Russia’s Top Soldier Issues Threat Over Missile Defense

Russia’s top military officer threatened that if the United States builds nato missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe, Russia will destroy them with a preemptive strike.

Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov said on May 3 that “if the situation worsens,” the Russian military will “use destructive force preemptively.” He went on to say that if Moscow and Washington fail to reach an agreement, Russia will “be forced to take military and technological measures” to protect itself.

Last year, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a similar threat, stating that Russia will retaliate militarily if Moscow fails to reach an agreement with the U.S. and nato.

The U.S. says the missile defense system is intended only to counter Iran’s missile threat. Moscow rejects this claim and says that the shield could negate Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

As Russia’s desire to rebuild its former Soviet glory intensifies, so does its saber rattling and its actual military capabilities. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said that Russia’s resurgence is significant mostly because it will prod Europe to unify more quickly. Mr. Flurry said Russia’s “power will be able to challenge Europe when no one else can,” and added that Russia’s rise “strikes intense fear in Europe.” As Moscow’s military might expands and its threats intensify, Russia’s European neighbors will take note and consolidate their power.

Iran Makes Territorial Stand

Iran Makes Territorial Stand

Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images

Tehran is using the small Persian Gulf island of Abu Musa to make a territorial stand and rally Iranians behind the government as it seeks to increase its regional power.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a visit to the disputed island last month, the first by an Iranian president. Upping the ante, last Sunday a parliamentary delegation made a high-profile visit to the island to observe Iran’s National Day of the Persian Gulf. Legislators have also called for a Persian Gulf province to be created.

Abu Musa, a tiny island with about 2,000 inhabitants, is also claimed by the United Arab Emirates. The uae says most of the residents are Arab, but the island has an Iranian governor.

“No one wants a new foreign-policy issue to erupt at this junction, but that is exactly what is happening. And, this time it may stick because of the timing,” Theodore Karasik, director for research and development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, told The Media Line. “It’s a whole new level of rhetoric.”

“Although they are coming to the negotiating table, [the Iranians] still can cause mischief in the region and what better way to do that than to slap the uae’s face over this issue. They know it will resonate with the Gulf Arabs,” Karasik said.

More than being just a nationalistic distraction for Tehran, the island has great strategic and symbolic significance. It is located close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, at the entrance of the Gulf, through which much of the world’s oil is shipped.

Giving indication of how much the issue means to Iran, Iranian Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told state television: “If these disturbances are not solved through diplomacy, the military forces are ready to show the power of Iran to the offender. Iran will strongly defend its rights.”

Apart from demonstrating Iran’s aggressive foreign policy, this dispute between Shiite Iran and the Sunni United Arab Emirates over the island of Abu Musa, in addition to the Greater and Lesser Tunb islets, points to the solidifying of two separate blocs in the Middle East—one led by Iran, and the other which is prophesied to seek alliance with Europe.

On Sunday and Monday, the Peninsula Shield Force, the military coordinating army of the Gulf Cooperation Council, conducted a war game titled “Islands of Loyalty.” The timing and naming of the military exercise was clearly not coincidence. The Gulf states are growing increasingly worried over the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. Watch for tension between the two sides to increase in the months ahead.

This Is Germany’s Moment!

This Is Germany’s Moment!

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Pay attention. This weekend could be a major milestone in the prophesied emergence of the final resurrection of the German-led Holy Roman Empire.

It appears the current phase of Europe’s debt crisis is entering its last hour. We’ll know soon, but it’s possible the weekend of May 5, 2012, will be remembered as a transformative moment in the history of Europe.

Once again, the nation at the center of it all is Germany.

On Sunday, a noteworthy chain of events will culminate in France’s run-off presidential election. While many of the events in this chain appear unrelated, with each unfurling in its own distinct way in a city or within a government in a different country, they’re threaded through with a common theme: frustration with Germany, and specifically, Berlin’s unrelenting demand for Sparmaßnahmen (austerity).

On Tuesday, millions of Europeans hit the streets in May Day protests that centered on their governments’ efforts to follow Germany’s demand and impose austerity on Europe’s ailing economies. Spain, a nation dancing with default, had the largest turnout, with large demonstrations in 80 cities. Tens of thousands more hit the streets of Portugal. In France, over 300,000 demonstrated in 290 different rallies, more than four times the number that turned out last year. France’s largest union, the cgt, has even told its members not to vote for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a key Merkel ally and supporter of Germany’s demand for austerity, in Sunday’s presidential election.

