Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015 -- Part II; Russia's Aim -- Bring Down OPEC?

Pentagon concedes they screwed up due to pressure "from higher up":
To build a rebel army, the Pentagon asked Syrian commanders last winter to nominate their best fighters. U.S. military officers spent more than a month checking each one for criminal or terrorist connections. Those who made the cut were sent to screening centers where they were questioned by American, Jordanian and Turkish officers. Then they waited, sometimes for days.
Fighters who made it to the screening centers were confused about the mission. When they learned what it was, many left. Others were found unfit, including one who showed up with open gunshot wounds. Under pressure to show operational success, the Pentagon started in July to field smaller groups than it wanted and watched from the sidelines as fighters fought the wrong enemy, or handed over equipment to al Qaeda or melted into Syria’s chaos.
The Pentagon’s effort to stand up a moderate rebel army, which would give the U.S. ground forces to fight Islamic State, has struggled since its inception to meet even its own modest goals, according to an account based on interviews with current and former U.S. officials as well as rebels who were part of the effort.
Officials now acknowledge they underestimated the complexities on the ground.
Volkswagen focusing on two scapegoats, including Audi's chief engineer:
Two top Volkswagen engineers who found they couldn’t deliver as promised a clean diesel engine for the U.S. market are at the center of a company probe into the installation of engine software designed to fool regulators, according to people familiar with the matter.
The two men, Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi ’s chief engineer, and Wolfgang Hatz, developer of Porsche’s winning Le Mans racing engines, were among the engineers suspended in the investigation of the emissions cheating scandal that sank the company’s market value by 43% since Sept. 18 and triggered a world-wide recall to refit the engines to meet clear-air standards, these people said.
Nobel Prizes in Medicine not particularly noteworthy:
Maybe it's must me, but awarding Nobel Prizes for "discovering" two new antibiotics, no matter how important, doesn't seem particularly noteworthy. Something else seems afoot. 
Elizabeth Warren should like this, and so should the rest of us -- the banks are getting 6% dividends with absolutely no risk:
Lawmakers are looking to extract more than a billion dollars a year in fresh funds from banks in the U.S.
The proposal, already approved by the Senate, would cut the annual dividend payments banks receive for holding shares in the Federal Reserve System and use the savings for highway construction.
The payments under that obscure, century-old program totaled $1.69 billion last year, including roughly $310 million for Bank of America Corp. and $250 million for Citigroup Inc., according to the Fed and a Wall Street Journal analysis of regulatory filings.
The proposal surfaced this past summer in a highway-funding bill backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and was passed by the Senate in July. House GOP leaders haven’t moved on the Senate bill and haven’t taken a position on the bank-payments issue. Some Democrats in the House, however, have said they would support it. The House is expected to decide its approach on the highway bill before month’s end.
The photos look every bit as bad as New Orleans/Katrina and the president has not yet flown over or visited the area, as far as I know. Something tells me Syria has him worried.

I'm not sure I can go with the thesis -- that Russia's aims in the Mideast is to "bring down OPEC," but there are some interesting points being made in that article. I wonder if it's too much of a stretch to boil it down to this:
  • After WWI, Britain re-drew the map of the Mideast.
  • After WWII, although it took a few decades, the Soviet Union / Warsaw Pact map was re-drawn.
  • Now, after the Cold War, it appears that Russia is ready to re-draw the map in eastern Europe and the Mideast. And President Obama is providing the pencils and paper.

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