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Articles Posted by bruinbirdman

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  • A portrait of European policy failure

    05/31/2013 1:15:25 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 3 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 5/31/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    Another month, another 95,000 people lost their jobs in the eurozone. The EMU unemployment rate nudged up a point to 12.2pc, but this understates those who have dropped out of workforce. The European Commission says the real rate for Italy is around 20pc, not the declared rate of 11.2pc. There are now 19.4 million registered unemployed in Euroland and 26.6 million in the EU as a whole. There are 5.6m youths below the age of 25 looking for jobs. Frankly, I have nothing further to say on this. The chart below contrasts EMU policy failure with the US and...
  • Red China: Communist Party issues directive to resist Western values and ideology

    05/25/2013 11:13:02 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 16 replies
    AFPC China Reform Monitor ^ | 5/24/2013 | Joshua Eisenman, ed.
    The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee General Office has issued a directive entitled “Concerning the Situation in the Ideological Sphere” warning cadres to combat “dangerous” Western values and other ideological threats. The New York Times reports that a description of the directive, which was not openly published, was released from Chongqing’s Commission on Urban-Rural Development. It said officials must “fully understand the dangers posed by Western views and theories and cut off at the source channels for disseminating erroneous thought currents, strengthen internet management, enhance opinion guidance, purify the internet environment, give no opportunities for lawless elements to...
  • Red China: People’s Daily issues claim on Okinawa

    05/25/2013 11:03:49 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 15 replies
    AFPC China Reform Monitor ^ | 5/22/2013 | Joshua Eisenman, ed.
    The People’s Daily, the Communist Party of China’s official newspaper, has published an article arguing that China has a claim to the Ryukyu Island chain, which includes Okinawa – home to major U.S. air force and marine bases and 1.3 million people. The Ryukyus were a “vassal state” that paid tribute to Chinese emperors until Japan annexed the islands in 1879, the article claims. “Unresolved problems relating to the Ryukyu Islands have reached the time for reconsideration,” it said, citing post-World War II declarations that required Japan to return Chinese territory. In response, Tokyo lodged a formal diplomatic protest with...
  • IEA warns Germany on soaring green dream costs

    05/25/2013 8:41:14 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 8 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 5/24/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    Germany's push for wind and solar and its retreat from nuclear power is driving electricity costs to untenable levels and destroying support for the green agenda, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned. “The fact that German electricity prices are among the highest in Europe, must serve as a warning signal,” said the IEA. “The transition to low-carbon energy requires public acceptance, and therefore retail electricity prices to remain at an affordable level.” Germany’s so called “Energiewende” aims to raise the share of electricity from renewables to 50pc by 2030 and 80pc by the midcentury, a huge challenge for a...
  • UK: City firms switching from Tories to UKIP, says Nigel Farage

    05/25/2013 10:31:24 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 15 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 5/24/2013 | Harriet Dennys
    UKIP founder Nigel Farage is courting powerful City donors amid increasing anti-Europe sentiment among the UK’s business elite. City firms – most notably the hedge fund, insurance and commodities sectors – are sick of the “unending blizzard” of regulation coming out of Brussels, says Mr Farage, who claims traditional City Conservative supporters are switching allegiance to UKIP. “Slowly but surely, donors who would have traditionally supported the Tories are now holding talks with us,” Mr Farage told The Daily Telegraph. “We are asking [City leaders] to help in any way we can.” The most recent business convert to UKIP is...
  • The Bank of Japan must crush all resistance, and will do so

    05/25/2013 10:24:00 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 2 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 5/24/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    Kudos to Kyle Bass at Hayman Advisers for warning that the Bank of Japan would lose control of its ¥70 trillion bond buying blitz. The spike in the 10-year yield to 1pc on Thursday was certainly shocking to behold. His point is that the BoJ faces a “rational investor paradox”. The authorities are trying to drive up the inflation to 2pc and therefore to devalue Japanese government bonds (JGBs), so why on earth would you want to own them? “If JGB investors begin to believe that Abenomics will be successful, they will ‘rationally’ sell JGBs to buy foreign bonds or...
  • ISLAMIST VIOLENCE IN TRIPOLI DEFIES EFFORTS TO RESTORE SECURITY IN LIBYA

