That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
(1Peter 1:6)

More Precious Than Of Gold

Dear Friends,

Greetings! As you have most likely noticed we post a lot of news articles concerning economics and the worlds economy. The reason which we are sure you are aware is that so much of the Endtime, the antichrist, etc. revolves around economics, as borne out in that very well known verse, “No man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:17

It is all about being able to conduct business, buying and selling. Isn't that how the world operates today with ever increasing speed in transactions to the point where no one understands the financial system completely except the international merchants and bankers who are virtually one and the same.

The Bible two thousand years ago had the elite pegged.

And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more...for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Revelation 18:11,23

By the printing of fiat currencies, which are not backed by anything today, and the lending of these currencies the great men of the earth have managed to enslave mankind.

As the Bible says in Revelation 18, one day it is all going to blow up in their faces.

I am God, and there is none other beside me, telling beforehand the latter events before they come to pass, and they are accomplished together.” Isaiah. 46:9-10

Below is an explanation of just how valuable gold, not paper, was esteemed in the Bible.

Following that is an explanation of how the world economies used to be run before the abandonment of the gold standard, this is then followed by a brief synopsis of how the demise of the worlds fiat, paper, currencies is at hand.

This will surely pave the way for the mark.

Remember no matter how valuable gold is, the Lord considers our faith even more precious.

Have a great week ahead!

Biblical Gold

Don Stott

Gold is the first, and most frequently mentioned metal in the Bible, as at Genesis 2:11. From the beginning, it has been a noble metal, highly valued for its weight, rarity, durable non-tarnishing luster, shimmering beauty, ductility, and malleability. A number of Old Testament Hebrew terms refer to gold, such as zahav, charuts, kethem, paz, seghor, and ophir. In the New Testament, the Greek words khrysos and khrysion are used as reference to ornaments, coins, and gold in general.

Gold's rarity, throughout history, and even in Biblical times, gave it a monetary value, which made it useful in commercial transactions, as well as a measure of wealth and prominence. The color and luster of gold, and its resistance to oxidation or tarnishing, makes it valuable for jewelry and ornamentation of all kinds. In early Biblical times, it was found in its native purity in gravel deposits and riverbeds. It was easily separated and recovered because of its great weight. In the book of Job (28:1,2,6) mining and refining operations are mentioned.

In the construction of the Tabernacle, built by Moses, Exodus 25, 30, 37, and 39 describes using gold being beaten into plates for overlay, sheets, and even thread used in garments used by the high priest. In The Most Holy, the Ark of the Covenant, was gold.

Solomon's Temple, extensively used gold in its décor. As is done with several modern coins, even ancient Israel evidently mixed an alloy with gold to harden it. (I kings10:16). David set aside 100,000 talents of gold for Solomon's Temple. A talent is about 75 pounds! The Temple's lamp-stands, utensils, forks, bowls, pitchers, basins, cups, etc, were all made of gold and silver, with a very few being made of copper. The cherubs in the Most Holy, the alter of incense, and even the entire inside of the house was overlaid with gold. By today's prices, the gold in Solomon's Temple would probably be valued at $50 billion.

Solomon received large amounts of gold from the King of Tyre (120 talents), the Queen of Sheba (120 talents), and from taxes and revenues from his own merchant fleet. First Kings says that the weight of gold that Solomon received in one year, was 636 talents of gold. The incredible amount of gold that was transacted and used in David and Solomon's day is unbelievable…but true.

When Israel captured cities, God commanded that they not use the captured gold and silver for themselves. Evidently the captured gold was re-refined to purify it. The exception was Jericho. Its gold and silver were turned over to the priests and used for sanctuary use, according to Jos. 6:17-19, 24.

Gold was so valuable and cherished, that in the Bible, gold is likened to wisdom, faith and knowledge. Psalms says that God's laws and commandments are more desirable than gold. (Psalms 19: 7-10, 119:72, 127) Psalms also says that while gold has great value, it is unable to give life. (Psalms 49: 6-8) Job says that no amount of gold can buy the wisdom that comes from God. (Job 28: 12, 15-17,28) The Apostle peter said ones' faith is of greater value than gold, which can withstand fire, but be worn away by other means. (I Peter 1:6,7) No amount of gold can deliver one in the day of God's anger. (Zep 1:18) The point is that gold is the most valuable thing one can possess, according to the Bible, other than knowledge, faith, life, and righteousness.

Even in Biblical times then, TANGIBLE WEALTH, as opposed to spiritual wealth, has always resided in gold, and silver. Throughout recorded history, gold and silver have been actual wealth, as opposed to currencies made of various things, such as mulberry leaves, bark, cigarettes in WW II, sea shells, and other trivia, but mostly PAPER. History, in all faiths and in all books of wisdom, and various holy books, have all used gold and silver as the ultimate form of tangible wealth. In all races, and throughout all of recorded history, gold and silver have been wealth, stability, and irrefutable riches.

The Classical Gold Standard—1870 to 1914

Economists are nearly unanimous in pointing out the beneficial economic results of this period. Giulio M. Gallarotti, the leading theorist and economic historian of the classical gold standard period, summarizes this neatly in The Anatomy of an International Monetary Regime: Among that group of nations that eventually gravitated to gold standards in the latter third of the 19th century (i.e., the gold club), abnormal capital movements (i.e., hot money flows) were uncommon, competitive manipulation of exchange rates was rare, international trade showed record growth rates, balance-of-payments problems were few, capital mobility was high (as was mobility of factors and people), few nations that ever adopted gold standards ever suspended convertibility (and of those that did, the most important returned), exchange rates stayed within their respective gold points (i.e., were extremely stable), there were few policy conflicts among nations, speculation was stabilizing (i.e., investment behavior tended to bring currencies back to equilibrium after being displaced), adjustment was quick, liquidity was abundant, public and private confidence in the international monetary system remained high, nations experienced long-term price stability (predictability) at low levels of inflation, long-term trends in industrial production and income growth were favorable and unemployment remained fairly low. This highly positive assessment by Gallarotti is echoed by a study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which concludes, “Economic performance in the United States and the United Kingdom was superior under the classical gold standard to that of the subsequent period of managed fiduciary money.” The period from 1870 to 1914 was a golden age in terms of noninflationary growth coupled with increasing wealth and productivity in the industrialized and commodity-producing world. A great part of the attraction of the classical gold standard was its simplicity. While a central bank might perform certain functions, no central bank was required; indeed the United States did not have a central bank during the entire period of the classical gold standard. A country joining the club merely declared its paper currency to be worth a certain amount in gold and then stood ready to buy or sell gold at that price in exchange for currency in any quantity from another member. The process of buying and selling gold near a target price in order to maintain that price is known today as an open market operation. It can be performed by a central bank, but that is not strictly necessary; it can just as well be performed by a government operating directly or indirectly through fiscal agents such as banks or dealers. Each authorized dealer requires access to a reasonable supply of gold with the understanding that in a panic more gold could readily be obtained. Although government intervention is involved, it is conducted transparently and can be seen as stabilizing rather than manipulating. The benefit of this system in international finance is that when two currencies become anchored to a standard weight of gold, they also became anchored to each other. This type of anchoring does not require facilitation by institutions such as the IMF or the G20. In the classical gold standard period, the world had all the benefits of currency stability and price stability without the costs of multilateral overseers and central bank planning. Another benefit of the classical gold standard was its self-equilibrating nature not only in terms of day-to-day open market operations but also in relation to larger events such as gold mining production swings. If gold supply increased more quickly than productivity, which happened on occasions such as the spectacular discoveries in South Africa, Australia and the Yukon between 1886 and 1896, then the price level for goods would go up temporarily. However, this would lead to increased costs for gold producers that would eventually lower production and reestablish the long-term trend of price stability. Conversely, if economic productivity increased due to technology, the price level would fall temporarily, which meant the purchasing power of money would go up. This would cause holders of gold jewelry to sell and would increase gold mining efforts, leading eventually to increased gold supply and a restoration of price stability. In both cases, the temporary supply and demand shocks in gold led to changes in behavior that restored long-term price stability. In international trade, these supply and demand factors equilibrated in the same way. A nation with improving terms of trade—an increasing ratio of export prices versus import prices—would begin to run a trade surplus. This surplus in one country would be mirrored by deficits in others whose terms of trade were not as favorable. The deficit nation would settle with the surplus nation in gold. This caused money supply in the deficit nation to shrink and money supply in the surplus nation to expand. The surplus nation with the expanding money supply experienced inflation while the deficit nation with the decreasing money supply experienced deflation. This inflation and deflation in the trading partners would soon reverse the initial terms of trade. Exports from the original surplus nation would begin to get more expensive, while exports from the original deficit nation would begin to get less expensive. Eventually the surplus nation would go to a trade deficit and the deficit nation would go to a surplus. Now gold would start to flow back to the nation that had originally lost it. Economists called this the price-specie-flow mechanism (also the price-gold-flow mechanism). This rebalancing worked naturally without central bank intervention. It was facilitated by arbitrageurs who would buy “cheap” gold in one country and sell it as “expensive” gold in another country once exchange rates, the time value of money, transportation costs and bullion refining costs were taken into account. It was done in accordance with the rules of the game, which were well- understood customs and practices based on mutual advantage, common sense and the profits of arbitrage. Not every claim had to be settled in gold immediately. Most international trade was financed by short-term trade bills and letters of credit that were self-liquidating when the imported goods were received by the buyer and resold for cash without any gold transfers. The gold stock was an anchor or foundation for the overall system rather than the sole medium of exchange. Yet it was an efficient anchor because it obviated currency hedging and gave merchants greater certainty as to the ultimate value of their transactions. The classical gold standard epitomized a period of prosperity before the Great War of 1914 to 1918. The subsequent and much maligned gold exchange standard of the 1920s was, in the minds of many, an effort to return to a halcyon prewar age. However, efforts in the 1920s to use the prewar gold price were doomed by a mountain of debt and policy blunders that turned the gold exchange standard into a deflationary juggernaut. The world has not seen the operation of a pure gold standard in international finance since 1914. From: CURRENCY WARS by James Rickards – pages 45-48

