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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The bombed Sudanese factory produced Iranian Shehab missiles

The Yarmouk Complex of military plants near Khartoum, whicht was bombed five minutes after midnight Wednesday, Oct. 24, by four fighter-bombers, recently went into manufacturing Iranian ballistic surface-to-surface Shehab missiles under license from Tehran,DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources disclose. Western intelligence sources have not revealed what types of Shehab were being turned out in Sudan but they believe the Yarmouk’s output was intended to serve as Tehran’s strategic reserve stock in case Iran’s ballistic arsenal was hit by Israeli bombers.

The Israeli Air Force has a long record of pre-emptive attacks for destroying an enemy’s long-range missiles in the early stages of a conflict. In June 2006, for instance, the IAF destroyed 90 percent of Hizballah’s long-range missiles in the first hours of the Lebanon war.

Videos of the explosions caused in the air raid over Sudan showed large quantities of phosphorus flares in the sky suggesting that a large stockpile was demolished along with the manufacturing equipment.

Western sources did not divulge information about the comings and goings of Iranian missile specialists or whether the Bashir government had given Tehran permission to stage attacks from Sudan against Middle East targets, in return for the allotment of a number of missiles to the Sudanese army. All they would say is that the complex's structures had been completely leveled by the aerial bombardment and subsequent fire.

Sudan accused Israel of the attack and stated it reserved the right to respond at a time and circumstances of its choosing. Israeli officials declined to comment in answer to questions.

If Indeed Israel was responsible for the bombing raid, it is possible to postulate the following objectives:

1. Its air force flew 1,800-1,900 kilometers to reach the Sudanese arms factory, a distance longer than the 1,600 kilometers to the Iranian underground enrichment site of Fordo. This operation may have been intended to show Tehran that distance presents no obstacles to an Israeli strike on its nuclear program.
2. The IAF has an efficient in-flight refueling capability.
3. The raid would have degraded Iran’s ability to retaliate for a potential Israel or US attack.

If it was conducted by Israel, it would add a third item to the list of backdoor assaults in which Iran and Israel appear to be engaged in the past three months.

On August 17, the power lines to Fordo were sabotaged, interrupting the work of enrichment taking place there and causing some of the advanced centrifuges to catch fire.

On Oct. 6, an Iranian stealth drone was launched from Lebanon into Israeli air space and photographed its most sensitive military sites as well as the Dimona nuclear reactor before Israel brought it down.


Manna - Chuck Missler

Thousands in Madrid protest 2013 budget cuts

Reuters/Susana Vera
AFP Photo/Pierre-Philippe Marcou
Demonstrators gather outside Parliament as the debate for the 2013 budget goes on inside Parliament in Madrid October 23, 2012. (Reuters/Susana Vera)

Thousands have taken to the streets of the Spanish capital, just outside the Parliament building, to protest their government’s latest bid to further cut spending in 2013.

Cordoned off by police riot vans, the crowd outside the government headquarters in Madrid yelled slogans lambasting further austerity measures and political corruption, demanding the resignations of the deputies of both the ruling conservative Popular Party and the opposition Socialists.

"People in the street feel like [lawmakers] don't respect us," Noelia Urdialesa, a care assistant, told the AFP. "They are making cuts in health and education, affecting the most vulnerable."

Earlier in the day, students also staged an anti-austerity protest against new cuts to education that are expected in the 2013 budget, which will lead to larger class sizes and higher tuition fees.

Approximately $6.5 billion has been cut from education funding in Spain since 2010.

Politicians, meanwhile, are debating a new budget plan that would add an additional €39 billion in savings, as part of the plan to reduce spending by €150 billion between 2012 and 2014 with pay cuts and tax rises.

Speaking at the start of the debate, Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said the draft budget "aimed to combat the crisis," adding that it was a budget that would make "2013 the last year of recession for Spain."

But people outside do not believe that reaching such targets is even a remote possibility.

“Those deficit targets are impossible to meet. Everybody knows that, so the government is counting on the EU to ease those targets. But the problem is that easing the targets does not mean that the government will ease their austerity policies,” journalist Miguel-Anxo Murado told RT.

