US STOCKS SINK ANEW AMID HONG KONG PROTESTS

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U.S. stocks went on a roller-coaster ride last week

Adam Shell and Kim Hjelmgaard 1:28 p.m. EDT September 29, 2014

U.S. stocks opened sharply lower Monday on worries over pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The Hang Sang Index is down nearly 2%, falling to its worst level since July. Newslook

Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong are spooking Wall Street Monday, as U.S. stocks continued their recent run of volatility, with the Dow dropping triple digits in early trading, tracking the nearly 2% drop overnight in Hong Kong amid concerns over China’s move to limit reforms in the Asian financial hub.

Stocks pared early losses and were off their lows in afternoon trading. The Dow Jones industrial average was down about 75 points, or 0.4%, to 17,040 after being down more than 170 points in early trading.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 0.4% and the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.3%, but both of those indexes were also well off their lows of the session.

The Hong Kong protest is the latest geopolitical flare-up to get Wall Street’s attention, and cause investors to pare back their risk-taking. U.S. stocks went on a roller-coaster ride last week and has been dogged by global uncertainty in Iraq, Syria and the Ukraine. The stock market has also been victimized by profit-taking in recent days as investors react to a market that hit fresh record highs a little more than a week ago, but which has since seen the market’s upward momentum stall.

The protests in Hong Kong drew a tough response from police who declared them “illegal” and used tear gas after pepper spray and warnings of greater force failed to disperse demonstrators trying to join a sit-in outside the government headquarters.

USATODAY
Hong Kong democracy protesters defy calls to disperse
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 449.20 points, or 1.9%, to 23,229.21. Stocks in mainland China, however, were slightly higher, with the Shanghai composite index up 0.4%. Asian stock markets were mixed elsewhere as Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.5% to 16,310.64.

The stock market, which had been a sea of calm, has suddenly turned into a scary roller-coaster ride.The Dow opened down more than 100 points today, extending its string of price moves of 100 points or more to a sixth session.

The market has been extremely volatile in the past week or so, and investors were rattled to start the week by the demonstrations in Hong Kong that began Sunday and had investors wondering if a repeat of the Tiananmen Square protests in spring 1989 was brewing.

VOLATILITY: New normal? Dow dips of 100-plus points

FLASHBACK: ’89 Tiananmen Sq. protest did not sink U.S. stocks

It is important to note that U.S. stocks were not upended by the high-profile street protests back in Beijing back in 1989. In fact the index rose 8% from the unofficial start of the Tiananmen Square uprising on April 15, 1989, until June 4, 1989, the day the government crackdown intensified and resulted in deaths, USA TODAY research shows.

If the Dow finishes down — or up — by more than 100 points today, it will mark the first triple-digit point move of six days or more since an eight-session streak from June 11 to June 20 of 2013. That decline was exacerbated by a so-called “taper tantrum,” as U.S. investors reacted negatively to the earliest hints that the Federal Reserve would begin to pare back its bond-buying program. The Fed started to pull back on asset purchases this January and are slated to phase out quantitative easing, or QE, next month.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the fifth largest in the world, when measured by the market value of the companies listed on the exchange, according to the World Federation of Exchanges, citing data through the end of August. (WFE data does not include the London Stock Exchange.) The Hong Kong exchange has a market cap of $3.4 trillion. Only the New York Stock Exchange ($19.3 trillion), the Nasdaq Stock Market ($6.8 trillion), and the Japan Exchange Group and Euronext are bigger.

European shares were trading lower as Germany’s DAX index dropped 0.7% and France’s CAC 40 fell 0.8%. Britain’s FTSE index was only down 0.04%.

Friday, stocks rallied as traders reacted to news of the fastest economic growth since 2011 as the final reading on gross domestic product for the second quarter was revised up to 4.6% from the previous estimate of 4.2%.

Islamic State Terrorist Makes Chilling Threat, Says They’ll “Make Some Attacks in New York Soon” (Video)

Sep, 2014

by Duane Lester

Is there any doubt there are already ISIS terrorists in the United States, what with our border as open as it is?

That’s what makes this threat even more dangerous:

Farah Shirdon, also known as Abu Usamah Somali, is a Canadian citizen who left his native country to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq. He is seen in a recent propaganda video burning his passport and promising to destroy the U.S. and Canada.

“[We] will make some attacks in New York soon,” he told VICE News. “A lot of brothers there are mobilizing right now. … Mobilizing for a brilliant attack, my friend.”

So many targets. And only a fool thinks they are only looking at New York.

While that may be what this sub-human said, he could be lying. Especially when you look at the recent events at the White House.

Intel gathering, or coincidence?