The world is now entering its third currency war in less than one hundred years. Whether it ends tragically as in CWI or is managed to a soft landing as in CWII remains to be seen. What is clear is that—considering the growth since the 1980s of national economies, money printing and leverage through derivatives—this currency war will be truly global and fought on a more massive scale than ever. Currency War III will include both official and private players. This expansion in size, geography and participation exponentially increases the risk of collapse. Today the risk is not just of devaluation of one currency against another or a rise in the price of gold. Today the risk is the collapse of the monetary system itself—a loss of confidence in paper currencies and a massive flight to hard assets. Given these risks of catastrophic failure, Currency War III may be the last currency war—or, to paraphrase Woodrow Wilson, the war to end all currency wars. From: CURRENCY WARS by James Rickards – page 100



500 rabbis urge Israel to stop demolition of Palestinian homes

Published time: February 08, 2015 09:23

Edited time: February 09, 2015 07:03

Over 500 rabbis from Israel, Britain, the US and Canada have called on the Israeli prime minister to stop demolishing Palestinian homes. Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) say Benjamin Netanyahu's stance is against “international law and Jewish tradition.”

RHR's open letter came after the Israeli PM announced the destruction of over 400 Palestinian homes in the Israel-controlled part of the West Bank, the territory known as Area C.

"Thousands have been forced to build without permits, and great human suffering is caused when hundreds of homes are demolished each year in Area C alone," RHR stated in their letter, adding that Israeli planning and zoning laws "severely restrict the ability of Palestinians to build homes, even on the lands that the State recognizes as belonging to them."

According to the rabbis, there has been "no representation or true ability for Palestinians to determine how to properly plan for their communities since local and district planning committees were abolished in 1971. The army plans for them."

In late January, the United Nations accused Israel of illegally demolishing the homes of 77 Palestinians, including many children, in East Jerusalem and the districts of Ramallah, Jericho and Hebron.

“In the past three days, 77 Palestinians, over half of them children, have been made homeless,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement, adding that some of the demolished structures were provided by the international community to "support vulnerable families."

“Demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law and create unnecessary suffering and tension. They must stop immediately,” the OCHA said.

A Palestinian girl walks past her family's house after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in Om Ajaj village, north of the West Bank city of Jericho (Reuters / Abed Omar Qusini)

According to the UN office, during 2014 Israel carried out a record number of demolitions in East Jerusalem and Area C.

“The Israeli authorities destroyed 590 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing 1,177 people — the highest level of displacement in the West Bank since OCHA began systematically monitoring the issue in 2008.”

While Israel insists demolitions are carried out because homes are being built without construction permits, the UN's OCHA says the planning policies applied by Israeli authorities in Area C and East Jerusalem "discriminate against Palestinians."

Palestinians are trapped in a vicious circle, where they build without permits to later have their homes razed to the ground.

"Palestinians must have the opportunity to participate in a fair and equitable planning system that ensures their needs are met," the OCHA said.




Asks media to avoid stereotypes, governments to allow meetings, buildings, literature

Published: February 10, 2015


A stunning new report from the Council of Europe is calling for the rights of Christians to be upheld, asking the media to avoid stereotyping and governments to allow their meetings, buildings and literature.

The report was submitted by Moldovan Christian MP Valeriu Ghiletchi, who is on the Equality and Nondiscrimination committee.

“Intolerance and discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief affect minority religious groups in Europe as well as people belonging to majority religious groups,” the report says. “However, acts of hostility, violence and vandalism targeting Christians and their places of worship are insufficiently taken into consideration and condemned.”

The report cites a number of individual cases, including several handled by the U.K.’s Christian Institute.

They include the cases of Lillian Ladele, a registrar who was removed from her job because of her Christian beliefs on marriage, and of Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who were sued for allowing only heterosexual married couples to share a double bed in their bed-and-breakfast.

“This report is timely given the increasing official intolerance shown toward mainstream Christian beliefs and the people that hold them,” said Simon Calvert, deputy director of the institute.

“Northern Ireland is currently consulting on a conscience clause after a Christian-run bakery was sued for its commitment to biblical truth on marriage,” he said. “Reasonable accommodation of conscience is a protection long overdue, and I’m delighted that the Council of Europe has recognized this.

“I hope that politicians across Europe will now act to endorse this call to protect freedom of conscience,” said Calvert.

The council represents 47 countries across Europe. The vote to endorse the report was overwhelmingly in favor, 67-2, Christian Today reported.

The report calls for protections to prevent Christians from being penalized for their beliefs.

The report urges, as a solution, for members to “promote reasonable accommodation” and “uphold freedom of conscience in the workplace.”

Also needed is “respect” for the “rights of parents to provide their children with an education in conformity with their religious or philosophical convictions.”

The report cites the “acts of hostility, violence and vandalism” against Christians and their places of workshop that are “overlooked” by national authorities.

“Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and considered as one of the foundations of a democratic and pluralist society,” the report says.

Therefore, “limitations” must be “restricted to those prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society.”

It said member nations should promote “reasonable accommodation,” affirm freedom of conscience in the workplace, respect the right of parents to provide their children with an education conforming to their religion and “enable Christians to fully participate in public life.”

The report also says media should avoid stereotyping Christians, and governments need to allow Christians to meet and have worship space. Christians, the report says, also have the right to publish and use religious literature.


All News Pipeline

Attempt To Re-Create 'Big Bang' Begins March 2015 - Will Gates Of Hell Soon Open To The Destruction Of All Creation?

February 3, 2015

With the reopening of CERN's 'large hadron collider' in March of 2015, two leading and well respected scientists, theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking and Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson, have recently issued independent warnings that, when looked at through the eyes of the supernatural war taking place right now upon our planet Earth between the forces of good and evil, send us a clear message: "This is it!". The reopening of CERN will bring together scientists playing with unknown forces, attempting to re-create the 'big bang', the moment of the creation of the universe.

Dr. Stephen Hawking recently warned that the reactivation in March of CERN's large hadron collider could pose grave dangers to our planet...the ultimate reality check we are warned. Hawking has come straight out and said the 'God particle' found by CERN "could destroy the universe" leaving time and space collapsed. Is CERN the most dangerous thing in the cosmos that could lead to the ultimate destruction of the Earth and the entire universe? Recent developments prove to us the scientific community is no longer able to explain 'reality' without looking at the 'supernatural'. Will we soon learn CERN is really the 'ultimate stargate' and one of the gate-keepers most closely guarded secrets? Will this be the way man attempts to break the ultimate 'God barrier', an attempt to encounter demi-God's in an all-out rush towards the destruction of all creation? We understand they won't be releasing the secrets until they're prepared to release them.

Does CERN headquarter's symbol of Shiva, dancing the cosmic dance of death and destruction, signal the TRUE purpose of CERN's existence? A look at the 'Shiva' (the Hindu God of Destruction) symbology surrounding CERN's headquarters gives us the beginning of what we need to know. "The men who would play God, in searching for the God particle, are truly going to find more than they bargained for as they open the gates of hell" we are warned by Stephen Quayle, "they will find inter-dimensional beings who have a taste for human flesh and humanities destruction. Most scientists, in lacking an understanding of the 'supernatural entities' that are going to confront them, are way beyond their ability to comprehend, let alone control, the forces of Pandora's box that will be released."

Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson has also sounded the alarm in a hypothetical manner by telling anyone who might want to 'blow up a planet' how to do this CERN's attempt to do so by attempting to 'recreate' the big bang within a man made structure that has frightened Stephen Hawking so much? Do they know that they know that they know what they're doing?

“Ask yourself: how much energy is keeping it together?” Neil deGrasse Tyson told co-host Eugene Mirman on his Star Talk radio show. “Then you put more than that amount of energy into the object. It will explode.”

“In the movie Star Wars, we see the Death Star blow up the planet Alderaan,” Mirman said, reading the question. “Setting aside the question of how [such] a thing would be possible, what would happen to our solar system if the Empire blew up, say, Mars?”

First, deGrasse Tyson said, any Imperial sympathizer looking to make that happen would have to calculate the planet’s binding energy, in order to determine how much energy it would take to overcome the gravitational forces binding the planet together.

“Now you have a device that can pump that energy into your planet and have that planet absorb the energy, rather than have the energy come out the other side, it will completely destroy the planet to smithereens, entirely,” he explained. “So, that’s how one would go about it.”

The video[s] below [are] an excellent compilation called "‪CERN: Supercolliders, Subliminals, & Stargates: Illuminati's Plan for Satan's Arrival" while the [following] video video is from FreedomFighter2127 in which the videographer offers his own evidence and opinions on CERN and its' tie in to "2015: The International Year of Light"‬.




Say cheese! Hubble Telescope spots smiley face in space

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

Updated 5:00 AM ET, Tue February 10, 2015

A massive galaxy cluster known as SDSS J1038+4849 looks like a smiley face in an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

(CNN)Look! Up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's an emoticon?

It sure looks like a smiley face beaming down from the heavens, but actually it's a massive galaxy cluster known as SDSS J1038+4849.

The image, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, looks like two glowing yellow eyes and several curved lines forming a face and a smile.

For more than 20 years, the Hubble Space Telecope has circled quietly above us, capturing a dark, secret world billions of light years away.

Thousands of those stunning photos are available in the Hubble database. This particular one was spotted Judy Schmidt and sent to the Hubble's Hidden Treasures competition.

The two glowing eyes are actually two distant galaxies. And the smile? That's a result of what astronomists call "strong gravitational lensing."

That happens because the gravitational pull between the two galaxy cluster is so strong it distorts time and space around them.

The "ring like structure" forming the smiley face is known as an "Einstein Ring" -- named after the man whose theory of general relativity explains even mysteries as great as a space emoticon.


Zero Hedge


Anti-Europe, anti-austerity, anti-Merkel political parties storm to the forefront

FEBRUARY 9, 2015

Every two weeks or so on average, we ask ourselves: why do central bankers only tell the truth after they have quit their post (rhetorically, of course). The last time it was the BOE’s former head Mervyn King, who said that “more monetary stimulus will not help the world economy return to strong growth.” This took place long after the BOE, under his watch, unleashed its own QE back in the early days of the great financial crisis. Another example: back in November, the Fed’s own former head, the person who single-handedly unleashed the great moderation and led to the current terminal financial state where the global economy bounces from one bubble to another even bigger bubble or else everything implodes, Alan Greenspan said “Gold Is Currency; No Fiat Currency, Including the Dollar, Can Match It.”

It was another statement by the maestro that has caught the world’s attention, this time opining on Greece, when he told BBC Radio’s the World This Weekend that “Greece will leave the Eurozone. I don’t see that it helps Greece to be in the Euro, and I certainly don’t see that it helps the rest of the Eurozone. It’s just a matter of time before everyone recognizes that parting is the best strategy.… At this stage I don’t see any people who are willing to put up the funds for Greece… All the cards are being held by the members of the Eurozone.” Naturally, this is just what anyone with a functioning frontal lobe (which immediatley excludes all tenured economists) would have said 5 years ago.

And it wasn’t just Greece that the Maestro decided to throw under the revisionist history bus: he took a stabe at the Eurozone itself. “The problem is that there there is no way that I can conceive of the euro of continuing, unless and until all of the members of eurozone become politically integrated – actually even just fiscally integrated won’t do it.”

“Take a look at the Maastricht treaty. There is no indication of any conceivable way of unwinding the Euro and that was done purposefully but that’ doesn’t mean that the markets won’t pull them apart and indeed I would suspect that what’s allowing the big surge to go on, or will go on, in ECB expansion is what Draghi said originally when he came up with the so-called OMT, which meant lending to anybody for any occasion. If that doesn’t work: if numbers start to borrow under the OMT facility and something goes wrong, what happens then? And if you’re talking about a crisis – that is a crisis. Greece leaving the Eurozone is miniscule compared to that as an issue.”

His conclusion: “short of a political Union, I find it very difficult to foresee the Euro holding together in its current form. It probably could get a union of Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland for example. But not south Europe.”

With anti-Europe, anti-austerity, anti-Merkel political parties storming to the forefront in most peripheral European nations, Greenspan is right for once.

Which is not to say he said anything that these pages haven’t covered extensively in the past. Recall this exchange at the April 2013 ECB meeting:

Scott Solano, DPA: Mr Draghi, I’ve got a couple of question from the viewers at Zero Hedge, and one of them goes like this: say the situation in Greece or Spain deteriorates even further, and they want to or are forced to step out of the Eurozone, is there a plan in place so that the markets don’t basically collapse? Is there some kind of structural system, structural safety net, especially in the area of derivatives? And the second questions is: you spoke earlier about the Emergency Liquidity Assistance, and what would have happened to the ELA in Cyprus, the approximately €10 billion, if the country had decided to leave the Eurozone?

Mario Draghi, ECB: Well you really are asking questions that are so hypothetical that I don’t have an answer to them. Well, I may have a partial answer. These questions are formulated by people who vastly underestimate what the Euro means for the Europeans, for the Euro area. They vastly underestimate the amount of political capital that has been invested in the Euro. And so they keep on asking questions like: “If the Euro breaks down, and if a country leaves the Euro, it’s not like a sliding door. It’s a very important thing. It’s a project in the European Union. That’s why you have a very hard time asking people like me “what would happened if.” No Plan B.


Zero Hedge

Greek FinMin Warns "Euro Will Collapse If Greece Exits", Says Italy Is Next

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/08/2015 23:44 -0500

The time for the final all-in bet has arrived.

As we explained yesterday, when we wrote that "Greece Gambles On "Catastrophic Armageddon" For Europe, Warns It "Only Has Weeks Of Cash Left"", and as confirmed further by today's fire and brimstone speech by Greek PM Tsipras, in which he not only did not concede one millimeter to Europe but raised the stakes even higher, by promising among other things to raise the minimum wage and to halt foreclosures, Greece is now betting everything that Europe will not allow it to exit, hoping that "this time is not different", and the existential terror that would be heaped on the Eurozone as forecast in 2012 by the likes of Citi's Buiter and IIF's Charles Dallara, will still take place, and Europe will concede that spending a few more billion on Greece's bridge program is worth to avoid what could potentially spiral into an out of control collapse.

To be sure, that is precisely what Yanis Vaourfakis implied today when he said that "if Greece is forced out of the euro zone, other countries will inevitably follow and the currency bloc will collapse, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Sunday, in comments which drew a rebuke from Italy."

The comments emerged from an interview we commented on earlier with Italian state television network RAI, Varoufakis said Greece's debt problems must be solved as part of a rejection of austerity policies for the euro zone as a whole. He called for a massive "new deal" investment program funded by the European Investment Bank.

From Reuters:

"The euro is fragile, it's like building a castle of cards, if you take out the Greek card the others will collapse." Varoufakis said according to an Italian transcript of the interview released by RAI ahead of broadcast.

The euro zone faces a risk of fragmentation and "de-construction" unless it faces up to the fact that Greece, and not only Greece, is unable to pay back its debt under the current terms, Varoufakis said.

"I would warn anyone who is considering strategically amputating Greece from Europe because this is very dangerous," he said. "Who will be next after us? Portugal? What will happen when Italy discovers it is impossible to remain inside the straitjacket of austerity?"

So now that Greece is all in, the time for even more truth has emerged, and if Greece is finally being honest, it may as well spook Italy and drag it down - or rather up - with it.

"Italian officials, I can't tell you from which big institution, approached me to tell me they backed us but they can't tell the truth because Italy also risks bankruptcy and they are afraid of the reaction from Germany," he said.

"Let's face it, Italy's debt situation is unsustainable," he added, a comment that drew a sharp response from Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, who said in a tweet that Italy's debt was "solid and sustainable."

Varoufakis's remarks were "out of place", Padoan said, adding that Italy was working for a European solution to Greece's problems, which requires "mutual trust".

