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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Israel wants to keep Assad in power

Middle Eastern politics are notorious for their Byzantine twists and conspiracy theories and now Israeli leaders seem to be sending some strange and contradictory signals to Syria these days.

While some threaten to bring down the wrath of God on President Bashar Assad if he retaliates for a string of recent Israeli airstrikes targeting his missile depots, others are indicating they want him to stay on, suitably weakened of course, because an Islamist regime taking over in Damascus would be much too dangerous.

"Better the devil we know than demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos and the extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there," the Times of London quoted a senior Israeli intelligence official as saying.

Although Israel has not formally acknowledged mounting the airstrikes, there's little doubt who in the Middle East could have carried them out.

The targets were all Russian surface-to-air or Iranian surface-to-surface missiles the Israelis say were to be handed over to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite movement whose forces are fighting alongside Assad's troops.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed Israel will not allow such weapons, which pose a grave threat to the Jewish state, to fall into the hands of Hezbollah or any other terrorist group.

But the real point of his message, say seasoned observers of the Middle East's diplomatic doublespeak, is that Israel means no harm to befall Assad's beleaguered regime -- not right now.

Indeed, Abdul Qader Saleh, commander of the rebel al-Tawhid Brigade, said May 12 Assad's regime, founded in 1970 by his late strongman father Hafez Assad, had, in fact, been whipped and the Israeli raids were intended to keep the regime's advanced weapons out of rebel hands, not Hezbollah's.

"The Syrian opposition was on the verge of taking over Assad's weapons caches and that's why Israel attacked Syria," he said. "The assault was in support of Assad."

Israel, Saleh claimed, is cooperating with Iran and Hezbollah -- its two most dangerous enemies -- to prevent the fall of Assad, "who has defended Israel's border for more than 40 years."

Israel's northern border along the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau in southern Syria that Israel has occupied since the 1967 Middle East war, has been its quietest frontier since the end of the 1973 war.

But that's not because Hafez Assad, one of the region's most cunning strategists, had thrown in the towel.

Rather than provoke Israel directly, it used Hezbollah to wage a guerrilla war against the Jewish state from neighboring Lebanon.

Efraim Halevy, a former director of Israel's Mossad intelligence service, gave some weight to the assertion Israel doesn't want to see Assad gone.

"Israel's most significant strategic goal with respect to Syria has always been a stable peace, and that is not something that the current civil war has changed," he wrote in the May edition of Foreign Affairs.

"But it is no accident that those strikes were focused solely on the destruction of weapons depots, and that Israel has given no indication of wanting to intervene further."

Israel, Halevy wrote, "ultimately has little interest in actively hastening the fall of Bashar Assad.

"Israel knows one thing about the Assads: for the past 40 years they have managed to preserve some form of calm along the border ... Indeed, even when Israeli and Syrian forces were briefly locked in fierce fighting in 1982 during Lebanon's civil war, the border remained quiet."

But there would seem to be an even deeper thread of strategic self-interest running through Israeli thinking on this: Keeping Assad in power means Iran, which Netanyahu sees as Israel's greatest enemy, will be tied down keeping Tehran's sole Arab ally, and its conduit to the Levant, in power.

Thanassis Cambanis of the Century Foundation think tank observed the Iranian regime, struggling under international sanctions over its nuclear program, is having to provide growing military and financial aid to Assad.

"The conflict shows no sign of ending and as foreign aid to the rebels escalates, Iran will have to pour in more and more resources simply to maintain a stalemate," he wrote in the journal Foreign Policy.

"If this is Iran's Vietnam, we're only beginning year three."

Space War

Sweden Stockholm riots & violence enter 4th day

US must back Israel in case of Iran strike

WASHINGTON - The Democratic-led Senate voted 99-0 - with one senator not present - on Wednesday night, on a resolution that the United States should support Israel if it were forced to defend itself from an Iranian nuclear threat. The measure also urged Obama to strengthen enforcement of existing sanctions on Iran.

Earlier Wednesday, a US House of Representatives committee approved legislation seeking to impose tighter sanctions on Iran, the latest congressional effort to slow development of the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program.