    05/03/2013 11:49:50 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 5 replies
    Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor ^ | 5/2/2013 | Andrew McGregor
    An estimated 80% of the two-story French Embassy in the suburban al-Andlus neighborhood of Tripoli was destroyed by a car bomb on the morning of April 23. The massive blast also damaged four neighboring houses. Remarkably, only two French gendarmes were injured in the 7 AM attack, which seemed designed to avoid mass casualties amongst the hundreds of Libyans who assemble outside the embassy later in the morning to seek French visas. No group has claimed responsibility, though the Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry have both typically blamed Qaddafi loyalists rather than radical Islamists for the bombing (Le Monde, April...
  • EU: Italy should use its gold reserves to force a change in EMU policy

    05/03/2013 11:41:22 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 9 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 5/2/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    The World Gold Council has advised Italy to deploy its 2,000 tonnes of gold to break free of EMU austerity dictates. By using the reserves – the world's fourth largest – to collateralise the first chunk of any losses for bondholders, Italy could raise €400bn or so on the capital markets and determine its own future for a while. Italy did this in 1974 when it borrowed $2bn from the Bundesbank, using gold as collateral. Portugal did the same thing to borrow $1bn from the BIS in the 1975-1977, and India used its gold to borrow from Japan in 1991....
  • UK: Nigel Farage's Ukip (Tea Party) surges to best ever showing, winning 150 seats

    05/03/2013 5:09:58 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 11 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 5/3/2013 | Christopher Hope
    The UK Independence Party has achieved its best showing at the polls yet by winning almost 150 seats in the council elections. Nigel Farage, the party’s leader, was jubilant after it emerged that one in four voters supported Ukip in the elections in 35 councils in England and Wales. The rise of the party cost the Conservatives three local authorities, although Ukip did not win control of any councils. The party was even second in the South Shields by-election in the north east of England, where the Tories were third and the Liberal Democrats a distant seventh. By late on...
  • EU: Eurozone risks Japan-style trap as deflation grinds closer

    04/30/2013 11:32:21 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 2 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 4/30/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    The eurozone is one shock away from a Japan-style deflation crisis after a key measure of prices fell to the lowest since the launch of the single currency. The region’s core inflation rate – which strips out food and energy – fell to 1pc in March. This is far below expectations and leaves monetary union with a diminishing safety buffer. “The eurozone is tracking the experience in Japan in mid-1990s. there is a very high risk of a slide into deflation,” said Lars Christensen, a monetary theorist at Danske Bank. While eurozone core inflation was slightly lower in the aftermath...
  • Germany will think twice before saving France next time

    04/30/2013 2:02:50 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 13 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 4/30/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    The Franco-German axis that has driven EU affairs ever since Schuman and Adenauer in the early 1950s is collapsing before our eyes. This was inevitable. Their interests have become incompatible under monetary union. The currency that was supposed to bind them is turning them into enemies, as this newspaper long warned. The latest argument gaining traction – advanced by Prof Bernd Lücke and the German eurosceptic party AfD among others – is that the only way to save the Franco-German relationship and therefore the EU is to break up the euro before it does more damage. Interesting twist. In the...
  • High-Cost Redundancies: Gazprom’s Pipeline Projects in Europe

    04/20/2013 7:41:34 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 4 replies
    Gazprom’s chief spokesman, Sergei Kupryanov, has announced plans to vastly increase Russia’s pipeline capacities for gas export to Europe, far above Gazprom’s existing supply commitments or possibilities. Along with this, the spokesman informed the well-respected East European Gas Analysis consultancy based in the United States that Gazprom envisages using only pipelines in which it has at least 50-percent ownership to carry out Gazprom’s exports to Europe (East European Gas Analysis via www.naturalgaseurope.com, accessed April 16). President Vladimir Putin and his government are driving these pipeline projects politically. With the recent completion of the Nord Stream One and Two pipelines to...
  • A Preliminary Profile of the Boston Bombers: The Tsarnaev Brothers

