Wednesday, December 28, 2011
In response to threats by Western countries to impose oil sanctions on Iran, the Iranian website Mashreq News, which is close to Iranian military circles, posted an article on December 15, 2011 outlining military measures that could be taken by Tehran to close the Strait of Hormuz should the regime choose to do so.(Memri).
The article enumerated the forces and weapons that Iran could employ in such a military operation, including fast attack craft carrying anti-ship missiles; submarines; battleships; cruise and ballistic missiles; bombers carrying laser-, radar- and optically-guided missiles; helicopters; armed drones; hovercraft; and artillery.It stated that despite Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's statements that Tehran would not initiate a military confrontation but would retaliate harshly if attacked, "there is no guarantee that [Tehran] will not launch a preemptory strike on the civilian level, for instance through cyber-warfare or by means of economic pressure, including by closing the Strait of Hormuz and cutting off [this] energy lifeline for an indefinite period of time." It added, "Should additional sanctions be imposed on Iran, especially in the domain of oil export, Iran might keep [its] oil from leaving its territorial waters."In a further threat, the article stated that Iran would in the future be able to attack the 480-km pipeline with a capacity of 2.5 million barrels/day that the UAE is planning to build in order to bypass the Strait of Hormuz in order to neutralize Iran's ability to disrupt the world's oil supply: "As for the plan... to construct a [pipeline] from the UAE that will be an alternative in times of emergency in case the Hormuz Strait is closed, we should note... that the entire territory of the UAE is within range of Iran's missiles, [so Iran] will easily be able to undermine security at the opening of this [pipeline] using weapons to be discussed this report."
In accordance with Iranian doctrine, the article pointed out that these weapons would actually not be necessary because there would be suicide operations, and added that "the faith of the Iranian youth, and their eagerness to sacrifice their lives, will sap the enemies' courage."Despite statements by Iranian government spokesmen, including Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi and Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, that the closing of the strait is not currently on Iran's agenda, Majlis National Security Committee member Pervez Sarouri said that the Iran would be conducting 10 days of naval maneuvers, called "Velayat 90," beginning December 24, 2011, to drill closing it.Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari, who is close to Khamenei, called on the regime to announce immediately that Tehran would close the strait to vessels from the U.S., Europe, Japan, or any other country participating in imposing oil sanctions on Iran. At a press conference on the subject of the Velayat 90 naval maneuvers, which commenced on December 24, Iranian Navy Commander Habibollah Sayyari said that his forces would be capable of closing the strait if asked to do so.It should be noted that Iranian officials have previously threatened to close the strait as a means of deterring Iran's neighbors and the West (see previous MEMRI reports from 2010, 2008 and 2007).
The following are the main points of the Mashreq News article on closing the Strait of Hormuz
Fast Attack Craft
The article stated that since it first introduced fast attack craft for use in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), the Iranian navy has immeasurably improved the craft's "ability to face advanced enemy combat vessels, much less cargo ships. These boats are equipped with sea radar systems; advanced electronic communication systems; sea-to-sea cruise missiles, both short-range – 25 km – and medium range; medium- and large-caliber [sic] torpedoes; and naval mines, along with traditional means of warfare – including semi-heavy machine guns, missile launchers, and shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. These sea craft are capable of blocking the Strait [of Hormuz] for a brief or an extended period, and of facing enemy warships trying to open the route."In addition to their high speed and abovementioned equipment, these sea craft are highly maneuverable. Their ability to operate at night, aided by the requisite accessories, as well as in stormy weather, has been demonstrated repeatedly in recent years, in maneuvers both minor and major. Their successful record includes stopping submarines from countries beyond the [Gulf] region that aimed to cross the Strait of Hormuz, and supporting [Iranian] submarines threatened by enemy warships in the Indian Ocean... Iran has various types of naval mines, both stationary and remote controlled. This weapon [i.e. the mines] may, if necessary, be operated by Iranian boats and submarines [located at] various points in the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding waters."
The article continued: "The Iranian navy's acquisition of submarines... some 20 in number... has rendered it more powerful than the navies of the [other] countries in the region. Iran's submarine craft can use torpedoes, mines, and missiles, and can remain submerged for weeks in order to accomplish a mission. Apart from the Russian Kilo class submarines, the Nahang, Ghadir, and Fateh class submarines have been pre-fitted for the waters around Iran, especially the Persian Gulf... These submarines can remain stationary in the water and can evade various enemy radar and sonar systems...The article then go's on summing up all the weapons systems ready to be used in closing the Strait of Hormuz.
Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles
Artillery and Surface-to-Sea Rocket Systems
Hmmmm.....What would be the result of a few nuclear strikes in the region of Iran and the Strait of Hormuz?Read the full story here.
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Fiji 5.2 !More info here.
- Obama blows off Congress: President says he won’t abide by spending bill he signed.(WT).BY Emely Miller.When the president of the United States signs a bill into law, it’s expected that he will abide by it. That’s not the case with President Obama, who has a sudden interest in novel legalistic interpretations getting him off the hook from laws he doesn’t like.On Friday, the president signed the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill, which funds the government for the remaining nine months of the fiscal year. Afterward, he released a statement saying he won’t abide by the law because the Justice Department had advised that certain provisions are “subject to well-founded constitutional objections.”House Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman Kevin Smith told The Washington Times, “This president used to condemn the type of signing statements he is now embracing to ignore the will of Congress and the American people.”One of the presidential pet peeves is that Capitol Hill put the kibosh on his czars. Those high-level White House appointments aren’t confirmed by the Senate but are central to implementing Mr. Obama’s liberal agenda. Lawmakers specifically blocked funding for salaries and offices for four of his nine czars: health care (who coordinates Obamacare), automobile industry (“car czar”), urban affairs and climate change.The president protested that defunding those positions “could prevent me from fulfilling my constitutional responsibilities, by denying me the assistance of senior advisers and by obstructing my supervision of executive branch officials.” Thus, he’s going to interpret the law as he sees fit.The commander in chief is opposed to new restrictions on foreign relations and national security, especially a new requirement that the defense secretary notify congressional appropriations committees in advance of military exercises that cost more than $100,000 for construction.Also at issue is a restriction on funding United Nations peacekeeping missions that put U.S. armed forces under the command or operational control of foreign nationals. Mr. Obama said he’s only going to apply those provisions he deems constitutional. The same flexibility with the law apparently will be enjoyed in relation to 14 separate provisions that limit foreign aid to certain governments.The president protested that “once again” he has been stopped from transferring terrorist detainees from the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, onto the U.S. mainland. He claimed this law could “violate constitutional separation of powers principles.” He vowed to interpret it to keep executive powers supreme and work to repeal the ban on bringing these dangerous outlaws stateside.On top of all this, Mr. Obama took umbrage at unnamed but “numerous” omnibus provisions that limit the executive branch from spending money without the approval of congressional committees. He wrote, “These are constitutionally impermissible forms of congressional aggrandizement in the execution of the laws.” The chief executive warned that his administration will notify the relevant committees in advance and listen to their recommendations, but “our spending decisions shall not be treated as dependent on the approval of congressional committees.”The American system of government is based on a separation of powers, not presidential fiat. Mr. Obama should abide by every word of the 1,200-page bill passed by Congress and signed by his own hand.Hmmmm.........Dictator.[dɪkˈteɪtə] n 1. (Government, Politics and Diplomacy) a. a ruler who is not effectively restricted by a constitution, laws, recognized opposition, etc.
