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Friday, November 22, 2013

The current market aligned with the market in the days before the Depression.

Dan Greenhaus of BTIG (@danBTIG) includes this chart in his latest nightly email. It shows the current market aligned with the market in the days before the Depression.

Screen Shot 2013 11 22 at 5.43.20 AM

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-comparing-now-to-great-depression-crash-2013-11#ixzz2lPPSLXLh

Israel Fails to Move Russia on Iran Nuclear Talks

MOSCOW — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left Moscow on Thursday after failing in a last minute attempt to move Russian President Vladimir Putin away from backing a Iranian nuclear deal taking shape in Geneva.

After four hours of talks in Moscow, Russia’s leader told reporters, “We, in Russia, have an optimistic view on the Iranian nuclear problem."

The Israeli leader faced an uphill battle in Moscow.

Russia is a northern neighbor of Iran and is known for sitting on the fence about Iran’s nuclear program.

On Monday, Putin talked by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Afterwards, a Kremlin statement said: “Putin stressed that there is now a real chance to find a solution to this long-standing problem.”

Israel supports tighter economic sanctions and total dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program. In Moscow, Netanyahu tried flattery, publicly praising Putin for brokering a chemical weapons disarmament deal for Syria. He argued that Russia should now try to negotiate a similar nuclear disarmament deal for Iran.

“In the case of Syria, Russia and other powers quite justifiably insisted on full the disarmament of Syria," he said at the news conference. At the Geneva talks, the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany appear to be shaping a deal that would allow Iran to keep low level uranium enrichment capacity, under international controls.

While the Kremlin says it does not want Iran to get a nuclear bomb, Russia does not share Israel’s insecurity over the issue. Russia has 8,500 nuclear warheads. Some Russians say they do not feel threatened if Iran has one or two nuclear bombs.

George Mirsky, a Mideast expert at Russia’s Academy of Sciences, recalls hearing a Russian diplomat talk a few months ago at a Foreign Ministry conference here in Moscow.

“One of the officials said, quite outright, that it is better to have a nuclear Iran, than a pro-American Iran,” Mirsky recalled. “Can you imagine this? Better a nuclear Iran for Russia, than a pro-American Iran. Because, after all, Russia can never be afraid of Iranian nuclear weapons.”

But Russia does fear the nonconventional weapons that Iran could use.

For Russia, there have also been economic benefits to the status quo of economic sanctions on Iran. Sanctions keep Iranian oil and gas off world markets, boosting prices of Russia’s primary exports. Sanctions prevent the landlocked, energy rich nations of the Caspian from using Iranian pipelines to export their oil and gas to the outside world.

So the Israeli leader faced a big challenge when he flew to Moscow on Wednesday, but, undoubtedly, he also had few illusions.

On the surface, Russia and Israel have good relations: visa free tourism and one million Russian speakers in Israel. But Israelis have a deep skepticism of Russia.

Last April, the Pew Research Center asked people around the world about their attitudes towards Russia. Of people surveyed in 38 countries, the highest level of unfavorable opinion - 77 percent - was recorded in Israel.

Credit to VOA

8 Volcanoes Erupting Today in 7 Countries

1.- Nishino-shima, Pacific Ocean
Off the southern coast of Japan, underwater volcano Nishinoshima erupted Wednesday, creating a small island.
The new island, being called Niijima, is about 650 feet across.

2.- Colima, Mexico
After several weeks of calm, Colima Volcano began puffing and spewing lava Tuesday and has remained active into Wednesday. The steam cloud rose some 2 miles, according to local publication El Siglo de Torreon.

3.- Volcan de Fuego, Guatemala
Two lava flows are active on the upper slopes of the volcano at the moment, to the Taniluya (south) and Ceniza canyon (SE). The effusive activity started on 11 Nov and increased on 18 November, reaching a length of 600 m. Constant avalanches detach from the flow fronts.

