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Israel on Edge

Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

December 7th 2017

Israeli flag and clouds

Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the modern state of Israel. He said that he is directing the State Department to begin preparations to build a new embassy in Jerusalem. Trump said that he came to office with open eyes with regard to the perennial peace process in the Middle East. “We cannot come into office making the same failed assumptions as in the past,” he said. Trump added, “My announcement marks a new approach.”

Referring to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which was reaffirmed by a vote in the Senate this year, Trump said that his predecessors used waivers to prevent the move of the U.S. diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Saying that previous presidents may have lacked sufficient courage, Trump said, “After two decades of waivers, we are no closer” to a peace deal and called it “folly to assume” doing the same thing will improve matters. Read more ..


The Caliphate

ISIS's Fall Means Fewer Terror Deaths As Jihadis Adjust, IPT Analysis Shows

December 3rd 2017

ISIS Group

The fall of ISIS's physical caliphate is likely to create a shift in radical Islamic terrorism, an Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) analysis of data from the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and the Responses to Terrorism (START)'s Global Terrorism Database (GTD) finds.

Fewer people may be killed in radical Islamic terror attacks, but the terrorists will seek new safe havens and adapt their online strategies to maintain a virtual caliphate.

From the data, five phases were identified. The first phase from 2001-2006 saw on average 2,500 fatalities globally. Phase two from 2007-2011 saw an average of 3,200 global fatalities. In phase three, 2012-2013, there was an annual average of 9,500 global fatalities, and in phase four, 2014-2016, an exponential spike in fatalities showed an average annual of around 27,500 global fatalities. Now that the caliphate is finally collapsing, the fifth phase, according to the IPT, will start to see a decline in annual fatalities globally. Read more ..


Jew Hatred

Mennonites and BDS:A Lawsuit Amid a Legacy

November 27th 2017

Edwin Black

Ellen Koontz, a Kansas contract schoolteacher, is asking a federal judge to re-affirm the anti-Jewish boycott campaign begun by Adolf Hitler on April 1, 1933, openly adopted shortly thereafter by the Mufti of Jerusalem as part of the Arab-Nazi alliance during the Holocaust, internationalized against the Jewish State after WWII by the Arab League in December 1945, made illegal in America by a 1976 amendment to the Tax Reform Act and a 1977 amendment to the US Export Administration Act, which governs commercial activity impacting foreign policy, reaffirmed by continuous Presidential Executive Orders, and re-labelled in recent years with glitter and violent disruption as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, otherwise known as BDS.

Read more ..

Oil Addiction

Don't Blame Just the Gas Tax for California's Pump Prices — Refineries $3 Billion more Annually Than They Should

November 23rd 2017

Oil Refinery

On Feb. 18, 2015, an explosion ripped through Exxon Mobil’s vast refinery in Torrance, forcing a shutdown that took 10% of the state’s overall gasoline production capacity offline.

Prices immediately spiked at the pump, rising by about 70 cents per gallon relative to the rest of the country. That wasn’t unexpected, given the resulting constraints in statewide gasoline supplies. What sets the Torrance outage apart from the effect of other outages, however, is what happened afterward.

Estimates of the mysterious premium being collected by the state’s refineries range from at least 20 cents per gallon — as calculated by UC Berkeley energy economist Severin Borenstein — to more than 30 cents, as reckoned by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog. (Neither figure includes the Nov. 1 tax increase.) The lower estimate would take about $3 billion a year out of California drivers’ pockets, or about $300 a year for an average family of four; the higher estimate, $4.5 billion. Where is the money going? To refineries, whose margins increased after the explosion and have stayed high. Read more ..


Israel and Saudi Arabia

Signs of Saudi - Israel Rapprochement Against Iran

November 17th 2017

Saudi princes

King Salman of Saudi Arabia plans to step down and announce his son as his successor next week, a source close to the country’s royal family told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.

The transfer of power to Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, is expected already next week, DailyMail.com said in the report published Thursday, adding that the king will continue only as a ceremonial figurehead.

