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Monday, March 5, 2012

"I Have Israel Back" A Pledge Among The Whirlwind Of Tornadoes

On Wednesday, February 29, our defense secretary Leon Panetta met with Israel's defense secretary Ehud Barak. This talk does not appear to have involved the derailed peace process with the Palestinians but rather what Israel perceives as a growing threat from Iran. The Israelis apparently want to hear a few things from the US, mainly where are the red lines for Iran in their nuclear program and will the US stand by Israel if they strike Iran. From what us common folk can read in the news is that the US has no red lines and we will not stand by Israel if she should strike Iran.

On the same day, in the early morning hours of the 29th, just after midnight, a series of tornados tore through Missouri and Illinois, inflicting heavy damage in one town in Illinois and causing major damage in the popular tourist town of Branson, MO.

Talks between Barak and Panetta apparently did not yield the hope-for committments, and if the above screen capture is any indication, it looks like Panetta was shaking his finger (or at least strongly pointing) at Barak. Finger pointing is usually an indication of strong emotion or strong irritation and I am surprised that this is the picture of the meeting that was released as it does not show two people engaged in a good conversation.

Within 48 hours, a massive tornado outbreak has occurred. Not unusual considering that in the past, when the US has pressured Israel in the peace process that some kind of nationwide-attention-gathering event has taken place, whether earthquake, weather, financial, and even sometimes scandal related.
But something else happened between Wednesday and Friday -- The Atlantic interview(http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/obama-to-iran-and-israel-as-president-of-the-united-states-i-dont-bluff/253875/)

On Wednesday, President Obama gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg from the White House about his position on Israel and Iran while Ehud Barak was at the Pentagon meeting with Leon Panetta. The interview was published on Friday, and many news outlets carried the interview almost universally using the title of "President Obama says he's 'not bluffing' on Iran."

Yet there is more to the interview than that statement. It is not just a casual interview - it is a major policy statement released as an interview.

Obama insists in the interview that he (and he alone) has done much to lead the world to unify against Iran and has insisted that he has done much to buff up Israel's security and insinuated that even if the leaders in Israel don't get this, the Israeli people get it. He even bemoaned the fact that the Republicans were misleading the American people about his stance on Israel to create a wedge between Obama and Jewish voters and, thus, lose the Jewish vote come election day. The Canada Free Press addresses this better than me, so here is their take (http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/44999).

If one has not followed the various interchanges between Obama and Netanyahu over the past 3 years it would appear from the interview that Obama is very pro-Israel. But for those of us who have watched the two it is clear they are not. On that observation, the interview that Obama gave to Goldberg appears deceptive to me.

As I was working on this post Drudge posted a link to a video called Daylight which takes Obama’s own words and the comments made by a number of top officials in his administration and shows his true position and feelings about Israel. It is such an important video that I went ahead and posted it by itself at this blog last night in case I was unable to finish my post this morning.

But there is something else going on with Friday's tornado outbreak. It occurred in the same locations as the outbreak of April 27, 2011. Two important things happened on April 27, 2011. First, Obama released his long form birth certificate early that day and then David Wilkerson was killed in a head-on car crash in Palestine, Texas that evening.

On Wednesday, the same day that Obama was giving his interview to Goldberg, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, released the findings of his cold case posse, a team of former law enforcement officers and attorneys who had investigated Obama's long form birth certificate and his Selective Service card and came to the conclusion that both documents were forgeries and that there was reasonable cause to believe that fraud had been committed upon the voters of Maricopa County. Both occurred on the same day! Here, in this YouTube, ppsimmons explains some of the implications of the sheriff's findings.

Reporters immediately began attacking Sheriff Arpaio's integrity and motivations. No word yet if they actually looked at the evidence Arpaio's team presented.

The Arpaio findings though beg one very serious question: If Obama is willing to post a fraudulent document on the White House website and attest to it being his own, which is, in essence, lying to the American public, then won't he lie about his true intentions when it comes to Israel and Iran?

As long as Obama is willing to reach into his goodie bag and throw candy to his hard center-left (Obama's description of his government given to Goldberg, not mine) crowd, which includes many big-name reporters and news anchors, I don't think they will care if he lied to get into office.

This is the third time a public official has publicly said that something Obama has said was ‘inaccurate.’ Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses. Joe Wilson said aloud, “You lie.” Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words, “Not true.” Now Sheriff Joe Arpaio has said that the birth certificate and Selective Service card are forgeries.

