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Friday, November 11, 2011

worst than the world depression

Iran's supreme leader warns West of 'strong slap and iron fist'

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was speaking two days after the United Nations atomic agency released a report that for the first time said Iran was conducting experiments whose sole purpose was the development of nuclear arms.

"The enemies, particularly the United States and its pawns and the Zionist regime, should know that the Iranian nation does not seek to invade any country or nation," he said, addressing officers at a military academy in Tehran.

"But Iran will strongly respond to any invasion or attack with such power and in a way that the aggressors and invaders will be smashed from the inside. Anybody who takes up the idea of an attack on Iran, should get ready to receive a strong slap and an iron fist."

His defiant rhetoric indicated that Tehran, which insists it is pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, is set on a confrontation with the West.

The supreme leader, who has final say on all state matters in Iran, rations his interventions in international affairs, and appeared to want to send a message that the Iranian establishment was united in its commitment to hit back against any pre-emptive attack.

Diplomatic sources said however that less confrontational elements in Iran's power structures will have been unnerved by the detailed report assembled by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and by recent bellicose rhetoric from Israel.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, has described the world as entering a "dangerous new phase" regarding Iran.

The European Union has begun discussing new sanctions against Iran, following the lead of Britain and France, whose foreign minister called for a meeting of the UN Security Council on Iran. Russia and China meanwhile yesterday both agreed that Iran should not be subjected to new sanctions, highlighting the divisions in the international community.

Western powers will also call for Iran to be reported to the Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which meets next week in Vienna.

The administration of US President Barack Obama is meanwhile coming under mounting pressure from hawkish senators in Washington to devise much tougher sanctions than any of the UN or unilateral measures imposed over the past six years.

They want to see sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran that would effectively cripple the Iranian economy and probably send oil prices soaring.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, will soon introduce a bill requiring an investigation by the administration into the bank's role in Iran's illicit nuclear activities. If positive indications are found, sanctions would be automatically triggered.

The bill is likely to be passed, given that 92 out of 100 senators signed a letter in drafted by Sen Schumer in August calling for the effective collapse of the CBI.

Sen Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, told the Foreign Policy website: "We've got to make a decision: What's the biggest threat to the world, a nuclear-armed Iran or sanctions that would hurt us and the people of Iran? You've got two choices, the policy of containment or the policy of pre-emption. I'm in the pre-emption camp. I don't think containment works."

The Obama administration has so far downplayed expectations of pushing through a fifth round of UN sanctions while it considers it options.

Diplomatic sources said that Washington had also been taken aback by the failure of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to offer assurances that he would not bomb Iran unilaterally.

The Telegraph


There are some on the outer fringes of the internet who say it heralds the end of the world; but for others, it looks like the perfect day for a wedding

At 11.11.11 on 11.11.11, the time and date will be a perfect same-numbered palindrome, reading the same backwards as forwards, an event which can only happen on one day every 100 years.

And even the most hardened sceptic will surely pause for a moment to reflect on the unique occurrence, which will not come around again in the lifetime of most of us.

Among other things, 11.11.11 will be:

  • Armistice Day, celebrated around the world.
  • A day of spiritual significance for those who believe the number 11 has a mystical power.
  • A very special day to get married or have a birthday (especially if it's your 11th).
  • Perhaps even the end of the world, according to some 'prophecy' web forums.

The reason the date is so unusual is that 11.11.11 is the only double-figure palindromic date, since there is no 22nd month.

And the last time it happened, on November 11 1911, an almost supernatural event saw temperatures drop by more than 60F in a single day.

This was the Great Blue Norther, a cold snap which hit the U.S. causing blizzards and tornadoes as well as record falls in temperature.

In Kansas City, it was as warm as 76F (24C) in the morning - but this had dropped to 11F (-12C) by the end of the day.

Remembrance: November 11 is best known in the UK as Armistice Day, or Veterans Day in the U.S.