The measure seeks to cut Iran's oil exports to less than 500,000 barrels a day, limit Tehran's access to foreign currency and expand the list of blacklisted sectors of Iran's economy. Sponsors called it the strongest sanctions package ever against Iran's nuclear program.The "Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013" passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a unanimous voice vote and is expected to easily pass the full 435-member chamber, where it already has about 340 co-sponsors. A vote by the Republican-controlled House is likely within the coming weeks.

There is not yet a companion Senate bill to the House measure.

The United States believes Iran is enriching uranium to levels that could be used in nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is intended for producing power and medical supplies. Iran is already under sanctions by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union over the program.

Republican and Democratic US lawmakers have both been pushing US President Barack Obama's administration to do more to crack down on Iran's nuclear program.

Jerusalem Post

FORD slammed the door on its Australian manufacturing business

FORD slammed the door on its Australian manufacturing business - and 1200 jobs - by email, after accepting a total of $1.1 billion in taxpayer cash over the past 12 years.

The final death knell was delivered by the motoring giant's Detroit board to the email inbox of Ford's Asia-Pacific president, Dave Schoch, on Wednesday night.

Workers were in tears when told that the Geelong and Broadmeadows factories would shut down in October 2016.

And there are fears another 2500 jobs will be lost in the car parts supply industry.

Ford announced a $141 million loss yesterday, bringing the total red ink to $600 million over the past five years.

Herald Sun

Zenith 2016 part 4

The most penetrating response I received on the question of whether Obama could be the Antichrist came from Douglas W. Krieger, Dene McGriff, and S. Douglas Woodward when I learned of their scholarly argument (due out in book form in 2013 under the title “The Final Babylon”).

           Drawing upon historical comparisons between the current administration’s rise to power and that of the Third Reich, the following excerpt is used by permission and should be required reading by Christians in particular:

We begin by proposing a troubling issue for the reader’s consideration: If Antichrist were to be revealed in America, would the faithful recognize him? Would Americans committed to spiritual values miss the same clues disclosing Antichrist’s true nature as did the Germans with Hitler?
There is little doubt that if a figure paraded himself in front of the American people resembling an easily stereotyped leader of the Third Reich—with a mousy moustache, an armband, and wearing a brown shirt—his character and agenda would be obvious to almost everyone. Mounting the podium with an emotional appeal to our national loyalty, the adamant display of venom and vitriol against the enemies of the State, the promise of the restoration of our American “empire” through a continuing buildup of military might, the stark name calling identifying an appropriate scapegoat to fault for our problems—all of these factors would, at best, betray a would-be antichrist figure as a false messiah—or at worst, spotlight an artless actor who undoubtedly took us for fools.
However, we can be certain the apocalypse of (that is, the revealing of) Antichrist in America, an event we believe will transpire in the years just ahead, will be a one-of-a-kind challenge requiring spiritual discernment worthy of only the most circumspect and attuned “code breakers” whose specialty is exposing wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Remember Hitler achieved a meteoric rise to prominence and power because he understood the soul of his people. He could relate. He knew what made them tick. He realized how to couch his message in the context of the political situation and how to engage those who would be but mere spectators, by relating to their financial pain and anxiety over the future. Hitler understood crowd psychology and how to manipulate it. To mesmerize his audience, he learned the power of emphatic facial expressions and energetic hand gestures. He compelled unquestioning allegiance by conveying solutions plainly and confidently no matter how oversimplified or extreme his answers might be. In fact, the more oversimplified and uncompromising his solutions were—the better to persuade the people of their usefulness.
What is the lesson for us? If the Antichrist were to arise in America at this moment, we would be foolish to expect him to be anything but a consummate American. He would look like us. He would talk like us. He would think—for the most part—like us. And with a straight face he might even assert a profession of Christian faith—and why he believes the teaching of Jesus Christ is so well suited for society. Following Adolf Hitler’s lead, he would appeal to the most devout class of Christian—the Evangelical. He would offer opportunities to bring biblically-based believers “out front”—to escape the shadows of social disdain and distance themselves from the hackneyed portrait affirmed by the intelligentsia and showcased by the media (supposing that those who call themselves Evangelical are intellectually bankrupt). He would convince Bible-believing conservatives that they should no longer see themselves as simple plebeians (the common folk). Their self-image should be elevated so they regard their value no less in status than the progressive patricians of sophisticated national institutions.[i] Not that he would identify himself with the elite nor propose that the common man should be ashamed of his laborer status. Rather, he would argue he remains a man “of the people” yet holds himself sufficiently apart to sanctify his status as our formidable if not fearless leader.
This positioning reflects the example of Herr Hitler in many respects. Likewise, the tone and substance coming from the mouth of the Führer, although etched in the zeitgeist of that age, begs for comparison to what we hear today from select political leaders promoting the American version of The New World Order;[ii] especially those who were, are, or would be our President. However, the sham to fool Evangelicals will make use of more than patronizing remarks. It will turn the words of our most popular preachers against us. The ideology that should prohibit the arising of Antichrist—the Christian religion and its worldview—will be a powerful tool co-opted to capture the “believing” masses and to encourage, through a moral veneer and political resolution, an agenda resonating within the heart of the “folks” in these United States. Indeed, the future philosophy of Antichrist will convince us we should resolve to be nothing less than what our most prominent spiritual leaders teach us to be—successful, healthy, and committed to classic American ideals (although our most noble notions of individual liberty, a la Henry David Thoreau and Thomas Jefferson, have long since quietly departed for destinations unknown).
In like manner, Antichrist would deftly implore citizens to follow his lead. He would criticize Christians for failure to follow the most “positive” aspects of our faith. He would call us to be the best Americans we can be. The health of our nation, he would argue, depends upon living productive lives that contribute to economic prosperity for all. Morality, like ethics, should be shaped to improve our communities in light of standards established by the majority. Religion, true religion, will instill these values. It will not conflict with political objectives because positive faith goes hand-in-hand with constructive political ideology. The manifesto of “the public good” will brand any substantial opposition worthy of elimination. True believers will be activists—but for causes that comply with the will of the many.