- Washington Times Writer Implies Obama a Domestic Enemy.(BN).Actually, Robert Knight's piece in the Washington Times calls Obama a 'Trojan Horse' president without mentioning the latter's name.I was thinking about writing a novel about what might happen if a man who hates America and wants to bring it down is somehow elected president. What would he do?
I sketched out a few plot elements, and you can decide whether this will fly.
First, the Trojan Horse president would initiate unprecedented spending, driving the debt up by more than $4 trillion just in the first three years. Much of the money would go into the pockets of political supporters and people who donate heavily to his campaigns.
He would ram through an unreadable law allowing the federal government to seize the health care system, which would transform citizens into beholden subjects.
He would cut out private lenders and federalize student loans.
He would go on a world apology tour, letting America's friends and foes know that he is doing whatever he can to make sure America becomes a third-rate power and is brought to heel under a growing world government headed by the United Nations. While on the tour, he would praise Islam and denigrate America's Christian heritage.Read it all because there is much more. Under this 'fictional' scenario Knight lays out, the president to which he is referring warrants impeachment, a Senate trial, and removal from office. The part Knight doesn't get to in his novel idea, involves a hyper-partisan Congress that has essentially neutered itself and hasn't the political will to do the right thing thanks, in large part, to a president who possesses the nefarious ability to exacerbate division.By referring to a president of the United States, whether real or fictional, as a 'Trojan Horse,' Knight is essentially identifying such a president as a 'Domestic enemy.' Via the Tenth Amendment Center, here is the oath of office every member of Congress must take upon being sworn in:Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter: So help you God?The response is two words: 'I do.'If this hypothetical president were to succeed in destroying America, Congress would be to blame for allowing him to do so; it is the body that is responsible for dealing with any such reality. That leads me to the response then Republican whip, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) gave to a questioner in the audience at the Heritage Foundation on May 4, 2010.Cantor was asked what it would take for Obama to be defined as a 'domestic enemy.' His answer carries with it a very, very serious indictment of the legislative branch of government to which he belongs, if that answer was wrong.Read the full story here.
- Nameless terrorists kill nameless victims.(IsraelMatzav).In its continuing efforts to deny the reality of Islamic terrorism, the Obama administration issued the following statement on Christmas Day after Islamic terrorists murdered 39 Christians in Nigeria. "We condemn this senseless violence and tragic loss of life on Christmas Day. We offer our sincere condolences to the Nigerian people and especially those who lost family and loved ones. We have been in contact with Nigerian officials about what initially appear to be terrorist acts and pledge to assist them in bringing those responsible to justice."The Zionist Organization of America commented: The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed concern that President Barack Obama's official statement about this horrific massacre of Christians at three different churches by a group of Muslim terrorists mentions neither the Muslim perpetrators nor the Christian victims when clearly the intentional aim of the Islamist terrorists was to murder Christians at several churches. The attacks in Nigeria over the Christmas period resulted in the murder of 39 Christians and the maiming of dozens more, the majority of those killed dying on the steps of a Catholic church that was targeted as congregants were exiting following mass. The Nigerian terrorist assaults were perpetrated by the Boko Haram (meaning 'Western culture is forbidden') Islamist group, sometimes referred to as the 'Nigerian Taliban.' The Boko Haram has been responsible for the deaths of of 504 people this year alone.... The statement... gave literally no clue as to the Muslim identity of the perpetrators or to the fact that Christians were deliberately murdered.This avoidance of any mention of the Muslim identity and inspiration of various terrorists who have assaulted non-Muslims, including the United States, has been a worrying staple of President Obama. Presidential statements on the anniversaries of the 1983 killing of 242 U.S. servicemen in Lebanon by Hizballah or the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, both failed to mention the perpetrators of these acts. The U.S. report on the Fort Hood massacre of 13 U.S. soldiers by Islamist killer, Dr. Nidal Hassan, the was no reference to either Hassan's Muslim identity or his adherence to jihadist doctrine.Obama Administration officials generally speak of particular terrorist attacks as being the work of isolated extremists, even when Islamist terrorist connections (for example, between Fort Hood sniper Nidal Hassan and the American-born Al-Qaida in Yemen leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, who advised him) were readily traceable. Also, the Administration has refused almost uniformly to refer to 'Islamism,' 'radical Islam' and 'jihad.' John O. Brennan, Obama's chief national security adviser for counterterrorism, has even explicitly refused to refer to 'jihad' of 'Islamists,' even though the doctrines of jihad and Islamism are the direct inspiration for the attacks in question. Brennan said, "describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism, that the United States is somehow at war against Islam ... Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one's community."Hmmmm.........."I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."Read the full story here.
- SOPA is the end of us, say bloggers.(Politico).The conservative and liberal blogospheres are unifying behind opposition to Congress’s Stop Online Piracy Act, with right-leaning bloggers aruging their very existence could be wiped out if the anti-piracy bill passes.“If either the U.S. Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the U.S. House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) become law, political blogs such as Red Mass Group [conservative] and Blue Mass Group [liberal] will cease to exist,” wrote a blogger at Red Mass Group.Some have asserted that the controversial measures would criminalize pages and blogs that link to foreign websites dedicated to online piracy. In particular, this has concerned search engines like Google, which could face massive liability if some form of the bill passes, some say.“Of course, restrictions of results provided by Internet search engines amount to just that: prior restraint of their free expression of future results. Google and others, under SOPA, are told what they can or can’t publish before they publish it. Kill. The. Bill,” conservative blogger Neil Stevens argued at RedState.Liberals had their own spin on it, cheering on the fact that corporate support for SOPA was starting to subside.In particular, GoDaddy, a domain registration firm, suffered a spectacularly bad round of PR when it came out in support of the measures. But after a grass-roots campaign to boycott the firm, driven by Reddit, an online community, and others, GoDaddy reversed course and renounced its support.“Some good news on the SOPA front: Its corporate base of supporters is starting to crumble,” David Dayden wrote at Firedoglake. “GoDaddy is not alone. Scores of law firms are requesting their names be removed from the Judiciary Committee’s official list of SOPA supporters.”In the blogosphere, the trajectory of the bill seemed set — that it is destined for failure if the pressure of the online community is kept up.“The dynamic is clear. Once SOPA — and its Senate counterpart, Protecting IP Act, or PIPA — became high-profile among the Internet community, the lazy endorsements from companies and various hangers-on became toxic. And now, those supporters are scrambling, hollowing out the actual support for the bill. Suddenly, a bill with ‘widespread’ corporate support doesn’t have much support at all,” Dayden said.Conservatives took a slightly different tact, though with similar disdain for the anti-piracy measures.Indeed, blogger Erick Erickson said that he would encourage a primary for any Republican who supports the bill.“I love Marsha Blackburn. She is a delightful lady and a solidly conservative member of Congress. And I am pledging right now that I will do everything in my power to defeat her in her 2012 reelection bid” due to her co-sponsorship for SOPA, Erickson wrote at RedState. “Congress has proven it does not understand the Internet. Perhaps they will understand brute strength against them at the ballot box. If members of Congress do not pull their name from co-sponsorship of SOPA, the left and right should pledge to defeat each and every one of them.”Read the full story here.
