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Friday, May 25, 2012

Russian Stealth Frigate Tests New Missiles in Sea Trials

Russia’s second Gepard class frigate has successfully test-fired missiles from the new Kalibr-NK missile system during the first stage of sea trials in the Black Sea, a spokesman for Russia’s Southern military district said on Thursday.

The Dagestan is the Russian Navy's first warship equipped with the Kalibr-NK missile system that is capable of using several types of high precision missiles against surface, underwater and coastal targets at ranges of up to 300 kilometers (190 miles).

The vessel uses elements of stealth technology, which lower its exposure to radars.

“The crew is preparing the warship to move to the Caspian Sea for the final stage of the trials,” Col. Igor Gorbul said. “It will be assigned to the Caspian Flotilla afterwards.”

The first Gepard class frigate in the Russian Navy, the Tatarstan, has been serving as the flagship of the Caspian Flotilla since 2002. The Tatarstan is armed with the SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missiles.

RIA Novosti

Higher enrichment at Iranian site

The UN atomic agency has found evidence at an underground bunker in Iran that could mean the country has moved closer to producing the uranium threshold needed to arm nuclear missiles, diplomats said Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has found traces of uranium enriched up to 27% at Iran's Fordo enrichment plant, the diplomats told The Associated Press.

That is still substantially below the 90% level needed to make the fissile core of nuclear arms. But it is above Iran's highest-known enrichment grade, which is close to 20%, and which already can be turned into weapons-grade material much more quickly than the Islamic Republic's main stockpile, which can only be used for fuel at around 3.5%.

The diplomats who demanded anonymity because their information is privileged said the find did not necessarily mean that Iran was covertly raising its enrichment threshold toward weapons-grade level. They said one likely explanation was that the centrifuges that produce enriched uranium initially over-enriched at the start as technicians adjusted their output.

Calls to Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, were rejected and the switchboard operator at the Iranian mission said he was not available. IAEA media officials said the agency had no comment.

Failure of diplomatic attempts?

Iran is under several rounds of UN sanctions for its failure to disclose information on its controversial nuclear program. Tehran says it is enriching uranium to provide more nuclear energy for its growing population, while the US and other nations fear that Iran doing that to have the ability to make nuclear weapons.

The latest attempts to persuade Iran to compromise and let UN experts view its nuclear program ended inconclusively Wednesday at a meeting in Baghdad. At the talks, six nations (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) failed to gain traction in efforts to persuade Tehran to freeze its 20% enrichment. Envoys said the group will meet again next month in Moscow.

Iran started enriching to 20% last year, mostly at Fordo, saying it needed the material to fuel a research reactor and for medical purposes. Still, its long-standing refusal to stop enrichment and accept reactor fuel from abroad has sparked fears it wants to expand its domestic program to be able to turn it toward making weapons.

Nuclear facility near Qom

Those concerns have increased since it started higher enrichment at Fordo, which is carved into a mountain. That, say Iranian officials, makes it impervious to attack from Israel or the United States, which have not ruled out using force as a last option if diplomacy fails to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

Even though Wednesday's talks were unproductive, diplomats saw hope in the promise of another meeting.

"It is clear that we both want to make progress and that there is some common ground," European Union foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton, who is formally leading the talks, told reporters. "However, significant differences remain. Nonetheless, we do agree on the need for further discussion to expand that common ground."

Saeed Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, offered a lukewarm assessment of Wednesday's negotiations, in light of European and American refusal to lift tough sanctions against Iran as Tehran had hoped.

"The result of the talks was that we were able to get more familiar with the views of each other," Jalili told reporters.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said significant differences remain between the two sides and that it's now up to Iran "to close the gaps."

"Iran now has the choice to make: Will it meet its international obligations and give the world confidence about its intentions or not?" Clinton said.

Iran went into Wednesday's talks urging the West to scale back on recently toughened sanctions, which have targeted Iran's critical oil exports and have effectively blackballed the country from international banking networks. The 27-nation European Union is set to ban all Iranian fuel imports on July 1, shutting the door on about 18% of Iran's market.

