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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Amazing Grace

"Entering" vs "Inheriting" - Chuck MIssler

Typhoon hits South Korea with 100mph winds so strong rocks are sent flying through the air

A typhoon ripped through the coast of South Korea this morning with powerful winds and heavy rain causing the death of at least one person and leaving scores of others homeless . 

Devastating Typhoon Sanba, which is generating winds of up to 97mph, and triggering blackouts in many homes and businesses is moving in a northeasterly direction and is expected to hit eastern waters later today.

North Korea is not expected to get a direct hit, but the country's eastern areas could see strong rain and wind from the edge of the typhoon, according to South Korean weather officials.

High waves generated by Typhoon Sanba crashed against the coast in Yeosu, about 286 miles south of the South Korean capital of Seoul this morning

Typhoon Sanba knocked out power to nearly 30,800 homes and shops in South Korea, the state-run National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement. The storm also forced cancellations of about 330 flights and 170 ferries while huge waves battered the southern coast.

A 50-year-old woman died in a landslide while another woman was injured in a separate landslide, agency officials said. More than 70 people were left homeless, they said.

Before reaching South Korea, the storm hit Japan. About 67,000 homes in southwestern Japan lost power and some areas flooded. A man drowned on Sunday while swimming in high waves off the southern Japanese island of Ishigaki, according to the coast guard.

South Korean general insurance stocks fell across the board, with reports of property damage caused by Typhoon Sanba hitting the Korean peninsula.

Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance closed down 3.4 percent, while Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance fell 3.5 percent. 

Telecom shares also declined, with SK Telecom closing down 3.3 percent while KT Corp fell 2.3 percent.

The typhoon caused widespread damage, here a retaining wall collapsed on top of cars, as the high winds and rain devastated the coastal town of Yeosu in South Korea

Sanba knocked out power to about 52,500 homes and shops in South Korea, the state-run National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement. The storm also forced cancellations of about 270 flights and 170 ferries, it said

High waves wash over a road in the southeastern South Korean port city of Busan as the impact of Typhoon Sanba, packing winds of up to 97 miles per hour, is felt across the southern coast

A resident wearing a bright yellow rain jacket tries to shelter from the horrendous weather beside a damaged road after a landslide hits the country in Ulsan, about 310 km southeast of Seoul

In North Korea, which reported heavy casualties from another powerful typhoon last month, any heavy rain is a worry.

State media said Typhoon Bolaven killed 59 people and left 50 missing and 26,320 homeless. About 127,500 acres of farmland were flooded, buried or washed away, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

North Korea also suffered flooding and drought earlier this year and there are worries about how the country's farms will handle the severe weather. The United Nations said in June that two-thirds of the country's 24 million people were grappling with chronic food shortages.

Another typhoon hit the peninsula shortly after Bolaven, but it didn't cause any deaths in South Korea. It's not unusual for three typhoons to hit the Korean Peninsula in such a short time, according to the Korean Meteorological Administration.

Last month coaches were overturned and hundred of people's homes were ripped apart as typhoon Tembin swept through southern Taiwan.

The army were called in to help with the clean-up operation, as trees were uprooted and furniture was seen floating in the streets of the East Asian state.

Flood waters reached nine feet high in one town, where armored vehicles rescued several dozen people from their flooded homes.

Strong wind blows pieces of polystyrene over a coastal road in Yeosu - one person was injured in a landslide and 20 people were left homeless, but there have been no reports of deaths so far

The roofs of three expensive sports cars are crushed as the powerful typhoon destroys much of the Yeosu's infrastructure

South Korean men carry a bench on a coastal road which has been flooded by the huge waves which spilled on to the land in Yesou

There is no way through for this car which is forced to turn back after broken pieces of rock caused Typhoon Sanba in Sokcho about 180 miles east of Seoul

A woman holds her umbrella against strong winds and rain generated by Typhoon Sanba in Daejeon, about 100 miles south of Seoul as tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate

High waves made by Typhoon Sanba beat upon a coast in Yeosu. Hundreds of sea and air passenger services were cancelled

Waves batter against a coastal road in Busan. The storm won't hit North Korea, but the country's eastern areas are expected get rain and wind according to South Korean weather officials

