Daily Archives: May 13, 2012

Fight looms over detainee provisions

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05/13/12 05:25 PM ET
By Jeremy Herb and Carlo Munoz

The House will re-ignite a debate this week that last year sparked public outrage and a White House veto threat: Can terror suspects on U.S. soil be detained indefinitely?

Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans are planning to push an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill on the House floor next week that would strip out provisions allowing the military to hold terror suspects captured in the U.S.

 

The amendment would undo language from last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and go one step further to change the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Opponents of the detention laws warn that U.S. citizens are at risk of indefinite military detention if the law is not changed. Proponents claim the detention laws are a necessary tool in the fight against terror and last year’s bill merely codified current U.S. law.

House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) offered a fix to this year’s authorization bill granting habeas corpus rights to terror detainees.

But that didn’t go far enough for Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who are planning to offer next week’s amendment on detention.

“The problem isn’t Habeas; the problem is Americans being held without charge or trial forever,” Amash told The Hill.

The issue of military detention and U.S. citizens touched a nerve in the public last year, receiving wide coverage and getting attention from “The Daily Show” as it was debated in the Senate.

At issue is striking a balance between fighting the war on terror and guaranteeing due process rights in the Constitution.

Analysts who study military law have said that the executive branch already has authority to detain U.S. citizens.  The Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on whether citizens captured on U.S. soil could be detained indefinitely.

After the White House’s veto threat over detainee provisions in last year’s defense bill, lawmakers opted to water down the language. Despite the compromise, Obama issued a signing statement that said he would not detain U.S. citizens indefinitely.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who is backing Smith’s amendment, argued that the signing statement would not prevent future administrations from using indefinite detentions.

“The problem is emphasized in the president’s signing statement, which paraphrased said basically, ‘While this power may exist, I won’t use it,’ ” Garamendi said. “But will your successor use it? That’s what we want to get at.”

Supporters of the detention provisions argue that the military needs the ability to detain terrorists indefinitely to gather intelligence and prevent attacks. Republicans have opposed efforts to turn military suspects over to civilian courts, which the Obama administration has sought to do.

“Do I believe that language and the NDAA is a perfect protection of the liberties we cherish? Probably not,” said Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.), who had problems with last year’s Defense authorization bill’s detainee provision.

“We’re having this debate because there’s a threat,” Landry said. “If the threat was eliminated there would be no need for the debate.”

Landry opposes Smith’s amendment, however, because he feels it’s too broad in covering anyone captured on U.S. soil, and not just American citizens.

Landry said the changes McKeon made to the detention language this year granting habeas rights to terror detainees satisfied his concerns from last year’s bill.

“What people were looking for was to ensure that there was some sort of due process when the executive detains someone,” Landry said.

A Republican House aide said Smith’s proposal goes too far with unintended consequences to the president’s traditional war powers, including providing an incentive for terrorists to come to the U.S. because they would have more rights here.

A sneak preview of next week’s floor debate on the issue played out in the Armed Services committee early Thursday morning as the authorization bill was marked up.

Smith offered and then withdrew an amendment that will be nearly identical to the one he’s introducing on the floor next week.

“It is very, very rare to give that amount of power to the president [and] take away any person’s fundamental freedom and lock them up without the normal due process of law,” Smith said.

“Leaving this on the books is a dangerous threat to civil liberties,” he added.

Republicans, however, pushed back in the other direction, as Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) added an amendment to the bill that puts more restrictions on releasing Guantanamo detainees.

His amendment bumped up the Pentagon’s notification requirement to Congress to 90 days from 30 before releasing Guantanamo detainees.

Garamendi and Amash said they were optimistic that the amendment could pass on the House floor as it had support from both Democrats and Republicans.

Amash pointed to 43 Republicans who voted against the authorization bill last year, stemming from concerns about indefinite detention.

“This cuts across the entire spectrum of the Congress,” Garamendi said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good shot, and the public has really taken hold of this issue.”

But Landry, who said he’s had a number of productive conversations with Amash on the issue, was skeptical. He argued that the public concern — and his own — was covering American citizens and due process laws, and Smith and Amash are going beyond that by covering anyone captured on U.S. soil.

The authorization bill is due to go to the floor this week, and the Senate will be marking up its bill later this month, where the detainee debate is also likely to arise again.

Source

Is JPM “The Burning LOH”?

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May 11, 2012

“The target is marked by the burning LOH.”

When I was an reconnaissance helicopter pilot in the Army many years ago, that was a popular saying that was passed down by the more experienced pilots, some of whom had flown during the Vietnam War.  It was meant to convey our own frailty, and the foolishness of being too eager about finding the enemy’s location.

