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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

70% chance of big Tokyo earthquake 'within 4 yrs'

There is a 70 percent probability the Tokyo metropolitan area will be hit directly by a strong earthquake of magnitude-7 level within four years, according to data compiled by a University of Tokyo research team.

The preliminary calculations conducted by a team from the university's Earthquake Research Institute were based on intensified seismic activity in the area after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11.

The findings are more dire than a similar estimate by the central government's Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, which states there is a 70 percent chance a quake of the same scale will hit the southern Kanto region, including the metropolitan area, within 30 years.

The central government's Central Disaster Management Council assumes 18 different hypocenters of magnitude-7 level earthquakes, such as in southern Ibaraki Prefecture and the Tachikawa fault zone.

If a magnitude-7.3 earthquake occurs directly under northern Tokyo Bay, as many as 11,000 people are expected to die and about 850,000 buildings to be rendered totally unusable or destroyed by fire.

According to the Meteorological Agency's observations, after the March 11 disaster, earthquakes of magnitude 3 to 6 occurred an average of 1.48 times a day in the metropolitan area through December. This was about five times the pre-disaster average.

Prof. Naoshi Hirata of the university's research institute and others based their calculations on the rule of thumb that the frequency of earthquakes is inversely proportional to their strength. For every increase in magnitude of one, the frequency of their occurrence falls by 90 percent.

The metropolitan area was hit by the magnitude-8 level Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Five weaker but still serious earthquakes of magnitude-7 level also hit an area extending from southern Ibaraki Prefecture to the Uraga Channel over a period of about 120 years.

The government's earthquake headquarters obtained its quake estimate data based on the intervals of these quakes in the past. The data did not incorporate the increased seismic activity after the March 11 disaster.

Experts believe seismic activity in the metropolitan area has been intensified by changes in the movements of the Earth's crust since March 11.

"Intensified seismic activity will continue from several to 10 more years," Hirata said. "It's highly probable a strong quake with a magnitude of about 7 will occur during that time.

Daily Yomiuri

Iran Defiant As EU Approves Oil Embargo

The EU has formally agreed to an Iranian oil embargo - but a senior Iranian official has responded with defiance, saying the country "will definitely" close the Strait of Hormuz.

To protect Europe's economy, struggling with a two-year-old debt crisis, foreign ministers agreed to delay full implementation of the oil embargo until July 1, an EU diplomat said.

That will give countries such as Greece, which rely heavily on Iranian oil, to find alternative sources.

However, Tehran was defiant in the face of the embargo.

"If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed," Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, told the Fars news agency.

Should that happen immediately it will hurt Greece and other EU countries such as Italy, already suffering heavily from the eurozone crisis.

A total of 35% of the world's tanker-borne oil exports pass through the strait, which the Iranians have declared they have the "right" to close before.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the embargo part of "an unprecedented set of sanctions".

"I think this shows the resolve of the European Union on this issue," Mr Hague said.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said it was vital that action be taken.

"This is not a question of security in the region," he said. "It is a question of security in the world."

At a meeting in Brussels on Monday, ministers also approved sanctions against the central bank of Iran.

EU foreign policy chief Baroness Ashton said she hoped financial sanctions would persuade Tehran to return to negotiations with Western powers.

"I want to see Iran come back to the table and either pick up all the ideas that we left on the table ... last year ... or to come forward with its own ideas," she told reporters before the ministers' meeting.

Later, the UK, France and Germany also issued a joint statement calling on Iran to return to negotiations over its nuclear programme.

On Sunday, Britain joined the US and France in sending a flotilla of warships through the Strait of Hormuz in a pointed message to the Iranian regime.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate, HMS Argyll, was part of the US-led carrier group to pass through the waterway without incident.

Iran insists its nuclear activities are aimed at producing energy, not arms.

But a senior British diplomat told Sky News: "There aren't any plausible peaceful reasons for the existence of Iran's 20% enrichment programme at Qom. It's extremely concerning.