Italy's public debt is the largest in the euro zone after Greece's and Italian bond yields surged in 2011 at the height of the euro zone crisis. They have since fallen steeply and have so far come under little pressure from the renewed tensions in Greece.

And while the Greek "scorched earth" approach would have no doubt succeeded had it taken place three, two or even one year ago, when Europe still had some faint resemblance of an actual market, the difference this time is that by dint of its recently launched QE, which revealed that Germany's staunch "anti money printing " stance was nothing but melodramatic theater all along, it is the ECB that is in charge of every asset class in Europe: from the EUR, to the German Bund, to the Italian BTPs, to the DAX to, well, everything, and neither fundamentals nor non-central bank players matter any more.

Which is why Greece may have waited just three weeks to long with its final gambit, as Europe is confident that the ECB's interventions can offset the loss of faith in an already crashing Eurozone (if only for a short period of time, of course). Because the alternative, ceding to Greece, means that all other European peripheral states will demand the same treatment.

Which brings us back to Greece, for whom the moment has finally arrived: the moment which was so eloquently described by a Chuck Palahniuk character when he said that "it is only after we have lost everything, that we are free to do anything."

"We" in this case being Greece. The only question is whether the freedom from its final loss has arrived just a few weeks too late...


The Telegraph

Germany faces impossible choice as Greek austerity revolt spreads

"What’s happening to Greece today, will be happening to Italy tomorrow. Sooner or later, default is coming," says Italy's Beppe Grillo

Only Germany's Angela Merkel can stop the coming train-wreck that has been initiated by Greece's recent election
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

9:53PM GMT 11 Feb 2015

The political centre across southern Europe is disintegrating. Establishment parties of centre-left and centre-right - La Casta, as they say in Spain - have successively immolated themselves enforcing EMU debt-deflation.

Spain's neo-Bolivarian Podemos party refuses to fade. It has endured crippling internal rifts. It has shrugged off hostile press coverage over financial ties to Venezuela. Nothing sticks.

The insurrectionists who came from nowhere last year - with Trotskyist roots and more radical views than those of Syriza in Greece - are pulling further ahead in the polls. The latest Metroscopia survey gave Podemos 28pc. The ruling conservatives have dropped to 21pc.

The once-great PSOE - Spanish Workers Socialist Party - has fallen to 18pc and risks fading away like the Dutch Labour Party, or the French Socialists, or Greece's Pasok. You can defend EMU policies, or you can defend your political base, but you cannot do both.

As matters stand, Podemos is on track to win the Spanish elections in November on a platform calling for the cancellation of "unjust debt", a reversal of labour reforms, public control over energy, the banks, and the commanding heights of the economy, and withdrawal from Nato.

Europe's policy elites can rail angrily at the folly of these plans if they wish, but they must answer why ex-Trotskyists with a plan to dismantle market capitalism are taking a major EMU state by storm. It is what happens 5.46m people lack jobs, when 2m households still have no earned income, when youth unemployment is still running at 51.4pc, and home prices are down 42pc, six years into a depression.

It is pointless protesting that Spain's economy is turning the corner, a contested claim in any case. There comes a point when a society breaks and stops believing anything its leaders say.

The EU elites themselves have run their currency experiment into the ground by imposing synchronized monetary, fiscal, and banking contraction on the southern half of EMU, in defiance of known economic science and the lessons of the 1930s. It is they who pushed the eurozone into deflation, and thereby pushed the debtor states further into compound-interest traps.

It is they who deployed the EMU policy machinery to uphold the interests of creditors, refusing to acknowledge that the root cause of Europe's crisis was a flood excess capital flows into vulnerable economies. It is they who prevented a US-style recovery from the financial crisis, and they should not be surprised that such historic errors are coming back to haunt.

The revolt in Italy has different contours but is just as dangerous for Brussels. Italians may not wish to leave the euro but political consent for the project but broken down. All three opposition parties are now anti-euro in one way or another. Beppe Grillo's Five Star movement - with 108 seats in parliament - is openly calling for a return to the lira.

Mr Grillo proclaims that Syriza is carrying the torch for all the long-suffering peoples of southern Europe, as it is in a sense.

"What’s happening to Greece today, will be happening to Italy tomorrow. Sooner or later, default is coming," he said.

Premier Matteo Renzi staked everthing on a recovery that has yet to happen. He is running out of political time. Deflationary dymanics are overwhelming the fiscal gains from austerity. Italy's public debt has jumped from 116pc to 133pc of GDP in three years. The youth jobless rate is 44pc and still rising. Italian GDP has fallen almost 10pc in six years, and by 15pc in the Mezzogiorno. Italy's industrial production has dropped back to the levels of 1980.

The leaders of Spain and Italy know that their own populists at home will seize on any concessions to Syriza over austerity or debt relief as proof that Brussels yields only to defiance. They have a very strong incentive to make Greece suffer, even if it means a cataclysmic rupture and a Greek ejection from the euro.

Yet to act on this political impulse risks destroying the European Project. Europe's Left would nurture a black legend for a hundred years if the first radical socialist government of modern times was crushed and forced into bankruptcy by Frankfurt bankers - acting at the legal boundaries of their authority, or beyond - choosing to switch off liquidity support for the Greek financial system.

• Greece's rock-star finance minister Yanis Varoufakis defies ECB's drachma threats

It would throw the Balkans into turmoil and probably shatter the security structure of the Eastern Mediterranean. It is easy to imagine a chain of events where an embittered Greece pulled out of Nato and turned to Russia, paralysing EU foreign policy in a self-feeding cycle of animosity that would ultimately force Greece out of the union altogether.

The charisma of the EU - using the Greek meaning - would drain away if such traumatic events were allowed to unfold, and all because a country of 11m people wanted to cut its primary budget surplus to 1.5pc from 4.5pc of GDP, and shake a discredited Troika off its back, for that is what it comes down to.

One is tempted to cite Jacques Delors' famous comment that "Europe is like a riding bicycle: you stop pedalling and you fall off" but that hardly captures the drama of what amounts to civil war in a union built on a self-conscious ideology of solidarity.

"The euro is fragile. It is like a house of cards. If you pull away the Greek card, they all come down,” warned Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

“Do we really want Europe to break apart? Anybody who is tempted to think it possible to amputate Greece strategically from Europe should be careful. It is very dangerous. Who would be hit after us? Portugal?" he said.

George Osborne clearly agrees. The worries have been serious enough to prompt a one-hour Cobra security meeting. "The risks of a miscalculation or a misstep leading to a very bad outcome are growing,” said the Chancellor.

Currency guru Barry Eichengreen - the world's leading expert on the collapse of the Gold Standard in 1931 - thinks Grexit might be impossible to control. "It would be Lehman Brothers squared,” he said.

This is not the view in Germany, at least not yet. The IW and ZEW institutes both argue that Europe can safely withstand contagion now that it has a rescue machinery and banking union in place. It must not give in to "blackmail".

Such is the 'moral hazard' view of the world, the reflex that led to the Lehman collapse in 2008. "If we knew then what we know now, we wouldn't have done it," the then-US treasury secretary Tim Geithner told EMU leaders in early 2011, the first time they were tempted to eject Greece.

The fond hope is that the European Central Bank can and will smooth over any turbulence in Portugal, Italy and Spain by mopping up their bonds, now that quantitative easing is on the way. Yet the losses suffered from a Greek default would surely ignite a political firestorm in Germany.

Bild Zeitung has devoted two pages to warnings that Grexit would cost Germany €65bn, or much more once the Bundesbank's Target2 payments though the ECB system are included. The unpleasant discovery that Germany's Target2 exposure can in fact go up in smoke - despite long assurances that this could never happen - might make it untenable to continue such support.

It is unfair to pick on Portugal but its public and private debts are 380pc of GDP - the highest in Europe and higher than those of Greece - making is acutely vulnerable to toxic effects of deflation on debt dynamics.

Portugal's net international investment position (NIIP) - the best underlying indicator of solvency - has reached minus 112pc of GDP. Public debt has jumped from 111pc to 125pc of GDP in three years. The fiscal deficit is still 5pc. The country's ranking in global competitiveness is close to that of Greece.

"The situation in Portugal is very different," says Paulo Portas, the deputy premier. Sadly it is not. Once you violate the sanctity of monetary union and reduce EMU to a fixed-exchange system, the illusion that Portugal is out of the woods may not last long. Markets will test it.

Only two people can now stop the coming train-wreck. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schauble, a man who masks his passion for the EU cause behind an irascible front.

Syriza have made a strategic blunder by turning their struggle into a fight with Germany, demanding Nazi war reparations, and toying with the Russian card at the very moment when Mrs Merkel is locked in make-or-break talks on Ukraine with Vladimir Putin.

