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Monday, August 19, 2013

Video: Japanese volcano spews record smoke cloud, coats town in ash


Gold goes East as consumers hoard jewellery

LONDON — Ownership of the world’s gold shifted further East during the first half of 2013, as Westerners dumped their exchange-traded holdings and, on the other side of the globe, Asian consumers responded to lower prices by adding to their hoards of jewellery and bullion.

This was the picture painted by the latest data from The World Gold Council, the mining industry trade body and research organization, which reported overall demand for gold 12% lower in the three months to the end of June than in the comparable period for 2012. Demand for the metal is currently running at 83pc of its five-year average.

The WGC attributed the slump to the massive sale by western investors, mostly in the U.S., who own gold through exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These vehicles work by linking reserves of gold — secured in bank vaults in or around Western capitals — to shares freely traded on the world’s major exchanges.

In the past decade these “physical gold ETFs” have grown vastly, gaining popularity among institutional and private investors alike. Gold owned via ETFs globally grew from 700 tonnes at the outset of the financial crisis in 2007 to a peak of 3,000 tonnes in 2012.

This timescale also saw the gold price rocket from around pounds 300 per ounce in January 2007 to more than pounds 1,100 in late 2011, an all-time high, propelled by the banking and eurozone crises and subsequent fears that QE and other central banks’ stimulus measures might give way to rampant inflation.

But the price flagged through 2012 and began a serious slide this January, triggering a stampede for the exit.

The WGC said even before Thursday’s data that ETF selling was “highly significant,” citing the sale of 150 tonnes in April alone. A net 400 tonnes were sold in April to June, the WGC said in its demand and supply report yesterday. Some sellers were doubtless private investors seeking to stem losses but titans of the investment world were also among those dumping ETF gold in the period, it has emerged.

Paulson & Co, the New York-based investment firm bearing the name of billionaire founder John Paulson, is among the largest investors in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest gold-backed ETF.

Paulson & Co halved its stake to 10.2 million shares in the three months ended June 30, from 21.8 million at the end of the first quarter, according to an official U.S. filing. The New York-based firm, which manages US$18-billion, cut its ownership for the first time since 2011 “due to a reduced need for hedging,” it said.

The Financial Post

Egyptian Military Warns Obama “Supporting Terrorism In Egypt” Is “Red Line”

And unlike Obama, when the Egyptian military talks about a “red line”, they actually mean it.

Via CBN News:

According to a report titled “Sisi to Pentagon: We will not turn back, sovereignty is a red line,” published in Watannewspaper (Saturday, Aug. 15 edition), Egyptian Maj. Gen. Muhammad al-’Assar has just issued a strongly worded letter to the Pentagon, on behalf of the Egyptian military council, saying, among other things, “We will not retreat from fighting terrorism; the military does not run, for the [Egyptian] republic has leadership, and our message is clear: we will not allow red lines to be crossed.”

Regarding U.S. President Barrack Obama’s cancelation of joint military exercises with Egypt, criticism of the military’s crackdown on the Brotherhood, and threats of cutting U.S. aid to Egypt, Watan reported military sources as saying, “The American decision will not influence the course drawn by popular will” — a reference to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Egyptians reject Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood — and that “the military does not accept any external dictates and will not permit any nation to support terrorism in Egypt,” a reference to the fact that U.S. support for the Brotherhood is support for terrorism.

Military sources reportedly also told Watan news that contact with the American administration has completely ceased, though it remains open with the Pentagon, “which informed the Egyptian side of its fears concerning [Egypt's] closeness to Russia.

Weasel Zippers

We will kill the Dollar.....

The man who changed Iceland a the message for Greece and the US

63 Egyptian Christian Churches Looted, Torched or Attacked

CAIRO (AP) — After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like "prisoners of war" before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.

In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt's ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority. The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.

Christians have long suffered from discrimination and violence in Muslim majority Egypt, where they make up 10 percent of the population of 90 million. Attacks increased after the Islamists rose to power in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power, emboldening extremists. But Christians have come further under fire since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted on July 3, sparking a wave of Islamist anger led by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Nearly 40 churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged since Wednesday, when chaos erupted after Egypt's military-backed interim administration moved in to clear two camps packed with protesters calling for Morsi's reinstatement, killing scores of protesters and sparking deadly clashes nationwide.

One of the world's oldest Christian communities has generally kept a low-profile, but has become more politically active since Mubarak was ousted and Christians sought to ensure fair treatment in the aftermath.

Many Morsi supporters say Christians played a disproportionately large role in the days of mass rallies, with millions demanding that he step down ahead of the coup.

