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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

'Multiculturalism failing': Violent riots engulf Stockholm suburbs

The Days of Noah

N.Korea 'Tested New Rocket Launchers'

The South Korean government has concluded that the six missiles North Korea launched into the sea between Saturday and Monday aimed to test new bigger multiple rocket launchers.

The missiles flew about 150 km, but their maximum range is estimated to be 180-200 km, a South Korean government official said Tuesday.

Until now the North was believed to have three kinds of multiple rocket launchers -- 107 mm, 122 mm, and 240 mm with a maximum range of less than 65 km.

But the new launchers could threaten South Korean military headquarters at Gyeryongdae in South Chungcheong Province and U.S. bases in Pyeongtaek and Osan, both in Gyeonggi Province, as well as the entire Seoul region.

With six to 12 launch tubes, mobile rocket launchers can fire more projectiles -- eight or nine rockets in 10 minutes -- than missile launch vehicles.

The launchers are difficult to detect until they start firing.

"South Korean and U.S. authorities concluded that they were multiple rocket launchers rather than short-range missiles given their launch speed, trajectory, and the shape the vehicles," the official said.

But the official added it is unlikely the new launchers have been deployed warfare-ready.

The test launches could be construed as provocative, although they "do not necessarily violate North Korea's international obligations," Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters Monday.

Meanwhile, the U.S. test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile dubbed Minuteman 3 on Tuesday, about a month after it decided to postpone the test in consideration of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

On Saturday, North Korea denounced the Minuteman test as a "military provocation." With a range of 13,000 km, the missile has three W-68 170-kiloton nuclear warheads, each of which can strike a different target.

The Chosun Ilbo

Zenith 2016 Part 2

Going back to 2008, consider the unprecedented messianic rhetoric that reporters, politicians, celebrities, and even preachers first used in celebrating the “spiritual nature” of Obama’s meteoric rise from near obscurity to U.S. president, and how this reflected people’s strong desire for the coming of an earthly savoir.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford characterized it as “a sort of powerful luminosity.” In Morford’s opinion, this was because Obama is “a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to…help usher in a new way of being on the planet.”[i] The dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, Lawrence Carter, went further, comparing Obama to the coming of Jesus Christ: “It is powerful and significant on a spiritual level that there is the emergence of Barack Obama.… No one saw him coming, and Christians believe God comes at us from strange angles and places we don’t expect, like Jesus being born in a manger.”[ii] Dinesh Sharma, a marketing science consultant with a PhD in psychology from Harvard, appraised Obama likewise: “Many…see in Obama a messiah-like figure, a great soul, and some affectionately call him Mahatma Obama.”[iii] It would have been easy to dismiss such commentary as the New Age quiverings of loons had it not been for similar passion on the lips of so many people. The following is a brief list of like expressions from a variety of news sources:

Barack’s appeal is actually messianic…he…communicates God-like energy.… What if God decided to incarnate as men preaching “hope and change”? And what if we…let them slip away, not availing ourselves…to be led by God! —Steve Davis, Journal Gazette[iv]

This is bigger than Kennedy.… This is the New Testament! I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often. No, seriously. It’s a dramatic event. —Chris Matthews,MSNBC[v]

Does it not feel as if some special hand is guiding Obama on his journey, I mean, as he has said, the utter improbability of it all? —Daily Kos[vi]

Obama, to me, must be not just an ordinary human being but indeed an Advanced Soul, come to lead America out of this mess. —Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun Times[vii]

He is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians…the agent of transformation in an age of revolution, as a figure uniquely qualified to open the door to the twenty-first century. —Former U.S. Senator Gary Hart, Huffington Post[viii]

He is not the Word made flesh [Jesus], but the triumph of word over flesh [better than Jesus?].… Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves. —Ezra Klein, Prospect[ix]

Obama has the capacity to summon heroic forces from the spiritual depths of ordinary citizens and to unleash therefrom a symphonic chorus of unique creative acts whose common purpose is to tame the soul and alleviate the great challenges facing mankind. —Gerald Campbell, First Things First[x]

Obama was…blessed and highly favored.… I think that…his election…was divinely ordered.… I’m a preacher and a pastor; I know that that was God’s plan.… I think he is being used for some purpose. —Janny Scott, New York Times[xi]

