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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Prophecy of the Popes Part 2

The Search For Failures - Chuck Missler

Bombings spread in Syria as Al Qaeda seizes control of rebel factions

Around the first anniversary of the death of al Qaeda’s iconic leader Osama bin Laden at the hands of US special forces, the jihadist movement is making an operational comback in the Arab world and Africa. The suicide bombings hitting Damascus and Idlib in the last 24 hours were the work of Al Qaeda in Iraq – AQI, whose operatives have been pouring into Syria in the last two weeks, DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report.

Washington has not asked Iraqi premier Nouri al-Maliki to stem the outward flow, realizing he is glad to see the backs of the terrorists and waving them across the border into Syria. Our sources report from Western agencies fighting al Qaeda that several thousand operatives have arrived in Syria to fight the Assad regime, most entering the country from the north. They come fully armed with quantities of explosives. Among them are hundreds of Saudis, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Iraqis and Sudanese.

They quickly join up with the hundreds of al Qaeda fighters from Libya present at Free Syrian Army-FSA training camps in southeast Turkey. There, they are instructed in the geography of Syrian government, army and security forces locations, led across the border and transported to their targeted locations by special guides.
Monday, April 30, the day after Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Hood took command of a painfully inadequate force of UN UN truce supervisors, al Qaeda let loose with a spate of bombings in Damascus and the northeastern flashpoint town of Idlib. I

In the capital, they bombed the Syrian central bank with RPG grenades, ambushed a police patrol in the town center and blew up a bomb car against a Syrian military convoy driving through the Qudsiya district. Two days earlier, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Zain al-Abideen mosque of Damascus, killing at least 9 worshippers.
These attacks were followed later Monday with three bomb blasts in Idlib at security and intelligence centers in the town, killing some 20 people, most of them security personnel. One command center was destroyed and hundreds were injured by the force of the blasts.
The Syrian ruler Bashar Assad keeps on complaining that his regime is under assault by terrorists and many of the fatalities reported are members of his army and police. But his own brutal methods against dissidents have deafened the West to these complaints and the world addresses its demands to halt the violence to him and him alone.
There is nothing new about the refusal in the West to heed the fact that al Qaeda infiltrators are increasingly responsible for violence in the various parts of the Arab Revolt. In Libya too, Muammar Qaddafi warned repeatedly that his overthrow would result in al Qaeda-linked groups seizing control of the country and commandeering his vast arsenals of weapons.
In the seven months since the Qaddafi regime was destroyed, Washington, London and Paris have turned a blind eye to the impossibility of establishing a stable government in Tripoli because rebel factions and militias identified with al Qaeda which control Libya’s main towns are too busy running the biggest arms smuggling network ever seen in North Africa.
Rockets, explosives and every kind of weapon is reaching al Qaeda elements and affiliates in abundant quantities across northern Africa and the Middle East, including their offshoots in Egyptian Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

Groups identified with al Qaeda have seized control of large parts of Mali and directly threaten the stability of the Algerian government.
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror and Washington sources report fears that Syria might go the same way as Libya. Syrian officers and agents who have deserted from Syrian military and security agencies have made their way to Washington to implore administration officials to abandon the US policy of non-intervention in Syria. They warn that the rebel Free Syrian Army is falling into the clutches of al Qaeda. It won’t be long, they say, before these jihdist terrorists not only wreak mayhem in Syria, but turn that country into their haven and base for cross-border attacks against Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

Their pleas have not moved the Obama administration. Our military sources note that so long as the Americans stay out of involvement in Syria, France, Turkey and Arab League nations will also stand aside, because the US alone is capable of establishing combined commands and infrastructure for coordinating an operation with multiple air support on the scale required for Syria.

By opting out of action in Syria, the West and the Arab League not only give Assad free rein to continue slaughtering his people but leave the door open for al Qaeda to move in on the various Syrian rebel movements and add the element of terror to the ongoing carnage.

Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz emits 2000 meter high steam cloud

According to the latest bulletin issued by Ingeominas, Nevado de Ruiz unleashed a thick column of white steam white which reached 2000 meters high; there is a high concentration of sulfur smell and a slight decrease in the seismicity following the release. A month after being declared an orange alert on the volcano Nevado del Ruiz by seismic activity, it remains high notes the newsletter sent by the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Manizales, which maintains constant monitoring the volcano.

