March 31, 2012

New World Order Will Be Complete When Nations of the World Surrender Control Over Their Money and Over Their Military

There will be no date, no particular point in history where you can say, “On this date, the New World Order was ushered in.” To a very large extent, we’re already in it. We’ve been in it for a long, long time. What they’re really doing is just building the walls a little bit at a time with the passage of each day, and we’re in it. We will never be able to say, “Gee, it started on this date.” If there was to be a date that historians might want to put on the arrival of this monster, I suppose it would be the date on which all of the nations of the world surrendered control over their money and over their military, because those are the two legs on which national sovereignty stands. If you’ve got a strong military and a strong money system, you’re a sovereign nation. If you don’t have those things, you’re nothing. You’re just a territory that is controlled by someone who does have strong money or a strong military. So we’re very close to the surrender of our money right now. I suppose that would be a date that historians might choose for the crossover point. - G. Edward Griffin, Restore the Republic's Reality Report, May 17, 2009

Press for Truth Presents: The New World Order of the 21st Century

March 29, 2012

Press for Truth - The agenda for a one world government is advancing at an exponential rate as it continues to unfold under the radar. Sovereign nation’s like the US now seek “”international permission,” instead of “congressional approval” to provide a legal basis for combat. When the military takes it’s orders from international governing authorities instead of congress or the president then it is safe to say that the new world order has arrived.

California Slammed With Fukushima Radiation

California Slammed With Fukushima Radiation

March 30, 2012

Zero Hedge - The Journal Environmental Science and Technology reports in a new study that the Fukushima radiation plume contacted North America at California “with greatest exposure in central and southern California”, and that Southern California’s seaweed tested over 500% higher for radioactive iodine-131 than anywhere else in the U.S. and Canada:

Projected paths of the radioactive atmospheric plume emanating from the Fukushima reactors, best described as airborne particles or aerosols for 131I, 137Cs, and 35S, and subsequent atmospheric monitoring showed it coming in contact with the North American continent at California, with greatest exposure in central and southern California. Government monitoring sites in Anaheim (southern California) recorded peak airborne concentrations of 131I at 1.9 pCi m−3

Anaheim is where Disneyland is located.

EneNews summarizes the data:

Corona Del Mar (Highest in Southern California)

  • 2.5 Bq/gdwt (gram dry weight)= 2,500 Bq/kg of dry seaweed

Santa Cruz (Highest in Central California)

  • 2.0 Bq/gdwt = 2,000 Bq/kg of dry seaweed

Simon Fraser University in Canada also tested North American seaweed after Fukushima:

  • “In samples of dehydrated seaweed taken on March 15 near the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal, the count was zero; on March 22 it was 310 Bq per kilogram; and by March 28 it was 380 Bq/kg.” -Vancouver Sun
  • Seaweed in Seattle also tested positive for iodine-131; levels were not reported -KIRO
  • No results after March 28 were reported

In addition, radioactive debris is starting to wash up on the Pacific Coast. And because the Japanese are burning radioactive materials instead of disposing of them, .

Of course, the government is doing everything it can to help citizens cover up what’s occurring. We pointed out in January:

Instead of doing much to try to protect their citizens from Fukushima, Japan, the U.S. and the EU all just raised the radiation levels they deem “safe”.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that high-level friends in the State Department told him that Hillary Clinton signed a pact with her counterpart in Japan agreeing that the U.S. will continue buying seafood from Japan, despite that food not being tested for radioactive materials [see this].

And the Department of Energy is trying to replace the scientifically accepted model of the dangers of low dose radiation based on voodoo science. Specifically, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley Labs used a mutant line of human cells in a petri dish which was able to repair damage from low doses of radiation, and extrapolated to the unsupported conclusion that everyone is immune to low doses of radiation….


American and Canadian authorities have virtually stopped monitoring airborne radiation, and are not testing fish for radiation. (Indeed, the EPA reacted to Fukushima by raising “acceptable” radiation levels.)

So – as in Japan – radiation is usually discovered by citizens and the handful of research scientists with funding to check, and not the government. See this, this, this, this, this and this

The Japanese government’s entire strategy from day one has been to cover up the severity of the Fukushima accident. This has likely led to unnecessary, additional deaths.

Indeed, the core problem is that all of the world’s nuclear agencies are wholly captured by the nuclear industry … as are virtually all of the supposedly independent health agencies.

So the failure of the American, Canadian and other governments to test for and share results is making it difficult to hold an open scientific debate about what is happening.

And it’s not just radiation from Japan. An effort by the Southern California Edison power company to secretly ramp up production to avoid public disclosure may have led to a leak at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

And see these articles on California radiation exposure courtesy of EneNews:

A Cashless Society May Be Closer Than You Think

A Cashless Society May Be Closer Than Most People Would Ever Dare to Imagine

March 30, 2012

The Economic Collapse - Most people think of a cashless society as something that is way off in the distant future. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. The truth is that a cashless society is much closer than most people would ever dare to imagine.

To a large degree, the transition to a cashless society is being done voluntarily. Today, only 7 percent of all transactions in the United States are done with cash, and most of those transactions involve very small amounts of money.

Just think about it for a moment. Where do you still use cash these days? If you buy a burger or if you purchase something at a flea market you will still use cash, but for any mid-size or large transaction the vast majority of people out there will use another form of payment.

Our financial system is dramatically changing, and cash is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. We live in a digital world, and national governments and big banks are both encouraging the move away from paper currency and coins.

But what would a cashless society mean for our future? Are there any dangers to such a system?

Those are very important questions, but most of the time both sides of the issue are not presented in a balanced way in the mainstream media. Instead, most mainstream news articles tend to trash cash and talk about how wonderful digital currency is.

For example, a recent CBS News article declared that soon we may not need “that raggedy dollar bill” any longer and that the “greenback may soon be a goner”….

It’s what the wallet was invented for, to carry cash. After all, there was a time when we needed cash everywhere we went, from filling stations to pay phones. Even the tooth fairy dealt only in cash.

But money isn’t just physical anymore. It’s not only the pennies in your piggy bank, or that raggedy dollar bill.

Money is also digital – it’s zeros and ones stored in a computer, prompting some economists to predict the old-fashioned greenback may soon be a goner.

