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Why the Wealthy Own Gold
by Mark Motive - LewRockwell.com
The global economy is in turmoil. Europe is on the verge of collapse, probably taking the US down with it. As the euro-crisis worsens, we march ever closer to outright monetization of European debt by the ECB and, covertly, by the Federal Reserve. The developed world is perilously close to a monetary deluge that could make the Weimar Republic's hyperinflation look like amateur hour.
Yet, I still talk to Wall Street analysts who clearly misunderstand gold's place in a portfolio. Meanwhile, many people who are part of the world's wealthy class are hoarding gold. What do they know that others don't?
Gold bouncing on value buying, short covering
LONDON (Commodity Online): Gold futures have rebounded from recent lows on value buying and short covering. There is still some market uncertainty, such as whether this is a corrective bounce, but nevertheless sentiment is more positive, said optionsXpess in a briefing.
"Gold has found some strength in improved investor confidence in the eurozone, as well as stronger U.S. equity prices. What has stopped some metal bulls from entering the market is that prices are dependent on these outside markets, meaning that a pullback in equities could drag precious metals along with it in the near term," optionsXpess added.
Gold above 200-day average; technical picture improving
LONDON (Commodity Online): Gold’s technical-chart picture has improved as the Comex futures move higher, said George Gero, vice president and precious-metals strategist with RBC Capital Markets Global Futures.
Gold has been helped by a weaker U.S. dollar, with buy stops triggered. Gero also cites an absence of willing sellers.
"We are back above the 200-day moving average and, as expected, by holding the $1,600 area, we built a better technical picture," Gero said.
Why Has Gold Been Down?
By Jeff Clark - DailyReckoning.com
01/06/12 Stowe, Vermont – After all, in spite of some short-term fixes, there remains no real resolution to the sovereign debt issues in many European countries. We’re certainly not spending less money in the US, and now we’re bailing out Europe via currency swaps with the European Central Bank. Shouldn’t gold be rising?
Yes, but nothing happens in a vacuum. There are some simple explanations as to why gold remains in a funk.
1. The MF Global bankruptcy, the seventh-largest in US history, forced a high degree of liquidation of commodities futures contracts, including gold. Many institutional investors had to sell whether they wanted to or not. This is similar to why big declines in the stock market can force funds and other large investors to sell some gold to raise cash for margin calls or meet redemption requests.
How Long Are Gold Corrections?
(Or: How Much Longer Is Gold 'On Sale'?)
Gold Will Make a New High on This Date
By Jeff Clark, BIG GOLD - CaseyResearch.com
Some investors are frustrated and a few are worried that gold seems stuck in a rut. This stall in price has happened before, of course, but since 2001 it's always eventually powered to a new high. Unless one thinks the gold bull market is over, it's natural to wonder how long might we have to wait before seeing another new high.
Absent some sort of global shock that sparks another rush into gold (easily possible in today's climate), I think the answer may lie in examining the size and length of past corrections and how long it took gold to reach new highs afterward.
Now silver is your ticket to wealth
By Gavin Mann - CommodityOnline.com
Unless vast reserves of Silver are discovered in the next few years, it is estimated that this precious metal could have less than 20 years supply before it is all gone. this shortage of supply and strong demand within industry is a recipe to one day elevating Silver to being the most valuable precious metal available, and priced even higher than Gold.
Silver is now one of the most sought after, and also now the rarest of the precious metals on the earth today. With approximately 15 years supply of Silver still left in the ground, and with over 1500+ Industrial applications, Silver is now in the spotlight of astute investors to grow, and also protect their Wealth Portfolios for the foreseeable future.
When the Bond Buying Stops, the Game Is Over
Detlev Schlichter - SilverBearCafe.com
I would not touch bonds with a barge pole, especially government bonds. After 40 years of unending fiat money expansion, the world suffers from excess levels of debt. A lot of this debt will never be repaid. My expectation is that the market will increasingly question the ability and the willingness of most states – and that, crucially, includes the big states – to control their spending and to shed their addiction to debt financing.
What happens to high-spending credit-dependent states when the market loses confidence in them has been evident in cases such as Ireland, Portugal and Greece? Among the big financial calamities of 2011 were notably government bond markets. Perversely, some of the big winners of 2011 were also government bond markets.