- EPIC Sues DHS Over Covert Surveillance of Facebook and Twitter.(Epic)(HT:Cryptogon). EPIC has filed a Freedom of information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to force disclosure of the details of the agency's social network monitoring program. In news reports and a Federal Register notice, the DHS has stated that it will routinely monitor the public postings of users on Twitter and Facebook. The agency plans to create fictitious user accounts and scan posts of users for key terms. User data will be stored for five years and shared with other government agencies.The legal authority for the DHS program remains unclear. EPIC filed the lawsuit after the DHS failed to reply to an April 2011 FOIA request.Read the full story here.
- 'Palestinians' claim Obama 'administration' suggests releasing convicted terrorist to compete in elections.(IsraelMatzav).If this story is true, and unfortunately I suspect that it is, it shows just how low the Obama administration has sunk.Palestinian media are reporting based on Israeli sources (not reported yet in any Israeli media that I have seen) that the United States has 'suggested' to Israel that it release convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti (one of the 'heavy' terrorists that Israel refused to release in the 'terrorists for Gilad' deal) from jail so that Barghouti can compete in the 'Palestinian elections' against Hamas (link in Arabic). Barghouti is serving multiple life sentences for murder.The following is an untouched Google translation of the link. Palestine Today - Gaza . Israeli sources said that the U.S. administration is concerned about the prospects for the victory of Hamas in Palestinian elections in the event of future conduct in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.The radio said, the occupation army from those sources that concern the U.S. is increasing in light of certain information received from Arab countries on the determination of the Palestinian president to leave office and not to run for president, opening the door to the Hamas victory, even in the presidential election and full control over the Palestinian situation.Meanwhile, Israeli sources said that the American delegation discussed the important role during the last few months and down with officials in Tel Aviv, the idea of releasing a member of the Central Committee of Fatah, Marwan Barghouti from prison so that the occupation of the movement's leadership in the face of Hamas in the upcoming elections.The sources pointed out that Netanyahu rejects the idea of releasing Barghouti, considering it an extension of the late Palestinian leader 'Yasser Arafat' where he helped the two together in planning to kill dozens of Israelis during the second intifada, according to those sources. The sources pointed out that many mediums, including an Israeli Knesset member Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and former Defense Minister Amir Peretz and some leaders of security agencies and Mossad, the former does not oppose the release of Barghouti, considering him one more Palestinian commitment to peace with Israel.If he ever had one, Barghouti no longer has any commitment to peace with Israel. Ben Eliezer and Peretz are both Labor party MK's who were both failures as Defense Minister (Peretz should never have gotten the job in the first place). And if Obama is willing to make an outrageous demand like this one during an election campaign, imagine what he will demand if God forbid he is reelected.Hmmmm.........."I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."Read the full story here.
- IDF strikes Gaza; Islamic Jihad operative killed.(Ynet).One terror operative was killed and 10 people were injured Tuesday in two IAF strikes in Gaza Strip. Shortly afterwards, a Qassam rocket was fired from northern Gaza at Israel. The projectile exploded on the Palestinian side of the border.The PA's Maan news agency reported that an Israeli military aircraft targeted a car driving in the center of Gaza City on Tuesday night, injuring at least eight people, who were rushed to the Strip's Shifa Hospital. Two of the injured are said to be in critical condition. The IDF said that IAF aircrafts targeted a World Jihad terror cell gearing to execute a terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border. According to the military, the cell included former Hamas operative Rami Daud Kufarneh, and Hazam Saadi al-Shuker, also a former Hamas operative.Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian sources in Gaza said that an Islamic Jihad operative was killed and two other people were injured in an IAF strike in the Strip's north. The IDF confirmed that a Gaza terror cell was targeted as part of the joint IDF-Shin Bet operation. According to the report, Abdulla Talbani, an al-Quds Brigades operative, was killed while riding his motorcycle in a northern neighborhood in Gaza. The injured were rushed to the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza. "The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israelis and IDF soldiers and will continue to operate against any element which exercises terror against Israel," a military statement said.Tensions in the southern sector are high: Egyptian border patrol officers fired at smugglers trying to cross over to Israel on Monday night. The exchange took place as IDF forces were patrolling the sector, leading to initial reports suggesting that the Israeli troops had come under fire.The incident was quickly determined as one confined on the Egyptian side of the border. Read the full story here.
- Iran: no oil will be allowed to pass through Strait if West applies sanctions.(AlArabiya).No oil will be permitted to pass through the key oil transit Strait of Hormuz if the West applies sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, Iranian Vice President Ali Rahimi warned on Tuesday.The threat was reported by the state news agency IRNA as Iran conducted navy wargames near the Strait of Hormuz, at the entrance of the oil-rich Gulf.“If sanctions are adopted against Iranian oil, not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” Rahimi was quoted as saying.“We have no desire for hostilities or violence ... but the West doesn’t want to go back on its plan” to impose sanctions, he said.“The enemies will only drop their plots when we put them back in their place,” he said.The threat underlined Iran's readiness to target the narrow stretch of water along its Gulf coast if it is attacked or economically strangled by Western sanctions.However, Gulf OPEC delegates told Reuters that Iran would harm itself if it disrupts the flow of oil from the Strait of Hormuz,.“If they do shut down Hormuz this would harm Iran’s exports not only the Gulf producers,” said a Gulf OPEC delegate.Another delegate added that Iran would be “shooting itself in the foot” if it does go ahead with the threat. “For now any move in the oil price is short term, as I don’t see Iran actually going ahead with the threat,” the second OPEC delegate added. More than a third of the world’s tanker-borne oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz.The United States maintains a navy presence in the Arabian Gulf in large part to ensure that passage remains free.Iran is currently carrying out navy exercises in international waters to the east of the Strait of Hormuz.Ships and aircraft dropped mines in the sea Tuesday as part of the drill, according to a navy spokesman.Although Iranian wargames occur periodically, the timing of these is seen as a show of strength as the United States and Europe prepare to impose further sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors.The last round of sanctions, announced in November, triggered a pro-regime protest in front of the British embassy in Tehran during which Basij militia members overran the mission, ransacking it.London closed the embassy as a result and ordered Iran’s mission in Britain shut as well.Hmmmm.......What would be the result of a nuke in the Strait of Hormuz?Read the full story here.
