Implode-Explode Heavy Industries news feed http://implode-explode.com/ Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. en-us iehi-feed-62464 Sat, 24 Jun 2017 02:48:49 GMT Brexit forever or Brexit never? http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_BrexitforeverorBrexitnever.html While both May's Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party now explicitly support leaving the club the United Kingdom joined in 1973, some of the Union's most powerful politicians have raised the possibility of Britain cancelling Brexit.

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With her authority so weakened, May will have to gauge whether she can get a deal from the EU that she can sell at home.

If she thinks she will fail to get a Brexit deal through parliament, some business leaders fear she will allow talks with the EU to collapse and take Britain out with no deal.

A disorderly Brexit could spook financial markets, tarnish London's reputation as one of the world's top two financial centers and sow chaos through the economies of Britain and the EU by dislocating trading relationships.

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iehi-feed-62463 Sat, 24 Jun 2017 02:22:30 GMT Amazon Takeover of Whole Foods Puzzlingly Missing Any Economies of Scale http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_AmazonTakeoverofWholeFoodsPuzzlinglyMissingAnyEconomiesofScale.html If Amazon.com Inc hopes to revolutionize grocery delivery, then its bid to buy Whole Foods Market Inc for $13.7 billion will be just the start of a long and costly process. The e-commerce giant would need to add a large network of specialized grocery distribution warehouses, former AmazonFresh employees and logistics experts said. This is something Wal-Mart Stores Inc and other competitors have already done. Whole Foods, with a relatively small distribution footprint of its own, does little to change the picture for Amazon, they said.

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Whole Foods has over 1 million square feet of warehouse space for distribution to its markets, and a chunk of its inventory goes straight from suppliers to stores, MWPVL said. "It's a peanut. It's nothing," MWPVL President Marc Wulfraat said of Whole Foods' distribution

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Even using Whole Foods stores to provide food for delivering to nearby urban shoppers would have hard limits, since many outlets lack the floor space to handle thousands of online orders.

"It's a space issue for stuff coming through. It's a labor issue for people tripping over each other," said Tom Furphy, former vice president of consumables and AmazonFresh, and now chief executive of Consumer Equity Partners. There would also be a risk that "the quality starts to go down because the e-commerce orders are getting better product."

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iehi-feed-62462 Sat, 24 Jun 2017 01:50:04 GMT Trump joins the effort to pass a health-care bill, but another GOP senator is opposed http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_TrumpjoinstheefforttopassahealthcarebillbutanotherGOPsenatorisop.html Heller is seen as a bellwether for how the bill is perceived across the country. He is facing reelection next year in a swing state where Democrat Hillary Clinton defeated Trump but where there is also an active Republican base, which turned out overwhelmingly for Trump during the battle for the GOP presidential nomination. Nevada is among 31 states and the District of Columbia that expanded Medicaid under the ACA.

"I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans," Heller said at a news conference in his home state Friday, where he was joined by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

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[Trump] can afford to lose only two votes from the pool of 52 GOP senators, with all Democrats united against it and Vice President Pence ready to break a 50-50 tie.

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iehi-feed-62461 Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:13:19 GMT Trump-Free 2016 Russian Election-Hacking Revelations: Virtually Missed By Nearly All of Washington http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_TrumpFree2016RussianElectionHackingRevelationsVirtuallyMissedByN.html It wasn't just Donald Trump who dismissed and rejected charges that Russian spies hacked the election last year. Now we know that pretty much the entire Republican party team did so, too -- from the Republican congressional leadership down to GOP Secretaries of State in the states whose local electoral systems were under attack. They blithely served as Vladimir Putin's defense team, even as President Obama's national security aides were uncovering a vast Russian conspiracy to undermine America's electoral process.

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What the Post reveals, in passing, is that the Obama administration's charge that Russia hacked the DNC, Podesta et al. wasn't based merely on some remote analysis of the digital trail left behind by Fancy Bear, Cozy Bear and other units allegedly linked to Russia's FSB and GRU spy agencies... the Post article, in its second sentence, states that the administration's conclusion was based on "sourcing deep inside the Russian government." In other words, the United States last year had either human collectors (i.e., spies) or electronic access inside the very heart of Moscow's inner circle -- which is how they learned that Putin himself was involved.

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The Washington Post provides a depressing tick-tock on how the Obama administration responded as the scope of the Russian attack emerged: direct warnings to the FSB and then to Putin himself, kicking out alleged Russian spies, closing Russian spy facilities outside Washington, imposing sanctions, etc. But the saddest part of the story is that, when the Obama administration had a chance to sound a loud alarm about Russia's role when it mattered -- before November 8th -- they didn't. Said one former top official quoted by the Post: "I feel like we sort of choked."