“Unless something dramatic happens, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week,” said the unnamed source. There was no official comment from Riyadh. Quoting the unnamed “high level source,” the report says the prince will shift his focus to its longtime rival Iran and enlist the help of the Israeli military to crush its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Tensions between the Kingdom and the Islamic Republic have increased dramatically in recent weeks. “MBS is convinced that he has to hit Iran and Hezbollah,” according to the source. “Contrary to the advice of the royal family elders, that’s MBS’s next target.”

Read more ..

Financing the Flames

Foundations Gave Millions To Groups Accused Of Terror Ties

November 13th 2017

Money Bands=Happiness

Major American foundations have given millions of dollars in funding to Islamic organizations accused of having ties to radical Islamist movements or designated terrorist organizations and a group of activists are trying to convince them to stop. 

Groups like Islamic Relief Worldwide, which some countries have banned for allegedly funding Hamas and other terrorist organizations, have received millions of dollars from corporate charities like the GE Foundation, community foundations like the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and independent foundations like George Soros’ Open Society.

Researchers with the Middle East Forum, an activist group devoted to promoting American interests abroad, identified the financial stream from American foundations to seven Islamic groups with radical ties: Islamic Relief Worldwide and its sister organization in the United States — Islamic Relief USA, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and, despite rebounding from highly damaging terrorist allegations in 2008, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

U.S. calls for U.N. Action Against Iran Over Yemen Missile

November 9th 2017

King Abdullah

The United States accused Iran on Tuesday of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two U.N. Security Council resolutions.

A still image taken from a video distributed by Yemen's pro-Houthi Al Masirah television station on November 5, 2017, shows what it says was the launch by Houthi forces of a ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh's King Khaled Airport on Saturday, Houthi Military Media Unit via REUTERS TV

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said information released by Saudi Arabia showed the missile fired in July was an Iranian Qiam, which she described as “a type of weapon that had not been present in Yemen before the conflict.”

Saudi-led forces, which back the government in neighboring Yemen, have been targeting the Iran-allied Houthis in a more than two-year war. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Tuesday described Iran’s supply of rockets to the Houthis as “direct military aggression” that could be an act of war.

Haley said that by providing weapons to the Houthis, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp‎s had violated two U.N. resolutions on Yemen and Iran. She said a missile shot down over Saudi Arabia on Saturday “may also be of Iranian origin.”

“We encourage the United Nations and international partners to take necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these violations,” Haley said. It was not immediately clear what action the United States was calling for.

Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi echoed Haley’s call for U.N. action against Iran in a letter to the U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres later on Tuesday, seen by Reuters.

He said the missile fired on Saturday “may amount to a war crime” and that Saudi Arabia was “taking appropriate measures to respond to these terrorist acts.”

Read more ..

The Russia Scandal

Hollywood's Oliver Stone Questions Involvement of Sen. McCain and Media in Uncorroborated Steele Dossier

October 28th 2017

College math papers

Oscar-winning movie director Oliver Stone reminded his followers on Twitter that Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona was among those in government who propagated the uncorroborated allegations against Donald Trump that have recently been put into question by startling revelations. Stone tweeted on Friday, “Those who prompted the corrupt dossier’s findings,” included not only McCain but also former CIA Director John Brennan and others.

Stone was referring a dossier allegedly paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele for the GPS Fusion opposition research firm and the behest of a law firm affiliated with the Democratic Party. Earlier media reports indicated that an initial report on Trump, to which the Steele report was eventually added, was paid for by a Republican. The Washington Free Beacon -- a conservative media outlet associated with publisher William Kristol and billionaire Peter Singer -- revealed to the House Intelligence Committee on Friday that it had contracted with the Fusion GPS opposition research firm to produce the original report. Both Kristol and Singer were initially opposed to Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy and have been dubbed Never-Trumpers. Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

US Putting Nuclear Bombers on High Alert

October 23rd 2017

A Bomber

B-52 bombers rigged with nuclear weapons are being prepared for 24-hour alert for the first time since the Cold War, a senior U.S. Air Force official has reportedly said.

In a report by security news website Defense One General David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, said U.S. military leaders are reacting to new threat levels.

