Friday, August 17, 2012
“The world is headed for the Great Depression, Greatest Depression,” Trends Research Institute Founder Gerald Celente tells Lew Rockwell, Tuesday. “This will be much worse than the 1930′s Depression. We’re in the global age, and it’s spreading globally.”
Celente goes on to explain that, depending upon the estimates one uses, the Fed has injected between $18 trillion and $25 trillion to prop up the “too big to fails” and the “corrupt banking system.”
And the result? Nothing but poor unemployment numbers, according to him, including 750,000 more jobs lost since March to offset any alleged gains in employment reported by the U.S. Department of Labor so far this year.
After all those trillions of dollars thrown into the system, there is no recovery. “America is turning into a plantation economy,” says Celente.
Just as the Great Depression of the 1930′s ushered in high crime rates, alcoholism and suicides, today’s start of the “Greater Depression,” according to Celente, already reveals a nation repeating the social ills of a past economic nightmare.
“Look at the crime rates. Look at the insanity that is happening,” says Celente.
“Every day you pick up the newspaper. You listen to the television,” Celente continues. “Whether it’s the Batman psycho, the Sikh crazy guy, or some guy walking into a hospital room and blowing his wife to pieces, or killing a mother-in-law and two kids, every day is another chapter in cold blood. Society is unraveling around us.”
And the craziness isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon; it’s global.
In Israel, Spain and Greece, the same thing. Four Israelis set themselves on fire within one month from terrible despair. The Spanish are “attacking supermarkets.” Greece is throwing out immigrants; “that society is falling apart,” he says.
“Are we going into war? Is history repeating itself?” Celente ask rhetorically. “Play back the tape. The Crash of ’29—Great Depression—currency wars—trade wars—world war. The Panic of ’08—Great Recession—currency wars are happening.
“The rial is sinking; the rupee is in the toilet; the euro’s going down. There are bank runs now in Slovenia. In Hungary, the system has collapsed . . . They just had another recall election in Romania.”
Celente goes onto to say that Argentina has instituted capital controls. After soaring growth, Brazil now worries about its economy and currency. And China, the nation which once provided hope of a global recovery, has reported several months of data that show its economy isn’t immune, slowing to a rate not seen in two decades.
So, “is the world at war? Yes, it is,” says Celente. “World War III is on the horizon. Actually, it’s at the cusp.”
He adds, “And I believe we’re facing another 9-11 moment of some sort. Whether it’s false-flag [or] real. Whether it’s economic or geopolitical, something in my bones is telling me that you better be prepared now, because this thing is coming down fast.”
What to do? Celente recommends Americans follow the “Celente 3G’s”: Gold, Guns and a Getaway Plan.
Gold to protect your wealth.
Guns to protect you and your property.
And a Getaway plan in the event of social unrest, riots, civil war, martial law or any unforeseen catastrophic event.
Read more: http://www.beaconequity.com/gerald-celente-my-bones-tell-me-this-thing-is-coming-down-fast-2012-08-16/#ixzz23pEGPJpM
TEL AVIV — Israel has assessed that it must prepare for a month-long
war with Iran and its proxies.
Israeli Home Front Minister Matan Vilnai: "I can say in the most authoritative manner that the home front is ready as never before in the country's history."
Officials said the Israeli military and intelligence community have
discussed a range of scenarios of war between Iran and the Jewish state.
They said the discussions included how Iran and its proxies would attack
Israel, likely choice of weapons, casualties and duration of fighting.
“The assessments are for a war that will last 30 days on a number of
fronts,” Israeli Home Front Minister Matan Vilnai said.
Vilnai, who leaves his post to become ambassador to China, said Israel assessed that the war would result in some 500 casualties. He said the government and military expected multiple missile and rocket strikes against major Israeli cities.
“It could be that there will be less fatalities, but it could be there
will be more,” Vilnai said in an interview with the Israeli daily Maariv on Aug. 15. “That is the scenario that we are preparing for according to the best experts.”
Officials said the military and intelligence community concluded that
Iran did not have the capability to sustain any long-range war against
Israel. They said Teheran would try to preserve most of its military assets to defend against any U.S. military strike from the neighboring Gulf.
“The Iranians have neither the capability nor the interest in setting
fire to the entire Middle East,” former Military Intelligence chief [Res.]
Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin wrote in an analysis.
Over the last year, Israel has conducted several civil defense exercises
meant to test capabilities in any multi-front war. The exercises included
such scenarios as a missile attack on Tel Aviv, particularly the Defense
Ministry and General Staff headquarters.
Analysts said Israel was not prepared for a major missile strike from
Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip. But Vilnai said the government and
military achieved significant progress in measures to protect civilians as
well as strategic facilities.
“I can say in the most authoritative manner that the home front is ready
as never before in the country’s history,” Vilnai said.
Officials said the consultations over an Iranian war were based an
Israeli or U.S. attack against Teheran’s nuclear weapons infrastructure.
They said Israel could not rule out that Teheran along with such proxies as
Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, would launch a preemptive strike.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud
Barak were said to favor an attack on Iran over the next few months. In
2012, Israel and the United States held a series of high-level consultations
on Iran’s nuclear program and the feasibility of an attack.
“The only question is if a clash is necessary,” Vilnai said. “War is
something that is better to postpone and weigh carefully.”
With ongoing public, military and diplomatic debates focusing on the possibility of a confrontation with Iran and growing fears that the lack of stability in Syria could lead to the use of unconventional weapons, the Home Front Command has been holding a series of drills throughout the country.
While this week's Home Front Command drills have been focusing on the northern regions, the IDF has been seeking to increase awareness and preparedness among the general Israeli public which is why text messages were sent to hundreds of thousands of citizens' cellular phones – if needed, these messages will be sent should an attack be imminent.
