All Fair in Trade War? White House Aides Claim Trump Faked Phone Call With China

It is alleged that the phone call, in which Chinese officials invited their US counterparts to resume trade talks, didn’t happen the way Donald Trump described it did.

The POTUS has yet to comment on the speculation. Donald Trump appears to have fabricated the story about a phone call by Chinese officials to members of his administration in a bid to prop up economic growth and, as a result, his 2020 campaign, CNN reports. Speaking to reporters at the G7 summit in France on Monday, Trump said that “China called last night our top trade people and said, ‘Let’s get back to the table’.” “They have been hurt very badly but they understand this is the right thing to do and I have great respect for it,” he added, expressing hope that a deal would be forged. But two unnamed US officials told CNN that the president “was eager to project optimism that might boost markets, and conflated comments from China’s vice premier with direct communication from the Chinese.” Despite assertions by Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that there had been “communication” which Chinese trade officials, the aides “privately conceded the phone calls Trump described didn’t happen the way he said they did.” Neither the White House nor Trump have commented on the claim yet. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang cast doubt on the veracity of Trump’s comments, saying he was not aware of the call: “I can tell you clearly that I haven’t heard of such a thing.” Trump’s phone call story came up shortly after Vice-Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator, noted that Beijing wanted a “calm” resolution to the trade war. “He wants to see a deal made, he wants it to be made under calm conditions,” Trump said of Liu He’s statement. “He used the word ‘calm,’ I agree with him.” The White House sources were quoted as saying that Trump’s language was meant to make up for a possible backlash from his electorate over the delay in the border wall’s construction, as well as quell mounting recession concerns. A 2019 survey by the National Association for Business Economists has found that more than 70 percent of economists think the United States will tip into its next recession by the end of 2021. Some predict it may happen even earlier. One of the factors fuelling these fears is Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war with China, which he started last year under the pretext of eliminating the yawning trade gap and accusations of unfair trading. The dispute saw Washington and Beijing exchange several rounds of multi-million-dollar tariffs. The latest one saw the United States hike duties on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. China in response slapped tariffs on $75 billion in US imports. The two superpowers have been engaged in negotiations which have yielded no results so far; the latest positive signals from both sides of the table have elicited a measured response from the market, however.

White House and State Department greenlight Israeli strikes on Iranian proxies in Iraq despite Pentagon disapproval

You do not have a lot of time to figure it out…the war is on!
So those things with wings those are war planes and EVERY day they fly into Iraq And Syria and Lebanon. And guess what they do? Well you see those pointy arrow looking things on the wings with the metal tail feathers.. that are missiles (projectiles) and guess what they do… why they shoot them and blow shit up.. And get this when that happens it has a name WHY its call a WAR…. DAH!!