The diplomats said a confidential IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program to be released later Friday to the agency's 35-nation board will mention of the traces of 27% enrichment found at Fordo.

Iran already has around 700 centrifuges churning out 20% enriched uranium at Fordo. The diplomats said the report will also note that while Iran has set up around 350 more centrifuges since late last year, at the site these machines are not enriching.

While the reason for that could be purely technical, it could also serve as a signal from Tehran that it is waiting for progress in the negotiations.


Iran vs. Israel - Back to the Future

In European Debt Crisis, 'The Street Has Taken Control'

There’s a new phrase being used to describe Europe's financial crisis: “the street has taken control.”

Coined during the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, it refers to the idea that policy makers are losing control and that the people—the so-called “street”— are now in charge.

It happens in three ways: the ballot box, social unrest and the financial system. All of them were pervasive during the Latin American crisis.

Now in Europe, we’ve already seen that happen in dramatic fashion. First, it came at the ballot boxes in France and Greece, where voters rejected austerity measures and backed candidates who promised to lessen the pain.

Second, there's been social unrest—not just in Greece, where it’s been the worst, but in waves of protests across Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and France.

Events of the past week suggest “the street” is now beginning to take control of the financial system. People are expressing fears about the future of the euro and Europe by taking their money out of banks.

Outflows of bank deposits in Greece have accelerated since the inconclusive election on May 6. In Spain last week, the Finance Minister rushed to quell rumors of a bank run atBankia, which was crushing its stock price.

The last factor is the most dangerous and potentially debilitating to the European Union.

If full bank runs happen in Greece—with people withdrawing their money in order to hoard euros —the European Central Bank  will be forced to make a decision about how much of that cash they are going to back.

And that would force a decision about Greece staying in the euro zone even before the elections on June 17.


Chinese official: it's us or America

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (R) shakes hands with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr during a meeting at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing, May 15, 2012. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA

AUSTRALIA cannot juggle its relationships with the United States and China indefinitely and must choose a ''godfather'' to protect it, according to a prominent Chinese defence strategist.

The warning by Song Xiaojun, a former senior officer of the People's Liberation Army, comes after Foreign Minister Bob Carr was told by his Chinese counterpart that Australia's close military alliance with the US was a throwback to the Cold War era.

Senator Carr yesterday met the man expected to become China's next premier, Li Keqiang, in Beijing. Discussions centred on more comfortable matters including furthering trade and investment and the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/chinese-official-its-us-or-america-20120515-1yp5f.html#ixzz1vng6HKMl

Armed FDA agents!!!??

Prophecy Alert: Earthquake coming to the earth-Dr. Owuor

New York public school makes learning Arabic mandatory

An upper Manhattan public elementary school will be the first in the city to require that students study Arabic, officials said yesterday.

Beginning next semester, all 200 second- through fifth-graders at PS 368 in Hamilton Heights will be taught the language twice a week for 45 minutes — putting it on equal footing with science and music courses.

One reason Principal Nicky Kram Rosen selected Arabic — as opposed to more common offerings, such as Spanish or French — is because it will help the school obtain a prestigious International Baccalaureate standing.

“She proposed this to the parent association. They were very supportive,” said Angela Jackson, CEO of the Global Language Project, which is backing the initiative.

“Arabic has been identified as a critical-need language,” she said, citing students’ future "career trajectories."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/05/24/new-york-public-school-makes-learning-arabic-mandatory/#ixzz1vtIrYybS

Quake reveals day of Jesus' crucifixion, researchers believe

Geologists say Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.

The latest investigation, reported in International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion:

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”

To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.

Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 26 and 36.

The latter period occurred during “the years when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea and when the earthquake of the Gospel of Matthew is historically constrained,” Williams said.

"The day and date of the crucifixion (Good Friday) are known with a fair degree of precision," he said. But the year has been in question.

