Thursday, December 20, 2012
With the end of the world just a few days away, it may be the right time to plan a party. And if a house party sounds too risky, then a bunker based deep underground might prove the safest place to be when an apocalypse hailed by 'Doomsday' believers hits on December 21.
Built in 1956 and transformed into a museum in 2006, the nuclear protective Bunker 42 in Moscow is offering £600 tickets for the underground party that will start late on December 20 and last until a day after the end of the world (December 22).
As the museum's guide Alexei Pavlovsky explains, the idea to organise this type of event in the Bunker came from random museum visitors, so they just couldn't say no.
"The idea is pretty simple, many people would feel much calmer if they could spend this critical day being surrounded with maximum comfort and safety. And who are we to say no when we have 56 meters of ground above us and a well 100 meters below us, there's also a pumping system and ventilation.
"On December 21 people will be able to spend the entire 24 hours from midnight to midnight here underground," added Mr Pavlovsky.
The mainstream media continues to insist that the economy is "getting better", but the poverty numbers for children and young people just continue to explode. For example, did you know that the poverty rate for families with a head of household under the age of 30 is a whopping 37 percent? Children and young people sure didn't cause our recent economic downturn, but they sure are getting hit the hardest by it. According to the U.S. Department of Education, for the first time ever more than a million U.S. public school students are homeless. That seems like an impossible number, but it is actually true. How in the world could the "wealthiest nation on earth" get to the point where more than a million children can't count on a warm bed to sleep in at night? Sadly, a huge number of American children can't count on a warm dinner either. About a fourth of them are enrolled in the food stamp program. What do you do if you are a parent in that kind of situation? How do you explain to your kids that you can't afford a nice home like everybody else has or that you can't afford to go to the grocery store and buy them some dinner?
Young people are experiencing very rough times right now as well. If you are under the age of 30, it is really, really difficult to get a job in America today. The competition for the few decent jobs that seem to be available is absolutely crazy. Unemployment among young people is at a level that we have not seen since World War II, and this is causing major problems.
Even if you do have a college degree, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get any type of a job. In fact, more than half of all college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year. There are millions of very talented college graduates that are waiting tables, making sandwiches or stocking shelves down at the local branch of a global retail conglomerate. Meanwhile, they are saddled with record breaking amounts of student loan debt.
This is easily the worst economic environment that we have seen for young people since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The number of good jobs continues to decline. Many young people are faced with the choice of taking a bad job or having no job at all.
If you are under 30 in America today, you better hope that you come from a wealthy family or that you have some really good connections, because otherwise the future looks pretty bleak for you.
The following are 20 signs that the U.S. poverty explosion is hitting children and young people the hardest...
1. If you can believe it, a higher percentage of children is living in poverty in America today than was the case back in 1975.
2. More than one out of every five children in the United States is currently living in poverty.
3. According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be "poor" or "low income".
4. Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.
5. For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless. That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.
6. It is being projected that half of all American children will be on food stamps at least once before they turn 18 years of age.
7. One university study estimates that child poverty costs the U.S. economy 500 billion dollars each year.
8. The 18 to 24 age group has a higher unemployment rate than any other age group in the United States.
9. Young adult employment is now at the lowest level that we have seen since World War II.
10. In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent. Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.
11. Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
12. Family homelessness in the Washington D.C. region (one of the wealthiest regions in the entire country) has risen 23 percent since the last recession began.
13. Since the year 2000, incomes for U.S. households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you account for inflation.
14. In 1984, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older was 10 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger. Today, the median net worth of households led by someone 65 or older is 47 times larger than the median net worth of households led by someone 35 or younger.
15. During 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor's degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.
16. Many young people are finding that they cannot afford to get married these days. Sadly, an all-time low 44.2 percent of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 are married right now.
17. Right now, approximately 53 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 24 age group are living at home.
18. The number of Americans in the 25 to 34 age group that live with their parents has grown by 25 percent since 2007.
19. One survey discovered that 85 percent of all college seniors plan on moving back in with their parents after graduation.
20. Overall, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents in the United States right now according to Time Magazine.
After reading all of those statistics, do you still doubt that America is in decline? If so, you can find some more shocking statistics right here.
The truth is that it should be painfully evident to anyone with a brain that our economy is not working correctly anymore. We have lots of talented people, but there are not nearly enough jobs and a lot of those very talented people end up sleeping out in the streets.
