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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

California Is Already Preparing for a North Korean Nuclear Attack

With U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un trading insults and threatening war, California officials are taking the threat of nuclear exchange seriously.

Noting the heightened North Korean threat, the Los Angeles-area Joint Regional Intelligence Center issued a bulletin last month warning that a nuclear attack on Southern California would be “catastrophic” and urged officials in the region to shore up their nuclear attack response plans.

The report cites North Korea’s late July test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could, in theory, reach the West Coast of the United States.  
“North Korea’s propaganda videos feature ruins of San Francisco and Washington,” the document says.
The 16-page “Nuclear Attack Response Considerations” bulletin is dated Aug. 16 and marked for “official use only.” It was circulated last month to Los Angeles-area local, state, and federal agency personnel and also throughout the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies across the country.

The idea behind the unclassified report was to share planning and guidance with as wide a distribution as possible, according to two officials involved in responding to a nuclear strike and who received the bulletin. Many agencies are involved in responding to an attack and are often staffed with personnel without access to classified information.

DHS did not respond to requests for comment. READ MORE


Turkey threatens 'ethnic war' over Kurdish independence

AFP - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday warned the Iraqi Kurdish leader against pushing for independence after holding a non-binding referendum, saying such a move risked sparking an "ethnic war" in the region.
"If [Massud] Barzani and the Kurdish Regional Government do not go back on this mistake as soon as possible, they will go down in history with the shame of having dragged the region into an ethnic and sectarian war," Erdogan said in a televised speech.
Iraq's Kurds on Monday voted in a historic independence referendum despite fierce opposition from Baghdad and neighboring countries Iran and Turkey.
Turnout was 72 percent, with 3.3 million of the 4.58 million registered voters taking part, election commission spokesman Shirwan Zirar said late Monday.
Results were expected within 24 hours, with an overwhelming 'yes' vote not in doubt.
Erdogan described the vote as a "treason to our country" since it had come at a time of good relations between Ankara and its neighbor the KRG.
He urged Barzani to "give up on an adventure which can only have a dark end."
Erdogan reaffirmed that Turkey -- which fears the effects of the vote on its own sizeable Kurdish population -- would consider all options from economic sanctions to military measures.
"Airspace and ground [options] are all on the table," he said, in apparent reference to his past threats to close the border.
"All options are on the table right now and being discussed," he said. "You [the KRG] will be stuck from the moment we start implementing the sanctions."
The Turkish president said no other country would recognise Iraqi Kurds' independence other than Israel, which had warmly supported the referendum.
"Who will recognize your independence? Israel. The world is not about Israel," he said.
But Erdogan warned Barzani that the support of the Jewish state would not be enough. "You should know that the waving of Israeli flags there will not save you."

Report: Israel fires missile at Syrian aircraft over Golan

Arab media outlets have reported that a Syrian aircraft flying over the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights near the border with Israel was targeted by an Israeli missile.
According to the report, the incident took place over the town of Kuneitra on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan.
The Syrian aircraft reportedly evaded the missile and was unharmed in the incident.
Subsequent reports in Arab media outlets claim an explosion was heard in the Kuneitra area following the missile launch.
No Israeli sources have confirmed the reports.

North Korea Threatens to Shoot Down U.S. Bombers; Says, ‘United States Has Declared War on Our Country’

In a briefing to reporters outside the U.N. Millennium Plaza Hotel in New York City on Monday, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho threatened to shoot down U.S. strategic bombers even when they are flying outside of North Korean airspace.
“The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” said Ri. “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”
Ri’s comments were part of a steadily escalating rhetorical volley that began with President Trump’s address to the U.N. General Assembly, in which he memorably sneered at North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man” and said he was on a “suicide mission for himself and his regime.”
“The U.S. has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said last Tuesday at the United Nations.
On Saturday, U.S. bombers flew close to the North Korean coast in a show of force that took them further north than any American fighter or bomber has flown during the 21st century, according to the Pentagon.
North Korea has long complained about U.S. bomber flights near the Korean peninsula; it’s one of the reasons they occasionally threaten to attack Guam, where American B-1B bombers are based. The North Koreans have demanded an end to joint U.S.-South Korean military drills as a precondition for any further negotiations about their nuclear missile program, which they refuse to halt in any event. READ MORE

In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes.

