Monday, July 11, 2011
Iran said it fired two medium range missile into the Indian Ocean six months ago under the eyes of "American spy planes," local media reported on Saturday, quoting a top military commander.
"In Bahman (Iranian month which runs from January 21 to February 19, two Revolutionary Guard missiles with the range of 1,900 kilometres (1,180 miles) were fired from Semnan (central Iran) to the designated targets in the Indian Ocean," said the unit's aerospace chief, Amir Ali Hajizadeh said.
"This took place with the Americans present in the area ... We allowed the American spy planes to be in the area but so far they have not said anything about it," he added, without elaborating on the missiles fired.
The elite Guards wrapped up a 10-day military drill codenamed Great Prophet-6 on Wednesday, during which a number of ballistic missiles were fired.
Tehran's archfoe, the United States, reacted by saying that "Iran, rather than getting itself back in the good graces of the international community ... seems to be bragging about its capabilities, conducting secret programmes, parading new missiles in front of the press."
Tehran says it has a wide range of missiles in its arsenal, and regularly boasts about developing projectiles with substantial range and capabilities. Western military experts, however, cast doubt over its claims.
The Guards carry out such exercises every year, particularly in the Gulf region, and Tehran insists the manoeuvres are purely defensive.
Iranian leaders, however, have repeatedly warned the missiles could reach Israeli territory as well as US bases in the Middle East.
"Iran's missiles have a maximum range of 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) and are designed to reach US targets in the region and the Zionist regime," Hajizadeh said at the start of the military drills.
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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A senior Revolutionary Guard commander threatened Saturday that U.S. aircraft carriers would be targeted if Iran came under attack amid a standoff with the West over Tehran's nuclear program.
Iran has often warned of major retaliation if they faced a military strike from Israel or the West, but the latest comments appear tailored to emphasize the expanding range of Iranian missiles following 10 days of war games. The exercises included unveiling underground missile silos that Iran says is capable of multiple launches.
"Aircraft carriers ... are moving targets. If the enemy threatens us, we will target them," said Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Guard's aerospace force, in comments broadcast on state TV.
Hajizadeh also confirmed that Iran secretly conducted missile tests earlier this year that he claimed hit targets at the "mouth of the Indian Ocean" — an apparent reference to areas near the Strait of Hormouz at the southern end of the Gulf.
Hajizadeh said two missiles with ranges of 1,140 miles (1,900 kilometers) were fired during the Iranian month of Bahman, from Jan. 21 to Feb 19, from Semnan province in northern Iran. He gave no further details, but at maximum range the missiles could have reached deep into the Arabian Sea.
In April, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard said Iran's arsenal is capable of striking "remote regions outside the Persian Gulf."
Iran says its longest-range missiles, Shahab-3 and Sajjil-2, can travel up to 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) — putting Israel, U.S. bases in the Gulf region and parts Europe within reach.
Meanwhile, Iran has tried to project its military might outside the Gulf, where the U.S. has several air bases and the home port of the Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
Iran has said its missiles can reach Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. Two Iranian warships entered the Mediterranean in February for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and an Iranian submarine returned this week after a journey that included the Red Sea.
Hajizadeh also claimed that Iran has acquired technology to build supersonic surface-to-sea missiles. He didn't elaborate, but defense analysts believe China has helped develop the anti-ship weapons.
Iran also says it has the ability to produce missiles with an even greater range than those currently in its arsenal, but won't manufacture them because Israel and U.S. bases are already within reach.
Last month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons that Iran has conducted covert tests of ballistic missiles since October in addition to the publicly announced military maneuvers.
Hajizadeh only confirmed that missile tests were carried out. It was not clear if the covert tests in February were the same as claimed by Hague.
The Islamic Republic remains locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Iran denies the charges, and says the program is only for peaceful purposes.
Iran conducts several war games every year as part of its military self-sufficiency program that started in 1992, and frequently unveils new weapons and military systems during the drills.
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If the ECB's Jean-Claude Trichet is right in claiming that Europe was on the brink of a 1930s financial cataclysm a year ago - and I think he is - it is hard see how the threat is any less serious right now.
Fall-out from Greece flattened Portugal and Ireland last week. It is engulfing Spain and Italy, countries with €6.3 trillion of public and private debt between them.
Yields on Italian 10-year bonds hit a post-EMU high of 5.3pc on Friday. This is not just a theoretical price: the Italian treasury has to roll over €69bn (£61bn) in August and September; it must tap the markets for €500bn before the end of 2013. The interest burden on Italy's €1.84 trillion stock of public debt is about to rise very fast.
Spanish yields punched even higher, through the danger line of 5.7pc. The bond markets of both countries are replicating the pattern seen in Greece, Portugal, and Ireland before each spiraled into insolvency. And the virus is moving up the European map. French banks alone have $472bn (£394bn) of exposure to Italy and $175bn to Spain, according to the Bank for International Settlements.
