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Monday, January 23, 2012

Strange Sounds Map: World Wide Reports From You Tube

Reports of unidentified events presenting as loud, unusual sounds coming seemingly from the sky, or "everywhere", have been making their way into YouTube since the summer of 2011. This map reports locations of the events, and links to the applicable YouTube report. Location is noted to the best of my ability with the information provided by the original poster of the report. When a specific date of the event is not included in the report, the date of the posting is used. This page is a work in progress and currently has 100 reports noted on the map, from May 22, 2011 to today, January 21, 2012. A more detailed examination of the individual reports will be added to this page as information is catagorized and prepared for publication. This page is a work in progress. Updates will be made in as timely a manner as resources are available.
Here are links to a few examples of this strange occurance.
Strange Sounds Rays Baseball Game evening of Earthquake East Coast U.S. - St. Petersburg, FL - 8/23/2011
Video Strange Sounds In Conklin, Alberta, Canada - Jan 12th 2012
Video Strange sounds 1.15.2012 Manitoba Canada (the pas)
Video Strange sounds in the Ukraine - 8 - 9 , 2011
Video Sons estranhos em Santo André, SP Brasil - 1.18.2012 -
Video Strange noises in Belgium - 19 Jan 2012
Video This page is intended to record dates and locations of these mysterious events. No claims or speculations are being made as to the origin of these sounds.
Your guess is as good as mine.

The Big Wobble

New York's Long-Distance Body Scanners Challenge 4th Amendment

New York Police Commissioner Joe Kelly is considering the latest in technology — Terahertz Imaging Detection (TID) — to be mounted on police cars and allowing them to roam the streets of New York looking for people carrying guns. The NYPD, sometimes referred to as the world’s “seventh largest army” with 35,000 uniformed officers, already does a brisk business frisking potential suspects, with little pushback. In the first quarter of last year, 161,000 New Yorkers were stopped and interrogated, with more than nine out of 10 of them found to be innocent. And there are cameras already in place everywhere: in Manhattan alone there are more than 2,000 surveillance cameras watching for alleged miscreants.

But the new technology will avoid the necessity of doing public pat-downs because it would allow officers to note, from their cruisers, who is carrying heat. The technology, effective up to 16 feet (with improvements in longer scans already being tested), measures body heat and indicates any “blockages” of that heat by metal obstructions, assumed in most cases to be handguns carried on the person. What it can do is “allow the NYPD to conduct illegal searches by means of scanning anyone walking the streets of New York,” according to the report at RT.com. “Any object on your person could be privy to the eyes of the detector, and any suspicious screens can prompt police officers to search someone on suspicion of having a gun, or anything else, under their clothes.”

Commissioner Kelly assured investigators that the scanners would be used only in what he calls “reasonably suspicious circumstances.” That’s a long way from the language in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says: “The rights of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The difference is being noted by the American Civil Liberties Union. Donna Lieberman of the NYCLU told CBS:

It’s worrisome. It implicates privacy, the right to walk down the street without being subjected to a virtual pat-down by the Police Department when you’re doing nothing wrong.

But Kelly isn’t concerned: “We have involved our attorneys as we go forward with this issue. We think it’s a very positive development.”

Terahertz Imaging Detection is the next iteration of Fourth Amendment invasions of privacy. Last July Raven Clabough, writing for The New American, warned about iris scans and facial recognition scans and noted that Chicago has been keeping an eye on its citizens for some time now through the use of 10,000 cameras in public places. The ACLU of Chicago voiced similar concerns:

Chicago’s camera network invades the freedom to be anonymous in public places, a key aspect of the fundamental American right to be left alone. Each of us then will wonder whether the government is watching and recording us when we walk into a psychiatrist’s office, a reproductive health care center, a political meeting, a theater performance or a bookstore.

Mayor Richard Daley, reading from the same script as NYPD Policy Commissioner Joe Kelly, put a happy face on it: “We’re not spying on anybody,” adding that it’s just a cost-effective way to fight crime.

All of this non-spying and non-surveillance on innocents is probably unconstitutional, according to Bill Rounds. Rounds is a California attorney with special interest in privacy and the Fourth Amendment. He says that “if you have a reasonable expectation of privacy…the police need a warrant to conduct a search.” But, he adds, “There is no reasonable expectation of privacy for things that are in plain view of the public [and] technologies that enhance the senses to be able to see what is in plain view, like common binoculars, can be used by police without a warrant. Something that is not visible to the naked eye [like a concealed weapon] is not in plain view” and would require either a warrant or the person’s consent to a search.

In the 1967 Supreme Court case Katz v. United States, the court ruled 7-1 that “electronic as well as physical intrusion into a place that is in this sense private may constitute a violation of the Fourth Amendment and…that an invasion of a constitutionally protected area by federal authorities is, as th[is] Court has long held, presumptively unreasonable in the absence of a search warrant.”

In a more recent case, Kyllo V. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that because the police did not have a warrant when they used an electronic device the search was presumptively unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional.