This is very difficult, as Spain’s economy continued to shrink in the third quarter, according to central bank estimates Tuesday. This is the fifth quarter in a row that Spain's economic output has shrunk.

In late September during similar protests, 38 people were arrested and 64 injured when officers clashed with protesters demonstrating against austerity cutbacks and tax hikes.

This time, no casualties have been reported.

More protests outside Parliament are planned for Thursday and Saturday.


U.N. calls for 'anti-terror' Internet surveillance

The United Nations is calling for more surveillance of Internet users, saying it would help to investigate and prosecute terrorists.

A 148-page report (PDF) released today titled "The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes" warns that terrorists are using social networks and other sharing sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Dropbox, to spread "propaganda."

"Potential terrorists use advanced communications technology often involving the Internet to reach a worldwide audience with relative anonymity and at a low cost," said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The report, released at a conference in Vienna convened by UNODC, concludes that "one of the major problems confronting all law enforcement agencies is the lack of an internationally agreed framework for retention of data held by ISPs." Europe, but not the U.S. or most other nations, has enacted a mandatory data-retention law.

That echoes the U.S. Department of Justice's lobbying efforts aimed at convincing Congress to require Internet service providers to keep track of their customers -- in case police want to review those logs in the future. Privacy groups mounted a campaign earlier this year against the legislation, which has already been approved by a House committee.

The report, however, indicates it would be desirable for certain Web sites -- such as instant-messaging services and VoIP providers like Skype -- to keep records of "communication over the Internet such as chat room postings." That goes beyond what the proposed U.S. legislation, which targets only broadband and wireless providers, would cover.

Other excerpts from the UN report address:

Open Wi-Fi networks: "Requiring registration for the use of Wi-Fi networks or cybercafes could provide an important data source for criminal investigations... There is some doubt about the utility of targeting such measures at Internet cafes only when other forms of public Internet access (e.g. airports, libraries and public Wi-Fi hotspots) offer criminals (including terrorists) the same access opportunities and are unregulated."

Cell phone tracking: "Location data is also important when used by law enforcement to exclude suspects from crime scenes and to verify alibis."

Terror video games: "Video footage of violent acts of terrorism or video games developed by terrorist organizations that simulate acts of terrorism and encourage the user to engage in role-play, by acting the part of a virtual terrorist."

Paying companies for surveillance: "It is therefore desirable that Governments provide a clear legal basis for the obligations placed on private sector parties, including... how the cost of providing such capabilities is to be met."

Today's U.N. report was produced in collaboration with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which counts the World Bank, Interpol, the World Health Organization, and the International Monetary Fund as members.

Iran says may stop oil sales if sanctions tighten

(Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday it would stop oil exports if pressure from Western sanctions got any tighter and that it had a "Plan B" contingency strategy to survive without oil revenues.

Western nations led by the United States have imposed tough sanctions on the Islamic Republic this year in an attempt to curb its nuclear program that they say is designed to produce atomic weapons. Tehran says its nuclear plans are peaceful.

"If sanctions intensify we will stop exporting oil," Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi told reporters in Dubai.

Qasemi's statement is the latest in a series of threats of retaliation by Tehran in response to the sanctions, which have heightened political tensions across the Middle East and, analysts say, led to a sharp drop in Iranian oil exports.

"We have prepared a plan to run the country without any oil revenues," Qasemi said, adding, "So far to date we haven't had any serious problems, but if the sanctions were to be renewed we would go for 'Plan B'.

"If you continue to add to the sanctions we (will) cut our oil exports to the world... We are hopeful that this doesn't happen, because citizens will suffer. We don't want to see European and U.S. citizens suffer," he said, adding that the loss of Iranian oil on the market would drive up oil prices.

Analysts brushed off Qasemi's threat.

"It's just making noise. It would be like cutting off their nose to spite their face," said Leo Drollas, Chief Economist at the Centre for Global Energy Studies.

"Iran needs to export its crude more than other countries need to import it. They are desperate for cash."

Sanctions have already reduced Iran's exports to around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) compared to 2.2 million bpd in 2011. China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey now count as Tehran's main buyers.

