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Thursday, October 27, 2011

War with Persia?

Aerial Video: Turkey earthquake

Nationwide EAS Test coming on Nov. 9

ATLANTA -- On November 9 at 2 p.m., virtually every radio, television, cable and satellite station in the nation will take part in a nationwide test of theEmergency Alert System.

The test will be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The test itself is expected to last up to three and a half minutes. The public will hear a message on all media that says, "This is a test."

Ordinarily, EAS tests are conducted locally on an ongoing basis, and this will be no exception, though the tests most viewers are familiar with generally last a minute in length.

The Department of Homeland Security, along with FEMA, the FCC and other federal, state and local government organizations have been working to make sure that the system will enable the president and other authorities are able to address the American public during a time of extreme emergency.

People are reminded to obtain or craft an emergency preparedness kit and make sure that they have an emergency plan for themselves and their families. More information can be found about emergency preparedness at http://www.ready.gov/.

Pope to promote peace in talks with world religious leaders

VATICAN CITY, Oct 25 – Pope Benedict XVI has invited 300 religious leaders to a meeting in Assisi in Italy to repudiate “violence in the name of God” amid growing tensions fuelled by fundamentalists across the world.

The day of interreligious council, which will be held on Thursday in St. Francis of Assisi’s birthplace, is intended to be a “journey of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world,” the Vatican said.

Over 50 Islamic representatives are expected to attend the talks from several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.

They will be joined by Rabbis, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, a Zoroastrian, a Bahai and representatives of Taoism and Confucianism as well as of other traditional religions from Africa and America.

For the first time, four atheists will also attend the meeting, which is traditionally organised so as not to coincide with the Muslim day of prayer on Friday, the Jewish one on Saturday or the Christian one on Sunday.

However, the Imam from the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a heavyweight authority on Sunnism, will not be coming, having fallen out with the pope after he urged Egypt to protect Christians from attacks by radical Islamists.

The meeting is being criticised by Catholic fundamentalists who are strongly against the idea of dialogue with other religions. French fundamentalist Regis de Cacqueray said 1,000 masses would be needed to be said in reparation.

The event marks the 25th anniversary of the first interreligious meeting in Assisi, organised by John Paul II in 1986 as a “day of prayer” inspired by the United Nation’s proclamation of an International Year of the Peace.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, chose not to attend because of concerns shared by traditionalists that it risked mixing religions into a vague common belief.

While guests attending this year’s encounter — the third in Assisi — will in principle follow a “common course”, those who wish to pray will do so separately, according to their beliefs, the Holy See has said.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who helped organise the first Assisi day in 1986, said John Paul II had been careful to avoid mixing beliefs, and Benedict XVI was no different.

“Interreligious dialogue has spread” over the last 25 years, and the pope sees it “as a common, irrevocable heritage of Christian sensibility,” he said.

The pope’s main aim is for participants to agree to “a common commitment to reject the instrumentalism of religion and the use of violence in the name of God,” said a Vatican insider.

Number two of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Pier Luigi Celata, said the problems that particularly concern religions are immigration, cultural diversity, religious liberty and the defence of the family.

“These issues oblige faithful people from different religions to look for common solutions,” he said.

At the end of the day of talks, the main participants will renew their commitment to peace in the square in front of St. Francis’ Basilica.

A burning torch will be symbolically presented to the delegations in the hope that they will take the message back with them to their communities.

Capital News

Italy, Berlusconi pushed to the brink

Italy’s stability, as well as the leadership of its flamboyant prime minister, both hinge on a set of fiscal reforms, which were hastily concocted and delivered to the latest installment in Europe’s perpetual emergency summit on Wednesday.

A letter delivered by Silvio Berlusconi to European Union leaders in Brussels promises to balance the country’s budget by 2013, increase the age of retirement to 67, and raise €5-billion annually in asset sales.

“We are aware that our debt is too high and our growth is too limited,” Mr. Berlusconi said in the letter.

While the EU has insisted on austerity in exchange for support of Italy’s debt, Mr. Berlusconi has faced resistance within his fractured governing coalition.

And according to at least one Italian newspaper, parliamentary agreement on economic reform required Mr. Berlusconi pay the steepest of political prices — his resignation.