    04/19/2013 10:37:56 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 24 replies
    Jamestown Foundation ^ | 4/19/2013 | Mairbek Vatchagaev
    The Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan, 26 years old, and 19-year-old Jokhar, have been accused of carrying out the bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15. Tamerlan has died from injuries sustained from a shootout with police on Friday, April 19. While, as of the publication of this article, the younger brother, Jokhar, is still at large. The Tsarnaev family used to reside in Kyrgyzstan. They probably ended up in Kyrgyzstan after mass deportation of Chechens from the North Caucasus in 1944. Today, there are approximately 20,000 ethnic Chechens still residing in Kyrgyzstan. Shortly before the onset of the second...
  • Communist China bolstering security at DPRK border

    04/19/2013 10:04:06 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 13 replies
    AFPC China Reform Monitor ^ | 4/19/2013 | Joshua Eisenman, ed.
    China is moving tanks and armored vehicles closer to the North Korean border in response to increasing military threats from Pyongyang. People’s Liberation Army troop and tank movements were reported in Daqing, Heilongjiang, and in Shenyang and Dandong, Liaoning. They include the 190th Mechanized Infantry Brigade based in Benxi, Liaoning. Large numbers of fighter jets were also reported above Fucheng, Hebei and Zhangwu and Changchun, Liaoning. The Washington Times reports that one of China’s Russian-made Su-27 jets crashed on March 31 in Rongcheng, Shandong – across the Yellow Sea from Korea.
  • Red Chinese overseas fishing massively under-reported

    04/19/2013 9:56:16 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 8 replies
    AFPC China Reform Monitor ^ | 4/19/2013 | Joshua Eisenman, ed.
    China is massively under-reporting its overseas fishing catch according to a study by Canada’s University of British Columbia. From 2000 to 2011, Beijing reported an average overseas catch of 368,000 tons a year to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. According to the report, however, the average catch for 2000-11 was actually 4.6 million tons a year – more than 12 times the reported figure. Of that total, 2.9 million tons of fish a year came from West Africa. “The unreported catch is crippling the artisanal fisheries that help to feed West African populations. It shows the extent of the...
  • Russia to sell Red China Su-35, Lada-class subs

    04/17/2013 9:57:00 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 12 replies
    AFPC China Reform Monitor ^ | 4/16/2013 | Joshua Eisenman, ed.
    After months of fierce negotiations prior to President Xi Jinping’s Moscow visit (March 22-24) China and Russian signed an agreement on supplying 24 Russian Su-35 fighter jets to China and for the joint construction of four Lada-class diesel submarines. The purchases are China’s most significant from Russia in the past 10 years, the Interfax news agency reports, and are intended to provide a basis for future bilateral military cooperation. [Editor’s Note: Su-35 is Russia’s most advanced 4th generation multipurpose fighter jet. The Lada-class submarine specializes in anti-submarine defense and conducting independent missions against enemy subs and ships in coastal, narrow...
  • IRAN TRAINING PRO-ASSAD MILITIAS WHILE US AND JORDAN TRAIN THE FSA

    04/17/2013 9:50:08 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 5 replies
    AFPC Eurasia Security Watch ^ | 4/15/2013 | Jeff Smith and Jacob Goldstein, eds.
    Iran has reportedly been training pro-government Syrian militia groups at a secret base inside Iranian borders. It is allegedly an “open secret” within the Syrian government that the Iranians are helping train at least 50,000 militiamen, although both governments have denied the allegations. A member of one of the pro-Assad militias said of the training that “it’s the same course Hezbollah operatives normally do…the course teaches you the important elements of guerrilla warfare, like several different ways to carry a rifle and shoot, and the best methods to prepare against surprise attacks.” Irregular militia groups have recently played a prominent...
  • The gold price crash is further evidence of market rigging

