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North Korea and Iran – partners in nuclear and missile programs

 

There is full awareness in Washington and Jerusalem that the North Korean nuclear test conducted Tuesday, Feb. 12, brings Iran that much closer to conducting a test of its own. A completed bomb or warhead are not necessary for an underground nuclear test; a device which an aircraft or missile can carry is enough.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s boast this week that Iran will soon place a satellite in orbit at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers – and Tehran’s claim on Feb. 4 to have sent a monkey into space – highlight Iran’s role in the division of labor Pyongyang and Tehran have achieved in years of collaboration: the former focusing on a nuclear armament and the latter on long-range missile technology to deliver it. 

Their advances are pooled. Pyongyang maintains a permanent mission of nuclear and missile scientists in Tehran, whereas Iranian experts are in regular attendance at North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.

Since the detonation of the “miniature atomic bomb” reported by Pyongyang Tuesday – which US President Barack Obama called “a threat to US National security”- Iran must be presumed to have acquired the same “miniature atomic bomb” capabilities – or even assisted in the detonation.
Word of the North Korean atomic test reminded US officials of Ahmadinejad’s boast only a couple of days ago about the forthcoming launch of an Iranian satellite into orbit.  The two events clearly hang together as probably coordinated between Tehran and Pyongyang.
Ahead of the UN Security Council emergency session later Tuesday, Kim Jong Un’s government warned of “stronger actions” after the nuclear test.  Its diplomat warned the UN disarmament forum that his country will “never bow to any resolutions.”
The nuclear threat is not the only unconventional warfare peril looming closer. In Damascus, Syrian rebels are nearer than ever before to crashing through the capital’s last lines of defense. Tuesday, they were only 1.5 kilometers short of the heart of Damascus.
Western and Israeli military sources believe that if the Syrian rebels reach this target, the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad will have no qualms about using chemical weapons for the first time in the two-year civil war to save his regime. Both the US and Israel have warned him that doing so would cross a red line.

debkafile’s military sources report that Syrian rebel forces, spearheaded by an Al Qaeda-allied Islamist brigade, gained entry Tuesday to the 4th Division’s (Republican Guard) main base in the Adra district of eastern Damascus and are fighting the defenders in hand to hand combat for control of the facility.

Other rebel forces are retaking parts of the Damascus ring road in fierce battles, thereby cutting off the Syrian army’s Homs units in the north from their supply lines from the capital.

These two rebel thrusts, if completed, would bring the Syrian army closer than ever before to collapse. Assad is therefore expected to use every means at his disposal to cut his enemies down.

iran missile

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4769

IS ALLAH THE ANTICHRIST?

Video suggests John saw Arabic writing in Revelation visions

Published: 22 hours ago

by Michael Carl

Bible and Middle Eastern scholars are noting a similarity between the Arabic name for Allah and the Greek letters naming the Beast of Revelation.

Former PLO operative turned Christian Arabic-language researcher Walid Shoebat affirms there’s evidence that the name of Allah in Arabic is what the apostle John saw in his vision of the Antichrist’s name in the book of Revelation.

Shoebat, author of “God’s War on Terror,” explained that because John didn’t know Arabic, it’s possible he transcribed the name of the Beast as best he could into Greek letters. The Arabic name for “Allah” and its accompanying symbols resembles the ancient Greek script for “666.”

“It seems that more Bible prophecy students are coming to grips with what we stated years ago in ‘God’s War on Terror,’” Shoebat said. “Skeptics argue that the three Greek letters are Greek and not Arabic, yet none deny that these three Greek letters do read in Arabic. I find that interesting. In other words, we have been telling the truth.

“Some die-hard skeptics will ignore the very symbols given by John, and people will always try to poke holes into any theory,” Shoebat said, “but the evidence is overwhelming.”

Shoebat said the key to the theory connecting the name of Allah to the Beast is understanding the significance of names.

He quotes from Revelation 13:7: “And that no man might buy or sell, save that he had the mark, or the name of the Beast, or the number of the name.”

“Indeed, we have three flavors: mark, name and number,” Shoebat said. “Yet most focus and argue over the mark while they ignore the name.”

In the Bible, he explained,  a name is a title or creed.

“For example, Jesus was called Emmanuel, ‘God with us.’ While His name is not literally Emmanuel, its meaning is,” Shoebat said. “He is God with us. Similarly, the name of the Beast is his title and creed and not a literal name.”

Want to delve deeper into the Islamic connection to the End Times? Be sure to read “The Islamic Antichrist” and “Mideast Beast” by Joel Richardson.

Shoebat said the most compelling case for the similarity between the Greek name for the Beast and the name for Allah is how Muslims wear the name of Allah.

“Any Christian skeptic who would like to argue that the Islamic creed, the name, the title and the declaration of faith is not blasphemous, please step forth,” Shoebat said. “Yet is it not what many Muslims put on their forehead? Or are we still led to believe the mark of the Beast to be a computer chip?”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4763

The Number One Reason to Invest in Gold…

With the the U.S. economy having once again dropped into negative recessionary growth, currency wars around the world heating up through direct and indirect devaluations, and trillion dollar fiscal deficits piling on, how is it possible that the stock market, a key measure of economic health for many Americans, is touching near all time highs?

Marin Katusa, Chief Strategist at Casey Research, suggests that this effect can be traced to monetary machinations that are happening behind the scenes, where few people are willing to look.

“Because they’re printing and making the availability of money so easy, the market is really confused right now,” says Katusa.

The reality is that literally trillions of dollars have been borrowed and printed to bail out the United States and Europe, and much of that money has been injected into stock markets to give the appearance of recovery.