In terms of textual clues to the date of the crucifixion, Williams quoted a Nature paper authored by Colin Humphreys and Graeme Waddington. Williams summarized their work as follows:
All four gospels and Tacitus in Annals (XV, 44) agree that the crucifixion occurred when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea from A.D. 26 to 36.
All four gospels say the crucifixion occurred on a Friday.
All four gospels agree that Jesus died a few hours before the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath (nightfall on a Friday).
The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) indicate that Jesus died before nightfall on the 14th day of Nisan, right before the start of the Passover meal.
John’s gospel differs from the synoptics, apparently indicating that Jesus died before nightfall on the 15th day of Nisan.

When data about the Jewish calendar and astronomical calculations are factored in, a handful of possible dates result, with Friday, April 3, 33, being the best match, according to the researchers.

In terms of the earthquake data alone, Williams and his team acknowledge that the seismic activity associated with the crucifixion could refer to “an earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion and was in effect ‘borrowed’ by the author of the Gospel of Matthew, and a local earthquake between 26 and 36 A.D. that was sufficiently energetic to deform the sediments of Ein Gedi but not energetic enough to produce a still extant and extra-biblical historical record.”

“If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory,” they write.

Williams is studying yet another possible natural happening associated with the crucifixion — darkness.

Three of the four canonical gospels report darkness from noon to 3 p.m. after the crucifixion. Such darkness could have been caused by a duststorm, he believes.

Williams is investigating if there are dust storm deposits in the sediments coincident with the earthquake that took place in the Jerusalem region during the early first century.


Spain to close up to 30 state run airports

Some of the airports have no scheduled flights yet are fully staffed and operational in what has come to symbolise the reckless public spending projects that have left Spain crippled with debt.

Now the ministry of industry and AENA, the state-run company that controls the nation's airports, are considering plans to reduce operating hours at three quarters of the airports to include only those when flights are due or with a skeleton staff to operate in an emergency.

Among the worst performers are Badajoz airport, near the Portuguese border in western Spain, which saw its last commercial flight take-off in January.

In Huesca, a town in northern Spain billed as the "gateway to the Pyrenees", local authorities have subsidised the rare passengers flying in, just 2,781 of them in the whole of 2011, spending an estimated €1,600 on each traveller through its terminal last year. The fully staffed terminal in Huesca, including numerous restaurants, are open year-round even though the commercial flights bringing skiers to the region only operate during the winter months.

In all, there are 20 airports that handle fewer than 100,000 passengers a year, well below the estimated half a million they need to be profitable.

The nation's two private airports are faring no better. Ciudad Real, which opened in 2008 with the expectation of becoming the capital's second airport to rival Barajas to the north, was cut from scheduled routes in October last year due to a lack of demand from passengers.

To the east of the country in Castellon, the town's airport inaugurated in March 2011 at an estimated cost of €150m (£130m), has yet to have a single plane touch down on its runway.

"We are analysing each one, airport by airport, to find where we can make cost-cutting," said a spokesman from AENA.

He went on to warn that it was not a simple job and that three quarters of the airports could face being partially closed.

The Telegraph

Nigel Farage: We Are on the Edge of a Total Social Breakdown

On the heels of news out of Greece that a 60-year-old man and his 90-year-old mother leaped to their deaths because of financial despair, today King World News interviewed MEP (Member European Parliament) Nigel Farage, to get his take on the ongoing tragedy and crisis in Europe. Farage told KWN that “we are on the edge of total social breakdown” and “the banking system is now in the most perilous state we’ve seen in over 70 years.” Here is what Farage had to say about the deteriorating situation:

“Well, the situation in Greece just goes from bad to worse. We’ve now got a situation where there was the big suicide a few weeks ago, where a 77-year-old man shot himself in the head outside the Greek Parliament. That was the public face of what’s gone wrong.”

“But do you know that every day there are people that are literally leaving their children at the doors of the Greek Orthodox Church, with notes around their necks saying, ‘We cannot afford to feed or look after these children, please take them from us.’ Can you imagine that?