How To Prepare For The Difficult Years Ahead
How should people prepare for the difficult years that are coming? I get asked about that a lot. Once people really examine the facts, it is not too hard to convince them that an economic collapse is coming. But once they accept that reality, most of them want to know what they can do to prepare themselves and their families for the hard times that are ahead. Well, the truth is that it does not have to be complicated. Many of the things discussed throughout this article are things that most of us should be doing anyway. Now is not the time to be splurging on luxuries or expensive vacations. Now is not the time to be going into large amounts of debt. Instead, we all need to get back to the basics and we all need to do what we can to become more independent of the system. Just remember what happened back in 2008. Millions of Americans lost their jobs and millions of Americans lost their homes. Now experts all over the globe are warning that another great financial crisis that could be just as bad as 2008 (or even worse) is coming. Those that don't take the time to prepare this time are not going to have any excuse.
Hedge funds lock horns with IMF on Greek debt
By Tommy Wilkes and Sarah White
(Reuters) - Hedge funds are taking on the powerful International Monetary Fund over its plan to slash Greece's towering debt burden as time runs out on the talks that could sway the future of Europe's single currency.
The funds have built up such a powerful positions in Greek bonds that they could derail Europe's tactic of getting banks and other bondholders to share the burden of reducing the country's debt on a voluntary basis.
Global Imbalances and Domestic Inequality
Kemal Derviş - Project-Syndicate.org
WASHINGTON, DC – Despite years of official talk about addressing global current-account imbalances, they remained one of the world’s main economic concerns in 2011. Global imbalances were, to be sure, smaller overall than before the crisis, but they did not disappear. Now some are increasing again, alongside inequality in many countries. That link is no accident.
One often hears calls for global rebalancing whereby emerging-market countries with payments surpluses – China is the most-often mentioned – would stimulate internal demand, so that advanced countries (the largest being the United States) could reduce their deficits and public debts with less threat to their economies’ recovery. The net foreign demand created by a reduction in balance-of-payments surpluses abroad would partly offset the weakening of public demand in the US and other high-debt countries as they tightened fiscal policy.
Federal Reserve pays $77 billion to Treasury
By Annalyn Censky @CNNMoney
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Ben Bernanke is about to hand Timothy Geithner a very large check.
The Federal Reserve announced Tuesday that it plans to pay the Treasury $76.9 billion, the bulk of the Fed's 2011 income after accounting for its own operating expenses.
Each year after paying its own bills, the central bank hands over all its remaining earnings to the Treasury, as per Fed policy. Most of the money is derived from interest earned on holdings like Treasury bonds and other debt.
Saving U.S. Banks at Taxpayer Expense, Once Again
By Michael Hudson - NewEconomicPerspectives.blogspot.com
U.S. and foreign stock markets continue to zigzag wildly in response to expectations about whether the euro can survive, in the face of populations suffering under neoliberal austerity policies being imposed on Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy, etc. Here’s the story that I’m being told by Europeans regarding the recent turmoil in Greece and other European debtor and budget-deficit economies. (The details are not out, as the negotiations have been handled in utter secrecy. So what follows is a reconstruction.)
Geithner Presses China on Currency, Iran
By Ian Katz and Cheyenne Hopkins - Bloomberg.com
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will urge Asia’s two biggest economies to cut Iranian oil imports and seek to narrow differences with China on trade and currency disputes on a visit to Beijing and Tokyo this week.
Geithner arrived in Beijing yesterday and met Chinese Vice PremierWang Qishan. He will hold talks with Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang today. In Japan, he is due to meet with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Finance MinisterJun Azumi tomorrow.
How Central Bankers Attempt to "Cure" Insolvency
By Eric Fry - DailyReckoning.com
01/06/12 Laguna Beach, California – Like trying to patch a nuclear reactor with scotch tape and chewing gum, the central banks of the world’s leading economies are trying to Spackle over cracks in the global monetary system with a variety of desperate tactics and measures.
Unfortunately, hiding the cracks does nothing to strengthen the underlying infrastructure. To the contrary, hiding the cracks dupes individuals into believing all is well, even as the monetary system is crumbling around them.