A recent New York Times article told the story of a young man named Duane Taylor. Sadly, there are way too many young people out there today that are experiencing the same kind of things that he is...
Duane Taylor was studying the humanities in community college and living in his own place when he lost his job in a round of layoffs. Then he found, and lost, a second job. And a third.Now, with what he calls “lowered standards” and a tenuous new position at a Jack in the Box restaurant, Mr. Taylor, 24, does not make enough to rent an apartment or share one. He sleeps on a mat in a homeless shelter, except when his sister lets him crash on her couch.“At any time I could lose my job, my security,” said Mr. Taylor, explaining how he was always the last hired and the first fired. “I’d like to be able to support myself. That’s my only goal.”
There are millions upon millions of young people in America today that feel totally lost because they cannot find their places in the world.
They are angry, frustrated, depressed, desperate and disillusioned. They felt like they did everything that the system told them to do, and now they feel like the system is failing them.
An unemployed 2010 graduate of the University of Florida named Lance Fuller expresses similar sentiments on his blog entitled "Voices Of A Lost Generation"...
They are the countless young men and women eager for an opportunity but have found few, if any. They have desirable skills, are highly educated, and are more than willing to work.Sadly, crippled by college debt and graduated into a struggling economy, they stand little chance to find gainful employment in their chosen fields and take temporary jobs they are overqualified for. They lie waiting for the dream job they went to school for — but it probably doesn’t exist.My name is Lance and sadly, I share in this story. Like my twentysomething peers, I am one of the thousands of faces of America’s Generation U — Unfortunate, Unlucky, and Unemployed.
I am fortunate that I have never been without money to buy food and have never had to spend a night on the street. But tonight millions upon millions of Americans under the age of 30 will be faced with those kinds of circumstances.
Please say a prayer for them. They didn't cause the economic mess that we are in, but they are certainly paying the price for the mistakes that were made.
Does anyone out there have a similar story to the ones that were shared in this article? If so, please feel free to share it below. Perhaps your story will encourage someone else out there who is going through a really hard time right now.
The global arms market has been growing steadily during the recent years. Russian arms are in high demand on this market, and it is the weapons and equipment of Soviet development that are competitive most. Their performance is even better than that of advanced Western models for certain tasks. In 2012, the Russian Federation has topped the arms export plan.
Russian (Soviet) small arms and more sophisticated equipment works smoothly and efficiently in all climate conditions. On December 5th, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy published a report, which said that Iranian pilots on Soviet Su-25 fighter jets (NATO: Frogfoot) intercepted advanced U.S. drone USAF MQ-1 Predator over the Persian Gulf. The authors of the report said that the Soviet-made aircraft was not an interceptor: it was not equipped with modern radars, but it could successfully destroy state-of-the-art aircraft, Worldtribune.com wrote.
Here is another example to prove the efficiency of Russian-made military hardware. The Pentagon was forced to recognize the indispensability of Russian Mi-17 helicopters in Afghanistan. The Pentagon even concluded a contract with Rosoboronexport (Russia's defense export giant) worth $900 million. The contract has to be approved by the US President, though, due to negative recommendations from the Congress. However, such assessments of military experts of Russia's main strategic adversary say that Russian weapons are very promising in terms of its competitiveness in the world market.
This was, in fact, announced by President Vladimir Putin on December 17 at the meeting of the commission on military and technical cooperation. Assessing the results of the year 2012, Putin said that Russia had sold arms and services worth more than 14 billion dollars (13.5 billion under the plan). The volume of new contracts made up approximately $15 billion. The president also outlined the directions, where Russia may continue its progress at this point.
First off, it goes about the joint production of military products and research developments. As an example, one can name a joint project with Serbia for the production of multiple versions of armored vehicles in the Serbian town of Velika Plana. The vehicles will be exported presumably to Kenya and Bangladesh. Not that long ago, an agreement was signed between "Russian Technologies" and Brazilian defense company Odebrecht Defensa e Technologia about the establishment of a joint venture, which, in particular, will assemble a line of multipurpose Mi-171 helicopters in Brazil.
Russian companies are involved in a number of joint projects with India, including the creation of fighter jets FGFA (based on the T-50) and Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles. China wants Russian designers to take part in the development of engines for its fighters. This will eliminate counterfeits of Russian brands and help Russia find a place on partners' markets.
