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The Swedish arms control watchdog SIPRI has rleased its latest report on trends in international arms transfers. The big news is India’s arms-buying bonanza over the last five years:

India received 9 per cent of the volume of international arms transfers
during 2006–10, with Russian deliveries accounting for 82 per cent of
Indian arms imports.

‘Indian imports of major conventional weapons are driven by a range
of factors. The most often cited relate to rivalries with Pakistan and
China as well as internal security challenges’,states Siemon Wezeman of
the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. ‘As an importer, India is demanding
offsets and transfers of technology to boost its own arms industry,
and, in order to secure orders, major suppliers are agreeing to such

The next four countries on the list are, in order,  China, South Korea, Pakistan, and Greece.

Some countries that have recently made headlines for other reasons are also high on the list: 

During 2006–10, arms imports were particularly high in the United
Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt and Algeria. Based on existing orders and
known procurement plans, Saudi Arabian and Moroccan arms imports are
expected to rise significantly in the coming years.

According to Pieter Wezeman of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme
‘Although Libya placed only limited orders for major conventional
weapons following the lifting of the UN arms embargo in 2003, in recent
years it has served as an excellent illustration of the competition
between major suppliers France, Italy, Russia and the UK for orders’.

In the case of Egypt, 60 percent of those weapons came from the United States, including the M-1A1 tanks and M-113 armored vehicles seen on the streets of Cairo last month. 

Fears of American decline notwithstanding, the USA is still an unchallenged no. 1 in arms exports with 30 percent of the market compared to no. 2 Russia’s 23 percent. And while South Korea may make the components that keep America’s iPhones running, Seoul is still America’s best customer for guns, accounting for 14 percent of sales. 

FP Passport

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The people of Gaza have continued to exist in what is effectively a giant open-air prison, without normality or dignity.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, January 27, 2009

Besides overlooking the hotels, restaurants and amusement park in Gaza, Mr. Holmes’ description fails to appreciate the full extent of the weapons the terrorist group Hamas aimed at Israel-both then and now.

The militant Islamic Hamas group that rules Gaza has recovered from a war against Israel two years ago and looks “much like an army,” thanks in part to direct assistance from Iranian and Hezbollah agents operating in the Gaza Strip, a senior Israeli military official has told The Associated Press.

The official said Hamas now has a “vast amount” of anti-tank and anti-aircraft rockets, a “very big arsenal” of rockets that can strike deep inside Israel and a sophisticated communications system. He did not give numbers to back up his claims.

He says Hamas could not develop this expertise without foreign help.

And when talking about foreign aid to Hamas, you know that Iran heads the list:

He said Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, frequently send in experts to train Hamas forces, crossing through illicit tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border that are also used to smuggle in weapons. Some foreign experts are even stationed in Gaza, he said.

“We have spotted them,” he said. “We know the people. We have names.”

It’s a pity that the US cannot provide half the assistance to the rebels and protesters that Iran regularly provides to terrorists.

Meanwhile, self-described human rights activists are planning another flotilla to Gaza in May-which of course makes perfect sense: if Hamas is too busy buying arms for them to see to the basic needs of Gazans, it falls to human rights activists to help Hamas out.

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Daled Amos

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Written by Tomomi Sasaki

Photo from March 11 earthquake in Japan shared by @mitsu_1024

Photo from March 11 earthquake in Japan shared by @mitsu_1024 (via

On Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:46:23 p.m. local time, an 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck Japan, the largest in recorded history.

Here are some online resources that people are using to get in touch with each other:

Hashtags being used in the Japanese Twittersphere are #sendai and #jishin. #prayforjapan is being used to send prayers in the English Twittersphere.

Many people on Twitter are trying to stay calm and sharing advice, especially based on experience from the Great Hanshin Earthquake or the Chuetsu Earthquake.


