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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Iran mass producing anti-ship cruise missile

Iran has begun mass production of an anti-ship cruise missile, state television's website said on Saturday.

The Zafar missile, as it is dubbed in the report, "is a short-range, anti-ship cruise missile capable of destroying small- and medium-sized targets with high precision."

It can be mounted on speed boats and other light vessels, can withstand electronic warfare, and is able to fly in low altitudes to avoid detection, the report said.

Iran has a fleet of speed boats that often challenge US and allied warships in the Gulf.

The vessels are usually controlled by the elite Revolutionary Guards and can be equipped with missiles.

The Islamic republic says it has a wide range of missiles. It says some are capable of striking targets inside Israel as well as Middle Eastern military bases of its other main archfoe, the United States.

Tehran regularly boasts about developing missiles having substantial range and capabilities, but Western military experts cast doubt on its claims.

Iran's military said in January that it could close the strategic Strait of Hormuzin the Gulf, through which a third of global marine oil traffic passes, if it is attacked.


Greece testing ground for EU austerity hell

US closes embassy in Syria

Now Is The Time To Get Your Financial Priorities In Order

Did you see the Chrysler commercial featuring Clint Eastwood that aired during the Super Bowl the other night?  It was entitled "It's Halftime In America", and it was truly a great ad.  To me, it was the most memorable Super Bowl ad this year by far.  It conjured up images of the America that so many of us remember so fondly.  It reminded us of how life in this country used to be.  Unfortunately, America is currently headed down a road that is taking us in the opposite direction.  Yes, it is halftime in America, but there is no guarantee that what is ahead is going to be great.  In fact, if we continue to make the same choices that we have been making, a national nightmare is inevitable.  Let us hope and pray for a fundamental change of direction for America, but let us also prepare for what is going to happen if that does not take place.  There is a "pause in the action" at the moment, so now is the time to get your financial priorities in order.  Now is the time to prepare for the storm that is coming.  If you wait until the storm is right on top of you it will probably be too late.