The remnants of a bicycle washed up in the choppy waters at the Tongyeong ferry terminal port, 280 miles southeast of Seoul

A fish dealer carries a box of fish as she desperately tries to save her stock at the flooded fish market in Changwon, about 248 miles southeast of Seoul

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2204426/Terrifying-typhoon-hits-South-Korea-100mph-winds-strong-rocks-sent-flying-air.html#ixzz26piIsWd4

Syrians tested chemical weapons firing systems

Syria tested firing systems for poison gas shells at the country's largest chemical weapons research center at Safira, east of Aleppo, last month, German weekly Der Spiegelreported on Monday, citing statements from various witnesses.

According to the report, Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers were flown in by helicopter to witness the testing.

Several empty shells, designed to carry chemical weapons, were fired by tanks and helicopters in a desert location near the research center, Der Spiegel quoted the witnesses as saying.

According to the report, Syria has reinforced security at the facility and made efforts to safeguard its electricity supply in recent months, in case of rebel attack.

Both the US and Israel have expressed concern over Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands or being used by Syrian President Bashar Assad to quell the uprising in the country.

US President Barack Obama warned last month that any sign that Assad was starting to utilize the weapons, or move them, would constitute a "red line" that could trigger US military intervention in the conflict.

"We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people," Obama told an impromptu White House news conference. He acknowledged he was not "absolutely confident" the stockpile was secure.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in July that Israel would take military action if needed to prevent Syria's chemical weapons from falling into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

According to Monday's report in Der Spiegel, the Safira chemical weapons research center includes scientists from North Korea and Iran who produce chemical weapons such as mustard gas and sarin which they test on animals.

The German weekly quoted a member of the Free Syrian Army as saying that the rebels are not planning to attack or capture the site.

Jerusalem Post

Nasrallah, in rare public address, hails ‘start of a serious movement in defense of the prophet’

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, center, escorted by his bodyguards, waves to a crowd of hundreds of thousands of supporters in Beirut, Lebanon on Monday (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

BEIRUT — The leader of Hezbollah made a rare public appearance Monday at a rally in Beirut, calling for sustained protests against an anti-Islam film that already has provoked a week of unrest in Muslim countries worldwide.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has rarely been seen in public since his Shiite Muslim group battled Israel in a month-long war in 2006, fearing Israeli assassination. Since then, he has communicated with his followers and gives news conferences mostly via satellite link.

On Monday, Nasrallah spoke for about 15 minutes before tens of thousands of cheering supporters, many of them with green and yellow headbands around their foreheads — the colors of Hezbollah — and the words “at your service God’s prophet” written on them.

Police officials estimated the crowd at around 500,000 — an exceptionally large turnout even by standards of the Hezbollah group whose rallies normally draw huge numbers.

Diplomats at the US Embassy in Beirut have started to destroy classified material as a security precaution and sent local Lebanese employees home early amid the anti-American protests.

In Washington, a State Department official said there was no imminent threat to the heavily fortified Beirut embassy, which is about an hour away from where the nearest demonstration is planned. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss security procedures, said the decision to “reduce classified holdings” was routine and made by embassy staff.

Nasrallah, who last appeared in public in December 2011 to mark the Shiite holy day of Ashoura, said the US must ban the movie and have it removed from the Internet and called for his followers to maintain pressure on the world to act.

“This is the start of a serious movement that must continue all over the Muslim world in defense of the prophet of God,” Nasrallah said to roars of support. “As long as there’s blood in us, we will not remain silent over insults against our prophet.”

The crowd chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to the Great Satan America,” reported Israel Radio.

He has called for a series of demonstrations this week to denounce the video.

Hezbollah supporters wave flags and hold up Arabic banners that read, “At your service God’s prophet; America equals terrorism; and America does not equal freedom,” during an anti-US rally in Beirut, Lebanon on Monday (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

Hezbollah’s rallies seem aimed at keeping the issue alive by bringing out large crowds. But the group also appeared to be trying to ensure the protests do not spiral into violence, walking a careful line. Notably, Hezbollah held Monday’s protest in its own mainly Shiite stronghold of Dahieh in south Beirut, far from the US Embassy, in the mountains north of the capital, and other international diplomatic missions.