We're not so sure that the Obama admin just "missed "anything, or didn't "try hard enough" -- it looks a lot like the real interference revelations were left to fester, so that in the public's mind, the Russian election interference would remain conflated with Trump (which the "17 intellegence agencies" report is an almost perfect microcosm of).

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iehi-feed-62460 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 23:59:42 GMT U.S. Will Lose Syria to Iran and Abandon Kurdish Allies, Former Ambassador Says http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_USWillLoseSyriatoIranandAbandonKurdishAlliesFormerAmbassadorSays.html The Syrian government and its allies, including Iran, will eventually overcome U.S. efforts to secure influence in the nation, and Kurdish fighters may pay for siding with President Donald Trump and his administration, according to a former U.S. ambassador to Syria.

Robert Ford, who served as envoy to Syria under former President Barack Obama from 2011 through 2014, said during an interview Monday with the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that "Obama did not leave the Trump administration many options to achieve its goal" of defeating the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and curbing Iran's foothold in the region. While Iran and Russia back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against various insurgents and jihadists trying to topple him, the U.S. supports an irregular coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces, made up mostly of Kurds, but including other ethnic minorities and Arabs. Despite the group's recent successes in storming ISIS's de facto capital of Raqqa, Ford said "the game was finished" for U.S. plans to overthrow Assad or compete with Iran's success in the country.

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When the opposition, which also received support from Turkey and Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, did launch a large-scale insurgency against the state, the CIA ultimately decided to train and equip certain rebel groups. After this policy came to light, Ford said in 2014 that the U.S. was "behind the curve," as Russia and Iran were devoting extensive resources to defending Assad, much more than the U.S. was willing to devote to the insurgents, Many of the insurgents were later overtaken or absorbed by more radical Sunni Muslim militant moves such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

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iehi-feed-62459 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 21:01:34 GMT Economists draw mixed conclusions over May new home sales report http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_EconomistsdrawmixedconclusionsoverMaynewhomesalesreport.html "Despite May's good news, new home sales still have a long way to go to reach historic norms," Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin said. "When taking into account the U.S. population, new home sales are still about 69% of the long-run average."

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"Ultimately this report is a disappointment for those looking to builders to meaningfully help solve the pressing supply issues in the market overall, especially for entry-level buyers," Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell said. "The median price of a new home sold in May was close to $350,000, by far the highest it's ever been and likely well beyond the budget of younger, first-time buyers that make up a sizable portion of the market right now."

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iehi-feed-62458 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 20:58:31 GMT McDonalds Is Replacing 2,500 Human Cashiers With Digital Kiosks: Here Is Its Math http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_McDonaldsIsReplacing2500HumanCashiersWithDigitalKiosksHereIsItsM.html iehi-feed-62457 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:41:02 GMT Trump visited this Boeing factory to celebrate jobs -- It just announced layoffs http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_TrumpvisitedthisBoeingfactorytocelebratejobsItjustannouncedlayof.html On Thursday, workers at the North Charleston plant learned they'd soon face layoffs. The airplane manufacturer announced it would be cutting "fewer than 200 people" at the 787 Dreamliner campus and other facilities in the city.

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"Our competition is relentless, and that has made clear our need as a company to reduce cost to be more competitive," Boeing said in a statement. "We are offering resources to those affected by layoffs to help them in finding other employment and ease their transition as much as possible."

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In December, Boeing said it planned to cut jobs this year because of a dropping demand for new planes. The company revealed it would decrease production of the Boeing 777 by 40 percent in 2017.

By March, the company had accepted about 1,880 voluntary layoffs from employees in Washington state. Then nearly 500 workers near Seattle received involuntary layoff notices in April, according to the Seattle Times

Jonathan Battaglia, representative for the Machinists Union, which the Boeing employees in North Charleston voted not to join in February, said about 700 people in South Carolina have taken buyouts over the past year. The coming wave of layoffs at the North Charleston campus are the first involuntary dismissals to hit its South Carolina workforce.

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iehi-feed-62456 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:39:18 GMT An Overview of the New Senate Health Care Bill: Rich To Get Tax Relief; Poor and Middle Class to Face Higher Burden http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_AnOverviewoftheNewSenateHealthCareBillRichToGetTaxReliefPoorandM.html The Affordable Care Act gave health insurance to millions of Americans by shifting resources from the wealthy to the poor and by moving oversight from states to the federal government. The Senate bill introduced Thursday pushes back forcefully on both dimensions.

