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Hurricane Maria - update - evening 09/20.2017

Do, 21/09/2017 - 09:06
Maria Back Over Water After Devastating Hit to Puerto Rico  ·  September 20, 2017, 5:53 PM EDT
Above: Damage on the Lesser Antilles island of Dominica, after Hurricane Maria hit as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Maria killed at least 7 people on Dominica, and 2 on neighboring Guadeloupe. Image from a video by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/maria-back-over-water-after-devastating-hit-puerto-rico

After making landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near 6:15 am Wednesday as a top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, Hurricane Maria finished a devastating pummeling of the island near 1:30 pm, when its eye emerged over the ocean off the northwest coast. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found that Maria’s 70-mile traverse of Puerto Rico had knocked the top winds of the storm down to 110 mph by 5 pm Wednesday, making it a high-end Category 2 hurricane. Satellite images show the hurricane is still well-organized, though, and the Hurricane Hunters found that Maria’s pressure was falling again late Wednesday afternoon: 957 mb at 5 pm, compared to a 961 mb reading at 2 pm. Maria will continue to bring dangerous torrential rains and powerful winds to Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic into Thursday.Figure 1. Infrared GOES-16 image of Hurricane Maria at 5:15 pm EDT Wednesday, September 20, 2017. GOES-16 data are preliminary and non-operational. Image credit: RAMMB / CIRA @ CSU.Maria brought extreme rainfall amounts to large portions of Puerto Rico that caused record or near-record flash flooding. Numerous stations in Puerto Rico recorded rainfall amounts in excess of ten inches. Rainfall amounts in excess of 47 inches in 24 hours were recorded at three stations on the southwest side of El Yunque, the high mountainous area in the northeast corner of Puerto Rico; these are so extreme as to be unbelievable, and the gauges may have been impacted by flash flooding, or by a callibration problem at extreme precipitaion rates:96.65” at Quebrada Arenas, including 67.75” in one hour ending at 6 am.
72.07” at Barrio Montones, including 34.04” in one hour ending at 8:45 am.
47.25” at Rio Valenciano, including 19.66” in one hour ending at 7:11 am.These rainfall amounts would break virtually every world record for precipitation, and are highly likely to be in error. Water levels at the Rio Gurabo at Gurabo, where the nearby Gurabo Abajo rain gauge recorded 23.64” of rain in less than 24 hours, jumped by 27 feet in less than 12 hours (see Figure 2), so that rainfall amount is believable.Figure 2. Water levels at Rio Gurabo at Gurabo, on the southwest side of El Yunque, shot up 27 feet in less than 12 hours. The river crested just 0.76’ below the record set during Hurricane Donna of 1960. Image credit: NOAA.An island-wide power outage in Puerto RicoNot since the great Category 5 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane has Puerto Rico experienced a hurricane catastrophe as extreme as that wrought by Hurricane Maria. The storm’s powerful winds caused catastrophic damage to the island’s power grid, knocking out power to 100% of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents. In the Virgin Islands, there was also heavy damage on St. Croix, and serious flooding has been reported on St. Thomas. Maria is almost assured to be the most expensive hurricane in Puerto Rico history, and may challenge Hurricane Hugo (1989) and Irma (2 weeks ago) as the most expensive hurricane on record for the U.S. Virgin Islands.Moderate storm surge flooding from Maria
Storm surge flooding of 1.5 – 5.3 feet affected locations along coasts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands where we have tide gauges. Storm surge damage will not be the big story from this hurricane, though--wind damage and inland flash flood damage will be. According to the Quicklook page at NOAA’s Tides and Currents, here are the peak storm surges from Maria:5.3’, Yabucoa Harbor, PR
2.8’, Vieques Island, PR
2.5’, Mayaguez, PR
2.4’, Arecibo, PR
2.3’, San Juan, PR
2.0’, Christiansted Harbor on the north side of St. Croix, VI
1.7’, Culebra Island, PR
1.5’, St. John, VIForecast for MariaSatellite imagery late Wednesday showed that Maria’s eye was already beginning to clear out after becoming cloud-filled during its path across Puerto Rico. Maria will be traversing very warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of around 29°C into the weekend, and there is substantial oceanic heat content along its path that will help keep Maria from churning up cooler water that might dent its strength (see Figure 3 below). Wind shear around Maria will remain less than 10 knots into Thursday, which also suggests restrengthening; also, there are no large masses of dry air that would impede growth. Starting late Friday, wind shear is predicted to increase to the 15 – 20 knot range; this would suppress further strengthening and might eventually weaken Maria. Moreover, at least part of Maria’s circulation will pass over the cold wake left by Jose (see Figure 3), which may also cut into Maria’s strength somewhat. These conditions suggest Maria will become at least a mid-strength Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds, and has a shot to regain Category 4 status.Figure 3. Total Ocean Heat Content (OHC) along the track of Hurricane Maria. Maria had very high OHC values of 80 – 110 kilojoules per square centimeter during its rapid intensification phase just east of the Lesser Antilles and in the northeast Caribbean. OHC values will continue to be high until the storm reaches 27°N, when it will begin crossing the cold wake left behind by Hurricane Jose, which performed a clockwise loop in that vicinity over a 3-day period last week. Image credit: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami.Maria will be steered northwest and eventually north over the next five days, around the edge of an upper-level ridge situated to its east. By Monday, Maria is expected to be a strong Category 2 or 3 hurricane positioned several hundred miles southeast of the North Carolina coast, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are close to being in NHC’s 5-day cone of unceratinty. In the subsequent 5- to 7-day forecast range, there is more uncertainty than usual on how close Maria might get to the U.S. East Coast, since the hurricane’s track will depend upon how fast Jose decays, and where Jose moves. As Tropical Storm Jose weakens (see below), it is possible that the Atlantic ridge could build west and block Maria’s progress, forcing the storm to move toward the north-northwest to a landfall between North Carolina and New Jersey. Alternatively, a trough of low pressure passing to the north of Maria next week, in combination with the remains of Jose, may pull Maria to the east northeast without the storm making landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast. In this case, though, Maria might still be a threat to New England—particularly Southeast Massachusetts—or possibly the Canadian maritime provinces. Maria would most likely be at tropical storm strength in this scenario, due to the cool waters north of North Carolina.Figure 4. Visible GOES-16 image of Tropical Storm Jose at 2:57 pm EDT Wednesday, September 20, 2017. Image credit: RAMMB / CIRA @ CSU.Jose spinning down south of New EnglandDowngraded late Tuesday after more than 12 days at hurricane strength, Tropical Storm Jose continued its ever-so-gradual weakening off the coast of New England on Wednesday. At 2 pm EDT, Jose was located about 140 miles south-southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Jose’s top sustained winds were 70 mph, just below hurricane force, but a broad field of tropical-storm-force winds extended more than 200 miles south of Jose’s center. A NOAA buoy about 65 miles southeast of Nantucket notched winds of 40 mph, gusting to 52 mph. Top winds as of 2 pm at Nantucket’s airportwere a mere 32 mph, gusting to 43 mph, and just 0.54” of rain had fallen since midnight.Although Jose bears some resemblance to a nor’easter or a hybrid storm on satellite, phase-space diagrams from Florida State University show that it remains a warm-core tropical cyclone. Tropical storm warnings remained in effectWednesday afternoon for the outermost islands of southeast New England. Most of Jose’s modest rainbands were located west of its large eye, with a few brushing southeastern Massachusetts.Models agree that Jose will continue its slow decline over waters that are too cool to sustain a tropical cyclone. Now moving northeast at 7 mph, Jose is expected to slow down and then begin looping back westward on Thursday. The official NHC forecast holds Jose stationary near 70°W longitude as a weakening post-tropical cyclone from Saturday through Monday. The 12Z run of the European model goes with the stationary solution. However, the GFS, HWRF, and HMON models keep Jose or its remnants heading west, reaching New Jersey late Sunday or Monday with minimal impact other than some breezy showers.Jose is much weaker than Maria, so it should have little direct effect on Maria’s track regardless of where it ends up. The importance of Jose is in its effect on upper-level ridging to its west and east. The weakness created by Jose will make it difficult for the Atlantic ridge to build west and block Maria’s northward motion. If Jose does weaken quickly enough, it is possible the ridge will strengthen enough to at least slow Maria down, as discussed above.Figure 5. The four rapid-intensifier hurricanes of 2017, compared with Hurricane Wilma of 2005. Shown are the last periods in which the hurricanes were at various levels (tropical depression, tropical storm, or Category 1 hurricane) along with the intervals from that point to the first point at which they achieved their top rating (either Cat 4 or 5).This year is chock-full of rapidly intensifying hurricanesIf it seems like this year’s Category 4 and 5 storms made it to that level in a big hurry, you’re not imagining things. In the Washington Post, Chris Mooney spotlights a few of the leaps in strength that this year’s four major Atlantic hurricanes have taken, including:Harvey:  Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 24 hours
Irma:  Cat 3 to Cat 5 in 24 hours
Jose:  Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 24 hours
Maria:  Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 12 hours, and Cat 1 to Cat 5 in 15 hoursMost of the rapid intensification records for major Atlantic hurricanes were set by 2005’s phenomenal Hurricane Wilma. However, Maria has tied Wilma for the fastest vault from tropical depression to Cat 5 hurricane (54 hours), as shown in Figure 5 above.Bob Henson co-wrote this post.

Instruments indicate Puerto Rico river has risen 62 feet!

Do, 21/09/2017 - 08:12
On discussion it is agreed that this HAS to be broken instrumentation.
Apocalyptic Flood: Puerto Rico River Rises 62ft ABOVE flood stage - Extreme Flash FloodInsane flash flooding none like ever before seen probably anywhere on earth if this data is accurate. Once again, unprecedented.

IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE?!!
I sure hope that the instrumentation is wrong because it says that the river right next to s a hospital in Puerto Rico has risen 62 FEET!!!





Island of Puerto Rico 'destroyed' by Hurricane Maria

Iran's Hassan Rouhani at the UN

Do, 21/09/2017 - 07:51
President Hassan Rouhani Speech at UN
President Rouhani talked about the 2015 nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.
"Iran does not threat anybody and the same way will not bend to anybody’s threat." President Rouhani



Transcript
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish at the outset to congratulate your election to the Presidency of the General Assembly and Secretary-General Guterres’ election to his high office and wish him every success in his crucial responsibilities.
Four months ago, over 41 million people—constituting 73% of Iran’s total eligible voters—came to the polls in the country’s 12th presidential election and once again expressed confidence in my platform, which calls for moderation and respect for human rights and prosperity and economic revitalization at home, and constructive engagement around the world. Their vote manifested the maturity of the electorate in a society that has experienced free and democratic governance for only four decades.  This was not merely a vote for a president, but a huge political investment by our population; a resilient people who truly constitute our most reliable asset.
Human and citizens’ rights, along with the quest for justice and Islamic values, have constituted the most pivotal demands of the Iranian people in over 150 years of struggle, and particularly in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In its first term, while pursuing nuclear negotiations internationally, my government focused at home on the deliberation and articulation of citizens’ rights leading to the promulgation of “The Charter of Citizens’ Rights” and its issuance for implementation. Adoption of this Charter conformed to the demands of a people who rose against dictatorial regimes, aspiring to restore their rights and human dignity 111 years ago in the Constitutional Revolution, and again in the Islamic Revolution 39 years ago.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I declare before this august global assembly that moderation is the inclination as well as the chosen path of the great Iranian people. Moderation seeks neither isolation nor hegemony; It implies neither indifference, nor intransigence.
The path of moderation is the path of peace; but a just and inclusive peace: not peace for one nation, and war and turmoil for others;
Moderation is freedom and democracy; but in an inclusive and comprehensive manner: not purporting to promote freedom in one place while supporting dictators elsewhere;
Moderation is the synergy of ideas and not the dance of words; 
And finally, the path of moderation nurtures beauty.  Deadly-weapons exports are not beautiful; rather, peace is. 
We in Iran strive to build peace and promote the human rights of peoples and nations. We never condone tyranny and we always defend the voiceless. We never threaten anyone; but we do not tolerate threats from anyone.  Our discourse is one of dignity and respect, and we are unmoved by threats and intimidation.   We believe in dialogue and negotiation based on equal footing and mutual respect.
In today’s globalized world, peace, security, stability and the progress of all nations are intertwined. It is not possible that a rogue and racist regime trample upon the most basic rights of the Palestinians, and the usurpers of this land enjoy security.  It is simply impossible for anybody to aspire to attain long-term stability, prosperity and development, while Muslims in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Myanmar and so many other places live in misery, war and poverty.Mr. President,
Throughout its history, Iran has been the bastion of tolerance for various religions and ethnicities.  We are the same people who rescued the Jews from Babylonian servitude; opened our arms to welcome Armenian Christians in our midst, and created the “Iranian cultural continent” with a unique mix of diverse religions and ethnicities. I represent the same Iran that has historically assisted the oppressed: centuries ago, we supported the rights of the Jewish people and today we insist on the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people.  Iran is the still the same country: supporting justice and seeking tranquility.
Today, we are on the frontlines of fighting terror and religious extremism in the Middle east; not for sectarian or ethnic reasons, but for an ethical, humanitarian and strategic one.
Iran does not seek to restore its ancient empire, impose its official religion on others, or export its revolution through the force of arms.  We are so confident in the depth of our culture, the truth of our faith and tenacity and longevity of our revolution that we will never seek to export any of them in the way neo-colonialists do, with the heavy boots of soldiers.
To promote our culture, civilization, religion and revolution, we enter hearts and engage minds. We recite our poetry and engage in discourse on our philosophy.Our ambassadors are our poets, our mystics and our philosophers.  We have reached the shores of this side of the Atlantic through Rumi and spread our influence throughout Asia with Saadi. We have already captured the world with Hafez; we therefore are in no need of new conquests.
Excellencies,
The call of moderation is from a nation that has been committed to it. We are not preaching moderation, but practicing it.  The JCPOA is a case in point.
The deal is the outcome of two years of intensive multilateral negotiations, overwhelmingly applauded by the international community and endorsed by the Security Council as a part of Resolution 2231.  As such, it belongs to the international community in its entirety, and not to only one or two countries.