He won’t just heal our city-states and souls. He won’t just bring the Heavenly Kingdom—dreamt of in both Platonism and Christianity—to earth. He will heal the earth itself. —Micah Tillman, The Free Liberal[xii]

The event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance. —Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Politico[xiii]

Though he tried to keep it subtle himself, Obama encouraged such public perception of him as an “anointed” one whose time had come. Officially produced Obama campaign advertising consistently used such words as “faith,” “hope,” and “change.” Republican nominee John McCain picked up on this during his run for office and put outa cynical video called The One. Using some of Obama’s own words against him, the video mocked Obama’s play as a Christ-like figure, showing him in New Hampshire saying, “A light beam will shine through, will light you up, and you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack!” The video failed to mention that having an “epiphany” actually means the sudden realization or comprehension of an appearance of deity to man. Another part of the video included Obama during his nomination victory speech in St. Paul, Minnesota, saying, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Anybody who followed the presidential campaign would have picked up the same nuances: angelic children organized to sing about Obama; logos depicting rays of sunlight beaming out from his O-shaped hand sign (a gesticulation Hitler used as well); books such as Nikki Grimes’ Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope (Simon & Schuster); comparisons to Plato’s “Philosopher King,” without whom our souls will remain broken; comparisons to the “spiritually enlightened” Mahatma Gandhi; comparisons to the solar hero Perseus; comparisons to Jesus Christ; and even comparisons to God Himself.
The world is “looking for a superstar,” wrote Prophecy in the News founder J. R. Church before he passed away. It wants a man, he said:

…who can solve the problems of our planet. That elusive dream of a world without war, poverty, and disease has always been just beyond our reach. Most politicians are perplexed—overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem. They are convinced that the dilemma cannot be solved by commerce or systems, be it democracy or socialism. Most believe they can only be solved by a man—a superhuman superstar![xiv]

