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How To Beat The Market – Buy The F**king Tuesday

Authored by Dmitri Speck via,
Recurring Phenomena
Many market participants believe simple phenomena in the stock market are purely random events and cannot recur consistently. Indeed, there is probably no stock market “rule” ...

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How Society Grew Cold. Dependence on Cold Institutions

Via The Daily Bell

The downfall of freedom and happiness: dependence on institutions out of your control.

I’ve always blamed the government.

Governments start the wars, carry out the genocides, steal from the people. Governments lay the foundation of an unjust society, by creating a hierarchy from the beginning. Some make the laws, and some must live by them.

But the government is only half of the picture.

I always trusted in the power of the free market.

The free market is the true democracy which responds to the people. It is controlled by demand and quelled by consumer pressures. Economic self-interest ensures a proper check on the wealthy from becoming too evil.

But there is no free market on a macro level. There is only the collusion of the government and industry.

They have positioned themselves as the mother and the father of society. How? By destroying the institutions which once stood in their place.

The Marriage of Government and Industry

In his book Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari describes a human transition. Populations went from farming societies inherently based on the sun and seasons, to industrial societies of assembly lines and time tables.

This caused many upheavals. Warm organic institutions–like family and community–were replaced by cold calculated ones–like factories and welfare. “Most of the traditional functions of families and communities were handed over to states and markets.”

Of course, this meant dependence on government and industry for survival. The roles of family and community had been outsourced. Now the government would take care of you, and industry would sell you fulfillment. All the structures humans evolved with quickly melted away, or became diluted.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the daily life of most humans ran its course within three ancient frames: the nuclear family, the extended family and the local intimate community. Most people worked in the family business – the family farm or the family workshop, for example – or they worked in their neighbours’ family businesses. The family was also the welfare system, the health system, the education system, the construction industry, the trade union, the pension fund, the insurance company, the radio, the television, the newspapers, the bank and even the police.

When a person fell sick, the family took care of her. When a person grew old, the family supported her, and her children were her pension fund. When a person died, the family took care of the orphans. If a person wanted to build a hut, the family lent a hand… But if a person’s illness was too grave for the family to manage, or a new business demanded too large an investment, or the neighbourhood quarrel escalated to the point of violence, the local community came to the rescue.

The community offered help on the basis of local traditions and an economy of favours, which often differed greatly from the supply and demand laws of the free market. In an old-fashioned medieval community, when my neighbour was in need, I helped build his hut and guard his sheep, without expecting any payment in return. When I was in need, my neighbour returned the favour. At the same time, the local potentate might have drafted all of us villagers to construct his castle without paying us a penny. In exchange, we counted on him to defend us against brigands and barbarians. Village life involved many transactions but few payments. There were some markets, of course, but their roles were limited. You could buy rare spices, cloth and tools, and hire the services of lawyers and doctors. Yet less than 10 per cent of commonly used products and services were bought in the market. Most human needs were taken care of by the family and the community.

On a small scale level like that, people were held accountable when they leached off the system. Families and communities were also the enforcement structure of this social insurance. Gossip was an important function of accountability. You can bet people talked if someone balked at their duties. The next time they needed something, they might find themselves in a bind.

But in addition to the obvious replacements like police, welfare, and corporate jobs, there was the matter of replacing the emotional aspects family provided. Governments and industry teamed up to give us a solution.

Markets and states do so by fostering ‘imagined communities’ that contain millions of strangers, and which are tailored to national and commercial needs. An imagined community is a community of people who don’t really know each other, but imagine that they do. Such communities are not a novel invention. Kingdoms, empires and churches functioned for millennia as imagined communities…

The two most important examples for the rise of such imagined communities are the nation and the consumer tribe. The nation is the imagined community of the state. The consumer tribe is the imagined community of the market. Both are imagined communities because it is impossible for all customers in a market or for all members of a nation really to know one another the way villagers knew one another in the past…

Consumerism and nationalism work extra hours to make us imagine that millions of strangers belong to the same community as ourselves, that we all have a common past, common interests and a common future. This isn’t a lie. It’s imagination. Like money, limited liability companies and human rights, nations and consumer tribes are inter-subjective realities. They exist only in our collective imagination, yet their power is immense. As long as millions of Germans believe in the existence of a German nation, get excited at the sight of German national symbols, retell German national myths, and are willing to sacrifice money, time and limbs for the German nation, Germany will remain one of the strongest powers in the world.

