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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tension Builds as Israel Warns Planned Gaza Aid Flotilla

US activists chant slogans as they hold placards after a news conference about an international flotilla to blockaded Gaza, in Athens, June 27, 2011

After a deadly confrontation a year ago, a new aid flotilla is planning a voyage to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which is under Israeli economic blockade. The trip could come this week and tensions are building.

Israel’s Security Cabinet on Monday issued a stern warning to pro-Palestinian activists planning an aid flotilla to blockaded Gaza in the coming days.

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Israel Radio that the flotilla is a provocation and it will be intercepted by the Israeli navy.

The Cabinet said Israel hopes to spare human lives in its enforcement and wants to avoid a repeat of a commando raid on a Gaza flotilla a year ago. The botched raid, in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed, sparked international outrage.

Israel says the continuing blockade is necessary to keep weapons from reaching the Palestinian militant group Hamas that rules Gaza. It says the ships can dock in Israeli or Egyptian ports and their cargo can be transferred to Gaza legally over land.

The flotilla is expected to set sail from several European ports. Cyprus, used as a launch pad for earlier voyages, has banned aid groups from sailing from its shores.

At a news conference in Athens on Monday, flotilla organizers said they would not be intimidated by Israeli threats. They said 10 boats and two cargo vessels loaded with aid supplies soon would sail to Gaza and try to run the blockade, which they described as illegal and immoral.

American activist Ann Wright is a former official of the U.S. State Department who will take part.

"We say to the people of Gaza, we are coming!" she said.

Hundreds of people will be on board the flotilla, including journalists, politicians, writers and religious figures.

The United States and United Nations have urged flotilla organizers to use established channels to deliver aid to Gaza, drawing an angry response from Palestinian-American activist Huwaida Arraf, a flotilla participant speaking at the Athens press conference.

"We say shame on you [cheering]. For you ignore our fundamental rights, a right of all people to be free," said Arraf.
Israeli authorities on Monday rescinded a threat to bar journalists on the flotilla from entering the country for 10 years, after the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem questioned Israel's commitment to freedom of the press.

VOA News

Athens police worse than anything we've seen before

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Hillary Clinton: More Work Is Needed For Gay Rights

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Gay marriage legal in New York State after Senate passes bill

New Yorkers want some history? how about this:

Genesis 19:4-15 (King James Version)

4But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:

5And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

6And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,

7And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.

8Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

9And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

10But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.

11And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

12And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

13For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

14And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

15And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

ALBANY - New York made history last night by becoming the sixth and largest state to legalize gay marriage.

The state Senate passed the bill by a 33-29 margin and Gov. Cuomo quickly signed it five minutes before midnight.

Now, the rush to the altar can begin in 30 days when the law takes effect.

"This state, when it's at its finest, is a beacon for social justice," said Cuomo, who spearheaded the effort. "We reached a new level of social justice this evening." 

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2011/06/24/2011-06-24_gay_marriage_legal_in_new_york_state_after_senate_passes_historic_bill_.html#ixzz1QTgazrQi

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World economy set to face more frequent shocks

In an updated and expanded version of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has identified five "global shocks" that will destabilise the world economy with increasing frequency in coming years.

Rather than the traditional perils of conquest, war, famine and death, the OECD identifies viral pandemics, cyber attacks, financial crises, socio-economic unrest and geomagnetic storms as the five "global shocks" that will have to be endured.

The OECD, which comprises the world's advanced economies, said: "Disruptive shocks to the global economy are likely to become more frequent and cause greater economic and societal hardship." This, the organisation says, is because of the "increasing interconnectivity" of the world economy and the speed with which people, goods, services and data travel, so shocks are more rapidly transmitted throughout the world. The financial crisis of 2008 was the first such episode when, after Russia, China and India had rejoined a globalised world economy connected by the web, the failure of Lehmans triggered an instantaneous and simultaneous global collapse in confidence. At that point everything from Brazilian new car sales to Japanese share values "fell off a cliff".

The OECD highlights how a pandemic similar to the outbreak of Sars in 2002 could spread quickly and with devastating effect in Asia's "megacities" such as Dhaka, Manila and New Delhi. New antibiotics are "desperately needed to keep pace with the rising development of bacteria that are drug-resistant," the report adds.