On the surface, the nature of these ideals will seem consistent with the Bible. After all, who would argue that the spiritually inclined should be unproductive, immoral, unethical, a burden on the public’s well-being, and incapable of contributing to the community’s economic health? And yet, upon a more cautious objective inspection, there will emerge a thin but distinctive line between a laudable social compact (built upon beneficial principles for both the individual and the nation) with a overreaching “State” that demands unquestioned obedience—commanding allegiance above all other causes no matter how worthy.
Moreover, the challenge to discern the agenda of the Antichrist will be difficult for many reasons, not just intellectual. Social pressure to conform will be “maxed out.” The path to achieve clarity will be a lonely path, for our peers will be only too ready to encourage complicity. Any complaint and disparagement will be interpreted as unpatriotic, a threat to social order, and harmful not only to our own health, but to those we love and care about. One’s consciousness raising must be done in stealth to not draw attention to an expressed awareness that the enemy of Christ speaks profanely in our presence. It will not be easy to resist even if we come to the realization we have been asked to serve Antichrist. Our peers will plead with us not to rock the boat, not to question falling in line, not to label the State as anything but what is best for one and all. To be “the best Christian one can be” will appear synonymous with being the perfect U.S. citizen.
As a harbinger of the evil one to come, study the words of Hitler below. Consider just how difficult our task to discern the voice of Antichrist when it reverberates in America:
“We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the morality and moral sense of the German race. The Party, as such, stands for positiveChristianity, but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession.” [iii][Emphasis added]