It is worthwhile noting that Katz was decided in 1967 and Kyllo in 2001, a very long time ago, legally speaking. To rely on judicial restraint to protect precious liberties is hardly likely to dampen the enthusiasm of either Mayor Daley in Chicago or police commissioner Joe Kelly in New York to continue to push the envelope of technological surveillance as far as possible. The best push back is an informed citizenry which is increasingly unwilling to be cast in the mold of “guilty until proven innocent.”

The New American

Netanyahu: Iran has decided to become a nuclear state. Action needed before it is too late.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Thursday night, Jan. 19 that Iran had decided to become a nuclear state. He urged action before it was too late to stop Iran completing the construction of a nuclear weapon. His statement at the end of a visit to Holland gave Gen Martin Dempsey, on his first visit to Israel as Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the message he will be asked to take back to President Barack Obama. It also contradicted Defense Minister Ehud Barak's statement that Tehran had not yet decided to go nuclear.
On Dec. 22, 2011, DEBKAfile first revealed Tehran had reached a decision to go ahead and build a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu has kept the Iranian cards close to his chest. His statement therefore caught wrong-footed the Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who in the last 48 hours had asserted that Iran had not yet decided whether to build a nuclear bomb and there was still time for US-led sanctions to work.
DEBKAfile reported earlier Thursday:
Gen. Martin Dempsey begins his first visit to Israel as Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff amid a major falling-out between the two governments over the handling of Iran's nuclear weapon potential. DEBKAfile's military and Washington sources confirm that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands by the view that Iran is advancing its plans to build a nuclear bomb full speed ahead, undeterred even by the threat of harsher sanctions. Netanyahu therefore stands by his refusal of President Barack Obama's demand for a commitment to abstain from a unilateral strike on Iran's nuclear sites without prior notice to Washington.
The US president repeated this demand when he called the Israeli prime minister Thursday night Jan. 13. Netanyahu replied that, in view of their disagreement on this point, he preferred to cancel the biggest US-Israel war game ever staged due to have taken place in April. The exercise was to have tested the level of coordination between the two armies in missile defense for the contingency of a war with Iran or a regional conflict.
The prime minister was concerned that having large-scale US military forces in the country would restrict his leeway for decision-making on Iran.
In an effort to limit the damage to relations with the US administration, Defense Minister Ehud Barak struck a conciliatory note Wednesday, Jan. 18, saying, "Israel is still very far from a decision on attacking Iran's nuclear facilities."
Striking the pose of middleman, he was trying to let Washington know that there was still time for the US and Israel to reach an accommodation on whether and when a strike should take place.
DEBKAfile's sources doubt that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu are in any mood to respond to Barak's effort to cool the dispute. Obama needs to be sure he will not be taken by surprise by an Israel attack in the middle of his campaign for re-election, especially since he has begun taking heat on the Iranian issue.
Republican rivals are accusing him of being soft on Iran.  And while the economy is the dominant election issue, a majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of Iran's nuclear ambitions by a margin of 48 to 33 percent according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll this week.
Wednesday (Thursday morning Israel time), President Obama responded by reiterating that he has been clear since running for the presidency that he will take "every step available to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
Echoes of Barak's arguments were heard in the words of US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Wednesday night: "We are not making any special steps at this point in order to deal with the situation. Why? Because, frankly, we are fully prepared to deal with that situation now."
Panetta went on to say that Defense Minister Barak contacted him and asked to postpone the joint US-Israeli drill "for technical reasons."
Before he took off for a short trip to Holland, Netanyahu instructed Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz not to deviate in their talks with Gen. Dempsey from the position he took with the US president, namely, no commitment for advance notice to Washington about a unilateral strike against Iran.
The Israeli prime minister is convinced that, contrary to the claims by US spokesmen and media, that current sanctions are ineffective insofar as slowing Iran's advance toward a nuclear weapon and the harsher sanctions on Iran's central bank and oil exports are too slow and will take hold too late to achieve their purpose.
In any case, say Israeli officials, Washington is again signaling its willingness to go back to direct nuclear negotiations with Tehran, although past experience proved that Iran exploits diplomatic dialogue as grace time for moving forward on its nuclear ambitions.
US spokesmen denied an Iranian report that a recent letter from the US president to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei proposed opening a direct channel for talks.
Still those reports persist. American and European spokesmen were forced to deny a statement by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi Wednesday on his arrival in Ankara that Iran and the big powers are in contact over the revival of nuclear negotiations.
Netanyahu fears that dialogue between Iran and the five powers plus Germany (the P5+1) will resume after bowing to an Iranian stipulation that sanctions be suspended for the duration of the talks. Once again, Tehran will be enabled to steal a march on the US and Israel and bring its nuclear weapon program to conclusion, unhindered by economic constraints. 

Debka File

Americans prepared for civilization's collapse

(Reuters) - When Patty Tegeler looks out the window of her home overlooking the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, she sees trouble on the horizon.

"In an instant, anything can happen," she told Reuters. "And I firmly believe that you have to be prepared."

Tegeler is among a growing subculture of Americans who refer to themselves informally as "preppers." Some are driven by a fear of imminent societal collapse, others are worried about terrorism, and many have a vague concern that an escalating series of natural disasters is leading to some type of environmental cataclysm.

