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Monday, June 6, 2011

Russia enters the world of Islamic finance

Hoping to attract new capital, Russia will take its first step into the world of Islamic finance this month by issuing sukuk, Islamic bonds which comply with Muslim religious rules.

The bonds are to be issued by the majority Muslim Russian republic of Tatarstan in the Volga region, which has embarked on an ambitious drive to attract foreign investment.

"Russia will show that it can be interesting for Muslim countries," one of the project's backers, Linar Yakupov told Agence France-Presse. "Right now Islamic banks cannot work in Russia, because our legislation does not take into account the Koran's restrictions."

Islam forbids borrowing or paying with interest, and sukuk (the plural of the Arabic word for a financial deed) are not based on debt-like traditional bonds. Instead, buying the bonds secures partial ownership in a concrete asset like land or a building, and investors are guaranteed a part of the profits generated by this underlying asset.

The first sukuk to be issued in Tatarstan's capital Kazan on June 20 will be going toward financing a major business center in the city whose construction will cost $200 million.

"Sukuk are guaranteed by the Tatarstan government, the operator will be based in Luxembourg, and we know that the international market is ready to buy," Yakupov said.

Among the interested investors are the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank, and various banks in the Middle East, Malaysia, and Russia, he said.

Bringing Islamic banks to Russia is "possible and even necessary", Tatarstan's leader Rustam Minnikhanov told investors in Dubai in early May, according to the RIA Novosti agency.

In Moscow, however, federal authorities are showing greater caution.

Daily News


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THe stage is set for nuclear false flag

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China Calls US Culprit in Global 'Internet War

The Chinese military accused the U.S. on Friday of launching a global "Internet war" to bring down Arab and other governments, redirecting the spotlight away from allegations of major online attacks on Western targets originating in China.

The accusations Friday by Chinese military academy scholars, and their urging of tougher policing of the Internet, followed allegations this week that computer hackers in China had compromised the personal Gmail accounts of several hundred people, including government officials, military personnel and political activists.

Google traced the origin of the attacks to the city of Jinan that is home to a military vocational school whose computers were linked to a more sophisticated assault on Google's systems 17 months ago. China has denied responsibility for the two attacks.

Writing in the Communist Party-controlled China Youth Daily newspaper, the scholars did not mention Google's claims, but said recent computer attacks and incidents employing the Internet to promote regime change in Arab nations appeared to have originated with the U.S. government.

"Of late, an Internet tornado has swept across the world ... massively impacting and shocking the globe. Behind all this lies the shadow of America," said the article, signed by Ye Zheng and Zhao Baoxian, identified as scholars with the Academy of Military Sciences.

"Faced with this warmup for an Internet war, every nation and military can't be passive but is making preparations to fight the Internet war," it said.

While nuclear war was a strategy of the industrial era, Internet war is a product of the information age, the article said. Such conflicts stand to be hugely destructive, threatening national security and the very existence of the state, it said.

China needs to "express to the world its principled stance of maintaining an 'Internet border' and protecting its 'Internet sovereignty,' unite all advanced forces to dive into the raging torrent of the age of peaceful use of the Internet, and return to the Internet world a healthy, orderly environment," the article said.

‘Bankrupt’ claim heightens Spanish debt fears

The central Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha is “totally bankrupt”, according to the incoming administration of the rightwing Popular party (PP), an accusation that will deepen concerns about Spain’s budget deficit.

The claim has prompted angry denials from the Socialist government.

Spain’s 17 autonomous regions and its more than 8,000 municipalities, with €150bn ($220bn) of accumulated debt between them, have become the latest worry for investors in Spain and its sovereign bonds.

Catalonia, an economy the size of Portugal, says its deficit will be double the target.

Vicente Tirado, a senior PP politician in Castilla-La Mancha, said the region was “totally bankrupt”; owed suppliers such as pharmaceutical companies that provide drugs for hospitals a total of €2bn in unpaid bills; and would have trouble finding the money to pay the region’s 76,000 civil servants next month.

MK Danon: President Obama, Take Your Hands Off Jerusalem

Serving as keynote speaker at the 34th annual Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Chai dinner on June 1st, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Danny Danon assumed an obdurate posture on the recent dramatic shift in US foreign policy as it pertains to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a direct reference to President Obama’s controversial address to the State Department on May 19th, in which he called on Israel to retreat to the ‘1967 boundaries’ [the 1949 armistice lines –ed.] in a gesture towards the creation of an independent Palestinian state, Mr. Danon declared, “President Obama: Take your hands off Jerusalem, take your hands off of Israel.”