But I must admit that I really loved that ad.  First of all, any Super Bowl ad that includes Clint Eastwood is almost automatically going to be a great ad.  Secondly, it was very refreshing to see a commercial address some of the very serious problems that this country is facing.
The ad ended with Eastwood making the following statement....
"This country can't be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again, and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Ya, it's halftime in America, and our second half is about to begin"
A video of the complete ad is posted below....
Kudos to Chrysler for producing such an extraordinary ad.  I have to admit that I actually prefer Chrysler to Ford and GM.  I like their style and I think they make some very nice vehicles.
But Chrysler is far from out of the woods.  They almost went under during the last recession, and if the U.S. economy experiences another major recession they might not survive it.
Yes, Chrysler did earn $183 million in 2011.
But in 2010, Chrysler lost $652 million.
Hopefully Chrysler can string a few more profitable years together, but there is certainly no guarantee that is going to happen.
As I have written about previously, the U.S. auto industry is in the midst of a nightmarish long-term decline.
The combined U.S. market share of the "Big Three" U.S. automakers fell from 70% in 1998 to 53% in 2008.
When you examine the numbers over a longer time frame, they are even more striking.
For example, in 1970 General Motors had about a 60 percent share of the U.S. automobile market, but today that figure is down to about 20 percent.
In an effort to cut costs, U.S. automakers have been eliminating jobs and sending jobs out of the country.
In the year 2000, the U.S. auto industry employed more than 1.3 million Americans.  Today, the U.S. auto industry employs about 698,000 people.
So the U.S. auto industry has not exactly bounced back.
They have survived for now, but there is no guarantee that this is going to be permanent.
Many considered the Chrysler Super Bowl ad to be an endorsement of the auto bailouts and of the economic policies of the Obama administration.
But that wasn't the case at all.  In fact, it turns out that Clint Eastwood was actually a harsh critic of the auto bailouts as Reuters recently noted....
"We shouldn't be bailing out the banks and car companies," actor, director and Academy Award winner Eastwood told the Los Angeles Times in November 2011. "If a CEO can't figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn't be the CEO."
And Clint Eastwood certainly did not mean to endorse Obama during the commercial.  The following is what Eastwood told Fox News about the ad....
"I just want to say that the spin stops with you guys, and there is no spin in that ad. On this I am certain.
l am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message about just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK."
The cold, hard reality of the matter is that America has not "bounced back" since 2008.  Sadly, the truth is that we are even in worse condition than we were back then....
-Our national debt has risen by about 50 percent since 2008.
-Our states are in more debt than ever.
-Our local governments are in more debt than ever.
-The U.S. economy has lost about 6 million jobs since 2008.
-Approximately 14 million more Americans have gone on food stamps since Barack Obama became president.
-More Americans are living in poverty than ever before.
-New home sales in the United States hit a brand new all-time record lowduring 2011.
-The number of "long-term unemployed workers" has more than doubled since Barack Obama entered the White House.
-The amount of money that the federal government gives directly to Americans has increased by 32 percent since Barack Obama entered the White House.
-Despite claims that things are "getting better", the truth is that the percentage of Americans that actually have jobs is almost exactly the same as it was two years ago.
Amazingly, Barack Obama seems to think that he has done a good job and that he deserves a second term.  On Sunday, Obama told NBC's Matt Lauer the following....
"I deserve a second term, but we’re not done"
Many Americans are buying into the hype.  A new ABC News/Washington Post poll has found that Barack Obama's approval rating is actually rising.
But it won't last long.  As the economy crumbles his approval rating will start going down once again.
The sad truth is that America is in the middle of a long-term economic decline because our economy is not built on a solid foundation.
The false prosperity that we are enjoying now is being fueled by the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.  We consume far more wealth than we produce, and we pay for it by constantly going into more debt.
At some point the merry-go-round is going to stop and when it does it is going to be incredibly painful.
An increasing number of Americans are waking up to this reality.  One recent survey found that 61 percent of all Americans believe that there will be "a major catastrophic event" in the United States within the next 20 years.  A significant portion of them believe that the "catastrophic event" will be economic in nature.
That same survey found that only 15 percent of all Americans feel as though they are completely prepared for the coming catastrophic event.
Remember what happened back in 2008.  When the financial crisis struck, millions of Americans lost their jobs very rapidly.  Since many of them did not have any money stored up, a lot of them lost their homes as well.
Since it is "halftime in America", now is the time to get prepared for the next great financial crisis.
Now is the time to reduce your expenses.
Now is the time to get out of debt.
Now is the time to set aside some money so that you will have something to live on if you do happen to lose your job.  I typically recommend that you have at least 6 months of living expenses stored up.
Now is the time to start a side business.  Even if you are broke, there are some businesses out there that you can start up for no money.  It isn't easy to start a business with no money, but it can be done.
Now is the time to grow a garden.  Fruits and vegetables are often some of the most expensive items at the grocery store, and by growing them yourself you become less dependent on the system.
And that is the key.  We all want to try to become less dependent on the system.
There is no guarantee that your job will always be there.
There is no guarantee that your insurance company or the financial institutions that you are working with today will always be there.
There is no guarantee that the government will be there "to save you" when you really need it.
Yes, it is halftime in America.
So get ready for the second half, because it is going to be a real nightmare.
The Economic Collapse

Portuguese storm gathers as EU leaders fight over Greece

Yields on Portuguese 10-year bonds hit a fresh record of 17.38pc on Monday even though the country is already shielded by a €78bn (£65.2bn) package from the EU, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund "troika" and does not have to tap the markets this year.

Reports also emerged on Monday night that European banks were gearing up to ask the ECB's emergency funding scheme for up to twice as much in funds as the central bank supplied in its debut €489bn auction last month.

The news reveals the extent of the liquidity squeeze on banks – with some chief executives looking to tap the ECB for up to triple the amount they originally borrowed, when the three-year money auction takes place on February 29.

The funding facility was launched in December last year to stave off a second credit crisis – with €230bn of bank bonds due for repayment in the first quarter of 2012.

Equity markets fell across Europe on Monday, with France's CAC and Spain's IBEX both down 1.6pc.

The FTSE 100 fell 1.1pc and Germany's DAX was off 1pc, while the iTraxx Crossover index measuring credit risk in Europe jumped 30 points to 637. Yields on Italian 10-year debt rose 21 points to 6.08pc.

The worries over Portugal continued to mount even as German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed away from demands for a European austerity commissioner to take control of the Greek budget, averting an explosive clash with Athens.

"We don't want controversial talks, but a discussion that is successful for the Greek people," she said, insisting that Germany's plan was just one many of options.

The change of tack came after Berlin's allies in the northern creditor bloc warned such heavy-handed diplomacy had become offensive and breached the spirit of the EU project.

"You never stoop to insults in politics. It solves nothing," said Austria's Chancellor Werner Faymann. Luxembourg's foreign minister Jean Asselborn said it behoves Europe's most powerful state to display a "little more caution", advising Germany to "watch out" as passions grow stronger.

