Saturday, January 31, 2009

Priest's Book Documents 'Holocaust by Bullets'

Foreign Confidential....

Never again....

Maria Danilova and Randy Herschaft report from Kiev:
The Holocaust has a landscape engraved in the mind's eye: barbed-wire fences, gas chambers, furnaces.

Less known is the "Holocaust by Bullets," in which over 2 million Jews were gunned down in towns and villages across Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Their part in the Nazis' Final Solution has been under-researched, their bodies left unidentified in unmarked mass graves.

"Shoah," French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann's documentary, stands as the 20th century's epic visual record of the Holocaust. Now another Frenchman, a Catholic priest named Patrick Desbois, is filling in a different part of the picture.

Desbois says he has interviewed more than 800 eyewitnesses and pinpointed hundreds of mass graves strewn around dusty fields in the former Soviet Union. The result is a book, "The Holocaust by Bullets," and an exhibition through March 15 at New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Brought to Ukraine by a twist of fate, Desbois has spent seven years trying to document the truth....
Continue here.

Chavez Turns Nazi, Escalates Anti-Semitic Campaign


Foreign Confidential....

The Communist Crackpot of Caracas has gone Nazi, providing fresh proof of the theory that Stalinism and Hitlerism are simply two sides of the same totalitarian coin.

As a favor to Islamo-Nazi Iran, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez has authorized an unprecedented campaign against his country's Jewish community.

A reliable, well-placed intelligence source tells China Confidential Chavez is taking "a personal interest in the escalating persecution," which, in addition to supporting Iran, aims to divert popular anger away from the South American leader's disastrous economic policies.

Iranian Strategy Inspired by Hitler

The same source says Iran intends to fuel anti-Semitism across Latin America and Europe as part of a global effort to demonize Jews and delegitimize Israel ahead of a planned new Holocaust--the nuclear destruction of the Jewish state.

The Iranian strategy is inspired by Nazi Germany, the source explains, which tested world opinion towards Jews while persecuting them in ever-escalating stages before attempting the Final Solution--genocide.

The Venezuelan campaign is beginning to turn violent, moving beyond propaganda and intimidation, as shown by today's ugly incident--armed invasion and vandalism of a Caracas synagogue.

Maya Lecker reports from the Venezuelan capital:
"We don't want Jews here" and "Jews get out" were the slogans daubed on a Caracas synagogue's walls Saturday.

David Bitan, vice president of the Jewish community in Venezuela, told Ynet that late Friday night a number of assailants broke down the synagogue's door and threw scripture books on the floor, then proceeded to graffiti the hateful slogans on the walls.

"We found the guard on the floor, he had been threatened with a gun," Bitan said. "Until 3 am they destroyed the offices, opened the Ark of the Covenant, and threw the Torah books on the floor."
Click here to continue.

What the Media Missed About Obama

Dateline USA....

Not only is Barack Obama the first African-American President; he is the first Third World-American President.

Obama's father was a Kenyan. America has never had a President with roots in--let alone a parent from--the Third World.

Moreover, Obama was partially reared by his Indonesian stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, in Hawaii and Indonesia, a Third World nation.

His "story" may only be possible in America, as Obama said throughout his Presidential campaign; but the narrative is truly unique, unlike that of any President or Presidential candidate in American history.

POSTSCRIPT: Obama is not the first President with a foreign-born parent. Andrew Jackson was the son of two Irish immigrants. James Buchanan and Chester Alan Arthur both had Irish fathers. In addition, Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson had English mothers, and Herbert Hoover’s mother was born in Canada.

More Proof of Hamas Internal Strife

Foreign Confidential....

It's tactical, not strategic--both sides seek Israel's destruction--but nevertheless significant.

Today's report from Israel confirms our reporting on deepening devisions between exiled Hamas leaders in Syria and the terrorist organization's leadership and rank-and-file in Gaza.

Palestinian sources told the Egyptian daily newspaper Al Ahram that the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip sought to extend the six-month cease-fire that preceded Israel's military offensive last month and are furious with Hamas' Damascus-based political bureau chief Khaled Meshal's decision to end the truce, Israel Radio reported on Saturday.
Continue here.

Iran is to blame, according to a China Confidential Middle East expert. He says Iran is bent on using its Palestinian proxy to sabotage peace talks and divert attention from the Islamist nation's nuclear program.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Is the Big Apple following the UK? Cowardly Cops Allow Islamo-Nazi Attack on NY Post Photographer

Dateline USA....

A photographer from a major New York newspaper was assaulted and harassed by Islamo-Nazi Green Shirts, supporters of Hamas and Hezbollah. The police showed little interest in assisting the photographer--who had working press credentials. The cowardly cops hid from the action. Click below to watch the shocking video.

US Diplomacy Recalls European Appeasement

Foreign Confidential....

As the United States prepares for utterly disgraceful direct diplomacy with Iran, the nuclear-arming, Islamist nation is preparing for a protracted game of words that recalls the flawed, six-nation nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea--and the failed attempts by European powers to appease Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

America's diplomatic initiative is doomed. For all its brain power, the Obama administration is ignoring the chief lesson of the prewar years--that it is impossible to appease a rising imperialist power, particularly one that is possessed by a totalitarian ideology (such as fascism or Islamism, a kind of clerical fascism).

The press is asleep at the switch. Understandably focused on the ailing economy and the horrible prospects of a nation plunging into a depression, mainstream media outlets are facilitating a tragic replay of the 1930s. Once again, the Jews are being set up for slaughter. But this time, the prime target of the fascist foe is a Jewish state. And the state will not hesitate to use any all means--including nuclear weapons--to defend its citizens.

No, Mahmoud, try as you might, there will not be a second Holocaust. Masada will not fall again. Like the Nazi madman you seek to emulate (notwithstanding your neo-Nazi Holocaust denial), you, too, will bring destruction down on your people. You have no idea, as the Russians used to say, of the correlation of forces that confront you....

Netanyahu Ahead as Israeli Election Approaches

Foreign Confidential....

A new Israeli poll shows Likud leader Benjamin ("Bibi") Netanyahu ahead as a national election approaches.

AP reports:
The poll gives Netanyahu 28 seats in Israel's 120-seat parliament. That's five seats more than his closest rival, moderate Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the centrist Kadima party.

In third place is Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Labor.

Friday's poll results mean Netanyahu is most likely to win the Feb. 10 election and will have the best chance of forming a governing coalition. Netanyahu opposes a substantial West Bank withdrawal and has said he will continue expanding settlements.
Click here to continue reading.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Disappearances, Despotism, Dollarization

Foreign Confidential....

As runaway inflation ravages Zimbabwe, and the US dollar is increasingly used instead of the local currency, the African nation is descending into a despotic hell.

The BBC's Karen Allen reports:
Journalists, human rights activists and other critics of Robert Mugabe's presidency have recently vanished.

More than 20 people have disappeared in just the past few weeks - people are terrified.
Click here for the whole story.

Japanese Navy Prepares for Anti-Piracy Action

Japan has ordered its naval forces to begin preparations to deploy to the waters off Somalia to join an international fleet combating pirates in the region.

