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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Italy Crashes Most In Six Months Despite EURUSD Strength

Wherever you looked today in Italy, shares were halted. From Saipem to Seat and From Banco Popolare to BMPS, individual stocks fell between 5% and 45% in some cases. 

Spain also fell alongside its incorrigible risk-on peripheral neighbor as dividend suspensions, outlook cuts, rating downgrades, and a growing concern about the banking system's legitimacy wear on sentiment. 

Italian sovereign risk was largely unchanged but as the US opened it started to bleed wider - but in general bonds ignored the stress in stocks. FX markets also were un-phased as EUR continued to test higher. CHF did, however, strengthen notably (against the USD, EUR, and mostly against the JPY - up 28% in the last six months!). The CHF strength did nothing for demand for Swiss rates though as they pushed higher to 10-month highs. The big problem though lies in credit. Just as in the US, credit markets in Europe are massively divergent from stocks' exuberance - and today's surge in Europe's VIX also echoes the disconnect we are seeing evolve in the US. Things are shifting...

Ugly day in Italian stocks...

CHFJPY strength...wow...is this how the SNB is doing it?

As Italy played catch-down to Spain on the week...

but it is credit markets that are starting to show signs of stress...


A California legal group is filing suit against a shopping mall for threatening a Christian who shared his faith with other shoppers.

The lawsuit, filed by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), alleges that management and officers at the Visalia Mall threatened and harassed John Vadnais, a church elder, for sharing his faith. It also claims that they called the police out to intimidate him.


PJI president Brad Dacus tells OneNewsNow Vadnais was told he could not talk to strangers about religion.

"No one should be threatened with arrest for peacefully communicating their beliefs to willing listeners," he asserts. "In California, large shopping malls are deemed the equivalent of public forums. It is both intolerant and illegal for the Visalia Mall to suppress speech just because it's religious."

Vadnais often visited the mall to shop and eat, and he shared his faith with other shoppers.

PJI won a similar suit in 2010 involving a youth pastor who was arrested for sharing his faith with Roseville Gallaria shoppers who were willing to listen.

One News

Kamikaze Currency Killers

Perilous Times with L.A. Marzulli

Russia, Kazakhstan Sign Air Defense Agreement

Russia, Kazakhstan Sign Air Defense Agreement

ASTANA, January 30 (RIA Novosti) – Russia and Kazakhstan signed a deal on Wednesday to create a joint regional air defense system, Kazakhstan's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

“This document will create a platform to secure the defense of Kazakhstan’s airspace and Russia’s adjacent territory,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is in Kazakhstan on an official visit, and his Kazakhstan counterpart Defense Minister Adilbek Dzhaksybekov signed the agreement in the capital Astana.

Russia has previously had such an air defense agreement only with Belarus, but has planned to sign a similar one with Armenia, although the two countries do not share a border.

The two defense ministers also discussed bilateral military issues including Russia’s proving grounds in Kazakhstan and military education. Some 600 Kazakhstan military personnel are currently studying in Russian military academies.

RIA Novosti

Lebanon says Israeli warplanes violated its airspace

BEIRUT - Lebanon said Wednesday that Israel Air Force jets entered its territory overnight, part of apparently increased air activitythat comes as Israel has repeatedly expressed concern about chemical weapons in neighboring Syria falling out of government control.

A Lebanese army statement said that four IAF warplanes entered Lebanese air space at 4.30 p.m on Tuesday. They were replaced four hours later by another group of planes which overflew southern Lebanon until 2 a.m and a third mission took over, finally leaving at 7.55 a.m on Wednesday morning.

There was no explanation for the operations in the region, bordering southern Syria. The statement made no mention of planes entering Syrian airspace.Lebanon frequently complains that Israeli jets overfly its territory. However the recent activity was much more concentrated than usual.

Israel's vice premier Silvan Shalom said on Sunday that any sign that Syria's grip on its chemical weapons is slipping, as President Bashar Assad fights rebels trying to overthrow him,could trigger Israeli military strikes.

Jerusalem Post

Syrian state TV: IAF hit military research center

Syrian army command denies earlier reports IAF had struck convoy carrying weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
IAF plane takes part in maneuvers [file] Photo: IDF spokesperson

Israel Air Force fighter jets struck a “military research center” in Syria’s Damascus province, near the border with Lebanon, at dawn on Wednesday, according to a report by Syrian state television.