A new film being released on Friday, entitled simply 11-11-11, predicts that the day will see the opening of a portal in to Hell, and says: 'On this day, innocent blood will spill.'

The film by Darren Bousman, director of several entries in the Saw franchise, features a man whose family dies in a car crash at 11.11am, and who then begins to be haunted by the number 11.

It plays on beliefs long held by some spiritualists, who say that the number has a special significance and claim that many people have a mystical attraction to the time 11.11.

Horror: This Friday sees the release of apocalyptic film 11-11-11, which predicts the opening of a Hellmouth

One group believes that 11.11 is the special symbol of the 'Spirit Guardians', a group of 1,111 celestial beings who supposedly look after mortals and manifest themselves in mid-morning.

Spoon-bending 'psychic' Uri Geller has written that the number represents 'the need to find balance in life', and added: 'When I see the number 1111, I pray for sick children and world peace.'

Gretna Green: The romantic town in the Scottish Borders will have an upswing in marriages on 11.11.11

He also believes that thanks to its status as a 'balanced' number, '11.11 is the pre-encoded trigger and the key to the mysteries of the universe and beyond'.

However, most of those who have chosen this Friday as a day to get married are more attracted by the pleasing coincidence than by any deeper significance.

The small town of Gretna Green, a traditional wedding venue near the border between Scotland and England, will host at least 50 weddings on 11.11.11, compared to fewer than a dozen on a typical November Friday.

Wedding mania will be even more pronounced overseas, such as in India where thousands of couples have judged the date to be auspicious for a successful marriage.

Trousers: One group which is taking the day in its correct spirit is the Corduroy Appreciation Club, which has anointed 11.11.11 as 'The Day That Most Resembles Corduroy' because it is made up of straight lines

The day will also be one of celebration for a number of children who will be turning 11 on 11.11.11.

For Hannah Rose Hawkins, of Walton in Somerset, it will be even more special, as she sees in her 11th birthday at her house - number 11.

Most famously, the 11th of November is Armistice Day in the UK - Veterans Day in the U.S. - when we celebrate the end of World War I and commemorate the victims of that war and subsequent ones.


The reason we ascribe significance to 11.11.11 is apophenia - the urge to find patterns in seemingly random data.

It is this that explains why we see clouds forming certain shapes, and why we often hear of people finding 'faces' in things like potato crisps.

Apophenia is also important in the psychology of gamblers. It can either encourage those on a winning streak to believe that it will continue, or convince losing gamblers that their luck must inevitably change.

While it can be a symptom of mental illness if taken to an extreme - as depicted in the film A Beautiful Mind - apophenia is instinctive to all humans as a way of drawing conclusions about the world.

This phenomenon helps us, for example, to recognise abstract drawings as representing human figures, and to remember phone numbers which seem to follow a pattern.

The end of the Great War came on November 11, 1918. Given the carnage seen in the war, we can assume that the date was not deliberately chosen, but was simply the earliest possible opportunity for a ceasefire.

However, the decision to end the war at exactly 11 o'clock certainly was deliberate, at the Armistice was signed around five in the morning (Paris time), to take effect at the symbolic point a few hours later.

Tragically, fierce fighting continued right up until the official ceasefire, and one American soldier was killed at 10.58.

Of course, there is no real significance to the date 11.11.11 - not even at the time of 11.11.11 - but it is a classic example of apophenia, the human urge to see patterns in essentially random events.

With that in mind, perhaps the group which is taking the day in its correct spirit is the Corduroy Appreciation Club, which has anointed 11.11.11 as 'The Day That Most Resembles Corduroy' because it is made up of straight lines.

However, to say that the date is no more than a coincidence would have provided little comfort to those who endured the bizarre weather on the last 11.11.11.

