Saturday, September 1, 2012

Iran would take action if U.S. attacked Syria: official

Iran would take action if the United States were to carry out an act of "stupidity" and attack Syria, an Iranian military official was quoted as saying on Saturday, but the comments later disappeared from the state-linked agency website.

Iran has steadfastly supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his bid to suppress an uprising which both Tehran and Damascus see as a proxy war by Israel and Western states to extend their influence in the Middle East.

"If America were to attack Syria, Iran along with Syria's allies will take action, which would amount to a fiasco for America," Mohammad Ali Assoudi, the deputy for culture and propaganda of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was quoted as saying.

Assoudi's comments were first carried by the government-linked news agency Young Journalists' Club but were later apparently taken down from the group's website. The comments were picked up by Iranian news sites including Iran's Jam-e Jam newspaper and the BBC's Persian-language site. more

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake CHIAPAS, MEXICO - 1st September 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck CHIAPAS, MEXICO at a depth of 252.7 km (157 miles), the quake hit at 18:01:49 UTC Saturday 1st September 2012
The epicenter was 4 km (2.4 miles) ESE of Nicolas Ruiz, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Israelis prepare amid fear of Iran war

Larissa, a 66-year-old manager at an Israeli investment company, waited in line last week at a Tel Aviv youth centre to get a gas mask, one of tens of thousands of Israelis rushing to pick up such protective kits in recent weeks.

Amid media speculation that Israel may carry out a strike on Iran’s nuclear sites and possibly prompt a regional war, the number of Israelis collecting state-funded gas masks has quadrupled from 17,000 in April to 70,000 in July, according to the military.

As she prepared to take the box from the postal workers charged with the distribution of the masks, Larissa, who did not want her last name to be published, said: “I am afraid – I don’t believe an attack will happen but I’d like to have the mask just in case.”

As speculation in Israel persists about a possible air strike on Iran’s nuclear sites, Israeli citizens – who polls show do not support an attack unless it is backed by the US, the country’s staunchest ally – are getting prepared.

Israel regards the Iranian nuclear programme as an existential threat and has said repeatedly that it will not permit the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Iran insists that its programme serves only civilian purposes – a claim widely disputed by western governments. Washington has urged Israel to give diplomacy and sanctions on Iran more time. On Thursday, a UN report showed that Iran has doubled the number of uranium enrichment machines it has in an underground bunker. more

US disowns Israel over Iran strike: No weapons or military backup (The first wise thing Obama has probably done, telling that warmonger to take a hike)

US Gen. Martin Dempsey’s assertion Thursday, Aug. 30 that the US would not be “complicit” in an Israel strike against Iran, together with the drastic reduction in the scale of next month’s joint US-Israeli war game disclosed by TIME, add up to a blunt message from US President Barack Obama to Israel: You are on your own! See how you manage without special US weapons and US military backup, including a shield against missile counter-attack, if you decide to defy us and go through with a military operation against Iran.

Instead of the 5,000 US troops originally assigned for Austere Challenge 12, the annual joint exercise, the Pentagon will send only 1,200 to 1,500 service members. The missile interception systems at the core of the joint exercise will be reduced in number and potency: Patriot anti-missiles will come without crews and maybe one instead of two Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense warships, according to the magazine.

Debkafile’s military sources: The Obama administration has put Israel on harsh notice that an attack on Iran to disrupt or delay its nuclear armament will be refused US missile backup - both in the course of the operation and to cover Israel’s back in the event of a counter-strike widening into a general Middle East conflict. The Netanyahu government will bear full and exclusive responsibility for the consequences of attacking Iran.

Obama, who has repeatedly pledged his commitment to Israeli security, is the first American president to cut Israeli adrift against a major threat to its security explicitly posed by Iran. more

Doris Thompson, 82 year old burglar with huge rap sheet, gives following excuse: "I wouldn't do this if the government gave us more money" -- Behold the new America



An 82-year-old woman with a rap sheet dating back to 1955 has been arrested on suspicion of burglarizing at least eight doctors’ offices throughout Torrance.

Doris Thompson was arrested Thursday after detectives tracked her down at a motel in El Segundo, the Torrance Daily Breeze reported.

