North Korea Threatens ‘Nuclear Firestorm’ 49

North Korea has vowed to enlarge its atomic arsenal and warns of a “fire shower of nuclear retaliation” in the event of a US attack.

The North “will never give up its nuclear deterrent … and will further strengthen it” as long as Washington remains hostile, Pyongyang’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

In a separate commentary, the paper blasted a recent US pledge to defend South Korea with its nuclear weapons, saying that amounted to “asking for the calamitous situation of having a fire shower of nuclear retaliation all over South Korea.”

The new UN resolution seeks to clamp down on North Korea’s trading of banned arms and weapons-related material by requiring UN member states to request inspections of ships carrying suspicious cargo.

North Korea has said it would consider any interception of its ships a declaration of war.

Posted under News, United States by on Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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Coup d’état in Honduras 28

Honduran soldiers have arrested the President

The arrest comes after President Zelaya defied a court order that he should re-instate the chief of the army, Gen Romeo Vasquez.

The president sacked Gen Vasquez late on Wednesday for refusing to help him organise a referendum.

Mr Zelaya, who under current regulations leaves office next January, also accepted the resignation of the defence minister.

The referendum was to ask the population if they approved of a formal vote next November on whether to rewrite the Honduran constitution.

Posted under News by on Sunday, June 28, 2009

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Iran provoking Little Satan 28

Iran has arrested eight British embassy staff in Tehran

The UK has demanded the immediate release of Iranian staff at its Tehran embassy who were arrested on Saturday.

Iranian media earlier reported that eight local staff at the mission had been detained for their “considerable role” in post-election riots.

Posted under Iran, United Kingdom by on Sunday, June 28, 2009

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The law, sir, is an ass 16

A fascinating article from Caroline Glick.

WHEREAS UPON examination it is clear that the Obama administration is wrong in insinuating that Israel is in breach of its international legal commitments through its refusal to bar Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, the Obama administration’s own policy toward the Palestinians places it in clear breach of both binding international law and domestic US law.

On September 28, 2001, the UN Security Council passed binding Resolution 1373. Resolution 1373, which was initiated by the US government, and was passed by authority of Chapter VII, committed all UN member states to “refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts.” Resolution 1373 further required UN member states to “deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts or provide safe haven” to those that do.

In 1995, the US State Department acknowledged that Hamas fits the legal definition of a terrorist organization. Today, due to its policies toward Hamas, the Obama administration is in breach of both Resolution 1373 – that is, of international law – and of US domestic law barring the provision of support and financing to foreign terrorist organizations.

Posted under Israel, United States by on Saturday, June 27, 2009

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An Icon Emerges 0

A piece in the Jerusalem Post about the death of Neda Soltan, a young woman murdered in the protests this week.

THIS WHOLE situation is reminiscent of the Taliban in Afghanistan. For years before 9/11, women’s groups were circulating articles, e-mails and any kind of visible validation demonstrating the horror that women lived with under the Taliban. Stories of women professors being arrested if they left their homes, videos of women being shot in public stadiums for daring to have a job, petitions, statistics, testimonials – they all got around. Well, at least among women. Yet, despite the extreme suffering of women throughout Taliban rule, the United States did not intervene, nor did anyone else – that is, until 9/11 happened. When the Taliban attacked the United States, suddenly America woke up and unanimously said, “Hey, those Taliban! They’re really bad! We should stop them!”

I would suggest to the author that the United States government is going to be – indeed, is obliged to be – more concerned about the murder of 3000 of its own citizens than the horrific internal autocratic oppression in the Taliban’s Afghanistan.

Posted under Arab States, Commentary, Iran by on Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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Beware of Angry, Zimmerframe-Armed Pensioners 19

One of the most bizarre stories I’ve heard this year

Pensioners battered a financial adviser with Zimmer frames before kidnapping and torturing him for losing £2million of their savings.

James Amburn, 56, was ambushed outside his home in Speyer, western Germany, bound with masking tape and bundled into a car boot.

‘It took them quite a while because they ran out of breath,’ said Mr Amburn, who was driven to the Bavarian lakeside home of one of the gang.

Forty armed officers rescued Mr Amburn who was naked except for his underwear.

A physician had to be on hand to help his captors into police vans because of their various infirmities.