- Are the French enemies of Islam?(HurriyetDaily).By Burak BEKDİL.Borrowing the phrase from a wire service, “Turkey told France to block the genocide bill, or else.” France has chosen “else.” And hell broke loose – ironically, in Turkey, not in France. The first set of deadly blows came from the state football betting company, which displaced French games from its regular list of bets, and from the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek, who promised to erect an Algerian massacre/genocide monument right across the French Embassy compound in Ankara. Mr. Gökçek should think twice, or else half of Turkey’s diplomatic missions across the world may have to face Armenian genocide monuments soon. As for the betting blow, hats off to the creative Turkishness. Not even the devil could have thought about such a punishing sanction. Poor French... With the de-listing of their football games on Turkish betting sites, they may soon lose their G-7 membership.And Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek prophesied that “those countries who recognize Armenian genocide will one day come one by one and apologize to the superpower-to-be Turkey.” If that is a good guess, why panic? Why play the offended boy who fetches his football and threatens never to play with the neighborhood lads? Cool down, honorable ministers, and just wait for the day when the world will queue up to apologize to you.And according to Labor Minister Faruk Çelik, “if the French King Francois lived today he would have chopped off [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy’s tongue.” Chopping one’s tongue off in the 21st century? That may be a socially acceptable practice in some parts of the world in 2011, but certainly not in Mr. Sarkozy’s France. Watch out, Minister Çelik, you are unwillingly revealing your cultural/political codes.But, as always, the super-hero of all Turkish super-heroes in the most trendy Turkish pastime “who hates Sarkozy/the French the most” was Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who accused Sarkozy/the French for “enmity against Muslims.” Are Sarkozy and the French enemies of Islam because the French Parliament (not yet the Senate) passed a bill that criminalizes the denial of Armenian genocide? A plausible answer to that question should not require hundreds of tiring scientific tests and research. Just look around the “Muslim world,” Mr. Erdoğan, and you can see for yourself. How many Muslim countries officially and/or publicly condemned and retaliated against the Danish cartoons which Muslims deemed were hostile to their faith? Ah, yes, so many. And how many countries officially and/or publicly condemned and retaliated against the French Parliament’s decision to make genocide denial a crime? None, other than Turkey. Will Muslim Syria, Mr. Erdoğan’s ex-love affair, for example, impose sanctions on France because of that bill? Will Egypt, Mr. Erdoğan’s new love affair, do so? Pakistan? Libya? Iraq? Saudi Arabia? Tunisia? The Arab League? Indonesia? Or why did the president of the mullah regime in Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pay a heartfelt state visit to Yerevan on the same day when the French Parliament passed the bill that criminalizes the denial of a Muslim (and caliphate, too!) genocide against Christians? Is Iran not a Muslim country? Are the Shiite Muslims collaborating with the enemies of Islam? To sum it up, Mr. Erdoğan should explain why over 99 percent of the Muslim world does not view Sarkozy/the French as enemies of Islam because their Parliament passed the genocide denial bill.Mr. Erdoğan can always find those answers in another Muslim vs. Christian dispute in which Turkey remains the solitary Muslim player: Cyprus. Why would, Mr. Erdoğan should think, not a single Muslim country, other than Turkey, recognize the Turkish Cypriot statelet? Where is the Muslim solidarity?Too many questions... But they ought to be asked. And there are even more – coming Friday. Read the full story here.
- Shariah was made for man.(HurriyetDaily).By Mustafa Akyol. As Islamist parties emerge victorious from Arab ballots, some are having second thoughts about the Arab Spring. The widespread concern is that post-dictatorial Middle Eastern states will turn into illiberal democracies rather than liberal ones. And while the threat of illiberal democracy is valid for any late-democratizing country – just look at Mr. Vladimir Putin’s Russia – the Middle East bears an additional and unique risk: Islamic law, or the shariah, which might imply corporal punishments for criminals, degradation of women, and persecution of perceived impiety, blasphemy or apostasy.In the face of this risk, a remedy is often hoped for in the power of pragmatism. For example, Egypt’s triumphant Freedom and Justice Party, an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, will ruin the country’s tourism industry if it bans alcohol. Incumbent Islamists who will have to deliver to their people will face such challenges, the hope goes, and be forced to soften some of their rigid standards.Besides pragmatism, however, there is another source that the more progressive Islamists such as Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda, seem willing to utilize for modernizing their future vision: simply a non-literalist approach to the shariah, which will focus on its “intents” rather than the medieval means that were used to serve those intents.The basis for this non-literal approach goes back to Imam Shatibi, a scholar from 14th-century Muslim Spain. In his magnum opus, “Higher Objectives and Intents of Islamic Law,” Shatibi studied the whole shariah carefully, and concluded that all its decrees could be rendered as the protection of five fundamental values: life, religion, property, progeny and reason.If these intents (maqasid) of Islamic law are taken as its ever-valid content, but the means of these intents are allowed to vary according to time and milieu, as some theologians suggest, then there opens ample ground for reform. Corporal punishments, for example, can be explained as resulting from historical necessity: In seventh-century Arabia, there were neither any correctional facilities nor any bureaucracy to run them. But now we live in a different world.Or the seemingly misogynistic sayings of Prophet Muhammad, such as his advice that women should not travel alone, can be explained as reasonable precautions in his historical context: In seventh-century Arabia, an unprotected woman wandering in the desert would easily fall prey to brigands. In the modern world, however, both law enforcement and means of travel have improved immensely – and therefore the Saudi ban on women’s driving can be declared absurd.These fundamentalists who disregard these nuances do not realize that their blind literalism could lead them to follow the letter of the law, but betray its intents. For example, the Quranic requirement to bring four witnesses to prove an accusation of adultery, whose explicit purpose is to protect women from libel, could turn into a protection for rapists in Pakistan. Western civilization is familiar with a version of this problem from its own canon: The frequent criticism that Jesus brings in the New Testament to the Pharisees, a conservative and literalist Jewish sect of that time, is very relevant. The Pharisees, Jesus noted, were obsessing about the minute details of religious law but leaving undone “the weightier matters of law” such as “justice, and mercy, and faith.” “The Sabbath was made for man,” Jesus also proclaimed, turning the Pharisee mindset upside down, “and not man for the Sabbath.”The future of freedom in Islamic civilization partly lies in a similar insight – that the shariah was made for man, and not man for the shariah. Luckily, the sources that will help nurture that insight are more abundant in Islamic tradition than what is often thought.Read the full story here.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011
- Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity situation Kara Khem, Respublika Tyva - Russia near Mongolian border 6.6 ;Tonga 5.8 - 5.9 ; Japan 5.4 - 5.3 - 5.2 !More info here.
- US to hit debt limit early January: Treasury.(AFP).WASHINGTON — The US government will hit its debt limit in the first week of January, the Treasury Department said on Tuesday, as it pointed to an imminent request for $1.2 trillion increase.The government is expected to come within $100 billion of the current $15.2 trillion ceiling by the end of the year, Treasury Department officials said.That effectively puts lawmakers on notice that they will have until mid-January to oppose a fresh increase.But a reprise of the vicious political debates over the debt ceiling that brought the US to the brink of default over the summer is unlikely.Congress agreed on July 31 to immediately increase the national debt by $400 billion, and then increase it in stages after that when necessary.An increase can only be blocked if both the House of Representatives and the Senate pass measures opposing it.In September the Democratic Party-dominated Senate declined to block a $500 billion increase.But the Republican-controlled House nevertheless passed a resolution symbolically rejecting the ceiling rise.With fiscal rectitude looming large as the 2012 election season gets underway in earnest, the new request to hike the borrowing ceiling could sound the starting gun on a fresh political fight.The Treasury Department said it would have to perform some accounting and managerial acrobatics to make sure the US does not miss payments before the raise comes into effect in mid-January.If opposition to the increase is unsuccessful the limit will be raised to around $16.4 trillion.That is expected to put the issue to bed until late 2012. A new rise in the debt ceiling is not expected to be needed until after the general elections in November.Read the full story here.