It is, at best, an illusory effect.

Given that more people than ever before are out of work, over half of American households are dependent on some form of government disbursement to survive, and prices for essential goods like food and energy are consistently rising, it’s only a matter of time before confusion in financial markets turns to panic.

And when it does, just as we’ve seen throughout history, only real, tangible assets will be of value.

One such asset that has always maintained real value in times of calamity is gold.

Despite arguments that gold doesn’t grow like typical modern day investments and simply sits in a vault gathering dust, according to Marin Katusa in a recent interview with Future Money Trends, there is one key reason for why it should be in your diversified basket of goods.

The number one reason to invest in gold is insurance.

Because of the massive liquidity and the dilution of, not just the US and not just Bernanke, but all of the major countries – they are a printing press… The main reason to invest is because gold is money.

Before they had fiat currencies – that’s the currencies like today… there was gold.

The Romans. The Egyptians. The Babylonians.

For thousands of years they used gold before they used these fiat currencies.

And, every time in history a fiat currency ends in disaster.

We have recent examples. If you look at what happened to Yugoslavia, or Zimbabwe, or even Germany with their fiat currencies… gold always holds true value.

That’s why we believe gold is a true, original money.

I think at least you can see with gold, it is the insurance policy to bet against the bankers.

With all of this money – literally hundreds of billions of dollars – being thrown into stock markets by leading financial institutions that were just a few years ago on the brink of insolvency, there are massive price distortions happening across the board. This includes rising stock markets, one of the key benefactors of the Federal Reserve’s printing press.

Another not so positive effect (at least not for the American people) are ever increasing prices in the free market, something that Katusa says is going to continue:

[There is a] One hundred percent [chance of inflation].

You can guarantee these three things in life: Taxes, Death, and Inflation.

Inflation is coming… I just don’t know if it’s next week, or in six months, or twelve months.

But the reality is, it’s coming.

That’s why if you have a percentage in gold, you’re covered.

It’s an insurance policy.

When all fiat monetary exchange mechanisms fail, only one asset has stood the test of time as a store of wealth.

Gold is and always has been an insurance policy.

It will be the only thing left standing when the U.S. dollar, the Euro, the Yen, and other paper currencies are inflated to oblivion by their respective governments.

Make sure you have some when that happens

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4761

ALERT: Pope Benedict to Resign

In addition to the story below please also go to the Prophecy Studies page and study up on the False Prophet presentation as to why this is so significant.

 

Pope Benedict to Resign

 Monday, 11 Feb 2013 06:06 AM

Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he lacks the strength to fulfill his duties and on Feb. 28 will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. The announcement sets the stage for a conclave in March to elect a new leader for world’s 1 billion Catholics.

The 85-year-old Pope announced the bombshell in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, surprising even his closest collaborators, even though Benedict had made clear in the past he would step down if he became too old or infirm to do the job.

Benedict called his choice “a decision of great importance for the life of the church.”

Indeed, the move allows the Vatican to hold a conclave before Easter to elect a new Pope, since the traditional mourning time that would follow the death of a Pope doesn’t have to be observed.

It will also allow Benedict to hold great sway over the choice of his successor. He has already hand-picked the bulk of the College of Cardinals — the princes of the church who will elect the next Pope — to guarantee his conservative legacy and ensure an orthodox future for the church.

There are several papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner — the same situation when Benedict was elected pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican stressed that no specific medical condition prompted Benedict’s decision, but in recent years, the Pope has slowed down significantly, cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences. He now goes to and from the altar in St. Peter’s Basilica on a moving platform, to spare him the long walk down the aisle. Occasionally he uses a cane.

His 89-year-old brother, Georg Ratzinger, said doctors had recently advised the Pope not to take any more trans-Atlantic trips.

“His age is weighing on him,” Ratzinger told the dpa news agency. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”

Benedict emphasized that carrying out the duties of being Pope — the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide — requires “both strength of mind and body.”

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he told the cardinals.

“In order to govern the [ship] of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary — strengths which, in the last few months, have deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” he said.

Popes are allowed to resign; church law specifies only that the resignation be “freely made and properly manifested.” But only a handful have done it.

The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants. The most famous resignation was Pope Celestine V in 1294; Dante placed him in hell for it.

When Benedict was elected at age 78, he was the oldest Pope chosen in nearly 300 years. At the time, he had already been planning to retire as the Vatican’s chief orthodoxy watchdog to spend his final years writing in the “peace and quiet” of his native Bavaria.

On Monday, Benedict said he would serve the church for the remainder of his days “through a life dedicated to prayer.” The Vatican said immediately after his resignation that Benedict would go to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer retreat south of Rome, and then would live in a cloistered monastery.

Contenders to be his successor include Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna; and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s office for bishops.

Long shots include Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. Although Dolan is popular and backs the Pope’s conservative line, the general thinking is that the Catholic Church doesn’t need a Pope from a “superpower.”

Given half of the world’s Catholics live in the global south, there will once again be arguments for a Pope to come from the developing world.

Cardinal Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, has impressed many Vatican watchers, but at 56 and having only been named a cardinal last year, he is considered too young.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana is one of the highest-ranking African cardinals at the Vatican, currently heading the Vatican’s office for justice and peace, but he’s something of a wild card.

All cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave, the secret meeting held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots to elect a new Pope. As per tradition, the ballots are burned after each voting round; black smoke that snakes out of the chimney means no Pope has been chosen, while white smoke means a Pope has been elected.

The pontiff had been due to attend World Youth Day in July in Rio de Janeiro; by then his successor will have been named and will presumably make the trip.

