree or certification at a low cost community college. Yet local community colleges are cash strapped and have pathetic marketing budgets while for-profits spend upwards of one-third of their revenue on aggressive marketing.
But even those going to reputable schools, there is no assurance of a good career or a good paying job once they graduate. The latest jobs report shows a mismatch between jobs being offered and skills in the market. Yet we continue to pump out expensive college graduates and debt continues to pile on.
Low wages
Low wage jobs continue to dominate the open job market. Benefits are being slashed and more of the burden on side benefits like healthcare or retirement planning are being pushed onto workers. For example, we are likely to have more waiters and bartenders than actual manufacturing workers in a short timeframe:
“This is not a good trend for most Americans given how many people occupy each of these fields. Back in 1990 which wasn’t exactly a booming time, we had 3 manufacturing workers for each 1 waiter or bartender. Today, we now have nearly a 1-to-1 ratio.”
And this also highlights why so many Americans are basically winging it for retirement. Many young Americans are actually in a negative net worth column given big college debt.
The future of course is never completely bleak. There is a need for highly skilled workers. If you plan accordingly, you can leverage this to your advantage but it does appear that the massive labor intensive jobs are simply not there. The labor intensive jobs in the service industry pay very little to pursue the American Dream as we once knew it. Renting or living at home is the only option for millions. College will be a very expensive proposition. In the end, this is the new dream.

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