“The National Government regards the two Christian Confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. They will respect the agreements concluded between them and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed... It will be the Government’s care to maintain honest co-operation between Church and State; the struggle against materialistic views and for a real national community is just as much in the interest of the German nation as in that of the welfare of our Christian faith. The Government of the Reich, who regard Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attach the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and are endeavoring to develop them.” [iv]
A “Nod” from the Craft and the Altar of Zeus
When Obama’s new CIA director John Brennan was sworn in at the White House’s Roosevelt Room March 8, 2013, he chose to follow an example first made by Obama himself—rejecting the Bible to instead place his hand on a copy of the Constitution for the ceremony. This wasn’t just any version of the founding document either, mind you, but an older one before it included the Bill of Rights![v] It would be pleasant to think that such ceremonies and the use of the Bible especially during the U.S. presidential oath of office actually means something to those who place their hand on it and swear to “faithfully execute the office of president of the United States…so help me God.” But Obama, who had to repeat his swearing-in ceremony after the word “faithfully” was garbled by Chief Justice John Roberts during the first inauguration, did so the following day in the Map Room of the White House before a press pool and a small group of aides. This time, just like his CIA director John Brennan would later do, the oath was administered without the use of a Bible, insinuating to some that the Good Book was only public “eye-candy” in the first instance, and also that the oath of Barack Hussein Obama was biblically invalid. While this may seem trivial to the average person, what it means to secret orders is consequential. Groups such as Masons (who honored Obama with their first-ever inaugural ball in Washington DC, January 20, 2009) esteem rituals, gestures, the use of books such as the Bible, and oaths taken by heads of state to be of the highest mystical importance. This is why everything they do is administered through appropriate ritualsinitiations, and incitations. Ethereal power—including supernatural agents—can be manipulated, bound, and released to execute blessings or curses as a result of proper oaths. Breaking an oath can likewise result in dire repercussion, in their opinion. Because this is not taken lightly by occultists, members of the Craft would have a difficult time believing the oath of office of the president of the U.S.—one of the most hallowed American traditions—was so easily flubbed at the start of his presidency. The very beginning of the oath, “I do solemnly swear,” is a spiritual petition. The word “solemn” means “an invocation of a religious sanction” or entreaty before deity to witness, sanction, and bless the binding nature of the ceremony to carry out the office or duty. The oath also binds the individual before “God” to faithfully execute the covenant. Thus, government representatives make an oath before taking public office, and witnesses in a court of law take an oath to “swear to tell the truth” before offering testimony. These principles are deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian faith as well as most other religions. Though there is no way of knowing what the presidential oath of office deeply means to Obama, or whether the blunder and redo of the swearing-in ceremony was anything more than an accident, the unprecedented gaffe was suspicious to some as possibly representing important hidden meaning. Misgivings over it were additionally compounded when reflected against other curious activities and declarations by Barack Obama, which most of the media missed, downplayed, or simply refused to report on, that strongly connected his emergence with occult mythology identified in the Bible as both prophetic anddemonic.
An extraordinary example of this was when Obama gave his speech titled “The World that Stands as One” in Berlin, Germany, on July 24, 2008. More than a few students of occult history took notice of the symbolism and location of the event, even causing some who until then had rejected any “antichrist” labels hurled at Obama to reconsider their position. This included respected Catholic writer Michael O’Brien, best known for his apocalyptic novel, Father Elijah. O’Brien had received numerous letters and emails from subscribers and visitors to his website wondering if Obama was the Antichrist. At first, O’Brien wrote that this was not possible. Then a friend who had seen Obama’s speech in Berlin called him, talking about how mesmerizing the speech was, and stating that an announcer over German radio had said: “We have just heard the next president of the United States…and the future President of the World.” By now, Obama was conveying an unusual likeness to the Antichrist character of his novel. After watching the Berlin speech several times for himself, O’Brien sent out a newsletter in which he admitted that while he still doubted Obama was the prophesied ruler of the end times, he had come to believe he was “a carrier of a deadly moral virus, indeed a kind of anti-apostle spreading concepts and agendas that are not only anti-Christ but anti-human as well.” O’Brien finally conceded Obama could be instrumental in ushering in the dreaded Great Tribulation period, and worse, that he was “of the spirit of Antichrist.”[vi] After Obama’s term of office was underway, O’Brien pointed out the numerous foreign and domestic problems Obama was facing, including wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the possibility of a new war with Iran, and issues related to the crumbling financial systems, saying these obstacles could overshadow Obama and lead to his defeat in the next presidential election. O’Brien then added in what was a clear reference to the coming of Antichrist, “Alternatively, he could become the ‘Great Facilitator,’ negotiator, peacemaker, working marvels throughout the world as he moves from one seemingly unsolvable problem to another.”[vii] Because it is true that any significant public political event requires both forethought and symbolic meaning, the location where Obama gave his Berlin speech in front of Berlin’s Victory Column contributed to O’Brien’s conclusions. The site was offensive to educated Germans as well as to Christians and Jews because of its ties to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It was nevertheless oddly appropriate, for it was upon this exact location that Hitler had planned to enthrone himself in the Welthauptstadt Germania—the new “World Capital” upon winning World War II.