“There will be a time – I don’t know when, I can’t give you a date – when physical money is just going to cease to exist,” said economist Robert Reich.

So will we see a completely cashless society in the near future? Of course not. It would be wildly unpopular for the governments of the world to force such a system upon us all at once.

Instead, the big banks and the governments of the industrialized world are doing all they can to get us to voluntarily transition to such a system. Once 98 or 99 percent of all transactions do not involve cash, eliminating the remaining 1 or 2 percent will only seem natural.

The big banks want a cashless society because it is much more profitable for them.

The big banks earn billions of dollars in fees from debit cards and they make absolutely enormous profits from credit cards.

But when people use cash the big banks do not earn anything.

So obviously the big banks and the big credit card companies are big cheerleaders for a cashless society.

Most governments around the world are eager to transition to a cashless society as well for the following reasons….

-Cash is expensive to print, inspect, move, store and guard.

-Counterfeiting is always going to be a problem as long as paper currency exists.

-Cash if favored by criminals because it does not leave a paper trail. Eliminating cash would make it much more difficult for drug dealers, prostitutes and other criminals to do business.

-Most of all, a cashless society would give governments more control. Governments would be able to track virtually all transactions and would also be able to monitor tax compliance much more closely.

When you understand the factors listed above, it becomes easier to understand why the use of cash is increasingly becoming demonized. Governments around the world are increasingly viewing the use of cash in a negative light. In fact, according to the U.S. government paying with cash in some circumstances is now considered to be “suspicious activity” that needs to be reported to the authorities.

This disdain of cash has also grown very strong in the financial community. The following is from a recent Slate article….

David Birch, a director at Consult Hyperion, a firm specializing in electronic payments, says a shift to digital currency would cut out these hidden costs. In Birch’s ideal world, paying with cash would be viewed like drunk driving—something we do with decreasing frequency as more and more people understand the negative social consequences.

“We’re trying to use industrial age money to support commerce in a post-industrial age. It just doesn’t work,” he says. “Sooner or later, the tectonic plates shift and then, very quickly, you’ll find yourself in this new environment where if you ask somebody to pay you in cash, you’ll just assume that they’re a prostitute or a Somali pirate.”

Do you see what is happening? Simply using cash is enough to get you branded as a potential criminal these days.

Many people are going to be scared away from using cash simply because of the stigma that is becoming attached to it.

This is a trend that is not just happening in the United States. In fact, many other countries are further down the road toward a cashless society than we are.

Up in Canada, they are looking for ways to even eliminate coins so that people can use alternate forms of payment for all of their transactions….

The Royal Canadian Mint is also looking to the future with the MintChip, a new product that could become a digital replacement for coins.

In Sweden, only about 3 percent of all transactions still involve cash. The following comes from a recent Washington Post article….

In most Swedish cities, public buses don’t accept cash; tickets are prepaid or purchased with a cell phone text message. A small but growing number of businesses only take cards, and some bank offices — which make money on electronic transactions — have stopped handling cash altogether.

“There are towns where it isn’t at all possible anymore to enter a bank and use cash,” complains Curt Persson, chairman of Sweden’s National Pensioners’ Organization.

In Italy, all very large cash transactions have been banned. Previously, the limit for using cash in a transaction had been reduced to the equivalent of just a few thousand dollars. But back in December, Prime Minister Mario Monti proposed a new limit of approximately $1,300 for cash transactions.

And that is how many governments will transition to a cashless society. They will set a ceiling and then they will keep lowering it and lowering it.

But is a cashless society really secure? Of course not.

Bank accounts can be hacked into. Credit cards and debit cards can be stolen. Identity theft all over the world is absolutely soaring.

So companies all over the planet are working feverishly to make all of these cashless systems much more secure.

In the future, it is inevitable that national governments and big financial institutions will want to have all of us transition over to using biometric identity systems in order to combat crime in the financial system.

Many of these biometric identity systems are becoming quite advanced. For example, just check out what IBM has been developing. The following is from a recent IBM press release….

You will no longer need to create, track or remember multiple passwords for various log-ins. Imagine you will be able to walk up to an ATM machine to securely withdraw money by simply speaking your name or looking into a tiny sensor that can recognize the unique patterns in the retina of your eye. Or by doing the same, you can check your account balance on your mobile phone or tablet.

Each person has a unique biological identity and behind all that is data. Biometric data – facial definitions, retinal scans and voice files – will be composited through software to build your DNA unique online password.

Referred to as multi-factor biometrics, smarter systems will be able to use this information in real-time to make sure whenever someone is attempting to access your information, it matches your unique biometric profile and the attempt is authorized.

Are you ready for that?

It is coming.

In the future, if you do not surrender your biometric identity information, you may be locked out of the entire financial system.

Another method that can be used to make financial identification more secure is to use implantable RFID microchips.

Yes, there is a lot of resistance to this idea, but the fact is that the use of RFID chips in animals and in humans is rapidly spreading.

Some U.S. cities have already made it mandatory to implant microchips into all cats and all dogs so that they can be tracked.

All over the United States, employees are being required to carry badges that contain RFID chips, and in some instances employers are actually requiring employees to have RFID chips injected into their bodies.

Increasingly, RFID chips are being implanted in the upper arm of patients that have Alzheimer’s disease. The idea is that this helps health care providers track Alzheimer’s patients that get lost.

In some countries, microchips are now actually being embedded into school uniforms to make sure that students don’t skip school.

Can you see where all of this is headed?

Some companies are even developing RFID technologies that do not require an injection. One company called Somark has developed chipless RFID ink that is applied directly to the skin of an animal or a human. These “RFID tattoos” are applied in about 10 seconds using micro-needles and a reusable applicator, and they can be read by an RFID reader from up to four feet away.

Would you get an “RFID tattoo” if the government or your bank asked you to?

Some people out there are actually quite excited about these new technologies.

For example, a columnist named Don Tennant wrote an article entitled “Chip Me – Please!” in which he expressed his unbridled enthusiasm for an implantable microchip which would contain all of his medical information….

“All I can say is I’d be the first person in line for an implant.”

But are there real dangers to going to a system that is entirely digital?

For example, what if a devastating EMP attack wiped out our electrical grid and most of our computers from coast to coast? How would we continue to function? Sadly, most people don’t think about things like that.