The Extinction Protocol

Global Investors Resume Exit From Euro Debt

Global investors resumed their exit from euro zone bond markets in April, cutting their holdings of the bloc's bonds to their lowest level in over a year as sovereign debt woes re-emerged to hit Spain and Italy again.

The surveys of 55 leading investment houses in the United States, continental Europe, Britain and Japan showed holdings of euro zone bonds in balanced portfolios fell to 24.5 percent, compared with 26 percent in March and substantially lower than the 26.9 recorded at height of the crisis in November last year.

Bond holdings stabilised in the first quarter after the European Central Bank pumped almost a trillion euros of cheap three-year loans into banks, but debt sustainability worries resurfaced again in Spain this month as investors fretted about the government's exposure to its ailing lenders.

The approach of French presidential and Greek parliamentary elections on May 6 and Ireland's referendum on the European Union's new fiscal pact on May 31 all unnerved investors again and global stock markets retreated as well.

"Tensions are now rising again as the ECB's tonic wears off," said Dirk Wiedmann, Head of Investment at Rothschild Wealth Management.

On aggregate, the poll shows investors upping Japanese and UK bond holdings to compensate for euro zone reductions, while there was a small shift from government and investment grade allocations to speculative "junk" holdings within an overall steady U.S. debt exposure.

"Elections in the euro area may spark renewed political uncertainty amid the euro debt crisis," said Giordano Lombardo, group chief investment officer at Pioneer Investments.

France's Socialist contender Francois Hollande is likely to beat incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in presidential elections on May 6. Greece, which has received two bailouts to prop up its indebted economy, will hold elections on the same day.

Elsewhere, investors' overall allocations to world equity and debt remained broadly stable in April despite a significant global stock market retreat from March peaks.

Equity holdings inched back to 52.3 from 52.5 in March, while investment in global bonds generally and cash nudged higher to reflect the more cautious mood.

Europeans Leaving Euro Zone?

European funds proved most bearish to both euro equity and bonds during the month and cut holdings to their lowest in over a year as the region's sovereign debt crisis was twinned with concerns grew about a deepening recession in the bloc.

A monthly survey of 16 asset managers based in continental Europe showed a typical balanced portfolio held 55.1 percent of bonds in the euro zone, down from 58.7 percent the month before.

Fund managers also cut back exposure to equities in the region to the lowest level in at least a year, with 28.5 percent in the euro zone, down from 29.1 percent in March.

British investors cut back on exposure to world stocks while upping cash as their appetite for risk fell amid the new euro worries and also on fears of a hard landing in China.

The average allocation to equities in balanced portfolios dropped more than a percentage point to 53.5 percent this month from 54.9 percent a month earlier, according to the survey of 15 investment managers in the UK.

"The main risks continue to be an imploding euro zone and a significant slowdown in Chinese GDP, with anything below 7 percent (growth) considered to be a hard landing by financial markets," said Robert Pemberton, investment director at HFM Columbus Group.

U.S. managers appeared more upbeat generally and were sanguine about world and even euro equities based on faith in strong corporate balance sheets and cheap valuations.

"Given all of the worries in the world that have made investors overly pessimistic about growth prospects, it has created some of what we would think would be very compelling valuation opportunities for longer-term investors in equities," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Capital Management.


Russian project seeks to create robot with human brain

Inspired by director James Cameron’s idea, a Russian businessman has launched his own Avatar project. Hundreds of researchers are involved in creating a prototype of a human-like robot which would be able to contain the human consciousness.

In creating the Russia 2045 movement, Dmitry Itskov did not mean to use Avatars to explore new planets. His ultimate goal is to make immortality possible by transplanting the brain and its personality into a robotic body.

The immortality project consists of four stages, and a team of researchers in the Moscow suburb of Zelenograd is currently working on the first one. About 100 scientists are already involved in the initiative, striving to bring the concept together, and Itskov is planning to hire even more during the upcoming stages.

So far, scientists are struggling to complete the Avatar-A, a human-like robot controlled through a brain-computer interface. Itskov served as a prototype for the machine, thus the robot was nicknamed Dima.

“It should fully resemble a real man,” explains chief designer Vladimir Konyshev. “It would be hard to tell him from a man both close up and from afar.”