The JCPOA can become a new model for global interactions; interactions based on mutual constructive engagement between all of us.  We have opened our doors to engagement and cooperation.  We have concluded scores of development agreements with advanced countries of both East and West.  Unfortunately, some have deprived themselves of this unique opportunity. They have imposed sanctions really against themselves, and now they feel betrayed. 
We were not deceived, nor did we cheat or deceive anyone.  We have ourselves determined the extent of our nuclear program.  We never sought to achieve deterrence through nuclear weapons; we have immunized ourselves through our knowledge and – more importantly — the resilience of our people. This is our talent and our approach.  Some have claimed to have wanted to deprive Iran of nuclear weapons; weapons that we have continuously and vociferously rejected.  
And, of course, we were not and are not distressed for forgoing an option that we in fact never sought.  It is reprehensible that the rogue Zionist regime that threatens regional and global security with its nuclear arsenal and is not committed to any international instrument or safeguard, has the audacity to preach peaceful nations.
Just imagine for a minute how the Middle East would look had the JCPOA not been concluded.  Imagine that along with civil wars, Takfiri terror, humanitarian nightmares, and complex socio-political crises in West Asia, that there was a manufactured nuclear crisis. How would we all are?
I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement; but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party.  It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by “rogue” newcomers to the world of politics: the world will have lost a great opportunity. But such unfortunate behavior will never impede Iran’s course of progress and advancement.    By violating its international commitments, the new U.S. administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it, or accepting its word or promise.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Four years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran sponsored the initiative of the World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) in this Assembly. We consider dialogue and negotiations based on a positive-sum paradigm as the only path towards the resolution of global and regional crises.  We have made a conscious decision to strengthen relations with our neighbors and the region, and to enhance cooperation with all friendly countries. It is impossible to navigate through the complex and dangerous challenges in this turbulent transitional global phase without expanding interactions and exchanges and institutionalizing dialogue between nations and states.
The ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric, filled with ridiculously baseless allegations, that was uttered before this august body yesterday, was not only unfit to be heard at the United Nations – which was established to promote peace and respect between nations – but indeed contradicted the demands of our nations from this world body to bring governments together to combat war and terror.
I wish to underscore here that the defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including our missiles, are solely defensive deterrents for the maintenance of regional peace and stability and the prevention of adventurist tendencies of irrational aspirants. We cannot forget that civilians in many of our cities became the targets of long-range missile attacks by Saddam Hussein during his 8-year war of aggression against us. We will never allow our people to become victims of such catastrophic delusions again.
Instability and extremist violence have only been exacerbated in our region through the military interventions of extra-regional actors – the same powers that try to sell ever more of their deadly weapons to other states by accusing Iran of fomenting instability. I want to emphasize that foreign intervention and the imposition of alien wishes on the people of the region will only widen and deepen the crises in our region. The crises in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain do not have military solutions and can only be resolved through cessation of hostilities, and the acceptance of the will and wishes of the populaces.
The United States Government should explain to its own people why, after spending billions of dollars of the assets of the people of America and of our region, instead of contributing to peace and stability, it has only brought war, misery, poverty and the rise of terrorism and extremism to the region.  
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the past 4 years, Iran’s economy demonstrated that it has unparalleled potential for expansion and growth. Economic sanctions not only did not impede Iran, but instead solidified popular resolve to enhance domestic production.  Achieving the highest global growth rate last year proved that Iranian economy can become the most vibrant emerging economy within the next twenty years, with a trillion-dollar growth potential.  Our strategic choice for achieving such sustainable and balanced growth is extensive global partnership.  We are of the firm belief that development and security can only grow together, and common interests can bind us regionally and globally to guarantee both regional and global security.
Iran, enjoying the world’s largest gas and oil reserves, is prepared to engage in long-term cooperation to advance global energy security.  We are eager to expand international transit corridors through joint ventures in sea, rail and road infrastructure projects.  Our achievements in enhancing economic infrastructures in the fields of a nation-wide gas pipeline, national electricity grid, and rail and road transport, have made it possible for various industries to produce at lower cost, with easy access to national and regional markets. With the current conducive legal environment, many delegations of foreign investors have come to Iran, leading to an ever-increasing number of investments, joint ventures and financing agreements in various fields.
It is the policy of my government to continue to steadily enhance the entrepreneurial environment, protect intellectual property rights, continuously improve corporate governance, and engage in a robust campaign against money-laundering in order to enhance a conducive legal climate for business and economic investments in various fields, particularly in knowledge-based enterprises.
The Iranian nation is resolutely determined to build a free and advanced Iran and participate in the development of a secure and stable region based on ethics and respect for international law.  In this endeavor, we welcome the participation and cooperation of all investors, intellectuals and innovators from across the globe.  From this global podium, and as the representative of the people of Iran – who are world-famous for their hospitality – I invite all those who seek peace, security and progress through partnership and cooperation among nations to visit Iran and join us in building this future of hope.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
If we truly believe in our collective decision four years ago here in this General assembly to make a WAVE – a World Against Violence and Extremism – we can turn the discourse of imposition, unilateralism, intimidation and war into the logic of dialogue, synergy and peace so that moderation can become the dominant voice across the globe.
I thank you for your attention.

Commentary on Trump's UN speech

Do, 21/09/2017 - 07:44
America is now the Fourth Reich
Responses to Trump’s speech in the UN

Listening to The Donald at the UN
This article was written for the Unz ReviewLate this morning, outraged emails started pouring in.  My correspondents reported “getting sick” and having their “heart ache”.  The cause of all that?  They had just watched Trump’s speech at the UN.  I sighed and decided to watch the full speech for myself.  Yeah, it was painful.
You can read the full (rush,not official) text here or watch the video here.  Most of it is so vapid that I won’t even bother posting the full thing.  But there are a few interesting moments including those:“We will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been
This short sentence contains the key to unlock the reason behind the fact that while the US military is extremely good at killing people in large numbers, it is also extremely bad at winning wars.  Like most Americans, Trump is under the illusion that spending a lot of money “buys” you a better military.  This is completely false, of course.  If spending money was the key to a competent military force, the US armed forces would have already conquered the entire planet many times over.  In reality, they have not won anything meaningful since the war in the Pacific.
Having surrounded himself with “Mad Dog” kind of “experts” on warfare, Trump is now reusing that old mantra about how money buys you victory and this is something extremely important.  This kind of magical thinking signals to the countries most threatened by the USA that the Americans are unable to engage in a basic “lessons learned” kind of exercise, that history teaches them nothing and that, just like all this predecessors, Trump conflates handing out money to the Military Industrial Complex with preparing for war.  Frankly, this is good news: let the Americans spend themselves into bankruptcy, let them further neglect their military and let them continue to believe that this kind of magical thinking will bring them to victory.
[Sidebar: for the record, I have met and studied with plenty of excellent, well-educated, honorable, courageous and patriotic American officers and the kind of money-centered hubris I describe above is in no way directed at them, if only because they know even much better than I how bad the situation really is.  There are plenty of highly-educated officers in the US armed forces who understand history and who know that money brings corruption, not victory.  But they are mostly kept at ranks no higher than Colonel and you will often find them in military teaching institutions and academies.  Having studied with them and become good friends with many of them, I feel sorry for them and I know that if they had the means to stop this insanity they would]
America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.The only question here is whom exactly Trump’s speech-writers are aiming that nonsense at?  Do they really think that there is anybody out there who sincerely believes this?  If the target audience are US middle schools then, yes, okay.  But does anybody believe that US middle school students listen to UN speeches?!  
Okay, maybe senile folks also believe that, I sure know a few who will swallow it up and ask for more, but why speak to that audience from a UN podium?  Is it not embarrassing when such nonsense is greeted in total silence instead of a standing ovation from all the putatively grateful countries out there who are so deeply grateful for all these altruistic and heroic sacrifices.  My only explanation for why this kind of nonsensical drivel was included in this speech is that it has become part of the ritual of typical American “patriotic liturgy”: big hyperbolic sentences which mean nothing, which nobody takes seriously or even listens to, but who have to be included “because they have to”.  This reminds me of the obligatory Lenin quote in any and all Soviet speeches and statements, they also were basically filtered out by any thinking person, everybody knew that, but that’s how things went on then.  It is really sad, and scary, to see how much the USA of the 2017 looks like the Soviet Union of the 1980s.The United States 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.

Wow!  Now that is a sentence which could only be written by a person utterly unaware of the impact it will have on the intended audience (in theory, all of mankind, this is the UN, after all).  Totally destroy North Korea.  I wonder how this will be received in South Korea and Japan.  No, I don’t mean by the puppet regimes in Seoul and Tokyo, but by the people.  Will they simply dismiss it as hot air or will they be horrified.  I bet for the former reaction.  It is much more psychologically comfortable to dismiss it all under the heading “nah, that’s crazy shit, they don’t mean it and they sure as hell ain’t gonna do it” rather than think for just a few minutes about the implications and consequences of such a threat.  
And let me be clear here: the United States most definitely do have the means to totally destroy North Korea.  For one thing, they already did so during the Korean war, and they can easily repeat that today.  That does not mean that they can win a war against the DPRK.  There is a huge difference between laying waste to a country and winning a war against it (see Israel vs Hezbollah).  The only way to meaningfully win a war against the DPRK is to invade it, and that the Americans cannot do, not even close.  In contrast, the DPRK probably has the means to invade at least the northern part of South Korea, including Seoul.  At the very least, they can totally destroy it.  Along with much of Japan.  I wonder if the USA decided to one day “protect” South Korean and Japan by “totally destroying North Korea”, will they be totally shocked when they realize that the South Koreans and the Japanese will turn out not to be grateful for such a “protection”?
Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

What we see here is undeniable evidence that far from being “real warriors” or “strategists” the military gang around Trump (Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, etc.) are either primitive grunts or folks who owe their rank to political protection.  Why do I say that?  Because none of what Trump describes as a “strategy for victory” is, in fact, a strategy.  In fact, the US has not had anything remotely resembling a strategy in Afghanistan for years already.  If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable, really.  What we really see here is the total absence of any strategy and, again, a total reliance on magical thinking.  Ask yourself a basic question: have you ever heard from any Trump administration or any US General anything which would suggest to you that these guys have i) a clear goal in mind ii) an understanding of what it would take to achieve this goal and iii) a timeframe to achieve this goal and iv) an exit strategy once this goal is achieved?  No?  Well, that is not your fault, you did not miss anything.  They really don’t have it.  The amazing reality is that they don’t have a goal even defined.  How one achieves “victory” when no goal is even defined is anybody’s guess.
[Sidebar: without going into a lengthy discussion of Afghanistan, I would say that the only chance to get anything done, any viable result at all, is to negotiate a deal with all the parties that matter: the various Afghan factions, of course, but also with the Taliban, Pakistan, Iran and even Russia.  Pakistan and Iran have a de-facto veto power over any outcome for Afghanistan.  This may not be what the USA would want, but this is the reality.  Denying reality is just not a smart approach to these issues, especially if “victory” is the goal]In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

When I heard these words I felt embarrassed for Trump.  First, it is absolutely pathetic that Trump has to claim as his success the victories with the Syrians, the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah have achieved against the Wahabi-crazies of Daesh/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/etc, especially since the latter are a pure creation of the US CIA!  The truth is that it was the Americans who created this Wahabi monster and that they aided, protected, financed, trained and armed it through all these years.  The USA also viciously opposed all the countries which were serious about fighting this Wahabi abomination.  And now that a tiny Russian contingent has achieved infinitely better results that all the power of the mighty CENTCOM backed by the Israeli and Saudi allies of the USA in the region, The Donald comes out and declares victory?!  Pathetic is not strong enough a word to describe this mind-bogglingly counter-factual statement.  And then, just to make things worse, The Donald *proudly* mentions the failed attack against a Syrian air force base which had nothing to do with a false flag fake chemical attack.  Wow!  For any other political leader recalling such an event would be a burning embarrassment, but for The Donald it is something he proudly mentions.  The hubris, ignorance and stupidity of it all leaves me in total awe…
Next The Donald went on a long rant about how bad Maduro and Venezuela were, which was terrible, but at least predictable, but then he suddenly decided to share this outright bizarre insight of his:
The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