The order was issued Wednesday by Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada. Hamada says the piracy in the Gulf of Aden is a threat both to Japan and the international community.

The fleet could be dispatched to the Gulf of Aden as early as March, after a bill outlining its exact mission is approved by parliament.

Japan's post-World War II pacifist constitution limits its military to defensive operations. This means the naval vessels can only act to protect Japanese-flagged ships or ships carrying Japanese nationals. Prime Minister Taro Aso has introduced a new law that would allow Japanese naval warships to protect foreign vessels as well.

The United States, China and several other countries also have put ships on patrol in the Gulf of Aden and Somalia's Indian Ocean coast.

The International Maritime Bureau says Somali pirates attacked at least 111 ships last year -- an increase of nearly 200 percent from 2007. Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a dictator.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

US Needs $2.2 Trillion for Infrastructure

Dateline USA....

Decades of underfunding and inattention have endangered America's infrastructure to an alarming degree. A whopping $2.2 trillion in repairs and upgrades is needed over the next five years to meet adequate conditions.

That's the conclusion of the new 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure, released today by the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE), which assigns an overall grade of "D" to the nation as well as individual grades in 15 infrastructure categories.
Since ASCE's last assessment in 2005, there has been little change in the condition of America's roads, bridges, drinking water systems, and other public works.

With the nation's infrastructure receiving renewed attention from the White House, Congress, and the public as a vital part of an economic stimulus package, the Report Card offers informed guidance from professional engineers on where funds would best be spent.

Malyasia Investing in India's Infrastructure

Malaysian companies have been asked to continue investing in India's infrastructure sector in the face of the current world economic slowdown.

Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia Ashok K. Kantha said Malaysian companies had always maintained a good track record in handling mega infrastructure development projects.

"Malaysian companies, with proven expertise in infrastructure development, should continue to invest in India's infrastructure projects--in highways, township development, telecommunications, power sector, airports and seaports.

"Infrastructure development will be manageably sustainable when the Indian government puts in new investments in infrastructure development by way of a stimulus to the economy," Kantha said.

India is an important source of foreign direct investment (FDI) for Malaysia. In 2007, India was the sixth largest source of FDI, with a record RM2.9 billion in approved investments in Malaysia's manufacturing sector, up from just RM8.3 million in 2006.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

US Failed to Stop Iran Arms Bound for Gaza

Dateline USA....

Anne Gearan reports from Washington:
The nation's top military officer said Tuesday the United States did all it could to intercept a suspected arms shipment to Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, but its hands were tied.

Separately, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other U.S. officials said it is too soon to tell whether the prospect of new U.S. engagement with Iran will bear fruit.

Mullen confirmed that a Cypriot-flagged ship intercepted in the Red Sea last week was carrying Iranian arms and that U.S. authorities suspect that the shipment was ultimately bound for the Gaza Strip, where Hamas and Israel are observing a shaky truce after three weeks of fighting.
Continue here.

Iran's Influence in Latin America Concerns Gates

Dateline USA....

Gates got it right.

The U.S. Defense Secretary told Senators Tuesday that although much attention was given to Russia's recent courting of some Latin American countries, he is more concerned about new activities of Iran in the region. Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee he is worried about efforts by the Iranian government to gain influence in Latin America.

"I'm concerned about the level of, frankly, subversive activity the Iranians are carrying on in a number of places in Latin America, particularly South America and Central America," Gates said. "They're opening a lot of offices and a lot of fronts behind which they interfere with what is going on in some of these countries."

Russia and China

Other countries, including Russia and China, have also stepped up their presence in Latin America, where the United States has historically had the biggest influence. Russia caused concern to the region last November when it sent a fleet of ships to conduct joint naval exercises with Venezuela. In December, a Russian destroyer also passed through the Panama Canal for the first time since World War II.

But a plunge in the world's oil prices has severely curbed Russia's income and its ability to build up its navy, Gates said.

"At $40 oil, the Russian navy does not bother me very much," he said. "This is the first time they've had an out of area exercise in a decade or so; it's important for us to keep perspective about their capabilities."

Tense Relationship

Russia has had a tense relationship with the West since its troops invaded Georgia in August. Gates said the U.S. is taking Russian activity in Latin America in stride.

"I felt that our best response to the Russian ship visits to Venezuela was nonchalance," he said. "In fact, if it hadn't been for the events in Georgia in August, I probably would've tried to persuade the president to invite the Russian ships to pay a port call in Miami, because I think they would've had a lot better time than they did in Caracas."

Russian officials denied that the maneuvers were meant to provoke the United States. President Dimitri Medevedev and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez defended cooperative agreements they signed in November, saying they would help to create a "multi-polar" world that is not dominated by a single power.

Our Gold and Silver Forecasts

The China Confidential near-term forecast for gold is for the precious metal to trade between $950 and $1,000 an ounce.

Silver could hit $14 an ounce.

Clinton Upholds Israel's Right to Self-Defense

Dateline USA....

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that Israel had a right to defend itself and that Palestinian rocket attacks on the Jewish territory could not go unanswered.

"We support Israel's right to self-defense. The [Palestinian] rocket barrages which are getting closer and closer to populated areas [in Israel] cannot go unanswered," Clinton said in her first news conference at the State Department.

"It is regrettable that the Hamas leadership apparently believes that it is in their interest to provoke the right of self-defense instead of building a better future for the people of Gaza," she added.

Clinton also said that U.S. President Barack Obama's first days in office have made it clear that a more open Iranian approach to the international community could benefit Iran. She said this was reflected in statements Obama made in an interview Monday with an Arab TV network.

"There is a clear opportunity for the Iranians, as the president expressed in his interview, to demonstrate some willingness to engage meaningfully with the international community," she said. "Whether or not that hand becomes less clenched is really up to them."

Iran Calls Holocaust 'Big Lie'

Foreign Confidential....

As the Obama administration prepares for direct diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program, Tehran's Hitlerian, Islamist regime is apparently escalating its campaign to delegitimize and demonize America's ally, Israel.

AFP reports:
Iran's government spokesman on Tuesday branded the Holocaust a "big lie" created to place the Islamic republic's arch-foe Israel in the Middle East, the state IRNA news agency reported.

"The Holocaust is a concept coming from a big lie in order to settle a rootless regime in the heart of the Islamic world," Gholam Hossein Elham told a conference on Gaza in central Iran's religious city of Qom.
Click here to continue

Gold Advances in Asia

Investment Demand is Strong

Aya Takada reports from Tokyo:
Gold rose a fourth day in Asia as mounting losses among the world’s banks and rising job losses prompted investors to buy the metal as a haven.

Bullion advanced 5.7 percent the past three sessions after banks including BNP Paribas SA and ING Groep NV reported losses....

“Concerns about widening losses in financial institutions enhanced the value of gold as a safe-haven,” Shuji Sugata, a research manager at Mitsubishi Corp., Futures & Securities Ltd., said today by phone. “Investment demand for gold is rising.”

Gold for immediate delivery rose as much as 0.3 percent to $905.98 an ounce and last traded at $903.97 at 12:25 p.m. in Tokyo. The metal for December delivery on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange rose as much as 1.2 percent to 2,604 yen a gram ($908 an ounce).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gold Hits Highest Price in Nearly Five Months

Gold rose to the highest closing price in almost five months in New York. Silver also gained.