While many of us scratched our head in confusion, there were plenty of religious folks during his march into the White House that thought Obama could be the superhuman superstar the world's been waiting for, or that at least he was a forerunner of, “The One.” Dozens of churches and faith groups, including mainline Protestants, organized activities to mark Obama’s inauguration as a “spiritual” event. Randall Balmer, professor of religion in American history at Columbia University, admitted he had never seen anything like it before.[xv] CNN went so far as to compare Obama’s inauguration to the Hajj—the journey by Muslims to the holy city of Mecca, an obligatory pilgrimage that demonstrates their dedication to Allah.[xvi] In Des Moines, Iowa, an inaugural parade for Obama included a simulation of the triumphant entry of Christ in which a facsimile of Obama rode upon a donkey. As the reproduction made its way down the streets, palm branches were handed out to onlookers so that they could wave them like Christ’s adorers did in the twenty-first chapter of Matthew.[xvii] Several ministries, including the Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action, came together to perform what was heralded as a first for U.S. presidential inaugurations—applying anointing oil to the doorposts of the arched doorway that Obama passed through as he moved to the platform on the West Front of the Capital to be sworn in. Congressman Paul Broun (Georgia) was part of the ritual, joining Rev. Rob Schenck, who said, “Anointing with oil is a rich tradition in the Bible and…symbolizes consecration, or setting something apart for God’s use.”[xviii]Not content with just using sacred anointing oil to consecrate Obama for God’s use, approximately two thousand New Agers, Wiccans, and Shamans gathered at Dupont Circle—chosen because it is considered the gay center of Washington DC, as well as being the point of the left ear of the Masonic street Pentagram north of the White House—to participate in a cleansing ceremony to purge the White House of evil spirits (which they said were brought there by Bush) for Obama. A Shaman officiated the event, lighting bundles of sage, which smoldered and gave off thick, blue aromatic smoke. “Saging,” as it is called, is believed by Wiccan tradition to drive away evil spirits.[xix] Even the conventional inaugural prayers, which have been historically offered during U.S. presidential installation ceremonies, carried an unparalleled New Age flavor this time around. Rick Warren, considered America’s Christian pastor, rendered a blessing in the name of the Muslim version of Jesus (Isa), while the bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, invoked the “God of our many understandings.”
While all this was highly unusual, even unprecedented, it was not surprising. Obama had spent significant time during the campaign distancing himself from conservative Christians, evangelicals, and especially the Religious Right (which had held prominent sway over Republicans since Ronald Reagan held office), countering that his faith was more universalist and unconvinced of Bible inerrancy. In a five-minute video available on YouTube (see endnotes for address), a pre-election speech by Obama was highly cynical of Bible authority and even derided specific Old and New Testament Scriptures. “Whatever we once were,” Obama says on the video, “we’re no longer a Christian nation.” He added, “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific values.… This is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do.”[xx] Consequently, the conscious effort by Obama to reorient America away from conventional Christianity was widely embraced by people who identified with the man known to sport Masonic emblems, a ring that says “There Is No God Except Allah,” and a tiny idol of the Hindu god Hanuman in his pocket—whose blessings he sought in the race to the White House—a deity about whom Rudyard Kipling wrote the short story “The Mark of the Beast.” For Obama, who grew up in a household where the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagvat Gita sat on a shelf side by side, organized religion was best defined as “closed-mindedness dressed in the garb of piety,” but a useful political tool nonetheless. And so he used it masterfully, and earned a cult following while doing so. By February 2009, Obama had replaced Jesus Christ as America’s number-one hero according to a Harris poll, and dedication to his come-one, come-all mysticism has continued to spread in esoteric circles, with evangelists of the new religion calling for the “tired” faith of our fathers to be replaced with a global new one. Terry Neal, writing for the Hamilton Spectator, is such a disciple, and proclaims boldly: “The faiths of our fathers are tired now…only a global world view will suffice. The marriage of a believable faith with the husbandry of government is the union that must be contracted.” This has to occur under Obama, Neal concludes, for only then will there be “peace on earth and goodwill toward all.”[xxi]
Although it is more difficult to understand the broad appeal of Obama’s New Age philosophy to the many evangelical and Catholic voters who supported him, the phenomenon can be explained to some degree as the result of a changing culture. Over the past fifty years, and especially as baby boomers listened attentively to pastors telling them to focus on human potential and the “god within us all,” eastern philosophies of monism, pantheism, Hinduism, and self-realization grew, providing Americans with an alluring opportunity to throw off the “outdated ideas” of fundamental Christianity and to espouse a more “enlightened,” monistic worldview (all is one). Aimed at accomplishing what the builders of the Tower of Babel failed to do (unify the masses of the world under a single religious umbrella), God was viewed as pantheistic, and humans were finally understood to be divine members of the whole “that God is.” Pagans argue this principle of inner divinity is older than Christianity, which is true. The gospel according to such New Age concepts—a gospel of “becoming god”—is as old as the fall of man. It began when the serpent said to the woman “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5), and it will zenith during the reign of the anti-Christian god-king.
So many including this author were absolutely astonished that Barack Hussein Obama was reelected in 2012 instead of being assigned to the dust bin of a failed one-term presidency. Given his beyond-dismal record of governance (the worst in American history) and the horrific state of the economy under his leadership (also the worst in history), most businessmen and political conservatives were conviced that even an orangutan would trump his chances among the electorate in 2012. Not only were we wrong but we soon rediscovered that the longing among those who wish to receive him as God remains strong. This includes Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx at the Soul Train Awards admonishing the audience to give honor to “our Lord and savior, Barak Obama” as well as street vendors across Washington, D.C. selling posters of Obama as the second coming of Jesus Christ. Newsweek Magazine followed with a clear reference to the return of Jesus Christ in their cover of Obama and the headline “The Second Coming,” while university professor Barbara A. Thompson released her new book The Gospel According to Apostle Barack in which she detailed her divine vision of Obama as equal or superior to the mission of Jesus Christ. “To contemplate ways to assist Barack in his 2012 re-election bid something miraculous happened,” she writes. “I felt God’s (His) Spirit beckoning me in my dreams at night. Listening, cautiously, I learned that Jesus walked the earth to create a more civilized society, Martin (Luther King) walked the earth to create a more justified society, but, Apostle Barack, the name he was called in my dreams, would walk the earth to create a more equalized society…” [xxii] We could continue, pointing to such examples as Michael D’ Antuono’s painting “The Truth,” featuring Obama wearing a crown of thorns with his arms stretched out as if on a cross, Democratic National Convention prayer garments with the president’s name and a calendar declaring him “heaven sent” (with the month of November depicting the president with people’s hands on his back and the phrase “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”) and photographs of Obama with the Bible verse from John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” A month after the election, Obama messianism continued as people across the globe celebrated Christmas with nativity scenes hosting figurines of Obama as the prophesied King of kings. This could go on and on, but you probably get the point. Much of the the world is ready now, even hungry for the arrival of the Man of Sin. 
Conversely, this is where contrasting social feedback becomes equally interesting especially as a Public Policy Poll released in April 2013 reveals that one in four Americans now think Obama may actually be the Antichrist. I myself have taken the position that Obama is an antichrist but probably not the final one described in the book of Revelation (unless something dramatic or otherworldly were to happen with his mental acuity and/or genetics such as described in Chapter Eight of the upcoming book ZENITH 2016) not the least of which reasons is that he is not, so far as I know, a Roman as identified by the prophet Daniel (chapter 9:26). Nevertheless, as a result of the April, 2013 polling, I decided to find out what other scholars believe in this regard. Some, such as legendary broadcaster Noah Hutchings, believe there is a small chance Obama could be the evil one. In response to my query, Noah emailed, “Tom, concerning Obama being the Antichrist, we know from 1 John 2:18, that in the last days, many Antichrists would arise. From the signs of our time it is evident we are in the last days, and it is evident that Mr. Obama is an antichrist. Could he be THE Antichrist? Possibly. He is the one person who has made this nation more like Sodom and Gomorrah than any other man, president or otherwise. He has dealings with a strange god and people all over the world worship his image on television.” Other experts I contacted—men like Dr. Chuck Missler, Jonathan Cahn, Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, pastor Mark Biltz and more—felt Obama is too much of a ‘light weight’ to be the final Antichrist, though they did point out some profound comparisons between Obama and the coming Man of Sin. For instance, one noted how Obama is ‘packaged goods’ as in a person devoid of any achievements, about whom the public knows virtually nothing, and has ‘come out of nowhere’ to usurp the most powerful chair (throne) in the world. Another pointed out how Obama echoes the activities of antichrist figures throughout history including raising taxes (see Daniel 11:20), pushing for bigger and bigger government, and pressuring Israel to surrender land given to them by God. This latter point was on the minds of many as President Obama arrived in Israel March 20, 2013 (which, again, was meant to reflect Obama messianism as at sunset on this day Nisan 10 began, the day Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem as “Messiah” in advance of Passover) under the Netanyahu government code-name “Operation: Brit Amim.” This modern-Hebrew term is translated into English as “Unbreakable Alliance” and echoes the ancient prophecy in the book of Daniel (9:27) wherein the Antichrist forms a “firm covenant” with Israel that ultimately allows them to erect their third Temple and to commence their priestly activities, an agreement Antichrist breaks “in the midst of the week” (the seven year tribulation period) when he causes the sacrifices to cease and desecrates the temple.
       But the most penetrating response I received on the question of whether Obama could be the Antichrist will be covered in the next entry.