Washington gave Israel its blessing to strike Iranian-backed forces in Iraq a day after Pentagon leaders distanced themselves from the operations, emphasizing the United States is a “guest” in the country. “It’s our position that if neighbors of Israel allow a malign third country that does not share a border with Israel to use their sovereign territory as holding ground for increasingly sophisticated dangerous weapons, the only purpose of which is to attack Israel, I think those governments, if they cannot curb or control those elements, are going to have to be prepared to be responsible for them,” a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters Thursday. “So be it Lebanon, be it Syria, be it Iraq — I think that has to be our very clear message to those governments.” That is the Trump administration’s most explicit signal of support for Israeli operations against Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israeli forces have reportedly targeted Tehran-controlled weapons depots in Iraq and on Sunday conducted an apparent drone strike against Hezbollah’s Iran-supplied missile systems in Beirut. Military offensives in both countries could complicate the regional situation for the U.S. and Israel, but those dangers have been trumped by alarm that Iran is amassing an arsenal in strategic locations throughout the Middle East. Iran has transferred more than 100,000 rockets to Hezbollah in recent years, according to U.S. officials. The Sunday operation targeted some of the systems Iran has been developing to upgrade those rockets into precision-guided missiles. The size of that arsenal suggests that the Israeli Defense Forces would not be able to shield every building in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv in a conflict. “It’s our position that Israel is only acting because of Iran’s actions,” the official said, all but confirming that Israel is responsible for the recent strikes in Iraq and Lebanon. “If Iran is not pouring heavy weapons and fighters into Israel’s neighbors with the express purpose of threatening Israel, I wouldn’t think Israel would be needing to take any of these actions. And we fully support Israel’s right to self-defense and denounce Iran’s regional campaign of violence.” The sorties against Shiite militias around Baghdad have irritated Iraqi leaders and stirred unease among American military leaders, in part due to the risk of political or terrorist blowback against the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq as part of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State. Iranian-backed militias gained ground and influence in Iraq after the U.S. withdrew in 2011. Defense Department officials, wary of any policy that might trigger another war in the Middle East when the Pentagon is bracing for long-term competition with China, distanced the U.S. military from Israel’s reported operations in Iraq multiple times this week. “We support Iraqi sovereignty and have repeatedly spoken out against any potential actions by external actors inciting violence in Iraq,” the Pentagon said in a statement Monday. “The government of Iraq has the right to control their own internal security and protect their democracy.” Pentagon leaders expressed the same sentiments Wednesday, in the first press conference held by a defense secretary in a year. “We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and we are there and focused on one thing, our forces, and that is working with and through the Iraqi forces to execute the D-ISIS campaign,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Wednesday when asked about the reported Israeli operations in Iraq. “Obviously, we’re concerned about anything that may impact our mission, our relationship, or our forces,” he said. “We remain focused on supporting Iraq and supporting our forces in Iraq to go after ISIS.” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, who appeared alongside Esper, concurred. “Again, all of our operations are consistent with the agreements that we have with the Iraqi government. All of our operations, in conjunction with the Iraqi Security Force, are focused on ISIS. All of our operations,” he said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on the other hand, emphasized Israel’s right to self-defense in a Thursday morning radio interview. “Each time Israel has been forced to take actions to defend itself, the United States has made very clear that that country has not only the right but the duty to protect its own people,” Pompeo told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. “And we are always supportive of their efforts to do that.” That’s a natural attitude for Pompeo, who has helped orchestrate the administration’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran in the year since Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and renewed sanctions on the regime. The Israeli strikes provide a martial component to that campaign, which the administration maintains is designed to pressure the regime to negotiate new restrictions on its nuclear program and tame Tehran’s actions throughout the Middle East. “If there’s any one thing that is pretty clear about American strategy, it is precisely that the way to get Iran to the table and to get a better deal with Iran if we ever get to that is to keep the pressure on on every front,” David Pollock, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Washington Examiner. “Economically, militarily — whatever we can do, and our friends in the region or elsewhere can help us do, to keep the pressure on Iran, that’s good.” What’s not clear is how far apart the White House and Foggy Bottom are from the Pentagon.  “They’re kind of speaking to two different audiences, but I don’t think it’s a deep split,” James Phillips, a Middle East analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told the Washington Examiner, speaking of Pompeo and Esper. “Both are committed to the containment of Iran, it’s just the Pentagon in Iraq in the short run is focused on preventing ISIS from returning.” Pollock agreed that Esper is signaling that Netanyahu should keep one eye on the potential for retaliation against the U.S., either by local fighters or by politicians in Baghdad. “It was not a sign of surprise or anger or something like that at Israel for doing it,” Pollock said. “It was an expression of concern — be careful and remember we’re here too, and we don’t want to be tagged with your operations because they’re yours, not ours.” There is broad consensus that American officials have a real stake in maintaining a good relationship with Iraqi political leaders, at least publicly. “It’s a matter of jeopardizing the American military presence in Iraq, and whether because of direct retaliation or because Iraqi politicians will finally carry out the threats that some of them have been making for a long time, which is that we don’t want the Americans here,” Pollock said. “As serious as it is, it’s probably outweighed by the larger strategy — which is not to accept, either on behalf of the U.S. or Israel, the Iranian entrenchment in Iraq.” Trump’s team showed little interest in questions about whether Israel’s operations violate Iraq’s rights as a sovereign nation. “I think that’s actually an excellent question for the Iranians,” the senior administration official said. “Where was their respect for Iraqi sovereignty when they were putting this material into Iraq? That seems to be a pretty gross violation of sovereignty, if that’s the topic under discussion.” Nick Bit: See the war is on. By the time its on CNN breaking news its time to take profits as the lizards crowd in!