- GoDaddy lost 72,354 domains after supporting SOPA legislation.(BLN).Despite a massive Twitter campaign and a blog post that claims “Go Daddy no longer supports SOPA legislation” the company and their CEO have dodged questions about opposing the bill. In essence, they are taking a lesser role by not showing support for the bill. They have not opposed it.This week, they lost around 72,000 domain registrations. At a yearly discounted rate of $6.99 (most registrations are higher), that’s over half a million dollars per year. It is apparently not enough for them to speak out against the bill.How many domains is the company willing to lose before they oppose this abomination of legislation? Do they believe that when they “step back and let others take leadership roles” that we are going to see it as something other than a “duck and cover” public relations move to try to get out of the spotlight and hope someone else takes the brunt of the attacks while they quietly support the bill?Read the full story here.
- Another $845 Mil For Fraud-Infested Welfare Program.(JW).The Obama Administration’s manic spending spree to help “low-income” populations isn’t taking a break for the holidays, this month allocating an additional $845 million to a fraud-infested welfare program that’s already received billions from U.S. taxpayers this year.Incredibly, this particular initiative—known as Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)—is rife with corruption that’s routinely exposed in congressional probes and the media. This hasn’t stopped the Obama Administration from pouring huge sums of money into it, however.Every year the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides “needy” residents around the nation billions of dollars to pay for heating and cooling bills. That’s because the agency considers home energy a public health issue and therefore LIHEAP could help keep families safe and healthy. In fact, the agency encourages people to apply for funds by saying: “If you can’t afford to pay your home energy bill, your home may not be safe and you may be at risk of serious illness or injury,”In late October HHS gave LIHEAP a whopping $1.7 billion to “ensure low-income families are able to meet their heating cost expenses this winter.” When that chunk of change was doled out, the agency said it was for “immediate needs” and that states could also access an “additional $136 million, if needed.”Last week the agency distributed an additional $845 million to help low-income households with energy costs. The goal is to assure that “vulnerable families and seniors” can pay their heating bills and “stay warm during the holiday season and into early 2012,” according to an HHS assistant secretary. The same official says that, even as the economy shows signs of improvement, many Americans are struggling to make ends meet.Under this welfare program the government has actually paid the air conditioning bills for thousands of dead people, convicted felons and federal employees whose salary exceeds the maximum income to qualify for the handouts. In fact, one federal employee admitted requesting “free money” after seeing the “long lines” of applicants. You can’t make this stuff up. The details are included in a congressional report documenting fraud in LIHEAP. Investigators blame lack of oversight for the problems.Read the full story here.
- Monsanto’s GM Corn Linked To Organ Failure in rats.(Disinfo - Huffington Post). Make sure you have a GMO-free Christmas y’all! Katherine Goldstein and Gazelle Emami report on the consequences of genetic engineering of seeds by Monsanto, for Huffington Post: In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto’s GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats. According to the study, which was summarized by Rady Ananda at Food Freedom, “Three varieties of Monsanto’s GM corn – Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 – were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities.” Monsanto gathered its own crude statistical data after conducting a 90-day study, even though chronic problems can rarely be found after 90 days, and concluded that the corn was safe for consumption. The stamp of approval may have been premature, however. In the conclusion of the IJBS study, researchers wrote: “Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted. As there normally exists sex differences in liver and kidney metabolism, the highly statistically significant disturbances in the function of these organs, seen between male and female rats, cannot be dismissed as biologically insignificant as has been proposed by others. We therefore conclude that our data strongly suggests that these GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity….These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown.” Monsanto has immediately responded to the study, stating that the research is “based on faulty analytical methods and reasoning and do not call into question the safety findings for these products.”Read the full story here.
- Sears to shut up to 120 stores as sales slump.(MarketWatch).Sears Holdings shares down 20% on plan to cull Kmart and Sears locations. Moves signal “deepening problems” and “desperation,” analyst says.At a time when holiday season sales overall have turned out better than expected, Sears Holdings Corp. was an exception: It said Tuesday that it will close 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart stores after disappointing holiday sales.It's stock, having already lost 37% of its value this year, tumbled 20% to $36.61 in early trading, making it the biggest percentage decliner in the S&P 500. One of its key suppliers, Whirlpool Corp. was down 5.6%. The final list of stores to be closed hasn’t yet been determined, Sears said. In a change of strategy, the company said it no longer plans to keep “marginally performing” stores open while it works to improve their performance. Sears, which has more than 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the U.S. and Canada, said it plans to take as much as $2.4 billion of charges in the fourth quarter on asset write downs and other items. The move come as the Hoffman Estates, Ill., company said that comparable sales in the eight weeks through Dec. 25 fell 5.2%, including a 4.4% drop at the Kmart discount chain and a 6% decline at the Sears department-store chain. In contrast, the National Retail Federation earlier this month raised its industry holiday forecast to a 3.8% increase from a 2.8% gain. declining profit and lower sales “point to deepening problems at this struggling chain and renew worries about Sears’s survivability,” said Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter, who rates the stock underperform. “The moves announced by Sears point to desperation. Unfortunately for Sears, with (adjusted pre-tax profit) down to about 10% of its five-year peak, one wonders if vendors begin to worry about their own exposure.”Read the full story here.
- A Run On The Global Banking System—How Close Are We?(BLN).Source: Gonzalo Lira.Nine weeks after its bankruptcy, the general public still hasn’t quite realized the implications of the MF Global scandal.My own sense is, this is the first tremor of the earthquake that’s coming to the global financial system. And how the central banks and financial regulators treated the “Systemically Important Financial Institutions” that had exposure to MF Global—to the detriment of the ordinary, blameless customer who got royally ripped off in its bankruptcy—is both the template of how the next financial crisis will be handled, and an accelerator that will make the next crisis happen that much sooner.So first off, what happened with MF Global?Simple: It went bankrupt—because it made bad bets on European sovereign debt, by way of leveraging positions 100-to-1. Yeah, I know: Stupid. Anyway, they went bankrupt—which in and of itself is no big deal. It’s not as if it’s the first time in history that a brokerage firm has gone bust. But to me, the big deal in this case was the way the bankruptcy was handled. Now there are several extremely serious aspects to the MF Global case: Specifically, how their customers were shut out of their brokerage accounts for over a week following the bankruptcy, which made it impossible for those customers to sell out of their positions, and thus caused them to lose serious money; and of course how MF Global was more adept than Mandrake the Magician at making money disappear—about $1 billion, in fact, which still hasn’t turned up. These are quite serious issues which merit prolonged discussion, investigation, prosecution, and ultimately jailtime. But for now, I want to discuss one narrow aspect of the MF Global bankruptcy: How authorities (mis)handled the bankruptcy—either willfully or out of incompetence—which allowed customer’s money to be stolen so as to make JPMorgan whole. From this one issue, it seems clear to me that we can infer what will happen when the next financial crisis hits in the nearterm future. Brokerage firms hold clients’ money in what are known as segregated accounts. This is the money that brokerage firms hold for when a customer makes a trade. If a brokerage firm goes bankrupt, these monies are never touched—because they never belonged to the firm, and thus are not part of