Police believe Thompson visited doctors’ offices and hid inside until workers went home for the night. When the coast was clear, she would come out of hiding, search for keys, open lock boxes and remove cash, police told the newspaper. She’s believed to have stolen $17,000 from eight burglaries since March.

Rachel Kim, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, spoke to Sgt. Steven Jenkinson of the Torrance Police Department. “We got crime reports regarding missing cash from offices.”

Police looked at several surveillance videos and said they recognized the active Thompson immediately.

Thompson has a 21-page rap sheet that includes arrests from 1955 for disturbing the peace, burglary, forgery and grand theft from Los Angeles to the South Bay to Beverly Hills, according to the Daily Breeze. She was arrested in connection with a homicide in 1957, but was deemed insane and committed to a hospital. more

UN chief defends Iran visit

Sept.01 - UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon defends controversial Iran visit saying he pushed the country for change. Andrew Raven reports


Yosemite park at heart of deadly outbreak

Sept 1 - Up to 10,000 people may be exposed to deadly virus after staying at California's Yosemite National Park over the summer. Jessica Gray reports.

Syrian rebels hit back at Assad's air power

(Reuters) - Rebels seized an air defence facility and attacked a military airport in eastern Syria on Saturday, a monitoring group said, hitting back at an air force on which President Bashar al-Assad is increasingly relying to crush his opponents.

The attacks in eastern oil-producing Deir al-Zor province follow rebel strikes against military airports in the Aleppo and Idlib areas, close to the border with Turkey.

Syria's leader, battling a 17-month-old uprising in which 20,000 people have been killed, has lost control of rural areas in northern, eastern and southern regions and has resorted to helicopter gunships and fighter jets to subdue his foes.

The aerial bombardment has driven fresh waves of refugees into neighbouring countries, reviving Turkish calls for "safe zones" to be set up on Syrian territory - appeals ignored by a divided U.N. Security Council and by Western powers reluctant to commit the military forces needed to secure such zones. Read More

4.6 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF EL SALVADOR- 1st September 2012

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake has struck OFF THE COAST OF EL SALVADOR at a depth of 35.2 km (21.9 miles), the quake hit at 11:55:30 UTC Saturday 1st September 2012
The epicenter was 85 km (52 miles) SSW of Puerto El Triunfo, El Salvador
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Iran scores with summit but wrongfooted by nuclear report

TEHRAN — Iran scored a point against Western efforts to isolate it by hosting a summit this week of 120 Non-Aligned Movement countries, but its bid to boost its prestige was wrongfooted by a new report on its controversial nuclear activities, analysts said.

Despite star guests Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly criticising Tehran policies during the summit, Iranian leaders and media were describing the event, in the words of the state newspaper Iran, as "the biggest success in Iran's history."

Several outlets saw it as "a diplomatic defeat of the United States and the West" and hailed what they saw as boost to Iran's regional diplomacy.

The summit "enabled Iran to show it still has friends and trade partners despite international efforts to isolate it," one analyst, Dina Esfandiary of Britain's International Institute for Strategic Studies, told AFP.

Smack in the middle of it, though, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its latest report on Iran that recorded an increase in the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges.

And it said a clean-up at a suspect military base in Parchin had "hampered" IAEA inspectors' ability to determine whether explosives tests for warheads had taken place. Read More

Yosemite hantavirus outbreak: virus kills quickly and cannot be treated, says epidemiologist



The outbreak of the rare hantavirus pulmonary syndrome at Yosemite National Park in the US could kill 4 of every 10 people infected, as Dr Pierre Rollin from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention explains.

Around 10,000 visitors to California's Yosemite National Park could have been exposed to the deadly and untreatable virus, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So far, six cases of the rare hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) have been confirmed – two of whom have died – while a "multiple" number of other suspected cases of the rodent-borne disease are being investigated.

The National Park Service has written to some 2,900 people who booked stays in the Boystown area tent lodgings between June 10 and August 24, alerting them to keep an eye out for symptoms of HPS.

However the CDC estimate the number of people who actually stayed in the tent cabins – those who booked plus their guests – at 10,000.

