Euro governments paying secret ransoms to al Qaeda

Al Qaeda has secretly collected at least $125 million in kidnapping ransoms from European governments looking to buy back hostages from Africa and the Middle East, a report claimed Tuesday.

The hefty cash payments date back to 2008, including $66 million in the past year alone, according to the New York Times. Continue reading

Economist: Social Security in Worse Shape than Detroit’s Pension Funds

(CNSNews.com) – “Social Security is insolvent,” Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff told the House Subcommittee on Social Security at a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday. “And it’s not bankrupt in 30 years, or 20 years, or 10 years. It’s bankrupt today.”

“This is not my opinion. This is the only conclusion one can draw from Table IVB6 of the 2013 Social Security Trustee’s Report.”

“This table reports that Social Security has a $23 trillion fiscal gap measured over the infinite horizon,” noted Kotlikoff, who also served as a senior economist on President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“Twenty-three trillion dollars is 32 percent of the present value, also measured over the infinite horizon, of Social Security’s future revenues. Hence, Social Security is 32 percent underfinanced, which means it is in significantly worse financial shape than Detroit’s two pension funds taken together.” Continue reading

Beijing tests anti-satellite missile: Voice of Russia

China has taken another step towards challenging US supremacy in the space race after successfully testing a “non-destructive” anti-satellite missile on July 23, reports the Chinese-language website of the Voice of Russia, the Russian government’s international radio broadcasting service.

According to China’s official Xinhua news agency, the country’s Ministry of National Defense announced a successful missile intercept test that “achieved the preset goal,” which sources from the US State Department confirmed with “high confidence” was an anti-satellite missile that aims to destroy targets through impact and does not cause an explosion. Continue reading

What Happens Now That Argentina Is in ‘Selective Default’

Default is a major disaster for a government, but not much will happen right away now that Standard & Poor’s has declared Argentina to be in “selective default.”

S&P (MHFI) took the action today after Argentina’s talks with holdout creditors continued past the end of the 30-day grace period for a $539 million bond payment. Continue reading

Russian, Indian Central Banks Could Use National Currencies in Payments

MOSCOW, July 30 (RIA Novosti) – The Bank of Russia and the Reserve Bank of India have agreed to set up a working group to devise tools to use national currencies in bilateral payments, the Russian regulator said Wednesday. Continue reading

Ebola fears grow as experts say epidemic could spread to US, Europe and Asia remain on alert

AS the outbreak of the deadly west African Ebola disease worsens, a doctor treating infected aptients has revealed many are refusing treatment over its links to witchcraft and sorcery.
Doctor Benjamin Black, 32, a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Sierra Leone, told the UK Telegraph that some of those in infected areas were not seeking medical treatment as they thought the disease was the work of sorcerers.

“There is a section of population here who simply don’t believe Ebola is real, they think it is witchcraft and so they don’t come to the treatment centres,” he told the UK Telegraph.

The medical charity said the crisis gripping Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could spread to other continents and warns there is no overarching strategy to handle the world’s worst-ever outbreak of the disease.

Amid rising fears that the deadly virus could spread to the US, there are already plans to subject even healthy Americans into forced quarantine in the event of an Ebola pandemic. Continue reading

In Leaked Tape, Hostile Obama Tries to Force PM to Accept Truce

Damning evidence has emerged of US President Barack Obama’s dismissal of Israel’s position in favor of supporting the position of Hamas and its allies during ceasefire talks.

A “senior US official” leaked an audio recording of a telephone conversation between Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Channel One. In it the 35-minute conversation, which took place on Sunday, the US President appears downright hostile at points, and even cuts off Netanyahu in the middle of his protestations over a one-sided truce proposal which would have seen Hamas receive all its key demands, but that Israel ultimately rejected.

The following is an excerpt of the conversation, published in Hebrew by Channel One:

Obama: I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities – particularly airstrikes. Continue reading

How China’s Enormous Fishing Fleet Is Being Used As a Surrogate Navy

But it’s not just about keeping Chinese bellies full. According to an excellent in-depth report from Reuters, Beijing is increasingly equipping fishing boats with geolocation devices, filling them up with subsidized fuel, and dispatching them to the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where they are clashing with rival fishermen from Vietnam and the Philippines. Continue reading

China, Japan and Russia zero in on Latin America

Mexico City (AFP) – The leaders of China, Russia and Japan all descended on Latin America in recent weeks, jostling with the United States to increase their influence, invest and tap into resource-rich markets.

The latest arrival was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who on Monday was in Trinidad and Tobago, the second stop on a five-country tour that began on Friday in Mexico.