It remains to be seen whether 11.11.11 will produce such surprises this time around, but people should be sure to keep a careful eye on the weather - and on any local Hellmouths - at 11 seconds past 11 minutes past 11 o'clock.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2059313/11-11-11-11-11-11-Fridays-lifetime-moment.html#ixzz1dMpt8yAl

Why Iran's Top Leaders Believe That the End of Days Has Come

Why would Iran authorize a major terrorist operation on American soil? Skeptics say the much-discussed “foiled” Iranian plot makes no sense. We will know soon enough if the Feds have sufficient evidence related to this specific plot. But Iranian leaders may, in fact, have a motive to accelerate direct attacks on the U.S.: Shia Islamic eschatology, or "End Times" theology.

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are convinced that the End of Days has come. They believe the Shia messiah known as the “Twelfth Imam” or the “Mahdi” will appear soon to establish a global Islamic kingdom known as the caliphate.

What’s more, they believe the way to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam is to annihilate Israel (which they call the “Little Satan”), and the United States (which they call the “Great Satan”). We should not, therefore, be surprised that Iran is probing for weaknesses in American intelligence and homeland security.

Khamenei told Iranians in July 2010 that he personally met with the Twelfth Imam. He also claimed to be the personal representative of the Mahdi on earth, and said all Muslims must “obey him.” Meanwhile, Western intelligence agencies say he continues to work with Ahmadinejad and the Iranian military to develop nuclear warheads and the ballistic missiles to deliver them.

Much of the media has focused on Iran’s threats to wipe Israel “off the map.” But journalists have generally ignored the fact that the Iranian regime is equally determined to destroy the United States.

On October 26, 2005, for example, Ahmadinejad said, “God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism.”

On June 2, 2008, Ahmadinejad said, “Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of the United States has come, and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started.”

Iran’s leaders actually believe that the destruction of the U.S. is foreordained, just as the Soviet Union’s implosion was predetermined. They see U.S. economic weakness as a sign that the end of America is near.

Other signs include President Obama’s political weakness in the polls and his unwillingness to use force against Iran even after the Iranian murder of Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon over the years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the gravity of the situation. “The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,” he told The Atlantic magazine in March 2009. “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs,” Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership. “When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”'

Unfortunately, Netanyahu hasn’t seen the Obama administration strengthen the American economy or take decisive measures to stop Iran from getting the Bomb, and he is getting anxious. “The international community must stop Iran before it’s too late,” Netanyahu warned in his United Nations speech last month. “If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter….The world around Israel is definitely becoming more dangerous.”

To truly understand how just how dangerous Iran’s regime really is, American leaders need to better understand Shia eschatology.

The Twelfth Imam was a real, flesh-and-blood person who, like the eleven Shia leaders who went before him, was an Arab male, a direct descendent of the founder of Islam, and was thought to have been divinely chosen to be the spiritual guide and ultimate human authority of the Muslim people. His actual name was Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Ali, and it is generally believed by Shias that he was born in Samarra, Iraq, in AD 868.

At a very young age, however, Ali vanished from society. Some say he was four years old, while others say five and some say six. Some believe he fell into a well in Samarra but his body was never recovered. Others believe the Mahdi’s mother placed him in the well to prevent evil rulers from capturing him and killing him, and that little Ali subsequently became supernaturally invisible. This is where the term “Hidden Imam” is derived, as Shias believe that Ali is not dead but has simply been hidden from the sight of mankind – Shias refer to this as “occultation” – until the End of Days, when Allah will reveal him once again.

Shias believe the Mahdi will return in the last days to establish righteousness, justice, and peace. When he comes, they say, the Mahdi will bring Jesus with him. Jesus will be a Muslim and will serve as his deputy, not as King of kings and Lord of lords as the Bible teaches, and he will force non-Muslims to choose between following the Mahdi or death.

By most accounts, Shia scholars believe the Mahdi will first appear in Mecca and conquer the Middle East, then establish the headquarters of his global Islamic government—or caliphate—in Iraq. But there is not universal agreement. Some believe he will emerge from the well at the Jamkaran Mosque in Iran and then travel to Mecca and Iraq. Some say that he will conquer Jerusalem before establishing his caliphate in Iraq. Others believe Jerusalem must be conquered as a prerequisite to his return.