Again, the timing of the two events. As Arpaio is releasing to the public that it appears that a lie has been told to the American public, Obama is giving an interview about his warm and fuzzy feelings toward Israel and Ehud Barak is at the Pentagon asking for help and a tornado swarm begins a short time later. The storm system stays present through Thursday and then when Obama’s interview is published on Friday, a severe outbreak of supercell tornados occurs. In fact, the Weather Channel is noting that this could be the worst March tornado outbreak on record.

There are a couple of things about The Atlantic interview I want to note.

1) The interview opens with Goldberg asking Obama what the Israelis want when they get here.

Obama: First of all, it's important to say that I don't know exactly what the prime minister is going to be coming with. We haven't gotten any indication that there is some sharp "ask" that is going to be presented.

I’m not sure this is true. There have been a multitude of high-level officials from the US going to Israel since November to discuss the Iran situation. Are we to believe that those talks yielded no indication of what the president can expect when the Israelis arrive this weekend?

A Debka article just this morning titled ADAMANT OBAMA CONFRONTS NETANYAHU WITH LONE DECISION ON IRAN seems to indicate that Obama knows EXACTLY what Netanyahu is going to ask him when he arrives in Washington, and this article makes clear that sources inside Washington, “that no American president can be expected to tolerate Israel dictating terms, however just and pressing its case may be. Even before hearing what Israel had to say, Obama was resolved to oppose military action on Iran and not be moved on this. Now he is additionally determined to put his Israeli visitor in his place and draw a line on Jerusalem’s influence in Washington - both as a lesson to Jerusalem and an incentive for Tehran.”

Truly God help us if Obama intends to teach Israel “a lesson.”

2) Goldberg asked Obama about his relationship with Netanyahu, was it as ‘dysfunctional’ as it appeared.

Obama: I actually think the relationship is very functional, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Here seems to be irony at its best. One of the first, earliest indications of Obama’s dislike of Netanyahu actually came over an ‘eating’ incident.

The president was so angry with Netanyahu over the building of apartments in Jerusalem that he left Netanyahu in a room by himself while he went to eat in another room with the First Lady and informed Netanyahu to let him know when he had something for him. Many news outlets in Israel (as well as other countries) actually headlined the news event with ‘Humiliated Netanyahu.’

But as recently as early November, Obama was not describing his relationship with Netanyahu as good as this screenshot of the Drudge Report on November 7th shows.

So, yes, the proof is 'in the eating.'

3) Goldberg asked Obama about the perception that Obama isn’t doing enough to protect Israel and Obama responded that he has done more than any other president in US history for Israel and then said, “. . . historically, one of the reasons that the U.S.-Israeli relationship has survived so well and thrived is shared values, shared history, the links between our peoples. But it's also been because it has been a profoundly bipartisan commitment to the state of Israel. And the flip side of it is that, in terms of Israeli politics, there's been a view that regardless of whether it's a Democratic or Republican administration, the working assumption is: we've got Israel's back. And that's something that I constantly try to reinforce and remind people of.

GOLDBERG: Wait, in four words, is that your message to the prime minister -- we've got Israel's back?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: That is not just my message to the prime minister, that's been my message to the Israeli people, and to the pro-Israel community in this country, since I came into office. It's hard for me to be clearer than I was in front of the UN General Assembly, when I made a more full-throated defense of Israel and its legitimate security concerns than any president in history -- not, by the way, in front of an audience that was particularly warm to the message. So that actually won't be my message. My message will be much more specific, about how do we solve this problem.


This is an unusual statement in one particular way: Obama hasn’t used it before. The relationship between the US and Israel is almost always described as ‘unshakeable,’ or ‘unbreakable,’ but not ‘we’ve got your back.’ When I searched ‘Obama, Israel, got your back” to see if the occurrence came up any other time, it only came up in connection with this Goldberg interview.

What a mixed message. The idea behind ‘we’ve got your back’ is that while someone is busy looking forward, there is this implied promise that you don’t have to look behind you -- ‘we’ will do that for you.

This remark in this interview seems to imply that the Israelis can do what they need to do because even though the US through officials speaking publicly on Obama’s behalf have stated that Obama doesn’t want the Israelis to strike Iran this comment from the very lips of Obama implies otherwise.

In fact, President Obama reiterated this stance as his own at AIPAC when he declared from the podium, "I have Israel's back."

But what if the Israelis do strike Iran, what will Obama say then? What will ‘we’ve got your back’ mean then?

February 5, 2009, only days into the Obama presidency, Daniel at Prayers for the People posted what he believed was a word he had received from the Holy Spirit called, “Collapse, Destruction, and Our Back Against Israel.” (http://www.prayersforthepeople.com/id58.html)

Our family truly believes that Obama will not have Israel’s back, but indeed will turn his back to Israel. We believe Obama will betray Israel.