"The world is a dangerous place and we've got folks that are talking openly about use of nuclear weapons," he said, according to the report. Goldfein said no official order had been given to put nuclear bombers on alert, but said preparations are underway. The U.S. Department of Defense was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC. Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

North Korea Warns That Nuclear War Could ‘Break Out Any Moment’

October 17th 2017

NK Military Parade Apr 2012

North Korea warned that a nuclear war “may break out any moment” as the U.S. and South Korea began one of the largest joint naval drills off both the east and west coasts of the peninsula.

Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said on Monday that his nation had become a “full-fledged nuclear power which possesses the delivery means of various ranges” and warned that “the entire U.S. mainland is within our firing range.” He also called North Korea “a responsible nuclear state.”

“As long as one does not take part in the U.S. military actions against the DPRK, we have no intention to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any other country,” Kim said, referring to his country’s formal name. Read more ..


Inside Washington

The Drug Industry’s Triumph over the DEA

October 16th 2017

Pills

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.

A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes.” The DEA had opposed the effort for years.

The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.

Read more ..

Iran's Nuke's

Iran's Secret Sites Linked To Nuclear Weapons Development Revealed

October 13th 2017

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

President Donald Trump is expected this week to “decertify” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known simply as the Iran deal, declaring that the agreement reached in 2015 by the U.S. and five other international powers is not in America’s national interest. The matter will then be tossed back to Congress, which will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose hefty pre-2015 sanctions.

While the President’s likely move has generated wide condemnation from foreign policy leaders — who reiterate that the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has maintained Iran is in compliance — a new 52-page investigative report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), entitled: “Iran’s Nuclear Core: Uninspected Military Sites,” obtained exclusively by Fox News and slated for release Wednesday, asserts that the country’s nuclear weapons program has far from halted. Read more ..


DebbiGate

Ex-Wasserman Schultz IT Aide Arrested for Fraud May Have Been a ‘substantial security threat’

October 11th 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Data transfers between disgraced one-time Democratic National Committee chairwoman and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her former IT aide Imran Awan may have constituted a significant security breach, one lawmaker claims.

Awan is at the center of multiple charges of fraud and conspiracy after he was arrested attempting to flee to Pakistan in July.

Fox News reported that on Tuesday, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), who sits on the Homeland Security subcommittee on cyber security, told fellow Republicans Awan created 5,400 unauthorized logins on the House server belonging to former Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), who is now California’s attorney general. After the House’s inspector general reported findings on Awan, a criminal investigation into him and multiple associates was open, culminating in him being fired by most congresspeople in February after allegations of “possible double-billing, alleged equipment theft and access to sensitive computer systems” were revealed. Read more ..


Inside Jewry

Hillel at the Crossroads. Part V: Feud Resolution or Escalation

October 9th 2017

Eric Fingerhut

Part 5 of Edwin Black's latest 5-part investigative series, "Hillel at the Crossroads," is based on more than 100 interviews in 4 countries, and the acquisition of many documents and internal emails. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

 

At about 5 AM on September 20, 2017, before the sun rose over the Boston skyline, Gilad Skolnick tumbled out of bed. He hadn’t slept much the night before—the sheer excitement of starting a major new phase of his life weighed on his mind. He dressed and then, as usual, stopped at the gym as the first order of business. By 8:30 AM, Skolnick had tucked his white shirt into his khaki pants, emerged from the gym filled with anticipation, and made his way to 70 Saint Stephen Street—Northeastern University Hillel [NEU Hillel]. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Nuke Deal Hangs in Balance as Trump Plans Iran Policy Speech

October 5th 2017

Iranian women trample US flag

President Donald Trump could announce his secret decision on the future of the Iran nuclear deal next week.

U.S. officials familiar with the president’s planning said Wednesday he is preparing to deliver an Iran policy speech in which he is expected to declare the landmark 2015 agreement contrary to America’s national security interests.

The speech has been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 12 at an as yet undetermined venue in Washington, according to two officials who weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the planning for the event and demanded anonymity. They cautioned that plans could still change, and the White House declined to comment on the timing or substance of Trump’s pending announcement. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Las Vegas Mass Shooting-- 50 Dead

October 2nd 2017

FBI sting

America is reeling from the worst mass shooting in its history after at least 50 people were killed and more than 200 wounded at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

Police say the shooter was 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, described as a local man, who opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Village from a room across the street in the Mandalay Bay Hotel shortly after 10pm.