Me? I don’t believe in coincidence. What about you?

Stocks plunge: Dow down about 200; Apple sinks 3%

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Global conflicts fuel nosedive

Stocks fell sharply Thursday led by a plunge in tech stocks as the Dow dropped about 225 points and Apple shares continued to slide.

Markets were unable to build on the previous day’s rally that halted a three-day slide. Investors remain nervous about global conflicts and economic growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 1.3% and dropped back below the 17,000 level. The blue-chip index has been volatile of late and is on its fourth straight day of more than 100-point moves, with three of them down.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 1.3% and the Nasdaq composite index plunged 1.7%. Both indexes are down for the fourth day out of the past five sessions.

Apple (AAPL) shares fell for a second straight day and was trading below $100 a share after glitches with the tech giant’s new phones and operating system came to light. Apple plunged about 3%.

USATODAY

Apple’s glitchy Wednesday: Bugs, bendable phone rile users

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.52% from 2.57% Wednesday.

In economic news, durable goods orders plunged 18.2% in August thanks to a sharp drop aircraft orders. Orders for durable goods excluding the volatile transportation category rose 0.7%.

Applications for unemployment benefits rose 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 293,000 last week. Despite the rise, applications remain near pre-recession levels.

USATODAY

Durable goods orders slide 18.2% in August

Asian markets were mixed as Japan’s Nikkei index jumped .3% to 16,734.14 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.6% to 23,768.13.

European markets were trading lower and losses accelerated after Wall Street’s decline: Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 1% and Germany’s DAX fell 1.6%.

Stocks rallied Wednesday as the Dow ended up more than 150 points and the S&P 500 broke a three-day losing streak.

ISIS-related arrests in US, Europe, Australia as intel warns of ‘gruesome’ attacks

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The world is in the midst of a global crackdown on Islamic State and its ideas. European, American and Australian mass arrests were carried out amid frightening intelligence reports, as the US continues efforts at building an anti-IS coalition.

The effort to clamp down on any affiliation to the terrorist group has reached as far as France, the US, Spain and other countries – even the partially-recognized Kosovo.

Six potential recruits have been arrested in France, a judicial source said on Wednesday, with the number of French nationals traveling to sections of Syria and Iraq partly-controlled by the IS (formerly ISIS or ISIL) continuing to rise.

Two of the detained on Tuesday are minors, while another pair is a brother and sister; one other suspect is believed to be linked to Forsane Alizza (Knight of Pride), an organization calling for France to become an Islamic caliphate. It was banned in 2012.

As in the case with Britain and the United States, France worries its nationals will soon be returning with the training and determination to carry out terrorist attacks on home soil. The number of French having already gone off to fight and come back has risen to 930, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

That is a 74 percent increase in just eight months, authorities say. Currently, 175 are being monitored back home. But truly worrying is the French proportion of the total number of Europeans, which is approximately 2,000.

Young girls are being increasingly targeted. A few weeks back a series of detentions of young women around France, including a 16-year-old, took place. In one shocking example, a 15-year-old girl left the country believing herself to be on a humanitarian aid mission. She has not returned.

The National Assembly has just made it a criminal offense “[to plan] to travel abroad to take part in terrorist activities, war crime or crimes against humanity or in a theater of operations of terrorist groups.”

This follows on from Spain, which altered its penal code to prevent Spaniards from traveling to conflict zones to join up with radical groups, punishing those who do with terrorism charges.

José Manuel García Margallo, Spain’s foreign minister, has called on increased cooperation with international efforts on Tuesday, following accusations that the country isn’t doing enough to fight the IS.

“Spain has never been one to watch the bullfight from behind the barriers,” he was quoted by the EFE news agency as saying. “We have been and we will be wherever our presence is needed and can be put to good use,” he also told parliament, adding that the country has already taken part in a number of missions abroad as part of what he calls “one of the most complex threats of our time.”

The criminal code enactment is yet to come into effect, but the FM did highlight that another, more comprehensive, series will follow in its footsteps.

Over in Germany, it is said up to nine citizens carried out suicide bombings for the IS this year alone. As with the rest of Europe, the government fears the trend for conversion to its ideology is growing fast.

The attacks were mostly carried out in Iraq.

A national research team reported alarm amongst the general public as well.

“We don’t want death being sent from Germany to Iraq. Exporting terror is unconscionable and must be stopped,” said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in response to the allegations that attacks were being carried out by Germans.

The German government has already banned the provision of any support to the terrorist group, a move that came on the heels of reports that an estimated 400 Germans have joined IS terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

The authorities have set for themselves the task of preventing further exports of nationals to the Middle East to join up.