4.- Mount Sinabung, Indonesia
On Tuesday evening, a record 10-kilometer-high (6.2-mile-high) ash cloud rose above Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra, Indonesia.
Naek Sembiring, a local resident displaced by the activity, told the Jakarta Post on Wednesday: “Tuesday evening’s eruption was the strongest so far. I was terrified.”
Hot ash and lava spread to cities 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) away.
Mount Merapi, also in Indonesia, erupted Monday.

5.- Etna, Italy

Italy’s Mount Etna began erupting on November 16 and continues to glow as lava fills its mouth.
Etna produces enough lava annually to fill Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago, reports Live Science. Sicilians have grown accustomed to its outbursts over thousands of years.

6.- Yasur, Vanuatu
The level of explosive activity at Vanuatu volcano Yasur remains low, though it has been pumping out ash since the beginning of the month. Vanuatu is an island nation east of Australia. Several other volcanoes around the world are active on Wednesday, in an ongoing state of eruption, as listed by the Smithsonian Institution.

7.- Popocatepetl in Mexico

Popocatepetl in Mexico exhibited a high fumaroles at its top full of snow.

8.- Chaiten, Chile
On 20 Nov at 08:07 (local time), a volcano-tectonic magnitude 2.4 earthquake occurred at 6 km depth north-east of the volcano. It was followed by a swarm of more than 80 quakes of mostly long-period type, characteristic for movements of fluids (gasses, water, and possibly magma) inside cracks inside the volcanic edifice.

Credit to Nunez Report

Ukraine jumps from 'sinking ship' as EU deal suspended

Iran Determines Hezbollah's Actions

Japan volcano raises new island

A volcanic eruption has raised a new island in the seas to the far south ofTokyo, earthquake experts say.

Japan's coast guard and the country's Meteorological Agency said the islet was about 660ft in diameter and just off the coast of Nishinoshima, a small, uninhabited island in the Ogasawara chain, which is also known as the Bonin islands.

The 30-odd islands are 620 miles south of Tokyo and along with the rest of Japan are part of the seismically-active Pacific "Ring of Fire".

The coast guard issued an advisory warning of heavy black smoke from the eruption. Television footage showed heavy smoke, ash and rocks exploding from the crater, as steam billowed into the sky.

Hiroshi Ito, a volcanologist with the coast guard, said it was possible the new island might be eroded away. "But it also could remain permanently," he said.

The last time the volcanos in the area are known to have erupted was in the mid-1970s. Much of the volcanic activity occurs under the sea, which extends thousands of metres deep along the Izu-Ogasawara-Marianas Trench.

Japan's chief government spokesman welcomed the news of yet another bit, however tiny, of new territory.

"This has happened before and in some cases the islands disappeared," Yoshihide Suga said when asked if the government was planning on naming the new island. "If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory."

The Japanese archipelago has thousands of islands. In some cases, they help anchor claims to wide expanses of ocean overlying potentially lucrative energy and mineral resources.

Japan has plans to build port facilities and transplant fast-growing coral fragments onto Okinotorishima, two rocky outcroppings even further south of Tokyo, to boost its claim in a territorial dispute with China.

Credit to Belfast Telegraph

Yahweh's Book - The Languages of the Bible

A story is told about the first woman governor of the state of Texas, Miriam Amanda (Ma) Ferguson, who was elected to office in 1924. A debate was raging in Texas as to whether children immigrating from Mexico should receive public education courses in their native language of Spanish. Reports of the event state that Ma Ferguson brought a hasty end to the debate when she held up a Bible and declared, “If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for the children of Texas!”

I have found that many Christians are confused about the languages that the people in the Bible spoke, as well as the languages in which the Scriptures were written. As a youth I was aware that the Bible was written in different languages. I had a Strong’s Concordance that I began using before I was a teenager. At that age I sometimes had trouble remembering which Testament of the Bible was written in Hebrew and which one was written in Greek. Later I also learned that parts of the Bible were written in Aramaic. I had no idea what Aramaic was, or who spoke it, for churches do not typically teach such things to their members. The subject of Biblical languages is not difficult to understand. I believe following the history of God’s people makes the subject of Bible languages easy to comprehend.

