The military has begun deploying S-400 mobile surface-to-air missiles in Kaliningrad, the Baltic exclave bordered by Poland and Lithuania, Izvestia reported.
Izvestia cited unidentified military officials as saying the missiles arrived Friday, but did not say how many.
The Defense Ministry declined comment on the report.
S-400s, Russia's most advanced surface-to-air missiles, have a range of 120 to 400 kilometers. S-400s are already deployed around Moscow and are planned to be placed in the Pacific Far East this year. The Izvestia report comes amid rising tension between the United States and Russia over Washington's plans for a missile-shield system in Europe, which Russia contends threatens its own defenses.
In a sign of the sensitivity of the issue, state news agency RIA-Novosti late last week released a full version of an April 2 interview with U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, saying some of his remarks about missile defense had been "omitted" in the interview's initial publication.
"In the process of video editing, some important remarks by McFaul were omitted, resulting in a brief clip that did not reflect his full response on this topic," RIA-Novosti said on its website. "For the record, RIA-Novosti has published a more complete clip containing McFaul's full remarks."
Read more:http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/report-military-deploys-s-400s-in-kaliningrad/456319.html#ixzz1rY34z0aZ The Moscow Times
An Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear program will probably begin with a rain of Jericho missiles obliterating the heavy water plant in Arak and destroying four small nuclear research reactors at the Nuclear Technology Center in Isfahan.
Simultaneously, 100 Israeli F-16I and F-15I fighter jets will drop huge bunker-busting bombs on attack-hardened nuclear fuel enrichment plants buried in the mountain sides of Natanz and Fordow.
Submarine-launched cruise missiles will seek out targets at a variety of research facilities across Iran.
Some Israeli aircraft will attack Iran’s power lines with special-purpose munitions that use chemically treated carbon fibres to short-circuit transformers and switching stations to knock out Iran’s power grid.
Black Hawk helicopters (possibly taking off from disused Soviet air bases in Azerbaijan) will deposit Israeli commandos, disguised as members of the Iranian military, outside the Parchin military complex near Tehran, and bomb-equipped dogs will penetrate deep into fortified tunnels at other sites.
A wave of cyber attacks will disrupt Iranian computer and anti-aircraft targeting systems.
Such a scenario — played out and predicted increasingly by war game strategists — looms large as the decade-long diplomatic confrontation with Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program appears to be drawing to an end.
Talks between Iran and six world powers — the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany — scheduled to begin in Istanbul next Friday could be the last chance to avoid full-fledged conflict.
If the talks fail, the Middle East could plunge into a regional war before the year is out.
“When Israel identifies a national security threat, it will strike and will strike at great distances,” warns Sam Gardiner, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and war game specialist who was hired by the Swedish Defence Research Agency to study the consequences of an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Faced with evidence of a rapidly advancing Iranian nuclear program and Iran’s continued disregard of UN Security Council ultimatums to freeze nuclear enrichment programs and grant unfettered access to international inspectors, talk of possible pre-emptive military strikes is growing.
Academics, analysts, military strategists, diplomats and politicians are all reviewing recent reports that depict potential war scenarios and try to assess the implications of an Israeli or U.S. military option.
Quiet diplomacy may be collapsing amid the steadily escalating chorus of threats and counter-threats.
“Containment is not a policy option from the Israeli perspective,” says Col. Gardiner. “The more it becomes a serious policy option for the United States, the more Israel will be pushed to take matters into its own hands.”
And if Israel attacks Iran, even against the wishes of the United States, it could, ultimately, draw U.S. troops into the Middle East to finish the job.
National Post Graphics
Click here to see a larger version of this graphic showing how an Israeli pre-emptive attack would play out in Iran
“Israel has a long history of conducting operations without notifying the United States and in some cases defying Washington,” Col. Gardiner says in his Swedish report.
“The United States has a long history of trying to pressure Israel with rebukes, withholding military equipment and even sanctions. None of this has done permanent damage to U.S.-Israeli relations. Israel most likely knows that this is the case now.
“The situation has a quality of inevitability about it. It has the feel of Europe prior to World War I.”
Michael O’Hanlon and Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution predicted in a report last week, “Unless Iran pauses its uranium enrichment activities, an Israeli or U.S. strike against its nuclear facilities looks likely by next year.”
According to The New York Times, the Pentagon ran a classified two-week-long war game simulation in early March, focusing on the repercussions of a possible Israeli attack on Iran. It concluded an escalating crisis could lead to a regional war.
In the simulation, Iranian jets chased Israeli warplanes after an attack, fired missiles at a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf and killed 200 U.S. sailors.