They are following in the footsteps of hippies in the 1960s who set up communes to separate themselves from what they saw as a materialistic society, and the survivalists in the 1990s who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government.

Preppers, though are, worried about no government.

Tegeler, 57, has turned her home in rural Virginia into a "survival center," complete with a large generator, portable heaters, water tanks, and a two-year supply of freeze-dried food that her sister recently gave her as a birthday present. She says that in case of emergency, she could survive indefinitely in her home. And she thinks that emergency could come soon.

"I think this economy is about to fall apart," she said.

A wide range of vendors market products to preppers, mainly online. They sell everything from water tanks to guns to survival skills.

Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck seems to preach preppers' message when he tells listeners: "It's never too late to prepare for the end of the world as we know it."

"Unfortunately, given the increasing complexity and fragility of our modern technological society, the chances of a societal collapse are increasing year after year," said author James Wesley Rawles, whose Survival Blog is considered the guiding light of the prepper movement.

A former Army intelligence officer, Rawles has written fiction and non-fiction books on end-of-civilization topics, including "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It," which is also known as the preppers' Bible.

"We could see a cascade of higher interest rates, margin calls, stock market collapses, bank runs, currency revaluations, mass street protests, and riots," he told Reuters. "The worst-case end result would be a Third World War, mass inflation, currency collapses, and long term power grid failures."

A sense of "suffering and being afraid" is usually at the root of this kind of thinking, according to Cathy Gutierrez, an expert on end-times beliefs at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. Such feelings are not unnatural in a time of economic recession and concerns about a growing national debt, she said.

"With our current dependence on things from the electric grid to the Internet, things that people have absolutely no control over, there is a feeling that a collapse scenario can easily emerge, with a belief that the end is coming, and it is all out of the individual's control," she told Reuters.

She compared the major technological developments of the past decade to the Industrial Revolution of the 1830s and 1840s, which led to the growth of the Millerites, the 19th-Century equivalent of the preppers. Followers of charismatic preacher Joseph Miller, many sold everything and gathered in 1844 for what they believed would be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Many of today's preppers receive inspiration from the Internet, devouring information posted on websites like that run by attorney Michael T. Snider, who writes The Economic Collapse blog out of his home in northern Idaho.

"Modern preppers are much different from the survivalists of the old days," he said. "You could be living next door to a prepper and never even know it. Many suburbanites are turning spare rooms into food pantries and are going for survival training on the weekends."

Like other preppers, Snider is worried about the end of a functioning U.S. economy. He points out that tens of millions of Americans are on food stamps and that many U.S. children are living in poverty.

"Most people have a gut feeling that something has gone terribly wrong, but that doesn't mean that they understand what is happening," he said. "A lot of Americans sense that a massive economic storm is coming and they want to be prepared for it."

So, assuming there is no collapse of society -- which the preppers call "uncivilization" -- what is the future of the preppers?

Gutierrez said that unlike the Millerites -- or followers of radio preacher Harold Camping, who predicted the world would end last year -- preppers are not setting a date for the coming destruction. The Mayan Calendar predicts doom this December.

"The minute you set a date, you are courting disconfirmation," she said.

Tegeler, who recalls being hit by tornadoes and floods in her southwestern Virginia home, said that none of her "survival center" products will go to waste.

"I think it's silly not to be prepared," she said. "After all, anything can happen."

Christians in Iran, Syria face rising persecution

There has been a wave of violence targeting Iranian and Syrian Christians over the past month, say Christian news reports.

In addition, Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been on death row since 2010 for seeking to register his home-based church, refused to renounce his Christian beliefs in exchange for his release from prison. He was also jailed for questioning the role of Islam as the dominant form of religious instruction in his children’s school.

According to a report on the website of the International Christian news agency BosNewsLife, “Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has rejected an offer to be released from prison if he publicly acknowledges Islam’s prophet Mohammed as ‘a messenger sent by God,’ well-informed Christians and rights activists said” earlier this month.

While Iran’s opaque judicial system coupled with the lack of access for most Western media makes it difficult to verify the new coercion against Nadarkhani, the reports are considered reasonable in light of the Iranian regime’s intense crackdown on its Christian population over the years.

In an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio and author of the book A New Shoah, wrote “After the ethnic cleansing of Jews in 1948 from the Arab countries, Islamic fundamentalism is now trying to push away the Christians from the region. They want to establish a pure Islamic environment and the mass exodus already began under our noses.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Christian Post wrote last week on its website, “The Christian community in Syria has been hit by a series of kidnappings and brutal murders; 100 Christians have now been killed since the anti-government unrest began. A reliable source in the country, who cannot be identified for their own safety, told Barnabas Aid that children were being especially targeted by the kidnappers, who, if they do not receive the ransom demanded, kill the victim.”

The Pakistan Christian Post website noted “Two Christians were killed on January 15 as they waited for bread at a bakery. Another Christian, aged 40 with two young children, was shot dead by three armed attackers while he was driving a vehicle.”

The Post could not independently verify these allegations.