    04/17/2013 5:08:32 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 27 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 4/16/2013 | Thomas Pascoe
    The facts in the public domain do not justify the sharp fall in the gold price over the past two trading days. At the time of writing, the price per 1oz is $1363, down over $200 since Friday's open. The scale of the sell-off was the worst in 30 years, with the volatility index standing at the highest level in its history. John Kemp at Reuters has calculated that based on a normal distribution, you would expect to see movements like Monday's only once in every 500 million trading days, or two million years. The news which would justify such...
  • Fed and Bank of Japan caused gold crash

    04/17/2013 4:54:14 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 11 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 4/17/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    Commodity prices have been falling since September, culminating in a rout over the past two weeks. That is a classic warning for the global economy. It is becoming ever clearer that the roaring boom in global equities since last summer has priced in an economic recovery that does not in fact exist. The International Monetary Fund has had to nurse down its global growth forecasts yet again. We are still stuck in an old-fashioned trade depression, with pervasive over-capacity in manufacturing plant and a record global savings rate of 25pc of GDP. German car sales fell 17pc in March. That...
  • EMU plot curdles as creditors seize Cyprus gold reserves

    04/11/2013 9:02:50 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 24 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 4/11/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    First they purloin the savings and bank deposits in Laiki and the Bank of Cyprus, including the working funds of the University of Cyprus, and thousands of small firms hanging on by their fingertips. Then they seize three quarters of the country’s gold reserves, making it ever harder for Cyprus to extricate itself from EMU at a later date. The people of Cyprus first learned about this from a Reuters leak of the working documents for the Eurogroup meeting on Friday. It is tucked away in clause 29. "Sale of excess gold reserves: The Cypriot authorities have committed to sell...
  • Europe 'falling behind US and blighted by energy costs'

    04/09/2013 4:47:51 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 8 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 4/9/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    Europe is falling dangerously far behind the US in productivity growth and is blighted by crippling energy costs, the pan-EU industry federation has warned. “Europe doesn’t have an energy policy. It has a climate policy,” said Markus Beyrer, head of BusinessEurope. Mr Beyrer said the US is running away with the shale energy revolution, leaving Europe’s companies in the dust. Spot gas prices are now four to five times higher in Europe, with grim implications for the chemical industry. “Shale gas is a game-changer and we need to have a discussion based on the evidence, not based on risks,” Mr...
  • China and Pakistan's Nuclear Collusion

    04/04/2013 11:43:39 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 2 replies
    American Foreign Policy Council ^ | 4/3/2013 | Jeff M. Smith
    Last week the Chinese Foreign Ministry all but confirmed that it plans to sell its longtime ally Pakistan a new 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor. The deal, reportedly signed in February, is a cause for concern in Washington. Though nominally a U.S. ally, Pakistan already has the world's fastest-growing nuclear-weapons arsenal and one of the world's worst nuclear-proliferation records. It is a country perpetually under threat from religious fanaticism, political instability and economic mismanagement. The sale also poses a serious threat to the legitimacy of the international nuclear regulatory regime. Since 1974, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 46-member body, has been...
  • Japanese bank governor Haruhiko Kuroda makes history with monetary blitz

    04/04/2013 10:18:38 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 17 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 4/4/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Tokyo
    The Bank of Japan has launched the most daring monetary experiment of modern times, aiming to double the money base within two years to overpower deflation and catapult the economy out of slump. The blast of money is expected to reignite the yen “carry trade” and flood global markets with up to $2 trillion (£1.3 trillion) of pent-up savings, giving the entire world a shot in the arm. The BoJ’s new team under governor Haruhiko Kuroda voted 8:1 for a double dose of “quantitative and qualitative monetary easing”, vowing to inject stimulus for “as long as it takes” to break...
  • Helicopter QE will never be reversed

    04/04/2013 12:00:02 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 16 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 4/3/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Tokyo
    Readers of the Daily Telegraph were right all along. Quantitative easing will never be reversed. It is not liquidity management as claimed so vehemently at the outset. It really is the same as printing money. Columbia Professor Michael Woodford, the world's most closely followed monetary theorist, says it is time to come clean and state openly that bond purchases are forever, and the sooner people understand this the better. "All this talk of exit strategies is deeply negative," he told a London Business School seminar on the merits of Helicopter money, or "overt monetary financing". He said the Bank of...
  • New Wave of Militarization in the Caspian