Two people were said to have been killed and five wounded in the attack on the site in Jamraya, which the report described as one of a number of “scientific research centers aimed at raising the level of resistance and self-defense.”

The building was destroyed, the Syrian military command said in a statement carried by state media. It said the planes flying below radar level crossed into Syria just north of Mount Hermon, and returned the same way.

Earlier, several foreign reports said a weapons convoy carrying “game-changing” arms from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon had been hit overnight. Syria’s military command later denied that a convoy had been attacked.

It remains unclear whether the various reports related to separate air strikes.

The IDF has declined to comment on the reports.

The type of weapons reportedly being transported in the convoy remains unknown, although the Associated Press cited anonymous security sources as saying trucks carrying advanced SA-17 anti-aircraft missile launchers were hit. Should Hezbollah obtain the SA-17 from Syria, it could limit the IAF’s ability to maneuver freely over Lebanon for surveillance or to target Hezbollah targets in a future conflict.

Other reports suggested that the weapons hit were Yakhont anti-ship missiles or powerful Scud D ground-toground missiles. There was no word on whether the convoy carried chemical weapons.

The foreign reports claiming that a convoy had been hit conflicted over the location.

Most said the air strike had taken place near the Syrian town of Zabadani, in the southwest of the country near the Lebanese border, while others said the attack occurred just after the convoy entered Lebanon, near the village of Nabi Sheeth.

Lebanese sources reported the entry of 12 IAF aircraft in two waves on Tuesday afternoon and evening. The fighter planes flew over the southwestern Lebanese town of Nakoura, then headed northeast over Bint Jbail toward the Syrian border, according to the reports.

At 2 a.m. the jets were reportedly heard heading back to Israel.

Hezbollah and Lebanon have denied any knowledge of an attack.

Reuters cited one Western diplomat as saying that the target was “a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon,” adding that the consignment seemed unlikely to have included chemical weapons.

A source among rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad said an air strike at around dawn blasted a convoy on a mountain track about 5 kilometers south of where the main Damascus-Beirut highway crosses the border. Its load probably included hi-tech anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

“It attacked trucks carrying sophisticated weapons from the regime to Hezbollah,” the source said, adding that it took place inside Syria, though the border in the area is poorly defined.

A security official in the region also placed the attack on the Syrian side. A Lebanese security official denied any strike in Lebanon. It was not clear whether special forces took part.

The attack sent jitters throughout the region and came after the IDF stationed two Iron Dome air defense batteries in northern Israel earlier in the week.

Haim Mazaki of the Israel Postal Company, which is helping distribute gas masks at several distribution centers around the country, said on Wednesday that more Israelis have been demanding gas masks in light of the threat of chemical weapons falling into the terrorist hands in Syria.

Speaking to Israel Radio, Mazaki said there had been “increased demand in recent days following reports about the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups in Syria.” The Postal Company said the number had doubled in one week.

Speaking hours before the reported air strikes, IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said that Israel’s need to deal with developing threats before they begin having an impact on the country’s security was growing.

“Today, no one has an idea of what will be in Syria, and how the country will look. This is happening in a place with a vast arsenal of weapons, some of which are modern and advanced, and some of which are unconventional,” he told a space conference in Herzliya.

Israel has been closely monitoring the danger of chemical weapon transfers from Syria to radical groups. With dozens of storage and production sites spread over a large area, attacks against these facilities would require extensive planning, intelligence and resources.

It emerged on Wednesday that OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi was in Washington for consultations with his US counterparts at the Pentagon.

Earlier this week, Israel Radio reported that the prime minister’s national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, had flown to Moscow for talks with senior Russian officials.

Jerusalem Post

'France is totally bankrupt': French jobs minister Michel Sapin

France’s employment minister Michel Sapin has admitted the country is “totally bankrupt”.

The unexpected news came during a radio interview yesterday and is thought to have sent the country’s business leaders into a state of shock.

“There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state,” Mr Sapin said. “That is why we had to put a deficit reduction plan in place, and nothing should make us turn away from that objective.”

Mr Sapin’s “totally bankrupt” statement is likely to cause huge embarrassment for President Francois Hollande, who will be left to undo the potential damage to his socialist government’s reputation.

It also calls into further question Hollande’s controversial “tax and spend” policies that have seen numerous entrepreneurs and high profile celebrities leave the country.