its assets. Think of segregated accounts as if they were the content in a safety deposit box: The bank owns the vault—but it doesn’t own the content of the safety deposit boxes inside the vault. If the bank goes broke, the customers who stored their jewelry and pornographic diaries in the safe deposit boxes don’t lose a thing. The bank is just a steward of those assets—just as a brokerage firm is the steward of those customers’ segregated accounts. But when MF Global went bankrupt, these segregated accounts—that is, the content of those safe deposit boxes—were taken away from their rightful owners—that is, MF Global’s customers—and then used to pay off other creditors: That is, JPMorgan. (The mechanics of how this was done are interesting, but insanely complicated, and ultimately not relevant to this discussion. To grossly simplify, MF Global pledged customer assets to JPMorgan, in a process known as rehypothecation—customer assets which MF Global did not have a right to. Needless to say, JPMorgan covered its ass legally. Ethically? Morally? Black as night.)This was seriously wrong—and this is the source of the scandal: Rather than being treated as a bankruptcy of a commodities brokerage firm under subchapter IV of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy law, MF Global was treated as an equities firm (subchapter III) for the purposes of its bankruptcy. Why does this difference of a single subchapter matter? Because in a brokerage firm bankruptcy, the customers get their money first—because after all, it’s theirs—while in an equities firm bankruptcy, the customers are at the end of the line. In the case of MF Global, what should have happened was for all the customers to get their money first. Then everyone else—including JPMorgan—would have picked over the remaining scraps. And the monies MF Global had already pledged to JPMorgan? They call it clawback for a reason.The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which handled the bankruptcy, should have done this—but instead, the Merc was more concerned with making JPMorgan whole than with protecting the money that rightfully belonged to MF Global’s 40,000 customers. Thus these 40,000 MF Global customers had their money stolen—there’s no polite way to characterize what happened. And this theft was not carried out by MF Global—it was carried out by the authorities who were charged with handling the firm’s bankruptcy. These 40,000 customers were not Big Money types—they were farmers who had accounts to hedge their crops, individuals owning gold (like Gerald Celente—here’s his account of what happened to him)——in short, ordinary investors. Ordinary people—and they got screwed by the regulators, for the sake of protecting JPMorgan and other big fry who had exposure to MF Global. That, in a nutshell, is what happened. Now, what does this mean?It means that nobody’s money is safe. It means that regulators care more about protecting the so-called “Systemically Important Financial Institutions” than about protecting Ordinary Joe investors. It means that, when crunchtime comes, central banks and government regulators will allow SIFI’s to get better, and let the Ordinary Joes get fucked. So far, so evil—but here comes the really troubling part: It is an open secret that there are more paper-assets than there are actual assets. The markets are essentially playing musical chairs—and praying that the music never stops. Because if it ever does—that is, if there is ever a panic, where everyone decides that they want their actual asset instead of just a slip of paper—the system would crash. And unlike with fiat currency, where a central bank can print all the liquidity it wants, you can’t print up gold bullion. You can’t print up a silo of grain. You can’t print up a tankerful of oil. Now, question: When is there ever a panic? When is there ever a run on a financial system? Answer: When enough participants no longer trust the system. It is the classic definition of a tipping point. It’s not that all of the participants lose faith in the system or institution. It’s not even when most of the participants lose faith: Rather, it’s when a mere some of the participants decide they no longer trust the system that a run is triggered. And though this is completely subjective on my part—backed by no statistics except scattered anecdotal evidence—but it seems to me that MF Global has shoved us a lot closer to this theoretical run on the system. As I write this, a lot of investors whom I know personally—who are sophisticated, wealthy, and not at all the paranoid type—are quietly pulling their money out of all brokerage firms, all banks, all equity firms. They are quietly trading out of their paper assets and going into the actual, physical asset. Note that they’re not trading into the asset—they’re simply exchanging their paper-asset for the real thing. Why? MF Global. “Because of MF Global, the integrity of the system has disappeared,” said a good friend of mine, Tuur Demester, who runs Macrotrends, a Dutch newsletter out of Brugge. “The banks are insolvent, the governments are insolvent, and all that’s left is for the people to realize what’s going on—and that will start a panic.”He hit it on the head: Some of the more sophisticated people—like Tuur, like some of my acquaintances, (like myself, frankly)—have realized that the MF Global scandal means that there is no safety for any paper investment: The integrity of the systems has been completely shattered. If in the face of one medium-sized brokerage firm going under, the regulators will openly allow ordinary people to be ripped off for the sake of protecting the so-called “Systemically Important Financial Institutions”—in this case JPMorgan—what will happen if there is a system-wide run? What if two or three MF Globals happen simultaneously?Will they protect the citizens’ money? Or will they protect the “Systemically Important Financial Institutions”?I think we know the answer.Read the full story here.
- Hmmmm:Did Obama sell defective Bunker-Busters to Israel....and if so, then was it on purpose?(AstuteBlogger).By ReliaPundit.Israel ordered its first batch of the GBU-28 in 2005 and reportedly received them a year later. In 2007 it asked the Pentagon for another batch of bombs but the delivery was delayed due to concern in Washington that Israel planned to use the bunker buster bomb to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, some of which are located in fortified bunkers. In September, Newsweek reported that the Obama administration had recently decided to authorize the delivery of 55 GBU-28 bombs as part of an aid package aimed at improving ties with Jerusalem. ... On Friday, the US Justice Department announced that it had reached a settlement with Kaman Corp. which allegedly substituted a fuse in four lots of fuses made for the bombs. Under the settlement, Kaman Corp. will pay the government $4.75 million. The US government alleged in its lawsuit against the company that the installation of defective fuses could lead to the premature detonation of the bomb and cause accidental misfires.IT WOULD SEEM THAT OBAMA AND HOLDER KNEW THAT THESE BOMBS WERE DEFECTIVE BECAUSE THEY HAD A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE MANUFACTURER.AND IT WOULD SEEM THAT ISRAEL JUST FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS.THIS MEANS THAT OBAMA AND HOLDER DELIBERATELY DID NOT TELL ISRAEL.EITHER THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT TO SABOTAGE THE IAF AND ISRAEL'S ABILITY TO EFFECTIVELY ATTACK IRAN'S NUKE PROGRAM.Although Israel has been buying bunker busters since 2006, the contractor who apparently installed defective fuses started working for the US government in September 2010.Hmmm......“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”Read the full story here.
- Dr. Mohamed Saad Katatni, Secretary General of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP),encourages Zakat Without Interfering in its Regulation.(IW).Dr. Mohamed Saad Katatni, Secretary General of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), stated that Zakat is an obligatory duty for the rich Muslims to pay, and a right for the poor, to be distributed in ‘Sharia-prescribed’ lawful channels.Dr. Katatni added that the party does not interfere in the means and mechanisms of organizing and regulating Zakat, because they are not of FJP responsibilities as a party, and that these were up to parliament and governments to come, after extensive discussion within the community in order to achieve the noble purposes of Sharia laws and rules.Katatni stressed that the party is currently working in accordance with its platform to encourage financially-capable Muslims to pay out Zakat in aspects defined in Sharia.Hmmmm......Mubarak......The good old days?Read the full story here.
- Iran warns could stop oil flow if sanctions -IRNA.(Reuters). Iran's first vice-president warned on Tuesday that if foreign sanctions are imposed on its oil exports, the flow of crude will be stopped from the crucial Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, the country's official news agency reported."If they (the West) imposes sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz," IRNA quoted Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying. Read the full story here.