The U.S. government has focused on blocking Iran's oil exports because it estimates that crude sales provide about half of Iranian government revenues and that oil and oil products make up nearly 80 percent of the country's total exports.

The rial plunged by about a third against the U.S. dollar in the week to October 2, reflecting a slide in oil income wrought by tightened sanctions over summer aimed at pressuring Tehran to drop its nuclear program.

How long the economy could function without selling any oil is unclear, but Iran has large currency reserves accumulated over decades as one of the world's largest oil suppliers.

"What else can they export to generate the necessary revenues?" Carsten Fritsch of Commerzbank said in the Reuters Global Oil Forum.

Because of the slide in the rial and oil export earnings, the government is already moving onto an austerity footing, cutting imports of non-essential goods and urging its citizens to buy fewer foreign products.

Iran has in the past said it could shut the vital shipping lane of Hormuz at the head of the Middle East Gulf. However, a large Western naval force sent to keep open the route, through which about a third of the world's seaborne oil exports pass might be a large obstacle to such an attempt.


Earlier on Tuesday, Qasemi said Iran was still producing 4 million barrels per day (bpd), rejecting reports the country's output has fallen to around 2.7 million bpd.

According to the latest secondary source estimates published by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iran pumped just 2.72 bpd in September, and Iran's own data submitted to OPEC showed the country produced 3.75 million bpd in August.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that Iranian exports fell to a new low of 860,000 bpd in September, down from 2.2 million bpd at the end of 2011.

Assuming a crude oil price of $110, such a sharp drop means Iran making just $95 million dollars from daily crude sales last month, about $147 million less every day than it was making late last year.

Nevertheless, Qasemi said Iran was pumping oil at full capacity and refining more of its own oil to meet domestic demand.

"It is currently 4 million barrels per day," he said, declining to give export figures.

"Iran has been facing U.S. sanctions for 30 years while successfully managing its oil sector," he said.

He said Iran's refining capacity was now 2 million barrels per day (bpd) with another 200,000 bpd of capacity to be added before the end of Iranian year next March.

The increase in refining capacity had already ended Iran's need to import vehicle fuel and could soon drive a boom in fuel exports, the minister said.

"Our daily consumption of petrol (gasoline) is 90 million liters ... Earlier, a big portion of that was being imported but we no longer import products," he said.

"Right now, we not only don't import but we also export some products ... there are always customers for Iranian oil.

"By the end of the Iranian year they will reach their maximum capacity and then we can export more Iranian oil products," he said.


German auditors say central bank should take stock of gold bars

(Reuters) - Germany's federal auditors called on Monday for the central bank to physically inspect the gold reserves it stores at foreign central banks because the high value holdings have never been fully checked.

Germany's Bundesbank holds nearly 3,400 tonnes of gold valued at almost 133 billion euros $174 billion (108.66 billion pounds).
Like many central banks, it keeps part of its reserves in vaults at foreign central banks, with some held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Banque de France and the Bank of England.

The German Federal Court of Auditors, which oversees the government's financial management, said in a report to the Bundestag lower house of parliament's budget committee that the Bundesbank should, in accordance with commercial law, carry out a physical audit at regular intervals on an appropriate sample.

The Bundesbank does not consider it necessary to count the gold bars or check their gold content itself and instead considers written assurances sent by its partner central banks sufficient.
The federal auditors said in the report that the Bundesbank should negotiate the right to physically inspect its reserves with the three foreign central banks and added that the Bundesbank had already begun to implement this recommendation.

But in a letter seen by Reuters, Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele wrote to Dieter Engels, president of the German Federal Court of Auditors, saying that while the central bank was discussing further inspection rights, this was not so that it could carry out the kind of checks the auditors wanted.

Thiele said such stocktaking was not necessary from a legal perspective and was also not possible at the foreign depositories.

Eurozone business activity hits fresh low

Business activity in the eurozone contracted at its fastest pace in almost three-and-a-half years in October, a survey suggests.

The Markit Flash Eurozone Purchasing Managers' (PMI) Composite Output Index fell to 45.8, from 46.1 in September. A figure below 50 indicates contraction.

The reading is consistent with a quarterly rate of economic contraction in the bloc of 0.5%, Markit said.