    04/03/2013 1:33:58 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 7 replies
    On March 17, the Iranian navy launched a new Jamaran-2 destroyer in the Caspian Sea. The Iranian establishment, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Hassan Firuzabadi, attended the ceremony. This destroyer was developed and constructed domestically by Iranian experts and specialists. Earlier, a Jamaran-1 destroyer was launched in the Persian Gulf. The 1,420-ton destroyer, which is part of the 16th fleet of Iranian warships, is equipped with modern radars and electronic warfare capabilities. The Jamaran-2 has a top speed of up to 30 knots and a helipad. The destroyer...
  • Europe's leaders paralysed as EMU jobless rate hits record high

    04/03/2013 12:46:10 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 12 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 4/2/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    Eurozone unemployment reached a record 12pc in February and looks certain to ratchet higher as fiscal cuts deepen and manufacturing continues to struggle, raising the spectre of social explosion across southern Europe. A total of 19m people were out of work in the 17-member bloc in February, the European Union’s statistics office said on Tuesday, a rise of 1.77m on the same month last year. Greece was the worst affected, with unemployment at 26.4pc, but Spain remains the hardest hit of the large economies with a jobless rate of 26.3pc. Youth unemployment is above 60pc across large parts of the...
  • EU: Cyprus has finally killed myth that EMU is benign

    03/28/2013 2:24:01 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 16 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/27/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Tokyo
    <p>The punishment regime imposed on Cyprus is a trick against everybody involved in this squalid saga, against the Cypriot people and the German people, against savers and creditors. All are being deceived.</p>
  • Obama's Middle East Policy In Tatters

    03/26/2013 11:28:25 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 18 replies
    American Foreign Policy Council ^ | 3/21/2013 | James Robbins
    President Obama's first journey to Israel as president comes amid earth-shattering change in Middle East, much of it for the worse. The Arab Spring, which once raised hopes of freedom and dignity, has diverged onto the dark path of Islamist authoritarian rule. In Syria, tens of thousands of people have died in a bitter civil war that might have recently seen its first use of chemical weapons. And Iran continues its march toward nuclear weapons capability, heedless of international condemnation. Obama's effort to seek peace between Palestinians and Israelis is in tatters. That's why the White House has been lowering...
  • Controversial missile defense shield scrapped

    03/26/2013 1:14:11 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 14 replies
    AFPC Russia Reform Monitor ^ | 3/25/2013 | Amanda Pitrof
    The United States effectively cancelled the elements of a Europe-based missile defense system, a bone of contention between the U.S. and Russia for several years. The White House maintains that “the missile defense decisions...were in no way about Russia,” but rather the result of shuffling resources to counter the renewed nuclear threat from North Korea. Privately, several officials acknowledged that there may be “side benefits that accrue with Russia.” The New York Times reports that the system was cited numerous times by the Kremlin as a “major obstacle” to bilateral cooperation on nuclear arms reductions and other issues. Most recently,...
  • EU: Cyprus bail-out: savers will be raided to save euro in future crises, says eurozone chief

    03/26/2013 12:59:01 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 26 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/25/2013 | Bruno Waterfield, in Brussels
    Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe's single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced. The new policy will alarm hundreds of thousands of British expatriates who live and have transferred their savings, proceeds from house sales and other assets to eurozone bank accounts in countries such as France, Spain and Italy. The euro fell on global markets after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, announced that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises...
  • EU: [Russia’s Prime Minister] Dmitry Medvedev channels Lenin as he condemns Cyprus bail-out terms