Already scandalized by sexual improprieties and allegations of corruption, the 75-year-old leader’s domestic mandate has been on the wane for some time.

Internal tensions flared up this week when government officials came to blows with opposition legislators over the reform plan.

Mario Draghi, Italy’s chief central banker who is set to take over as head of the European Central Bank on Nov. 1, called the situation in Italy “confusing and dramatic.”

With the eurozone’s largest sovereign bond market, Italy’s public debt has climbed to €1.9-trillion, amounting to 120% of its national production.

Yields on 10-year sovereign bonds sit at almost 6%, near the level that prompted intervention by the ECB in August.

The prospect of Italy falling to contagion would prove a vastly greater problem than that of the insolvency of Greece, whose debt load and economic strength is paltry by comparison.

As in Greece, the ECB intervention was made conditional on Italy passing a series of budget reforms.

But with deepening divisions in the centre-right coalition, and with Mr. Berlusconi’s chief political ally, the Northern League, intent on diluting fiscal reform, the proposals faltered.

As a result, confidence in Mr. Berlusconi’s authority suffered.

“Either this government is able to take structural reforms or we need another government,” said Mario Baldassarri, a former Berlusconi ally.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said the country cannot afford a leader that does not grasp the urgent need for budget reform.

“We can no longer dither over the categoric imperative of making a consistent and constant effort to lower our debt,” he said.

International reprimand followed. Mr. Berlusconi subsequently lashed back at the perceived interference in Italy’s affairs.

But the expectations for Wednesday’s summit were made clear.

“Our Italian friends know well that we have to assume that we will be informed this evening that there will be significant structural consolidation efforts from Italy. That is a must,” said Eurogroup president and Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Mr. Berlusconi’s letter of intent appeared to at least propose such significant efforts.

But in order to secure the support of Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, the prime minister offered his resignation by the end of the year and agreed to early elections, according to newspaper la Repubblica. The prime minister’s office has denied the report.

For his part, Mr. Bossi has expressed doubt at the prospect of the coalition surviving.

Financial Post

Gerald Celente at liberty Plaza

Financiers Put A Red Light On Euro Project

As if financiers weren't already the most unpopular people in Europe, they are, as I write this, holding the entire euro project to ransom.

By now, European leaders were supposed to have nailed down their three-part bailout deal and should have been back at their respective capitals toasting the salvation of the single currency.

They confirmed the deal to recapitalise struggling banks with just over 100bn euro of cash, sourced from the private sector or, if in need, the public sector.

They agreed, at least in theory, to increase the size of the currency's live-in bail-out fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), from an effective 440bn euro to around 1trn euro.

There are question marks - big ones - over how this will work in practice, but the leaders have nonetheless made enough progress to draw up a draft announcement of the fund.

All of this, however, was before they reckoned with the difficulty they would have in the third and final part of the bailout - persuading private sector investors to accept a haircut - an effective semi-default - on the Greek debt.

Now, this element may seem incidental to the rest of the deal, and is often dismissed as less important than the "big bazooka" element of leveraging up the EFSF.

But unless the Europeans can find a deal to reduce what Greece owes, the country is likely to fall into an inescapable economic hole that could only end in a full-scale messy default.

Sky News

Ahmadinejad says West set to plunder Libya's oil wealth

Iran's Ahmadinejad speaks in city of Birjand TEHRAN - Western countries supported Muammar Gaddafi when it suited them but bombed the Libyan leader when he no longer served their purpose in order to "plunder" the north African country's oil wealth, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday.

While Tehran has applauded the people of Libya for overthrowing the man it considered an illegitimate dictator, Ahmadinejad warned Libyans that the West now aimed to run their country for them.

"Show me one European or American president who has not traveled to Libya or has not signed an agreement (with Gaddafi)," Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live in which he accused the West of ordering the former leader's execution.

"Some people said they killed this gentleman to make sure he would not be able to say anything, just like what they did to bin Laden," he said.

Iran accuses the West of helping create the Sunni Muslim militant group al Qaeda run by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in May.

Ahmadinejad derided the West's approach to the Security Council, which he called an "organization with no honor", saying the UN resolution to take action against Gaddafi was used as an authorization to "plunder" Libyan oil.