For the group, anger over the low-budget movie that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad provides a welcome diversion from the crisis in Syria, which has brought heavy criticism on Hezbollah for its support of President Bashar Assad. But stoking riots in Beirut could also bring a backlash in the tensely divided country.

“Some people still don’t know the level of insult done to our prophet,” Nasrallah said. “The world should understand the truth of our relationship and ties to our prophet.”

The movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” portrays Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester. Protesters have directed their anger at the US government, insisting it should do something to stop the film’s distribution, though it was privately produced. American officials have criticized it for intentionally offending Muslims — and in one case, acted to prevent it being shown at a Florida church.

In a televised address on Sunday, Nasrallah had blamed the US for the film, saying, “The ones who should be held accountable and boycotted are those who support and protect the producers, namely the US administration.”

He called for protests on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Protests against the movie were largely peaceful in the Middle East but turned violent for the first time in Afghanistan on Monday as hundreds of people burned cars and threw rocks at a US military base in the capital, Kabul. Many in the crowd shouted “Death to America!” and “Death to those people who have made a film and insulted our prophet.”

Afghan religious leaders urged calm. “Our responsibility is to show a peaceful reaction, to hold peaceful protests. Do not harm people, their property or public property,” said Karimullah Saqib, a cleric in Kabul.

On the main throroughfare through the city, demonstrators burned tires, shipping containers and at least one police vehicle before they were dispersed. Elsewhere in the city, police shot in the air to hold back a crowd of about 800 protesters and prevent them from pushing toward government buildings downtown, said Azizullah, a police officer at the site who, like many Afghans, only goes by one name.

More than 20 police officers were slightly injured, most by rocks, said Gen. Fahim Qaim, the commander of a city quick-reaction police force.

The rallies will continue “until the people who made the film go to trial,” said one protester, Wahidullah Hotak, among several dozen people demonstrating in front of a Kabul mosque, demanding President Barack Obama bring those who have insulted the prophet to justice.

Several hundred demonstrators in Pakistan’s northwest also clashed with police Monday after setting fire to a press club and a government building, said police official Mukhtar Ahmed. The protesters apparently attacked the press club in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Upper Dir district because they were angry their rally wasn’t getting more coverage, he said.

Police charged the crowd in the town of Wari, beating protesters back with batons, Ahmad said. The demonstrators then attacked the office of a senior government official and surrounded a local police station, said Ahmad, who locked himself inside with several other officers.

One protester died when police and demonstrators exchanged fire, and several others were wounded, police official Akhtar Hayat said.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, hundreds of protesters clashed with police for a second day in the southern city of Karachi as they tried to reach the US Consulate. Police lobbed tear gas and fired in the air to disperse the protesters, who were from the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. Police arrested 40 students, but no injuries have been reported, said senior police officer Asif Ejaz Shaikh.

Pakistanis have also held many peaceful protests against the film, including one in the southwest town of Chaman on Monday attended by around 3,000 students and teachers.

In Jakarta, hundreds of Indonesians clashed with police outside the US Embassy, hurling rocks and firebombs and setting tires alight, marking the first violence over the film seen in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

At least 10 police were rushed to the hospital after being pelted with rocks and attacked with bamboo sticks, said Jakarta Police Chief Maj. Gen. Untung Rajad. He said four protesters were arrested and one was hospitalized.

Demonstrators burned a picture of Obama and also tried to ignite a fire truck parked outside the embassy after ripping a water hose off the vehicle and torching it, sending plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky. Police used a bullhorn to appeal for calm and deployed water cannons and tear gas to try to disperse the crowd as the protesters shouted “Allah Akbar,” or God is great.

“We will destroy America like this flag!” a protester screamed while burning a US flag. “We will chase away the American ambassador from the country!”

Demonstrations were also held Monday in the Indonesian cities of Medan and Bandung. Over the weekend in the central Java town of Solo, protesters stormed KFC and McDonald’s restaurants, forcing customers to leave and management to close the stores.

German authorities are considering whether to ban the public screening of the film, titled “Innocence of Muslims” because it could endanger public security, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday. A fringe far-right political party says it plans to show the film in Berlin in November.

Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on the West to block the film Monday to prove they are not “accomplices” in a “big crime,” according to Iranian state TV.