No less frightening would be a large geomagnetic storm. Noting the increasing incidence of extreme natural disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that have cost hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, the OECD puts the less familiar phenomenon of geomagnetic storms in a similar category.

The OECD explains that such "space weather" has "the potential to cause damage across the globe with a single event" via their impact on electric power transmission networks. "The simultaneous loss of these assets could cause a voltage collapse and lead to cascading power outages. As a natural event whose effects are exacerbated by economic and technological developments, geomagnetic storms pose a systemic risk that requires both domestic and international policy-driven actions."

Social unrest in Europe could also arise because of the effects of the sovereign debt crisis, especially in Greece. The new "700 euro generation", so-called because of the low salaries that they receive after university, are particularly prone.

As for cyber attacks, among which those on Sony and the IMF are two of the most notable recent examples, the OECD adds: "Catastrophic single cyber-related events could include successful
attack on one of the underlying technical protocols upon which the internet depends."

The Independent

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Gerald Celente on the regular Guys

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Historic drought causes $3 billion loss in Texas

CRAWFORD, Texas - It looks like harvest time in Texas, but for fourth-generation farmer Bert Gohlke it's actually a financial disaster.

"It hurts, it hurts bad, it hurts real bad," Gohlke tells CBS News correspondent Don Teague.

This could have been a great year for Gohlke - corn prices are near record highs. But instead of harvesting his 1,500 acres of corn, Gohlke is chopping it up into a feed called silage - the only salvageable use for a crop destroyed by drought.

"We should be dealing with 7-and-a-half foot corn right now," Gohlke says. But that's not the case.

His potential losses? More than a quarter of a million dollars - but that's just a fraction of the $3 billion the historic drought will cost Texas farmers and ranchers.

Watch: Texas suffering third-worst drought in history

Two hundred and fifty miles south, Rosalee Coleman is hurting too. A 70-year-old widow, she's running a cattle ranch on more than a thousand acres by herself.

"Other than raising three wonderful children, I feel like my greatest achievement has been to hold on to this land," Coleman says.

She needs every acre. With no real rain in nine months, she's been forced to move her cattle from pasture to pasture - just to find grass to sustain them.

Watch: Texas drought threatens livelihood of cattle ranchers

"In a normal season I would rotate every couple of weeks or every three weeks and a pasture would hold them easily for that long," Coleman says. "But with this kind of weather it's every four or five days."

Rosalee Coleman and Bert Gohlke are surviving thanks to money put away in good years and planning for drought.

Map of Texas drought

"Trying to figure out how you're going to make it to next year. Trying to figure out you know where we can cut corners, and keep going and maybe have a decent year next year," Gohlke says. "That's really what it's about, surviving. Trying to survive anyway, trying to survive."

But holding on is harder with each passing day. This week's forecast doesn't help - more heat and only a slight chance of rain.


Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/06/27/eveningnews/main20074823.shtml#ixzz1Qa5UnrfU

Debt Crisis Is FLASHING RED!‏

Late last night (JUN 24) the European Central Bank President, Jean-Claude Trichet, raised the alarm level on the debt crisis to "red." Trichet told the European Systemic Risk Board (really, they have a board for this) that "risk signals for financial stability in the euro area are rising and flashing red." He stated that "on a personal basis I would say yes, it is red." He also warned of "potential contagion effects across the union and beyond."

Yesterday we also had the Federal Reserve get gloomy about the economy, of course they acted as if it was a big unsolved mystery. I guess the old "fake it till you make it" line doesn't work in recoveries since all we have heard for the past 4 years is that government actions will eventually lead to a recovery.

FutureMoneyTrends.com has been warning for months that we could see a head fake coming from the Federal Reserve regarding an extension of quantitative easing (QE). Yesterday, we saw a very hesitant Federal Reserve, which is the set up for more intervention. Remember, the Federal Reserve ALWAYS attempts to set a floor to the stock market, they NEVER allow imbalances to correct. In just the last 10 years, we have seen them swoop in to save stocks during the tech collapse, housing bubble, panic of 2008, and the QE1 sell off in 2010 when investors thought QE was going to end. The stock market rallies of the past 10 years remind us of a great quote from magician Harry Houdini, "What the eye sees and the ear hears, the mind will believe." For example, in the last few years stocks have rallied big, yet the American government is still the majority owner of AIG.