The U.S. retaliated by carrying out its own air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
“Israel can pull the United States into deploying major air and naval forces into the region to defend its interests and protect the flow of oil through the Gulf,” Col. Gardiner predicted in his study. “If Iran responds even in a very limited way, as it has threatened, Israel can pull the United States into finishing the job on Iranian nuclear sites and destroying Iranian military capabilities.”
Israeli news reports say the country’s security cabinet reviewed an intelligence assessment last weekend that predicted that an Israeli attack on Iran would result in “three weeks of non-stop fighting on multiple fronts” as the result of missile attacks from Lebanon, Syria and Iran.
The conflict, in which Israel would shelter under domestic and U.S. anti-missile defence shields, would cost Israel “fewer than 300” dead, the study said.
That bears out an earlier observation by Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak that Israel could withstand an Iranian counter-attack.
“A war is no picnic,” he told Israeli Radio in November. But he insisted, “There will not be 100,000 dead or 10,000 dead or 1,000 dead. The state of Israel will not be destroyed.”
Not everyone, however, is convinced of the wisdom or ease of an Israeli preemptive strike.
“Even the most brilliant operations researcher can not know, in the case of Iran, the actual quality and precision of Israel’s intelligence, how successful an attack might be, what the reaction of other regional players might be, how long the Iranians and their proxies (Hezbollah, Hamas or Syria) will be capable of and willing to fight, what will be the Israeli public’s reaction to missiles falling on it, and so on,” says Avner Cohen, an expert at the Non-Proliferation Centre at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
“These are all unknowns about which no one can have accurate advance knowledge. One can initiate a war, but it is not possible to know how and when the fire will be put out.”
Meir Dagan, the former head of Israel’s secret service, the Mossad, created a furor last summer when he publicly accused Mr. Barak and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of pushing their cabinet colleagues to back an attack on Iran.
Shlomo Gazit, a retired Major General who was Israel’s chief of military intelligence in the 1970s, also criticized the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Iran, declaring, “An Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear reactor will lead to the liquidation of Israel.”
He insists that while Israel has the power and determination to attack Iran, it lacks the ability to do much more than launch a single massive air strike.
“There is no possibility of Israel continuing with a military effort against Iran that is going to last for days, or weeks, or months,” he says. “Israel … will have a very limited interest and that is to destroy the present nuclear capability of Iran, to reach nuclear devices. Period.”
In later discussions, Gen. Gazit dialed back his predictions of disaster, saying he did not think an Iranian counterattack would destroy Israel.
“It will be no doubt painful, but nothing beyond it,” he says now.
Iran’s response to an Israeli or U.S. attack will be crucial to determining how intense any follow-on conflict will become.
So far, Iranian leaders have threatened to retaliate with missile attacks on Israel and its nuclear sites and this week a senior Revolutionary Guard commander vowed no place in the United States would be safe from retaliation.
Iran has also threatened to choke off world oil supplies by closing the Strait of Hormuz. It could opt for an all-out blitz on U.S. military targets in the Persian Gulf and it could invoke allies such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria to step up attacks on Israel.
But most experts predict Tehran would, initially at least, resort to a low-key response with low level, unattributed, attacks on U.S. and Israeli targets and possibly by supplying weapons and explosives to Taliban insurgents fighting U.S. troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Iran might “play the victim” and offer limited retaliation against Israel in a bid to exploit international outrage to try and weaken international sanctions against it, says Alireza Nader, a policy analyst at the RAND Corp. and co-author of Israel and Iran: A Dangerous Rivalry.
“Iran would almost certainly give the required 90 days notice of its intention to quit the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and terminate inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” says Gary Sick, a former U.S. national security advisor who co-ordinated the U.S. response to the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 and 1980.
In addition to driving up world oil prices by disrupting shipping traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, Mr. Sick says there might also be some “unexplained pipeline explosions in Iraq, possibly by pro-Iranian militias.”
Iranian cyberattacks might disrupt Arab oil loading platforms, further restricting world oil supplies.
“Extremely vulnerable economies, such as the southern European states, could be tipped into bankruptcy,” Mr. Sick says. “But all states would face significant challenges as a surge in transportation and manufacturing costs rippled through all aspects of their industries.
“This is Iran’s true weapon of mass destruction.”
The United States would be determined to bring any conflict to an end as quickly as possible, says Col. Gardiner’s Swedish study.
“This could lead the United States to the decision to make regime elimination the objective,” he says.
“A U.S. president will have to decide whether to passively await casualties or to attack Iranian military capabilities on its own. The United States would probably decide to finish the job on Iranian nuclear facilities and destroy as much as possible of Iran’s capability to project combat power.”