Dr Pierre Rollin, an epidemiologist from the CDC, said the virus is spread by rodents. Read More

Iran: Nuclear program 'peaceful'

Worries of war in the Middle East

US Drone strike kills 4 in Pakistan

(CNN) -- A suspected U.S. drone strike killed four people Saturday in northwest Pakistan's volatile tribal region, local intelligence officials said.

The drone fired two missiles at a hideout in Data Khel, North Waziristan, killing four militants, according to the officials.

They did not want to be named because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

North Waziristan is one of seven districts of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan. Source

Austin Tice: U.S. reporter captured in Syria

(CNN) -- U.S. journalist Austin Tice, who went missing while working in Syria two weeks ago, has been captured and is being held in Syrian government custody, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing a senior diplomat and others familiar with the matter.

The Post is one of several news outlets for which Tice, 31, filed stories since he began reporting from Syria in May. He also reported for McClatchy Newspapers and Al-Jazeera English.

Tice's family immediately called for his release, saying in a statement, "Austin is our precious son, and we beseech the Syrian government to treat him well and return him safely to us as soon as possible."

The executive editor of The Post, Marcus Brauchli, also urged authorities to release Tice, as did Anders Gyllenhaal, McClatchy's vice president for news.

"We welcome the news that Austin Tice is likely being held by the Syrian government, although this has still not been confirmed by government authorities," Gyllenhaal said in a statement. "If this is indeed the case, it means we move to a new stage of waiting for his release. Read More

CDC says 10,000 at risk of hantavirus in Yosemite outbreak

(Reuters) - Some 10,000 people who stayed in tent cabins at Yosemite National Park this summer may be at risk for the deadly rodent-borne hantavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

The CDC urged lab testing of patients who exhibit symptoms consistent with the lung disease, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, after a stay at the California park between June and August and recommended that doctors notify state health departments when it is found.

Two men have died from hantavirus linked to the Yosemite outbreak and four others were sickened but survived, while the CDC said additional suspected cases were being investigated from "multiple health jurisdictions."

Most of the victims were believed to have been infected while staying in one of 91 "Signature" tent-style cabins in Yosemite's popular Curry Village camping area.

"An estimated 10,000 persons stayed in the 'Signature Tent Cabins' from June 10 through August 24, 2012," the CDC said. "People who stayed in the tents between June 10 and August 24 may be at risk of developing HPS in the next six weeks." Read More

'Pray for Obama' draws attention from The Secret Service


VICTORIA, Tx. -- The Secret Service is looking into a sign posted in Victoria, Texas.

The sign says "Pray for Obama", but it's the scripture quoted below those words that is raising eyebrows: Psalms 109:8.

Psalms 109:8 reads, "Let his days be few, and let another take his office."

Milton Neitsch Jr., who has lived in Victoria since 1961, says he didn't intend for people to pick up on the hateful wishes of death and pain surrounding the tiny verse.

But some people say it is hateful and inappropriate. They say it misuses the holy scripture and it must come down.

Neitsch recently received an email from a friend and decided to post it on his advertising billboard along North Navarro Street. He had no idea the firestorm of controversy it would create.

"Pray for the president. He needs it," said Neitsch. Read More

Navy SEAL Author Rejects the Pentagon's Legal Threat

Former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette is going to tell his version of events surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden, even if the Pentagon sues him for every last penny.

Last night, the Defense Department's top attorney wrote a letter to Bissonnette threatening to use "all remedies legally available" against him for the publication of No Easy Day, his firsthand account of the mission to kill bin Laden in Pakistan. "You are in material breach and violation of the nondisclosure agreements you signed," wrote Pentagon general counsel Jeh Charles Johnson. The letter hinted at a criminal prosecution of Bissonnete for disclosing classified information and threatened to seize the royalties from his book and go after his publisher Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Group. In a written response, a lawyer representing Bissonnette denied his client breached his nondisclosure agreement in a letter to the Pentagon. (The letter, obtained by The Atlantic Wire, refers to Bissonnette under his pen name Mark Owen.)