Our world is changing more rapidly than ever before, and we should be mindful of where these changes are taking us.

Just because our technology is advancing does not mean that our world is becoming a better place.

There are millions of Americans that want absolutely nothing to do with biometric identity systems or RFID implants.

But the mainstream media continues to declare that nothing can stop the changes that are coming. A recent CBS News article made the following statement….

“Most agree a cashless society is not only inevitable, for most of us, it’s already here.”

Yes, a cashless society is coming.

Are you ready for it?


By Introducing Problems into Electronic Banking, the 'Banksters' Will Lead Us to Accept Microchip Implants

Over 50,000 Visa and Mastercard Credit Cards Compromised

March 30, 2012

Washington Post - Credit card data — enough to create counterfeit cards — has been stolen from Visa and Mastercard users, Visa confirmed today. The companies are doing damage control, alerting banks and affected card members.

According to security researcher, Brian Krebs, a group of individuals, have compromised the a payments processor, rumored to be Global Payments Inc. The group is believed to be New York-based, targeting the payment system in New York parking garages. Cyber criminals have gained access through the processor to “Track 1 and Track 2 data,” which gives them enough information to make fraudulent purchases on the compromised cards.

Visa and Mastercard have alerted a number of banks and credit unions associated with the cards, warning that they should be on the lookout for fraud.

“Visa has provided payment card issuers with the affected account numbers so they can take steps to protect consumers through independent fraud monitoring and, if needed, reissuing cards,” the company said in a statement, “As always, Visa encourages cardholders to regularly monitor their accounts and to notify their issuing financial institution promptly of any unusual activity.”

The company takes a small jab at the individual business (potentially the NY garages themselves). It explains that each business accepting credit payments is responsible for updating its systems and putting in place the most recent security measures.

According to Krebs, the Public Service Credit Union (PSCU) is saying 56,455 cards have been compromised, with only around 1.5 percent of those cards actually showing fraudulent charges. Joe Levy, chief technology officer of Solera Networks, believes there may be more to the hacks, which have occurred in the past in cases like Heartland Payment Systems.

“It would not be surprising if the investigation slowly reveals that the breach involved techniques such as web application exploitation, maneuvering from a compromised public system into the internal systems, and that the presence on the network was a longer-term than estimated,” said Levy in an e-mail. “These tend to be common characteristics of these kinds of events. And it underscores the fact that perimeter defenses are imperfect and will almost always be breached by a sufficiently motivated adversary.”

The hack has seemingly been isolated at the third-party payments processor, according to Visa. Visa’s own systems have not been compromised.


Higher Bail Given to Occupy Arrestees Who Refuse Iris Scans

Higher Bail Given to Occupy Arrestees Who Refuse Iris Scans

March 21, 2012

Village Voice - The first of the more than 70 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested Saturday afternoon and evening were arraigned yesterday in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Exhausted by a night and day in jail and shaken by the violence of the police response to Occupy Wall Street's six-month anniversary celebration, many burst into tears of relief when they were finally released to the friendly welcome of the movement's Jail Support team.

Unlike many of the other defendants with whom they shared cells, the protesters could feel confident that they would soon be released -- Occupy posts bail for those arrested during movement actions.

But protesters and their legal advisers were surprised yesterday to learn that the size of their bail was being affected by whether defendants were willing to have the distinctive patterns of their irises photographed and logged into a database.

Police and courts have been photographing irises since 2010, once at booking and once on arraignment. The practice is a response to a couple of instances in which mistaken identity allowed someone facing serious charges to go free by impersonating another defendant up on minor charges.

The idea of the state collecting distinctive biometric information from people who haven't even been charged with a crime yet, much less convicted of one, makes civil libertarians nervous, though, and over the last two years they've pushed back. Unlike fingerprints, they argue, no law was ever passed to require iris photographs -- it's just a policy. And while police regularly tell arrestees that the photographs are mandatory, and that failing to be photographed will prolong their stay in jail, defendants have often refused to comply without serious consequence.

That appears to be changing. Yesterday, a defense lawyer had told Judge Abraham Clott she was under the impression that her client -- not affiliated with Occupy Wall Street, facing charges of marijuana possession -- was not legally bound to submit to an iris photograph. Clott responded in no uncertain terms: Iris photographs may be optional in the sense that the court can proceed without them if it has to, he said, for example if the photographic equipment breaks down. But they are not optional for defendants.

Judge Clott wasn't going it alone in this strict interpretation. National Lawyers Guild NYC President Gideon Oliver said that a memo, presumably from the Office of Court Administration has been circulated to judges, instructing them that iris photographs are mandatory.

Even if iris photographs could be made mandatory, though, they should never be used in setting bail, said Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a third-year law student who helps run Occupy Wall Street's bail services.

"In New York, bail can only legally be set for a single purpose: to ensure that defendants appear at their next hearing," she said.

To evaluate someone's flight risk, courts can look at things like their employment, ties to the community, nearby family, a history of bench warrants, and the severity of the charges they're facing. If someone doesn't look like they're a flight risk, they're supposed to be released on their own recognizance, or ROR in court short-hand.

In the case of one Occupier arraigned yesterday, all the indicators pointed to an ROR. She was employed, her parents were sitting in the courtroom, and it was her first encounter with the justice system. Initially charged with resisting arrest and attempted robbery, the prosecutor dropped the second charge when he acknowledged that it arose from the arresting officer claiming she made a grab for his badge, even though the officer conceded he never thought she was trying to steal it.

Nonetheless, the prosecutor asked for $1,000 bail because the defendant had refused to let her iris be photographed. Judge Clott agreed, to the great dismay of Meltzer-Cohen.

"Even though all of the legitimate bail factors militate against setting bail, he did it anyway," she said. "Bail is not supposed to be used in any kind of punitive way. He's using his discretion as a judge to enforce a non-enforceable practice."

Several other Occupy protesters saw their refusal invoked as a justification for bail yesterday, but posted the money and were released. But Oliver said he has another client who's refusing to submit to an iris photograph, and that, police are refusing to produce him in court for arraignment until he does.

"It's a question of who will blink first," Oliver said last night, adding that if it goes on much longer, he'll file a writ of habeas corpus.

"It may well come to that tomorrow," Oliver said. "If this had come up earlier, I might be doing that now."