"We believe the European sovereign crisis might be entering a new phase with contagion reaching the larger economies," said Jacques Cailloux, chief Europe economist at RBS.
"It is unclear to us how this latest negative shock to confidence is going to be undone in the absence of a 'shock and awe' policy response."
Italy's premier Silvio Berlusconi has chosen this moment of acute danger to undermine his own finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, the one figure in his cabinet respected by global bond vigilantes. "He's not a team player, and thinks he's genius and that everybody else is a cretin," said Mr Berlusconi.
Meanwhile, Mr Tremonti is living free in the Rome house of a political ally just arrested on corruption charges. Resignation rumours circulate hourly. You can hear the knifes sharpening.
"The government ceased to exist months ago," wrote Massimo Giannini in La Repubblica.
"What other country would allow itself the suicidal luxury of offering cynical markets such a spectacle of political disintegration and institutional decay at a time when Europe is destabilized by Greece's sovereign debt and haunted by contagion? We have a band of poltroons dancing under the volcano, and the volcano is about to erupt."
What can the eurozone now do to trump its last "shock and awe"? More loan packages solve nothing. Pretending that this is just a liquidity crisis will no longer wash.
What it will take is a belated recognition by Germany that this crisis is not a morality tale contrasting virtuous, thrifty Teutons, with feckless Greco-Latins and Guinness-befuddled Celts, but rather a North-South structural crisis caused by the inherent workings of monetary union.
The implications of this are profound. Germany must now be willing either to buy or guarantee Spanish and Italian debt, and in doing so to cross the Rubicon to fiscal and political union, or accept that EMU must break up with calamitous consequences for German foreign policy. Large matters, beyond the intellectual vision of Germany's current leaders.
It will also take a total purge of the ECB's leadership, which clings to its madcap doctrine that monetary policy can be separated from other emergency operations, and which chose last week of all moments to raise interest rates again and kick Spain in the teeth. It did so knowing that the one-year Euribor rate used to price more than 90pc of Spanish mortgages must rise in lock-step. As one Spanish commentator put it, the Eurotower in Frankfurt should be torn down, and salt sown in the ground.
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Debt-based fiat money, which implies never ending debt and constant inflation, is not a sound, stable or sustainable monetary system. Major economic problems today, such as rising global commodity prices and the sovereign debt crisis, are not aberrations or inherent problems of capitalism, but are the inevitable consequences of a centrally planned system that, by design, produces never ending inflation, ever increasing centralization of financial power and increasingly extreme concentration of wealth.
Monetary systems that rely on debt-based fiat money can be accurately described as confidence games and the global cartel of central banks that exists today is similar to a criminal cartel, such as the drug cartel, except that the banking cartel has been legalized,can extort hundreds of billions from governments with impunity,and can conjure unlimited trillions out of thin air for its own benefit with no accountability. In stark contrast,hapless billions of people labor worldwide for single-digit hourly wages on an ever faster moving hamster wheel of inflation and debt.
Like a commodity, supply and demand is the putative basis for the value of money in the field of economics,but many economists and most investors know very little about the underlying structure of the monetary system. The legal and,in a systemic sense,mathematical structure of money is debt,i.e.,a note or debt instrument, thus money is the liability of its issuer (a government or central bank),rather than a tangible asset. Money,which is a purely legal construct (rather than a direct representation of a physical asset or an actual commodity),is created ex nihilo through legal agreements,such as mortgage loans,car loans,student loans,credit card charges,business loans,etc.,hence the term “fiat” money. Governments help banks to create money by borrowing for deficit spending (and by paying interest on the debt),but central banks create money directly through loans to banks or favored parties,debt monetization and asset purchases.
The reality of debt-based fiat money has many implications and consequences. The most important fact is probably that such a monetary system must constantly expand because,when money is debt,interest payments require the money supply (and debt levels) to constantly grow regardless of population growth or sustainable economic activity. In other words,debt-based fiat money systems are inherently inflationary and banks are in the inflation business. Monetary policy must favor inflation so that,overall,interest payments can be met,preventing the system from collapsing in a deflationary spiral of debt defaults. For this reason,the value of the U.S dollar has declined to the equivalent of roughly $0.03 since the founding of the Federal Reserve in 1913. The Federal Reserve’s supposed mandate of price stability is as absurd as it is impossible. In fact,the Federal Reserve itself,through its monetary policies,is the ultimate source of monetary inflation and the most general cause of rising prices.