The hazmat unit also had a prominent role in the recent drills.
Hazmat suits and text messages (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Home Front Command Northern District Deputy Commander Lieutenant Colonel Moshe Huli said that since the beginning of the year his soldier's practiced dozens of scenarios.
"The truth is that we have been training more than Golani and the Paratroopers… Today everyone understands that the Home Front Command will be at the center of things in the next war and in the last few years we have trained like we have never trained before.
"There is awareness, (we have held) many exercises and improvements are evident in both how we function and our cooperation with other authorities: Police, Magen David Adom and of course, the local authorities."
This prompted warnings from United Nations that the world could see a repeat of the food scare seen in 2008 as prices rose too rapidly, and officials from the Group of 20 countries to plan a meeting to discuss ways to cope with the price spikes. While grain prices fell in New York on Tuesday because of rain across most of the Mid-West, prices will persist around current high levels, economists from Standard Chartered said in a report published this week.
This is especially the case should high temperatures persist across much of the U.S. well into August, they said. “If the price rises are sustained in the months ahead, we expect higher global food prices to affect Asia in early 2013, as our correlation analysis suggests a time lag of five to seven months for most Asian economies,” according Tai Hui, Head of Regional Research for Asia with Standard Chartered. Asia was hit hard in 2007 and 2008 when shortages of foodstuffs, especially rice, led to hoarding and riots.
Food inflation hits Asia harder than other regions food make up a greater portion of consumer spending than in other parts of the world. In developing Asia, for example, it makes up 35 percent of consumer prices, compared with about 20 percent in the U.S. and Europe, according to the International Monetary Fund. Economists at Nomura also raised the alarm on inflation in Asia last week, saying that large moves in global commodity prices could have an “acute” impact on Asia, given that the food component in CPI is very large”.
Food prices are far more important than energy prices in driving Asian inflation – the weighting of food items is typically two to three times larger than that of energy items in Asian CPI baskets. Food inflation will start hurting Asian economies by the end of the year if the current high prices are sustained over the next few months, with Vietnam, China and Hong Kong the most vulnerable, economists tell CNBC.
Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin served for more than 40 years in the Israel Defense Forces. As a fighter pilot, he was active in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and he was one of the eight pilots who bombed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. Later serving as deputy commander of the air force and Israel’s military attaché in the US, he was appointed head of Military Intelligence in 2006, a post he held until his retirement at the end of 2010.
Today he is the executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, where this interview took place on Wednesday.
Yadlin is a careful but candid interviewee, taking time to choose the formulations he wants but not retreating into polite diplomatese. In this conversation, for instance, he takes issue with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for undermining the US military option, makes plain his conviction that Israel’s military option does not expire in the fall, urges Israel to find a formula for apologizing to Turkey over the deaths on the Mavi Marmara, and manages not to sound alarmist while raising the possibility of Egypt canceling its peace treaty with Israel.
How do you see the Iranian threat developing?
That depends on three people — two in Israel and one in the United States.
If we take at face value what the prime minister and the defense minister say publicly, we are reaching a very critical period. What they say, more or less, is that all the strategies being employed against Iran have either failed or are not working.
The diplomatic negotiations that took place in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow produced nothing. The sanctions may be painful for the Iranians, but not to the extent that they change their minds. The secretive operations for which no one takes responsibility have not stopped the Iranian nuclear program. The regime is relatively stable.
And therefore if you’re not prepared to live with an Iran with a nuclear bomb, you are left with only one option and that’s the option of military intervention.
Add to that the concept that the defense minister has coined, “the zone of immunity.” He said we were entering [this zone] three months ago, and at that time he could still hope that the negotiations would succeed or that the sanctions would work. Today, he sees that’s not the case. So, we’re in a very critical area.
According to the zone of immunity argument, next year, more or less, Israel already won’t be able to [set back the Iranian program through military intervention].
And this is where the Americans enter the picture. They’ve sent here almost every senior official, from Secretary of State Clinton to Defense Secretary Panetta to National Security Advisor Donilon. They are the only ones who can say to the Israelis, it may be that your zone of immunity will prevent you from taking action later on, but we, the Americans, we have exactly the same goal.
The president declared this at the AIPAC conference: We have the goal of stopping Iran. Not so much because of Israel, but rather because it’s an American national interest. And we have other allies in the Middle East who want us to stop Iran — the Saudis, the non-Shiite Arab world that is afraid of a Shiite bomb. So if the Americans are convinced…
The Israelis cannot ask the Americans to do the job for them. No American soldier has ever fought for Israel, never since the state was established. That’s a basic principle for us.
But the Americans can say, look, this isn’t something we’re doing for you. We’re doing it for ourselves. And we have more time. We have more time for two reasons. 1. Our air force has a great many capabilities that yours doesn’t. B-1 bombers, B-2 bombers, Bunker Busters that are much heavier than yours, Stealth bombers. Therefore, we can do it after you think that you can’t.
And they can also say that in their view, the red line or the trigger for action is later than the Israeli trigger. On this there’s a debate of sorts, but again, provided that trust is established and the Israeli leadership thinks that the American leadership really means what it says…
I think that’s the heart of the problem today. There is a certain feeling in Israel that perhaps the president’s declaration at AIPAC is not sufficient, and that maybe much more binding and stronger steps need to be taken.
Actual steps, not just statements?
Even statements, such as a declaration — not to AIPAC, a declaration to the Congress — that if the steps the administration is relying upon today, like negotiations and sanctions, do not achieve success by the summer of 2013, then the Americans will deal with the problem via military intervention.
You’re saying that if the president made such a declaration publicly, this would assuage Israel’s concerns?