Israel to hold massive chemical warfare drill

The Home Front Command on Wednesday was preparing for a massive military drill next week, to focus on coping with chemical weapons attacks. The nationwide exercise will drill the civilian population as well as military and emergency services.

The exercise was originally scheduled to take place three weeks ago but was postponed due to tension with Syria. The simulation, which is being run in conjunction with the emergency response services, starts Sunday morning as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a week of national emergency preparedness.

Head of the Home Front Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg said Tuesday that the outbreak of a war in which Israel would be hit with a “large volume of rocket fire” was a certainty. “Our opponents hold long-range missiles with large warheads and a carrying capacity of hundreds of pounds,” he said.

The drill will include preparation for possible missile strikes against Israel, particularly in the greater Tel Aviv area. The first few days will center on protecting civilian populations at public institutions and private households. Two alarms will be sounded on Monday, at 12:30 p.m. and 7:05 p.m., and citizens will be requested to go to protected rooms or bomb shelters and to stay inside for 10 minutes.

The drill will mark the first time an entire network of early warning systems will be tested. In addition to sirens, civilians are to receive alerts from various sources, including from from cellphones, social networks, and the television.

Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan warned Tuesday that rockets raining down on densely populated areas in Israel “are only a matter of time” and could happen at any moment. He referred to the threat posed to Israel by Syria and Iran’s unconventional weapons stockpiles.