None of this is actually written in the Kuran, and Sunnis reject this eschatology.

But one thing that is fairly well agreed upon among devout “Twelvers” is that the Mahdi will end apostasy and purify corruption within Islam. He is expected to conquer the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Syria, “Palestine,” Egypt and North Africa, and eventually the entire world. During this time, he and Jesus will kill between 60 and 80 percent of the world’s population, specifically those who refuse to convert to Islam.

Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, a professor at the Religious Learning Centre in Qom, wrote a noteworthy book entitled, Al-Imam al-Mahdi, the Just Leader of Humanity, describing the connection between Shia eschatology and Iranian foreign policy. “Those who persist in their disbelief and wickedness shall be killed by the soldiers of the Mahdi,” wrote Amini. “The only victorious government in the entire world will be that of Islam, and people will devotedly endeavor to protect it. Islam will be the religion of everyone, and will enter all the nations of the world. . . .The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and the Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed. . . . It seems unlikely that this catastrophe can be avoided. . . . Warfare and bloodshed [are] inevitable. . . The Imam of the Age and his supporters will overcome the forces of disbelief and godless materialism by undertaking jihad.”

In light of such End Times theology, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Iranian regime is taking a more aggressive posture towards the U.S. and Israel. Instead, we should be taking decisive measures to prevent Iran from blind-siding us in the not-too-distant future with a nuclear terrorist attack or even an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.

Unfortunately, most of Washington and the world’s leadership is asleep to the prospect of this gathering storm. It is time to wake up, before it’s too late.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/11/07/why-irans-top-leaders-believe-that-end-days-has-come/?ref_dom=news.google.com&ref_url=/#ixzz1dMt337uW

Full Halo CME blasts off the Sun, impacting Earth Friday or Saturday

A full-halo CME blast is when the blast is aimed nearly in the direction of the planet. There have been times where we get into the middle of the halo and get nothing but a minor geomagnetic storm, and TheWeatherSpace.com's Kevin Martin has the answer.

"During our weather on Earth, the center of the storm is usually the calmest, the eye," explained Martin. "CME blast's sides are where the dense material is and affects us more. This blast was not directly at us, but the dense sides will hit us Friday or Saturday, making for a strong geomagnetic and aurora event."

So if you live where the Northern Lights are seen, even on a rare basis, this could be the time to shine. TheWeatherSpace will inform you when it hits and you can go outside to see them.

UK Treasury prepares for 'economic armageddon' if euro falls apart

The Treasury and Bank of England are making contingency plans for an "economic Armageddon" if the euro falls apart, business secretary Vince Cable said on Thursday as the European commission slashed its growth forecasts and predicted that the continent could be plunged back into recession next year.

With David Cameron warning that the moment of truth was approaching for the eurozone, ministers are resigned to a severe downgrade of UK growth and public finances when the Office for Budget Responsibility reports this month. Brussels officials said the outlook for the UK economy had deteriorated significantly throughout 2011 and its recovery was lagging rivals'.

The commission now expects the UK economy to expand just 0.7% this year, compared with a forecast of 1.7% in May. Growth for next year is forecast to be just 0.6%, a huge drop on the OBR spring forecast of 2.5 %. An increasingly impatient Cameron again urged the Germans to allow the European Central Bank (ECB) to "act now" and become lender of the last resort to save distressed euro-economies, seen by Britain as the only way to keep the euro from collapse and prevent a wider banking liquidity crisis.

His call came as fears rose that France could be next to be engulfed by the crisis. Brussels downgraded its forecasts for the eurozone's second biggest economy, prompting a sharp rise in benchmark bond yields in France to 3.48% – almost double what Germany pays to borrow money.

Pressure on Italy, where bond yields this week breached the 7% danger level, eased after it appeared that former EU commissioner Mario Monti would be installed as prime minister by the weekend, while in Greece his fellow technocrat Lucas Papademos emerged as the leader of the country's new coalition government after four days of talks.