I think it could. Now, in addition to declarations, actions should be taken to show that you’re serious. More intensive missile defense in the Middle East, exercises with your allies in the Middle East — in order to demonstrate to the world more clearly that you’re really training for this and preparing for this.
And this we don’t see?
We see less of this. We see less of this than we could see for it to enter the Iranian calculus as something they need to be afraid of. The Iranians have just said that they’re not afraid of the Israelis. They didn’t say they’re not afraid of the Americans. But you can see from their behavior that they’re not afraid.
Therefore the American threat has to be a great deal more credible. It cannot be that the secretary of defense will stand up publicly and say that an attack on Iran will plunge the world into World War III or the Middle East will go up in flames. [Yadlin may have been referring to comments made by Panetta, including in an address at the Brookings Institution in December, where he said that a military attack would trigger "an escalation that would... not only involve many lives, but I think could consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret."] That shows that you don’t really mean to do it.
America is the world’s biggest military power, the strongest in the world. And a country like Iran can be taken care of by the United States.
I want to stress that it would be a very big mistake by America to invade Iran. America paid a heavy price for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. But America has one of the best air forces in the world — and I’m something of an expert on air forces. It can do this — surgical, short, and the way it needs to be done — from the air. To take care of the nuclear program, not to assault Iran as a country.
The goal is not regime change or the conquest of Iran. The goal is [to stop] the Iranian nuclear program, which constitutes a threat because it is a program with a military goal. And that’s not an Israeli assessment, that’s the conclusion of the IAEA; that’s the conclusion which explains why Iran was brought to the Security Council. Therefore one can deal solely with the military program.
And this can be taken care of in a single operation?
By the American air force? Absolutely. Absolutely. But again, it has to be done with the mindset, the paradigm, that you’re taking care surgically of a nuclear program. You’re not dealing with Iran.
And Iran, after a very surgical attack, would have a lot to lose. Therefore their response would be much more measured, much more measured. Because if, from the first, you attack the whole state, then they have nothing to lose.
I assume that there are people like you who are saying to the Americans, you are not giving credibility to a military option because you are not active in the region, you are not showing the Iranians that you are serious.
I don’t know who’s saying what. It’s a year and a half since I was [in the loop as head of Military Intelligence]. I think the Americans are very wary for two reasons. First, the trauma of Afghanistan and Iraq is a deep trauma. The Americans are anxious to avoid the sense that they are about to attack another Muslim country. Secondly, there is a fear that if they take these steps, it’s a slippery slope that could take them somewhere they don’t want to go. Those are the two reasons that they’re cautious. And there are elections now. The subject of overseas military action is not popular today in the United States.
Does Israel still have the capability to cause serious damage to the Iranian nuclear program?
I think we do have that capacity, but I’m telling you that the American capacity is greater and can be utilized later. The State of Israel has the capacity to harm the Iranian nuclear program.
You’ve heard the reports of a planned Obama-Netanyahu meeting in the fall, in which the president will make some kind of commitment and say that if all else has failed the US will attack by next June?
I think this could be a very important meeting and I hope it will take place. I wrote an op-ed in The New York Times [at the end of February] that said we have to move from the zone of immunity to the zone of trust. But even if the batteries of trust are not full, a public commitment and a legal commitment, like a letter to the Congress, would help a great deal toward the correct decision being taken in Israel.
And in the absence of that, you really see Israel attacking?
It cannot be excluded from the range of possibilities. As I explained, more or less all of the pre-conditions set by the prime minister and the defense minister that would lead to an attack on Iran [have been fulfilled]. On the assumption that the cost of an Iranian nuclear bomb to Israel’s security, and the danger it poses, are greater than [the cost of] an attack on Iran, I think it can happen.
Let’s talk about Egypt. Are you worried about what President Morsi is doing — the latest changes in security personnel? Will he withdraw his forces from the Sinai in accordance with the peace treaty? How do you see Israeli-Egyptian ties advancing now?
Look, there’s a tendency in Israel to be either euphoric or panicked. I’m in neither place.
The new Egyptian regime has very serious domestic problems to tackle. Economic problems. Investments in Egypt have gone down in the wake of the crisis. Tourism has declined. Those Egyptians who went to Tahrir Square have not disappeared. They want jobs, they want justice, they want equality, they want democracy. Egypt has to feed 85 million people. There’s a million more since the revolution.
These are serious problems — economic, social, and those relating to law and order, which has crumbled because of the damage to the police and the security services, and the weaponry flowing from Libya, and the problem of Sinai.
There is no real conflict of interest between Israel and Egypt. Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt, to the last inch. The canal was opened, the oil was returned to Egypt.
I don’t see the Egyptians going to war for the Palestinians a fifth time, spilling more blood, wasting the resources they need in order to build a new Egypt. And it doesn’t matter who’s running Egypt.
Therefore I’m not too worried if, for instance, there are a few more Egyptian soldiers or infantry pieces in the Sinai, on the assumption that they take care of the terrorists who killed 16 Egyptian soldiers [in an August 5 border attack]. No conflict of interest.
We’re going to hear from Egypt a lot of things that we’re not going to like to hear — in their rhetoric, in speeches, possibly in some kind of request to change the peace treaty. You know what? In the most extreme case, the cancellation of the peace treaty.
That’s still not war. The opposite of a peace treaty is not war. We have no peace treaty with Syria, and we have not had a war with Syria since 1974.
Egypt is entering a very challenging period of transformation, from a dictatorship, a state of one ruler, to a state that is attempting democracy. I don’t know if this experiment will succeed. The test will be after a constitution is written and there’ll be elections a second time. Free real elections as they were last time. I hope that’s what will happen.
I’m one of those who’s optimistic in the long run that the genie that came out of the bottle in Tahrir Square — of the young people, of the liberals, most of whom are secular; it’s not the Muslim Brotherhood that did the revolution — that this group, which is marginalized at present, will return as a major player. That’s not going to happen in the short-term, but in the medium and long-term, in my opinion, it has to happen.