Obama spoke this morning at AIPAC. He spoke at AIPAC in 2011, and when he did the incredible Joplin tornado occurred, a tornado that has been reported to be even more powerful than the massive Oklahoma city tornado of May 3, 1999.

I watched Obama speak, and his speech was mainly a repeat of his interview to Goldberg, but I found it interesting that he closed his remarks with a proverb -- A man is judged by his deeds, not by his words -- and that is how he believed he would be judged.

This proverb is not from the Bible but is an old Russian proverb. Interesting as David Wilkerson in his book Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth, Dumitru Duduman and Henry Gruver all saw judgment from God upon America via an attack from the Russians.

We can only watch and wait at this point. Here is what Daniel posted at his website last night: 

I have felt, with a great measure of urgency, to implore all who will listen, to be increasingly vigilant over the next 48-hours. I would be remiss if I didn't warn of what appears to be the perpetually increasing Llikelihood of calamity falling upon the United States of America in the coming days. In light of recent events surrounding the deceptive interview the President of the United States of America gave, with regard to his stance towards Israel, it would give the impression that tomorrow and Monday hold an even higher likelihood of yet further judgments even greater in magnitude than the ones just witnessed in the heart of the USA. Please, seek the eternally protective hand of the ALMIGHTY! Call upon JESUS CHRIST, HE is the only way.

President Obama is sending clear signals to Israel -- Don’t do this. Don’t strike Iran first. Like Pontius Pilate of old, I will wash my hands of you if you do and then where will you be?

Little does President Obama realize that is when God will step in.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. --Psalm 121: 4

Salbuchi: Putin a break against neo-colonial West

Even the non christians know.... the ufos are demons

Written by Chris Perver

I don't normally reprint articles from the National Canadian Newspaper or others that tend to focus on the paranormal from a New Age perspective, but I thought that this particular article was very interesting, and bears some relevance to the times we are living in. There is some truth in the New Age movement. Those involved in it are acutely aware of a spiritual dimension that most people don't even know exists. Many recognize that there are unseen powers at work in the world, exerting their influence over humanity either for better or for worse. And some even have a limited knowledge of future events as mentioned in Bible prophecy. But sadly most are deceived as to the true identity of these beings, and so remain in spiritual darkness. But there are those that have come to the knowledge of the truth, who have discovered who these beings are and what their purpose is in visiting this planet. John Todd, a former insider in the New Age movement, and brother to the former high-priestess of Ohio, gives us some insight into the UFO phenomenon. This is a transcript of the YouTube recording from the article...

Quote: “My sister, before my wife came around, used to be leader of the state of Ohio, the high-priestess there (of a coven), of the whole state. And her little past-time was calling up, supposedly, filling the sky with UFOs, and watching everybody’s excitement. And some of the most outstanding sightings were in the early 70s in Ohio. And she used to laugh about it, because she'd be standing in a circle (pentagram) out in a field somewhere calling up demons. And that's all they were, were 'angels of light' playing games in the sky. Remember, a demon, forget the little spooky picture, they are a fallen angel, an unclean spirit. They can assume any form or go into any thing, except a Christian who walks in the Spirit all the time... in other words a Christian who keeps under the blood and so on. But they can assume forms including spacemen or solid objects like flying saucers, or so on. That's why when they appear on the radar scope and a jet gets up there, they vanish right in front of the pilot's eyes. Because they're nothing but a spirit.

John Todd's sister isn't the only person who has claimed to be able to summon 'UFOs' at will. A few years ago I commented on another man, by the name of the Prophet Yahweh, who claimed that UFOs were really the angels of 'Yahweh', and that he was able to summon them at will. Of course the Yahweh he speaks of is not the God of the Bible, but Satan. Nor are these entities the angels of God, but demonic spirits. God did not give man authority over angelic beings, so you can pretty much guarantee that any person or religion that claims to have received hidden knowledge from angels is false (e.g., Todd Bentley and the angel Emma, Mohammed and the angel Gabriel, Mormon and the angel Moroni). And again, the apparent hidden knowledge of future events was associated with the beings that visited Prophet Yahweh. When asked why these entities were appearing to him, he said, ”One of the many reasons why they will do this is to show support for Presidential candidate Barack Obama. This will be done so people will know that Obama is the best choice to lead America through the troublesome times to come. YAHWEH wants people to know that if Barak Obama does not become President, America will quickly be led into a war with Russia via Iran that will result in: a cut off of oil from the Persian Gulf, a great depression, stock market crash, runaway inflation, devaluation of the dollar, food shortages, riots, famine, race wars, out breaks of disease, etc.”