Gold futures for April delivery climbed $13, or 1.4 percent, to close at $910.70 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Comex division, the highest for a most-active contract since Aug. 1. The price reached $918.20, the highest intraday price since Oct. 10.

Silver futures for March delivery gained 17 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $12.11 an ounce. Silver slumped 24 percent in 2008, while gold gained 5.5 percent.

Gold may average $975 in the second quarter, possibly topping $1,000, on demand for a store of value, Deutsche Bank AG said in a report on Jan. 23.

Crazy Carter: Hamas Can be Trusted

Dateline USA....

America's worst ex-President continues to do the terrorists' bidding. Click here for the story.

In Venezuela, Anti-Semitism is Official Policy

Foreign Confidential....

The Crackpot of Caracas is descending to new depths, dipping into the pool of bigotry to boost his sagging popularity.

Nir Hasson reports:
The president of the Jewish community in Venezuela on Monday accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of promoting anti-Semitism and giving the phenomenon legitimacy.

Speaking at the World Jewish Congress conference in Jerusalem on Monday, Abraham Levy Ben Shimol said "you probably hear of many anti-Semitic incidents, but where we live, the anti-Semitism is sanctioned; it comes from the president, through the government, and into the media. Since the government is very involved in the day-to-day lives of its constituents, its influence is much more effective."

Ben Shimol added that in recent days, swastikas have been spray painted on the walls of the Caracas synagogue and a Palestinian flag was waved during a parliament session. "We Jews are going through a difficult time. We hope it will be over soon and that the future will shine upon us," Ben Shimol added.
Click here to continue reading.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Most of Asia Shut for Lunar New Year

Spotlight on Tokyo Stock Exchange

As most of Asia shut to observe the Lunar New Year holiday, Tokyo stocks were in the spotlight Monday, with Japanese exporters benefiting from a weaker yen.
Continue here.

Battling a Secretive Fund, Billionaire Carl Icahn Issues 'Open Letter' to Reach Fellow Investors

Dateline USA....

Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has begun a seemingly obscure legal battle that could actually have profound implications for the financial services industry--specifically, the so-called shadow banking system of secretive, unregulated hedge funds that has helped to bring the global economy to the edge of extinction.

Icahn has filed a lawsuit against a large hedge fund firm that plans to go public in an apparent attempt to avoid investor redemption demands. He has written to his fellow investors seeking their support.

Most interestingly, his letter was transmitted via PR Newswire because he has no way of knowing the identities of the other investors in the fund. PR Newswire is a press release transmission service.

A sophisticated billionaire--one of the world's most successful investors--forced to communicate by press release with fellow investors in a privately held firm. What's wrong with this picture?

Put differently, if Carl Icahn feels compelled to litigate and issue an "Open Letter" to get his money out of a fund, what chance does an ordinary investor have?

No wonder there is a growing loss of confidence in the financial system.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Majority of Americans Sympathetic Toward Israel

Viola Gienger reports:
A majority of Americans sympathized more with the Israelis than the Palestinians during the recent war in the Gaza Strip, according to a CNN opinion poll that points to a divergence from European views of the conflict.

Sixty percent of Americans in the nationwide survey said they were sympathetic toward the Israelis, compared with 17 percent who supported the Palestinians, CNN reported today on its Web site. A recent European poll showed that 23 percent of French people said the Palestinian Hamas group was primarily responsible for the war while 18 percent mainly blamed Israel.

The results indicate Israel successfully communicated in the U.S. its view that it had to defend itself against rocket attacks from the militant Hamas organization that controls Gaza and is considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and European Union. More than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died in the 22-day war.
Continue here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Lessons of Mumbai According to RAND

The Mumbai terrorist attacks in India suggest the possibility of an escalating terrorist campaign in South Asia and the rise of a strategic terrorist culture, according to a study issued by the RAND Corporation.

The RAND study identifies the operational and tactical features of the attack, evaluates the response of Indian security forces, and analyzes the implications for India, Pakistan and the United States.

“India will continue to face a serious jihadist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups, and neither Indian nor U.S. policy is likely to reduce that threat in the near future,” said Angel Rabasa, lead author of the study and a senior political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Other extremist groups in Pakistan likely will find inspiration in the Mumbai attacks, and we can expect more attacks with high body counts and symbolic targets.”

Multiple Targets and Objectives

Mumbai is India's commercial and entertainment center, and the attacks on landmark properties amplified the psychological impact, according to the report. The selection of multiple targets—Americans, Britons and Jews, as well as Indians—suggests that the terrorists intended the attack to serve multiple objectives that extended beyond the terrorists' previous focus on Kashmir and India.

“The defining characteristic of the Mumbai attack, and what makes it so alarming, is not just the ruthless killing, but the meticulous planning and preparation that went into the operation,” said Brian Michael Jenkins, a leading terrorism expert and senior advisor at RAND.

“The goal was not only to slaughter as many people as possible, but to target specific groups of people and facilities with political, cultural and emotional value. This indicates a level of strategic thought—a strategic culture—that poses a difficult challenge: not whether we can outgun the terrorists, but can we outthink them?”

Audacity and Ambition

The Mumbai attacks are significant in their audacity and ambition, as well as the complexity of the operation and the diversity of targets, according to researchers. Evidence suggests that planning for the attacks began as far back as mid-2007. The terrorists were heavily armed, and had detailed maps and information about each of the targets they hit. The multiple targets were carefully chosen for their religious, political and cultural values in order to make a statement.

One of the main lessons of Mumbai is that it exposed numerous weaknesses in India's counter-terrorism and threat mitigation structure, according to the report. Indian intelligence officials had received prior warnings from their own staff, as well as U.S. sources, that a major attack was probable, but did not take any specific action.

The report analyzes key weaknesses in the country's general counter-terrorism and threat-mitigation structure, including gaps in coastal surveillance, inadequate “target hardening,” incomplete execution of response protocols, response timing problems, inadequate counter-terrorism training and equipment for the local police, limitations of municipal fire and emergency services, flawed hostage-rescue plans, and poor strategic communications and information management.

The Mumbai terrorist attack has significant and potentially far-reaching implications for India, Pakistan, and the international community, according to researchers. The terrorists have been linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned Islamist terrorist group based in Pakistan with connections to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Nuclear Pakistan

India is likely to hold the state of Pakistan responsible for the attacks and may look for a way to punish Pakistan to deter future attacks. Both countries have nuclear weapons, making any military action a dangerous course, but if India does not respond, that would signal a lack of Indian resolve or capability, according to the report.

Without an appropriate response, Pakistan, or at least those elements of its military and intelligence leadership that are supportive of the activities of groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, are likely to conclude that these operations, in some measure, yield benefits that exceed the cost. For these and a myriad other reasons, researchers say, India is likely to remain a target of Pakistan-based and indigenous Islamist terrorism for the foreseeable future.

But the focus on Pakistan should not obscure the fact that the terrorists likely had help from inside India. Local radicalization is a major goal of the terrorists, and will be a major political and social challenge for India.