This is taking place inside Europe. This is taking place inside a once great nation. The nation that invented democracy. We are on the edge of total social breakdown....

“And frankly, as far as the euro is concerned and the austerity measures are concerned, the medicine is killing the patient.

Yet the remedy that came out of Camp David last week, and is coming out of European meetings in Brussels this week, is we must pursue more of the same. So it is an absolutely desperate situation.

I was arguing (in Brussels) that we’ve got to break this curse of the euro for the Greeks. We’ve got to allow their currency to devalue to where it should be on the world exchanges, to try and restore human dignity.

It’s horrible. A Greek pensioner this time last year had an old-age pension income of 600 euros per month. That has now been cut to 400 euros. (This is) at a time of increasing fuel costs and everything else. People simply can’t afford to live. The situation is absolutely dire and something needs to be done.

Sadly, amongst the Greek political class themselves, we are not seeing the courage and leadership that is necessary. I don’t believe Greece has any future at all inside the euro.

One of two things will happen. Either there will be some sort of terrible revolution that takes place in the country, or perhaps Germany and the others will expel Greece at some point after their general election. That’s coming up on June the 17th.

The bigger problem is Spain. I spoke to a very senior and leading economist last week about this. He said, ‘If Spain goes, Europe on their own just will not be big enough to save those banks. It would require a (massive) global solution of some kind.’ But I’m not even sure the will for that exists.

I mean after all, the Americans and the Canadians, the last time the IMF had a cash call to help the eurozone, said, ‘No, we’re just not going to do this.’ Do we get to the point where we say, ‘We cannot go on bailing out each other and printing money forever.’ And do we actually see a series of big banks going bust?

I do think that the banking system is now in the most perilous state we’ve seen in over 70 years.”

Farage also had this to say about gold: “This flush out (in gold) is what we’ve been talking about over the last few months, in that the short-term speculative market had gotten itself a little bit too long. We may get a cheaper opportunity to buy it (gold), but I don’t think people should be too greedy in terms of looking for the market to set back too much.

I think it’s important that everybody has a reasonable allocation of gold in their portfolio because, as I’ve said in this interview, we could be just a few months away from something that is really very scary, and if that happens, gold will go a lot higher.”

King World News

Israel takes back promise to Obama not to attack Iran before the election

Sources from inside Washington, DC are telling the international media that Israeli leadership is upset with US President Barack Obama’s handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear threat and may take military action before the November election.

The Debka news agency quotes sources from America’s capital that say Israel has withdrawn its earlier promise to avoid striking Iran before the upcoming US presidential election this fall. The reason, reports Debka, heavily revolves around President Obama’s refusal to side with Israel’s demands in dealing with the rumored emerging threat of a nuclear program in Iran.

Previously, authorities in Israel told the White House that they would refrain from striking Iran until after Election Day as to avoid marring the race by possibly involving the US in an international war. Because President Obama has not put his foot down on Iran’s alleged nuclear warhead procurement plan, Israeli officials are not reportedly willing to attack at any moment.

"There is no need to tell us what to do, and we have no reason to panic. Israel is very, very strong, but we do know that the Iranians are accomplished chess players and will try to achieve nuclear capabilities,” reads a translated statement from Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered this week in Hebrew. “Our position has not changed. The world must stop Iran from becoming nuclear. All options remain on the table."

Minister Barak offered his statement on May 23, less than a week after attending a meeting in Washington. On May 17, Barak spoke with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon outside of Washington to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran, at which point Debka reports he was told that Obama had rejected the Jewish state’s plea. Debka’s sources say Obama was unwilling to demand that Iran halt their “high-grade uranium enrichment, export its stocks of material enriched higher than 3.5 percent grade and shut down production at the Fordo nuclear plant near Qom.”

Debka adds that, after the meeting with his US counterpart, Defense Minister Barak spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon over the ongoing Iran issue but was unable to have either member of the Obama administration aid in Israel’s plea to sanction Iran.