Europe’s southern states aren’t the only ones struggling to comply with the German-led quest for austerity. Last week, many were shocked when Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands—and another key German ally—resigned and announced the termination of his coalition government. Rutte’s resignation came as a result of the Party of Freedom, the right-wing party of Geert Wilders, withdrawing its support for the governing coalition due to disagreements over the imposition of austerity.

If Holland, a stalwart German ally in much better fiscal health than many others in Europe, can’t find a way to enact the austerity Germany is demanding, how in the world are states like Spain, Portugal and Italy ever going to manage it? Meanwhile, throughout Europe national political parties that oppose austerity and the German/EU demand for it are winning votes and gaining political power.

As unemployment lines grow, as revenue shrinks and riots and protests increase, Europe’s national governments are increasingly setting aside the interests of Berlin and Brussels and putting national interests first. European Parliament President Martin Schulz noted the trend toward “re-nationalization” in a speech before the European Commission Wednesday of last week. Facing intense domestic pressure, governments across Europe are turning inward, “arrogating more and more decisions to themselves,” and bypassing EU institutions, including the European Parliament and Commission. For the first time in its history, the collapse of the European Union is a “realistic scenario,” Schulz warned.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy is also concerned, warning last week that the “winds of populism” are blowing through Europe.

Populist winds will undoubtedly be blowing in Greece this Sunday when people head to the polls to elect a new government. Greece has received two bailouts from Europe, both of which at Berlin’s request were given on the condition that Athens make major cutbacks, lay-offs and slashes to government spending. Frustrated by what they know to be German-imposed austerity, millions of Greeks are ready to rebel. After months of tapping into this widespread, anti-German spirit of rebellion, many of Greece’s marginal political parties—some of which promise to reverse austerity (as do some mainstream parties)—are poised to make historic gains in Sunday’s parliamentary election.

Depending on the outcome Sunday, Athens may have a tough time meeting the conditions necessary to continue receiving bailout money—thrusting Greece, yet again, to the precipice of financial default.

Finally, there’s the run-off presidential election in France, which could have enormous impact on Germany and Europe. From the moment the debt crisis began in 2008, the responsibility of fixing it has rested primarily on the German-French axis. Truth be told, President Sarkozy’s main responsibility has been to embrace the solutions coming from Berlin, giving them added legitimacy in the eyes of Europe and the rest of the world.

If Socialist candidate Francois Hollande is elected, Germany loses its French toady.

That’s not all. When it comes to solving Europe’s debt woes, Hollande’s view is the antithesis of that of Angela Merkel and German public opinion. He’s already stated that he won’t support the fiscal pact as it currently exists. When it comes to Europe’s finances, he said last week, “It’s not for Germany to decide for the rest of Europe.” He also believes that instead of austerity, the solution to Europe’s debt woes is printing and spending more money. “So many people in Europeare waiting for our victory,” he said recently, “I don’t want a Europe of austerity, where nations are forced on their knees.”

Read between the lines of that statement. This man isn’t merely campaigning for leadership of France, he’s making a play for leadership of Europe. In another recent address, Hollande told supporters that “the people of Europe expect that we, the people of France, will provide Europe with another perspective, another direction, another orientation.”

They say Hollande lacks personality and charisma. Well, he makes up for it in audacity. He sincerely believes the rest of Europe wants him elected so France can replace Germany at the helm of Europe!

That’s never going to happen. France lacks both the financial health and political muscle to replace Germany as the arbiter of this crisis. Nevertheless, France’s dissension under Hollande could throw Europe into financial and political turmoil. Spiegel Online reported recently that “for France’s neighbors and the fight against the sovereign debt crisis in Europe,” Hollande’s election “will set everything back to square one (emphasis added).

As you can see, Europe’s financial crisis isn’t even close to being over—though it is likely entering a new, more exciting, more dramatic, more sobering chapter!