[For an update on the courts' use of iris scans, click here.]


Obamacare Will Cost Taxpayers $17 Trillion

Massive $17 Trillion Hole Found In Obamacare

March 31, 2012

Zero Hedge - Two years ago, when introducing then promptly enacting Obamacare, the president stated that healthcare law reform would not cost a penny over $1 trillion ($900 billion to be precise), and that it would not add ‘one dime’ to the debt.

It appears that this estimate may have been slightly optimistic… by a factor of 1700%. Because coincident with the recent Supreme Court debacle, in which a constitutional law president may be about to find that his magnum opus law is, in fact, unconstitutional, someone actually read the whole thing cover to cover, instead of merely relying on the CBO’s, pardon Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs’, funding estimates. That someone is Republican Jeff Sessions who after actually running the numbers has uncovered that the true long-term funding gap is a mind-boggling $17 trillion, just a tad more than the original sub $1 trillion forecast.

This latest revelation means that total underfunded US welfare liabilities: Medicare, Medicaid and social security now amount to $99 trillion! Add to this total US debt which in 2 months will be $16 trillion, and one can see why Japan, which is about to breach 1 quadrillion in total debt (yen, but who’s counting), may want to start looking in the rearview mirror for up and comer competitors.

And while Obama may have been taking creative license with a number that is greater than total US GDP, he was most certainly correct when saying that Obamacare would not add a penny to US debt. Because the second the US government comes to market to fund a true total debt/GDP ratio of 750%, it is game over, and the Fed will have its hands full selling Treasury puts every waking nanosecond to have any time left for the daily 3pm stock market ramp.

What is it that brought about this discovery of some inverse cash under the rug? The Daily Caller explains.

The hidden shortfall between new spending and new taxes was revealed just after Supreme Court justices grilled the law’s supporters about its compliance with the Constitution’s limits on government activity. If the court doesn’t strike down the law, it will force taxpayers find another $17 trillion to pay for the increased spending.

The $17 trillion in extra promises was revealed by an analysis of the law’s long-term requirements. The additional obligations, when combined with existing Medicare and Medicaid funding shortfalls, leaves taxpayers on the hook for an extra $82 trillion in health care obligations over the next 75 years.

Regular readers are well aware that when it comes to US insolvency, the underfunded Americanwelfare state, whose obligations now amount to $100 trillion!, is the primary cause of this country’s ultimate downfall. This latest revelation only makes it that much more certain, and likely, faster.

Currently, the Social Security system is $7 trillion in debt over the next 75 years, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Also, Medicare will eat up $38 trillion in future taxes, and Medicaid will consume another $2o trillion of the taxpayer’s wealth, according to estimates prepared by the actuarial office at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The short-term cost of the Obamacare law is $2.6 trillion, almost triple the $900 billion cost promised by Obama and his Democratic allies, said Sessions.

The extra $17 trillion gap was discovered by applying standard federal estimates and models to the law’s spending obligations, Sessions said.

For example, Session’s examination of the health care law’s “premium support” program shows a funding gap $12 billion wider that predicted.

The same review also showed the law added another $5 trillion in unfunded obligations for the Medicaid program.

Of course, that this “discovery” happened two years after the law was originally proposed and enacted merely once again confirms that other banana republics have nothing on the US, and that America continues to live in a state of sheer chaos when it comes to understanding that every use of funds must ultimately have a source as well.

Jeff Sessions’ full presentation.

As a reminder this is what One trillion looks like.

…Now multiply by 17.

March 30, 2012

U.S. Corporations Moving Out of Equities and into Bonds

Corporate Pension Funds Break Away from Equities

March 30, 2012

Reuters - After pouring billions of dollars last year into underfunded pensions, U.S. corporations are protecting their investments by moving out of equities and into bonds.

For the first time in over a decade, more of the $1.246 trillion assets represented by the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension funds is now in bonds instead of equities, according to pension consulting firm Milliman. Assets into equities dropped to 38 percent in 2011 from 44 percent in 2010, while fixed income climbed to 41.4 percent from 36.4 percent in the same time period. The data reflect a majo shift from five years ago, when assets in stocks were double those in bonds, and marked the first time the allocation to bonds exceeded stocks in the history of the Milliman survey.

The retreat from stocks and into bonds is a trend that will continue, managers and consultants say, in response to pension deficits that are soaking up company cash and leading to a broad de-risking.


Corporations are starting to realize that the pension fund is not the place for risk, which includes the loss potential of equities. "There will definitely be less demand for equities from corporate pensions if you look out the next several years," said Aaron Meder, head of U.S. pension solutions for Legal and General Investment Management America. Corporations are "tired of the volatility in the stock market, so they want to de-risk their pensions," he added. The volatility in equities during 2008 and 2011 is still fresh in the minds of pension plan sponsors.

Funding deficits in the Milliman survey hit a year-end record high of $326.8 billion in 2011. As a result, corporations were pressured to make $55.1 billion in cash contributions to shore up the deficits -- which were surprisingly less than the $60.3 billion in 2010. Milliman expects the amount of cash contributions to rise this year. "A lot of lessons have been learned. The pension plan is not the place to be trying to drag off more return per shareholder," said Jeffrey Saef, a managing director of investment strategy at BNY Mellon who helps manage client pension plans. The aim to match high liabilities, or employee benefit obligations, with assets has become an urgent concern for many sponsors, Saef said.

So-called liability-driven investment favors long-duration credit and high-quality corporate bonds, he said. Ford Motor Co., which runs the third-largest pension fund in Milliman's survey, said last month it had reduced its stock holdings in 2011 to 32 percent of assets from 41 percent and planned to shrink further to 20 percent in coming years.

Neil Schloss, vice president and treasurer of Ford Motor, said at a JPMorgan conference that Ford will continue a liability-driven investment strategy. "We're about 45 percent bonds today and over time, we will move to a target of about 80 percent bonds."


This year's stock market rally has not sidetracked the need to address hefty employee benefit obligations. In recent years, historically low interest rates and volatile stock markets have made it difficult for companies to get the returns they need to adequately fund their pension obligations.

"The stock market is having a really good run at the moment, but if you look at the two sides of the balance sheet ... the liabilities are outpacing the assets, and pension funds are losing ground," said Gordon Fletcher, principal at consulting firm Mercer.

