The Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe Is Greater Today Than During the Cold War (Source Huffington Post)
During the Cold War we maintained a powerful force of nuclear weapons with more than 10,000 strategic nuclear warheads deployed in a so-called triad: intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and bombers armed with nuclear bombs and air-launched cruise missiles. Even with conservative estimates of expected attrition to this force, it was powerful enough to destroy the Soviet Union many times over. So it was considered to be an assured deterrent to a nuclear attack on the U.S. But maintaining this powerful deterrence force had its own set of dangers. There was a continuing threat of a nuclear war erupting by miscalculation (as nearly occurred in the Cuban Missile Crisis), or by accident (we had three false alarms that I am aware of, and I don’t know how many might have occurred in the Soviet Union). Any such nuclear war, however it started, could have brought about the end of our civilization. But we believed then that it was necessary to take those risks because of the threats posed by the Soviets. Indeed, some progress continued to be made. The Moscow Treaty was enacted during the Bush administration, and the New START Treaty in the first term of the Obama administration, each entailing modest reductions in our deployed nuclear forces. But since then, reductions have stopped. I believe that we are now on the verge of a new nuclear arms race, and that we are drifting back to a Cold War mentality. Moreover, I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War — and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face. This has inspired me to write a book, “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,” with the goal of educating the public about these dangers. In it I recount my own experiences that have led me to become increasingly alarmed about the growing nuclear dangers.
Russia shows military might in Syria ahead of peace talks (Source AP) Helicopter gunships sweep low around Russia’s air base on the Syrian coast and air-defense missile systems tower at the base’s edge as warplanes take off one after another. The sound is deafening. Russia’s heavy airstrikes in Syria continued days ahead of the hoped-for start of talks on how to end one aspect of the country’s five-year-old war, where government forces fight rebels, and militants including the extremist Islamic State have seized substantial stretches of territory. Even though the front line is dozens of miles (kilometers) away and the area around the base is tightly controlled, the Russian military methodically patrols to make sure there is no ground threat. Two heavy transport planes were parked near the main terminal as soldiers toting assault rifles stood guard. Since Russia launched its bombing campaign in Syria on Sept. 30, its warplanes have flown 5,700 missions. The number is remarkable for a force comprising just a few dozen warplanes. Since The Associated Press first visited the Hemeimeem base in October, the Russian military has put a second runway into service and has deployed powerful S-400 air defense weapons. Asked how long the Russian air campaign may last, Konashenkov said only that Russia’s goal is to strike extremist infrastructure in support of Syrian government troops. Russian ordnance includes bunker-buster bombs capable of piercing seven meters (23 feet) of rock to destroy underground facilities, Konashenko said. Some of the bombs are laser-guided, but all Russian warplanes at the base are equipped with a sophisticated targeting system, allowing them to use even regular bombs with pinpoint accuracy, he said.
MAN USES MICROCHIP IMPLANTED IN HAND TO PASS THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY (Source Telegraph) A man who implanted a microchip containing his airline booking details into his hand was able to use it to pass effortlessly through security to his flight. Andreas Sjöström, vice president of digital for technology consulting company Sogeti, had the near-field communication chip (NFC) about the size of a grain of rice injected into his hand with a syringe, before using it at Stockholm Arlanda Airport to pass through security and board his plane. The technology has been used before to make digital payments, control a mobile phone and unlock doors, in the same way contactless payment cards work. All it requires is a scanner to link up to that is compatible with the NFC. Sjöström uploaded his Scandinavian Airlines EuroBonus member ID to the xNT implant and using NFC readers in the Swedish airport was able to register his boarding pass and passport by simply pressing his hand to a scanner.
Iran says it will not moderate its plans to boost oil exports (Source Reuters) Iran is determined to raise its oil output by 500,000 barrels per day as soon as sanctions on its oil industry are lifted, Iran’s national representative to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mehdi Asali, said on Saturday. “We have not moderated our plans regarding increasing output when sanctions are lifted. It will be increased by 500,000 bpd, and by another 500,000 bpd shortly after that,” Asali was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA. His comments came ahead of the expected lifting of international sanctions on Iran later on Saturday as part of a landmark deal between major powers and Iran to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.