But we can keep what we like about government and markets, and do away with what we don’t. We can form new “tribes” that give us actual mutual aid which communities once gave. We can move to or create villages that match our needs and desires.

That way, we interact with warm institutions. Structures we are a part of and can influence. They are made up of people we know, and have real relationships with.

The government gives us imagined communities in order to control us. Nationalism makes sure we are ready to fight the next war, providing bodies and wealth to fuel political ambitions.

The market gives us imagined communities as a way to sell to us. Apple users are part of an exclusive club that signal they are wealthy and hip. Doesn’t that make you feel fulfilled?

But what about a community of people who are all passionate about farming, making their own products, and trading goods and labor? We can keep our smart phones and internet access, just like 10% of the village economies of the past relied on outside merchants. But when it comes to our water, electricity, food, hygiene products, and even entertainment, it is already quite easy to provide all that on a community level.

Now that the world has been so voluntarily centralized by the internet, we can decentralize in ways that benefit us. We can create little communities without becoming hermits. We will be free to come or go as we please, no forced labor, false choices, or communist utopia. Just voluntary groups who offer warm alternatives to dictatorial and industrial institutions.

I don’t want my barber to remove my appendix when I get appendicitis. But I wouldn’t at all mind my neighbor providing my children’s education, with the help of the countless resources on the internet.

We are now in a position to meld the best of both worlds. We can reach back and choose what was great about pre-modern community governing structures. And we can hold onto the technology and civilization that we like in today’s world.

Society is like a pendulum which swings from one extreme to another. But each sway loses some energy and brings us closer to equilibrium.

The advance of industry gave mankind countless benefits. But at some point, it went too far. We need to learn how to reintegrate warm institutions into our lives, without doing away with the benefits that large scale industry has provided.

In a sense, humanity was once so dependent on small scale warm institutions that we stagnated, and could not advance. People suffocated as the pendulum stopped and reversed.

Once we finally did break free, we lost all touch with warm institutions. Cold institutions replaced the family, and now many feel alienated and depressed.

Can we find an equilibrium? Can we meld markets and governance into family and community life in a way that both frees us from the tyranny of government and corporations, but allows us to remain free individuals?

The Pendulum is Ready to Swing Back

Radical experimentation in governance is required to heal society and correct the trajectory. Stagnation is the best we can hope for with the current model of government and corporate collusion.

We need to restore the community structures of the past. We cannot simply do away with institutions people rely on and expect no turmoil. Rather, a model of a better society needs to be created.

This is why the next movement that will drastically improve civilization will be a period of decentralization of institutions, marked by voluntary association.

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Trump Asks That $8 Billion Harvey “Down Payment” Be Added To Debt-Ceiling Bill

Shortly after President Trump backed away from his demand that $1.6 billion in funding for his border wall be included in a continuing-resolution bill to avert a government shutdown, the White House late Friday sent a request for $8 billion in emergency funding for the Hurricane Harvey cleanup effort, and asked that the money be tied to a bill to raise the US debt-ceiling limit. Trump’s request that the two legislative priorities be combined in one bill likely won’t go over well among Congressional Republicans, according to Bloomberg.

Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the leader of the House Freedom Caucus and perhaps Trump’s most intransigent political adversary, urged lawmakers on Thursday not to bundle the two legislative priorities. In a tweet, Meadows said it’d be “inappropriate” and “would send the wrong message” to use Harvey funds as leverage to force conservatives to vote for a debt-ceiling increase.