And between two real democracies… Listen, the values that we heard demanded in Tahrir Square — democracy, freedom, rule of law, women’s rights, the right to work, the right to a reasonable life — these are our values. So, in the long term, I’m optimistic. In the short-term, we’ll hear a lot of unpleasant things.
And as for Syria?
Unlike Mubarak, [President Bashar] Assad domestically has his army, which protects him and is prepared to kill for him. The Egyptian army is a national institution and therefore it was known that if Mubarak went, the army would remain something respected by the public — perhaps not the heads of the army, the generals, but the army. And the army wasn’t prepared to fire on civilians, and therefore Mubarak fell from within.
Unlike Gaddafi, Assad is protected from the outside — by Russia and China. Where Libya was concerned, they didn’t really notice that the no-fly zone essentially became [a means of] Western intervention. The Russians and the Chinese are protecting Assad from the outside. As long as those two stand firm, Assad can hold on.
There is one more factor that can bring him down, and that’s the economy. Investments in Syria have fallen even more than in Egypt. The prime investors were the Turks and the Sunni Gulf States, which are now against him. Tourism has halted altogether. The cost of the civil war is very high. He pays vast subsidies to keep people with him. The situation is economically unsustainable for him unless the Iranians write a big check — billions.
So I agree that he’s doomed, but he can hang on for longer than people think. I did a tweet recently with people asking questions from Syria and Lebanon. They asked me when Assad will go. I said, I don’t know, I’m not a prophet, but I can tell you what the signs are that will spell the end:
If there are defections, not only of captains and majors and sergeants, but the defection of a general with a division — if he’s an Alawite, that’s the end. If the Russians abandon him, if they decide that the Arab world is more important to them than Syria — because as things stand they are losing the Arab world. If he doesn’t get the checks from Iran. If the other minorities abandon him — the Druze and the Christians. They can’t leave him too early because Assad will kill them; they can’t leave him too late because the Sunnis will take revenge on them. Those are the indicators. And finally, he’ll lose control of the two big cities, Damascus and Aleppo.
At this stage, none of those five things has happened, but I can see that it’s getting close. The situation has moved from green to yellow, it’s not yet orange and certainly not red.
Should Israel apologize to Turkey [as demanded by Ankara for the deaths of nine Turkish citizens in the May 2012 Mavi Marmara incident]?
We need to find a proper way to put that unfortunate incident behind us. We apologized to the Egyptians for the fact that terrorists attacked from the Sinai and killed Israelis! Here, Turks were killed. Egyptians were hurt and we apologized. I think we can apologize.
Will that change the Turks’ attitudes to Israel? I think not. There’s a strategic decision by Turkey — they want to lead the Muslim world and whoever leads the Muslim world must be anti-Israeli. But it would nonetheless create a better atmosphere. The Turks have not burned all the bridges. It won’t return us to the glory days of the 1990s. But it will take us out of the very bad place we’re in now.
And the Turks of today are not the Turks of 2009. They had a policy of zero problems with the neighbors. Today you have to add a “1″ before the “zero.” They have problems with the Greeks, with the Cypriots, with the Armenians, with the French, with the Israelis, the Syrians, the Iranians. Pretty much everybody.
So I think that with Turkey, after we put the Marmara behind us with some or other formulation, we can get back, not all the way, but part of the way. There are mutual interests for Israel and Turkey. We have to [fix the relationship] also because it would strengthen the Turkey-Israel-America triangle. It’s almost an American request that we resolve this. And when America makes a request, we need to listen — not always to act, but to listen very attentively.
Finally, coming back to where we started, do you see America attacking Iran? Do you see a supportive public context in America which would enable the president to do so?
I think so. I think so. But not before November. I certainly don’t see it before November.
The United States can do it when it finally understands that negotiations will get nothing from the Iranians and that the sanctions are not achieving what is necessary. I am one of those who believes that President Obama understands the American interests regarding Iran, regarding the proliferation that would follow if Iran goes nuclear. The next day the Saudis, the Turks and after that maybe Egypt and Iraq [would seek to go nuclear].
There is no American president who wants the NPT [the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] to collapse on his watch and for Iran to be the Middle East hegemon because it is nuclear. There’s also the long-term impact on the price of oil. So, yes, because of American interests…
Look, President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, but he’s not a vegetarian. Ask bin Laden. What has happened to various al-Qaeda leaders?
Therefore I believe — not 100 percent, but I think there’s a high likelihood — that if in 2013-2014 all the other options will be exhausted in the eyes of the Americans — not in the eyes of the Israeli prime minister — the chances that Obama will attack are not low.
Now, you’ve added in 2014. It won’t be too late for the Americans in 2014?
That greatly depends on what happens in 2013.
But you’re greatly reducing the urgency from Israel’s point of view.
On condition that they [the Americans] are really there. That’s what I’m saying. They need to convince not just the prime minister and the defense minister, but the Israeli public and the other arms of government.
You’re saying there’s very little time for Israel to act but quite a lot of time for the Americans.
The issue here is that they convince Israel that they really will act…
… when we’ve lost our capacity to intervene. It’s a very difficult decision for us.
And our capacity to intervene ends when?
I can’t tell you that. But it was presented by the defense minister as the two final quarters of 2012. There are people who think differently — who think that for us, too, it extends into 2013. I’m one of those people, by the way.
Times of Israel
He manages to sound moral.....despite being immoral!!!
Professor Julian Savulescu said that creating so-called designer babies could be considered a "moral obligation" as it makes them grow up into "ethically better children".
The expert in practical ethics said that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to "harm themselves and others".