The Pension Protection Act, which requires corporations to fund their pension deficits in a tight seven-year period, has also discouraged risk, said Albert Trezza, an associate director of research and analysis at BNY Mellon.

Even as markets stay at high levels, volumes are lighter than last year, while investment-grade corporate bonds, which Saef of BNY Mellon said are getting more attention from corporate pension funds, are at record sales.

Investment-grade corporate bond issuance has reached a record first-quarter high of $294.25 billion, beating the previous record of $272.3 billion in first-quarter 2007, data from Thomson Reuters unit IFR show.

"Too often we've had sponsors hooked on the drug of equities. They can't get off. And they don't have the strategy in place to get out. You've got to know when to get out of the casino," said Fletcher.

Public Sector Unions Attempt to Recall Wisconsin Governor and Retain the Power of Collective Bargaining

Wisconsin's Walker Faces Recall Vote Over Union Curbs

March 30, 2012

Reuters - Wisconsin's controversial Republican Governor Scott Walker will face a recall election on June 5 over a new law he championed that strips public sector unions of most power, becoming the first U.S. governor to face a no-confidence vote in nearly a decade.

The five-member Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which manages elections, voted unanimously on Friday to formally certify more than 900,000 signatures calling for Walker's ouster, setting the recall election in motion.

Just hours after the recall vote was set, a federal judge in the Wisconsin capital of Madison struck down two key parts of Walker's signature law curbing union power that labor unions had challenged in court.

A Democratic primary will be held on May 8 to choose Walker's opponent in the recall vote. The Democrat most likely to face him is Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a rematch of the 2010 election that Walker narrowly won.

Barrett formally announced on Friday that he would run for governor, saying Walker had divided the state.

"As governor, I will fight to restore collective bargaining rights, because it's the right thing to do, and it's necessary to heal Wisconsin," Barrett said in a statement.

No elected U.S. state governor has faced a recall vote since California's Gray Davis was ousted in 2003 and succeeded by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The only other governor to be recalled in the last century was North Dakota's Lynn Frazier in 1921.

Walker set off a firestorm shortly after he was elected in 2010, when he pushed a law stripping public sector unions of most of their powers through the Republican-led legislature.

The law forced local and state workers such as teachers to pay part of the cost of health insurance and pensions, and took away union power to negotiate wage increases beyond the level of inflation.

What most infuriated unions were provisions that required a vote of membership every year to keep union representation at a workplace, and which made paying union dues voluntary, not mandatory. Both of those controversial parts of the law were struck down on Friday by Federal Judge William Conley.

"Scott Walker's (union law) has been divisive, unfair, radical and offensive to the values of Wisconsin," the state's Democratic party chair Mike Tate said.

The law sparked weeks of pro-union protests at the capital in Madison last year, and Senate Democrats fled the state in a futile attempt to stop the measure from becoming law.

Walker said the measure was needed to close a budget gap and put Wisconsin on a firmer financial footing.


The stakes are high for both sides in the recall election. Organized labor sees Walker's agenda as trying to bust unions and is concerned that if the law is allowed to stand it could encourage other states to do the same.

Already, Indiana has approved a so-called "right to work" law letting union members opt out of paying dues, and Ohio tried but failed last year to force through a law curbing union power.

Wisconsin was also expected to be a closely contested state in the presidential election in November. President Barack Obama last year openly supported the unions in opposition to Walker, and leading national Republicans have sided with the governor.

"A lot of people throughout the country are watching this because it has implications for public sector unions, unions in general and the national Republican agenda," said Joe Heim, a professor of political science and public administration at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Appearing unfazed by the recall announcement, Walker launched into campaign mode on Friday, visiting a non-union metal fabrication company in South Milwaukee, where he chatted with workers and reporters.

"Who the other side puts on the ballot (in the recall election) is really secondary to the tens of millions of dollars we expect out-of-state, big government unions will be putting into this race," Walker said. "So that's really who my opponent is, it's the out-of-state government money that is coming in."

Despite the success of the recall petition drive to oust Walker, a poll before the recall vote was set this week suggested Wisconsin was closely divided, with Walker holding a slight edge over Barrett.

According to the poll of 707 registered and eligible voters released by Marquette Law School earlier this week, Barrett would win a primary against lesser-known Democratic candidates.

Walker still had a slight edge over Barrett in a general election at 49 percent to 47 percent. The Democratic primary poll had a 5.2 percent margin of error and the general election poll 3.8 percent.

There are few undecided voters, given how polarized politics have become in the state over the last year.

Money is pouring into Wisconsin from across the nation to help both sides in the recall fight. Since the beginning of 2011, Walker has raised $12 million, some from big donor Super PACS. Unions are expected to generously fund whoever the Democrats choose to face Walker.

Even before the election was formally launched on Friday, television attack ads had begun. A pro-Walker ad accused potential Democratic candidates of seeking higher taxes and killing jobs in the state, while an anti-Walker ad said he had cut public school funding.

The election board also unanimously approved recall elections for Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators who backed the union curbs.


Student Loans Could Be the Next Bubble to Burst: Debt from Student Loans Exceeds $1 Trillion

Student Loans Could Be the Next Housing Bubble: Robert Reich

March 30, 2012

Daily Ticker - Could the next bubble to burst be student loans?

The burden is big: U.S. college students borrowed $117 billion in federal student loans last year, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported earlier this year that debt from student loans exceeds $1 trillion, surpassing credit card debt for the first time.

Tuition and fees at both public and private universities have been steadily increasing and some higher education institutions are cutting financial aid, reducing class offerings or even freezing enrollment at campuses because of state and federal funding shortfalls. California State University, for example, announced in March that it was not accepting new students at 15 of its 23 campuses for the spring 2013 semester and will wait-list all applicants the following Fall after a $750 million funding cut.

President Obama wants to overhaul the college education system and proposed a new financial aid program during his State of the Union address in January, saying higher education isn't a luxury. Rather, Obama says "It's an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford." In a recent speech at the University of Michigan, he told students that colleges were being put on notice. At the heart of the problem: "If you can't stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down," he says.

According to an analysis by Moody's Analytics, student loans have grown "persistently at double digit-rates throughout the last decade" and "college costs have outpaced overall inflation by a significant margin." A new report by PNC Bank finds that students hold an average of $45,000 in student loan debt.

