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Thanks, World Reserve Currency, But No Thanks: Australia and China to Enable Direct Currency Convert
Apr 1st, 2013
Daily News
Tyler Durden
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

A month ago we pointed out that as a result of Australia's unprecedented reliance on China as a target export market, accounting for nearly 30% of all Australian exports (with the flipside being just as true, as Australia now is the fifth-biggest source of Chinese imports), the two countries may as well be joined at the hip.

Over the weekend, Australia appears to have come to the same conclusion, with the Australian reporting that the land down under is set to say goodbye to the world's "reserve currency" in its trade dealings with the world's biggest marginal economic power, China, and will enable the direct convertibility of the Australian dollar into Chinese yuan, without US Dollar intermediation, in the process "slashing costs for thousands of business" and also confirming speculation that China is fully intent on, little by little, chipping away at the dollar's reserve currency status until one day it no longer is.

That said, this latest development in global currency relations should come as no surprise to those who have followed our series on China's slow but certain  internationalization of its currency over the past two years. To wit: "World's Second (China) And Third Largest (Japan) Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade", "China, Russia Drop Dollar In Bilateral Trade", "China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System", "India and Japan sign new $15bn currency swap agreement", "Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says", "India Joins Asian Dollar Exclusion Zone, Will Transact With Iran In Rupees", and "The USD Trap Is Closing: Dollar Exclusion Zone Crosses The Pacific As Brazil Signs China Currency Swap."

And while previously the focus was on Chinese currency swap arrangements, the uniqueness of this weekend's news is that it promotes outright convertibility of the Yuan: something China has long said would happen but many were skeptical it ever would. That is no longer the case, and with Australia setting the precedent, expect many more Asian countries (at first) to follow in Australia's footsteps, because while the developed world is far more engaged in diluting its currency as a means to spur "growth", Asian and developing world nations are still engage in real, actual trade, where China is rapidly and aggressively becoming the world's hub.

South Korea will Strike Back Quickly If Attacked By the North
Apr 1st, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues;War

"If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations," South Korean President Park Geun-hye told the defense minister and senior officials at a meeting on Monday.

The South has changed its rules of engagement to allow local units to respond immediately to attacks, rather than waiting for permission from Seoul.
North Korea said Saturday it was entering a state of war with the South as US nuclear-capable stealth planes arrived for a joint military exercise which Pyongyang branded “hostile.”

Saturday, US F-22s normally stationed in Japan flew to Osan Air Base in South Korea Saturday as the latest demonstration of advanced capabilities meant to deter provocation from Pyongyang. North Korea reacted with harsh war threats to the flight of US B-2 stealth bombers to the South a week ago..

Palestinians Kick Off Jerusalem Bid By Ceding Holy Sites Custodianship to Jordan’s King
Apr 1st, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;The Nation Of Israel

A historic agreement signed in Amman Sunday, March 31, between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II takes a new stand on Jerusalem - one of the core issues subject to negotiation with Israel - by accepting the king as Custodian of the city’s Holy Sites. The Palestinians agreed that Abdullah “will oversee and manage the Waqf (Muslim religious authority) in Jerusalem” and represent the interests of the Holy Sites “in relevant international forums… through feasible legal means.”

Where the Palestinian (Wafa) and Jordanian (Petra) versions of the same agreement differ is over the definition of “Palestinian sovereignty.”

debkafile: However, by this document, the Palestinian leader and the king have laid the foundation for a mixed Arab-Palestinian-Israeli framework for managing the shrines holy to Jews (who are not mentioned), Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem. It has opened the door to what many will be perceive as a proposal to internationalize Jerusalem’s sanctuaries, a status affirmed but never honored from 1948 to 1967.
This foundation will not only raise strong Israeli objections but also be challenged by many Palestinians and therefore will have to last a long and tortuous course to survive.
Its importance lies in that the Palestinian Authority has taken the historically momentous step of ceding to the Hashemite throne the custodianship - religious, political, legal, and security - of the Muslim shrines on Temple Mount with authority over the Palestinian Waqf.  

It means that henceforth, instead of the Palestinian Authority, Israel will have to engage the Jordanian government in discussions of matters pertaining to Temple Mount, especially hyper-sensitive security arrangements.
This should not be too much of a stretch since in practice, Israeli and Jordanian intelligence have cooperated quietly on such issues for many years.

The Hashemite House comes out of the accord with Palestinian recognition for the first time as the Custodian of the Holy Places of Jerusalem, especially the Mosque of al Aqsa, a title which parallels the Saudi king’s traditional title as Guardian of the Holy Places to Islam in Mecca and Medina.
The degree of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s involvement in Jordanian-Palestinian accord is still to be determined and also whether Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians) were privy to its substance.