The bill is aligned with long-held Republican values, advancing states' rights and paring back growing entitlement programs, while freeing individuals from requirements that they have insurance and emphasizing personal responsibility. Obamacare raised taxes on high earners and the health care industry, and essentially redistributed that income -- in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies -- to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades.

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Like a House version of the legislation, the bill would fundamentally change the structure of Medicaid, which provides health insurance to 74 million disabled or poor Americans, including nearly 40 percent of all children. Instead of open-ended payments, the federal government would give states a maximum payment for nearly every individual enrolled in the program. The Senate version of the bill would increase that allotment every year by a formula that is expected to grow substantially more slowly than the average increase in medical costs.

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States would continue to receive extra funding for Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid to more poor adults, but only temporarily. After several years, states wishing to cover that population would be expected to pay a much greater share of the bill, even as they adjust to leaner federal funding for other Medicaid beneficiaries -- disabled children, nursing home residents -- who are more vulnerable.

High-income earners would get substantial tax cuts on payroll and investment income. Subsidies for those low-income Americans who buy their own insurance would decline compared with current law. Low-income Americans who currently buy their own insurance would also lose federal help in paying their deductibles and co-payments.

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States could get rid of the online marketplaces that help consumers compare similar health plans, and make a variety of other changes to the health insurance system. The standards for approval are quite permissive. Not every state would choose to eliminate such rules, of course. But several might.

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Americans with pre-existing conditions would continue to enjoy protection from discrimination: In contrast with the House health bill, insurers would not be allowed to charge higher prices to customers with a history of illness, even in states that wish to loosen insurance regulations.

But patients with serious illnesses may still face skimpier, less useful coverage. States may waive benefit requirements and allow insurers to charge customers more. Someone seriously ill who buys a plan that does not cover prescription drugs, for example, may not find it very valuable.

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But because federal subsidies would also decline, only a fraction of people buying their own insurance would enjoy the benefits of lower prices. Many middle-income Americans would be expected to pay a larger share of their income to purchase health insurance that covers a smaller share of their care.

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The reforms are unlikely to drive down out-of-pocket spending, another perennial complaint of the bill's authors, and a central critique by President Trump of the current system. He often likes to say that Obamacare plans come with deductibles so high that they are unusable. Subsidies under the bill would help middle-income consumers buy insurance that pays 58 percent of the average patient's medical costs, down from 70 percent under Obamacare; it would also remove a different type of subsidy designed to lower deductibles further for Americans earning less than around $30,000 a year.

What a mess. It's doubtful these tweaks will come even close to bringing our health care system back to solvency; and they'll go a long way to pissing off (and making life harder for) the lower 75% of Americans economically. However, we will point out: the part about the rich getting tax "breaks" is disingenuous; the investment and payroll surcharge taxes that would be removed were actually only just recently added by Obamacare. We're also glad to see the individual mandate go -- there's no way this mandate ever did much to make the system solvent (since those who would face a meaningful penalty could also comfortably afford insurance), so it will just remove an arguably-unconstitutional (SCOTUS ruling notwithstanding) intrusion of the government into our lives.

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iehi-feed-62455 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 15:30:11 GMT Shut Al-Jazeera, Isolate Iran: 13 Demands on Qatar to End Crisis http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_ShutAlJazeeraIsolateIran13DemandsonQatartoEndCrisis.html iehi-feed-62454 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 15:29:26 GMT Merkel Says May's Brexit Proposals 'Not the Breakthrough' http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_MerkelSaysMaysBrexitProposalsNottheBreakthrough.html German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the end of an EU summit in Brussels on Friday that proposals from British Prime Minister Theresa May on preserving the rights of EU citizens after Brexit were "not the breakthrough".

Speaking at a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Merkel said: "It was a good start but it was also not the breakthrough, to put it conservatively."

"It became clear during the discussion last night that we have a long path ahead of us. And the 27 (other EU countries), especially Germany and France, will be well prepared, we will not allow ourselves to be divided.

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iehi-feed-62453 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:50:54 GMT Sears Holdings to close 20 more stores as retail crisis continues http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_SearsHoldingstoclose20morestoresasretailcrisiscontinues.html iehi-feed-62452 Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:47:10 GMT Senate GOP Health Bill Will Change Obamacare, Not Repeal It http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-23_SenateGOPHealthBillWillChangeObamacareNotRepealIt.html Lost in the roiling debate over health care over the last several weeks is that Republicans have all but given up on their longstanding repeal-and-replace pledge. The slogan lives on in the rhetoric used by many GOP lawmakers and the Trump White House but not in the legislation the party is advancing.

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"We're amending Obamacare. We're not killing it," a frustrated Jason Pye of the conservative group FreedomWorks told me earlier this month as the murky outlines of the Senate proposal were beginning to emerge.