"We're working 100% for a diplomatic solution. We want a diplomatic solution to this but all options remain on the table.

"We're doing this because we want Iran to engage on the key issue of their nuclear programme.

"The Iranians come to the table when they feel under pressure. They can stop the pressure. They know how to do so."

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has accused Iran of lying and denounced what he called its "senseless race for a nuclear bomb", saying "time is running out" and "everything must be done" to avoid international military intervention.

In December the EU broadened its sanctions against Iran to target 180 new individuals and organisations linked to the Islamic Republic's shipping line and the Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The EU imported some 600,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day last year, according to the International Energy Agency, making it a key market alongside China, which has refused to bow to pressure from Washington and India.

About 20% of Iranian oil goes to China. China's co-operation is critical of the West's plan to force Iran to stop uranium enrichment is to succeed.

The Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran

Like many other non-EU countries, China maintains normal co-operation with Iran in energy, economics and trade, which does not violate any of the four resolutions already adopted by the UN Security Council.

Iranian oil accounted for 34.2% of Greece's total oil imports, 14.9% of Spain's and 12.4% of Italy's in the first nine months of last year.

The problem for European governments has been to agree to implement an embargo that gives nations dependent on deliveries from Tehran time to phase out existing contracts.

Some countries, including Britain, France and Germany, wanted a three-month deadline, whereas financially-stressed nations such as Greece, Italy and Spain were requesting up to a year.

Greece is in dire financial trouble and relies heavily on low-priced Iranian oil.

The foreign ministers agreed in principle to make up the costs Greece incurs as a result of the embargo, a diplomat told AP.

Muslim Brotherhood wins in Egypt

Sen. Rand Paul stopped by TSA in Nashville Airport

Rand Paul, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky and son of presidential candidate Ron Paul, was held at Nashville International Airport Monday morning for refusing to complete the screening process after he triggered an alarm.

The Transportation Security Administration claimed Rand Paul triggered an alarm during routine airport screening and refused to complete the screening process in order to resolve the issue, TSA spokesman Jon Allen said.

The scanner found an “anomaly” on Paul's knee, according to the Associated Press.

Paul claimed he asked for another scan but refused a pat down by airport security and was then detained at a small cubicle and missed his flight.

Paul said the situation reflects his long-standing concern that the TSA shouldn’t be “spending so much time with people who wouldn’t attack us.”

Passengers who refuse to comply with security procedures are denied access to the secure gate area, Allen said. Paul was escorted out of the screening area, Allen said.

“When an irregularity is found during the TSA screening process, it must be resolved prior to allowing a passenger to proceed to the secure area of the airport,’’ Allen said. “Passengers who refuse to complete the screening process cannot be granted access to the secure area in order to ensure the safety of others traveling.’’

Rand Paul's office claimed the senator set off the full body scanner and then refused the subsequent full pat down. A posting on Ron Paul's Facebook page also had a comment about the incident.

Paul did book another flight out of Nashville International and was screened again without incident, Allen said.

Paul was flying to Washington D.C., to speak at a March for Life rally, according to his Facebook page.

The Tennesean

Ahmadinejad: We'll Confront Anyone who Threatens Us

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday said sanctions have no effect on Iran and added that anybody who wants to threaten Iranians’ rights will be confronted proportionally, the Iranian-based IRNA news agency reported.

According to the report, Ahmadinejad made the comments in an interview with a Mexican TV network after being asked about U.S. officials’ threats against Iran.

He said Iran’s nuclear issue has turned into a political one, adding that the U.S. and its allies are trying to prevent Iranian progress because they intend to dominate Middle East completely and they consider Iran an obstacle in its way.

Ahmadinejad rejected the possibility that the U.S. would launch a military attack against Iran, saying, “We believe there are wise people in the U.S. who prevent others to do crazy actions, furthermore, Iranians have learned how to live in hard situations.”