- ElBaradei: US Seeking Hard to Stop New Egypt from Annulling Camp David Treaty.(Fars).Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent Egyptian political figure and the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, cautioned that the US is doing whatever it can within its possibilities to stop the revolutionary Egypt from annulling Camp David Accord specially now that Islamist parties are coming to power in Egypt.Speaking to FNA, pro-reform leader and Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei said that the future of the Camp David Accord has been the focus of meetings between Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and Washington. "The negotiations were completely secrete and confidential," ElBaradei said. "What the supreme military council said was that the talks were about bilateral and mutual relations, but I believe that Americans wanted to ensure that the deals signed between Egypt and Israel will remain intact if Islamists ascend to power," ElBaradei stated. The two main Islamic parties in the Egypt, which won majority of votes in the recent parliamentary elections in the country, have voiced their opposition to Cairo-Tel Aviv ties. Speaking to FNA in Cairo on Saturday, spokesman of the Salafi al-Nour party rejected reports about a meeting between the party's leaders and Israel's ambassador to Egypt, and described the reports as smear campaign to defame the Islamist party. "Al-Nour party can in no way ignore the Arab nations and Arab world's rights and the restoration of these rights is an unchangeable principle of the party," Nader Bakar said. "Al-Nour is against the establishment of any relations with the Zionist regime," he stated. The spokesman underlined that his party would certainly strive to change the Camp David Accord in the interests of Egyptian nation. The Salafi al-Nour is among the two main Islamist parties that won a majority of votes in both the first the second rounds of Egypt's parliamentary. It has won 20% of ballots. Early in December, a senior member of the Egyptian Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood) party underlined the necessity for revising Camp David Accord between Cairo and Tel Aviv, describing the pact as "cruel". "It is natural that after the victory of the revolution many things and issues should be studied and dealt with," Kamal al-Halbawi told FNA at the time. "Hence, the issue of revising the Camp David Accord will also be in the list of the top priorities of (Egypt's new) officials to be studied in its appropriate time," he added. Also, former Egyptian Ambassador to the Palestinian territories Gamal Mazloum had told FNA that Egypt should take action to boost its forces in the Sinai Desert and make a formal request to correct and modify the Camp David Accord. Since the Zionist regime has several times breached the Camp David Accord, Egypt should use its power and increase its military presence in the Sinai Desert if the Israeli regime rejects a willing modification of Camp David, he said in October. Another leading Egyptian political activist had also underlined the necessity of revisions in the Camp David Accord between Cairo and Tel Aviv, stressing that the deal is no more valid. "Camp David has been annulled and has no more credit and value," member of Egypt's National Association for Change George Ishaq told FNA in Cairo in September. Hmmm...As i said before "You don't give them a bridgehead in the Sinai".Read the full story here.
- Jerusalem Mufti Warns about Israel's Expansive Judaization Measures in Jerusalem City.(Fars).The Mufti of Al Quds, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, blasted Israel for its claim on Quds city, and warned about the judaization of the holy city by the Zionist regime. "The Zionist regime's decision to announce Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish government is the result of the Zionists' racist prejudice," Sheikh Akrameh Sabri told FNA on Tuesday. He underlined the responsibility of the Arab and Islamic governments for preventing the implementation of such dangerous decisions, and said, "We want them not to leave us alone." Sabri stressed that the Zionist regime is misusing the opportunity created by the Islamic Awakening uprisings in the Middle-Eastern and North African countries to promote its plots for Judaizing the Quds city, building more settlements and destroying the houses of the Palestinians while Arab states are busy with their own internal problems. In light of the Arab and Muslim world's passive stance, the Zionist regime takes any action it wants very freely and breaks sanctuaries and Judaizes the Quds city without being questioned by the international community. Palestinian officials had also earlier warned that the Israeli Quds municipality continued to Judaize East Quds (Jerusalem) through the renaming of Arab street names and monuments in the city. As part of what the municipality calls "infrastructure restoration and area development", authorities fenced off areas around the city's historic Damascus Gate to do name and landscape changes as part of the Judaizing of the city.Read the full story here.
- China Insolvency Wave Begins As Nation's Biggest Provincial Borrowers "Defer" Loan Payments.(Zerohedge).Remember, back in the day, when a bankruptcy was simply called a bankruptcy? Naturally, this was well before ISDA came on the scene and footnoted the living feces out of everything by claiming that a bankruptcy is never a bankruptcy, as long as the creditors agree to 99.999% losses at gunpoint, with electrodes strapped to their testicles, submerged in a tank full of rabid piranhas, it they just sign a piece of paper (preferably in their own blood) saying the vaseline-free gang abuse was consensual. Well, now we learn that as the global insolvency wave finally moves to China, a bankruptcy is now called something even less scary: "deferred loan payments" (and also explains why suddenly Japan is going to have to bail China out and buy its bonds, because somehow when China fails, it is the turn of the country that started the whole deflationary collapse to step to the plate). After all, who in their right mind would want to scare the public that the entire world is now broke. Certainly not SWIFT. And certainly not that paragon of 8%+ annual growth, where no matter how many layers of lipstick are applied, the piggyness of it all is shining through ever more acutely. Because here are the facts, from China Daily, and they speaks for themselves: "China's biggest provincial borrowers are deferring payment on their loans just two months after the country's regulator said some local government companies would be allowed to do so....Hunan Provincial Expressway Construction Group is delaying payment on 3.11 billion yuan in interest, documents governing the securities show this month. Guangdong Provincial Communications Group Co, the second-largest debtor, is following suit. So are two others among the biggest 11 debtors, for a total of 30.16 billion yuan, according to bond prospectuses from 55 local authorities that have raised money in capital markets since the beginning of November." So not even two months in and companies are already becoming serial defaulters, pardon, "loan payment deferrers?" And China is supposed to bail out the world? Ironically, in a world in which can kicking is now an art form, China will show everyone just how it is done, by effectively upturning the capital structure and saying that paying interest is, well, optional. In the immortal words of the comrade from Georgia, "no coupon, no problem."Hmmmm.....'Comrade' Obama we want our money back?Read the full story here.
- Putin will take 'revenge' on Russia's protesters in bid to cling to power, claims senior former aide.(DailyMail).Vladimir Putin will take 'revenge' on Russia's protesters in the New Year with a major crackdown including a state of emergency in a desperate bid to cling to power, predicted a former senior aide to the Russian strongman.In a doomsday scenario, key opposition leaders could be assassinated or there may be attacks blamed on terrorists, warned Andrei Illarionov. These horrors would be pretexts for a tough clampdown which could include the muzzling of the media, a ban on protests, and even the March presidential election being cancelled altogether.He even warned that Russia could become embroiled in a military conflict ahead of elections, to change the public mood and serve as an excuse to curb the wave of recent street protests which are fuelling antipathy towards strongman Putin who has led the country for a dozen years as president or in his current role as prime minister. These extraordinary and alarming forecasts come from a man who as senior economic adviser was at Putin's side during his first term as president, and knows him well. He claimed recent concessions from the Kremlin represent a 'smokescreen' and warned: 'The authorities are busy provoking and discrediting, including the rally organisers, but the most important thing is that they are getting ready for revenge.'The authorities are seriously preparing to take a sharp U-turn, away from so-called 'liberalisation’ and 'democratisation'. It will happen very soon.' He predicted a New Year 'provocation' that would eclipse the current opposition show of strength that has appeared to paralyse the Russian elite and raised questions about Putin’s ability to return to the Kremlin presidency in March.'It is absolutely clear that among the long list of the actions there are various ones, such as 'accidents', terrorist attacks, some international 'initiatives’ to restore the quasi-Soviet Union - and the all internal questions fade into insignificance compared to conflicts which involve Russian army,' said Illarionov in a radio interview.'These give additional reasons to introduce a state of emergency, which naturally go hand in hand with silencing the media.'This kind of thing has been organised so often in different countries, including ours, that it would be extremely unwise and short-sighted to exclude such scenarios from the list of future possibilities. We simply have to bare these in mind.' He claimed that Putin's real support was no more than 36 per cent which would make it impossible for him to win outright in March without ballot rigging on a far larger scale than alleged in recent parliamentary polls won by the strongman’s party. 'My guess is that the authorities will opt for any falsifications so that there is no second round, and possibly no voting at all,' he said. Russia now faced 'extreme danger' linked to a presidential election that 'is too risky for Putin', he said.Last night there was a new protest after opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, from an extreme-left wing group, was re-arrested and sentenced to a new stint in jail. There are now concerns for his health as he vowed to continue a hunger strike. Former chess world champion Garry Kasparov told him: 'Please start eating - and next year we’ll drink together at the funeral of Putin's regime.' Another anti-Putin leader warned the authorities 'do everything possible to bring riots to Moscow streets'. Illarionov served Putin for five years to 2005 when he quit saying Russia had 'stopped being free and democratic'. He is now a senior researcher at the Cato Institute in Washington.Read the full story here.