When Yahweh first created mankind, there was only one language. We are not told what language Adam and Eve spoke. I have heard some suggest that it was Hebrew, but I am not persuaded by the arguments. (You may understand my objections after reading more on the history of the Hebrew language.) For the first 1500 years of mankind’s existence all humanity spoke the same language. It was after the flood of Noah that Yahweh confused the speech of man. After the flood men began to multiply. Yahweh had instructed them to scatter across the earth, but man disobeyed. They congregated at Babel where they attempted to build a great city and a tower to reach to the heavens.

Genesis 11:6-9
And Yahweh said, "Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So Yahweh scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there Yahweh confused the language of the whole earth; and from there Yahweh scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.

From this time onward mankind was divided into people groups based upon the languages that they spoke. This was the beginning of the various “tongues and tribes and nations.”

To grasp well the history of Bible languages, a very good place to start is with Abram/Abraham. When Yahweh chose a specific people to be His unique possession in the earth, He began by calling forth one man to be the head and progenitor of this people. This was Abraham.

We know that Abraham’s descendants are identified as Hebrews. The Hebrews are a distinct race of people, all descending from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet many Christians are stumped when asked what people group Abraham belonged to before Yahweh called him. Abraham wasn’t always a Hebrew. He belonged to one of the major families of mankind. The Bible tells us plainly which one.

Deuteronomy 26:5
And you shall answer and say before Yahweh your God, “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; but there he became a great, mighty and populous nation.”

Yes, Abraham was formerly an Aramean. He lived among the descendants of Aram. The language these people spoke was Aramaic. Aramaic is not one single language, but it is a family of languages. As often occurs, a people who speak one language become fragmented. In their isolation from other groups who speak the same language, differences begin to enter in. New words are adopted. Various expressions become unique to one people group. At times even the alphabet and spelling of words may change. If the differences in these related languages are relatively minor, they are referred to as dialects. However, if the changes are such that others who speak the original language can no longer understand the evolved speech of a group of people, the dialect may be referred to as a distinct language.

Hebrew, Syriac, and Phoenician are all Aramaic languages. Abraham was born around the year 2,000 B.C.. He lived for 175 years, which places him about a century before Hammurabi. As previously mentioned, Abraham was born into the people of Aram. The Arameans settled along the Euphrates River in an area that became known as Babylonia.

You will notice a city down toward the bottom of the map that is named Ur. The Bible declares Ur to be the ancestral home of Abraham.

Genesis 11:27-28
Now these are the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran became the father of Lot. And Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans.

Because the Arameans were not the only family of people to dwell in this area, Aramaic was not the exclusive language spoken. Another common language in Babylonia in the time of Abraham and his forefathers was Akkadian. During a period of about a thousand years from the time of Abraham until the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods (934 B.C. - 539 B.C.), a great influx of Arameans came into this area. Consequently Aramaic became the common language of the land. It was during the Neo-Babylonian period around 600 B.C., that Judah was led away into Babylonian captivity. Daniel was carried into Babylon during this time, so it is not surprising that much of the book of Daniel was written in Aramaic, rather than Hebrew. The book of Ezra was also written during the time of the Babylonian exile, and the Jews return from Babylon. It too contains sections that were written in Aramaic. Of approximately 23,000 verses in the Old Testament, roughly 250 of them are written in Aramaic. The remainder are written in Hebrew.

If we follow the life of Abraham, we can readily identify the languages of the Old Testament. Abraham was an Aramean who spoke Aramaic. Over time, as his descendants dwelt in the distant land of Canaan where they were cut off from other speakers of Aramaic, their speech began to change. The influence of the Canaanite languages had an impact on the language of the Hebrews dwelling in the land. As time passed the language spoken by Abraham’s descendants in Canaan became so distinct that Aramaic and Hebrew were considered separate languages.

