Monday, January 7, 2013
VREDEPEEL, Netherlands: The Netherlands' Patriot missile batteries on Monday began their journey to fellow NATO member Turkey where they are to defend civilians near the border from a possible Syrian attack.
Around 160 vehicles carrying the missiles and equipment for 300 Dutch support troops left the Bestkazerne military base in Vredepeel in the southeastern Netherlands on Monday morning, an AFP correspondent reported.
The convoy is headed for Eemshaven port in the north of the country from where it will sail for Turkey and is expected to arrive around January 22.
The US and Germany are also sending Patriot surface-to-air missiles to southeastern Turkey following a request from Ankara because of the threat of the deadly 21-month civil war in Syria spilling over.
The Turkish request came after repeated cross-border shelling from Syria, including an October attack that killed five civilians.
The Dutch Patriots and support troops will be tasked with defending the city of Adana, population 1.5 million, which lies around 100 kilometres (over 60 miles) from Syria.
Mission commander Lieutenant Colonel Marcel Buis told journalists that 30 Dutch troops would fly out on Tuesday to begin setting up and the remaining 270 troops would fly out on January 21.
The US began deploying its Patriots on Saturday, while the German missiles are to arrive in Turkey on January 21.
Syria's allies Iran and Russia oppose the Patriot deployment, fearing that it could spark regional conflict also drawing in NATO.
"This is a purely defensive mission," General Tom Middendorp, the Netherlands top military officer, told journalists.
"We do not know whether the missiles will cross the border but what we do know is that Syria has deadly offensive weapons at its disposal and has already deployed them on a grand scale," he said.
"We want to prevent what could amount to large numbers of casualties among innocent civilians."
Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen last month rejected Iranian accusations that the West was preparing another world war by deploying Patriots near the border with Syria.
"The mission is purely focussing on threats coming from Syrian territory, the mission does not encompass possible threats from other countries," Middendorp said.
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Jan-07/201169-dutch-patriot-missiles-head-for-turkeys-syria-border.ashx#ixzz2HIbC2GeM
Britain is "perfectly entitled" to ask for a change in its relationship with Europe, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, he said voters would be offered "real choice" on this at the next election.
But he said being entirely outside the EU would not be "right for Britain".
Mr Cameron is due to make a long-awaited speech on Europe later this month. Many Tory MPs are urging a referendum.
The prime minister said any vote would happen within five years.Currency considerations
"People should be in no doubt that the Conservatives will be offering at the next election a real choice and a real way of giving consent to that choice," he said.
"What's happening in Europe right now is massive change being driven by the existence of the euro.
"The countries of the euro, they've got to change to make their currency work - the need to integrate more, they need to make changes to all their systems more."
He continued: "What that means is they are changing the nature of the organisation to which we belong.
"And so we are perfectly entitled, and not just entitled but actually enabled because they need changes to ask for changes ourselves."
As part of a series of EU reforms partially aimed at protecting the euro, the European Central Bank will be directly supervising around 200 of the largest European banks from 2014 - but will have the right to intervene if smaller lenders are in trouble.
With regards to the repatriation of some powers back to Britain, Mr Cameron said the government was already reviewing this.
"As you [EU members] need to make your changes, there are changes that Britain would like to make too."
He said people had said it was never possible to make changes to Britain's relationship with Europe, but he has already done this.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas gave orders Sunday for work to begin on new passports, ID cards, drivers’ licenses and stamps reading “State of Palestine,” official media said.
The decree, carried by the official WAFA news agency, came in the wake of the Palestinians’ successful bid late last year for non-member observer state status at the United Nations over intense Israeli and US opposition.
Abbas said the changed language on official documents would help strengthen the Palestinian state “on the ground and build its institutions... and its sovereignty over the its land.”
Already last week, he ordered the foreign ministry and embassies around the world to begin using “State of Palestine” in official correspondence.
Previously, official documents issued by Abbas’s government, including passports and other identification documents, had been labeled as issued by the Palestinian Authority, which he heads.
Israel has criticized the Palestinians for their successful bid for enhanced UN status, saying Palestinian statehood can only be achieved through bilateral talks with the Jewish state.
The Israeli foreign ministry declined to comment on the latest Palestinian move.
The Palestinians say the U.N. upgrade will strengthen their position in negotiations with Israel and is a complement to any future talks.