Benedict himself raised the possibility of resigning if he were simply too old or sick to continue on, when he was interviewed in 2010 for the book “Light of the World.”

“If a Pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right, and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign,” Benedict said.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had an intimate view as Pope John Paul II, with whom he had worked closely for nearly a quarter-century, suffered through the debilitating end of his papacy.

The announcement took the Vatican — and the rest of the world — by surprise.

Several cardinals on Monday didn’t even understand what Benedict had said during the consistory, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. Others who did were stunned.

“All the cardinals remained shocked and were looking at each other,” said Monsignor Oscar Sanchez of Mexico, who was in the room when Benedict made his announcement.

Benedict was born April 16, 1927, in Marktl Am Inn, in Bavaria, but his father, a policeman, moved frequently and the family left when he was 2.

In his memoirs, Benedict dealt what could have been a source of controversy had it been kept secret — that he was enlisted in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood. Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper. He deserted the German army in April 1945, in the waning days of the war.

He called it prophetic that a German followed a Polish pope — with both men coming from such different sides of World War II.

Benedict was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. After spending several years teaching theology in Germany, he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

John Paul named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 and he took up his post a year later. Following John Paul’s death in 2005, he was elected Pope on April 19 in one of the fastest conclaves in history, just about 24 hours after the voting began.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4757

Do Wall Street Insiders Expect Something Really BIG To Happen Very Soon?

 A very technical article, but an important one to understand!

Michael Snyder
Economic Collapse
Feb 7, 2013

Why are corporate insiders dumping huge numbers of shares in their own companies right now?  Why are some very large investors suddenly making gigantic bets that the stock market will crash at some point in the next 60 days?  Do Wall Street insiders expect something really BIG to happen very soon?  Do they know something that we do not know? What you are about to read below is startling.  Every time that the market has fallen in recent years, insiders have been able to get out ahead of time.  David Coleman of the Vickers Weekly Insider report recently notedthat Wall Street insiders have shown “a remarkable ability of late to identify both market peaks and troughs”.  That is why it is so alarming that corporate insiders are selling nine times as many shares as they are buying right now.  In addition, some extraordinarily large bets have just been made that will only pay off if the financial markets in the U.S. crash by the end of April.  So what does all of this mean?  Well, it could mean absolutely nothing or it could mean that there are people out there that actually have insider knowledge that a market crash is coming.  Evaluate the evidence below and decide for yourself…

For some reason, corporate insiders have chosen this moment to unload huge amounts of stock.  According to a CNN article, corporate insiders are now selling nine times more of their own shares than they are buying…

Corporate insiders have one word for investors: sell.

Insiders were nine times more likely to sell shares of their companies than buy new ones last week, according to the Vickers Weekly Insider report by Argus Research.

What makes this so alarming is that corporate insiders have been exceedingly good at “timing the market” in recent years.  The following comes from a recent CNBC article entitled “Sucker Alert? Insider Selling Surges After Dow 14,000“…

“In almost perfect coordination with an equity market that was rushing toward new all-time highs, insider sentiment has weakened sharply — falling to its lowest level since late March 2012,” wrote David Coleman of the Vickers Weekly Insider report, one of the longest researchers of executive buying and selling on Wall Street. “Insiders are waving the cautionary flag in an increasingly aggressive manner.”

There have been more than nine insider sales for every one buy over the past week among NYSE stocks, according to Vickers. The last time executives sold their company’s stock this aggressively was in early 2012, just before the S&P 500 went on to correct by 10 percent to its low for the year.

“Insiders know more than the vast majority of market participants,” said Enis Taner, global macro editor for RiskReversal.com. “And they’re usually right over a long period of time.”

There are other indications that the stock market may be headed for a significant tumble in the months ahead.  For example, as a Zero Hedge article recently pointed out, the last time that the financial markets in the U.S. were as “euphoric” as they are now was right before the financial crisis of 2008.

And as I mentioned above, some people out there have recently made some absolutely jaw-dropping bets against stocks which will only pay off if there is a financial crash at some point in the next few months.

According to Business Insider, the recent purchase of 100,000 put options by a mystery investor has a lot of people on Wall Street talking…

According to Barron’s columnist Steven Sears,someone made a big bet against the financialsETF yesterday (ticker symbol XLF), and it has everybody buzzing.

The trader bought 100,000 put options on the ETF (a put option increases in value when the price of the underlying asset, in this case, the ETF, goes down).

To put that number in perspective, Sears writes, “Few investors ever trade more than 500 contracts, so a 100,000 order tends to stop traffic and prompt all sorts of speculation about what’s motivating the trade.” According to Sears, the trade “has sparked conversations across the market.”

Reportedly, those put options expire in April.

And as Art Cashin of UBS has noted, there was also another extremely large bet that was placed recently that is banking on a financial crash within the next two months…

A Very Big Bet In A Somewhat Unlikely Instrument – My friend, Jim Brown, the ever-alert consummate professional over at Option Investor pointed us to a rather unusual trade. Here’s what he wrote in last night’s edition of his valuable newsletter:

In past years I have reported on trades that were so large it appeared someone had inside knowledge of a pending event. Sometimes those were massive put positions on the S&P. A new trade just appeared that suggests there will be a market event in the near future. Last week somebody put on a call spread on the VIX using the April 20 and 25 puts. They bought 150,000 contracts for a net of $75 per contract. That is an $11,250,000 bet that the VIX will move over 20 over the next 60 days. You would have to be VERY confident in your outlook to risk $11 million on a directional position with the VIX at five year lows and the markets trying to break out to new highs.

So does all of this guarantee that the stock market is going to move a certain way?

Of course not.