Such an appeal falls into the major cultural divides over the film. US officials say they cannot limit free speech and Google Inc. refuses to do a blanket ban on the YouTube video clip. This leaves individual countries putting up their own blocks.

The Times of Israel

Ultimate QE3 Meltdown while Govts choking economy to save banksters!

Movie Jihad? Muslims call for 'holy war'

Gerald Celente on Alex Jones Info Wars

'ALLA' god of violence and revolution

A research article posted on the website of terrorist-turned-Christian Walid Shoebat contends the oldest known references to the Islamic deity Allah are not in Arabian records but in Babylonian artifacts.

Ancient tablets describe “Alla” as a deity of “violence and revolution.”

“This link sheds new light since for many years we have been hearing various ideas on where Allah came from. Christian and Muslim scholars – as well as secular professors – presented numerous arguments on just who Allah really is,” wrote Theodore Shoebat, the son of Walid Shoebat.

In his heavily footnoted project, he writes that historians have suggested Islam’s beginnings are found in the Persian religion Zoroastrianism, while others, including Christian writers, argue Allah was a moon-god in Babylon.

The younger Shoebat, who already has published several books, said previously the oldest known reference to “Allah” was in northern and southern Arabia about the fifth century B.C., according to Kenneth J. Thomas.

The new find, however, links the name to the Epic of Atrahasis, chiseled on tablets sometime around 1700 B.C. in Babylon.

“The beginning of the Epic of Atrahasis describes Allah as how all of the gods labored endlessly in grueling work, under the rule of the patron deity Enlil or Elil. But soon revolt of the gods had erupted, and one deity of ‘violence and revolution’ [was] named Allah (spelled by the experts as Alla),” he wrote.

Walid Shoebat said he believes this is the first time the connection has been made.

Theodore Shoebat said one of the early such references in the Epic of Atrahasis states: “Then Alla made his voice heard and spoke to the gods his brothers,’ Come! Let us carry Elil, the counselor of gods, the warrior from his dwelling.”

The younger Shoebat, whose latest book is “For God or for Tyranny,” grew up in Northern California, where he witnessed Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Theodore Shoebat explained that no one had found any ancient pre-Islamic inscriptions that describe Allah being “worshiped purely, without idolatrous connotations.”

“The question remains as to why no expert on Assyriology or Sumerology had even suspected that ‘Alla’ had a connection with the Arabian ‘Allah,’” he wrote. “I checked the work of Thorkild Jacobsen, a foremost authority on Mesopotamian history and the dictionary of the translator, Stephanie Dally, and none make a connection between the Bablylonian ‘Alla’ and the Arabian ‘Allah.’

“Allah of the Babylonian Epic of Atrahasis was most likely kept hidden by researchers who feared controversy or even concealed the find,” he wrote. “In the epic Allah, which translators spelled ‘Alla’ (really pronounced the same way), was never even linked by any of the experts on Assyriology or any of the translators who wrote on the subject to the known Allah of Arabia and Islam.

“To those who accuse me of basing my conclusion, that Alla is Allah, on solely prejudice against Islam, I will present further evidence for my belief. It must be known to the reader that the author of the Atrahasis epic was one Ipiq-Aya who lived under the reign of the Old Babylonian king Ammi-Saduqa, and that he wrote it in the Akkadian language (the tongue of the Old Babylonian kingdom),” Ted Shoebat explained. “The ‘Akkadians’ it must be noted did not originally spring from Iraq, but had migrated from south Arabia, specifically Yemen, into Mesopotamia, where south Arabian inscriptions have been discovered, as in Kuwait on the Arab shores of the Persian gulf close to the borders of Iraq. The deities of Shamash (the Sun), and Ashdar/ Athtar (Venus) were both brought by the Akkadians from South Arabia into Mesopotamia.