MF Global Holdings trustee urges creditors' priority
(Reuters) - The bankruptcy trustee for MF Global Holdings Ltd (MFGLQ.PK) said that entity's creditors deserve to rank higher in the pecking order for repayment on some claims than customers of its brokerage unit.
In a filing late Monday with the bankruptcy court in Manhattan, trustee Louis Freeh said the holding company has "substantial intercompany claims" against the brokerage unit MF Global Inc, stemming from intercompany loans it made to that unit.
How JP Morgan And George Soros
Ended Up With MF Global Customer Money
In recent testimony before a Congressional committee, MF Global’s former chief Jon Corzine as well as other MF Global executives said repeatedly the didn’t know where the failed brokerage firm’s $1.2 billion of missing client money was. In fact, MF Global executives knew exactly what happened to the money, as do the regulators who oversaw the firm’s bankruptcy. The so-called segregated customer funds were repeatedly, and legally (through re-hypothication), used as collateral for MF Global loans for 100:1 leveraged bets on European sovereign debt.
A substantial portion of MF Global’s commodity clients cleared their transactions through the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Comex, owned by CME Group (ticker: CME). The question now looming over CME’s stock is whether the company will be liable for customer losses, as the Commodity Customer Coalition, a group that says it represents some 8,000 investors—including many hedge funds–with exposure to MF Global are not going down without a fight.
Greenspan’s Laissez Fairy Tale
By William K. Black - NewEconomicPerspectives.blogspot.com
We continue to witness remarkable developments in the intersection of the related fields of economics, finance, ethics, law, and regulation. Each of these five fields ignores a sixth related field – white-collar criminology. The six fields share a renewed interest in trust. The key questions are why we trust (some) others, when that trust is well-placed, and when that trust is harmful. Only white-collar criminologists study and write extensively about the last question. The primary answer that the five fields give to the first question is reputation. The five fields almost invariably see reputation as positive and singular. This is dangerously naïve. Criminals often find it desirable to develop multiple, complex reputations and the best way for many CEOs to develop a sterling reputation is to lead a control fraud.
Keiser Report: Hollywood Cons Congress (E234)
Fraud and Folly:
The Untold Story of General Electric's Subprime Debacle
The industrial giant jumped into the subprime business in 2004, lending blue-chip respectability to the market for risky home loans.
The Center for Public Integrity / By Michael Hudson - Alternet.org
For General Electric Co., hawking subprime mortgages was a long way from making light bulbs and jet engines.
That didn't stop the industrial giant from jumping into the subprime business in 2004, lending blue-chip respectability to the market for risky home loans by paying roughly half a billion dollars to buy California-based WMC Mortgage Corp.
What GE got in the bargain, former WMC employees say, was a place where erstwhile shoe salesmen, ex-strippers and even a former porn actress could sign on as sales reps and make big money pushing home loans. WMC's top salespeople earned a million dollars a year or more and lived fast, swigging $1,000 bottles of Cristal and wheeling around in $100,000 Ferraris and Bentleys.
Gov. Brown's cap-and-trade spending plan angers businesses
He aims to spend $1 billion from the auction of greenhouse gas emission credits to help shrink the budget shortfall. Industry groups call that a back-door tax hike.
By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Sacramento—
Gov. Jerry Brown has found a new pot of money to help him fill a $9-billion hole in his proposed budget: $1 billion from auctioning credits to allow California companies to emit greenhouse gases.
But business groups are already denouncing Brown's plan as a back-door tax increase that they intend to challenge in court if the proposal is approved as part of the state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Kodak and the Post Office
By Thomas Sowell - Townhall.com
The news that Eastman Kodak is preparing to file for bankruptcy, after being the leading photographic company in the world for more than a hundred years, truly marks the end of an era.
The skills required to use the cameras and chemicals required by the photography of the mid-19th century were far beyond those of most people -- until a man named George Eastman created a company called Kodak, which made cameras that ordinary people could use.
MetLife says exits forward mortgage business
(Reuters) - MetLife will shut down its mortgage operations, the largest U.S. life insurer said on Tuesday, giving up on the unit three months after it said it would seek a buyer.