But when you step back and look at the bigger picture, it does appear that Wall Street insiders are preparing for something.

Meanwhile, the government continues to assure us that happy days are here again for the U.S. economy and that we don’t have anything to worry about.

The Congressional Budget Office has just released a report that contains their outlook for the next decade.  The report is entitled “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023″, and if you want a good laugh you should read it.

Here are some of the things that the CBO believes will happen…

-The CBO believes that government revenues will more than double by 2023.

-The CBO believes that government revenue as a percentage of GDP will rise from 15.8 percent today to 19.1 percent in 2023.

-The CBO believes that the unemployment rate will continually fall over the next decade.

-The CBO believes that the federal budget deficit will fall to just 2.4% of GDP in fiscal year 2015.

-The CBO believes that the federal budget deficit will only be $430 billion in 2015.

-The CBO believes that we will not have a single recession over the next decade.

-The CBO believes that inflation will stay at about 2 percent for the next decade.

-The CBO believes that U.S. GDP will grow by a total of 67 percent by 2023.

Wow, all of that sounds great until you go back and take a look at how CBO projections have fared in the past.

In fact, Bruce Krasting has gone back and looked at the numbers from the Congressional Budget Office’s Budget and Economic Outlook 2003.  I think that you will find the differences between the CBO projections and what really happened to be very humorous…

Estimated 10-year budget surplus = $5.6T.

Reality = $6.6T deficit. A 200+% miss.

 

Estimate for 2012 Debt Held by Public = $1.2T (5% of GDP).

Reality = Debt Held by Public = $11.6T. A 1000% miss.

 

Estimated fiscal 2012 GDP = $17.4T.

Reality = $15.8T. A $1.6T (10%) miss.

So should we trust what the CBO is telling us now?

Of course not.

Instead, perhaps we should listen to some of the men that successfully warned us about the last financial crisis…

-”Dr. Doom” Marc Faber recently stated that he “loves the high odds of a ‘big-time’ market crash“.

-Economist Nouriel Roubini says that we should “prepare for a perfect storm“.

-Pimco’s Bill Gross says that we are heading for a “credit supernova“.

-Nomura’s Bob Janjuah believes that the financial markets will experience one more huge spike before collapsing by up to 50%

I continue to believe that the S&P500 can trade up towards the 1575/1550 area, where we have, so far, a grand double top. I would not be surprised to see the S&P trade marginally through the 2007 all-time nominal high (the real high was of course seen over a decade ago – so much for equities as a long-term vehicle for wealth creation!). A weekly close at a new all-time high would I think lead to the final parabolic spike up which creates the kind of positioning extreme and leverage extreme needed to create the conditions for a 25% to 50% collapse in equities over the rest of 2013 and 2014, driven by real economy reality hitting home, and by policymaker failure/loss of faith in “their system”.

The truth is that no matter how much money printing the Federal Reserve does, it is only a matter of time before the financial markets catch up with economic reality.

The U.S. economy has been in decline for a very long time, and things just continue to get even worse.  Here are just a few numbers…

-The percentage of the civilian labor force that is employed has fallen every single year since 2006.

-According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, truly accurate numbers would show that U.S. GDP growth has actually been continuously negative all the way back to 2005.

-U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

-One recent survey found that nearly half of all Americans are living on the edge of financial ruin.

-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 146 million Americans that are considered to be either “poor” or “low income” at this point.

For many more statistics that demonstrate that the U.S. economy has continued to decline in recent years, please see this article: “37 Statistics Which Show How Four Years Of Obama Have Wrecked The U.S. Economy“.

So where is all of this headed?

Well, after the next major financial crisis in America things are going to get very tough.

We can get a hint for how things are going to be by taking a look at what is going on over in Europe right now.

Can you imagine people trampling each other for food?  That is what is happening in Greece.  Just check out this excerpt from a Reuters article

Hundreds of people jostled for free vegetables handed out by farmers in a symbolic protest earlier on Wednesday, trampling one man and prompting an outcry over the growing desperation created by economic crisis.

Images of people struggling to seize bags of tomatoes and leeks thrown from a truck dominated television, triggering a bout of soul-searching over the new depths of poverty in the debt-laden country.

The suffering that the Greeks are experiencing right now will come to this country soon enough.

So enjoy this false bubble of debt-fueled prosperity while you can.  It is going to end way too soon, and after that there will be a whole lot of pain.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4755

Kings of the East: China, Japan on the brink

Chinese warships have pointed missile radars at Japanese military targets and taken the two regional powers to the brink of “a dangerous situation”, say Japanese officials.

The news overnight marks a dangerous escalation of a four-month diplomatic and military stand-off between Australia’s two largest trading partners, involving disputed islets in the East China Sea.

Japan’s defence minister, Itsunori Onodera, told reporters last night that a Chinese frigate pointed a missile control radar at the Japanese destroyer Yuudachi on January 30.

 

“Something like fire-control radar was directed at a Japan Self-Defense Maritime escort ship in the East China Sea,” Mr Onodera told reporters in Tokyo.

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He also said a Chinese vessel had similarly targeted a Japanese ship-based helicopter two weeks earlier.

“This is extremely abnormal behaviour,” Mr Onodera said.  

“One step in the wrong direction could have pushed things into a dangerous situation,” he said.

China Tuesday night  called for calm. In a statement issued ahead of Japan’s accusation, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman urged Japan “to stop all provocative actions” including sending vessels and planes to the Diaoyu Islands, known as Senkaku in Japanese. 

“We hope Japan can take actions to show sincerity and willingness to work with China through talks and negotiations to control and manage the current situation,” said spokesman Hua Chunying. 