Since when did Trump become an expert on political science and world history anyway?  Who does he think he is lecturing?  Yet another US middle school classroom?!  Does he not realize that a good number of the countries represented at the UN consider themselves Socialist?!  Furthermore, while I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that Socialist and Communist ideas have often been a disaster in the 20th century, Socialism in the 21st century is an entirely different beast and the jury is still very much out on this issue, especially when considering the social, political, economic, ecological, psychological and even spiritual disaster Capitalism is now proving to be for much of the planet.  Being the President of a country as dysfunctional as the USA, Trump would be well-advised to tone down his arrogant pontifications about Socialism and maybe even open a book and read about it.
I won’t even bother discussing the comprehensively counter-factual nonsense Trump has spewed about Iran and Hezbollah, we all know who Trump’s puppet-masters are nowadays so we know what to expect.  Instead, I will conclude with this pearl from The Donald:In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Echoing the nonsense he spoke while in Poland, Trump is now clearly fully endorsing that fairytale that “The West” (in which Trump now hilariously includes Poland!) has defeated Hitler and saved the world.  The truth is that the Nazis were defeated by the Soviets and that all the efforts of the Poles, French, Brits and even Americans were but a minor (20% max) sideshow to the “real event” (Those who still might believe in this nonsense can simply read this).  Yet again, that the Americans would feel the need to appropriate for themselves somebody else’s victory is, yet again, a clear sign of weakness.  Do they expect the rest of the planet to buy into this nonsense?  Probably not.  My guess is that all they want is to send a clear messages to the Comprador elites running most countries that this is the “official ideology of the AngloZionist Empire” and if they want to remain in power they better toe the line even if nobody takes this stuff seriously.  Yup, back to a 1980s Soviet kind of attitude towards propaganda: nobody cares what everybody else really thinks as long as everybody continues to pretend to believe the official propaganda.
[Sidebar: When my wife and I watched this pathetic speech we starting laughing about the fact that Trump was so obscenely bad that we (almost) begin to miss Obama.  This is a standing joke in our family because when Obama came to power we (almost) began to miss Dubya.  The reason why this is a joke is that when Duya came to power we decided that there is no way anybody could possibly be worse than him.  Oh boy were we wrong!  Right now I am still not at the point were I would be missing Obama (that is asking for a lot from me!), but I will unapologetically admit that I am missing Dubya.  I do.  I really do.  Maybe not the people around Dubya, he is the one who truly let the Neocon “crazies in the basement” creep out and occupy the Situation Room, but at least Dubya seemed to realize how utterly incompetent he was.  Furthermore, Dubya was a heck of a lot dumber than Obama (in this context being stupid is a mitigating factor) and he sure did not have the truly galactic arrogance of Trump (intelligence-wise they are probably on par)].
In conclusion, what I take away from this speech is a sense of relief for the rest of the planet and a sense of real worry for the USA.  Ever since the Neocons overthrew Trump and made him what is colloquially referred to as their “bitch” the US foreign policy has come to a virtual standstill.  Sure, the Americans talk a lot, but at least they are doing nothing.  That paralysis, which is a direct consequence of the internal infighting, is a blessing for the rest of the planet because it allows everybody else to get things done.  Because, and make no mistake here, if the USA cannot get anything constructive done any more, they retain a huge capability to disrupt, subvert, create chaos and the like.  But for as long as the USA remains paralyzed this destructive potential remains mostly unused (and no matter how bad things look now, Hillary President would have been infinitely worse!).  However, the USA themselves are now the prime victim of a decapitated Presidency and a vindicative and generally out of control Neocon effort to prevent true American patriots to “get their country back” (as they say) and finally overthrow the regime in Washington DC.  Step by step the USA is getting closer to a civil war and there is no hope in sight, at least for the time being.  It appears that for the foreseeable future Trump will continue to focus his energy on beating Obama for the status of “worst President in US history” while the Neocons will continue to focus their energy on trying to impeach Trump, and maybe even trigger a civil war.  The rest of us living here are in for some very tough times ahead.  As they say in Florida when a hurricane comes barreling down on you “hunker down!”.The Saker


Unmasked: Trump Doctrine Vows Carnage For New Axis of Evil North
Korea, Iran, Venezuela are targets in "compassionate" America's war on the "wicked few." It's almost as though Washington felt its hegemony threatened

By Pepe Escobar
September 20, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - This was no “deeply philosophical address”. And hardly a show of  “principled realism” – as spun by the White House. President Trump at the UN was “American carnage,” to borrow a phrase previously deployed by his nativist speechwriter Stephen Miller.

One should allow the enormity of what just happened to sink in, slowly. The president of the United States, facing the bloated bureaucracy that passes for the “international community,” threatened to “wipe off the map” the whole of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (25 million people). And may however many millions of South Koreans who perish as collateral damage be damned.Multiple attempts have been made to connect Trump’s threats to the madman theory cooked up by “Tricky Dicky” Nixon in cahoots with Henry Kissinger, according to which the USSR must always be under the impression the then-US president was crazy enough to, literally, go nuclear. But the DPRK will not be much impressed with this madman remix.

That leaves, on the table, a way more terrifying upgrade of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Trump repeatedly invoked Truman in his speech). Frantic gaming will now be in effect in both Moscow and Beijing: Russia and China have their own stability / connectivity strategy under development to contain Pyongyang.

The Trump Doctrine has finally been enounced and a new axis of evil delineated. The winners are North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Syria under Assad is a sort of mini-evil, and so is Cuba. Crucially, Ukraine and the South China Sea only got a fleeting mention from Trump, with no blunt accusations against Russia and China. That may reflect at least some degree of realpolitik; without “RC” – the Russia-China strategic partnership at the heart of the BRICS bloc and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – there’s no possible solution to the Korean Peninsula stand-off.

In this epic battle of the “righteous many” against the “wicked few,” with the US described as a “compassionate nation” that wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife,” it’s a bit of a stretch to have Islamic State – portrayed as being not remotely as “evil” as North Korea or Iran – get only a few paragraphs.The art of unraveling a dealAccording to the Trump Doctrine, Iran is “an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” a “murderous regime” profiting from a nuclear deal that is “an embarrassment to the United States.”Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times – not the 21st century UN – unworthy of a reply.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov once again stressed full support for the nuclear deal ahead of a P5+1 ministers’ meeting scheduled for Wednesday, when Zarif was due to be seated at the same table as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Under review: compliance with the deal. Tillerson is the only one who wants a renegotiation.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has, in fact, developed an unassailable argument on the nuclear negotiations. He says the deal – which the P5+1 and the IAEA all agree is working – could be used as a model elsewhere. German chancellor Angela Merkel concurs. But, Rouhani says, if the US suddenly decides to unilaterally pull out, how could the North Koreans possibly be convinced it’s worth their while to sit down to negotiate anything with the Americans ?

What the Trump Doctrine is aiming at is, in fact, a favourite old neo-con play, reverting back to the dynamics of the Dick Cheney-driven Washington-Tehran Cold War years.

This script runs as follows: Iran must be isolated (by the West, only now that won’t fly with the Europeans); Iran is “destabilizing” the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, the ideological foundry of all strands of Salafi-jihadism, gets a free pass); and Iran, because it’s developing ballistic that could – allegedly – carry nuclear warheads, is the new North Korea.

That lays the groundwork for Trump to decertify the deal on October 15. Such a dangerous geopolitical outcome would then pit Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi against Tehran, Moscow and Beijing, with European capitals non-aligned. That’s hardly compatible with a “compassionate nation” which wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife.”Afghanistan comes to South AmericaThe Trump Doctrine, as enounced, privileges the absolute sovereignty of the nation-state. But then there are those pesky “rogue regimes” which must be, well, regime-changed. Enter Venezuela, now on “the brink of total collapse,” and run by a “dictator”; thus, America “cannot stand by and watch.”

No standing by, indeed. On Monday, Trump had dinner in New York with the presidents of Colombia, Peru and Brazil (the last indicted by the country’s Attorney General as the leader of a criminal organization and enjoying an inverted Kim dynasty rating of 95% unpopularity). On the menu: regime change in Venezuela.

Venezuelan “dictator” Maduro happens to be supported by Moscow and, most crucially, Beijing, which buys oil and has invested widely in infrastructure in the country with Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht crippled by the Car Wash investigation.

The stakes in Venezuela are extremely high. In early November, Brazilian and American forces will be deployed in a joint military exercise in the Amazon rainforest, at the Tri-Border between Peru, Brazil and Colombia. Call it a rehearsal for regime change in Venezuela. South America could well turn into the new Afghanistan, a consequence that flows from Trump’s assertion that “major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.”For all the lofty spin about “sovereignty”, the new axis of evil is all about, once again, regime change.

Russia-China aim to defuse the nuclear stand-off, then seduce North Korea into sharing in the interpenetration of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), via a new Trans-Korea Railway and investments in DPRK ports. The name of the game is Eurasian integration.Iran is a key node of BRI. It’s also a future full member of the SCO, it’s connected – via the North-South Transport Corridor – with India and Russia, and is a possible future supplier of natural gas to Europe. The name of the game, once again, is Eurasian integration.

Venezuela, meanwhile, holds the largest unexplored oil reserves on the planet, and is targeted by Beijing as a sort of advanced BRI node in South America.The Trump Doctrine introduces a new set of problems for Russia-China. Putin and Xi do dream of reenacting a balance of power similar to that of the Concert of Europe, which lasted from 1815 (after Napoleon’s defeat) until the brink of World War I in 1914. That’s when Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia decided that no European nation should be able to emulate the hegemony of France under Napoleon. In sitting as judge and executioner, Trump’s “compassionate” America certainly seems intent on echoing such hegemony.

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst.
This article was first published by Asia Times -

More Thoughts on Trump’s UN Declaration of War Against Iran and North Korea
By Paul Craig Roberts
September 20, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - Trump’s UN speech makes it clear that Trump’s presidency, in terms of his campaign promise to remove Washington from the “policeman of the world” role, exit the Middle East, and repair the damaged relations with Russia, is over. The CIA and the military/security complex are in full control of the US government. Trump has accepted his captivity and his assigned role as the enforcer of Washington’s hegemony over every other country. Washington uber alles is the only foreign policy that Washington pursues.

At the UN Trump actually threatened to wipe North Korea off of the face of the earth. He added to this threat threats against Venezuela (http://stephenlendman.org/2017/09/trump-threatens-venezuela/) and Iran. He demonized these countries as “rogue states,” but it is Washington that is playing that role. Washington has destroyed in whole or part eight countries in the young 21st century and has 3 to 5 more in its crosshairs.

One question is: why did not the UN audience shout Trump down, a man standing before them telling obvious lies? The answer, of course, is money. The US taxpayers pay roughly one-quarter of the UN’s annual budget, leaving the other 130+ countries a light load. Washington is succeeding in driving the world to Armageddon, because the world’s leaders prefer money to truth, to justice, to survival. The UN diplomats see in their cooperation with Washington the opportunity to make money by sharing in the West’s exploitation of their own countries.

Washington, absorbed in its effort to destroy Syria, left it to its Saudi Arabian puppet to destroy Yemen. The Saudi autocracy, a major sponsor with the US of terrorism, has done a good job, thanks to US supplying the weapons and to the US refueling the Saudi attack airplanes. This totally gratuitous war has helped to maximize the profits of the American military/security complex, a collection of evil never before present on the face of the earth. UNICEF reports that one million Yemeni children will be the victims of “American compassion” of which Trump bragged in the CIA’s UN speech.One wonders if the Russians and 
Chinese are so absorbed in getting rich like America’s One Percent that they are unaware that they are on the list of countries to be eliminated for not accepting Washington’s hegemony. Really, where was the Russian government when Washington overthrew the Ukranian government? It was at a sports event. And I call Americans insouciant. Where was the Russian government? How could it have not known?

To be frank. The point is this. Unless Russia and China can take out the US, the US will take out Russia and China. The only question is who strikes first. The only way to avoid this is for Russia and China to surrender and accept Washington’s hegemony. This is the firm undeviating path on which the neoconservatives, the CIA, and the military/security complex have set the United States. The entire point of North Korea is US nuclear missiles on China’s border. The entire point of Iran is US nuclear missiles on Russia’s border.

As far as I can ascertain, hardly anyone is aware that Armageddon is just around the corner. There is no protest from the Western presstitutes, a collection of whores. In the US the only protests are against ancient “civil war” statues, which the ignorant rabble say are symbols of black slavery. There is no peace movement and no peace marches. In London the transgendered and the radical feminists are protesting one another, engaging in fist fights in Hyde Park.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4891484/Fists-fly-politically-correct-rally.html No one seems to have any awareness.