The academic, who is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, made his comments in an article in the latest edition of Reader's Digest.
He explained that we are now in the middle of a genetic revolution and that although screening, for all but a few conditions, remained illegal it should be welcomed.
He said that science is increasingly discovering that genes have a significant influence on personality – with certain genetic markers in embryo suggesting future characteristics.
By screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out.
In the end, he said that "rational design" would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future.
"Surely trying to ensure that your children have the best, or a good enough, opportunity for a great life is responsible parenting?" wrote Prof Savulescu, the Uehiro Professor in practical ethics.
"So where genetic selection aims to bring out a trait that clearly benefits an individual and society, we should allow parents the choice.
"To do otherwise is to consign those who come after us to the ball and chain of our squeamishness and irrationality.
"Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children.
"They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others."
"If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should."
DUBAI (Reuters) - Many thousands of Iranians shouted "Death to America, death to Israel" during state-organized protests on Friday and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told them there was no place for the Jewish state in a future Middle East.
Iran, penalized by tough Western sanctions, faces the threat of an Israeli or U.S. military strike on its disputed nuclear facilities. With popular uprisings reshaping the region, the Islamic Republic is also trying to prevent the overthrow of its closest Arab ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"You want a new Middle East? We do too, but in the new Middle East ... there will be no trace of the American presence and the Zionists," Ahmadinejad told worshippers at Tehran University in an event broadcast live on state television.
The Iranian leader, whose own authority is under challenge from hardliners as well as reformers, was restating Tehran's familiar goals as the Middle East undergoes a very different upheaval from the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah and brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power.
"Saving the existence of the Zionist regime (Israel) is a joint commitment by most arrogant Western governments," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to mark the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day decreed by Khomeini and held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
He called for Muslim unity to foil Western support for Israel, which he described as a "cancerous tumor" for its occupation of Palestinian land.
But there was little unity on display at an Islamic summit in Mecca earlier this week when the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria despite Iran's objections.
Speaking at the emergency summit, Ahmadinejad said Western powers could never be a role model for the Islamic world.
"Freedom and democracy will not come from the barrels of NATO guns and the interference of Western nations," he said.
Shi'ite Iran has watched in dismay as rebels drawn mainly from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority try to oust Assad, whose country has been a vital part of Iran's "axis of resistance" against Israel, Sunni-ruled Arab states and the West.
"I think the enemies have been successful to a certain extent in creating regional conflicts," Ahmadinejad acknowledged, without naming Syria.
Iran accuses the United States and its allies in the Middle East of backing Assad's opponents to try to relieve pressure on Israel by destroying the "axis of resistance" between Tehran, Damascus and the Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah movement.
State television said millions of Iranians joined the al-Quds Day marches across the country and showed large crowds chanting slogans and carrying portraits of Khomeini and his successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Some bore a coffin decked with pictures of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders. Demonstrators burned American and Israeli flags.
Israel, thought to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power, sees Iran's nuclear activities as a threat to its existence and has repeatedly threatened military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the issue. Iran denies seeking a bomb and says its nuclear work has only peaceful purposes.
The Nordic state is battening down the hatches for a full-blown currency crisis as tensions in the eurozone mount and has said it will not tolerate further bail-out creep or fiscal union by stealth.
“We have to face openly the possibility of a euro-break up,” said Erkki Tuomioja, the country’s veteran foreign minister and a member of the Social Democratic Party, one of six that make up the country’s coalition government.
“It is not something that anybody — even the True Finns [eurosceptic party] — are advocating in Finland, let alone the government. But we have to be prepared,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“Our officials, like everybody else and like every general staff, have some sort of operational plan for any eventuality.”
Mr Tuomioja’s intervention is the bluntest warning to date by a senior eurozone minister. As he discussed the crisis, the minister had a copy of the Economist on his desk. It had a picture of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, reading a fictitious report entitled “How to break up the euro”, with a caption: “Tempted, Angela?”
“This is what people are thinking about everywhere,” said Mr Tuomioja. “But there is a consensus that a eurozone break-up would cost more in the short-run or medium-run than managing the crisis.
“But let me add that the break-up of the euro does not mean the end of the European Union. It could make the EU function better,” he said, describing the dash for monetary union in the 1990s as a vaulting political leap in defiance of economic gravity. Finland has emerged as the toughest member of the eurozone’s creditor bloc as it tries to hold together a motley coalition. It has insisted on collateral from both Greece and Spain in exchange for rescue loans.
The coalition government is on thin ice as voters peel away to eurosceptic parties. The True Finns shattered the political order in last year’s election with 19pc support. “Taxpayers here are extremely angry,” said Timo Soini, the True Finn leader.
“There are no rules on how to leave the euro but it is only a matter of time. Either the south or the north will break away because this currency straitjacket is causing misery for millions and destroying Europe’s future.
“It is a total catastrophe. We are going to run out of money the way we are going. But nobody in Europe wants to be first to get out of the euro and take all the blame,” he said.
Like other member states, Finland has a veto that could be used to block any new bail-out measures. However, unlike some states, its parliament would have to approve each future measure of the eurozone rescue, including a full bail-out of Spain.
The issue of euro break-up may come to a head in October as EU-IMF Troika inspectors report back on Greek bail-out compliance. Pleas from Athens for two extra years to stretch out its austerity regime have run into fierce resistance from creditor powers.
“It is up to Greeks whether they want to stay in the euro,” said Mr Tuomioja. “We cannot force Greece out. We can cut off lending and that would lead to a default. Then we could speculate whether that would entail getting out of the euro. Nobody knows if it could be contained,” he said. Mr Tuomioja said Finland would block attempts to strip the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) or bail-out fund of its senior status at the top of the credit ladder, a move that could greatly complicate efforts to lure investors back into Spanish and Italian bonds. “The ESM loans have priority. That is a red line for us. We are very concerned that the rules of the ESM seem to be changing.”
