Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Savior or slayer? Either way, Nokia's Elop a contender for Microsoft chief

By Bill Rigby and Ritsuko Ando
SEATTLE/HELSINKI (Reuters) - When a British bookmaker installed Stephen Elop as favorite to take over the soon-to-be-vacant CEO slot at Microsoft Corp last week, most tech observers laughed it off as a publicity stunt.
But Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's handset business, announced late on Monday, has suddenly made Elop one of the most visible candidates for the top spot at the company where he once worked.
Investors and others familiar with the board's thinking reject any suggestion that the deal was done with Elop in mind, and his track record at Nokia is decidedly mixed.
At a minimum, though, the understated, steely Canadian will play a critical role in managing Microsoft's controversial entry into the mobile handset market, and thus shape the future of the software giant as it plunges headlong into the hardware business.
On paper at least, 49-year-old Elop fits the role. He knows broadly how Microsoft works, having spent nearly three years there running the highly profitable Office unit, and has just spent three years in the thick of the mobile war at Nokia.
But that is not enough time to cast him as an "insider" in the minds of many looking to shake up insular Microsoft.
"People are looking for Microsoft to go through some dramatic change," said Kevin Walkush, an analyst at Jensen Investment Management, which holds Microsoft shares. "He has a very good understanding of what happens at Microsoft, and he has made hard decisions in the face of big challenges. It's a pretty strong combination."
The jury is still out on whether Elop saved or put a nail in Nokia's coffin by making the pivotal decision to adopt Microsoft's Windows Phone system as its smartphone platform in 2011.
Nokia's shares fell more than 60 percent during Elop's tenure as CEO, and its sales collapsed as it jumped from its long-held but outdated Symbian system to the largely untested and unknown Windows, choosing it over the more popular Android system by Google Inc.
"They (Nokia) only have 3 percent market share in smartphones. They lost 40 percent of their revenue in mobile phones in Q2. That's not a business on stable ground," said Hakan Wranne, an analyst at Swedbank, summing up Elop's legacy. "Of course we will never know what would've happened if they had chosen Android."
But perhaps it could have been worse.
The appointment of Elop as Nokia CEO in 2010, making him the first non-Finn to lead the company, was seen by many at the company as a breath of fresh air.
Many who survived the massive job cuts - around 40,000 since his arrival - credited Elop for turning around a culture that many said lacked speed, decisiveness and a sensitivity towards demands of customers and partners.
Analysts credit him for speeding up product launches over the past year by eliminating unnecessary processes and holding individual executives more accountable.
In an interview in July, Elop said the company spent 22 months on the N8, which used the now-obsolete Symbian operating system and was launched shortly after he joined the company. With Windows phones, he got that down to six- to eight-month delivery cycles.
Many Finns were relieved the Canadian was more understated than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer or other U.S. tech executives, bonding with his adopted countrymen over a love of ice hockey.
Many were impressed he answered 10 to 20 emails from customers each day.
"He is a nice guy. Everyone liked him. That's his strength," said one former Nokia employee who worked closely with Elop and asked not to be named. "He is very down-to-earth, he answers all of his email. His communication skills are very good, but he has got a sense for the dramatic."
Elop's dramatic side came to the fore with his startling "Burning Platform" memo sent to staff shortly before he announced the company would adopt Microsoft's Windows Phone in early 2011, which essentially announced the death of Symbian.
"It was an internal memo but he (Elop) knew it would get out given the situation at Nokia," said the former Nokia employee who asked not to be named.
But outside the company it was broadly welcomed as the jump-start Nokia needed to change.
"He (Elop) changed the way Nokia operated. And he did a very good job, he was fast at executing and changing the mind-set of the company," said IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo.
Before he came to Microsoft in 2008, Elop was a fairly high profile Chief Operating Officer at network equipment maker Juniper Networks Inc and before that a president at software firm Adobe Systems Inc.
"He's got a technical background, he actually understands engineering, he gets it," said Paul Murphy, formerly Elop's chief of staff at Microsoft. "I've seen him interact with customers, he's fantastic with customers in difficult situations."
Less is known about Elop's stint as Chief Information Officer of restaurant chain Boston Chicken from 1992 to 1998 when the company filed for bankruptcy.
The Nokia deal is not expected to distract the special committee from conducting a thorough search for a new CEO, said one person with knowledge of the matter, hinting strongly that Elop is not a shoo-in for the job, but admitting that he is a probable candidate.
"People can point to his Nokia track record and say that he failed, but he was really dealt a tough hand," said Walkush at Jensen Investment Management. "He's demonstrated a lot of leadership and ability."
(Reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle, Ritsuko Ando in Helsinki and Pornima Gupta in San Francisco; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