【拡散希望】電気屋さんからの忠告!です。 ただ今地震で停電している地帯の方はブレーカーを全て落として下さい。通電されたら小さなブレーカーを一つづつ入れて下さい。漏電ブレーカーが落ちるようでしたら、無理に入れず、電気事業者等に連絡をとって下さい。漏電による火災を防ぎましょう。

Please RT! Advice from electrician: Please shut off the circuit breaker if you're in an area that had power cut off. When the power is back, turn on one by one using the small circuit breakers. If the short-circuit continues, don’t force it, just contact any electric shop for assistance. Try to avoid fire caused by leakage of electricity.


@take23asn 【タンスの下敷きになった人を助ける方法】タンスが頑丈なのは全面と上部、側面だけ。背の面は薄い板でできている。その薄い板を蹴破り、そこからすべての引き出しを抜き取る。そうすれば簡単にタンスを解体できる。

@take23asn “How to save people who got crushed under cabinet : The walls of cabinets which are solid are the front, the top and the side. The back is made with thin board. Kick and break the thin board so that you can pull out all the drawers and dismantle the cabinet easily.


【 緊急 】 手話が必要な方に教えて上げてください。「目で聴くテレビ」でNHKのニュースに手話をつけて放送中。このURLから「緊急災害放送」をクリックしてください。 #jishin #NHK

[Urgent] Please raise your hand for those who need sign language interpreter. Click the following link and check out NHK news “Listen with your eyes TV broadcast.”


FMわぃわぃは多言語で地震・災害情報を放送中。インターネットでも聴けます。 在日外国人の皆さんに伝えてください。 #saigai#eqjp #earthquake

FM wai-wai multilanguage channel (simulradio) broadcasts information on earthquake and disaster. You can listen through internet here. Please pass the message to foreigners in Japan.



Save iPhone battery 1) kill wifi 2) kill GPS 3) kill push notifications 4) kill Bluetooth 5) Turn down brightness 6) Shut down extraneous apps.

@Tranquil_Dragon in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture posted this screenshot:

@wanchan11 posted an image of the flooded Sendai Port:

Some videos from Tokyo:

Many thanks to the GV Japan Team for coming together during the quaking to collaborate on this article.

Global Voices in English

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When the professionals stop buying government bonds, it’s time to start paying attention:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Pimco’s Total Return Fund (PTTRX), the world’s biggest bond fund, slashed its exposure to U.S. government debt to zero last month.

It’s the second month in a row that well-known fund manager Bill Gross has drastically reduced Pimco’s exposure to U.S. government debt.

Gross has been very vocal about his feelings toward U.S. interest rates, saying in January that they were “robbing” investors and that U.S. government debt should be “exorcized” from investors’ portfolios.

The Total Return Fund held about 22% of its holdings in U.S. government debt as recently as December, but reduced those holdings to about 12% in January.


In his February newsletter, Gross said he believes U.S. Treasuries are trading at a yield of 1.5 percentage points below where they should be historically, making them an unattractive place to invest for the time being. Gross also reiterated that stocks and bonds may struggle this summer when the Federal Reserve ends its second quantitative easing program.

“Yields may have to go higher, maybe even much higher to attract buying interest,” Gross wrote.

That’s been an underlying fear in the bond markets, and Washington, for some time now, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has attempted to calm the markets by refusing to rule out the possibility of a third round of Quantitative Easing, although in this case it seems clear that the purpose behind such a move would be to prop up the bond market and prevent interest rates from rising.

It’s worth noting, though, that at the same time PIMCO is selling its government bonds, the Chinese are buying:

The markets are agog at  PIMCO’s Bill Gross selling all his Treasuries  and going 23% into cash.

What they should be looking at is the recent surprise revelation that  China’s readjusted US Treasury holdings; they have jumped from 32% of China;’s monetary reserves  to 42% of its reserves- an increase in holdings  of $ 260 billion.  A major portion of this $ 262 billion was purchased for China in the UK, apparently by the Bank of England, in order to hide China’s hand.

This is  a major development- totally under-reported in the financial press except by the Financial Times, where I got my start in the 1960s while a Goldman Sachs risk arbitrageur.