“The question is no longer will rockets be fired at the large populated areas in Israel, the question is when it’ll happen,” Erdan told reporters during a briefing ahead of a large drill in southern Israel on Wednesday. He said the battles being fought no longer distinguish between the front line and the home front, as missiles and rockets allow strikes far from the battlefield.

Israeli jets reportedly struck sites near Damascus twice earlier this month, aiming to stop the transfer of advanced Fateh-110 missiles to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. Although Israel never took official responsibility for the strikes, it has said it will continue to act to stop weapons transfers and an unnamed official even reportedly threatened to topple the regime in Damascus should President Bashar Assad hit back at Israel for any further strikes. Syria, for its part, has threatened to retaliate if it is hit again.

Earlier this week, the Sunday Times reported that Damascus put a number of advanced weapons on standby to strike Israel, should Jerusalem hit targets inside Syria again, the UK’s Sunday Times reported. According to the report, satellite images show Syria has readied its stock of Tishreen missiles for use against Tel Aviv.

US Secretary of State John Kerry stated recently that “strong evidence” exists that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its people. Kerry’s comments came the same day that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu cited tests on Syrian war casualties being treated in Turkey that indicated chemical weapons had been used against them.

Damascus’s large stockpile of chemical weapons, and President Bashar Assad’s refusal to sign international accords banning them, has become a major international concern as the civil war in Syria rages on.

Joshua Davidovich contributed to this report.

Times of Israel

The Pentagon Admits: The "War On Terror" Will Never End

Submitted by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.

- Glenn Greenwald from his recent article:  Washington Gets Explicit: Its “War on Terror” is Permanent
So last Thursday at a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, we found out what many of us already knew.  That the “war on terror” is never going to end.  Indeed, it was never supposed to end.  This never-ending “war” on a fantastical enemy provides the American oligarch class with too much money and too much power to ever make it worthwhile for the establishment to shut down.  It matters not to them that this civil liberties destroying fraud has been going on for my entire post-college life and, if they have their way, for the remainder of it.  It matters not to them that the “war on terror” itself has done more to destroy the Constitution and vital essence of this nation than any terrorist act ever could.  No, it matters very little indeed.  What matters to them is money and power, and the “war on terror” provides them with boatloads of both.
My favorite excerpts from Glenn’s article are below:
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on whether the statutory basis for this “war” – the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) – should be revised (meaning: expanded). This is how Wired’s Spencer Ackerman (soon to be the Guardian US’s national security editor) described the most significant exchange:
“Asked at a Senate hearing today how long the war on terrorism will last, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, answered, ’At least 10 to 20 years.’ . . . A spokeswoman, Army Col. Anne Edgecomb, clarified that Sheehan meant the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today – atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted. Welcome to America’s Thirty Years War.”
That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the “war on terror” will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week’s big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of “endless war”. Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.
It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.
In response, I wrote that the “war on terror” cannot and will not end on its own for two reasons: (1) it is designed by its very terms to be permanent, incapable of ending, since the war itself ironically ensures that there will never come a time when people stop wanting to bring violence back to the US (the operational definition of “terrorism”), and (2) the nation’s most powerful political and economic factions reap a bonanza of benefits from its continuation. Whatever else is true, it is now beyond doubt that ending this war is the last thing on the mind of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner and those who work at the highest levels of his administration. Is there any way they can make that clearer beyond declaring that it will continue for “at least” another 10-20 years?