Posted under Europe, News by on Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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We are Completely Broke! 12

A British Housewife’s view of the UK economy:

Treasury forecasts that in five years the UK Government will owe £1,400,000,000,000. No, I didn’t lean on the ‘0’ key. It really is that big. Let’s take the very most optimistic view possible:

1. suppose this is true and it is not higher (bank bale-outs, PFIs, decommissioning power stations, civil servant pensions and so forth blithely ignored for the moment because Labour have made this ‘off balance sheet’ to hide it);
2. suppose this is only serviced at a rate of 3% and that it will not cost more (for example, because interest rates rise, because investors will not buy gilts, or because the pound drops further against other currencies and gold);
3. suppose that other Government income does not drop (because the economy shrinks, because people and companies pay less tax if they are bankrupt or unemployed);
4. suppose that other expenses do not go up (unemployment benefit; more bale-outs; rising pay demanded by the 40% of the workforce in the public sector);

and suppose these things even though they are probably not true at all.

Even with this rosy view, the cost of servicing that debt will be, at a modest 3%, some £42,000,000,000 a year. Again, I do not lean on the ‘0’ key.

This means that towards the end of the next Parliament, the cost of paying for all the debt will amount to about the same as the total corporation tax income the treasury takes in a year at today’s rates.

Just paying interest Government’s term will cost the entire contribution of British business to the pubic purse . Or look at it this way, interest payments will take funds which amount to more than the Government spends a year on public order (police, law courts, prisons, etc): that is just to pay the interest, not to pay back what it borrowed.

What is the alternative view? Maybe the public debt could be £1,840,000,000,000 (including the off balance sheet items ignored in the Treasury forecasts). Maybe my assumptions are a tad too optimistic. If interest rates on gilts then go up to a fairly unremarkable 6%, that would be a debt interest cost of £110 billion a year – about the current cost of the National Health Service.

What happens then, as the Government runs out of money?

It still wants to pay for the NHS, pensions, the Army, Police, welfare, rubbish collection, equality, redistribution of wealth, pocket money for low income teenagers (I kid you not), schools, universities, nauseating public art, the climate nonsense and so forth. Government spends about half our output and employs nearly half of us at the moment. It spends about £43 million a day on the European Union. Well at some point, say it can’t actually pay because of the debt interest it needs to pay.

You may say it will have to raise taxes, sell gilts (borrow even more), sell gold, or just print more money.

Raising taxes will come. but will simply strangle the last bit of life out of what is left of the productive part of our economy, or push wealth and investors abroad. I would also be amazed if the UK can carry on issuing gilts. Who will buy them? A broke UK is hardly the best investment and the credit rating is already being questioned. And if gilts are sold, we may have to pay punitive rates. Gordon Brown already sold all the gold, by the way, when the price was low. What is left? The Government will have to print money. However, this can only make matters worse. The money supply will go up and therefore prices will rise with interest rates (probably just as oil prices go up further). The worth of pensions, savings and property will be cruelly devalued by this dilution in the value of the pound. There will be public sector anger, unemployment, rising prices and real poverty.

(By the way for all of you who say the CPI and RPI measures of inflation are low, please just remember that food inflation as calculated in the Daily Telegraph, is consistently between 9 and 14%. The indices are low in energy and mortgage payments because oil prices went down and because of the low interest rate. These can always go up again.)

Can Government cut spending? Just just to pay for interest and not really touch capital obligations, we shall have to ditch the equivalent of the NHS. The main political parties have done their typical thing: Conservatives have been vague and Labour has been misleading. Conservatives have said they will cut some spending but will not cut the NHS or Third World Aid. Labour is committed to spending more in real terms but won’t say if that includes interest and unemployment benefit so this means in reality spending less too, but not admitting it (in the usual Labour way).

The only answer is of course to make the productive part of the economy work again. We must reduce the cost and size of the public sector and ditch the EU. We must somehow allow businesses to create wealth, make a profit, employ people and thereby help them pay their mortgages. Even if we do this, it is going to be tough and public policy makers simply are not facing up to it. Both main parties have obviously never kept to a household budget.

Mrs M A Westrop, UK Housewife: economists please comment.

Posted under Uncategorized by on Monday, June 22, 2009

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Bowderlizing in Bahrain 17

A Bahrainian newspaper has been taken out of print after an article criticising the Iranian government was published.

You can’t escape anti-semitism in the Middle East, it’s enshrined in societal thinking, even when criticising each other.  And so my favourite part of the article was this:

The writer, who like Iran’s leaders is a Shia Muslim, also referred to speculation that Mr Ahmadinejad may have Jewish ancestors.

Those sneaky Jews.

Posted under Arab States, Iran by on Monday, June 22, 2009

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Speaker Elections 52

The House of Commons has the candidates for Speaker giving their speeches. If you’re a reader from the UK, you can watch it live here.

Posted under United Kingdom by on Monday, June 22, 2009

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Guardian Council Admits Fraud 3

The infamous Guardian Council has admitted there were voting irregularities.

“Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate – the incident happened in only 50 cities,” Kadkhodaei was quoted on the Iranian state-funded Website Press TV.

Posted under Iran by on Monday, June 22, 2009

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