Meotti, the Italian Journalist who has written extensively on Christians in the Mideast region, told the Post “In Syria Christians will be persecuted after Assad’s eventual fall, since they were the most loyal allies of the Baathist regime. Christians will be slaughtered or squeezed. From Cairo to Damascus, Arab Christian era is near to its end everywhere.”

Many critics of Assad’s regime, however, view Assad as exploiting sectarian conflicts in Syria to solidify his repressive security apparatus, which has resulted in the killings of over 5,000 pro-democracy supporters in Syria.

“Of course Assad is using the power of fear to manipulate the Christians. He is directing these bishops and patriarchs to say what suits him,” Pascal Gollnisch, a Catholic priest and director of l’Oeuvre d’Orient, told the French news organization F24 in December.

The Paris-based organization seeks to shield Christians from persecution mainly in the Middle East region and is part of the Archdiocese of Paris.

Christians make up 10 percent of Syria’s 22 million population.

Clifford D. May, the president of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former New York Times reporter, has long argued the persecution of Christians in numerous Muslim-majority countries is the most pressing news story ignored by the mainstream media.

He told the Post “If the situation were reversed, if such a war were being waged against Muslims, it would be the top story in every newspaper, the most urgent item at the UN, the highest priority of all the big-league human-rights groups.”

The US-based media watchdog organization the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) held on Saturday a conference titled “The Persecuted Church: Christian Believers in Peril in the Middle East.”

Dr. Richard Landes, an associate professor of history and director and cofounder of the Center of Millennial Studies at Boston University, who spoke at the CAMERA event, wrote the Post on Sunday: “there’s a bizarre, eery, indeed terrible (a-)symmetry between the nearly hysterical concern of the media and the ‘progressive’ NGOs etc. aboutIsraeli violations of the Palestinian ‘human rights’ and the nearly total silence about the horrendous things happening to Christians in Muslim majority countries, not necessarily at the hands of their neighbors but of Salafists, Jihadis, etc.”

Landes added that “it all illustrates Charles Jacobs’ notion of human rights complex – the thing that gets western ‘human rights’ folk indignant has nothing to do with the victims of their sufferings, but the [perpetrators]. If white, hysteria; if of color, embarrassed silence.

“There’s a racism inherent in this – we don’t expect anything from people of color, we hold whites to a much higher standard – and the result is that truly horrendous stuff gets ignored.”
Jerusalem Post

Iranian trucks carrying missile materials intercepted en route to Syria

Four Iranian trucks were stopped two weeks ago in Turkey's Kilis province on the border with Syria and were found to be carrying raw materials used in the making of ballistic missiles, Turkish daily Taraf has reported.

Four trucks with Iranian license plates were intercepted by Turkish authorities two weeks ago at the Öncüpınar Border Gate in Kilis province, which lies to the north of Syria, a country to which Turkey has been blocking the delivery of arms shipments since pro-democracy protests turned bloody in the Arab country.

Although the contents of the trucks were not publicized by customs officials, Taraf stated that on Friday it obtained reports confirming the trucks' dangerous load. According to the daily, one of the trucks was carrying four six-meter-long cylindrical tanks and heat-resistant materials, while the other three were carrying 66 tons of sodium sulfate, all of which were on their way to Syria possibly to be used in the making of chemical missiles.

Turkey has dispatched a scientific team to study the materials and the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has also requested to be informed of the contents of the trucks' loads, Taraf noted. Diplomatic sources confirmed that the trucks carried a load that was in violation of a UN embargo on Syria, but that the responsibility of finding out where the trucks originated from was Iran's.

Details on the documents obtained from the trucks suggested that the materials belonged to a leather company in Tehran and that they were being delivered to a person in Aleppo, Syria, for leather production. Taraf has claimed that the same materials can be used in the production of chemical weapons and that the leather company is likely a cover up, recalling that thousands of people were killed by chemical weapons in Syria in 1982.

In September Turkey announced that it would increase inspections of cross-border traffic in order to block arms deliveries to Syria, a move that was immediately met by the Syrian regime's suspension of a free-trade agreement between Turkey and Syria dating back to 2006.

Turkey intercepted an arms shipment from Iran to Syria in August, and in March Turkish authorities seized the cargo of an Iranian plane bound for Syria because the shipment violated UN sanctions. Turkish media said the aircraft was carrying light weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket launchers and mortars.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced in late September of last year that a Syrian-flagged ship carrying arms to Syria had been intercepted, but did not elaborate on the contents of the ship. Erdoğan had said at the time that Turkey vowed to stop and confiscate any arms shipment to Syria, both by air and land. Last year, a truck said to be full of explosives was held by Turkish authorities for 10 months before eventually being transferred to a military warehouse and no statement has been made to the public so far regarding what it was carrying.

The Iranian Embassy in Ankara denied that the four trucks still being held in Turkey were carrying military equipment from Iran to Syria. The drivers of the trucks also denied allegations that they were carrying arms, stating that their cargo consisted of raw materials used in the leather industry, water pipes and iron.

Today´s Zaman

US miffed as Israel hints at unilateral strike on Iran Nuclear sites

LONDON: Israel could launch a unilateral strike on Iran's nuclear facilities without much prior notice to its closest ally for over 60 year, US, according to information reaching here from Tel Aviv.