“Athtar was originally a male deity of Venus for the Akkadian Arabs, but because when they had settled into Mesopotamia, they had equated Athtar with the Sumerian goddess of Venus Inanna, and would become the Babylonian Ishtar. This Athtar was also identified with the Arabian Allat, the female consort of Allah who was so revered by the Mesopotamians that they had called her Um-Uruk, or ‘the mother of the town of Erech,’ an infamous city of ancient Iraq,” he continued, “Since Allat was the feminine root of Allah, and was worshiped in Mesopotamia, and equal to the Sumerian Inanna, since they were both Venus goddesses, we should be able to find Allah associated with this goddess, based on inscriptions. In fact, we do, a Sumerian verse which directly identifies ‘Alla’ with the bridegroom of Inanna, Dumuzi or Tammuz who was an ancient deified king who once ruled the city-state of Erech, or Uruk, as the fourth king of its First Dynasty.”

He said it appears “Alla” “is an ancestral deity who was worshiped in Mesopotamia.” The writings from the time talk about Allah’s death, he explained.

“By the testimony of the Sumerians, it is clear that this Alla, or Tammuz, was once an infamous king of Erech, to only be deified by the superstitious masses of Mesopotamia.”


US & UK lead Hormuz power play as Israel's Iran strike

Spain’s banks bleeding cash as deposits shrink

There are significant outflows of deposits now in Spain and they won’t start coming back until people are sure they’re safe and that Spain is secure

Spanish banks, already hooked on cheap European Central Bank loans, are hemorrhaging deposits as the government debates whether to seek a bailout.

Households and companies drained 26-billion euros (US$34-billion) from Spanish bank accounts in July, driving the ratio of loans to deposits among lenders to 187% from 183% in December and 182% a year earlier, according to data compiled by the Bank of Spain. Shrinking deposits undermine the ability of banks to support economic growth by lending to companies and consumers.

“There are significant outflows of deposits now in Spain and they won’t start coming back until people are sure they’re safe and that Spain is secure,” said Simon Maughan, a financial strategist at Olivetree Securities Ltd. in London.

Spain’s financial industry is already backstopped by Europe to the tune of 100-billion euros, and is reliant on 412-billion euros of gross borrowings from the ECB. Investors demand 423 basis points more to own CaixaBank SA bonds maturing in 2015 than German bunds of similar maturity, up from a premium of about 384 when the bonds were sold in January.

Bond markets have reopened for Spanish banks after ECB President Mario Draghi pledged to help bring down government borrowing costs. Banco Santander SA led a return to wholesale debt markets last month when it sold 2-billion euros of senior unsecured bonds in the first sale by a Spanish bank in more than five months. Santander paid 390 basis points more than the benchmark swap rate, compared with a 250 basis-point premium on five-year bonds that the bank sold in March.

Ratio Requirements

Governments must first seek wider help from Europe’s rescue mechanism before the ECB will buy bonds. Moreover, the terms of Portugal’s May 2011 bailout require its banks to achieve a loan- to-deposit ratio of 120% by the end of 2014, while Ireland’s deal demands a ratio of 122.5% by 2013. No such provision was included in the July memorandum of understanding for Spain’s bank bailout.

“The first consequence of a lower loan-to-deposit ratio being set is that you have to identify chunks of assets to sell and that inevitably leads to haircuts and capital implications,” said Eamonn Hughes, an analyst at Dublin-based Goodbody Securities. “It also forces you to pay up for deposits, as we have seen in the Irish case.”

Imposing a loan-to-deposit target for Spanish lenders may mean they would have to reduce lending by 14% to 24%, Daragh Quinn and Duncan Farr, analysts Nomura International, wrote in a report published Monday. “The need to strengthen customer funding could also see the emergence of a deposit war, putting additional pressure on revenues, which are already likely to suffer from the low interest rate environment,” they said.

Record Outflow

Scrutiny of customer fund outflows at Spanish banks has intensified since the ECB said Aug. 28 that so-called private sector deposits shrank by 74-billion euros, or 4.7%, in July, the biggest drop on record. The ECB data include items such as deposits by securitization funds that banks say they don’t rely on for financing their business.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA said in a Sept. 4 report that a decline in securitization funds deposits helped explain the drop as banks substituted them by issuing covered bonds to discount at the ECB. Household and company deposits are stable once the practice of banks using instruments such as commercial paper to raise funds is taken into account. The loans-to-deposit ratio for BBVA’s Spanish business is 167%, according to the bank’s own data.

Accelerated Decline

Figures from Spain’s banking association showed deposits for Santander’s Spanish business dropped 6.3% in July from June, while BBVA’s slumped 7.1%, said the association, known as AEB.

