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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
August 29, 2013

Despite Words Of Warning, Israel Wants To Stay Out Of Syria Conflict

Despite Israel’s warnings of a harsh response should Assad target Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public demand that the Americans respond to last week’s chemical weapons attack, Israel’s policy remains unchanged: Not only does it not want to get dragged into Syria’s civil war itself, but it’s not even particularly eager to see the tyrant toppled. Netanyahu, to his credit, has thus far handled the Syrian crisis sensibly and responsibly, and if Israel can possibly remain outside the arena, it won’t be involved in any American strike on Assad.

But Israel won’t shed any tears if Assad absorbs a limited strike, for two reasons: to restore the taboo against the use of chemical weapons, which had been eroded completely by America’s previous disregard of Assad’s repeated crossings of Obama’s own red line, and because a blow to Syria is also a blow to Iran, which had been gaining confidence from both Assad’s recent successes and Washington’s hesitancy until now.

For now, everyone is waiting for America to strike, and then to leave again. After that, Assad will presumably resume slaughtering his countrymen with rifles, tanks and aerial bombings. But the slaughter will henceforth be in conformity with the new rules: All means are kosher – except, of course, chemical weapons.



August 29, 2013

U.S.: If We Need Legal Justification For Syria Strike, We'll Produce One On Our Own

10:12 P.M. President Barack Obama called Speaker of the House John Boehner by telephone to discuss his deliberations on Syria, a spokesman for Boehner said, adding that more consultation with Congress and the U.S. public was needed. The two discussed issues that Boehner raised in a letter to Obama on Wednesday, including the legal justification for any military strike, precedents a strike might set and the objectives and strategy for any action, he said. "Only the president can answer these questions, and it is clear that further dialogue and consultation with Congress, as well as communication with the American public, will be needed," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement. (Reuters)

10:00 P.M. European leaders are throwing their weight behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, who have urged a diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis, whereby the United Nations Security Council would vote on the matter after UN inspectors leave Syria and submit their conclusions, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reports. (Ofer Aderet)

9:21 P.M. The United States would provide its own legal justification for an eventual response to chemical weapons use in Syria if necessary once President Barack Obama decides how to proceed, the White House said on Thursday. "When the president reaches a determination about the appropriate response ... and a legal justification is required to substantiate or to back up that decision, we'll produce one on our own," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a briefing. (Reuters)


August 29, 2013

White House Says US Interests Will Guide Obama's Syria Decision As Vote For Action Fails In UK

August 29, 2013 - 7:15 pm EDT


WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama's decision on a possible military strike against Syria will be guided by America's best interests, suggesting the U.S. may act alone if other nations won't help.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Thursday that Obama believes there are core U.S. interests at stake in Syria. She said countries who violate international norms about chemical weapons must be held accountable.

The White House was responding to a failed vote in Britain's Parliament on Thursday to endorse military action against Syria over an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week. That means Britain won't play a direct role in any U.S. attack.

The defeat dealt a major blow to Obama's efforts to build an international coalition for a strike against the Syrian government.


August 29, 2013

UK Parliament Syria Vote Defeated

Source: Guardian UK

The nos have it. 272-285

The British government lost a crucial vote in the UK parliament that was designed to pave the way for military strikes in Syria.

Cameron spoke after losing the vote. It sounded like he was conceding that the UK would not participate in any US-led strike on Syria.

"While the house has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the will of the British people, does not want to see military action."

He says he'll respect that.



LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron has lost a vote endorsing military action against Syria by 13 votes, a stunning defeat for a government which had seemed days away from joining the U.S. in possible attacks to punish Bashar Assad's regime over an alleged chemical weapons attack.

Thursday evening's vote was nonbinding, but in practice the rejection of military strikes means Cameron's hands are tied. In a terse statement to Parliament, Cameron said it was clear to him that the British people did not want to see military action.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/29/syria-crisis-iran-says-all-efforts-must-be-made-to-prevent-military-action-live

August 29, 2013

China Warns U.S. Against Attack On Syria

Source: LA TIMES

BEIJING -- In what has become a predictable refrain from Beijing, the Chinese government Thursday warned the United States against conducting airstrikes against Syria. All of the major Chinese news organizations railed against military action, saying Syria could turn into another Iraq. The Chinese also said they were not convinced that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government used chemical weapons against its own people, as asserted by the White House.

In a statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website, Foreign Minister Wang Yi implied that Beijing would exercise its veto power on a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force. The point is somewhat moot because Russia already has said it would block such a resolution.

"External military intervention is contrary to the U.N. charter aims and the basic norms governing international relations and could exacerbate instability in the Middle East," Wang said.

"Turning Syria into another Libya or even Iraq is the last thing most people around the world want to see," opined the English-language China Daily in a strongly worded editorial on Thursday. "Before the crisis takes a turn for from bad to worse, it is high time the U.S. learned from its past mistakes."