Currently there are tests to fix the robot’s eyesight. Each eye is an individual camera that observes and remembers surroundings, obstacles and faces. Underneath the latex skin lies a complex system of motors and electronics.

In the next few months the group will demonstrate a robot that will be able to move around on wheels.

“The next step is to make a robot that can walk, controlled by the movements of a human operator, which we hope to do by next year,” Konyshev told RT. “If you want to see what our ultimate goal is you can watch movies like Avatar or Surrogates, robots controlled by human thought.”

The designers hope this robotic skeleton could also be the first step towards creating the next generation of artificial intelligence, perhaps even robots that think for themselves.
The ultimate goal: Immortality

The Avatar-A project’s aim, Itskov says, is to create an autonomous system of human brain nutrition, preserving nerve connections so that the brain does not degrade or die.

“Unlike in the film, we want to create an android, and not a biological body,” Itskov told RT. “I think it will become available to people in just ten years in the exactly same form.”


S&P Downgrades 16 Spanish Banks; Country in Recession

Standard & Poor's (S&P) Ratings Services announced on Monday that it had lowered the credit rating of 16 Spanish banks. The downgrade came ahead of an announcement of Spain’s first quarter GDP figures, which showed the country had fallen back into recession.

Among the worst hit by the S&P downgrade was Santander and its core subsidiary Banco Espanol de Credito S.A, which were downgraded from A- to A-2, and A+ to A-1 respectively. Meanwhile, the ratings agency cut its rating on Santander’s senior debt to A- from A+.

S&P also lowered its rating on the bank’s non-deferrable subordinated and Tier 1 hybrid notes one notch and placed them on a negative outlook.

The ratings agency lowered its credit rating on Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) to BBB+/A-2 from A/A-1 with a long term negative outlook. It also lowered its rating on BBVA's senior debt to BBB+ from A. S&P cut its rating on BBVA’s non-deferrable subordinated debt and Tier 1 hybrid notes by one notch and placed them on a negative outlook.

S&P said the negative outlooks on Santander and BBVA mirrored that on the long-term rating of Spain’s sovereign debt, which the ratings agency downgraded last week.

Official figures released on Monday showed the Spanish economy contracted by 0.3 percent in the first three months of the year, taking the country back into recession. The figure beat economists’ expectations which had forecast a contraction of 0.4 percent. The fall in output matched that of the final quarter of 2011.

The downgrades follow a report in the Financial Times on Sunday that Spain’s government and its banks are discussing a new scheme to segregate problematic property loans into one or more asset management companies to relieve the burden on struggling lenders, according to officials and bankers.

The “bad bank” scheme is the latest attempt by the center-right government of Mariano Rajoy, prime minister, to avoid an international rescue program of the sort required by Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

S&P said that last week’s sovereign downgrade had direct negative rating implications for the banks it rated at or above the sovereign rating on Spain, and on most banks hose ratings incorporated uplift over their "stand-alone credit profiles" to reflect Spanish government support.

The downgrade of the country’s 16 biggest banks was therefore a direct result of the downgrade of Spain’s sovereign debt. Santander and a number of its subsidiaries was rated one notch above the sovereign while BBVA and BBSA were rated at the same level as Spain’s sovereign debt.

Perhaps reflecting its view of the “bad bank” scheme, S&P added that its rating action on the banks only factored an uplift into its ratings to reflect Spanish government support on four banks. Those banks were Bankia, and indirectly its parent company BFA, Banco Popular, and Banco Sabadell; and CaixaBank, and its parent company, la Caixa, which the ratings agency said were the only banks it anticipated would likely benefit from one notch of government support.

Among the other banks to suffer the downgrade were:

Banco de Sabadell, which saw its long- and short-term counterparty credit ratings lowered to BB+/B from BBB-/A-3 respectively. S&P said the long-term rating on Banco de Sabadell remained negative.

S&P lowered its long and short-term counterparty credit ratings on Ibercaja Banco to BBB-/A-3 from BBB/A-2. Both the long and short-term ratings outlook for the bank remained negative.

The long and short-term counterparty credit ratings on Kutxabank fell to BBB-/A-3 from BBB/A-2 with S&P placing the ratings on a negative outlook.

Banca Civica saw its credit ratings cut to BB+/B from BBB-/A-3 with a negative outlook.

