Saturday, December 26, 2015

Today's Headlines

  • Islamic State Leader Mocks U.S., Saudis in Online Audio Message. The U.S. and its allies wouldn’t dare send ground forces to fight Islamic State after being bogged down in lengthy conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said in a purported audio message released today. The audio message, which appeared on social media accounts and websites used by Islamic State, was the first said to come from Al-Baghdadi since May. It came while Iraqi forces backed by U.S. airstrikes close in on Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province that was captured by the jihadist group seven months ago. Islamic State has declared a caliphate in areas of Syria and Iraq it has seized, prompting the U.S. to carry out airstrikes against the group in both countries and put together an international coalition to join the fight. Al-Baghdadi said recent losses in Iraq and Syria and airstrikes haven’t weakened his group, which he added had sustained setbacks before and returned stronger. He was dismissive of a newly announced Islamic alliance against terrorism, led by Saudi Arabia. “If this coalition was Islamic, it would have staged a war against the Alawites and the Russians in Syria, it would have announced war against the Shiites and the Kurds in Iraq,” al-Baghdadi said, calling on Saudi citizens to join Islamic State. 
  • FedEx(FDX) Finishes Santa's Rounds, $1 Billion `Force': Saturday Wrap. Here are the highlights of the top breaking-news stories from around the world on Saturday: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is on track to reach $1 billion in box-office receipts tomorrow, which would make it the fastest movie ever to get to that mark. Three Chinese ships were said to have gone into Japan’s waters, in the latest turn-of-the-screw on the disputes over China’s territorial claims. One of the three was an armed government vessel, which would be a first. Japan made an official protest. FedEx Corp. said it’s just about caught up on its backlog of late Christmas deliveries, which was attributed to severe weather around its Memphis hub earlier in the week.
Breaking News:
Wall Street Journal:
  • French Children Add to ISIS Ranks. Some young men and women leave France to start families in Syria, according to those who study the radicalization of French residents.
  • Energy Companies Gird for Weaker Prices in 2016. Collectively, U.S. producers are taking more in write-downs on their assets than during the oil bust of 2008
  • Valeant(VRX) CEO Hospitalized With Severe Pneumonia. Troubled Canadian pharmaceuticals firm slashed its fourth-quarter financial outlook last week.
  • New Risks at Rural Hospitals. Financial incentives are leading small facilities to perform more surgeries.
  • Trying to Hide the Rise of Violent Crime. Progressives and their media allies have launched a campaign to deny the ‘Ferguson effect’—but it’s real, and it’s increasingly deadly for inner cities. Murders and shootings have spiked in many American cities—and so have efforts to ignore or deny the crime increase. The see-no-evil campaign eagerly embraced a report last month by the Brennan Center for Justice called “Crime in 2015: A Preliminary Analysis.” Many progressives and their media allies hailed the report as a refutation of what I and others have dubbed the “Ferguson effect”— cops backing off from proactive policing, demoralized by the ugly vitriol directed at them since a police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., last year. Americans are being asked to disbelieve both the Ferguson effect and its result: violent...
  • Had bullish commentary on (GOOG), (SCTY), (FSLR) and (SIG).
  • Had bearish commentary on (POST).
Fox News: 
  • Iraqi forces close in on final Islamic State post in Ramadi. (video) Iraq’s military said it was closing in Friday on a former government compound in Ramadi that remains the only area of the city still under Islamic State control. Iraqi forces were less than a mile from the compound where about 100 militants are holding out, the government said. Though Iraqi troops greatly outnumber the Islamic State fighters, they have struggled to advance in a landscape dotted with land mines and improvised explosive devices.
Zero Hedge:
Business Insider:
  • Exclusive: Islamic State sanctioned organ harvesting in document taken in U.S. raid. Islamic State has sanctioned the harvesting of human organs in a previously undisclosed ruling by the group’s Islamic scholars, raising concerns that the violent extremist group may be trafficking in body parts. The ruling, contained in a January 31, 2015 document reviewed by Reuters, says taking organs from a living captive to save a Muslim's life, even if it is fatal for the captive, is permissible. For a U.S. government translation of the document, click here.
Folha de S.Paulo:
  • Brazil's Shopping Malls Have Worst Christmas Since 2005. Sales of stores in Brazil's shopping centers fell 1% in Dec. through Christmas discounting inflation, citing a survey by malls assoc., known as Alshop.

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