The aid money will be needed to shore up the nearly bankrupt FEMA’s finances before some 450,000 Texans file requests for aid. The rising toll of flood-related property damage is expected to quickly deplete the $10 billion left in the coffers of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Using #Harvey relief spending to pass a separate, unrelated bill would be inappropriate and send the wrong message

— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) August 31, 2017

Here’s Bloomberg:

“In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan requesting the storm aid, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney stops short of explicitly asking for the two to be linked. But the letter makes clear that the emergency spending will accelerate the timetable for raising the limit and conveys the idea that failure to pay obligations could imperil essential government services.


The White House disaster aid request includes $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $450 million for the Small Business Administration. The request is intended primarily to cover funding demands through the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30.”

The administration intends to ask Congress to allow the aid to be disbursed in one lump sum, rather than parceling out in monthly installments.

“The White House will ask Congress to provide FEMA with $6.7 billion in that legislation, and provide the full funding upfront, rather than pro-rating the appropriation out over the entire fiscal year, an administration official said. That request, if adopted by lawmakers in a vote likely to come at the end of the month, would provide FEMA with additional flexibility to fund Harvey relief efforts in the new fiscal year.”

Republicans are expected to vote on disaster relief next week after they return from summer recess. Congress is already facing a grueling legislative calendar in September with only 12 working days to pass a continuing resolution, disaster relief, a debt-ceiling increase and, potentially, their effort to repeal and replace Obamacare after the Senate Parliamentarian informed party leaders that the provisions allowing them to pass their health-care bill with a simple majority will expire at the end of the month.

“The administration’s move will test the willingness of Republicans in Congress to link the two must-pass pieces of legislation. House GOP leaders plan to vote next week on Trump’s request in initial disaster relief funding but they don’t plan to include a U.S. debt-limit increase in the legislation, two GOP congressional aides said before Mulvaney’s letter was sent.


"The president visited Texas on August 29, 2017 to reassure the people of Texas that the Federal Government would help them rebuild from the catastrophic flooding and damage to affected communities," Mulvaney said in the letter. "This request is a down-payment on the President’s commitment to help affected States recover from the storm, and future requests will address longer-term rebuilding needs."

According to Bloomberg, citing unnamed Congressional aides, the Senate might be more willing to combine both measures in a bill, and the House, bizarrely, might be more willing to pass a bundled bill if it makes it through the Senate first. Despite the reported rift between Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican has promised to cooperate with the president. He hasn’t said whether he’d prefer to combine, or separate, Harvey funding and the debt-ceiling increase.

“‘Working closely with the President and the House of Representatives, the Senate stands ready to act quickly to provide this much-needed assistance to those impacted communities, and support first responders and volunteers,’ he said.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan has also been conspicuously silent about how the House intends to pass Harvey relief…

As families & communities begin long recovery from Hurricane Harvey, House will act quickly on @POTUS request for emergency relief funding.

— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) September 2, 2017

…though he recently told a Wisconsin newspaper that Congress “will not default” on its debts.

“Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, though, that Congress has until October to act on the debt limit.


‘We will not default,’ the Wisconsin newspaper quoted Ryan as saying. ‘We’ve got a lot of options on our plate. We’re going to assess those options. We have until October to figure that one out.’”

We probably won’t have a clear picture of the combined bill’s chances. For what it’s worth, Goldman is optimistic that a compromise can be reached. It recently lowered its odds of a government shutdown to 15%, down from 50% last week.

Goldman: the probability of a government shutdown has declined further from our prior assessment of 35% and now put it at around 15%.

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 1, 2017

Let's hope, for the disaster victims' sake, that the squid is right.

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Wasserman Schultz Aide Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ As Prosecution Drops Hints About A Broader Probe Of Awan

By Jamie Dupree of PBP.

Former U.S. House IT aide Imran Awan pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that he and his wife lied on an application for a home equity loan, as prosecutors dropped hints about a broader probe of Awan and his family members related to their computer work in recent years for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and a series of other Democratic lawmakers in the Congress.