For now, having cobbled together the harshest economic sanctions ever mobilized against Iran, Washington is willing to give diplomacy one last chance.
But Israeli and U.S. officials, while agreed on how much progress Iran has made enriching uranium, are deeply divided over how to prevent Tehran from building a weapon.
A report, published last week by the U.S. Congressional Research Service, quotes a “very senior Israeli security source” as saying: “Americans tell us there is time and we tell them that they only have about six to nine months more than we do. Therefore, sanctions have to be brought to a culmination now, in order to exhaust that track.”
Spain, sucked back into the center of the eurozone debt crisis, is headed toward a financial crunch in 2013 that may force it to seek international help, analysts warn.
Alarm has spread on the financial markets over Spain’s rising public debt, bulging deficit, fragile banks and a slide into recession at a time of soaring unemployment.
Investors pounced in the past week, forcing the government to pay higher borrowing costs at a bond auction and snapping up securities that pay out in the case of a default on sovereign debt.
“Despite rising Spanish bond yields and bond market jitters in recent weeks, Spain is not in any immediate danger,” said IHS Global Insight economist Raj Badiani.
Massive lending by the European Central Bank at rock bottom rates to banks in the eurozone had secured Spain’s liquidity and mitigated the impact of Spain’s economic and fiscal woes, he said. But greater danger lay ahead.
The risks are expected to intensify in 2013 with Spain battered by a crippling combination of a lingering economic downturn, challenging financing requirements, a labor market close to meltdown and a banking sector struggling to contain ever increasing troubled real-estate assets,” he warned.
Banking woes “Indeed, the continued tensions in the banking sector, resulting from the deteriorating quality of its real-estate assets and domestic government debt holdings, could prompt the need for additional capital injections from the state or external interventions.”
Ultimately, the ECB could be forced to provide Spain with more protection than its current policy of buying government bonds on the market and offering cheap three-year loans to eurozone banks, Badiani said.
The challenges facing Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government are daunting. It approved a 2012 budget on April 30 that includes 27 billion euros in spending cuts and tax increases, determined to meet its targets to slash the public deficit from a runaway 8.5 percent of annual economic output last year to 5.3 percent this year and just 3.0 percent in 2013.
But analysts say the task of meeting those targets will just get harder as Spain enters recession and with official forecasts that the jobless rate will rise to 24.3 percent this year from 22.85 percent at the end of 2011.
Large annual public deficits have rapidly pushed up the accumulated public debt, expected to rise to 79.8 percent of economic output this year from 68.5 in 2011.
“Spain’s borrowing costs are up due to fears that recession will hinder deficit reduction,” said a report by Standard Chartered Global Research analysts Sarah Hewin and Thomas Costerg.
The banking sector was vulnerable to losses on stricken real estate assets accumulated before the 2008 property bubble collapse, they warned, and it “may need a bailout to assist restructuring”.
Edward Hugh, independent economist based in Barcelona, said international investors were convinced that Spain would need to restructure its debt at some point in the next 10 years. But the crisis could come sooner, he said, casting serious doubt on Madrid’s ability to meet its deficit-cutting target for 2013.
“This could all come unstuck next year,” Hugh said.
“I don’t think there is any real possibility they can get to three percent next year,” he added.
“Secondly, the economy is going to be contracting next year. They are not going to be able to get unemployment down.”
Hugh warned a crunch could even come this year as bond yields rise, saying it was still unclear how the government could finance its plans to recapitalise Spain’s banks.
“I don’t see anything on the table that is going to turn this around,” Hugh said.
“I don’t think we will see much in the way of growth in Spain in the next five years. We are going to have two years of recession right now, then at the best we can see two of years of timid growth and then we could have another recession,” he warned.
Spain did not face an immediate collapse because the ECB would step in, Hugh added.
“But this is not a situation with a way out. They have just let it all get too much and now it is in danger of getting out of hand.”
Experts believe Israeli military planners options are restricted to high risk choices, such as a long range missile bombardment from Israel or a special forces raid involving troops attack facilities on the ground.
The authoritative military journal Jane's Defence Weekly has also cast doubt on Israel's ability to mount a successful operation saying it would face "substantial difficulties" "The significant distances involved and hardened features of Iran's nuclear facilities make any 'massive surprise' aerial attack a very high-risk operation for Israel to undertake on its own," Jane's concluded in a recent study.