He voiced deep suspicion of plans by a “gang of four” EU insiders — including the European Central Bank’s Mario Draghi — to ensnare member states into some form of fiscal union. “I don’t trust these people,” he said.
Mr Draghi said two weeks ago that the issue of seniority would be “addressed” as part of his twin-pronged plan for the ECB and ESM to buy bonds in concert. A number of EU leaders and officials claimed there had been a deal on the ESM’s seniority status at an EU summit in late June. Finland, Holland, and Germany all deny this.
The warnings on the ESM were echoed by Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, chairman of the Finnish parliament’s Grand Committee on Europe, who said bail-out fatigue is nearing its limit.
“Our law passed this summer says the ESM has the same priority as the IMF. There was a clear understanding on this. Any change would require a new law passed by the whole parliament, and this would be very difficult because the risks would be much higher.”
The issue of EU senior status has become an extremely sensitive one for markets after the ECB and EU creditors refused to share losses from Greece’s debt restructuring, in which pension funds, insurers, and banks lost 75pc.
Critics say the Greek deal set a fatal precedent, triggering further capital flight from Spain and Italy.
Mrs Kumpula-Natri said Finland can be pushed only so far. “There is a feeling on the street that there has to be a limit. I can’t say whether it is 10pc of GDP, or what. It’s not written. But it is obvious that a small country can’t help big countries eternally.”
Iran’s behavior shows it does not seriously believe the US will resort to military action against its nuclear program, the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, told The Times of Israel.
As for Israel, Yadlin said, it needs to see both firmer US declarations, and actual indications that the US means what it says about a possible resort to force, as it agonizes over whether to let its window for military action against Iran close and place its faith in the US to thwart Iran come what may.
That window for Israeli action “extends into 2013,” Yadlin added. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, by contrast, has said it closes at the end of this year — one of the factors behind the feverish speculation of recent weeks about an Israeli strike in the fall.
In a clear and candid interview Wednesday, Yadlin, who retired as MI chief at the end of 2010, urged President Barack Obama to make a statement to Congress, specifying “that if the steps the administration is relying upon today, like negotiations and sanctions, do not achieve success by the summer of 2013, then the Americans will deal with the problem via military intervention.”
Such a statement, he said, could assuage Israeli concerns over American policy. And in addition to declarations, he said, the US should take certain actions “to show that you’re serious. More intensive missile defense in the Middle East, exercises with your allies in the Middle East — in order to demonstrate to the world more clearly that you’re really training for this and preparing for this.”
As things stands, said Yadlin, who today heads the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, ”The Iranians have just said that they’re not afraid of the Israelis. They didn’t say they’re not afraid of the Americans. But you can see from their behavior that they’re not afraid.”
It was unacceptable, Yadlin added, for a US defense secretary “to stand up publicly and say that an attack on Iran will plunge the world into World War III or the Middle East will go up in flames. That shows that you don’t really mean to do it.”
A former IAF fighter pilot who fought in the 1973 war, and who was one of the eight pilots who bombed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, Yadlin said he was certain that, if all else failed, a single “smart, surgical” air operation by the US could halt the Iranian nuclear program. And he said there was a “high likelihood” of a US attack in 2013-2014, if “all the other options will be exhausted in the eyes of the Americans.”
“The United States can do it when it finally understands that negotiations will get nothing from the Iranians and that the sanctions are not achieving what is necessary,” Yadlin said. “I am one of those who believes that President Obama understands the American interests regarding Iran, regarding the proliferation that would follow if Iran goes nuclear. The next day the Saudis, the Turks and after that maybe Egypt and Iraq [would seek to go nuclear]. There is no American president who wants the NPT [the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] to collapse on his watch and for Iran to be the Middle East hegemon because it is nuclear…
He added: “Look, President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, but he’s not a vegetarian. Ask bin Laden. What has happened to various al-Qaeda leaders?”
But if Israel’s concerns were not assuaged, and if it saw no alternative, the possibility of Israel attacking Iran “cannot be excluded,” he said. The pre-conditions set by the prime minister and the defense minister that would lead to an attack on Iran have been fulfilled, he noted:
“What they say, more or less, is that all the strategies being employed against Iran have either failed or are not working. The diplomatic negotiations that took place in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow produced nothing. The sanctions may be painful for the Iranians, but not to the extent that they change their minds. The secretive operations for which no one takes responsibility have not stopped the Iranian nuclear program. The regime is relatively stable.”
“On the assumption that the cost of an Iranian nuclear bomb to Israel’s security, and the danger it poses, are greater than [the cost of] an attack on Iran, I think it can happen.
Still, Yadlin said, he did not believe Israel’s capacity to intervene militarily would end this year. Asked when Israel would no longer be able to take effective military action, he answered, “It was presented by the defense minister as the two final quarters of 2012. There are people who think differently — who think that for us, too, it extends into 2013. I’m one of those people.”
The Times of Israel
The White House has urgently contacted Jerusalem to arrange for US President Barack Obama to get together with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the next UN General Assembly session opening in New York on Sept. 18, DEBKAfile’s Washington and Jerusalem sources report. Netanyahu is preparing a tough speech inveighing against Iran’s nuclear aspirations, its calls to annihilate the state of Israel and widespread anti-Semitism. He plans to accuse Iranian leaders of assuming the role of contemporary Nazis and call for their expulsion from the world organization.
Sources close to Obama admit that the dialogue on Iran with Israeli leaders has run its course since neither side believes it can change its opposite number’s mind. This communications cutoff is hurting the president’s campaign for reelection.