Officers say Paddock was shot and killed after they breached a room in the hotel, where he had stashed an 'arsenal' of weapons used during the massacre.

Investigators are now raiding the Mesquite home he shared with Marilou Danley, described as his 'companion', who was detained for questioning in the early hours of Monday morning.

Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said investigations are still ongoing and police have not yet determined a motive.  Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

South Korea Receives with New US Deployment

October 1st 2017

B-2 Bomber

The United States and South Korea bolstered their alliance this week as Seoul announced that Washington has agreed to deploy so-called “strategic assets” to the peninsula. Lawmakers who have pressed for action to rein in North Korea’s thriving nuclear and missile programs applauded the move. They called it a prudent step that will help defend the United States and its allies.

Experts, though, said the deployment is mostly intended to reassure South Korea. 

“From an optics standpoint, it sounds really good that we’re going to enhance that alliance,” said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest. “Really, what this is, is to reinforce the alliance so Seoul feels comfortable that if there was any contingency, we’d be there.”

This week, the South Korean president’s national security advisor told lawmakers in Seoul that the United States will begin deploying “strategic assets” on a rotational basis as early as late this year. The announcement came after North Korea threatened to shoot down U.S. bombers. It said it has the right to do so because President Trump’s recent comments on the country amount to a “declaration of war.”

Read more ..

Broken Borders

Americans Pay More than $8k Yearly for Illegal Immigrants

September 28th 2017

Stop the Raids immigration protest

Illegal immigrants and their children cost taxpayers $135 billion per year. This is the highest level of expenditure for illegal immigrants ever made by the United States, which includes free medical care, education, law enforcement. The Federation for American Immigration Reform released a report that despite claims from immigration advocates that illegal aliens pay substantially into federal, state, and local governments, FAIR estimates that the amount comes to just $19 billion, making the final toll on taxpayers to be about $116 billion.

FAIR estimated that local and state governments are being hit with more than $88 billion. The federal government, by comparison, is getting off easy at $45 billion in costs for illegal aliens.

Titled "The Fiscal Burden Of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers," the comprehensive report noted that costs have climbed about $3 billion since 2013. FAIR Executive Director Dan Stein praised President Donald Trump’s efforts to control illegal immigration and to control costs to government. By mandating E-Verify, building the border wall, and improving immigration enforcement, Stein said that the costs to taxpayers should diminish.

Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Iran's Supposed Missile Launch was Fake, say US Officials

September 26th 2017

Iran Missiles

Iranian state television released video footage Friday claiming to show the launch of a new type of medium-range ballistic missile, a few hours after it was displayed during a military parade in Tehran.

But it turns out Iran never fired a ballistic missile, sources say.

The video released by the Iranians was more than seven months old – dating back to a failed launch in late January, which resulted in the missile exploding shortly after liftoff, according to two U.S. officials.

President Trump had originally responded to the reported launch in a late-Saturday tweet, saying, “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!” This was after Trump, speaking before world leaders at the United Nations, called the Iran nuclear deal an “embarrassment” to the United States.   Read more ..


Kurdistan Rising

Iraqi Kurdistan Holds Historic Independence Referendum

September 25th 2017

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

America's most reliable ally in the fight against ISIS wants its own country.

This long-held ambition moved one step closer to reality Monday as millions of Iraqi Kurds began lining up to vote in an independence referendum.

Despite huge pressure from other countries to cancel the vote, the streets were festooned with Kurdish flags and voters showed off their ink-stained fingers.

Experts say the result will almost certainly be a resounding "yes" — but what that will actually mean in reality is still unclear.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Obama Official Admits Trump Wiretaps 'Possible'

September 22nd 2017

Trump1

In an exchange Wednesday night on CNN with show host Don Lemon, Obama’s director of intelligence admitted that it is possible that Donald Trump’s conversations with political operative Paul Manafort may have been recorded by the Obama administration. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked whether Trump, who was in frequent communication with Manafort in 2016 during the presidential campaign, was “picked up” by FBI wiretaps ordered for an investigation into Manafort’s activities. 