Mr Varoufakis is trying to limit the damage, praising Mrs Merkel as the "most astute politician" in Europe, and Mr Schauble as the "only European politician with intellectual substance" - a wounding formulation for the others. He has called on Germany to cast off self-doubt and assume its role as Europe's benevolent hegemon, almost as if he were evoking the glory days of the Holy Roman Empire when pious German emperors stood as guarantors for Christendom.

This is the only pitch that will work. Angela Merkel has risen above her narrow East German outlook and her fiscal platitudes to emerge as the soul-searching Godmother of Europe and the last credible defender of its unity. But even Mrs Merkel can be pushed too far.




Are we on the verge of a major worldwide economic downturn?


FEBRUARY 10, 2015

Are we on the verge of a major worldwide economic downturn? Well, if recent warnings from prominent bankers all over the world are to be believed, that may be precisely what we are facing in the months ahead. As you will read about below, the big banks are warning that the price of oil could soon drop as low as 20 dollars a barrel, that a Greek exit from the eurozone could push the EUR/USD down to 0.90, and that the global economy could shrink by more than 2 trillion dollars in 2015. Most of the time, very few people ever actually read the things that the big banks write for their clients. But in recent months, a lot of these bankers are issuing such ominous warnings that you would think that they have started to write for The Economic Collapse Blog. Of course we have seen this happen before. Just before the financial crisis of 2008, a lot of people at the big banks started to get spooked, and now we are beginning to see an atmosphere of fear spread on Wall Street once again. Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next, but an increasing number of experts are starting to agree that it won’t be good.

Let’s start with oil. Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen a nice rally for the price of oil. It has bounced back into the low 50s, which is still a catastrophically low level, but it has many hoping for a rebound to a range that will be healthy for the global economy.

Unfortunately, many of the experts at the big banks are now anticipating that the exact opposite will happen instead. For example, Citibank says that we could see the price of oil go as low as 20 dollars this year…

The recent rally in crude prices looks more like a head-fake than a sustainable turning point — The drop in US rig count, continuing cuts in upstream capex, the reading of technical charts, and investor short position-covering sustained the end-January 8.1% jump in Brent and 5.8% jump in WTI into the first week of February.

Short-term market factors are more bearish, pointing to more price pressure for the next couple of months and beyond — Not only is the market oversupplied, but the consequent inventory build looks likely to continue toward storage tank tops. As on-land storage fills and covers the carry of the monthly spreads at ~$0.75/bbl, the forward curve has to steepen to accommodate a monthly carry closer to $1.20, putting downward pressure on prompt prices. As floating storage reaches its limits, there should be downward price pressure to shut in production.

The oil market should bottom sometime between the end of Q1 and beginning of Q2 at a significantly lower price level in the $40 range — after which markets should start to balance, first with an end to inventory builds and later on with a period of sustained inventory draws. It’s impossible to call a bottom point, which could, as a result of oversupply and the economics of storage, fall well below $40 a barrel for WTI, perhaps as low as the $20 range for a while.

Even though rigs are shutting down at a pace that we have not seen since the last recession, overall global supply still significantly exceeds overall global demand. Barclays analyst Michael Cohen recently told CNBC that at this point the total amount of excess supply is still in the neighborhood of a million barrels per day…

“What we saw in the last couple weeks is rig count falling pretty precipitously by about 80 or 90 rigs per week, but we think there are more important things to be focused on and that rig count doesn’t tell the whole story.”

He expects to see some weakness going into the shoulder season for demand. In addition, there is an excess supply of about a million barrels of oil a day, he said.

And the truth is that many firms simply cannot afford to shut down their rigs. Many are leveraged to the hilt and are really struggling just to service their debt payments. They have to keep pumping so that they can have revenue to meet their financial obligations. The following comes directly from the Bank for International Settlements…

“Against this background of high debt, a fall in the price of oil weakens the balance sheets of producers and tightens credit conditions, potentially exacerbating the price drop as a result of sales of oil assets, for example, more production is sold forward,” BIS said.

“Second, in flow terms, a lower price of oil reduces cash flows and increases the risk of liquidity shortfalls in which firms are unable to meet interest payments. Debt service requirements may induce continued physical production of oil to maintain cash flows, delaying the reduction in supply in the market.”

In the end, a lot of these energy companies are going to go belly up if the price of oil does not rise significantly this year. And any financial institutions that are exposed to the debt of these companies or to energy derivatives will likely be in a great deal of distress as well.

Meanwhile, the overall global economy continues to slow down.

On Monday, we learned that the Baltic Dry Index has dropped to the lowest level ever. Not even during the darkest depths of the last recession did it drop this low.

And there are some at the big banks that are warning that this might just be the beginning. For instance, David Kostin of Goldman Sachs is projecting that sales growth for S&P 500 companies will be zero percent for all of 2015…

“Consensus now forecasts 0% S&P 500 sales growth in 2015 following a 5% cut in revenue forecasts since October. Low oil prices along with FX headwinds and pension charges have weighed on 4Q EPS results and expectations for 2015.”

Others are even more pessimistic than that. According to Bank of America, the global economy will actually shrink by 2.3 trillion dollars in 2015.

One thing that could greatly accelerate our economic problems is the crisis in Greece. If there is no compromise and a new Greek debt deal is not reached, there is a very real possibility that Greece could leave the eurozone.

If Greece does leave the eurozone, the continued existence of the monetary union will be thrown into doubt and the euro will utterly collapse.

Of course I am not the only one saying these things. Analysts at Morgan Stanley are even projecting that the EUR/USD could plummet to 0.90 if there is a “Grexit”…

The Greek Prime Minister has reaffirmed his government’s rejection of the country’s international bailout programme two days before an emergency meeting with the euro area’s finance ministers on Wednesday. His declaration suggested increasing minimum wages, restoring the income tax-free threshold and halting infrastructure privatisations. Should Greece stay firm on its current anti-bailout course and with the ECB not accepting Greek T-bills as collateral, the position of ex-Fed Chairman Greenspan will gain increasing credibility. He forecast the eurozone to break as private investors will withdraw from providing short-term funding to Greece. Greece leaving the currency union would convert the union into a club of fixed exchange rates, a type of ERM III, leading to further fragmentation. Greek Fin Min Varoufakis said the euro will collapse if Greece exits, calling Italian debt unsustainable. Markets may gain the impression that Greece may not opt for a compromise, instead opting for an all or nothing approach when negotiating on Wednesday. It seems the risk premium of Greece leaving EMU is rising. Our scenario analysis suggests a Greek exit taking EURUSD down to 0.90.

If that happens, we could see a massive implosion of the 26 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the euro.

We are moving into a time of great peril for global financial markets, and there are a whole host of signs that we are slowly heading into another major global economic crisis.

So don’t be fooled by all of the happy talk in the mainstream media. They did not see the last crisis coming either.


Common Dreams

Syriza Official Vows to Kill EU-US Trade Deal as 'Gift to All European People'

Threat comes amid continued grassroots opposition to proposed trade deal

byAndrea Germanos, staff writer

At an anti-TTIP demonstration in Berlin last month. (Photo: Uwe Hiksch/flickr/cc)

An official with Greece's newly elected Syriza party may have sounded the death knell for a proposed EU-U.S. trade deal that has faced a mountain of opposition from civil society.

The deal is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), now facing its eighth round of talks between negotiators this week in Brussels.

The TTIP, which would be the biggest trade deal ever, has been criticized as a corporate-friendly deal that threatens food and environmental safety under the guise of "harmonization" of regulations.

Georgios Katrougkalos, now deputy minister for administrative reform, confirmed what he had told EurActiv Greece ahead of his Syriza party's victory last week: that his parliament would not ratify the trade deal.

"I can ensure you that a Parliament where Syriza holds the majority will never ratify the deal. And this will be a big gift not only to the Greek people but to all the European people," EurActiv reported Monday.

Because Syriza's coalition partner also appears to share the anti-TTIP views, EurActiv reports, this means the Greeks could issue a veto, thereby threatening to block the deal.

Among Katrougkalos' concerns with the trade deal, shared by many of the deal's critics, is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. As author Glyn Moody explained, it "enables companies to sue for alleged losses caused by government actions." He adds:

ISDS would introduce external tribunals that allowed companies to bypass national laws. It would open up the EU (and US) to the risk of ISDS claims on an unprecedented scale. If TTIP includes ISDS, there are 14,400 US-based corporations owning more than 50,800 subsidiaries in the EU, all of which could use the mechanism to sue the EU and its Member States. Even without TTIP, European nations are already facing claims of at least €30 billion because of ISDS chapters in existing agreements - we don't know exactly, since many cases are still secret. With TTIP, it's easy to imagine that figure multiplied by ten or even more. Moreover, this is money that must be paid by the public, making a mockery of any claims that TTIP will bring benefits to ordinary people.