More QE is already baked in the cake. The Greek Crisis will accelerate, the debt ceiling debate will move to the headlines, and the Federal Reserve will wait. They will wait for the perfect moment to come in and save the stock market under the flag of saving the economy.

Starting today and until the Federal Reserve intervenes, bad news will officially be bad news in the U.S. stock market. We know shocking, but it's true, without the Federal Reserve backing up the imbalances and fraud, bad news is no longer good news. Well, at least not until there is so much bad news that Wall Street can start pricing in more Federal Reserve intervention.

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Iran unveils underground silos with missiles capable of reaching Israel

Shahin missile, Iran - AP 9.03.2011

A spokesman for Iran's war games says the missiles are in permanently vertical position and ready to hit pre-determined targets; the Shahab-3 missiles put Israel, U.S. bases in Gulf, and southeastern Europe within reach.

Iran on Monday unveiled underground silos that can carry missiles capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf as it kicked off 10 days of war games, the country's latest show of military force amid a standoff with the West over its disputed nuclear program.

State TV broadcast footage of deep underground silos, claiming that medium- and long-range missiles stored in them are ready to launch in case of an attack on Iran. The silos are widely viewed as a strategic asset for Iran in the event of a U.S. or Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities.

Col. Asghar Qelichkhani, a spokesman for the war games, said the silos "function as a swift-reaction unit."

"Missiles, which are permanently in the vertical position, are ready to hit the pre-determined targets," he was quoted as saying by state TV.

An officer in Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, which is in charge of the missile program, said Tehran has constructed "numerous" underground missile silos which satellites can't detect. He did not elaborate.

The state television report broadcast footage of underground launching pads for the Shahab-3 missile, which have a range of more than 1,240 miles, putting Israel and U.S. -bases in the Gulf region and parts of southeastern and eastern Europe within reach.


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What Happens if U.S. Defaults?

Concerns were raised about a U.S. default. Maury Harris, chief U.S. economist for UBS Investment Bank, and Drew T. Matus, senior U.S. economist,UBS Investment Bank, look at the potential effects.

Decades of fiscal imprudence have led us to this point: the prospect of a U.S. government default. The U.S. Treasury continues to expect the federal government to exhaust its ability to borrow on Aug. 2, 2011. After Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner issued a series of warnings to Congress earlier this year and implemented extraordinary balance sheet maneuvers in May to push the deadline this far, time is running out for a resolution.

Although we still do not view government default as a likely outcome, several factors are encouraging brinkmanship. The 2011 budget deal reduced outlays by a paltry $352 million despite announced cuts of $38 billion. This gap between expectations and reality has likely hardened the stance of voters and politicians who are focused on fiscal issues. In a recent Gallup poll, 47% of Americans were against increasing the debt ceiling, a figure that probably bolsters the anti-debt hike posture for many politicians who argue against an increase. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, about the same percentage (48%) believes increasing the debt ceiling would result in “higher spending/bigger debt”. In contrast, just over a third of Americans worry about the impact a default would have on the U.S. economy.

These figures may be the result of the mistaken notion that the U.S. can continue to make interest payments in a timely manner, avoiding a default indefinitely, and keeping intact its full faith and credit. The erroneous view requires investors to willingly roll over their holdings of Treasury debt, which seems unlikely under those conditions. Additionally, it ignores the fact that some Treasury investors may actually need their money back at some point. Finally, it does not account for the sharp interest rate increase that may result.

The U.S. occupies a special place in global finance. The symbiotic relationship between the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency and the U.S. Treasury market’s monopolistic position as the safest, most liquid bond market in the world has served this country well. This unique position has allowed the U.S. to exercise significant authority in the global economy and enhanced its standing as a world power. Even a temporary default would eliminate the safe and liquid nature of the U.S. Treasury market, harming this country’s ability to exercise its power, to the detriment of the U.S. and the global economy.