Clapper answered, “It's certainly conceivable.” Lemon responded, “Is it likely?” To which Clapper responded, “I can't say. I wouldn't want to go there, but I will say it's possible.”

Back in March, Clapper told Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that while he was national intelligence director, that his office did not undertake wiretaps of Trump the candidate. However, he said he could not speak for the other three federal intelligence agencies that are authorized to conduct wiretaps. Read more ..


The Edge of the Solar System

Cassini's "Grand Finale" Will Be a Fiery End

September 16th 2017

Saturn

All good things must come to an end.

For NASA’s Cassini orbiter—its fuel dwindling after 13 years exploring Saturn, along with the planet’s sprawling rings and dozens of icy moons—the end will come Friday at 7:55 A.M. Eastern time. That’s when mission planners project radio communications will be lost with the two-ton, bus-size spacecraft as it plunges into the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere at more than 122,000 kilometers per hour.

Within seconds the gas streaming around the plummeting probe will reach temperatures hot enough to melt its aluminum chassis, followed by the iridium cladding that shields its plutonium power source. With its radio link to Earth severed, Cassini’s last “transmission” will be the light from this fireball, a modest blaze of glory that astronomers might glimpse from Earth. A minute after its final signal, the sophisticated spacecraft will be reduced to a rapidly dissipating spray of vaporized metal some 200 kilometers beneath Saturn’s swirling cloud tops. But as scientists and members of the public gather in various parts of the world for bittersweet celebrations of the mission’s conclusion, it is clear Cassini’s legacy will endure.

Read more ..

Jewry on Edge

Hillel at the Crossroads. Part IV: Accusations of Intimidation in Boston

September 7th 2017

Eric Fingerhut
Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut

Part 4 of Edwin Black's latest 5-part investigative series, "Hillel at the Crossroads," is based on more than 100 interviews in 4 countries, and the acquisition of many documents and internal emails. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

When one speaks to Eric Fingerhut, CEO of Hillel International, one hears a quiet voice speaking carefully and thoughtfully. Managing thousands of interconnected programs at more than 500 independent local Hillels, walking a tightrope between a spectrum of Jewish political and religious persuasions — all vying for primacy at the nation’s Jewish campus outposts, Fingerhut is accustomed to organizational tension and finding middle ground. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Hijacking the Laws of Occupation

September 5th 2017

Russian privates on parade

The fact that there are 40 or more ongoing conflict and occupation situations throughout the world, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Western Sahara, East Timor, East Congo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Northern Cyprus, and the Crimea, is not widely known.1

The international community does not appear to be very bothered with these occupation situations. In fact, curiously, these situations are rarely seen by the international community as “occupations.” Nor are the respective parties involved described as “belligerent occupants” or “occupying powers.”

It is rare to find resolutions or agenda items in the highly politicized and partisan UN Human Rights Council that deal with such situations of occupation and transfer of people to establish settlements in the territory they are occupying.

However, the objective criteria for such occupations are evident for all to see, and they clearly fall within the factual definitions of occupations, as set out by the international law of armed conflict and specifically in the 1907 Hague Regulations2 and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.3 Read more ..


Inside Jewry

Hillel at the Crossroads. Part I: Who’s Responsible for Hillel?

August 29th 2017

Eric Fingerhut
Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut

Part 1 of Edwin Black's latest 5-part investigative series, "Hillel at the Crossroads," is based on more than 100 interviews in 4 countries, and the acquisition of many documents and internal emails. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

When Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut stands at the window of his curved corner office at the organization’s Washington, DC headquarters, he looks down on a streetscape dominated by Chinatown and its Friendship Arch. But Fingerhut’s domain extends far beyond anything the eye can see — to the four corners of North America, and beyond. Read more ..


The Edge of RFID

Drones Take RFID to the Next Level

August 29th 2017

Flying Robot

Cheap, battery-free RFID tags, which receive power wirelessly from scanners and then broadcast identifying numbers, enable warehouse managers to log inventory much more efficiently than they could by reading box numbers and recording them manually.

However, the scale of modern retail operations makes even RFID scanning inefficient. Walmart, for instance, reported that in 2013 it lost $3 billion in revenue because of mismatches between its inventory records and its stock. Even with RFID technology, it can take a single large retail store three months to perform a complete inventory review, which means that mismatches often go undiscovered until exposed by a customer request.