The Arab League summit meeting in Doha March 26-27, which debated the dormant Saudi Peace Plan,  was certainly not in the picture. Those rulers now have much to chew on.
It may be instructive to cite here the exclusive debkafile report published on Dec. 27, 2012:

A confederation plan for a Palestinian West Bank state and Jordan was the real subject of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent conversation with King Abdullah in Amman, debkafile’s sources reveal – not Syria. This idea has become a focal talking point in Amman, Washington and Palestinian centers. It ties in with the report from US and Jordanian sources that Israel and the Palestinians will resume talks in the spring.

The new Abbas-Abdullah accord appears to be a strong move towards bringing this plan to fruition.

That it is a practical document and not just a declaration is indicated by the detailed definition of the Custodian’s purview appearing in the Jordanian version:

“Recalling the unique religious importance to all Muslims of al-Masjid al-Aqsa with its 144 dunams including include the Qibil Mosque of al-Aqsa, the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock and all its mosques, buildings, walls, courtyards, attached areas over and beneath the ground (a hint at Israeli archeological digs for the Biblical city and Temple)…”

Jordan and Palestine also pledged “all efforts to protect Jerusalem and its Holy Sites from Israeli escalatory Judaisation” – according to another clause in the Petra version.
On at least one very important point the Palestinian and Jordanian communiqués varied significantly:

According to PA Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs Mahmoud Habash, “The agreement confirmed Jordan’s historic role in caring for the religious sanctuaries. It also confirmed Palestinian sovereignty over all of Palestine, including East Jerusalem as its capital.”
However, Article 3:3.1 of the agreement published in full by Jordan puts it this way: “The Government of the State of Palestine, as the expression of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people, shall have the right to exercise sovereignty over all parts of its territory, including Jerusalem.

While hailing their accord as a historic breakthrough, the Palestinian and Jordanian leaders will obviousy need to get all parts of their act together before they face Israel.

Let the Headlines Speak
Apr 1st, 2013
Daily News
From the Internet
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

Moscow struggles with record snowfall
Moscow’s wintertime snowfall has left a layer of 65 centimeters, which is an all-time record for April 1st. The previous record, of 56 centimeters, was set in 1892 and 1942. Last month’s average air temperature was 4.5 degrees lower than normal.  

Turkey trade with Iran to resume despite the US sanctions
The US government has tried to stop Turkey from providing a financial lifeline to Iran. Being unable to trade using the US dollar or the euro, Iran resorted to gold imports in exchange for gas exports to Turkey. Gold is not controlled by a central bank or an international agency, so it can be used as a currency by the countries or organizations deprived of access to the world’s banking and financial systems.  

Iran urged to strengthen presence in SCO
Chairman of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Business Council Marat Sharshekeev has called for stronger presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the council, Press TV reports.- It is a non-governmental body, which brings together the most influential members of the business communities of the six member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry continues to monitor Russian naval exercises
The Georgian FM will continue to inform the int'l community on Russian military exercises being held near the maritime borders of the country, Deputy FM David Zalkaliani said at a briefing on Monday. According to him, "Georgia expresses deep concern about the unplanned and sudden exercises of the Russian military which go beyond the territory defined by the Vienna Agreement." -"According to the information received today, all Russian warships returned to the place of deployment and presumably exercises have been completed. However, we are closely monitoring the situation and informing the int'l community," he said.  

Star Caught Circling Black Hole at Record-Breaking Speed
The black hole in the spinning duo is known as MAXI J1659-152 and is at least three times more massive than the sun. The star, meanwhile, is a red dwarf with a mass just one-fifth that of the sun and is just 620,000 miles (1 million kilometers) from the black hole, according to the European Space Agency, which announced the discovery on Tuesday (March 19).  

More Jews Live in Israel Than U.S. for First Time
For the first time, there are more Jews living in Israel than in America, making the Jewish state the home of the largest Jewish population in the world. There are 6 million Jews in Israel and 5.5 million in America, 2 million of whom live in New York. Roughly 500,000 Jews live in France and almost 300,000 live in the United Kingdom.  

FAU Professor In “Jesus Stomping” Incident Placed On Administrative Leave
Officials at Florida Atlantic University announced the move against Dr. Deandre Poole after receiving a complaint from student Ryan Rotella, who claims he was unfairly suspended from class for not writing the word ”Jesus” on a piece of paper and stomping on it as part of a class exercise. The controversy has even caught the attention of Governor Rick Scott, who called on University System Chancellor Frank Brogan to thoroughly investigate Rotella’s claims.  