As I said at the time, the 'Yahweh' this man speaks of is not the God of the Bible. In my Bible it is God Himself that brings all these things about during the last days, so that He may get the glory. It is God who puts His hooks in the jaw of Russia, to bring it against the land of Israel in the latter days (Ezekiel 38:4). In Prophet Yahweh's statement, Ezekiel's war is seen as something to be avoided, rather than something that will bring glory to God (Ezekiel 39:7). In my Bible it is God who will bring judgement upon the nations during the tribulation period (Revelation 6:15-16). There is no mention of judgement for sin in the Prophet Yahweh's remarks, only a vague reference to a 'troublesome time to come'. Maybe Prophet Yahweh's friends do not want him to know the real reason why this world is heading for a 'troublesome time'. In my Bible, God is not dependent upon a certain man, and an ungodly one at that, leading a nation in a time of trial. Or even on the result of an election. The God of the Bible puts whoever He wants into office (Daniel 4:17). And if the right man isn't available, He has one born to do the job (Isaiah 44:28). As you can see, Prophet Yahweh's god is not the God of the Bible, it is none other than Satan himself, the deceiver who masquerades as an “angel of light” (2nd Corinthians 11:14).

As the fulfilment of end time Biblical prophecies draw near, we can only expect to see more deceptions of this kind. When the disciples enquired of the Lord Jesus Christ what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age, His first words to them were, “Take heed that ye be not deceived”, Luke 21:8. The Lord said that in the last days there would arise false messiahs and false prophets who would show “great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect”, Matthew 24:24. Such shall be the strength of the deception. Friend, if you are not part of the elect, if you do not belong to Christ, they you too will be deceived. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can know the Truth. Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”, John 14:3. He said of those who trust in Him, “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”, John 8:32. Would you like to know the Truth? Would you like to be free from the bondage of sin and Satan? Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation today.
Prophecy News

The Next 15 Days Of Our Lives

An Important Week

I recall the early days of the Greek crisis when everyone asked why Greece was so important because it is such a small country. I responded that they had a total of $1.1 trillion in debt (sovereign, municipal, corporate, bank and derivatives) and I remember the blank stares. Now, if the newest bailout goes through, they will have more than $1.3 trillion in debt and while they could not pay the initial amount they certainly cannot pay any larger amounts so that it can clearly be stated that what is going on is the central banks of Europe and the ECB/EU lending money to Greece only as a conduit to pay back their own banking institutions. If you object to my math here recall that as the private sector involvement reduces the notational amount of sovereign debt but that the Greek banks are also going to be lent money so that the decrease in sovereign debt which excludes the ECB/EIB and IMF debt is not the headline bandied about in the press. So we have the hard date of March 9 when either the threshold for the exchange is met or not, the imposition of the CAC clause or not, the next “Question” to the ISDA if the CAC is triggered asking if there has been a credit event to trigger the CDS contracts, the possible consequences of a CDS trigger, the decision on the bailout funds by the EU and finally the March 20 hard date when Greece must make its bond payments or default. Regardless of your opinion, it may now be stated precisely, that there is a lot of risk on the table and on that basis alone I would assume a quite defensive position until this all gets played out. The risk/reward ratio is now strongly slanted towards Risk.

The Standoff

The IMF has offered $17 billion for the new Greek bailout according to the Finance Minister of Germany. The EU had hoped for a contribution of $51 billion so there is a shortfall in what has been theoretically approved of $34 billion which has been approved by no European Finance Minister or government. The IMF has said that they might increase their contribution if the firewall was made larger. Germany has stated that they will not increase the firewall as it is sufficient. We are currently at impasse here with the Greek March 20 bond payment looming large on the horizon. While this standoff is being largely ignored it is out there and quite real and some outcome must be reached in a timely manner or this could have a dire impact upon the next round of Greek funding if not concluded.


Spain has said that they will miss the financial targets mandated by the new EU agreement. It is not a small miss but a large one and this did not come from some unnamed public official but the Prime Minister. As Spain asks for leniency Austria has already said no and this will play out in a nasty manner I would guess. The miss is so large that I think the EU will demand more austerity measures which will cause more social unrest and a further division between the periphery and the core countries. If not that then the new agreement is worthless and I think Germany will dig in its heels. At current levels Spain and their banks are decent shorts and while the new LTRO drove up their bond prices; the effect will be short term and we are probably close to a turn in prices and yields.


Hard landing, soft landing; both unknown but what is known is that the Chinese economy is declining. China now predicts a growth rate of 7.50% versus 8.00% (a 6.6% drop) which is the lowest level since 2004. Contraction in China will lead to an Asian contraction and a rise in yields for not just sovereign debt but bank and corporate debt in Asia. Since the Chinese are generally optimistic in their projections we may see a real number, next quarter, of around 7.00% which will cause further consternation. I would be locking up profits in Asia now before we experience further deterioration.