"Any decision that would strengthen the presence, domination or influence of foreigners would be contrary to the Libyan nation's interests," Ahmadinejad said.

"The expectation of the world of the Libyan nation is that they stand and run the country themselves."

The downfall of Gaddafi, after he gave in to pressure to abandon nuclear work, has reinforced the view of hardliners in Tehran that no good would come of making concessions to the West.

Iran has been subjected to four rounds of sanctions by the United Nations since 2006 over its disputed nuclear program. Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapon, but Tehran insists its programis peaceful.

Jerusalem Post

Greek bondholders to take 50% loss...EU increases bailout fund to $1.4 trillion

European leaders cajoled bondholders into accepting 50 percent writedowns on Greek debt and boosted their rescue fund’s capacity to 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) in a crisis-fighting package intended to shield the euro area.

The 17-nation euro and stocks climbed while bond spreads narrowed after leaders emerged early today from a 10-hour summit in Brussels armed with a plan they said points the way out of the quagmire, albeit with some details still to be ironed out.

“Overall the outcome is better than we anticipated one week ago,”Laurent Bilke, global head of inflation strategy at Nomura International Plc in London, said in an interview. “There are several issues left open, but I do believe that getting a more necessary debt relief for Greece is a pretty important step.”

Last-ditch talks with bank representatives led to the debt- relief accord, in an effort to quarantine Greece and prevent speculation against Italy and France from ravaging the euro zone and wreaking global economic havoc. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will address the nation at 8 p.m. in Athens to outline the summit’s ramifications for the country at the eye of the two-year sovereign debt crisis.

“The world’s attention was on these talks,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Brussels at about 4:15 a.m. “We Europeans showed tonight that we reached the right conclusions.”

ECB Role
Measures include recapitalization of European banks, a potentially bigger role for the International Monetary Fund, a commitment from Italy to do more to reduce its debt and a signal from leaders that the European Central Bank will maintain bond purchases in the secondary market.

The euro advanced to a seven-week high against the dollar, rising above $1.40 for the first time since September. It was at $1.4007 at 11:48 a.m. in Brussels. The Stoxx Europe 600 Indexsurged 2.6 percent.

“It’s long on words, short on detail,” said Peter Dixon, an economist at Commerzbank AG in London. “The solution that’s been put in place now gives us enough ammunition to stave off any immediate problems but we may well run into other problems down the track.”

The summit was the 14th in the 21 months since Europe pledged solidarity with Greece, and came amid mounting global pressure for the bloc to deliver a credible anti-crisis toolkit before a Group of 20 meeting Nov. 3-4 in Cannes, France.

Keiser Report: Fecal Alchemy

Jordan's king: Israel-Egypt peace treaty in danger

King Abdullah II of Jordan Photo: AFP

The Israel- Egypt peace treaty has never been in greater danger, as the post-Mubarak regime in Cairo may choose to revoke it altogether, King Abdullah II of Jordan somberly predicted in an interview with the Washington Post.

The king had previously expressed his concern over the volatile situation caused on the region in the wake of the Arab Spring, and has urged both Israel and the Palestinians to find a way to overcome the stalemate in the peace process.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, the king described Jordan as "the last man standing with our relationship with Israel," whose relation with once-close allies Egypt and Turkey have been plagued by tensions.

The king further warned that there was a "very strong possibility" the Cairo's new rulers will choose to revoke the 32-year-old accord, but the Washington Post qualified the statement, saying that "Egypt’s role in brokering the exchange of Shalit for over a thousand Palestinian prisoners demonstrated that fears of a major break between Egypt and Israel have been wildly overstated."

Though ominous predictions as to the peace treaty have been voiced since Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was deposed, geopolitics experts believe that Egypt’s military sees a vital interest in keeping the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty robust, since it primarily serves Egypt's own security interests.


A senior columnist with Cairo's Al-Akhbar daily recently wrote: "The agreement and the (Shalit) deal are a medal on Egypt’s chest to be added to the several medals that it deservedly earned for its ongoing defense and support of the Palestinian cause."

Those who disagree with the king's estimation, say that keeping the peace treaty coincides with Egypt’s desire to reassure the United States that it remains a reliable regional partner, thus ensuring future financial and military aid.