Head-On Collisions Between DNA-Code Reading Machineries Accelerate Gene Evolution
Replication -- the duplicating of the genetic code to create a new set of genes- and transcription -- the copying of DNA code to produce a protein -- are not separated by time or space in bacteria. Therefore, clashes between these machineries are inevitable. Replication traveling rapidly along a DNA strand can be stalled by a head-on encounter or same-direction brush with slower-moving transcription.  

Iran: 2013 will be 'fall of American empire'
The "American empire" will fall this year, the head of Iran’s Basij forces claimed Sunday, a message that was approved by the Islamic regime’s supreme leader. "America should not think that with some diplomatic dialogue it can solve its dossier (problem) with the nation of Iran," Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi said. "The path of this land is directed by the martyrs..."  

China bird flu: Two men die in Shanghai
Two men have died in the Chinese city of Shanghai, after contracting a strain of bird flu not previously known in humans, Chinese officials say. The men, aged 27 and 87, both fell ill with the H7N9 strain in February and died some weeks later in March, Xinhua news agency reported. A woman of 35 who caught the virus elsewhere is said to be critically ill.  

South Korea pledges strong response against North
South Korea has promised a "strong response" to North Korean aggression, amid high tensions on the peninsula. Speaking to defence officials on Monday, President Park Geun-hye said that she took the series of threats from Pyongyang "very seriously". North Korea said on Saturday that it was entering a "state of war" with South Korea.  

Historic Damascus synagogue looted and burned
Rebels, Assad forces trade blame for destruction of ancient synagogue built atop a cave used by prophet Elijah. The 2,000-year-old Jobar Synagogue in the Syrian capital of Damascus was looted and burned to the ground. The Syrian army loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebel forces are blaming each other for the destruction of the historic synagogue, according to reports on Sunday.  

Cyprus crisis: Moscow will not bail out Russian savers
The Russian government says it will not compensate Russian savers who have lost money in the Cyprus banking crisis. Russians are believed to have billions of euros in Cypriot accounts and deposits above 100,000 euros (£84,300; $128,200) in the two biggest banks could be reduced by as much as 60%.  

NKorea's parliament meets amid nuclear tension
After weeks of warlike rhetoric, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gathered legislators Monday for an annual spring parliamentary session that followed a ruling party declaration that nuclear bomb building and a stronger economy were the nation's top priorities.  

UK poll points to mistrust of clergy, lack of moral leadership
Only around a half of Britons trust the clergy to tell the truth and a similar proportion think the Church of England does a bad job of providing moral leadership, a poll showed on Sunday. The survey by pollster YouGov commissioned by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper further showed that 69 percent of respondents thought the Church of England, mother church of the world's 80-million-strong Anglican communion, was out of touch.  

Sanctions push Iran inflation above 30 percent
Iran's inflation rate has climbed above 30 percent under the impact of international economic sanctions, according to figures released by the government's statistics centre. The rate reached 31.5 percent in the 12 months to March 20, which was the end of Iran's calendar year, the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted the centre as saying on Monday.  

PROMISES, PROMISES: Tight Iran Timeline for Obama
President Barack Obama pledged during the 2012 campaign, and since, that he will not let Iran develop nuclear weapons. According to his own timeline, Obama has about a year left to see if his policy of diplomacy and sanctions can get Iran to slow its enrichment of uranium and assure the world its nuclear program is peaceful. If the United States and its partners cannot succeed, the stage may be set for an American or Israeli military intervention.  

Is Homosexuality a 'Super Sin'?
Apr 1st, 2013
Categories: Contemporary Issues;Moral Decline

 Something very strange is going on at Focus on the Family.

It has been going on for some time.

It began with the unceremonious ouster of founder James Dobson in 2010.

He was replaced by Jim Daly as president.

Ever since, Daly has shifted the course of Focus to one more in line with the world’s thinking than with the perspective of the Kingdom of God.

As Daly himself explained in his book,”ReFocus,” he believes conservative evangelicals should be “careful to not create a ‘super sin’ out of homosexuality.” He said the changes he has instituted at Focus reflect a generational shift in priorities and style. He also wrote that Christian conservatives need to realize they “may not win many battles” and should “not [be] engaging to win” but to “reflect God’s glory.”

I interpret this as surrender to the shifting tides of the world.

