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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Al-Assad to Western nations: Syrian rebels will turn on you

(CNN) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Western nations against supporting rebel groups battling his armed forces, predicting the militants will one day strike against the United States and others.

In an hourlong interview with Syria state TV network al-Ikhbariya, al-Assad claimed the West is supporting al Qaeda sympathizers in Syria as he says they did during the Libyan uprising.

He compared the support of rebels in Syria now to the backing of fighters in Afghanistan during their war with Soviet troops in the 1980s.

"The West has paid heavily for funding al Qaeda in its early stages. Today it is doing the same in Syria, Libya and other places, and will pay a heavy price in the heart of Europe and the United States," he said, according to a CNN translation.

Al-Assad also spoke harshly of Jordan, saying thousands of fighters were crossing the border to take part in the civil war in Syria.

It called it "illogical" for Jordanian officials to deny this was happening.

He guaranteed victory in the conflict, which began two years ago and which has led to the deaths of more than 70,000 people. according to the United Nations.

"There is no option but victory, otherwise it will be the end of Syria, and I don't think that any Syrian citizen will accept such an option," he said.

He referred to the rebels as "thieves" and "mercenaries" who are being paid by Western nations.

"There is an attempt to invade Syria, the forces are coming from outside, from different nationalities, they are using different tactics from what the colonization powers have used," he said.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered up to 200 troops to Jordan.

The new deployment will include communications and intelligence specialists who will assist the Jordanians and "be ready for military action" if President Barack Obama were to order it, a Defense Department official told CNN.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was going to meet with envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Syria.

"The prospects may seem dim, but I remain convinced that a political solution is possible. This is the only way to end the bloodshed and bring about a new and democratic Syria. The United Nations will continue to push in that direction," Ban said.


Iran unveils new drone, missile systems

The Islamic Republic of Iran has unveiled an indigenous stealth unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), two indigenous missile systems and a domestically-built mobile electronic interception system.

The drone, named Hazem 3, and Ya Zahra 3 and Mersad 2 missile systems as well as Sayyad 40 mobile electronic interception system were unveiled during a parade marking the National Army Day on Thursday.

Commander of Iran’s Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili said earlier that the drone, which is a long-range aircraft, can be used in targeting and reconnaissance operations, and for carrying cargo whenever needed.

The country’s latest indigenous air-to-surface missiles, Fakour and Qader, were also put on display during the parade, held next to the Imam Khomeini's Mausoleum in the south of the Iranian capital.

Shahab, Thamen and Matla' al-Faj advanced radar systems, Nazeat 60 and Nazeat M10 missile launching system as well as Zelzal and Qased missiles were also put on display in the ceremony.

Units of the Iranian Army staged parades on the occasion of the National Army Day to display the country’s defensive and military capabilities.

Senior Iranian officials and a host of top military commanders are attending the ceremony.

The occasion marks the establishment of the Islamic Republic's Army.

In recent years, Iran has made great achievements in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing essential military equipment and systems.

Iran unveiled its first indigenous long-range drone, Karrar, in August 2010. The aircraft is capable of carrying a military payload of rockets to carry out bombing missions against ground targets, flying long distances at a high speed, and gathering information.

In September 2012, the country also unveiled a new indigenous UAV, Shahed 129, with a 24-hour nonstop flight capability.

In December, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said Iran had also launched a production line for the manufacture of ScanEagle-type drones.

Tehran has repeatedly assured other nations that its military might poses no threat to other countries, insisting that the Islamic Republic’s defense doctrine is entirely based on deterrence.


IMF Warns Spanish Debt-Load Is Unsustainable

In the six months since the IMF last provided its economic forecasts, the situation in Spain has gone from bad (but sustainable) to worse (andunsustainable). Their current forecasts show no 'peak' in debt-to-gdp ratios at least as far as 2018 with the budget deficit primarily to blame.

As Bloomberg Briefs notes, general government primary borrowing, a measure that excludes the cost of paying interest on government debt, was revised up to 7.9% of GDP from 4.5% for 2012.

The inability to narrow the budget deficit, surprise surprise, appears partially due to lower real GDP growth forecasts and even then a recent study has found thatWorld Economic Outlook real GDP growth forecasts showed a tendency to systematically exceed outcomes. This phenomenon was particularly prevalent in countries with an IMF-supported program.

The IMF warns Spain "will need to undertake unprecedented fiscal efforts to bring their debt ratios to traditional norms," as most countries have never experienced debt levels similar to current ones; and seemed to think a debt restructuring is more likely and will "entail substantial and long-lasting economic and social costs."

Zero Hedge

Are you safe holding large deposits of cash in the United States?

We’ve recently discussed the sorry situation in Cyprus. As part of its bailout deal, the Cypriot government is notoriously going to take 60 percent of deposits in accounts of more than 100,000 euros.

I can’t get over the fascination with Cyprus. By my reckoning, the dollar has lost 25-40 percent of its purchasing power over the last four years. So every person holding dollars during that time was subject to a 25-40 percent haircut – in other words, a loss almost as bad as a depositor’s in Cyprus.

To make things worse, it’s not as though the actions of our central bank are a secret. The Fed has flat-out said, “We’re increasing the monetary base here by 30 percent.” Well, if you increase the monetary base by 30 percent, sooner or later you increase the amount of money in circulation by a much larger measure.

That trend is going to continue and it’s going to get worse. If you hold more dollars than you absolutely need to pay your bills, you’re a fool.