He added that history has shown that any foreign power that wanted to invade Iran failed and regretted it.

Never missing a chance to threaten Israel, Ahmadinejad said that the downfall of the “Zionist regime” does not need any atomic bomb and even a war because, as he said, the regime is based on cruelty and massacre so it will collapse automatically.

He once again denied that the Holocaust existed, according to the report, arguing that if the Holocaust is a historical reality, research about it would not be prohibited and the researchers would not be imprisoned.

Ahmadinejad said that the Islamic Republic of Iran has never recognized the “illegitimate Zionist regime” and said the UN has also declared that Israel is an occupier and has issued several resolutions against it.

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned Iran for its nuclear program as well as its latest provocations regarding the Strait of Hormuz.

“We’re making it clear to Iran that its pursuit of nuclear weapons and its needless provocations, such as its threat regarding the Straits of Hormuz, place it on a dangerous path,” Clinton told reporters following a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

Last week, Iran scoffed sanctions by Western countries, saying there is a high demand for Iran’s crude oil supplies and Tehran has no problem maintaining exports.

Iranian Ambassador to South Korea, Ahmad Masoumifar, shrugged off Iran’s shrinking pools of customers, saying “we (Iran) are producing about 80 million barrels [of oil] and there is demand for about 90 million.”

The European Union is set to meet on Monday to consider joining the effort to strengthen the embargo against Iran in hopes of convincing its government to scale back, if not entirely halt its nuclear development programs.

Meanwhile, as the tension regarding Iran increases and speculations continue that Israel will launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, on Sunday it was reported that Israeli officials told visiting USS Chief Joint of Staffs Martin Dempsey that it would give President Barack Obama no more than 12 hours notice if and when it attacks Iran.

According to a report in The London Times, the Netanyahu government also said it will not coordinate with the United States an attack on the Islamic Republic.

Arutz sheva

Iran slams EU oil embargo, warns could hit US

TEHRAN/BRUSSELS: Iran accused Europeans on Monday of waging "psychological warfare" after the EU banned imports of Iranian oil, and US President Barack Obama said Washington would impose more sanctions to address the "serious threat presented by Iran's nuclear program."

The Islamic Republic, which denies trying to build a nuclear bomb, scoffed at efforts to choke its oil exports, as Asia lines up to buy what Europe scorns.

Some Iranians also renewed threats to stop Arab oil from leaving the Gulf and warned they might strike US targets worldwide if Washington used force to break any Iranian blockade of a strategically vital shipping route.

Yet in three decades of confrontation between Tehran and the West, bellicose rhetoric and the undependable armoury of sanctions have become so familiar that the benchmark Brent crude oil price edged only 0.8 per cent higher, and some of that was due to unrelated currency factors.

"If any disruption happens regarding the sale of Iranian oil, the Strait of Hormuz will definitely be closed," Mohammad Kossari, deputy head of parliament's foreign affairs and national security committee, told Fars news agency a day after US, French and British warships sailed back into the Gulf.

"If America seeks adventures after the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, Iran will make the world unsafe for Americans in the shortest possible time," Kossari added, referring to an earlier US pledge to use its fleet to keep the passage open.

In Washington, Obama said in a statement that the EU sanctions underlined the strength of the international community's commitment to "addressing the serious threat presented by Iran's nuclear program."

"The United States will continue to impose new sanctions to increase the pressure on Iran," Obama said.

The United States imposed its own sanctions against Iran's oil trade and central bank on Dec 31. On Monday, it imposed sanctions on the country's third-largest bank, state-owned Bank Tejarat and a Belarus-based affiliate, for allegedly helping Tehran develop its nuclear program.

The EU sanctions were also welcomed by Israel, which has warned it might attack Iran if sanctions do not deflect Tehran from a course that some analysts say could potentially give Iran a nuclear bomb next year.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner: "This new, concerted pressure will sharpen the choice for Iran's leaders and increase their cost of defiance of basic international obligations."