At a squat, concrete brothel on the muddy banks of the Arauca River, Gabriel Sánchez rattled off the previous jobs of the women who now sell their bodies at his establishment for $25 an hour.
“We’ve got lots of teachers, some doctors, many professional women and one petroleum engineer,” he yelled over the din of vallenato music. “All of them showed up with their degrees in hand.”
And all of them came from Venezuela. As Venezuela’s economy continues to collapse amid food shortages, hyperinflation and U.S. sanctions, waves of economic refugees have fled the country. Those with the means have gone to places like Miami, Santiago and Panama. (Read More)

Monday, September 25, 2017

US Flies Mission North Of DMZ, Sends Message To North Korea

WASHINGTON –  In a show of American military might to North Korea, U.S. bombers and fighter escorts flew on Saturday to the farthest point north of the border between North and South Korea by any such American aircraft this century. The Pentagon said the mission in international airspace showed how seriously President Donald Trump takes North Korea's "reckless behavior."
"This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat," Defense Department spokesman Dana White said in a statement.
"North Korea's weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies," White said.
North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, has said Trump would "pay dearly" for threatening to "totally destroy" North Korea if the U.S. was forced to defend itself or its allies against a North Korean attack. Kim's foreign minister told reporters this past week that the North's response to Trump "could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific." READ MORE

Iraqi Kurds vote for independence. Barzani: Our borders lie where our tanks stop

The 5.2 million eligible voters of the semiautonomous Kurdish Republic of Iraq  avow their desire on Monday, Sept. 25 to establish the first independent Kurdish state in history. An estimated 15-20 percent of the Iraqi population, the Kurds of Iraq won their autonomy in 1991. This was the halfway mark to their final goal which, too, was denied their brothers in Syria, Turkey or Iran.

“Yes” voters are expected to pack polling booths in Dahuk, Irbil and Sulaimaniya the three official provinces of KRG, plus “areas outside its administration,” such as Kirkuk, Makhmour, Khanaqin and Sinjar, where the Kurdish Peshmerga established control after expelling the Islamic State invaders.

Most world powers, including the UN Security Council, warned KRG President Masoud Barzani to back off the referendum because of its potentially destabilizing impact on the region and as a distraction from the main war on ISIS. Iraq, Turkey and Iran threatened “counter-measures,” fearing the impact on their own Kurdish minorities.  Doubling down on their threats, their armies staged military exercises around the borders of the Kurdish Republic on various pretexts.

Barzani’s reply: “Our borders lie where our tanks stop.”  Furthermore, Kurdish leaders explained the referendum was not Kexit on the model of Brexit. It had no built-in declaration of secession from Iraq. “On the road to independence, the referendum is only one step,” said Hoshyar Zebari, former Iraqi foreign minister. READ MORE

Netanyahu: 'Israel is a rising global power'

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took part in a Rosh Hashana toast on Monday with Prime Minister's Office staff and talked about Israel's improved international standing.
"We have many friends," Netanyahu said. "Another friend, Angela Merkel has now won the German elections," Netanyahu said. "It's good that she won for the fourth time,"
"Israel is rising global power," Netanyahu continued. 'That is a fact. In technology, in security affairs, in the economy, in intelligence, in cyberspace, in water, in agriculture, in health, and in so many other areas."
"Of course we are also a world power in the sense that we are a free, democratic, vibrant country in an area that does not exactly about with such regimes, to say the least, and I think that this is done because of nations strong life force," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu has made a point of invoking Israel's rapid advancement in the hi-tech and agricultural sectors. In a speech he delivered in Argentina early September, he touted Israel's water policies, telling attendees that "we recycle 87% of our wastewater. The next country to recycle, the second country in the world, is Spain with 17%. We have 20% of the world's global investment in private cybersecurity, 20%. Since we are 1/10 of 1% of the world population, this means we're punching 200 times above our weight. It's as if Israel were a country of 1.6 billion people."