- Turkish court accepts online blasphemy case, ECtHR ruling precedent.(TodaysZaman).A Turkish court has accepted an indictment filed against a man who allegedly insulted Islamic values online by a prosecutor who cited an earlier ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).The lawsuit was filed against A.M.S. over his remarks allegedly insulting Islamic beliefs on Ekşi Sözlük (Sour Times), a website on which contributors share their comments on various issues and incidents in Turkey. In the indictment she prepared over a criminal complaint filed against A.M.S. by an individual, İstanbul prosecutor Nurten Altınok referred to a 1994 decision of the ECtHR in the Otto-Preminger-Institut v. Austria case. The case concerns an application by the Austria-based Otto-Preminger-Institut at the European court over the ban of a movie by the Austrian government in 1985, on the grounds that it insulted the Christian religion.The applicant claimed a violation of their freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides the right to freedom of expression. The court, however, found no violation of the convention and said the interference with the applicant association's freedom of expression was prescribed by law but the seizure and forfeiture of the film were aimed at “the protection of the rights of others” -- namely, the right to respect for one's religious feelings, and at ensuring religious peace. The court assessed the conflicting interests of the exercise of two fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the convention and concluded that the Austrian authorities did not overstep their margin of appreciation.Prosecutor Altınok, who says the suspect went beyond the limits of freedom of speech by ridiculing Muslim prayer rituals and the Islamic belief that the universe was created by God, seeks up to one-and-a-half years in jail for A.M.S., who said in his testimony that he did not intend to commit a crime nor to target a group or individual with his comments.Hmmmm.....Torquemada seen nodding from hell, waiting for the inquisition courts to be re installed.Read the full story here.
- Venezuela ranked top importer of Russian arms.(RN).MOSCOW, Venezuela became the largest importer of Russian arms for ground forces in 2011, the Moscow based Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT) said on Tuesday. Russia delivered a large consignment of arms to Venezuela under contracts signed in 2009 and 2010, CAWAT head Igor Korotchenko said without offering any figures. In 2011, Venezuela bought an unspecified number of T-72B1 tanks, BMP-3M infantry fighting vehicles, BTR-80A armored personnel carriers, Msta-S 152-mm self-propelled howitzers, Nona-SVK 120-mm self-propelled mortars, Grad multiple rocket launchers, and an assortment of other weaponry, he said. Next year Venezuela will launch licensed production of AK-103 assault rifles. Venezuela is followed by India, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Bangladesh, China, Uruguay, and Turkmenistan, which bought 10 T-90S tanks. Russia exports arms and military equipment to over 100 countries.Hmmmm......Venezuela.....Iran .......Hezbollah....take your pick.Read the full story here.
- 'PLO might revoke recognition of Israel'.(YNet).As Fatah and Hamas promote their reconciliation efforts and as signs indicating that the Islamic Jihad may be warming up to the idea of joining the Palestine Liberation Organization become more evident, the Palestinian Authority seems to be taking a harsher stand vis-à-vis Israel. PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said Monday that the PLO may choose to revoke its recognition of Israel "should all other (political) avenues fail."In an interview with the Voice of Palestine radio station, Ashrawi stressed that while the possibility has yet to be discussed by the PLO, it was nonetheless considered as a viable option by the Palestinian leadership. Commenting on contested Israeli policies, she said that first option the Palestinians must exhaust was to file grievances against Israel with international bodies over issues such as settlement expansion.Ashrawi added that the PA must "devise a plan that would bolster the resilience of the residents of east Jerusalem," in view of what she called "Israel's Judaization plans"; and that the PA should pursue legal recourse against Israel on an international level, over its "prolonged violations of international law." She also voices her support for continued peaceful resistance, the likes of the weekly protest rallies in the West Bank against the construction of the security fence. Ashrawi's statement echoed a similar sentiment expressed by Fatah Executive Committee Member Muhammad Ashtiyeh, who last week said: "If Netanyahu insists on treating Tel Aviv and Har Homa the same way, we will treat Ramallah and Jaffa the same." Ashtiyeh protested what he called the "unbalanced" agreement between the PLO and Israel, reiterating the Palestinian demand that Israel recognize the 1967 borders as Palestinian territory.The escalation in the Palestinian may stem from the end of the three-month period given to Israel and the Palestinian Authority by the Quartet to submit it with reports detailing their stance on security and borders.The Palestinians have submitted their demands, but Israel has yet to do so. The final deadline in January 26. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said that the Mideast Quartet is close to failing in bringing Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. He added that other nations should join the mediation efforts, the likes of Brazil, Turkey, China, India and other Western countries.Al-Malki noted that the Palestinian Authority is considering applying to the UN General Assembly as a nonmember state, thus making it easier for the PA to join other international bodies, including the International Court of Justice.Meanwhile. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Monday with members of the Palestinian "Reform and Change" movement, which is affiliated with Hamas. The parties discussed the recent reconciliation meeting between the Palestinian factions. Abbas expressed his satisfaction from the progress made between the factions, saying it will lead to Palestinian elections.Hmmmm......Already starting to sound like Hamas,time that Israel remembers that Only the 'victor' dictates the terms.Read the full story here.
- Iran’s navy ‘warns off’ chopper.(HurriyetDaily).Tehran.The Iranian navy said it warned off a foreign helicopter that had approached the site of a naval drill it is conducting in international waters. A spokesman for the drill, Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Mousavi, told state TV the helicopter left the area immediately after the warning Dec. 25. Iran’s navy began the 10-day drill Dec. 24 in waters beyond the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. The naval maneuvers dubbed are due to cover an area stretching from east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden. Mousavi said according to the international rules, the military units of the trans-regional states are not allowed to enter the exercise zone. Meanwhile, a senior Iranian lawmaker said Dec. 26 the ongoing naval war games should be seen as a serious warning to the West. “These war games are a warning to the western countries about the closure of the Strait of Hormuz,” Zohreh Elahian, member of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told Fars News Agency yesterday.Read the full story here.