Second Bailouts

Regardless of the protestations and political rhetoric there are two countries now likely to need further rounds of funding. They are Portugal and Ireland. I would say the odds for Portugal are now at 85% as I regard their current financial statistics. Their economy is in serious decline which will also affect Spain and it is quite possible now, in my view, that Spain will have to pony up to the till at some point in 2012. Ireland has done a decent job of implementation of the EU guidelines and the problem here is not getting the job done or doing what has been agreed to but just their economy. The Irish GDP is in a state of deterioration while their debt to the EU and to the bank’s bondholders remains. The slippage is slow but it is there and cannot be ignored so that I put a 40% possibility currently of the Irish having to come back to the table during the next twelve months without the EU agreeing to some PSI plan for Ireland. There is also the Irish referendum forthcoming, a slippery slope no doubt, and public sentiment may well worsen as new economic data becomes available.


The next two weeks are “risk-off” weeks in my opinion. There are multiple chances for screw-ups, a variety of ways that the Greek transaction could fail or be impaired, and unintended consequences looming in large numbers. I would be taking some profits, raising cash and watching for opportunities. There is way more risk than reward at present and “Preservation of Capital” should be uppermost in your mind. During the next two weeks guesswork will be replaced by reality and fanciful notions replaced by actual facts. Caution is advised.

Zero Hedge

Heavy clashes erupt in Syria near Jordan border

AMMAN - Heavy fighting broke out overnight between armored forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebels who launched coordinated attacks on army roadblocks across the southern city of Deraa on the border with Jordan, opposition activists said on Monday.

The reports of the fighting in Deraa, where the uprising against Assad's rule began last March, could not be independently verified.

But opposition sources say rebels loosely organized under the Free Syrian Army banner have intensified assaults on loyalist targets in southern, north and eastern Syria in the last few days to relieve pressure in the city of Homs, where troops overran the rebel district of Baba Amro last week.

"The Free Syrian Army attacked several roadblocks and street fortifications simultaneously. Tanks are responding by firing 14 mm anti-aircraft guns into residential neighborhoods and army snipers are shooting at everything that moves, even nylon bags," Maher Abdelhaq, one of the activists, told Reuters from Deraa.

"About 20 buses carrying troops were seen heading from the football stadium in the north to the southern sector the city on the border (with Jordan)," he added.

An army offensive last April put down large demonstrations in Deraa, which had been provoked by the arrest of several women activists and the detention of schoolboys who had written freedom slogans on walls, inspired by Arab Spring revolts in other countries.

Tanks stormed Deraa again in mid-February to stamp out Free Syrian Army rebels in the city and remained deployed there, residents and opposition activists said.

Jerusalem Post

Feds launch biometric identification for international travelers at Twin Cities airport

MINNEAPOLIS — International travelers should have an easier time moving through the Twins Cities airport.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is installing a special kiosk that uses biometric identification for pre-approved travelers atMinneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Rather than wait in line for entry processing by a CBP officer, those who participate in the 'global entry' program can use the kiosk to scan their passport and verify their fingerprints. The agency predicts wait times will be reduced by 70 percent.
Travelers who apply for the program undergo a background check and interview before they are enrolled. CBP plans to introduce the program at the Twin Cities airport Monday. It's already in use at major U.S. airports.

The Republic

Gerald Celente WW3

Greece bubbles towards a third bailout and boiling point

The sense of optimism in the markets derives partly from the contrast with the dire mood just before Christmas. At that point, many thought the New Year would usher in Armageddon. Yet we have been back at work for more than two months and still the roof hasn't fallen in. So that's all right then.

In truth, there were always more stages to go through before the crisis got to boiling point. Greece was likely to receive a second bailout. My doubts were based primarily on the unreality of the economic forecasts behind such a package, and the conviction that there would, before long, have to be a third bailout.

At that point, I reasoned, the patience of other eurozone members would be wearing thin, as would the patience of the Greek government and electorate. But we are not there yet.

Meanwhile, another important factor is still developing. If Greece defaults and leaves the euro, it would presumably lose all access to bailout funds. At least initially, the markets would then shun the country. If it was running a primary deficit, i.e. even ignoring interest payments, and government expenditure exceeded revenue, a euro exit would bring forced cuts in public spending. In an extreme scenario, pensions and public sector wages may go unpaid. Accordingly, the best time for Greece to consider a euro exit has always been when its primary expenditure was back in line with revenue.

In fact, this requirement is not absolute, for once out of the euro, it could instruct the Bank of Greece to buy government debt. Nevertheless, to retain confidence, its resort to central bank finance would need to be limited in time and extent. I think the government won't be back to primary balance until the second half of next year. But it should be within striking distance later this year.