Diplomats and military officials in the United States, Japan and China had previously warned that the dispute was only one accident away from open military conflict.

But last night’s news out of Tokyo suggests the two regional powers have come closer to live fire than many had feared.

Western military officers and diplomats were last night seeking more information to determine if the Chinese radar targeting amounted to what is known as “guide mode”, which implies a missile has been locked onto a target.

“If you are the Japanese captain you would have an incredibly uncomfortable choice to make very quickly,” said a Western diplomat, who has been closely following the dispute. “You’re seconds away if that thing decided to fire”.

Mr Onodera’s ambiguous language might also cover general radar scoping, known as “acquisition mode”, or a targeted radar lock, known as “track mode”, which falls short of an implication that a missile has been prepared for firing.

A chorus of outspoken Chinese generals have advocated a tough military stance ever since the Japanese Government brought the Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyu in Chinese, from private Japanese owners in September.

Japanese officials said the nationalisation was intended to de-escalate tensions by preventing the islands from falling into the hands of a hawkish politician.

But Chinese leaders immediately launched a fiery anti-Japan propaganda war, facilitated mass protests and formed a special security “small group” to steer the crisis. 

Last month China’s new Communist Party boss and military leader, Xi Jinping, took the rare step of ordering the People’s Liberation Army to be prepared for war.

A fortnight ago a People’s Liberation Army officer, Colonel Liu Mingfu, ratcheted the sabre-rattling to a new level by raising a scenario with Fairfax Media that he said would justify a nuclear attack, while clarifying that he was not calling upon China to take such measures.

This week, however, a more powerful PLA general who is often categorised as a “hawk”, and is known to be close to Mr Xi, called for cool heads to prevail. 

He used a running race metaphor to argue that China should not be drawn into war just as it was about to overtake the United States after nearly two centuries of effort.  

The same metaphor is also used in a book recently published by Col Liu Mingfu, How the People’s Liberation Army Can Win.

“We should not be interrupted by accidental [warfare] again,” wrote Gen Liu Yuan, in an essay extract published in the Global Times.

“What the Americans and the Japanese fear is that we will catch up with them, which is why they exhaust every possible means to suppress China’s development,” wrote Gen Liu. “We should not fall into their trap.”

The Japanese Defence Ministry has previously revealed that Japanese fighter planes were scrambled against Chinese aircraft in the area on 91 occasions between October and December.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4753

WHY IS GOVERNMENT STOCKPILING GUNS, AMMO?

by Joseph Farah

Is the U.S. government getting ready for a war we don’t know about?

And, if that’s why Washington is stockpiling massive amounts of ammunition (hollow points, by the way), why is Homeland Security doing the buying instead of the Defense Department?

I have some theories.

Many of you will remember a story I broke a long time ago – about presidential candidate Barack Obama’s little-noticed announcement that, if elected in 2008, he wanted to create a “civilian national security force” as big, as strong and as well-funded as the Defense Department.

Here’s what he actually said at a campaign stop in Colorado July 2, 2008: “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

Could what we see happening now in the Department of Homeland Security be the beginning of Obama’s dream and our constitutional nightmare?

We’ve learned more about Obama’s vision since then. Maybe it’s time for a review:

  • He made the campaign promise to build this $439 billion domestic army, but all references to the initiative were inexplicably deleted from the copy of his speech posted on his website while others mysteriously disappeared from transcripts of the speech distributed by the campaign. That was strange – and ominous.
  • At the time, I had never heard anyone use the phrase “civilian national security force” before. But I did a little homework and found out where it originated. It was first proposed by then Bush administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates. On that basis alone, I accurately predicted that, if elected, Obama would name Gates as his own defense secretary. Needless to say, when that appointment came to pass, no media outlet bothered to interview me about my foresight.
  • Still during the campaign of 2008, I suggested that what Obama had in mind might be something very sinister indeed – perhaps “some kind of domestic Big Brother program.”

We never heard another mention of Obama’s “civilian national security force” again. Not in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 or 2012.

But that brings us up to 2013 and the highly unusual stockpiling of firearms and ammo by Homeland Security – firearms and ammo that Obama would like to deny to ordinary citizens who are not members of his domestic army.

Well, I hate to say it, but I may have predicted this, too.

In a Halloween column last fall, I stated that, if re-elected, Obama would “declare a full-scale war on his domestic opposition.”

I wasn’t joking. I was deadly serious – so serious, in fact, that I did something I pledged I would never do: Vote for Mitt Romney. It was a matter of self-defense and self-preservation. I said then that a second term of Obama might mean we would never see another free and fair election in America. (I’m not even sure we saw one in 2012.) I suggested due process would go the way of the horse and buggy. I said I expected Obama would move to shut down or destroy all independent media. I even speculated that his biggest critics would eventually be rounded up in the name of national security.

Think about it.

Why does the civilian Department of Homeland Security need billions of rounds of ammunition?

This is the agency that is responsible for policing the border. But it doesn’t.

This is the agency that is responsible for catching terrorists. But it doesn’t.

So why does Homeland Security need so many weapons and enough hollow-point rounds to plug every American six times?

Maybe this is the “civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the Defense Department.

These words – “civilian national security force” – have haunted me ever since I first read them.

Obama has never explained what he meant.

He’s never been called to account for that remark.

Doesn’t this sound like police-state talk to you?

The U.S. Army alone has nearly 500,000 troops. That doesn’t count reserves or National Guard. In 2007, the U.S. defense budget was $439 billion. No one knows what the budget is today because Congress stopped passing budgets when Obama took office.

Is Obama serious about creating some kind of domestic security force bigger and more expensive than that? Is this part of his second-term agenda?