The comments came as President Hollande attempts to improve the image of the French economy after pledging to reduce the country’s deficit by cutting spending by €60bn (£51.5bn) over the next five years and increasing taxes by €20bn (£17bn).

Among those who moved their wealth out of France are Hollywood star Gerard Depardieu and the country's richest man Bernard Arnault.

There are even reports that Nicolas Sarkozy, the previous President of France, is preparing to move to London with his wife Carla Bruni for economic reasons.

Prime Minister David Cameron has previously said that Britain will “roll out the red carpet” to attract wealthy French people.

Pierre Moscovici, France's finance minister, immediately tried to play down Mr Sapin's comments, saying they were 'inappropriate'.

Mr Moscovici said: “France is a really solvent country. France is a really credible country, France is a country that is starting to recover.”

The Independent

Divine Patterns

Joseph Herrin (01-28-2013)

Ecclesiastes 1:9
That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done.

Pharaoh’s Dream

Recently I found myself questioning whether I had gotten out of the will of the Father by focusing so much on current events, and warnings of calamitous, and troublous days that are soon to come. At times I wrestle against my soul’s sense of what is right and appropriate for a minister, or a Christian to be doing. I want to be teaching doctrine, or serving up expository teaching from the Scriptures. Occasionally I receive criticism from a reader suggesting that I am focusing too much on “gloom and doom” messages.

I tend to be quite introspective anyway. I am quick to consider my ways, and to ask Yahweh to reveal whether I have gotten off track in some area. I recognize that prophetic, current-event focused writings are more popular than doctrinal teaching. I don’t want to fall into error by catering to that which is desired by men. The ministry entrusted to me was granted by Yahshua, and He is the One I seek to please.

Recently I have had invitations to appear on a number of radio programs, and to have my writings posted as a regular feature on a very popular “Christian” end times website that receives 6 million visitors a month. The opportunity was not particularly “tempting” to me. I don’t desire a larger ministry for the sake of becoming more “successful.” I am not seeking to be increased in material possessions. Yahweh has been faithful to meet my material needs. Having food and covering, I am content.

I would like truth to be received by a larger number of people who are prepared to receive it. It is my perception, however, that the vast majority who visit these popular sites do not love truth. Yahweh told me some years back that He was giving me a message for a “remnant.” He also told me that my life would bear striking similarities to my namesake, Joseph the son of Jacob.

Genesis 45:7
And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.

Yahweh’s focus at this time is also on the preservation of a remnant. The pattern is “first the natural, then the spiritual.” The preservation of the people of God in this hour is primarily a spiritual deliverance. Many will lose their physical lives while preserving their spiritual lives.

Romans 8:35-37
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

Revelation 12:11
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”

It is appointed to the people of God to suffer many things. There is a Joseph Company who have been called of Yahweh to experience suffering before their brothers. Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt, and further suffered an unjust sentence that resulted in his imprisonment. Thirteen years elapsed from the time Joseph received dreams of promotion until he was brought out of Pharaoh’s prison and set over all the people of the land. His brothers were living as free men, pursuing whatever their soul’s desired, while Joseph endured hardship. For Joseph’s brothers, there was a time appointed for them to also suffer. Their descendants would know slavery in the land of Egypt as Joseph had known.

I have shared in other writings the many parallels between Joseph, the son of Jacob and Yahshua, the Son of God. Both were dwelling in glory and honor with their fathers when their father asked them to leave their glory and go check on their brethren. Both submitted to their father’s will freely. Both Joseph and Yahshua had their outer garments stripped from them. Both were numbered among the transgressors. Both men experienced a death and resurrection experience (Joseph was reported dead by his brothers, to be found alive many years later.) Joseph’s brother Judah proposed the idea of selling him for 20 pieces of silver. Judas (the Greek form of Judah) sold Yahshua for 30 pieces of silver. Both faced temptation and overcame it. Joseph was tempted by Potipher’s wife and refused her sexual advances. Yahshua was tempted by Satan in the wilderness and rejected his proposals. After enduring suffering, both were raised to a position of glory and honor.

Many more parallels could be cited. This is sufficient, however, to reveal that Yahweh repeats certain patterns among mankind. The words of Solomon are true words. “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done.”