However, British ministers reported that France was keeping pressure on the ECB day and night to override treaty regulations and take a more interventionist approach, creating a solution to the crisis before it spreads further. Nick Clegg has been pressing the Germans to expand the ECB's role for as long as three months.

Faced by the impasse, Cable admitted Britain was preparing for "all eventualities" in the eurozone, including the breakup of the single currency. "There's a lot of scenario planning in government, thinking about all possible outcomes, and the Treasury is doing that. It affects our trade and potentially, in this Armageddon narrative, it affects the banking system, but we're not there yet," he said.

The contingency planning covers the Financial Services Authority, the Bank of England and the Treasury. It is being led by Tom Scholar, the second Treasury permanent secretary, and is looking at emergency measures to keep the banking system going.

Cameron said on Thursday in a speech on UK growth said that the ECB should now act as the lender of last resort. "Italy is the third largest country in the eurozone," he said. "Its current state is a clear and present danger to the eurozone and the moment of truth is approaching. If the leaders of the eurozone want to save their currency then they, together with the institutions of the eurozone, must act now. The longer the delay, the greater the danger."

Britain is growing increasingly impatient with Berlin for blocking a French plan for the ECB to guarantee the eurozone bailout scheme, the European financial stability facility (EFSF). Separately, Germany shot down the idea discussed at the G20 meeting in Cannes that European countries could use their special drawing rights at the IMF to leverage the EFSF.

Berlin believes it would be wrong for the central bank to act as a lender of last resort because that would jeopardise its independence and fuel inflation.

The Guardian

New World Order chokes the world.... RT Video

MORGAN STANLEY: A Super-Committee Failure Could Trigger Another S&P Downgrade

As the super-committee gets into its final weeks of haggling out a deficit reduction plan, questions about what will happen in the event of a failure are growing louder.

A big question is: Will we get downgraded?

The verdict seems to be mixed.

Last month, BofA's Ethan Harris warned of a likely downgrade after the super-committee's failure.

Then earlier this week, a different analyst from BofA said not to worry.

Now Morgan Stanley is weighing in on this question, as part of a broader note about the impact of the super-committee on the economy.

From MS' Christine Tan:

S&P reminded market observers in October that the US remains on negative watch due to its unsustainable fiscal outlook, which implies a 1 in 3 chance of further downgrade from its current
AA+ rating. If the Super Committee fails to reach a $1.2trn deficit reduction deal, if such a deal relies more upon accounting changes than real deficit reduction, or if Congressional action lessens the impact of the $1.2trn automatic trigger, we believe this could potentially provide S&P with a pretext to downgrade the US further from AA+ to AA. The initial S&P downgrade of the US’s AAA rating on
August 5, 2011 roiled the markets into severe risk-aversion mode and the GRDI, Morgan Stanley’s proprietary risk appetite indicator fell to an all-time low of -5.13.

So it's important to bear in mind that the consequence of a downgrade would be an economic slowdown, not anything on the cost of borrowing side.

In fact, we wonder if all the analysts and pundits who, prior to the August move, predicted a surge in borrowing costs in the event of a downgrade, will identify themselves.

Read more: 

The Euro Crisis Has Entered A Dangerous New Phase

When the Greek crisis started to emerge in early 2010 we recognized the possibility of contagion and the potential threat to the global economic and financial system, although it was generally dismissed as a manageable problem by the investment community. Following is an excerpt from our comment of February 11, 2010. .

"The Greek fiscal crisis is just a symptom of world-wide credit problems that was signaled by the emergence of subprime loan disclosures as early as August 2006. The importance of subprime lending was not recognized until much later, but nevertheless evolved into a continuing series of economic and financial crises that continue until this day. The problem has now extended to sovereign debt, and, as usual, the weakest links are exposed first (Dubai and Greece) only to spread to stronger entities later. Not far behind are Portugal and Spain, then perhaps Italy... It's not just a localized minor problem to be solved by some sleight-of-hand by the EU, but a debt crisis that could envelop the globe.It therefore seems to us that investors are making a big mistake if they assume that Greece is too small and unimportant to matter and that the rest of the developed world is somehow isolated from the turmoil. Greece is to sovereign debt what subprime was to private debt. It's the possible start of a vast tsunami that threatens to overwhelm the global economic and financial system. Investors should take heed."