While the Israeli leadership has signaled support for US president Barack Obama in his re-election bid by urging Jewish voters in America to vote for him, Israel's defence minister Ehud Barak is said to have told general Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, that Israel will give the US no more than 12 hours notice before it ventures to demolish Iran's nuclear installations.

Barak's message to Dempsey followed what Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had told Obama: that an early warning of Israel's intentions would not be available to the US. The Israeli army's elite 35th Paratroopers Brigade is training for a longrange operation for some time, so as to be prepared for military action against Iran's nuclear plants.

Expressing its displeasure at the non-cooperation , US has cancelled a joint antimissile exercise with Israel, which had been planned for April. On Monday, foreign ministers of the EU are expected to ban Iranian oil imports as part of efforts to tighten sanctions on Tehran.

The Times of India

Spanish central bank predicts big drop in economy

MADRID (AP) -- Spain faces more unemployment misery and needs serious labor market reforms, the country's central bank warned Monday as it slashed its economic forecasts for this year.

The Bank of Spain predicted the country's economy will contract 1.5 percent this year, rather than expand by that same amount as per its forecast until now.

In a report, the bank said that since last summer the eurozone debt crisis has sapped business confidence and choked off bank credit. This has caused a major drop in domestic demand, only partially offset by strong exports.

In 2012, household spending will contract because of euro15 billion ($19 billion) in tax hikes and spending cuts already enacted by the new conservative government to chip away at the budget deficit, it said.

The economy will expand in 2013, but only by 0.2 percent, the central bank forecast.

It warned that the gloomy outlook will hit jobs without thorough labor market reforms. Spain already has a 21.5 percent unemployment rate and figures due out Friday are expected to show a further rise.

The new conservative government that swept to power after Nov. 20 elections has warned Spain will fall into recession this quarter because of declines in GDP in the last three months of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

According to figures released Monday from the Bank of Spain, fourth quarter GDP was down 0.3 percent compared with the previous quarter.

The Bank of Spain's 2012 GDP forecast until now was already much less optimistic than the 2.3 percent rise that the outgoing Socialists clung to as a forecast almost until they left office. They then lowered it significantly, but never predicted economic contraction.

The government has already said that because of the economic conditions, the 2011 deficit will be closer to 8 percent than the 6 percent which had been forecast by the outgoing Socialists.

Now, Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro is suggesting that what had been a sacred mantra for the ruling Popular Party — reducing it to 4.4 percent of output this year — may not be achievable.

Yahoo News

Fed's Latest Easing Could Cost $1 Trillion: Economists

The Federal Reserve is likely to step in with $1 trillion worth of easing that could be announced as soon as this month, according to a growing consensus of economists who see the recent uptick in economic growth as unsustainable.

The goal of the purchases will be to drive down interest rates even further from current record-low levels, and, less obviously, to spur confidence that more monetary tools remain to stimulate the economy.

Of course, the announcement also could push stock prices higher, as did the Fed's last balance sheet expansion begun in November 2010.

Just a few months ago, market observers speculated that another round ofquantitative easing — QE3, in this case — would be politically infeasible and probably unnecessary given hopes for better growth in 2012.

But with housing stuck in neutral and a European recession on the horizon, economists believe QE3 is all but certain.

Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, released a paper Thursday that makes the case for more easing, which he said could push stock prices higher to where the Standard & Poor’s 500 [.SPX 1315.38 --- UNCH ]rises another 11 percent to 1450.

Among a host of supporting data points, perhaps the most interesting is that comparing the amount of equity homeowners have to disposable household income reveals a stunning fact: the ratio has fallen to 54 percent, which Wilkinson called "unprecedented" territory.

The upshot is that because home values have fallen so far, real wealth has plunged as well. And the reason home values have fallen so far is because excess inventory is pushing down prices, a phenomenon he thinks the Fed has no choice but to fight.

"This simple fact represents uncharted territory for the Federal Reserve," Wilkinson wrote. "Despite a recovery in growth and employment, the crippling damage inflicted by the subprime warhorse continues to play a worrisome role behind the scenes."

The Fed amplified its own concerns over this issue in a white paper Chairman Ben Bernanke recently sent to Congress, in a move criticized by some as overreaching the central bank’s authority by trying to twist the collective arm of Congress.

Bernanke’s goal was for Congress to allocate funding that would help in mortgage modifications and restore value to the market.

To follow up its request to Congress, Wilkinson expects action from the Fed, and soon.

"There seems little point in waiting to implement further easing, and to do so could confuse the message the Fed is trying to deliver at a point in time when it is trying to make its communication with the public clearer," he said.

The $1 trillion price tag — Citigroup economists a few weeks ago also envisioned QE3 at that level — is significant in that it will send the Fed’s balance sheet to about $3.9 trillion and likely spark a war with Congress over the threat of inflation.

But the recent easing of inflation pressures, combined with dithering of Congress, sets a delicate stage for the Fed to take the political risk.