A federal judge also agreed to return $9,000 seized from Awan when he was arrested at Dulles Airport in late July, as the feds and Awan’s legal team agreed to ensure that the money is used only to pay for the cost of Awan’s legal defense.

While the existing case against Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, is related to whether they did not tell the truth on a loan application to a Capitol Hill credit union – documents in the matter again suggested at a larger investigation, possibly relating to more than just matters of bank fraud.

In a letter about evidence in the case, U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips described the probe as one that involved, “voluminous discovery,” citing items that were found in a Congressional office building back in April, which seemingly may have belonged to Awan.

This "laptop bag" found in April could well be the piece of equipment that had drawn the interest of Rep. Wasserman Schultz earlier this year, when she verbally berated the Capitol Hill Police chief at a House budget hearing, demanding that an item be returned to her office.

“I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way,” Wasserman Schultz said bluntly, as she told the chief that he should “expect that there will be consequences.”

The chief said he was not returning the piece of equipment that officers had found, because it was part of an investigation, which he did not detail.

From prosecutors, this evidence letter was the first official confirmation that there were items found on Capitol Hill which had a direct link to Imran Awan.

Still unclear is what exactly that earlier investigation has uncovered.

In a hearing before Federal Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, the judge refused to allow a citizen investigator from Indiana to join the case; he claimed he could provide evidence to the feds that shows a broader misuse of government resources by Awan and his family during their Capitol Hill employment.

Judge in #Awan hearing wants request to grant Awan more freedom in writing. Will issue ruling by Oct 6

— BuckTheSystem (@RiggedSys) September 1, 2017

Awan, his wife, and several of their relatives were barred from the Congressional IT system in February, as Democratic lawmakers quickly fired them from part-time IT jobs – but Capitol Police and investigators have still not formally said what problem led to that decision.

Unlike other Democrats who had employed the family members, Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, were kept on the payroll by Rep. Wasserman Schultz – Alvi until she returned to Pakistan with their children in early March, while Awan was paid until he was arrested and charged with bank fraud.

Newly released payroll figures from the U.S. House of Representatives show that Awan was paid $5,000.01 as a “shared employee” in the second quarter of 2017 by Wasserman Schultz.

That was more than the $1,494.45 that Wasserman Schultz had paid Awan in the first quarter of this year.

At today’s hearing, Awan’s lawyers asked that he be allowed to venture up to 100 miles from home, as he evidently is now driving for Uber, as a way to make money.

The judge asked for written arguments to be filed on that request. The next hearing for Awan is set for October 6.


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Moscow Furious Over US Plan To Search Russia Trade Mission, Calls It “Unprecedented Aggressive Action”

Yesterday, the San Francisco fire department scrambled a team of firefighters to the city's Russian consulate (scheduled to be vacated today in the latest tit-for-tat diplomatic escalation between the US and Russia) following reports of "blowing smoke" emerging from the building, only to learn that the Russians were engaged in what appears to have been some last minute confidential document "redaction."

Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, explained that the smoke was part of a “mothballing” according to Reuters.

“In relation to this, the windows could be closed, the light could be turned off, the water could be drained out, the heating appliances could be turned off, the garbage could be thrown away, essential services could be turned off and many other things."

Of course, what was really going on was 11th hour document destruction (albeit the old-fashioned way, one not involving a hammer, blackberries, and thousands of deleted emails) and as subsequent events have showed, the Russians had reason to be paranoid: on Saturday, the US unveiled its intention to search the soon to be vacant Russian trade mission in Washington, a move which has infuriated Moscow, prompting Russia to summon the deputy chief of mission of the US Embassy in Moscow to lodge a note of protest over the planned search.

Anthony F. Godfrey was summoned to the ministry on Saturday, it said in a statement, adding that Russian diplomats have been denied access to the trade mission building despite it being owned by Russia and protected by diplomatic immunity. 