Washington’s media offensive to tie Israel’s hands against attacking Iran before voting day on Nov. 6 climaxed with the news briefing given by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey at the Pentagon Tuesday, Aug. 14. They accentuated Israel’s weaknesses and argued that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would gain very little time.
Earlier that day, the opening shot of the counter-campaign landed in the influential Wall Street Journal in an article entitled Iran Doesn't Belong in the UN or IMF, under the bylines of former UN ambassador John Bolton and the heads of the United Against Nuclear Iran organization, Mark Wallace and Kristen Silverberg.
They wrote that by allowing Iran to use their platforms to disseminate anti-Semitic propaganda, the UN and IMF are complicit in aiding the development of the Iranian nuclear program.
The next day, the White House went into action for a meeting with Netanyahu, aware that a strong Netanyahu speech at the UN General Assembly highlighting Iran’s progress toward building a nuclear bomb and its anti-Semitism would connect with mounting anti-Iran opinion in America and show Obama in a bad light as standing against military action against Iran by the United States and, more particularly, Israel.
Even before that, damage was caused the Obama campaign by the widely-reported remarks by Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren on Wednesday, Aug. 15, asserting that Israel would be willing to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, even if doing so only delayed its ability to produce nuclear weapons for a few years.
“One, two, three, four years are a long time in the Middle East -- look what’s happened in the last year” in terms of political change, Oren said today at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington. “In our neighborhood, those are the rules of the game.”
He went on to stress, “Diplomacy hasn’t succeeded. We’ve come to a very critical juncture where important decisions do have to be made.”
Even before Ambassador Oren’s rejoinder, Washington insiders found the Panetta-Dempsey briefing unconvincing because it essentially covered well-trodden ground without new facts. Its timing was also unfortunate, said DEBKAfile’s Washington sources, because the White House had already set in motion arrangements for an Obama-Netanyahu meeting for putting their understandings on Iran back on course.
At the moment, they admitted, the US and Israel are no longer talking, because, “Both know that they have said all they have to say on the subject and remain divided." But, they say, "The president can’t afford to let matters rest there. He will have to perform urgent repairs when he meets Netanyahu in September.”
That too is not plain sailing. Our sources report that while the prime minister is perfectly willing to meet Obama, he says it would be only proper for him to meet his rival for the presidency, Governor Mitt Romney, as well. The president’s emissaries object on the grounds that Romney recently visited Israel. Their Israeli interlocutors respond that the government would be happy to host Obama in Israel too, even before the presidential election. Both sides are acutely aware that he missed visiting Israel in the course of his presidency.
WASHINGTON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - The United States and its allies are discussing a worst-case scenario that could require tens of thousands of ground troops to go into Syria to secure chemical and biological weapons sites following the fall of President Bashar al-Assad's government, according to U.S. and diplomatic officials.
These secret discussions assume that all of Assad's security forces disintegrate, leaving chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria vulnerable to pillaging. The scenario also assumes these sites could not be secured or destroyed solely through aerial bombings, given health and environmental risks.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to explain the sensitive discussions, said the United States still had no plans to put boots on the ground in Syria. President Barack Obama's administration has, in fact, so far refused to provide lethal support to the rebels fighting to oust Assad's regime and the Pentagon has played down the possibility of implementing a no-fly zone anytime soon.
"There is not a imminent plan to deploy ground forces. This is, in fact, a worst-case scenario," the official said, adding U.S. forces would likely play a role in such a mission.
Two diplomatic sources, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said as many as 50,000 or 60,000 ground forces may be needed if officials' worst fears are realized, plus additional support forces.
Even a force of 60,000 troops, however, would not be large enough for peacekeeping and would only be the amount required to secure the weapons sites - despite some of the appearances of a Iraq-style occupation force, the diplomatic sources cautioned.
It is unclear at this stage how such a military mission would be organized and which nations might participate. But some European allies have indicated they are unlikely to join, the sources said.
The White House declined comment on specific contingency plans. Spokesman Tommy Vietor said that while the U.S. government believes the chemical weapons are under the Syrian government's control, "Given the escalation of violence in Syria, and the regime's increasing attacks on the Syrian people, we remain very concerned about these weapons.
"In addition to monitoring their stockpiles, we are actively consulting with Syria's neighbors - and our friends in the international community - to underscore our common concern about the security of these weapons, and the Syrian government's obligation to secure them," Vietor said.
The Pentagon declined to comment.
POTENTIALLY DOZENS OF SITES
While there is no complete accounting of Syria's unconventional weapons, it is widely believed to have stockpiles of nerve agents such as VX, sarin and tabun.
The U.S. official said there were potentially dozens of chemical and biological weapons sites scattered around the country.
Securing them could not be left to an aerial bombing, which could lead to the dispersion of those agents, the official said.
"There could be second-order effects that could be extremely problematic," the official said of aerial bombing.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that it was important that Syrian security forces be held together when Assad is forced from power, citing, in particular, their ability to secure chemical weapons sites.
"They do a pretty good job of securing those sites," Panetta said in an interview with CNN in July. "If they suddenly walked away from that, it would be a disaster to have those chemical weapons fall into the wrong hands, hands of Hezbollah or other extremists in that area."
The United States, Israel and Western powers have been discussing the nightmarish possibility that some of Assad's chemical weapons could make their way to militant groups - al-Qaeda style Sunni Jihadi insurgents or pro-Iranian Shi'ite Lebanese fighters from Hezbollah.
Some Western intelligence sources suggested that Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Guards, both close allies of Syria, might try to get hold of the chemical weapons in the case of a total collapse of government authority.
Syria began to acquire the ability to develop and produce chemical weapons agents in 1973, including mustard gas and sarin, and possibly also VX nerve agent.
Precise quantities and configurations of chemical weapons in the Syrian stockpile are not known. However, the CIA has estimated that Syria possesses several hundred liters of chemical weapons and produces hundreds of tonnes of agents annually.