Previously, President Obama has gone on the record to say that he stands by America’s alliance with Israel and told The Atlantic earlier this year, "I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff.”

"I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But (both) governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” added Obama.

President Obama and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Washington back in March during the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, where the Iran issue was a major topic of discussion. Despite urging from overseas, however, the White House yet refused to formally side with any military strikes on Iran.


Body scans on way

COMPULSORY body scans for passengers at Australia's international airports are set to begin in July after the lower house of Parliament approved the security measure yesterday.

The bill also enables future governments to update the technology, and prohibits images or personal information from being stored or transmitted.

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says body scanners provide optimal security with minimal impacts on passengers. ''This bill will help to ensure the safety of the 13 million people that depart from Australia's international airports each year,'' he told Parliament.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/travel/travel-news/body-scans-on-way-20120523-1z5sx.html#ixzz1vnXiEVxf

Banks Are Loaning Out “Allocated” Gold

Today John Embry told King World News that customers holding “allocated” gold inside certain banking institutions have had their gold “loaned out.” Embry, who is Chief Investment Strategist of the $10 billion strong Sprott Asset Management, also told KWN, “Many of these customers will wake up one day and realize they entrusted their gold to the wrong people.” But first, here is what Embry had to say about what is happening in Europe and how it is impacting gold: “The pressure will be on the Germans today to fall off the austerity kick. The only alternative will seem to be that Germany will have to leave the euro and they are really not in a position to do that. The solution to keep the thing together is going to be more and more money creation and this is extraordinarily bullish for gold."

“I don’t think the public realizes how explosive this gold scene is. There are three factors that are going to come together that will lead to a rise in demand for gold that is going to absolutely stun the investing public. The first is the need to continually print money in order to keep the system together.

You can name almost any country in the world and they all are infected with the same problem. They have far too much debt and they have no way of dealing with it other than to print more money so the existing debt doesn’t crash.
But at the same time, 99% of the public doesn’t recognize what’s going on. They are sitting comfortably in their paper instruments, suffering from cognitive dissonance and believing all of the propaganda from the mainstream media....

“Right now I think gold and gold related assets constitute materially under 1% of all financial assets. When you get a real bull market going, you’ll get that up to 5% to 10%. When people panic out of paper and into gold, that’s going to have a huge impact.

To top it off, there’s this massive amount of paper gold sitting out there. We’ve seen the numbers of 100:1 paper gold to underlying physical gold. Who knows what the number is? I wouldn’t be surprised if the number is higher than that if you factored in all of the derivatives.

But it doesn’t make any difference because these people that think they are protected by holding paper gold, when they really need it they are going to discover they don’t have anything other than paper. That will create yet another source of demand for physical gold.

So you put the three big things together and you can easily underwrite gold prices in the future that people today can’t even imagine in their wildest dreams.”

When asked about the mining shares, Embry responded, “I honestly believe that this is the finest buying opportunity I have ever seen in the gold stocks in my career. I say that because I think we are on the cusp of a major explosion in the gold price, and the mining shares are just being thrown overboard. This is really an astounding disconnect, I’m amazed by it.

If I’m right and the gold price stages a major breakaway to the upside in the next few months, the moves in the gold stocks will be heroic. It’s really hard for people to imagine that because they’ve just been relentlessly pounded, month after month. As someone recently pointed out, this is the cheapest the gold stocks have been in the last 100 years.”

Embry also added: “It was an interesting interview with Egon von Greyerz that you had on KWN in the last couple of days. I know him quite well and I can tell you I have the highest regard for him. He was talking about the man that went to his Swiss bank to get his allocated gold out, and they couldn’t give him the gold because the bank didn’t have it.

What he didn’t mention in his interview is that when the customer finally got his gold, it was 2011 minted bars. This made no sense because he had been holding the allocated gold for years. That’s just another example that even the allocated gold in the banking system has probably been loaned out. Many of these customers will wake up one day and realize they entrusted their gold to the wrong people.”

World King News