Several European organizations are mobilizing to show their opposition to the trade deal during this latest round of negotiations.

Among them is Friends of the Earth Europe, which plans to hold a demonstration Wednesday to highlight how the TTIP is a "Trojan treaty."

Also joining the demonstration is Guy Taylor, trade campaigner for Global Justice Now and an organizer for actions Wednesday, who said in a statement: "It’s unheard of to see so many people traveling to Brussels to lobby their MEPs like this, and that’s testament to just how hugely controversial and unpopular TTIP has become. David Cameron waxes lyrical about national sovereignty, but in pushing for this deal he is willfully handing sovereignty to big business. The deal is not really about trade, it’s about entrenching the position of the one percent. It should be abandoned."

Underscoring similar concerns is 31-year-old Ross Mackay, who will be joining the actions in Brussels. He told the Scotland Herald, "TTIP is not really about opening up trade and harmonizing tariffs and regulations; it's about a race to the bottom, locked-in privatization, and a seismic shift in power away from people and their elected governments towards corporations."



Moscow & Cairo to drop USD, use national currencies in bilateral trade – Putin

Published time: February 08, 2015 23:10

Edited time: February 09, 2015 10:08

Russia and Egypt might soon exclude the US dollar and use their national currencies in the settlement of accounts in bilateral trade, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview to Egyptian media ahead of his Monday visit to the country.

The issue of abandoning the dollar in trade is “being actively discussed,” Putin told Al-Ahram daily newspaper ahead of his two-day trip to Egypt. The Russian president was invited for a bilateral meeting by his Egyptian counterpart Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

“This measure will open up new prospects for trade and investment cooperation between our countries, reduce its dependence on the current trends in the world markets,” Putin said.

“I should note that we already use national currencies for trade with a number of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] states, and China. This practice proves its worth; we are ready to adopt it in our relations with Egypt as well. This issue is being discussed in substance by relevant agencies of both countries.”

Egypt is a long-time and trusted partner of Russia and the relationship between the two countries has been rapidly developing, the Russian president said.

“The volume of bilateral trade has increased significantly over the past years: In 2014, it increased by almost half compared to the previous year and amounted to more than $4.5 billion,” he said urging for this trend to be strengthened.

He also praised the development of “mutually beneficial and effective” cooperation in the sector of agriculture. “Egypt is the major buyer of Russian wheat, Russia provides about 40 percent of grain consumed in the country; as for us, we import fruits and vegetables.”

Moscow imposed a full ban of EU, US, Australian, Canadian, and Norwegian food exports to Russia on August 7 for one year. Amid Russian sanctions, Egypt said in August that it was ready to boost agricultural deliveries to Russia by 30 percent.

During 2013, Egypt’s deliveries of agricultural products to Russia amounted $440 million, while during the first half of 2014, Cairo supplied $460 million, said the head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Nikolay Fedorov in August 2014.

Moscow and Cairo are also engaged in energy, automobile manufacturing and transport cooperation, developing the intergovernmental trade, economic and scientific-technical cooperation commission as well.

During Sisi’s last visit to Russia in August 2014, the two leaders agreed to look at a possibility of creating a free trade zone between Egypt and the countries of the Customs Union. Meeting in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, the presidents also agreed upon the creation of a Russian industrial zone in Egypt, which will be part of a new Suez Canal project.

Egypt launched a Suez Canal development project worth $4 billion in August 2014. The project envisages the digging of a new canal parallel to the original built 145 years ago with the aim of speeding up traffic along the existing waterway and boosting the country’s economy.


The Moscow Times

Russia Would See U.S. Moves to Arm Ukraine as Declaration of War

By Matthew Bodner

Feb. 09 2015 21:37

Last edited 21:37

U.S. provision of military aid to Ukraine would be seen by Moscow as a declaration of war and spark a global escalation of Ukraine's separatist conflict, Russian defense analysts said.

With Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine seizing new territory from the Ukrainian army, voices in Washington are demanding that Kiev be given defensive weapons and hardware — including lethal equipment — to hold the line.

But if such aid were sent, "Russia would reasonably consider the U.S. to be a direct participant in the conflict," said Evgeny Buzhinsky, a military expert at the Moscow-based PIR Center.

Speaking to The Moscow Times on a condition of anonymity, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry's public advisory board warned that Moscow would not only up the ante in eastern Ukraine, "but also respond asymmetrically against Washington or its allies on other fronts."


Ukraine is at a crossroads. With rebel forces reportedly massing for a renewed assault on the strategically valuable railroad hub of Debaltseve and the port city of Mariupol, the West is racing to find the best means to bring a swift end to the conflict.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande traveled to Moscow last week to attempt to hash out a peace proposal with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The proposal is set to be discussed with all parties in the Belarussian capital of Minsk on Wednesday, but some consider peace talks hopeless, and advocate military measures.

The U.S.-led NATO military alliance says Moscow has sent troops and arms to aid pro-Russian rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine — which Russia denies. Calls to arm Ukraine are seen as a way to even the odds for the Ukrainian army, enabling Kiev to halt rebel advances and force them — and the Kremlin — to negotiate.

U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council called last month for Washington to give $3 billion in lethal and non-lethal military aid to Ukraine over the next three years.

But Russian defense analysts polled by The Moscow Times said unanimously that U.S. arms transfers to Ukraine would be interpreted in Moscow as a declaration of open proxy war with Russia and inevitably lead to escalation of the conflict.

"It would become tit-for-tat," said Maxim Shepovalenko, an analyst at the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategy and Technology (CAST).

"Moscow will not just sit by calmly and see what happens, it will counteract," he said.

Asymmetric Response

The Russian counterstrike could take the conflict far beyond Ukraine, according to the source on the Defense Ministry's public advisory board.

Pointing to one possible avenue of asymmetrical retaliation, the source said Moscow could give in to long-standing Chinese requests for sensitive defense technologies that would aid in its development of high-tech weapons capable of doing serious damage to U.S. naval forces in the Asia-Pacific.

Moscow has so far declined China's requests on "politically correct pretenses," the source said.

"That's just one example. We can also encourage Iran, or even back Iran in a fight — a military operation — with Saudi Arabia, so then the prices for oil will skyrocket," the source said, explaining that these were just two possible responses.

Who Are We Giving This to?

The U.S. has already given a modest amount of non-lethal military aid to Ukraine, such as the delivery of three counter-battery radar systems to help identify the point of origin of pro-Russian rebel artillery fire.

The CAST think tank wrote on its Russian-language blog last week that two of the three radars had already been destroyed, citing the outfit's sources on the ground in eastern Ukraine.

Only one of the units was reportedly destroyed by rebel fire. The other was reportedly dropped by Ukrainian soldiers — underscoring the difficulty of providing aid and ensuring it gets put to good use.

"You might give aid to the regular armed forces, not the volunteer battalions, but you still need trained operators. Training takes time, additional money, and more than anything else — it takes practical experience," said Shepovalenko.

U.S. deployment of trainers to Ukraine would mean sending U.S. military personnel into Ukraine — which could easily be construed by Moscow as U.S. involvement in the war.

Beyond training, there is no guarantee that weapons and hardware will not fall into enemy hands or wet the beaks of corrupt Ukrainian army personnel.

Corruption in the ranks cannot be discounted, according to the PIR Center's Buzhinsky: "It is absolutely certain that at least fifty percent of what is delivered will be stolen and then sold on the side," he said.


The Telegraph

I've looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes - and he won't back down

The Russian leader doesn’t want war, and he won't take on Nato, but neither will he give in to Merkel and Hollande if he thinks it's against his country's interests

Mr Putin rose from poor origins to be President of Russia through ruthless self-discipline and a reputation for getting things done Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/AFP

By Tony Brenton, former British Ambassador

7:30AM GMT 07 Feb 2015

The Ukraine crisis is a year old. After the initial drama the affair has taken on the aspect of a gritty soap opera. The same sub-plots come round and around: the rising death count, the accusations of atrocities from both sides, the sanctions, the regular – and regularly broken – ceasefires.

That phase may now be ending. The Russians have rearmed the East Ukrainian rebels – who are on something of a military roll. This has inclined Washington to supply Ukraine’s government in Kiev with lethal weaponry. The prospect this brings of a much more direct clash between Russia and the West has alarmed Angela Merkel and François Hollande enough to send them hurrying off to Moscow on what may well prove a last-ditch peace mission.

There they will meet Vladimir Putin. A huge amount now turns on who Mr Putin is, and what he is after. I met him regularly when I was British Ambassador in Moscow between 2004 and 2008, and came away with some quite clear impressions of the challenge they face.