He has also set up, as I have reported, a new homeland security bureaucracy to operate under his own direction.

I think it’s worth recalling here that just over a year ago both houses of Congress unwisely passed the defense reauthorization bill that killed the concept of habeas corpus – legislation that authorized the president to use the U.S. military to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial.

That legislation would empower a lame-duck Obama to use all of the power of the federal government – constitutional and unconstitutional – to target his political enemies.

If any Republican, conservative, independent journalist, pro-life activist, returning veteran, gun-rights activist, constitutionalist, Bible believer or critic of Obama thinks they will be safe in a second term under this would-be despot, they had better think again – real fast.

The “civilian national security force” is not here to protect any of them. It’s here to destroy the opposition. It’s here to destroy liberty. It’s here to destroy the Constitution.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4747

More info on the Israeli strike on Syrian Chemical Weapons

Israel’s Air Strike in Syria

Obama Gave the Nod for Israel’s Military Strike against Syria
 

Tuesday, January 22, two top Israeli officials arrived in Washington and Moscow to deliver prior notice of the Netanyahu government’s resolve to strike out against the military links binding Syria and Hizballah because they had grown into a major threat to its national security and an impediment to regional stability.
In Moscow, National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror met President Vladimir Putin’s aides and was warned off this venture, whereas in Washington, Military Intelligence director Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi fared much better.
According to its public statements, the Israeli government is obliged to take action if President Bashar Assad releases sophisticated arms including chemical weapons to Hizballah or any other terrorists.
But that is just a façade. Striking an arms convoy moving across the border from Syria to the Lebanese Hizballah would amount to no more than a sortie, whereas continuous, repeated pounding of the shared military frameworks or structures serving Syrian-Hizballah cooperation could stretch out for months and bring Iran into the fray.
Maj. Gen. Kochavi was questioned closely by US military and intelligence experts, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources report, on IDF plans for achieving its objective and what precisely Israeli war planners mean by the destruction of the military interconnections between the Assad regime and Iran’s proxy, Hizballah.
The Israeli intelligence officer listed the prospective targets of attack, how they would be hit and the operation’s estimated timeframe.

Assad gains strategic hinterland in Lebanon – thanks to Hizballah

The plan was put before President Barack Obama for his approval together with five propositions:
1. As long as Iran, Syria and Hizballah are bound by a strong military alliance, the United States has little chance of achieving a breakthrough in diplomatic negotiations with Tehran or curbing its race for a nuclear weapon.
2. A successful Israel operation for severing the Syria-Hizballah military partnership would isolate Iran militarily and so reset the balance of military strength in the Middle East. In those circumstances, the US and Israel would find it easier to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear program if necessary.
3. The tight Hizballah-Syrian interdependence keeps Assad safe from attempts to unseat him. It has deepened to the point that his Shiite ally is abetting the Syrian ruler in his grab for parts of Lebanon as his strategic hinterland, focusing on the Hizballah strongholds in the Beqaa Valley. Already, Syrian command posts, intelligence centers and sophisticated weapons are being installed there and camps for loyal military units. So even if his regime is overthrown in Damascus, Assad will have a fallback headquarters in Lebanon from which to continue fighting.
4. The transfer of Syrian chemical weapons to Hizballah is no longer an issue; Israeli military intelligence has determined that some of those poison substances are already in Hizballah’s possession, and DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources recently reported that they had passed into Hizballah’s hands back in January 2012.
Thursday, Jan. 31, Saudi intelligence sources leaked a report that “in early 2012, Assad approved the transfer to Hizballah of mustard gas and missiles able to travel 300 kilometers and carry chemical warheads.”
Saudi sources say the transfer took place over 40 days, from Feb. 17 to the end of March, 2012.

Obama weighs the knock-on effect for Iran and Russia

Therefore, it was decided in Jerusalem that the time had come to cut to the chase and avoid getting sucked into another endless debate on whether or not Hizballah has acquired chemical weapons, like the argument circling interminably around the exact point reached by Iran in its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
According to the plan put before Washington, Israel proposed launching an air strike against the Jamraya “research institution” near Damascus, where Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah officers work together on developing the chemical weapons systems supplied to both the Syrian army and Hizballah.
5. For the sake of avoiding all-out war with Syria and Hizballah, Israel’s strategic planners proposed launching a series of controlled strikes, each one pinpointing a specific target common to all three in Syria and Lebanon.
The IDF can carry out this mission on its own with no need for direct US military assistance.
After studying the Israeli plan presented by the Israeli intelligence officer, Obama weighed two more considerations before reaching a decision:
a) US support of the Israeli plan presupposes the revival of the American-Russian Cold War in the Middle East. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Number One strategic commitment is the preservation of the Assad regime, an Israeli offensive with Washington’s blessing would have the weight of an ultimatum to Putin to ditch Assad, a step with knock-on impact on his credibility with Tehran. Obama does not imagine Putin caving in to this extent.
b) Israeli military action on the scale of offensives against Syria and Lebanon would almost inevitably set off hostilities with Iran and the onset of a major Iranian-Israeli war.
Irrespective of these considerations, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in Washington report that Tuesday, Jan. 29, a week after military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi departed Washington, the US President’s approval of the Israeli plan was on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s desk in Jerusalem. The next day it was up and running with the Israeli air strike at Jamraya.
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Israel’s Rolling War Alert

The Israeli War Alert Peaked in Time with Twin Chemical Threats
Binyamin Netanyahu