We see evidence of the profound changes that occurred in the Hebrew’s speech in an account found in the book of II Kings. About 1300 years after Abraham’s descendants had been dwelling in Canaan, King Sennacherib of Assyria laid siege to Jerusalem in the days of King Hezekiah. Sennacherib’s commander, Rabshakeh, came out to speak to the Jews, taunting them. Rabshakeh spoke openly in Hebrew in order to discourage the people of Jerusalem. One of Hezekiah’s ministers urged Rabshakeh to speak to Hezekiah’s servants in Aramaic, for the common people of Judea no longer understood the language.

II Kings 18:26
Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, "Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall."

The speech of Abraham’s descendants was still considered an Aramaic language in Hezekiah’s day, but we see that it had become so differentiated from the Aramaic of the land of Assyria and Babylon that the Hebrews could no longer understand Aramaic. A century after this, the Jews were taken captive into the land of Babylon and were once more subjected to the Aramaic language. It became a matter of necessity for the Jews to speak Aramaic so that they could dwell in the land, conduct business, and converse with their neighbors. Consequently, when the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile they were now speaking Aramaic. While in Babylon, the Jews had also abandoned the Paleo Hebrew alphabet and adopted the Aramaic square script.

The alphabet above would have been familiar to the inhabitants of Canaan during the time Joshua led the Israelites in to conquer the land, circa 1,500 B.C..

The Alphabet above is what the Jewish people adopted while in Babylonian captivity around 600 B.C.. This shows how much a single language can change over the course of time. While the Jewish people were dwelling in Babylon, Aramaic became the every day language of the people. Aramaic remained the common language of the Jews in what is referred to as “the Second Temple Period.” This time spanned between 539 B.C. when the Jews returned from Babylon, and 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed, along with Jerusalem, by the Roman General Titus. These years fully encompassed the life and ministry of Christ in Judea. That Christ and His disciples spoke Aramaic is evident from the New Testament Scriptures. The following verses all include examples of Yahshua speaking in Aramaic.

Mark 5:41
And taking the child by the hand, He said to her, "Talitha kum!" (which translated means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!").

Mark 7:31-34
And again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. And they brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they entreated Him to lay His hand upon him. And He took him aside from the multitude by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, "Be opened!"

Mark 15:34
And at the ninth hour Yahshua cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Notwithstanding Ma Ferguson’s claim that the Son of God spoke “the King’s English,” we observe
that Christ was speaking a language very different from English. As one might anticipate, when the Jews returned to the land of Israel after their sojourning in Babylon, the Aramaic they spoke once again began to differentiate itself from that which was spoken elsewhere. Over time it once more became distinct so that in the time of Christ the speech of the Jews was once more referred to as Hebrew. Many language scholars, however, believe it is more accurate to describe the language spoken by the Judeans of Christ’s day as “the Aramaic vernacular of the Jews.”

This brings us now to the third and final language of the Bible, Koine Greek. The word “Koine” means “common.” In the time of Christ, Judea lie under the power of the Roman Empire. The Greek Empire proceeded Rome, spreading across many of the same lands that Rome would eventually conquer. As the Greek Empire spread, the Greek language went with it. When Rome supplanted Greece, the Greek language had already become entrenched. It had become the lingua franca of the day. (Lingua franca is defined as “a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue.”) The Greek language tied together people groups from all around the Mediterranean. This included the Jewish people who continued speaking Hebrew/Aramaic, while also learning Greek.

Hebrew/Aramaic was the native language spoken by the Jewish people in the time of Christ. However, many Jews were polyglots, that is to say, they spoke multiple languages. By adopting Greek as a second language, or even a primary language, the various people groups of the Roman Empire were able to speak to one another. Although none of the Bible was originally written in Latin, it too was a common language in Christ’s day, and many Jews would have been familiar with it. Latin was the language of Italy where the city of Rome was located. Although Rome acquiesced to embracing Greek as the common language of the Empire, Latin remain the official language of Rome. This explains why Pilate, the Roman Governor of Judea, chose Latin as one of the languages to inscribe his message above the head of Christ.