Santander said the decline in July was partly due to a drop in repurchase agreements. BBVA spokesman Paul Tobin also attributed the bank’s deposit slide to repos, saying the data cited by AEB was for its operations in Spain, Portugal and the wholesale business elsewhere in Europe and New York.

There is “a clear underlying trend of accelerating deposit decline,” Nomura’s Quinn wrote in a Sept. 4 report. Term deposits by households fell 6.9% in July from a year earlier, while those of companies fell 24%, which “points to continued deposit declines in the future,” he said.

Replacing cheap ECB funding with cash raised on the bond market may mean lower profit margins for banks, said Alvaro Serrano and Sara Minelli, London-based analysts at Morgan Stanley, in a Sept. 12 report.

Growth Implications

About 86% of Bankinter SA’s estimated 2013 profits derive from its ability to borrow cheaply from the ECB, the analysts said, with Banco Popular Espanol SA dependent on central bank funds for about 79% of earnings. Meanwhile, Bank of Spain data shows lenders are offering higher deposit rates to attract cash, with interest rates on account for as long as one year climbing to 2.5% in July, the highest level since March.

Declining deposits may inflict more damage on the Spanish economy if the seepage of the most reliable source of funding further dries up credit, said Maughan at Olivetree. The International Monetary Fund predicts Spain’s economy will contract 1.7% this year and 1.2% in 2013.

“If deposits are falling, then the only option for Spanish banks to bring down their loans to deposit ratio is to cut back on the loans side,” Maughan said. “Does that sound like a good idea?”

Christian News Network

Nuclear Armageddon remains a possibility in political landscape

Five years ago, Israeli fighter jets destroyed a nuclear installation in Syria. According to an Oct. 6 2007 news report in The Spectator, a "very senior British ministerial source" retrospectively assessed the surgical strike as a white-knuckle gamble. "If people had known how close we came to world war three that day there'd have been mass panic_. [Prime Minister] Gordon [Brown] really would have been dealing with the bloody Book of Revelation and Armageddon," he told the paper.

Why was the Syrian strike so risky? The unidentified minister didn't share any classified details, but in his 2011 book How The End Begins, investigative journalist Ron Rosebaum notes the former Soviet Union has the same satellite surveillance capability as the U.S., "and would have picked up on the Israeli jets takeoff and-in the context of threats and counterthreats exchanged between Iran and Israel over the Iranian nuclear weapons program-they may well have warned the Iranians, with whom they have murky military and nuclear ties, that a potential Israeli attack on their nuclear facilities was underway. The Russians could easily have fired off an electronic warning to the Israelis not to attack Iran-and/or Syria-and implicitly or explicitly threatened "severe consequences' or some other euphemism for putting nukes on the table."

Russia has let the U.S. know it will not stand idly by if NATO forces lead a land invasion of Syria under the pretext of humanitarian intervention. Russia and China are economic/political allies of Iran. In a world that has reverted to a crazy quilt of alliances resembling pre-First World War Europe, it wouldn't take much for conventional warfare to shade into unconventional annihilation, a point Rosenbaum makes with insistence.

Yet for the past two decades, the possibility of atomic war sparked by any of the Nuclear Nine (The U.S., the U.K., Russia, China, Pakistan, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea) has been overshadowed by other mass fears, from global warming to bird flu to underwear/shoe bombers to-ironically-Iran's nascent nuclear program.

Whenever government officials begin severing diplomatic connections-as last week, when Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird huffed and puffed and blew the doors closed on the Canadian embassy in Tehran and the Iranian embassy in Toronto-the paranoiac thinking goes up on all sides while the odds against humanity's long-term survival goes down another notch.

Baird and his boss would do well to remember the wisdom of Winston Churchill: "to jaw-jaw is always better than war-war."

U.S. president Barack Obama should take note as well, considering his enthusiasm for using unmanned drones for missile attacks from Pakistan to Yemen to Afghanistan. According to a recent report in The New York Times, Obama holds what insiders call "Terror Tuesday meetings"-regular get-togethers with his national security team to select who is to be assassinated by drone.

