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Oil Rises to Four-Month High on Mideast Unrest, Fed Meeting

Oil climbed to a four-month high on concern that protests in the Middle East and North Africa may curb supply and on speculation that the Federal Reserve will unveil more stimulus measures.

Futures rose as much as 1.6 percent as protesters tried to storm the U.S. embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. An attack Sept. 11 killed the American ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three colleagues. There were clashes at the Cairo embassy the same day. The Federal Open Market Committee may announce a third round of bond purchases known as quantitative easing today.

“The events out of Libya and Egypt add to general geopolitical tension that is currently prevailing in the Middle East,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, the head of commodity-markets Strategy at BNP Paribas SA in London. “The market is in the wait-and-see mode for the Fed decision that will be announced later today and the consensus is that some form of quantitative easing is going to be announced.”

Crude oil for October delivery advanced $1.19, or 1.2 percent, to $98.20 a barrel at 9:39 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract reached $98.58, the highest level since May 4. Futures have gained 26 percent since June 28.



Consumer Comfort in U.S. Advanced Last Week Most Since December

Consumer confidence in the U.S. rose last week by the most since December as higher stock prices made Americans more secure about their finances.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed to a five-week high of minus 42.2 in the period ended Sept. 9 from minus 46.5. Forty-seven percent of respondents rated their finances positively, the largest share since early August, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posted its biggest weekly gain in almost three months.

A growing number of households who consider their financial situations sound may help maintain the pace of consumer spending, which makes up about 70 percent of the economy. At the same time, persistent joblessness and rising gasoline prices may limit the pace of purchases.

“The gain was apparently a function of increased stock market performance,” said Richard Yamarone, a senior economist at Bloomberg LP in New York. “However, consumers are still plagued by lofty unemployment and rising prices at the pump. The index is struggling to improve, which does not bode well for future consumer spending.”



Two American Troops Killed In Ambush En Route To Rescue Besieged Diplomats In Benghazi

Source: Reuters

A squad of U.S. troops dispatched by helicopter across the Libyan desert to rescue besieged diplomats from Benghazi on Wednesday ran into a fierce overnight ambush that left a further two Americans dead, Libyan officials told Reuters.

Accounts of the mayhem at the U.S. consulate, where the ambassador and a fourth American died after a chaotic protest over a film insulting to Islam, remain patchy. But two Libyan officials, including the commander of a security force which escorted the U.S. rescuers, said a later assault on a supposedly safe refuge for the diplomats appeared professionally executed.

Miscommunication which understated the number of American survivors awaiting rescue - there were 37, nearly four times as many as the Libyan commander expected - also meant survivors and rescuers found themselves short of transport to escape this second battle, delaying an eventual dawn break for the airport.

Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, whose special operations unit was ordered by Libya's authorities to meet an eight-man force at Benghazi airport, said that after his men and the U.S. squad had found the American survivors who had evacuated the blazing consulate, the ostensibly secret location in an isolated villa came under an intense and highly accurate mortar barrage.

Read more: http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/two-american-troops-killed-in-ambush-en-route-to-rescue-besieged-diplomats-in-benghazi-1.464667

St. Louis, Michigan: Officer Matt Vanhall Shoots Dog Multiple Times In Owner's Yard

By Jane Park

St. Louis, MI (WEYI/CNN) - A police officer's use of lethal force against a dog is fueling outrage in one Michigan community.

The officer says the dog attacked him, but witnesses tell another story.

A makeshift sign on the Goetzingers' front yard has put police in the hot seat, alleging one of its officers killed the family's golden retriever, Scout.

Neighbors say they're not buying the officer's statement he shot in self defense.

Witnesses say Officer Matt Vanhall pursued Scout and eventually hot him just feet from the Goetzingers' home.



Poll: U.S. Satisfaction Triples In Year

By KEVIN ROBILLARD | 9/12/12 2:04 PM EDT

The number of Americans satisfied with the country’s direction has nearly tripled over the past year, but a majority of them remain upset with where the United States is headed, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Three-in-ten Americans, or 30 percent, are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied, a Gallup poll found. That number is dwarfed by the 68 percent who are unhappy, including 41 percent who described themselves as very dissatisfied.

But there’s a positive trend: A year ago, only 11 percent of Americans were satisfied or somewhat satisfied, while 88 percent said they were dissatisfied. In February 2009, shortly after President Barack Obama’s inauguration, only 15 percent said they were content with the county’s direction, and 82 percent disagreed.

In the run up to the presidential election, partisanship appears to be playing a role in the increased optimism. A majority of Democrats — 52 percent — are happy with where the country is going, up from one-in-five a year ago. Only 7 percent of Republicans said the same. A quarter of independents are satisfied.



