September 20, 2017

Syria: Turkey, Russia, Iran Agree to Safe Zone Deal

September 15, 2017

(VOA News) -  Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed Friday to a deal that will see the countries work together to police a de-escalation zone in Syria’s Idlib province for the next six months, according to a joint statement issued by the three countries following talks in Kazakhstan.

The three nations also agreed to set up a coordination center to monitor the implementation of other de-escalation zones around Syria during the latest round of peace talks in Astana.

According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, observers from all three countries will be stationed at “control and observation” points within the de-escalation zones.

“The observer forces' main task will be to prevent conflicts between the regime and the opposition and to monitor possible violations of the cease-fire,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

While the three nations agreed to set up the de-escalation zones, the details about how to enforce the safe zones are still being worked out, Russia's representative at Syrian peace talks, Alexander Lavrentiev, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

He said the “mechanism and concrete locations [of a deployed force in Idlib] will be discussed,” according to RIA Novosti.

According to Lavrentyev, Turkey, Russia and Iran all will send about 500 observers to Idlib, with the Russian contingent consisting of military policemen.

Idlib, which borders Turkey, was captured in 2015 by an alliance of jihadists and rebels.

Representatives from both the Syrian government and the rebel groups attended the Astana talks.

Netanyahu: "After 70 Years the World Embraces Israel and Israel Embraces the World"

September 19, 2017

(Newsweek) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took an opportunity at his U.N. General Assembly speech Tuesday to praise President Donald Trump, who he said was improving Israel’s reputation abroad.

Netanyahu joined his U.S. ally, President Donald Trump, in disparaging the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by President Barack Obama, along with the leaders of Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K in July 2015. The landmark agreement lifted sanctions against Tehran in exchange for Iran severely restricting its nuclear production capacity, but Netanyahu and Trump have accused Obama of being too soft on their mutual foe and. After facing a cold shoulder from Obama last year, Netanyahu embraced Trump’s tough talk Tuesday, which he said proved a crucial defense for Israel.

“After 70 years, the world embraces Israel and Israel embraces the world,” Netanyahu said. “Slowly but surely, there are signs of positive change—even in the U.N.,” which he called “the epicenter of global anti-Semitism.”

“There’s also a marked change in the positions of some of our key friends,” he added. “Thanks to President Trump’s unequivocal support for Israel in this body, that positive change is gathering force.”

Netanyahu echoed his previous criticisms of the JCPOA, saying it actually paved the way for Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb by taking advantage of so-called sunset clauses that roll away restrictions against Iran’s nuclear production over time. He warned of an “Iranian curtain descending across the Middle East,” creating a “vast Iranian Islamist empire” that could one day wield nuclear weapons as a result of the deal.

“From the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, from Tehran to Tartus, an Iranian curtain is descending across the Middle East. Iran spreads this curtain of tyranny and terror over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, and it pledges to extinguish the light of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

“The light of Israel will never be extinguished,” he added, addressing Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei directly. “Those that threaten us with annihilation put themselves at peril.”

September 10, 2017

North Korea's Kim Jong Un Fetes Nuclear Scientists, Holds Celebration Bash

September 10, 2017

(Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a massive celebration to congratulate his nuclear scientists and technicians who steered the country's sixth and largest nuclear test a week ago, its official news agency said on Sunday.

The United States and its allies had been bracing for another long-range missile launch in time for the 69th anniversary of North Korea's founding on Saturday, but no fresh provocations were spotted while the North held numerous events to mark the holiday.

Throughout last week, South Korean officials had warned the North could launch another intercontinental ballistic missile in defiance of U.N. sanctions and amid an escalating standoff with the United States.

Washington told the U.N. Security Council on Friday to call a meeting on Monday to vote on a draft resolution establishing additional sanctions on North Korea for its missile and nuclear program.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said it was vital to put pressure on North Korea through additional sanctions, including blocking or slowing its fuel supplies.

"If we put firm pressure on North Korea such that it realizes it cannot develop missiles, it will accept dialogue and we can progress with diplomatic efforts," Onodera told public broadcaster NHK on Sunday. "Unless we firmly apply pressure, North Korea will not change its direction."

KCNA said Kim threw a banquet to laud the nuclear scientists and other top military and party officials who contributed to the nuclear bomb test last Sunday, topped with an art performance and a photo session with the leader himself.

KCNA did not specify when the banquet had been held, but analysts said it had likely been on Saturday.

Photos released on Sunday by KCNA showed the young leader breaking into a broad smile at the People's Theater with two prominent scientists: Ri Hong Sop, head of North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Institute, and Hong Sung Mu, deputy director of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's munitions industry department.

Ri and Hong have played vital roles in the North's nuclear program, appearing at close distance to Kim during field inspections and weapons tests, including the latest nuclear test. Ri is a former director of Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center, North Korea's main nuclear facility north of Pyongyang, where Hong also worked as a chief engineer.

North Korea had said the latest test was an advanced hydrogen bomb. There was no independent confirmation but some Western experts said there was enough strong evidence to suggest the reclusive state has either developed a hydrogen bomb or was getting very close.

KCNA said on Sunday the scientists and technicians "brought the great auspicious event of the national history, an extra-large event through the perfect success in the test of H-bomb".

Kim praised the developers in his own remarks as "taking the lead" in attaining the "final goal of completing the state nuclear force" in line with his parallel pursuit of nuclear and economic development.

"The recent test of the H-bomb is the great victory won by the Korean people at the cost of their blood while tightening their belts in the arduous period," Kim was quoted as saying.

Ri and Hong's roles have also been noted overseas, prompting the United Nations, the United States or South Korea to blacklist them.

Aside from the elite, rank-and-file North Koreans also commemorated the anniversary on Saturday by visiting the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which houses the embalmed bodies of founding father Kim Il Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong Il.

KCNA said service personnel and civilians, including children, laid floral baskets and bouquets at the statues of the deceased leaders across the country, while enjoying art performances and dancing parties.

Florida Nuclear Plants Could Take a Direct Hit from Hurricane Irma

September 8, 2017

(Washington Post) - Florida’s two nuclear plants are in line for a possible direct hit from Hurricane Irma, but they are braced and ready, the plants’ owners said Friday.

NextEra Energy’s Turkey Point, which stands amid mangroves 25 miles south of Miami, and St. Lucie, located on a barrier island about 125 miles north of Miami, together provide about 13 percent of Florida’s electricity. Natural gas provides the overwhelming majority of the state’s electricity.

Each site has a pair of reactors. Turkey Point’s date back to 1972 and 1973; St Lucie’s were commissioned in 1976. Turkey Point survived Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm that in 1992 passed directly over the nuclear plant. Andrew remains the most destructive hurricane to hit the state. Forecasters say Irma will be near South Florida by Sunday morning.

“We have tried-and-true processes in place,” Eric Silagy, chief executive of NextEra Energy’s Florida Power & Light subsidiary, said.

Silagy said that the reactors would be shut down when Irma draws closer and winds hit Category 1 levels. The shutdown, which takes about 24 hours, reduces the temperature in the reactor. Lower temperatures reduce the amount of power needed for cooling, making the plant safer and less likely to spin out of control in an emergency.

“We have safely operated these plants for over 40 years,” Silagy said.

Nuclear plants are located near lakes, rivers and oceans because they need large amounts of water to cool the reactors. Turkey Point uses an unusual cooling system, relying on canals that cover 6,800 acres.

But during storms that creates hazards. Turkey Point stands just 20 feet above sea level. Essential equipment is 22 feet above sea level, the company’s website says. St. Lucie’s elevation is 15 feet above sea level.

Like other U.S. nuclear reactors, the Florida reactors have been required to improve and reexamine their disaster preparedness  after an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 devastated the northeast coast of Japan, knocking out essential electrical power to a fleet of nuclear reactors at Fukushima.

Flooding from the tsunami disabled backup generators and cut off power, resulting in a partial meltdown and the release of radioactive materials into the ocean and surrounding land areas. The vast majority of Japan’s nuclear fleet remains closed today.