Indian rupee slips towards record low as central bank ushers in new head

By Rafael Nam and Swati Bhat
MUMBAI (Reuters) - The rupee slid towards a record low against the dollar on Wednesday, providing the incoming governor of the country's central bank with a test of fire as he takes over in the middle of a slump in confidence in the economy and its currency.
Raghuram Rajan, a suave, unflappable former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), takes over in a public ceremony on Wednesday.
He enters office as the economy struggles with decade-low growth, a record current account deficit and a steep fiscal shortfall. The latest data on the state of the economy is due in coming hours with the release of the monthly HSBC Markit services purchasing managers' index.
A survey by the same provider this week showed manufacturing activity in August shrank for the first time in four years.
The worries about the sluggish economy, and a lack of confidence in how policymakers have addressed it so far, have pummeled the rupee. The currency fell as low as 68.62 on Wednesday, not far from a record low of 68.85 hit a week ago.
However, suspected intervention from the central bank, which was seen selling dollars, helped support the rupee somewhat, currency traders said.
"The rupee will be Rajan's first and key challenge. His IMF aura may help but he will need to win the market's faith by announcing something which helps bring in dollar inflows," said Vikas Babu Chittiprolu, a senior foreign exchange dealer at state-run Andhra Bank.
India's economy is reeling mainly from a dearth of investment and a slowdown in manufacturing activity and consumer demand.
Several banks, including Goldman Sachs this week, have cut their GDP growth forecasts to well below the decade low of 5 percent for the year ended in March.
Traders say the economy is being further hit by the extraordinary measures from the RBI under outgoing Governor Duvvuri Subbarao, which chose to drain cash and raise short-term interest rates in a bid to defend the rupee.
The big question is whether Rajan, who most recently was an advisor at the Finance Ministry, will take the helm of the RBI with a whisper or a bang, and whether he will dismantle any of the mishmash of current central bank measures.
Investors are showing little faith the government can push through substantial reforms, such as a hike in subsidized fuel prices, which could help revive confidence in the economy.
Singh, in a statement ahead of a trip to Russia to attend the Group of 20 nations' summit on Thursday and Friday, said India would also need a more stable global environment.
"The Summit comes at a time when we in India have introduced several reform measures and taken steps to strengthen macro-economic stability, stabilize the rupee and create a more investor friendly environment," Singh said.
"At the same time, a stable and supportive external economic environment is also required to revive economic growth.
Global markets are weakening after leaders of a U.S. Senate panel said they reached an agreement on Tuesday on a draft authorization for the use of military force in Syria, paving the way for a vote by the committee on Wednesday.
Worryingly for India, global crude and gold prices are surging. Oil and gold are the country's two biggest imports, and are a big factor behind the wide current account deficit that is putting pressure on the rupee.
The prospect that the Federal Reserve will unveil a plan after its policy meeting on Sept 17-18 to start winding down its monetary stimulus is also weighing on emerging markets, but India has fared worse than most because of the lack of confidence it can address its precarious deficits.
(Additional reporting by Subhadip Sircar in MUMBAI; Editing by Neil Fullick)