While Israel has the most powerful air force in the Middle East, it would struggle to mount the complex strikes necessary to deal a real blow to Iran's well protected nuclear plants. Senior Israeli officials have warned the country is prepared to take unilateral action to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Israel destroyed Saddam Hussein's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1982 and hit a Syrian reactor in 2007. But to target Iran the airforce would have to carry out numerous strikes with air-to-air refuelling possibly over several days.
"This is not going to be one strike and they are out, not like Syria or Iraq where facilities were not underground, it is much harder than that," said Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute.
"And the Iranians are experts in building reinforced concrete because of their long problems with earthquakes.
"But air strikes could destroy power plants, supply facilities, communications and the centrifuges themselves would be very sensitive to blast. They could do quite a lot of damage which would set back the programme for a period."
Senior British officials have warned that Israel could catch its allies offguard with a strike. "We underestimated the things that the Israelis have done in the past in sheer out-of-the-book daringness," one said.
Options include a daring special forces strike, something Israel has done successfully in the past. A commando raid could be launched from a ship covertly carrying helicopters in the Persian Gulf or from a submarine.
"They have done it before and they are quite capable of doing off the beaten track operations," said a former SAS commander. "I wouldn't say it was impossible but I would be very surprised if they tried to do it, it would be pretty high risk." He added the raid, which would probably involve the equivalent of a squadron – around 60 men - would only be able to target one facility, potentially the uranium enrichment site at Fordow which is under a mountain and difficult to hit from the air.
Other methods could include adapting Jericho nuclear missiles with conventional warheads or submarine launched cruise missiles.
But Davis Lewin Political director of HJS, the American aligned think tank, said he was "100 per cent certain" an air attack would succeed without US assistance.
"One reason is that the Israeli Air Force has been cognisant of the need for long range strategic bombing for a long time and is extremely adept at making do with the technology it has in challenging missions."
Israel appears to be involved in a successful covert assassination programme targetting nuclear scientists.
Since 2007 there have been seven attempts on Iranian scientists five of which ended in deaths. There was also a "blast" at a rocket storage facility last November that killed 17 Revolutionary Guards including Gen Hassan Moghaddam, a leading figure in the ballistic programme.
An insight into what Israel might attempt comes from an Israeli security source who said: "Don't think conventional; we are too smart for that."
The following photos are from March and February of this year and were taken at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
The photos are similar to a collection from May 2010 that depict several National Guard units from different parts of the U.S. quelling protesters in mock communities holding signs that say “Food Now”. A description of one of the events was posted to Facebook by the U.S. Army’s 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment:
The Soldiers in a closed formation bang their batons in cadence against their shields as an angry mob approaches.
“When I initially picked up my shield, the thought of the movie 300 was the first thing that came to mind,” said Spc. Kyle Wilhelmi.
Teams of Soldiers assigned to 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade conducted civil disturbance training here March 13. The Soldiers, though not quite Spartans, are effectively training to hold their line and successfully control crowds if called upon for a civil disturbance.
Read more @ publicintelligence.net/u-s-army-domestic-quick-reaction-force-riot-control-training-photos/
April 6, 2012 TP Good morning. I know that you receive thousands of e-mails of this nature, however, I'll share it anyways; especially since, during the dream, a statement arose that I've heard you make on several occasions. It was on the morning of April 3 and the dream began with an occupation by an unidentified foreign army. (perhaps a multi-national force?) While I didn't see the army move in, I knew that this was the very early phase of the occupation. I was looking for my younger daughter who was somewhere in the inidentifiable town that we were now living in. As I was about to cross a bridge, someone called out to me "we have to get inside. Curfew is at 6:00pm. I continued across the bridge and down the street until I located my daughter. Then we headed back to the apartment without any confrontation with the occupiers. The building was cramped. The hallways were dimly lit and painted a drab-brownish color. The apartment that we were living in had two rooms; one larger and one small. The large one was like a kitchen/bedroom/living room combination and was very crowded. We had to lift up the table in order to pass from the front of the room to the back. Stranger than the living conditions was the thoughts running through my mind as I considered all of this. I didn't know who the occupying force was. I didn't know where we were located. There was absolutely no news from any source. I contemplated waiting for news reports on radio or tv that were broadcast by this new governing body and then prayerfully seeking discernment between what was true and what was propaganda. I thought of trying to flee, but had no idea of what direction to take. There was very little contact with other citizens and a feeling of helplessness. It was a complete disconnect with everything taking place beyond the perimeters that had been set up for us. It was at this point, when I was reminded of the phrase "you have been in bondage; now you will go into captivity." I was being allowed to experience" what it feels like to truly be a captive. In the dream, I also knew that the days ahead would quickly grow more depressing and brutal. Separation from family was a very real possibility. This may seem like a strange analogy, however, the scene was similar to those of the Warsaw ghettos during World War II, where Jewish families were consolidated and forced to live in very crowded conditions......until being taken to the camps. For two weeks, a bible verse had been continuously brought to my remembrance. Ecclesiastes 7:10 reads "Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this." After the dream, this I knew the reason for this. During times of oppression and loss, many will long for an impossible return to the way things used to be. Even carnally minded christians will do this. They will look back at what was lost, instead of looking to Jesus who is before all things and by whom all things consist. We absolutely must have our affections in heavenly places if we're to endure the times ahead. Revelation 12:11 provides us with the recipe for enduring unto the end. Many wont make it past the initial collapse of all things familiar. Again, I know that you receive e-mails like this on a daily basis, so I understand that this may well get lost in the shuffle. I will keep you in prayer as we all seek to be in the perfrct will of God in these final moments. Blessings always in Jesus name. TP
Moscow has stepped into the vacuum created by US President Barack Obama’s decision to stay out of any potentially incendiary Middle East involvement while campaigning for a second term. After blocking the way to direct Western and Arab military intervention in Syria through the Mediterranean, Russia sent its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week on a round trip to the capitals of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan – an expedition designed to secure Iran against a potential US/Israeli attack via its northern and eastern neighbors, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.