The dispute overshadowed the summit, intended to promote EU growth and tackle youth unemployment – now 22pc Europe-wide and 51pc in Greece. Talk of growth at a time when EU austerity has entrenched severe slumps across southern Europe has left markets bewildered.

While EU leaders fleshed out a German-inspired "fiscal compact" to police the budgets of EMU states, Finland called it "at best unnecessary and at worst harmful" while Luxembourg deemed it a "waste of time". The pact has been weakened, allowing a breach of the new structural deficit limit of 0.5pc of GDP in a wider range of circumstances.

On Monday night, 25 of the 27 EU nations signed up to the fiscal compact, with the Czech prime minister joining the UK in staying outside the deal.

While German calls for an EU commissar for Greece are not new, the aggressive tone of the draft shocked EU veterans. It stipulated that Athens must give "absolute priority to debt service", "transfer national budgetary sovereignty", and agree to terms that make it impossible for Greece to "threaten lenders with default". Furious Greek leaders rejected the terms as debt servitude.

Analysts have questioned whether Germany deliberately called for conditions that Athens cannot accept, perhaps to force Greece's withdrawal from the euro and set an example to others.

The softening of the German stance does not in itself settle the Greek crisis – even assuming Athens agrees soon to a deal with private creditors for debt relief near 70pc. Greece will almost certainly need a further €15bn on top of the €130bn package in force, yet Mrs Merkel has warned that Germany will not provide any further funds.

Jacques Cailloux from RBS said there would be a chain reaction if the troika halts payments and sets in motion a Greek default and exit from EMU.

"That would the disaster scenario. Those who think this could be contained don't know what they are talking about. There would be extraordinary contagion, as we are already seeing in Portugal, spreading back to Spain, Italy, and France," he said.

Citigroup thinks Portugal's economy will contract by 5.7pc this year and 3.5pc next year, replicating the downward spiral seen in Greece as austerity began to bite.

While Portugal has delivered on its promises, the task may be Sisyphean with a combined public and private debt of 360pc of GDP – 100 percentage points higher than in Greece. Grit alone cannot overcome the same chronic lack of competitiveness.

Europe's leaders have vowed that they will not inflict a "haircut" on Portugal's creditors, insisting that Greece is a "special case". The relentless exodus from Portuguese debt suggests that investors do not believe them.

The Telegraph

The Real Economic Picture

If you have any money and you want to understand the lies that “your” government tells you with statistics, subscribe to John Williams shadowstats.com.

John Williams is the best and utterly truthful statistician that we the people have. 

The charts below come from John Williams Hyperinflation Report, January 25, 2012. The commentary is supplied by me.

Here is the chart of real average weekly earnings deflated by the US government’s own measure of inflation, which as I pointed out in my recent column, Economics Lesson 1, understates true inflation. 

This chart (below) shows the behavior of inflation as measured by “our” government’s official measure, CPI-U (bottom line) and John Williams measure which uses the official methodology of when I was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury. The gap between the top and bottom lines represents the amount of money that was due to Social Security recipients and others whose income was indexed to inflation that was diverted by the government to wars, police state, and bankers’ bailouts.

This next chart shows the gains that gold and the Swiss franc have made against the US dollar. The Swiss franc is the top line and gold is the bottom. When gold and the Swiss franc rise, the dollar is falling. Notice that during President Reagan’s first term, when I was in the Treasury, gold and the Swiss franc dropped, that is, the dollar rose in purchasing power. Obviously, the supply-side policy that Reagan implemented strengthened the US dollar. It was only with the advent of the Bush policy of endless trillion dollar wars, reaffirmed by Obama, that the US dollar and economy collapsed relative to gold and hard currencies. 

The recent drop in the Swiss franc is due to the Swiss government announcing that the country’s exports could not tolerate any further run up in the franc’s value, and that the Swiss central bank would print new francs to accommodate future inflows of dollars and euros. In other words, Switzerland was forced to import US inflation in order to protect its exports.

Here is nonfarm payroll employment. As you can see, the US economy has been in recession for four years despite the easiest monetary policy and largest government deficits in US history. 

Here is consumer confidence. Do you see a recovery despite all the recovery hype from politicians and the financial media? 

Here is housing starts. Do you see a recovery?

Here is real GDP deflated according to the methodology used when I was in the US Treasury.

Here is real retail sales deflated by the traditional, as contrasted with the current, substitution-based, measure of inflation. 