Cavuto to Trump: The Job of the Media is ‘To Call Balls and Strikes on You’

Your World host Neil Cavuto closed his show Thursday afternoon with a monologue addressing President Trump’s recent criticism of Fox News. The segment began with an audio clip of President Trump discussing his displeasure with Fox News during an interview on Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade’s radio show. Cavuto reacted to President’s Trump complaint that Fox News “isn’t working for us anymore,” reminding him that “we don’t work for you. Nick Bit: The cracks in the armer are everywhere. Trumps most ardent supporters are starting to distance themselves from him. The sold out media does not want to get cashed out when not if the Trump administration crashes and burns, As far as Cavuto… he is a flaming asshole. Who was a idiot when he was on CNBC and fired. A idiot when he tried to start a financial newsletter (what a joke that was) and he is even a bigger idiot now that he is on HA HA HA HA Fox business full of shit news!!!!

At Least 100 Involved In After-School Melee

STOCKTON (CBS13) — At least 100 individuals can be seen in video involved a brawl that forced a response from police and paramedics in Stockton Thursday afternoon. Cell phone video captured the chaos that spilled off-campus at Stagg High School. A crowd can be seen converging around one fight at first, then another and another. Theresa Saunders shot video of the massive melee on her cell phone. She owns a flower store across the street from the school. “This one went from boom boom boom boom, all these different fights,” Saunders said. “It’s like what happened in school? Was it a day to get revenge for each other?” At one point video shows a single Stockton Unified School District police SUV attempt to break up the fights. An officer inside using a loudspeaker commanded people out of the street, but the crowd did not disperse. “I asked her ‘where the backup?’ she said, ‘they coming,’” Saunders said. More Stockton Unified School District police officers eventual arrived. Video shows officers taking one person into custody.

“I just don’t understand the kids nowadays, it’s like they just fighting,” Miles said. “They should all get along. I’m hearing too much violence out here.”

The Stockton Unified School District sent an email to parents Thursday evening alerting them of the incident they call an “ongoing investigation.” A spokesperson said an individual who was treated at a hospital was also arrested for their role in the massive fight. Fists flying in this massive after-school scuffle. “Now it’s on Facebook, and you’re momma see you out here fighting, what’s she going to think?” Saunders said. The school district plans to have extra security on hand Friday as a precaution. Nick Bit: This is a direct result of the Marianna epidemic. It is making people far more violent. See this brain scan of the amygdala (lizard brain) on pot. Talk about lighting up a joint and you life

This ain’t your hippie days good shit. This is a powerful hybrid pushed on the masses by none other then you good friend and Nazi collaborator George Sores. And yes we did advise them on their great currency trade. See this link

Oil falls ahead of hurricane but set for weekly gain as trade row eases

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil futures fell on Friday, with U.S. crude down nearly 4% ahead of a hurricane near the Florida coast that could dampen demand, but prices were still headed for the biggest weekly increase since early July, boosted by an easing of U.S.-China trade rhetoric. Brent crude LCOc1 futures fell 79 cents, or 1.3%, to $60.29 a barrel by 11:20 a.m. EDT (1520 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures fell $2.09, or 3.7%, to $54.62 a barrel. Hurricane Dorian gained strength as it crept closer to Florida’s coast on Friday, raising the risk that parts of the U.S. state will be hit by strong winds, a storm surge and heavy rain for a prolonged period after it makes landfall early next week. “The latest modeling has Hurricane Dorian avoiding the Gulf of Mexico, while raking the entire state of Florida, turning it into a demand destruction event for the energy market rather than a supply disruption event,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital in New York. Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ oil output rose 80,000 barrels per day in August, the first monthly increase this year, a Reuters survey found. OPEC, Russia and other non-members, an alliance known as OPEC+, agreed in December to reduce supply by 1.2 million bpd in 2019. Russia’s oil output in August was slightly higher than levels agreed under its output deal with OPEC+, but Moscow is still aiming to fully comply with the deal, RIA and Interfax news agencies cited Energy Minister Alexander Novak as saying. Oil prices have fallen by around 20% since they hit a 2019 peak in April, in part because of concerns that the U.S.-China trade war could hurt the global economy and soften demand for oil. In August alone, Brent was set for a monthly drop of 7.4%, and WTI was on track to lose 6.3%. This week, however, WTI is set to rise 0.9% and Brent by 1.6%, in part due to hopes that trade tensions between the world’s two biggest oil consumers are easing. Chinese and U.S. trade negotiating teams are maintaining effective communication, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday at a daily news briefing in Beijing. On Thursday, the United States and China gave signs that they will resume trade talks, discussing the next round of in-person negotiations in September ahead of a looming deadline for additional U.S. tariffs. “Recession fears are casting a shadow on sentiment and oil prices should keep dancing to the tune of the U.S.-China trade saga,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM. Analysts polled by Reuters slashed their price forecasts for Brent to an average of $65.02 in 2019 – the lowest in more than 16 months – citing softening global demand brought on by an economic slowdown and the trade row.

