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from FaithWorld:

U.N.’s Ban seeks advice on Iraq crisis from top Shi’ite cleric al-Sistani

(UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (R), walks after a meeting with Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf July 24, 2014. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sought guidance from Iraq's top cleric on Thursday, as he urged Iraqi politicians to form an inclusive government that can confront a Sunni militant insurgency. Ban's meeting with Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani underscored the 83-year-old cleric's vast sway in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is considered a polarising figure who has fueled sectarian tensions. A spokesman for Ban told Reuters the United Nations chief was meeting with Sistani in the city of Najaf to seek his wisdom on developments in Iraq. REUTERS/Ahmad Mousa )

(UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (R), walks after a meeting with Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf July 24, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmad Mousa )

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sought guidance from Iraq's top cleric on Thursday, as he urged Iraqi politicians to form an inclusive government that can confront a Sunni militant insurgency.

Ban's meeting with Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani underscored the 83-year-old cleric's vast sway in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is considered a polarizing figure who has fueled sectarian tensions.

A spokesman for Ban told Reuters the United Nations chief was meeting with Sistani in the city of Najaf to seek his wisdom on developments in Iraq.

from FaithWorld:

French Jews living in fear after pro-Palestinian protests, minister says

(French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrives for a meeting in Vienna July 13, 2014. Fabius on Sunday said that securing a ceasefire for the Gaza Strip and preventing an escalation of the latest outbreak of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians was top priority for France. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader )

(French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrives for a meeting in Vienna July 13, 2014. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader )

Many members of France's Jewish community are living in fear after pro-Palestinian protests in recent weeks were marred by violence and use of anti-Semitic language, the country's foreign minister said on Thursday.

from Global Markets Forum Dashboard:

A bright spot of data

PMI After all the recent doom and gloom about the strength of the euro zone economic recovery, today’s flash euro zone PMI data for July came as something of a pleasant surprise, helping to lift the euro off 8-month lows.  The euro zone's private sector expanded at its fastest rate in three months, the data showed, although the downside was that faster growth in new business was mostly driven by companies cutting prices. 

"The latest flash euro area survey was mildly reassuring but France remains in difficulty," our guest Nick Stamenkovic said. 

from Breakingviews:

StanChart at risk of “doing an HSBC” – badly

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Standard Chartered STAN.L is doing a passable impression of HSBC circa 2010. The UK-based emerging markets bank has told investors that it does not accept “media rumours” concerning the future of Chairman John Peace and Chief Executive Peter Sands. The parallels with HSBC’s succession planning four years ago – a crisis that culminated in the dual departures of chairman and CEO amid a boardroom power struggle – are worrying.

from Mark Jones:

Paul Ryan’s promising new plan to end poverty http://t.co/rdYkH4TDfy

Paul Ryan’s promising new plan to end poverty http://t.co/rdYkH4TDfy

from Reihan Salam:

Paul Ryan’s promising new plan to end poverty

Ryan speaks at the SALT conference in Las Vegas

Paul Ryan has long been known as the GOP’s budget guru. With the release of his new report on expanding opportunity in America -- the most ambitious conservative anti-poverty agenda since the mid-1990s -- he is on the cusp of becoming something much more than that.

Loved by the right and loathed by the left, Ryan has been the architect of the most consequential Republican domestic policy initiatives of the Obama era. In spirit if not in name, Ryan spent much of President Obama’s first term as the leader of the opposition, rallying Republicans against Obamacare and in favor of long-term spending reductions. His controversial calls for entitlement and tax reform as chairman of the House Budget Committee were singled out by the president for over-the-top denunciation. In the spring of 2012, well before Ryan was named the Republican vice-presidential nominee, the president went so far as to characterize the Wisconsin congressman’s budget proposal as “thinly-veiled Social Darwinism.”

from Counterparties:

MORNING BID – Waiting on volatility

The day brings another run of earnings reports in what’s overall been a steady and admittedly staid earnings season – many of the high-fliers that investors counted on for volatile trading post-earnings haven’t delivered on that promise, an angle we’ll be exploring in more detail later in the day. Facebook went out with results that weren’t terrible or even all that amazing and shares meandered their way to a 2 percent gain in post-close trading Wednesday (it has since risen and is up 8 percent in premarket action Thursday, so that one has at least panned out for some). Shares of Gilead Sciences bucked the trend among more volatile biotechnology shares and really didn’t do all that much at all.

The big-cap stocks have been similarly unexciting, and the equity market gets a ton of them before and after on Thursday, including heavy equipment giant Caterpillar, the two car companies (Ford and General Motors). There’s also Post-It maker 3M, online retailer Amazon, payment processor Visa – another good consumer spending barometer, and the likes of PulteGroup and DR Horton, a pair of larger homebuilder stocks.

from Photographers' Blog:

Kandahar to Idaho: a life in recovery

Pocatello, Idaho
By Jim Urquhart

It’s been just over two years since Sgt. Matt Krumwiede’s life was changed forever by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Until last month, it had been even longer since he had last set foot in his home in Pocatello, Idaho.

On Sunday, June 29, Matt came home for a short visit for the first time since a homemade bomb tore away both his legs while he was on patrol in Kandahar.

from Mark Jones:

You can’t blame immigrants for gun violence http://t.co/puRYujvqgo

You can’t blame immigrants for gun violence http://t.co/puRYujvqgo

from Breakingviews:

China’s old meat is a corporate health warning

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Old meat in China’s fast-food chain brings a health warning for foreign companies doing business in the country. After getting fat on rapid growth, some are discovering nasties hidden within their ample folds.

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