Before Fukushima, U.S. nuclear reactors focused on other perils, such as securing radioactive materials.  The vital components of Turkey Point’s reactors are in buildings with steel-reinforced concrete walls six feet thick. But Fukushima showed that electricity supply could be an Achilles’ heel for reactors. Regulators assumed plants would not need to be without power for more than eight hours, said David Lochbaum, a nuclear power plant safety expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists. However, Fukushima was without power for nine days.

September 6, 2017

Iran Tests Home-grown Air Defense System

September 3, 2017

(AFP) - Iran has tested its home-grown air defence system, designed to match the Russian S-300, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' air defence has said.

"In parallel with the deployment of the S-300, work on Bavar-373 system is underway," Farzad Esmaili told state broadcaster IRIB late Saturday.

"The system is made completely in Iran and some of its parts are different from the S-300. All of its sub-systems have been completed and its missile tests have been conducted."

Bavar (which means "belief") is Tehran's first long-range missile defence system, and is set to be operational by March 2018, he added.

In 2010, Iran began manufacturing Bavar-373 after the purchase of the S-300 from Russia was suspended due to international sanctions.

Russia resumed the sale following the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers which lifted sanctions, and Iran's S-300 defence system became operational in March.

On Sunday, state television aired the first footage from a "secret" drone base in an undisclosed desert location, where dozens of different types of unmanned aircraft were lined up.

"If necessary, a great number of Iran's high-speed eagles (drones) will land on the enemy," Esmaili said in the footage.

Iran has developed several military drones in recent years, drawing criticism from Washington.

Last month, the United States claimed Iranian drones flew dangerously close to an aircraft carrier and a US Naval jet in two separate incidents in Gulf waters.

On Saturday, the new defence minister Amir Hatami said Iran has "a specific plan to boost missile power".

He said he hoped "the combat capabilities of Iran's ballistic and cruise missiles" would increase in the next four years.

The comments came amid increasing tensions with Washington, which has passed new sanctions against Iran's ballistic missile programme.

September 4, 2017

North Korea's Threat of Hydrogen Bomb Would Bring Massive US Military Response

North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday, Japan and South Korea said, hours after Pyongyang said it had developed an advanced hydrogen bomb that possesses “great destructive power.” One expert said the size of Sunday’s detonation meant it was possible it could be a hydrogen bomb test. “The power is 10 or 20 times or even more than previous ones,” said Kune Y Suh, a nuclear engineering professor at Seoul National University. “That scale is to the level where anyone can say a hydrogen bomb test.” Earthquakes triggered by North Korean nuclear tests have gradually increased in magnitude since Pyongyang’s first test in 2006, indicating the isolated country is steadily improving the destructive power of its nuclear technology. “All components of the H-bomb were homemade and all the processes ... were put on the Juche basis, thus enabling the country to produce powerful nuclear weapons as many as it wants,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying. Juche is North Korea’s homegrown ideology of self-reliance that is a mix of Marxism and extreme nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather. It says its weapons programmes are needed to counter US aggression. Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The North regularly threatens to destroy the South and its main ally, the United States. [Source]

September 3, 2017

(AP) - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Sunday shot back at North Korea's claimed test of a hydrogen bomb with a blunt threat, saying the U.S. will answer any threat from the North with a "massive military response — a response both effective and overwhelming."

Earlier, President Donald Trump threatened to halt all trade with countries doing business with the North, a veiled warning to China, and faulted South Korea for its "talk of appeasement."

The tough talk from America's commander in chief and the retired Marine general he picked to oversee the Pentagon came as the Trump administration searched for a response to the escalating crisis.

Kim Jong Un's regime on Sunday claimed "perfect success" in an underground test of what it called a hydrogen bomb.

It was the North's sixth nuclear test since 2006 — the first since Trump took office in January — and involved a device potentially vastly more powerful than a nuclear bomb.

Trump, asked by a reporter during a trip to church services if he would attack the North, said: "We'll see."

No U.S. military action appeared imminent, and the immediate focus appeared to be on ratcheting up economic penalties, which have had little effect thus far.

In South Korea, the nation's military said it conducted a live-fire exercise simulating an attack on North Korea's nuclear test site to "strongly warn" Pyongyang over the latest nuclear test. Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the drill involved F-15 fighter jets and the country's land-based "Hyunmoo" ballistic missiles. The released live weapons "accurately struck" a target in the sea off the country's eastern coast, the JCS said.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting at the request of the U.S., Japan, France, Britain and South Korea. It would be the Security Council's second urgent session in under a week on the North's weapons tests, which have continued in the face of a series of sanctions.

Members of Congress expressed alarm at the North's test and emphasized strengthening U.S. missile defenses. Leaders in Russia, China and Europe issued condemnations.

In briefs remarks after a White House meeting with Trump and other national security officials, Mattis told reporters that America does not seek the "total annihilation" of the North, but then added somberly, "We have many options to do so."

The administration has emphasized its pursuit of diplomatic solutions, knowing the potentially horrific costs of war with the North. But the decision to have Mattis deliver a public statement seemed to suggest an escalating crisis.

Mattis also said the international community is unified in demanding the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and that Kim should know that Washington's commitment to Japan and South Korea is unshakeable.

The precise strength of the underground nuclear explosion had yet to be determined. South Korea's weather agency said the artificial earthquake caused by the explosion was five times to six times stronger than tremors generated by the North's previous five tests.

North Korea's state-run television broadcast a special bulletin to announce the test, and said Kim attended a meeting of the ruling party's presidium and signed the go-ahead order. Earlier, the party's newspaper published photos of Kim examining what it said was a nuclear warhead being fitted onto an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Sunday's detonation builds on recent North Korean advances that include test launches in July of two ICBMs that are believed to be capable of reaching the mainland U.S. The North says its missile development is part of a defensive effort to build a viable nuclear deterrent that can target U.S. cities.

The Arms Control Association said the explosion appeared to produce a yield in excess of 100 kilotons of TNT equivalent, which it said strongly suggests the North tested a high-yield but compact nuclear weapon that could be launched on a missile of intermediate or intercontinental range.

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said the North probably will need to do more tests before achieving a functioning hydrogen bomb design.

Beyond the science of the blast, North Korea's accelerating push to field a nuclear weapon that can target all of the United States is creating political complications for the U.S. as it seeks to balance resolve with reassurance to allies that Washington will uphold its decadeslong commitment to deter nuclear attack on South Korea and Japan.

August 29, 2017

Netanyahu Says Israel Won't Retreat on Jewish Settlements: 'We Are Here to Stay Forever;' 'This Is Our Land'

On November 2, 2015 Shimon Peres stopped short of directly criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But he also made no secret that the values he and the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin inherited from Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion, were in jeopardy. "Better to have a Jewish state on part of the land than have the whole land without the Jewish state," he said. "Israel should implement the two-state solution for her own sake because if we should lose our majority, and today we are almost equal, we cannot remain a Jewish state or a democratic state. "That's the main issue, and to my regret they (the government) do the opposite."  

August 28, 2017

(Los Angeles Times) - Days after meeting a White House delegation to discuss restarting peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forcefully spoke out against a principal tenet of any likely agreement: the scaling back of Jewish settlements.

At an event celebrating 50 years of Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank, Netanyahu pledged Monday that his government will never evacuate a single settlement.

Addressing a large crowd, Netanyahu declared: “We are here to stay forever. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel. This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land.”

Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal by much of the international community, have been at the crux of peace talks for years. Successive U.S. presidents have considered the settlements an obstacle to peace and have called for, at the least, a stop to their expansion. Although President Trump has been less critical than his predecessors, even he has said that further construction would be unhelpful.

In his remarks, Netanyahu underscored the risk Israel would face if it withdrew from the West Bank — a central demand of the Palestinians, for whom the area represents a future independent state.

“Samaria is a strategic asset for the state of Israel,” the prime minister said, using the biblical name for the northern West Bank. “It is the key to our future. Because from these high hills, the heights of Mt. Hatzor, we can see the entire country, from one side to the other.”