    03/26/2013 12:43:01 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 2 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/25/2013 | Tom Parfitt, in Moscow
    Dmitry Medvedev gave a taste of Moscow’s displeasure over the Cyprus rescue plan on Monday when he said “the stealing of what has already been stolen continues”. Meeting deputies at his residence outside the city, Russia’s Prime Minister said there was a need to “understand what this story turns into in the long run, what the consequences for the international financial and monetary system will be - and thus, for our own interests as well.” Mr Medvedev prefaced his comments by addressing Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, with the words: “Let us, Igor Ivanovich, talk about what’s happening with Cyprus....
  • Japan breaks China's stranglehold on rare metals with sea-mud bonanza

    03/25/2013 12:26:40 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 11 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/24/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Tokyo
    Japanese scientists have found vast reserves of rare earth metals on the Pacific seabed that can be mined cheaply, a discovery that may break the Chinese monopoly on a crucial raw material needed in hi-tech industries and advanced weapons systems. "We have found deposits that are just two to four meters from the seabed surface at higher concentrations than anybody ever thought existed, and it won't cost much at all to extract," said professor Yasuhiro Kato from Tokyo University, the leader of the team. While America, Australia, and other countries have begun to crank up production of the seventeen rare...
  • The dangerous drift towards world war in Asia

    03/24/2013 11:51:56 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 32 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/24/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    <p>Japan's national ideology is pacifist, and this is written into Article 9 of its constitution, which states that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes."</p>
  • Central African rebels call for president to leave as they enter capital

    03/23/2013 7:32:16 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 11 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/23/2013 | Agence France-Presse in Bangui
    <p>Rebel forces in the Central African Republic said Saturday that they had entered the capital Bangui and called on the army not to fight them and for the country's president to leave.</p>
  • Is Russia Losing Ground in India’s Arms Market?

    03/23/2013 1:18:42 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 3 replies
    India remains Russia’s biggest customer for arms sales and technology transfers. It still receives about 70 percent of its defense imports from Russia and accounts for between 30–40 percent of Russia’s defense exports. Nevertheless, not all is well in this relationship. Multiple examples of shoddy Russian quality and maintenance, including the Gorshkov aircraft carrier that is supposed to be retrofitted for India, the INS Chakra nuclear power submarine, the R-77 air-to-air missile, as well as the superior competitiveness of many Western (and Israeli) systems on price and quality have led to a series of embarrassing losses to competitors in major...
  • Facing the “Permanent Arab Spring”: Terrorism and Russia’s Evolving Threat Assessment

    03/23/2013 12:53:47 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 2 replies
    Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor ^ | 3/21/2013 | Stephen Blank
    The extensive and ever-proliferating literature on terrorism since 2001 remains overwhelmingly West-centric in character. Much less is written or known about terrorist threats in areas where the West is not engaged, such as the Russian North Caucasus region. Neither has Russia been able or willing to publish a threat assessment or strategic document relating to how it sees and deals with the terrorist threat. Until now, its assessments, though mentioning terrorism, have all been subordinated to the notion of a big conventional and potentially nuclear war incited by the West or (though never identified as such) by China. However, that...
  • EU: Banks still shut in Cyprus as island fights to stave off collapse

    03/20/2013 11:47:22 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 25 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/20/2013 | Harry Wilson
    <p>The Cypriot financial system stands on the edge of collapse as local banks on Wednesday remained closed and the European authorities warned they could begin withdrawing support for the country within days.</p>
  • Another ‘Damn Thing in the Balkans’—the Russian Cossacks Come to Comrat

    03/19/2013 11:32:56 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 4 replies
    The appearance of a detachment of Russian Cossacks in Moldova’s Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia has not only unsettled some residents there but also spotlights Moscow’s efforts to use the Christian Turkic Gagauz people—alongside Transnistria—against the Moldovan government in Chisinau. The Cossacks’ presence incites a dangerous game that could lead to the breakup of this small Eastern European country and spark serious internal conflicts that the Russian government would likely move to exploit. Gagauzia, Moldova Two weeks ago, ethnic Russian Cossacks appeared in Gagauzia. They have sought formal recognition as a public organization from the republic’s justice ministry, named several...
  • EU: French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac resigns after tax fraud probe

