Syrian President Bashar Assad will not hesitate to use chemical weapons if he is cornered, a senior Syrian official who defected to the opposition told the BBC in an interview published on Wednesday.Nawaf Fares, ex-ambassador to Iraq and the most prominent Syrian politician to defect to the opposition, commented: "There is information, unconfirmed information of course, that chemical weapons have been used partially in the city of Homs."
Israel’s navy is getting new vessels which will be equipped with short- and long-range surface-to-surface missiles that will assist in any Israeli Defense Forces ground offensive toward the Gaza Strip, Lebanon or SyriaThe range of the missiles was unspecified but the naval vessels will need to exercise caution, since the Syrians and Hezbollah in Lebanon are known to have anti-ship missiles. In the 2006 war, Hezbollah fired an anti-ship missile at the Israeli ship Hanit. It killed four sailors and caused extensive damage to the ship.
Panic-stricken residents fled southern Damascus on Monday as the heaviest fighting seen in the city since Syria's uprising began stripped away the last veneer of normality in President Bashar al-Assad' principal stronghold.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is in protection mode; its mere existence depends on protecting its nuclear sites and maintaining Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria. Now, the possibility that Assad’s regime will fall, together with the intensification of sanctions against Iran that were implemented early this month, have politically and economically isolated the Iranian regime to a point where the only way out is for it to create its own global diversion through military provocation.Currently, three snowballing events against the backdrop of mounting Western pressure on Iran and failed negotiations at the United Nations Security Council 5+1 talks have, and continue to limit, Iran’s political and economic flexibility, even if the regime’s saber rattling propaganda declares otherwise.A regional escalation would be the ideal distraction to take global pressure off Iran’s nuclear agenda and prevent harm to and dissolving of Assad’s regime.The final element that makes a provocation in the coming weeks even more likely is the significant build-up of U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf, originally intended to counter Iranian threats to close off of the Strait of Hormuz. Iran responded by firing a test-fire missile exercise, launching the “Grand Prophet 7,” which can reach up to 1300 km, enough to reach Israel and the Gulf states. Tehran’s message to the U.S. is that they will not be undermined or weakened by Western intimidation. Now, with U.S. presence in the Gulf, a global military conflict of catastrophic proportions could come from the slightest brush of an elbow.
As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Monday evening with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, residents of southern Israel were forced to grab their children, snatching them as they slept in order to race for safe rooms and bomb shelters.
The first scream of the Color Red incoming rocket alert came at about 9:30 p.m., long after little ones had been put to bed, but early enough that older children were still awake to hear the siren.
Fifteen seconds later, a short-range Qassam rocket fired by Palestinian Authority terrorists in Hamas-ruled Gaza exploded somewhere in the western Negev. It took some time for security personnel to locate the site where the rocket exploded.
Israelis already know they must stay put in the shelters for at least 10 minutes after impact, to make sure the first rocket is not immediately being followed by more.
As IDF soldiers searched for the rocket's landing site, parents strove to calm their children and each other, working to minimize trauma symptoms triggered by the attack.
Amid increasing tensions over the vital Strait of Hormuz shipping lane, the United States is constructing a missile-defense radar station at a secret site in Qatar and organizing its largest-ever minesweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf, the Wall Street Journal quoted US officials as saying Monday.
The bolstering of the US military in the Gulf is designed to defend the US, Israel and EU countries against Iranian rockets, officials said.
The United Nations is polishing up a global Arms Transfer Treaty (ATT) this month in a New York convention that would create a global registry of private ownership of firearms. This treaty — which would also mandate creation of a national collection agency for those guns and is contrary to the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment — has the long-standing andenthusiastic backing of the Obama State Department, headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.Clinton boasted that “the United States regularly engages other states to raise their standards and to prohibit the transfer or transshipment of capabilities to rogue states, terrorist groups, and groups seeking to unsettle regions.” Of course, that speech was delivered at the same time the Obama administration was transferring some 2,000 small arms to Mexican drug gangs in the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal.The UN is still seeking this kind of broad control over private firearms ownership, and UN General Assembly resolution 66/47, adopted December 2, 2011 in advance of this month's conference that it seeks to ban “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.” [Emphasis added]
The risk of a new depression — a sustained, severe recession — has struck fear into the heart of markets and driven monetary policy in developed economies since the current financial crisis began.
“We’re in a very unfortunate position to be here,” Richard Duncan, author of The New Depression, warned on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Monday.
“When we broke the link between money and gold, this removed all constraints on credit creation. This explosion of credit created the world we live in, but it now seems that credit cannot expand any further because the private sector is incapable of repaying the debt it has already, and if credit begins to contract, there’s a very real danger that we will collapse into a new Great Depression,” he argued.
“If this credit bubble pops, the depression could be so severe that I don’t think our civilization could survive it.”
The explosion in cheap credit has been widely blamed for the global financial crisis, but the debate about how to fix the problem continues.
The International Monetary Fund’s latest “World Economic Outlook” makes for chilling reading. A perfect storm in which all parts of the world economy go down together seems fast to be gestating somewhere out in the mid-Atlantic.