Putin, born to a poor family in St Petersburg in 1952, acknowledges he was a rough kid who was held back because of his hooliganism. At that point the intense self-discipline which is still very much part of his persona evidently kicked in. He worked himself up to a law degree, a black belt in judo, and admission to the Soviet Union’s elite organisation, the KGB. It was a bit like making it from Borstal to the Guards.

After a period working in St Petersburg following the fall of Communism (where I first met him as a young official with a reputation for getting things done) his subsequent rise was stratospheric. It depended on two attributes which I saw in him in abundance – loyalty and ruthlessness. His close links with former KGB colleagues took him in 1997 from St Petersburg to the Kremlin. There he recommended himself to President Yeltsin both through sheer administrative competence and by bringing down a troublesome prosecutor who was after Yeltsin’s family.

And his final selection in 1999 as Yeltsin’s successor was assisted by his successful prosecution of the second Chechen war, launched in response to a series of terrorist incidents (allegedly arranged by Russian intelligence) in which hundreds of innocent Russians died.

Putin as president continues to display those same qualities which got him to the top. In a culture that prizes emotional excess, I have never seen him let himself go. He is always impeccably turned out, exudes a sort of aggressive fitness which cows the flabby middle-aged men around him, and is in impressive command of the facts of whatever he is discussing. I have seen him correct British ministers on the details of the UK gas market and stun British intelligence officials by responding to an exposition of our anti-terrorist policies with the blunt statement: “We kill them.” His annual press conferences are tours de force – three hours without notes taking questions from all-comers on all subjects. Our politicians would never attempt it.



Fear of Vladimir Putin grows in EU capitals amid spectre of ‘total war’

Analysis: That Angela Merkel has gone to Moscow speaks to the sudden gravity of the situation in east Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande in Moscow for an urgent meeting over Ukraine. Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Ian Traynor, Europe editor

Friday 6 February 2015 11.12 EST

In Brussels and other European capitals, the fear of Vladimir Putin is becoming palpable. The mood has changed in a matter of weeks from one of handwringing impotence over Ukraine to one of foreboding.

The anxiety is encapsulated in the sudden rush to Moscow by Angela Merkel and François Hollande. To senior figures closely involved in the diplomacy and policymaking over Ukraine, the Franco-German peace bid is less a hopeful sign of a breakthrough than an act of despair.

“There’s nothing new in their plan, just an attempt to stop a massacre,” said one senior official.

Carl Bildt, the former Swedish foreign minister, said a war between Russia and the west was now quite conceivable. A senior diplomat in Brussels, echoing the broad EU view, said arming the Ukrainians would mean war with Russia, a war that Putin would win.

Announcing the surprise mission to Kiev and Moscow, Hollande sounded grave and solemn. The Ukraine crisis, he said, started with differences, which became a conflict, which became a war, and which now risked becoming “total war”.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister and until recently the head of Nato, publicly voiced fears that Putin could expand what is seen as Soviet revisionism to countries now in Nato and the EU. In the Baltics, Putin might risk a little exercise in “hybrid warfare”, he said, just to test how the western alliance would react.

That Merkel has gone to Moscow is telling in itself and speaks to the sudden gravity of the situation. The Russian-speaking German chancellor has talked to the German-speaking Putin more than 40 times in the past year as the main western mediator on Ukraine. But until Friday she had never gone to Moscow. Only a few weeks ago she vetoed a summit in Kazakhstan with Putin because she believed there was no point negotiating with someone she no longer trusted.

Putin is demanding that a large tract of eastern Ukraine, taken by force by his separatist proxies in recent weeks, be granted internationally licensed autonomy and that a new frontline be recognised as a basis for a putative ceasefire.

The parallel might be 1991 in Croatia when the Serbs took a quarter of the country and then consolidated their grip behind lines patrolled by UN peacekeepers. It crippled and destabilised Croatia.

European policymakers say this is Putin’s aim in Ukraine. In Croatia the land-grab lasted four years until Zagreb, gradually armed by the Americans and Europeans, quickly routed the Serbs militarily.

The big difference then was that the Serbs were stretched by a bigger war next door in Bosnia where eventually Nato bombed them to the negotiating table. That will not happen with the Russians.

Arming the Ukrainians, meanwhile, will open up big divisions between the Americans and most Europeans. Putin is playing on those divisions as he plays on splits between the Europeans. He does not need to try very hard. The divisions are ever-present over sanctions.

On Monday the EU will impose more sanctions, extending a blacklist of pro-Russia separatists and Russians by 19 names. These penalties are minor. The broader economic sanctions in force against Russian banks and companies are more serious. They lapse in July unless extended by all EU governments.

Last year the biggest opponent was Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, whose then foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, now coordinates EU foreign policy. The new leftwing pro-Russia Greek government may be this summer’s problem.

The sanctions policy has so far held up, but is showing acute strains. Senior diplomats from EU governments regularly say the sanctions are hurting but are not working because they have not changed Putin’s behaviour. The EU is split in two, with Britain leading the pro-sanctions side and a sizeable group complaining that the punishment has cost the EU an estimated 15% of exports to Russia. Germany is the pivot, the swing power.

Putin is increasingly seen as a reckless gambler who calls bluffs and takes risks, and is inscrutable, paranoid and unpredictable. Trying to work out what he wants is guesswork. The Europeans sound scared.

Ukraine is a huge problem for Europe, not least the dawning realisation that fixing it will cost tens of billions and will take a very long time. But for Europe it is becoming clear that the real nightmare is not Ukraine, but Putin’s Russia.


Zero Hedge

Europe Fractures: France Pivots To Putin, Cyprus Offers Moscow Military Base, Germany-US Splinter On Ukraine

By Tyler Durden

Following yesterday’s summary of the utter farce that the Minsk Summit/Ukraine “peace” deal talks have become, the various parties involved appear to be fracturing even faster today. The headlines are coming thick and fast but most prescient appears to be: Despite John Kerry’s denial of any split between Germany and US over arms deliveries to Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier slammed Washington’s strategy for being “not just risky but counterproductive.” But perhaps most significantly is France’s continued apparent pivot towards Russia… Following Francois Hollande’s calls for greater autonomy for Eastern Ukraine, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has come out in apparent support of Russia (and specifically against the US), “we are part of a common civilization with Russia,” adding, “the interests of the Americans with the Russians are not the interests of Europe and Russia.” Even NATO appears to have given up hope of peace as Stoltenberg’s statements show little optimism and the decision by Cyprus to allow Russia to use its soil for military facilities suggests all is not at all well in the European ‘union’.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier doubled down on Germany’s rejection of weapons deliveries to Ukraine in a speech here Sunday…



“I see this, to say it openly, as not just for risky but for counter-productive,” Mr. Steinmeier said at the Munich Security Conference. Mr. Steinmeier also hit back at open criticism of Germany’s position on weapons deliveries from U.S. Senators and others here on Saturday. The White House is mulling delivering weapons to Ukraine to support the country’s fight against pro-Russia separatists in the country’s east.

“Perhaps we are so insistent because we know the region a bit,” Mr. Steinmeier said.

But John Kerry says, everything’s fine… as he denies any split between U.S. and Europe on Russia policy…

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday denied any divisions between the U.S. and Europe over how to handle Russia, as Germany announced another high-level summit aimed at stemming the crisis in Ukraine.

Kerry told a security conference in Munich that he wanted to “assure everybody there is no division, there is no split” between Washington and its European allies amid the crisis in Ukraine.




Egypt turns to Moscow after another Putin visit

Published: February 9, 2015


WASHINGTON – Vladimir Putin’s visit to Egypt marks a low point in U.S.-Egyptian relations, weakening an alliance formed 35 years ago, when President Carter negotiated the Camp David Accords with Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, contends a retired Army general.

Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, a founding member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, told WND the Russians filled a void after the Obama administration cut off military supplies and equipment to Egypt in response to the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, Mohamed Morsi, which set the stage for Gen. Abdel-Fatal al-Sisi to become president.

Vallely noted that in October 2013, after the Obama administration suspended military aid to Egypt, Sisi turned to Russia. The move was followed by Putin’s first visit to Egypt on Feb. 12-13, 2014, which resulted in Cairo’s decision to purchase some $2 billion of weapons from Russia.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, another founding member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, concurred.

“It is amazing how fast the Obama administration has turned some of our most loyal allies against us. Egypt was the keystone of our Mideast Policy for 40 years,” McInerney said.

Egypt is “vital,” he said, “because it controls the Suez Canal, plus airspace to enter and exit the Middle East as well as the crucial partner in the Israeli Peace Treaty, and we have now forced the Egyptians to look to Russia for support. How could we let this happen?”