And then there’s the most intangible yet most significant cost: each year of endless war that passes further normalizes the endless rights erosions justified in its name. The second term of the Bush administration and first five years of the Obama presidency have been devoted to codifying and institutionalizing the vast and unchecked powers that are typically vested in leaders in the name of war. Those powers of secrecy, indefinite detention, mass surveillance, and due-process-free assassination are not going anywhere. They are now permanent fixtures not only in the US political system but, worse, in American political culture.
Each year that passes, millions of young Americans come of age having spent their entire lives, literally, with these powers and this climate fixed in place: to them, there is nothing radical or aberrational about any of it. The post-9/11 era is all they have been trained to know. That is how a state of permanent war not only devastates its foreign targets but also degrades the population of the nation that prosecutes it.
This war will end only once Americans realize the vast and multi-faceted costs they are bearing so that the nation’s political elites can be empowered and its oligarchs can further prosper. But Washington clearly has no fear that such realizations are imminent. They are moving in the other direction: aggressively planning how to further entrench and expand this war.
This is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I’ve been to since I’ve been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution today.” 
Former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith, who testified at the hearing,summarized what was said after it was over: Obama officials argued that “they had domestic authority to use force in Mali, Syria, Libya, and Congo, against Islamist terrorist threats there”; that “they were actively considering emerging threats and stated that it was possible they would need to return to Congress for new authorities against those threats but did not at present need new authorities”; that “the conflict authorized by the AUMF was not nearly over”; and that “several members of the Committee were surprised by the breadth of DOD’s interpretation of the AUMF.” Conveying the dark irony of America’s war machine, seemingly lifted right out of the Cold War era film Dr. Strangelove, Goldsmith added:
Amazingly, there is a very large question even in the Armed Services Committee about who the United States is at war against and where, and how those determinations are made.”
Nobody really even knows with whom the US is at war, or where. Everyone just knows that it is vital that it continue in unlimited form indefinitely.
1984 really was an instruction manual for the people in power.  Terrifying.
Zero Hedge

India Test-Fires BrahMos Missile from Ship

BrahMos supersonic cruise missile

NEW DELHI, May 22 (RIA Novosti) - India test-launched a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the Russian-built guided missile frigate Tarkash off the coast of Goa on Wednesday, a defense ministry source told RIA Novosti.

“The missile performed a maneuver in the pre-determined flight path and successfully hit the target,” the source said.

The Tarkash, Teg and Trikand, three modified Krivak III class (also known as Talwar class) guided missile frigates built by Russia under the 2006 contract, will be equipped with BrahMos missiles, he said.

The first two ships have already entered service with the Indian Navy, and the third is due to be delivered from Russia soon.

The BrahMos missile is based on the Russian-designed NPO Mashinostroyenie 3M55 Yakhont(SS-N-26) missile. It has a range of 290 km (180 miles) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 lbs). It can effectively engage targets from an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the US-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile.

India is also developing an air-launched variant of BrahMos for delivery by its Sukhoi Su-30MKI strike aircraft, as well as a submarine-launched variant.

RIA Novosti

Japan's trade deficit hits $8.6B due to weaker yen

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's trade deficit widened to a larger-than-expected 879.9 billion yen ($8.6 billion) in April as its weakening currency accentuated surging import costs.

Exports rose 3.8 percent from the same month a year earlier to 5.78 trillion yen ($56.3 billion), while imports jumped 9.4 percent to 6.66 trillion yen ($64.9 billion), according to preliminary figures reported by the Finance Ministry on Wednesday. Japan's trade deficit stood at 362.4 billion yen in March, just over half the size of February's gap.

The yen has slid in value by over 20 percent against the U.S. dollar and euro, in turn pushing up other currencies in relative value. Its decline, due to expectations among market speculators and also monetary policies that are injecting huge sums of cash into the economy, is expected to lead to a recovery in exports. Stronger growth in the U.S. and some other major markets has also helped boost demand for Japanese products.

But a weaker currency also raises costs for imports of crude oil, gas and other commodities for this resource-scarce nation. In April, the cost of oil imports slipped as crude oil prices moderated, but the value of imports of liquefied natural gas jumped 18 percent from a year earlier. Japan's demand for natural gas has ballooned since most of its nuclear power plants remain closed following the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, and the deterioration in the trade balance is adding to pressure from the pro-nuclear government to restart more plants.

Japan's trade deficit ballooned to a record $83.4 billion in the fiscal year that ended in March, as imports climbed and a surge in exports to the U.S. failed to offset the impact from territorial tensions with China and weak demand from crisis-stricken Europe.

The U.S. remained Japan's biggest export market in April, as shipments rose 15 percent to 1.1 trillion yen ($10.7 billion), while imports edged up less than 1 percent to 534 billion yen ($5.2 billion), leaving a surplus in of 563 billion yen ($5.5 billion).

The deficit with China rose 60 percent to 442 billion yen ($4.3 billion) as exports edged slightly higher from a year earlier to 998.4 billion yen ($9.7 billion), while imports surged 13.3 percent to 1.44 trillion yen ($14 billion). Exports to the European Union fell 3.5 percent.

Yahoo News

IDF Responds to Syrian Fire on Israeli Territory