Speaking from the dias at the Terrace On the Park hall in Flushing, New York, Mr. Danon’s remarks were enthusiastically received by his audience of over 500, as he said that “President Obama is ignoring reality when he attempts to make a distinction between the objectives of Hamas and al-Qaeda. They are one and the same and we in Israel know very well that you cannot appease terrorists, but rather, you must fight terrorists.”
Israel National News


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India beefs up China front with UAVs, copters to monitor PLA

NEW DELHI: India is now deploying spy drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and light observation helicopters along the borders withChina to keep a hawk-eye on the stepped-up activities of People's Liberation Army.

The construction of over 5,500 "permanent defences and bunkers" along the borders is now being speeded up to ensure their completion within four to five years, under the Rs 9,243 crore military infrastructure development project approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security for the Eastern Army Command.

"Sukhoi-30MKI fighters are already being based in IAF airbases like Tezpur and Chabua. Army Aviation bases in Assam are also now being upgraded, with seven helicopters and four Israeli Searcher-II UAVs already been deployed there," a defence ministry source said.

The Army is also pushing for a mountain strike corps after having raised two new mountain infantry divisions. The new divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers, have their HQs in Zakama (56 Div) in Nagaland and Missamari (71 Div) in Assam.

Though quite belated, all these plans are meant to strategically counter China's massive build-up of military infrastructure all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) over the last two decades.

A flurry of high-level meetings in the last two-three months, which included a top military briefing to PM Manmohan Singh, have dealt on the dire need to boost India's military infrastructure, strike capabilities and operational logistics along the LAC.

Incidentally, with five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), China can now move more than 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) at their "launch pads" on LAC in double-quick time, outnumbering Indian forces by at least three-is-to-one.

China's rapidly-expanding footprint in infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, in the backdrop of the Beijing-Islamabad military nexus which targets India, has served to further heighten concerns in the defence establishment here.

Times of India


Scientists find new MRSA superbug in cows, humans

LONDON, June 2, 2011 (Reuters) — British scientists have found a new strain of the "superbug" MRSA in milk from cows and in swab samples from humans and say it cannot be detected with standard tests.

Researchers said the find was "worrying" but added it was unlikely that the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bug, which is resistant to some antibiotics, could cause infections by getting into the food chain via milk.

Mark Holmes and a team of scientists from Cambridge University, found the new MRSA bug while researching S. aureus, a bug known to cause a potentially lethal disease in dairy cows called bovine mastitis. The discovery was published on Friday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

"To find the same new strain in both humans and cows is certainly worrying. However, pasteurization of milk will prevent any risk of infection via the food chain," said Laura Garcia-Alvarez, who worked on Holmes' team.

MRSA is estimated to kill 19,000 people each year in the United States -- far more than HIV and AIDS -- and a similar number in Europe.

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in recent decades have fueled a rise in drug-resistant "superbug" infections such as MRSA and C-difficile.

Last year, scientists warned that a new so-called superbug from India known as New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1) was rapidly spreading around the world.

And on Thursday, the World Health Organization said an E.coli bacteria that is causing a severe disease outbreak in Germany is a new and highly toxic strain.

News Daily

Governments should pop commodity bubbles - U.N. report

I would like to know what where I can put my savings, because all they want to bankrupt!!!

(Reuters) - Direct government intervention may be needed to burst bubbles in commodity markets inflated by a new herd of financial investors, a U.N. study found.

Excessive speculation has added around 20 percent to international oil prices, sending false signals to policy makers, said the report published on Sunday.

"The changing role of commodity markets, which are turning into financial markets, has enormous repercussions for the economy," said one of the report's authors, Heiner Flassbeck, a director at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

"We think you end up with wrong signals for overall macroeconomic policy."

Reforms suggested by the report - Price Formation in Financialised Commodity Markets - included improving transparency on commodity exchanges and over-the-counter physical markets, better inventory data and action through the use of government reserves.

"The possibility of allowing governments' direct intervention in the physical and financial markets needs to be considered," the study concluded.

"In financialised commodity markets, as in currency markets, intervention may even help market participants to better recognise the fundamentals."

Since around 2000, as commodities were perceived to have entered a super-cycle and the equities market bubble burst, oil and other raw materials have lured financial investors, as well as the producers and big consumers historically in these markets.

The report quoted data compiled by Barclays Capital that commodity-related assets under management reached a historic high in March 2011 of around $410 billion, almost double the pre-crisis level of 2007.

China Has Divested 97 Percent of Its Holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills

China has dropped 97 percent of its holdings in U.S. Treasury bills, decreasing its ownership of the short-term U.S. government securities from a peak of $210.4 billion in May 2009 to $5.69 billion in March 2011, the most recent month reported by the U.S. Treasury.

Treasury bills are securities that mature in one year or less that are sold by the U.S. Treasury Department to fund the nation’s debt.

Mainland Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury bills are reported in column 9 of the Treasury report linked here.

Until October, the Chinese were generally making up for their decreasing holdings in Treasury bills by increasing their holdings of longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, until October, China’s overall holdings of U.S. debt continued to increase.