During the 1930s, Hitler commissioned Albert Speer, “the first architect of the Third Reich,” to design the new capital. As part of the plans, the “Siegessäule,” or Berlin Victory Column—a 226-foot monument topped by a golden-winged figure representing Borussia, the female personification of Prussia, and Victoria, the cult goddess of military victory—was removed from its location in front of the Reichstag building in 1939 and relocated to its current location in the Tiergarten, a 495-acre park in the middle of Berlin where Obama gave his speech in front of the Nazi symbol.
Rainer Brüderle, deputy leader of the liberal political party Free Democrats in Germany, complained to the newspaper Bild am Sonntag: “The Siegessäule in Berlin was moved to where it is now by Adolf Hitler. He saw it as a symbol of German superiority and of the victorious wars against Denmark, Austria and France.” This represented a serious question In Brüderle’s mind as to “whether Barack Obama was advised correctly in his choice of the Siegessäule as the site to hold a speech on his vision for a more cooperative world.”[viii] Another German politician named Andreas Schockenhoff was equally disturbed, saying, “It is a problematic symbol.”[ix]
Evidently it was not problematic for Obama, who stood in front of it and saluted the German audience in a way eerily similar to what Adolf Hitler used to do, followed by thousands returning the salute, which is against German law. When Obama ended his speech in front of the war goddess, he said, “With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.” This is exactly what Hitler had promised to do and exactly where he had planned to memorialize it.
Of greater significance and not far from where Obama delivered his rousing speech is the Great Altar of Zeus in the Pergamon Museum. According to several reports, Obama visited the Great Altar while in Berlin, which is especially important, given what he did on returning to the United States. Before we examine Obama’s revealing actions, consider carefully what the Bible says about the Altar of Zeus in the letter to the church in Pergamos (Pergamum, Pergamon):
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and has not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. (Revelation 2:12–13).
In the Greek, the phrase, “where Satan’s seat is,” literally means, “where a throne to Satan is.” Scholars identify this throne or “seat” as the Great Altar of Zeus that existed in Pergamos at that time. So important was the worship of Zeus in ancient Pergamos that perpetual sacrifices were offered to him upon the towering and famous forty-foot-high altar. Antipas, the first leader and martyr of the early Christian church, is believed to have been slain on this altar, slowly roasting to death inside the statue of a bull, the symbol and companion of Zeus. The phrase in Revelation 2:13, “wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth,” is considered a citation of this event.
Approximately two thousand years after Revelation 2:13 was written, German archeologists removed the massive altar of Zeus from the ruins of Pergamos and took it to Berlin, where it was restored as the centerpiece of the Pergamon Museum. It is here that Hitler first adored it, later building an outdoor replica of it from which he gave a series of speeches that mesmerized many Germans.
“Fast forward about another seventy-five years,” says blogger El Gallo. “Another charismatic young politician mesmerizes huge German crowds with a rousing speech in Berlin. Barack Hussein Obama…[and] did Barack Obama visit…the Great Altar of Zeus…? Presumably he did.”[x]
Whether Obama received inspiration from the throne of Satan while in Berlin or not, what he did next was astonishing. Upon returning to the United States, he immediately commissioned the construction of a Greek-columned stage from which he made his acceptance speech for his party’s nomination. Because Greek temples such as those built to honor Zeus were thought to house the patron deity, the GOP ridiculed Obama, mocking him as playing Zeus of “Mount Olympus” and accusing his supporters of “kneeling” before the “Temple of Obama.” The New York Post ran an enlightening “Convention Special” supplement on August 28, 2008, with the telling headline: “‘O’ My God: Dems Erect Obama Temple” blazoned across the front cover. But it was not until blogger Joel Richardson pointed out how the design of Obama’s stage was a dead ringer for the Great Altar of Zeus[xi] that Obama’s campaign managers tried to explain away the design as being a conglomeration representing the portico of the White House with the U.S. capitol building. “But experts agreed with Richardson,” Gallo wrote. “It was a replica of the Great Altar of Pergamum.”[xii]
Thus incredibly, like Hitler, Obama honored the goddess Victoria with his presence before ordering a replica of the biblical throne of Satan, upon which he accepted his date with destiny.
Following this, Barack Hussein Obama on June 4, 2009 gave an unprecedented speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, Egypt, declaring that he was launching a new era between the United States and the Muslim world. For the first time, Obama was forthright about his Muslim heritage and stated that the United States—which he is on record as saying is “no longer a Christian nation”—is now “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” Newsweek editor Evan Thomas followed the president’s speech with a declaration, reflected in the opinion of many, that “Obama is standing above the country, above the world, he is a sort of God.”[xiii]
Now imagineif such sentiments as illustrated above were afforded to a man like Obamawhat would America and people around the world be willing to accept if a truly amazing, even 'other-worldly' man stepped forward in 2016 with seemingly all of the answers to mankind's woes?