Russia’s Military Buildup Continues with Big New Fighter Jet Order (Source The Fiscal Times)
Russia’s military buildup shows no signs of slowing. Moscow recently ordered 50 twin-engine Sukhoi Su-35S multirole fighters to bolster the country’s air force. The new order, first reported by TASS Defense, is valued to be somewhere between $788 million and $1.4 billion, according to trade press reports. The Kremlin ordered 48 of the aircraft in 2009; most of the aircraft have now been delivered, with some spotted late last year flying near the disputed Kuril Islands. Sukhoi also recently inked a $2 billion agreement with China for 24 Su-35S jets and reached a deal to produce another dozen for Indonesia. Last week the company signed an agreement with Algeria for 12 Sukhoi Su-32 tactical bombers, concluding eight years of negotiations. The lucrative contracts have helped boost Russia’s economy, which has been walloped in recent years by economic sanctions over the nation’s actions in Ukraine and the dramatic tumble in the price of oil. The deals, particularly the one with China, also allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to poke his thumb in the eye of the U.S. and its NATO allies at a time of great global tensions, including those in the South China Sea where Beijing is creating man-made islands in an effort to expand its military footprint in Asia. As for the Su-35 itself, the jet is an updated version of the Su-27 (NATO code name: Flanker), a workhorse of the Russian Air Force. Many analysts compare the Su-35 to the F/A-18 Super Hornet made by Boeing. The Su-35 can carry guide air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, among other arms. The updated plane has a new integrated control system that improves the fighter’s handling and maneuverability, better engines and improved stealth radar, according to Sukhoi’s website.
Pope to Visit Synagogue in Sign of Friendship Amid Questions (Source ABC) Pope Francis becomes the third pope to visit Rome’s main synagogue in a sign of continued Catholic-Jewish friendship that was highlighted by a recent Vatican declaration that it doesn’t support official efforts to convert the Jews. But the visit also follows a series of developments that have upset some in the Jewish community, including a new Vatican treaty signed with the “state of Palestine” and Francis’ own words and deeds that have been interpreted by some as favoring the Palestinian political cause. The chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, said in an interview that the papal visit is aimed at showing five decades of improving Christian-Jewish relations and interfaith harmony, at a time of Islamic extremist violence around the globe. But he said some recent Vatican developments “cannot be so appreciated by the Jewish community.” Earlier this month, a treaty went into effect regulating the life of the Catholic Church in the Palestinian territories. It was the first treaty the Holy See had signed with the “state of Palestine” after the U.N. General Assembly recognized Palestine in 2012. Before that, in May last year, Francis privately told the visiting Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, that he was “a bit an angel of peace.” And a year before that Francis began his visit to the region in Bethlehem, not Israel, and stopped his popemobile to pray at the separation barrier Israel had built around the West Bank city. Given all that, Jews welcomed a document issued by the Vatican last month tracing 50 years of improved relations following the Second Vatican Council’s “Nostra Aetate” declaration which , among other things, repudiated the centuries-old charge that Jews as a whole were responsible for the death of Christ. In the new document, the Vatican went farther than “Nostra Aetate” or any subsequent Vatican statement making clear that Jews are in a salvific relationship with God and that the Catholic Church “neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews.” “This document is very significant,” said Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee, the Vatican’s longtime dialogue partner with the Jewish community who will attend Sunday’s visit as a representative of the chief rabbinate of Israel. But Rosen, during the official Vatican launch of the document, pointed out the absence of any reference to Jews’ relationship with the land of Israel, or to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See in 1993. That development alone has paved the way for successive papal trips to Israel.
Activists call for American Indian genocide monument near Moscow US embassy (Source RT)
Russian activists are requesting permission to install a monument near the US embassy in Moscow dedicated to the genocide of American Indians. A member of the Russian Public Chamber says the move could soon get official support. The activists have launched a petition in support of the monument on the change.org website. It says that “despite assuming the position of a ‘global policeman’ the United States still refuses to accept the responsibility for killing over 15 million Native Americans.” The petition goes on to call for public support for the monument, which would be dedicated to “the memory of American Indians who perished as heroes in the unfair war with treacherous invaders.” According to the author of the document, the request will be forwarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, and to the Russian Public Chamber.
