ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

CNN Actively Helping Riyadh Spread Propaganda and Terrorize Khoshoggi’s Sons

View image on Twitter Jamal Khashoggi’s Son Forced To Meet Saudi King and Crown Prince For Photo-Op Whitewash

[Jamal Khashoggi’s sons are obviously being forced into dispensing Riyadh’s propaganda line in the photo below…the same look that Salah Khashoggi had on his face in the previous forced photo-op with the mad, young prince.]

Abdullah and Salah, the sons of late Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, speaking to CNN in their first media interview following their father’s death in Istanbul on Oct. 2. — Screengrab

Death over politicized by some parties: Salah and Abdullah

By Hasan Al-Najrani

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

MADINAH — The statements of the sons of the late Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi emphasize unequivocally the trust that they reposed in Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman who promised to investigate and hold accountable those who were behind the killing of their father.

During their interview with CNN, Salah and Abdullah, Jamal Khashoggi’s sons, stressed patriotism of citizens and their solidarity with the leadership.

They rejected attempts by some parties to politically exploit their father’s death and expressed displeasure at lies being fabricated to harm Saudi Arabia and its leadership.

Their statements have now left no rooms for spreading gossips to the effect that they had left their homeland out of anger following the murder of their father.

Since Salah decided to travel to the United States, leftist newspapers, US Democrats, the Qatari and Turkish media, and their sympathizers have involved in circulating false news that this is a sign of Salah’s dissidence and departure from the mainstream. But they have eloquently exposed the lies and the media smear campaign.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia told the United Nations on Monday it would prosecute those responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and defended its human rights record.

Bandar Al-Aiban, President of the Human Rights Commission of Saudi Arabia who headed the government delegation at the Universal Periodic Review, said that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman had instructed the Saudi public prosecutor to “proceed with the investigation into this case according to the applicable laws and preparation to reaching all facts and bringing all the perpetrators to justice”.

Pakistan Renews Servitude To Saudis After Latest Bailout

Pakistan Army To Submit To Saudi Anti-Iranian Warfare Plans?

Pakistani media delegation affirms support for Saudi Arabia against hostile media campaign

Riyadh — Minister of Media Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad met today in Riyadh with a Pakistani media delegation, currently visiting Saudi Arabia.

The Pakistani media delegation confirmed the solid relations between the two countries and affirmed their support for Saudi Arabia against the current hostile media campaign. — SPA

Donald Trump’s Tough Talk About The Border Deployment Doesn’t Match What’s Really Taking Place

Migrant Caravan: Pentagon Refuses Trump Order to Deploy US Troops to Border

Donald Trump’s Tough Talk About The Border Deployment Doesn’t Match What’s Really Taking Place

“He creates this word picture for people that these troops are going to be hurling back invaders at the border. That’s just not the case.”

Soldiers from the 97th Military Police Battalion and the 41st Engineer Company from Fort Riley, Kansas, string concertina wire near the Mexican border.

Department of Defense  Soldiers from the 97th Military Police Battalion and the 41st Engineer Company from Fort Riley, Kansas, string concertina wire near the Mexican border.

The image President Donald Trump has presented of what US troops will be doing along the southern border bears almost no resemblance to what military leaders say the troops will be doing.

Trump has promised the US military would be blocking “very bad thugs and gang members” from crossing into the country, and he’s painted a picture of armed US troops repelling “very tough fighters” from entering the country. “We hope nothing happens,” he said Thursday during a White House address. “But if it does, we are totally prepared.”

That bellicose language, however, is a clear exaggeration of what Pentagon planners anticipate the up to 7,000 active-duty troops will actually be doing.

The deployment includes no ground combat units. The troops are not allowed to detain or arrest anybody at the border. They are barred from enforcing immigration or criminal law. There is no indication that troops will be manning border checkpoints. Of the 39 units dispatched, only seven are military police units. The rest are trained to do engineering work and provide logistical support or medical assistance.

Five of the units are made up of public affairs specialists, combat photographers, and media support staff — troops assigned to provide photos and news releases about what the other units are doing. As of Saturday afternoon, the Defense Department’s media site had posted more than 350 photos and videos showing the troops’ deployment and arrival in Texas and Arizona.

A soldier from the 309th Military Intelligence Battalion hammers a stake into the ground at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Spc. Brandon Best / Via US Army  A soldier from the 309th Military Intelligence Battalion hammers a stake into the ground at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

The Pentagon is sending the units that make sense for the support work they have been tasked with. But that mission does not at all resemble what the president has been describing on television, Twitter, and campaign rallies.