“We’re looking at the security situation in Germany, but we also have a responsibility toward the people who live in Syria and Iraq,” the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maassen, said, as reported by Deutsche Welle.

His fears are essentially those shared by all other European nations: that extremists will come back with training and plans to inflict terror.

Kosovo is another place where a sudden spike in Islamic State sympathy has resulted in numerous arrests. Authorities on Wednesday arrested a leading Muslim cleric, together with 14 other people, on allegations of operating a recruitment ring for righters heading to Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State’s strongholds.

The arrests spanned 16 locations, including Pristina. This is the second operation since August, when 40 people were arrested on similar charges.

Australia is on high alert for the first time in 11 years. Having upped the security level following serious allegations by the government that an attack is in fact being planned, the government then detained 15 people in suspicion of planning a gruesome, random attack in Australia.

This is the country’s largest counterterrorism operation to date.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott informed the public that a public beheading was supposedly being planned by the group.

“That’s the intelligence we received… the exhortations — quite direct exhortations — were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” he told reporters.

“This is not just suspicion, this is intent, and that’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have,” he continued.

The authorities also issued an arrest warrant for a Sydney nightclub bouncer, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, 33, on suspicion that he’s the country’s most senior member of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Another suspect arrested, a 27-year-old, was reportedly planning to “gruesomely” execute a random person, authorities say, which is part and parcel of the IS’s purported shock tactics.

The Sydney arrests were part of an operation consisting of 800 federal and state police officers, according to Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin.

“Police believe that this group that we have executed this operation on today had the intention and had started to carry out planning to commit violent acts here in Australia,” Colvin said. “Those violent acts particularly related to random acts against members of the public. So what we saw today and the operation that continues was very much about police disrupting the potential for violence against the Australian community at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The police declined to give further details, but said the attacks being planned were “very high level.”

As the global crackdown takes place, the US is in the midst of rounding up Middle Eastern countries, partners and rivals alike, to take part in an anti-IS coalition. The initiative has drawn mixed reviews back home.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been talking to a number of regional leaders, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, while openly denouncing any possibility of an Iranian role in the operation. And yet, no clearly defined roles exist for the coalition members – only a vague idea of who is on board.

Kerry’s trips are also taking place amid American confusion over which language to apply to its anti-terror initiative against the Islamic State. The lingo swayed from “we are at war” to “this is a long, drawn-out counterterrorism effort” from one day to the next.

This reflects poorly on both the opinion of the government at home and the coordination of roles in the Middle Eastern coalition.

“This can’t be America’s fight alone,” US President Barack Obama stressed in his recent ISIS speech.

Indeed, the country has carried out over 150 airstrikes on militant positions so far. However, not everyone appears willing to join the fight.

Turkey and Jordan, key US allies in the region, are thought to be reluctant to intervene directly in the anti-IS fight.

Turkey was also absent during the signing of a joint communiqué on the situation in Iraq on Thursday.

As Kerry was making his rounds, a 30-year-old New York State man has been charged with allegedly aiding the IS. He is accused of helping three individuals travel to Syria to fight with IS and also plotted to murder US troops returning home from the Middle East.

This comes after very direct video threats by the terrorists to harm Americans, in response to Obama’s promise to “downgrade and destroy” the group.

ISIS Fight Club: France is in, Germany and Britain not so willing

http://rt.com/news/186956-france-isis-bombing-campaign/

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France may take part in the US bombing campaign in Iraq aimed at crippling the Islamic State militants if it is asked to do so. The US is now calling for an international coalition to defeat IS, but the UK and Germany are reluctant to join in the strikes.

“In Iraq… we support the formation of an inclusive government. We will participate if necessary in an aerial military action,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday in a speech in Paris.

He added that several hundred French jihadists have joined the IS, formerly known as ISIS, and pose a domestic threat that the French government regards as serious.

The minister added that while Paris is working close with the government in Baghdad, a similar cooperation cannot happened with President Bashar Assad of Syria, “because he has an established link” with IS.

“That is why we will continue to help the moderate Syrian opposition, which is fighting both” the Islamic State and the Assad regime, he said.

It’s not clear what Fabius’ allegation is based on, considering that the Assad government has been battling for months against IS militants, who grew to become the strongest of the armed groups opposing Damascus as they capitalized on the weakness of the Syrian authorities amid the ongoing civil war there.

The statements came hours before US President Barack Obama delivered a much-anticipated security speech pledging to ramp up military action against the extremists, who took over large swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territories with the goal to build a fundamentalist Sunni Islamist state there.

In the meantime, the foreign ministers of Germany and Britain said Thursday that their countries would not take part in airstrikes against the Islamic State.