Iran pushes ahead with new nuclear plant

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran is pressing ahead with the construction of a research reactor that Western experts say could offer it a second way of producing material for a nuclear bomb if it decides to make one, a U.N. report showed on Wednesday.

Iran has transported the reactor vessel to the heavy water plant near the central town of Arak but has not yet installed it, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a confidential report issued to member states.

Western concerns about Iran are focused largely on uranium enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow, as such material refined to a high level can provide the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

"Once the reactor operates, it could spawn more than enough weapons-grade plutonium for a bomb per year, should Iran ever decide to do that," said nuclear expert Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment think-tank.

The Islamic Republic, which denies it has any intention of acquiring nuclear arms, plans to commission the plant in the first quarter of 2014, the IAEA said.

Tehran last year postponed the planned start-up from the third quarter of 2013, a target that Western experts said always had seemed unrealistic.

As reported by Reuters on Tuesday, the IAEA report showed Iran increasing its capacity to refine uranium by installing hundreds more centrifuges at Natanz, underlining Tehran's defiance of Western demands to curb the activity.

But, in a development that could help buy time for diplomacy between Iran and world powers, the report showed limited growth of Iran's most sensitive nuclear stockpile and it remained below an Israeli "red line" for possible action.

Tehran's holding of medium-enriched uranium gas is closely watched as Israel says it must not amass enough for one bomb if further processed and has threatened air strikes if diplomacy and sanctions do not stop Iran's atomic drive.

Critics say Iran is trying to achieve the capability to make atomic arms. Iran denies this, saying it needs nuclear technology for energy generation and medical purposes and that it is Israel's reputed nuclear arsenal that threatens peace in the Middle East.

Yahoo News

Turrialba Volcano spits massive ash and gas

At 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Turrialba Volcano, located east of the province of Cartago, began to spew gas and ash from two crater openings, the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (Ovsicori) reported.

By 8:30 a.m. a significant amount of volcanic material was released from the two openings of volcano, "which may indicate that these materials come from deep areas,” Ovsicori said.

"It is uncertain what will happen. Volcanologists are heading to the site to evaluate the activity," the statement said.

Experts said Tuesday's activity is “normal for an active volcano such as Turrialba,” but they recommended all nearby communities remain vigilant in coming hours.

The released material fell into grasslands and communities in the canton of Turrialba and reached some three kilometers west of the crater.

The trail of gases and ash can be seen from various locations in the provinces of Cartago, San José, Heredia and Limón. Public access to the volcano area was closed last year due to the activity.

The Turrialba Volcano also emitted material in 2007, 2010 and 2012. The last eruptions of the volcano were in 1884.

Tico News

Massive Nikkei Sell-Off

A perfect storm of yen strength, a spike in Japanese government bond yields and new evidence of weakness in China's economy were behind a major sell-off Thursday in Japan's equity markets, said experts.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 7.3 percent in a session that saw it rise 2 percent in early trade only to reverse direction and fall sharply. The broader Topix finished 6.8 percent lower.

"Almost everything went wrong during the day - the bond market had a bit of a crash, China PMI data, and the yen is stronger. The market is really overheated, all it's looking for is a trigger," Nicholas Smith, Japan strategist at CLSA told CNBC.

Following the sell-off in U.S. Treasurys overnight, Japan government bond (JGB) prices dived, forcing the yield on the 10-year JGB to 1 percent earlier in the day - the highest level in a year - spooking investors.


IAF Chief: S-300 is En Route to Syria; Surprise War is Possible

IAF Commander, Major General Amir Eshel, spoke Wednesday about the IAF's preparedness for a surprise war scenario with Syria, and said that the S-300 anti-aircraft system is on its way to Syria.

"A surprise war can come about through many scenarios at present," he said at a conference of the Fisher Institute for National Security in Herzliya. Isolated incidents can escalate very quickly, he explained, and added that "we are committed to being ready in a matter of hours and to operate up to the end of the spectrum."