The audience cheered.

“There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel. It has been proven that it does not help peace,” he said. “We've uprooted settlements. What did we get? We received missiles. It will not happen again.”

Netanyahu appeared to be referring to Israel’s 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and the dismantling of settlements there. The next year, the Islamist group Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections, eventually taking control of Gaza.

The Israeli government officially supports a two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians, which would entail relinquishing control of much of the West Bank for a Palestinian state. But many of Netanyahu’s right-wing Cabinet members have steered away from that commitment, and when addressing Israelis, the prime minister occasionally distances himself.

In 2014, he told a group of Israeli journalists covering his meetings with then-U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry in Davos, Switzerland, that “I have no intention of evacuating any settlement or uprooting any Israeli.”

Netanyahu’s comments Monday came late in the evening, and there was no immediate response from Palestinian officials.

August 27, 2017

EPA Will No Longer Sponsor the Annual Climate Leadership Awards

August 26, 2017

(Engadget via Reuters) - It's no secret that Scott Pruitt is a climate change skeptic, and the Environmental Protection Agency has been undoing Obama-era policies ever since he took office. The agency's latest move follows that trend: the EPA has announced that it's no longer sponsoring the 2018 Climate Leadership Awards program, which recognizes companies that take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and publicly report their progress. As a result, the awards program itself and the Climate Leadership Conference that usually goes with it have both been canceled for next year.

EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox apologized but didn't explain why the EPA withdrew its support. As he told Reuters in an email "It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that [the EPA doesn't] plan to fund an awards ceremony on climate change." To start with, the administration's proposed budget for 2018 will see its funding cut by 31 percent, which will specifically affect its climate change and pollution initiatives. Even without the budget cut, though, it's hard to imagine the EPA supporting a climate change award in its current state.

Earlier this year, the agency pulled down its climate science pages to reflect the views of the White House. The president also signed an executive order rolling back climate policies approved by the previous administration. And let's not forget that the United States withdrew from the Paris Accord, an agreement between 142 countries to make an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While the awards program for 2018 was canceled, the EPA's former co-sponsors, non-government organizations C2ES and the Climate Registry, intend to continue the tradition. They're now looking for a new co-sponsor willing to fund and host the program in the future.

August 26, 2017

North Korea Tests Short-range Missiles as South Korea, U.S. Conduct Drills


Apartments in Pyongyang

"I have traveled extensively in North Korea. I go to North Korea annually to study about life for average people. In the DPRK there are classes of people who live quite different lives. For most all, but the elites, life is hard. Pyongyang is atypical of the country as a whole. The apartments are better, transportation is better, and access to consumer goods is much better. Electricity and running water can be a problem in the capital but, overall, life is not bad. Water is pumped for an hour or so in the morning and held in the apartment bathtub. Electricity can go out several times per day, and prolonged outages can make refrigeration an issue. Access to affordable recreation is better, and access to hard currency is much better, in Pyongyang. Office workers enjoy a moderate standard of living and can be rewarded with a television or rice cooker. Remember -- North Korea is on a 48-hour work week plus additional 'volunteer labor.' Other cities begin to decline from there. In Nampo I have seen people hauling water up to apartments from a communal well, and in Pyongsong I watched people pump water up via hoses outside to their apartments. Elevators in older buildings no longer work. Chongjin, Kaesong, and parts of Hamhung are run down with little or no maintenance. Cardboard can be seen in windows. For electricity there is a problem as well. With shortages of coal to heat and cook your food, chronic food shortages, long distances to walk, labor, the sheer number of hours spent on food preservation -- everything just to survive leads to a hard life. Those in the rural homes, as well as neighbors and extended families, generally have better food security because of their own gardens and livestock. It was those in the towns and cities that had problems during the famine. We take for granted many modern conveniences that are unknown in the DPRK. Think of a cash economy, with doing virtually everything manually. That is the reality for most North Koreans." - Raymond K. Cunningham, Jr., October 14, 2014

August 25, 2017

(Reuters) - North Korea fired several short-range missiles into the sea off its east coast early on Saturday, South Korea and the U.S. military said, as the two allies conducted annual joint military drills that the North denounces as preparation for war.

The U.S. military’s Pacific Command said it had detected three short-range ballistic missiles, fired over a 20 minute period.

One appeared to have blown up almost immediately while two flew about 250 km (155 miles) in a northeasterly direction, Pacific Command said, revising an earlier assessment that two of the missiles had failed in flight.

The test came just days after senior U.S. officials praised North Korea and leader Kim Jong Un for showing restraint in not firing any missiles since late July.

The South Korean Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles were launched from the North’s eastern Kangwon province into the sea.

Later on Saturday, the South Korean Presidential Blue House said the North may have fired an upgraded 300-mm caliber multiple rocket launcher but the military was still analyzing the precise details of the projectiles.

Pacific Command said the missiles did not pose a threat to the U.S. mainland or to the Pacific territory of Guam, which North Korea had threatened earlier this month to surround in a “sea of fire”.

Tensions had eased somewhat since a harsh exchange of words between Pyongyang and Washington after U.S. President Donald Trump had warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un he would face “fire and fury” if he threatened the United States.

North Korea’s last missile test on July 28 was for an intercontinental ballistic missile designed to fly 10,000 km (6,200 miles). That would put parts of the U.S. mainland within reach and prompted heated exchanges that raised fears of a new conflict on the peninsula.

August 17, 2017

A U.S. Defense Contractor Developed a Drone That Can Fire a Sniper Rifle

August 16, 2017

(Business Insider) - A US defense contractor has developed a consumer-sized sniper drone which it says could save the lives of soldiers and civilians on the battlefield, but some are voicing concerns, Popular Mechanics reported

Duke Robotics, a Florida-based defense contractor, developed the TIKAD sniper drone, and recently sold some to the Israeli military.

They're also pitching it to the Pentagon.

The drone is capable of being fitted with a sniper rifle, grenade launcher, a machine gun, or a variety of other weapons, Defense One and Popular Mechanics reported.

It was used successfully by the Israelis but it only stayed airborne for about five minutes due to weight problems, Defense One reported. The TIKAD drone, however, has overcome previous weight and recoil issues.

The co-founder of Duke Robotics, Israeli military veteran Lt. Col. Raziel “Razi” Atuar, said the drone — which is flown and shot by an operator at a distance — will save civilian and soldier lives because it is more precise, as opposed to Reaper, Predator or Switchblade drones that fire missiles.

“You have small groups [of adversaries] working within crowded civilian areas using civilians as shields. But you have to go in. Even to just get a couple of guys with a mortar, you have to send in a battalion and you lose guys. People get hurt. The operational challenge, it bothered us,” Atuar told Defense One.

But others are leery about the prospect of sniper drones.

"Big military drones traditionally have to fly thousands of feet overhead to get to targets, but these smaller drones could easily fly down the street to apply violent force," University of Sheffield Professor Noel Sharkey told the BBC.

"This is my biggest worry since there have been many legal cases of human-rights violations using the large fixed-wing drones, and these could potentially result in many more," Sharkey said.

Mary Wareham, of Human Rights Watch, also voiced similar concerns.

August 12, 2017

Ultimatum to North Korea, Miscalculations Could Lead to Catastrophic War

Trump Won't Be Cancelling World War 3 After All #Stand Down Mr Trump


August 12, 2017

(Global Research) - On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mattis issued an ultimatum to North Korea, saying “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.”

His warning came in response to Pyongyang suggesting plans to fire ballistic missiles to within 30 – 40 km from Guam by mid-August.

On Thursday, Trump said his “fire and fury” warning perhaps wasn’t “tough enough.” The DPRK should “get (its) act together (or it’ll) be in trouble like few nations have ever been.” Its leadership should be “very, very nervous” if it does anything harmful to America or its allies.

Kim Jong-un “disrespected our country greatly. He’s not getting away with it.”