Yahweh is repeating patterns again at the end of the age. There are sons who have been sent ahead of their brothers to endure suffering and reproaches, to dwell apart, and to be lightly esteemed. Their experiences have been ordained to prepare them for roles that have been determined for them from ancient times. Even as Joseph and Yahshua provided salvation for many, there is a Joseph company that has been prepared for this hour to instruct, guide, and provide for the saints of God. Joseph fed the nations with the grain he had stored up in the years of abundance. Yahshua fed the multitudes by multiplying the fish and loaves, and to His disciples He said, “My flesh is true meat, and My blood is true drink.” He was the true bread that came down out of heaven to feed the world.

In this last hour there are those who have been storing up spiritual grain received from Yahweh’s table. An hour of spiritual famine is coming when these ones will be sought out. What was lightly regarded in days of plenty will be greatly desired as if it were a matter of life and death.

Amos 8:11
“The days are coming,” declares Yahweh God, “when I will send a famine through the land - not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of Yahweh.”

As I contemplated whether I was straying from the message Yahweh would have me to proclaim, the Spirit reminded me that part of the pattern of Joseph’s life was to interpret signs, and to give warning of the calamity to come upon the world. It was granted to Joseph to understand types and shadows, and to counsel those with ears to hear, regarding the things to shortly come to pass upon the earth. The Father has opened my eyes, and the eyes of other men and women in this hour, to discern parables, and to unravel enigmas, to disclose to those with spiritual sight and hearing the things to come.

Shortly after receiving this affirmation from the Father I was at Walmart and spied a video in a large bin of $5 movies. It was the animated feature titled “Joseph - King of Dreams.” The Spirit bore witness once more that we are in a time when a divine pattern is being fulfilled. The majority of Jews in Christ’s day rejected the words of Yahshua, Yahweh’s messenger. This resulted in great calamity, and loss of life.

Luke 19:41-44
And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

In the recent post titled Heavenly Harbinger I mentioned the comet that appeared over Jerusalem prior to the great slaughter in A.D. 70. The article mentioned that a celestial sword is predicted to be observed over the earth once more in this current year. Peace will be removed from the earth. Those who are promising peace and safety are speaking vanity and falsehood.

Last night a brother in Europe made known to me a profound parable that occurred. The Pope in Rome had convened a special service to commemorate the millions of Jews who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis. He called for world resolve to keep any similar thing from ever occurring again. As a symbol of the peace, and the end of racial strife, the Pope released a dove from the balcony upon which he was standing. As he did so, a seagull swooped in to attack the dove, driving it into a wall.


What a profound parable is observed in this event! There are false prophets who are promising peace, but there will be no peace. The dove is a symbol of peace, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and therefore a symbol of those filled with the Spirit. Doves are NOT violent birds. They are innocent and harmless.

Matthew 10:16
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

There is a message for the saints in this event. The dove did not fight back. He sought an avenue of escape. He fled from his attacker rather than fighting back in a contest that he could not win. The dove escaped, and so too would Yahweh encourage His people to not take up arms in the coming troublous days when peace is removed from the earth. Let them flee to the wilderness where a place has been prepared for them.

Revelation 12:4, 6
And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child... And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Even as Israel fled into the wilderness in the days of Moses where they received provision from the Lord, so too will a people be led into a wilderness experience in the coming days to experience the same. The Israelites had no natural, tangible, source of provision as they followed Yahweh. There were no grocery stores, no outdoor markets. They had to trust Yahweh for a supernatural provision. It will be so again in the days to come. Without the mark of the beast, the people of God will not be able to buy or sell. They will have to trust Yahweh for a miraculous provision.

The Israelites had all that they fed upon in Egypt taken from them. They were provided bread from heaven and water from the rock. The people of God will have the fleshly things they have been feeding their souls upon stripped away in coming days that they might begin to regard the spiritual food that comes from the Father. Many will murmur and complain bitterly, for their souls desire flesh to eat.

For those who will not rebel against the will of God, ministers after the pattern of Moses and Joseph will appear to feed them. Right now, however, in a time where unfaithful ministers are enticing the saints with delicate dainties, and fleshly foods, that which is spiritual, an lacking in appeal to the flesh, is disdained.

One of the reasons I was led to turn down the invitations to appear on radio, or to affiliate myself with other sites, is that I perceive a true spiritual hunger is not yet present among the people of God. Indeed, it will never be present in more than a remnant of God’s people in the coming days. We are cautioned to not give what is holy to the dogs, nor to cast pearls before swine, lest they turn and rend us.