Meanwhile, the provision of practically unlimited central bank funding at 1pc has prevented what could have been a devastating liquidity crisis. Many eurozone banks cannot get funding from the markets on almost any terms. If their plight had gone unrelieved, they would either have had to sell assets or call in lending. Many of them might have gone bust. In preventing this, Mario Draghi, the ECB President, has proved pragmatic and imaginative. Whether he deserves his nickname of Super-Mario, though, is another matter. He should pinch himself: at one point, Alan Greenspan could supposedly do no wrong.

Preventing a crisis is not the same thing as stimulating a recovery. That would require banks to use access to cheap ECB funding to boost lending, or, at the very least, to buy assets. Yet why should they lend more? Experience in Japan, the US and the UK, shows you can provide liquidity until you are blue in the face but, if the economic conditions are not right, banks will not increase lending.

Nevertheless, eurozone banks have apparently increased their holdings of government debt. To that extent, the ECB funding programme amounts to quantitative easing (QE) by the back door.

But again, the international evidence is that the effectiveness of QE is limited.

At least straightforward QE lands the central bank and thereby ultimately the taxpayer with the risk implied by huge holdings of government debt. But not in Super-Mario's solution. It is a funny answer to a problem which includes weak banks to load them up with yet more potentially disastrous assets.

Meanwhile, in the background, other euro crisis features have been bubbling away. Greece is due to have an election which could produce an awkward result; in France, Nicolas Sarkozy looks likely to lose the Presidential election to Francois Hollande, who has pledged to renegotiate the terms of the fiscal pact; Ireland has announced that it will conduct a referendum on it; Ireland and Portugal have sought an easing of the terms of their own euro bailouts; and there has been growing disquiet in Germany about the very things that have enabled Draghi to defuse the crisis.

In any case, Super-Mario's solution, as with every other supposed solution so far, is about finance, not about adjustment.

We have been here before, under the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system, agreed in 1944. Throughout the 1960s, it was plainly tottering. In the end, inexorable economic logic won out and the system broke down in 1971.

This is going to happen with the euro. But although you can see the stage props being manoeuvred into position, we are not yet at the final scene.

The Telegraph

Washington's $5 trillion interest bill

Interest rates on U.S. bonds may be ridiculously low, but that doesn't mean the country's future interest payments on the national debt will be.

Uncle Sam will shell out more than $5 trillion in interest payments over the next decade, according to the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office.

That's more than half of the projected $11 trillion increase in debt held by the public during that period. Those figures assume that a host of expensive policies such as the Bush-era tax cuts are extended.

Over the decade, more than 14% of all revenue the government is projected to collect will be sucked up by interest payments.

That's a lot of money that can't be used on the country's other priorities.

Indeed, between 2013 and 2022, estimated interest costs will be:

higher than Medicaid spending;

equal to half of Social Security spending;

close to what is spent on all of defense.

And here's the thing -- the estimated interest costs assume a fairly steady and moderate increase in rates over the decade.

The CBO assumes that the yield on the 10-year Treasury will rise from an estimated 2.3% this year to 5% by the end of the decade; and the yield on the 3-month T-bill will increase from 0.1% to 3.8% during the same time.

If it turns out that rates rise one percentage point higher than CBO projects, that could add roughly $1 trillion to interest costs over the decade.

On the bright side, CBO's rate forecasts are higher than what the markets expect, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told lawmakers in February.

And, of course, rates could stay even lower than CBO projects if the United States remains a safe haven in the face of European debt crises or if the economy does better than expected.

But given how quickly markets can turn, "I think a particular risk over the coming decade is that interest rates will rise further and more sharply than we have in the projection," Elmendorf said.

However things turn out, a lot of the money paid in interest will go abroad, said Charles Konigsberg, president of the Federal Budget Group. That's because more than 40% of the country's public debt is owed to institutions and individuals outside the United States.

Those trying to score political points may well express sheer horror at the money that will be going out the door. But voters might want to check that those politicians are putting their fiscal plans where their mouths are.

So far there's a big disconnect.

A recent analysis from the independent Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that three of the four GOP presidential candidates' economic plans would increase deficits and interest costs, some substantially.

Newt Gingrich's economic plan could raise interest costs by $900 billion over the next decade; Rick Santorum's by $640 billion; and Mitt Romney's by $40 billion. But that number could rise substantially if he doesn't find enough measures to offset the costs of his latest tax cut proposals.

President Obama's proposed budget will be analyzed by CBO later this month, and the Committee plans to do so sometime this spring.


