Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Counterattacks Seek To Reverse ISIL's Recent Gains

ISIL has executed 20 Syrian men it accused of being Assad regime soldiers in the ancient Roman theatre ruins of Palmyra,Syria.After ISIL had assembled a crowd in the theatre,the men were shot,according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.The Islamist extremist group had seized the city on 21 May,and has executed at least 217 people so far,the SOHR says,67 of them civilians.There are fears they will also demolish the priceless Roman colonnades and sell off any movable antiquities,as they have done at Iraqi historic sites.
Elsewhere in Syria,the SOHR reports that ISIL has lost ground in Hasakah Province of Northeast Syria.In a 10-day offensive,Kurdish forces early this week liberated 14 Assyrian Christian villages ISIL had seized in February.This was enabled by a major series of air strikes carried out as part of Operation Inherent Resolve by the US and its allies.In the raids from 24-25 May,4 ISIL fighting positions were destroyed,as well as a checkpoint,an excavator,a vehicle borne IED and another vehicle.No civilian casualties were reported from the air strikes.Those participating in the OIR air campaign in Syria include the US,Canada,Bahrain,Jordan,Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Just over the border in Iraq,thousands of Iraqi security forces and allies,including the Hashed al-Shaabi Shiite militias and volunteers,are converging on Ramadi,the capital of Anbar Province that was overrun by ISIL at the same time they seized Palmyra,Syria.The counterattack on Ramadi has already begun,with the ISF retaking the Taesh and Humeyrah districts of the city.They have also entered the Anbar University grounds,but have not yet liberated it from Daesh-the Arab word for ISIL.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Our Charter-BHP Billiton

General Mining:Should You Invest in South32?

To invest in South32,the recent spinoff of Australian general mining titan BHP Billiton,you must have access to the London,South African or Australian stock exchanges.The new firm concentrates on mines and smelters of coal,manganese,aluminium and nickel.Led by CEO Graham Kerr,it has operations in Australia,Africa and Colombia,plus non-operated joint venture interests in Brazil.It is immediately the third largest miner in the world,behind BHP and Rio Tinto.*
South32,which is based in Perth,cites its strong commodity and customer diversification,with assets having 8.3 billion of revenue in 2014.RBC,JP Morgan,Citi and Merrill Lynch have buy ratings on the firm as a strong generator of cash,albeit one with a dearth of production growth.RBC said it has an outperform on the company in light of its high quality portfolio of low cost assets with exposure to a diverse set of commodities which we favour.While production growth is lacking,cost out should support near term earnings;longer term the strong balance sheet supports M&A driven growth.*
Credit Suisse is neutral on the stock.*
BHP Billiton said it wanted to simplify its portfolio by spinning off a cash generator with high quality metals and mining assets competitively positioned in their respective cost curves.The Melbourne-based company pays a hefty 5.70% dividend yield and is listed on the NYSE.It has 41 assets in 13 countries,including petroleum and potash,copper,iron ore,coal,aluminium,manganese and nickel.It also has silver,lead,zinc,molybdenum,uranium and gold assets.BHP mines bauxite,refines it into alumina and smelts alumina into aluminium;mines manganese and produces manganese metals and alloys;and mines and produces nickel products.*
South32 Ltd (LSE:S32),BHP Billiton PLC ADS (BBL)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pentagon Announces Training of Moderate Syrian Forces To Fight ISIL

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter spoke to reporters at the Pentagon last Tuesday,5 May,along with outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey,US Army.Mr.Carter highlighted a number of important issues on the Pentagon's agenda,but especially the new program to train a force of ultimately 15,000 moderate Syrian rebels to engage ISIL in ground combat.
1.Earlier today we met with Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani about the fight with ISIL.We reaffirmed our commitment to working together by,with and through the Iraqi government to deliver a lasting defeat to ISIL.We believe a unified Iraq is critical to this.
2.We have begun training a company-size group from moderate Syrian forces,to be followed by a second group in the next few weeks.
3.Given that the current defence budget is a road to nowhere,we need Congress to agree to a multi-year budget.We are eroding our tech edge and our military readiness is declining.Our adversaries are paying attention,too;they are watching us lurch from continuing resolution to continuing resolution,and they are adapting.
4.We commend the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations and the Trade Promotion Authority bill as strengthening the US and the Asia-Pacific region.
5.We have a lot of work to do in the months ahead.I want to thank General Dempsey for his stong leadership and thoughtful advice.He has made our world safer.I'll really miss him and Vice Chairman Admiral James Winnefeld,US Navy.I have absolute and complete confidence in their sucessors,General Joseph Dunford,US Marine Corps,as Chaiman,and General Paul Selva,US Air Force,as Vice Chairman.*
On the topic of the struggle with ISIL for control of Iraq's Beiji oil refinery,General Dempsey said it's a part of Iraq's critical infrastructure.It's geographically significant.The Iraqis have lost some of the perimeter and some of the road network that leads to it,but just recently the Iraqis configured 18 of the 18 pallets needed to resupply their troops in the refinery by air.*
As to the training of the moderate Syrian rebel forces,Mr.Carter explained that there are about 90 of the trainees in a company-sized tranche.It takes place in a secure location.Our people are very experienced in this type of training.There are several locations,and we'd rather not talk about them.The first disposition of those forces will be decided on by them and us in a few months.Of course we would have some responsibility to protect those forces.We definitely would work to protect them with intelligence,search and rescue,and potentially with air help.We definitely would have some responsibility for their safety as well as their training.
This is a complex program that will have to evolve over time.We're figuring out what the best training is and disposition of the forces is;but you have to start somewhere,and this is where we're starting.There's a limit to the kind of arms this type of force will get.The training is starting now.These trainees are recruited and vetted,and only then are they put into training.These forces are being trained and equipped to fight ISIL.It's not part of our program to have them engage with Assad's forces.ISIL would be their principal mission.We have not determined yet all the rules of engagement.
These Syrian rebel forces do receive some compensation.An explicit part of their training is how to conduct themselves in accordance with international law.ISIL has taken over and mistreated the places from which they came.They have a commitment to the country of Syria as a whole and the place from which they came.
I think we have to take the domestic ISIL threat seriously.It's concerning;it's yet another reason why the defeat of ISIL is so important in Syria and Iraq-that they have the capability to inspire such individuals,Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pointed out to reporters at the Pentagon briefing.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Commentary:Media At Play at The Players Championship

Top world golfers including World Number One Rory McIlroy,Sergio Garcia,Phil Mickelson and Martin Kaymer have gathered at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach,Florida for The Players Championship,which begins Thursday morning.Tiger Woods and 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth will be teeing off as well.In press conferences,the attention was focused on Spieth and his rising status on the PGA Tour.Spieth denied that he was McIlroy's equal.
I could certainly appreciate if I could be where he's at,but right now I don't see myself there,Spieth said.It's sort of anybody's game to get up there and get even with him.*
For his part,McIlroy praised Spieth:Everything he does,he does it very well.His short game has been phenomenal.Just a very solid all-around player.*
Is he "the one" ? asked World Golf Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer,echoing a reporter's question about Spieth.What is "the one" ? If he stays healthy,he can be one of the top players in the world for a number of years,Langer concluded.*
The media have been busy weaving a narrative about Spieth since last season.They miss Tiger Woods' dominance so much.It's bad for TV ratings not to have Tiger winning all the time.Surely Jordan Spieth will be their new Tiger Woods.Now they are adding a new twist:surely there is a great rivalry between Spieth and McIlroy;but judging from the golfers' remarks,that isn't the case.The media often exaggerate in order to draw in more viewers or readers.