The average Israeli hardly noticed the war alert the IDF declared Friday, Jan. 25, because for the first time ever, security issues were pushed to the back of most of their consciousnesses by the fascinating political revolution quietly unfolding in their sight since the general election of Jan. 22.
An opinion poll conducted this week showed that had the vote had taken place today, Binyamin Netanyahu and his ruling Likud-Israel Beitenu would have shed more mandates than their 35 to 31 plunge and may even have been overtaken by Yair Lapid’s new Yesh Atid (Future) which netted 19 seats at its first try.
The war alert was ramped up to its peak level Tuesday, Jan 29, the day before the Israeli air strike in Syria.
During those five days, Israeli Air Force jets stood on the runways, their pilots in sitting in cockpits ready to take off within minutes of an order, and large armored and infantry forces massed along Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon.
Patriot and Iron Dome missile interceptors mushroomed around Israel’s northern towns and Israeli hospitals were told to stand by for a war emergency and a sudden surge of casualties from the war front, missile attacks or chemical warfare. Television and radio newsrooms kept staff overnight in case of a sudden eruption of hostilities.

Chemical threat triggered unfolding Israeli war alert

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources report that the alert was triggered Friday afternoon, Jan. 25 by an order picked up from Hizballah headquarters to the brigades standing ready in the Beqaa Valley of East Lebanon. They were told to advance across the border and deploy outside Syrian chemical weapons stores and facilities.
Embedded in the order was a one-word code telling the Hizballah units to stand by to enter the stores and remove the poison substances to an unspecified destination. The Shiite terrorist group had come close enough to commandeering the weapons for Israeli forces to go on peak alert for moving in.
Early Saturday morning, Jan. 26, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recalled Defense Minister Ehud Barak from a family trip overseas and told him a special Israeli Air Force flight was on its way to bring him home without delay, because hostilities with Syria and Hizballah could erupt at any moment with Iran’s possible involvement.
Barak, who is about to retire, was at his Defense Ministry office in Tel Aviv later that morning. With IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, and his deputy, Maj Gen. Gadi Eizenkott, until recently OC Northern Command and therefore conversant with the Syrian and Lebanese fronts, preparations for a war contingency were put in place.

Attack on Syria tantamount to attack on Iran

Tehran is kept fully abreast of events in Syria by its early warning station on the Syrian peak of the Hermon ridge opposite the Golan and northern Israel. This electronic facility constantly sweeps Israel for every military movement on land, sea and air. In the light of its input that Saturday, Ali Akbar Velayati, one of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s closest aides, went on record with a warning that Iran would deem any attack on Syria an attack on itself:
“Syria has a very basic and key role in the region for promoting firm policies of resistance [against Israel]… For this reason an attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran and Iran’s allies.”
This was the first time an Iranian official had explicitly committed Tehran to war action over Syria.
The next day, Sunday, January 27, a second chemical war threat raised its head in Syria.
It centered on the Menagh Air Base (or Minnigh airport, Minakh Air Base), a Syrian Air Force installation six kilometers south of Aleppo – originally home to the Syrian 4th Flying Training Squadron, MBB 223 Flamingo trainer aircraft and Mi-8 helicopters.
But last December, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources report, President Bashar Assad ordered the base’s conversion to a chemical warfare site, housing missiles and rockets fitted with chemical warheads and bombs filled with sarin nerve gas.
This arsenal was located ready for use as needed against the Syrian rebel concentration in Aleppo and the northern region of Idlib.
Also moved into the Menagh Air Base were Iranian- and Syrian-made short- and medium-range surface-to-surface missiles, many of them adapted to chemical warheads.

Islamist terrorists race for chemical attack on Israel

Syrian rebels have fought repeatedly to seize the strategic Menagh Air Base, but Sunday saw them massing in large numbers around the base and, as the week wore on, coming close to seizing this chemical arsenal.
The rebel force closing in on the base is reported by our military experts as consisting of three groups: The Al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusrah; the al-Tawhid (Unity) Brigade – the Free Syrian Army’s Aleppo unit, which has three subsections, the Fursan al-Jabal Brigade, the Daret Izza Brigade and the Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade; and the Suqour al-Sham Brigade – the Falcons of the Levant Brigade, another FSA unit, which is assigned to the Idlib front.
The ideology these FSA groups share has been described as Islamist but not jihadist, although some of their officers and fighters are close to Jabhat al-Nusrah.
Israeli and American military and intelligence analysts agree that if the Menagh Air Base falls into the hands of any or all these three rebel forces, they won’t hesitate to conduct mass executions of the Syrian troops and officers defending the base, or fire chemical missiles at regime targets inside Syria or at Israel and Jordan.
Israel was further troubled by a video posted on the Internet depicting gunmen holding up cans containing chemicals and threatening to hurl them at Syrian troops – evidence that Islamist terrorists in rebel ranks and backed by foreign powers, have acquired chemical weapons.
A second video showed the bodies of rabbits dead from inhaling poison gases.

Is Qatar ready to fund chemical arms for Syrian rebels?

British newspapers of Jan. 21 carried an email exchange between two senior officials of the British-based contractor Britam Defence outlining a scheme “approved by Washington” explaining that Qatar was ready to fund rebel use of chemical weapons in Syria.
In Israel, this rush of infromation confirmed their fears that the three rebel forces closing in on the Syrian air base are racing each other in a contest for the first to shoot a chemical missile at an Israeli civilian or military target.
The apprehension decided Israel’s armed forces to elevate its war level alert on the night of Tuesday, Jan. 29.
One plan drawn up for averting the threat is to drop large special force units on the Menagh Air Base to take charge of the base and its chemical and missile arsenals, followed by large cargo transports and helicopters that would lift the arsenal out to Israel.
This was only one of the contingency plans drafted in Israel for surgical strikes on the dangerous facilities dotted around Syria.
Israel and American military and intelligence experts are of the opinion that neither Bashar Assad nor Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah will take Israel military action in Syria for long and will eventually send their troops on the offensive for retaliation.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4743

TEHRAN HITS SAUDI ARABIA WITH VEILED THREAT

WASHINGTON – Iran has watched as Saudi Arabia has incited Sunnis to create instability in neighboring Iraq and Riyadh has launched concerted efforts to overthrow the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

 

Now the chairman of the Iranian joint chiefs of staff, Brig. Gen. Hasan Firouzabadi, says he wants to avoid a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shi’a, but he also issued a veiled threat against Riyadh.