‘Netanyahu to Tell Obama: Attack Iran Or Else’

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will deliver President Barack Obama an ultimatum that if the United States does not attack Iran soon, Israel will, the London Telegraph reported Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said last month that there is a "strong likelihood" of an Israel attack by June. If Prime Minister Netanyahu delivers an ultimatum, it would give the United States 2-3 months to act or face the reality of an Israeli attack that would almost certainly require the United States coming to its aid, if necessary.

Israeli officials have said that in several months, Iran will have buried so many of its nuclear facilities deep under concrete bunkers in mountains that an attack would not be effective.
The Israeli Prime Minister “has the upper hand,” claims the Telegraph's correspondent Adrian Blomfield.

“Exuding confidence, Mr. Netanyahu effectively brings with him an ultimatum, demanding that unless the president makes a firm pledge to use U.S. military force to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb, Israel may well take matters into its own hands within months,” wrote Blomfield.

He quoted analysts and sources as saying that the year-long Arab Spring rebellion in Syria, on which Iran is dependent to maintain the “axis of evil” with Lebanon, Hizbullah and Hamas, has weakened Iran as well as Damascus.

One other factor he did not mention is that President Obama is running for re-election. Failure to back Israel, if necessary, could torpedo his campaign. Moreover, Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney will address the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention this week. President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres also will speak.

The president and the Prime Minister are likely to show a unified stance in public, when they meet this week, but Prime Minister Netanyahu will tell President Barack Obama in private discussions that Israel cannot wait much longer for a military strike to stop or at least delay Iran’s unsupervised nuclear program.

President Obama ruined his already dimming pro-Israel image last year, directly admonishing Prime Minister Netanyahu for continuing to build homes in what the president called "illegitimate” settlements. In return, the Prime Minister gave President Obama a lecture on the facts of life in the Arab-Israeli struggle.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently has said that if the Netanyahu government attacks Iran, Israel can defend itself against an Iranian counter-attack.

"It won't be easy," a former senior Defense Ministry official told the London newspaper. "Rockets will be fired at cities, including Tel Aviv, but at the same time the doomsday scenario that some have talked of is unlikely to happen. I don't think we will have all-out war."

Israel National News

California Cities Hit the Wall

Confronted by declining tax revenue and rising employee costs, Stockton, Calif., is considering bankruptcy—while several other struggling California cities warn they could eventually face the same predicament.

Stockton officials voted Tuesday night to take the initial step toward a bankruptcy filing by the city of 290,000, located in the agricultural Central Valley. The decision launches the first test of a new state law that requires cities to negotiate with employees, creditors and others to try to stave off a filing before making the move.

As in Stockton, two other Northern California cities, Hercules and Lincoln are in the same situation


Spain to miss 2012 budget deficit target, says Rajoy

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said his country will miss its budget deficit target for this year, just as EU leaders agree a new treaty to enforce budget discipline.

Mr Rajoy said Spain's deficit would be 5.8% of total economic output in 2012, higher than its agreed target of 4.4%.

He said the higher target still represented "significant austerity".

The Netherlands also said it would miss its budget target for this year, with a deficit of 4.5%.

The Dutch target was 4.1%.'Difficult objective'

"I'm backing austerity and aim to reduce the deficit from 8.5% [in 2011] to 5.8%," said Mr Rajoy.

In January, he outlined 8.9bn euros ($11.8bn; £7.4bn) in new budget cuts, as well as tax increases designed to raise 6.3bn euros.

But analysts said even hitting the new deficit target would not be easy.

"It's still a difficult objective in the absence of any traction in external demand," said Emilio Ontiveros at Analistas Financieros Internacionales in Madrid.

"Spain is going to depend a lot on the economic tone of its main commercial partners in the eurozone."

Mr Rajoy's comments came as all but two of the 27 EU leaders signed a new treaty designed to stop member states running up huge debts like those that sparked the bailouts of Greece, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland.

To take effect, the pact must be ratified by 12 eurozone states.

The Spanish economy contracted in the final three months of 2011 by 0.3%

The country has the highest jobless rate in the EU


Netanyahu expects Obama refusal to attack Iran

It is quite clear that US President Barack Obama will do what it takes to delay, if not prevent, an attack on Iran by the US or Israel. The quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan have once again shown that it is easy to declare war, but much harder to know when or how to end it, even if the first and only campaign is an air strike.

Obama also knows that within minutes of bombs penetrating the first bunkers at Iran's nuclear facilities outside Qom, the countdown will start on a global economic crisis. The price of oil will soar, driving up the price of gasoline in the US to over the frightening $5 per gallon threshold, stock markets will tumble, taking down US economic growth, and with it, almost certainly, his chances for reelection in November.