In US online propaganda websites such as Americans for Limited Government—funded by who? serving who?—endorse Trump’s destabilizing UN speech as a non-threat to world peace:

“President Trump has provided a cogent and inspiring defense of America and the American constitutional system of governance to the world not as imposition but an example to be followed, while at the same time respecting the sovereignty of other nations. However, the President also made it clear to those nations that threaten humanity with nuclear destruction [which Washington has done to N. Korea and Iran] that the United States will not be held hostage, and continuing down their current paths guarantees their annihilation. While many will focus on Trump’s threat to North Korea and Iran, the real focus of his speech is that it is a call to all nations to embrace their own sovereignty without threatening world peace.”

I have never in my long life read such a misrepresentation of a speech. The United States has become the complete propaganda state. No truth ever emerges.

It is only the US government, which is not a government of the people, that has ever threatened another country with total destruction as Trump did to North Korea in the CIA’s UN speech.

This is a first. It trumps Adolf Hitler. The US has become the 4th Reich. It is doubtful that the world will survive the foreign policy of the United States of America.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

Commentary on Trump's UN speech

Do, 21/09/2017 - 07:44
America is now the Fourth Reich
Responses to Trump’s speech in the UN

Listening to The Donald at the UN
This article was written for the Unz ReviewLate this morning, outraged emails started pouring in.  My correspondents reported “getting sick” and having their “heart ache”.  The cause of all that?  They had just watched Trump’s speech at the UN.  I sighed and decided to watch the full speech for myself.  Yeah, it was painful.
You can read the full (rush,not official) text here or watch the video here.  Most of it is so vapid that I won’t even bother posting the full thing.  But there are a few interesting moments including those:“We will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been
This short sentence contains the key to unlock the reason behind the fact that while the US military is extremely good at killing people in large numbers, it is also extremely bad at winning wars.  Like most Americans, Trump is under the illusion that spending a lot of money “buys” you a better military.  This is completely false, of course.  If spending money was the key to a competent military force, the US armed forces would have already conquered the entire planet many times over.  In reality, they have not won anything meaningful since the war in the Pacific.
Having surrounded himself with “Mad Dog” kind of “experts” on warfare, Trump is now reusing that old mantra about how money buys you victory and this is something extremely important.  This kind of magical thinking signals to the countries most threatened by the USA that the Americans are unable to engage in a basic “lessons learned” kind of exercise, that history teaches them nothing and that, just like all this predecessors, Trump conflates handing out money to the Military Industrial Complex with preparing for war.  Frankly, this is good news: let the Americans spend themselves into bankruptcy, let them further neglect their military and let them continue to believe that this kind of magical thinking will bring them to victory.
[Sidebar: for the record, I have met and studied with plenty of excellent, well-educated, honorable, courageous and patriotic American officers and the kind of money-centered hubris I describe above is in no way directed at them, if only because they know even much better than I how bad the situation really is.  There are plenty of highly-educated officers in the US armed forces who understand history and who know that money brings corruption, not victory.  But they are mostly kept at ranks no higher than Colonel and you will often find them in military teaching institutions and academies.  Having studied with them and become good friends with many of them, I feel sorry for them and I know that if they had the means to stop this insanity they would]
America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.The only question here is whom exactly Trump’s speech-writers are aiming that nonsense at?  Do they really think that there is anybody out there who sincerely believes this?  If the target audience are US middle schools then, yes, okay.  But does anybody believe that US middle school students listen to UN speeches?!  
Okay, maybe senile folks also believe that, I sure know a few who will swallow it up and ask for more, but why speak to that audience from a UN podium?  Is it not embarrassing when such nonsense is greeted in total silence instead of a standing ovation from all the putatively grateful countries out there who are so deeply grateful for all these altruistic and heroic sacrifices.  My only explanation for why this kind of nonsensical drivel was included in this speech is that it has become part of the ritual of typical American “patriotic liturgy”: big hyperbolic sentences which mean nothing, which nobody takes seriously or even listens to, but who have to be included “because they have to”.  This reminds me of the obligatory Lenin quote in any and all Soviet speeches and statements, they also were basically filtered out by any thinking person, everybody knew that, but that’s how things went on then.  It is really sad, and scary, to see how much the USA of the 2017 looks like the Soviet Union of the 1980s.The United States 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.

Wow!  Now that is a sentence which could only be written by a person utterly unaware of the impact it will have on the intended audience (in theory, all of mankind, this is the UN, after all).  Totally destroy North Korea.  I wonder how this will be received in South Korea and Japan.  No, I don’t mean by the puppet regimes in Seoul and Tokyo, but by the people.  Will they simply dismiss it as hot air or will they be horrified.  I bet for the former reaction.  It is much more psychologically comfortable to dismiss it all under the heading “nah, that’s crazy shit, they don’t mean it and they sure as hell ain’t gonna do it” rather than think for just a few minutes about the implications and consequences of such a threat.  
And let me be clear here: the United States most definitely do have the means to totally destroy North Korea.  For one thing, they already did so during the Korean war, and they can easily repeat that today.  That does not mean that they can win a war against the DPRK.  There is a huge difference between laying waste to a country and winning a war against it (see Israel vs Hezbollah).  The only way to meaningfully win a war against the DPRK is to invade it, and that the Americans cannot do, not even close.  In contrast, the DPRK probably has the means to invade at least the northern part of South Korea, including Seoul.  At the very least, they can totally destroy it.  Along with much of Japan.  I wonder if the USA decided to one day “protect” South Korean and Japan by “totally destroying North Korea”, will they be totally shocked when they realize that the South Koreans and the Japanese will turn out not to be grateful for such a “protection”?
Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

What we see here is undeniable evidence that far from being “real warriors” or “strategists” the military gang around Trump (Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, etc.) are either primitive grunts or folks who owe their rank to political protection.  Why do I say that?  Because none of what Trump describes as a “strategy for victory” is, in fact, a strategy.  In fact, the US has not had anything remotely resembling a strategy in Afghanistan for years already.  If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable, really.  What we really see here is the total absence of any strategy and, again, a total reliance on magical thinking.  Ask yourself a basic question: have you ever heard from any Trump administration or any US General anything which would suggest to you that these guys have i) a clear goal in mind ii) an understanding of what it would take to achieve this goal and iii) a timeframe to achieve this goal and iv) an exit strategy once this goal is achieved?  No?  Well, that is not your fault, you did not miss anything.  They really don’t have it.  The amazing reality is that they don’t have a goal even defined.  How one achieves “victory” when no goal is even defined is anybody’s guess.
[Sidebar: without going into a lengthy discussion of Afghanistan, I would say that the only chance to get anything done, any viable result at all, is to negotiate a deal with all the parties that matter: the various Afghan factions, of course, but also with the Taliban, Pakistan, Iran and even Russia.  Pakistan and Iran have a de-facto veto power over any outcome for Afghanistan.  This may not be what the USA would want, but this is the reality.  Denying reality is just not a smart approach to these issues, especially if “victory” is the goal]In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

When I heard these words I felt embarrassed for Trump.  First, it is absolutely pathetic that Trump has to claim as his success the victories with the Syrians, the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah have achieved against the Wahabi-crazies of Daesh/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/etc, especially since the latter are a pure creation of the US CIA!  The truth is that it was the Americans who created this Wahabi monster and that they aided, protected, financed, trained and armed it through all these years.  The USA also viciously opposed all the countries which were serious about fighting this Wahabi abomination.  And now that a tiny Russian contingent has achieved infinitely better results that all the power of the mighty CENTCOM backed by the Israeli and Saudi allies of the USA in the region, The Donald comes out and declares victory?!  Pathetic is not strong enough a word to describe this mind-bogglingly counter-factual statement.  And then, just to make things worse, The Donald *proudly* mentions the failed attack against a Syrian air force base which had nothing to do with a false flag fake chemical attack.  Wow!  For any other political leader recalling such an event would be a burning embarrassment, but for The Donald it is something he proudly mentions.  The hubris, ignorance and stupidity of it all leaves me in total awe…
Next The Donald went on a long rant about how bad Maduro and Venezuela were, which was terrible, but at least predictable, but then he suddenly decided to share this outright bizarre insight of his:
The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

Since when did Trump become an expert on political science and world history anyway?  Who does he think he is lecturing?  Yet another US middle school classroom?!  Does he not realize that a good number of the countries represented at the UN consider themselves Socialist?!  Furthermore, while I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that Socialist and Communist ideas have often been a disaster in the 20th century, Socialism in the 21st century is an entirely different beast and the jury is still very much out on this issue, especially when considering the social, political, economic, ecological, psychological and even spiritual disaster Capitalism is now proving to be for much of the planet.  Being the President of a country as dysfunctional as the USA, Trump would be well-advised to tone down his arrogant pontifications about Socialism and maybe even open a book and read about it.
I won’t even bother discussing the comprehensively counter-factual nonsense Trump has spewed about Iran and Hezbollah, we all know who Trump’s puppet-masters are nowadays so we know what to expect.  Instead, I will conclude with this pearl from The Donald:In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Echoing the nonsense he spoke while in Poland, Trump is now clearly fully endorsing that fairytale that “The West” (in which Trump now hilariously includes Poland!) has defeated Hitler and saved the world.  The truth is that the Nazis were defeated by the Soviets and that all the efforts of the Poles, French, Brits and even Americans were but a minor (20% max) sideshow to the “real event” (Those who still might believe in this nonsense can simply read this).  Yet again, that the Americans would feel the need to appropriate for themselves somebody else’s victory is, yet again, a clear sign of weakness.  Do they expect the rest of the planet to buy into this nonsense?  Probably not.  My guess is that all they want is to send a clear messages to the Comprador elites running most countries that this is the “official ideology of the AngloZionist Empire” and if they want to remain in power they better toe the line even if nobody takes this stuff seriously.  Yup, back to a 1980s Soviet kind of attitude towards propaganda: nobody cares what everybody else really thinks as long as everybody continues to pretend to believe the official propaganda.
[Sidebar: When my wife and I watched this pathetic speech we starting laughing about the fact that Trump was so obscenely bad that we (almost) begin to miss Obama.  This is a standing joke in our family because when Obama came to power we (almost) began to miss Dubya.  The reason why this is a joke is that when Duya came to power we decided that there is no way anybody could possibly be worse than him.  Oh boy were we wrong!  Right now I am still not at the point were I would be missing Obama (that is asking for a lot from me!), but I will unapologetically admit that I am missing Dubya.  I do.  I really do.  Maybe not the people around Dubya, he is the one who truly let the Neocon “crazies in the basement” creep out and occupy the Situation Room, but at least Dubya seemed to realize how utterly incompetent he was.  Furthermore, Dubya was a heck of a lot dumber than Obama (in this context being stupid is a mitigating factor) and he sure did not have the truly galactic arrogance of Trump (intelligence-wise they are probably on par)].
In conclusion, what I take away from this speech is a sense of relief for the rest of the planet and a sense of real worry for the USA.  Ever since the Neocons overthrew Trump and made him what is colloquially referred to as their “bitch” the US foreign policy has come to a virtual standstill.  Sure, the Americans talk a lot, but at least they are doing nothing.  That paralysis, which is a direct consequence of the internal infighting, is a blessing for the rest of the planet because it allows everybody else to get things done.  Because, and make no mistake here, if the USA cannot get anything constructive done any more, they retain a huge capability to disrupt, subvert, create chaos and the like.  But for as long as the USA remains paralyzed this destructive potential remains mostly unused (and no matter how bad things look now, Hillary President would have been infinitely worse!).  However, the USA themselves are now the prime victim of a decapitated Presidency and a vindicative and generally out of control Neocon effort to prevent true American patriots to “get their country back” (as they say) and finally overthrow the regime in Washington DC.  Step by step the USA is getting closer to a civil war and there is no hope in sight, at least for the time being.  It appears that for the foreseeable future Trump will continue to focus his energy on beating Obama for the status of “worst President in US history” while the Neocons will continue to focus their energy on trying to impeach Trump, and maybe even trigger a civil war.  The rest of us living here are in for some very tough times ahead.  As they say in Florida when a hurricane comes barreling down on you “hunker down!”.The Saker


Unmasked: Trump Doctrine Vows Carnage For New Axis of Evil North
Korea, Iran, Venezuela are targets in "compassionate" America's war on the "wicked few." It's almost as though Washington felt its hegemony threatened

By Pepe Escobar
September 20, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - This was no “deeply philosophical address”. And hardly a show of  “principled realism” – as spun by the White House. President Trump at the UN was “American carnage,” to borrow a phrase previously deployed by his nativist speechwriter Stephen Miller.

One should allow the enormity of what just happened to sink in, slowly. The president of the United States, facing the bloated bureaucracy that passes for the “international community,” threatened to “wipe off the map” the whole of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (25 million people). And may however many millions of South Koreans who perish as collateral damage be damned.Multiple attempts have been made to connect Trump’s threats to the madman theory cooked up by “Tricky Dicky” Nixon in cahoots with Henry Kissinger, according to which the USSR must always be under the impression the then-US president was crazy enough to, literally, go nuclear. But the DPRK will not be much impressed with this madman remix.