The Global Security website, which collects published intelligence reports and other data, says there are several suspected chemical weapons facilities in Syria.
Analysts have also identified the town of Cerin, on the coast, as a possible production site for biological weapons.
The worst drought in more than 50 years is having a devastating impact on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi has become very thin and very narrow, and if it keeps on dropping there is a very real possibility that all river traffic could get shut down. And considering the fact that approximately 60 percent of our grain, 22 percent of our oil and natural gas, and and one-fifth of our coal travel down the Mississippi River, that would be absolutely crippling for our economy. It has been estimated that if all Mississippi River traffic was stopped that it would cost the U.S. economy 300 million dollars a day. So far most of the media coverage of this historic drought has focused on the impact that it is having on farmers and ranchers, but the health of the Mississippi River is also absolutely crucial to the economic success of this nation, and right now the Mississippi is in incredibly bad shape. In some areas the river is already 20 feet below normal and the water is expected to continue to drop. If we have another 12 months of weather ahead of us similar to what we have seen over the last 12 months then the mighty Mississippi is going to be a complete and total disaster zone by this time next year.
Most Americans simply do not understand how vitally important the Mississippi River is to all of us. If the Mississippi River continues drying up to the point where commercial travel is no longer possible, it would be an absolutely devastating blow to the U.S. economy.
Unfortunately, vast stretches of the Mississippi are already dangerously low. The following is an excerpt from a transcript of a CNN report that aired on August 14th....
You might think this is some kind of desert just outside of Memphis. It's not. I'm actually standing on the exposed bottom of the Mississippi River. That's how dramatic the drought impact is being felt here. Hard to believe, a year ago we were talking about record flooding. Now, they are worried about a new kind of record: a record low. The river was three miles wide here, it's now down to three tenths of a mile. And that's causing all kinds of problems. There are some benefits, I mean, take a look over here: new beach front. In fact, some quip that now the Mississippi River has more beaches than the entire state of Florida, which would be funny if it didn't have an impact on trade.A lot of stuff we use goes up and down the Mississippi River. We are talking steel, coal, ore, grain. The problem is now a lot of those barges have had to lighten their loads, and even doing that, they are still running aground. There is a real fear that there could be a possibility of closing the Mississippi River. If that happens, well, all that product that used to be carried cheaply by barge is now going to be carried more expensively by truck or train. And guess who is going to pay for all of that.
You can see video footage of what is happening along the Mississippi right here.
It really is amazing that last year we were talking about historic flooding along the Mississippi and this year we are talking about the Mississippi possibly drying up.
As I mentioned earlier, there are some areas along the river that are already 20 feet below normal levels. The following is from a recent article posted on inquisitr.com....
Just outside of Memphis the river is 13 feet below normal depth while the National Weather Service says Vicksburg, Mississippi is 20 feet below normal levels. Overall the Mississippi is 13 feet below normal averages for this time of year.The drying up river is forcing barge, tugboat and towboat operators to navigate narrower and more shallow spots in the river, slowing their speeds as they pass dangerously close to one another. In some parts of the Mississippi the river is so narrow that one-way traffic is being utilized.
A lot of barges have been forced to go with greatly reduced loads so that they will sit higher in the river, and other commercial craft have been forced to stop operating completely.
For example, the Mississippi has dropped so low at this point that the famous American Queen Steamboatcan no longer safely navigate the river.
Down south, the Mississippi River has gotten so low that saltwater is actually starting to move upriver. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is fighting hard to keep that contained.
Other waterways in the middle part of the country are in even worse shape.
For example, a 100 mile stretch of the Platte River has already dried up. Millions of fish are dying as rivers and streams all over the country continue to get shallower and warmer as a result of the ongoing drought.
The last time the condition of the Mississippi River was this bad was back in 1988. At that time, a lot of barge traffic was stopped completely and the shipping industry lost approximately a billion dollars.
If a similar thing were to happen now, the consequences could potentially be far worse.
As I wrote about recently, a standstill along the Mississippi would cost the U.S. economy about 300 million dollars a day.
In fact, one towing company that works on the Mississippi says that it has already been losing about$500,000 a month since May.
In the end, who is going to pay for all of this?
You and I will.
In fact, this crisis could end up costing American consumers a whole lot of money....
So here's the math. If you want to raise the average barge one inch above the water, you've got to take off 17-tons of cargo. To raise it a foot, you're talking 200 tons.And since, according to the American Waterways Operators, moving cargo by river is $11 a ton cheaper than by train or truck. The more that now has to be moved on land, well, the more the costs go up. Steven Barry says, "And, eventually, the consumer's gonna pay that price somewhere along the line."
And considering the fact that we are already facing a potential food crisis due to the drought, the last thing we need is for the Mississippi River to dry up.
So is there any hope on the horizon for the Mississippi?
Unfortunately, things do not look promising.
The fall and the winter are typically drier than the summer is along the Mississippi River. That means that conditions along the river could actually get even worse in the months ahead. The following is from a recent Time Magazine article....
But without significant rainfall, which isn’t in any long-range forecasts, things are likely to get worse. As summer turns to fall, the weather tends to get drier. Lower temperatures generally mean fewer thunderstorms and less rainfall.“Take away the thunderstorm mechanism and you run into more serious problems,” says Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com. And while droughts tend to be a temporary setback, longer-range forecasts are troublesome. Sosnowski says he is anticipating an El Niño weather pattern next year, which would mean below-normal snowfall and above-average temperatures.
Let us hope and pray that we don't see another 12 months similar to the 12 months that we have just been through.
The U.S. economy is already in bad enough shape.
We don't need any more major problems on top of what we are already dealing with.
So what do you think about this? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below....