On Friday, China warned Washington, saying if it tries to forcefully topple North Korea’s government, it’ll intervene to stop it.

It repeated calls for calm and diplomatic outreach – easing tensions, not escalating them further. China’s People’s Daily said

“(a) way out of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula cannot be found in the latest exchange of tough words between Washington and Pyongyang.”

“(T)he bottom line on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is that there must not be any armed conflict there. There is no room for any related party to play with fire on the issue.”

China’s Global Times (GT) said:

“when…actions jeopardize (Beijing’s) interests, (it’ll) respond with a firm hand.”

GT repeated the warning issued in the People’s Daily, saying:

“(i)f the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

Beijing firmly opposes war on the Korean peninsula, threatening its national security. Its warning against the possibility is the strongest issued so far, a clear message telling Washington to back off.

Beijing won’t tolerate US East Asia aggression. It’s committed to regional peace and stability and will do whatever it takes to achieve these objectives – America’s meddling in a part of the world not its own the main obstacle.

Pentagon’s World War III Scenario

Sanctions against China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. Part of a Global Military Agenda. 

July 29, 2017

(Global Research) - Washington announced sweeping sanctions to be imposed on three countries: Russia, Iran and North Korea, following the US House of Representatives vote to impose a three countries’ sanctions “package”. 

While the justifications are diverse and unrelated, all three countries are from a military and geopolitical standpoint on the US nuclear “hit list”. They are considered as de facto rogue states, enemies of America.

The Congressional bill invoked respectively Tehran’s support of terrorism, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, and North Korea’s ICBM missile tests.

The pretexts with regard to Russia and Iran are largely fabricated. The main sponsor of Islamic terrorism is US intelligence.

The “package sanctions regime” is intimately related to the Deep State military agenda. Moreover it is worth noting that the legislation included a (rather dangerous) clause to “disapprove of any moves the president makes to end the sanctions… and build a better relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

This clause is visibly intended by the neocon hawks in Washington to constrain the powers of the White House. In the words of Paul Craig Roberts, they intend to “Put Trump in a box.”

The Congressional bill still requires the endorsement of President Trump, who might exercise his veto.

The China Sanctions Regime

While China was excluded from the Congressional three countries’ “package”, Washington formally intimated in early July that sanctions would also be imposed on China in response to China’s increased bilateral commodity trade with North Korea.

China is described as an ally of North Korea. While the US sanctions regime is not officially directed against the Chinese government, selected Chinese banks and trading companies involved in the financing of China-DPRK commodity trade are potential targets of US reprisals.

Having lost patience with China, the Trump administration is studying new steps to starve North Korea of cash for its nuclear program, including an option that would infuriate Beijing: sanctions on Chinese companies that help keep the North’s economy afloat.

The insinuation is crystal clear: curtail your trade with North Korea, or else…

Washington has visibly opted for a coordinated package of sanctions which is intimately related to its global military agenda. Is this sanctions regime a preamble to military action?

Wisconsin Firm Embeds Microchips in Employees

August 9, 2017

(USA TODAY) - You will get chipped. It’s just a matter of time.

In the aftermath of a Wisconsin firm embedding microchips in employees last week to ditch company badges and corporate logons, the Internet has entered into full-throated debate.

Religious activists are so appalled, they’ve been penning nasty 1-star reviews of the company, Three Square Market, on Google, Glassdoor and social media.

On the flip side, seemingly everyone else wants to know: Is this what real life is going to be like soon at work? Will I be chipped?

“It will happen to everybody,” says Noelle Chesley, 49, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “But not this year, and not in 2018. Maybe not my generation, but certainly that of my kids.”

Gene Munster, an investor and analyst at Loup Ventures, is an advocate for augmented reality, virtual reality and other new technologies. He thinks embedded chips in human bodies is 50 years away. “In 10 years, Facebook, Google, Apple and Tesla will not have their employees chipped,” he says. “You’ll see some extreme forward-looking tech people adopting it, but not large companies.”

The idea of being chipped has too “much negative connotation” today, but by 2067 “we will have been desensitized by the social stigma,” Munster says.


A microchip is shown compared with a dime Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, at Three Square Market in River Falls, Wis., (Photo: Jeff Baenen, AP)

For now, Three Square Market, or 32M, hasn’t offered concrete benefits for getting chipped beyond badge and log-on stats. Munster says it was a “PR stunt” for the company to get attention to its product and it certainly succeeded, getting the small start-up air play on CBS, NBC and ABC, and generating headlines worldwide. The company, which sells corporate cafeteria kiosks designed to replace vending machines, would like the kiosks to handle cashless transactions.

This would go beyond paying with your smartphone. Instead, chipped customers would simply wave their hands in lieu of Apple Pay and other mobile-payment systems.

The benefits don't stop there. In the future, consumers could zip through airport scanners sans passport or drivers license; open doors; start cars; and operate home automation systems. All of it, if the technology pans out, with the simple wave of a hand.

Not a GPS tracker

The embedded chip is not a GPS tracker, which is what many critics initially feared. However, analysts believe future chips will track our every move.

For example, pets for years have been embedded with chips to store their name and owner contact. Indeed, 32M isn’t the first company to embed chips in employees. In 2001, Applied Digital Solutions installed the “VeriChip” to access medical records but the company eventually changed hands and stopped selling the chip in 2010.

In Sweden, BioHax says nearly 3,000 customers have had its chip embedded to do many things, including ride the national rail system without having to show the conductor a ticket.

In the U.S., Dangerous Things, a Seattle-based firm, says it has sold “tens of thousands” of chips to consumers via its website. The chip and installation cost about $200.

After years of being a subculture, “the time is now” for chips to be more commonly used, says Amal Graafstra, founder of Dangerous Things. “We’re going to start to see chip implants get the same realm of acceptance as piercings and tattoos do now.”

In other words, they’ll be more visible, but not mainstream yet.

“It becomes part of you the way a cellphone does,” Graafstra says. “You can never forget it, and you can’t lose it. And you have the capability to communicate with machines in a way you couldn’t before.”

But after what we saw in Wisconsin last week, what's next for the U.S. workforce? A nation of workers chipping into their pods at Federal Express, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft and other top corporations?

Experts contend consumers will latch onto chips before companies do.

Chesley says corporations are slower to respond to massive change and that there will be an age issue. Younger employees will be more open to it, while older workers will balk. “Most employers who have inter-generational workforces might phase it in slowly,” she says. “I can’t imagine people my age and older being enthusiastic about having devices put into their bodies.”

Kickbacks to Politicians and Bureaucrats from Marijuana Licensees (or are Politicians and Bureaucrats the Silent Owners and Investors)?

October 2, 2016

(The Denver Post) - Colorado’s marijuana business owners — nearly 1,200 of them — control a quickly growing and powerful industry that is approaching $1 billion in annual sales.

Yet basic information about these entrepreneurs is not available to the public without paying hefty fees, in contrast to what is available about owners of other state-licensed businesses.

The Marijuana Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue will disclose the names of those with ownership interests in more than 2,500 active medical and recreational marijuana licenses issued since 2014.

But the agency will not provide a list that connects owners with their businesses — information it has provided to The Denver Post in the past — or disclose the size of their ownership stakes, what kinds of marijuana licenses they hold and how many businesses they own. In response to several public information requests from The Post, the state said it would provide that information one name at a time at a cost of about $10,000.

And information about any state disciplinary actions against a marijuana business is only available by paying the state hundreds of additional dollars in fees.

“This is not supposed to be secret,” said Larisa Bolivar, executive director of Cannabis Consumers Coalition, an advocacy group. “They are giving licenses for a public business and we have a right to know who owns them.”

The same details about the owners of dozens of other state licensed industries and occupations in Colorado and any discipline meted out to them — from liquor stores and automobile dealers to acupuncturists and veterinarians — is available on request or on the state’s various websites.

For each, the public can learn — often at no cost — the name of a business owner or licensee, any infractions they allegedly committed and any penalty the state regulating authority has issued.