These graphs courtesy of John Williams make it completely clear that there is no economic recovery. In place of recovery, we have hype from politicians, Wall Street, and the presstitute media. The “recovery” is no more real than Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” or Iranian “nukes” or the Obama regime’s phony story of assassinating last year an undefended Osama bin Laden, allegedly the mastermind of Islamic terrorism, left by al Qaeda to the mercy of a US Seal team, a man who was widely reported to have died from renal failure in December 2001, a man who denied any responsibility for 9/11.

A government and media that will deceive you about simple things such as inflation, unemployment, and GDP growth, will lie to you about everything.

Paul Graig Roberts

Stalemate in talks on Greek austerity measures

The three main political parties in Greece's national unity government were reportedly given until 11am to respond to international demands on tougher spending cuts. But the deadline passed with no response - except for politicians claiming there was no deadline.

Sources in Athens said the talks between Greece and its creditor banks were on hold while Lucas Papademos, the Greek prime minister, vacillated between negotiations with his own politicians and the "troika" officials from the European Union (EU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB).

In less than six weeks Greece must repay a €14.5bn (£12bn) bond. It will be unable to meet this without the release of a €130bn international bail-out programme – which will only come when austerity measures are agreed.

At a press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday, Ms Merkel: "There can be no new Greece programme if agreement is not reached with the troika... All those who bear responsibility in Greece must know - we will not deviate from this position."

She added: "I honestly can't understand how additional days will help. Time is of the essence. A lot is at stake for the entire eurozone."

Mr Sarkozy said: "The Greek leaders have made commitments and they must respect them scrupulously. Europe is a place where everyone has their rights and duties. Time is running out, it needs to be concluded, it needs to be signed."

George Karatzaferis, leader of Greek far-right party LAOS said: "I will not contribute to the explosion of a revolution from destitution that will burn all of Europe."

Greece's trade unions announced a snap 24-hour general strike today in protest against the new austerity measures.

Romania offered a reminder of the dangers of the protests when Emil Boc, prime minister, resigned after weeks of public protests over auserity measures.

Greek officials said politicians in Athens had agreed to €3bn cuts in healthcare, defence and local government over the next two years. They have also accepted a 20pc cut in the minimum wage and 15,000 public sector job losses. But there is still disagreement over another €1.2bn of cuts.

The Eurogroup, which comprises eurozone finance ministers, is poised to meet to discuss a deal over the austerity measures, once they are decided. Greece must also agree a €200bn debt restructuring – thought to be the biggest ever voluntary deal – with its private creditor banks.

Meanwhile, new data showed Greek debt spiked to 159pc of GDP in the third quarter of 2011 compared with 138.8pc a year earlier and 154.7pc in the second quarter.

Markets were rattled by the deadlock. The Eurostoxx 600 closed down 0.2pc, France's CAC closed down 0.7pc and the FTSE slid 0.2pc.

David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index, said: "With a relatively quiet news week until the EU and UK interest rate announcements on Thursday, progress or otherwise in Greece is likely to dictate market direction."

The Telegraph

Ayatollah: Kill All Jews, Annihilate Israel

The Iranian government, through a website proxy, has laid out the legal and religious justification for the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of its people.Calling Israel a danger to Islam, the conservative website Alef, with ties to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the opportunity must not be lost to remove “this corrupting material. It is a “‘jurisprudential justification” to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and in that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm.”

The doctrine includes wiping out Israeli assets and Jewish people worldwide.
The article, written by Alireza Forghani, an analyst and a strategy specialist in Khamenei’s camp, now is being run on most state-owned sites, including the Revolutionary Guards’ Fars News Agency, showing that the regime endorses this doctrine.

Because Israel is going to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iran is justified in launching a pre-emptive, cataclysmic attack against the Jewish state, the doctrine argues.

On Friday, in a major speech at prayers, Khamenei announced that Iran will support any nation or group that attacks the “cancerous tumor” of Israel. Though his statement was seen by some in the West as fluff, there is substance behind it.

Iran’s Defense Ministry announced this weekend that it test-fired an advanced two-stage, solid-fuel ballistic missile and boasted about successfully putting a new satellite into orbit, reminding the West that its engineers have mastered the technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles even as the Islamic state pushes its nuclear weapons program.

The commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Brig. Gen. Seyyed Mehdi Farahi, stated in August that the Safir missile, which is capable of transporting a satellite into space, can easily be launched parallel to the earth’s orbit, which will transform it into an intercontinental ballistic missile. Western analysts didn’t believe this would happen until 2015. Historically, orbiting a satellite is the criterion for crediting a nation with ICBM capability.