LOH back then stood for Light Observation Helicopter, either a Hughes OH-6 Cayuse or a Bell OH-58.  It was pronounced as “loach”.  They were 4-seat commercial helicopters that were bought by the Army and adapted for use in scouting for enemy forces.  A pilot had little more than his eyes and his wits as weapons, and the .040″ aluminum skin and Plexiglas windows were not much protection from enemy fire.  The idea was to fly low, using the terrain for cover and concealment, and try to find the enemy so that fighter planes or attack helicopters could be called in to deliver ordinance on the enemy’s position.

But given the fact that enemy soldiers are usually not stupid, and don’t want to be spotted, often the first indication that a pilot had located the enemy’s position was that he was taking fire from the enemy.  A lot of them got shot down.  So then another helicopter crew would step in to radio the fast movers and guide them into the target.  The fighter pilots would acknowledge that call, and the existence of enemy fire in the area, and then ask:

“Roger, how is the target marked?”  The question was about the possible use of colored smoke, landmarks, or other features that can be seen while zooming in at 500 MPH.

And the answer would be, “The target is marked by the burning LOH.”

There is a corollary to this in the financial markets.  Quite often at the end of a big price move, we learn about a big institution blowing up because they did not think that the trade would go so far against them.  The 2006 case of Amaranth Advisors would be a classic example, with its bankruptcy in late 2006 marking the bottom for natural gas prices ahead of the big commodity bubble in 2008.  There were several portfolios that blew up at the top of that bubble.

In this week’s chart, I have labeled several notable news events that served as markers of important turns for T-Bond prices.  Back in 1994, Orange County, California went bankrupt because its treasurer, Robert Citron, had overextended his bets the wrong way in the bond market.  That bankruptcy marked the bottom for the big price decline.  Orange County was the burning LOH.

In late 1998, the money management firm Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) famously made huge bets on T-Bonds that were based on the limits of how far price moves had historically gone in the past.  And the market taught them a lesson about how trends can persist longer than one can stay solvent.  The Federal Reserve had to intervene, lining up several major banks to help take apart LTCM’s positions and keep it from cascading into a bigger problem.  LTCM’s collapse was the burning LOH for that up move.

More recently, the collapses of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and MF Global each coincided with peaks in bond prices.  Each was the burning LOH for its particular moment in history.

So now this week, we find out that J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) has suffered a $2 billion loss on financial derivative bets that went bad.  And this news comes as T-Bond prices are once again getting back up to the price levels seen at last year’s MF Global collapse.  The implication is that the news of JPM’s big loss is serving as the “burning LOH” of this current time frame, and the news arrives just as the stock market is about at the end of the corrective period suggested by both our eurodollar COT leading indication and the Presidential Cycle Pattern.  Subscribers to our twice monthly newsletter and our Daily Edition have been watching the current stock market correction unfold pretty much right on schedule relative to those models, and now we have a portfolio blowup to help mark the beginning of the end of that corrective process.

Tom McClellan
Editor, The McClellan Market Report

Mexico: 49 bodies dumped on Mexico highway

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By Dudley Althaus
Updated 08:45 p.m., Sunday, May 13, 2012

MEXICO CITY – Officials blamed the Zetas gang for the slaughter of 49 people whose headless, handless bodies were recovered early Sunday near a highway that leads from the industrial city of Monterrey to the South Texas border.

A message left with the bodies outside the oil refining town of Cadereyta – supposedly signed by the Zetas – claimed credit for the latest in a series of recent atrocities by rival criminal gangs waging a brutal terror campaign against one another. The message’s content was not disclosed.

Though the lack of heads or fingerprints obviously will complicate identification of the victims, authorities rushed to assure a beleaguered public that ordinary citizens aren’t being targeted.

“This is not an attack against the civilian population,” Jorge Domene, public security spokesman for the state of Nuevo Leon, said at a news conference. “That’s important to point out.”

The corpses of the 43 men and six women were dumped about 2 a.m. The victims were killed elsewhere as many as two days ago, Domene said.

Monterrey and its suburbs, home to some 4 million people, have become a crucial front of the gangland violence that has killed more than 50,000 people since President Felipe Calderon deployed federal forces against Mexico’s powerful gangs upon taking office in December 2006.

The escalating bloodshed has besieged Cadereyta and nearby towns in recent months as the Zetas battle their former paymasters from the Gulf Cartel for regional dominance. Both narcotics trafficking gangs are anchored in the Mexican cities bordering south Texas.

Thriving drug trade

In addition to its own local narcotics market, metropolitan Monterrey is an important warehousing center for cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs bound for U.S. consumers. Petroleum pipelines running between Cadereyta and the border have also been among those most tapped by thieves, supplying Mexico’s vibrant black market for gasoline and other petroleum products. Small towns, ranches and isolated clusters of weekend houses between Monterrey and the border long have been favored haunts for gangsters.