Asian stocks snap four-day rally on Syria concerns, dollar gains

By Saikat Chatterjee
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asian stocks snapped a four-day winning streak on Wednesday and safe assets like gold consolidated chunky overnight gains after President Barack Obama clinched the backing of two key figures in Congress in his drive for limited U.S. strikes on Syria.
The U.S. dollar stood tall even as risk appetite ebbed, on course for its best five day performance in two months against a basket of currencies as a stronger-than-expected slate of U.S. data emboldened greenback bulls.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> fell 0.5 percent after four days of gains. Philippines and Indonesia's stocks led declines in the region.
"There are still uncertainties stirred by the Fed's possible trimming of its stimulus program later this month and U.S.-led military action against Syria," said Shinyoung Securities analyst Lee Kyung-soo. "It's hard to rally against such uncertainties."
Risk appetite was noticeably on the back foot after key congressional leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor both pledged their support for military action to punish President Bashar al-Assad for his suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.
Their stance suggested that the vote could pass in Congress when lawmakers return to Washington on September 9, CitiFX wrote in a client note.
The increased sense of urgency pushed down benchmark ten-year U.S. treasury yields to 2.86 percent from overnight highs.
The U.S. bond moves came despite a U.S. manufacturing index surprising forecasts on the upside and set the tone for Friday's non-farm payrolls which could bolster expectations the Federal Reserve will begin to scale back its massive bond-buying program as early as this month.
Still, ten year U.S. yields are eight basis points above Friday's close and nearly 90 basis points higher since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's remarks in June that the central bank might scale back its monthly bond purchases.
Rising U.S. yields have hit demand for emerging market assets such as high-yielding currencies in Asia and sent debt yields there spiraling higher as global investors dumped these assets.
A JP Morgan index of emerging market debt in Asia hit 4 percent for the first time since November 2009, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.
The brunt of the selloff has been felt by emerging market countries in Asia such as India and Indonesia which have been singled out by investors for punishment due to their reliance on capital inflows to paper over widening deficits.
In stark contrast to these two beleaguered economies, the Korean won punched above a 200-day moving average, a key technical level, against the U.S. dollar and rose above 1100 for the first time since early May.
While net equity flows are still negative on a year-to-date basis at $5.1 billion, they are a substantial improvement from a July low of nearly $9 billion, according to Brown Brothers Harriman strategists.
"India and Indonesia continue to be the weak spots in Asia while Thailand and Malaysia are also looking vulnerable. Investors continue to focus towards the relatively stronger economies of North Asia rather than the rest of the region," said Cynthia Wong, head of trading at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.
In the currency market, the dollar was a big winner in the wake of the upbeat U.S. data, rising to a six-week peak against a basket of major currencies (NYF:^).
That dollar strength saw the euro slide to a six-week low of $1.3138, although it has since managed to edge up to $1.3170. Both the dollar and euro clung to modest gains on the yen, but could quickly lose them if geopolitical risk flared up.
Oil and gold rose on the news with U.S. crude at $108.29 a barrel, having jumped nearly 1 percent on Tuesday. Spot gold traded at $1,412.95 an ounce following a 1.3 percent rally overnight as investors sought safety.
Working against the yen for now, the Asahi newspaper reported that the Bank of Japan will consider further monetary easing if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decides to raise the sales tax as planned to 8 percent from 5 percent in April.
The Australian dollar got a boost after an HSBC survey on China's services sector printed at a five month high adding to views that the world's second-biggest economy has turned a corner. China is Australia's major export market.
Separate data showed Australia's economy grew moderately last quarter as modest gains in consumer and government spending offset a very flat performance elsewhere.
The Aussie built on Wednesday's gains after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) gave no clear hint that it would cut its cash rate soon, following a widely expected decision to leave it at a record low 2.5 percent.
On Thursday, policy decisions from major central banks including the Bank of Japan and European Central Bank will take center stage. Neither the BOJ nor the ECB is expected to inject fresh stimulus.
(Additional reporting by Jungmin Jang in Seoul and Amanda Tan in Sydney; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