On his return to Moscow, April 6, the Russian army let it be known that highly-advanced mobile S-400 surface-to-air missiles had been moved into Kaliningrad, the Baltic enclave bordered by Poland and Lithuania, its response to US plans for an anti-Iran missile shield system in Europe and the Middle East. In Yerevan, the Russian minister finalized a deal for the establishment of an advanced Russian radar station in the Armenian mountains to counter the US radar set up at the Turkish Kurecik air base, our sources disclose.
Just as the Turkish station (notwithstanding Ankara’s denials) will trade data on incoming Iranian missiles with the US station in the Israeli Negev, the Russian station in Armenia will share input with Tehran.
Moscow remains deeply preoccupied in Syria, successfully fending off Western and Arab pressure against its ruler Bashar Assad. DEBKAfile’s sources hear that Assad will not meet the April 10 deadline for moving his heavy armor and battalions out of Syrian cities. Monday, April 8, he sent his foreign minister Walid Moallem to Moscow for instructions for getting him off the hook of failing to comply with his commitment to the UN envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, starting with a truce. Lavrov, rather than US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is evidently regarded these days as the senior Middle East power broker. In a thumbs-down on Russia’s deepening footstep in the region, the London-based Saudi Sharq al Awsat captioned a Sunday op-ed item, “Nor do we want a ‘Sheikh’ Lavrov.” For the first time since the Cold War ended, the management of a major world crisis has passed into the hands of the Kremlin in Moscow and the UN Secretariat in New York. Weeping crocodile tears, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday that the April 10 date for a Syrian truce “was not an excuse for continued killing” by the Syrian regime, ignoring the fact that “the continued killing” could have been avoided were it not for the strategy pursued by Kofi Annan, the special envoy he shares with the Arab League, with Moscow’s back-stage wire-pulling. This is because President Barak Obama is advised by his campaign strategists that the way to the American voter’s heart in November is through burnishing his image as a “balanced and responsible” multinational diplomat, in contrast with his Republican rivals’ hawkish support of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program. In the case of Syria, the White House finds itself on the same side as the UN and the Kremlin. They all share the common goal of obstructing Western and Arab military intervention in Syria at all costs.
Hundreds of Syrian protesters are still paying the price in blood - although its dimensions of the butchery are frequently exaggerate by the opposition. After brutalizing his population for thirteen months, Bashar Assad is more or less on top of the revolt in Syria’s main cities, excepting the Idlib province and one or two pockets in and around Homs. He used the extra days afforded him by Kofi Annan’s deadline for the ruthless purge of the last remnants of resistance in small towns and villages, cetain that Moscow, the UN secretary - and Washington, by default - would do nothing to stop him.
Should current circumstances shoot off in unforeseen directions – for instance, a Syrian government poison chemical or biological weapon attack causing hundreds of dead, over and above the 9,000 confirmed by UN figures – Obama might be forced to resort to limited military action, pulling in the Turkish army. This has not yet happened.
That the Russians are not letting the grass grow under their feet, turning Middle East bushfires to their advantage and closing one American Middle East option after another, appears to be a minor consideration in Washington up until November.
