Friday, November 9, 2012
A 6.3-magnitude earthquake occurred off Vancouver Island Wednesday night.
The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the quake occurred about 182 kilometres southwest of Port Hardy, B.C. around 9 p.m. ET.
There were no immediate reports of any damage. No tsunami warnings have been issued.
A number of tsunami warnings were issued when a 7.7-magnitude quake struck off B.C.’s coast on Oct. 27, but all were later downgraded. At that time, the coastal area from the north tip of Vancouver Island to Cape Decision, Alaska was in potential danger. The quake was felt across north-central B.C. and some low-lying communities were evacuated as a precaution.
Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/6-3-magnitude-earthquake-strikes-near-vancouver-island-1.1029375#ixzz2BgaJKb17
Turkey is planning to ask NATO for Patriot missiles to help defend its southern region from Syria, said an Ankara source quoted by international media.
The missile defense battery would be stationed along the country's 910 kilometer (560 mile) border with Syria, said a senior Turkish foreign ministry official.
"An imminent official request is to be made,” the source told a reporter on condition of anonymity. "The deployment of these type of missiles as a step to counter threats is routine under NATO regulations," the official said.
A NATO spokeswoman in Brussels told reporters the organization had not yet received any request for the defense system from Ankara. She added, however: "As the Secretary-General said on Monday, the allies will consider any request that is brought to the North Atlantic Council."
Turkey and the United States have discussed with other allies the possibility of using Patriot missile batteries to protect a buffer zone within the civil war-torn Syrian nation. Ankara raised the issue as a possible means of stopping loyalist forces fighting for President Bashar al-Assad from carrying out air strikes on residential neighborhoods where rebels hide.
Such a plan, said the foreign ministry official, might deployed under a “NATO umbrella.” Further talks were put off until after the U.S. national elections.
NATO installed an early warning radar system in 2011 for the European missile shield project in the southeastern Malatya province of Turkey. The project also included missile batteries in Romania and Poland, and longer-range missiles on board a ship off the northern coast of Spain, with a command and control center in German.
The United States has said the missile shield is aimed at thwarting threats from the Middle East, particularly Iran. Turkish officials, however, have insisted that the shield installed in Malatya targets no specific country.
Israel National News
The US has more in common with heavily indebted southern European countries than it might like to admit. And if the country doesn't reach agreement on deficit reduction measures soon, the similarities could become impossible to ignore. The fiscal cliff looms in the near future, and its not just the US that is under threat.
The US has finally voted and the dark visions of America's future broadcast on television screens across the country -- and most intensively in battleground states -- have come to an end. Supporters of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney had developed doomsday scenarios for what would happen if their candidate's opponent were to win. Four more years of Obama, the ads warned, would result in pure socialism. A Romney presidency would see the middle and lower classes brutally exploited.
But following Obama's re-election, Americans are now facing a different, much more real horror scenario: In just a few weeks time, thousands of children could be denied vaccinations, federally funded school programs could screech to a halt, adults may be forced to forego HIV tests and subsidized housing vouchers would dry up. Even the work of air-traffic controllers, the FBI, border officials and the military could be drastically curtailed
That and more is looming just over the horizon according to the White House if the country is allowed to plunge off the "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of next year. Coined by Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke, it refers to the vast array of cuts and tax increases which will automatically go into effect if Republicans and Democrats can't agree on measures to slash the US budget deficit.
In total, the cuts add up to $1.2 trillion over the next nine years, with half coming from the military and half from other government programs, and with $65 billion coming in the first year alone. They were enshrined in law with the Budget Control Act of 2011, which also increased the debt ceiling. And though a deadline of Jan. 2, 2013 was set, they were never meant to come into effect. The plan for deep across-the-board cuts was intended as a way to prod Democrats and Republicans into reaching agreement on a long-term plan to reduce America's vast budget deficit.
Not a Bad Thing?
The "fiscal cliff" also includes the expiration of tax cuts for the rich, which were originally passed by President George W. Bush and extended by Obama. The elimination of the lower tax rates would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, result in $221 billion in extra tax revenues in 2013 alone. A temporary 2-percent federal income tax cut would also expire, resulting in an additional $95 billion flowing into government coffers next year.
There are also several other cuts and tax hikes included in the austerity package. Some $18 billion in taxes would come due as part of Obama's health care reform, and welfare cuts would save $26 billion. Should lawmakers not reach agreement prior to the end of the year, the US budget deficit for 2013 would be cut almost in half, to $560 billion.
Which doesn't sound like a bad thing. After all, the US is staggering under a monumental pile of debt and could potentially begin to face the kinds of difficulties that have plunged several euro-zone countries into crisis. It is a viewpoint shared by the ratings agencies -- a year ago, Standard & Poor's withdrew America's top rating, justifying the measure by pointing to the unending battle over the debt ceiling. The agency noted that "the political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed."
From afar, it is difficult to argue; the ongoing battle between Democrats and Republicans in the face of a horrendously imbalanced budget looks catastrophically absurd. As their country heads toward the edge of the abyss, lawmakers preferred to debate whether or not French fries and pizza should be considered vegetables.