That leaves, on the table, a way more terrifying upgrade of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Trump repeatedly invoked Truman in his speech). Frantic gaming will now be in effect in both Moscow and Beijing: Russia and China have their own stability / connectivity strategy under development to contain Pyongyang.

The Trump Doctrine has finally been enounced and a new axis of evil delineated. The winners are North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Syria under Assad is a sort of mini-evil, and so is Cuba. Crucially, Ukraine and the South China Sea only got a fleeting mention from Trump, with no blunt accusations against Russia and China. That may reflect at least some degree of realpolitik; without “RC” – the Russia-China strategic partnership at the heart of the BRICS bloc and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – there’s no possible solution to the Korean Peninsula stand-off.

In this epic battle of the “righteous many” against the “wicked few,” with the US described as a “compassionate nation” that wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife,” it’s a bit of a stretch to have Islamic State – portrayed as being not remotely as “evil” as North Korea or Iran – get only a few paragraphs.The art of unraveling a dealAccording to the Trump Doctrine, Iran is “an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” a “murderous regime” profiting from a nuclear deal that is “an embarrassment to the United States.”Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times – not the 21st century UN – unworthy of a reply.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov once again stressed full support for the nuclear deal ahead of a P5+1 ministers’ meeting scheduled for Wednesday, when Zarif was due to be seated at the same table as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Under review: compliance with the deal. Tillerson is the only one who wants a renegotiation.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has, in fact, developed an unassailable argument on the nuclear negotiations. He says the deal – which the P5+1 and the IAEA all agree is working – could be used as a model elsewhere. German chancellor Angela Merkel concurs. But, Rouhani says, if the US suddenly decides to unilaterally pull out, how could the North Koreans possibly be convinced it’s worth their while to sit down to negotiate anything with the Americans ?

What the Trump Doctrine is aiming at is, in fact, a favourite old neo-con play, reverting back to the dynamics of the Dick Cheney-driven Washington-Tehran Cold War years.

This script runs as follows: Iran must be isolated (by the West, only now that won’t fly with the Europeans); Iran is “destabilizing” the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, the ideological foundry of all strands of Salafi-jihadism, gets a free pass); and Iran, because it’s developing ballistic that could – allegedly – carry nuclear warheads, is the new North Korea.

That lays the groundwork for Trump to decertify the deal on October 15. Such a dangerous geopolitical outcome would then pit Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi against Tehran, Moscow and Beijing, with European capitals non-aligned. That’s hardly compatible with a “compassionate nation” which wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife.”Afghanistan comes to South AmericaThe Trump Doctrine, as enounced, privileges the absolute sovereignty of the nation-state. But then there are those pesky “rogue regimes” which must be, well, regime-changed. Enter Venezuela, now on “the brink of total collapse,” and run by a “dictator”; thus, America “cannot stand by and watch.”

No standing by, indeed. On Monday, Trump had dinner in New York with the presidents of Colombia, Peru and Brazil (the last indicted by the country’s Attorney General as the leader of a criminal organization and enjoying an inverted Kim dynasty rating of 95% unpopularity). On the menu: regime change in Venezuela.

Venezuelan “dictator” Maduro happens to be supported by Moscow and, most crucially, Beijing, which buys oil and has invested widely in infrastructure in the country with Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht crippled by the Car Wash investigation.

The stakes in Venezuela are extremely high. In early November, Brazilian and American forces will be deployed in a joint military exercise in the Amazon rainforest, at the Tri-Border between Peru, Brazil and Colombia. Call it a rehearsal for regime change in Venezuela. South America could well turn into the new Afghanistan, a consequence that flows from Trump’s assertion that “major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.”For all the lofty spin about “sovereignty”, the new axis of evil is all about, once again, regime change.

Russia-China aim to defuse the nuclear stand-off, then seduce North Korea into sharing in the interpenetration of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), via a new Trans-Korea Railway and investments in DPRK ports. The name of the game is Eurasian integration.Iran is a key node of BRI. It’s also a future full member of the SCO, it’s connected – via the North-South Transport Corridor – with India and Russia, and is a possible future supplier of natural gas to Europe. The name of the game, once again, is Eurasian integration.

Venezuela, meanwhile, holds the largest unexplored oil reserves on the planet, and is targeted by Beijing as a sort of advanced BRI node in South America.The Trump Doctrine introduces a new set of problems for Russia-China. Putin and Xi do dream of reenacting a balance of power similar to that of the Concert of Europe, which lasted from 1815 (after Napoleon’s defeat) until the brink of World War I in 1914. That’s when Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia decided that no European nation should be able to emulate the hegemony of France under Napoleon. In sitting as judge and executioner, Trump’s “compassionate” America certainly seems intent on echoing such hegemony.

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst.
This article was first published by Asia Times -

More Thoughts on Trump’s UN Declaration of War Against Iran and North Korea
By Paul Craig Roberts
September 20, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - Trump’s UN speech makes it clear that Trump’s presidency, in terms of his campaign promise to remove Washington from the “policeman of the world” role, exit the Middle East, and repair the damaged relations with Russia, is over. The CIA and the military/security complex are in full control of the US government. Trump has accepted his captivity and his assigned role as the enforcer of Washington’s hegemony over every other country. Washington uber alles is the only foreign policy that Washington pursues.

At the UN Trump actually threatened to wipe North Korea off of the face of the earth. He added to this threat threats against Venezuela (http://stephenlendman.org/2017/09/trump-threatens-venezuela/) and Iran. He demonized these countries as “rogue states,” but it is Washington that is playing that role. Washington has destroyed in whole or part eight countries in the young 21st century and has 3 to 5 more in its crosshairs.

One question is: why did not the UN audience shout Trump down, a man standing before them telling obvious lies? The answer, of course, is money. The US taxpayers pay roughly one-quarter of the UN’s annual budget, leaving the other 130+ countries a light load. Washington is succeeding in driving the world to Armageddon, because the world’s leaders prefer money to truth, to justice, to survival. The UN diplomats see in their cooperation with Washington the opportunity to make money by sharing in the West’s exploitation of their own countries.

Washington, absorbed in its effort to destroy Syria, left it to its Saudi Arabian puppet to destroy Yemen. The Saudi autocracy, a major sponsor with the US of terrorism, has done a good job, thanks to US supplying the weapons and to the US refueling the Saudi attack airplanes. This totally gratuitous war has helped to maximize the profits of the American military/security complex, a collection of evil never before present on the face of the earth. UNICEF reports that one million Yemeni children will be the victims of “American compassion” of which Trump bragged in the CIA’s UN speech.One wonders if the Russians and 
Chinese are so absorbed in getting rich like America’s One Percent that they are unaware that they are on the list of countries to be eliminated for not accepting Washington’s hegemony. Really, where was the Russian government when Washington overthrew the Ukranian government? It was at a sports event. And I call Americans insouciant. Where was the Russian government? How could it have not known?

To be frank. The point is this. Unless Russia and China can take out the US, the US will take out Russia and China. The only question is who strikes first. The only way to avoid this is for Russia and China to surrender and accept Washington’s hegemony. This is the firm undeviating path on which the neoconservatives, the CIA, and the military/security complex have set the United States. The entire point of North Korea is US nuclear missiles on China’s border. The entire point of Iran is US nuclear missiles on Russia’s border.

As far as I can ascertain, hardly anyone is aware that Armageddon is just around the corner. There is no protest from the Western presstitutes, a collection of whores. In the US the only protests are against ancient “civil war” statues, which the ignorant rabble say are symbols of black slavery. There is no peace movement and no peace marches. In London the transgendered and the radical feminists are protesting one another, engaging in fist fights in Hyde Park.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4891484/Fists-fly-politically-correct-rally.html No one seems to have any awareness.

In US online propaganda websites such as Americans for Limited Government—funded by who? serving who?—endorse Trump’s destabilizing UN speech as a non-threat to world peace:

“President Trump has provided a cogent and inspiring defense of America and the American constitutional system of governance to the world not as imposition but an example to be followed, while at the same time respecting the sovereignty of other nations. However, the President also made it clear to those nations that threaten humanity with nuclear destruction [which Washington has done to N. Korea and Iran] that the United States will not be held hostage, and continuing down their current paths guarantees their annihilation. While many will focus on Trump’s threat to North Korea and Iran, the real focus of his speech is that it is a call to all nations to embrace their own sovereignty without threatening world peace.”

I have never in my long life read such a misrepresentation of a speech. The United States has become the complete propaganda state. No truth ever emerges.

It is only the US government, which is not a government of the people, that has ever threatened another country with total destruction as Trump did to North Korea in the CIA’s UN speech.

This is a first. It trumps Adolf Hitler. The US has become the 4th Reich. It is doubtful that the world will survive the foreign policy of the United States of America.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

A very, very bad day for the Empire in Syria

Do, 21/09/2017 - 06:22

US Secret Services' Tried to Nab 29 Russian Troops in Syria ... and Got Their Butts Kicked - Russian MilitaryIt’s a real war out there … and Russians and Americans are practically in combat

Russia Insider,20 September, 2017
Now this is something you won't see on NBC nightly news.
The Russian military spokesman in this briefing, General Sergei Rudskoi, in a matter-of-fact deadpan, explains that 'US Secret Services’, and their Al Qaeda proxies, had a very, very bad day yesterday.
Americans love bombing small, defenseless countries into the stone age, it’s part of their culture like baseball, apple pie, and morbid obesity. One of the things they never do, however, is pick on a country that can fight back.




Well this time they messed with the Russian Bear himself and like Napoleon and Hitler before them, reality ensued.

Yesterday, according to General Rudskoi, an army of “moderate” decapitators, directed by their 'US Secret Service’ handlers, double-crossing the Russians by violating a ceasefire agreement, launched an attack with tanks and artillery on the Syrian Government north of Hama in the de-escalation zone, in an attempt to halt the Syrian Army’s successful advance.

A key part of the plan was to capture 29 Russian soldiers, which would have been a major embarrassment for Russia.

Here’s where the story gets gripping.

The 29 Russians were trapped for several hours by the militants, engaged in a heavy fire-fight for their very survival. 

Finally, a Spetsnaz (Russian Special Operations) unit, partially composed of 'military natives of the North Caucusus' (these are probably Chechens, the fiercest soliders Russia has), broke through the terrorist line.

Then, like lightning over the skies of Syria, Russian Sukhoi jets conducted pinpoint strikes against the opposition force, which was subsequently bombarded with an artillery salvo, providing cover for the Russian rescue quad.

They successfully reached their comrades, and though three operators were injured, Russia suffered no casualties.

AL-Qaeda and the US ‘Secret Services’ however, had a very, very, bad day.“187 objects, about 850 TERRORISTS11 TANKS, four armoured vehicles, 46 PICKUPS, five mortars, 20 TRUCKS and 38 WEAPONS WAREHOUSES were destroyed in a 24-hours period by the Russian counterattack.”

The Russian General’s closing comment, delivered in matter-of-fact monotone was classic:

The operation to destroy the terrorists will be continued.”

Here's the full transcript of the General's remarks: (Key parts in bold)

A large-scale offensive on the positions of Syrian Government troops in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which breached a ceasefire agreement, was “initiated by the American secret services to stop the successful advance of the [Syrian] government troops to the east of Deir ez-Zor,”
Head of the Main Operational Department of Russian General Staff Sergei Rudskoi said in a briefing in Moscow, Wednesday.
Sergei Rudskoi, Head of Main Operational Department of Russian General Staff (Russian):
“Despite the agreements signed on 15th November in Astana, Jabhat Al-Nusra militants joined by groups unwilling to comply with the terms of the ceasefire, at 8.00am [local time] (06:00am GMT) on September 19 launched a large-scale offensive on the positions of government troops to the north and northeast of Hama in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
The attack was carried out with the support of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, it was preceded by an artillery barrage.
During the day, the militants managed to penetrate 12 kilometres [7.5 miles] through the government troops’ defence line and at the front up to 20 kilometres [12.4 miles].

According to current information, the attack was initiated by the American secret services to stop the successful advance of the [Syrian] government troops to the east of Deir ez-Zor.
One of the main goals of the militants’ actions was an attempt to capture units of the Russian military police, amounting to 29 service personnel carrying out tasks at an observation point deployed in the area to control the de-escalation forces.
In the militants’ attack, a (Russian) military police platoon of 29 people was trapped and for several hours repelled the attacks of the enemy shoulder to shoulder with the Mwali tribe, which signed the agreement on joining the cessation of hostilities and remained true to it in this difficult situation.
In these extreme conditions the commander of the Russian forces in Syria, General-Colonel Surovkin, formed a rescue group.
It was composed of units of special operations forces, military police, joined by themilitary-natives of the North Caucasus (i.e - Chechens) and the Syrian Special Forces.
The squad was headed by Deputy Head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties and Hero of Russia, Major General Victor Shuliak.
Aviation conducted strikes on the terrorists’ positions. The actions of the rescue squad were constantly supported by a pair of Sukhoi Su-25s, striking at militants and armored vehicle militants from extremely low altitudes.
As a result, the encirclement was broken and units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, without a loss, reached the area controlled by the [Syrian] government troops. During the operation, three soldiers of the Special Operations Forces were injured. All participants of this unique operation were presented with state awards.
A terrorist attack was stopped and they suffered heavy losses due to the measures taken by the Russian command together with the General Staff of Syria.
Air and artillery strikes destroyed 187 objects, about 850 terrorists, 11 tanks, four armoured vehicles, 46 pickups, five mortars, 20 trucks and 38 weapons warehouses were destroyed in a 24-hours period.
Using the results of the fire support, units of the fifth volunteer assault corps, together with squads of government troops with the support of Russian aircraft, counterattacked and currently almost completely regained the ground lost.
The operation to destroy the terrorists will be continued.”