The second, and perhaps the most promising direction, is "the restoration of position in the market for military modernization and repairs of hardware," Putin said. Russian defense industry companies have obtained more rights this year to conclude contracts with foreign customers. It was stated at the meeting in Sochi in early July 2012 that the export of services provided by Russian defense companies in 2011 amounted to about 2.5 billion rubles, which accounted for 18 percent of the total volume of all military exports from Russia. This year, the figures will probably be larger.
To give an example of such cooperation, one can refer to the contract with NATO for servicing helicopter fleet in Afghanistan. The contract currently goes through the signing process. A similar agreement was signed during the recent visit of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to Moscow. Brazil increases the fleet of military helicopters Mi-35M.
Soviet military hardware is also in demand in Africa. The continent's strongest armies of Algeria, Uganda, Chad are armed with the latest models of the T-90, T-70 tanks and Su-35M jets. Libya has recently asked the Russian government to resume military cooperation and render assistance in the modernization of the previously delivered military equipment. In particular, the new Libyan authorities are interested in the hardware that was left in the country after the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime. The country has already signed a contract to upgrade 200 T-72 tanks.
Bahrain has requested servicing a large quantity of Kalashnikov AK103 rifles. Now is the time for Russia to offer these services to Africa and Asia to maintain the park of Soviet military equipment, which the above-mentioned countries prefer for its remarkable performance in all climate conditions, as well as for its price and quality.
At present, Russian arms and military equipment are supplied to 88 countries of the world. Fifty-seven of them are regular customers. India remains the largest buyer of Russian military equipment. The country buys Su-30MKI fighters and T-90S tanks. China is the second importer. The country bought AL-31FN and D-30KP-2 aviation engines in the amount of $1.2 billion and Mi-17 helicopters worth $700 million. Vietnam comes next on the list (about $2 billion): the country purchased a submarine of Project 636 and Lightning sea boats. The numbers of contracts with other major importers - Algeria, Venezuela, Syria - have not been disclosed.
Russia's portfolio of agreements also includes a package of contracts with Iraq worth more than $4 billion. Vladimir Putin said that Russia should promote its weapons. According to him, such work "should help in the military-patriotic education of our citizens, especially young people." Indeed, for Russia's image abroad, the Kalashnikov assault rifle has done more than all our achievements combined.
The Far East has shaken off the deep downturn earlier this year and looks poised to drive a fresh cycle of global growth in 2013. “China appears to have bottomed out,” said the Bank in its regional report.
Asia’s powerhouse economy will rebound with 8.4pc growth next year as credit stimulus and an infrastructure blitz by local governments gain traction, with knock-on effects through East Asia. The region as a whole will grow by 7.9pc, with Myanmar at last starting to catch up as undertakes “formidable reforms”.
The new risk is a return to overheating as ultra-loose monetary policies in the West trigger a “flood of capital into the region that could lead to asset bubbles and excessive credit growth” -- with the risk of sharp reversals later.
“Authorities should closely monitor developments on the capital account, especially in countries that have recently experienced rapid credit growth,” it said.
The Bank said Asian states should defend their economies from excess money printed by central banks in the US, Europe, and Japan by imposing short-term “capital controls” when needed. It added that exchange curbs are no substitute for “appropriate exchange rate arrangements” over the longer term, a criticism clearly directed at China’s dollar peg.
By holding down the yuan - to boost exports - China is in effect importing a US monetary policy that is far too loose for its own internal needs, creating inflationary “blow-back”.This may not have mattered after the Lehman crisis when the Politburo deliberately boosted credit by over 30pc a year, but it has now become malign.
Fitch Ratings said the balance sheets of Chinese lenders have exploded to $24 trillion, including shadow banking and trusts. The cumulative increase since 2008 is $14 trillion, roughly equal to the US banking system. This has already gone beyond the safe speed limit, with little benefits. Fitch said the extra output created by each extra yuan of credit has fallen from 0.75 to 0.30.
For now, Asia’s rebound is a huge relief for the rest of the world. It follows a mini-slump through mid-2012 as China’s calibrated `tap on the brakes’ set off a deeper downturn than intended. What began as lending curbs to cool the property boom snowballed into an industrial recession, pushing steel plants to the brink.
The World Bank said China will slow to 8pc growth in 2014 and must embark on deep reforms to avoid the `middle income trap’ thereafter. It must wean the economy from infrastructure projects and switch to consumption with tax cuts and higher welfare spending.