The ministry called the planned “illegal inspection” of Russian diplomatic housing an “unprecedented aggressive action”, which could be used by the U.S. special services for “anti-Russian provocations” by the way of “planting compromised items”.

“We consider the planned illegal search of Russian diplomatic premises in the absence of Russian officials and the threat we have received to break down the door of the building as an aggressive action, which the US intelligence service may use to orchestrate an anti-Russian provocation by planting compromising items."

We call on Washington to refrain from compromising the immunity of Russian missions in the USA

— MFA Russia ???????? (@mfa_russia) September 2, 2017

Moscow has called on Washington to stop violating international law and refrain from compromising the immunity of Russian missions in the country. Otherwise, retaliation may follow, the ministry warned. On Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the FBI was planning to search the general consulate premises, including homes of the diplomatic staff, which would violate diplomatic immunity.

Former US diplomats, questioned the reasons behind the searches, saying it will only lead to a further escalation of tensions. The US authorities are highly unlikely to find “anything of interest” in the Russian Consulate in San Francisco, as there is probably nothing more than “confidential diplomatic materials,” which are supposed to be there anyway, said Ted Seay, a former US diplomat.

“What are our people going to do in your ambassador’s apartments or in the consulate in San Francisco? Look for illegal recipes for borsch? Of course, you have to respond and to go into our consulate in St. Petersburg – looking for what? Perhaps, for too many copies of Doctor Zhivago in the embassy’s library?” John Graham, former US ambassador to Libya, said.

“This foolishness happens [but] it happens usually at the lower levels,” he added. Meanwhile, Seay warned that “things are already too tense between the two countries” and both sides should proceed with “great care. To me, that means again that anyone who is actually planning to raid diplomatic premises in San Francisco, has lost their mind,” the former US diplomat said.

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Turkish FM: Why are Muslim nations silent on Rohingya?

Turkey’s foreign minister on Saturday decried other Muslim countries’ silence on the plight of the Rohingya Muslims. “There are a great many Muslim countries. Where are they? Why are they silent?” Mevlut Cavusoglu asked at an event marking the Muslim Eid-al Adha holiday in the Mediterranean province of Antalya. He said to date Turkey had delivered more than $70 million in humanitarian aid to the Rohingya Muslims, and that no country in the world was showing more concern for the Rohingya than Turkey. But, he added: “It’s not enough to deliver aid. In two weeks we need to hold a meeting in New York with the UN’s secretary-general, leaders of Muslim countries, international organizations, head of the UN Advisory Commission on […]

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Oil Tanker Logjam Grows To 54 Ships As Gulf Ports Remain Closed

On Tuesday, just as Hurricane Harvey was peaking, we reported that according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg, as well as MarineTraffic real-time tracking, at least 25 tankers carrying almost 17 million barrels of imported crude oil were drifting near Texas and Louisiana ports, unable to offload because of closures from Tropical Storm Harvey.

Since then the situation has deteriorated by more than double, and as of Friday evening, Bloomberg reports that 54 tankers with capacity more than 33 million barrels either to deliver imported crude from Latin America, Europe, Caribbean, Africa and Middle East or receive U.S. supplies are drifting off U.S. Gulf Coast as several key ports remain closed while others are open with restrictions.

The historic "tanker traffic jam", last observed nearly two years ago as traders scrambled to store crude tankers in the same region in hopes of contango, can be seen on the Marine Traffic map below, only this time it has little to do with the shape of the oil strip, and everything to do with the logistical complications following Harvey :

Source: Marine Traffic

According to Bloomberg, as of Sept. 1, 37 Aframaxes, 3 VLCCs, 8 Suezmaxes, 6 Panamax tankers are currently waiting off ports of Corpus Christi, Houston, Galveston, Freeport, Texas City, Beaumont, Nederland, Port Arthur, Port Neches, Sabine and Lake Charles, La. This is 8 more then the 29 tankers carrying 18.6mm bbl as of Aug. 31.