US Army's Patriot surface-to air missile system US defenseless against Kim's ballistic missiles

Do, 21/09/2017 - 06:12
Opinion: A US Army's Patriot Surface-to Air missile system US Defenseless Against Ballistic Missiles as Trump Threatens to Destroy N Korea

Sputnik, 20 September, 2017

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if Pyongyang does not stop its nuclear and missile tests. In fact, the US missile defense system is incapable of shooting down North Korean missiles, according to American expert on nuclear weapons Joe Cirincione.
Neither the US nor Japan could have intercepted the missile launched by North Korea last week because "none of the theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence" could hit a target at such an altitude, Cirincione wrote in a piece for Defense One
On September 15, South Korea and Japan said that North Korea fired the Hwasong-12 ballistic missile. It reached an altitude of 770 kilometers and traveled 3,700 kilometers before falling into the Pacific Ocean, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry. "It is hundreds of kilometers too high for the Aegis interceptors deployed on Navy ships off Japan. Even higher for the THAAD systems in South Korea and Guam. Way too high for the Patriot systems in Japan, which engage largely within the atmosphere," Cirincione pointed out. 
All of the three missile defense systems are designed to intercept a missile in the post-midcourse or terminal phase. In theory, an attempt could be made to intercept a missile just after the launch. However, according to the expert, it would be quite unrealistic. 
"There is almost no chance of hitting a North Korean missile on its way up unless an Aegis ship was deployed very close to the launch point, perhaps in North Korean waters. Even then, it would have to chase the missile, a race it is unlikely to win. In the only one or two minutes of warning time any system would have, the probability of a successful engagement drops close to zero," the article read. As for the continental part of the US, there are the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense(GMD) interceptors deployed in Alaska and California. This system is designed to hit targets in midflight, including in space. But the GMD is not fully operational yet and has destroyed only 50 percent of targets during tests. It is hard to predict how the system would operate under realistic conditions, including against a missile using countermeasures. 
"We will have no choice than to totally destroy North Korea," Trump said in his first speech at the UN General Assembly.
Trump said that Pyongyang’s "reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with the unthinkable loss of human life." The US president stressed that "denuclearization is its only acceptable future" for North Korea.The American leader went on by calling on United Nations member states to join forces to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its "hostile" behaviorNorth Korea responds to Trump’s UN speechNorth Korea Ruling Party Defies Pressure from US to End Missile Program


The ruling North Korean Workers' Party is not likely to abandon its ballistic missile tests, on the contrary, the party pledges to strengthen country's protective capabilities in case the US builds up pressure on Pyongyang.

US Army's Patriot surface-to air missile system US defenseless against Kim's ballistic missiles

Do, 21/09/2017 - 06:12
Opinion: A US Army's Patriot Surface-to Air missile system US Defenseless Against Ballistic Missiles as Trump Threatens to Destroy N Korea

Sputnik, 20 September, 2017

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if Pyongyang does not stop its nuclear and missile tests. In fact, the US missile defense system is incapable of shooting down North Korean missiles, according to American expert on nuclear weapons Joe Cirincione.
Neither the US nor Japan could have intercepted the missile launched by North Korea last week because "none of the theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence" could hit a target at such an altitude, Cirincione wrote in a piece for Defense One
On September 15, South Korea and Japan said that North Korea fired the Hwasong-12 ballistic missile. It reached an altitude of 770 kilometers and traveled 3,700 kilometers before falling into the Pacific Ocean, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry. "It is hundreds of kilometers too high for the Aegis interceptors deployed on Navy ships off Japan. Even higher for the THAAD systems in South Korea and Guam. Way too high for the Patriot systems in Japan, which engage largely within the atmosphere," Cirincione pointed out. 
All of the three missile defense systems are designed to intercept a missile in the post-midcourse or terminal phase. In theory, an attempt could be made to intercept a missile just after the launch. However, according to the expert, it would be quite unrealistic. 
"There is almost no chance of hitting a North Korean missile on its way up unless an Aegis ship was deployed very close to the launch point, perhaps in North Korean waters. Even then, it would have to chase the missile, a race it is unlikely to win. In the only one or two minutes of warning time any system would have, the probability of a successful engagement drops close to zero," the article read. As for the continental part of the US, there are the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense(GMD) interceptors deployed in Alaska and California. This system is designed to hit targets in midflight, including in space. But the GMD is not fully operational yet and has destroyed only 50 percent of targets during tests. It is hard to predict how the system would operate under realistic conditions, including against a missile using countermeasures. 
"We will have no choice than to totally destroy North Korea," Trump said in his first speech at the UN General Assembly.
Trump said that Pyongyang’s "reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with the unthinkable loss of human life." The US president stressed that "denuclearization is its only acceptable future" for North Korea.The American leader went on by calling on United Nations member states to join forces to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its "hostile" behaviorNorth Korea responds to Trump’s UN speechNorth Korea Ruling Party Defies Pressure from US to End Missile Program


The ruling North Korean Workers' Party is not likely to abandon its ballistic missile tests, on the contrary, the party pledges to strengthen country's protective capabilities in case the US builds up pressure on Pyongyang.

Problems head: no insurance cover for Puerto Rico homeowners

Do, 21/09/2017 - 06:04
Hurricane Maria Exposes a Common Problem for Puerto Rico Homeowners: No InsuranceOnly about half of houses on the island are covered by policies that protect against wind damage

WSJ,20 September, 2017
Many Puerto Rican homeowners don’t have insurance policies to help with rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Maria, making the economically depressed island’s recovery more difficult.
Only about 50% of houses in the U.S. territory are covered by policies that protect against wind damage, which is far less than is typical across the U.S., according to catastrophe-risk-modeling firm AIR Worldwide.Maria, the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century, made landfall on the island early Wednesday after tearing through Dominica. Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Irma, which knocked out power in many households.
Rebuilding communities is a lot more difficult without insurance proceeds, said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a national insurance-focused consumer nonprofit based in California. “In terms of straight-up cash to pay for the work that has to be done, insurance funds are the best source for most people after a disaster,” she said.In the mainland U.S., owning a house without insurance to pay for catastrophic wind damage is fairly uncommon, insurance executives and agents said, though high deductibles can leave people with large out-of-pocket expenses. And many U.S. homeowners whose houses are flooded lack the specialized policies of the National Flood Insurance Program.Puerto Rican homeowners without insurance coverage will have to rely on their own money, aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington and other public or charitable sources as the island faces what is widely expected to be billions of dollars of damage. On Monday, President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, opening the door to federal assistance.The lower penetration of homeowners insurance reflects that annual income averages about $20,000 in Puerto Rico, which is about a third of roughly $59,000 in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The U.S. territory skidded into bankruptcy in the spring after more than a decade of economic distress.
Banks require people with mortgages to take out homeowners policies to protect the bank’s financial interest. Puerto Rico, with a population of more than 3 million, has just over 500,000 active mortgages, according to Black Knight Financial Services , a mortgage and real-estate technology and data provider.Many older homes in the Caribbean have been “passed down through generations in a family [and are] unlikely to have insurance,” said Tom Sabbatelli, senior product manager at Risk Management Solutions, another risk-modeling firm.A lot of these smaller homes in some poorer communities “are going to feature far less take-up of insurance” compared with homes owned by expatriates or commercial buildings, Mr. Sabbatelli said. Insured properties in the Caribbean tend to be newer, more expensive and of better quality than uninsured buildings, he said.Puerto Rican homes are often built with reinforced concrete and can withstand some high-speed winds, experts said. But “with this one, I’m sure there’s going to be significant damages,” said Brian O’Larte, associate director at ratings firm A.M. Best, on Tuesday.Local insurance firms dominate Puerto Rico’s home-insurance marketplace. The biggest by premium are Universal Insurance Group of Puerto Rico, Mapfre SA and Cooperativa Seguros Group, according to A.M. Best. Puerto Rican insurers tend to buy a lot of “reinsurance,” which kicks in from specialty insurers contracted to cover losses above designated levels.“There’s really no recent experience” in Puerto Rico with a hurricane of this intensity, said Alexis Sanchez, chief operating officer at Mapfre Puerto Rico.Based on forecasts for Maria, Mr. Sanchez said, “it’s going to affect, probably, an area with the highest concentration of people and values, which is the northeast part of the island.”Homeowners insurance in Puerto Rico typically includes a 2% deductible for windstorms, Mr. Sanchez said.  That means these policies will cover damages from Maria above 2% of a property’s insured value, which can be thousands of dollars. Such special deductibles for hurricane damage have been increasingly common in the U.S. since a spate of costly hurricanes in 2004 and 2005, including Katrina.Standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. Fewer than 1% of Puerto Rico’s 1.6 million housing units have coverage from the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program, the dominant seller to homeowners in the mainland, U.S. government data show. Homeowners in Puerto Rico also buy private-sector flood insurance and spent more on private-sector flood insurance in 2016 than on government insurance, according to A.M. Best.Insurance on commercial buildings, including condominium towers dotting the island, is far more common, AIR Worldwide said. About 90% of properties are covered.The biggest commercial multi-peril property insurers are Mapfre, Triple-S Propiedad Inc., Cooperativa, Universal and Integrand Assurance Co., according to A.M. Best.Maria struck as many homeowners already were struggling financially. More than 10% of the just over 500,000 active mortgages in Puerto Rico are delinquent, according to Black Knight.  Puerto Rico’s delinquency rate is more than double the U.S. rate of 3.8%. Its rate for serious delinquency, which is 90 days or longer, is 5.8%, compared with 1.9% for the U.S.Because lenders require mortgaged homes to be protected by insurance, there should be private-sector insurance payments kicking in for these houses’ rebuilding and repairs. If homeowners fail to maintain the coverage, banks typically obtain policies to protect their financial interest in the property, at the homeowner’s expense.Insurance coverage for homeowners is even lower on some other Caribbean islands, including some that have been damaged by hurricanes this year, insurance-industry executives and risk-modeling specialists say.— Coulter Jones contributed to this article.


How climate change sets off volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes

Do, 21/09/2017 - 05:56
Especially relevant after the earthquakes in Mexico coinciding with hurricanes in the Caribbean
Witten in 2015 in the days before Robertscribbler wrote about more than electric cars and before he ignored some of the more dire indications
Climate Change’s ‘Waking Giant’ to Set off Rash of Volcanic Eruptions, Tsunamis, Earthquakes?
(Last week’s Calbuco eruption in Chile spews massive cloud of ash and sets off a fireworks display of volcanic lightning. Image source: IFLScience.)
Robertscribbler,28 April, 2015
If you look at the geological record of the end of the last ice age, there’s something that crops up that’s more than a little bit disturbing. The approximate 10,000 year period in which 4 degrees Celsius of warming took place was also punctuated by a rash of intense volcanic activity, earthquakes and tsunamis.
It was a time of extraordinary geophysical changes that not only saw the, sometimes catastrophic, melting of massive ice sheets and extreme rises in sea level — it also saw severe geological upheaval. In one region alone — Iceland — instances of volcanic eruption increased 30-50 fold during a period starting about 12,000 years ago. Overall, global spikes in volcanism began near the start of major melt events at around 18,000 years ago and continued on through the Iceland spike at the 12,000 year time-frame, finally tapering off around 7,000 years ago. In the 12,000 to 7,000 year before present period, global volcanic activity was between 2 and 6 times today’s frequency.
(A 2010 study found large spikes in volcanic activity at a number of Iceland volcanoes at the end of the last ice age. Image source: How Will Melting of Ice Affect Volcanic Hazards in the 21st Century?)
Geologically active regions around the world and especially in close proximity to melting ice and rising seas saw much greater volcanic eruption, earthquake and tsunami frequency. In particular, California, Europe, and Iceland saw intense volcanic activity spikes. A set of past events pointing toward 21rst Century risks explored in the book: Waking the Giant — How Climate Change Triggers Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tsunamis.