Clare Lopez, senior vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, warned Putin is a “shrewd operator who, like his predecessors, prioritizes a Russian presence in the Middle East.”

“We must know that wherever the Kremlin is able to establish a foothold will be used to the detriment of our friend and partner, Israel, to perpetuate historical KGB relationships with Islamic terror operatives, and to oppose U.S. strategic interests in the region,” said Lopez, a former CIA officer and another current member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi.

“Squandering our decades-long partnership with Egypt is dangerous, foolish and entirely unnecessary,” she said.

The Washington Institute for Near East Politics reported that between 1979 and Obama’s decision to suspend military aid to Egypt last October, the U.S. provided Egypt with nearly $70 billion in funding. More than half went to purchase American-made equipment. The Washington Institute further reported a $1.3 billion per year U.S. security-assistance grant accounting for 80 percent of Egypt’s military’s annual procurement budget.

“Sisi had no choice but to fill the void left by the Obama administration’s decision with the military aid that Russia was willing to provide,” Vallely said.

Vallely said that since declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December 2013, Sisi has been fighting a threat to the Suez Canal, combating ISIS in the Sinai and worrying about ISIS now aligning with the al-Qaida-affiliated militia and the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood in Libya on Egypt’s western border.

Meanwhile, al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists are gaining strength in Nigeria and Somalia to the south of Egypt.

WND reported an interim report by the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi concluded the Obama administration “switched sides” in the war on terror in Libya in 2011 when the White House and State Department under Hillary Clinton chose to arm al-Qaida-affiliated militia and the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in their effort to oust Muammar Gadhafi by force.

“Russia has stepped up to provide the arms Egypt needs to defend itself against the radical Islamic terrorists al-Sisi faces on all sides,” Vallely said.

He was referring to a report that Saudi Arabia has agreed to finance the weapons Egypt purchases from Russia.

Valley said the Obama administration has managed to reverse some nearly 35 years of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with Egypt now returning to Russia. Egypt had a close relationship with the Soviet Union had in era of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, from 1956 to 1970.

“Egypt has a real concern about security, and the United States is not there to help as we should be helping,” Vallely said.

“This is typical of the changes the Obama administration has made in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East,” he said.

“With the Obama administration supporting the al-Qaida militia in Libya and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, it’s a great illustration how an errant foreign policy undertaken by the U.S. State Department and a White House national security team has managed to drag the United States down lower and lower in credibility throughout the Middle East.”




by JAMES DELINGPOLE9 Feb 20151840

“Fiddling temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever,” says Christopher Booker, not pulling his punches. And I think he’s right not to do so. If – as Booker, myself, and few others suspect – the guardians of the world’s land-based temperature records have been adjusting the raw data in order to exaggerate “global warming” then this is indeed a crime against the scientific method unparalleled in history.

Sure you could make a case that Lysenkoism or Hitler’s war to discredit “Jewish science” were more evil but these were confined to discrete geographical regions under specific totalitarian regimes. What’s so extraordinary about the manipulations to the global land-based temperature sets is that they affect every one of us, wherever we live.

Whether you’re an elderly couple in mid-Wales who have just had 20 per cent knocked off the value of your retirement cottage by the new wind farm on the hill opposite, or you’re a tribesman in the South East Asian jungle whose virgin forest home has been trashed to make way for a palm oil plantation to grow eco-friendly biofuels, or you’re a scientist in New Zealand who has been hounded out of your job because your research doesn’t fit the “global warming” narrative, or you’re a science teacher in Ohio who is obliged, whether you like it or not, to lecture your charges on the dread perils of climate change, or you’re a Republican senatorial candidate who has been targeted as a “denier” in a green attack dog campaign financed by Tom Steyer, you’re all victims of the same global scam: a scam perpetrated by a tiny handful of individuals whose junk statistical manipulation of the global climate records have transformed routine weather patterns into the world’s biggest and most influential ever science scare story.

Here, in the letters pages of today’s Telegraph, is yet another example of what I mean. It’s a letter protesting against the devastation of the Scottish landscape by bird-slicing, bat-chomping eco-crucifixes and it’s signed by the director of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, the president of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, the president of the Munro Society, the chairman of National Trust for Scotland, the convener of Ramblers Scotland, and the co-ordinator of Scottish Wild Land.

It begins:

“Few dispute the necessity of reducing our energy use and pursuing renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuels, in order to help address climate change…”

They feel, for understandable reasons, that they are obliged to preface their complaint with the usual obeisance to the Great Green Climate Change Emperor. But what if that Great Green Climate Change Emperor is wearing no clothes?

What then?

Just to recap, here is what we now know about the world’s land-based temperature records. The raw weather station data appears to show in many cases that the 1930s was the warmest decade in the last 100 years (not, as activists like James Hansen have insisted, the period since the late 1990s). Yet this data has now been “adjusted” – so far without any convincing explanation – in order to make the 1930s look cooler than they were and recent periods warmer. The net effect of this has been to make Twentieth century warming look much more dramatic and extreme than it may actually have been – generating concomitant panic among the scientific establishment which has been using this “adjusted” data as the basis for its narrative that we are currently experiencing a dangerous and unprecedented phenomenon sometimes known (though they keep changing the name) as Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.

A common defence used by alarmist “experts” to shore up this shaky theory is that lots of different scientific institutions have reached the same conclusion independently of one another.

But here’s the rub: they are not independent. They are all in cahoots because they are all pushing the same narrative, as Booker explains using the example of the “suspicious” one-way adjustments to the weather stations in Paraguay. (And also, it has subsequently been shown, in the Arctic).

First these were made by the US government’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN). They were then amplified by two of the main official surface records, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) and the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), which use the warming trends to estimate temperatures across the vast regions of the Earth where no measurements are taken. Yet these are the very records on which scientists and politicians rely for their belief in “global warming”.

This last point is THE point.

If the temperature records on which the entire edifice of the international global warming industry is based are a busted flush then we have all been victims of a scam so vast and all-encompassing it makes Enron look like a model of modesty and integrity. It also raises the question – and I speak here, of course, metaphorically rather than literally: when are heads going to roll?

What 60 Feet Of Cleared Snow In Japan Looks Like


The Washington Post

The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol

By Peter Whoriskey February 10 at 11:35 AM

Time to put eggs back on the menu? (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption.

The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern” stands in contrast to the committee’s findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of excess cholesterol in the American diet a public health concern.

The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease.

The greater danger in this regard, these experts believe, lies not in products such as eggs, shrimp or lobster, which are high in cholesterol, but in too many servings of foods heavy with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, whole milk, and butter.

The new view on cholesterol in food does not reverse warnings about high levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warned that people with particular health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich diets.

While Americans may be accustomed to conflicting dietary advice, the change on cholesterol comes from the influential Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the group that provides the scientific basis for the “Dietary Guidelines.” That federal publication has broad effects on the American diet, helping to determine the content of school lunches, affecting how food manufacturers advertise their wares, and serving as the foundation for reams of diet advice.

The panel laid out the cholesterol decision in December, at its last meeting before it writes a report that will serve as the basis for the next version of the guidelines. A video of the meeting was later posted online and a person with direct knowledge of the proceedings said the cholesterol finding would make it to the group’s final report, which is due within weeks.

After Marian Neuhouser, chair of the relevant subcommittee, announced the decision to the panel at the December meeting, one panelist appeared to bridle.




'I think there is something, and maybe it's different than it is here'

Published: February 7, 2015

It’s one of the greatest and most profound questions of all time: Is there life after death?

Even ancient philosophers were divided on the issue, but every culture in history has had some notion of continued existence.

Today, well-known atheists such as Carl Sagan have argued, “The absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.”

A tale of two unborn babies in the womb is turning the debate on its head, daring to shed light on the age-old question from a unique and previously overlooked perspective.

The following tale, “Life After Birth,” which has an unknown author and is published in various versions, has been making its rounds on the Internet:

In a mother’s womb were two babies.

“Do you believe in life after delivery?” one twin asks.

“Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later,” the other replies.

“Nonsense,” says the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second responds, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replies, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

But the second insists, “I think there is something, and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replies, “Nonsense. Moreover, if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life. In the after-delivery, there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” says the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother, and she will take care of us.”

The first replies, “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists, then where is she now?”

The second says, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of her. It is in her that we live. Without her, this world would not and could not exist.”

Says the first: “Well I don’t see her, so it is only logical that she doesn’t exist.”

But then the second twin answers, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive her presence, and you can hear her loving voice, calling down from above.”


Until next week...keep on believing
Almondtree Productions

I am he; and until ye shall have grown old, I am he: I bear you, I have made, and I will relieve, I will take up and save you.”
(Isaiah 46:4)