“There doesn’t seem to be a sound rationale in this denial of information,” said Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins. “If you can have (disclosure) for other licensees in other professions, it’s a contradiction not to do it for this.”

Revenue Director Barbara Brohl at first denied The Post’s request for the names of pot-business owners, calling them “individualized data” that were protected by law from disclosure.

“We are really required to maintain the confidentiality of … individualized data information that is provided to us by a licensee,” Brohl told The Post.

Officials eventually released a list of owner names to The Post without any additional information about them. They said their computer system does not store owners’ names matched with addresses and business names, and that court rulings protect them from having to create a new record to fulfill such a request.

The state said it would provide ownership information on a person-by-person basis for all 1,188 people by charging $30 per hour to review each eight-page license application, blacken out information it says is protected from disclosure, and then assess a copy fee for each page.

At a half-hour per owner — the amount it took the department to process one application for The Post — the total cost would be more than $20,000.

Revenue officials later changed their estimate, saying the information The Post sought could be found on two pages of the application, cutting the time it would take to review the paperwork and copies and reducing the cost to about $10,000.

“This makes very little sense and is hardly useful,” said Jeffrey Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition. “The cost is clearly prohibitive. How are journalists and the public expected to examine records and make any kind of assessment of whether a system is working or not? It’s just remarkable.”

August 6, 2017

The Mass Starvation to Come in China

March 14, 2016

(The Blaze) - Unless Beijing can change the course of their economic policy and environmental usage, millions are doomed to starve.

When this happens, China will look abroad for food and resources and as the world saw in the recent pillaging of African resources, local populations suffer. The newest step of purchasing of American farmland is worrisome, just as the land grab in Africa was for commodities pricing internationally. China must reform economically and environmentally or Americans may end up paying for the consequences.

This may seem like a drastic conjecture given that many in recent years have predicted China to be the world’s next great superpower. While on the surface this seems true, China possessing both a large economy and an expansive global system for natural resources, the underlying foundation of China’s growth has begun to crack and the fallout will wreak havoc for millions of Chinese.

China’s economics are troubling.

Last year’s growth rate of 6.9 percent was the lowest in the last 25 years. More distressing perhaps is that Chinese officials have guaranteed a growth rate of 6.5 percent, lower than 2015’s growth, for the next five years and even at that forecast, many economists cast significant doubt about that guarantee. Furthermore, in just the last six months, exports, one of the bedrocks of the Chinese economy, suffered a 20 percent decrease, one of the largest decreases in more than a decade.

All of these metrics point to a decreased buying power for the Chinese government.

This decreased buying power is reflected in reduced funds for government projects and housing. The housing market continues to be a large bubble. During my travels in the Hunan province, it was hard to miss the massive private and government housing projects that supply millions with work in the central and western provinces of China.

In 2013, the Economist reported that the property bubble in China was prime to burst due to the increasing number of “ghost towns.” The ghost towns they were referring to are actually a misnomer for massive real estate projects that have never housed people. The number of these empty housing projects is likely to increase.

Over the past five years, real estate investment has fallen from above 30 percent to below 5 percent. This decline in large-scale housing projects is reflected in a fluctuating unemployment rate.

While the Chinese contend that their unemployment rate has remained stable over the last five years at under 4.3 percent, estimates by non-government entities deem this number manipulated. Better estimates put the unemployment rate at above 10 percent since 2007: 10 percent of the Chinese labor force, 793 million people, equals 79.3 million people out of work. This amount of Chinese out of work ordinarily might not be an issue, however, the environmental factors spell an even deeper chasm for a heavily indebted Beijing.

China produces less and less food every year because of their poor environmental management practices. One of the greatest concerns is the desert creep phenomenon occurring along the thousands of miles of tree line that separate farming from the deserts that make up a large part of China’s western and northwestern border. Attempts at taming the desert through the use of the “Great Green Wall of China,” a government planted tree system to hold back the aggressive grip of the desert, have all but failed. This failure barely slowed the desert creep which claims more than 3,400 km2 of farm land per year, roughly the size of the city of Atlanta. In grains, for example, Beijing has already conceded that for the foreseeable future, the Chinese grain consumption will greatly exceed its domestic production. Unless the Chinese begin investing in farms abroad, they will be completely dependent on foreign nations to supply them the gap in some of these foods.

Being no longer self-sustainable coupled with decreasing fields for harvest follows a similar trajectory as a period of starvation in Chinese history. The Great Leap Forward Famine was a period from 1959 to 1961 where western scholars estimate that over 45 million people died from starvation. While not culturally or politically analogous, the widening gap between the wealthy and the middle class as well as grain shortages due to desertification spell a similar circumstance on the horizon.

That horizon looms even closer as oil prices reflect an ailing Chinese economy. The recent decline in gasoline prices and futures is in part due to extreme downturn in Chinese exports of African natural resources. As a large player in the global economy, any type of reciprocal downturn from the U.S. or Russia will have an even deepening effect on the economy. Once unemployment reaches a certain threshold, there is little the Chinese can do to feed their people. The cracks become clearer when the Premier of the National People’s Congress, Li Keqiang, announced a $16 billion package to accommodate resettling workers laid off due to the closing of a number of factories in order to quell civil unrest. Many western scholars view this as the first of many stimulus packages for an economy limping on.

However, some Chinese businesspeople have aggressively bought farmland over the past 10 years. The Chinese are estimated to own over $1.4 billion worth of farmland in the United States. Even if their domestic negligence prevails, the Chinese will have possession over nearly a quarter of U.S. pork and a significant hold over our farmland. When Beijing’s carelessness becomes more pronounced, where do you think these Chinese owned farmlands are going to sell their products?

These factors individually fail to predict ruin for the Chinese people. However, when added together, it is inevitable that Beijing must change course if it is to feed its people. China’s reckless spending, aggressive growth despite economic downturn, and abusive environmental policy puts it on a collision course towards certain starvation. If the Chinese starve, Americans will likely pay for the consequences of their recklessness.

Iran Vows 'Unified' Response to Breach of Nuclear Deal

August 5, 2017

(AP) — Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said that his administration and country will show a "unified" response to a breach of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

"The world should know that any breach of the deal will face a unified reaction of the Iranian nation and government."

The Saturday remarks by the Iranian president came during the swearing in ceremony for his second term as president.

Iran's state TV reported that more than 130 high-ranking officials from various countries and international organizations attended the ceremony in Tehran. Among them was EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who coordinates follow-up of Iran's nuclear deal.

It was the first time in Iran's history that a large number of foreign officials attended the president's inauguration ceremony.

"Those who intend to tear down the deal, should know that they are tearing down their political life," said Rouhani, without elaborating.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly described the nuclear deal as "bad" and during his campaign vowed to dismantle it.

Trump signed a bill Wednesday that imposes mandatory penalties on those involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.

It would also apply terrorism sanctions to Iran's prestigious Revolutionary Guard and enforce an arms embargo. Iran has vowed to respond if the bill becomes law.

However, Rouhani said his administration will maintain its "moderate" behavior in response to any verbal challenge.

"We prefer peace to war and reform to rigidness," said Rouhani.

Rouhani, 68, a moderate cleric who secured re-election on May 19, promised that his country will pursue a "path of coexistence and interaction with the world."

He vowed that in his second term in office, Iran will "insist on constructive engagement with the world more than before."

Rouhani was first elected in 2013 with nearly 51 percent of the vote.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei formally endorsed him for his second term as president on Thursday. Rouhani has to announce his new cabinet members to Parliament within 14 days. It is expected that he will do this on Tuesday.

August 3, 2017

Space-based Weapons Against Staged Threats: Russia, Terrorism, Third-world Crazies, Asteroids and Artificial 'Alien Invasion'


Testimony of Dr. Carol Rosin [Excerpt]

Dr Carol Rosin was the first woman corporate manager of Fairchild Industries and was spokesperson for Wernher Von Braun in the last years of his life. She founded the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Outer Space in Washington DC and has testified before Congress on many occasions about space based weapons. Von Braun revealed to Dr Rosin a plan to justify weapons in spaced based on hoaxing an extraterrestrial threat. She was also present at meetings in the '70s when the scenario for the Gulf War of the '90s was planned.