“To quite clear, we have not been asked to do so and neither will we do so,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference in Berlin.

Steinmeier’s British counterpart, Philip Hammond, said the UK “supports entirely the US approach of developing an international coalition” and it has “ruled nothing out.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) and his British counterpart Philip Hammond arrive for a news conference after talks in Berlin on September 11, 2014. (AFP Photo / Tobias Schwarz)German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) and his British counterpart Philip Hammond arrive for a news conference after talks in Berlin on September 11, 2014. (AFP Photo / Tobias Schwarz)

However, when asked by Reuters, he clarified his remarks: “Let me be clear: Britain will not be taking part in any airstrikes in Syria. We have already had that discussion in our parliament last year and we won’t be revisiting that position.”

If the US goes ahead with airstrikes in Syria without a UN Security Council mandate, this would be an act of aggression, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has warned.

“The US president has spoken directly about the possibility of strikes by the US armed forces against ISIL positions in Syria without the consent of the legitimate government,” ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said. “This step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression, a gross violation of international law.”

The same stance was shared by Syria, which said that any foreign intervention would be an act of aggression unless it is approved by Damascus.

“Any action of any type without the approval of Syrian government is an aggression against Syria,” Ali Haidar, Minister for National Reconciliation, told reporters in Damascus.

“There must be cooperation with Syria and coordination with Syria and there must be a Syrian approval of any action whether it is military or not,” he said.

Washington is building an international coalition, which would give a fight to the Islamic State in Iraq and possibly Syria.

France is already taking part in the Western anti-IS action by sending arms to Kurdish militias in Northern Iraq, who have been playing a key role in halting the advancement of the militants.

Fabius will be among the French delegation headed by President Francois Hollande, which is to arrive in Baghdad on Friday. Next week France will host an international conference on the Iraq situation.

NATO stages massive military drills in Latvia

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The exercises in Latvia will be followed by other drills in Germany, Norway, Ukraine, and Poland later this autumn

As seven-day NATO military exercises continue to take place in Latvia, the organization says the drills are aimed at showing its commitment to Baltic member states in the face of an “assertive” Russia.

Exercise Steadfast Javelin 2, which kicked off on September 2, simulates the deployment of NATO soldiers and equipment during a crisis situation. A total of around 2,000 soldiers from nine different countries are taking part in the maneuvers, which will carry on until Monday.

On Friday night, around 500 paratroopers landed at Lielvarde airport, located about 60 km from Latvia’s capital, Riga.

“We want to assure our people that we are able to protect them. Certainly on top of this we send a clear message to everyone who wants to threaten NATO, that it’s not a thing you should do. NATO will always defend and protect its people,” General Hans-Lothar Domrose, commander of the NATO military command in Brunssum, Netherlands, told reporters.

The exercises in Latvia will be followed by other drills in Germany, Norway, Ukraine, and Poland later this autumn.

Steadfast Javelin 2 was reinforced by a NATO summit in Wales, where the bloc officially announced it was creating a new rapid reaction force. The spearhead of any such force would consist of 4,000-5,000 troops who would be able to deploy to any NATO member country within 48 hours.

“It needs to be a relatively light force. It needs to be a force that succeeds, builds upon intelligence and agility, and precision as opposed to weight of military force. It is an agile, precise, intelligence-led rapidly deployable force,” Lieutenant General Ed Davis, NATO deputy land commander, told Reuters.

After 10 years of placing emphasis on military activity in Afghanistan, the alliance is now refocusing on what it refers to as the defense of its members.

The UK has agreed to provide up to 1,000 personnel in the multi-national force, which will be based in Eastern Europe. There are already 1,500 British troops involved in exercises in Baltic countries and an extra 2,000 will be deployed over the next two years.

Baltic states have been seeking backup from NATO, claiming they fear that Russia could use the same rationale as it did in Crimea to justify an attack on them. Large Russian speaking minorities live in Baltic the region – in Latvia, for instance, they account for some 26 percent (over 520,000 people) of the total population.

The announcement was met with dismay in Moscow, which said that NATO was using the crisis in Ukraine to push its military presence closer to Russia’s borders.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the new force would sabotage the fragile peace process in eastern Ukraine.

“Together with the rhetoric at the summit, and the planned military exercises before the end of the year, this will increase tension, destabilization the nascent peace process, and further widen the division in Ukraine,” the ministry’s statement said.

As tensions remain high in Ukraine, a US Navy destroyer, a Canadian fregate and, reportedly, a French frigate have entered the Black Sea. A Spanish warship is reportedly on its way there as well.