“This was never a combat mission but rather a support mission,” Todd Harrison, the director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told BuzzFeed News. “It makes sense that the specific types of units they are sending are essentially support and logistics.”

There is a reason the Pentagon usually sends National Guard units for these missions, as there can at least be a “real training benefit” for part-time soldiers in working logistics, flying helicopters, working radars and managing civilian–military relations, said Todd Rosenblum, a former senior official at the Pentagon who oversaw defense policy on homeland security matters and who also served as DHS deputy undersecretary during the Obama administration.

“When we send active-duty troops … they’re going to have a way suboptimal role down there,” he said. “There’s such limitations on what they can do — they can’t be on the front lines, there’s no authority.”

Even if there were fewer restrictions, there would be little for them to do as active-duty soldiers when faced with migrants asking for asylum, or “checking radars and using binoculars to call out 20 people coming in to find work,” Rosenblum said.

Soldiers from the 541st Sapper Company board a C-130J Super Hercules at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Airman 1st Class Daniel Hernandez / Via Department of Defense
Soldiers from the 541st Sapper Company board a C-130J Super Hercules at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

“You’re talking about taking people who have been deployed over and over again, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa…and asking them to spend the holidays away from their families unnecessarily,” he said. “It’s miserable on a human standpoint, knowing your orders are silly to begin with.”

While some of the troops will be armed, they are allowed to use deadly force only in self-defense. It’s not clear how they would find themselves in that situation, given that they are largely barred from interacting with migrants or going on patrol.

“Everything we are doing is in line with and adherence to posse comitatus,” Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, who heads US Northern Command, said when he announced the deployment, referring to the law that prohibits military personnel from acting as law enforcement inside the borders of the US.

“Trump is not being honest with the American people about what these troops are going to be doing. When he talks about them, he creates this word picture for people that these troops are going to be hurling back invaders at the border, side by side with the border patrol,” retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, a former Defense Department spokesperson, said on CNN. “That’s just not the case. In fact, many of them will never even get close to the border.”

A look at what units are being deployed to the border provides more evidence that Trump’s bellicose rhetoric is a stretch. The 39 military units come from 14 military installations across the country. They include 13 logistics units that will coordinate operations; nine engineering units “with expertise in building temporary vehicle barriers”; seven military police units whose precise use has yet to be defined; five public affairs and media production units; three aviation units that will transport Customs and Border Protection tactical units; and two medical units, whose most recent deployment included supporting Hurricane Florence relief efforts.

Pentagon planners have yet to release an estimate of how much the deployment will cost. Former president Barack Obama’s 14-month deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops in 2010’s Operation Phalanx cost $145 million. Former president George W. Bush’s deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops over two years, from 2006 to 2008, ran up to$1.2 billion. Both were criticized by government watchdog groups and Pentagon officials for the “absence of a comprehensive strategy” that identified a role for US troops that justified the cost.

But while the financial cost of Trump’s deployment can be absorbed by the Defense Department budget, the opportunity cost is “reduced readiness in the event a military contingency arises in which these forces would be necessary,” Harrison said.

“Whenever military forces are used like this it disrupts their training and degrades their readiness,” he said. “Once the deployment is over, they will have to retrain for their primary combat support missions.”

Taliban On Taliban Violence Continues In Herat

[SEE: NYT Highlights Taliban Split and Afghan Govt Sponsorship of Mullah Rasoul Faction–(updated)]

[SEE: Afghanistan Sponsoring Guantanamo Taliban Mullah Rasoul?]

[SEE:  Mullah RASOUL/ZAKIR]

 *   *   *   *   *

Taliban vs. Taliban clash in Afghanistan’s west leaves 40 dead

Police officials display 129 [MOSTLY JUNK] weapons they say they seized from militants fighting the government in Herat province in western Afghanistan on June 4, 2018. Infighting between Taliban factions had led to 40 deaths recently, Herat officials said Nov. 2, 2018.

HERAT, Afghanistan — Infighting between factions killed 40 Taliban fighters in October in the western province of Herat and is part of the reason a militant group is seeking peace talks, government officials said Friday.

Over the last three years, armed clashes between rival Taliban groups in the region have left hundreds dead, said Jailani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor.

The faction pursuing peace talks is led by Mullah Mohammad Rasoul, who split from the main insurgent command with about 1,000 fighters in 2015. The split occurred after the revelation that senior Taliban commanders had covered up the death of the group’s leader, Mullah Omar, for almost two years.