Firms also continued to cut employment, but at a slightly slower rate.

The figures represent an initial estimate based on 85% of the normal number of monthly responses, and so are likely to be revised slightly.

Earlier, PMI figures collected by HSBC bank showed that manufacturing activity in China in October slowed at a slower pace than in previous months. The country's PMI hit 49.1, up from 47.9 in September and the highest level in three months.

Separately, a survey by the UK's CBI business group found that manufacturing orders in the three months to October fell in the UK, while output from the sector was flat. The balance between those companies that saw output rise and those that saw it fall hit its lowest level in three years.

However, manufacturers said they expected a modest recovery in output in the next three months.'Clear deterioration'

The rate of decline in the services sector eased in the eurozone, to 46.2 from 46.1 in September, but in manufacturing the rate accelerated, to 45.3 from 46.1.

Despite the easing in services, optimism in the sector deteriorated, suggesting employment would be cut further, Markit said.

Europe's industrial powerhouse, Germany, saw output contract faster, with car exports particularly weak. France, the eurozone's second largest economy, saw a "steep contraction" in overall business activity.

"The eurozone has slid further into decline at the start of the fourth quarter," said Markit's chief economist Chris Williamson.

"Official data have showed surprising resilience over the summer compared to the survey data, but the underlying business climate has clearly deteriorated markedly in recent months.

"While GDP may decline only modestly in the third quarter, a steeper fall looks to be on the cards for the fourth quarter."'Unpleasant surprise'

The eurozone economy contracted by 0.2% between April and June, having recorded no growth in the first quarter.

Many economists expect official figures, released in the middle of November, to show a further contraction between July and September, pushing the bloc back into recession.

"October's decline in the eurozone composite PMI is an unpleasant surprise and reinforces concern that the economic downturn in the region may be deepening and widening," said Martin van Vliet at ING.

Eurozone economies are struggling as governments focus on reducing debt levels following the financial crisis by cutting spending and increasing taxes, measures that are undermining growth.


Egyptian President Morsi Mouths ‘Amen’ As Egyptian Preacher Urges ‘Allah, Destroy The Jews’

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi participated in prayers over the weekend in which the preacher urged Allah to “destroy the Jews and their supporters.”

President Mohammed Morsi at prayer on October 19 at el-Taneim Mosque in Matrouh governorate (photo credit: MEMRI screenshot)

In footage of the service from Matrouh governorate’s el-Tenaim Mosque screened on Egyptian state television on Friday, Morsi was shown in fervent prayer as cleric Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour, the local head of religious endowment, declared, “Oh Allah, absolve us of our sins, strengthen us, and grant us victory over the infidels. Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, disperse them, rend them asunder. Oh Allah, demonstrate Your might and greatness upon them. Show us Your omnipotence, oh Lord.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Morsi could be seen mouthing “amen” to these sentiments.

The service was also attended by the region’s governor and local officials. The footage was recorded and transcribed by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute). A similar translation was published by the ADL.

The ADL’s National Director Abraham Foxman complained Sunday that “The drumbeat of anti-Semitism in the ‘new’ Egypt is growing louder and reverberating further under President Morsiand we are increasingly concerned about the continuing expressions of hatred for Jews and Israel in Egyptian society and President Morsi’s silence in the face of most of these public expressions of hate.” Added Foxman, “The United States and other governments with influence on the Egyptian leadership should publicly urge President Morsi to speak out against this disturbing manifestation of hatred toward Jews.”

Earlier this week, the ADL wrote to Morsi urging him to reject statements made by the supreme author­ity of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, Mohammed Badie, who called for vio­lence against Jews and Israel.

Morsi was making his first visit Friday to the coastal area in the country’s northwest since winning the presidency this summer. In a speech he delivered after the prayers, Morsi reportedly spoke of the need for Egyptian unity.

While Morsi was visiting Matrouh, demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Friday held a peaceful protest demanding the president, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, ensure the country’s constitution, currently being drafted, represent all factions of society.