John 19:19-20
And it was written, "YAHSHUA THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS." Therefore this inscription many of the Jews read, for the place where Yahshua was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and in Greek.

Inscription written first in Hebrew/Aramaic, Latin, then Greek.

Christ and His disciples undoubtedly spoke Aramaic with one another. There are many evidences of this found throughout the New Testament. Continuously, Aramaic words are inserted into the text of the New Testament. Following are a few examples of Aramaic words that are found in our Bibles today.

Abba - meaning “father.”
Raca - meaning “empty head” or “fool.”
Mammon - meaning “material wealth” or “greed.”
Rabboni - meaning “master.”

In the New Testament which was written in Koine Greek, the word for “Aramaic” is never used to describe the speech of the people of Israel. Instead, the Greek word “Hebraisti” is used to denote the language of the Jews in the time of Christ and the apostles. Nevertheless, some Bible translations render “Hebraisti” as Aramaicrather than Hebrew, for the language of the Jews was truly a dialect of Aramaic. Following is an example of the differences one might find in various Bibles.

John 19:16-17
And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:

John 19:16-17
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.
English Standard Version

To summarize, the entire Bible was written by descendants of Abraham. Thus, the languages of Abraham’s descendants were employed to write the Scriptures. Abraham was an Aramean. He was born into a nation of people who spoke Aramaic. When Abraham was called to leave his father’s house and travel to Canaan, he took the Aramaic language with him.

Over the course of centuries, isolated from their Aramean forebears, the language of the descendants of Abraham began to change until it was unrecognizable to those who spoke Aramean. The language the Hebrew people spoke was identified as their own language, being called Hebrew.

When the Jewish people were taken back to the land of their forebears, being led into captivity in Babylon, they were once more introduced to Aramaic. In Babylon the Jews adopted the Aramaic language and Alphabet, and upon their return to Judea they took Aramaic with them. Aramaic remained the language of the Jewish people until the time of Christ, though it once more began to differentiate from the Aramaic of other people groups. Thus, the language of the Jews in Christ’s day is interchangeably called both Hebrew and Aramaic.

The vast majority of the Old Testament is written in Hebrew, with less than 2% of its text being written originally in Aramaic. When Jerusalem and Judea fell under the rule of Greece, and later of Rome, they were introduced to the Greek language. Many Jews were multi-lingual, speaking both their native Hebrew tongue as well as Greek. This proved very helpful when the disciples of Christ were commissioned to take the gospel to the nations. Since the Jews were familiar with Greek, and it was the lingua franca of the Roman Empire, the New Testament was written in Greek and spread rapidly.

We understand, therefore, that the Bible was NOT written in English. It was written in ancient languages known unto the descendants of Abraham, the wandering Aramean.

Credit to Joseph Herrin

Gerald Celente in InfoWars Nightly News, November 20, 2013

Chrislam Rises! One World Religion Revealed?