Forghani details the Islamic duty of jihad as laid out in the Quran for the sake of Allah and states that “primary jihad,” according to some Shiite jurists, can only occur when the Hidden Imam, the Shiites’ 12th Imam Mahdi, returns. Shiites believe Mahdi’’s return will usher in Armageddon.

In the absence of the hidden Imam, Forghani says, “defensive jihad” could certainly take place when Islam is threatened, and Muslims must defend Islam and kill their enemies. To justify such action, Alef quotes the Shiites’ first imam, Ali, who stated “Waging war against the enemies with whom war is inevitable and there is a strong possibility that in near future they will attack Muslims is a must and the duty of Muslims.” In this regard, Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa in which he has even authorized carrying out primary jihad in the age of the absence of the Hidden imam under the authorization of Vali Faghih.

The article then quotes the Quran (Albaghara 2:191-193): “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers] … and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”

It is the duty for all Muslims to participate in this defensive jihad, Forghani says. A fatwa by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini made it clear that any political domination by infidels over Muslims authorizes Muslims to defend Islam by all means. Iran now has the ICBM means to deliver destruction on Israel and soon will have nuclear warheads for those missiles.

In order to attack Iran, the article says, Israel needs the approval and assistance of America, and under the current passive climate in the United States, the opportunity must not be lost to wipe out Israel before it attacks Iran.

Under this pre-emptive defensive doctrine, several Ground Zero points of Israel must be destroyed and its people annihilated. Forghani cites the last census by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics that shows Israel has a population of 7.5 million citizens of which a majority of 5.7 million are Jewish. Then it breaks down the districts with the highest concentration of Jewish people, indicating that three cities, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, contain over 60 percent of the Jewish population that Iran could target with its Shahab 3 ballistic missiles, killing all its inhabitants.

Forghani suggests that Iran’s Sejil missile, which is a two-stage rocket with a trajectory and speed that make it impossible to intercept, should target such Israeli facilities as: the Rafael nuclear plant, which is the main nuclear engineering center of Israel; the Eilun nuclear plant; another Israeli reactor in Nebrin; and the Dimona reactor in the nuclear research center in Neqeb, the most critical nuclear reactor in Israel because it produces 90 percent enriched uranium for Israel’s nuclear weapons.

Other targets, according to the article, include airports and air force bases such as the Sedot Mikha Air Base, which contains Jericho ballistic missiles and is located southwest of the Tel Nof Air Base, where aircraft equipped with nuclear weapons are based. Secondary targets include power plants, sewage treatment facilities, energy resources, and transportation and communication infrastructures.

Finally, Forghani says, Shahab 3 and Ghadr missiles can target urban settlements until the Israelis are wiped out.

Forghani claims that Israel could be destroyed in less than nine minutes and that Khamenei, as utmost authority, the Velayete Faghih (Islamic Jurist), also believes that Israel and America not only must be defeated but annihilated.

The radicals ruling Iran today not only posses over 1,000 ballistic missiles but are on the verge of ICBM delivery and have sufficient enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs even as they continue to highly enrich uranium despite four sets of U.N. sanctions.

WND previously reported when Iran was warning of a coming great event.

The Iranian secret documentary “The Coming Is Upon Us” clearly indicates that these radicals believe the destruction of Israel will trigger the coming of the last Islamic Messiah and that even Jesus Christ, who will convert to Islam, will act as Mahdi’s deputy, praying to Allah as he stands behind the 12th Imam.


Magnitude 6.7 quake in Cebu Region, Philippines

At least 43 people killed, 40 missing and 100 injured, many buildings damaged or destroyed, at least 9 bridges damaged and some landslides occurred in Negros Oriental.

he broad-scale tectonics of the Philippine Islands are dominated by the west-northwest convergence of the Philippine Sea plate with respect to the Sunda plate. This motion, about 10 cm/year at the latitude of the earthquake of February 6, 2012, is accommodated by subduction along the east and west sides of the Philippines Archipelago and by motion of microplates and distributed deformation within the Archipelago. The February 6 earthquake occurred as thrust-faulting within the archipelago. Several earthquakes similar in size to the February 6 earthquake occurred within the archipelago in eastern Negros, Cebu, and Bohol in the twentieth century. In 1948 a magnitude 8.1 earthquake occurred about 150 km to the west of the February 6 earthquake in a zone of shallow seismicity that is associated with subduction along the Negros Trench on west side of the Philippines Archipelago.