"Obama Administration officials have come to realize that the ongoing dysfunction in the mortgage market is a key impediment to sustained expansion," Vincent Reinhart, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, said in a note.

"Their problem is that there is no chance of coming to terms with the Congress to fix the mess," Reinhart added. "The result is that the administration is moving toward mortgage modification, but not decisively. Purchasing MBS is a way that the Fed can support that movement and signal the seriousness of the enterprise."

Reinhart isn’t quite as ambitious in his QE3 call — he sees the top side of up to $750 billion, implemented in March — but his view is largely the same: The economic improvements are unlikely to last and will force the Fed’s hand.

He sees GDP growth in 2012 at a below-consensus 2 percent.

"We think this deceleration in real GDP will be enough for the FOMC to declare that there are downside risks to both of its objectives by March, the precondition for QE3," he wrote. "The vigor of private demand is being sapped by unfinished business left from the incomplete clean-up of the financial crisis."

About that economic recovery: Economists at the biggest shops also are wagering 2012 GDP down to the 2 percent range — Citigroup’s Peter D’Antonia says 1.75 percent — even though the fourth quarter of 2011 could be upwards of 3 percent or better, with Deutsche Bank economist Joe LaVorgna above 4 percent.

Goldman Sachs sees growth at 2 percent in 2012 and not much improvement in 2013, with GDP gaining about 2.25 percent.

The reason for the pessimism is that the improving data masks unsustainable fundamentals — an unusual drop in the savings rate, a jump in auto purchases due mainly to a recovery from Japan’s natural disasters last spring, and a surge in inventories.

The stock market rebound? Likely temporary, too, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Neil Dutta, who points out that the bond market and the firm’s proprietary measure of liquidity both point to slowing conditions.

"Most markets are signaling that the recent acceleration in U.S. growth will not persist,” Dutta said. “It is hard to find an area in the financial markets that corroborates the stock market’s signal on growth."


India Joins Asian Dollar Exclusion Zone, Will Transact With Iran In Rupees

Two weeks ago we wrote a post that should have made it all too clear that while the US and Europe continue to pretend that all is well, and they are, somehow, solvent, Asia has been smelling the coffee. To wit: "For anyone wondering how the abandonment of the dollar reserve status would look like we have a Hollow Men reference: not with a bang, but a whimper... Or in this case a whole series of bilateral agreements that quietly seeks to remove the US currency as an intermediate. Such as these: "World's Second (China) And Third Largest (Japan) Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade", "China, Russia Drop Dollar In Bilateral Trade", "China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System", "India and Japan sign new $15bn currency swap agreement", and now this: "Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says."" Today we add the latest country to join the Asian dollar exclusion zone: "India and Iran have agreed to settle some of their $12 billion annual oil trade in rupees, a government source said on Friday, resorting to the restricted currency after more than a year of payment problems in the face of fresh, tougher U.S. sanctions." To summarize: Japan, China, Russia, India and Iran: the countries which together account for the bulk of the world's productivity and combined are among the biggest explorers and producers of energy. And now they all have partial bilateral arrangements, and all of which will very likely expand their bilateral arrangements to multilateral, courtesy of Obama's foreign relations stance which by pushing the countries into a corner has forced them to find alternative, USD-exclusive, arrangements. But yes, aside from all of the above, the dollar still is the reserve currency... if only in which to make calculations of how many imaginary money one pays in exchange for imaginary 'developed world' collateral.

On India's induction into the dollar unluck club, from Reuters.

An Indian delegation has been in Tehran this week discussing options for payment and the source said the decision to pay in rupees was made after a meeting there.

"The Central Bank of Iran will open an account with an Indian bank for receiving payment and settling its import," the source, who has direct knowledge of the matter, said, adding the new system will start "soon".

The source did not specify the name of the Indian bank. But other sources have said that Iran could open an account with India's UCO Bank as it does not have any interests in the United States.

Who's this India country anyway?

India, the world's fourth-largest oil consumer, relies on Iran for about 12 percent of its imports or 350,000-400,000 barrels per day (bpd) and is Tehran's second-biggest oil client after China. But Washington has snapped tighter financial sanctions on Iran and wants Asia, Tehran's biggest oil market, to cut imports in a bid to pressure the Islamic nation to rein in its nuclear ambitions, which it suspects are aimed at making weapons.

And, oh yes, we forgot Turkey -the (lately very pissed off) gateway to Europe.

Turkey and Iran said on Thursday they want to increase financial transfers and that work is underway to strengthen banking ties.

When the dollar fails, and currency are devalued, barter begins:

India Trade Secretary Rahul Khullar said this week that the Indian delegation to Iran would work around the U.S. sanctions to protect oil supplies and promote Indian exports.

The government source said Iran has agreed to step up imports from India which added up to some $2.7 billion in 2010/11 and including oilmeal, rice and tea.

"This will cushion them (Iran) to some extent from exchange rate volatility," the source said.

Ironically, and as has been stated here many times before, by enacting the proposed sanctions and embargo, the US, but mostly Europe is doing nothing but shooting itself in the foot, as it opens up a brand new pathway of not only outright defiance, and thus political brownie points domestically for the likes of China, of the US, but it will allow the "Asian dollar exclusion zone" to buy even more crude, at cheaper prices, while in the process it is forced to build closer monetary relations with its neighboring countries, relations that rely less and less on the world's increasingly less relevant reserve currency.