Most Americans have no idea how much economic trouble is heading our way. Most of them just assume that everything will eventually "return to normal" just like it always has before and that those running our economy "know what they are doing" and that we should trust them to do their jobs. Unfortunately, these beliefs are being reinforced by the bubble of false hope that we are experiencing right now. For example, it is being reported that weekly unemployment claims in the United States have fallen to a four-year low. That is a very good thing. Let us hope that unemployment claims go even lower and that the current period of stability lasts for as long as possible. We should enjoy these last fleeing moments of tremendous prosperity for as long as we can, because when they are gone they won't be coming back. As I noted the other day, all of this false prosperity in the United States has been financed by the 15 trillion dollar party that we have been enjoying. We are adding about 150 million dollars to our debt every single hour so that we can continue to enjoy an inflated standard of living. Unfortunately, nobody in the history of the world has ever been able to keep a debt spiral going indefinitely, and our debt bubble will burst eventually as well.
Sadly, when you attempt to end (or even slow down) a debt spiral the consequences can be extremely painful. Just look at what is happening in Greece. Several waves of austerity measures have been implemented, the Greek economy has been plunged into a full-blown depression and Greek debt is still going up.
The rest of the nations of the eurozone are also now implementing austerity measures, and most of them are also starting to fall into recession. The economic pain in Europe is just beginning and it will go on for quite a long time.
And eventually the United States is going to join the pain. Right now the U.S. government can still borrow trillions of dollars at super low interest rates thanks to games being played by the Federal Reserve. But it is simply not possible for this Ponzi scheme to last too much longer. When it ends, the pain will be extremely great.
And even in the short-term there are some extremely troubling signs for the U.S. economy.
The following are 19 signs of very serious economic trouble on the horizon....
#2 The U.S. housing industry is bracing for another huge wave of foreclosures in 2012. The following is from a recent Reuters article....
"We are right back where we were two years ago. I would put money on 2012 being a bigger year for foreclosures than 2010," said Mark Seifert, executive director of Empowering & Strengthening Ohio's People (ESOP), a counseling group with 10 offices in Ohio.
#3 The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, a key indicator watched by many economists, is on the verge of heading into negative territory.
#4 We are supposed to be in the middle of an economic recovery in the United States, but bad news just keeps pouring in from major companies. For example, Yahoo is firing thousands of workers and Best Buy is closing dozens of stores.
#5 Richard Russell says that the "big money" is starting to quietly exit from the financial markets....
"My guess is that this is the big money that has been holding off as long as it decently can -- and then dumping their goods just before the close. I don't think the big money likes this market, and I think they have been slowly exiting this market, as quietly as they can."
#6 Goldman Sachs is projecting that the S&P 500 will fall by about 11 percent by the end of 2012.
#7 All over the country, local governments are going into default and we have not even entered the next recession yet.
#8 The U.S. government will add more to the national debt in 2012 than it did from the time that George Washington became president to the time that Ronald Reagan became president.
#9 The Federal Reserve is desperately trying to control interest rates. The Fed purchased approximately 61 percent of all government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2011. This is the only thing that is keeping interest rates in the United States from soaring dramatically.
#16 In the aftermath of a 77-year-old retiree killing himself in front of the Greek parliament in protest over pension cuts, the economic rioting in Greece has flared back up dramatically.
#17 At this point, Greece is experiencing an economic depression with no end in sight. Some of the statistics coming out of Greece are really hard to believe. For example, one port town in Greece now has an unemployment rate of approximately 60 percent.
#19 At this point, even some of our top scientists are projecting economic trouble. For example, researchers at MIT are projecting a "global economic collapse" by the year 2030 if current trends continue.
But the truth is that we will experience a "global economic collapse" long before 2030 comes rolling around.
Let us hope that we still have at least several more months of economic prosperity in the United States before things really fall apart.
The truth is that the vast majority of Americans need more time to prepare for what is coming.
Sadly, most Americans are not preparing. Most Americans have blind faith that those in positions of power are going to fix everything and set us on the path to even greater prosperity than ever before.
Japan and South Korea have put their armed forces on standby in response to North Korea's plans, prepared to shoot down the missile if it passes over their territory.
North Korea was this weekend believed to be at the first stage of launching the rocket, expected between April 12 and 16, claiming that it is part of the centenary celebrations for the birth of the state's founder Kim Il Sung.
However, the United States, Japan and South Korea believe that in reality it will be a ballistic missile test in violation of UN resolutions.
It is against such a backdrop of rising regional tensions surrounding the Korean peninsula that David Cameron, the Prime Minister, will arrive in Japan on a two-day visit this week.
His arrival may, by good fortune, coincide with the blooming of the capital's cherry blossoms, but flower appreciation will take a back seat to regional security issues.