CR: Dr Carol Rosin
SG: Dr Steven Greer

CR: My name is Carol Rosin. I am an educator who became the first woman corporate manager of an Aerospace Company, Fairchild Industries.

I am a Space and Missile Defense Consultant and have consulted to a number of companies, organizations, and government departments, even the intelligence community. I was a consultant to TRW working on the MX missile, so I was part of that strategy, which turned out to be a role model for how to sell space-based weapons to the public. The MX missile is yet another weapon system that we didn't need. I founded the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Outer Space, a Washington DC based think tank. I am an author and have testified before Congress and the President's Commission on Space.

When I was a Corporate Manager of Fairchild Industries from 1974 through 1977, I met the late Dr Wernher Von Braun. We first met in early 1974. At that time, Von Braun was dying of cancer but he assured me that he would live a few more years to tell me about the game that was being played — that game being the effort to weaponize space, to control the Earth from space and space itself.

Von Braun had a history of working with weapons systems. He escaped from Germany to come to this country and became a Vice President of Fairchild Industries when I had met him. Von Braun's purpose during the last years of his life, his dying years, was to educate the public and decision-makers about why space-based weapons are dumb, dangerous, destabilizing, too costly, unnecessary, unworkable, and an undesirable idea, and about the alternatives that are available.

As practically a deathbed speech, he educated me about those concepts and who the players were in this game. He gave me the responsibility, since he was dying, of continuing this effort to prevent the weaponization of outer space. When Wernher Von Braun was dying of cancer, he asked me to be his spokesperson, to appear on occasions when he was too ill to speak. I did this.

What was most interesting to me was a repetitive sentence that he said to me over and over again during the approximately four years that I had the opportunity to work with him. He said the strategy that was being used to educate the public and decision makers was to use scare tactics — that was how we identify an enemy.

The strategy that Wernher Von Braun taught me was that first the Russians are going to be considered to be the enemy. In fact, in 1974, they were the enemy, the identified enemy. We were told that they had "killer satellites". We were told that they were coming to get us and control us-that they were "Commies."

Then terrorists would be identified, and that was soon to follow. We heard a lot about terrorism.

Then we were going to identify third-world country "crazies." We now call them Nations of Concern. But he said that would be the third enemy against whom we would build space-based weapons. 

The next enemy was asteroids. Now, at this point he kind of chuckled the first time he said it. Asteroids — against asteroids we are going to build space-based weapons.

And the funniest one of all was what he called aliens, extraterrestrials. That would be the final scare. And over and over and over during the four years that I knew him and was giving speeches for him, he would bring up that last card. "And remember Carol, the last card is the alien card. We are going to have to build space-based weapons against aliens, and all of it is a lie."

I think I was too naïve at that time to know the seriousness of the nature of the spin that was being put on the system. And now, the pieces are starting to fall into place. We are building a space-based weapons system on a premise that is a lie, a spin. Wernher Von Braun was trying to hint that to me back in the early 70's and right up until the moment when he died in 1977.

What he told me was that there is an accelerated effort in place. He didn't mention a timeline but he said that it was going to be speeding up faster than anybody could possibly imagine. That the effort to put weapons into space was not only based on a lie but would accelerate past the point of people even understanding it until it was already up there and too late. 

When Von Braun was dying in front of me, the very first day that I met him, he had tubes draining out of his side. He was tapping on the desk telling me, "You will come to Fairchild." I was a schoolteacher. He said, "You will come to Fairchild and you will be responsible for keeping weapons out of space." The way he said it with this intenseness in his eyes, and added that very first day, the first time I met him, that space-based weapons were a dangerous, destabilizing, too costly, unnecessary, untestable, unworkable idea.

The last card that was being held was the extraterrestrial enemy card. 

The intensity with which he said that, made me realize that he knew something that he was too afraid to mention. He was too afraid to talk about it. He would not tell me the details.

I am not sure that I would have absorbed them if he had told me the details or even believed him in 1974. But there was no question that that man knew and had a need to know, I found out later.

There is no doubt in my mind that Wernher Von Braun knew about the extraterrestrial issue. He explained to me the reasons why weapons were going to be put into space, the enemies against whom we were going to build these weapons, and that all of that was a lie. He mentioned that extraterrestrials were going to be identified as the final enemy against whom we were going to build space-based weapons back in 1974.

The way he said it to me, there was no doubt in my mind that he knew something that he was too afraid to talk about.

Wernher Von Braun never spoke to me about any of the details that he knew related to extraterrestrials except that one day extraterrestrials were going to be identified as an enemy against whom we are going to build an enormous space-based weapons system. Wernher Von Braun actually told me that the spin was a lie — that the premise for space-based weaponry, the reasons that were going to be given, the enemies that we were going to identify — were all based on a lie. 

I have been tracking the space-based weapons issue for about 26 years.

I have debated Generals and Congressional Representatives. I have testified before the Congress and the Senate. I have met with people in over 100 countries. But I have not been able to identify who the people are who are making this space-based weapons system happen. I see the news. I see the administrative decisions being made. I know that they are all based on lies and greed. 

But I have yet to be able to identify who the people are. That is after tracking this issue for 26 years. I know that there are big secrets being kept and I know that it is time the public and decision-makers pay attention to the people who are now going to be disclosing the truth. Then we need to make some definite changes and build a system in space that will benefit every single person, and all of the animals, and the environment of this planet. The technology is there. The solutions to Earth's urgent and long-term potential problems are there. I have a feeling that once we start studying this extraterrestrial issue, all of the questions are going to be answered that I have had for 26 years.

But I have concluded that it is based on a few people making a lot of money and gaining power. It is about ego. It is not about our essence and who we really are on this planet and loving each other and being at peace and cooperating. It isn't about using technology to solve problems and heal people in the planet. It isn't about that. It is about a few people who really are playing an old, dangerous, costly game for their own pocketbooks and power struggle. That is all it is. 

I believe that this entire space-based weapons game is initiated right here in the United States of America.

[...]

In 1977, I was at a meeting in Fairchild Industries in a conference room called the War Room. In that room were a lot of charts on the walls with enemies, identified enemies. There were other more obscure names, names like Saddam Hussein and Khadafi. But we were talking then about terrorists, the potential terrorists. No one had ever talked about this before but this was the next stage after the Russians against whom we were going to build these space-based weapons. I stood up in this meeting and I said, "Excuse me, why are we talking about these potential enemies against whom we are going to build space-based weapons if, in fact, we know that they are not the enemy at this time?" 

Well, they continued the conversation about how they were going to antagonize these enemies and that at some point, there was going to be a war in the Gulf, a Gulf War. Now this is 1977, 1977! And they were talking about creating a war in the Gulf Region when there was 25 billion dollars in the space-based weapons program that had yet to be identified. It wasn't called the Strategic Defense Initiative, at least not until 1983. This weapons system, then, had obviously been going on for some time and I didn't know anything about. So I stood up in this meeting in 1977 and said, "I would like to know why we are talking about space-based weapons against these enemies. I would like to know more about this. Would someone please tell me what this is about?" Nobody answered. They just went on with this meeting as though I hadn't said anything.

Suddenly, I stood up in the room and said, "If nobody can tell me why you are planning a war in the Gulf when there is a certain amount of money in a budget so that you can create the next set of weapons systems that will be the beginning of the sell to the public about why we need space-based weapons, then consider this: my resignation. And you will not hear from me again!" 

And nobody said a word because they were planning a war in the Gulf and it happened exactly as they planned it, on time. 

SG: Who was at this meeting?

CR: The room was filled with people in the revolving door game. There were people that I had seen once in a military uniform and other times in a gray suit and an industry outfit. These people play a revolving door game. They work as consultants, industry people, and/or military and intelligence people. They work in the industries, and they revolve themselves through these doors and right into government positions. 