Al Arabiya News
TORONTO - Jews are "enemies of the Church," the head of a radical Catholic sect said in Canada.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, made the remark during a Dec. 28 address at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in New Hamburg, Ontario, about 90 minutes' drive west of Toronto. He was reviewing the situation of the society, which opposes Catholic Church reforms decided by the Second Vatican Council and is not recognized by the Church.
According to an audio recording posted on YouTube two days later, Fellay spoke about the society's three years of discussions with the Vatican over the society's future and explained how he interpreted behind-the-scenes communications.
Apparently speaking without a text, Fellay asked, "Who during that time was the most opposed that the Church would recognize the society? The enemies of the Church: the Jews, the Masons, the Modernists."
According to the Catholic News Service, Fellay added that Jewish leaders' support of reforming Second Vatican Council "shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church's."
As of Friday, there was no response from the society's Swiss headquarters to a Catholic News Service email request for comment, the agency reported.
The Society of St. Pius X, , was founded in 1970 as a reaction against the Vatican's efforts to modernize. In 2009, Pope Benedict launched talks with the society and lifted excommunications imposed on its four bishops.
One of the bishops was Richard Williamson, who has denied that the Nazis used gas chambers and asserted that no more than 200,000 to 300,000 Jews died during World War II.
The society's founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, spoke approvingly of both the World War II-era Vichy regime in France and the far-right National Front, and in a 1985 letter to Pope John Paul II identified the contemporary enemies of the faith as "Jews, Communists and Freemasons."
Temperatures in China have plunged to their lowest in almost three decades, cold enough to freeze coastal waters and trap 1,000 ships in ice, official media said at the weekend.
Since late November the country has shivered at an average of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit), 1.3 degrees colder than the previous average, and the chilliest in 28 years, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday, citing the China Meteorological Administration.
Bitter cold has even frozen the sea in Laizhou Bay on the coast of Shandong province in the east, stranding nearly 1,000 ships, the China Daily newspaper reported.
Zheng Dong, chief meteorologist at the Yantai Marine Environment Monitoring Center under the State Oceanic Administration, told the paper that the area under ice in Laizhou Bay was 291 square km this week.
Transport around the country has been severely disrupted.
More than 140 flights from the state capital airport in central Hunan province were delayed, while heavy snowfall forced the closure of some sections of the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway, the China Daily said.
Temperatures in the northeast fell even further, reaching a 43-year low of minus 15.3 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit), about 3.7 degrees below the previous recorded average.
One truck driver in southeastern Jiangxi province, caught in a 5 km (3.1 miles) queue caused by a pileup that happened after heavy snowfall, told China Daily the snow and extreme cold had caught him unawares.
"I didn't expect such a situation, so I've brought no warm coats or food. All I can do now is wait," trucker Yao Xuefeng told the paper.
With a buildup of 16 Russian warships carrying thousands of marines on the Syrian coast “to deter the West from deploying ground forces in Syria,” Syrian Bashar Assad could afford to brazen it out in his first public speech in seven months. Speaking at the Damascus opera house, Sunday, Jan. 6, Assad said Syria no longer takes dictation from anyone and called on Syrian citizens to defend the country against “a war fought by only a handful of Syrians and many foreigners.”
He rejected dialogue with the opposition which he referred to as “puppets fabricated by the West.”
DEBKA-Net-Weekly, in its latest issue of Jan. 4, revealed that both Washington and Moscow may be encouraging the rush to Syria of al Qaeda and other radical Islamist fighters so as to put them in harm’s way on the Syrian battlefield instead of their staying home to make trouble in Asian, European and other Middle East countries.
On this point, Assad remarked: “The West tried to get rid of these terrorists by drawing them into conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, but were unsuccessful. Now they are sending them to Syria. “
The Syrian ruler went on to maintain that it would not be too hard to get rid of them, if “all citizens are mobilized against these outside forces.” It was important, too, he said, to fight the terrorists’ ideas, before they permeated Syrian society. He vowed to fight terror “so long as a single terrorist remains in the country" and to combat the rebels fighting to overthrow his regime, whom he called “terrorists” and “criminals” who "harbor al Qaeda’s extremist ideology."
DEBKAfile: Assad’s emphasis on this point indicates he counts on his war against Islamist terrorism as a long-term insurance policy for bolstering his regime’s survival.