"Mr. Owen sought legal advice about his responsibilities before agreeing to publish his book and scrupulously reviewed the work to ensure that it did not disclose any material that would breach his agreements or put his former comrades at risk," wrote Robert D. Luskin, an attorney at D.C. lobbying behemoth Patton Boggs. "Mr. Owen is proud of his service and respectful of his obligations. But he has earned the right to tell his story." Read More

Egypt: ''Activists protest IMF loan''

The march was called for by the Mina Danial Movement, named after a young activist killed during last year’s Maspero massacre. It also included activists from the revolutionary Socialists, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Communist Party of Egypt, and the Egyptian Socialist Party, as well as other groups.

It started on Wednesday afternoon, when activists met in front of the stock market building and marched to the Cabinet building where Prime Minister Hisham Qandil was holding negotiations with a delegation from the IMF, according to a statement by the Mina Danial Movement.

The statement added that the fight against this loan is not temporary and that it is a matter of life and death. The group added “we reject the loan through all peaceful methods as we are a generation that refuses having Americans and foreigners dictate conditions and policies to us.”

The group added that policies of accepting international loans, have left people in Egypt impoverished and deprived of basic rights like housing, education, employment, and medical care in the past, and this in turn is what led people to revolt. Read More

Obama Steps Up Foreign Weapons Sales, Overwhelming Other Arms Makers

Business is booming for American arms exports, thanks to multiple billion-dollar deals between the Obama administration and Arab dictatorships.

According to the annual report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the United States, already the world’s leader in international weapons sales, outdid itself in 2011 when it sold a record $66.3 billion in military equipment. Last year’s arms exports shattered the previous high mark of $31 billion in 2009, and were three times higher than what was sold in 2010, when $21.4 billion in deals were completed.

The $66.3 billion in 2011 represented more than 77% of all international arms sales, which totaled $85.3 billion. Russia was the second leading dealer in military goods, selling only $4.8 billion.

The enormous U.S. haul was driven largely by deals with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. Read More

Web conference with Michael Hudson

The Saudi Brotherhood President of Egypt Earns His Pay By Disrupting Tehran’s NAM Summit

In this July 11, photo, Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, center left, walks with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, center right, at the al-Salam palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Morsi chose Saudi Arabia as his first destination abroad, a Mubarak ally that strongly disapproved of the uprising that ousted him.

HOPD/Egyptian Presidency/AP


Egypt’s president has told a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (Nam) that the Syrian uprising is a “revolution against an oppressive regime”.

Mohammed Mursi, making the first visit to Iran by an Egyptian leader since 1979, said the movement had an “ethical duty” to support the uprising.

His comments sparked a walkout by the Syrian delegation.

The Nam summit, which represents 120 countries, will also discuss human rights and nuclear disarmament.

Mr Mursi used his speech to tell delegates: “Our solidarity with the struggle of the Syrian people against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty, as it is a political and strategic necessity.”

“We all have to announce our full solidarity with the struggle of those seeking freedom and justice in Syria, and translate this sympathy into a clear political vision that supports a peaceful transition to a democratic system of rule that reflects the demands of the Syrian people for freedom.”
He compared the anti-government movement in Syrian to the Palestinians, saying they were both “actively seeking freedom, dignity and human justice”, and said Egypt was “ready to work with all to stop the bloodshed”. Read More

Bob Murphy on the debt crisis, the Great Depression, and gold

Black Budgets & Money Trails - Catherine Austin Fitts - Coast to Coast AM Classic

Morsi sparks controversy with anti-Assad comments in Tehran

President Mohamed Morsi entered Tehran's Summit Conference Hall on Thursday morning to hand over the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The fact that Morsi chose to accept the Iranian invitation to be in Tehran, with which Cairo has not had full diplomatic relations for three decades, was itself a revolutionary move.

What was indeed more revolutionary was Morsi's speech to the opening session of the NAM summit, the 16th since its establishment during the Cold War.

At the beginning of his speech Morsi made his by now common Islamist reference, "May God's peace be upon his Prophet Mohamed."