I stood up in this meeting and asked if I was hearing correctly — that when there was 25 billion dollars expended in the space-based weapons budget, that there was going to be a war in the Gulf, stimulated, created, so that they could then sell the next phase of weapons to the public and the decision-makers. This war was going to be created so that they could dump the old weapons and create a whole new set of weapons. So I had to resign from that position. I could no longer work in that industry. 

In about 1990 I was sitting in my living room looking at the money that had been spent on space-based weapons research and development programs and I realized that it had come to that number, about 25 billion dollars, and I said to my husband, "I am now going to stop everything. I am not going to stop and sit and watch CNN television and I am going to wait for the war to happen."

My husband said, "Well, you have finally gone over the edge. You have flipped out."  

Friends said, "You have really gone too far this time. There is not going to be a war in the Gulf, nobody is talking about a war in the Gulf." 

I said, "There is going to be a war in the Gulf. I am going to sit here and wait for the war in the Gulf." And it happened right on schedule. 

As part of the war game in the Gulf, we in the public were told that the United States was successful in shooting down Russian Scud Missiles. We were rationalizing new budgets based on that success. In fact, we found out later, after the budgets were approved for the next phase of weapons, that it was a lie. We did not have successful shoot-downs the way we were told. It was all a lie, just to get more money put in the budget to make more weapons. 

I was one of the first people to go independently to Russia when I heard that they had "killer satellites."

[See the testimony of Dr Paul Czysz. SG]

When I went to Russia in the early 70's, I found out that they didn't have killer satellites, that it was a lie. In fact, the Russian leaders and people wanted peace. They wanted to cooperate with the United States and with the people of the world. 

Another time I called Saddam Hussein when he was lighting his oil fields on fire. My husband was in the kitchen while I was making this phone call. I got a call back from his First Attaché with Saddam Hussein nearby and he asked, "Are you a reporter? Are you an agent? Why do you want to know?" 

I said, "No. I am just a citizen who helped to start the movement to prevent the weaponization of outer space and I have found that a lot of stories that I have been told about weapons systems and the enemies are not true. I wanted to find out what would satisfy Saddam Hussein so he would stop making these oil fields catch fire and stop antagonizing people." He said, "Well, nobody has ever asked him that question, what he wants."

Space Arms Race as Russia, China Emerge as 'Rapidly Growing Threats' to US
March 29, 2017

(CNBC.com) - U.S. satellites may be vulnerable to attacks that could make our whole way of fighting war riskier, according to experts.

"Every major space-faring nation that can track a satellite and launch into outer space has the means to mess up a satellite," said Michael Krepon, a space security expert and co-founder of the Stimson Center think tank in Washington, D.C.

A space arms race of sorts is underway with weapons under development or in the arsenals of China, Russia and the U.S. Space weapons include satellite jammers, lasers and high-power microwave gun systems.

"My guess is that our capabilities to carry out a war in space are a lot better than the Chinese and Russians," said Krepon.

July 30, 2017

US Bombers Fly in S. Korea After North's 2nd Long-range Missile Test

North Korea's test Friday of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile was its second of the long-range weapon in a month. The first on July 4 showed the missile had the range to reach Alaska. Friday's test was designed to show the Hwasong-14's maximum range with a "large-sized heavy nuclear warhead," a statement from Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said. It said Washington should regard the launch as a "grave warning." KCNA quoted Kim as saying, "The whole US mainland" is now within North Korea's reach. The North Korean leader called Pyongyang's weapons program "a precious asset" that cannot be reversed or replaced.

July 30, 2017

(AP) — The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea following the country's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test.

The B-1 bombers were escorted by South Korean fighter jets as they performed a low-pass over an air base near the South Korean capital of Seoul before returning to the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.

It said the mission was a response to consecutive ICBM tests by North Korea this month. Analysts say flight data from North Korea's second ICBM test conducted Friday night showed that a broader part of the mainland United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of Pyongyang's weapons.

"North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability," Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, said. "Diplomacy remains the lead. However, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario."

He added: " If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing."

The United States often sends powerful warplanes in times of heightened animosities with North Korea. B-1 bombers have been sent to South Korea for flyovers several times this year in response to North Korea's banned missile tests, and also following the death of a U.S. college student last month after he was released by North Korean in a coma.

The Hwasong-14 ICBM, which the North first tested on July 4, is the highlight of several new weapons systems Pyongyang launched this year. They include an intermediate range missile the North says is capable of hitting Alaska and Hawaii and a solid-fuel midrange missile, which analysts say can be fired faster and more secretly than liquid-fuel missiles.

US Slams North Korea Missile Test as Kim Claims 'Whole US Mainland' in Reach

"Our foolish past leaders have allowed them (China) to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade" while allowing North Korea's missile program to become a direct threat to the US mainland, Trump wrote. China earlier this year proposed that North Korea freeze its nuclear weapons and missile programs in exchange for the United States and South Korea ending a string of military exercises that North Korea considers a threat to its security.

July 30, 2017

(CNN) - North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile Friday that appears to have the range to hit major US cities, experts say, and prompted a fresh round of condemnation from the United States, China, Japan and South Korea.

A combination of US, South Korean and Japanese analyses of the launch from Mupyong-ni, near North Korea's border with China, shows the missile flew about 45 minutes, going 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) high and for a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).

If the missile were fired on a flatter, standard trajectory, it would have major US cities such as Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago well within its range, with the possible ability to reach as far as New York and Boston, according to David Wright, a missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

However, early analysis of Friday's test cannot determine how heavy a payload the missile was carrying in its warhead, Wright said. The heavier the payload, the shorter the range.

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff said they estimate the missile tested Friday is more advanced than one launched earlier this month based on the range it traveled. Experts had said that test showed Pyongyang had the ability to hit Alaska.

July 9, 2017

G20 Summit Ends with Opt-outs for Trump on Climate, Trade



July 9, 2017

(AFP) - World leaders made concessions on trade and climate language to Donald Trump Saturday at the end of the most fractious and riot-hit G20 summit ever, in exchange for preserving a fragile unity of the club of major industrialised and emerging economies.

But the gesture opened the door for others, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning that Ankara was now leaning towards not ratifying the landmark Paris climate accord.

Erdogan's threat brought further disarray to a summit that was marred by bilateral quarrels and strife over climate protection and trade.

And in one of the weekend's more bizarre scenes, Trump raised eyebrows by leaving a discussion and letting his daughter Ivanka take his place.

In a departure from final summit declarations that tend to outline consensus on issues that range from fighting terrorism to financial governance, the extraordinary conclusion this year spelt out differences on core issues.

It acknowledged Trump's decision to take the United States out of the 2015 Paris deal and clearly stated Washington's wish to continue using and selling fossil fuels that are a main driver of global warming.

The declaration also stated for the first time the right of countries to protect their markets with "legitimate trade defence instruments" -- wording that essentially gives Trump wiggle room to push on with his "America First" policy.

The nationalistic stance has set him on collision course with many of America's allies, who warned Trump against an isolationist path and starting a trade war.

"Where there is no consensus, the communique spelt out the discord," said host Chancellor Angela Merkel.

- 'Problem' with Paris deal -

But with Trump determinedly leading the US out of the climate accord ratified by 153 countries, Erdogan said he was leaning towards not completing the ratification process.

"After that step taken by America, the position that we adopt is in the direction of not passing it in parliament," Erdogan said.

He also suggested some other, unidentified G20 countries had a "problem" with the agreement.

Thomas Bernes from the think-tank Centre for International Governance Innovation described the final declaration as a "masquerade".

"When compared to the G20 dynamic since the London summit in 2009, it's a step back: a clear signal against protectionism to fight the financial crisis becomes a mixed signal."

- Trail of destruction -

If the meetings within the tightly secured venue were anything but harmonious, outside chaos and violence gripped Germany's second city.