MetLife has been trying to shed assets like its bank and mortgage operations in order to reduce regulatory scrutiny and focus its operations on insurance and annuities. Last year the Federal Reserve blocked the company from raising its dividend, and most analysts expect it will soon face additional regulatory oversight as a "systemically important" financial firm.
Turning foreclosures into rentals
By Tami Luhby @CNNMoney
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Federal officials hope to launch a pilot program in early 2012 to convert government-owned foreclosures into rental properties.
The program, which was cited by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week as one way to address the housing crisis, would sell foreclosed homes now owned by Fannie Mae (FNMA, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FMCC, Fortune 500) to investors in bulk. The properties would then be converted into rentals.
Hiring rose in November,
though employers posted fewer jobs,
pointing to uneven job gains
AP - WashingtonPost.com
WASHINGTON — U.S. employers stepped up their hiring in November but pulled back slightly on the number of jobs they advertised.
The mostly favorable report shows companies are gaining more confidence in the economy and filling more of their open positions. It follows other encouraging data on hiring that suggest 2012 may be a better year for job growth.
Employers filled almost 4.15 million jobs in November, a 3 percent increase from the previous month, the Labor Department said Tuesday. It also nearly matched September’s hiring level, which was the highest since May 2010.
Credit Card Firms:
They Don't Just Steal From Cardholders
By Matt Taibbi - RollingStone.com
Great story out this morning by Bloomberg reporter Thom Weidlich, detailing yet another devious and dirty scheme in the consumer credit industry.
The story outlines the misfortunes of a successful Park City, Utah restaurant called Cisero's that is best known for serving the movie stars and film glitterati attending the nearby Sundance film festival. The restaurant is engaged in a legal battle with its bank, but the larger struggle is between the restaurant and major credit cards like Visa and MasterCard.
Dumb As A Rock:
You Will Be Absolutely Amazed
At The Things That U.S. High School Students Do Not Know
Are we raising the stupidest generation in American history? The statistics that you are about to read below are incredibly shocking. They indicate that U.S. high school students are basically as dumb as a rock. As you read the rest of this article, you will be absolutely amazed at the things that U.S. high school students do not know. At this point, it is really hard to argue that the U.S. education system is a success. Our children are spoiled and lazy, our schools do not challenge them and students in Europe and in Asia routinely outperform our students very badly on standardized tests. In particular, schools in America do an incredibly poor job of teaching our students subjects such as history, economics and geography that are necessary for understanding the things that are taking place in our world today. For example, according to a survey conducted by the National Geographic Society, only 37 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 can find Iraq on a map of the world. According to that same survey, 50 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 can't even find the state of New York on a map. If our students cannot even find Iraq and New York on a map, what hope is there that they will be able to think critically about the important world events of our day?
Park City Eatery Balks
at Credit Card Fines in Rare Court Fight
By Thom Weidlich - Bloomberg.com
Stephen and Cissy McComb say they managed their Italian eatery in Park City, Utah, for more than two decades without running afoul of security rules of Visa Inc. (V) and MasterCard Inc. (MA) -- until they were accused of mishandling data and opening the door to $1.26 million in fraud.
The McCombs, who opened Cisero’s in 1985, are now in a legal fight with the bank that processed their credit charges and, indirectly, with what they say are card networks that change rules without notice, impose unfair one-sided contracts and allow the taking of money from merchants’ accounts with no proof of fault.
U.S. Supreme Court rules
credit repair firms can force arbitration
Justices rule that credit repair firms can block lawsuits if customers' agreements carry arbitration clauses. The ruling is the latest in a string to back such clauses over consumers' right to sue.
By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Washington— A 1996 law sought to protect struggling consumers from businesses promising to improve their credit rating, and specifically gave customers the right to sue any firm in violation.
But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that credit repair companies could block such lawsuits and instead force disgruntled customers into binding arbitration if they had agreed to such a provision in the fine print of their agreements.