"The Assad regime has invested a lot in order to attain the best aerial defense capabilities that it could buy," he said. "We are talking about weapons from a completely different generation, nothing like what was there before."

"From the little money he has," Maj. Gen. Eshel explained, "Assad has invested billions in buying the best weapons systems Russia can offer, including the S-300, which is en route to Syria. And he is not the only one; everybody is busy acquiring such capabilities."

"In order to unleash the IAF's intense firepower, aerial supremacy must be attained," he said.

"Should Syria collapse tomorrow, we may find ourselves ver quickly with this huge weapons arsenal scatterring and facing Israel. If, in the Second Lebanon War, we used only part of our abilities, in the next war we will have to give 100 percent, so that the operation will be fast and very powerful."

Israel National News

Greek Prostitution Soars By 150% As Youth Unempoyment Hits 75%

With Greece suffering the biggest economic depression in decades, all so a few rich men can preserve their wealth and not have their EUR-denominated savings wiped out (even if the alternative means finally being able to rebalance externally using the Drachma instead of forcing internal rebalancing via unemployment and plunging wages), it was only a matter of time before we found out just how humiliating the conversion of the entire economy to a "gray", non-tax paying one would be for the citizens of Greece.

As the NYT reports, in just the past two years, the numbers of Greeks engaging in prostitution as a last course source of income has more than doubled: according to the National Center for Social Research, the number of people selling sex has surged 150 percent in the last two years.

Furthermore, with every business in which there is exploding "competition" and rich client scarcity, it is not just any prostitution, but very deflationary prostitution:

“Five euros only, just 5 euros,” whispered Maria, a young prostitute with sunken cheeks and bedraggled hair, as she pitched herself forward from the shadows of a graffiti-riddled alley in central Athens on a recent weeknight.

Many prostitutes have been selling their services for as little as 10 to 15 euros, a price that has shrunk along with the income of clients afflicted by the crisis. Many more prostitutes are taking greater health risks by having unprotected sex, which sells for a premium. Still more are subject to violence and rape.

Now a new menace has arisen: a type of crystal methamphetamine called shisha, after the Turkish water pipe, but otherwise known as poor man’s cocaine, brewed from barbiturates and other ingredients including alcohol, chlorine and even battery acid.

And with a surge in prostitution come the drugs, and the danger of an epidemic of blood-transmitted diseases, like HIV:

A hit of shisha, concocted in makeshift laboratories around Athens, costs 3 to 4 euros. Doses come in the form of a 0.01-gram ball, leaving many users reaching for hits throughout the day. They include prostitutes, whom Mr. Tzortzinis photographed in a seedy central neighborhood of Athens called Omonia, next to a large police station.

But while the Greek still soaring unemployment rate is no surprise to anyone, it is the youth unemployment that is the problem. And as the Telegraph reports, in some areas of Greece, youth unemployment has now hit a inconceivable 75%.

Western Macedonia in Greece had the highest level of youth unemployment in the European Union, with the number of 16 to 24 year-olds out of work jumping to 72.5pc in 2012 from 52.8pc in 2011, according to Eurostat. Total youth unemployment in Greece stood at 55.3pc last year, more than double the EU average of 22.9pc.

The region, located in northern Greece, has been hit hard by the economic crisis, with total unemployment rising from 12.1pc in 2007 to almost 30pc in 2012 due to de-industrialisation and the migration of labour intensive industries to neighbouring countries, where wage demands are lower.

According to a report by the European Commission in December, more than a fifth of firms stopped trading in the region between 2008 and 2011.

Europe's response to this pandemic of unemployment?

Europe's leaders have called for more action to tackle joblessness in Europe. Earlier this month, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso urged Europe's leaders to come up with "a more ambitious plan to fight youth unemployment" at a next month's EU summit.

"We must give revive hope, specially for young people," he said. "We cannot wait for long, we are all aware this is urgent."

And when hope is not enough, and when these same young people end up as prostitutes, drug addicts or, worst, infected with HIV, maybe they should also hope that a cure for the disease is somehow discovered (and which they can afford).

Why? Just so the 0.001% uberwealthy can continue to get richer and richer courtesy of a year after year of flawed monetary and fiscal policy, even as the real world around them burns.

Zero Hedge