Two Simple Demands of Iran

Demand # 1: Recognize Israel (and end the anti-Israel rhetoric)

Iran must recognize Israel's right to exist in deal


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday demanded that any final deal include a "clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel's right to exist." Netanyahu has been perhaps the most vocal critic of nuclear talks with Iran, insisting again and again it can't be trusted. He took his case to the U.S. Congress last month, at a time before negotiators had hammered out any sort of agreement, over the objections of President Barack Obama. There's never been any dispute about his take, but the Prime Minister has sharpened his rhetoric in recent days, saying the deal increases the risk of a "horrific war."
Obama's response


Well, let me say this — it's not that the idea of Iran recognizing Israel is unreasonable. It's completely reasonable and that's U.S. policy.... There's still going to be a whole host of differences between us and Iran, and one of the most profound ones is the vile, anti-Semitic statements that have often come out of the highest levels of the Iranian regime. But the notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons, in a verifiable deal, on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.
Comment: It is fundamental naivety on Obama's part. The US holds the high hand here with the embargoed funds and sanctions!

Editorial: Make the Iran nuclear deal better, but don’t scrap it


Obama has presented Congress with a false choice, suggesting that the only option to this deal is war. How about resuming negotiations and hammering out a better deal? Of particular concern are the limits on international inspectors’ access, and the fact that Iran could retain a “breakout” period of one year to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. That’s not good enough. This nation must demonstrate united and unwavering resolve. Iran only benefits from a contentious debate in which the president says one thing and Congress says the opposite. As Ray Takeyh, of the Council on Foreign Affairs, told this newspaper last week, rarely has an international accord of this magnitude been signed by a U.S. president who lacked majority backing from Congress. Obama must not close his ears to the skeptics’ concerns. He should summon congressional leaders and charge them with itemizing the five or six big items that really worry them about this agreement. This should not be an opportunity for congressional showboating with unrealistic demands for Iran to renounce terrorism or recognize Israel’s right to exist. The mission is to refine the technical terms specific to Iran’s nuclear program.
Comment: The above editorial finds my views unrealistic but still demands a better deal on technical terms

The issue of rhetoric: Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publishes book to destroy Israel


In a 416-page manifesto called Palestine, Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei details his view on the destruction of Israel and the deception of the US. The book, which credits Khamenei as "The flag bearer of Jihad to liberate Jerusalem," is only available in Iran, the NY Post revealed. According to the Post, Khamenei quickly asserts his belief that Israel does not have a right to exist as a state. He does this by using three words: nabudi meaning annihilation, imha meaning fading out and zaval meaning effacement. The book allegedly states Khamenei's strategy for the destruction of Israel is through "well-established Islamic principles". One of those principles is that a land under Muslim rule, no matter how brief, can never be returned to non-Muslim rulers. The Post reported that Khamenei lists Israel as a special case because it is an "ally of the American Great Satan," it has waged war against Muslims and because it occupies Jerusalem, which he calls "Islam's third Holy City." In his new book, the Iranian religious leader calls for long periods of low-intensity warfare that makes like unpleasant or impossible for a majority of Israeli Jews so they leave Israel. He does not, however, call for the complete destruction of the country or the massacre of Jewish people.
Comment: We hold the high card. Don't fold on this.

Demand # 2: Free the Hostages 

Iran nuclear deal: What does it mean for Americans held in Iran?


With the announcement of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, their families and friends hope that the fight to free their loved ones won't be ignored. They include Naghmeh Abedini, whose husband, Saeed Abedini, is a Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran. "With the announcement of a deal and yet silence as to the fate of Saeed and the other Americans held hostage in Iran, their fate lies now in the hands of Congress," she said in a statement, pleading with Congress to keep the detained Americans in mind as it reviews the deal. "My children have desperately missed the loving embrace of their father for the last three years of their lives. They have grown up almost half of their lives without their father," she said. "Please help us ensure the remainder of their childhood includes both a mother and a father." Hekmati's family also released a statement after the nuclear deal was announced. "Amir is an innocent man who traveled to Iran to visit family, yet there is no denying that his imprisonment has been prolonged pending an outcome in these negotiations," the statement said. "While Amir himself has said that he should not be part of any nuclear deal, his immediate release would demonstrate a strong gesture of good faith to the international community."
Iran: Release 4 Americans Now!