BofA exits stake in China's CCB with $1.5 billion sale

By Elzio Barreto and Peter Rudegeair
HONG KONG/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp (BAC) raised $1.47 billion by selling its remaining stake in China Construction Bank Corp (CCB) , ending an eight year-old investment that generated a paper profit more than five times the original cost.
The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank sold 2 billion Hong Kong-listed shares of CCB at HK$5.70 each, a 3.9 percent discount to Tuesday's close, a term sheet of the deal seen by Reuters showed. CCB's Hong Kong traded shares fell 2.2 percent on Wednesday.
BofA joins a list of Western financial institutions that have found that their investments in Chinese financial firms did not give them the foothold they had hoped for in that country.
"The only thing that will be central to banking in China will be China's domestic banks," said Donald Straszheim, head of China research at International Strategy & Investment Group in Los Angeles.
Bank of America's exit makes it the second U.S. bank to completely sell out of a China bank investment this year, after Goldman Sachs (GS) offloaded its remaining $1.1 billion stake in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd .
Goldman Sachs grossed $10.1 billion from selling its ICBC stake after investing $2.58 billion in 2006, using internal funds that invest a mix of client, employee and corporate cash.
BofA's past three sales of CCB stock since August 2011 have helped raise $16.37 billion, according to Reuters calculations.
The original 9.9 percent stake was purchased by Merrill Lynch for $3 billion in 2005 ahead of the Chinese bank's initial public offering. BofA assumed the stake when it purchased Merrill after the bank and brokerage nearly collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis.
The Chinese banking system has shown signs of stress, with bad loans picking up as economic growth slows. As a result, several Chinese lenders are preparing to launch equity sales to bolster their capital bases.
But even before the Chinese banking sector weakened, many U.S. and European banks decided to sell the assets to bolster their own capital bases and focus on their main businesses.
Since U.S. and European banks began building stakes in Chinese banks, new international capital rules have been formulated, which will make it more expensive for them to own shares of other financial institutions.
Bank of America said on Tuesday that it expects to record about a $750 million gain before taxes on the stake sale. With that profit, its total gains from dividends and selling shares will amount to nearly $18 billion before taxes, according to regulatory filings between 2009 and 2013.
At the time, Bank of America's then chief executive Kenneth Lewis said the partnership was designed to give Bank of America more access to roughly 1.3 billion Chinese consumers, while CCB would benefit from BofA's U.S. retail banking experience.
The U.S. bank increased its holdings in following years, before paring it down starting in 2009. In 2011, the bank raised a combined $14.9 billion from selling shares in CCB to a group of investors that included Singapore's Temasek Holdings (TEM.UL).
Bank of America launched Tuesday's sale after a lock-up on its remaining stake expired last month. The bank will continue its strategic partnership with CCB in business areas like customer service and sales models, the bank said in a press release.
Bank of America shares closed at $14.25 on Tuesday, up nearly 1 percent from Friday's close.
CCB shares are down 6.8 percent since the beginning of the year in Hong Kong, outperforming the 9 percent decline in the financial sub-index of the Hong Kong stock exchange (.HSHFI) in 2013.
Bank of America has been cleaning up its balance sheet since the financial crisis. In the bank's 2012 annual report, chief executive Brian Moynihan wrote that the bank had divested more than $60 billion of assets outside its main businesses while improving capital ratios and maintaining its earnings power.
The bank increased its second-quarter profit 70 percent to $3.57 billion. The bank managed to trim operating expenses by 6 percent while boosting its Basel III capital ratio.
The bank has been particularly active in streamlining its international operations. In recent years Bank of America sold its foreign wealth management businesses to Julius Baer Group (BAER.VX) and credit card portfolios in Canada, Spain and Britain to various banks and private-equity firms.
Some foreign banks continue to hold on to their investments in Chinese lenders. Among them are HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L), which owns a 19.9 percent holding in China's Bank of Communications Co Ltd and Spain's BBVA's has a 15 percent stake in China Citic Bank Corp Ltd .
(Additional reporting by Celement Tan and Denny Thomas in HONG KONG; Editing by David Gregorio and Matt Driskill)

What is the next step in Syria? Will the US or Israel sink a US warship to get the war agenda back on track?

The war for the bankers (or the war for the petrodollar, or the war to revive Breton-Woods; they are really all the same) has stumbled. The official US Government claim that Bashar al-Assad invited the United Nations Chemical Weapons inspectors into Syria, the unleashed a chemical weapon attack, not against the leaders of the hired mercenaries trying to oust him, but against women and children, was a non-starter right from the very beginning. Both the United nations and NATO have already refused to support the coming US attack on Syria (which has, of course, not actually attacked the United States). One can only imagine the desperation on the bowels of power (not to mention a complete lack of respect for the intelligence of the American people) for them to even try such a blatant lie.
John Kerry's "Moral Compass" comment in his pathetic attempt to bolster the official story reveals that the US Government now realizes belatedly they have overstepped. They crossed the "red line" of believability with the American people, and even that segment of the population still desperate to cling to the illusion that the US are the good guys and all these wars, overthrows, drone strikes, and torture, were somehow necessary and right are awake, and angry. That Kerry felt he had to address the issue of doubt regarding the official story betrays much that Kerry probably would have been prudent to conceal. Obama's follow-up presentation on Friday sounded less like a President and more like a used-car salesman, even as he yielded to the law to allow Congress to debate and vote on the new war (although sources inside the White House suggest Obama may ignore Congress if the vote does not go his way).
So here we are.
The US Government is trapped. Having gone this far into the "Clash of Civilizations" (Actually a war between private central banking and government-issued currency, the same war America fought and won during the revolution) the US is unable to turn around and return to status quo ante. This "dollarification" of the world was an all-or-nothing deal. Along with the realization that the world simply does not believe the US story about Assad, the White House has to realize that screaming about weapons of mass destruction is no longer a propaganda option they can use. Certainly it will not work with the planned war with Iran. Yet the war against Iran is still desired and needed. Indeed the process of restoring the petrodollar, or forcing the world back onto Bretton-Woods (in which the dollar remains the international trade and reserve currency) cannot succeed unless Iran is conquered and forced to sell their oil only for US dollars. See All Wars are Bankers Wars for more detail on this agenda.
Already the awareness of this clumsy lie is spreading among the American people, who might have been wiling to forgive, or at least tolerate, that whopper about Saddam's nuclear weapons. But a second such lie, especially one as obvious as this, is insulting to Americans, who are wondering just how stupid the US Government must think they all are to have even tried such a stunt. There is a question of respect, and clearly the government does not respect the American people, to be willing to lie to the people so shamelessly.
The US Government faces a severe crisis of credibility of their own making. And such a crisis can only get worse with a government trapped into perpetuating wars and with no other option to sell those wars but more lies and deception. The US Government is going to go ahead with the attack on Syria, and somehow they need to drag Iran into it in such a manner than no excuses need be made to the American people expected to pay and die for that war.
There is only one way I can see how they might do that, but before I get into the details, let's take a quick look at history.
There is nothing new in a government lying to their people to start a war. Indeed because most people prefer living in peace to bloody and horrific death in war, any government that desires to initiate a war usually lies to their people to create the illusion that support for the war is the only possible choice they can make.