Destabilizing Pakistan by default or design is not a good strategic move. The most worrisome scenario of all doesn't involve a uranium-enriched Iran, but a nuclear exchange between long-term enemies Pakistan and India. This wouldn't just kill millions outright, it would also cripple global agriculture and precipitate planetary economic collapse, according to Scientific American.

The 1962 Cuban missile crisis isn't the only time the world has close to atomic Armageddon. Throughout the Cold War there were at least six documented incidents of mistaken signals that nearly resulted in nukes flying between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. A flight of geese was the source in one incident, a Norwegian missile launch in another, and a rising moon in another.

Military signals can be notoriously ambiguous, and the difficulty of interpretation grows when geopolitical tensions are high. In 1983, Soviet sensors misinterpreted sunlight reflected from high-altitude clouds as an ICBM launch from the U.S. The only thing that saved civilization was the last-minute decision of Lieut. Stanislav Petrov to refuse instructions to push the button.

That long-standing acronym of nuclear deterrence, "MAD"-Mutually Assured Destruction-is a bang-on descriptor of world leaders' insane persistence in playing atomic chicken, especially given past events involving mistaken signals.

The words of Albert Einstein still ring true: "The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparallel catastrophe."


Read more: http://www.vancourier.com/Nuclear+Armageddon+remains+possibility+patchwork+political+landscape/7231925/story.html#ixzz26pkneSMA

Two Indonesian Volcanoes Awaken

Two of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes erupted on Saturday, prompting the government to issue warnings to populations living near the affected mountains.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said on Sunday that new eruption started at Lokon in North Sulawesi and Gamalama at Ternate in North Maluku.

Lokon generated a 1,500-meter high ash plume and violent strombolian (low-level) activity with some lava flow, while Gamalama produced a shower of ashes that covered the nearby city.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for BNPB, said on Sunday that Lokon, located in North Sulawesi’s Tomohon area, erupted at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

The explosion from the eruption shattered windows of the command post built to monitor the activities of the volcano, he said.

The agency, Sutopo said, had issued warnings to local administrations to prepare precautionary measures, and called on people to remain alert.

“The residents don’t have to be evacuated but they must not do any activities within the range of five kilometers from the volcano,” Sutopo said.

He said that the BNPB had asked the Tomohon administration to raise the awareness of residents.

Meanwhile, the Gamalama spurt sent ashes into the air for about 15 minutes at 11 p.m., before the wind carried the ashes toward the North Maluku capital of Ternate. “The ashes came down on the city, decreasing visibility to only 50 meters,” Sutopo said.

He said BNPB’s local branch went to the affected area and set up four stations to help people in the event of a larger eruption. “Here also, we don’t see any need to evacuate people. But we will stay on high alert,” the official said.

Lokon has erupted several times previously, with an explosion in July 2011 forcing more than 5,200 people to be evacuated.

The eruption created huge clouds of ash as high as 3,500 meters.

Lokon’s last deadly eruption was in 1991, when a Swiss tourist was killed.

Last December, Gamalama erupted, resulting in four villagers being killed and dozens others being hospitalized. About 1,000 residents were forced to evacuate.

The Indonesian archipelago has dozens of active volcanoes and straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the “Ring of Fire” between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Earlier this month, there was volcanic activity at Lampung’s Anak Krakatau.

Jakarta Globe

Iran claims its nuclear facilities could now survive enemy ‘missile attacks and raids’

VIENNA — Iran’s nuclear chief said Monday that “terrorists and saboteurs” might have infiltrated the International Atomic Energy Agency in an effort to derail his nation’s atomic program. He also said his country’s nuclear facilities could now survive enemy attack.

In an unprecedentedly harsh attack on the integrity of the UN organization and its probe of allegations that Tehran is striving to make nuclear arms, Fereydoun Abbasi spoke of a recent explosion at a particularly sensitive Iranian enrichment facility.

“Terrorists and saboteurs might have intruded the agency and might be making decisions covertly,” Abbasi said, in a speech to an IAEA conference in Vienna. Citing what he said was an example of sabotage last month at an underground enrichment plant, he said IAEA inspectors arrived to inspect it shortly after power lines were blown up.

Abbasi said that the explosion had caused the power supply to the Fordo facility to stop. ”Does this visit (by IAEA inspectors) have any connection to that detonation?” he asked.