During his visit to Japan on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr Cameron is expected to meet with both the Emperor at the Imperial Palace as well as his counterpart the prime minister Yoshihiko Noda.
One issue that is expected to top the agenda at his meeting with Mr Noda is a discussion about joint development of defence equipment between Japan and the UK, an opportunity for British business after Japan liberised its weapon export laws
The discussions, which will potentially help bolster Japan's military presence in the region, will be timely: it is among a number of Asian nations currently reinforcing its security in response to both a major military build-up of China and instability in North Korea.
The issue is likely to top the agenda this weekend as the foreign ministers from Japan, China and South Korea meet for annual tri-lateral discussions in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo.
As well as calling on Pyongyang to show restraint over the coming week, Japan and South Korea are likely to urge China – a key benefactor of the renegade North Korean state – to coordinate closely in response with them to the launch.
Meanwhile, satellite images have shown how North Korea's preparations for its rocket launch are already under way, complete with a mobile radar trailer and rows of apparently empty fuel and oxidiser tanks.
In Japan, hundreds of Self-Defence Force personnel have been dispatched to southern Ishigaki in the Okinawa region, which the second stage of the rocket is expected to fly over.
Japan has deployed missile interceptors to seven locations in Okinawa and the Tokyo region, following orders from Naoki Tanaka, Japan's defence minister, to intercept the rocket if necessary to prevent it from falling onto Japanese soil.
Behind the expected appreciation of the cherry blossoms, the green tea and the polite bows for the cameras during Mr Cameron's visit to Japan this week, the North Korea issue is one that will loom constantly in the background.
Economist Marc Faber is often gloomy and almost always contrarian. Yet his latest prediction on the world’s wealthy may be among his most frightening yet.
In an interview on CNBC and in his latest “Gloom, Boom & Doom Report,” Faber says that the diverging fortunes of the rich and the rest has become unsustainable. He says that while asset inflation and Fed stimulus of the past 30 years has benefited a lucky few – basically “those with assets” – continued money printing could lead to sudden and violent wealth destruction.
“Somewhere down the line we will have a massive wealth destruction that usually happens either through very high inflation or through social unrest or through war or a credit market collapse,” he told CNBC. “Maybe all of it will happen, but at different times.”
When asked on CNBC how much money the wealthy could lose in such a scenario, Faber didn’t hesitate: “People may lose up to 50% of their total wealth. They will still be well-do-to. Instead of having a billion dollars they will have five hundred million.”
Faber admits he doesn’t know the exact timing of all of this. And he writes that assets and inequality will likely rise before falling. Yet he says that for the wealthy, safety will likely continue to be primary goal when it comes to investing.
“Questions about which assets will decline less than others will become more important and replace the current search for asets that are likely to appreciate the most,” he writes.
He recommends farmland, entire islands, real-estate in New Zealand, Canada and Australia, foreign stocks, precious metals held in custody outside the U.S. diamonds, stamps art and defense stocks.
He says the wealthy should support policies that would reduce inequality. Yet he says that’s unlikely, since “people of privilege tend to prefer to risk their own destruction than surrender any of their advantages.”
Do you think Faber prediction of a 50% wealth loss by the rich could come true?
Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375).
I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods.
I received an astounding response from Mr. Alvarez [updated 4/5/12]:
In recent times, more information about the spent fuel situation at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site has become known. It is my understanding that of the 1,532 spent fuel assemblies in reactor No. 304 assemblies are fresh and unirradiated. This then leaves 1,231 irradiated spent fuel rods in pool No. 4, which contain roughly 37 million curies (~1.4E+18 Becquerel) of long-lived radioactivity. The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.
The infrastructure to safely remove this material was destroyed as it was at the other three reactors. Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo. In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks.. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming re-construction effort and will be charting in unknown waters. Despite the enormous destruction cased at the Da–Ichi site, dry casks holding a smaller amount of spent fuel appear to be unscathed.
Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site, nearly all, which is in pools. They contain roughly 336 million curies (~1.2 E+19 Bq) of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP). The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel).
It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.
Many of our readers might find it difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the figure, yet we can grasp what 85 times more Cesium-137 than the Chernobyl would mean. It would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.
There was a Nuclear Security Summit Conference in Seoul on March 26 and 27, and Ambassador Murata and I made a concerted effort to find someone to inform the participants from 54 nations of the potential global catastrophe of reactor unit 4. We asked several participants to share the idea of an Independent Assessment team comprised of a broad group of international experts to deal with this urgent issue.