Still, a significant element in the dispute is a fundamental conflict that won't sound foreign to Europeans: How much austerity is too much?
As good as an instantaneous halving of the budget deficit might sound, the landing after a plunge off the fiscal cliff would be a hard one. Were taxes to be ratcheted up at the same time as state programs were slashed, it would have an enormous effect on the economy. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 2013 growth would immediately drop by four percentage points, making a recession unavoidable. The number of unemployed would be two million higher than without the cuts.
It is an eventuality that doesn't just put fear into the hearts of Americans. In its annual report on the US, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) referred to the fiscal cliff as the largest risk currently facing America. Investors have already reportedly become more cautious in the face of the looming cuts. Should politicians not agree to a credible plan for reducing US debt, it could ultimately harm the credibility of the dollar as a reserve currency. More immediately, the IMF writes in its World Economic Outlook report published in October, the drastic cuts "would inflict large spillovers on major US trading partners." In other words, an already fragile Europe would become even weaker.
As such, Germany won't be the only country watching closely as US Congress struggles to reach an agreement in coming weeks. Should the US economy radically slow down next year, "it could in the current atmosphere of uncertainty result in a global loss of confidence that would lead to a collapse in investment worldwide," according to the annual report of top German economic advisors released on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the experts warn, simply postponing measures to address the debt and budget deficit problems "would also have long-term costs in the form of still higher sovereign debt."
The Greek Model?
What, then, is the solution? In the end, the US could arrive at a compromise similar to the one that appears to be forming for Greece: austerity measures combined with more time to achieve budget deficit reduction targets. The drastic cuts currently looming are essentially a kind of debt brake, but it is one with no flexibility built in whatsoever. The US economist Denis Flower proposed in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE that Washington should introduce a law mandating long-term debt reduction, but which allows higher deficits in times of crisis.
US politicians, no doubt, would not be fond of hearing their country compared to Greece. After all, the heavily indebted euro-zone country was used during the presidential campaign as a caricature for the horrors of European-style socialism. But their current finances are not dissimilar, with one difference being that the US can't count on outside help as the Greeks have received.
It remains to be seen how US politicians choose to approach the problem. Republicans, having defended their majority in the House of Representatives, could simply let the country plunge off the cliff in the hopes that it would be blamed on Obama. Or, on the other hand, their willingness to compromise may have been increased by virtue of losing the presidential election badly. Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner on Wednesday pledged to work closely with the White House as negotiations begin. He said that lawmakers won't be able to solve the country's problems overnight, but said that voters "gave us a mandate to work together to do the best thing for our country."
Greece's economic problems and the resulting austerity packages it has passed have plunged the country into five straight years of recession. Germany, Europe and the world are hoping that the same fate is not in store for the US.
KALININGRAD, November 9 (RIA Novosti) – The second of three stealth frigates that Russia builds for India at the Yantar Shipyard in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad will be handed over to the Indian Navy on Friday.
Sergei Mikhailov, a spokesman for the Yantar Shipyard, the solemn ceremony of delivering the warship will be held in Kaliningrad and be attended by high-ranking military officers both from Russia and India.
Russia and India signed a $1.6 billion contract on construction of three modified Krivak III class (also known as Talwar class) guided missile frigates for India in 2006. The first frigate, INS Teg, joined the Indian Navy on April 27.
The last in the series of three frigates, The Trikand, currently undergoes dock trials and after it completes sea trials in the Baltic Sea will join the Indian Navy in the summer of 2013.
The new frigates are each armed with eight BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.
They are also equipped with a 100-mm gun, a Shtil surface-to-air missile system, two Kashtan air-defense gun/missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo launchers, and an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) helicopter.
Russia previously built three Talwar class frigates for India - INS Talwar (Sword), INS Trishul (Trident), and INS Tabar (Axe).
Many Islamist groups announced their intent to participate in scheduled 9 November protest in Tahrir Square to call for the application of Sharia (Islamic law) in Egypt.
The Salafist groups, Al-Gamaa Islamiya and its Building and Development Party and Salafist Front along with its political arm the People Party, will congregate in a planned million-man demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday.
The conservative Islamists groups reject the present formulation of Article 2 of the draft constitution being drawn up by Egypt's Constituent Assembly. The article states that the "principles of Islamic Sharia" are the main source of legislation."
Islamic Sharia and its rulings – not its "principles" – should be the main source of legislation, Ahmed Mawlana, People Party spokesman, told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.
Many Salafist Muslims regard the "principles" of Islamic law – which translate into values such as justice, truth, and equality – as too vague and far placed from proper Islamic doctrine, while Sharia encompasses all aspects of life, they argue.
Sheikh Hashem Islam, conservative Al-Azhar scholar and member of the Fatwas Committee (religious edicts) of Al-Azhar, issued a religious edict toping to enshrine Sharia as such.