The  bond market recognized  the significance of China’s BUYING Treasuries instead of selling them. Hello!. Treasuries rallied the last 2 trading sessions as the yield on the 10 year  declined from 3.53% to 3.43%, my top gfuru on bonds, Robert Smith of Smith Capital, reported to me today.

Smitty points out that China- the Peoples Bank of China- most likely will replace the US Federal Reserve as the BUYER of last resort of new treasuries once QE2 is over on June 30. So, the doomsday story that China will sink the dollar and the US economy by dumping its US government securities is just so much hogwash.

So, if this prediction is true, then the Bond Market won’t collapse, but we’ll become even more dependent on China. Why don’t I find that very resassuring?

Keep on eye on the bond markets come summer, things are going to be very interesting.


Outside the Beltway

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The Titanic has been hit and the move toward the lifeboats has begun.
American Thinker Blog

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On Thursday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-NY) will begin his hearings on “the Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community.” Clinging to his McCarthy-esque paranoia in the face of backlash, King continues to lob “demonstrably spurious assertions” to salvage some credibility, such as his claims that “80 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams,” that Muslims’ “ideology of extremism has been spread to the youth,” and that Muslims “won’t come forward and cooperate with the police.”

But those who actually have “direct experience” with Islam in America, like Dearborn, MI Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. (D), know that King’s fear-mongering is “just not true.” With Dearborn possessing a population that is 30 percent Arab American and “the largest mosque in North America,” O’Reilly notes that the community is uniquely positioned to offer “a pretty good perspective on what it is that Islam represents because we see it through the actions and behaviors of our neighbors.” And it is this perspective from which O’Reilly sees King’s hearings for what they are: “When someone goes into what is supposed to be fact finding but they’ve already determined the outcome, then that fact-finding process is flawed”:

CHETRY: Is [King] exaggerating this threat?

O’REILLY: Yeah, I’m very concerned. Now you’ve heard from some good experts so I’m going to focus on our local community. You know, when someone goes into what is supposed to be fact-finding but they’ve already determined the outcome, then that fact-finding process is flawed. For us, we’ve lived for 80 years with Muslims as an active part of our community. We have direct experience — many of our young people are 4th and 5th generation Americans. Therefore, we have a pretty good perspective on what it is that Islam represents because we see it through the actions and behaviors of our neighbors. The thing it represents is that they want to be fully American, they believe in America, they want to be part of our community. I think that’s something that’s been misrepresented and misunderstood throughout the country by certain groups. [...]

You can find people who point out extreme conditions. But if we base decisions, if we base policy on extreme decisions, we’re going to make the same mistakes we’ve made over in the past where we’ve infringed on people’s constitutional rights because we’ve presupposed that their disposed to doing something wrong. Our experience and our community says that that’s just not true.

Watch it:

O’Reilly also points out that if King were actually to talk to law enforcement, he’d find that both state and federal law enforcement and the Muslim community are continuously working together to root out extremism. He notes that through the program called “Bridges” — or Building Bridges to Strengthen America — the “CIA and FBI” are actively working with Muslims to “forge an effective counterterrorism enterprise.” This “extraordinary” level of cooperation and participation, of course, is not just happening in Dearborn, but in cities across the country — all which seem to fall squarely into King’s blindspot.

O’Reilly further pointed out that King’s myopia ignores the fact that dangerous extremism is not limited to Muslims, but to those with emotional or psychological issues “whether their Muslim or belong to any other group.” Indeed, the last extremist threat to Dearborn came from a Vietnam veteran who plotted to bomb a Dearborn mosque. By agitating racial and religious prejudice rather than focusing on dangers posed by behavior rather than ethnicity, King whole-heartedly rejects the wisdom garnered from a very vital — and very American — perspective.


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Barack Obama sets another record … Hope and Change, eh?

Wasn’t it just the other day that President Barack Obama was lecturing America during his weekly address stating that “we need a government that lives within its means.” Yes we do Mr. President and you and your Democrats are not it. Living within your means, maybe Barack Obama would like to explain the record monthly federal deficit of $ 223 billion for February 2011.