Morsi has indicated he intends to maintain Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and his new ambassador to Israel presented his credentials to President Shimon Peres last week. The warm tone of the note Morsi sent to Peres in presenting his ambassador, though it accorded with normal diplomatic protocol, has caused a storm of controversy in Egypt.A Muslim Brotherhood leader initially claimed the letter was a “Zionist fabrication,” but Morsi’s office confirmed its authenticity. source – Times Of Israel
Now the end begins

Russian Church Highlights Persecution of Christians in Syria

The Russian Orthodox Church is worried about the persecution of Christians in Syria and other Arab countries where regimes changed rapidly, a top Church official said.

“We are deeply worried by what is going on in Syria, where radical forces are trying to come to power with the help of Western powers,” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Russian Church's Department of External Church Relations, told journalists.

“Where they come to power, Christian communities become the first victims,” he said.

Metropolitan Hilarion on Tuesday spoke at the UN General Assembly’s social and humanitarian affairs committee and met with UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

He also cited Iraq as an example, saying that 1.5 million Christians lived in the country 10 years ago, and adding that the number has significantly decreased since. Many have been killed or forced to escape to other countries, the metropolitan said.

The current number of Christians, a minority in mainly Muslim Iraq, does not exceed 350,000, and it was above 1 million before the Gulf War in 1991, according to human rights watchdog Open Doors USA.

Metropolitan Hilarion said the topic of the persecution of Christians is being hushed up by Western press and is not on the UN or other international organizations’ agenda.

“The talk is not about insufficient tolerance, but about a real full-scale persecution of Christians that embraces different countries and whose victims are tens and hundreds of thousands of Christians,” he said.

Russia, the Russian Church official said, is the key force trying to prevent Syria from the repetition of the Libyan or Iraqi scenarios.

“We should not just speak on the topic, but create a mechanism that would prevent further indulgence toward persecution of Christians,” he said.

The Syrian conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives, according to various Syrian opposition groups. The UN puts the death toll at 20,000-30,000 people.

The West is pushing for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ouster while Russia and China are trying to prevent outside interference in Syria, saying that the Assad regime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed. Veto-wielding Moscow and Beijing have three times blocked sanctions resolutions on Syria.

Mainly Muslim Syria has seen violent attacks on Christians since the start of the conflict.

“As the Arab Spring continues to rage throughout Syria, thousands more people have lost their lives in a movement that seeks to strip President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of its power. And as Islamic protesters clash with government forces, Christians have become hopelessly tangled in the crossfire,” Christian Freedom International, a human rights organization, said on its website.

“Although the Syrian church has historically enjoyed peace and religious freedom under the Assad regime, the Arab Spring has destabilized that peace, as Christians are now typically perceived as supporters of the existing government,” it said.

RIA Novosti


US-Iran talks waste of time

At the beginning of the last decade the Europeans – headed by Germany Britain and France – initiated talks with Tehran in an effort to prevent the Ayatollah regime from moving forward with its nuclear program. It was a time when few people around the world knew who Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was and the regime in Tehran was in the hands of reformist mullahs.

The "great success" of this "critical dialogue" with Iran produced a sad joke: During the negotiations, the Europeans and Iranians would criticize the United States, together. The joke may be funny, but the result of this dialogue was not amusing at all.

Meanwhile, the reformist regime in Tehran was replaced by an extremist movement headed by Ahmadinejad, and in the US a Democratic president replaced the "belligerent" George W. Bush.

Under Obama, the US sent Tehran numerous signals indicating that it seeks reconciliation. An American representative even joined the talks between Europe and Iran. But this round of negotiations failed as well.

Everyone remembers Obama's famous "New beginning" speech in Cairo just after he took office. Now, as Obama's first term draws to a close, we are informed that Washington and Tehran may launch direct negotiations.

The American administration has turned itself into a joke. The US will give Iran the time it needs to complete the development of a nuclear bomb, after which it will be able to conduct negotiations from a position of power - and Israeli and American threats of an attack won’t help.

All of the Obama administration's overtures to the Arab and Muslim world have not yielded any results. The American president and his government do not understand the Middle East and are causing irreparable damage.

This failed policy is bolstering the extremists and reduces the chances of a peaceful resolution. We can only hope for a different American administration, one that will terminate this absurd plan before it becomes irreversible.

Ynet News

The new threat to cell phone privacy