US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, reiterated Washington's commitment to freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz. "I think that Iran has undoubtedly heard that message and would be well advised to heed it," she said at a meeting of the board of governors of the American Jewish Committee in New York.

CALLS FOR TALKS: Germany, France and Britain used the EU sanctions as a cue for a joint call to Tehran to renew long-suspended negotiations on its nuclear programme. Russia, like China a powerful critic of the Western approach, said talks might soon be on the cards.

Iran, however, said new sanctions made that less likely. It is a view shared by some in the West who caution that such tactics risk hardening Iranian support for a nuclear programme that also seems to be subject to a covert "war" of sabotage and assassinations widely blamed on Israeli and Western agents.

The European Union embargo will not take full effect until July 1 because the foreign ministers who agreed the anticipated ban on imports of Iranian crude at a meeting in Brussels were anxious not to penalise the ailing economies of Greece, Italy and others to whom Iran is a major oil supplier. The strategy will be reviewed in May to see if it should go ahead.

Curbing Iran's oil exports is a double-edged sword, as Tehran's own response to the embargo clearly showed.

Loss of revenue is painful for a clerical establishment that faces an awkward electoral test at a time of galloping inflation which is hurting ordinary people. But since Iran's Western-allied Arab neighbours are struggling to raise their own output to compensate, the curbs on Tehran's exports have driven up oil prices and raised costs for recession-hit Western industries.

A member of Iran's influential Assembly of Experts, former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian, said Tehran should respond to the delayed-action EU sanctions by stopping sales to the bloc immediately, denying the Europeans time to arrange alternative supplies and damaging their economies with higher oil prices.

"The best way is to stop exporting oil ourselves before the end of this six months and before the implementation of the plan," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying.

The Times of India

It's all about pumping oil....

Keiser Report: Dangerous Species of Bankers

Homeland Security Wants to Spy on 4 Square Miles at Once

It’s not just for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars anymore. The Department of Homeland Security is interested in a camera package that can peek in on almost four square miles of (constitutionally protected) American territory for long, long stretches of time.

Homeland Security doesn’t have a particular system in mind. Right now, it’s just soliciting “industry feedback” on what a formal call for such a “Wide Area Surveillance System” might look like. But it’s the latest indication of how powerful military surveillance technology, developed to find foreign insurgents and terrorists, is migrating to the home front.

The Department of Homeland Security says it’s interested in a system that can see between five to 10 square kilometers — that’s between two and four square miles, roughly the size of Brooklyn, New York’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood — in its “persistent mode.” By “persistent,” it means the cameras should stare at the area in question for an unspecified number of hours to collect what the military likes to call “pattern of life” data — that is, what “normal” activity looks like for a given area. Persistence typically depends on how long the vehicle carrying the camera suite can stay aloft; DHS wants something that can fit into a manned P-3 Orion spy plane or a Predator drone — of which it has a couple. When not in “persistent mode,” the cameras ought to be able to see much, much further: “long linear areas, tens to hundreds of kilometers in extent, such as open, remote borders.”

If it’s starting to sound reminiscent of the spy tools the military has used in Iraq and Afghanistan, it should. Homeland Security wants the video collected by the system to beam down in “near real time” — 12 seconds or quicker — to a “control room (T) or to a control room and beyond line of sight (BLOS) ruggedized mobile receiver on the ground,” just as military spy gear does. The camera should shift to infrared mode for nighttime snooping, and contain “automated, real time, motion detection capability that cues a spotter imager for target identification.” Tests for the system will take place in Nogales, Arizona.

The range of this system isn’t as vast as the newest, latest cameras that the military either has or is developing. The Army’s super-powerful ARGUS camera, heading to Afghanistan, can look out at 36 square miles at a time; the Air Force’s Gorgon Stare looks out on an entire city at once. On deck are the military’s fleet of spy blimps, which will will generate 274 terabytes of information every hour. Compared to that, the Department of Homeland Security is positively myopic.