US oil and gas rig count drops by 11 to 987

Rig count losses mostly from oil rigs, down 10 to 783

Houston — The US oil and gas rig count continued to drop Thursday and was down 11 to 987 on the week, as industry continues to wait for more data points to gauge its own uncertain trajectory amid oil prices that have stalled. Rig losses this week came almost entirely from the oil side which dropped 10 rigs week on week ended Wednesday, leaving 783. Rigs chasing natural gas remained steady at 199. There was also a net loss of one rig that was not classified as oil or gas. Most major basins fell by at least one rig or stood still, according to data supplied by Enverus’ RigData segment. The biggest basin movements came in the SCOOP-STACK play in Oklahoma, down 4 to 66 and in South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale where the rig count fell 3 to 73. Colorado’s Denver-Julesburg Basin lost 2 rigs, leaving 27. Losing one rig apiece were the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeast New Mexico, falling to 433, and the Wet Marcellus mostly sited in Pennsylvania, down to 19. Holding firm with last week were the Dry Marcellus, also mostly in Pennsylvania, at 29 rigs, and the Haynesville Shale in Northwest Louisiana and East Texas at 52. Two basins gained a rig – the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana, up to 58, and the Utica Shale mostly in Ohio, up to 16. Many observers predict the rig count will continue to drop as oil prices remain in the mid-$50s/b for WTI and around $60/b for Brent. E&P operators are meeting their production goals as they adhere to capital discipline pledges and devise better well completion techniques, and now seek ways to further pare expenses. Oil prices dropped a bit on average, according to Platts average assessments. WTI was down 75 cents this week to $54.75/b, while WTI Midland was down 84 cents to $54.67/b. The Bakken Composite price was down 53 cents to $48.27/b. “A drop in the oil-directed horizontal rig count last week … should be closely watched as investors remain keenly focused on the needed rationing of upstream capital and the potential support this could lend to 2020 balances,” Evercore ISI Group Stephen Richardson said in a late Wednesday note.

Richardson added that the Baker Hughes rig count was down by 18 week on week, the second-largest weekly decline since early 2016. Baker Hughes uses Enverus RigData in its own rig count calculations.

Analysts have noted a second “merger of equals” among midcap companies was announced Monday – PDC Energy’s acquisition of SRC Energy, following Callon Petroleum’s move in July to take out Carrizo Oil & Gas – may be the next industry trend that builds scale and removes costs for oil companies”It’s hard to ignore the slow simmer of corporate M&A in the sector,” Richardson said. “The reality is efficiencies are [slowing] and there does not look to be much lemon to squeeze for many, but the industry is self-sufficient at a low-$50s/b WTI price.” Permits approved were also up on the week to 983, a gain of 89. The biggest number came from the DJ Basin, up by 143 permits to 243, and the Wet Marcellus, up 28 permits to 31. In the Permian, the number of approved permits was down 23 to 127. Otherwise, the number permits up or down was under 15 for the US’ eight large named basins.