The repercussions for Pakistan will depend largely on what India and the international community do. Thus far, Indian and American officials recognize that Pakistan's civilian government does not control the policies that its military and intelligence agency hold toward militant groups operating in and from Pakistan.

According to the RAND researchers, the best outcome would be for Pakistan's civilian government to slowly and incrementally exert civilian control over its military and intelligence agencies. But this will be difficult as many in those agencies view the Taliban and other extremists as their natural allies, and the United States and India as threats to Pakistan's security.

The Mumbai attack underscores the imperative of addressing the transnational sources of Islamist terrorism in India. How to do this is an extraordinarily difficult question that will require the reassessment of basic assumptions in policy toward Pakistan by members of the international community.

The study, “The Lessons of Mumbai,” can be found here.

Russian Oil Companies Agree to Help Cuba

Foreign Confidential....

Russian oil companies will help Cubapetroleo with prospecting, production, refining and other aspects of the oil industry under an agreement signed in Moscow Friday ahead of Cuban President Raul Castro's visit next week.

The memorandum was signed by representatives of Cubapetroleo and a Russian consortium comprising Gazprom Neft, TNK-BP, Zarubezhneft, Rosneft and Surgutneftegaz.

Maoist Rebels Strike Eastern India

A day-long strike called by Maoists in eastern India to protest rising prices and police atrocities against villagers shut down factories and shops in the region's rural belt on Thursday.

Rebels also set fire to lorries and destroyed a mobile phone tower.

The strike affected the three states of Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa, stopping work at mines and blocking highways.

The Maoists, who say they are fighting for the rights of poor peasants and landless laborers, routinely call strikes, attack government property, and target local politicians.

The foreign press has largely ignored the rebels; but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called them the biggest challenge to India's internal security

A Specter is Haunting China

China Confidential will be four years old this April. The blog was born in strife--a response to government-orchestrated, anti-Japanese riots and protests that swept Chinese cities.

The fourth anniversary of those events--and this blog--will probably coincide with a much more massive manifestation of protest, according to China Confidential analysts and intelligence experts.

They predict protests and riots, commencing in March, as a result of a worsening economic situation. The upheaval will be unprecedented in the history of Chinese Communist Party rule.

It is too late for stimulus. The government's focus on rescuing the businesses of the ruling elite will backfire big time.

Scenario for Rebellion

The rebellion will probably start in the countryside (it always does in China) with an increasingly restive group--millions of recently laid-off and desperately poor migrant workers forced to return to their rural home villages after toiling in construction and other jobs in once-booming coastal cities. All told, there may be 200 million migrant workers in China; they are known as the "floating population." Rural areas depend on their remittences.

More than six million migrant workers are probably already unemployed--double the official estimate. In short order, the number of unemployed migrant workers could exceed 10 million.

The unemployed migrant workers--who have no social safety net and nothing to lose--will rise up and be joined by millions of left-behind peasants.

Corrupt local officials and land speculators will be slaughtered. The police will be powerless to save them. The rapid-response riot squads will be overwhelmed.

The upheaval will spread to the cities.

The "mass incidents," in Chinese Communist Party parlance, will probably peak sometime in April. By this time, analysts predict, the men who really rule China--the men in uniform--will move to restore order. Rather than simply crushing the demonstrations, the People's Liberation Army will try to harness and use the popular revolt.

A coup is likely, followed by a populist, leftward shift--perhaps, even, a new revolution from the top.

China Confidential can report that underground New Left and Maoist study groups are proliferating.

A specter is haunting China....

Icelanders Hurl Yogurt, Demand Change

Foreign Confidential....

Another sign of changing--and frightening--times.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Protesters hurled dairy products and rage at their elected leaders here during increasingly violent demonstrations this week over the handling of the country’s collapsing economy.

Parliament was suspended Wednesday and the prime minister’s limousine was attacked with snowballs and eggs.

Demonstrators are calling for immediate elections, but the prime minister appeared on television Wednesday night, saying his government has no intention of stepping down.

Both sides, it seems, are digging in for a fight.

The protesters are said to be envious of Americans for electing Barack Obama. Click here to continue.

Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced on Friday he would step down and seek an early election in May. Haarde, 57, is a U.S.-trained economist who has led Iceland's government since 2006 and his eurosceptic Independence Party from 2005. Previously he served as foreign and finance minister and as an economist with Iceland's central bank.

China's Economy Slowing Down as Exports Drop

So much for the foolish view that China is immune from the meltdown.

Kevin Hamlin and Li Yanping report from Beijjiing:
China’s economic slowdown, already the deepest in seven years, is set to worsen as the global recession pummels its exports, darkening the outlook for suppliers from Australia to Taiwan.

Gross domestic product will grow 6.3 percent this quarter from a year earlier, according to the median estimate of nine economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The survey was conducted after yesterday’s report that the economy expanded 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter.
Continue here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A TV Special Like No Other

Ian Ransom reports from Beijing:
Glitzy, kitschy and increasingly shunned by Internet-savvy youth, the politically correct TV marathon beamed across China on Lunar New Year's Eve still pulls enough viewers to put the U.S. Super Bowl to shame.
Click here to continue.

Death Sentence for Two in Tainted Milk Scandal

Lucy Hornby reports from Shijiazhuang:
A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced two men to death for their role in the production and sale of melamine-tainted milk that killed at least six children and made nearly 300,000 ill.

The severity of the punishments handed down in the closed-door but closely watched trial appeared to be a nod to grieving parents and an outraged public just before the biggest Chinese holiday of the year.

Several affected families were waiting outside the court in a gritty industrial city south of Beijing, demanding revenge, compensation and plain justice.
Continue here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is France Heading Toward Civil War?

AP reports:
France's equality chief said Wednesday the country was heading "straight into apartheid" and toward a major social explosion unless changes are made rapidly.

Yazid Sabeg issued a wakeup call to the French nation, which has already suffered major rioting from alienated immigrant youth in the country's social housing projects.

He stressed that the current financial crisis will hit those suffering from discrimination and lack of opportunity most severely.
"We are creating a social civil war in this country," said Sabeg. "I believe that today we are digging a ditch that leads straight into apartheid."

Sabeg spoke during a program on the Parliamentary Channel in which he responded to reporters' questions.

Sabeg is the son of Algerian immigrants and is known for his efforts to bring equality to the workplace.

President Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Sabeg in December to the newly created post of diversity and equality commissioner. He is to oversee a government action plan aimed at putting more ethnic minorities on TV screens, in political parties and in elite schools that lead to jobs in government and industry. Details of the plan are to be presented in March.

Sabeg said that France has been given four alerts over the past quarter-century, the latest in 2005 when fiery riots ricocheted through housing projects across France.

French of immigrant origin, most often from Muslim North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, fill the projects which ring major cities, and those who live there feel isolated from the mainstream. Many French had previously been unaware of the despair and anger locked up in the projects.
Continue here.

Iran: Hamas Has Right to Weapons

Foreign Confidential....

Iran has signaled its intention to resupply its Islamist Palestinian proxy, Hamas, with weapons. Click here for the story.

China Offers Nervous Welcome to Obama

AFP reports:
The world hailed the dawning of the Barack Obama era at the White House but the leaders that the new US president will have to deal with also warned him of the difficulties ahead.