Comment: We should be absolutists about this! Image above from the Dallas News editorial (screen grab)


2016 Campaign Issues

Not in order and not complete or fleshed out:

  • Reinforce the sanctity of human life: I doubt abortion can be overturned in the near term, but to ignore the barbarism of abortion would be a mistake. Life: from the unborn to the invalid to the elderly ... life matters because men are in the image and likeness of God.
  • Immigration reform: This has been kicked down the road for decades. The open border policy is wrong ... but I am against "a wall". I am not a Trumpite on this! 
  • A reboot on our middle east policy. The Obama deal with Iran looks to be very bad: An Iran with nukes and missiles would be very bad for our allies and for us.
  • Stop (obliterate) ISIS!
  • Social security and Medicare reform
  • Towards a balanced budget.
  • Corporate tax reform (too high ... too complex)
  • Personal income tax reform (too complex)
  • Real health care reform ... not the unaffordable care act


Microblogging with Twitter and Stocktwits



  • Am going to try my hand at microblogging with Twitter.
  • I see value as in example above of messaging political representatives
  • For now am experimenting with Twitter feeds in the right navigation pane
Stocktwits uses the stock symbol notation with a $ sign.  Example:

Minnesota Hwy 169 Project - Both directions of Hwy 169 over Nine Mile Creek will be closed for full year

Summary of work - Work on Hwy 169 will include:


  • Replacing the Hwy 169 bridge over Nine Mile Creek in Hopkins, Minnetonka and Edina. Bridge conditions require that it be replaced by 2020. Fall 2016 through fall 2017: Both directions of Hwy 169 over Nine Mile Creek will be closed. Advantages of a full closure: Reduces construction impacts from 3 years to 1 year by consolidating all of the planned Hwy 169 projects
  • Reconstructing more than six miles of pavement on Hwy 169 between Hwy 55 and just north of Hwy 62.
  • Constructing acceleration and deceleration lanes on Hwy 169 at Cedar Lake Road.
  • Removing access to and from southbound Hwy 169 at 16th Street in St. Louis Park (proposed).
  • Repairing noise walls.
  • Replacing concrete barrier.
  • Improving pedestrian accessibility.
City of Plymouth project announcement
Project Map (PDF)
Comment: Plenty of time to plan


Donald Trump "is a counterfeit Republican and no conservative"

Donald Trump is a counterfeit Republican

George Will: Excerpt:

In every town large enough to have two traffic lights there is a bar at the back of which sits the local Donald Trump, nursing his fifth beer and innumerable delusions. Because the actual Donald Trump is wealthy, he can turn himself into an unprecedentedly and incorrigibly vulgar presidential candidate. It is his right to use his riches as he pleases. His squalid performance and its coarsening of civic life are costs of freedom that an open society must be prepared to pay. When, however, Trump decided that his next acquisition would be not another casino but the Republican presidential nomination, he tactically and quickly underwent many conversions of convenience (concerning abortion, health care, funding Democrats, etc.). His makeover demonstrates that he is a counterfeit Republican and no conservative.

... Conservatives who flinch from forthrightly marginalizing Trump mistakenly fear alienating a substantial Republican cohort. But the assumption that today's Trumpites are Republicans is unsubstantiated and implausible. Many are no doubt lightly attached to the political process, preferring entertainment to affiliation. They relish their candidate's vituperation and share his aversion to facts. From what GOP faction might Trumpites come? The establishment? Social conservatives?
Comment: First of what I propose to be many posts about the upcoming Republican Presidential field. The above is from George Will and expresses my view. I could not support Trump. Image source.


Big Oil Stocks Safe?

 5 Big Oil Stocks to Buy for the Rest of 2015
The Cowen team warns that there could be what they term “commodity induced pullbacks” that investors should be aware of. Translated, a steep drop in oil or natural gas prices could spur another stock sell-off. The analysts are very positive on five big oil stocks for investors to own going forward.
Oil Majors' $60 Billion Cuts Don't Go Far Enough as Crude Slides
The world’s biggest producers will need to trim investments by a further $26 billion to meet sacrosanct dividend payments, according to Jefferies Group LLC. Capital spending will have to fall 10 percent next year, Banco Santander SA says. Oil companies are bracing for “lower for longer” prices as a global supply glut persists, dragging crude to the lowest close since March 2009 in New York on Tuesday. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which has reduced spending 20 percent this year, has “more levers to pull” should the market weaken further, according to Chief Executive Officer Ben Van Beurden. The tightening means international producers such as Shell and Chevron Corp. can break even at a lower crude price -- about $10 lower than before they started cuts last year, according to Jefferies analyst Jason Gammel. Oil companies are bracing for “lower for longer” prices Still, they’ll need Brent at $82 a barrel next year to balance cash flow from operations with investments, he said. Santander’s Jason Kenney puts the breakeven level at $70, about $20 above current prices. That gap is reflected in energy stocks, which are among the world’s worst performers this year. Some oil majors have mitigated the impact of crude’s slump by bolstering the share of natural gas in their output. Shell and Total SA now produce more gas than oil and are the least exposed to lower prices, while Chevron is most at risk. Each $1 change in the price of Brent affects Shell’s pretax profit by about $330 million, while for BP the impact is $300 million, according to data from the companies. Chevron’s cash flow would be hit by as much as $350 million. Of the three, BP pumps the most crude.
Better Times Ahead For Oil, If You Can Believe It
Numerous challenges exist. Every day there’s yet another reason why oil prices will never increase or economic conditions improve. Iran. China. Greece. Global inventories. OPEC overproduction. Rising North American rig counts. Carbon taxes. Corporate tax increases. Royalty reviews. No pipelines. The news is so depressing, more are saying this downturn is the worst ever, although there is significant evidence to the contrary. This is not new. What the industry has always done is extrapolate; whatever happened yesterday will continue. If things are good, they always will be. If it is bad, it will remain so forever. After 36 years of writing about the always-volatile oilpatch, the only constant is the herd is usually wrong, regardless of the direction it is headed.