China Announces That It Is Going To Stop Stockpiling U.S. Dollars

Money - Photo by Pen Waggener
China just dropped an absolute bombshell, but it was almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media in the United States.  The central bank of China has decided that it is "no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves".  During the third quarter of 2013, China's foreign-exchange reserves were valued at approximately $3.66 trillion.  And of course the biggest chunk of that was made up of U.S. dollars.  
For years, China has been accumulating dollars and working hard to keep the value of the dollar up and the value of the yuan down.  One of the goals has been to make Chinese products less expensive in the international marketplace.  But now China has announced that the time has come for it to stop stockpiling U.S. dollars.  And if that does indeed turn out to be the case, than many U.S. analysts are suggesting that China could also soon stop buying any more U.S. debt.  Needless to say, all of this would be very bad for the United States.
For years, China has been systematically propping up the value of the U.S. dollar and keeping the value of the yuan artificially low.  This has resulted in a massive flood of super cheap products from across the Pacific that U.S. consumers have been eagerly gobbling up.
For example, have you ever gone into a dollar store and wondered how anyone could possibly make a profit by making those products and selling them for just one dollar?
Well, the truth is that when you flip those products over you will find that almost all of them have been made outside of the United States.  In fact, the words "made in China" are probably the most common words in your entire household if you are anything like the typical American.
Thanks to the massively unbalanced trade that we have had with China, tens of thousands of our businesses, millions of our jobs and trillions of our dollars have left this country and gone over to China.
And now China has apparently decided that there is not much gutting of our economy left to do and that it is time to let the dollar collapse.  As I mentioned above, China has announced that it is going to stop stockpiling foreign-exchange reserves...
The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policy makers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.
“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves,” Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan wrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined last week following a Communist Party meeting. Neither Yi nor Zhou gave a timeframe for any changes.
It isn't going to happen overnight, but the value of the U.S. dollar is going to start to go down, and all of that cheap stuff that you are used to buying at Wal-Mart and the dollar store is going to become a lot more expensive.
But of even more importance is what this latest move by China could mean for U.S. government debt.  As most Americans have heard, we are heavily dependent on foreign nations such as China lending us money.  Right now, China owns nearly 1.3 trillion dollars of our debt.  Unfortunately, as CNBC is noting, if China is going to quit stockpiling our dollars than it is likely that they will stop stockpiling our debt as well...
Analysts see this as the PBoC hinting that it will let its currency fluctuate, without intervention, thus negating the need for holding large reserves of the dollar. And if the dollar is no longer needed, then it could look to curb its purchases of dollar-denominated assets like U.S. Treasurys.
"If they are looking to reduce these purchases going forward then, yes, you'd have to look at who the marginal buyer would be," Richard McGuire, a senior rate strategist at Rabobank told CNBC in an interview.
"Together, with the Federal Reserve tapering its bond purchases, it has the potential to add to the bearish long-term outlook on U.S. Treasurys."
So who is going to buy all of our debt?
That is a very good question.
If the Federal Reserve starts tapering bond purchases and China quits buying our debt, who is going to fill the void?
If there is significantly less demand for government bonds, that will cause interest rates to rise dramatically.  And if interest rates rise dramatically from where they are now, that will set off the kind of nightmare scenario that I keep talking about.
In a previous article entitled "How China Can Cause The Death Of The Dollar And The Entire U.S. Financial System", I described how China could single-handedly cause immense devastation to the U.S. economy.
China accounts for more global trade that anyone else does, and they also own more of our debt than any other nation does.  If China starts dumping our dollars and our debt, much of the rest of the planet would likely follow suit and we would be in for a world of hurt.
And just this week there was another major announcement which indicates that China is getting ready to make a major move against the U.S. dollar.  According to Reuters, crude oil futures may soon be priced in yuan on the Shanghai Futures Exchange...
The Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) may price its crude oil futures contract in yuan and use medium sour crude as its benchmark, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals.
China, which overtook the United States as the world's top oil importer in September, hopes the contract will become a benchmark in Asia and has said it would allow foreign investors to trade in the contract without setting up a local subsidiary.
If that actually happens, that will be absolutely huge.
China is the number one importer of oil in the world, and it was only a matter of time before they started to openly challenge the petrodollar.
But even I didn't think that we would see anything like this so quickly.
The world is changing, and most Americans have absolutely no idea what this is going to mean for them.  As demand for the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt goes down, the things that we buy at the store will cost a lot more, our standard of living will go down and it will become a lot more expensive for everyone (including the U.S. government) to borrow money.
Unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done about any of this at this point.  When it comes to economics, China has been playing chess while the United States has been playing checkers.  And now decades of very, very foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us.
The false prosperity that most Americans are enjoying today will soon start disappearing, and most of them will have no idea why it is happening.
The years ahead are going to be very challenging, and so I hope that you are getting ready for them.
Credit to Economic Collapse

China's planned crude oil futures may be priced in yuan

The Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) may price its crude oil futures contract in yuan and use medium sour crude as its benchmark, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals.

China, which overtook the United States as the world's top oil importer in September, hopes the contract will become a benchmark in Asia and has said it would allow foreign investors to trade in the contract without setting up a local subsidiary.