Abe’s visit began just as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his tour, which included stops in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba. Xi signed more than 100 trade agreements on the trip.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was in the region for a week from July 11, stopping in Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua and Cuba. Continue reading

Guns, vandals and thieves: Data shows U.S. networks under attack

Early one morning in April last year, someone accessed an underground vault just south of San Jose, California, and cut through fiber-optic cables there. The incident blacked out phone, Internet and 911 service for thousands of people in Silicon Valley.

Such incidents, often caused by vandals, seem fairly common, but exactly how often do they occur? Since 2007, the U.S. telecom infrastructure has been targeted by more than a thousand malicious acts that resulted in severe outages, according to data obtained by IDG from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Freedom of Information Act.

The reports themselves are confidential for national security and commercial reasons, but aggregate data provided by the FCC shows there were 1,248 incidents resulting in major outages over the last seven years. Continue reading

Second Turkish Gaza flotilla will have military escort, group says

Turkey has been on the anti-Israel bandwagon for quite a long time. However, the radicalized nation is now openly provoking war.

The Turkish pro-Palestinian organization IHH announced that its second Gaza flotilla will be launched soon – and will be afforded protection by the Turkish Navy, Israel’s NRG reported on Sunday.

The group’s chairman told local Turkish media that the mission, titled ‘Freedom Flotilla II,’ was in the process of finalizing the legal paperwork needed to commence on the trip, and would embark as soon as it got the necessary permissions. Continue reading

U.S. sales to Russia have only risen since sanctions imposed

U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade data show that exports rose 17 percent from March through May _ the most recent months for which the data is available _ compared with the previous three months, before sanctions were imposed. The value of exports has risen in each consecutive month this year, an unusual trend in a trade relationship that historically fluctuates on a monthly basis.

Russian markets account for less than 1 percent of U.S. exports, but what the U.S. sells to Russia is largely high-tech and expensive goods, including technology and equipment for the energy sector, which faces the threat of targeted sanctions.

Robert Kahn, a senior fellow in international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the rise in exports was evidence that Russian companies were stockpiling goods with the expectation that future sanctions would prevent U.S. companies from selling to their country. Continue reading

Chinese Hackers Stole Plans For Israel’s Iron Dome

China-based hackers stole plans for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in 2011 and 2012, according to an investigation by a Maryland-based cyber security firm first reported by independent journalist Brian Krebs.

The hackers also stole plans related to other missile interceptors, including the Arrow 3, which was designed by Boeing and other U.S.-based companies.

According to Krebs, “the attacks bore all of the hallmarks of the ‘Comment Crew,’ a prolific and state-sponsored hacking group associated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and credited with stealing terabytes of data from defense contractors and U.S. corporations.” The hackers gained access to the systems of three Israeli companies working on missile defense. Maryland-based Cyber Engineering Services could prove that 700 documents were stolen in the breach although it’s likely that the actual number is higher. Continue reading

‘We are looking at the beginnings of a Holocaust’

The situation facing European Jewry is “simply intolerable, unacceptable and inexcusable,” Israeli Jewish Congress president Vladimir Sloutsker told MKs and foreign diplomats at a special session of the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee on Monday.

Calling the rise in anti-Semitic incidents accompanying Israel’s invasion of Gaza an “SOS situation,” Sloutsker warned that if left unchecked, such behavior could lead to another European genocide.

“Never before since the Holocaust, have we seen such a situation as today,” he said, referring to the continent-wide demonstrations by pro-Palestinian activists, a number of which have generated into violence and many of which have featured racist rhetoric.

“We are potentially looking at the beginning of another Holocaust now. These events [violent demonstrations and expressions of anti-Semitism] will only grow in scale across Europe,” he asserted. Continue reading

Chinese Missile Forces Pose Threat to U.S. in Future Conflict

ASPEN, Colo.—China’s advanced cruise and ballistic missiles pose a significant threat in future conflict with the United States, the chief of naval operations (CNO) warned last week.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the CNO, also said during a security conference Friday that China is building a second aircraft carrier that could be deployed in the not too distant future.

Asked what Chinese weapons systems he is most concerned about if the United States went to war with China, Greenert noted Beijing’s growing arsenal of cruise and ballistic missiles.

“They have an extraordinary selection of cruise missiles, and a ballistic missile force that they developed,” Greenert told the Aspen Security Forum.

If the conflict were close to China, the missile forces would pose the most serious threat, he said.

“If it’s in their backyard, I’m a little worried about their ballistic missile [force] because of its reach,” Greenert said. Continue reading