That said, the situation is slowly but surely getting resolved as more ports are starting to let traffic sneak through. On Friday, the port of Corpus Christi reopened to ship traffic, making way for seven refineries in the area to go back online. The Texas Gulf Coast supplies one-fourth of the nation’s oil and gas. Hurricane Harvey caused a severe hiccup in the gasoline supply chain over the last week, creating consumer panic and long lines at gas stations.

The first vessel to arrive since closure of the channel for Hurricane Harvey sails
under the Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi on Friday, Sept. 1

The port received its first tanker on Friday, Sept. 1, six days after closing in preparation for the storm, which came to shore as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25. Some 20 vessels have been awaiting berth assignments and will now be able to enter Corpus Christi Channel.

Opening the port positioned Corpus Christi as the largest refining center fully operational on the Texas coast at this time. Nearly 100 percent of the electric power has been restored to the city’s refineries, while similar operations in Houston and Texas are tackling major flooding.

The nation’s economy depends on the port’s continued operation. More than 80,000 jobs depend on the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, where more than $100 million worth of goods pass through every day. Port of Corpus Christi stakeholders generate $350 million a day in national economic output

Here are some additional GOM port updates courtesy of Bloomberg:

  • Kinder Morgan, Colonial will commingle gasoline grades on products lines
  • Magellan is said to plan limited restart for Longhorn, BridgeTex
  • Houston port partial reopening is said to still affect tankers
  • U.S. Coast Guard says Port Corpus Christi to allow larger ships
  • Four Aframax tankers enter port of Corpus Christi after storm
  • Texas City refinery to resume exports as tankers arrive

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Frankfurt starts evacuation before attempt to defuse WWII bomb

Sat, 2017-09-02 16:12

FRANKFURT: Frankfurt emergency service staff started to evacuate patients from two hospitals in Germany’s financial capital on Saturday ahead of the planned defusing of a massive World War Two bomb.
Some 60,000 people have to leave their homes early on Sunday in Germany’s biggest evacuation since the war while officials disarm the 1.4 ton British bomb.
It was discovered on a building site in Frankfurt’s leafy Westend, where many wealthy bankers live.
More than 100 hospital patients, including premature infants and those in intensive care, were evacuated on Saturday, Frankfurt city councillor Markus Frank told Reuters television.
More than 2,000 tons of live bombs and munitions are found each year in Germany, even under buildings. In July, a kindergarten was evacuated after teachers discovered an unexploded World War Two bomb on a shelf among some toys.
Frankfurt fire and police chiefs said they would use force and incarceration if necessary to clear the area of residents, warning that an uncontrolled explosion of the bomb would be big enough to flatten a city block.
The HC 4000 bomb is assumed to have been dropped by Britain’s Royal Air Force during the 1939-45 war.
The country was pummelled by 1.5 million tons of bombs from British and American warplanes that killed 600,000 people. German officials estimate 15 percent of the bombs failed to explode, some burrowing six meters (yards) deep.
Three police explosives experts in Goettingen were killed in 2010 while preparing to defuse a 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb.
The compulsory evacuation radius of 1.5 km (roughly a mile) around the bomb includes police headquarters, two hospitals, transport systems and Germany’s central bank storing $70 billion in gold reserves.
Frankfurt’s residents have to clear the area by 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Sunday and police will ring every doorbell and use helicopters with heat-sensing cameras to make sure nobody is left behind before they start diffusing the bomb.
Roads and transport systems, including the parts of the underground, will be closed during the work and for at least two hours after the bomb is defused, to allow patients to be transported back to hospitals.
Air traffic from Frankfurt airport could also be affected if there is an easterly wind on Sunday. Also, small private planes, helicopters and drones will be banned from the evacuation zone.
Frankfurters can spend the day at shelters set up at the trade fair and the Jahrhunderthalle convention center. Most museums are offering residents free entry on Sunday, and a few of them will open their doors earlier in the morning than usual.