Exclusive: Saudi Aramco board sees too many risks for New York IPO – sources

DUBAI/LONDON/RIYADH (Reuters) – The board of Saudi Aramco has determined that listing the state energy giant in New York would carry too many legal risks to make it a realistic option, five sources said, although they said a final decision lay with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. New York was the exchange favoured by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before plans for the initial public offering were put on hold last year, the sources said, even after Aramco’s lawyers and some government advisers had raised legal concerns. New York offers the largest investor base in the world, vital for an IPO that aims to attract as much as $100 billion (81.5 billion pounds), a sum that could prove tough for other exchanges to raise. U.S. President Donald Trump urged the kingdom to list in New York. One source familiar with the IPO plan told Reuters the board, made up of cabinet ministers and Aramco executives, had concluded at an August meeting that a U.S. listing would not be considered “unless Aramco is offered sovereign immunity that protects it from any legal action.” “This is, of course, hard if not impossible to achieve,” the source added. Like other sources who spoke to Reuters, he asked not to be named because of sensitivities surrounding the fate of the IPO which the crown prince hopes will value the company at $2 trillion. Some insiders and bankers say that figure is too high. The move to rule out New York and scale back on the valuation suggests technocrats in Aramco and the government are pushing for a more realistic IPO plan, the sources said. Alongside New York, exchanges in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo have been keen to woo Saudi officials to secure a deal to trade shares in Aramco, which is expected to have a primary listing in Riyadh. But Saudi officials say the New York disclosure process and complex regulations might legally interfere with the sovereignty of the Saudi government, which would remain the major Aramco shareholder, probably retaining a 95% stake. “Listing in New York is no longer an option,” one industry source familiar with the IPO process said. Riyadh and London were now the main options, with the domestic listing first to be followed by an international offering at a later stage, four of the sources said. “The likelihood of a local listing is increasing, with 1-2% of Aramco being listed locally,” another source familiar with the IPO process said, adding that “the other possibility is listing in London”. Three sources said potential litigation risks in the United States included U.S. Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and proposed U.S. legislation known as “NOPEC”, which could lead to Aramco being sued in U.S. courts. “The whole system is highly litigious, but of course Aramco has lots of investments in the U.S. which will continue,” said another industry source, who has discussed the IPO process with Saudi officials. NOPEC legislation would make it illegal for foreign nations to work together to limit fossil fuel supplies and set prices, opening Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to U.S. legal challenges. JASTA allows lawsuits against the Saudi government as it says it helped plan the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and should pay compensation. Riyadh denies the charges. Aramco could also become embroiled in existing lawsuits against oil companies in the United States for their role in climate change, the sources said. Saudi Aramco said in a statement it “continues to engage with the shareholder on IPO readiness activities”, when asked by Reuters if New York had been dropped as a listing venue. “The company is ready and timing will depend on market conditions and be at a time of the shareholder’s choosing,” it added, without elaborating. Tadawul, the main Saudi stock exchange, has said it expected inflows of $15 billion to $20 billion this year after its inclusion in the FTSE Russell and MSCI emerging market indices, helping secure liquidity for Aramco’s local listing. The crown prince has favoured a New York Stock Exchange listing in part because of Riyadh’s longstanding ties with Washington, sources familiar with Saudi thinking have said. Aramco began life in the 1930s as a U.S.-Saudi venture. Selling a 5% stake in Aramco has been a centrepiece of Vision 2030, a plan to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil. But the IPO, initially slated for 2017, has faced repeated delays. The IPO is now not expected until Aramco completes its acquisition of a majority stake in petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), pushing it back to 2020 or 2021. Aramco has already asked major banks to submit proposals for potential roles in the planned IPO, two sources said. Saudi banks were pitching for various roles in the IPO in late August in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran, while international banks would be pitching for mandates for the share sale in early September in London, one of the two sources said.

Oil set for biggest weekly gain since July on trade dispute hopes

Hi you see that swiggly Blue line… well it show US oil production peeking and HOLY SHIT BAT GIRL dropping. And do you see that green swiggly line… Holy shit Bat Boy that shows a big drop in Saudi output. And Transgender boy/girl/it even the red swiggly lie of Russia oil production is get this Dropping. AND AND AND oil inventories are the LOWEST IN A YEAR!!