To addres this challenge, MIT researchers have developed a system that enables small, safe, aerial drones to read RFID tags from tens of meters away while identifying the locations of the tags with an average error of about 19 centimeters. Such a system could be used in large warehouses for both continuous monitoring, to prevent inventory mismatches, and location of individual items, so that employees can rapidly and reliably meet customer requests.

Read more ..

North Korea's Nukes

North Korea on Path to Develop Nuke Capable of Hitting US City

August 23rd 2017

Kim Jong-Un

North Korea is well on its way toward a long-sought goal of being able to hit an American city with a nuclear weapon — and likely has an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland, thanks to a powerful new main engine, The New York Times reported.

But the rogue state still has to overcome a number of challenges, according to the Times, including:

Developing a missile warhead that can stand the heat and friction of atmospheric re-entry — a feat some experts say North Korea will have perfected by next year if it has not already.

Making a bomb that can fit in a missile. The Times noted pictures have surfaced of leader Kim Jong Un admiring a miniaturized bomb meant to fit into a warhead, though it is impossible to say if the real thing or a mock-up.

Hitting a target halfway around the world. North Korea's current accuracy of about 2-3 miles is good enough to be able to hit a military installation, the Times reported, and it appears to be working toward a leaner, more accurate design for its missile warheads.

Making a more powerful bomb, which would sidestep the accuracy problem, according to the Times. Analysts believe the North has weapons with about the same or slightly more destructive power as the Hiroshima bomb. To raise the destructive power, it would have to add thermonuclear fuel, the Times reported. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

How Syria Continued to Gas its People as the World Looked On

August 18th 2017

Dead Syrian Christian children

In the spring of 2015 a Syrian major general escorted a small team of chemical weapons inspectors to a warehouse outside the Syrian capital Damascus. The international experts wanted to examine the site, but were kept waiting outside in their car for around an hour, according to several people briefed on the visit.

When they were finally let into the building, it was empty. They found no trace of banned chemicals.

"Look, there is nothing to see," said the general, known to the inspectors as Sharif, opening the door.

So why were the inspectors kept waiting? The Syrians said they were getting the necessary approval to let them in, but the inspectors had a different theory. They believed the Syrians were stalling while the place was cleaned out. It made no sense to the team that special approval was needed for them to enter an empty building. Read more ..


The Race for BioFuel

The Future of Biofuel Isn’t Corn—It’s Algae

August 16th 2017

algae

When they hear “biofuel,” people tend to assume you’re talking about corn. That makes sense, given that corn is anticipated to provide 80 percent of this year’s ethanol production — much more, say, than algae — until we consider a few numbers.

By all accounts, microalgae is less land-intensive than corn production, and although it can pull double duty, providing high-quality feed for fish farms, it doesn’t compete with food crops. Furthermore, even by by the largely pro-corn Renewable Fuel Association’s water-consumption standards, corn ethanol is a thirsty fuel: Drinking 2.8 gallons of water for every gallon of fuel refined, corn is often outclassed in efficiency by algae-based fuels. Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

North Korea Says It Won't Fire Missiles At Guam, After All

August 15th 2017

North Korean rocket Apr 2012

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reviewed his military's plans to rain "an enveloping fire" around the U.S. territory of Guam — but opted not to fire missiles at this time, according to state media. Despite the stand-down, some Guamanians were alarmed after two radio stations aired an erroneous emergency alert Tuesday.

Kim visited the Korean People's Army as the self-imposed mid-August deadline for a missile demonstration approached, the Korean Central News Agency reports. But after hearing the plan and considering it, Kim opted not to give the order to launch missiles, but instead "would watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees," the report says. Kim also warned that the U.S. should not test North Korea's self-restraint. Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

Pentagon Readies Pre-emptive Strike Against North Korea

August 13th 2017

B-1 Bomber

The Pentagon has a detailed plan for a military strike on North Korea, dispatching heavy bombers from Guam – the fortified U.S. territory that Pyongyang is threatening with missiles. The plan would be to launch heavy B1-B bombers from Guam's Andersen Air Force Base, limiting the flight time. U.S. forces have conducted practice maneuvers as recently as Monday, NBC News reported – and have done 11 sets of exercises. The bombers would get an escort from fighter jets providing protection. Satellites and drones would aide in the effort.