We are seeing many divine patterns fulfilled in this hour. The Father has assured me that it is His Spirit that is directing me to sound forth a warning. Before the world was created, Yahweh appointed specific roles to each of His children. I magnify my calling only to encourage those who read these words to take heed. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in my sight.

Joseph Herrin

US debt headed toward 200 percent of GDP

The nation's long-term fiscal outlook hasn't significantly improved following the recent agreement between Congress and the White House over tax and spending issues, according to a new analysis.

The "fiscal cliff" deal, combined with the debt-limit agreement of August 2011, only slightly delays the United States reaching debt-to-gross domestic product levels that would damage the economy and risk another fiscal crisis, according to a report from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation released on Tuesday.
The agreement "may have prevented the immediate threats that the fiscal cliff posed to our fragile economic recovery, but we haven’t remotely fixed the nation’s debt problem," said Michael A. Peterson, president and COO of the Peterson Foundation.

"The primary goal of any sustainable fiscal policy is to stabilize the debt as a share of the economy and put it on a downward path, and yet our nation is still heading toward debt levels of 200 percent of GDP and beyond," he said.

The report concludes that the recent round of deficit-reduction measures won't make major improvements because they fail to address most of the major contributors to the debt and deficit, including rapidly rising healthcare costs.

The analysis suggests that lawmakers take action quickly to ensure that the nation is on a sustainable fiscal path.

At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing last week, lawmakers and budget experts agreed that rising healthcare costs, such as Medicare, must be addressed this year as part of efforts to overhaul the tax code and entitlement programs.

"Until spending in those areas is reduced, tax revenues are increased, or policymakers implement a combination of both, the United States will continue to have a severe long-term debt problem," the report said.

"Reforms should be implemented gradually, and fiscal improvements must be achieved before our debt level and interest payments are so high that sudden or more draconian reforms are required to avert a fiscal crisis."

The latest deal that stopped income tax increases for those making $400,000 a year or less may have only improved the burgeoning debt situation by a year.

Scheduled spending cuts from the 2011 budget deal, combined with the fiscal cliff agreement, put the debt on track to reach 200 percent of GDP by 2040, five years later than was projected prior to the passage of the two deals.

The recent deficit-reduction measure gave the nation an additional year before hitting that 200 percent threshold, the report showed.

Sequestration does not improve the outlook much, either.

Even if the budget sequester is fully implemented, federal debt would still reach 200 percent of GDP within about 28 years.

On top of that, the debt will continue to grow between now and 2022, and will accelerate significantly after that.

Debt is now projected to grow from 72 percent of GDP in 2012 to 87 percent in 2022, down only slightly from the 90 percent that was estimated before passage of the most recent deal.

Many economists suggest keeping debt at or below 60 percent of GDP, with research showing that economic growth slows for countries that have debt levels exceeding 90 percent of economic growth.

"Americans shouldn’t be under any false impression that our debt problems are behind us," Peterson said.

"And because it takes years to implement policies fairly and gradually, we need to make decisions now, before we are forced by markets to take severe action that hurts our economy and our citizens."

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/economy/279857-report-fiscal-outlook-not-improved-by-debt-deal#ixzz2JSj4ToOT

Houston Residents Rattled by Government Gunfire and Helicopters

The federal government is so brazen and arrogant it no longer bothers to inform civilians when it conducts questionable military exercises in residential neighborhoods.

KTRK-TV in Houston reported that the U.S. Army along with other agencies took over the Carnegie Vanguard High School in Houston on Monday. Alarmed residents called police and complained about gunshots and helicopters.

The Army did not give any details on what the training was for, according to the news station, and a Google News search produced no announcement of the exercise.

The latest military drill follows an outrageous training exercise in Florida last week. On Thursday, military helicopters simulated combat over a freeway in downtown Miami. Federal troops rappelled down on buildings and mass transit platforms as stunned residents hit the deck in response to machine gun fire echoing across the city.


Boy Scouts May Allow Homosexual Scout Masters

NEW YORK (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America may soon give sponsors of troops the authority to decide whether to accept gays as scouts and leaders - a potentially dramatic retreat from a nationwide no-gays policy that has provoked relentless protests.

Under the change now being discussed, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue — either maintaining an exclusion of gays, as is now required of all units, or opening up their membership.