"China is the only country in the world that is a major crude producer, consumer and a big importer. It has all the necessary conditions to establish a successful crude oil futurescontract," Yang Maijun, SHFE chairman, said at an industry conference.

Yang's presentation slides at the conference stated that the draft proposal is for the contract to be denominated in yuan and use the type of medium sour crude that China most commonly imports.

Industry participants with direct knowledge of the plan have said the contract would be priced in the yuan, otherwise known as the renminbi, and the U.S. dollar. Yang would not say whether yuan pricing was only for Chinese investors.

"The yuan has become more international and more recognised by the financial market," Chen Bo, Chinese trading firm Unipec's executive general manager, told Reuters.

"I don't think it would be unacceptable for the world to use the renminbi for commoditiestrading."

The contract pricing will exclude custom tariffs and value-added tax and allow for physical delivery in bonded storage areas, Yang said.

The SHFE is awaiting Beijing's final approval to launch the contract. That may come soon as the bourse has set up an international energy trading platform in the Shanghai free-trade zone, which is touted as a testing ground for China's financial reforms, especially on yuan convertability and interest rates.

Credit to Reuters

Israel, Gulf in 'strange alliance' against Iran

Talks of emerging deal between Iran, West bring unprecedented public ties between Israel, Gulf; J'lem sees nuclear Iran as existential threat, Sunni Persian Gulf find Shiite republic dangerous to region

When US Secretary of State John Kerry made another stop in the Middle East this month, he received an expected earful over Washington's outreach to Iran: Don't trust Tehran, tighten sanctions even more, anything short of complete nuclear concessions is a grave mistake.

Kerry's meeting wasn't in Israel, though. It was in Riyadh, listening to Saudi leaders.
In one of the region's oddest pairings, Israel and the Gulf Arab states led by Saudi Arabia increasingly are finding common ground – and a common political language – on their mutual dismay over Iran's history-making overtures to Washington and the prospect of a nuclear deal in Geneva that could curb Tehran's atomic program but leave the main elements intact, such as uranium enrichment.

The scene of the explosion in Beirut (Photo: AP)

"The adage about 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' is playing out over Iran," said Theodore Karasik, a security and political affairs analyst at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. "This situation opens up some interesting possibilities as it all shakes out."

There seems little chance of major diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and the Gulf's array of ruling monarchs and sheiks. But their shared worries over Iran's influence and ambitions already has brought back-channel contacts and "intimate relationships" on defense and other strategic interests through forums such as the UN, said Dan Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the world body.

The stepped-up anxieties on Iran could bring new space for the Gulf-Israel overlap.

Egypt's military-backed government, which ousted the Iran-friendly Muslim Brotherhood, could be an easy fit into a regional bloc standing against Iran and demanding tougher lines from Washington, which has been roundly criticized by some for abandoning its longstanding allies in favor of trying to settle the nuclear standoff with Iran.

Egypt's leadership depends on Gulf money as a lifeline and seeks to rebuild its ties with Israel, whose peace treaty with Cairo was considered a historical annoyance by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Saudi and other Gulf states are critical money-and-weapons pipelines to Syrian rebels in a proxy war with Iran, the main Middle East backers of Bashar Assad's government. Iran's other loyal force, Lebanon's Hezbollah, is also in the mix in Syria. On Tuesday, an al-Qaeda-linked group claimed it carried out a pair of suicide bombings at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that killed 23 people, including an Iranian diplomat, in an attack that was widely seen as retaliation against Hezbollah and Lebanon's role in Syria.

Israel may now be able to look more to Saudi assistance and intelligence in efforts to undercut Hezbollah, which has fired rockets into Israel and waged a 2006 war. Saudi Arabia also gave important backing the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 with Israel and could assume an even greater role in future Israel-Palestinian talks.

US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman (Photo: EPA)

"A nuclear deal… is likely to intensify behind-the-scene political cooperation between the Persian Gulf states and Israel, especially when it comes to lobbying in Washington and in Brussels," said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born political analyst based in Israel.