To the all too familiar economic threats posed by the eurozone must now be added the approaching “fiscal cliff” in the US, whose own nascent recovery is in any case fast losing momentum, and the evident slowdown in emerging markets.
All three cornerstones of the world economy seem now to be heading into the sand.
To say we are skating on thin ice globally as well as here in the US is an understatement of epic proportions. It’s the new and improved walking dead economies – it’s the end of the economic banking world and I feel fine. In fact, it should leave all of us breathless.Next, we were told a wave of city bankruptcies would NEVER occur in the US, we nodded and smiled like idiots and said that we believed the weasel politicians. California is turning into Greece at an alarming rate with three cities in the last 2 weeks going toes up and many more to follow — first came Stockton, then Mammoth Lakes and now San Bernardino. Just nod some more if you get it now. From The Los Angeles Times:And this is not unique to California. It’s happening all over the US, you just don’t see it in the press because it makes Obama look bad. Take a long, hard look at Scranton, Pennsylvania where all city employees were just put on minimum wage. They wouldn’t raise taxes (who would want to?), so the mayor reduced wages. He had to do something because they are BROKE.
We were also told that Greece was an anomaly. Just another twist of fate — couldn’t happen again. Until Spain that is, who looks an awful like a repeat of Greece only worse. And as has been foretold on this blog over and over, it’s a chain reaction and more catastrophe to follow and soon. It’s summertime in Fiscal Hell, don’tcha know.
Don’t let the austerity they are pushing in Greece fool you. It consists of taxes that no one can pay if they want to continue eating. It does reduce spending and government bennies, but it is too little too late. Europe is on the way down, big time. Spain will make Greece look like a walk in the fricking park. Again from The Economic Collapse:
You are looking into America’s not-too-distant future. Truth be told, if the Obama administration was honest about our unemployment rate, it would read over 15% and personally, I think it is closer to 23 or 24%.
So, as we gleefully dance ever closer to the global fiscal cliff — and a crumbling cliff at that — maybe just maybe we should actually look at what is going on around us globally and locally here in the US. It’s not just finances, it’s morality, ethics, our culture — the whole ball of wax and we are coming undone quickly. As a nation, we need to fall to our knees and declare a covenant with God and fast or we will realize a reckoning few can envision. Thus endeth the lesson.
The nation's widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions.Only in the 1930s and the 1950s has a drought covered more land, according to federal figures released Monday. So far, there's little risk of a Dust Bowl-type catastrophe, but crop losses could mount if rain doesn't come soon.
In its monthly drought report, the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., announced that 55 percent of the country was in a moderate to extreme drought at the end of June. The parched conditions expanded last month in the West, the Great Plains and the Midwest, fueled by the 14th warmest and 10th driest June on record, the report said.
Topsoil has turned dry while "crops, pastures and rangeland have deteriorated at a rate rarely seen in the last 18 years," the report said.Around a third of the nation's corn crop has been hurt, with some of it so badly damaged that farmers have already cut down their withered plants to feed to cattle. As of Sunday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said, 38 percent of the corn crop was in poor or very poor condition, compared with 30 percent a week earlier.Climatologists have labeled this year's dry spell a "flash drought" because it developed in a matter of months, not over multiple seasons or years."We can't say with certainty how long this might last now. Now that we're going up against the two largest droughts in history, that's something to be wary of," Crouch said. "The coming months are really going to be the determining factor of how big a drought it ends up being."
As hair falls out of a Fukushima victim's head, a new German study reports that North America’s West Coast will be the area most contaminated by Fukushima cesium of all regions in Pacific in 10 years, an "order-of-magnitude higher” than waters off Japan,according to a new German study followed by a former New York Times journalist going inside the no-entry zone and reportingradiation levels over 10 times higher than Tepco’s data.
The new research report, Model simulations on the long-term dispersal of 137Cs released into the Pacific Ocean off Fukushima, states:
In the following years, the tracer cloud continuously expands laterally, with maximum concentrations in its central part heading east. While the northern portion is gradually invading the Bering Sea, the main tracer patch reaches the coastal waters of North America after 5–6 years, with maximum relative concentrations ( > 1 × 10−4) covering a broad swath of the eastern North Pacific between Vancouver Island and Baja California. Simultaneously some fraction of the southern rim of the tracer cloud becomes entrained in the North Equatorial Current (NEC), resulting in a westward extending wedge around 20°N that skirts the northern shores of the Hawaiian Archipelago. After 10 years the concentrations become nearly homogeneous over the whole Pacific, with higher values in the east, extending along the North American coast with a maximum (~1 × 10−4) off Baja California. The southern portion of the tracer cloud is carried westward by the NEC across the subtropical Pacific, leading to increasing concentrations in the Kuroshio regime again.
Marine biologists are investigating what caused the deaths of the 512 penguins found on beaches of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The cause of death should be known in about 30 days.
The penguins were migrating north from Argentina in search of food in warmer waters. The birds appeared well-fed, unhurt and without oil stains.
Thirty samples from the penguins were being analysed at Porto Alegre University.
Veterinarians were puzzled by the large quantity of animals found and by the fact that they appeared not exhausted and without injuries.