Meanwhile, the faction fighting the Rasoul group has been accused by the U.S. of taking money from Iran, the Taliban’s traditional enemy.

Police officials display 129 weapons [MORE JUNK] they say they seized from militants fighting the government in Herat province in west Afghanistan on June 4, 2018. Infighting between Taliban factions had led to 40 deaths recently, Herat officials said Nov. 2, 2018. J.P. Lawrence/Stars and Stripes
J.P. LAWRENCE/STARS AND STRIPES

The breakaway Rasoul group also has pledged to protect a massive government pipeline project in western Afghanistan. One of its commanders even encouraged people to vote in the country’s parliamentary elections last month, Farhad said. This stance puts the group in opposition to the main Taliban, which is opposed to the elections.

Government officials in Herat said their security forces are not targeting the Rasoul-led Taliban faction in night raids. A New York Times report said the group has operated with the tacit support of the Afghan government, and last year accepted cash and intelligence from Kabul for their fight against other Taliban factions.

“The provincial government’s stance is clear,” Farhad said. “We have an open door for reconciliation and peace with any group.”

The Rasoul group has fought in at least 60 clashes between the summer of 2015 and December 2017 with a Taliban faction known as the Quetta Shura, according to research by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.

The breakaway group expected other disaffected Taliban would join, but no new groups seem to be signing on, said Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network. The group suffered a further blow in 2016 when Pakistani authorities said they arrested Rasoul.

The group’s rivals, the mainline Taliban, are led by a commander recently placed on a U.S. government blacklist. The blacklist also includes two Iranian military officers accused by the U.S. to be supporting the Taliban in western border provinces such as Herat.

Tehran, which has historically opposed the Taliban, denies those claims.

Mohammad Aref Karimi and Ghulam Rasoul Murtazawie contributed to this report.

lawrence.jp@stripes.com
Twitter: @jplawrence3

Donald Trump Strong-Armed Baghdad To Give Contract To Rebuild Iraqi Electric System To Bankrupt General Electric over Siemens

“The U.S. government is holding a gun to our head”–Iraqi Govt. Spokesman

“As the Financial Times reports, Donald Trump’s administration bullied Baghdad to choose General Electric over Siemens, claiming that the deal with the German firm could put the US-Iraqi relations at risk. The outlet cited a source familiar with the situation, who revealed that an adviser to Al-Abadi said “The U.S. government is holding a gun to our head,” and told Siemens to give up on the contract two weeks ago.”

What General Electric Is Doing to Dodge the Question: “When Will GE File for Bankruptcy?”

Yves here. I’m old enough to remember when General Electric was widely seen as a superbly managed company and “Neutron” Jack Welch was touted as the CEO to emulate. McKinsey praised GE’s bulking up in financial services, which represented about 40% of its business in the 1990s.

Note the role that overpaying for some big deals played in General Electric’s fall.

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street

Wolf here: Shares of General Electric [GE] are down over 3% this beautiful Friday morning, trading at $9.20. If they close at this level, they would mark a new nine-year closing low. Shares are down 52% year-to-date:

 

The lowest close since the 1990s was $6.66 on March 5, 2009, during the Financial Crisis. I remember well: The next morning, then CEO Jeff Inmelt was on CNBC, which was owned by NBC, which was owned by GE at the time. And Inmelt was hyping GE’s shares on GE’s TV station that gave him a huge slot of time to do so, and the share price, displayed prominently onscreen, ticked up with every word he spoke.

Inmelt was also on the Board of Directors of the New York Fed, which at that time was implementing the Fed’s alphabet-soup of bailout programs for banks, industrial companies with financial divisions, money market funds, foreign central banks (dollar swap lines), and the like. This included a bailout package for GE in form of short-term loans, without which GE might have had trouble making payroll because credit had frozen up and GE had been dependent on borrowing in the corporate paper market to meet its needs, and suddenly it couldn’t. Inmelt was involved in those bailout decisions and knew what GE would get, but didn’t mention anything on CNBC.

Now Inmelt is gone from GE (resigned in 2017 “earlier than expected”), and he is gone from the New York Fed (resigned in 2011 “due to increased demands on this time”), and CNBC no longer belongs to GE, and the new CEO is trying furiously to keep the whole charade form spiraling totally out of control hoping to be able to dodge the question: “When fill GE file for bankruptcy?”

Below are some of the things that GE is doing to avoid that fate.