Iran Displays Russian-Made S-300 Air Defense Missile System to Public

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard has displayed the country’s sophisticated Russian-made S-300 air defense system in central Tehran.
This is the first time that the S-300 air defense system has been displayed in public.
The public show in Tehran’s Baharestan square near the Parliament building square exhibited different missile systems, including ballistic missiles, solid-fuel surface-to-surface Sejjil missiles and the liquid-fuel Ghadr.
The IRGC prepared the show for the annual Defense Week, marking the 37th anniversary of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed in August a bill imposing mandatory penalties on those involved in Iran’s controversial ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.

EXCLUSIVE–John Bolton: Trump Should Decertify, Withdraw from Iran Nuclear Deal Entirely

NEW YORK, NY—Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, John Bolton, says he thinks President Donald Trump should de-certify the Iran nuclear deal prior to the October 15 deadline.
“I think the president should decertify. I think he should withdraw from the deal entirely,” Bolton told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview outside Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza during the United Nations General Assembly last week.
“I think it was a disastrous agreement for the United States to make; harmful to the United States, harmful to its friends and allies, harmful to the people of Iran. The sooner we get out of it, the better,” Bolton said.
Bolton conducted the interview during a September 20 rally coordinated by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities (OIAC), and members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), against the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York.
President Trump told reporters last week he has “decided” on a plan of action, but he has not provided specific details. READ MORE

Iranian Foreign Minister: Our Missiles Are for Defense

The Times of Israel reports: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday defended his country’s latest ballistic missile test in defiance of Western and Israeli criticism, saying the controversial program served the Islamic Republic’s defensive needs.
“Iran has defensive needs,” Zarif told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview aired Sunday. “Iran is not buying a hundred billion dollars of so-called beautiful military equipment from the United States.”  “Iran needs to develop its own defenses, we have said and again, and we have proven that our missiles are for defense,” he emphasized.
“You know, we go back to a history where our cities were being showered with missiles from Saddam Hussein… and Iran did not have a single missile to work as a deterrence against its citizens,” Zarif added referring to the bloody Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988.

Jews around world concerned by far-right breakthrough in German election

BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Reuters) - Jewish groups in Europe and the United States expressed alarm on Sunday at the far-right Alternative for Germany’s success in Germany’s parliamentary election and urged other parties not to form an alliance with the AfD.
Early projections gave the AfD 13.5 percent of the vote, allowing it to enter the Bundestag for the first time, as Germany’s third-biggest party.
The far-right has not been represented in parliament since the 1950s, a reflection of Germany’s efforts to distance itself from the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.
Ronald Lauder, president of the New York-based World Jewish Congress, called Chancellor Angela Merkel a “true friend of Israel and the Jewish people” and decried the AfD’s gains at a time when anti-Semitism was increasing across the globe.
“It is abhorrent that the AfD party, a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past and should be outlawed, now has the ability within the German parliament to promote its vile platform,” Lauder said.
The AfD, which has surged in the two years since Merkel left Germany’s borders open to more than 1 million migrants mainly fleeing Middle East wars, says immigration jeopardizes Germany’s culture but denies it is racist or anti-Semitic. READ MORE

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Report: Israeli planes attack Hezbollah weapons warehouse

Israeli aircraft on Friday night attacked several targets near the Damascus airfield, Syrian media reported.
The attack seems to have been directed at weapons storehouses belonging to Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army.
Syrian websites published pictures of fires which were claimed to be the result of the attack.
An IDF spokesperson said he would "not respond" to the reports.
On September 7, the Syrian army claimed Israeli warplanes had attacked a military base in western Syria. According to the announcement, two soldiers were killed in the strikes and part of the base was destroyed.
The IDF did not confirm responsibility for the attack.