Netanyahu Votes Romney, Ehud Barak Endorses Obama

All political pundits in Israel are touting the same line this weekend: Barak is splitting from Netanyahu. The defense minister opposed the prime minister’s tone and messages towards the American administration, doesn’t think that Israel must attack during “the political window of opportunity” (i.e. before the presidential elections), and has given up hope that Netanyahu will add him and his party members to the Likud list for the next Knesset.

Proxies to Barak also quoted his “frustration” over the lack of progress or interest Netanyahu has showed in the diplomatic process. According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Barak was said to believe that the Palestinian issue – and not the Iranian bomb – is the real existential threat Israel is facing. No kidding. And Likud’s Yuval Steinitz has already started attacking Barak on behalf of the prime minister.

A couple of takeaways:

1. More than anything, it seems to me that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak have taken opposing sides in the presidential elections. Netanyahu is putting all his chips on the Republican party. He did all he could to help the candidacy of Mitt Romney – throwing a big welcome for him in Jerusalem and avoiding the customary public congratulations for the president, who on that very day approved the financing of another Iron Dome battery. It wouldn’t be such a wild guess to suggest Netanyahu is also behind the recent revelation over his outburst in the meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, at the same time, has an open channel with the administration, and has repeatedly aided the Democratic campaign by repeatedly praising the president for his commitment to Israel’s security. Quote: "I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past".



Mosque Near Hebron Vandalized

Unknown vandals sprayed the words "Migron Price Tag" on a mosque in the village of Imrish near Hebron. IDF forces patrolling the area discovered the graffiti which was likely sprayed two days ago.

Last week, unknown assailants burned the door of the Latrun Monastery and sprayed hate messages on the scene including "Jesus is a monkey" and "Ramat Migron." Police and Shin Bet launched an investigation.

The incident sparked worldwide uproar and offended many Christians. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced the vandals as "lunatics."

Earlier this week, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich announced the establishment of a new police unit to crackdown against Jewish terror in the backdrop of failures to address countless incidents of holy sites' desecration.



Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Calls For Pussy Riot Rockers To Be Freed

Source: Associated Press

By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 12:08 PM

MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called for three members of the punk band Pussy Riot to be freed, saying further prison time would be “unproductive.”

Medvedev’s comments on Wednesday could signal the band members’ imminent release as their case comes up for appeal on Oct. 1.

The women had already spent more than five months in jail when they were convicted in August of “hooliganism driven by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years in prison.

They were arrested after performing a raucous prayer inside Moscow’s main cathedral asking Virgin Mary to save Russia from Vladimir Putin. The imprisonment of the women has drawn protests around the world as it highlighted Putin’s intensifying crackdown on dissent.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/russias-prime-minister-dmitry-medvedev-calls-for-pussy-riot-rockers-to-be-freed/2012/09/12/105b9462-fcf4-11e1-98c6-ec0a0a93f8eb_story.html

Corn-Crop Drought Damage Less Than Expected Spurs Price Drop

Corn output in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, will fall by less than analysts expected after the worst drought in more than 50 years, the government said. Prices fell to a seven-week low.

Farmers will collect 10.727 billion bushels, the smallest crop in six years and down 13 percent from 12.358 billion in 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in its second survey-based estimate for the crop. Last month, the USDA forecast 10.779 billion. The average prediction of 35 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for 10.420 billion. Supplies of the grain on Aug. 31, 2013, will be greater than analyst estimates.

Crop conditions as of Sept. 9 were the worst since 1988, with the harvest about 15 percent complete, the USDA said earlier this week. Since mid-June, corn prices have surged 54 percent, reaching a record $8.49 a bushel on Aug. 10 on the Chicago Board of Trade. After the USDA report, futures for December delivery fell 1.4 percent to $7.6675 as of 7:48 a.m., after touching $7.5925, the lowest for a most-active contract since July 24.

The larger-than-expected estimate is “a psychological blow to the market,” Randy Mittelstaedt, the director of research for R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago, said before the report. “It’s still a small crop, and that means the market cannot afford to drop prices, or that will stimulate increased demand.”



Film That Sparked Cairo, Bengazi Protests The Work Of An American-Israeli

Source: The Australian

THE film at the centre of anti-US protests in the Middle East was made by an Israeli-American who describes Islam as a "cancer", the Wall Street Journal says.

The movie, Innocence of Muslims, was directed and produced by Sam Bacile, a 52-year-old real-estate developer from southern California who says Islam is a hateful religion.

"Islam is a cancer," Mr Bacile told the newspaper.


Mr Bacile told the paper on Tuesday he was responsible for the film, saying he had raised $US5 million ($A4.81 million) to make it from about 100 Jewish donors, who he declined to identify.

Read more: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/middle-east-in-turmoil/film-that-sparked-cairo-bengazi-protests-the-work-of-an-american-israeli/story-fn7ycml4-1226472497757
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