Despite the violence, Egypt's Coptic Christian church renewed its commitment to the new political order Friday, saying in a statement that it stood by the army and the police in their fight against "the armed violent groups and black terrorism."

While the Christians of Egypt have endured attacks by extremists, they have drawn closer to moderate Muslims in some places, in a rare show of solidarity.

Hundreds from both communities thronged two monasteries in the province of Bani Suef south of Cairo to thwart what they had expected to be imminent attacks on Saturday, local activist Girgis Waheeb said. Activists reported similar examples elsewhere in regions south of Cairo, but not enough to provide effective protection of churches and monasteries.

Waheeb, other activists and victims of the latest wave of attacks blame the police as much as hard-line Islamists for what happened. The attacks, they said, coincided with assaults on police stations in provinces like Bani Suef and Minya, leaving most police pinned down to defend their stations or reinforcing others rather than rushing to the rescue of Christians under attack.

Another Christian activist, Ezzat Ibrahim of Minya, a province also south of Cairo where Christians make up around 35 percent of the population, said police have melted away from seven of the region's nine districts, leaving the extremists to act with near impunity.

Two Christians have been killed since Wednesday, including a taxi driver who strayed into a protest by Morsi supporters in Alexandria and another man who was shot to death by Islamists in the southern province of Sohag, according to security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

The attacks served as a reminder that Islamists, while on the defensive in Cairo, maintain influence and the ability to stage violence in provincial strongholds with a large minority of Christians.

Gamaa Islamiya, the hard-line Islamist group that wields considerable influence in provinces south of Cairo, denied any link to the attacks. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has led the defiant protest against Morsi's ouster, has condemned the attacks, spokesman Mourad Ali said.

Sister Manal is the principal of the Franciscan school in Bani Suef. She was having breakfast with two visiting nuns when news broke of the clearance of the two sit-in camps by police, killing hundreds. In an ordeal that lasted about six hours, she, sisters Abeer and Demiana and a handful of school employees saw a mob break into the school through the wall and windows, loot its contents, knock off the cross on the street gate and replace it with a black banner resembling the flag of al-Qaida.

By the time the Islamists ordered them out, fire was raging at every corner of the 115-year-old main building and two recent additions. Money saved for a new school was gone, said Manal, and every computer, projector, desk and chair was hauled away. Frantic SOS calls to the police, including senior officers with children at the school, produced promises of quick response but no one came.

The Islamists gave her just enough time to grab some clothes.

In an hourlong telephone interview with The Associated Press, Manal, 47, recounted her ordeal while trapped at the school with others as the fire raged in the ground floor and a battle between police and Islamists went on out on the street. At times she was overwhelmed by the toxic fumes from the fire in the library or the whiffs of tears gas used by the police outside.

Sister Manal recalled being told a week earlier by the policeman father of one pupil that her school was targeted by hard-line Islamists convinced that it was giving an inappropriate education to Muslim children. She paid no attention, comfortable in the belief that a school that had an equal number of Muslim and Christian pupils could not be targeted by Muslim extremists. She was wrong.

The school has a high-profile location. It is across the road from the main railway station and adjacent to a busy bus terminal that in recent weeks attracted a large number of Islamists headed to Cairo to join the larger of two sit-in camps by Morsi's supporters. The area of the school is also in one of Bani Suef's main bastions of Islamists from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and ultraconservative Salafis.

"We are nuns. We rely on God and the angels to protect us," she said. "At the end, they paraded us like prisoners of war and hurled abuse at us as they led us from one alley to another without telling us where they were taking us," she said. A Muslim woman who once taught at the school spotted Manal and the two other nuns as they walked past her home, attracting a crowd of curious onlookers.

"I remembered her, her name is Saadiyah. She offered to take us in and said she can protect us since her son-in-law was a policeman. We accepted her offer," she said. Two Christian women employed by the school, siblings Wardah and Bedour, had to fight their way out of the mob, while groped, hit and insulted by the extremists. "I looked at that and it was very nasty," said Manal.

The incident at the Franciscan school was repeated at Minya where a Catholic school was razed to the ground by an arson attack and a Christian orphanage was also torched.

"I am terrified and unable to focus," said Boulos Fahmy, the pastor of a Catholic church a short distance away from Manal's school. "I am expecting an attack on my church any time now," he said Saturday.

Bishoy Alfons Naguib, a 33-year-old businessman from Minya, has a similarly harrowing story.

His home supplies store on a main commercial street in the provincial capital, also called Minya, was torched this week and the flames consumed everything inside.