From the beginning it should have been obvious that if the Greek problem was not contained the other nations along Europe's southern tier as well as Ireland were potentially at risk. That is why the acronym "PIIGS" came into being at that time. Despite the necessity to deal with the budding crisis in early 2010, Europe has dithered for almost two years with so-called plans that were too little and too late. Despite dozens of high-level meetings, pronouncements and inadequate plans put forward by various European entities, the crisis has now entered a new phase with the loss of market confidence in Italian bonds. Italy is the third largest economy in the EU and the eighth in the world. Its 2.6 trillion Euro debt is the fourth largest in the world. As many have previously noted, "Italy is too big to fail and too big to save."

From the outset in early 2010 it was clear that there were no good solutions. The troubled nations could undertake severe austerity measures, default on their debts, be bailed out in some manner or leave the EU. Unfortunately, each of these solutions has highly negative consequences both for the nations needing help and the stronger nations that would bear the brunt of the costs. If a palatable solution were possible it would have been accomplished relatively early in the crisis. Instead the EU has continually "kicked the can down the road".

We see no easy way out of the current turmoil. The result of enough fiscal austerity to relieve the debt pressures is a severe recession or depression. Historically, independent nations undergoing austerity have accompanied the policy with monetary ease and a devaluation of their currency. This is something EU members cannot do as they share a common currency and therefore do not run their own monetary policy. Default would cause havoc in the EU banking system that holds a significant share of the sovereign debt. A bailout would require at least two trillion euros, a sum that no one wants to pay. And breaking up the EU would cause major turmoil in global financial markets and economies.

So far the market has rallied strongly on every announced plan for the last year and a half only to decline again when it became clear that the crisis was not over. In our view, a solution is still not in sight. At best Europe will likely fall into a severe and prolonged recession with the potential for major global consequences. At worst, the global economic and financial system could completely unravel, leading to worldwide chaos. Even assuming the best, the U.S stock market, at current levels, is discounting a far better outcome than is likely to be the case. The strong rallies we see on any glimmer of hope indicates that investors are just as fearful of missing the next bull market as they are of a major downside break. We think the risks at this juncture are far greater than the possible rewards. 

Sarkozy head next to roll....

France plots eurozone 'breakaway group’

The proposal would see a formal "union within a union" created, but would lead to a significant deterioration in Britain's influence in Europe.

David Cameron is drawing up urgent plans to stop Britain being "railroaded" into agreeing to decisions taken by the new eurozone bloc.

France and Germany are understood to want to strengthen the union between eurozone countries with new taxes and legal measures to stop nations borrowing and spending too much in future.

Weaker countries such as Greece could even be barred from the new eurozone, under radical suggestions from some of those involved in discussions over the plan.

It comes amid growing concerns that France could be the next nation to become embroiled in the single currency crisis

Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, said France was "in danger of being picked off by the markets in the coming weeks and months".

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has warned Mr Cameron that unless he accepts unconditional changes to the Lisbon Treaty a split will take place, leaving Britain isolated and in a voting minority within the EU.

"She explicitly told Cameron that if there was no treaty change at the level of the 27 EU members then others will peel off, which is not what she wants," a senior EU diplomat told The Daily Telegraph. According to diplomatic notes, Mr Cameron is pushing for "concrete and effective mechanisms" to "ensure essential economic interests of non–participating member states are fully protected".

Friday is expected to be another crucial day in the ongoing crisis as Italian politicians vote on plans to cut public spending and delay retirement.

