The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the world body to issue its long overdue “birth certificate.”
The U.N. victory for the Palestinians was a diplomatic setback for the United States and Israel, which were joined by only a handful of countries in voting against the move to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s observer status at the United Nations to “non-member state” from “entity,” like the Vatican.
Britain called on the United States to use its influence to help break the long impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Washington also called for a revival of direct negotiations.
There were 138 votes in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions. Three countries did not take part in the vote, held on the 65th anniversary of the adoption of U.N. resolution 181 that partitioned Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.
After recently selling the most expensive per-square-foot residential property in the world recently, the liquidity slooshing around the world has been modestly stymied by Hong Kong’s curbs on home-buying in the world’s most expensive market. But there is always a greater fool to sell to, right? So, that Fed-sponsored liquidity has found a new yield-grabbing spot – parking spaces! Average HK parking space prices have started to surge (up 6.7% in Q3) to its second highest on record and as Bloomberg Businessweek notes, a parking space in the exclusive Repulse Bay are sold for $387,000(yes, that’s a place to park your car; and no, it doesn’t come with a happy ending) – double the average US home price! “There’s just too much liquidity in the market,” said Simon Lo, Hong Kong-based executive director of research and advisory at property broker Colliers International. “The government has set up a firewall for residential properties, but all this money still needs to find a place.” Once again we are reminded of the Fed mantra – repeat in monotone: ‘there is no inflation and money-printing has no adverse effect’.Continue reading »
When no more money flows in, to fund outflows, then the jig is up for the pension fund ponzi. This, as evidenced by the ‘punching, kicking, and tearing at clothes’ that a Greek pension fund manager endured recently, is exactly what has begun in Greece. As Reuters reports, the fund manager “enraged” here audience when she asked the Greek journalists to ‘double their contributions’ to their social security fund, and spent the night in hospital for her efforts to keep the ponzi alive. It was a brutal sign of the fury many Greeks feel at the way the country’s debt crisis has dashed hopes of a comfortable old age. As New Democracy’s leader noted: “From July 2010 it was obvious that a debt restructuring would be inevitable. While foreign banks were unloading their Greek government bonds, no one moved to tell Greek pension funds to do something, that a haircut was coming.” Under a law passed in 1997 and refined in 2007, pension funds have to place 77% of any surplus cash in a pool of ‘common capital’ which must be invested only in Greek government bonds or Treasury bills (T-bills). So the PSI saved German and French banks but crushed Greek pensioners…
For hours the leader of the Greek journalists’ social security fund had been chairing a meeting about disastrous losses on retirement savings caused by the country’s economic collapse. “She tried to present herself as the fund’s savior and asked (members) to double contributions to 6 percent of salaries,” said one of those present that night at the Titania hotel. Spanopoulou, 58, did not succeed.
When she rose to leave around midnight, enraged fund members first swore, then waded in punching, kicking and tearing at her clothes, according to witnesses. A bodyguard managed to bustle her out of the room, but another group caught her just outside the hotel and gave her a second beating. She spent the night in hospital.
It was a brutal sign of the fury many Greeks feel at the way the country’s debt crisis has dashed hopes of a comfortable old age. Greece’s pension funds – patchily run in the first place, say unionists and some politicians – have been savaged by austerity and the terms of the international bailout keeping the country afloat. Continue reading »
The nationalization debate has been sizzling on France’s front burner since last week when Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg lashed out at the world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal. He threatened to nationalize its plant in Florange where some old blast furnaces had been shut down for a year-and-a-half. At stake were 2,500 jobs. “We no longer want Mittal in France,” he told the Indian owners—though the company has 20,000 employees in France.
Breaking into a cold sweat, executives around France reevaluated their investment plans. Just then, unemployment hit a 14-year high. Creating jobs was needed more than anything. Scaring off investment was not. Whether his threat was a form of extortion or an announcement of a hostile takeover remains to be seen. But it opened the door for unions at another troubled company to demand nationalization, and the socialist government might not be able to resist.
The three unions—CFTC, Solidaires, and Force Ouvrière—that represent the workers at the shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique at Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic coast demanded in a joint statement today that the government “must become totally involved to guarantee the future of the shipyards” and must become “a majority shareholder.” Jean-Marc Perez, Deputy Secretary of the Force Ouvrière, clarified: “Nationalization is unavoidable.”
Chantiers de l’Atlantique is famous for building the largest cruise ships and supertankers in the world, including the Queen Mary 2, the largest ocean liner ever. But it’s in trouble. Its future is uncertain. Its order books are empty; no new orders are coming in. By 2013, after finishing the current projects, it will be practically without work.
