….the New York Times is currently reporting that …”thousands of utility workers, business executives, National Guard officers, F.B.I. anti-terrorism experts and officials from government agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico are preparing for an emergency drill in November that will simulate physical attack and cyber attacks that could take down large sections of the power grid.” To date, 150 businesses have volunteered to participate in the drill. This is a scheduled two day drill commencing on November 13th.
Archive for September, 2013
Daoud Rammal – As-Safir
Aggression was over the Moment those Two Missiles were Fired
A well informed diplomatic source told As-Safir newspaper that “the US war on Syria had started and ended the moment those two ballistic missiles were fired, leaving inconsistent information, as Israel denied and Russia confirmed, until an Israeli statement was issued indicating they were fired in the context of an Israeli-US joint drill and fell in the sea, and that they were not related to the Syrian crisis.”
The source further told the Lebanese daily that “the US forces fired these two rockets from a NATO base in Spain, and were instantly detected by the Russian radars and confronted by the Russian defense systems, so one of them exploded in the airspace and the second one diverted towards the sea.”
In this context, the source pointed out that “the statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, which stated the detection of two ballistic missiles fired towards the Middle East, intended to neglect two points: the first was the location from which the two rockets were fired, and the second was their downing. Why? Because the moment the full military operation was launched, Head of the Russian Intelligence Service contacted the US intelligence and informed it that “hitting Damascus means hitting Moscow, and we have removed the term “downed the two missiles” from the statement to preserve the bilateral relations and to avoid escalation. Therefore, you must immediately reconsider your policies, approaches and intentions on the Syrian crisis, as you must be certain that you cannot eliminate our presence in the Mediterranean.”
“This unannounced direct confrontation between Moscow and Washington increased the Obama Administration’s confusion and certainty that the Russian side was ready to move until the end with the Syrian cause, and that the US did not have a way out of its impasse except through a Russian initiative which would save America’s face…” he added.
From this point, the diplomatic source clarified that “in order to avoid further US confusion, and after Israel denied knowing anything about the rocket firing in its first statement, which is the truth, Washington demanded Tel Aviv to adopt the rocket firing to save its face in front of the International Community, especially since these two rockets were the beginning of the US aggression on Syria and the announcement of the beginning of military operations, after which US President Barack Obama was supposed to go to the G20 Summit in Russia to negotiate the destiny of Syrian President Bashr Al-Assad. However, he went to find a way out of the impasse he’s in.”
The source further indicated that “after the US-Russia rocket confrontation, Moscow intended to increase its number of military experts in Russia, and added to its military units and destroyers to enhance its military presence in the Mediterranean. It also set a time for announcing about its initiative on stopping the aggression on Syria after the G20 Summit, after drawing a side scene on the sidelines of the summit which was followed by two successive visits for Iranian Foreign Minister, Hussein Amir Abdul Lahyan, and Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Al-Moallem, in which a way out was agreed on with the Russian side, and it included a Syrian announcement on approving the Russian initiative regarding putting Syrian chemical weapons under international supervision and preparing Syria for joining the non-proliferation treaty.
Finally, the source pointed out that “One of the first results of the US-Russian military confrontation was the British House of Commons’ rejection to participate in a war on Syria. This was followed by European stances, most significantly, the German stance announced by Chancellor Angela Merkel.”
Translated by Sara Taha Moughnieh
by Tyler Durden 09/06/2013
While the world was glued to the developments in the Mediterranean in the past week, Poland took a page straight out of Rahm Emanuel’s playbook and in order to not let a crisis go to waste, announced quietly that it would transfer to the state – i.e., confiscate – the bulk of assets owned by the country’s private pension funds (many of them owned by such foreign firms as PIMCO parent Allianz, AXA, Generali, ING and Aviva), without offering any compensation. In effect, the state just nationalized roughly half of the private sector pension fund assets, although it had a more politically correct name for it: pension overhaul.
By way of background, Poland has a hybrid pension system: as Reuters explains, mandatory contributions are made into both the state pension vehicle, known as ZUS, and the private funds, which are collectively known by the Polish acronym OFE. Bonds make up roughly half the private funds’ portfolios, with the rest company stocks.
And while a change to state-pension funds was long awaited – an overhaul if you will – nobody expected that this would entail a literal pillage of private sector assets.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said private funds within the state-guaranteed system would have their bond holdings transferred to a state pension vehicle, but keep their equity holdings. The funds would effectively be left with only the equities portions of their assets, even this would be depleted, and there will be uncertainty about the number of new savers joining.