European leaders are hoping the vote will be passed, paving the way for Silvio Berlusconi to be replaced as prime minister.

Greece on Thursday finally installed a new prime minister – Lucas Papademos, a former central banker – and the country is expected to unveil its national unity government today.

EU diplomatic sources indicate that Britain is fighting France and Germany to resurrect the "Ioannina compromise", which would allow a blocking minority of countries to stop the new eurozone vanguard bloc pushing decisions through the EU.

The mechanism, named after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in the Greek city 17 years ago, was abandoned by Tony Blair during negotiations for the Treaty of Nice in 2000.

A Government spokesman said: "Discussions about possible further changes to the EU treaties are at a very early stage. But we are clear that any changes would need to protect the rights of those countries in the EU but outside the eurozone, and ensure that any additional enforcement measures would not apply to the UK as a result of our opt-out from the single currency." Any proposals to change the EU treaties must also be agreed by all member states."

Jean-Claude Piris, a former senior EU official, has come out of retirement to "help the eurozone in the current crisis" by working on a blueprint for the new union and its separate institutions. Mr Piris is the "eminence grise'' of EU legal texts and is credited with the Lisbon Treaty, the failed EU Constitution and their predecessors, the Nice, Amsterdam and Maastricht treaties.

He has argued that it would be “far better” to create “an avant-garde group, probably based on the current 17 members of the euro area” than attempt treaty change.

“Willing euro members would conclude an additional treaty compatible with international and EU law,’’ he wrote in a paper circulated last week. ''This would contain additional obligations for them, as well as a definition of the organs and rules that would govern their supplementary co-operation in the best way possible.”

The emphasis by Mr Piris on “willing” members and ''additional obligations’’ has stoked rumours, denied in Paris, that Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, is trying build a smaller eurozone without the highly indebted or bailed-out countries of Greece, Ireland, Portugal or Italy.

Speaking yesterday, Mrs Merkel insisted that Germany would not support a smaller eurozone.

“We have a single goal and it is to stabilise the eurozone as it is today, to make it more competitive, to make progress in balancing budgets,” she said.

Michael Meister, the Bundestag finance spokesman for Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said “such a shrinking process would be deadly for Germany”. He added: “It would be a deadly development for an export country like Germany.’’

The Thelegraph

US Foreclosure Activity Hit 7-Month High in October

LOS ANGELES—More U.S. homes entered the foreclosure process in October than in the previous month, with Florida, Pennsylvania and Indiana registering among the largest monthly increases, new data show.

Some 77,733 properties received an initial default notice last month, up 10 percent from September, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

The number of homes scheduled to be auctioned or repossessed by lenders also posted monthly increases. All told, notices of default, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions—warnings that can eventually lead to a home being lost to foreclosure—hit a seven-month high in October.

The numbers are further evidence foreclosure activity is picking up. The activity slowed a year ago after problems surfaced with the way many lenders were handling foreclosure documentation, namely shoddy mortgage paperwork comprising several shortcuts known collectively as robo-signing. Many of the nation's largest banks reacted by temporarily ceasing all foreclosures, re-filing previously filed foreclosure cases and revisiting pending cases to prevent errors.

But banks appear to be moving past those problems now and starting to tackle a swelling backlog of homes with mortgages that have gone unpaid—something that lenders are seeing more of as the economy struggles and unemployment remains high.

The rate that homeowners were 60 or more days late on their mortgage payment rose in the June-to-September period for the first time since the last three months of 2009, according to TransUnion.

The credit reporting agency said 5.88 percent of homeowners missed two or more payments, an early sign of possible foreclosure. That was up from 5.82 percent in the second quarter of 2011.


German Air Force in training for Iran strike

Germany has put its Air Force Tornado warplanes in intensive training for a possible attack on targets in Iran, after taking part last week in a joint drill with the Israeli Air Force and other NATO members at the Italian Decimomannu air base on Sardinia.

Iran, for its part, is gearing up for a gloves-off reprisal against its attackers.