Any further moves to shore up grwoth in the future should come from fiscal stimulus not by looseing the credit spigot. Public debt is just 20pc of GDP. The budget deficit is 2.5pc, though rising as fuel subsidies soak up public funds.
The report said China needs an entirely new model to compete at the technology frontier. The “easy” economic gains of catch-up growth are “no longer available”.
MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) - A naval task force from Russia’s Northern Fleet left the Severomorsk base on Wednesday and set course for the Horn of Africa on a new anti-piracy mission, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
It includes the large antisubmarine ship Severomorsk, the salvage tug Altai, and the tanker Dubna, as well as a contingent of naval infantry subunits.
The force will travel the length of the Mediterranean, pass through the Suez Canal and relieve the Pacific Fleet task force that has been there on an anti-piracy mission since November.
Meanwhile a Baltic Fleet task force set sail on Tuesday for the eastern Mediterranean where it will relieve a group of Black Sea warships.
The force includes the frigate Yaroslav Mudry, the large landing ships Kaliningrad and Alexander Shabalin, the salvage tug SB-921 and the tanker Lena.
The new anti-piracy mission is expected to reach the region by mid-January.
Russia keeps a naval task force in the Gulf of Aden as part of the international effort to fight piracy off the Somali coast.
Russian warships have successfully escorted hundreds of commercial vessels from various countries through Somali coastal waters since 2008, when Russia joined the international anti-piracy mission in the region.
A recent study estimated the cost of piracy to the world economy from disruption to international trade at between $7 billion and $12 billion.
In February 2011 the United Nations launched an action plan to combat piracy off the Somali coast, calling for greater support from national navies to fight a “global menace” that threatens not only international trade but the world body’s delivery of vital food aid to millions of hungry people.
According to latest UN reports, pirates carried out 291 attacks and hijackings in the first 10 months of 2012, taking at least 293 hostages.
Israel’s air force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said the IAF is fully prepared to prevent a chemical weapons attack from Syria, if necessary, by destroying the massive stockpiles in Syria’s possession.
“We are required to be prepared for all threats and possible scenarios,unconventional weapons too.” Eshel said Wednesday at an end-of-year briefing. “This is an issue for the countries’ decision makers. We possess the relevant capabilities and if it is decided to apply them, we will know how to carry out the orders.”
Eshel said that the IDF has been following the situation in Syria closely, specifically watching for non-conventional weapons being smuggled out of the country, and would be prepared to carry out strikes if it learned that some of them had fallen into the hands of Hezbollah.
“Syria’s disintegration is readily apparent and it is taking place very close to us, in Israel’s back yard,” Eshel said. “It is in possession of advanced weapons systems of all types and the big question, which I don’t have the answer to, is what will happen after the regime falls.”
Israeli leaders have said Israel would intervene militarily if Syria’s chemical weapons stocks were seen to be falling into unstable hands. In recent days, US intelligence officials quoted in the US media have claimed that President Bashar Assad may be readying chemical weaponry for use against rebels as his position in the two-year civil war worsens, but Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Israel did not see an immediate threat to Israeli security.
Eshel predicted that Hezbollah would increase its attempts to infiltrate Israeli air space with airborne drones carrying explosives. Ever since the IAF’s interception of a Hezbollah drone two and a half months ago, the new threat has received major attention by the military, he noted.
Eshel warned that any future conflict with Hezbollah would have a significant impact on the Israeli homefront. “Rockets may fall in central Israel,” he said. “The main [Israeli] effort will be to achieve victory, and quickly.”
The air force commander also commented on the recent explosion in a weapon storage facility in southern Lebanon. “Someone who goes to bed with rockets should realize that is a very unsafe place to be in,” he mused.
A Kuwaiti newspaper claimed Wednesday that the explosion — near the border on Monday — was the result of a planned attack and that the facility housed Syrian-made missiles with biological and chemical warheads. Though the report didn’t finger Israel for carrying out the strike, it said the IAF had carried out attacks on weapons caches in the past.
Most reports have indicated that the blast was likely at a Hezbollah weapons depot.
Times of Israel
While the conflict in Egypt has largely been portrayed as a conflict between secular Egyptians -- or "moderate Muslims" who oppose full-blown Sharia -- and Islamists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, who want a Taliban-style Sharia to govern the nation, largely missed have been the people in the middle, the Christian Copts, who find themselves in an especially awkward position.