It’s possible, likely even, that the convergence of these events—the widespread resistance to German-imposed austerity, the renaissance of nationalism, Spain’s imminent default, the collapse of the Dutch government, and the inconveniently timed national elections in Greece and France—will produce a moment of historic importance. As this unfolds, don’t take your eyes off the nation at the center of it all.

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote, “The epicenter of Europe’s political crisis may soon be Germany itself.”

We must watch for Germany’s response. It will have a colossal impact on Europe, and on the rest of the world.

From the moment Europe’s debt crisis began, Berlin has managed to maintain the precarious balance between rescuing drowning eurozone states with bailouts, while not abandoning its Teutonic principles of wise financial stewardship. Until now, Berlin’s solution has been to give bailouts, but with strict conditions. But the ferocious backlash against austerity, both on the street and within national governments, is not only making Germany unpopular, it’s threatening to catapult Europe much deeper into crisis.

Soon, it will be impossible for Germany to sit on the fence.

Conditions will force it to make a momentous decision.

It has two basic options. First, it can stick to its guns. This means refraining from giving bailouts, or confining its support to rare, insufficient, halfhearted bailouts that come saddled with strict conditions. This will continue to arouse the ire of its counterparts and isolate Berlin further. More importantly, given the level of debt and the pervasiveness of Europe’s debt woes—not even Germany has near enough money to bail everyone out—the decision by Berlin to remain tight will mean that it has accepted the inevitable financial collapse of one or more eurozone states. Maybe Greece, Portugal or Spain—perhaps all three?

If Germany allows states to default, we can expect the eurozone, the euro, and possibly even the EU as it is constituted today, to fracture and crumble too. This would come with many painful consequences for Berlin. But it would also come with an enormous opportunity. As Europe’s largest, healthiest economy, Germany would be left with the responsibility of rebuilding Europe!

Second, Berlin can compromise, or at least give the appearance of compromise. As events converge and the possibility of an all-out meltdown grows, Germany could choose to throw its weight behind the far-reaching solution that many believe will rescue the likes of Spain, Greece and Portugal, soothe the financial markets and bolster global confidence in the long-term viability of the EU and its institutions. The essence of this solution is further fiscal integrationand more centralized control, and it will only work if Germany is on board and leading. Even now, many experts believe the current situation could soon result in a German-backed euro bond.

If Germany decides to double down and throw its full weight behind the EU by agreeing to such far-reaching measures as a stronger central fiscal authority, a debt union, and a euro bond, you can be sure it won’t come cheap to the rest of Europe. Berlin will never underpin the EU, putting its own financial well-being at stake, without first extracting major political and financial concessionsfrom those it is rescuing.

The moment it extracts these concessions, Germany will become the unchecked and absolute power in Europe!

It’s hard to exaggerate how important it is that we watch events in Europe, especially in Germany, in the time ahead. In particular, events seem to be converging this weekend, when the French and Greeks head to the polls. Europe’s debt crisis is likely to intensify after this weekend. As it does, Germany will find itself under extreme pressure to act decisively and with dramatic, far-reaching measures.

It’s hard to know precisely what Berlin will do. What we do know, however, is that conditions are about to bring out a side to Germany that we haven’t seen in a long time. Stay tuned! Only time will tell, but the weekend of May 5, 2012, could be a major milestone in the prophesied emergence of the final resurrection of the German-led Holy Roman Empire!

What goes up that never goes down?

The answer to that used to be America’s debt. More dangerously, another statistic now seems to also fall under this category.

According to economic blog ZeroHedge, America’s debt to gdp ratio just crossed 101.5 percent. As author Tyler Durden points out, the Federal Reserve is the only thing allowing America’s politicians to spend so much money.

Foreigners are unwilling to take the risk of lending to America (at such artificially manipulated low rates).

The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet now stands at $1.7 trillion. This is the amount of money it has created by a click of the button and lent to Washington.

If it wasn’t for all this funny money, interest rates in America would be much higher, warns Durden. And the amount of money America would have to pay out in interest would be much higher too.

Sadly, that day is coming—and probably soon.

Gasoline prices are starting to rise. Food prices will follow. And it probably won’t be long before precious metal prices start shooting up again too. When they do, it will become increasingly difficult for the Federal Reserve to cover America’s profligate spending addiction.

But if the Fed stops, interest rates will shoot up, the government will have to institute massive cutbacks, and the economy will grind to a halt.