The planes would not carry nuclear payload, but would likely be armed with precision weapons designed to take out North Korea's array of missiles and missile launch sites.

'Of all the military options … [Trump] could consider, this would be one of the two or three that would at least have the possibility of not escalating the situation," retired Adm. James Stavridis told the network. He added: 'A single long-range strike against against the nuclear program, a cyber offensive would be the second. Those are the only two military options that ought to be in serious consideration.' The military has six of the powerful bombers already in position on Guam. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Trying to Crash US Ships and Aircraft

August 10th 2017

Nimitz

"Despite repeated radio calls to stay clear," the Iranian drone went out of its way to complicate the jet's landing, Eric Pahon, Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement sent to Business Insider. The F/A-18 had to maneuver to avoid the approaching drone, missing it by around 100 feet. 

The drone was unarmed, and remotely piloted. A US aircraft carrier isn't something any pilot worth his salt would not be aware of. As this was the 13th unsafe and unprofessional interaction between the US Navy and Iran's maritime forces this year, it can be assumed Iran meant to do it.

Landing a speeding aircraft on a ship at sea presents plenty of difficulty without having a marauding drone bother the pilot on approach, and this just represents one of the ways Iran tries to harass, and ultimately crash US ships and aircraft. Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

North Korea Threatens Guam

August 9th 2017

NK Military Parade Apr 2012

North Korea said it is 'carefully examining' a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, just hours after President Donald Trump told the country that any threat to the U.S. would be met with 'fire and fury.' 

A spokesman for the Korean People's Army, in a statement carried by the North's state-run KCNA news agency, said Wednesday the strike plan will be 'put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment' once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision.

Guam, which is roughly 2,128 miles from North Korea, is home to both Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam housing thousands of American service members and their families. 

Roughly 28 percent of the island is occupied by the U.S. military. The base houses bomber assurance and deterrence missions, including six B-52s which the air force says provide 'strategic global strike capability [to] deter potential adversaries and provide reassurance to allies' and that they are ready to go. Read more ..


The Trump Era

More Than 1.1 Million Fewer Americans on Food Stamps Under Trump

August 8th 2017

onions peppers parsley radish

More than 1.1 million Americans dropped off the food stamp rolls since President Trump took office in January 2017, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics on food stamp enrollment.

Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dropped to 41,496,255 in May 2017, the most recent data available from the USDA, from 42,691,363 in January 2017 when Trump took office. According to the latest data, SNAP enrollment during the first few months of Trump’s presidency decreased by 2.79 percent.

Food stamp participation on average in 2017 has dropped to its lowest level since 2010, and the latest numbers show that this trend is continuing. Trump proposed cuts to SNAP in his 2018 budget proposal, suggesting that states match up to 20 percent of federal money allotted for the food stamp program and expand work requirements for able-bodied adults receiving food stamps.

Read more ..

Financing the Flames

Senate Panel Approves Bill to Cut Funds to Palestinians over Terrorism

August 4th 2017

One Million Dollars

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved legislation on Thursday that would restrict funding to the Palestinian Authority until it stops offering rewards to those who commit acts of violence against Israelis and others.

Get Financing the Flames and read the original Edwin Black investigation on the topic

The Taylor Force Act passed the committee in a 16-5 vote and now heads to the Senate floor. 

The bill was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and is named after an American, 28-year-old Taylor Force, who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian last year in a Tel Aviv attack that also wounded 12 others.

The Palestinian Authority regularly offers financial compensation to the families of terrorists. Critics have dubbed it “pay to slay” and say the Palestinian Authority spends as much as $300 million a year on the program.

Read more ..

After the Election

Former Obama Aide Ben Rhodes Now "A Person Of Interest" In Unmasking Investigation

August 3rd 2017

NSA
NSA

Former Obama White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes is now emerging as a person of interest in the House Intelligence Committee’s unmasking investigation, according to a letter sent Tuesday by the committee to the National Security Agency (NSA). This adds Rhodes to the growing list of top Obama government officials who may have improperly unmasked Americans in communications intercepted overseas by the NSA, Circa has confirmed.