Monsanto’s GMO Corn Approved
Despite 45,000 Public Comments in Opposition
By Mike Barrett - NaturalSociety.com
As previously reported, while people were de-stressing and enjoying their much needed time off during the holidays, the United States Department of Agriculture announced its approval of Monsanto’s ‘drought tolerant’ genetically engineered corn. The decision to give the green light to Monsanto regarding their GE corn didn’t seem too difficult for the Obama Administration, despite receiving nearly45,000 public comments voicing opposition and only 23 comments in favor since comments opened. Prepare to see this new GE corn unleashed into the environment as well as the American food supply.
Romney Wins New Hampshire Republican Primary
By Catherine Dodge - Bloomberg.com
Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary election, the Associated Press projected, giving the former governor of Massachusetts victories in the first two nomination contests.
Romney had 36 percent of the vote, with 18 percent of precincts reporting, according to the AP. He was followed by Ron Paul, who had 25 percent and was projected to finish in that spot by NBC News and CNN.
Ron Paul Says It's Two-Man Race Now
By Catherine Hollander - NationalJournal.com
After an impressive second-place finish in the New Hampshire GOP presidential primary, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said it's a two-man race now.
"We’re next in line to [Romney]. I would say we’re the only ones really in the race with him," Paul told CNN Tuesday night.
He told CNN had had “no plans” for a third-party candidacy at this time.
"The people's attitudes have changed and my message got out. The country is in worse shape," he said. "I've talked about financial problems in this country for 30 years. They realized some of the things I said came about. ... I was the only one that offered cutting spending. I think it is a very popular message and the interest will continue to grow."
Veterans, Active Duty Soldiers
To March On White House For Ron Paul
Media ignores Paul’s service record and fact he has most donations from military
By Steve Watson - Infowars.com
In a forthcoming event dubbed "Ron Paul Is The Choice Of The Troops", thousands of veterans and active duty military personnel are expected to march on the White House in support of the Texas Congressman’s presidential bid.
The event, to be held on President’s Day, February 20th, is being organized by activist group Veterans for Ron Paul 2012, co-founded by Adam Kokesh, Iraq war veteran turned activist and talk show host.
scrambling for a strategy to block Romney
By Peter Wallsten and Karen Tumulty - WashingtonPost.com
As Mitt Romney seeks to build on his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, a near-panic has taken hold among some core conservative activists who are now scrambling to devise a strategy to deny him the Republican presidential nomination.
Many of these activists see South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 21 as their last best hope of stopping Romney by consolidating in a united front against him, but many acknowledge that they have yet to figure out which of the remaining conservative rivals to rally behind and which should get out.
10 Ways Right-Wing Christian Groups
Will Likely Shove Religion Down Your Throat This Year
A surging religious right means daunting challenges for keeping Church and State separate.
Church & State Magazine / By Simon Brown - Alternet.org
The following piece comes from Church and State Magazine, published by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
You don’t have to look far or wide to see signs that the Religious Right was resurgent in 2011.
From the halls of Congress, where the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly urged public schools to post "In God We Trust" displays in classrooms, to the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., that was attended by 3,000 fundamentalist Christian activists, the Religious Right’s influence loomed large.
Oklahoma Sharia law ban 'unconstitutional', court rules
The US state of Oklahoma has been stopped from introducing a amendment to its constitution, stopping courts from considering Islamic law in judgements.
A federal court of appeals upheld a district judge's decision to block the implementation of the amendment.
The ban on Islamic law was approved by 70% of voters in a referendum in 2010.
But it was challenged by a Muslim community leader who said the amendment violated his constitutional right to freedom of religion.
NDAA Is A Hoax: You Can't Legalize Tyranny
Doctors Urge Fracking Halt Over Health Concerns
By Anthony Gucciardi - NaturalSociety.com
Doctors are warning United States government officials and gas producers about the dangers of hydraulic fracking, the controversial act of pumping water and chemicals underground in order to facilitate the flow of oil or gas. As previously admitted by the EPA, reports have revealed that fracking is leading to groundwater pollution that could be endangering your health.
Jerome Paulson, a pediatrician at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, is calling upon gas producers who are heavily involved in fracking to finance studies examining the safety of the process. Until then, he is calling for hydraulic fracking to come to a freeze. While there are many corporations involved with fracking, top independent producers include Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Devon Energy Corp., both of Oklahoma City, and Encana Corp. of Calgary.
Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible
By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.
The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.
“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.
Asia’s New Tripartite Entente
Brahma Chellaney - Project-Syndicate.org
NEW DELHI – The launch of trilateral strategic consultations among the United States, India, and Japan, and their decision to hold joint naval exercises this year, signals efforts to form an entente among the Asia-Pacific region’s three leading democracies. These efforts – in the world’s most economically dynamic region, where the specter of a power imbalance looms large – also have been underscored by the Obama administration’s new strategic guidance for the Pentagon. The new strategy calls for "rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific" and support of India as a "regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region."
Syria's Assad vows "iron fist", mocks Arab League
By Dominic Evans
(Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed on Tuesday to strike "terrorists" with an iron fist and derided Arab League efforts to halt violence in a 10-month-old revolt against his rule.
The president's 100-minute speech, his first public address since June, contained some promises of reform, but no sweeping concessions that might placate an opposition now determined to end more than four decades of domination by the Assad family.
Ahmadinejad begins five-day visit to Latin America
by Renata Giraldi - Pravda.ru
The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left Tehran on Sunday (8th), the capital, for Latin America, where he will be for almost a week. He first landed in Caracas (Venezuela), then goes to Managua (Nicaragua), Havana (Cuba) and Quito (Ecuador). The Iranian President travels with an entourage of ministers and businessmen from the country.
According to aides, Ahmadinejad seeks to build relationships and discuss economic and political issues. The President defines the relations between Iran and Latin America simply: "Relations between Iran and the Latin American countries are friendly and are in full development."
US ships 'in second rescue of Iranians in Gulf'
A US ship has picked up Iranians in trouble at sea, in the second such rescue in less than a week, the Pentagon has said.
US Coast Guard cutter Monomoy rescued six Iranian mariners after their vessel broke down in the Gulf.
One of the six had suffered burns and is receiving treatment, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
The US Navy rescued 13 Iranian fishermen last Thursday after they were captured by Somali pirates.
Both incidents come at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Is a US-Iran maritime clash inevitable?
By Jonathan Marcus, BBC diplomatic correspondent - BBC.co.uk
In 1988, US warships clashed with Iranian forces in the Gulf. As a war of words now escalates, is there a danger that history will repeat itself?
Operation Praying Mantis is today little more than a footnote in US naval history.
But the clash between US warships and aircraft and Iranian forces in the Gulf in April 1988 could be a foretaste of the potentially larger naval clash that may be threatening as tensions in the region grow.
EU ministers plan Iran oil embargo, IAEA team to visit
By Parisa Hafezi and Fredrik Dahl
(Reuters) - Europe and Japan moved ahead Tuesday in planning for punitive cuts in oil imports from Iran, where a senior official dismissed Western anger at news Tehran is enriching uranium deep underground as cover for ulterior motives.
A day after Iran confirmed the start of enrichment at a mountain bunker near the holy city of Qom - and sentenced an American to death for spying - the European Union brought forward a ministerial meeting that is likely to match new U.S. measures to hamper Iran's oil exports.
Russia 'worried' over Iran's nuclear ambitions
Russia has voiced rare "worry" over Iran's nuclear ambitions as the European Union brought forward a meeting of foreign ministers to decide whether to impose a potentially crippling oil embargo.
By David Blair - Telegraph.co.uk
The Kremlin, which generally opposes Western attempts to tighten United Nations sanctions, criticised Iran for starting to enrich uranium at up to 20 per cent purity inside a previously secret plant.
This facility, located at Fordow near the city of Qom, is buried beneath a mountainside and could be invulnerable to military attack.
Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez
taunt US over 'big atomic bomb'
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez joked about having "a big atomic bomb" and mocked US disapproval during a meeting between the two allies in Caracas.
By Barney Henderson - Telegraph.co.uk
Despite their geographical distance, the two countries have forged increasingly close ties, a lot of which is down to their shared anti-Americanism, although concrete projects have often lagged behind the rhetoric.
"One of the targets that Yankee imperialism has in its sights is Iran, which is why we are showing our solidarity," Chavez said during a joint press conference. "That hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out," he said of a hill next to his Miraflores Palace.
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