Tough choices ahead for the Federal Reserve: More money printing and inflation? Or massive depression?

The onerous effects of either choice are getting worse by the day. American politicians plan $1 trillion budget deficits as far as they can see into the future—if things go according to plan. The debt to gdp ratio is growing. It was just last August that America’s debt reached 100 percent of gdp for the first time since World War ii.

While America’s debt continues to go up, time continues to wind down.

The Abbott and Costello unemployment fiasco

Anybody ever feel like the government is under-reporting the rate of unemployment in America?

Barry Levinson brings us this hilarious and extremely revealing Abbott and Costello discussion about what the real rate of unemployment in America actually is.

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible times. It’s about 8 percent.COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?ABBOTT: No, that’s 16 percent.COSTELLO: You just said 8 percent.ABBOTT: 8 percent unemployed.COSTELLO: Right 8 percent out of work.ABBOTT: No, that’s 16 percent.COSTELLO: Okay, so it’s 16 percent unemployed.ABBOTT: No, that’s around 8 percent ….COSTELLO: Wait a minute. Is it 8 percent or 16 percent?ABBOTT: 8 percent are unemployed. 16 percent are out of work.COSTELLO: If you are out of work aren’t you unemployed?ABBOTT: No, you can’t count the “out of work” as unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.COSTELLO: But they are out of work!!!ABBOTT: No, you miss my point.COSTELLO: What point?ABBOTT: Someone who doesn’t look for work, can’t be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn’t be fair.COSTELLO: To who?ABBOTT: The unemployed.COSTELLO: But they are all out of work.ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work …. Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.COSTELLO: So if you’re off the unemployment rolls, that would count as less unemployment?ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how you get to 8 percent. Otherwise it would be 16 percent. You don’t want to read about 16 percent unemployment do ya?COSTELLO: That would be frightening.ABBOTT: Absolutely.COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there’re two ways to bring down the unemployment number?ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?ABBOTT: Correct.COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?ABBOTT: Bingo.COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like an economist.COSTELLO: I don’t even know what … I just said!

What is even more shocking is that the real unemployment/”out of work” rate may even be higher than both numbers suggest. If the rate of unemployment was calculated the way it was in the pre-Clinton era, the real unemployment rate in America would be over 22 percent, according to statistician John Williams at Shadow Government Stats. His number includes “long-term discouraged workers” whom the Bureau of Labor Statistics defined out of existence in 1994.

Suicide Attack in Kabul Same Day as President Obama Visit

An early morning suicide attack on Wednesday killed at least seven people in the Afghan capital of Kabul. The attack occurred just hours after a surprise visit to Afghanistan by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The attack began with a suicide car bomb near the gate of a privately guarded compound next to one of the main roads out of the city. The blast killed four people who were passing by in a station wagon as well as a security guard and a passerby near the compound. After the explosion, two attackers disguised as women went into the compound, which houses hundreds of international workers. They pulled out weapons and started shooting.

nato spokesman Gen. Carsten Jacobson reported, “What we know so far is that we had an attack of a small group of insurgents in the east of Kabul in a compound where a lot of civilian workers work and live. Fortunately isaf did not suffer any fatalities, but we have civilian casualties in this incident and, particularly sad, we have seen civilian children being wounded.”

Initial reports are that 17 people are wounded, many of them Afghan children on their way to school.

The attack came shortly after President Obama visited to mark Wednesday’s anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan. The president arrived at Bagram Air Field late on Tuesday, then helicoptered to Kabul to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The two leaders signed an agreement governing the U.S. presence after combat troops withdraw in 2014.

Afterward, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, President Obama delivered a televised speech to the troops at Bagram. The president said the agreement paves the way for a “future of peace” while allowing the United States to “wind down this war.”

Approximately 90 minutes later, the suicide car bomb went off.

This violence is a stark demonstration of how hopeless such a “future of peace” will be. After nearly a decade of war, the United States has been unable to defeat the Taliban outright or stabilize the nation. Though the president is trying to paint 2012 Afghanistan as a victory, it is clearly a defeat and retreat.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry forecast that America’s war efforts would fail for a very specific reason. To learn more, read his 2003 article: “Why We Cannot Win the War Against Terrorism.”