Since October, however, China has also started to divest from longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, as reported by the Treasury Department, China’s ownership of the U.S. national debt has decreased in each of the last five months on record, including November, December, January, February and March.

Prior to the fall of 2008, acccording to Treasury Department data, Chinese ownership of short-term Treasury bills was modest, standing at only $19.8 billion in August of that year. But when President George W. Bush signed legislation to authorize a $700-billion bailout of the U.S. financial industry in October 2008 and President Barack Obama signed a $787-billion economic stimulus law in February 2009, Chinese ownership of short-term U.S. Treasury bills skyrocketed.

By December 2008, China owned $165.2 billion in U.S. Treasury bills, according to the Treasury Department. By March 2009, Chinese Treasury bill holdings were at $191.1 billion. By May 2009, Chinese holdings of Treasury bills were peaking at $210.4 billion.

However, China’s overall appetite for U.S. debt increased over a longer span than did its appetite for short-term U.S. Treasury bills.

In August 2008, before the bank bailout and the stimulus law, overall Chinese holdings of U.S. debt stood at $573.7 billion. That number continued to escalate past May 2009-- when China started to reduce its holdings in short-term Treasury bills--and ultimately peaked at $1.1753 trillion last October.

As of March 2011, overall Chinese holdings of U.S. debt had decreased to 1.1449 trillion.

Most of the U.S. national debt is made up of publicly marketable securities sold by the Treasury Department and I.O.U.s called “intragovernmental” bonds that the Treasury has given to so-called government trust funds—such as the Social Security trust funds—when it has spent the trust funds’ money on other government expenses.
CNS News


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Food chain at risk of being poisoned by terrorist groups

Food and drink sold in Britain is under a growing threat from terrorist groups which might try to poison supplies, the Government’s security advisers have warned.
Manufacturers and retailers have been told that their sector is vulnerable to attacks by ideologically and politically motivated groups that may seek to cause widespread casualties and disruption by poisoning food supplies.

The warning from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure [CPNI], which operates as part of the Security Service, comes as experts warned the deadly E.coli outbreak in Germany has highlighted the vulnerability of the food chain and how quickly bacteria can spread.

The highly virulent strain has claimed 18 lives and left more than 1,800 seriously ill, with the true number of cases expected to be far higher.

A senior German doctor last night called for an investigation into the possibility that the bacteria had been spread deliberately.

Klaus-Dieter Zastrow, chief doctor for hygiene at Berlin’s Vivantes hospital, said: “It’s quite possible that there’s a crazy person out there who thinks 'I’ll kill a few people or give 10,000 people diarrhoea’. It’s a negligent mistake not to investigate in that direction.”

In the past, the main threat of deliberate contamination of food has been from criminals attempting extortion or from individuals with a grudge, but security officials fear there is an emerging threat from extremist groups such as al-Qaeda, dissident republicans in Northern Ireland and animal rights activists.

The CPNI has asked food and drinks producers, suppliers and supermarkets to tighten security at plants and depots and to identify vulnerabilities in supply chains.

One official from the CPNI spoke about the threat at a meeting of food safety experts. Addressing a conference of the Society for General Microbiology, he said: “The UK suffers from a low level of malicious contamination of food by the bad, the mad and the sad. Now it has to consider the possibility of food supplies being disrupted by politically motivated groups.”

China Irritates Neighbors as Tensions Rise in South China Sea

Tensions in the South China Sea over territorial disputes are rising once again with China clashing with Vietnam and the Philippines recently. The disputes come as the United States and ASEAN try to help those with claims in the resource rich waters resolve their differences through dialogue and avoid the use of force or threats.

At a rare protest rally on Sunday in Vietnam, hundreds converged on the Chinese Embassy to blast Beijing for its recent alleged aggressions in the South China Sea. Vietnam says a Chinese vessel intentionally cut a submerged cable of a Vietnamese oil survey ship last month while it was conducting seismic tests.

The Philippines has also reported renewed territorial disputes, accusing China of unloading building materials and putting up military posts on reefs claimed by Manila. China defends its actions and says they are completely justified.

On Sunday, speaking at a regional defense forum in Singapore, China's Defense Minister Liang Guanglie claimed the recent flare ups with Vietnam and the Philippines were now under control. "There has always been freedom to navigate in the South China Sea. No one owns it. The overall situation in the area is stable," he said.

Dean Cheng, an Asia defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington says while China may not be shooting anyone, it's actions are provocative and put lives in danger. “[China] seem[s] to be engaging in a broad-based push to lay claim to the entire region and they don’t seem to care whose toes they are stepping on," he said.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN has been working with China to reach an agreement on a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

Speaking at the same conference on Sunday, Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Defense Ngyuen Chi Vinh says China's cooperation is crucial and adds Vietnam's resolve is firm. "The consistent unwavering position of our party and state is that we will use all means to protect our sovereignty," he said.



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