Like the House bill, the Senate plan is expected to repeal the ACA's employer and individual insurance mandates and most if not all of the tax increases Democrats levied to pay for new programs and benefits. But the Senate bill likely will only begin a years-long phase-out of the ACA's Medicaid expansion in 2020 rather than end it as the House measure does.

The Senate also is expected to include more generous tax credits than the House bill that more closely resemble the system already in place under Obamacare. But the funding levels would still be lower than the current law.

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iehi-feed-62451 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:23:18 GMT China Bad Debt Prices Up 30% as New Gold Rush Gets Under Way http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-22_ChinaBadDebtPricesUp30asNewGoldRushGetsUnderWay.html Bad loans are rapidly becoming the latest hot commodity in China as more domestic and foreign investors rush into the market and bid up prices.

Non-performing loan prices have risen more than 30 percent this year, according to distressed investor Belos Capital Asia Ltd. The average selling price of NPLs has climbed to around 50 cents on the dollar in the past two years, from 30 cents, said Victor Jong, a partner in the deals and business recovery services unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Shanghai. Such a high level is "very rare" in international markets, Jong said.

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Distressed investors are increasing as Chinese authorities encourage market-oriented ways to resolve lenders' mounting piles of non-performing debt amid slowing economic growth. A jump in valuations of real estate, which often act as underlying assets for secured loans, has boosted the debt's recovery prospects. Combined with a surge in money supply, this has lifted bad-loan prices even in some less-developed regions of China, according to domestic distressed debt investor Bald Eagle Asset Management.

What could possib-lie go wrong?

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iehi-feed-62450 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:41:49 GMT The Little Putsch That Could Beget a Great Big Coup - David Stockman http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-22_TheLittlePutschThatCouldBegetaGreatBigCoupDavidStockman.html iehi-feed-62449 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:40:36 GMT The Rise of a Prince Ends Doubts Over Saudi Arabia's Direction (BUT RAISES DOUBTS OVER ITS INT'L STRATEGY) http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-22_TheRiseofaPrinceEndsDoubtsOverSaudiArabiasDirectionBUTRAISESDOUB.html iehi-feed-62448 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:36:03 GMT The Wheels Come Off Uber http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-22_TheWheelsComeOffUber.html Not surprisingly, the financial press has been all agog about the drama of Travis Kalanick's forced departure from Uber's CEO position yesterday, fixated on salacious insider details.

That means journalists largely have ignored what ought to be the real story, which is whether Uber has any future. I anticipate that Hubert Horan will offer a longer-form treatment of this topic. Hubert had already documented, in considerable detail in his ten-part series, how Uber has no conceivable path to profitability.

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Uber's managerial upheaval of the last few months mean its decay path is sure to accelerate. I've been following the business press for over 30 years. I can't think of a single case where even an established, profitable business with an solid franchise has had so many top level positions vacant, and for such bad reasons. As reader vidimi quipped, "With no CEO, CFO, COO, and CIO, uber is coming very close to becoming a self-driving company." And that's not even a full list.

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And in a scandal that will have a much longer tail, Uber's former head of its Waymo driverless car unit, Anthony Levandowski, has had his case involving alleged theft of intellectual property from Google referred to the Department of Justice. Kalanick was deeply involved in Levandowski's sudden exodus from Google. It seems implausible that Kalanick didn't know Levandowski was making off with boatloads of files. If the case does lead to a criminal prosecution, it is hard to see how Kalanick could escape scrutiny as a potential criminal co-conspirator.

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Some of the top executive departures, such as of its recently hired COO, brought it to help the company grow up, its CFO and its head of communications, were voluntary. That's not what you see in Silicon Valley stars on a winning path. Confirming that picture are rumors of insiders being cashed out at valuations well below that of recent fundraisings.

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And particularly worrisome is the resignation of Uber's chief financial officer, Gautam Gupta, at the end of May, when Uber announced $708 million in quarterly losses... A CFO departure is often a red flag, particularly when it is abrupt and mysterious.

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The wee problem is it will prove impossible to effect anything resembling a turnaround at Uber. As Hubert Horan pointed out, the very culture that made Uber a success is now its biggest liability. And as a result, investors don't appear to have a plan for how to straighten out Uber.

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iehi-feed-62447 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 03:35:08 GMT America Is Now a ‘Second Tier' Country: Report http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-21_AmericaIsNowaSecondTierCountryReport.html The results of the group's annual survey, which ranks nations based on 50 metrics, call to mind other reviews of national well-being... The Social Progress Index released this week is compiled from social and environmental data that come as close as possible to revealing how people live. "We want to measure a country's health and wellness achieved, not how much effort is expended, nor how much the country spends on healthcare," the report states. Scandinavia walked away with the top four of 128 slots. Denmark scored the highest. America came in at 18...