The House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-CA, sent the letter to the National Security Agency requesting the number of unmaskings made by Rhodes from Jan. 1, 2016 to Jan. 20, 2017, according to congressional sources who spoke with Circa. Rhodes, who worked closely with former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and was a former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications for President Obama, became a focus of the committee during its review of classified information to assess whether laws were broken regarding NSA intercepted communications of President Trump, members of his administration and other Americans before and after the election, according to congressional officials. The committee is requesting that the NSA deliver the information on Rhodes by August, 21. Read more ..


Debbie Gate

Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Up to Her Neck in DNC Security Breaches

July 30th 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Florida’s U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the controversial former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), had her office equipment seized by  U.S. Capitol Police as part of a criminal investigation into congressional network security violations. Wasserman-Schultz admitted she frequently violates the DNC’s information security policy but still managed to point her finger at someone else.

The always boisterous congresswoman blamed the House of Representatives’ chief office manager for not stopping her from violating policies and perhaps the law regarding classified material.

According to news media accounts, during an appropriations hearing on Congress’ administrative budget in May, Wasserman Shultz conceded she had violated the policies for many years. She also sought to find out how much might be known about her Internet usage, asked if members of Congress are monitored? Read more ..


The Trump Era

FBI General Counsel Allegedly Under an Investigation for Leaking Classified

July 28th 2017

File Folders

FBI General Counsel James A. Baker is purportedly under a Department of Justice criminal investigation for allegedly leaking classified national security information to the media, according to multiple government officials close to the probe who spoke with Circa on the condition of anonymity.

FBI spokeswoman Carol Cratty said the bureau would not comment on Baker and would not confirm or deny any investigation.

This comes as Department of Justice Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would soon be making an announcement regarding the progress of leak investigations. A DOJ official declined to comment on Circa’s inquiry into Baker but did say, the planned announcement by Sessions is part of the overall "stepped up efforts on leak investigations."

Three sources, with knowledge of the investigation, told Circa that Baker is the top suspect in an ongoing leak investigation, but Circa has not been able to confirm the details of what national security information or material was allegedly leaked.

A federal law enforcement official with knowledge of ongoing internal investigations in the bureau told Circa, "the bureau is scouring for leakers and there's been a lot of investigations." Read more ..


The Edge of Cyber

Indicted Pakistani IT Staffer Discovered On 31 Congressional Democrats' Payrolls

July 27th 2017

Hacker's Hand

GOP chair Ronna Romney McDaniel has demanded that former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) testify before Congress on Imran Awan. Awan was arrested on Monday on bank fraud charges. He remained on Wasserman Schultz’s Congressional payroll even though he had been under investigation since February. Awan is an IT specialist who, along with his brother and their wives, had access to sensitive computer files and emails. 

Awan was caught at Dulles International Airport near Washington DC where he was seeking to flee the country and join his wife, who has already flown the coop. He had worked for Congress for more than a decade. Federal agents found that he had wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to his native Pakistan. Some of those funds may have been fraudulently obtained. McDaniel said that Awan and family received over $4 million of taxpayer money between 2005 and 2009.

Read more ..

Financing the Flames

Palestinian Payments to Incarcerated Terrorists and Martyrs’ Families Rise in 2017

July 25th 2017

Hamas terrorist with toy Kalashnikov

The Palestinian Authority recently released its detailed budget for 2017, and it includes the usual allocations for salaries to imprisoned and released terrorists, as well as to the families of Palestinians who were killed (“martyrs”) or wounded in the “struggle against Zionism.”

Get Financing the Flames and read the original Edwin Black investigation on the topic

According to the PA budget, salaries to incarcerated and released terrorists will amount in 2017 to 552 million shekels ($153.4 million), a rise of 13 percent over the original budget of 2016 and 11 percent more than the actual expenditure in 2016 (revised budget). The money will be transferred to the Palestinian National Fund, the financial arm of the PLO, which was designated by Israel as a terror organization due to its involvement in paying terrorist salaries. Read more ..



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