By Leonard Hyman and Bill Tilles for WOLF STREET:

General Electric — at one time the world’s most formidable manufacturing company and now one of the world’s most mismanaged conglomerates — suffered more financial indignities this week: Its bond ratings got hit with back-to-back two-notch downgrades: Today by Fitch Ratings, from A to BBB+ due to the “deterioration at GE Power”; and earlier this week by Moody’s, from A2 to BAA1. This follows a similar move by Standard & Poor’s earlier in October.

The rating agencies also downgraded the company’s commercial paper (CP) program, a form of short-term borrowing. Moody’s cut GE’s CP ratings from P-1 to P-2. The new, lower CP ratings effectively prevents GE from further issuance of CP. However, GE still retains access to other, higher cost bank financed short term funding vehicles. But still, not a good look.

Also this week, GE virtually eliminated its quarterly dividend, slashing it from 12 cents to a penny. A belated Halloween themed headline could read, “Boston Slasher Strikes Again.” A year earlier GE’s board voted to cut its dividend from 24 cents to 12 cents.

In our view the previous dividend reduction was better anticipated than the most recent one. Why the hurried need for a cut last week? Probably for cash conservation reasons. GE badly needs the $3.9 billion in cash saved per year to meet financial needs such as $5 billion required for an underfunded pension fund and $3 billion to shore up the capitalization of GE’s finance arm (or what remains of it).

GE also requires considerable cash to retire existing debt. One of GE’s stated financial goals is to improve ratios of debt-to-EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) to 2.5 times by 2020. In the present climate, we might refer to this as virtue signaling. Except here GE’s principal goal is to keep its respectable, investment-grade bond ratings.

The debt burden that GE’s management is presently struggling with stems from a strategy of borrowing heavily for M&A over the past decade. The biggest (and probably worst) was its purchase of French electrical equipment manufacturer Alstom in 2015 in which GE outbid arch rival Siemens. GE paid top dollar just as the market for electrical equipment began a sharp slide. This acquisition was recently written down by $22 billion reflecting the rather subdued prospects for the global power generation. Talk about a winner’s curse.

In order to raise cash and simplify its business, GE has arranged the sale of GE Transportation (locomotives, electric motors and propulsions systems for mining equipment, etc.), plans to dispose of its Baker Hughes oil services business, and intends to spin off (while retaining control) its profitable health services division.

The power division will be split into two businesses: gas turbines and everything else. This last strategic endeavor is probably the one that rankles the most insofar as it’s about two decades too late. A true house that Edison built would have pitted the fossil vs renewables organizations and let the markets sort it out.

How did GE get into the present mess and how did it manage to miss the turning point in a business it used to dominate? Despite recent disparaging comments regarding Harvard’s case studies, we believe this is something business school professors might want to examine. But it is history. For those in the power business, buyers and users of the equipment, what is the message?

First, the manufacture of gas turbines for electric power generation has become an oligopoly. Three suppliers dominate the market: Mitsubishi Hitachi (in clear lead), Siemens, and lastly GE.  Oligopolists almost by definition tend to abide one another, meaning that they do not engage in anything resembling robust competition. But with an uncertain business outlook, they may be reluctant to invest more money into their businesses. One almost immediate effect is a reduction in spending on research and development which creates a sort of feedback loop which eventually weakens product positioning against new technology.

The manufacturers may argue that the business will bottom out, that a turnaround will take place. And that revenues from servicing existing equipment will provide a steady stream of business anyway. We do not disagree with these prognostications. Renewables will not provide every new kilowatt of capacity, and gas turbines will be needed anyway to back up renewables.

But we also need to be aware that longer term the competition for gas turbines will come not from renewables but from storage devices such as batteries. In terms of capital allocation, we would wager that there is far more money chasing power storage technologies than there is chasing investment in gas turbine technology.

GE, under its new management and new CEO, Lawrence Culp, may resurrect itself as a well-run manufacturing conglomerate after paying down debt obligations and shoring up its pension obligations. The aviation and health groups (even after disposition of some shares) are large and profitable. And Baker-Hughes, despite its indefinite status, might still surprise to the upside depending on global energy prices.

However, Power, despite its worldwide decline, is still GE’s largest business. New management may succeed in growing the gas turbine business (or maybe better managing its slow decline). But to us the dividend cut symbolizes GE’s fading role in a business that it literally created. By Leonard Hyman and Bill Tillesf or WOLF STREET

The financial Crisis was a decade ago. But its consequences still haunt us. Read… I Was Asked: “How & When Will the Next Financial Crisis Happen?”