Robert Reich, a public policy professor at University of California Berkeley and the labor secretary in the Clinton administration, says a four-degree would mean a 70 percent to 100 percent increase in salary compared to someone with just a high school diploma. Students would leave college with thousands of dollars in student loans, but the higher salary would make up for the monthly payments. However, now college students are "facing very dim employment prospects" and "people will be struggling with college costs" for a long time, Reich says in an interview with The Daily Ticker.

The plight of college grads has been well documented in the media. There are the Harvard-educated 22-year-olds who are working as Starbucks baristas. Or the liberal-arts grad taking a second unpaid internship. The Phi Beta Kappa member working in retail sales. There are similar stories like these around the country. Even for students lucky enough to find a full-time job after graduating, many are low paying and more often than not exclude previous guaranteed perks like health insurance or a 401k plan. The cost of student education has shifted to the federal government as students and families seek out additional scholarship aid to help pay more soaring college costs. Some families would take out second mortgages on their homes to pay for college tuition, but many families can no longer do that in the face of high unemployment, a weak housing market, tighter credit and an overall uncertain economic climate.

Pell Grants and Stafford loans, scholarship money awarded by the federal government to lower-income students, have not kept pace with the cost of tuition despite the Obama administration advocating for increases in the maximum Pell Grant award. Republicans, who have made unprecedented cuts to education in their budget proposals, have targeted federal education assistance for years. Federal education aid has "become a kind of political football," Reich says.

Online education, a growing trend that an increasing number of private and public institutions have embraced, could be one way to lower the burden of college costs for students. Technical schools are another point of interest: in Germany, students with a technical degree are making as much as students who have completed four years of higher education, Reich says.


Japan Will Intercept North Korea's Rocket If It Enters Japanese Territory

Japan Will Intercept North Korean Rocket If Threatened

March 30, 2012

AP - Japan's defense minister Friday ordered missile units to intercept a long-range rocket expected to be launched by North Korea if the rocket or its fragments threaten to hit Japan.

The Unha-3 rocket is expected to fly past western Japan after its launch from North Korea's west coast sometime between April 12 and 16. The plan has raised concerns that a failed launch, or a falling stage of the rocket, could endanger Japanese lives or property.

Friday's order from Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka came at a meeting of Japan's national security council and followed earlier instructions for the military to prepare to intercept the rocket if it enters Japanese territory.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura urged people to stay calm, saying the military is preparing "just in case.

"We don't believe anything would fall over Japan's territory. Please carry out your daily lives and business as usual," he said.

A statement from the Defense Ministry said Japan would send destroyers equipped with Aegis missile defense systems to the Pacific and East China Sea and deploy mobile Patriot missile launchers in Okinawa. An interceptor missile unit is also likely to be deployed in Tokyo, although the capital is far from the expected flight path.

North Korea has said the launch will send a satellite into orbit to study its crops and natural resources. Japan, the United States and other countries claim the launch is a cover for testing long-range missiles, in violation of international agreements.

Seoul has also warned it might shoot down any parts of the North Korean rocket heading for South Korean territory.

Japan mobilized its interceptor units but did not follow through when North Korea launched a rocket in 2009.

Interceptor missiles on the Japanese destroyers would be the first line of defense, and the land-based Patriot missiles would be a backup. Japan has successfully tested its interceptor missiles but has never used them in a real-world situation.

March 29, 2012

Biggest Ever Solar Tornado Observed on Surface of the Sun

Supermassive Swirling Solar Tornado 5 Times the Size of Earth

We're not sure your standard tornado shelter will keep you safe from this one

March 29, 2012

Tecca - Tornadoes can be absolutely devastating here on Earth, costing billions of dollars yearly in property damage. But even the most severe of Earthly tornadoes has nothing on this behemoth: Scientists have recently discovered a massive supertornado on the surface of the Sun five times bigger than our own planet.

The swirling gas was discovered by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory satellite in September 2011. News of the tornado's existence was presented to the National Astronomy Meeting 2012 today in England. Clocking in at 186,000 miles per hour, the speeds of this tornado absolutely dwarf those of a storm on Earth. Terrestrial storms don't exactly get as hot as this tornado either: The solar storm's temperature ranges between 90,000 and 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit.

While scientists have viewed large solar tornadoes in the past, this one is easily the biggest ever observed. The cause of the storm is believed to be the twisting of the Sun's magnetic field. A video of a similar storm is available below.

Will the U.S. Government Confiscate all Gold and Silver under National Defense Resourse Preparedness?

Will Government Confiscate all Gold and Silver under National Defense Resourse Preparedness?

March 28, 2012

Lone Star Watchdog - We have been hearing about the controversy of Obama latest executive order for the last couple of weeks. We all know the President has giving himself the authority to confiscate everything in the name of national security. We all know Obama is Wall Street’s bitch. Obama has been aiding and abetting the robber barons looting the nation. Under this executive order singed in the dark of night when we least expected it, that has many people very concerned. Will he use this executive order to pull off the biggest heist of the 21st century?

To speak hypothetically of a possible scenario that I would not put past Obama to try to pull. We can see again that the government is going to run out of money. This time congress is less reluctant to give in to the President’s wishes this time around. The dollar might fully collapse at a time they did not plan for in their timetable. It can be a fabricated crisis. Congress can refuse to raise the debt ceiling this time due to public pressure. Anything the President perceives as a national emergency, or does he need the money to fund the wars. He can enact the powers of these executive orders to go after anything.

We can see a phony crisis being concocted to go after the American’s people gold, maybe even silver. He will order people like back when FDR was President to seize all safety deposit boxes and demand American to turn in their gold and silver coins, jewelry; and it would not surprise me if that be a couple’s wedding rings now required to be surrendered this time around. This is why people should buy safes for their homes and bolt them to the floor and empty their safety deposit boxes over everything.

My solution is empty my safety deposit box; take everything valuable out of the box. Even that classic Barbie doll you might collected. I would buy a cheap can of gold spray paint from the dollar store. I would get a bunch of rocks and spray paint them gold. Then I would fill the safety deposit box with these gold painted rocks. Our valuable stocks, bonds, gold and silver are not safe anymore in a bank’s safety deposit boxes. It safer in a safe in your home next to a Winchester 12 gauge shotgun placed nearby.