Gay-rights activists were elated at the prospect of change, sensing another milestone to go along with recent advances for same-sex marriage and the end of the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

However, Southern Baptist leaders — who consider homosexuality a sin — were furious about the possible change and said its approval might encourage Southern Baptist churches to support other boys' organizations instead of the BSA.

Monday's announcement of the possible change comes after years of protests over the no-gays policy — including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts.

Under the proposed change, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith, "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."

Smith said the change could be announced as early as next week, after BSA's national board concludes a regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 6. The meeting will be closed to the public.

The BSA, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has long excluded both gays and atheists. Smith said a change in the policy toward atheists was not being considered, and that the BSA continued to view "Duty to God" as one of its basic principles.

Protests over the no-gays policy gained momentum in 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the BSA's right to exclude gays. Scout units lost sponsorships by public schools and other entities that adhered to nondiscrimination policies, and several local Scout councils made public their displeasure with the policy.

More recently, pressure surfaced on the Scouts' own national executive board. Two high-powered members — Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson — indicated they would try to work from within to change the membership policy, which stood in contrast to their own companies' non-discrimination policies.

Amid petition campaigns, shipping giant UPS Inc. and drug-manufacturer Merck announced that they were halting donations from their charitable foundations to the Boy Scouts as long as the no-gays policy was in force.

Also, local Scout officials drew widespread criticism in recent months for ousting Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom, as a den leader of her son's Cub Scout pack in Ohio and for refusing to approve an Eagle Scout application by Ryan Andresen, a California teen who came out as gay last fall.

Tyrrell said she's thrilled for parents and their children who've been excluded from scouting and "for those who are in Scouts and hiding who they are."

"For me it's not just about the Boy Scouts of America, it's about equality," she told The Associated Press. "This is a step toward equality in all aspects."

Many of the protest campaigns, including one seeking Tyrrell's reinstatement, had been waged with help from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

"The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong," said Herndon Graddick, GLAAD's president. "Scouting is a valuable institution, and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect."

Among those urging the Boy Scouts to keep the no-gays policy was Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council.

"The Boy Scouts of America board would be making a serious mistake to bow to the strong-arm tactics of LGBT activists and open the organization to homosexuality," Perkins said. "The Boy Scouts should stand firm in their timeless values and respect the right of parents to discuss these sexual topics with their children."

The Scouts had reaffirmed the no-gays policy as recently as last year, and appeared to have strong backing from conservative religious denominations — notably the Mormons, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists — which sponsor large numbers of Scout units. Under the proposed change, they could continue excluding gays.

Prior to Monday's announcement, the BSA conferred with some leaders of these religious groups, including the Rev. Frank Page, who leads the Southern Baptist Executive Committee.

According Roger S. Oldham, a spokesman for the executive committee, Page then wrote to the Scouts "expressing his tremendous dismay at the decision."

"They had been working for months on this proposal and just days before they informed us," Oldham said in a telephone interview. "We would anticipate that there would be a very significant backlash to this as churches reevaluate whether scouting comports with."

If the Scouts proceed with the change, Oldham said, SBC leaders were likely to issue a statement "expressing disappointed and encouraging our churches to support alternative boys organizations."

Neither the Catholic Church nor the Mormons' Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued official statements as to how they would respond.

Said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, "The bishops hope the Boy Scouts will continue to work under the Judeo-Christians principles upon which they were founded and under which they have served youth well."

Were the change adopted, said Deron Smith, "there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs.

"BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families," he said. "Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs."

The announcement came shortly after new data showed that membership in the Cub Scouts — the BSA's biggest division — dropped sharply last year, and was down nearly 30 percent over the past 14 years.

According to figures provided by the organization, Cub Scout ranks dwindled by 3.4 percent, from 1,583,166 in 2011 to 1,528,673 in 2012. That's down from 2.17 million in 1998.

The Boy Scouts attribute the decline largely to broad social changes, including the allure of video games and the proliferation of youth sports leagues and other options for after-school activities.

However, critics of the Scouts suggest that its recruitment efforts have been hampered by high-profile controversies — notably the court-ordered release of files dealing with sex abuse allegations and persistent protests over the no-gays policy.

The BSA's overall "traditional youth membership" — Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers — totaled 2,658,794 in 2012, compared to more than 4 million in peak years of the past. There were 910,668 Boy Scouts last year, a tiny increase from 2011, while the ranks of Venturers — a program for youths 14 and older— declined by 5.5 percent.