But why is Poland engaging in behavior that will ultimately be disastrous to future capital allocation in non-public pension funds (the type that can at least on paper generate some returns as opposed to “public” funds which are guaranteed to lose)? After all, this is a last ditch step which no rational person would engage in unless there were no other option. Simple: there were no other option, and the driver is the same reason the world everywhere else is broke too – too much debt.
By shifting some assets from the private funds into ZUS, the government can book those assets on the state balance sheet to offset public debt, giving it more scope to borrow and spend. Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski said the changes will reduce public debt by about eight percent of GDP. This in turn, he said, would allow the lowering of two thresholds that deter the government from allowing debt to raise over 50 percent, and then 55 percent, of GDP. Public debt last year stood at 52.7 percent of GDP, according to the government’s own calculations.
- Government has too much debt to issue more debt
- Government nationalizes private pension funds making their debt holdings an “asset” and commingles with other public assets
- New confiscated assets net out sovereign debt liability, lowering the debt/GDP ratio
- Debt/GDP drops below threshold, government can issue more sovereign debt
And of course, once Poland borrows like a drunken sailor using the new window of opportunity, and maxes out its new and improved limits, it will have no choice but to confiscate more assets, and to make its balance sheet appear better, until one day, there is nothing left in the private sector to confiscate. At that point the limit itself will have to be legislated away, and Poland will simply continue borrowing until one day there are no foreign lenders willing to take the same risk as the nation’s private pensioners. At that point, Poland, which is in the EU but still has the Zloty, can just go ahead and monetize its own debt by printing unlimited amounts of its currency.
Of course, we all know how that story ends.
The response to the confiscation was, naturally, one of shock:
The reform is “a decimation of the …(private pension fund) system to open up fiscal space for an easier life now for the government,” said Peter Attard Montalto of Nomura. “The government has an odd definition of private property given it claims this is not nationalisation.”
“This is worse than many on the markets had feared,” a manager at one of the leading pension funds, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.
“The devil is in the detail and we don’t yet know a lot about the mechanism of these changes, what benchmarks will be use to evaluate our performance… (It) looks like pension funds will lose a lot of flexibility in what they can invest.”
Catastrophic consequences for fund flows aside, the Polish prime minister had a prompt canned response:
Tusk said people joining the pension system in the future would not be obliged to pay into the private part of the system. Depending on the finer points, this could mean still fewer assets in the private funds.
“The (current) system has turned out to be built in part on rising public debt and turned out to be a very costly system,” Tusk told a news conference.
“We believe that, apart from the positive consequence of this decision for public debt, pensions will also be safer.”
You see, he is from the government, and he is confiscating the pensions to make them safer. Confiscation is Safety and all that…
Polish officials have tried to reassure investors, saying the overhaul avoids the more radical options of taking both bond and equity assets away from the private funds outright.
They say the old system effectively made Polish public debt appear higher than it really is.
Well, once you nationalize private assets, the public debt will lindeed appear lower than it was before confiscation: we give them that much.
End result: “The Polish pension funds’ organisation said the changes may be unconstitutional because the government is taking private assets away from them without offering any compensation…. This may lead to the private pension systems shutting down,” said Rafal Benecki of ING Bank Slaski.”
Unconstitutional? What’s that. But whatever it is, it’s ok – after all the public pension system is still around. At least until that too is plundered. But in the meantime, all such pensions will be “safer”, guaranteed.
But best of all, in the aftermath of Cyprus, we now know what the two most recent European blueprints for preserving the myth of solvency are: bail-ins, which confiscate deposits, and pension fund “overhauls”, which confiscate, well, pension funds.
And now, back to the global recovery soap opera.
Sept. 5, 2013
Paul Joseph Watson
China has reportedly sent warships to the coast of Syria to “observe” the actions of US and Russian ships as tensions build in preparation for a potential military strike on Syria which could come as soon as next week.
According to the Russian news outlet Telegrafist.org, the People’s Liberation Army dispatched the Jinggangshan amphibious dock landing ship and the vessel was seen passing through the Red Sea towards the Suez Canal, the waterway in Egypt that leads to the Mediterranean Sea and waters off the coast of Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
According to the report, the ship has not been sent to engage in any aggressive actions but is merely there to “observe” the actions of Russian and US warships. However, the Jinggangshan is equipped for combat, is armed with missiles, and was utilized as part of a “show of force” in maneuvers aimed at defending the South China Sea earlier this year.
Russian sources have confirmed that the Russian heavy missile cruiser Moskva has been sent to the eastern Mediterranean. China, for its part, is sending its amphibious dock landing warship, the 19,000 metric ton Jinggangshan, a 689-foot-long warship can carry 1,000 soldiers, helicopters, armored fighting vehicles, boats and landing craft. – Vineyardsaker
The report states that additional PLA warships have also been sent to the region but that their identity is unknown.