While Dobson once said Obama had a “confused theology” and a “fruitcake” view of the Constitution (true on both counts), Daly said he wants to avoid such attacks. He wants to seek common ground with Obama and has done so in joining with other prominent evangelicals, including Southern Baptist Richard Land and the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, to advocate for “comprehensive immigration reform.” If you don’t know what that means, I’ll tell you: It means amnesty. It always means amnesty.

In an interview with Huffington Post (an interesting venue, indeed), he suggested Dobson and the late Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy, all elder statesmen of the conservative Christian movement, developed “a venomous mentality” by trying to slow or reverse destructive cultural changes. “And I understand it. I don’t judge it,” he told the Huffington Post, before adding that he grew up “in a different world.”

I know Dobson – and I knew both Falwell and Kennedy before they died. None of them has or had a venomous bone in their body.

But I want to return to this constant refrain from Daly that homosexuality is not a super sin. He has said it over and over again in trying to explain why Focus rarely touches on the subject any more. Recently, in another interview, he said: “I think one of the great tragedies of our time is we’ve set this up as some super sin or super debate about homosexuality.”

It raises the question, “Who said homosexuality is a super sin?”

No one that I know.

A super sin to me is one that, perhaps, is unforgivable by God. That is certainly not the case with homosexuality. In fact, it is true of only one sin, according to Jesus – the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.”

In other words, Jim Daly is setting up a straw man argument.

However, it also seems obvious to me that Daly – and Focus – are trying to downplay the seriousness of the sin of homosexuality – one characterized by the Bible in Leviticus 18:22.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, it says: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

In Romans 1, Paul actually refers to homosexuality as a kind of judgment on a society gone astray.

I’d say Jim Daly and the “refocused” Focus are running away from the issue of homosexuality, a movement that is successfully redefining the very meaning of marriage and the family in the U.S.

No wonder the culture is in such shambles. Those we expect to occupy until Jesus returns, to be salt and light in the world and to be watchmen on the wall are literally abandoning their posts.

They are making accommodation with the world.

Some of them, like Jim Daly and Focus, even admit they are unwilling to have a “super debate” about homosexuality.

That leaves just one side having pushing its sinful agenda without opposition.

I wonder how that battle will turn out.

Expert Sees High Likelihood of North Korean Attack
Apr 1st, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;War

In an exclusive interview with LIGNET, North Korea expert Dr. Sung-Yoon Lee says current tensions with North Korea are so high that they are likely to result in some kind of North Korean attack or bombing, possibly within a few days. Dr. Lee also discusses why the West has had such difficulty in dealing with the North Korean regime and the policies that America should employ to deal with it.

Abbas and Abdullah Sign Jerusalem Protection Pact
Apr 1st, 2013
Daily News
The Times of Israel
Categories: Today's Headlines;Anti-Israel

Palestinian leader and Jordanian king agree to ‘defend’ the city’s holy sites, ‘both Christian and Muslim’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah II have signed an agreement to “defend Jerusalem and its holy sites,” the Ma’an news agency reported on Sunday afternoon.

Abbas flew to Amman on Sunday to discuss religious issues with the Jordanian king, in a meeting attended by the religious affairs ministers of both the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.

Ma’an quoted Palestinian Authority Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash as saying that Abbas and Abdullah discussed ways to coordinate in order to protect religious sites in Jerusalem — both Christian and Muslim.

The agreement, he said, confirmed both Jordan’s role as protector of the city’s holy sites and “Palestinian sovereignty over all of Palestine, including its capital East Jerusalem.”

A statement from Jordan’s royal palace confirmed that Abbas has committed to a special Jordanian role in caring for holy shrines in Jerusalem.

The move is symbolic — Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel recognizes Jordan’s role as custodian of Christian and Muslim shrines in the city, which Israel captured from the kingdom in the Six-Day War.

The Palestinians still have no official say on Jerusalem. The fate of the city and its shrines is to be determined in final status talks with Israel, which broke down two years ago.

The statement said the agreement signed Sunday between Abbas and Abdullah confirms a verbal deal brokered in 1924.

On Friday, a leading Hebron cleric accused Israel of plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and rebuilding the Jewish Temple on its ruins. He called US President Barack Obama’s statements — saying that Jerusalem is the Jewish capital — a “declaration of war” preparing the ground for the Judaization of all of Jerusalem, the eastern part of which is viewed by the Palestinians as their future capital.

Last week, the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, proposed creating a $1-billion fund for the defense of Jerusalem’s Arab identity. He said Qatar would contribute $250 million to the fund, adding that he expected other Arab nations to come up with the rest.

“The Palestinian, Arab and Muslim rights in Jerusalem are not negotiable and Israel must realize this,” said the emir.

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