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices on Friday were set for their biggest weekly gains since early July, boosted by a decline in U.S inventories and a looming hurricane in Florida, while new signs of trade talks between the United States and China emerged. Brent crude LCOc1 was up 8 cents, or 0.1%, at $61.16 a barrel, by 0420 GMT after adding 1% on Thursday. Brent is heading for a gain of 3% this week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 fell 7 cents, or 0.1%, to $56.64 a barrel. The contract is set for a gain of more than 4% this week. “The frothy price action emphasizes the store that energy markets place on trade progress to support further gains in prices going forward,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA. “What is given, can be taken away though, and the rally looks more like it’s running on vapors than petrol,” he said. Worries about a slowdown in economic growth due to the trade war between the United States and China and the impact on oil demand, the countries are world’s two biggest oil consumers, kept a lid on price gains, even as falling inventories indicate a balancing market. However, on Thursday, the United States and China gave signs that they will resume trade talks, discussing the next round of in-person negotiations in September ahead of a looming deadline for additional U.S. tariffs. The approach of Hurricane Dorian toward Florida raised fears that offshore U.S. crude producers may shutter output if the storm passes into the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend. Dorian is heading toward landfall on the Atlantic coast of Florida over the weekend and may enter into the eastern Gulf of Mexico next week. It is forecast to strengthen and become a highly dangerous Category 4 hurricane on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said. Chevron Corp’s (CVX.N) 356,440 barrel-per-day Pascagoula, Mississippi, oil refinery is closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Dorian, a company spokesman said on Thursday. Last month, Hurricane Barry prompted offshore oil companies to shut as much as 74% of production, lifting U.S. crude prices, before it weakened to a tropical storm. Government data on Wednesday showed U.S. crude stocks dropped last week by 10 million barrels to their lowest since October as imports slowed, while gasoline and distillate stocks each fell by over 2 million barrels. Inventories at the nation’s main delivery hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI futures, slumped last week by nearly 2 million barrels to their lowest since December, the data showed. Cushing stocks have dropped by over 300,000 barrels since the government report, traders said, citing market intelligence firm Genscape’s midweek report. But the EIA data also showed that U.S. production rebounded to a weekly record of 12.5 million barrels per day, suggesting there is still plenty of supply available.

Israeli Military Accuses Iran of Running Secret Hezbollah Missile Project in Lebanon

Meet your enemy. Nuclear tipped Iaan “projecties” will land on your head…. And then you will scratch your ass and figure it out. And do’t forget the missiles (sorry projectiles) coming from Trumps best friends!

Already tense relations between Israel and Lebanon got worse this week after a series of drone-related incidents, including a suspected Israeli attack on a Hezbollah office in Beirut. “Senior Iranian commanders” and a senior associate from the Hezbollah movement have been engaged in an effort to create a secret precision guard missile program in Lebanon, the Israel Defence Forces have announced, citing intelligence data. In a press conference on Thursday, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus alleged that three Iranian officers from the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, including one Brig. Gen. Muhammad Hussein-Zada Hejazi, one col. Majid Nuab and one Brig. Gen. Ali Asrar Nuruzi, were involved in the secret project. According to the IDF, these Iranian officers were based “inside Lebanon, leading Hezbollah’s precision guided missile project in order to attack Israel.”

The three alleged Iranians are said to be under the command of Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Commander believed to have engaged heavily in providing Iranian support to Syria and Iraq in their fight against the Daesh (ISIS)* terrorists in recent years. Fuad Shukr, an advisor to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, is said to be the key Hezbollah commander involved in the missile project. The IDF alleges that Iran had tried to transfer precision guided missiles to Hezbollah through Syria in 2013 and 2014, but was largely stopped by Israeli air strikes. Since 2016, the IDF says, Hezbollah and Iran have moved forward with another effort – converting Hezbollah’s existing and substantial stocks of rockets into precision-guided missiles. Conricus did not address whether the above-mentioned individuals should fear for their security, saying only that if he were “any of these terrorists, I probably wouldn’t be too happy to be named and shamed.” In a video posted alongside Conricus’ presentation on the IDF’s Twitter account, the military warned that “if terror groups get access to precision guided missiles, they’ll be able to remotely attack any target of their choice.” The Israeli military wouldn’t “let Hezbollah get their hands on these weapons” under any circumstances, the video warned.