President McKinley told the American people that the USS Maine had been sunk in Havana Harbor by a Spanish mine. The American people, outraged by this apparent unprovoked attack, supported the Spanish American War. The Captain of the USS Maine had insisted the ship was sunk by a coal bin explosion, and an investigation conducted in 1975 by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, proved that such had indeed been the case. There had been no mine.

Hitler used this principle of lying to his own people to initiate an invasion. He told the people of Germany that Poland had attacked first and staged fake attacks against German targets. The Germans, convinced they were being threatened, followed Hitler into Poland and into World War 2.

FDR claimed Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack. It wasn't. The United States saw war with Japan as the means to get into war with Germany, which Americans opposed. So Roosevelt needed Japan to appear to strike first. Following an 8-step plan devised by the Office of Naval Intelligence, Roosevelt intentionally provoked Japan into the attack. Roosevelt suggested deliberately sacrificing US navy ships (and their crews) at Manila, to get the US into war. Navy Chief Harold Stark objected, and Roosevelt backed down. (Charles Beard PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT AND THE COMING OF WAR 1941, p 424)
Later on, Roosevelt's plan re-materialized at Pearl Harbor. Although the popular legend is that the attack by Japan was a surprise, history records that Roosevelt provoked the Japanese and offered them a tempting target by moving the Pacific fleet from its well-protected San Diego base to the relatively indefensible Pearl Harbor in 1940.
There is no question that Roosevelt knew the attack was coming. A British Double-agent, Dusko Popov (code named "Tricycle") handed the entire Japanese plan for the attack to the FBI in August 1940.
Soviet top spy Richard Sorge informed Kremlin that Pearl Harbor would be attacked within 60 days. Moscow informed him that this was passed to the US. Interestingly, all references to Pearl Harbor in the War Department's copy of Sorge's 32,000 word confession to the Japanese were deleted. (NY Daily News, 17 May 1951)
Contrary to the popular myth that the Japanese fleet maintained strict radio silence, the Japanese command ships would receive messages from japan, then re-broadcast them to the smaller ships in the fleet which were unable to receive the original signals on their smaller antennas. The Japanese broadcast so often and regularly that Leslie Grogan, the radioman on the Matson steamship SS Lurline was able to plot the course of the Japanese fleet across the Pacific, and handed his charts over to the Office of Naval Intelligence when the ship docked at Honolulu, just 3 days before the attack. Grogan's chart and logbook, like Sorge's report on the coming attack, vanished (although there is still a record of its existence in the US Navel archive records).
Documents declassified in 1994 reveal that the US had broken the Japanese codes by the summer of 1941. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's message to the fleet was intercepted by Station H on the windward side of Oahu, decoded at Station Hypo at Pearl Harbor, and sent along to Washington DC, but not shared with Admiral Kimmel or General Short!
"The task force, keeping its movement strictly secret and maintaining close guard against submarines and aircraft, shall advance into Hawaiian waters, and upon the very opening of hostilities shall attack the main force of the United States fleet in Hawaii and deal it a mortal blow".

President Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin to send Americans off to fight in Vietnam. There were no torpedoes in the water in the Gulf. LBJ took advantage of an inexperienced sonar man's report to goad Congress into escalating the Vietnam War.

President Bush and his Neocon associates lied to Congress and the American people, to initiate a war of conquest in Iraq, based on the false claim that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons. According to a memo leaked from inside the British Government the decision to go to war was followed by the "fixing" of information around that policy.
The lie was supported in part by Tony Blair's "Dodgy Dossier", a document released by the Prime Minister that made many of the claims used to support the push for war. The dossier soon collapsed when it was revealed that much of it had been plagiarized from a student thesis paper that was 12 years old!
Then there was the claim about the "Mobile biological weapons laboratories". Proffered in the absence of any real laboratories in the wake of the invasion, photos of these trailers were shown on all the US Mainstream Media, with the claim they while seeming to lack anything suggesting biological processing, these were part of a much larger assembly of multiple trailers that churned out biological weapons of mass destruction.
The chief proponent of this hoax was Colin Powell, who presented illustrations such as this one to the United Nations on February 5th, 2003. This claim fell apart when it was revealed that these trailers were nothing more than hydrogen gas generators used to inflate weather balloons. This fact was already known to both the US and UK, as a British company manufactured the units and sold them to Iraq.
Colin Powell's speech to the UN was itself one misstatement after another. Powell claimed that Iraq had purchased special aluminum tubes whose only possible use was in uranium enrichment centrifuges. Both CIA and Powell's own State Department confirmed that the tubes were parts for missiles Saddam was legally allowed to have. Following the invasion, no centrifuges, aluminum or otherwise were found.
Powell also claimed to the United Nations that the photo on the left showed "Decontamination Vehicles". But when United Nations inspectors visited the site after the invasion, they located the vehicles and discovered they were just firefighting equipment. Powell claimed the Iraqis had illegal rockets and launchers hidden in the palm trees of Western Iraq. None were ever found.
Powell claimed that the Iraqis had 8,500 liters (2245 gallons) of Anthrax. None was ever found.
Colin Powell's UN debacle also included spy photos taken from high flying aircraft and spacecraft. On the photos were circles and arrows and labels pointing to various fuzzy white blobs and identifying them as laboratories and storage areas for Saddam's massive weapons of mass destruction program. Nothing in the photos actually suggested what the blobby shapes were and during inspections which followed the invasion, all of them turned out to be rather benign. In at least one case, the satellite Powell claimed had taken one of the pictures had actually been out of operation at the time. And many questioned why Powell was showing black and white photos when the satellites in use at the time over Iraq took color images.
Another piece of evidence consists of documents which President Bush referenced as in his 2003 State of the Union Speech. According to Bush, these documents proved that Iraq was buying tons of uranium oxide, called "Yellow Cake" from Niger. Since Israel had bombed Iraq's nuclear power plant years before, it was claimed that the only reason Saddam would have for buying uranium oxide was to build bombs.
This hoax fell apart fast when it was pointed out that Iraq has a great deal of uranium ore inside their own borders and no need to import any from Niger or anywhere else. The I.A.E.A. then blew the cover off the fraud by announcing that the documents Bush had used were not only forgeries, but too obvious to believe that anyone in the Bush administration did not know they were forgeries! In the end, the real proof that we were lied to about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. That means that every single piece of paper that purported to prove that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was by default a fraud, a hoax, and a lie. There could be no evidence that supported the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction because Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. In a way, the existence of any faked documents about Iraq's WMDs is actually an admission of guilt. If one is taking the time to create fake documents, the implication is that the faker is already aware that there are no genuine documents.
What the US Government had, ALL that they had, were copied student papers, forged "Yellow Cake" documents, balloon inflators posing as bioweapons labs, and photos with misleading labels on them. And somewhere along the line, someone decided to put those misleading labels on those photos, to pretend that balloon inflators are portable bioweapons labs, and to pass off stolen student papers as contemporary analysis.
Americans have been lied into war time and time again. They are trying to lie you into war with Syria, then Iran.
But the lies don't work any more.
How do you distract from a lie? With a bigger lie, of course.
As I type these words, four US Destroyers are off of the coast of Syria, ready to launch cruise missile strikes that will murder far more Syrian people than are alleged to have died in the chemical weapons attack. American and world condemnation are already building even before the cruise missiles are launched.
The White House needs something "dramatic" to make people forget about the lie about assad and chemical weapons, and re-ignite war fever. And somehow, Iran needs to be drawn into the scam, as Americans will no longer listen to "Weapons of mass destruction", or "They hate us for our freedoms", or "We are bringing Democracy to those poor people."
Which is why I expect Obama to, like Roosevelt, sacrifice a ship or two to anger Americans back into supporting the war agenda, and (in order to avoid having to come up with a reason to invade Iran) to blame Iran for the loss of the ship. It seems the only possible plan the White House can come up with to salvage the current situation.
Israel, which supports and encourages the US policy of war in the Mid east, operates Dolphin class submarines given to it by Germany. They are diesel electric boats, meaning they are very quiet; quieter than nuclear powered submarines. Germany recently admitted they have known for years that Israel is arming their Dolphin class submarines with nuclear tipped cruise missiles.
So, I expect that right now, the war-hawks are considering a new "Pearl Harbor" attack to sacrifice and sink one or more of those US destroyers (and their crews). The scenario is simple. A submarine quietly sneaks up on the destroyers, and as soon as they launch their cruise missiles into Syria. either torpedo or nuke the ships, then to lay the blame for the "Dastardly" attack on Iran.
Problem solved!
Except, of course, we are now expecting such a stunt, because we study history and saw how Pearl Harbor was set up to start a war, and see how desperate the current regime is to replay that game.