Asian support for U.S. sanctions is vital since the region buys more than half of Iran's daily crude exports. The European Union has agreed in principle to halting Iranian crude imports and could finalise the ban on Jan. 23.

China, Iran's biggest crude customer, has rejected the U.S. sanctions as overstepping the mark and defended its extensive imports from the second-biggest oil producer in OPEC.

Necessity may be the mother of all dollar-exclusive invention, but Obama is surely the father of necessity.

Zero Hedge

The USS Abraham Lincoln transits Hormuz.....

Three weeks after Tehran threatened action against any US aircraft carrier entering the Strait of Hormuz, Washington made two moves: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed Sunday, Jan. 22, that the USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group would steam through the strategic strait in March; a few hours later, the US Navy sent the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier through the strategic strait without incident, accompanied by British and French warships.

DEBKAfile: Defusing the Hormuz crisis set the scene for resumed nuclear negotiations leading up to which several messages were exchanged through back channels between the Obama administration and Tehran in recent weeks - amid Israeli preparations to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
These developments deepened the breach between the US and Israel. Two days earlier, on Friday, Jan. 20, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, visited Israel and with Israeli leaders emphasized the cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem on the Iranian threat. The Netanyahu government complained that action against Iran had been postponed for years on one pretext on another, and the same thing was happening to effective sanctions against Iran's oil exports and central bank. Israel was therefore compelled to exercise its military option against the mortal peril of a nuclear Iran, said the Israeli prime minister, before it was too late.
Then Sunday, Jan. 22, Defense Secretary Panetta stood in a hangar of the Enterprise clad in the uniform of a ship's crewman and told an audience of 1,700 personnel that the carrier would be sent to Hormuz in March. His statement was a red herring. A few hours later, the Abraham Lincoln was already through.

But what he said on the Enterprise was this: "That's what this carrier is all about. That's the reason we maintain a presence in the Middle East… We want them to know that we are fully prepared to deal with any contingency and it's better for them to try to deal with us through diplomacy."

DEBKAfile's Washington sources note that Panetta was the first high-ranking administration official to give Tehran an ultimatum: Accept the American offer to negotiate terms for halting your nuclear weapon program, or face up to America's mighty fleet of American aircraft carriers. "Our view is that the carriers, because of their presence, because of the power they represent, are a very important part of our ability to maintain power projection both in the Pacific and in the Middle East," said the defense secretary.

However, behind this show of strength, Washington was actively preparing to sit down and talk.

Saturday, Jan. 21, the Washington Post disclosed that Obama had sent a special emissary to Tehran with an oral message proposing that Iran join the United States for resumed nuclear negotiations.

The emissary was not named – although there was some speculation that Turkish Foreign Minister was chosen for the mission - nor was Iran's reply revealed.

According to the WP, its content was as follows: The United States and the international community have a strong interest in the free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation in all international waterways… Since taking office, the president has made it clear that he is willing to engage constructively and seriously with Iran about its nuclear program.
Also on Saturday, Iran's Revolutionary Guards stated it considered the likely return of US warships to the Gulf part of its routine activity. They were not climbing down from their original threat. The statement came only after Tehran saw the USS Stennis, the object of threat, exiting the Gulf Friday, Jan. 20, and decided it was the Americans who had backed down.

Panetta's comments Sunday aimed at correcting that impression and making it very clear to Tehran that although the Stennis was gone, the Abraham Lincoln was there and the Enterprise was coming "fully prepared to deal with any contingency."

Debka File

Italy and Spain call for eurozone rescue fund booster

Italy's premier Mario Monti has told Berlin that the new European Stability Mechanism (ESM) must be doubled to €1 trillion (£828bn) to restore investor confidence in southern European debt, according to Der Spiegel.

The move comes days after Mr Monti warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel that austerity fatigue is growing in the debtor states and there will be a "powerful backlash" unless the creditor powers led by Germany do more to correct North-South imbalances and lower borrowing for the whole eurozone.

In what appears to be a coordinated move by the Latin bloc, Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil backed the plan for a bigger rescue fund. He called for an EMU debt union and sweeping changes to the structure of the eurozone.

Mr García-Margallo exhorted the ECB to step up bond purchases in a fully-fledged campaign of quantitative easing, implicitly suggesting a blitz of up to €2 trillion on top of the unlimited credit already provided to banks at 1pc for three years.

"The European Central Bank can do much more than it has done: it has bought European debt equal to just 2pc of GDP while the Bank of England has done 20pc," he said.

Italy and Spain are both falling back into double-dip recessions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that their economies will contract by 2.2pc and 1.7pc respectively this year.

Plans for the IMF to help shore up Europe by boosting its own reserves to $1 trillion (£643bn) have already run into trouble. Sherpas preparing the next G20 meeting said Japan, China, Korea, and Brazil have misgivings, while America has openly refused to participate. All are reluctant to put up money until Germany stops invoking ideology and allows the eurozone to mobilise its own vast resources.