In Moscow, a senior military spokesman announced that Russian vessels, including battleships and landing craft carrying marines and military vehicles, would remain in Syrian waters until Easter. He said quite candidly that the presence of Russian marines near Syrian waters “will deter the West from deploying ground forces in Syria." The Russian flotilla and marines are intended to be the counterweight to the six NATO Patriot missile interceptors, the US, Germany and Holland have installed on the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia along with Iran is providing Assad with a strong military shield, which is supplemented by Chinese diplomatic support.
The Syrian ruler’s speech Sunday was therefore far more upbeat than his last address in June. Then, he defended himself against pressing international demands to step down by vowing to “live and die in Syria.” In this speech, he makes no mention of resigning or throwing in the towel. In contrast to current predictions of his downfall, to be found in Western and Israeli media, Assad felt secure enough to set out his blueprint for ending the Syrian conflict.
The first stage of a political solution would require that “the regional powers stop funding and arming the opposition” – a reference to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Western powers.
He then invited “those who have not betrayed Syria” to a conference of reconciliation, followed by a referendum on a new constitution, the formation of a government and an amnesty.
He rejected the Syrian opposition movement as “puppets fabricated by the West,” and said that Syria wanted to negotiate with the "master not the servants."
They say "be careful what you wish for", and they are right. Because, in the neverending story of the American "recovery" which, sadly, never comes (although in its place we keep getting now semiannual iterations of Quantitative Easing), the one recurring theme we hear over and over and over is to wait for the great rotation out of bonds and into stocks. Well, fine. Let it come. The question is what thenand what happens to the US economy when rates do, finally and so overdue (for all those sellside analysts and media who have been a broken record on the topic for the past 3 years), go up. To answer just that question, which in a country that is currently at 103% debt/GDP and which will be at 109% by the end of 2013, we have decided to ignore the CBO's farcical models and come up with our own. Our model is painfully simple, and just to give our readers a hands on feel, we have opened up the excel file for everyone to tinker with (however, unlike the CBO, we do realize that when calculating average interest, one needs to have circular references enabled so please do that before you open the model).
Our assumptions are also painfully simple:
i) grow 2012 year end GDP of ~$16 trillion at what is now widely accepted as the 'New Normal' 1.5% growth rate (this can be easily adjusted in the model);
ii) assume the primary deficit is a conservative and generous 6% of GDP because America will never, repeat never, address the true cause of soaring deficits: i.e., spending, which will only grow in direct proportion with demographics but as we said, we are being generous (also adjustable), and
iii) sensitize for 3 interest rate scenarios: 2% blended cash interest; 3% blended cash interest and 5% blended cash interest.
And it is here that we get a reminder of a very key lesson, one that even the CBO admitted on Friday they had forgotten about, in what compounding truly looks like in a country that is far beyond the Reinhart-Rogoff critical threshold of 80% sovereign debt/GDP.
The bottom line: going from just 2% to 3% interest, will result in total 2022 debt rising from $31.4 trillion to $34.1 trillion; while "jumping" from 2% to just the long term historical average of 5%, would push total 2022 debt to increase by a whopping $9 trillion over the 2% interest rate base case to over $40 trillion in total debt!
Sadly, this is no "magic" - this is the reality that awaits the US.
And for those more curious about that other critical economic indicator, debt/GDP, the three scenarios result in the following 2022 debt/GDP ratios:
- 2% interest - 169%;
- 3% interest - 183.5%; and
- 5% interest - 217%, or just shy of where Japan is now.
Which reminds us: in the next few days we will recreate the same exercise for Japan's ¥1 quadrillion in total sovereign debt, which will show why any more "exuberance" arising from Abe's latest economic lunacy, will promptly send the country spiraling into that twilight zone where every dollar in tax revenue is used only to fund interest expense.
Once again, it is not our intention to predict what US GDP or debt/GDP will be in 2022: only the IMF can do that with decimal level precision, apparently, and not just with anyone, but Greece. The whole point is to show that when dealing with a debt trap lasting a decade, even the tiniest change in input conditions has profound implications on the final outcome. We invite readers to come up with their own wacky and wonderful projections of what the futures of the US may look like.
And that one should, indeed, be careful what one wishes for.
The results summarized for the three scenarios:
Total debt: 2013-2022.
The Zero Hedge open source model, for everyone to play around with, can be found here. Remember: don't be a CBO, enable circs!
P.S. don't even think of modelling a recession: everything Refs up then.