... There is likely no good news in the short term, the next couple of months, that is. Prices may go lower again based on market sentiment. Keep the faith. In the medium term—the next six months, hopefully—there will be growing stability and confidence if federal and provincial politicians don’t do anything really awful. But the long term looks good. The herd is wrong again and global oil supply and demand will prove it.

Pedal-Pub conviction - John D. Rock

1 man convicted among 5 charged in ambush of Pedal Pub patrons - Shakopee man is fined, put on probation; others had their cases dismissed because of a lack of evidence.

Of the five people charged, only one was convicted for the ambush of Pedal Pub riders with water balloons and high-velocity squirt guns in Minneapolis, a roving late-spring outburst that brought to an apex the simmering culture clash over the rolling drinking parties on the downtown social scene. John D. Rock Jr., 25, of Shakopee, pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with the prank. Rock was fined $300, ordered to pay restitution of $395 to the Pedal Pub proprietor and also has a stayed 45-day jail sentence hanging over his head for one year. Dropped were misdemeanor charges of fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct involving fighting or brawling. As for the other four, the city attorney’s office dropped misdemeanor charges for what it said was a lack of evidence. The case against Rock went forward, city spokesman Matt Lindstrom said, because of “direct evidence” against him. The five who were charged were accused of throwing water balloons and shooting squirt guns at mobile pub passengers during a series of bicycle ride-by attacks in downtown Minneapolis on May 23. On the third foray, the targeted pedal pub patrons just happened to be off-duty Burnsville police officers, who chased down the perpetrators and held them until Minneapolis police arrived. The case made specifically against Rock was strengthened, according to the criminal complaint, because Pedal Pub driver Destiny Hayden snapped a photo that showed Rock sporting a large water gun strapped to his hip. Also, the complaint continued, a witness told police he saw Rock strike an off-duty officer in the head with a water gun while the officer was holding down one of Rock’s cohorts. Surveillance video also captured the blow, the complaint added.
Comment: Follow tag for prior posts.


Minnesota Muni Funds

Comments: Morningtar ★,  Dividends exempt from Minnesota and Federal taxes, conservative, $ 5,000 minimum to buy in. 


ETF Creation and Workings

An Inside Look At ETF Construction

The process begins when a prospective ETF manager (known as a sponsor) files a plan with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to create an ETF. Once the plan is approved, the sponsor forms an agreement with an authorized participant, generally a market maker, specialist or large institutional investor, who is empowered to create or redeem ETF shares. (In some cases, the authorized participant and the sponsor are the same.)

The authorized participant borrows stock shares, often from a pension fund, places those shares in a trust and uses them to form ETF creation units. These are bundles of stock varying from 10,000 to 600,000 shares, but 50,000 shares is what's commonly designated as one creation unit of a given ETF. Then, the trust provides shares of the ETF, which are legal claims on the shares held in the trust (the ETFs represent tiny slivers of the creation units), to the authorized participant.

Because this transaction is an in-kind trade - that is, securities are traded for securities - there are no tax implications. Once the authorized participant receives the ETF shares, they are sold to the public on the open market just like stock shares. When ETF shares are bought and sold on the open market, the underlying securities that were borrowed to form the creation units remain in the trust account. The trust generally has little activity beyond paying dividends from the stock, held in the trust, to the ETF owners, and providing administrative oversight. This is because the creation units are not impacted by the transactions that take place on the market when ETF shares are bought and sold.
Creating an ETF


Creating an ETF has much in common with issuing new stock or inaugurating a mutual fund. But there are some important differences that make this process unique. One of the most relevant is the number of individuals and organizations who play a role in the process: a sponsor or fund manager, an index provider, a custodian, a number of authorized participants, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in its role as securities regulator. Another is the process through which the creation occurs.

Comments: Top image source. Bottom image captured from here. List of new ETF launches