The last time the American people’s gold was stolen by the Bankers was back in 1933 through FDR’s executive order to make holding gold illegal. Can this latest executive order be used to loot what is left of the nation? It would not surprise me at all if he did.

Obama has stooped to an all time low in so any ways. However, if the government tries to confiscate the gold for the bankers using a phony reason the government needs to stay running or funding for the wars. I know he is going to have a hard going after the guns, he is surely going to have a hard time going after the gold this time around if the people still well armed. Do you agree? Fool America back in 1933, Shame on them, Try to fool us gain with the same scam. I don’t think so.


Home Prices Hit a 10-year Low

Home Prices Fall to 2002 Levels

March 27, 2012

CNNMoney - The housing market started the new year with a thud. Home prices dropped for the fifth consecutive month in January, reaching their lowest point since the end of 2002.

The average home sold in that month lost 0.8% of its value, compared with a month earlier, and prices were down 3.8% from 12 months earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 major markets.

Home prices have fallen a whopping 34.4% from the peak set in July 2006.

"Despite some positive economic signs, home prices continued to drop," said David Blitzer, spokesman for S&P. "Eight cities -- Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa -- made new lows."

Only three of the 20 index cities registered gains in January, led by Phoenix, which climbed 0.9% month-over-month, Washington, up 0.7%, and Miami, which edged 0.6% higher.

Housing market indicators have sent confusing signals so far this year, with existing home sales and new home sales down month-over-month in February, but up year-over-year.

Potential homebuyers lack confidence in the market, according to Michael Feder, CEO of Radar Logic, an analytics company that produces daily spot prices for real estate. A big problem looming is a massive number of potential foreclosures.

"People see that there are millions of homes underwater, and at elevated risk of foreclosure, and conclude that housing values are unlikely to appreciate in any meaningful way for many years," he said.

On the other hand, home builders have turned more bullish and are gearing up for more new construction. Mortgage rates are also still very favorable and the economy is getting better with hiring on the rise.

Ken H. Johnson, a real estate professor at Florida International University, thinks all these factors are helping the housing market turn around, but the recovery will take time.

"The housing market is like a large cruise ship that turns slowly, often temporarily losing ground due to currents and change in momentum," he said. "While the ship is turning, drags on the housing market are also present and must be addressed before a full recovery is accomplished."

Feder said there is some evidence that the housing market recovery is approaching. One clue is that regular sales, as opposed to bank sales of foreclosed homes, increased dramatically over the past few months.

That indicates that sellers have capitulated to the lower sales prices of foreclosures and have adjusted their expectations of the prices their homes can command in the market.

He called that a good thing, because it means the market bottom is near. Once it does turn, there could be a rapid increase in buying, said Feder, as there is a much pent-up demand for homes.

Despite the market current turmoil, home ownership is still the goal of most Americans, according to a survey released Tuesday by Fannie Mae.

It found that while financial constraints and employment concerns are keeping homebuyers on the sidelines right now, two-thirds of renters say they intend to buy someday.

"Some Americans may not be financially positioned to own a home in the near future," said Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae.

"But they may begin to revisit that aspiration as employment and household balance sheets improve over the coming years," he said.


China's Smartphone Market to Overtake U.S.; Apple's Partner Foxconn Opens New iPhone Plant in China; BlackBerry Maker Posts Loss

China smartphone market 'to overtake US'

Macrh 16, 2012

AFP - China is set to be the biggest smartphone market this year after shipments in the second-half of 2011 outstripped the US, a technology research firm said.

Figures by US-based International Data Corporation (IDC) indicate China will account for 20.7 percent or almost 137 million units of the global smartphone market from 18.2 percent in 2011.

In contrast, the US share of the overall market is expected to decline to 20.6 percent this year from 21.3 percent in 2011, said IDC, which is projecting 660 million smartphones will be shipped in 2012.

"(China) smartphone shipments are expected to take a slim lead over the US in 2012 before the gap widens in the coming years," said Wong Teck Zhung, IDC's regional senior market analyst with the client devices team.

"There will be no turning back this leadership changeover."

Much of the growth in smartphone shipments in China, and also for the other emerging markets such as India and Brazil, are being fuelled by mobile handsets running on Google's Android platform, said IDC.

"A lot of the Android models in China are priced competitively," said Melissa Chau, IDC's regional research manager.

"That is actually driving the huge growth."

Chau said the average price of a non-Apple smartphone in China sold for $324 excluding telco subsidies last year while an iPhone retailed at a much higher $760.

Apple CEO visits Foxconn's iPhone plant in China

March 29, 2012

Reuters - Apple Inc's Tim Cook, on his first trip to China as the chief executive officer, has visited an iPhone production plant run by the Foxconn Technology Group, which is being accused of improper labor practices.

China is the world's largest mobile market and already Apple's second-biggest market overall, but its growth there is clouded by issues ranging from a contested iPad trademark to treatment of local labor.

Picture handouts dated March 28 and e-mailed to Reuters show Cook seen smiling and meeting workers in the newly built Foxconn ZhengzhouTechnology Park in the north central province of Hebei. The facility employs 120,000 people, the handouts said.

Foxconn is a major part of Apple's global supply chain, assembling most of its iPhones and iPads, but has been hit by a string of worker suicides in recent years that activist groups blame on tough working conditions.

The group is the Taiwan parent of Hong Kong-listed Foxconn International Holdings and Taiwan-listed Hon Hai Precision.

Cook took the reins at Apple in August after the death of the firm's visionary founder, Steve Jobs. His closely guarded itinerary has included talks with Vice Premier Li Keqiang, Beijing's mayor and a visit to one of Apple's two stores in the capital.

On Wednesday, state media reported that China's vice premier promised Cook the country would boost intellectual property protection.

"To be more open to the outside is a condition for China to transform its economic development, expand domestic demands and conduct technological innovation," the official Xinhua news agency cited Vice Premier Li Keqiang as saying.

Apple has tie-ups with China Telecom and China Unicom to sell its iPhone, with the only other Chinese carrier, China Mobile, the country's biggest mobile operator, also looking to clinch a deal.

Apple is embroiled in a long-running dispute with Proview - a financially weak technology company that claims to have registered the iPad trademark - that is making its way through Chinese courts and threatens to disrupt iPad sales.