He accused the Saudi kingdom of using jihadists to undermine Shi’ites in the region, given increasingly unsettling events in Iraq and in Syria. Firouzbadi has spoken out given the growing concern that the rising Sunni turmoil in Iraq poses a security threat to Iran.

For some time, however, that has been the strategy of Saudi Arabia, which has decided to undertake an independent course of action from the restraint urged by the United States out of concern that Iran is spreading its influence in the Gulf Arab countries which are controlled by monarchies.

To date, the U.S. has not criticized Saudi Arabia for its support for jihadists in other countries that are attempting to arouse Sunnis in the Middle East. This is due to the close ties the U.S. has with the Saudi kingdom, long considered a key element of cohesion among the Gulf Arab countries on which the U.S. relies to maintain its security interests in the region.

And U.S. support for the Saudis continues despite the knowledge that the Saudis actively are using jihadists as proxies to enforce their own security interests.

According to Ali Akbar Velayati, who is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top international affairs adviser, Saudi use of jihadists to press the collapse of the al-Assad regime by Saudi Arabia is considered a “red line.”

“Those remarks were a message to the Saudis that the kingdom is looking at a major regional sectarian conflict if it continues to support the dozens of jihadist militias fighting the Syrian regime,” according to a report in the open intelligence group Strafor.

Velayati then suggested that the best approach was for a negotiated settlement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The response from Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal was telling. He said that a political solution to the Syrian crisis wasn’t going to happen, which Stratfor said was a signal that Riyadh wasn’t interested in negotiations.

This position may be due to Riyadh seeing this being the time to push Iranian influence back now that its previous positions in Iraq and Syria are increasingly tenuous. They want to take advantage of the large blocs of Sunnis in Iraq and in Syria where Sunnis constitute some 60 percent of the population.

Sources believe Saudi use of jihadist proxies is due to the lack of enthusiasm by nationalists and other secular forces to openly fight Iran and the Shi’a who back al-Assad. The jihadists are all too eager to carry the fight against the Shi’ites in Iraq and Syria, especially given the financial and logistical backing from Riyadh.

Just as Iran has called attempts to overthrow al-Assad a “red line,” sources see Iran bringing in its own insurgents to fight the Sunni jihadists. At the same time, Tehran wants to show how the Saudi kingdom is more prone to use jihadists as opposed to Sunni Turkey or Qatar, who don’t necessarily agree with Riyadh’s use of them.

These countries fear that Riyadh can’t or doesn’t control the jihadists outside the kingdom, making their own governments prone to potential jihadist attacks.

The U.S., however, equally is concerned over the use of jihadists and al-Qaida, especially in Iraq and Syria, due to the geopolitical changes that would sweep the region should they prevail.

“(Washington) will cautiously use the sectarian fault line running through the region to try to maintain a difficult balance of power,” the Stratfor report said. “What this means is that a major, long-term geopolitical conflict along the northern rim of the Middle East is highly likely.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4741

Russia slams Israeli attack on Syria. US forces in Jordan on alert

The Syrian announcement of an Israeli air strike on a military site near Damascus Wednesday, Jan. 30, drew strong condemnation from Moscow the next day: “Such action if confirmed would amount to unacceptable military interference in the war-ravaged country,” said the statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry Thursday. “If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violate the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it.”
Israel has made no comment on the Damascus statement which described in detail an Israeli air strike against a “military research institute” near the capital. Witnesses say it was a plant for manufacturing “unconventional weapons.” The facility was destroyed and two staff members killed.

Lebanese sources later reported a Russian Mig-31 fighter had crossed over Sinai Wednesday in the direction of Israel. It veered west over the Mediterranean after encountering an Israeli warning not to intrude into its air space and continued flying over Lebanon.

debkafile’s military sources say that the only external military force in the eastern Mediterranean region is a fleet of 18 Russian warships, which includes landing-craft – among the largest in the Russian Navy – with 2,000 marines aboard.
According to various Middle East sources, the Syrian report of an Israeli air strike has touched off high military alerts across the region. Syria has put its Golan forces on the Israel border on combat readiness and the Lebanese and Jordanian armies are on alert. So too are the Russian fleet opposite Syria and the Lebanese army.

Our military sources report that Turkish units on the Syrian border are on high preparedness although Ankara played down the reports of the Israeli air strike in Syria, uncomfortable over the fact that the Israeli Air Force was the first external power to intervene directly in the Syrian conflict.

So too are the US air force units stationed at the Turkish Incerlik air base, the US special forces deployed at the Jordanian Mafraq air facility and the American, German and Dutch Patriot missile interceptors deployed in Turkey opposite Syria. Israel has been on high alert since last week.
The prevailing estimate in military and intelligence circles in Washington and NATO capitals is that the Israeli air attack on the Syrian military site near Damascus was but the opening shot for the coming round of military blows they expect to be exchanged in the near future between Israel, Syria and Hizballah, with Iran possibly waiting in the wings for a chance to pitch in.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4737