World View: Pentagon’s 30,000-pound Bunker-buster ‘Superbomb’ Ready for Use

This morning's key headlines from
  • Iranian officials blame rising chicken prices on external enemies
  • Battle rages in Syria's largest city, Aleppo
  • Pentagon’s 30,000-pound bunker-buster ‘superbomb’ ready for use
  • European officials take August breaks before September storm

Iranian officials blame rising chicken prices on external enemies

Long lines of people in Tehran waiting to buy chicken
Long lines of people in Tehran waiting to buy chicken

As sanctions on Iran continue to bite, officials are blaming the sudden countrywide near doubling of the price of chicken on "the psychological war waged by Iran's enemies. ... There are no shortages; rather these psychological wars lead to a false demand for goods in the country." This comes two weeks after Tehran's police chief criticized state-controlled television for broadcasting images of people eating chicken. He suggested such footage could spur the underprivileged to revolt against affluent Iranians. "Films are now the vitrine of the society, and some individuals witnessing this class gap might say, ‘We will take knives and take our rights from the rich.'" Radio Zamaneh and RFE/RL

Battle rages in Syria's largest city, Aleppo

There were varying reports on Sunday on the progress of the battle of Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, and Syria's commercial center. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has taken control of the city in the past few days, and the Bashar al-Assad regime has no choice but to take it back. For four or five days, there have been predictions of a massive "mother of all battles" attack, but apparently that hasn't happened so far, although helicopter gunships have opened fire in some areas.

In previous regime assaults on Syrian cities, it was usually the Syrian army targeting unarmed civilians who had merely gone out after Friday prayers to protest and demonstrate against the al-Assad regime. The army would surround the town, blocking all exit roads with tanks, then send in tanks and helicopter gunships to destroy entire neighborhoods, and exterminate as many innocent civilians as possible.

The situation in Aleppo appears to be different. The regime isn't fighting unarmed local civilians any more, but FSA fighters from other regions who have become battle-hardened from other regime attacks. The FSA fighters don't have anything like the heavy weapons that the army has, but they do have more weapons than the used to, including rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) that can disable a tank.

(Nobody is admitting where the weapons come from, but it's thought that regime weapons come from Russia and Iran, while FSA weapons come from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.)

Aleppo's large size makes the regime's former strategy of blockading all roads impossible, and in fact there are reports that 200,000 refugees have fled their homes in Aleppo in the last two days.

Finally, this is also a generational Awakening era in Syria, and generations of people with still-vivid memories of the massive slaughter in 1982 do not want to see the same thing happen. This includes the people in the regime's army, who are being forced to slaughter their own people for no discernable reason. It's still generally believed that the regime will recapture Aleppo, but it won't be as easy as it's been in the past. CNN and VOA and BBC

Pentagon’s 30,000-pound bunker-buster ‘superbomb’ ready for use

The biggest conventional bomb ever developed is ready to wreak destruction upon the enemies of the US. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said its record-breaking bunker-buster has become operational after years of testing. "If it needed to go today, we would be ready to do that,” said Donley. “We continue to do testing on the bomb to refine its capabilities, and that is ongoing. We also have the capability to go with existing configuration today." The weapon was built to attack the fortified nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea. Russia Today

European officials take August breaks before September storm

European officials will take their summer holidays in August. When they return, a number of crucial events, decisions and deadlines will be waiting:

  • On September 12, Germany's Verfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) will issue a verdict on whether the euro zone rescue plan for Spain and other countries is legal under European treaties and the German constitution.
  • The Netherlands will hold parliamentary elections on September 12, and may vote to oppose further bailouts of "spendthrift euro zone governments."
  • In September, Greece will need approval to postpone many of its austerity measures. This will require a third bailout package for Greece.
  • Spain remains in crisis, as its 10-year bond yields (interest rates) are still close to 7%. They came down from 7.5% after several European officials promised to do "everything necessary" to save the euro. It will be necessary for the European Central Bank (ECB) to "print money" and use it to purchase Spanish bonds -- something that violates existing European treaties.
  • Italy is following right behind Spain with the same problems.
None of measures does more than kick the can down the road a little while longer. Nonetheless, the pressure will be on Germany, with its own economy faltering, to agree to assume the debt of these other countries, something that the German public widely opposes. Reuters

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