Apple, Foxconn pledge to revamp worker conditions

March 29, 2012

Reuters - In a landmark development for the way Western companies do business in China, Apple Inc said Thursday it had agreed to work with partner Foxconn to substantially improve wages and working conditions at the factories that produce its wildly popular products.

Foxconn - which makes Apple devices from the iPhone to the iPad - will hire tens of thousands of new workers, clamp down on illegal overtime, improve safety protocols and upgrade worker housing and other amenities.

The moves came in response to one of the largest investigations ever conducted of a U.S. company's operations abroad. Apple had agreed to the probe by the independent Fair Labor Association in response to a crescendo of criticism that its products were built on the backs of mistreated Chinese workers.

The Association, in disclosing its findings from a survey of three Foxconn plants and over 35,000 workers, said it had unearthed multiple violations of labor law, including extreme hours and unpaid overtime.

Apple, the world's most valuable corporation, and Foxconn, China's biggest private-sector employer and Apple' main contract manufacturer, are so dominant in the global technology industry that their newly forged accord will likely have a substantial ripple effect across the sector.

Working conditions at many Chinese manufacturers that supply Western companies are considerably inferior to those at Foxconn.

"Apple and Foxconn are obviously the two biggest players in this sector and since they're teaming up to drive this change, I really do think they set the bar for the rest of the sector," FLA President Auret van Heerden told Reuters in an interview.

More immediately, the Apple-Foxconn agreement will raise costs for other manufacturers who contract with the Taiwanese company, including Dell Inc, Hewlett-Packard, Inc, Motorola Mobility Holdings, Nokia Oyj and Sony Corp.

The agreement will likely result in higher prices for consumers, though the impact will be limited because labor costs are only a small fraction of the total cost for most high-tech devices.

Foxconn said it would reduce working hours to 49 hours per week, including overtime, while keeping total compensation for workers at its current level. The FLA audit had found that during peak production times, workers in the three factories put in more than 60 hours per week on average.

To compensate for the reduced hours, Foxconn will hire tens of thousands of additional workers. It also said it would build more housing and canteens to accommodate that influx.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who company critics hoped would usher in a more open, transparent era at Apple after he took over from the late Steve Jobs last fall, has shown a willingness to tackle the global criticism head-on.

The much-anticipated report marks the first phase of a probe into Apple's contract manufacturers across the world's most populous nation. With 1.2 million workers, Foxconn - an affiliate of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry - is by far Apple's largest and most influential partner.

BlackBerry maker posts loss; some executives exit

March 29, 2012

Reuters - Research In Motion said on Thursday several senior executives resigned as the BlackBerry maker posted a quarterly loss, stung by slipping smartphone shipments and limited deliveries of its poor-selling PlayBook tablet.

The company reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $125 million, or 24 cents a share, as it booked writedowns on its BlackBerry 7 phones and goodwill.

On an adjusted basis, net income dropped to $418 million, or 80 cents a share, on revenue of $4.19 billion in new CEO Thorsten Heins' first quarter as chief executive. A year ago it earned $934 million, or $1.78, on revenue of $5.56 billion.

Analysts, on average, had expected RIM to earn 81 cents a share on revenue of $4.54 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company shipped 11.1 million BlackBerrys and more than 500,000 PlayBooks in the three months to March 3.

See: Caterpillar is a Prime Example of How Big Business Has Colluded with Government to Wipe Out America's Middle Class

Israel Accuses Obama of Leaking Information to Pressure Israel Not to Bomb Iran

Israelis Suspect Obama Media Leaks to Prevent Strike on Iran

March 29, 2012

ABC News Two reports today about Iran's nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in Israel accusing the Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.

The first report in Foreign Policy quotes anonymous American officials saying that Israel has been given access to airbases by Iran's northern neighbor Azerbaijan from which Israel could launch air strikes or at least drones and search and rescue aircraft.

The second report from Bloomberg, based on a leaked congressional report, said that Iran's nuclear facilities are so dispersed that it is "unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be…" A strike could delay Iran as little as six months, a former official told the researchers.

"It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking," analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. "I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They're trying hard to prevent it in so many ways."

The Foreign Policy report by Mark Perry quotes an intelligence officer saying,

"We're watching what Iran does closely…But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it."

If true, the deal with Azerbaijan "totally changes the whole picture," says Guzansky, making it far easier for Israel to strike faster and harder, rather than having to fly 2,200 miles to Iran and back over Iraqi airspace.

Thursday's reports come a week after the results of a classified war game was leaked to the New York Times which predicted that an Israeli strike could lead to a wider regional war and result in hundreds of American deaths. In a column this afternoon titled "Obama Betraying Israel?" longtime defense commentator Ron Ben-Yishai at Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper angrily denounced the leaks as a "targeted assassination campaign."

"In recent weeks the administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel's public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran," Ben-Yishai writes. "The campaign's aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] to carry out a strike, and what's even graver, to erode the IDF's capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties."

Ben-Yishai says much of the information in the reports has either been published or is simply wrong, but in the case of the Bloomberg report on American knowledge of Iran's nuclear facilities, "instead of forcing the Iranians to piece together all the assessments themselves, the Congress report offers them everything in one place."

The reports pressure both Israel and Iran, fellow Yedioth columnist and military analyst Alex Fishman told ABC News, but he doesn't buy into the theory that Azerbaijan will be a base for potential Israeli operations.

"I don't believe that there's news behind this story because it doesn't make sense. It's very romantic, very John le Carre, but less practical," he says, explaining that the airstrips as they are now are far too basic for a "huge wing of airplanes."

The report's purpose is "to show the Iranians that something is going on, to make them much more suspicious, much more nervous. You need this pressure in order to put them in a lower position when negotiations start."

Iran has agreed to international nuclear talks next month, negotiations that the U.S. hopes will help avert a conflict but that Israel dismisses as a stalling tactic by Iran. Asked whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the reports as pressure from the Obama administration, an Israeli official indicated that they fall into the very category of "loose talk" of war that President Obama recently criticized.

"When we [Netanyahu's office] were in Washington [in early March], President Obama called publicly for people to tone down the rhetoric," said the official. "The prime minister has called on ministers not to talk. We agree with Obama that loose talk is not doing anyone any favors."