I would like to introduce Ambassador Murata’s letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to convey this urgent message and also his letter to Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for Japanese readers. He emphasized in the statement that we should bring human wisdom to tackle this unprecedented challenge.
It seems to us that the Nuclear Security Summit was focused on the North Korea nuclear issue and on the issue of common security from a terrorist attack. Our appeal on the need for the independent assessment at Reactor 4 was regarded as less urgent. We predicted this outcome in light of the nature of the Summit. I suppose most participants fully understood the potential disaster which will affect their countries. Nevertheless, they decided not to raise the delicate issue, perhaps in order to not ruffle their diplomatic relationship with Japan.
I was moved by Ambassador Murata’s courage in pressing this issue in Japan. I know how difficult it is for a former career diplomat to do this, especially in my country. Current and former government officials might be similarly restricted in the scope of their actions, as Ambassador Murata is, but it is their responsibility to take a stand for the benefit of our descendants for centuries to come—to pass on a world safer than our ancestors passed us.
If Japanese government leaders do not recognize the risk their nation faces, how could the rest of us be persuaded of the looming disaster? And if the rest of us do not acknowledge the catastrophe we collectively face, who will be the one to act?
Tokyo, March 25, 2012
Honorable Ban Ki-moon,
I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for your considerate letter dated 2 March, 2012. Your moral support for a United Nations Ethics Summit will remain a constant source of encouragement for my activities.
Please allow me to pay a tribute to your great contribution to strengthen nuclear safety and security. The current Nuclear Summit in Seoul is no doubt greatly benefiting from the high-level meeting you convened last September.
I was asked to make a statement at the public hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 23. I raised the crucial problem. of N0.4 reactor of Fukushima containing1535 fuel rods. It could be fatally damaged by continuing aftershocks. Moreover, 50 meters away from it exists a common cooling pool for 6 reactors containing 6375 fuel rods!
It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on NO.4 reactor. This is confirmed by most reliable experts like Dr. Arnie Gundersen or Dr. Fumiaki Koide.
Please allow me to inform you of an initiative being taken by a former UN official who is endeavoring to have the Nuclear Security Summit take up the crucial problem. of N0.4 reactor of Fukushima. He is pursuing the establishment of an independent assessment team. I think his efforts are very significant, because it is indispensable to draw the attention of world leaders to this vital issue.
I am cooperating with him, writing to some of my Korean acquaintances that this issue deserves the personal attention of President Lee Myung-bak.I have written today to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. I asked him to consider taking the initiative of mobilizing human wisdom on the widest scope to cope withthe Fukushima reactor No.4 problem, fully taking into account the above-mentioned “independent assessment team”.
The world has been made so fragile and vulnerable. The role of the United Nations is increasingly vital. I wish you the best of luck in your noble mission. Please accept, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland and Senegal
Executive Director, the Japan Society for Global System and Ethics
A U.S.-backed plan to build a missile defense shield within the Gulf States may signal preparation for a military strike on Iran, Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov said on Friday.
“The building of a missile defense shield is a political step, which signals the possibility of a military strike against Iran,” he said, speaking at a round table conference on Iran at the Lower House of Parliament, the State Duma.
Pushkov’s comment comes after the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday at the Persian Gulf-U.S. security forum in Riyadh announced the idea of a missile defense shield in the six Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi sharply criticized the U.S.-backed missile defense project, saying that it was “against regional security.”
"This missile defense shield is a U.S.-Israeli project and anyone who gets involved with this project is, in fact, implementing the U.S. and Israel's plot," the Fars news agency quoted Vahidi as saying.
Washington is seeking to expand its missile defense shield within the Gulf States. U.S. Patriot missiles are already deployed in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Russian lawmaker also said that Iran was on the brink of a full-fledged military conflict, as diplomacy so far has not help diffuse the situation.
“Unfortunately, the situation [around Iran’s nuclear program] is not moving towards resolution but towards aggravation,” Pushkov said, adding that despite the international political and diplomatic efforts to solve the Iranian nuclear issue, “the likelihood of a full-fledged war is very high.”
Pushkov called on Iranian officials to take the Western threats “seriously” by “keeping in mind Iraq’s experience.”
He also said that bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities could trigger a global war, as the Islamic Republic would definitely respond and its response may be asymmetrical.
Pushkov reiterated Russia’s stance on Iran, saying that Moscow opposed any military outcome to tackle the Iranian nuclear problem.
“Russia has strongly condemned the so-called military scenario…there is no reason to say that anything will change in this regards,” Pushkov said.
The West accuses Iran of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program but Tehran insists it needs nuclear power solely to generate electricity.