Why Nobody Trusts the Mainstream Media

Wonga makes more than £1m a week in profit as massive advertising splurge brings in 1m payday loan customers

  • More than 1m customers borrowed £1.2bn from leading payday lender
  • Wonga paid more than £21m in corporation tax in the UK last year
  • Top five payday lending brands have raised ad spending 26% to £36.3m

  • Payday loans giant Wonga saw profits soar 36 per cent rise in 2012 after it lent £1.2billion to more than 1million customers.
    The controversial lender, which has faced criticism from the head of the Church of England over its high interest charges, provides short-term loans to cash-strapped Britons, many of whom have had difficulty obtaining credit from mainstream banks.
    Wonga said it made post-tax profit of £62.5million last year - or more than £1million a week - with revenues rising by 67 per cent to £309million, and highlighted that it paid more than £21million in corporation tax in the UK last year.
    Promotion: Data shows that payday lenders like Wonga continued their tireless self-promotion even when they were under scrutiny by the Office of Fair Trading
    Promotion: Data shows that payday lenders like Wonga continued their tireless self-promotion even when they were under scrutiny by the Office of Fair Trading.
    The lender charges borrowers 5,853 per cent annual interest. That means customers must pay £137.15 back for a 30-day loan of £100.
    Payday lenders have recently pumped millions of extra funds into advertising campaigns in a bid to win more customers, flying in the face of criticism from regulators.
    Leading market research firm Nielsen has revealed that the amount spent on advertising by Britain’s top five payday lending brands rose 26 per cent to £36.3million in the 12 months to June compared with the period to June 2012.
    Meanwhile, the Office of Fair Trading has ordered a full inquiry by the Competition Commission into the sector -  a move that caused 20 out of the 50 lenders facing the probe to quit the market.
    Founder and chief executive Errol Damelin said the online lender operates in an 'upfront and transparent' way, adding it makes 5p of profit on every £1 it lends.
    He said: 'This is not about people on breadlines being desperate and us being a lender of last resort. We reject two-thirds of applications.'
    Instead he said the industry has been tarred by behaviour of other high-interest lenders.

    'There's a lot wrong in how other parts of the industry operates,' he said.
    And Mr Damelin insisted the company's profit margins are 'not outrageous in any way to us'.
    He added: 'Our customers are telling us that we provide very good value for money.'