A leading theory, presented by Dr. Bill McGuire, Hugh Tuffin, J. Maclennan, Peter Huybers and many others is that changes in stress to the Earth’s crust caused by the loss of billions of tons of mass by ice sheets and the displacement of those billions of tons into the world’s ocean system spurred previously stable magma systems into a chaotic displacement. In addition, direct melting of glaciers on slope systems, rising seas and even changes in flood frequency at individual volcanoes, faults and zones of steep topography can result in heightened rates of eruption, earthquakes and instances of slope collapse.This evidence is causing scientists to investigate feedbacks between warming and potential increases in volcanic activity, earthquakes and tsunamis. A set of events that may also risk the destabilization of undersea methane hydrate stores through the slope collapse and enhanced magma heating mechanisms as well.Current Events, Raging Pace of Human Warming Bring old Concerns to LightThough this line of research isn’t new — with modern studies stretching back to the 1950s and with end ice age upheaval research extending for nearly two centuries — recent events have served to underline old concerns. In 2013, the massive eruptions of Iceland’s volcanoes and related disruption of European air travel brought voices like those of Dr. Bill McGuire again to the fore. And, more recently, the massive Tibetan earthquake of this past weekend, resulting in the loss of 4,000 lives, has called into question current human climate change’s role in geological upheaval events.(Dust flies through the air during the initial moments of last weekend’s catastrophic Tibet Earthquake. Image source: RT News.)
A report today out in Newsweek notes:Evidence from the end of the last Ice Age has already shown that the planet’s uneasy web of seismic faults – cracks in the crust like the one that runs along the Himalayas – are very sensitive to the small pressure changes brought by change in the climate. And a sensitive volcano or seismic faultline is a very dangerous one.Though the Tibetan earthquake was going to happen at some time, it is possible that changes in ice loading on Himalayan glaciers, changes in water volume outflows in the annual Asian monsoon, and sea level rise adding pressure to the geological plates below coastlines — especially in low-lying Bangladesh — had an impact. Such stresses can increase magma chamber production or trigger fault lines to release.McGuire notes in Newsweek:Climate change may play a critical role in triggering certain faults in certain places where they could kill a hell of a lot of people. These stress or strain variations – just the pressure of a handshake in geological terms – are perfectly capable of triggering a quake if that fault is ready to go (emphasis added).
One example of where relatively small changes to geological stress can have a big impact on volcanic activity is the Pavlov volcano in Alaska. As McGuire describes, this volcano only erupts during Autumn and Winter. At that time storms ride up into a nearby ocean zone, pushing an average 10cm or 15cm rise in sea level. The added weight of the water is enough to torque the crust and push magma out. Now imagine the kind of extra volcanic activity that could result from 1, 6, or 250 feet of global sea level rise under the raging rate of human-caused warming and you begin to understand the concern.So the question that many geologists are asking is this: will the greatly exaggerated spike of human warming and related extreme pace of glacial melt, sea level rise, and rainfall changes also result in a greatly exaggerated spike in volcanism, earthquakes, and tsunami events?Fault lines around the world will be under increased and ever-changing stress. Volcanoes around the world will see the same. The great Ring of Fire is in an ocean-spanning zone. Many, many volcanic, fault and slope systems encompassed in its arc will feel the added weight of sea level rise caused by human warming. In addition, as much or more than the 4 degrees Celsius worth of warming achieved at the end of the last ice age could be seen by the end of this Century.It’s that kind of very rapid pace of change that has geologists worried with more than a handful thinking that the catastrophic geophysical changes may have already started.Links:More Fatal Earthquakes to Come Warn Climate Change ScientistsCould Changing Climates Set off Volcanoes and Quakes?Waking the Giant: How Climate Change Triggers Earthquakes Tsunamis and VolcanoesHow Will Melting Ice Affect Volcanic Hazards in the 21st Century?Feedback Between Deglaciation, Volcanism and Atmospheric CO2The Link Between Volcanism and Deglaciation in IcelandAvalanche of DustHat Tip to Colorado Bob

Hurricane Irma and Florida's citrus crop

Do, 21/09/2017 - 05:48
The day will come “faster than previously expected” when we have more to worry about than where our morning orange juice is going to come from
Hurricane Irma wiped out half of Florida’s citrus crop

Grist.org,14 September, 2017
The Sunshine State expected to harvest 75 million boxes of oranges this year. That number is looking decidedly slimmer after Irma knocked fruit off trees, flooded fields and groves, and broke irrigation pipes.
The hurricane took out an estimated 50 percent of the season’s citrus crop statewide, USA Today reports. Based on reports from the field, losses may be even higher in South Florida.
And yes, that’s likely to hike up the price of your orange juice. Florida produces nearly half of U.S. citrus, despite recent declines in productivity. Since 2005, the state’s citrus harvest has fallen by 70 percent partly due to citrus greening, a disease that cuts yields and makes fruit more bitter.
The hurricane also damaged other crops in the southern and central parts of the state, especially tomatoes and strawberries.
Though Florida’s agricultural outlook is not pretty, things are even worse in the Caribbean. Irma stripped entire islands bare of vegetation and posed a serious threat to food security. The storm flooded fields and destroyed crops in places like Haiti and Cuba, where many people are subsistence farmers.

Earthquake with tsunami warning in Indonesia

Do, 21/09/2017 - 04:38
Bali tsunami warning as massive 5.7-magnitude earthquake strikes off the coast of Indonesia
  • An undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 5.7 struck off the coast of Bali
  • The quake was detected north-east of Kemeduran and sparked tsunami fears
  • Quake was 125km north-east of Surabaya and had a depth of 588km
  • It's the latest in a series of earthquakes that have rocked 'The Ring of Fire'

Daily Mail,21 September, 2017
A huge undersea earthquake has struck off the coast of Bali, Indonesia.
The 5.7 magnitude quake was detected 125km northeast of Surabaya, Java, on Thursday, the US Geological Survey has confirmed.
With a measured at a depth of 588km, the quake immediately sparked fears of a tsunami.
It is the latest in a series of intense earthquakes that have rocked New Zealand, Vanuatu, Indonesia, Japan and Mexico - 'the Pacific Ring Of Fire' - in the last 48-hours.
Although an official tsunami warning has not been issued, locals living near Mount Agung volcano were seen evacuating their homes following increased seismic activity in Karangasem.
One woman was pictured loading numerous items from her home into a truck before covering them with a tarp.
Groups of people were also seen gathering at a lookout point to watch Mount Agung for eruption following the quake.
Officials significantly increased the size of the evacuation zone around the volcano on Monday, raising the alert level to high.
'We see that the earthquake frequency is very high, this is worrying when it comes to eruption,' Pak Kasbani, the head of the Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, told ABC.
'The areas should be closed, no hiking because the seismic activity will trigger dangerous gas.'
No volcanic ash has been seen, but smoke is rising from the crater, he said.
Bali's Governor Made Mangku Pastika told locals this week measures were in place to handle an eruption and urged them to remain calm.
'This is a natural disaster, we cannot avoid it, we can't stop it exploding but we can reduce the number of victims and loses,' he said.
'If you have to evacuate, you evacuate.'
The earthquake in Indonesia came just hours after a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck near Vanuatu.
The earthquake struck Erromago, an island in the Vanuatu archipelago roughly 135 kilometres south of the capital city of Port Vila, at 7.09am local time on Thursday.
Initial fears of a tsunami threat across the Pacific region were squashed after it was revealed the earthquake struck at a depth of 200 kilometres.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center confirmed there were no tsunami threats following the Vanuatu quake.
'Based on all available data a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected and there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii,' the centre said.
There have been no reports yet detailing the extent of damage done to Erromago, a tiny island with a population of just under 2,000 people.
Vanuatu, which has a population of 270,000, is made up of 80 nations scattered across 1,300 kilometres of ocean.
The island country sits directly on top of the 'Ring of Fire', a place where tectonic plates collide and move causing almost 90 per cent of the world's earthquakes.
Mexico was devastated by a 7.1 magnitude on Tuesday, killing at least 230 people and leaving hundreds more trapped underneath collapsed buildings.
Two powerful earthquakes struck New Zealand on Wednesday, while Japan had scares of a national disaster after a quake hit off the coast east of Fukushima early on Thursday morning.


"For all intents and purposes, Puerto Rico is destroyed"

Do, 21/09/2017 - 03:55
The language is atrocious but I believe this article is saying something few in the conventional media will be willing to tell you.
Puerto Rico Going "MAD MAX!!!"


Hal Turner Show,20 September, 2017

The island of Puerto Rico is just DAYS away from full-on apocalyptic doom, as 3.4 Million residents find themselves without food, without water, without electricity and already, roving bands of savages are engaging in looting and robbery, just HOURS after the departure of Hurricane Maria.
For all intents and purposes, Puerto Rico is destroyed.  I got an satellite call from a friend in the capital city, San Juan. He tells me electricity is out on the entire island.  Windows and doors were "blown-in" on almost every structure, INCLUDING some of the cement hurricane shelters!According to him, every building in San Juan is missing its roof  for as far as the eye can see.  Hundreds of structures are collapsed, many others are leaning-over so badly, no one dares to enter them.Raging flood waters are everywhere; the island got two FEET of rain in less than twelve hours.  The floods are knocking homes off their foundations, swamping cars and trucks, flinging them like toys.The Mayor of San Juan has announced that the electric grid in the city is destroyed and it will be four to six MONTHS before electric is restored!Today is Wednesday.  By Saturday, everyone is expecting complete chaos because what little food is salvageable, will be gone.  Gangs are already roaming and stealing.The Apocalypse had to start somewhere.  For America, it appears to be breaking out in Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria “Destroyed Everything in Its Path” in Puerto RicoRoofs are peeling off. You can hear the wind.”
Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico Wednesday morning, bringing with it devastating winds, flooding, and widespread damage. After dodging Hurricane Irma’s full force two weeks ago, this Category 5 storm hit the American colony and its 3.5 million residents straight on, and slammed most of the island with more than a foot of rain and maximum sustained winds of at least 140 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. The major local newspaper, El Nuevo Diareported Wednesday that winds topped 155 miles per hour in some places.


Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosello tweeted this morning that he had asked President Donald Trump to declare Puerto Rico a disaster area. Local reports suggest that in at least one small fishing community near San Juan, the island’s capital city, 80 percent of the homes were completely destroyed. During a briefing on Wednesday afternoon, after the eye of the storm moved off the island’s northwest coast, Abner Gómez, the head of the island’s disaster management agency, said that the entire island was without power.


The governor told USA Today on Monday that he expected Maria to “essentially devastate most of the island,” and experts estimate the damage in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands will exceed $30 billion. The storm already has caused at least seven deaths in nearby Dominica and “mind-boggling” damage, according to amessage posted to Facebook by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. 


“On the forecast track, it would be the most destructive hurricane in Puerto Rico history,” Eric Blake, a scientist at the National Hurricane Center, tweeted yesterdaybefore the storm made landfall in Puerto Rico. 



FollowMoreSatellite video shows eye of Hurricane moving over Puerto Rico. 4:22 AM - 21 Sep 2017

FollowMore
Roofs are peeling off. You can hear the wind. This is in the metropolitan area of Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico. 2:09 AM - 21 Sep 2017 from Lakeland, FL
The hurricane hit the island just as it was coping with damage from Hurricane Irma, which did not make a direct hit but passed north of the island September 6. 

Estimates of damage from that storm are close to $1 billion, according to Bloomberg News. The damage from these two storms is hitting an island already crippled with more than $70 billion in debt and an aging infrastructure that, on its best days, was in very bad shape. Kenneth McClintock, the island’s former Secretary of State, who rode out the storm from a house in the suburbs of San Juan, tells Mother Jones that the ongoing economic crisis has likely worsened Maria’s destruction on the island.

“Probably in the seven days [after Irma], we could have done more if the municipalities had more cash flow, which they did not,” McClintock says, as he was preparing to go outside and survey the damage. “So not all that could have been done in the recovery efforts was done.” The lack of cash prevented the cities and the state government from cleaning other debris out of the way. “The creeks are clogged up by foliage being washed into the creeks, so it may have actually aggravated the flash floods that we’re probably having right now.”

The storm is now projected to skirt the northeastern side of the Dominican Republic before passing to the east of the Turks and Caicos, according to the National Hurricane Center, leaving Puerto Ricans to pick up the pieces. “The information we have received is not encouraging,” Gómez, the head of the island’s disaster management agency, said Wednesday. “It’s a system that has destroyed everything it has had in its path.”

Catastrophe.

Via Facebook
"The Puerto Rico and the San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there," San Juan's mayor told NBC's Gadi Schwartz.in an interview this afternoon in the aftermath of Major Hurricane Maria.
100% of Puerto RIco is without power; it appears much of the electrical grid was destroyed today and needs to be rebuilt. Such an endeavor could take months or longer.
"We have to rebuild the capital city of the country, which has to tell the world that we are here," said the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz.