Cheers America 

The federal government posted its largest monthly deficit in history in February, a $ 223 billion shortfall that put a sharp point on the current fight on Capitol Hill about how deeply to cut this year’s spending.

That one-month figure, which came in a preliminary report from the Congressional Budget Office, dwarfs even the most robust cuts being talked about on the Hill, and underscores just how much work lawmakers have to do to get the government’s finances in balance again.

Of course when Obama posts such an out of control federal deficit, its time to blame GWB; however,  as reported at the Gateway Pundit, it turns out that Obama’s one month $ 233 billion deficit or larger than George W. Bush’s for all of 2007.

This president must be defeated in 2012 before this country is taken to the point of no return.

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Scared Monkeys

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Yesterday, the Ohio state senate approved SB5 — its union-busting bill that strips public employees of their right to collectively bargain — by one vote, 17-16. Six Republicans joined all the chamber’s Democrats in voting against the legislation. Earlier in the day, Ohio’s senate Republicans had to pull some procedural shenanigans just to get the bill out of committee, removing an anti-SB5 Republican from the relevant committee and replacing him just hours before the vote.

As we’ve noted before, SB5 would essentially remove collective bargaining rights from Ohio’s teachers, and allow districts to unilaterally terminate teacher contracts. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) has said that if the state legislature doesn’t pass the bill, he will insert its provisions into his budget proposal.

But the entire effort to enact SB5 is based on the faulty premise that public employees somehow caused Ohio’s budget deficit (which was actually caused, as in other states, by the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent Great Recession). And as a new report from Innovation Ohio shows, Ohio’s teachers have already agreed to a significant pay cut:

Far from being uncooperative or unyielding, Ohio teachers have made one of the largest financial sacrifices in the country, resulting in an average pay cut of 4% in 2008-09, the worst year of the recession.

In fact, Ohio’s teachers have sacrificed more than almost any group of educators in the nation:

Only Utah and Michigan’s teachers have seen larger pay cuts between 2008 and 2009. In terms of individual grades, Ohio’s kindergarten teachers saw a cut of 6.1% – the fourth-largest cut in the country. Its elementary school teachers saw a cut of 2.4% – again the fourth-largest in the nation. Its middle school teachers saw a cut of 5.8% –the nation’s second-highest cut behind Michigan. And its high school teachers saw a cut of 1.1%, which was the eighth-biggest in America.

Ohio was one of only six states whose teachers saw salary cuts to all four categories of teachers (kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools) between 2008 and 2009. Equally notable is that these results occurred under Ohio’s current collective bargaining law.

Overall, as the Economic Policy Institute has found, Ohio’s public employees are paid six percent less than their private sector counterparts. Innovation Ohio also cast doubt on some rosy projections Kasich has regarding how much SB5 might save the state, as current data shows that “the more states erode teachers’ rights to collectively bargain, the more it likely will lead, on average, to higher salary increases that are more volatile, producing much less cost certainty for districts and taxpayers than the state’s current system.”

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) did much the same thing in his state, plowing ahead with his union-busting effort even after the state’s workers agreed to meet his pay cut demands. If Kasich were actually serious about tackling his state’s deficit, he wouldn’t be proposing to double it with a slew of tax cuts, and he could look at ending several provisions in his state’s tax code that solely benefit the rich and special interests.

Wonk Room

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Baltic Sea, Saulkrasti, Latvia, 1998.

According to the Baltic Times, Finnish meteorologists say the ice cover on the Baltic Sea is the largest it has been since 1987. Last week the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute estimated the ice cover at 155,000 square miles, which is a little larger than Montana, and the scientists said the ice pack could grow even bigger.

Click here for a graphic display of the ice cover.

That’s your global warming news for today.

Yes, that’s really me-along with Little Marathon Pundit-in the photograph, on a summer day on the Baltic many years ago.

Related post:

Twenty years ago: Latvia’s Barricade Days

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Marathon Pundit

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Baltic Sea, Saulkrasti, Latvia, 1998.