Hazan: Nuclear Iran is no less a threat than the Holocaust

MK Oren Hazan (Likud), a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, has demanded that the chairman of the committee convene an urgent discussion on the Iranian threat.
"The world’s silence vis-a-vis the Iranians is reminiscent of the world’s silence in the face of North Korea's nuclear bullying, which led to a situation in which they now have nuclear weapons that they can use at any moment - and I do not rule out that this will happen soon.
“As far as Israel is concerned, the launching of the missile by the Iranians after President Trump's clear words points a finger at the president of the United States, the free world, and especially Israel, and serves as a clear warning that the Iranian hourglass is running out,” Hazan said.
"We, as a country with a small territory, do not have the ability to absorb an atomic bomb and continue to exist. It is an existential and tangible danger to the Jewish people no less than the Holocaust. The only difference between World War II and today is that, now, we have the ability to prevent it.
“Therefore, it is Israel's duty to inform the entire world, and the Iranians in particular, that a state that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and is acting accordingly will be answered accordingly. It must be clearly stated that any offensive Iranian action against Israel will be met with the destruction of Tehran, and that is what must be done. "
MK Hazan also stated, "As a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, I believe that the policy of ambiguity that exists today harms the security of the State of Israel and could lead to its destruction. We do not have the luxury that others have to take a hit first and only then to act. 'One who rises to kill you - kill him first,’" Hazan said, citing a Talmudic phrase.

Iran Tests Ballistic Missile Amid U.S. Tensions

TEHRAN—Iran said it had tested a new medium-range ballistic missile, the day after unveiling it in defiance of U.S. criticism over its disputed nuclear program.
State television flashed images of the Khoramshahr missile’s disengaging warhead, calling it the country’s third such missile capable of traveling some 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles). The announcement came after it and other missiles, tanks and a submarine were displayed in a military parade on Tehran’s outskirts marking the anniversary of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.
President Hassan Rouhani on Friday vowed that his country would continue to bolster its ballistic-missile program, amid rising tensions with the U.S.
“Whether you like it or not, we will strengthen our defense and military capabilities as deemed necessary for deterrence. Not just our missiles but also our land, air and maritime capabilities,” he said in a speech. “We won’t ask anybody’s permission to defend our people.”
Mr. Rouhani also addressed a key source of tension with the U.S. and its regional allies, saying Iran would continue to defend “the wronged people of Yemen, Syria and Palestine,” indicating it wouldn’t scale back its involvement in Middle East conflicts.
The missile test comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump sharply criticized Iran in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, denouncing the landmark 2015 nuclear deal reached between Tehran and six world powers including the U.S. READ MORE

North Korea says Donald Trump's "Rocket Man" jibe means missile attacks on US mainland 'inevitable'

North Korea says Donald Trump's labelling of Kim Jong-Un as "Rocket Man" has made "our rockets' visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable''.
Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told the United Nations that Mr Trump had committed an irreversible mistake during his speech to the body in New York last week.
His comments came after it emerged the US had sent bombers to the North Korean border today in the closest they have been this century.
Foreign Minister Ri said if US lives were lost, Mr Trump ''will be held totally responsible''.
Ri, who said Pyongyang's ultimate goal was to establish a "balance of power with the U.S.", retorted that Trump himself was on a "suicide mission" after the U.S. president said Kim was on such a mission.
Ri warned Pyongyang was ready to defend itself if the U.S. showed any sign of conducting a "decapitating operation on our headquarters or military attack against our country".
Ri's speech capped a week of escalating rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang, with Trump and Kim Jong Un trading insults.
Trump called the North Korean leader a "madman" on Friday, a day after Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard." READ MORE

Conservative Roman Catholic theologians accuse pope of spreading heresy

Several dozen tradition-minded Roman Catholic theologians, priests and academics have formally accused Pope Francis of spreading heresy with his 2016 opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.
In a 25-page letter delivered to Francis last month and provided Saturday to The Associated Press, the 62 signatories issued a "filial correction" to the pope — a measure they said hadn't been employed since the 14th century.
The letter accused Francis of propagating seven heretical positions concerning marriage, moral life and the sacraments with his 2016 document "The Joy of Love" and subsequent "acts, words and omissions."
The initiative follows another formal act by four tradition-minded cardinals who wrote Francis last year asking him to clarify a series of questions, or "dubbia," they had about his 2016 text.
Francis hasn't responded to either initiative. The Vatican spokesman didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment late Saturday.
None of the signatories of the new letter is a cardinal, and the highest-ranking churchman listed is actually someone whose organization has no legal standing in the Catholic Church: Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the breakaway Society of St. Pius X. Several other signatories are well-known admirers of the old Latin Mass which Fellay's followers celebrate. READ MORE