Of course it's easy enough to dismiss or belittle these occasional reports, each with their unique methodologies and almost identical conclusions. Another approach, however, would be to look at them all together and conclude that they represent "mounting evidence." In that case, Houston (and Dallas, New Orleans, Tulsa, St. Louis, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York), we have a problem.''

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iehi-feed-62446 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 01:33:25 GMT Trump Is on a Collision Course With Iran http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-21_TrumpIsonaCollisionCourseWithIran.html Regrettably, if the Trump administration cannot do more to counter Iran's actions in Syria, it is not likely to be able to "demolish" ISIS and prevent its return. Iran is using its Shia proxy militias both to fight ISIS and to challenge U.S. efforts to train local forces in southeastern Syria.

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What's going on? Iran is actively trying to create a land corridor through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. To that end, Iran is pushing from within Iraq and Syria, using its Shia militia proxies on both sides of the border

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The administration understandably wants to keep the focus on ISIS and not get embroiled in a conflict with the Iranians or the Russians. While it is right to be careful, it also needs to convey another message: We will not challenge where the Iranians or Russians or the regime have control and a presence in Syria, but we will also not acquiesce to Iran's effort to create a land bridge through the Levant.

See also The Syrian Nightmare: No End in Sight; to wit:

At present, all of the warring parties are racing to seize as much land as possible. In some respects, that's a positive development because it suggests that everyone thinks the war may be coming to an end so they're positioning their armies in a way that best favors their territorial claims. But resolving the territorial issues won't alone bring peace. There are deeper issues that can't be resolved by merely granting greater autonomy to the Kurds, or allowing the Turks to maintain a "safe zone" in the northwest, or letting local (mainly Sunni) councils settle their own affairs in cities like Raqqa. For example, neither Putin nor Assad will ever agree to a deal in which Washington establishes a base in the east where it harbors and deploys jihadists back into Syria-proper to wreak havoc, terrorize the public, and threaten the central government. That's not going to happen. So while Putin may be flexible about Syria's borders or greater regional autonomy, he's not going to give ground on the fundamental issues of national security or terrorism. Those are non negotiable.

And this one: The United States is at war with Syria; to wit:

It's quite obvious, in fact, that the United States regime is deliberately making targets of its military personnel, in the hopes of provoking a response from Syrian or allied armed forces that will kill some Americans, and be used to gin up popular support for the exactly the kind of major military attack on Syria and/or Russia and/or Iran that the American people would otherwise reject with disgust. Anyone who professes concern for "our troops" should be screaming to stop that.

It's also quite clear now, that the War on ISIS is a sham, that ISIS was always just a pretext to get the American military directly involved in attacking the Syrian army and destroying the coherence of the Syrian state. If the U.S. wanted to defeat ISIS, it could do so easily by coordinating their actions with, and not against, the forces who have been most effectively fighting it: the Syrian Arab Army, Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah.

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iehi-feed-62445 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:35:13 GMT After Georgia Loss, Dems Take Heat on Economic Message (OR LACK THEREOF) http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2017-06-21_AfterGeorgiaLossDemsTakeHeatonEconomicMessageORLACKTHEREOF.html Democrats scrambled to regroup on Wednesday after a disappointing special election defeat in Georgia, with lawmakers, activists and labor leaders speaking out in public and private to demand a more forceful economic message heading into the 2018 elections.

Among Democrats in Washington, the setback in Georgia revived or deepened a host of existing grievances about the party, accentuating tensions between moderate lawmakers and liberal activists and prompting some Democrats to question the leadership and political strategy of Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader.

A small group of Democrats who have been critical of Ms. Pelosi in the past again pressed her to step down on Wednesday. And in a private meeting of Democratic lawmakers, Representative Tony Cárdenas of California, Ms. Pelosi's home state, suggested the party should have a more open conversation about her effect on its political fortunes.

But the most acute and widely expressed concerns were economic. Speaking after a meeting of the Democratic caucus on Wednesday morning, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York said the party was preparing to be "aggressively focused on job creation and economic growth." And Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, who represents an affluent district near New York City, said Democrats must do more to compete with what he described as expansive and unrealistic promises by President Trump.

"It's not enough to say, ‘I want jobs,'" Mr. Himes said. "You need more than that, particularly when you're competing with a guy who is telling fantasies."

Amazing that the Dems still don't see fit to abandon the "the economy was GREAT under Obama" message -- even as it's still killing them.

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