According to the Baltic Times, Finnish meteorologists say the ice cover on the Baltic Sea is the largest it has been since 1987. Last week the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute estimated the ice cover at 155,000 square miles, which is a little larger than Montana, and the scientists said the ice pack could grow even bigger.

Click here for a graphic display of the ice cover.

That’s your global warming news for today.

Yes, that’s really me-along with Little Marathon Pundit-in the photograph, on a summer day on the Baltic many years ago.

Related post:

Twenty years ago: Latvia’s Barricade Days

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Marathon Pundit

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Highestadults 25-54 demo rating…
B&C - Breaking News

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As the battle over U.S. Environmental Protection Agency power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions mounts, a new report shows that CO2 emissions grew in 2010, and that a Michigan coal plant is one of the nation’s biggest sources.

From the Environmental Integrity Project report:

Carbon dioxide emissions from power plants rose 5.56% in 2010 over the year before, the biggest annual increase since the Environmental Protection Agency began tracking emissions in 1995. Electricity generators released 2.423 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2010, compared to 2.295 billion tons in 2009, according to information available on EPA’s “Clean Air Markets” database. While the increase is worrisome, power plant emissions are still below the high water mark of 2.565 million tons set in 2007. Last year’s rise was driven in part by a 3.0% net increase in overall generation for the 12 months ending in November of 2010, due to the economic recovery and unusually warm weather in some parts of the country.

Average global temperatures last year reached the 2005 level, the warmest year on record. CO2 is the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming; the combustion of fossil fuels for electricity generation in the U.S. accounts for more than one third of our nation’s total U.S. releases of CO2, and more than nearly 5% of CO2 emissions worldwide. Coal-fired boilers provided 45% of our electricity in 2010, but were responsible for 81% of total U.S. CO2 emissions from electricity generation last year.

According to the report, Michigan released 74,375,752 tons of CO2 last year — the 12th largest amount among states.

More than a quarter of Michigan’s total emissions came from DTE Energy’s coal plant in Monroe. The facility emitted 19,514,435 tons of CO2 and ranked as the sixth largest source of CO2 pollution in the county.

Last summer EPA filed suit against DTE for violating the federal Clean Air Act by failing to install pollution reduction technology at its Monroe plant.

Michigan Messenger

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Apple plans to install what would be their largest outlet in the world in the massive balcony area of Grand Central Terminal. The 16,000 square foot store will displace at least one of the restaurants presently in that location. The store will be Manhattan’s fifth Apple location. While relatively low-profile tenants like restaurants and their tables and chairs don’t detract much from the physical beauty of Grand Central, I’d imagine that Apple will face the ire of city purists if their store design involves very much that can be easily seen from the main floor.

Joe. My. God.

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Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates will formally unveil the Pentagon’s spending plan on Capitol Hill. Promising to request “the minimum level of funding we can live with,” defense officials, congressional aides, and analysts insist that the proposal “will make clear that the post-9/11 military spending spree has ended.” But the actual number tells a different story: the Pentagon’s $ 553 billion price tag for 2012 actually marks “the largest request ever” since World War II:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates already has revealed the Pentagon will seek $ 553 billion in its 2012 Pentagon budget plan — the largest request ever — and slower growth than planned over the next four years. He also has revealed proposals to end several major weapons programs, including the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV).

That means the spending plan “will be anti-climactic in the broad sense,” according to one senior House defense aide.

Indeed, while Gates promised to cut $ 78 billion over five years, most of that reduction would take place in 2014 and 2015. As Center for American Progress senior fellow and President Reagan’s former assistant secretary of defense Larry Korb points out, Obama’s request is “5% higher than what the Defense Department plans to spend this year. In inflation-adjusted dollars, this figure is higher than at any time during the Bush years or during the Cold War.” In fact, the total military budget this year “comes in at a thumping $ 750 billion — an annual tax of more than $ 7,000 on every household in the country.” And while there are clear ways to cut $ 1 trillion from the Pentagon budget, it seems that many in the GOP have no intention of doing so.


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“Japan’s economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2010, ceding its spot as the world’s second-largest economy on an annual basis to China,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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