The main impact on markets would come from sharply reduced liquidity in the U.S. Treasury market, as financial firms’ procedures and systems would be tested by the world’s largest debt market being in default. Given the existing legal contracts, trading agreements, and trading systems with which firms operate, could U.S. Treasurys be held or purchased or used as collateral? The aftermath of the failure of Lehman Brothers should be a reminder that the financial system’s “plumbing” matters. All the legal commitments and limitations in a complex financial system mean a shock from an event that is viewed as inconceivable – such as a U.S. Treasury default – can cause the system to stall. The impact of a U.S. Treasury default could make us nostalgic for the market conditions that existed immediately after the failure of Lehman Brothers.

Post-default liquidity could get even worse in the likely event of a rating downgrade. The liquidity event would not be limited to the Treasury market. Any reduction in the ability to use Treasury debt as collateral for loans would mean funds would need to be found: liquid assets sold to raise cash. Additionally, holders of U.S. Treasurys counting on timely payment could be forced to borrow funds in upset credit markets when those funds do not materialize.

We expect a near-term resolution of this issue. However, if the political impasse continues and the U.S. defaults, it would not simply be a question of whether Treasury investors would get their money; eventually they would. It would be a question of whether the U.S. would lose something that made it special. The answer would be yes and the consequences for U.S. growth could be significant.


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Waterboard Bernanke...

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China and Britain locked in cyber war

As Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier, sips tea with the Prime Minister at Downing Street on Monday, both men will already know that their countries are in a state of undeclared war.
Although the Cold War is long over, MI5 is left tackling a constant threat from Chinese espionage.

Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, has singled out China for their "unreconstructed attempts" to spy on Britain saying they "continue to devote considerable time and energy trying to steal our sensitive technology on civilian and military projects and trying to obtain political and economic intelligence at our expense."

MI5 believes that the Chinese government "represents one of the most significant espionage threats to the UK."

A 14-page "restricted" report from MI5's Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) last year, described how China has attacked British defence, energy, communications and manufacturing companies in a concerted hacking campaign.

One of the main focuses of Britain's Office of Cyber Security and the Cyber Security Operations Centre based at GCHQ is the constant attempts to break into government departments and private sector companies by Chinese hackers.

The Telegraph

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Jim Rogers : Gold will go over $2000

Jim Rogers Gold

Investor Jim Rogers was asked "where would gold be a year from now ?" in a Thomson Reuters Q&A session , his answer was : "I don't have a clue , I do have a clue that Gold will certainly go over $2000/oz , Gold's all time high adjusted for inflation would be well over $2000 , it will go there , I mean you can dream I have no idea , if the dollar does collapse which I expect , you pick your number when you have declining currencies and things are denominated in US Dollars who knows what the prices will be , they will be unbelievably high they gonna be much higher than even I believe , the numbers are gonna be staggering , it is always that way in a bull market , if you and I had sat here in 1980 to 1992 and we talked about what the prices will be five ten years later nobody would have believed this or even

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George Soros says it is 'probably inevitable' a country will leave euro

Billionaire investor George Soros has said it is
Billionaire investor George Soros has said it is "probably inevitable" a country will eventually exit the eurozone, calling for policymakers to come up with a plan B that could rescue the European Union from looming economic collapse.

Mr Soros, famous for making $1bn by betting against the British pound in 1992, did not name any country he thought might exit the currency, but speculation is mounting about the fate of Greece as its politicians struggle to agree more austerity measures demanded by international lenders as the price for staving off bankruptcy.

Mr Soros reiterated his view in a panel discussion in Vienna that the euro had a basic flaw from the start in that the currency was not backed by political union or a joint treasury.

"The euro had no provision for correction. There was no arrangement for any country leaving the euro, which in the current circumstances is probably inevitable," he said.

While he called survival of the European Union a "vital interest to all", he said the EU needed structural changes to halt a process of disintegration.

"There is no plan B at the moment. That is why the authorities are sticking to the status quo and insisting on preserving the existing arrangements instead of recognising there are fundamental flaws that need to be corrected."

The Telegraph


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