But. Those systems are used against insurgents, who are not protected by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions on unreasonable searches. Even if the wide-area surveillance DHS is after is just used at borders or airports, those are still places where Americans go about their business, under the presumption that they’re not living in a government panopticon.

It’s also ironic: the Department of Homeland Security actually isn’t so hot on its own drone fleet. When Danger Room asked an official at the department’s science directorate about using spy drones to spot bombs inside the U.S., she replied, “A case has to be made that they’re economically feasible, not intrusive and acceptable to the public.”

Still, what’s military technology one day is law-enforcement tech the next. As I reported for Playboy last month, more and more cop shops are buying spy drones, and increasingly, the Federal Aviation Administration is approving their use for domestic flights.

That also means that federal and local police can expect to replicate some of the military’s more frustrating aspects of persistent spying — namely, the constant, massive backlog of real-time video they’ll need to analyze. It’s gotten so bad that the Pentagon’s mad scientist shop, Darpa, is trying to automate cameras so human analysts aren’t constantly drinking from a fire hose of spy data.

Still, privacy advocates might soon have a whole new tech-driven battle with the Department of Homeland Security on their hands. It’s hardly clear from the pre-solicitation that the department only expects to operate the cameras after getting a court order — or if it thinks it needs one in the first place. And even if the department isn’t necessarily after the uber-powerful ARGUS or Gorgon Stare cameras, that might only be a matter of time. The wars will end; the spy tech won’t. And it might be keeping tabs on your neighborhood next.


Gerald Celente on The Tommy Schnurnmacher Show

CURRENCY WARS! Exclusive Interview with James Rickards

IMF chief unveils euro plan and warns of '1930s moment'

In a wide-ranging speech at the German Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Berlin, Ms Lagarde also called for an additional $500bn (£320m) for the IMF as it seeks to keep afloat countries battered by the crisis.

And she had a dire warning for policymakers if they failed to do what was necessary, saying the world could slide into a "1930s moment" of isolationism, which led to the Great Depression and eventually to world war.

On the eurozone, Ms Lagarde acknowledged that a great deal had already been accomplished but that the policies agreed so far "form pieces, but pieces only, of a comprehensive solution."

She said the crisis-wracked eurozone had to focus on rediscovering growth as well as bolstering its defences against contagion from the debt turmoil and pulling closer together politically and economically.

To spur growth, she called indirectly on the European Central Bank to lower interest rates, already at a record low. With inflation falling sharply, "additional and timely monetary easing will be important," she said.(means Inflation)

"We need a larger firewall," she added. "Without it, countries like Italy and Spain that are fundamentally able to repay their debts could be forced into a solvency crisis by abnormal financing costs."

She proposed "folding" the leftover cash in the eurozone's current rescue pot, the EFSF, into the permanent ESM bailout fund when the latter comes into force, likely in the middle of this year.

However, departing from the text of her speech, she stressed: "I am not talking about doubling" the €500bn ESM as reportedly wanted by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

In addition, she said the ECB should "provide the necessary liquidity support to stabilise bank funding and sovereign debt markets".

And she argued that "political agreement on a joint bond to underpin risk sharing would help convince markets of the future viability of European economic and monetary union."

The creation of such a "eurobond" has long been a contentious issue among top policymakers, with the European Commission and France being in favour of such an instrument but German Chancellor Angela Merkel is strictly opposed for now.

Partly to assist in battling the crisis, both in the eurozone and further afield, Lagarde said: "I am convinced that we must step up the fund's lending capacity."

"In the coming years, we estimate a global potential financing need of $1 trillion. To play its part, the IMF would aim to raise up to $500 billion in additional lending resources," she said.

And following what she termed "so much loose talk about special 'European bailouts'," she stressed IMF help was "for all members" but insisted that "any support we provide to euro area countries must be anchored in a clear policy framework for the entire euro area."