Millions followed Obama's inauguration worldwide, with parties held from London to Sydney. Thousands danced in the Kenyan village where his father was born, while his former classmates celebrated at his former school in Indonesia....

Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso also vowed to work with Obama to boost "peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world."
But China....
... offered a nervous welcome to the new president, expressing concern over the direction he may take in Sino-US ties after the improvements seen under his predecessor in their once volatile relationship.

"Given the popular American eagerness for a break from the Bush years, many wonder, or worry to be precise, whether the new president would ignore the hard-earned progress in bilateral ties," the state-run China Daily said in an editorial.

Click here for the whole story.

North Korea's lunatic leaders ignored the Obama inauguration, AFP reports.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

China Calls on Obama to Improve Military Relations

As U.S. President Barack Obama prepared to take office, the Chinese Ministry of Defense called on him to improve military relations. China also released a 2008 military budget that indicates an 18 percent increase in spending.

Defense ministry spokesman Hu Changming urged Obama to "remove obstacles to exchanges" between the two countries, including a halt of weapons sales to Taiwan.

Hu spoke to reporters, Tuesday, during the release of a military policy paper "China's National Defense in 2008."

Hu sad China hopes to build a stronger military relationship with the United States. He cited forces for independence in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang as top security concerns for China, as well as the global economic crisis.

The paper did not announce new spending figures for China's 2.3 million-person armed forces. The $59 billion military budget from 2008 represented an 18 percent increase from 2007.

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, reiterated that China opposes American sale of weapons to Taiwan. She told reporters Tuesday afternoon that China feels the United States must abide by three joint communiqu├ęs--particularly the principles of the communique to stop sale of weapons to Taiwan.

Defense sales to Taiwan have been a source of contention between the United States and China since the countries established relations, 30 years ago. Just last October, China suspended senior-level visits and exchanges after the United States refused to cancel a $6.5 billion arms sale to Taiwan, including Patriot missiles and helicopters

German Chancellor: Iran Wants to Destroy Israel

Foreign Confidential....

Germany's Chancellor believes dialogue between Washington and Tehran would be useless as long as Iran is hell-bent on destroying Israel.

Wishing Barack Obama "the best of luck" ahead of his inauguration on Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said it "makes sense" for the incoming U.S. administration to seek diplomatic relations with Iran.

However, she said that Germany was skeptical about Obama's chances of success, AFP reported.

"On the European Union side we have held talks with Iran on multiple occasions, but unfortunately very unsuccessfully over a long period of time," Merkel said. "I think it will remain clear that so long as Iran keeps its nuclear program so opaque, and as long as it wants to destroy Israel, there will of course be points when we will say that on this basis we cannot come together."

Senior Israeli Official: Obama is a True Friend

Barack Obama is a "true friend of Israel" who identifies emotionally not only with the state, but also with the people of Israel, a senior official in Jerusalem said Tuesday.

Referring to hints about Obama's Muslim connections, the senior figure told Ynet that "his last name, Hussein, is completely meaningless." Speaking on the historic day that saw America's first black president sworn in, Israeli officials stressed that they are familiar with the incoming president and with quite a few key figures in the new US Administration.

"Our advantage is that we have become familiar with many of the new Administration's members during joint activity spreading over 10-15 years," a foreign ministry official said.
Continue here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

How China Sees US As Obama Takes Office

Chris Buckley reports from Beijing:
Barack Obama will inherit a raft of problems when he becomes U.S. president on Tuesday, but he won't have to worry about China itching to challenge America's global economic and political dominance.

The United States is in recession while China's economy recently became the world's third-largest. But the message from a debate brewing in Beijing is clear -- China must avoid both complacency and confrontation in handling Washington.

Two Beijing sources who demanded anonymity to discuss internal matters said President Hu Jintao privately told officials last year the United States may be beset by woes but remains the undisputed global "hegemon": a superpower whose overall economic, political and military might China would be reckless to challenge.
Continue here.

Jobless Migrant Workers Return to Chinese Villages

For Chen Xiaohong, the global economic crisis started with unsold portable DVD players.

"The factory just couldn't move the merchandise. It sat there for three months. They said it was because of the financial crisis," said Chen, a slight 37-year-old in a navy suit with the trouser legs rolled up to keep the hems out of the mud.

Chen, his wife and a half-dozen relatives worked at the factory on China's southern coast. Now they're all back in their rural village home earlier than expected for the country's biggest holiday, the Lunar New Year, with plenty of time on their hands.

Slumping global demand has forced Chen and tens of millions of other rural migrants who power China's factories into an early vacation, sending them back to their villages and turning what is usually a festive break from grinding work into a period of gnawing uncertainty. Many don't know whether their factories will reopen and where else they can find work.
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The 2009 Outlook for Listed Gold Mining Companies

Foreign Confidential....

For individual gold mining stocks, 2008 was a challenging time. Mutual funds that invest primarily in those stocks declined over 30%, though their five-year annualized return was nearly 7 percent.

But major mining companies should do well in 2009 thanks to increased consolidation within the industry. The biggest will be able to snap up quality small and midsize mining companies that have been unable to obtain financing. Undervalued, well-managed juniors should also do well; some will grow by acquisition into intermediate-sized miners.

As for the price of the precious metal, China Confidential analysts predict gold will be around $850 an ounce at year-end, though it will probably hit a new high along the way. Expect a rocky ride.

Looking to 2010, gold should rise steadily with fears of renewed inflation.

Global Banking Crisis Worsens

Alan Zibel reports:
The day before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, the escalating troubles facing major banks around the world couldn't be clearer.

On Monday, the British government swooped in to boost its stake in troubled Royal Bank of Scotland to almost 70 percent and offered to insure banks against large-scale losses on risky assets in exchange for binding agreements to lend out more money.

It was the second major British bank bailout in three months. Shares of ailing RBS, parent of Providence, R.I.-based Citizens Financial Group., lost two-thirds of their value in Monday's trading. Shares of other European banks plunged as investors worried that one or more banks could be nationalized after RBS said last year's losses could reach $41.3 billion — the biggest ever for a British corporation.

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic have failed to contain the most severe credit crisis in decades, which has ravaged banks in places as diverse as Ireland, Iceland and Switzerland, along with the U.S. and Britain.

Now top officials in London, Washington and Brussels are scrambling to figure out how to stop the bleeding. They are trying to find the best way to prod banks into lending out more money, struggling for a solution 18 months after the most severe credit crisis in decades sent investors reeling.
Continue here.

Russians Hope for Better US Relations Under Obama

Foreign Confidential....

Five billion people are expected to watch tomorrow's televised inauguration of Barack Obama.

The unprecedented global audience for the swearing-in of a U.S. President will include many viewers in Russia. A great many Russians are expressing hope that Obama will improve relations between Moscow and Washington.

Said one analyst: "After the collapse of Communism and the Soviet Union, there is no reason why we should not be enjoying good relations. We should work together to solve common problems. "

A recent public opinion poll indicated 70 percent of Russians were interested in the U.S. election. Russian television has continued catering to that interest during the presidential transition, reporting many of Obama's appointments, positions, and even his criteria for a dog for his daughters.