The ECB's chief Mario Draghi has backed the Monti proposals, tabling plans to top up the ESM with the unused reserves of the existing bail-out fund (EFSF), a move that would boost the rescue machinery to €750bn. The ESM comes into force this summer as a permanent body.

The proposals are certain to cause heartburn in Berlin where the Bundestag has set an iron-clad limit on German contributions of €211bn. Any further commitments would require a fresh vote, risking a revolt by Mrs Merkel's Bavarian and Free Democrat allies.

Germany is already facing extra demands after Standard & Poor's stripped France and Austria of their AAA rating. The bail-out fund is anchored on the shrinking AAA core.

Mrs Merkel's spokesman said Germany will not offer more money. "We have no doubt that the EFSF has the means necessary to fulfil its current obligations".

Eurozone finance ministers will flesh out details on the ESM at a meeting today. Joachim Fels from Morgan Stanley said text will be scrutinised for any hint that the ESM would be given a banking licence. This would allow it to borrow from the ECB to purchase bonds, giving it decisive firepower.

In Madrid, Mr García-Margallo said the European Investment Bank should be mobilised to kick-start Europe's economy with investments on the scale of the Marshall Plan, accompanied by €120bn spending of EU funds on youth unemployment, now 49pc in Spain and 45pc in Greece.

He said the time has come for Euroland to cross the Rubicon and create a debt union. "We have to give a clear signal that all these solemn declarations that we will save the euro are not pure rhetoric. We have to move from words to deeds, and that means mutualisation of debt," he told El Pais.

The Telegraph

Greek debt talks stall over interest rate on bonds

Negotiators from the International Institute for Finance representing banks and other creditors left Athens after a marathon session ended in the small hours of Saturday without a breakthrough, though talks continued by telephone.

Sources close to the dispute said there is little danger that the IIF will walk out and precipitate the first sovereign default in western Europe since the Second World War.

A deal is needed to clear the way for the next round of EU-IMF aid and ensure that Athens can meet a €14.5bn (£12bn) debt payment in March. The IIF's chief Charles Dallara said the elements of a deal were "coming into place".

"Now is the time to act decisively and seize the opportunity to finalise this historic deal and contribute to the economic stability of Greece, the Euro Area and the world economy," he said.

Both Greece and the International Monetary Fund want to cap the rate on new bonds at 3.5pc, rising later as Greece recovers.

This is deemed the maximum burden that Greece can bear as the economy contracts by a further 6pc this year. The debt-load will be 120pc of GDP in 2020 even if all goes well.

The IIF thought it had a deal in the bag for 4pc so the new demands have caused friction. There is mounting anger that EU bodies will be spared a haircut on their holdings, leaving the private sector shouldering a bigger burden.

The Telegraph

US aircraft carriers to deliver 'direct message to Iran'

'Eurogeddon' looming?

SYDNEY - A leading Australian economics report warned Monday of a looming "Eurogeddon" with banks going bust and the world economy plunged into turmoil, possibly ending the mining-driven nation's "charmed run".

Though it was "marginally" more likely that the debt-laden eurozone would manage to fumble through its fiscal woes, the quarterly Deloitte-Access Economics Business Outlook said there was a real chance of a meltdown.

"The defining characteristic of this alternative scenario is that banks go bust," the report said.

"It may not be as traumatic in 2012 as it was in 2008-09 (financial crisis), but then again chances are that the global policy response won't be as good this time either -- governments are now too worried about debts and deficits to dig deep in response to any renewed crisis, while many central banks have already cut interest rates to record lows.

"The ammo cupboard looks either locked or empty," it added.

The euro's fate was the "key unknown", with the possibility that one or more countries could drop or be forced out of the common currency bloc, heaping extreme pressure on financial institutions, the report said.

For now, the European Central Bank looked able to keep the "market wolf from the sovereign debt door" but the region was bound for recession, with budget cuts also hitting US growth hopes and China and India both slowing, it added.

Deloitte-Access warned against relying on China to "save the day", saying the Asian giant's budgetary position was shakier than it appeared, while both inflation and property prices -- though easing -- remained relatively high.

"If the eurozone has a terrible 2012, China’s growth may suffer more than it did last time," the report said.

"That combination means... Australia’s charmed run could come to an end."

Coal and iron ore demand would shrink, dampening prices and export earnings, with confidence likely to suffer and credit markets in danger of seizing up, sparking a blowout in unemployment and the budget deficit.

Australia was the only advanced economy to dodge recession during the last global financial downturn due to resilient Asian demand for its abundant resources, which only experienced a shallow contraction and recovered rapidly.

European Union finance ministers are set to meet in Brussels later Monday to forge ahead with plans to implement a fiscal pact and finalise a treaty setting up a permanent debt rescue fund.

The ministers will also decide on the terms of a second bailout for Greece -- the epicentre of the eurozone's debt crisis -- after private creditors refused to write down more of the country's debt over the weekend.

CBN News

Gerald Celente - Michael Harris CFRA - 19 January 2012

Hungary anti-EU protest: 100,000 march in Budapest