    03/19/2013 11:15:55 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 2 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/19/2013 | Henry Samuel
    Jérôme Cahuzac, France's budget minister, has resigned after being placed under formal investigation for tax fraud and money laundering. Mr Cahuzac, a cabinet heavyweight, had been tasked with fighting tax evasion. He is now under investigation for holding a secret Swiss bank account. The resignation is an embarrassment and a blow to President François Hollande as his government seeks to redraft deficit reduction plans to maintain fiscal credibility with France's euro zone partners. Mr Cahuzac was responsible for making drastic government spending cuts. He had repeatedly dismissed as "crazy" a report in December by French investigative news website Mediapart that...
  • EU: Daylight robbery in Cyprus will come to haunt EMU

    03/19/2013 12:36:02 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 30 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/18/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    One's first reflex is to gasp at the stupidity of the EU policy elites, but truth is that most EU officials handling the Cyprus crisis know perfectly well that their masters have just set the slow fuse on a powder keg – and they can only pray that it is slow. The decision to expropriate Cypriot savers – even the poorest – was imposed by Germany, Holland, Finland, Austria, and Slovakia, whose only care at this stage is to assuage bail-out fatigue at home and avoid their own political crises. This latest debacle has caught me on the hop, literally,...
  • New Israeli government formed: Netanyahu

    03/15/2013 11:43:26 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 6 replies
    France 24 ^ | 3/15/2013
    Key parties signed coalition agreements with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, clearing the way for him to inform President Shimon Peres that a new government has been formed, a statement from his office said. "The prime minister welcomes the coalition agreements that have been signed between the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu (on one side) and the Yesh Atid party and the Jewish Home," the statement said. "On Saturday evening, the prime minister will inform President Shimon Peres that he has completed the task" of forming a government.
  • Egyptians protest for army to return to power

    03/15/2013 11:15:23 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 8 replies
    France 24 ^ | 3/15/2013
    Hundreds of Egyptians demonstrated in Cairo on Friday to press for the army to assume power in a country plagued by unrest and instability two years after a revolution which toppled president Hosni Mubarak. The protest was held in eastern Cairo in response to a call by retired army officers and groups opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of President Mohamed Morsi. "The army must return" to power and "Down with the power of the guide," they chanted, referring to the Brotherhood's spiritual guide Mohamed Badie, as they waved portraits of General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the armed forces chief....
  • CIA may target Syrian extremists with drones

    03/15/2013 11:09:55 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 29 replies
    France 24 ^ | 3/16/2013
    The US Central Intelligence Agency is collecting information on Islamic radicals in Syria for possible lethal drone strikes against them at a later stage, The Los Angeles Times reported. Citing unnamed current and former US officials, the newspaper said President Barack Obama had not authorized any drone missile strikes in Syria yet, and none were under consideration. However CIA's Counterterrorism Center, which runs drone programs targeting militants in Pakistan and Yemen, had recently shifted several targeting officers to improve intelligence gathering on militants in Syria. The targeting officers have formed a unit with colleagues who were tracking Al-Qaeda operatives in...
  • Russia Prepares for War with the US and NATO, While Lacking Resources

    03/14/2013 9:27:44 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 16 replies
    Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor ^ | 3/14/2013 | Pavel Felgenhauer
    Sergei Shoigu, a former long-time emergency situations minister (MChS) and a former Moscow region governor is a well-known and popular figure in Russia—according to recent independent Leveda-Tsentr polls, he is at present more popular than Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Last November, President Vladimir Putin sacked the highly disliked Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, replacing him with Shoigu, whose popularity has been growing ever since; Serdyukov continues to be discredited by a high-profile investigation of alleged mass misappropriations in the defense ministry under his watch. Today, Shoigu seems to be second in popularity only to Putin himself, though, according to Leveda-Tsentr director...
  • EU leaders to clash over austerity measures at summit as unemployment accelerates