Political analyst Andrei Kortunov, president of the Eurasia Foundation in Moscow, says the inauguration heralds the arrival of a politician from a new generation, a 21st century politician.

German Analyst Sees Strong Demand for Gold

Foreign Confidential....

An analyst at Germany's second-largest bank predicted today that demand for gold will remain strong in 2009 despite some negative macro-economic influences.

New figures released last Friday showed that inflation in the U.S. slowed to its lowest levels for 50 years during 2008, with the Consumer Price Index falling by 0.7 percent in December.

However, Eugen Weinberg of Frankfurt-based Commerzbank predicted that people will still buy gold in large volumes this year as a way of diversifying investment portfolios.

POSTSCRIPT: Some people may buy gold for good luck after reading in the European press about a man named Nikolay Illiev. The 32-year-old fashion photographer was the only Bulgarian aboard the jetliner that crash-landed last Thursday into the icy waters of the Hudson River opposite the far west side of midtown Manhattan. He credited his survival with a gold coin that his grandmother gave him as an amulet. Last summer, he told his parents to send him the coin in America as he believed it would bring him good luck. He had been carrying it ever since and had it on him when he caught the flight from New York to Charlotte, North Carolina in a hurry to get to a fashion shoot in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Iran Intends to Give Hamas Rockets to Hit Tel Aviv

Foreign Confidential....

Israeli analysts say Iran will make every effort possible to rearm its Islamist, Palestinian proxy, Hamas, with the rockets that it lost in Israeli air attacks. Moreover, Iran will attempt to widen the range of the rockets so as to be able to hit Tel Aviv.

Israel hopes that Egypt will prevent the rearmament. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has already defined a Hamas state in Gaza as an Iranian satellite that has grown on its doorstep.

Iran's intention is to provide Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran's Lebanese proxy, with a nuclear shield for an all-out war of annihilation against Israel. Hezbollah has dozens of rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv and a larger arsenal capable of hitting Haifa in the North. Both types of rockets can be equipped with chemical or biological warheads.

A summary of the Iranian missile threat can be found here.

Intelligence Experts: Islamist Terror Threat Rising

Foreign Confidential....

Israeli intelligence and security experts are increasingly concerned about the threat of terrorist attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah against overseas Israeli and Jewish targets.

China Confidential sources say the aim of the Islamist attacks, which may include suicide bombings and Mumbai-style assaults, will be (a) to kill as many Israelis and Jewish community members as possible, (b) to punish foreign governments for supporting Israel, and (c) to turn foreign populations against Israel.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who backs both terrorist groups, is believed to be obsessed by the idea of kidnapping an Israeli diplomat or army reserve officer in order to bring the captive to Tehran for a show trial. The Islamist regime has set up a special court to try Israelis in absentia for alleged war crimes in Gaza.

As previously reported, Hezbollah's infamous Unit 1800 is believed to be planning attacks inside Israel.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

South Korean Army on Alert

The South Korean army is on alert after a threat of military action by North Korea.

South Korean Soldier Jailed in Spy Sex Scandal

A South Korean army officer who was caught in a honey trap set by a North Korean spy has been sentenced to three and a half years in a military prison.

The 27-year-old first lieutenant, identified only by the last name Hwang, was court-martialed on charges of assisting North Korean spy Won Jeong-hwa’s espionage operation and failing to notify the upper chain of command that he was aware of the spy’s identity.

Hwang was convicted on Tuesday, and Lim Choung-bin, the Army chief of staff, confirmed the decision yesterday.

Can Appeal

Hwang has a week to lodge an appeal.

The 34-year-old spy was indicted in April 2008 for a series of National Security Law violations, including using sex to extract confidential military information. The so-called “Korean Mata Hari” scandal rocked the nation, but North Korea said the espionage allegations against Won were a “complete fabrication by the South.”

Won, who identified herself later as an agent of the North’s Ministry of State Security, entered the South by posing as a defector in 2001. She slept with several South Korean military officers, including Hwang, to get confidential information.

Her other missions included planning to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, former secretary of the North’s Workers’ Party and the highest North Korean official to defect to the South.

The spy was convicted last October and sentenced to five years in prison. She didn’t appeal.

Mysterious Disappearance

Won’s stepfather, Kim Dong-sun, 64, was also indicted last year on charges of posing as a defector and funding her espionage operation. His trial is currently ongoing, but unlike Won, Kim has denied most of the charges.

Meanwhile, Yonhap News Agency reported last week that the prosecution and intelligence authorities are searching for another of Kim’s stepdaughters. She disappeared during their investigation.

According to the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office, the woman is in her 30s and is a witness for their case against Kim. Prosecutors said the woman entered Korea with Kim in 2006 as a defector and accompanied him on trips to China in 2007 and 2008. Kim was found to have met with North Korean agents during those trips.

- By Ser Myo-ja

Did 'Three Stooges' Stab Israel in the Back?

Foreign Confidential....

Israeli soldiers returning home from Gaza are starting to speak out--and what they have to say is terribly troubling.

The soldiers are angry about the sudden ceasefire. They wanted to continue fighting in order to really defeat Hamas (officially designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department). Instead, the soldiers were pulled out too soon, and Hamas is certain to rearm and rebuild. (Scroll down for the story).

It seems that Israel's worst-ever prime minister, Ehud Olmert, worst-ever Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, and most mediocre Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, have effectively stabbed the state in the back, betraying the people's trust, sending their youth into harm's way without a truly well-thought-out plan and, most important, a clear exit strategy.

Lebanon redux, the soldiers say.

We agree. Not for nothing do many Israelis call Olmert, Livni, and Barak the "Three Stooges."

Iran Publishing Holocaust Denial Book

Propaganda AIms to Prepare Public Opinion for Israel's Destruction

Foreign Confidential....

An Iranian publisher plans to launch English- and Arabic-language versions of a book of caricatures and satirical writings about the Holocaust.

The book purports to expose "big historical distortion" of the Holocaust. English and Arabic editions will be published at a ceremony in Iran's capital, Tehran, on January 27. The event will include reading of a message from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The 108-page book has 52 caricatures and satirical writings. It will be published by Martyr Shahbazi Publications and the Islamic student movement of the Science and Industry University.

China Confidential analysts say the book, following a Holocaust denial conference in Tehran that included leading overseas neo-Nazis, is part of an Iranian propaganda campaign aimed at demonizing and delegitimizing Israel ahead of a major military confrontation with the Jewish state after Iran acquires nuclear weapons.

Israeli Intelligence: Hamas Will Rebuild Tunnels

Foreign Confidential....

As Israel pulls out of Gaza ahead of the Obama inauguration, Israeli intelligence and security sources say Hamas can be expected to resume smuggling arms into Gaza within a few months, despite Israel's recent destruction of many tunnels used for this purpose.

Sources say Hamas will soon rebuild the tunnels, which were destroyed during Israel's 22-day offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

Eastern Europe Facing a Violent Spring

Foreign Confidential....

Jason Burke's article in The Observer is must-reading. He writes:
Eastern Europe is heading for a violent "spring of discontent", according to experts in the region who fear that the global economic downturn is generating a dangerous popular backlash on the streets.