Public Chamber member Valery Korovin said in comments to RIA Novosti that the petition was timely and official support for it was very likely. “The initiative to install this monument is very urgent today because it would remind everyone how the history of the United States started. It must become a silent reproach to the modern-day American elites who have seriously diverged from the ideals that were made a foundation of American statehood,” Korovin told reporters. He also noted that activists should consider a separate petition calling on the US Congress to recognize the genocide of American Indians and to pass a law on the rehabilitation of Native Americans – which is necessary for the US “be done with this dark spot in their history.” “Without the repentance of US society it is impossible to talk about this country’s leadership. The United States now has no moral right to speak about the rights and freedoms of any ethnic groups,” he added.
MALE BASS ARE EXPERIENCING UNWANTED SEX CHANGES (Source NEWSER) Male bass are experiencing unwanted sex changes, apparently thanks to the “chemical soups” that pass for waterways in the Northeast. The Washington Post reports 85% of male smallmouth bass surveyed in the region have “characteristics of the opposite sex”—specifically eggs where their testes should be. The same is true of 27 percent of area largemouth bass, Vice adds. For a recently published study, researchers tested bass near 19 wildlife refuges in the Northeast, according to a US Geological Survey press release. Researchers didn’t do a chemical analysis of the water where the intersex fish were found, so they can’t be sure specifically what is causing the sex changes. But they suspect the problem is things that get dumped down drains and into US waters. Researchers believe the likely culprits are birth control pills, pesticides, hormones in livestock manure, and other chemical-heavy products, according to the press release.
Has Germany’s Strongman Finally Arrived? (Source thetrumpet.com) Germany is facing one of the worst crises in its modern history. Refugees from the Middle East are flooding into Europe by the hundreds of thousands, and more are traveling to Germany than to any other nation—an estimated 1.5 million just this year! This is an emergency with massive implications for Germany. First is the financial cost of assimilating all those people into German society, including the strain on public services and welfare programs. Many Germans are also troubled by the cultural and religious influence of so many Arabs and Muslims. Then there is the very real danger of violent terrorists entering in among the refugees! German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been very liberal in opening Germany’s borders to this flood of foreigners, and she is quickly losing popular support as a result. One prominent politician who has strongly criticized Chancellor Merkel for her response to the refugee crisis is Edmund Stoiber. He was once chairman of the Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. “Certainly he would ask the question, how many people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds can our country accommodate?” he said, according to Germany’s Der Bayernkurier. Spiegel Online published an article about the crisis on August 31. Its title: “Dark Germany, Bright Germany: Which Side Will Prevail Under Strain of Refugees?” Will this nation lose control of its borders and succumb to the flood of immigrants until much of it becomes more foreign than native? That is what we are seeing in Britain and the U.S. Or will Germany find some bright, enlightened course of action to solve this crisis? Or—will it respond with a strongman—and a dark Germany? Biblical prophecy makes the answer clear. A strongman is on the scene, just waiting for the right moment to emerge.
Vatican fully recognizes Palestine state as landmark treaty enters force (Source RT)
A treaty facilitating relationships between Vatican and Palestine – referred to as a “state” in the text – has entered full force, sealing de-facto recognition of Palestinian statehood by the Holy See. The Vatican announced that its “Comprehensive Agreement” with the “State of Palestine” signed in June 2015 has come into full force, in which the Holy See bolstered support for the two-state solution of the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Referring to Palestine as “state” means Vatican has recognized it as an equal partner, thus sealing support for 2012 UN General Assembly resolution granting Palestine a non-member observer status “The Holy See and the State of Palestine have notified each other that the procedural requirements for its (the agreement’s) entry into force have been fulfilled, under the terms of Article 30 of the same Agreement,” the Holy See’s said in a statement. The historic 2015 treaty is to secure rights and privileges of the Catholic Church on Palestinian territories in exchange for brokering two-state solution as well as giving more weight to Palestine’s political stance in the world.