Article 2 should read as, “Islamic Sharia alone is the source of all legislation and all that conflicts it is invalid and corrupt,” said Sheikh Islam. The article should also stipulate that Sharia governs the constitution and laws, he added.
Sheikh Islam is among a group of conservative Azharite scholars who will join the protests on Friday.
While the Friday protests are intended to be massive, the two main Islamist groups in the country – the Muslim Brotherhood (where Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi hails from) and the Salafist Al-Nour Party will refrain from taking part in the demonstration.
Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan, said the group will not join the protest, saying that a new clause will be added in the constitution explaining what the "principles of Islamic Sharia" means.
The Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, also said it won't be participating on Friday. Mourad Ali, the party's media consultant told Al-Ahram's Arabic portal that discussions concerning the constitution are ongoing and the party hasn't taken a final position on the charter yet.
Vice-chairman of the Salafist Nour Party, Yosri Hammad, also said his party will not join the Tahrir demonstration, but said it would engage in small demonstrations in front of major mosques in Egypt to express the "popular" demand of implementing Islamic law in Egypt, he told the Arabic portal.
Other groups taking part in Friday's event are the Salafist Asala Party, Independent Azharite conservative front, Azhar Scholars Front, and Peace and Development Party (under construction) affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement.
Other demands to be voiced Friday include the dismissal of the current General Prosecutor Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud – accused of working to guarantee the innocence of Mubarak-era figures being tried.
They also plan to protest again the "remnants" of the former regime currently mobilizing to participate in the country's coming parliamentary elections.
Iran fired on an unarmed U.S. drone last week as it was hovering in international airspace, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
Spokesman George Little said the incident, which marks the first time the Iranians have fired on a U.S. drone, occurred Nov. 1 at 4:50 a.m. ET. He said the unarmed, unmanned drone was conducting "routine surveillance" over the Persian Gulf when it was "intercepted" by Iran. He said the MQ1 Predator drone, which was not hit, was not in Iranian airspace.
According to Little, two Iranian jets fired twice, missing on both attempts -- the drone headed away from the Iranian coast, landing safely soon after at an undisclosed location. The Iranian jets pursued the drone for a short period before giving up.
Little said the U.S. government has protested to the Iranians. Asked about how the U.S. could respond, he said: "We have a wide range of options from diplomatic to military."
He would not say whether there were actually plans for a military response. Asked if this should be considered an act of war, Little said he didn't want to get into "legal characterizations" of the event.
Little stressed that the drone was flying 16 nautical miles off the coast of Kuwait in international waters, and never entered the 12-mile limit that would constitute Iranian territory.
The Pentagon announced the incident as the administration imposed a new round of financial sanctions against Iranian officials and entities. They marked the first sanctions since President Obama's re-election Tuesday. According to the Treasury Department, the move was "related to the Iranian government's human rights abuses, its support of terrorism and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."
The drone encounter comes after a U.S. drone crashed in Iran late last year. Iran claimed to have shot it down, but U.S. officials said it merely malfunctioned and crashed.
Little said the U.S. will continue to run surveillance missions in the region.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/08/iran-fired-at-us-drone-pentagon-says/#ixzz2BgTQ93Cx
President Shimon Peres joined Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Thursday to inaugurate the city's brand new Russian Jewish museum and tolerance center, the worlds largest Jewish museum.
In a moving speech, Peres said the museum evoked memories of his childhood home in Poland, and thanked the Russian people for their role in helping defeat the Nazis in World War II.
"The Nazis murdered about a third of our people. They murdered 6 million Jews, among them 1.5 million children, in concentration camps and gas chambers," the president said. "Such a tragedy must never happen again."
Turning to the issue of Iran's nuclear program, Peres said Tehran threatened the Jewish people with another Shoah.
"[The Iranian regime] claims that its religion prevents it from creating a nuclear bomb. And the regime is developing a nuclear bomb," Peres said, calling on Russia to stand with Israel in preventing a nuclear Iran.
The new center is housed in the former Bakhmetevsky bus garage, an avaunt-garde landmark designed in 1926 by Konstantin Melnikov, the leading figure of Russia's Constructivist movement
The Jewish Museum, which brings together different cultural traditions through the prism of Jewish culture, is the brainchild of Russia's Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar and Alexander Boroda, the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, who came up with the idea back in 2007.
Lazar discussed the idea for the museum with Putin and the Russian premier lent his support saying it would help normalize interfaith relations.
Nikolai Patrushev, the then-Director of the Russian FSB, the successor organization to the KGB, also supported the museum. In September 2007, Patrushev gave Lazar 16 documents relating to Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who helped save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis in World War II.
"For a long time the story of Russian Jewry was very hard and even tragic. Now things have changed," Lazar said,adding that Russia's Jewish community should not forget the hardest parts of their history.
Lazar praised Putin for his support of the venture.
The museum includes a section on the persecution experienced by Jews in the former USSR.
Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, who donated to the museum, also praised the venture for not shying away from what he called sensitive questions about Russian Jewish history.
"It's very important especially now to show the real story about the Jewish nationality and religion in Russia, and particularly to young people," he told The Jerusalem Post.