Hit increasingly hard by the financial crisis, countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states face deep political destabilisation and social strife, as well as an increase in racial tension.

Last week protesters were tear-gassed as they threw rocks at police outside parliament in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, in a protest against an austerity package including tax rises and benefit cuts.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, 150 people were arrested and at least 30 injured in widespread violence. More than 100 were detained after street battles between security forces and demonstrators in the Latvian capital, Riga.

According to the most recent estimates, the economies of some eastern European countries, after posting double-digit growth for nearly a decade, will contract by up to 5% this year, with inflation peaking at more than 13%. Many fear Romania, which joined the European Union with Bulgaria in 2007, may be the next to suffer major breakdowns in public order.

Click here to continue.

Israeli Energy Companies Soar on Offshore Gas Find

Foreign Confidential....

Shares of listed Israeli energy companies soared Sunday after an exploration group led by Noble Energy (NBL.N) said it discovered more than 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off Israel's Mediterranean coast.

Among Israeli partners in the Yam Thetis consortium, Isramco (ISRAp.TA), with a 28.75 percent stake, led gainers with a nearly 130 percent surge.

Delek Drilling (DEDRp.TA), which holds 15.625 percent of the group, jumped 48 percent, while Avner Oil Exploration, also with a 15.625 percent stake, (AVNRp.TA) was up 36 percent.

Delek's parent, Delek Group (DELKG.TA), rose 54 percent.

Isramco described the discovery as "extremely significant"--in fact, the largest-ever discovered in Israel, worth $15 billion.

"Subject to receipt of further data from the drill site, the estimated reserves of natural gas are likely even to increase," the company said in a statement.

Drilling is difficult. The sea floor is 1,700 meters below the surface of the water and under the sand is a 1,400-meter thick stratum of salt.

Qatar Closes Israeli Trade Office

Foreign Confidential....

Qatar, the only Gulf Arab state with ties to Israel, closed Israel's trade office Sunday and ordered its staff to leave because of the Gaza conflict.

Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported that the director of the Israeli trade office was summoned to the Foreign Ministry Sunday morning and given a memorandum containing the decision to close the office.

QNA said the office's staff have seven days to leave the country.

Hamas Announces One-Week Ceasefire

Foreign Confidential....

Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced a one-week ceasefire Sunday after Israel began a unilateral halt to its Gaza offensive.

After exchanges of gunfire and an air strike punctured what Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert acknowledged was a "fragile" ceasefire, Gaza's Islamist-terrorist rulers said they would stop shooting for the next seven days to give Israeli troops a chance to withdraw from the Palestinian enclave.

But Israel said it will not consider a timetable for withdrawing all of its forces from the Gaza Strip until Hamas and its allies cease their fire.

"We can't talk about a timetable for withdrawal until we know the ceasefire is holding," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, rebuffing U.N. calls for setting a timetable.

"If there is a danger Hamas is going to deliberately torpedo the ceasefire, and we will have to reinitiate offensive actions against Hamas, for that reason we have to be reticent about withdrawing our forces."

"If the ceasefire holds, we can start a process of moving out," Regev added.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

N. Korea Says it Can Make 4-6 Nuclear Bombs

As if to rain on Barack Obama's parade, Islamist Iran's nuclear tag team partner, Stalinist North Korea, is acting up.
The North Korean military declared an “all-out confrontational posture” against South Korea on Saturday as an American scholar said North Korean officials told him they had “weaponized” enough plutonium for roughly four to six nuclear bombs.
Continue here.

China Confidential analysts expect North Korea, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Venezuela to coordinate crises aimed at testing the Obama administration and buying time for Iran to achieve breakthroughs in nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.

Hezbollah Planning Major Terror Attacks

Foreign Confidential....

EARLY WARNING: Intelligence sources say Iran's Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, is planning major attacks on Israeli or Jewish targets outside Israel.

The sources add that the Shiite terrorist group's infamous Unit 1800 is working on possible attacks inside Israel.

Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah Plot Kidnapping and Trial

Foreign Confidential....

EARLY WARNING: Hamas and Hezbollah intend to step up efforts to kidnap an Israeli soldier or overseas government official--or even the head of a Jewish organization that supports Israel--in order to bring the victim to Iran for a show trial and execution or imprisonment.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has demanded a trial of Israeli leaders. Ahmadinejad made the remarks in his Friday address to an emergency Arab summit on Gaza. He urged the international court of justice to prosecute Israeli leaders for "war crimes" in Gaza.

"It is most essential that Israel's political and military leaders stand trial for the acts of genocide they have committed against Palestinians", Ahmadinejad said.

Iran has set up a court to try Israeli leaders in absentia.

China Confidential intelligence sources say the Iranian regime is obsessed with the idea of kidnapping an Israeli or prominent Jew for a show trial and execution.

Caracas Crackpot Says Obama Has Bush 'Stench'

Foreign Confidential....

As oil revenues drop, Venezuela's communist crackpot, Hugo Chavez, is sinking to new lows. Jorge Silva reports from Caracas:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday Barack Obama had the "stench" of his predecessor as U.S. president and was at risk of being killed if he tries to change the American "empire."

Most world leaders expect a new era of U.S. foreign relations when Obama, a Democrat, is sworn in as president on Tuesday after Republican George W. Bush's eight years in the White House.

But Chavez said frayed ties with Washington were unlikely to improve despite the departure of Bush, who the Venezuelan leader has often called the "devil."

"I hope I am wrong, but I believe Obama brings the same stench, to not say another word," Chavez said at a political rally on a historic Venezuelan battlefield.

"If Obama as president of the United States does not obey the orders of the empire, they will kill him, like they killed Kennedy, like they killed Martin Luther King, or Lincoln, who freed the blacks and paid with his life."
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Miracle on Hudson in Historical Perspective

The Miracle on the Hudson--the emergency river landing of US AIrways Flight 1549 without any loss of life or critical injuries--is believed to be only the second recorded incident in which a passenger jet landed in water and all survived. The first one was in 1963 when a Russian Aeroflot flight landed in a river near St. Petersburg, Russia. All 53 people aboard survived the crash.

All 150 passengers and 5 crew members were ferried to safety in the US Airways crash.

Moreover, there have only been three other documented cases of a pilot deliberately ditching a commercial airliner into water.

Thursday's Hudson River crash took place almost exactly 27 years after an Air Florida plane bound for Tampa crashed into the Potomac River just after takeoff from Washington National Airport, killing 78 people. Five people on that flight survived.

Click below to view raw video of US Airways Flight 1549 landing.

Click below to watch the CNN simulation using Google Earth. Keep in mind that the pilot was able to fly the stricken (by birds) aircraft over the river, clearing the George Washington Bridge by only 900 feet, and land on water opposite and j48th Street on Manhattan's West Side, about a half-mile from shore, without crashing into any buildings or the busy Henry Hudson/West Side Highway--one of the nation's heaviest trafficked stretches of urban road. It's also a miracle that no car crash occurred as high-speed motorists were visually distracted by a shocking event that must have reminded so many of them of the awful attacks of 9/11.