    03/14/2013 9:17:57 PM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 3 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/14/2013 | Bruno Waterfield in Brussels and Denise Roland
    Germany and France will clash at a Brussels summit over the European Union's austerity policies today as official figures showed that unemployment was accelerating in the eurozone. Anti-austerity protesters gather in Brussels ahead of an EU summit on Thursday EU leaders are meeting at a regular European Council to discuss how growth can be balanced with the fiscal austerity measures taken to tackle the eurozone debt crisis. Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, admitted that while the EU had made progress, in tackling the sovereign debt crisis that had threatened the euro, the situation in some countries had reached...
  • Russia, Ukraine Reportedly Close to Agreement on Black Sea Fleet Movements

    03/13/2013 12:55:19 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 3 replies
    Jamestown Foundation Eurasia Daily Monitor ^ | 3/12/2013 | Oleg Varfolomeyev
    Russia and Ukraine are close to reaching an agreement on the clearance of Black Sea Fleet (BSF) vessel movements outside their bases, the Ukrainian website zn.ua reported on March 2, citing sources familiar with the talks. The sources said that Russia no longer objects to a provision that all BSF movements will have to be cleared with the Ukrainian authorities; earlier, Russia insisted that simply notifying Ukraine about the movements of BSF units outside their bases would suffice. However, understanding is yet to be reached on procedures for emergencies. Moscow believes a notification should be sufficient for emergency situation, while...
  • HEZBOLLAH MONITORING JEWS WORLDWIDE

    03/12/2013 1:59:04 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 10 replies
    AFPC Eurasia Security Watch ^ | 3/11/2013 | Jeff Smith and Sirena Dib, eds.
    New and disturbing details are emerging about the efforts of Hezbollah to monitor and target Jewish citizens in cities across the world. Hossam Yaakoub, a Lebanese-born Swedish citizen arrested in Cyprus last July for spying on Israeli tourists has given new details on Hezbollah’s global operations at his trial in February. Yaakoub, identified by police as a Hezbollah operative, told authorities he was “just collecting information about the Jews. This is what my organization is doing, everywhere in the world.” Yaakoub admitted that Hezbollah “wanted to have Cyprus as a base” and that he was searching for restaurants catering to...
  • Russia: Chagrin and Ambivalence in Putin’s Foreign Policy

    03/12/2013 1:49:23 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 1 replies
    Entering the second year of his third presidency, President Vladimir Putin has shown uncharacteristically scant interest to foreign policy matters perhaps suspecting that Western “partners” are sponsoring Russia’s opposition movement and that neighboring post-Soviet leaders and even Chinese “friends” are losing confidence in his leadership. He keeps Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on a short leash—having him perform investor-courting functions—so that some more important government tasks are delegated to the newly-appointed Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Last week (March 5), Shoigu paid an alliance-reviving visit to Vietnam and finalized a deal on selling and servicing submarines, as well as negotiated a provisional...
  • Russia: Public Smoking Ban Becomes Law

    03/12/2013 1:24:02 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 9 replies
    AFPC Russia Reform Monitor ^ | 3/5/2013 | Amanda Pitrof, ed.
    Beginning on June 1, Russians will no longer be permitted to smoke in public areas such as airports, metro stations, and in workplaces, in accordance with a new smoking ban. By next summer, reports the BBC, smoking will further be banned on long-distance ships and trains, as well as in hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops, and additional restrictions will be placed on tobacco advertisements. The current smoking rate in Russia ranks among the highest in the world, with more than 4 in 10 Russians considered smokers. Unsurprisingly, public support for the new law remains low, despite the widespread approval...
  • EU: Germany's anti-euro party is a nasty shock for Angela Merkel

    03/11/2013 12:27:48 AM PDT · by bruinbirdman · 7 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | 3/10/2013 | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    Political revolt against the euro construct has spread to Germany. A new party led by economists, jurists, and Christian Democrat rebels will kick off this week, calling for the break-up of monetary union before it can do any more damage. "An end to this euro," is the first line on the webpage of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). "The introduction of the euro has proved to be a fatal mistake, that threatens the welfare of us all. The old parties are used up. They stubbornly refuse to admit their mistakes." They propose German withdrawl from EMU and return to the D-Mark,...