A debt-based fiat money system,together with the monetary policies necessary to support it,eventually causes debt levels to grow to unsustainable levels, resulting in unsustainable economic aberrations,such as the dot-com and housing bubbles, and producing the boom and bust cycle of credit expansion and contraction, euphemistically called the “business cycle”. Obviously,infinite growth is impossible in a finite world and phenomena that increase by a significant percent per year,e.g., the money supply,increase exponentially,which does not characterize sustainable systems. Without debt-based fiat money,a massive U.S. federal government equal to roughly 35% of GDP,a gargantuan banking industry equal to 20% of the S&P 500,a vast military industrial complex costing hundreds of billions per year,and perpetual foreign wars costing trillions of dollars would be unlikely,if not impossible. Of course,a perfect monetary system has yet to be invented,but debt-based fiat money has more disadvantages than advantages,and the advantages accrue only to a select few.
A Broken Promise
When a transaction for goods takes place using debt-based fiat money one party holds goods and the other holds a note,which is a financial system asset of the holder but a liability of the issuing government or central bank,i.e.,money is a liability,not an asset,of the issuer. The most obvious question is whether the government or the central bank in question is good for the debt. Since fiat currencies are not redeemable,the only way the issuer can be good for debt is in terms of other fiat currencies,all of which decay in value over time. Fiat currencies are backed essentially by the words “full faith and credit” which,in a practical sense,refer to the government’s ability to tax its citizens. In reality,however,the words “full faith and credit” mean that fiat money is backed by hollow promises that history shows will eventually evaporate.
Fiat currencies,which have absolutely no tangible,physical backing or real,lasting value,depend solely and totally on the confidence of their users,exactly like a criminal confidence game. Of course,economics is a social science rather than a hard science but,since there are no mathematical models or equations that can accurately describe or predict all possible human action,confidence cannot be reliably manufactured or maintained through behavioral techniques independent of objective reality. Although fiat currencies can function as a unit of account and as a transaction medium,they fail with one hundred percent certainty as a store of value.
The U.S. dollar became a purely fiat currency in 1971 when the Nixon Administration ended the dollar’s convertibility to gold. In effect,the U.S. defaulted on its international gold debts in 1971,thus the current version of the U.S. dollar was born with a unilateral violation of the Bretton Woods Agreement. From that point,the world financial system quickly devolved into an abstract,mathematical representation of economic activity from which paper profits could be extracted through economic rent seeking,i.e.,manipulation of the financial system,rather than real economic activity. The replacement of redeemable U.S. Treasury certificates with Federal Reserve Notes substituted a promise to pay in gold or silver with a promise to pay nothing. The transaction medium (paper notes) was substituted for the value that it was originally intended to convey (physical gold and silver). Once the gold and silver of the American People was confiscated and the gold window was closed (ending the Bretton Woods Agreement),the global financial system became a closed symbolic system dominated by computer models but decoupled from the real world,with no direct linkage to real goods,tangible assets,or sustainable economic activity. The U.S. dollar continued as the world’s reserve currency simply because it remained useful,not because it was,in any real sense,valuable. Today,the perceived economic strength and political stability of the United States has all but disappeared.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/25-reasons-to-buy-gold-and-dump-dollars-2011-7?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheMoneyGame+%28The+Money+Game%29&utm_content=Google+Reader#ixzz1Rnu2LKcb
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WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says many Americans will face hard times for a long time to come.
He says President Barack Obama rescued the United States from a second Great Depression and will keep working to strengthen the economy. But Geithner says it will be some time before many people feel like the country is recovering.
Geithner tells NBC television's "Meet the Press" that it's a very tough economy. He says that for a lot of people "it's going to feel very hard, harder than anything they've experienced in their lifetime now, for a long time to come."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/07/10/geithner-says-expect-hard-times-for-long-time-to-come/#ixzz1RnrROntD
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BOSTON -- As the commonwealth of Massachusetts digs itself out of a recession, Team 5 Investigates has learned there are thousands of state workers who are going to look good doing it.
Analysis of state records show in the last four years Massachusetts has spent $43,968,295.99 on clothing. The majority of those purchases are tied to longstanding union contracts, while many others are not. In this fiscal crisis, each agency is able to spend what it wants and Team 5 found there is no statewide system of oversight.
“This is an area ripe for abuse on the one hand, but certainly ripe for review,” said Rep. Bradley Jones, House Minority Leader.
The biggest spenders on clothing for state workers are the Department of Correction, which spent $15,279,561 in the last four years. State Police doled out $5,867,630.76 and the Trial Court made $1,706,350 worth of purchases.
“There are some (purchases) that are clearly justifiable, some that fall into a gray area, and some you say wait a second, this is clearly ridiculous and a waste of taxpayer money,” said Jones.
Records show the Department of Veterans’ Services spent $13,485.73 on polo shirts, pants and windbreakers for employees.
The Lottery shelled out $28,334.46 to outfit 107 workers.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation spent approximately $1,652,199 on clothing for rangers, firefighters, lifeguards and park interpreters.
And the Parole Board spent $25,011.36 on jackets for some employees and polo shirts for everyone.
“That’s half of the annual salary of someone who has probably been laid off during this fiscal crisis,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
Read more: http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/28419956/detail.html#ixzz1RWxl2a62
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