Muslims Stab French Jew for Wearing Star of David

Foreign Confidential....

It is increasingly dangerous in France to be identified in public as a Jew or a supporter of Israel.

The latest incident: Masked Muslim thieves who attacked a young man east of Paris to steal his car repeatedly stabbed him after noticing he was wearing a Jewish symbol, the six-pointed Star, or Shield, of David--Magen David in Hebrew.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie condemned the “revolting attack” in the suburban town of Fontenay-sous-Bois and said authorities are working to find the perpetrators.

The ministry said in a statement Friday that the attackers shouted anti-Semitic threats at the man as they stabbed him four times with a knife in the Thursday evening attack. It did not provide details on the man’s condition.

Israel Bracing for More Rockets and Terrorism

Foreign Confidential....

Hanan Greenberg reports from Tel Aviv:
As the Israel Defense Forces continues to operate deep inside the Gaza Strip, the preparations for a possible ceasefire continue. According to estimates, after learning that the fighting is about to end Hamas will step up its attempts to carry out a terror attack and will increase the firing of rockets into Israel.

Hamas' representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, said Saturday morning that his organization would not hold fire until its demands are met. "Don't suggest that we surrender because we haven't been defeated and won't be defeated," he said.

Meanwhile, the military operation continues undisturbed, with IDF forces operating on the outskirts of Gaza City on Friday night. The Israel Air Force struck more than 50 different targets, including 15 tunnels ion the Philadelphi route, eight launching pads, bunkers and weapon storage warehouses.

During the operation, the forces fired with small arms on a mosque where gunmen opened fire at them. The mosque, which was apparently booby-trapped, exploded.

As the fighting continues, IDF officials realize that Hamas' main goal is to kidnap soldiers. Inquiries conducted so far have revealed that underground tunnels have been dug in dozens of cases, with gunmen hiding inside and trying to attract the soldiers.
Continue here.

Qatar Cuts Contacts with Israel

Foreign Confidential....

Following Iran's call to cut ties with Israel, moderate Qatar has suspended relations with the Jewish state.

Barbara Surk reports from Doha:
Qatar and Mauritania suspended contacts with Israel to protest the Gaza bloodshed at an Arab summit Friday that deepened the divisions between pro-U.S. Arab nations and their rivals in the Middle East.

U.S. allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia led a boycott of the gathering in the Qatari capital, which the Gulf nation had called to take a united stance over the Gaza violence but which ended up being dominated by backers of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a top Hamas supporter, made a surprise appearance, along with Hamas' Syria-based political chief Khaled Mashaal. They and Syria's president made fiery denunciations of Israel and called for Arab and Muslim nations to cut any bilateral ties they have with the Jewish state.
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Oil in Super-Contango Spurs Stockpiling

Oil producers, refiners and investors have put a record amount of crude oil into storage at a key delivery point as they try to profit from an unusual form of "super contango" that indicates the market expects prices to rise sharply by summer.
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Arab Nations Lost $2.5 Trillion in Four Months

The global financial meltdown has cost Arab nations $2.5 trillion in four months and led to 60 percent of development projects in the Persian Gulf region being put off or scrapped, Kuwait’s foreign minister said.
Continue here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Israel Destroyed Hamas 'Iran Unit'

Foreign Confidential....

Palestinian sources reported Thursday that the "Iranian Unit" of Hamas, members of the group's military wing trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, had been destroyed.

According to the sources, most of the unit's members were killed in fighting in the Zeytun neighborhood, where they had been deployed by the military leadership of Hamas.

The unit numbered approximately 100 men who had traveled to Iran and Hezbollah camps, mostly in the Beka'a Valley, where they were trained in infantry fighting tactics. The militants were also trained in the use of anti-tank missiles, the detonation of explosives, among other skills.

They managed to return to the Gaza Strip through tunnels in the Rafah border area, although a few also crossed during one of the few times that Egypt agreed to open the border crossing as a gesture of good will to Hamas.

The same sources also noted that Iran is preparing for an end to the fighting, at which point they want to send money to the Gaza Strip in order to assist Hamas in rebuilding destroyed homes - but also restore its military capabilities.
Continue here.

Violent Protests Sweeping Eastern Europe

Riots Spread to Lithuania; Mob Attacks Parliament

Foreign Confidential....

Violent political protests sweeping parts of Eastern Europe spread Friday to Lithuania, where police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a rock-throwing mob attacking Parliament.

Fifteen people were injured and more than 80 detained in several hours of street fighting between angry protesters and helmeted riot police.

The violence followed similar riots this week in Bulgaria and Latvia amid a wave of discontent over economic woes, difficult reforms and government corruption. In all three countries, peaceful anti-government rallies ended in vandalism and brawls with police.
Continue here.

BOA CEO's Chutzpah Knows No Bounds

Dateline USA....

chutz⋅pa   [khoot-spuh, hoot-] –noun Slang.
1. unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall.
2. audacity; nerve.
Also, chutzpah, hutzpa, hutzpah.

Origin: 1890–95; Yiddish khutspa

Bank of America, which bragged about its supposedly conservative approach to business amid the onset of the global economic meltdown, has glommed another $20 billion in U.S. government capital--taxpayers' money--to complete its acquisition of toxic Merrill Lynch, which BOA long coveted.

In addition to the fresh capital injection, BOA will get a $118 billion asset guarantee to help it absorb broker Merrill, the U.S Treasury Department announced.

Billions Here, Billions There

BOA has already received $25 billion from the Treasury Department's $700 billion U.S. financial bailout fund. That included a $10 billion grant to purchase Merrill, which BOA agreed to buy in a deal that closed on January 1.

In related news, Dow Jones reported Friday that BOA CEO Ken Lewis" darkened his outlook for the U.S. economy ... as his Charlotte, N.C., bank reported a fourth-quarter loss of nearly $2 billion."

The news service said Lewis told investors during a conference call to discuss the results that he expected the U.S. economy to show "some potential signs of stabilization during the second half of" 2009. Those comments amount to a shift in economic forecasting for Lewis, who had long maintained, until Friday, that the economy would start to recover around the middle of 2009.

Exiled Hamas Leader Vows to Keep Fighting

Foreign Confidential....

Jimmy Carter's favorite exiled terrorist, Khaled Meshaal, says he is ready to fight to the last Palestinian.

The Hamas leader, with whom the former U.S. President last year met in Damascus on two separate visits to the Syrian capital, today vowed that there would be no truce in Gaza until Israel ended its invasion of the Palestinian enclave.

His comments came amid reports that diplomats were moving closer to a ceasefire deal.

Split Today, Civil War Tomorrow?

Meshaal appeared to contradict earlier indications that Hamas was prepared to end of 21 days of fighting.

China Confidential analysts assert that a split has developed between Hamas leaders and fighters on the ground, who are increasingly isolated and hunted, and the exiled leadership that lives in relative safety and luxury in Syria, a secular Arab state allied with Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

As for Carter, the Democrat appears to be increasingly demented. His January 8 op-ed essay in The Washington Post reads like a Hamas press release, as noted here.

Democratic Party Sources day Carter is considering calling for a worldwide boycott of Israel and threatening to organize and lead a legion of human shields to stop the fighting.