"A neighbor called me and said the store was on fire. When I arrived, three extremists with knifes approached me menacingly when they realized I was the owner," recounted Naguib. His father and brother pleaded with the men to spare him. Luckily, he said, someone shouted that a Christian boy was filming the proceedings using his cell phone, so the crowd rushed toward the boy shouting "Nusrani, Nusrani," the Quranic word for Christians which has become a derogatory way of referring to them in today's Egypt.

Naguib ran up a nearby building where he has an apartment and locked himself in. After waiting there for a while, he left the apartment, ran up to the roof and jumped to the next door building, then exited at a safe distance from the crowd.

"On our Mustafa Fahmy street, the Islamists had earlier painted a red X on Muslim stores and a black X on Christian stores," he said. "You can be sure that the ones with a red X are intact."

In Fayoum, an oasis province southwest of Cairo, Islamists looted and torched five churches, according to Bishop Ibram, the local head of the Coptic Orthodox church, by far the largest of Egypt's Christian denominations. He said he had instructed Christians and clerics alike not to try to resist the mobs of Islamists, fearing any loss of life.

"The looters were so diligent that they came back to one of the five churches they had ransacked to see if they can get more," he told the AP. "They were loading our chairs and benches on trucks and when they had no space for more, they destroyed them."

- See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/63-egyptian-christian-churches-looted-torched-or-attacked#sthash.PJaNX0o6.dpuf

New Centcom underground war room in Amman for US intervention in Syria

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Amman this week to inaugurate the Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan manned by 273 US officers. US media correspondents were permitted to visit the new war room for the first time on condition of non-disclosure of its location and secret facilities.DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the installation is bomb- and missile-proof against a possible Syrian attack. The US Air Force command section is in direct communication with the US, Israeli, Jordanian and Saudi Air Force headquarters ready for an order by President Barack Obama to impose a partial no-fly zone over Syrian air space.

Another section is designed to coordinate operations between US and Jordanian special forces, as well as the units trained in commando combat by US instructors in Jordan. A closed section houses CIA personnel who control the work of US agents going in and out of Syria and also a communications center.

In his briefing to US forces Thursday, Aug. 15, Gen. Dempsey commented: “Jordan lives in a very volatile region and at a very critical time in its history. They can count on us to continue to be their partner.”

He suggested that the operation could continue well into next year or beyond.

Situated atop the underground facility is a large surface structure accommodating the American military and civilian offices dealing with Syrian issues from Jordan. It is guarded by US and Jordanian security units.

There are today some 1,000 US military personnel in the Hashemite Kingdom, plus a squadron of F-16 fighters and several Patriot anti-missile batteries strung along the Jordanian-Syrian border to shield Jordanian and American bases and the capital, Amman.

This special DEBKAfile video presentation illustrates US, Saudi, and Jordanian preparations for military intervention in the Syrian civil war and its likely repercussions.

Obama’s final decision on US military intervention – consisting of a no fly and a buffer zone in Syria – is expected in the coming two to three weeks, depending on Dempsey’s recommendations upon his return to Washington after checking out preparations in Israel and Jordan. In neither operation will US boots touch Syrian soil.

The buffer zone in the south up to Damascus would be captured by 3,000 rebels trained in special operations tactics and armed by US forces in Jordan. Jordanian special forces are to spearhead the operation under US command.

Assad may take the fight outside his borders by launching missiles against Israel, Jordan and maybe Turkey.

Hizballah may join in with rocket attacks on Israel. Iran will beef up its active military presence in Syria and Jordan. And Russian Rapid Intervention units are on standby for saving Assad at their Black Sea and South Caucasian bases



UK Government To Start "NATIONAL SERVICE"

Army responds to Syrian mortar shells falling on Golan Heights.

Smoke rises from shell explosions in the Syrian village of al-Jamlah.
Smoke rises from shell explosions in the Syrian village of al-Jamlah. Photo: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The IDF fired a Tamuz surface-to-surface missile at a Syrian army post on Saturday, after several Syrian mortar shells exploded in the Golan Heights.

The Tamuz - a guided missile - accurately struck its target.

Earlier on Saturday, Syrian shells fell in open areas on the Golan Heights, near the Israeli-Syrian border. No injuries or damages were reported.

Israel submitted an official complaint to the UN over the mortars, an army spokesman said.

Intense battles between Syrian rebels and Assad regime forces occurred near the border throughout Saturday. Over ten injured Syrian civilians were evacuated to Israeli hospitals in the North for treatment over the weekend.

In May, the IDF fired a Tamuz missile at a Syrian army post following two incidents of gunfire directed at Israeli soldiers.

The missile struck its target, reportedly hitting two Syrian soldiers manning a machine gun nest.

Earlier that month, two Syrian mortar shells slammed into Mount Hermon, marking the first time that the area had been hit since the onset of the Syrian civil war.

Jerusalem Post