Bankinter saw its long and short term credit ratings cut to BBB-/A-3 from BBB/A-2 with a negative outlook.

Confederacion Espanola de Cajas de Ahorros ratings were cut to BBB-/A-3 from BBB/A-2 with a negative outlook.

Barclays Bank S.A. (BBSA) saw its ratings cut to BBB+/A-2 from A/A-1 and a negative outlook.

CaixaBank S.A was cut to BBB+/A-2 with a negative outlook, and its parentCaja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona (la Caixa) saw its credit rating cut to BBB-/A-3 all debt ratings were placed on credit watch with a negative outlook.

Bankia S.A. had its credit ratings cut to BBB-/A-3 with a negative outlook, while its parent company Banco Financiero y de Ahorros S.A was cut to BB- . S&P affirmed its B short-term rating on BFA.

Banco Popular Espanol S.A saw its long and short term counterparty credit ratings held at BBB-/A-3 but the outlook for the bank remained negative.

S&P said it expected to conclude its review on the wider implications of the sovereign downgrade on the economic and industry risks for the Spanish banking sector and the Spanish banks by the end of May. It added that it was currently of the view that any potential negative rating actions would likely be limited to one or two notches.


May Day display: Hundreds of thousands rally worldwide

Italian Volcano Erupts for 7th Time This Year

Sicily's Mount Etna wowed onlookers and researchers with yet another spectacular show last week. It was the restive peak's 25th dramatic lava display since the volcano ramped up activity in January 2011, and the seventh so far this year.

Signs the mountain was primed for yet another paroxysm first appeared on the morning of April 21, when Mount Etna sent out small plumes of ash.

However, it wasn't until nearly two days later, early on April 23, that observers spotted a tiny trickle of lava spilling from the mountain.

As the day wore on, lava issued from several vents high atop the volcano in fits and starts, according to Boris Behncke, a volcanologist with Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, reached by email.

Behncke, a scientist and accomplished photographer, captured the above photograph at about 8:20 p.m., local time, on April 23.

The mountain was taking its time, Behncke wrote in a description of the evening. It didn't explode with its full fury until the wee hours of April 24, when it sent up fountains of lava for about 25 minutes.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Between January and August 2000, the mountain experienced 66 of these episodes of "lava fountaining," and a total of 250 since 1995.

The mountain experienced two similar eruptive events earlier in the month. Behncke caught the volcano's spectacular April 1 display on camera.

Although those who live near the mountain have grown used to its rumblings, Behncke said this most recent event was somewhat unusual.

"What is quite fascinating this time is the rather heavy fallout of pyroclastic material," he said. The mountain blanketed areas as far as 12 miles (20 kilometers) away with ash and scoriae — small, porous and very light fragments of basaltic rock.

Behncke said it's likely that strong winds at the time of Mount Etna's explosive eruption, as opposed to any unusual volcanic activity itself, were likely the culprit behind the unusually large area covered with volcanic material in the aftermath.

"I am happy the wind did not blow into the direction of our home," Behncke said. "Cleaning up this sort of material is a pain in the neck."

