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Turkey Seeking To Boost Iran Trade After Nuclear Deal

Turkey hopes to increase trade with Iran following the deal reached between Iran and world powers last weekend that eases some of the sanctions in exchange for a curb on the country’s nuclear program.

Turkey lost billions in trade revenue because of the sanctions and is eager to reignite economic ties.

“I hope that Turkey will be able to export all its goods to Iran once again, after the easing of sanctions,” said Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan on Monday according to a report in the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman.

Caglayan said that because of the sanctions on Iran, Turkey lost $6 billion during the first nine months of this year compared to last year.

According to Turkey’s Economy Ministry, Iran was the third highest export market last year and in the first nine months of this year exports to Iran were only $3.4 billion, said Caglayan.



Report: Egypt Breaks Up Mossad Spy Ring

Egyptian security forces reportedly broke up a Mossad spy ring operating in Cairo, arresting 17 people.

Three spy networks were operating in Cairo and several other Egyptian cities gathering security and military intelligence, especially from the Sinai, according to Egyptian sources cited in a report by the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai on Tuesday.

Egyptian security services arrested 17 people of various nationalities that had a “direct relationship with the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad,” stated the sources.

Some of those detained were working under diplomatic cover.

Some of the spies were captured carrying a large quantity of images of military installations and vehicles.



A State-Sanctioned 'Price Tag' On Palestinian Olive Trees

Weeks after an Israeli couple is injured in a firebomb attack, soldiers and civilians arrive to cut down Palestinian-owned olive trees in what one settler news outlet is calling the army’s own ‘price tag’ attack.

Abed Rabo Jedua inspects damage to his olive trees, which were destroyed by Israeli civilians, in the West Bank village of Tuqu’, November 25, 2013. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Israeli civilians accompanied by the military damaged or destroyed some 60 Palestinian-owned olive trees Monday in the West Bank village of Tuqu’. A headline on the Hebrew-language settler website Hakol Hayehudi stated: “The IDF does a ‘price tag’ of its own.”

Palestinian landowner Abed Rabo Jedua was among area residents who converged on the scene to confront the settlers, soldiers and presumed contractors cutting the trees. Israeli authorities then offered Jedua a “compromise” that he and other owners must cut and trim their own olive trees in the five rows nearest the road for a span of 500 meters. As of Tuesday morning, several Palestinian landowners had already begun to comply, presumably to limit the damage that would otherwise be done by Israelis.

Earlier this month, an Israeli couple was injured while driving along this stretch of West Bank road when their car was hit with a firebomb presumably thrown by Palestinian assailants. Settler activists have since attempted to erect protest tents in the area and have staged several demonstrations.

The victims of the military order to cut down trees, however, are not those who carried out the attack earlier this month, turning the destruction into what some are calling an act of collective punishment.



Building Permits in U.S. Jump to Five-Year High

Source: Bloomberg

By Victoria Stilwell - Nov 26, 2013

Building permits climbed in October to the highest level in more than five years, signaling the U.S. residential real-estate market will strengthen in 2014.

Applications (NHSPATOT) for new construction rose 6.2 percent to a 1.03 million annualized rate, beating all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists and the highest since June 2008, according to Commerce Department figures issued today in Washington. Other data showed property values last quarter increased by the most in more than seven years.

The data indicated multifamily units are poised to lead the advance in homebuilding in coming months as construction companies look past higher borrowing costs and proceed with larger projects. Another report showed consumer sentiment remains fragile heading into the holiday-shopping season, a sign of growing concern the economy will be set back by political gridlock in Washington.

“Housing will still contribute to growth,” said Brian Jones, a senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, whose permits forecast was the highest in a Bloomberg survey. “We have had a backup in interest rates, but I don’t think the backup has been large enough to really choke off housing.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-26/building-permits-in-u-s-jump-to-five-year-high.html

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Declines to a Seven-Month Low

Source: Bloomberg/BusinessWeek

By Michelle Jamrisko November 26, 2013

Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly declined in November to a seven-month low as Americans grew more pessimistic about the labor-market outlook.

The Conference Board’s index fell to 70.4 from a revised 72.4 a month earlier that was stronger than initially estimated, the New York-based private research group said today. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 78 economists called for a November reading of 72.6.

The drop in sentiment helps explain why some retailers such as Best Buy Co. see a need to match competitors’ discounts this holiday-shopping season. More employment opportunities and wage gains would help lay the groundwork for a pickup in household purchases that make up about 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

“The economy just has not performed very well this year and has been disappointing relative to what most people were hoping for and expecting through the course of the year,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “It’s one thing when you have one or two years into the recovery and things aren’t progressing in the job market, but here we are four-plus years in.”

Read more: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-11-26/consumer-confidence-in-u-dot-s-dot-declines-to-a-seven-month-low-1

Iran Accord Sparks Race to Tehran as Automakers Target Deals

By Ladane Nasseri and Alaa Shahine - Nov 26, 2013

Sasan Ghorbani says the Iranian auto industry conference he’s organizing in Tehran next weekend is suddenly a hotter ticket than he’d expected.