Main category: 

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59 Filipinos accused of links to Marawi siege ordered freed

Thu, 2017-08-31 20:00

MANILA: Philippine prosecutors have dismissed rebellion complaints against 59 men who were stopped by police and army troops at two checkpoints in the south and accused of attempting to join Daesh-linked militants who laid siege to a southern city.
Senior government prosecutor Peter Ong said Thursday the complaints filed by the military against the Muslim men were dismissed because of a lack of strong evidence, and authorities were ordered to free all the men.
“It is clear that respondents were not committing the crime of rebellion or any crime at the time of their arrests,” Ong and two other prosecutors said in their findings, a copy of which was seen by The Associated Press.
The men, who traveled in two big groups, may have sparked the suspicion of troops and police at checkpoints because of the Marawi siege, “but suspicion alone is not sufficient to arrest, detain, charge and indict respondents,” the prosecutors said.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military respects the prosecutors’ decision but that security officials still believe the men could “perhaps be eventually deployed to Marawi.”
The ruling shows that the rule of law continues to work under martial law that was declared in the south by President Rodrigo Duterte to deal with the Marawi crisis, Padilla said, adding that the men were treated well and would be flown back to the south on an air force plane.
The 59 were taken into custody in southern Zamboanga city and Ipil town on July 25 amid intelligence reports that Muslim militants would attempt to reinforce the gunmen who attacked Marawi and were being bombarded by military airstrikes and ground assaults.
A lone witness said the mostly young Muslim men were to be given combat training and then deployed to reinforce the beleaguered militants, who were holding out in buildings and mosques in Marawi.
The arrested men strongly denied the allegation, saying they were recruited by a man who promised to bring them to a rebel camp for combat training and then help them be integrated into the military and police under a peace deal with the government.
Ong said he and the other prosecutors did not find the witness credible.
During a hearing at the Department of Justice on July 28, some of the arrested men, guarded by heavily armed police commandos, told reporters they were poor and jobless and in search of work and a better life.
The violence in Marawi, a center of Islamic faith in the south, has left nearly 800 people dead, including more than 600 militants, and sparked concerns that Daesh group militants were gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia by helping influence and arm local militants.
An estimated 40 gunmen remain in Marawi and are continuing to fight as troops advance in previously scenic lakeside communities that are now a smoldering wasteland of disfigured buildings.

Main category: 
Marawi prays for peace as Philippine military plans ‘final push’
Filipino troops recapture mosque, Duterte revisits Marawi
Top terror financier believed killed in Marawi siege: Philippines

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The Stranded ISIS Bus Convoy That No One Knows What To Do With

In a bizarre twist to an already unusual story, a convoy of 17 buses carrying Islamic State terrorists and their families has remained stranded since Thursday in the Syrian desert as the US, Russians, and Syrians discuss their fate: attack the convoy or allow it to pass? Regardless of what happens, emerging photos and video depicting ISIS' retreat from Lebanon as well as their current helpless plight stuck in the middle of Syria constitutes perhaps the most significant blow to ISIS propaganda to date.

Earlier this week we reported on the unusual deal which allowed a large convoy of Islamic State fighters and their families to exit their contested stronghold along the Syrian-Lebanese border under the watch of the Lebanese and Syrian armies and Hezbollah after being defeated. As first announced by Hezbollah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah in a speech Monday night, the deal involved the transportation of 26 wounded and 308 ISIS fighters, along with 331 civilian family members via buses and ambulances to Syria's eastern province. The controversial deal was struck in return for the bodies of 9 Lebanese soldiers, kidnapped by ISIS in 2014.

Stranded ISIS convoy: there are over 600 in the group, which includes civilian family members. Photo source: Stripes, via Arabic media.