Abbasi’s comments were the first mention of the alleged sabotage attack. He did not elaborate on the damage caused. Iran has repeatedly accused the US and Israel of trying to sabotage its nuclear program, by killing scientists, sending viruses into its computer systems and other actions.

The enrichment facility at Fordo, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) south of Tehran, is of particular concern to Israel because it is buried deep into a mountainside to protect it from attack.

Abbasi also attacked Israel’s nuclear program in his comments to the IAEA’s 155-nation general conference, saying that “the Zionist regime’s nuclear weapons constitute a threat to international peace and security.”

He denied that the Islamic Republic was seeking to develop a nuclear bomb, saying that “to liberate Palestine from the hands of the Zionist occupiers, there is no need to use nuclear weapons. The solution is democracy and holding a referendum among the original inhabitants of Palestine.”

Iran has often warned that any Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities would trigger a devastating response, and on Monday Abbasi suggested that even such a strike would not succeed in slowing down his country’s nuclear program. He said without elaboration that experts have “devised certain ways through which nuclear facilities remain intact under missile attacks and raids.”

Abbasi rebuked the United States at the meeting, reflecting Iran’s determination to continue defying international pressure aimed at curbing its nuclear program and nudging it toward cooperation with the IAEA inspection.

The unyielding speech underlined concerns raised by Israeli leaders who say that both diplomatic efforts and economic penalties have failed to move Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been urging the US administration to set “red lines” that, if crossed by Iran, would trigger US-led military action.

In the past week, Netanyahu has urged President Barack Obama and other world leaders to state clearly at what point Iran would face a military attack. But Obama and his top aides, who repeatedly say all options remain on the table, have pointed to shared US-Israeli intelligence that suggests Iran hasn’t decided yet whether to build a bomb despite pursuing the technology. They argue that, were Iran to begin speeding toward a bomb, there would still be time for action beyond toughened sanctions already in place.

Speaking at a press conference in Berlin on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Tehran “poses a threat not just to Israel but to the whole world.”

Despite her strong criticism of Iran, she also said political solutions “have not been exhausted” when it comes to negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear advances, and urged the international community to continue down the avenue of diplomacy and dialogue.

Tehran denies seeking nuclear arms, and Abbasi, an Iranian vice president whom the agency suspects may have been involved in nuclear weapons research, again insisted on Monday that his country’s nuclear program is aimed only at making reactor fuel and doing medical research.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran … has always opposed and will always denounce the manufacture and use of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

Tehran has long dismissed suspicions that it may re-engineer its uranium enrichment program from making reactor fuel to produce nuclear warheads and says accusations that it has worked secretly on nuclear arms are based on fabricated US and Israeli intelligence. It also frequently accuses the IAEA of anti-Iran bias in its push to ensure that all of Tehran’s nuclear activities are peaceful. But Abbasi’s comments Monday were the harshest attack to date on the agency itself.

Abbasi said that anti-Iran elements are helped by the agency, even when it reports what it sees “truthfully and with absolute honesty,” because “this information is easily accessible to saboteurs and terrorists through IAEA reports.”

However, Iran now can “ward off threats by targeting … cyber-attacks, industrial sabotage and use of explosives,” he said, without elaborating.

Abbasi said US pressure on Iran is the equivalent of an attack on all developing nations’ nuclear rights. He called US-led sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and financial transactions “the ugly face of colonization and modern slavery.”

“A state which has used nuclear weapons is not eligible to be present at the Board of Governors,” he said, questioning the right of the United States to sit on the 35-nation IAEA board that makes agency policy.

Meanwhile, statements critical of Iran on Monday were voiced in more traditional terms similar to that heard at previous IAEA meetings.

US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu accused Tehran of continuing “a decade-long pattern of evasion regarding questions over the nature of its nuclear program, including those related to possible military dimensions of its nuclear activities.”

A European Union statement warned of “deep concerns about possible military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear program.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano said Monday that the independent body would hold further talks with nuclear talks with Iran “despite the lack of progress so far,” in an effort to clarify its concerns about the regime’s illicit atomic program.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto─člu Sunday, and he was to meet EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday as the IAEA talks continue.

Israel Times