After a turbulent 2011, Ms Lagarde announced that Tuesday's updated IMF economic projections would result in "lower growth forecasts for most parts of the world."

"Even these lower forecasts assume a constructive policy path that is by no means assured," she cautioned.

And she warned that if policymakers failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation, "we could easily slide into a '1930s moment'."

"A moment where trust and cooperation break down and countries turn inward. A moment, ultimately, leading to a downward spiral that could engulf the entire world."

However, Ms Lagarde said, "I believe we can avoid such a scenario ... although the economic outlook remains deeply worrisome, there is a way out."

The Telegraph

Eurozone finance ministers reject Greek debt offer

The blow came after a day in which European markets had risen on hopes that attempts to resolve the latest phase of the Greek debt crisis would be successful.

Eurozone ministers have demanded that negotiations between the Greek government and Institute of International Finance (IIF) reach agreement on a lower average coupon, or interest rate, on new Greek bonds issued in return for a haircut on existing debt held by private investors.

"The ministers have sent the offer back for negotiations," said an official last night. "The ministers want a lower coupon than presented in the offer."

The offer, negotiated during tense talks that rattled markets last week, assumed an average coupon on new Greek bonds of 4pc.

The new bonds, likely to have maturity of 30 years, would replace existing Greek debt as sweetener for writing down existing Greek bonds owned by banks and private investors.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has insisted that the coupon rate must not exceed 3.5pc on average if the deal is to reduce the currently unsustainable burden of Greek debt to manageable levels.

If the coupon is 4pc then the cost for Germany and other eurozone countries of a second Greek bailout in March will rise beyond a €30bn figure earmarked for sweetening a debt write down for the private sector.

Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the eurozone finance ministers' group, last night confirmed that the group wants a rate below 4pc and insisted that rates must be on average 3.5pc or below until 2020.

Eurozone officials have insisted that there are no plans to increase the €130bn of official financing for Greece under a second bailout package agreed in October.

A deal with its private creditors is a precondition for Greece to get the second bail-out from its eurozone partners, after it received €110bn in May 2010.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said there would be no question of a temporary loan for Greece if the private-sector involvement (PSI) dragged on. Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, said he wanted a second bail-out programme for Greece to be in place by March.

Athens faces a March 20 deadline to repay €14.4bn in debt.

As well as the terms of the Greek debt restructuring, eurozone finance ministers were meeting in Brussels last night to discuss new treaties designed to impose greater fiscal discipline ahead of the EU leaders summit on January 30.

Mario Monti, the Italian Prime Minister, said no decision had been reached on the treaty concerning the permanent bail-out fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Earlier on Monday, investors had shrugged off the stalemate in the negotiations between Greece and its private sector bondholders, optimistic that eurozone policy-makers were determined to secure a deal and avoid a messy default.

The FTSE 100 closed up 0.9pc at 5,782.56, the highest close price since July 29. The DAX in Frankfurt and CAC 40 in Paris both rose 0.5pc, to 6,436.62 and 3,338.42 respectively.

Benchmark 10-year Italian bond yields fell by 14 basis points to 6.073pc, reflecting the calmer mood among investors.

Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, joined calls from the Italian Government and Spain for Europe to boost the size of is future bail-out fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

"We need a larger firewall," she said. "Without it, countries like Italy and Spain, that are fundamentally able to repay their debts, could potentially be forced into a solvency crisis by abnormal financing costs."

Germany may be open to boosting the aid limit from €500bn, Government officials in Berlin said. However a spokesman for Chancellor Merkel last night denied reports the country was ready to agree to an increase of the size of the bailout fund to €750bn.

Ms Lagarde set out a raft of other proposals to fight the eurozone crisis, including lower rates imposed by the European Central Banks and the creation of eurobonds, as she warned of dimmer world growth prospects.