Obama also knows that Iranian Pandora's box opened by a US and/or Israeli attack will include a wide-ranging campaign of vengeance. Mines will block the Straits of Hormuz, explosive boats will attack US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf, Hizbullah and Hamas will rain missiles onto Israel, US forces in Afghanistan will be hit, car bombs will explode in Europe, if not in New York or Washington. Above all, Obama is convinced that an attack will only delay Iran's nuclear ambitions, but won't end them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expects to hear these bleak forecasts from Obama when they meet Monday in the White House. Netanyahu's aides undoubtedly tell him remarks by an administration official, quoted anonymously by the "Washington Post" as saying, "We're trying to make the decision to attack as difficult as possible for Israel."

Netanyahu also expects to hear what alternatives Obama is offering to an Israeli strike: a US strike on Iran? When? What will be its parameters? What will Obama's red line be?

Obama's biggest problem is that the prophesies of doom are liable to impress Netanyahu more than the alternatives offered. Netanyahu is liable to conclude - and may have already concluded - that the White House has no intention of launching a military strike on Iran, and that a new economic crisis worries the administration more than a nuclear Iran.

Netanyahu is liable to conclude that combative American declarations against Teheran are just an attempt to gain time and to block Israel, and that Obama prefers restraining Iran after it gets the Bomb rather than attack it now, to prevent it getting the Bomb. Israel must therefore fend for itself. If I am not for myself, who will be for me - and better sooner than later.

"Obama will never allow a second Holocaust"

This interpretation could be wrong. A wealthy Jewish Democratic donor who knows Obama told "Globes" that his statements should be taken as stated: all options are on the table, including the military option. The administration has no intention of letting Iran build a nuclear bomb, and if military action is necessary to prevent this, it will be taken.

Asked why Netanyahu ought to rely on Obama's promise, the donor said, "There are a lot of reasons, but the main one, which lets me sleep at night, is that a nuclear attack by Iran on Israel, God forbid, would be an indelible stain on Obama's place in history that will dwarf all his accomplishments. He will go down in history as the president who allowed a second Holocaust, and he'll never let that happen."

Nonetheless, there are reports that the White House has rejected Israel's demand that Iran immediately halt all uranium enrichment, which will be verified by UN inspectors, before the start of talks between Iran and the West. The administration says that Teheran will never accept the complete halt of uranium enrichment, and insisting on it as a condition for talks means that they will never begin. Administration officials say that the White House will adhere to its current policy of sanctions, keeping the military option as a last resort.

Israel's terror threshold

Does reliance on Obama conscience fit in with his decision to reject Israel's demand? The discordance sheds light on the US administration's difficulty in synchronizing the US and Israeli positions on Iran.

Assuming that Obama is not bluffing (his own word) about the military option, the two countries' strategic objective is the same: eliminating Iran's ability to make even one nuclear bomb. The tactics and timetables differ.

Israel's clock ticks faster than the US's clock. Israel's threshold of terror - the result of pogroms, killings, and the Holocaust - is far lower than that of the sheltered Americans. For Israel, the point of no return on Iran will be its entry into the zone of immunity, where it is safe from attack and can develop the Bomb undisturbed.

For the US, the red line would be the decision by the ayatollahs to actually build the Bomb.

Obama has to walk a very fine line in his talks with Netanyahu. On one hand, he will stress the economic consequences, which would rouse international fury against Israel, of a reckless attack on Iran before sanctions have had time to do their work and would strengthen the ayatollah's regime internally. Obama also believes, unlike Netanyahu, that Iran's decision-makers are rational men.

But Obama will have to persuade his guest that, when the test comes, if an when the Iranians cross the Americans' red line, the US is ready to take military action, despite the president's known antipathy of war, despite the ensuing severe economic consequences, and despite the possibility of complications - such as loss of US planes or the capture of pilots - that could affect Obama in the upcoming elections. Obama will widen the discussion to his commitment to Israel's security, and he has recruited at least two prominent US Jewish activists to try and persuade Netanyahu that he means what he says.

The question is whether Netanyahu will buy it. Whether he will place Israel's fate in the hands of the US president, whose intellect Netanyahu admires, but whose spine and world view he doubts. The most up-to-date assessment is that the meeting will end with no agreement. Netanyahu draws encouragement by united bipartisan Congressional support for him. Netanyahu will use such support in an election year, when Israel-US relations are a stick for Republicans to beat Obama with, to tell Obama that only Israel is responsible for its survival.

A top Congressional aide, knowledgeable about Israeli affairs, told "Globes", "Expect horse trading at the Obama-Netanyahu meeting, but your prime minister will not buy any horse from our president."