At first glance it looked like the 2013 version National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) did more to protect Americans against indefinite detention. We and several other news organizations reported as much yesterday.But on closer examination the new NDAA actually makes it EASIER to detain citizens indefinitely.
BEIRUT (AP) — Internet service went down Thursday across Syria and international flights were canceled at the Damascus airport when a road near the facility was closed by heavy fighting in the country’s civil war.
Activists said President Bashar Assad’s regime pulled the plug on the Internet, perhaps in preparation for a major offensive. Cellphone service also went out in Damascus and parts of central Syria, they said. The government blamed rebel fighters for the outages.
With pressure building against the regime on several fronts and government forces on their heels in the battle for the northern commercial hub of Aleppo, rebels have recently begun pushing back into Damascus after largely being driven out of the capital following a July offensive. One Damascus resident reported seeing rebel forces near a suburb of the city previously deemed to be safe from fighting.
A photo of a New York City police officer kneeling down to give a barefoot homeless man in Times Square a pair of boots on a cold November night is melting even the iciest New Yorkers’ hearts online.
On Nov. 14, NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo, who was on counterterrorism duty in Times Square, saw the older homeless man without shoes sitting on 42nd Street. DePrimo, 25, left and then returned with a pair of $100 boots he bought at a nearby Skechers store.
“It was freezing out, and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,” DePrimo, a three-year veteran of the department who lives with his parents on Long Island, told the New York Times. “I had two pairs of socks, and I was still cold.”
WASHINGTON — During President Obama’s first term as president, Obama was criticized often for his tough stance against government whistle-blowers. The administration charged six people under the 1917 Espionage Act — more than all past presidencies combined. “Leaks that favor the president are shoveled out regardless of national security, while national security is twisted to pummel leaks that do not favor him,” wrote Peter VanBuren in TomDispatch, a liberal website.
Yet President Barack Obama signed legislation Tuesday that affords greater protection to federal employees who expose fraud, waste and abuse in government operations.
Capping a 13-year effort by supporters of whistle-blower rights, the new law closes loopholes created by court rulings, which removed protections for federal whistle-blowers. One loophole specified that whistle-blowers were only protected when they were the first to report misconduct. Continue reading »
“I’m constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies such as 9/11, when all around we provide evidence of real conspiracies, for war or mass financial fraud.”
What about the Bilderberg conference?
“That is vaguely conspiratorial, in a networking sense. We have published their meeting notes.”
More links on Assange/Wikileaks are down below.
And Julian Assange alias ‘Captain Obvious’ strikes again!
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange talking to RT’s Laura Smith at the embassy of Ecuador in London, UK (video still)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says all the necessary physical infrastructure for absolute totalitarianism through the internet is ready. He told RT that the question now is whether the turnkey process that already started will go all the way.
RT: So you’ve written this book ‘Cypherpunks. Freedom and the Future of the Internet’ based on one of the programs that you’ve made for RT. In it, you say that the internet can enslave us. I don’t really get that, because the internet it’s a thing, it’s a soulless thing. Who are the actual enslavers behind it?
Julian Assange: The people who control the interception of the internet and, to some degree also, physically control the big data warehouses and the international fiber-optic lines. We all think of the internet as some kind of Platonic Realm where we can throw out ideas and communications and web pages and books and they exist somewhere out there. Actually, they exist on web servers in New York or Nairobi or Beijing, and information comes to us through satellite connections or through fiber-optic cables.
So whoever physically controls this controls the realm of our ideas and communications. And whoever is able to sit on those communications channels, can intercept entire nations, and that’s the new game in town, as far as state spying is concerned – intercepting entire nations, not individuals.
‘intercepting entire nations, not individuals’
RT: This sounds like a futuristic scenario, but you are saying that the future is already here.
JA: The US National Security Agency has been doing this for some 20-30 years. But it has now spread to mid-size nations, even Gaddafi’s Libya was employing the EAGLE system, which is produced by French company AMESYS, pushed there in 2009, advertised in its international documentation as a nationwide interception system. Continue reading »
You would probably not enjoy the galaxy NGC 1277. Never mind that it’s far – 220 million light-years away in the constellation Perseus. The problem is that at its center is a giant, giant black hole, 17 billion times as massive as our sun, so big that scientists calculate it makes up 59 percent of the mass of the galaxy’s disc.
Astrophysicists have long believed that there’s a black hole at the center of our Milky Way, but it probably accounts for something like 0.1 percent of the galaxy’s center. The one in NGC 1277, scientists report in today’s edition of the journal Nature, is the second largest they’ve ever observed, and it upends what they thought about how galaxies form.