Ten minutes' walk from the summit, charred road barricades, trashed shops, debris and shattered glass bore testimony to an anarchic Friday night of street clashes between protesters and police, when commandos chased militants who hurled rocks from rooftops.

The clashes blocked US First Lady Melania Trump at her residence on Friday, forcing G20 organisers to completely alter a programme for spouses of visiting leaders.

On Saturday, thousands of anti-riot cops were again on guard, as helicopters hovered overhead, with tens of thousands of demonstrators on the march.

Fresh clashes erupted early Sunday in the streets of Hamburg following the end of the G20 summit, with protesters setting fire to a number of vehicles and police reporting more officers injured and more arrests.

- Trump vs. Putin -

Within the summit walls, world leaders were dancing a delicate diplomatic waltz, with discord not only dogging the main G20 conferences, but also adding tension to bilateral asides.

Host Merkel herself admitted that "deep differences" remain with Erdogan after they met on the sidelines of the summit.

But it was Trump's first head-to-head with Russia's leader President Vladimir Putin that stole the show.

A day after Trump slammed Moscow's actions in Ukraine and Syria, the two men had a "robust and lengthy exchange" about allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

But Tillerson, who was present at the meeting that ran for two hours and 15 minutes, also said the two alpha-male leaders "connected very quickly" with "very clear positive chemistry".

Trump said Saturday that the tete-a-tete was "tremendous" while Putin gave an upbeat assessment of what it meant for future ties.

"There is every reason to believe that we will be able to at least partially re-establish the level of cooperation that we need," Putin said.

After scoring at his Russian encounter, Trump turned to another thorny meeting, this time with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile test announced this week was the key issue, with Trump warning Thursday that Pyongyang's military sabre-rattling would bear "consequences".

Entering into talks, Trump told his Chinese counterpart that "something has to be done" on North Korea.

In a summit with its fair share of odd and awkward moments, it was Ivanka's appearance at one discussion alongside Xi, Merkel and Erdogan that caused the biggest stir.

Historian Anne Applebaum took to Twitter to denounce what she described "an unelected, unqualified, unprepared New York socialite" being seen as "the best person to represent American national interests."

Merkel though sought to play down the case, saying that it is "in line with what other delegations do".

Solar Cycles and Global Temperatures

The solar cycle or solar magnetic activity cycle is the nearly periodic 11-year change in the Sun's activity (including changes in the levels of solar radiation and ejection of solar material) and appearance (changes in the number and size of sunspots, flares, and other manifestations).

They have been observed (by changes in the sun's appearance and by changes seen on Earth, such as auroras) for centuries.

The changes on the sun cause effects in space, in the atmosphere, and on Earth's surface. While it is the dominant variable in solar activity, aperiodic fluctuations also occur.

Solar cycles have an average duration of about 11 years. Solar maximum and solar minimum refer respectively to periods of maximum and minimum sunspot counts. Cycles span from one minimum to the next.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cycle

Solar Cycle 23

Solar cycle 23 was the 23rd solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began.[1][2] The solar cycle lasted 12.3 years, beginning in August 1996 and ending in December 2008. The maximum smoothed sunspot number (SIDC formula) observed during the solar cycle was 180.3 (November 2001), and the starting minimum was 11.2.[3] During the minimum transit from solar cycle 23 to 24, there were a total of 817 days with no sunspots.

This cycle lasted 11.6 years, beginning in May 1996 and ending in January 2008. The maximum smoothed sunspot number (monthly number of sunspots averaged over a twelve-month period) observed during the solar cycle was 120.8 (March 2000), and the minimum was 1.7.[17] A total of 805 days had no sunspots during this cycle.[18][19][20]

Solar Cycle 24

On January 4, 2008, a reversed-polarity sunspot appeared, heralding the arrival of Solar Cycle 24.

Solar Cycle 24 - should end in late 2018 or early 2019 (11 years, unless it is a longer than usual cycle, as was cycle 23, 12.3 years)

The current solar cycle began on January 4, 2008,[13] with minimal activity until early 2010.[14][15] It is on track to have the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750. 

The cycle featured a "double-peaked" solar maximum. The first peak reached 99 in 2011 and the second in early 2014 at 101.[16]

Solar Cycle 24 is the 24th solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began. It is the current solar cycle, and began in December 2008 with a smoothed minimum of 2.2 (SIDC formula). There was only minimal activity until early 2010. It reached its maximum in April 2014 with smoothed sunspot number only 116.4, the lowest in over a century.

The current solar cycle is currently the subject of research, as it is not generating sunspots in the manner which would be expected. Sunspots did not begin to appear immediately after the last minimum (in 2008) and although they started to reappear in late 2009, they were at significantly lower rates than anticipated.

Prior to the minimum between the end of Solar Cycle 23 and the beginning of Solar Cycle 24, there were essentially two competing theories about how strong Solar Cycle 24 would be. 

In early 2013, after several months of calm, it was obvious that the active 2011 was not a prelude to a widely predicted late 2012-early 2013 peak in solar flares, sunspots and other activity. This unexpected stage prompted some scientists to propose a "double-peaked" solar maximum, which then occurred. The first peak reached 99 in 2011 and the second peak came in early 2014 at 101.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cycle_24

The level of understanding of solar impacts on weather is low.

We are in a declining phase of solar cycle 24.

This latest "Solar Sunday" video was created on 21st May 2017. The video looks at the current situation with regards to the current solar cycle, Solar Cycle 24.

Solar activity is currently at very low levels with just a small number of sunspots. The GWV solar tracker show that sunspot and solar flux are declining compared to where they was when we began the solar tracker last Autumn.

This decline in solar activity is to be expected because we are moving inexorably down into solar minimum (expected around 2018-2019); however, this ins't a linear process so we do some "spikes" in sunspot numbers while the overall trend in both sunspot numbers and solar flux is downwards.

In terms of SC24 sunspot numbers are now at a similar level to where they were in 2010. The big difference between now and 2010 is that 2010 was moving out of solar minimum while the 2017 is moving from solar maximum into solar minimum.

Comparing the current situation in terms of solar activity with the last time was in a "declining" phase of a solar cycle - The last solar cycle SC23 - we can see that solar activity now is at similar levels to where it was around 2005 and 2006.

We should be in true solar minimum for SC24 within the next 12-18 months, so before much longer we'll have a "crash" in sunspot numbers, sustained over several weeks or even months.

Looking further back through the solar cycles we can see that SC24 continues to run closely to SC12 (1877-1890), and SC24 is confirmed as being one of the weakest solar cycles recorded, although not as weak as the Dalton Minimum cycles number 5 and 6.

We continue to wait for official guidance and forecasts for the next solar cycle 2C25 but using the mean monthly smoothed sunspot numbers chart we can see that when we have such dramatic falls in sunspot activity such as we've seen during SC24 is often followed by a solar cycle as weaker or occasionally even weaker than the previous solar cycle.

http://www.gavsweathervids.com/sc24-25.html

The Dalton Minimum was a period of low solar activity, named after the English meteorologist John Dalton, lasting from about 1790 to 1830. Like the Maunder Minimum and Spörer Minimum, the Dalton Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average global temperatures. The Oberlach Station in Germany, for example, experienced a 2.0°C decline over 20 years. The Year Without a Summer, in 1816, also occurred during the Dalton Minimum. Solar cycles 5 and 6, as shown below, were greatly reduced in amplitude. [Source]






Solar Update June 2017–the sun is slumping and headed even lower
Guest essay by David Archibald at Watts Up With That
June 7, 2017
Solar cycle 24 has seen very low solar activity thus far, likely the lowest in 100 years.
clip_image002_thumb2
Figure 1: F10.7 Flux 2014 – 2017
The F10.7 flux shows that over the last three and a half years the Sun has gone from solar maximum through a bounded decline to the current stage of the trail to the minimum. Solar minimum is likely to be still three years away.
The Full Post is HERE.  Stay tuned.  It was a record snow year in California and cosmic ray counts continue to increase. It is going to be an interesting climate year.