So what do I suggest? It depends on your cash needs. But my first piece of advice would be, “don’t hold a lot of dollars.” If you wanted to hold on to dollars – say, you were afraid of deflation or thought a central bank was buying more debt each year than was being issued – you ought to buy Treasury bonds and put them someplace secure, like a safe deposit box.

But I believe the government is bankrupt and would be insolvent except for the actions of the Federal Reserve. And the Fed’s actions – to increase the money supply by around $1 trillion a year – are massively inflationary. They are designed to steal the purchasing power you’ve accumulated in your savings. By holding on to large amounts of dollars, you’re signing up to be robbed.

Legendary investor Warren Buffett has said he thinks of cash as having value. He’s happy to pay to be in cash because he’s able to pounce quickly on deals. If there’s a crisis, he can get in.

But remember, Buffett’s talking about the huge advantage of having “liquidity.”

I’m not Buffett’s treasurer, but let me assure you, he isn’t talking about holding millions of dollars in a checking account. He’s talking about short-term, fixed-income securities. And if we get to the point where the feds start seizing short-term sovereign bonds, you know the world has already ended.

Again, we’re talking about how much money is safe to hold in your checking account. The answer is: just enough to cover obligations. And believe me, nobody out there – unless you have outrageous operating expenses – needs to have more than $100,000 in checking.

You shouldn’t have cash in the bank, period. If you do, you’re volunteering to be sheared or taxed. So I don’t really care what happens to my checking account. What I care about is holding my savings in a way that it can’t be pilfered by either the bank or the government (in the form of inflation).

I wouldn’t be looking for a “safe” bank. I’d be looking for a safe currency. There are several out there. The Singapore dollar seems very, very sound to me. The Canadian dollar is very sound. The Canadian banks are very sound, for that matter. There is not as much leverage in their economies or banks.

I would also hold assets like gold or silver, or unleveraged real estate, or productive assets, like apartments or farms.

Unfortunately, because of the duplicity of our own government, you can’t simply hold on to cash. It’s not safe.

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/your-money-isnt-safe-in-the-bank/#37R3DWJ54E7C2Rkt.99

Texas fertilizer plant explosion caught on camera

Iran says enhanced missiles could destroy Tel Aviv, Haifa

NICOSIA — Iran claims to have reached the capability to destroy
Israeli cities.

Officials said the Iranian military has enhanced its ballistic missile
arsenal that could target major Israeli cities. They said Teheran has tested
indigenous missiles and rockets with enhanced guidance systems.

“We enjoy the needed level of preparedness to put this statement into
action in the shortest time possible if the enemy makes a foolish move,”
Iranian Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammed Hejazi said.

In a briefing on April 15, Hejazi, in charge of defense research, said
Iran could fire missiles that could destroy Haifa and Tel Aviv. He said
Iran’s military has deterred Israel and the West from attacking Teheran’s
nuclear facilities.

Hejazi was speaking as Iran tested several indigenous missiles and
rockets, including an enhanced variant of the Fajr-5. Fajr-5, with a range
of nearly 80 kilometers, was fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in attacks on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in November 2012.

“Israel’s leaders sometimes threaten Iran, but they know that if they do
a damn thing, the Islamic republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the
ground,” Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei said.

On April 16, Iran said it fired a new ballistic missile in the Gulf. The
Defense Ministry said the land-to-sea missile could destroy any warship.

“The Defense Ministry has been able to test a new missile in the Persian
Gulf that has a high ability to hit targets,” Iranian Deputy Defense
Minister Majid Bokaei said. “This new missile, which has been equipped with
a surface-to-surface missile system, exits the atmosphere after being
launched, re-enters it at high speed, and completely destroys the target
vessel or warship.”

World Tribune

China's military 1.4 million members

Andy Wong / AP files

China has laid bare the scale of its rapidly expanding military might for the first time in a paper that argued that the American “pivot to Asia” was destabilising the region.

China’s People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, has some 850,000 service members spread across seven regional commands, according to the defence report issued Tuesday. The navy and air force have 235,000 and 398,000 service members respectively.

The paper also alludes to China’s powerful Second Artillery Force. Described as “the country’s core force for strategic deterrence,” it oversees China’s nuclear arsenal and is tasked with “deterring other countries from using nuclear weapons against China.”

The total number of service members listed was 1.48 million. In 2006, China said the military had a total of 2.3 million members. It was not clear if the new count represented a real reduction in numbers, or if the shortfall was made up by other ground force units that appeared to have been omitted from the count, including the Second Artillery Force.

National Post

'Iran to unveil new cruise missile'

An Iranian long-range missile is being launched during a military drill. (file photo)

“This missile is an upgraded version of our previous missiles, which can boost our defense capability in naval battles,” Iran's Deputy Defense Minister Brigadier General Mehdi Farahi said on Wednesday.

The General added that the range of the new missile, which can also hit targets at sea, has been boosted to dispel all kinds of threats.

He also added that Iran will unveil new Ballistic, cruise and anti-tank missiles by the end of the current Iranian year (started on March 20).

The missile and rocket-launching units of the Ground Forces of the Iranian Army plan to stage a one-day missile drill in central Iran on Thursday,

The maneuver, in which new indigenous missile systems are to be launched, is aimed at maintaining the preparedness and enhancing the defensive capabilities of rocket-launching and missile units.

Over the past few years, Iran has held several military drills to enhance the defense capabilities of its armed forces and to test modern military tactics and equipment.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly assured other nations, especially its neighbors, that its military might poses no threat to other countries, stating that its defense doctrine is based on deterrence.

Press tv