Yesterday it was reported that Russia was sending three more ships – two destroyers and a missile cruiser – to the eastern Mediterranean to bolster its forces which already include three other warships dispatched over the last two weeks.
Earlier this week, Russia criticized the United States for sending warships close to Syria, with Russian Defense Ministry official Oleg Dogayev remarking, “The dispatch of ships armed with cruise missiles toward Syria’s shores has a negative effect on the situation in the region.”
Five U.S. destroyers and an amphibious ship are currently positioned in the eastern Mediterranean awaiting strike orders. The USS Nimitz and three other warships are also stationed in the nearby Red Sea.
In a related story, China today toughened its rhetoric on Syria, warning President Barack Obama that, “Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price – it will cause a hike in the oil price.”
The Global Times, a newspaper described by Foreign Policy Magazine as “hyper nationalistic” and an “angry Chinese government mouthpiece, also published an editorial yesterday which slammed Obama for failing to prove that last month’s chemical weapons attack was the work of the Syrian government, charging that Washington’s “geopolitical interests” in the region were behind the military build-up.
The editorial, which also complains of the total lack of media coverage in America concerning reports that Syrian rebels admitted responsibility for last month’s chemical weapons attack, accuses the White House of “ignoring logic as it beats war drums.”
The largest prison break in recent history. 2000 of al-Qaeda’s baddest gangsters were released from prisons in Libya, Pakistan and Iraq at the end of last July, to do what? al-Qaeda Summit? Read more…
The video below shows the Jinggangshan warship in action during an exercise earlier this year.
Article first posted on Infowars
BEIRUT — A leading member of a United Nations investigatory commission says there are “strong concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that Syrian rebels have used the nerve agent sarin.
Carla del Ponte, a former prosecutor for U.N. tribunals investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, made the comment in an interview Sunday with a Swiss television channel, the BBC reported.
The U.N. panel, known as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, emphasized in a statement Monday that it had reached no conclusions about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war.
“I was a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got … about the use of nerve gas by the opposition,” Del Ponte told Swiss Italian broadcaster RSI.
She said the evidence emerged from interviews conducted by investigators with victims, physicians and others in neighboring countries.
Del Ponte did not rule out the possibility that President Bashar Assad’s government may also have used chemical agents on the battlefield.
Nonetheless, the comments were a blow to opposition activists who have alleged that the government has deployed chemical weapons on various occasions against rebel forces in Syria.
The Obama administration has said that U.S. intelligence agencies concluded with varying degrees of certainty that sarin was used in Syria, but investigators have yet to determine whether it was released intentionally and by whom. Britain, France and Israel have made similar accusations in recent weeks.
President Obama has said that the confirmed use of chemical weapons by Syria would be a “red line” that could trigger an unspecified U.S. response.
[Updated at 2:20 p.m., May 6: On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in Washington expressed doubts about reports that the Syrian opposition had used chemical weapons. “We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime,” he said.]
In an apparent reaction to Del Ponte’s comments, the U.N. commission said it “has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict.”
The panel, which is investigating allegations of violations of international law in Syria, declined further comment.
The statement, issued in Geneva, suggested that the commission may have been blindsided by Del Ponte’s comments, which were widely reported in the media and online, including on the website of the official Syrian news service, the Syrian Arab News Agency.
The Syrian government has accused the rebels of using poison gas on at least two occasions. Authorities alleged that their opponents wanted to make it appear that the military was deploying chemical weapons to spur an international intervention. The Syrian opposition has denied any use of chemical agents.
Tying in with this news is more information about the coming Middle East war which many believe will go nuclear:
Former Assistant Treasury Secretary Dr. Paul Craig Roberts says, “Let’s cut to the chase. It’s got nothing to do with Syria. The reason they are looking for a fabricated excuse to attack Assad is to continue the radicalization of Muslims in the hopes this spreads into the Muslim populations of Russia and China. . . .
Washington intends to weaken the two giants it cannot run over.” Dr. Roberts goes on to warn, “I think this will lead to World War III, and that, of course, will be nuclear.” One big dilemma Dr. Roberts points out, “The issue is will any aspect of the government have any credibility if they back Obama when the rest of the world already knows he’s lying through his teeth? . . .
This time the big lie didn’t work like it did in Iraq.” On the economic front, Dr. Roberts worries, “If they start abandoning the dollar, the collapse of the exchange rate will bring down the whole house of cards in the United States. The Fed will lose control. The banks will fail. Prices will rise dramatically. People will essentially not be able to pay their bills. It will be an unbelievable mess.”
Flashback: At a Democracy Now! event held on March 2, 2007, this former presidential candidate and four-star general, described a memo he was shown that the United States planned to invade seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.
from video description