The Telegraph

Report: Russia to deliver combat jets to Syria

Russia has signed a contract to sell combat jets to Syria in a show of support for President Bashar Assad's regime, a newspaper reported Monday.

The business daily Kommersant said, citing a source close to Russia's Rosoboronexport state arms trader, that the $550-million deal envisages the delivery of 36 Yak-130 aircraft. A spokesman for Rosoboronexport refused to comment on the report.

If confirmed, the deal would mark an open defiance of international efforts to put pressure on Assad's regime, which has faced broad condemnation for its brutal crackdown on an uprising. The UN says more than 5,400 people have died over 10 months.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said last week that Moscow doesn't consider it necessary to offer an explanation or excuses over suspicions that a Russian ship had delivered munitions to Syria despite an EU arms embargo.

Lavrov told a news conference that Russia was acting in full respect of international law and wouldn't be guided by unilateral sanctions imposed by other nations.

He accused the West of turning a blind eye to attacks by opposition militants and supplies of weapons to the Syrian opposition from abroad and warned that Russia will block any attempt by the West to secure United Nations support for the use of force against Syria.

Russia has been a strong ally of Syria since Soviet times when the country was led by the president's father Hafez Assad. It has supplied Syria with aircraft, missiles, tanks and other modern weapons.

The Yak-130 is a twin-engined combat trainer jet that can also be used to attack ground targets. The Russian air force has recently placed an order for 55 such jets.


Benjamin Netanyahu renews speculation over military action against Iran

The Israeli prime minister riled senior commanders by advancing the candidacy of his military secretary, Maj Gen Yihanan Locker, for the post after the present commander signalled his desire to retire.

Mr Netanyahu's reported interference in the military appointments system has prompted a political backlash in Israel and elicited a stiff protest from Gen Benny Gantz, the chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces.

In a sign of fresh tension over Iran between Israel's defence and political establishments, Gen Gantz is backing Maj Gen Amir Eshel, said to be opposed to military strikes against Tehran's nuclear facilities, for the position.

"A situation in which a major general is appointed against the wishes of the chief of staff is untenable," Gen Gantz told a government committee, according to Israeli newspaper reports.

Mr Netanyahu, supported by Ehud Barak, his defence minister, is widely known to lead a camp favouring military action against Iran but he has run into persistent opposition from senior military and intelligence commanders who question whether unilateral air strikes would be effective.

The prime minister has also come under intense US pressure to tone down a recent surge in belligerent rhetoric towards Iran.

Following a telephone conversation with President Barack Obama earlier this month, Mr Netanyahu grudgingly gave his backing to new US and EU sanctions against Iran.

But in a speech delivered ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will be marked on Friday, Mr Netanyahu returned to a familiar theme by giving warning that Israel had the military means to defend itself against foreign aggression. His comments appeared clearly aimed at Iran.

"The Jewish people and the Israeli government have the right, the obligation and the ability to prevent another destruction of the Jewish people or an attack on its state," he said.

The Telegraph

Iran to sell its oil for Gold!!!!

Iran to sell its Oil for Gold ,what will you have real money in gold or silver or fiat promissory note that looses value daily ! Gaddafi tried to get gold for oil and we all know what NATO did. Let's see what happens here....the smart people form the west are with Iran. We can see the fraud of the elite machine (Rothschild, USA, Britain, Rockefeller, English Royals, Dutch Royals, George Soros, Hitlery Clinton, Bush Snr, Lowry, Silverstein, Bernake, Berzynsky, Murdoch, etc...) They are trying to keep the petrol dollar going as long as possible and the Corporate Warlords in Power, simple as that. One of those US Freedoms WE want to spread/share with the world.Thats right, The system is not sustainable,Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling 1.3 trillion dollars,This is to cover debt owed to other countries.As you can see the dollar is loosing power as the worlds reserve currency.Replace it with the true world currency.. Silver and gold are money and nothing else.