    'We provide a useful service': Errol Damelin, boss and co-founder of Wonga.
    'We provide a useful service': Errol Damelin, boss and co-founder of Wonga.
    Critic: Archbishop Justin Welby has branded loan firm charges as 'usury'
    Critic: Archbishop Justin Welby has branded loan firm charges as 'usury'.
    NatWest, Santander, HSBC and Lloyds TSB spend between £25million and £39million each, according to advertising industry sources. Only Barclays spends significantly more – £77million.
    The figures show that in the three months to June, at the height of the OFT’s investigation, spending rose 24 per cent on the same period in 2012.
    The newly formed Financial Conduct Authority is also investigating the industry. It is concerned that the promise of easy money is blinding hard-up consumers to the risks of short-term, high interest loans. Customers that fail to pay back loans on time can quickly find debts spiral out of control.
    The Archbishop of Canterbury has described the charges as 'usury' – where the cost of the loans, conditions of repayment and potential risks are immoral or unethical.
    In July he declared that the Church would lend support to credit unions as a way of creating better and more responsible competition to the payday lenders.
    The Most Rev Justin Welby reported having a 'very good conversation' with Mr Damelin.
    'I've met the head of Wonga and we had a very good conversation and I said to him quite bluntly "we're not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we're trying to compete you out of existence",' the straight-talking Archbishop said.
    'He's a businessman, he took that well.'
    His statement caused immediate embarrassment when it emerged that the Church of England itself had indirectly invested in Wonga.
    Claims that competition from credit unions will drive Wonga and others out of existence may also prove optimistic in the face of the payday lenders’ advertising blitz.
    The sum spent on advertising by the big five payday brands, including Wonga, which is the biggest, is comparable with that spent by one of Britain's leading high street
    The sum spent on advertising by the big five payday brands, including Wonga, which is the biggest, is comparable with that spent by one of Britain's leading high street.

    A study last week claimed that the majority of people who are turned down for cards and loans by mainstream lenders are likely to turn to payday loans as they are unaware of alternative forms of credit.

    The survey by Amigo Loans - which provides so-called guarantor loans - estimated that just under a quarter of UK adults have been turned away from their banks for loans, mortgages and credit cards.

    Of these, four-fifths feel forced to turn to alternative lenders who charge higher rates for credit.

    The sum spent on advertising by the big five payday brands is comparable with that spent by one of Britain’s leading high street banks.
    Nielsen did not release individual figures for each advertiser citing commercial sensitivity, but aside from Wonga the others in its list of top five payday brands are thought to be Payday UK, Payday Express, QuickQuid and Pounds to Pocket.
    Stella Creasy, the Labour MP who has criticised Wonga in the past, said: 'We have got to remember that Wonga's mega-profits come at a time when the entire payday lending industry has been referred to the Competition Commission by the Office for Fair Trading because of concerns about exploitative practices within that industry.
    'So the fact that Wonga is able to make more than £1million a week in an industry which has widespread malpractices should be of great concern to all of us in Britain.
    'What that says about families who are struggling financially, what it says about the kind of regulation we currently have in the UK and the things we need to do to make sure people in Britain can borrow affordably,
    'Wonga might be celebrating today, I'm very, very concerned about what this might mean for people in my community and across the country who are paying the price for their profits.'

    Europe is Saved But Greece Needs Another Bailout?

    by Phoenix Capital Research
    The market is erupting higher on the usual start of the month buying and some gimmicked economic data out of Europe.
    In this case, the specific data point in question is Europe’s Performance of Manufacturing Index or PMI, which rose to a 26 month high. This, combined with claims that Europe’s recession is “over” has convinced traders that the European crisis has officially been put to rest.
    I’ve written at length about how politics drives everything in Europe (particularly the media). German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the woman with her finger on the “bailout” button for Europe, is up for re-election at the end of September. It is not coincidence that we’ve seen a sudden improvement in Europe’s economic data in the last two months going into this event.
    After all, the alternative to Merkel’s re-election is politically unsavory for Europe: Merkel’s primary opposition wants an end to the bailouts and Germany out of the Euro.
    If you were a totally bankrupt European Government relying on the promise of additional funds from Germany to stay in power and your options were A) start cranking out better data now with the promise of future bailouts from Germany or B) having to deal with a German Chancellor who wants out of the Euro… which would you choose?
    Indeed, if the European Crisis is over, why did Germany’s Finance Minister just admit that Greece needs another bailout? It’s been nearly four years since Greece’s debt woes first surfaced officially. Four years and three bailouts later and Greece is still not fixed… but the European recession is over as is the European debt Crisis?
    This move today feels like a dead cat bounce. Spain’s stock market, the Ibex, which remains the canary in the coalmine for Europe, is rallying to retest former support:

    If we cannot break back above this line and stay there, then the market has called BS on the media’s campaign to convince the world that Europe is fine.
    For more market insights and commentary, visit us at:
    Best Regards
    Graham Summers

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