Visas will be made available upon arrival to meet a surge in demand after the last weekend’s Geneva agreement to ease trade restrictions on Iran, said Ghorbani, head of the Islamic Republic’s auto-parts manufacturers association.

“Everyone asks us, ‘Did you know that sanctions would be lifted days ahead of this conference?’” he said in a phone interview yesterday. “To be honest, we didn’t.”

Among confirmed participants in the Iran Auto Industry International Conference on Nov. 30 are Renault SA (RNO) and Italy’s Pininfarina SpA (PINF), according to the event’s website. Their arrival holds out the promise of investment in an economy driven into recession by sanctions, and may add to the post-Geneva optimism that’s also on view in Iran’s unofficial currency markets, where the rial has surged since the accord was signed.

The agreement, which diplomats aim to replace with a final settlement in six months, will lift some trade curbs in return for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear work. That opens the door for international companies to enter a country of about 77 million people.



NSA Spying Risks $35 Billion in U.S. Technology Sales

By Nicole Gaouette - Nov 26, 2013

International anger over the National Security Agency’s Internet surveillance is hurting global sales by American technology companies and setting back U.S. efforts to promote Internet freedom.

Disclosures of spying abroad may cost U.S. companies as much as $35 billion in lost revenue through 2016 because of doubts about the security of information on their systems, according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a policy research group in Washington whose board includes representatives of companies such as International Business Machines Corp. and Intel Corp.

“The potential fallout is pretty huge given how much our economy depends on the information economy for its growth,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington policy group. “It’s increasingly where the U.S. advantage lies.”

Any setback in the U.S. push to maintain an open Internet also could inflict indirect damage on companies such as Apple Inc. and Google Inc. that benefit from global networks with few national restrictions.

Almost 40 percent of the world’s population, or 2.7 billion people, are online, according to the International Telecommunication Union, a Geneva-based United Nations agency.



U.S. Says May Pull Out All Troops As Afghan Leader Holds Up Deal


(Reuters) - Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security deal with the United States, the White House said, and Washington may have to resort to the "zero option" of withdrawing all American troops from the strife-torn country next year, as it did in Iraq.

Karzai told U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice in Kabul on Monday that the United States must put an immediate end to military raids on Afghan homes and demonstrate its commitment to peace talks before he would sign a bilateral security pact, Karzai's spokesman said.

The White House said Karzai had outlined new conditions in the meeting with Rice and "indicated he is not prepared to sign the (bilateral security agreement) promptly."

"Without a prompt signature, the U.S. would have no choice but to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no U.S. or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan," a White House statement quoted Rice as saying.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/26/us-afghanistan-usa-idUSBRE9AP03J20131126

Poll Numbers Down, Obama Tells Donor To Buck Up

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Stung by plunging approval numbers at a low point in his presidency, President Barack Obama is urging donors to buck up while making a thread-the-needle appeal for bipartisanship with Republicans even as he calls for replacing the House GOP majority and holding his Democratic edge in the Senate.

Obama is seeking to gain back his political standing in the aftermath of his administration's botched launch of health care enrollment by defining himself as a pragmatic victim of tea party conservatives. At the same time he is casting his policies on the economy and immigration as popular remedies that could win bipartisan support.

"Right now in this country there is at least one faction of one party that has decided they are more interested in stopping progress than advancing it, and aren't interested in compromise or engaging in solving problems and more interested in scoring points for the next election," he told Democratic donors in San Francisco on Monday.

For Obama, the call for compromise is a veiled olive branch that also disguises a threat.

"What we're looking for is not the defeat of another party, what we're looking for is the advancement of ideas that are going to vindicate those values that are tried and true," he said at a fundraiser Sunday with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi seated among about 60 high-dollar donors. "But to do that we're going to need Nancy Pelosi as speaker, because there's just a lot of work to be done right now."



Pushing Back On Critics Of Iran Deal, Obama Says US Can't Shun Diplomacy, Peaceful Solutions


By JULIE PACE | ASSOCIATED PRESS | 1 hour, 54 minutes ago in Politics

Pushing back hard, President Barack Obama forcefully defended the temporary agreement to freeze Iran's disputed nuclear program on Monday, declaring that the United States "cannot close the door on diplomacy."

The president's remarks followed skepticism of the historic accord expressed by some U.S. allies abroad as well as by members of Congress at home, including fellow Democrats. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of the fiercest opponents of the six-month deal, called it a "historic mistake" and announced he would be dispatching a top envoy to Washington to try to toughen the final agreement negotiators will soon begin hammering out.

Obama, without naming names, swiped at those who have questioned the wisdom of engaging with Iran.

"Tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it's not the right thing to do for our security," he said during an event in San Francisco.

Read more: http://www.newser.com/article/daa9t7302/pushing-back-on-critics-of-iran-deal-obama-says-us-cant-shun-diplomacy-peaceful-solutions.html

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