He added, "And may the peace of God be on the holy family of the Prophet." This reference to the 'family of Prophet Mohamed' might have been designed to send a positive message to his predominantly Shia hosts who are said to have been offended by remarks he made during a July visit to Saudi Arabia, another Sunni power in the Middle East, which indicated a Sunni-Shia polarisation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on one hand and Iran on the other.

Then Morsi went further and paid the most unusual tribute in a political speech at an international summit to the Sahaba (close associates) of Prophet Mohamed: Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Ali. Read More

The Eagle Has Crash Landed–Pax Americana is over

Pax Americana is over. Challenges from Vietnam and the Balkans to the Middle East and September 11 have revealed the limits of American supremacy. Will the United States learn to fade quietly, or will U.S. conservatives resist and thereby transform a gradual decline into a rapid and dangerous fall?

The United States in decline? Few people today would believe this assertion. The only ones who do are the U.S. hawks, who argue vociferously for policies to reverse the decline. This belief that the end of U.S. hegemony has already begun does not follow from the vulnerability that became apparent to all on September 11, 2001. In fact, the United States has been fading as a global power since the 1970s, and the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks has merely accelerated this decline. To understand why the so-called Pax Americana is on the wane requires examining the geopolitics of the 20th century, particularly of the century’s final three decades. This exercise uncovers a simple and inescapable conclusion: The economic, political, and military factors that contributed to U.S. hegemony are the same factors that will inexorably produce the coming U.S. decline.

Intro to hegemony

The rise of the United States to global hegemony was a long process that began in earnest with the world recession of 1873. At that time, the United States and Germany began to acquire an increasing share of global markets, mainly at the expense of the steadily receding British economy. Both nations had recently acquired a stable political base—the United States by successfully terminating the Civil War and Germany by achieving unification and defeating France in the Franco-Prussian War. From 1873 to 1914, the United States and Germany became the principal producers in certain leading sectors: steel and later automobiles for the United States and industrial chemicals for Germany. Read More

China defense chief plans rare India trip, to discuss border

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - China's defense minister is due to visit India next week to seek deeper military ties, in a rare trip seen as a sign Beijing wants to stabilize its heavily fortified Himalayan border as it deals with growing friction in the South China Sea.

General Liang Guanglie will be the first Chinese defense minister to visit neighboring India in six years, a period that has seen a buildup of infrastructure and weapons in disputed regions on both sides of the border.

Guanglie will arrive in New Delhi on September 2 and leave on September 6, the Indian government said in a statement. Measures to increase "peace and tranquility" along the border are on the agenda.

"The two sides will also discuss measures to promote defense cooperation between their armed forces," the Indian government said.

India and China fought a brief war in 1962 over the Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh regions, parts of which both countries claim. Trade between them is soaring but they compete for resources and influence in Asia.

China is also suspicious that India's blossoming ties with the United States are part of a strategy to contain China's rise on the world stage. Read More

4.4 Magnitude Earthquake NORTHERN YUKON TERRITORY, CANADA - 1st September 2012

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake has struck NORTHERN YUKON TERRITORY, CANADA at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 10:57:34 UTC Friday 31st August 2012
The epicenter was 78 km (48 miles) Northwest of Fort McPherson, Canada
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Kyrgyzstan confirms five anthrax cases‎

BISHKEK, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Kyrgyz Health Ministry said Friday five people had tested positive for anthrax.

The five were among nine people who had been hospitalized in the central Asian country for anthrax-like symptoms in the past month, a health ministry spokesman was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Quarantine authorities had adopted counter-epidemic measures in the infectious disease-hit areas, where people as well as livestock had been given a vaccination against the bacteria, the spokesman said. Source

Landslide hits hydropower station in southwest China: 10 killed, 14 missing

BEIJING — Ten people are dead and 14 others missing after a landslide hit a hydropower station in southwest China.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Friday that rescue work was under way at the site in Sichuan province’s Liangshan prefecture. Mud and stones began crashing down onto the station late Wednesday night and continued to fall into Thursday morning, Xinhua said.

The report did not say if anyone had survived the landslide and provincial officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Liangshan prefecture lies about 1,750 kilometers (1,100 miles) southwest of China’s capital Beijing. Source