Iranian officials and representatives of Hezbollah have yet to comment on the IDF’s allegations. According to Conricus, Israel was releasing this information now in a bid to force Beirut and the international community to act. “Iran is endangering Lebanese [security] by trying to produce precision-guided missiles on Lebanese soil, using the Lebanese people as human shields,” the IDF spokesman said. “In our point of view, the Lebanese government is completely responsible for what is happening on Lebanese soil,” he stressed. Conricus also noted that Israel considers Hezbollah as its “main enemy,” while the Lebanese military is its “potential enemy.” According to the IDF, in spite of Iranian support, Hezbollah has not yet gained the industrial-grade capability to produce high-precision missiles. Earlier this week, Hezbollah threatened to retaliate to the series of confirmed Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, and to the alleged Israeli drone attacks on Hezbollah’s headquarters in Beirut on Saturday night. Israel justified the Syria attack citing the alleged threat of a “pending large-scale attack” by Iranian forces on targets inside Israel. The IDF has yet to confirm whether the two drones that went down in Saturday night’s operation in Beirut belonged to Israel. Lebanon called the drone operations an “attack” on the country’s sovereignty.In the wake of the drone attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Hezbollah’s leaders, and officials from both Iran and Lebanon, should be “careful of what they say,” stressing that Israel had the ability “to defend itself and to pay back its enemies.” The statement followed a warning  by the Iranian government that Tel Aviv would face “grave consequences” if it continued its suspected wave of attacks across Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Israeli F-16a warplanes take off at the Nevatim air force base (File)
© AP Photo / Dan Balilty Israeli F-16a warplanes take off at the Nevatim air force base (File)

Israel has repeatedly accused Iran of sponsoring anti-Israeli proxy campaigns in the region, including in Lebanon and Syria, and has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria in recent years. Iran has denied the claims. Relations between the two countries have been poor for decades.

China considers relaxing auto purchase curbs to boost consumption

FILE PHOTO: A carrier trailer transports newly manufactured cars at a port in Dalian, Liaoning province, China May 21, 2019. REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) – China unveiled measures on Tuesday to help boost consumption, including the possible removal of restrictions on auto purchases, as growth in the world’s second-biggest economy falters amid mounting U.S. trade pressures. The State Council or cabinet said in a statement that local governments that have restrictions on auto sales should explore gradually relaxing or removing those curbs, while they should also encourage the purchases of new energy vehicles. European auto stocks rose on the news that Beijing was looking to loosen vehicle purchase restrictions. China’s economy stumbled more sharply than expected at the start of the third quarter, as Beijing’s trade dispute with the United States took a heavier toll on businesses and consumers. Second-quarter economic growth slowed to a near 30-year low. The automobile sector, a pillar of industrial growth, has been a casualty of falling demand, with overall car sales down for a 13th consecutive month in July. Analysts expect more economic support measures in the coming months, including steps to boost domestic consumption. “China data weakness will likely be more visible in August and September, and policymakers will likely lean toward more intensive easing,” said analysts at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a note on Monday. “We expect policy loosening to resume in infrastructure investment, consumption stimulus and monetary easing.” Retail sales in July pointed to consumer caution, growing at the weakest pace since April. Sales of automobiles and jewelry declined from a year earlier, while sales of garments, home appliances and telecommunications equipment posted low single-digit growth. The State Council added it would encourage commercially struggling malls, stadiums and old factory zones to be transformed into commercial complexes, gym and entertainment centers, as well as renovating commercial pedestrian streets across the country. It said Beijing would extend retail hours to promote “the night economy”, with convenience stores and restaurants open longer. Beijing will additionally allow city-level governments to approve retail sales of refined oil products, it said, adding that it would also encourage credit support for purchases of new energy vehicles and smart home appliances.