Moderate Muslims are still capable of offering the requisite lip service to Islam -- saying "prayers and peace upon Muhammad" and all the other Muslim blessings -- even as they reject the full application of Sharia. This makes it more difficult for their radical brethren to portray them as infidel enemies. Moderate Muslims can resist Sharia, but in subtle ways, arguing over Islamic exegesis, calling for ijtihad [modern interpretations, questioning], and so forth.
But when Egypt's Christian Copts resist Sharia -- as dhimmis [religious minorities who are second-class, "tolerated," members of society] -- pro-Sharia Muslims retaliate with a vengeance, portraying them as infidels who reject the law of Allah.
This has been truer than ever in recent days, as President Morsi and his Islamist and jihadi allies push for a Sharia-based constitution, and Egypt's secularists resist this. The Copts, trapped in the middle, are aware their suffering is only about to begin.
A video from Egypt that recently surfaced shows Salafi Muslims holding a man, his hands tied behind his back, in an alley. They grab him by the collar, interrogate and threaten him, humiliate him by poking and slapping him in the face and calling him "boy"-- as they try to determine if he is a Christian. "No, I'm a Muslim!" he insists. One of his captors can be heard saying, "Can you imagine if he turns out to be a Christian?" -- implying that would be the end of him.
The video ends with him sobbing and saying, "Have mercy," followed by, "There is no god but Allah," the first half of the Islamic shehada, or profession of faith, which, unlike the second half -- "and Muhammad is his prophet" -- Christians in Egypt are only too happy to declare.
The poking, throttling and slapping is a reminder of the Islamic textbook way of treating dhimmis. Such degradation appears regularly in the commentaries of Islam's doctrines, so that in the Medieval Islamic Civilization Encyclopedia one can read that Muslim "jurists came to view certain repressive and humiliating aspects of dhimma as de rigueur. Dhimmis were required to pay the jizya [obligatory tithe, or extra tax] publicly, in broad daylight, with hands turned palm upward, and to receive a smart smack on the forehead or the nape of the neck from the collection officer." Islam's jurists mandated a number of humiliating rituals at the time of jizya payment, including slapping, choking, and pulling the beard of the paying dhimmi.
Such hostility for Christian minorities is not surprising considering that Safwat Hegazy, a longtime Muslim Brotherhood figure and popular preacher, just went on record formally threatening every Coptic Christian who votes against the Sharia-laden constitution. In a video speaking before a throng of Muslims, he said:
A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church -- by Allah, and again, by Allah -- if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter [screams of "Allah Akbar!" ["Allah is greater!"] followed by chants of "With our soul, with our blood, we give to you, O Islam"]... We say and I say to the Church: yes, you share this country with us; but there are red lines -- and our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him" [followed by more wild shouts of "Allah Akbar!"]
Then of course there was the case of Mina Philip, one of the protesters who was stripped of his clothes and beat into a bloody pulp by the Egyptian president's Islamic supporters. OnTube, the Egyptian Internet channel complementing ONTV, recently showed the gruesome images of Philip's torture, including, in the host's words, how "Mina Philip was dragged through the streets by a Muslim Brotherhood mob who took off his clothes and beat him, accusing him of being a thug, while in fact he is an engineer who works for an international telecommunications company."
In the video, Mina continuously pleads with his tormentors, "please, I didn't harm anyone." The mob can be heard cursing and threatening him, and demanding his name -- probably to determine whether he is Muslim or Christian -- which he insists he "forgot." ("Mina Philip" is a distinctly Coptic name.)
Philip provided more information in another interview. He was coming back from work when he stopped to see what was going on with the protests:
As I watched, a group of Muslim Brotherhood men dragged me with others... they surrounded me and started beating me while others took my clothes off so I was topless; they took my wallet and keys and dragged me. They beat me with rocks and rods; I kept on saying that I didn't touch anyone and they would reply with curses, calling me a "secular dog."
He then told the same story recorded by many others -- including Muslims who were also attacked by the Muslim Brotherhood: "They later questioned me, asking who was paying me and threatened to leave me for the rest of the Brotherhood's men to kill me if I didn't confess that I received money from Hamdin and Baradei [opposition candidates]."
Egyptian's moderates and radicals battle it out; Christian minorities are trapped.