ISIS convoy in Syria. Photo source: Louai Beshara/Agence France-Presse

That convoy was allowed to enter Syria but was attacked by the US-led anti-ISIL Coalition on Wednesday as it crossed open desert on its way to the Islamic State stronghold of Deir Ezzor. Per coalition statement, the convoy wasn't attacked directly - just outlying ISIS vehicles which were attempting to join and bolster the transport. Part of the highway in front of the convoy, including a key bridge, was further targeted in order to stop its movement.

Pretty sure ISIS won't make a video about this adventure

— aris roussinos (@arisroussinos) September 1, 2017

According to the latest update (released Friday afternoon) from the US coalition (@CJTFOIR), the buses remain stranded. Apparently, deliveries of food and water have been made:

After turning around and heading back west from the Abul Kamal area, the convoy of 17 buses containing hundreds of armed ISIS fighters and their families remains in the Syrian Desert between Humayma and As Sukhnah.


...In accordance with the law of armed conflict, the Coalition has struck ISIS fighters and vehicles, including a tank, armed technical vehicles, and transport vehicles seeking to facilitate the movement of ISIS fighters to the border area of our Iraqi partners. Food and water have been provided to the convoy.

The ISIS convoy had reportedly been on an indirect and lengthy route through Syria, likely in order to avoid air strike, before being halted. On Friday the Syrian and Lebanese governments extracted another concession as part of negotiations over the fate of the convoy: ISIS handed over the body of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer to Hezbollah.

Meanwhile Hezbollah's Nasrallah revealed that he personally negotiated the deal with Syrian President Assad, who displayed initial reluctance. As Fox News reports:

"I went to President Assad...I went to Damascus," he said, adding that he sought to convince Assad to let the convoy pass through government territory.


"He [Assad] told me, this is embarrassing for us, but no problem," Nasrallah told supporters gathered in eastern Lebanon for a "victory rally" to celebrate the expulsion of ISIS from the border area.


"The Syrian government has put up with the embarrassment for the sake of Lebanon," he said.

The ceasefire agreement immediately sparked controversy in the region, especially in Iraq, whose leaders see the deal as intentionally allowing more terrorists to settle at its own border. The US coalition was also quick to accuse the deal's brokers as being soft on terrorism and said, "relocating terrorists from one place to another is not a lasting solution.”

But as we pointed out, the US and its allies have routinely allowed for ISIS retreats and transfers much larger in scale which appear purposefully designed to put pressure on the Syrian government. One of the more shocking admissions of such a strategy came in 2016, when then Secretary of State John Kerry was caught on audio telling a Syrian opposition gathering, which met on the sidelines of a U.N. General Assembly meeting, that Obama hoped to use ISIS as leverage against Assad. According to Kerry on the leaked audio (25:50):

"And we know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that DAESH was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened"... "(We) thought, however, we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate. But instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him."

One knowledgeable reporter on the ground has observed that the ordeal has been a huge blow to ISIS propaganda. Robert Fisk reports, "some ISIS leaders in Syria did not want members of the group who had surrendered territory to be welcomed back into the so-called caliphate, and the militants should have fought to the death instead." Other observers of Islamic State social media accounts have noted that ISIS members have reacted in disbelief, claiming the entire brokered deal and ISIS retreat to be a fiction of Hezbollah media.

At the moment, terrorists and their families remain sitting on chartered buses in Syrian no-man's land awaiting the decision of regional and foreign militaries controlling land and air over Syria. Will the convoy be destroyed or allowed to pass? Will the US coalition strike and kill over 300 civilian ISIS family members in the process? Simple imprisonment could prove difficult as the ISIS militants were allowed to carry small arms as part of the deal and will surely go down fighting at this point. Or there's the remote chance that the Syrians and Hezbollah actually desire for the US to attack the convoy: the Syrian and Lebanese governments could maintain they upheld their end of the bargain (this becomes important for potential future battlefield deals brokered with other groups), while the US would claim the moral high ground of fighting terror. 

Whatever scenario unfolds, this currently developing story is arguably one of the strangest to come out of recent events in the war.

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