In addition to flak over the no-gays policy, the Scouts have been buffeted by multiple court cases related to past allegations of sexual abuse by Scout leaders, including those chronicled in long-confidential records that are widely known as the "perversion files."

Through various cases, the Scouts have been forced to reveal files dating from the 1960s to 1991. They detailed numerous cases where abuse claims were made and Boy Scout officials never alerted authorities and sometimes actively sought to protect the accused.

The Scouts are now under a California court order, affirmed this month by the state Supreme Court, to turn over sex-abuse files from 1991 through 2011 to the lawyers for a former Scout who claims a leader molested him in 2007, when he was 13. It's not clear how soon the files might become public.

The BSA has apologized for past lapses and cover-ups, and has stressed the steps taken to improve youth protection policy. Since 2010, for example, it has mandated that any suspected abuse be reported to police.


An Israeli nightmare unfolds

Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel warned Tuesday, Jan. 29, that Syria is falling apart and no one knows what the next day may bring: “War may not break out tomorrow,” he said, “but we stand ready for any eventuality.”

If war is not expected tomorrow, why have Israel’s armed forces, including the air force, been on their highest level of preparedness since Friday, Jan. 25? The Syrian crisis may not technically fit the description of a state of war. However, the violent turbulence in that country may at any time spill over the border into hostilities in some shape or form.

The “no comment” stance on the Syrian civil war, long held by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak is untenable and pointless, especially after the latter cut short an overseas family trip to be flown home in a hurry Saturday.

No one believes the official explanation that the three Iron Dome anti-missile batteries stationed over the weekend in northern Israel - in the sight of many thousands of local dwellers - are there for a preplanned routine test - least of all after a senior Israeli officer told AFP that large Hizballah forces are parked at Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons stores poised ready to seize them.
If this happens, said the officer, “A decision to attack Syria or Lebanon will need to be implemented immediately.”

This is beginning to sound as though the politicians and the generals are not on speaking terms.

Gen. Eshel’s comment came hard upon the grave warning issued earlier Tuesday by Egypt's army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is also the defense minister. “The political strife is pushing the state to the brink of collapse,” he said on the sixth day of turbulent protests across the country at the cost of more than 60 lives.
Gen. El-Sissi reacted to the chaos and lawlessness engulfing Egypt. The government headed by President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood is no longer a functioning administration. They have been reduced to the single task of fighting to hang onto power.

None of the forces of law and order - the army, internal security, police - are willing to clash head-on with the opposition protesters rampaging on the streets of the main cities including Cairo. Some towns have descended into chaos and some outlying areas in this country of 90 million are no longer receiving regular food and water supplies.
The Egyptian defense minister’s warning may be taken two ways:

1. As a last warning to the Muslim Brotherhood and the opposition on the streets that this is the eleventh hour and if they don’t step back from their confrontation, the military will be forced to seize power to save the country.
2. Alternatively, that the army will not interfere and will stand aside for now, while warning that a civil war in Egypt would be more extensive and calamitous than the vicious conflict bringing Syria to ruin in the last two years.

As the two countries teeter on the brink of catastrophe, Gen. Eshel’s dry forecast of doom correctly noted that no one knows what tomorrow will bring.
However, Israel is coming face to face with its worst fear: being hemmed in by a blazing ring of hopeless conflicts just across its borders: Syria and Lebanon in the north; Egypt in the west and south; and Jordan under threat.



Bernanke To Oprah: "I've Been Doping for Years"

Beginning with the "Yes or No" questions only, everyone's favorite talk-show host takes on The Bernank in this earth-shattering interview. While Lance Armstrong managed to keep the dream alive for over a decade as all around him showed point-blank-proof of artificial stimulation, it took Oprah to get the truth from his lips (oh and a USADA threat).

It seems The Federal Reserve has been forced to 'fess up in this entertaining interview as Bernanke sits sobbing across from Ms. Winfrey - and comes clean to years of monetary policy artificial stimulation and performance-enhancing economic-doping. Just like Armstrong, Bernanke admits that it is widespread and that this generation of central bankers "all do it" as he notes that "some retard from the FT or NYT will write excruciatingly thoughtful op-eds about how this is actually a good thing." 

From the raging parties at Club-Fed to "good f##king times" with Alan Greenspan to "telling people to chillax and enjoy the good times" as the housing bubble popped, Bernanke leaves us with these chilling words:"Buy food, guns, and gold, this is about to get real!