Black holes, as you’ll recall, are objects in space so massive that their gravity consumes everything around them – stars, planets, matter, energy, even light. Earthly scientists can only observe their effect on the space around them, not see them directly. Be grateful we’re not close to one. They’re actually useful to astrophysicists in explaining the nice spiral shape of many galaxies – you need something massive in the middle for the stars to circle – but NGC 1277 is an extreme. Continue reading »
The more they “fixed” it, the more it broke. 17 years later, the only thing Japan has proved is that smart Japanese economists are about as real as Godzilla. Time and time again, the country has chosen collapse over admitting failure. On November 19, 2012, Bloomberg reported, “The Japanese government will spend 1 trillion yen ($12.3B) on a second round of fiscal stimulus as it tries to revive an economy at risk of sliding into recession.” It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.
Japan’s government has approved its second round of stimulus in a little more than a month, as prime minister Yoshihiko Noda tries to pep up a flagging economy in the run-up to December’s elections.
On Friday the cabinet announced that it would tap reserve funds to spend Y880bn ($10.7bn) on a variety of measures, including rebuilding areas hit by the March 2011 earthquake, employment support and aid to cash-strapped small businesses. The plan is roughly double the size of a package announced in late October, which was also drawn mostly from reserves and aimed at reconstruction efforts.
The stimulus comes as Japan hovers on the brink of a technical recession, its fifth of the past 15 years, as manufacturers cut production amid a steady worsening in their sales and profit outlook. Falling exports were the main contributor to a 0.9 per cent contraction in gross domestic product between July and September, and economists are braced for another in the three months to December. Last week the government slashed its quarterly assessment of business sentiment in all 11 regions of the country — the first clean sweep since February 2009 — blaming sluggish output and consumption.
New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters.
Three independent lines of evidence support this conclusion: the first measurements of excess hydrogen at Mercury’s north pole with MESSENGER’s Neutron Spectrometer, the first measurements of the reflectance of Mercury’s polar deposits at near-infrared wavelengths with the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), and the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury’s north polar regions that utilize the actual topography of Mercury’s surface measured by the MLA. These findings are presented in three papers published online today in Science Express.
Given its proximity to the Sun, Mercury would seem to be an unlikely place to find ice. But the tilt of Mercury’s rotational axis is almost zero — less than one degree — so there are pockets at the planet’s poles that never see sunlight. Scientists suggested decades ago that there might be water ice and other frozen volatiles trapped at Mercury’s poles.
Workers are picture after the raising of the first section of a colossal arch-shaped structure that is eventually to cover the exploded reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, on November 27, 2012 in Chernobyl. (AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)
The milestone first stage of the new sarcophagus for Chernobyl’s nuclear power station has been completed. The unique construction to safely contain the radioactive emissions of Chernobyl for the next 100 years will be ready by October 2015.
The unprecedented new shelter will be 108m high (equivalent to a 30-story apartment building), 257m wide, and 150m long (almost two football fields). The approximate weight of the structure will be 29,000 tons.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
The interview below with Osama bin Laden was conducted by the Karachi, Pakistan, daily newspaper, Ummat and published on September 28, 2001, 17 days after the alleged, but unsubstantiated, al Qaeda attack of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center twin towers and Pentagon. The interview was sensational. The alleged “mastermind” of 9/11 said that he and al Qaeda had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. The British Broadcasting Corporation’s World Monitoring Service had the interview translated into English and made public on September 29, 2001.
Osama bin Laden’s sensational denial was not reported by the US print and TV media. It was not investigated by the executive branch. No one in the US Congress called attention to bin Laden’s refusal of responsibility for the greatest humiliation ever inflicted on a superpower.
To check my memory of the lack of coverage, I googled “Osama bin Laden’s interview denying responsibility for 9/11.” Some Internet sites reproduced the interview, but the only mainstream news source that I found was a 1 minute YouTube video from CNN in which the anchor, after quoting an al Jazeera report of bin Laden’s denial, concludes that “we can all weigh that in the scale of credibility and come to our own conclusions.” In other words, bin Laden had already been demonized, and his denial was not credible. Continue reading »
President Obama has said he’s going to continue his crusade against carbon energy in a second term, and we believe him. Yet there he was Tuesday signing a bipartisan bill shielding U.S. airlines from paying a carbon tax merely for flying to Europe.
The European Union imposed its scheme to tax foreign airlines this year in one of its aren’t-we-virtuous climate change gestures. Never mind that the tax ignored the usual multilateral forum for dealing with international aviation issues. The move drew a furious reaction from China and U.S. airlines, which estimated the tax would cost them $3.1 billion through 2020. The costs would be passed along to airline passengers.