Already, there have been some curious cross currents by foes viewing Israel and Saudi Arabia as being on the same page.

Explosion near the Iranian embassy in Beirut (Photo: AFP)

After the Beirut bombings, Iran's foreign minister blamed Israel for the attacks. Hezbollah and Syrian officials, however, indirectly pointed the finger at Saudi Arabia, which is a leading backer of Syrian rebel factions along with Gulf ally Qatar.

On Monday, the official Saudi Press Agency put out a statement categorically denying a report in Britain's Sunday Times that the kingdom and Israel were making "contingencies" for an attack on Iran if diplomacy fails to make deep cuts in Tehran's nuclear program.

EU FM Ashton and Irani FM Zarif (Photo: EPA)

It's not difficult, though, for Middle East commentators to speculate on the meeting of minds between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The roots of their shared fears over Iran are so similar.

Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran – or even if it is near that capability – as a direct threat to its survival after decades of anti-Israel remarks by Iranian leaders and attacks by Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah. Israel also worries about shifts in the regional balance of power. Israel is believed to have a nuclear arsenal, but neither confirms nor denies its existence.

Iranian students burn an Israeli flag outside the Fordo facility (Photo: EPA)

Iran denies it seeks nuclear weapons. But any deal with world powers seen as easing concerns could later be used by Iran to boost calls to ban nuclear arms across the region – and put pressure on Israel over its presumed nuclear warheads.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that his country was ready to "defend itself" if Iran appeared on course to develop a nuclear weapon.

Saudi Arabia, which generally sets the political tone for the rest of Gulf, also sees Iran as a dangerous neighbor. The Sunni-ruled Gulf states routinely assail Shiite power Iran for allegedly backing revolts such as Bahrain's Arab Spring-inspired uprising or supporting coup plots – although no clear evidence has ever been made public.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners are deep-pocket customers of US weapons and aircraft, but also allow the Pentagon extensive footholds in the region, including the headquarters of the Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain. The arrangement is meant to buy protection from Washington and intimidate Iran.

During Kerry's visit this month, he assured Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that Washington's "deep relationship" is solid and enduring.

But there was no mistaking Saudi Arabia's lingering anger over the US decision to back off on possible military strikes on the Iranian-backed Syrian government over its suspected use of chemical weapons in August. Instead, Washington sided with a Russian-drafted plan to collect and dismantle Assad's chemical stockpile.

Saudi Arabia is a main backer of the Syrian rebels fighters through aid channels believed overseen by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Secretary John Kerry and Saudi FM Prince Saud al-Faisal (AP: Photo)

Shortly before Kerry's trip, Saudi Arabia snubbed a seat on the UN Security Council in an unprecedented protest mostly aimed at US policies in the Middle East.

"We have a common enemy, Iran, and we have shared disappointments from our allies, mainly the United States, something that created a somewhat strange alliance between Israel and the Gulf states,"
said Gillerman, the former diplomat.

Gulf leaders keep a cool distance in public from Israel, but it's not been a total separation.

The boldest link so far has been from Qatar – home base of the influential pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera – that allowed an Israel trade office until it was closed after Israel's attacks on Gaza beginning in late 2008.

Israeli passport holders are generally banned from entering Gulf countries because of no diplomatic relations, but exceptions have been made for athletes and selected international conferences. Still, there are sensitivities. Last month, Israeli flags were edited from some TV coverage of World Cup swimming competition in Qatar.

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said Israelis seeking to travel to the Gulf are likely to rely on a second passport if they are dual nationals.

Uzi Dayan, a former Israeli deputy chief of staff and national security adviser, said Israel is singled out as the main alarmist over Iran's nuclear program, but the Sunni Arabs in the Gulf, Egypt and elsewhere are just as galvanized in opposition.

"There are more actors and participants than what you hear. We choose to do it from the main stage in a loud voice," Dayan told Israel's Army Radio.

Credit to Ynet