Live Science

22 Signs That The Collapsing Spanish Economy Is Heading Into A Great Depression

What happens when debt-fueled false prosperity disappears?  Just look at Spain.  The 4th largest economy in Europe was riding high during the boom years, but now the Spanish economy is collapsing with no end in sight.  When a debt bubble gets interrupted, the consequences can be rather chaotic.  Just like we saw in Greece, austerity is causing the economy to slow down in Spain.  But when the economy slows down, tax revenues fall and that makes it even more difficult to meet budget targets.  So even more austerity measures are needed to keep debt under control and the cycle just keeps going.  Unfortunately, even with all of the recently implemented austerity measures the Spanish government is still not even close to a balanced budget.  Meanwhile, the housing market in Spain is crashing and unemployment is already above 24 percent.  The Spanish banking system is a giant, unregulated mess that is on the verge of a massive implosion, and the Spanish stock market has been declining rapidly.  The Spanish government is going to need a massive bailout and so will the entire Spanish banking system.  But that is going to be a huge problem, because the Spanish economy is almost 5 times as large as the Greek economy.  When the Spanish financial system collapses, the entire globe is going to feel the pain and there will be no easy solution.
So just how bad are things in Spain at this point?
The following are 22 signs that the collapsing Spanish economy is heading into a great depression....
#1 The unemployment rate in Spain has reached 24.4 percent - a new all-time record high.  Back in April 2007, the unemployment rate in Spain was only 7.9 percent.
#2 The unemployment rate in Spain is now higher than the U.S. unemployment rate was during any point during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
#3 According to CNBC, some analysts are projecting that the unemployment rate in Spain is going to go above 30 percent.
#4 The unemployment rate for those under the age of 25 in Spain is now a whopping 52 percent.
#5 There are more than 47 million people living in Spain today.  Only about 17 million of them have jobs.
#6 Retail sales in Spain have declined for 21 months in a row.
#7 The Bank of Spain has officially confirmed that Spain has already entered another recession.
#8 Last week, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services slashed Spain's credit ratingfrom A to BBB+.
#9 The yield on 10-year Spanish bonds is up around 6 percent again.  That is considered to be very dangerous territory.
#10 Two of Spain's biggest banks have announced that they are going to stop increasing their holdings of Spanish government debt.
#11 Of all the loans held by Spanish banks, 8.15 percent are considered to be "bad loans".
#12 The total value of all bad loans in Spain is equivalent to approximately 13 percent of Spanish GDP.
#13 Of all real estate assets held by Spanish banks, more than 50 percent of them are considered to be "troubled" by the Spanish government.
#14 That total amount of money loaned out by Spanish banks is equivalent toapproximately 170 percent of Spanish GDP.
#15 Home prices in Spain fell by 11.2 percent last year, and the number of property repossessions in Spain rose by a staggering 32 percent during 2011.
#16 Spanish housing prices are now down 25 percent from the peak of the housing market and Citibank's Willem Buiter expects the eventual decline to be somewhere around 60 percent.
#17 It is being projected the the economy of Spain will shrink by 1.7 percentthis year, although there are some analysts that feel that projection is way too optimistic.
#18 The Spanish government has announced a ban on all cash transactionslarger than 2,500 euros.
#19 One key Spanish stock index has already fallen by more than 19 percentso far this year.
#20 The Spanish government recently admitted that its 2011 budget deficit wasmuch larger than originally projected and that it probably will not meet its budget targets for 2012 either.
#21 Spain's debt to GDP ratio is projected to rise by more than 11 percentduring 2012.
#22 Worldwide exposure to Spanish debt is estimated to be well over a trillion euros.
Spain is going down the exact same road that Greece went down.
Greece is already suffering through a great depression and now Spain is joining them.  The following is from a recent BBC article....
"In Spain today, a cycle similar to Greece is starting to develop," said HSBC chief economist Stephen King.
"The recession is so deep that when you take one step forward on austerity, it takes you two steps back."
In Spain right now there is a lot of fear and panic about the economy.  In many areas, it seems like absolutely nobody is hiring right now.  The following is from a recent USA Today article....
"The situation is very bad. There's no work," said Enrique Sebastian, a 48-year-old unemployed surgery room assistant as he left one of Madrid's unemployment offices. "The only future I see is one with wages of €400 ($530) a month for eight-hour days. And that's if you can find it."
But Spain is just at the beginning of a downward spiral.  Just wait until they have been through a few years of economic depression.  Once that happens, millions of people begin to lose all hope.  A recent Reuters article discussed the epidemic of suicides that is happening in Greece right now....
On Monday, a 38-year-old geology lecturer hanged himself from a lamp post in Athens and on the same day a 35-year-old priest jumped to his death off his balcony in northern Greece. On Wednesday, a 23-year-old student shot himself in the head.
In a country that has had one of the lowest suicide rates in the world, a surge in the number of suicides in the wake of an economic crisis has shocked and gripped the Mediterranean nation - and its media - before a May 6 election.
And you know what?
The nightmares that we are seeing unfold in Spain and Greece right now are just a preview of what is coming to most of the rest of the world.
The next wave of the economic crisis will soon envelop the United States, Japan and the rest of Europe.
When it strikes, the pain will be immense.
But it won't be the end - it will only be just the beginning.
The global financial system is starting to crumble.
You better get ready.
Economic Collapse

MayDay protests expected to draw thousands to the streets

Gerald Celente -- Ian Henschke ABC Australia - 26 April 2012