Fighting in the Monterrey area and along the border recently has worsened with the participation of gunmen loyal to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the crime boss based in the Pacific Coast state of Sinaloa. Considered Mexico’s most powerful gangster, Guzman reportedly has allied with the Gulf Cartel and returned to the region – especially to Nuevo Laredo – to take on the Zetas.

Sunday’s slaughter followed the murder last week of 18 people near the western city of Guadalajara – at least some of them apparent innocents kidnapped from once-bucolic towns where thousands of U.S. and Canadian retirees live. Officials also have blamed the Zetas for those killings, which supposedly were committed in response to the Guzman gang’s killing in the past month of dozens of alleged Zetas in Nuevo Laredo.

In response, Calderon’s government has extended cooperative security agreements with both Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states – which border Texas from upriver of Laredo to the Gulf of Mexico – to guarantee the continued presence of federal troops and police.

“We are not going to yield, we will never yield,” Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina said in signing the agreement Thursday in Monterrey. “We will continue investing and taking the necessary actions so that Nuevo Leon has solid institutions and safe cities.”

Zetas inmates aided by guards murdered 44 other prisoners allegedly belonging to the Gulf Cartel in the state prison in Apodaca, another Monterrey suburb in mid-February. More than 30 of the Zetas prisoners then slipped over the jail walls. The prison’s new warden, named just three weeks ago, resigned Sunday citing “personal reasons.”

New tactic

Intended to terrorize rivals and the general population, the public display of butchered corpses has replaced the traditional gangland practice of burying victims in clandestine mass graves. Hundreds of bodies were collected from such graves last year in both northeastern Mexico and the western state of Durango.

But in September killers allied with Guzman dumped 35 bodies of accused Zetas on an highway interchange near an upscale suburban mall in the port of Veracruz. Zetas and their allies responded in November by leaving 26 corpses, supposedly belonging to members of Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel, in downtown Guadalajara. The Zetas also claimed the massacre of several dozen people in Sinaloa this spring.

“I have no doubt that this is a media measure taken by organized crime to get the attention of the public and the rival group,” Javier del Real, the retired army general who was recently appointed head of Nuevo Leon’s state police, said of the Cadereyta incident at Sunday’s news conference. “They achieved that result.”

dudley.althaus@chron.com

Source

Chart of the Day: Peak What?

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World oil production surpassed 75 million barrels per day for the first time ever in December 2011, at 75.45 million barrels, and went even higher in January of this year at 75.58 million barrels, setting a new monthly production record, according to data recently released by the EIA.  The red line in the graph shows the upward linear trend in world oil production from 1973 onward, with daily production increasing by almost 600,000 barrels per day on average every year since 1973.
Thanks to Walter Olson for the inspiration for the post title.

Source

Non-Tropical Low Forms In The Atlantic

MIAMI, Florida — Just two weeks before the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, NOAA‘s National Huricane Center in Miami, Florida has issued a Special Tropical Weather Outlook due to a non-tropical low pressure system that has formed in the Atlantic Ocean 400 miles southwest of the Southern Azores Island.

The low has developed thunderstorm activity near the center during the past 24 hours. NOAA says that there is some potential for additional development as the system moves little during the next couple of days.

The low has a medium chance (40%) of becoming a subtropical or tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, tropical cyclone formation is not expected during the next 48 hours.

9:55 a.m. Sunday UPDATE:

SPECIAL TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
955 AM EDT SUN MAY 13 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC…CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO

THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH A NON-TROPICAL LOW ABOUT
460 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF THE SOUTHERN AZORES ISLANDS HAS
DIMINISHED SINCE YESTERDAY. THE POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT HAS
DECREASED…AND THE SYSTEM NOW HAS A LOW CHANCE…20 PERCENT
OF BECOMING A SUBTROPICAL OR TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT
48 HOURS. ADDITIONAL SPECIAL TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOKS WILL BE
ISSUED ON THIS SYSTEM LATER TODAY OR MONDAY…IF NECESSARY.

Monday UPDATE:

000
ABNT20 KNHC 141730
TWOAT

SPECIAL TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
130 PM EDT MON MAY 14 2012

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC…CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO…

SHOWER ACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH A NON-TROPICAL LOW ABOUT
450 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF THE SOUTHERN AZORES ISLANDS REMAINS
MINIMAL. ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE NOT CONDUCIVE FOR
DEVELOPMENT…AND THE SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE…NEAR 0 PERCENT…OF
BECOMING A SUBTROPICAL OR TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48
HOURS. NO ADDITIONAL SPECIAL TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOKS ON THIS
SYSTEM ARE ANTICIPATED. ROUTINE ISSUANCE OF THE ATLANTIC TROPICAL
WEATHER OUTLOOK WILL BEGIN ON 1 JUNE 2012.

ELSEWHERE…TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

Brevard Times: Non-Tropical Low Forms In The Atlantic.

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