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fg-wn-china-syria-20130829,0,4025128.story

August 29, 2013

Russia Calls Urgent UN Council Meeting On Syria

Source: Associated Press

By BY PETER SPIELMANN — Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — A U.N. diplomat says Russia has called for an urgent meeting of the five permanent Security Council members on the crisis in Syria.

The meeting among Russia, the United States, China, Britain and France was expected later Thursday, according to the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

Read more: http://www.adn.com/2013/08/29/3048806/russia-calls-urgent-un-council.html

August 29, 2013

German Jewish Group Calls For Boycott Of Roger Waters Concert Over Star of David Symbol On Pig


BERLIN - A Jewish group in the German city of Duesseldorf is urging a boycott of an upcoming concert by former Pink Floyd band member Roger Waters for using an inflatable pig featuring a Star of David during his show.

The director of the Jewish Community in Duesseldorf, Michael Szentei-Heise, said in a statement Thursday that Waters was an "intellectual arsonist" whose stage act used "anti-Semitic and National Socialist" imagery.

The English musician has previously rebuffed critics of the show, which has been performed about 200 times in the last three years, by saying it isn't intended to be anti-Semitic.

The inflatable pig also features other religious, political and corporate symbols.



August 29, 2013

Growth Exceeds Estimates as U.S. Weathers Budget Cuts: Economy

Source: Bloomberg

By Shobhana Chandra - Aug 29, 2013

The U.S. economy expanded more than estimated in the second quarter, providing evidence that growth is picking up as the nation overcomes the effects of federal tax increases and budget cuts.

Gross domestic product rose at a 2.5 percent annualized rate, up from an initial estimate of 1.7 percent, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 79 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 2.2 percent gain. Other reports today showed claims for unemployment benefits dropped and consumer confidence weakened.

The improvement in growth shows the world’s largest economy gaining momentum after a drought, Superstorm Sandy and budget battles in Washington stalled growth in the last three months of 2012. Recent data have shown the labor market is gaining strength while home prices rise, bolstering household finances.

“The economy is doing fine,” said Brian Jones, a senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York, who correctly projected the gain in GDP. “It is going to weather the sequestration. Growth will accelerate in the second half.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-29/economy-in-u-s-expanded-more-than-forecast-in-second-quarter.html

August 29, 2013

Premium Increases Under Obamacare May Be Overstated

By Drew Armstrong - Aug 29, 2013

Predictions of sharp increases in health-insurance premiums for people getting coverage under the U.S. Affordable Care Act have been overstated and many states will see little to no change, researchers at Rand Corp. found.

Out-of-pocket premiums for most individuals who buy health plans through new insurance exchanges will decline because of federal tax credits, the Arlington, Virginia-based research group said in a report today. The researchers looked at insurance markets in 10 states to project how costs would rise or fall as core parts of the 2010 health law kick in next year.

“Rates for policies in the individual market are likely to vary from state to state, with some experiencing increases and some experiencing decreases in cost,” Christine Eibner, a Rand senior economist and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “But our analysis found no widespread trend toward sharply higher prices in the individual market.”

Starting Oct. 1, people without health insurance will be able to sign up for coverage through insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, in each state. The health law requires that all Americans obtain insurance by next year or pay a fine.

The Rand study was conducted on behalf of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and looked at insurance rates in Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.



August 29, 2013

Wall Streetís Rental Bet Brings Quandary Housing Poor

By Heather Perlberg and John Gittelsohn - Aug 29, 2013

LaTanya Moore-Newsome, a real estate agent with Century 21 in Atlanta, has been calling Wall Street-backed landlords for months on behalf of her low-income clients with government housing vouchers.

She said some of the area’s biggest homebuyers in the past two years, including Blackstone Group LP (BX), American Homes 4 Rent and Silver Bay Realty Trust Corp., repeatedly told her they had nothing available for tenants who use subsidies under the federal Section 8 assistance plan. Last week, she finally got a positive response from Blackstone’s Invitation Homes unit, which said it would accept applications from her renters.

“It’s a really uphill battle dealing with these investors,” Moore-Newsome said. “You already have to deal with some of the issues with owners not wanting to take Section 8 in nicer areas. Now you have these big companies come into their neighborhoods and they say we’re not renting to you either.”

Private-equity firms, hedge funds and real estate investment trusts have bought more than 100,000 U.S. homes, becoming dominant single-family landlords in markets hardest-hit by the housing crash such as Atlanta. As the companies seek thousands of tenants to fill newly renovated properties, their decision whether to lease to low-income Americans with Section 8 vouchers stands to affect both their profitability and poor residents who have been longtime renters.

Blackstone Inherited

Blackstone -- the largest company in the fledgling industry after spending more than $5 billion to buy 32,000 U.S. homes -- inherited at least 200 Section 8 tenants when it bought a portfolio of Atlanta-area houses in April for about $100 million. That brought the amount of homes occupied by voucher holders to less than 1 percent of its portfolio, the company said at the time.



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