Putin runs Russia like a giant car boot sale | The Guardian

Russian wealth and brains are flowing out of the country. That’s the people’s verdict on another 12 years of Putin

The rest of Russia is in little mood for this. After two decades of freedom of expression and movement, Russians are still waiting to live the normal life they rightly yearn for. Many have given up waiting. A private poll of 5,000 students at Moscow State University found that 80% intended to leave the country. Nor are Russia’s filthy rich too patriotic about the motherland. Negative capital flows doubled this year from $34bn to $70bn. Even if the price of crude oil hit $125 a barrel, more money would be flowing out of the country than in. As it is, four times as much money (as a percentage of GDP) is going out than in. It tells you everything you need to know about a Russia digging in for another 12 years of Putin.

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Putin runs Russia like a giant car boot sale | David Hearst | Comment is free | The Guardian

Russia and the Nuclear News That Wasn’t

Imploding Europe, nuclear Iran, American cities under ‘Occupation’ the end of the NBA lockout – whatever it is we think of as defining the world in the last week of the second-to-last month of 2011, it’s clear what won’t make the cut: This won’t be remembered as the week Russia threatened Europe with nuclear missiles.

And yet, that’s just what happened. In a blast from the Cold War past, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated that if the U.S. and its NATO allies proceed with plans for a regional missile defense system, Russia will put the European anti-missile installations in its nuclear cross-hairs.

What’s astonishing is what didn’t happen next….

Maybe it’s time we noticed.

The same week that Moscow threatened to paint a bullseye on its European neighbors, Russia sent three warships to patrol Syria’s coast, warning the West that any ‘foreign intervention’ to stop the carnage of the Bashar al-Assad regime could trigger Russian resistance.

RealClearWorld – Russia and the Nuclear News That Wasn’t

Let’s not forget that Russia is threatening military force to stop the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline: Would Russia Go To War Over The Trans-Caspian Pipeline? | EurasiaNet.org

China’s Nuclear Arsenal Could be Many Times Larger Than Current Estimates

The Chinese have called it their “Underground Great Wall” — a vast network of tunnels designed to hide their country’s increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear arsenal.

For the past three years, a small band of obsessively dedicated students at Georgetown University has called it something else: homework.

Most of the attention has focused on the 363-page study’s provocative conclusion — that China’s nuclear arsenal could be many times larger than the well-established estimates of arms-control experts.

Georgetown students shed light on China’s tunnel system for nuclear weapons – The Washington Post

Current estimates for China range from around 100 to 300 nuclear weapons.

Euro Crisis Tipping Point: Watch Global Bond Yields

Two huge financial dangers that still seemed somewhat unlikely a few months ago now appear hard to avoid. First, the common euro currency is in deep trouble, and European governments are frantically trying to save it. Second, the chances of a worldwide recession are increasing because of these attempts to stave off the euro’s collapse. Although the problems have been going on for some time, they’re about to get much worse. To know when the crisis is reaching a tipping point, keep your eye on global government bond yields.

… As a general rule, countries are in very serious trouble when yields on 10-year bonds go above 7%. In Greece, the weakest country in the Eurozone, bond yields are off the charts. In Italy, yields have risen as high as 7.8%. In Portugal, they have reached 12.6% and in Belgium 5.8%. French yields have climbed above 3.5%, which may not sound so bad but is still a lot higher than the yields in countries regarded as safe.

What Investors Can Do if the Eurozone Sovereign Debt Crisis Worsens | Moneyland | TIME.com

Explosion in Iranian city of Isfahan is followed by missiles fired into Israel from southern Lebanon – TIME.com

Things keep blowing up in Iran.  On Monday the big bang was in Isfahan, and the black smoke billowed from the direction of the nuclear plant on the edge of the city.  More than 24 hours later, Iran’s official news sites had taken down an initial report and photograph and were offering an array of conflicting accounts instead.  But if it was not yet even known exactly what blew up, the conclusions being rushed to were plain enough: 1) that it was something either military, or atomic, or both, and 2) that Israel had somehow caused it to happen.

Support for this view arrived a few hours later in Israel’s northern Galilee region, in the form of four 122-mm Katyusha rockets. The rockets, which caused no injuries, were launched from southern Lebanon, which is controlled by Hizballah, a client of Iran.  If the timing was a coincidence, it was a nice-sized  one: There’s been no attack like it for more than two years.

Explosion in Iranian city of Isfahan is followed by missiles fired into Israel from southern Lebanon – Global Spin – TIME.com

Iran Nuclear Sabotage Suspected After Reports of Blasts at Atomic Centers – Bloomberg

Reports of a blast in the province of Isfahan, home to one of Iran’s atomic facilities, adds to a
series of unexplained incidents that have raised suspicions of sabotage against the country’s nuclear program.

An explosion was heard in Isfahan at 2:40 p.m. yesterday and an investigation is underway, the state-run Fars news agency said. …

Still, coming after the deaths of several people linked to Iran’s nuclear program, and amid increased pressure on Iran from the U.S. and its allies, which accuse the Islamic republic of
seeking to develop atomic weapons, the incident has strengthened the argument that sabotage is involved.

Iran Nuclear Sabotage Suspected After Reports of Blasts at Atomic Centers – Bloomberg

How much longer will we hear about these types of events before Iran retaliates in a big way?

War with Iran | The Weekly Standard

Probably God alone can connect these dots, but the number of dots is rising rapidly. It’s beginning to look like there’s a thinly veiled, increasingly violent, global cloak-and-dagger game afoot that New York Times columnist Roger Cohen describes – in mostly approving tones – as the “doctrine of silence.” Cohen does have legal reservations, but also wonders whether there won’t be “repayment in kind” for the attacks on Iran. 

But the presumption that repayment will be “in kind,” that there won’t be larger consequences strikes me as both dangerously optimistic and questionable strategy. It almost certainly violates the fundamental Clausewitzian principle: understand the nature of the conflict. We’re fixated on the Iranian nuclear program while the Tehran regime has its eyes on the real prize: the balance of power in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East.

War with Iran | The Weekly Standard

KAHLILI: On pins and needles and missiles in Tehran – Washington Times

On Nov. 12, two massive blasts at a nearby town rocked Tehran, the Iranian capital, and may have been an attempt to assassinate the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had been scheduled to be there at the time of the explosions. Now Israel and the West must be prepared for possible Iranian retaliation.

After the explosions, Iranians found themselves wondering whether Israel had attacked. The recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the warnings of military action by Israeli officials have alarmed Iranians about the threat of war.

KAHLILI: On pins and needles and missiles in Tehran – Washington Times

Egypt Heads to the Polls: The Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for Power – SPIEGEL

It seems clear that the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood will emerge from the current elections in Egypt with significant power. But what does the group intend to do with it? Brotherhood leaders are keeping their cards close to their chests — but many of their supporters are hoping for the Sharia.

Egypt Heads to the Polls: The Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for Power – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Preparing for the Worst: The High Price of Abandoning the Euro – SPIEGEL

There is mounting speculation that the euro zone will break apart, or even that the single currency will be abandoned altogether. It often sounds as if such scenarios wouldn’t be so bad for Germany. In fact the consequences would be catastrophic for Europe and for its largest economy.

The warning signs are mounting, and fresh news is adding to the gloom every day. Britain’s financial watchdog has instructed banks to brace for a possible break-up of the euro zone. British currency trader CLS Bank is reportedly conducting stress tests to prepare for this worst-case scenario.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski made a dramatic appeal to Germany on Monday to prevent a collapse of the currency union, saying: “We are standing on the edge of a precipice.”

Preparing for the Worst: The High Price of Abandoning the Euro – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International