Antonio Paris Tweeted (@antonioparis) this image a short time ago: "I receive images from Puerto Rico. My sister just sent me this. It’s from Utuado my hometown."
Apocalyptic Flood: Puerto Rico River Rises 62ft ABOVE flood stage - Extreme Flash Flood

The Empire is falling apart at the seams

Do, 21/09/2017 - 03:27
Retail Apocalypse’ Causing More Than 3,500 Stores to Close: What You’re Not Being Told

Anti Media,20 September, 2017

(ANTIMEDIA) In the latest blow to traditional retail sales, this week Toys R’ Us filed for bankruptcy, following in the footsteps of an increasing number of other brick-and-mortar chains. But the giant toy outfitter is not the only company suffering losses, as a recent report from Clark.com, a consumer analysis site details.
Though separate statistics show that more stores will open in 2017 than will close, the type of stores making gains suggests frugality is the norm U.S. consumers amid a continuously harsh economy.
Clark.com compiled a list of retail stores that announced closures of physical shops this summer. Sears said at the end of August that “in fiscal year 2017, [they] have closed approximately 180 stores previously announced for closure, and an additional 150 stores previously announced for closure are expected to be closed by the end of the third quarter of 2017.” They will also be closing 28 K-Mart locations, citing a desire to change their business model so “the physical store footprint and [their] digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.”
Vitamin World filed for bankruptcy last week and plans to close 51 of 334 stores, which are located mostly in malls; Gap said in a press release earlier this month it will close 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores (and open 270 Old Navy shops); Perfumania filed for bankruptcy in August, moving to close 64 of 226 stores; Starbucks announced at the end of July it will close all of its 379 Teavana shops by next year; Gymboree plans to close roughly 350 stores following its bankruptcy in June; True Religion filed for bankruptcy in July and moved to close 27 stores; the Ascena Retail Group, parent company of Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, Justice, and other chains, announced in June it would shutter over 250 stores by 2019 (in addition to the 71 it had already closed this year). The group noted they could close up to a total of 667 of their 4,500 various locations.
The summer trend follows even more closures in 2017 — in March, Business Insider noted roughly 3,500 stores would shut down this year. Macy’s revealed plans to shut down 68 locations in January, J.C. Penney announced it would close 138 stores back in March, and Abercrombie and Fitch told investors it planned to close 60 locations, bringing the total closed to 169. Other retailers closing stores are Bebe, Guess, Crocs, Guess, American Apparel (which has filed for bankruptcy twice), RadioShack, Staples, CVS, and Gamestop.
Wet Seal and Limited are closing all or nearly all of their locations this year.
Many blame Amazon and the popularity of online retail, especially amid the general collapse of America’s once prominent shopping malls, and the news media has repeatedly sounded the alarm of the “retail apocalypse.”
But a recent report from the IHL Group, a global retail and hospitality analysis and advisory firm, argues there is no retail apocalypse. Rather, they contend, customer preferences are simply shifting. In “Debunking the Retail Apocalypse,” the analysts point out that more major retailers and restaurants are opening 4,080 more stores than they are closing this year.
Nevertheless, many of the closing stores have been mainstays of American retail culture for decades, and those finding the most success are focused on budget pricing. Stores like the Dollar Tree are making major gains, a trend also reflected in Gap’s decision to close their more expensive stores, including Banana Republic, to focus on Old Navy, which offers a much lower price point.
As the IHL report notes, “According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, since 1996, overall inflation in core consumer goods and services has averaged 55% over the 20 year period of 1996-2016.
Prices on college tuition and textbooks have gone up 200%. Costs have increased for child care (125%) healthcare (120%), food and beverage (65%), and housing (60%). In contrast, products like cell phone services, TVs, toys, and software have become cheaper.
IHL explains that “products and services that are more likely to be considered as necessities have grown significantly in costs over the last 20 years and items that are typically in the luxury category have gone down in price.
In a vacuum, these prices don’t tell us much,” they explain. “However, when compared with income growth over the same period we can see that a much higher percentage of consumers cannot keep up with inflation, thus are shopping more at lower cost retailers and less at higher image/brand stores.
IHL notes that 40% of Americans have not been able to keep up with inflation, and as a result, the higher costs for basic necessities have affected their shopping habits. So has student loan debt, the decline of the middle class, the growth of e-commerce, and the fact that large retailers have prioritized store expansion over customer experience.
Considering the economic situation, it’s unsurprising that the types of businesses opening the most chains are mass merchants — like Target, Wal-Mart and Dollar General — and convenience stores. IHL also notes that 2,026 fast food stores opened this year. Interestingly, more cosmetics stores are opening than closing (cosmetics become more popular when economic times are tough).
Ultimately, IHL notes, retail sales are up $121.5 billion from July 2016. However, Americans are carrying roughly $1 trillion in credit card debt against very little savings. While total retail sales may be growing, those making profits and finding success are doing so amid a climate of overall economic decline. While the “retail apocalypse” may not have come to total fruition, Americans’ financial futures certainly seem to be on the downturn.



The Everything Bubble Is Ready To Pop


Zero Hedge,
20 September, 2017


Authored by Jared Dillian via MauldinEconomics.com,
It wasn’t always this way. We never used to get a giant, speculative bubble every 7–8 years. We really didn’t.






In 2000, we had the dot-com bubble.In 2007, we had the housing bubble.In 2017, we have the everything bubble.
I did not coin the term “the everything bubble.” I do not know who did. Apologies (and much respect) to the person I stole it from.
Why do we call it the everything bubble? Well, there is a bubble in a bunch of asset classes simultaneously.
And the infographic below that my colleagues at Mauldin Economics created paints the picture best.


I don’t usually predict downturns, but this time I bet my reputation that a downturn is coming. And soon.
When there’s nothing left but systemic risk, everyone’s portfolio is on the line.
To that end, I’ve put together a FREE actionable special, Investing in the Age of the Everything Bubble, in which I discuss ways to prepare for the coming bloodbath (download here).
The West Begins To Panic Over China's OBOR Trade System



From July

Nation "Too Broke" for Universal Healthcare to Spend $406 Billion More on F-35

There is always another $27 billion lying around, it seems, when Lockheed Martin needs more money for expensive weapons system
Venezuela is officially pricing its oil in Chinese Yuan

As if it couldn't get anymore obvious. LATAM and Communist entities like Russia and China have been in unison for years on a goal of lessening dependence  on USD for trade. Now in the past month you have seen Mexico consider remonetizing its Libertad, A "gold backed" Yaun / Oil contract, and now, Venezuela is jumping ship. And why shouldn't they?
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Venezuela began publishing prices for its oil in Chinese yuan in a bid to avoid the US dollar and counter US sanctions, the country’s President Nicolas Maduro said.We are already pricing [oil] in Chinese yuan … because of the sanctions which were facilitated by [opposition politician] Julio Borges and which were adopted by [US President] Donald Trump. They have caused great damage … And we are forced to defend ourselves,” Maduro said Friday while aired by the Telesur broadcaster.Maduro has already said in the past that Venezuela was going to free itself from the “vice of dollar.”
The Entire Economic Recovery Is One Big Myth



Top Financial Expert Warns Stocks Need To Drop ‘Between 30 And 40 Percent’ As Bankruptcy Looms For Toys R Us By Michael Snyder

Economic Collapse Blog,18 September, 2017

Will there be a major stock market crash before the end of 2017?  To many of us, it seems like we have been waiting for this ridiculous stock market bubble to burst for a very long time.  The experts have been warning us over and over again that stocks cannot keep going up like this indefinitely, and yet this market has seemed absolutely determined to defy the laws of economics.  But most people don’t remember that we went through a similar thing before the financial crisis of 2008 as well.  I recently spoke to an investor that shorted the market three years ahead of that crash.  In the end his long-term analysis was right on the money, but his timing was just a bit off, and the same thing will be true with many of the experts this time around.
On Monday, I was quite stunned to learn what Brad McMillan had just said about the market.  He is considered to be one of the brightest minds in the financial world, and he told CNBC that stocks would need to fall “somewhere between 30 and 40 percent just to get to fair value”…Brad McMillan — who counsels independent financial advisors representing $114 billion in assets under management — told CNBC on Monday that the stock market is way overvalued.“The market probably would have to drop somewhere between 30 and 40 percent to get to fair value, based on historical standards,” said McMillan, chief investment officer at Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Financial Network.McMillan’s analysis is very similar to mine.  For a long time I have been warning that valuations would need to decline by at least 40 or 50 percent just to get back to the long-term averages.
And stock valuations always return to the long-term averages eventually.  Only this time the bubble has been artificially inflated so greatly that a return to the long-term averages will be absolutely catastrophic for our system.
Meanwhile, trouble signs for the real economy continue to erupt.  As noted in the headline, it appears that Toys R Us is on the brink of bankruptcy…Toys R Us has hired restructuring lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis to help address looming $400 million in debt due in 2018, CNBC had previously reported, noting that bankruptcy was one potential outcome.Kirkland declined to comment.Earlier Monday, Reorg Research, a news service focused on bankruptcy and distressed debt, reported Toys R Us could file for bankruptcy as soon as Monday.This is yet another sign that 2017 is going to be the worst year for retail store closingsin U.S. history.  I don’t know how anyone can look at what is happening to the retail industry (or the auto industry for that matter) and argue that the U.S. economy is in good shape.
But most Americans seem to base their opinions on how the economy is doing by how well the stock market is performing, and thanks to relentless central bank intervention, stock prices have just kept going up and up and up.In so many ways, what we are watching today is a replay of the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s, and this is something that McMillan also commented on during his discussion with CNBC…Part of McMillan’s thesis is rooted in his belief that the lofty levels of the so-called FANG stocks — FacebookAmazonNetflix and Google-parent Alphabet — seem reminiscent of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.“I’ve been saying for about the past year, this year looks a lot like 1999 to me,” McMillan said on Squawk Box.” “If you look at the underlying economics [and] if look at the stock market, the similarities are remarkable.”I am amazed that so many big names continue to issue extremely ominous warnings about the financial markets, and yet most Americans seem completely unconcerned.
It is almost as if 2008 never happened.  None of our long-term problems were fixed after that crisis, and the current bubble that we are facing is far larger than the bubble that burst back then.
I don’t know why more people can’t see these things.  It has gotten to a point whereeven Goldman Sachs is getting worried”…The stock market bubble is now so massive that even Goldman Sachs is getting worried.Let’s be clear here: Wall Street does best and makes the most money when stocks are roaring higher. So in order for a major Wall Street firm like Goldman to start openly worrying about whether or not the markets are going to crash, there has to be truly MASSIVE trouble brewing.On that note, Goldman’s Bear Market indicator just hit levels that triggered JUST BEFORE THE LAST TWO MARKET CRASHES.When things fall apart this time, it is going to be even worse than what we went through in 2008.  In the aftermath, we are going to need people that understand that we need to fundamentally redesign how our system works, and that is something that I hope to help with.  We cannot base our financial system on a pyramid of debt, and we cannot allow Wall Street to operate like a giant casino.  Our entire economy has essentially become a colossal Ponzi scheme, and it is inevitable that it is going to come horribly crashing down at some point.But for now, the blind continue to lead the blind, and most Americans are not going to wake up until we have gone over the edge.
Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.


The Global Debt Crisis Is Much Worse Than We Are Being Told




The Crash Is Coming! Prepare For The Imminent Economic Collapse 2017 Stock Market CRASH!





Fed’s Massive QE is Ending – Here Comes the Boom! By Michael Carino

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation

Do, 21/09/2017 - 03:06
America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most PeopleA new book by economist Peter Temin finds that the U.S. is no longer one country, but dividing into two separate economic and political worlds
by Lynn Parramore, April 20, 2017, via Institute for New Economic Thinking


Off-Guardian,20 September, 2017

You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from “burdened,” to “squeezed” to “dying.”  But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place.
In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear:  America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates.
Two road diverged
In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs, and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life’s challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework, and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future. They make plans, influence policies, and count themselves as lucky to be Americans.
The FTE citizens rarely visit the country where the other 80 percent of Americans live: the low-wage sector. Here, the world of possibility is shrinking, often dramatically. People are burdened with debt and anxious about their insecure jobs if they have a job at all. Many of them are getting sicker and dying younger than they used to. They get around by crumbling public transport and cars they have trouble paying for. Family life is uncertain here; people often don’t partner for the long-term even when they have children. If they go to college, they finance it by going heavily into debt. They are not thinking about the future; they are focused on surviving the present. The world in which they reside is very different from the one they were taught to believe in. While members of the first country act, these people are acted upon.
The two sectors, notes Temin, have entirely distinct financial systems, residential situations, and educational opportunities. Quite different things happen when they get sick, or when they interact with the law. They move independently of each other. Only one path exists by which the citizens of the low-wage country can enter the affluent one, and that path is fraught with obstacles. Most have no way out.
The richest large economy in the world, says Temin, is coming to have an economic and political structure more like a developing nation. We have entered a phase of regression, and one of the easiest ways to see it is in our infrastructure: our roads and bridges look more like those in Thailand or Venezuela than the Netherlands or Japan. But it goes far deeper than that, which is why Temin uses a famous economic model created to understand developing nations to describe how far inequality has progressed in the United States. The model is the work of West Indian economist W. Arthur Lewis, the only person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in economics. For the first time, this model is applied with systematic precision to the U.S.
The result is profoundly disturbing
In the Lewis model of a dual economy, much of the low-wage sector has little influence over public policy. Check. The high-income sector will keep wages down in the other sector to provide cheap labor for its businesses. Check. Social control is used to keep the low-wage sector from challenging the policies favored by the high-income sector. Mass incarceration – check. The primary goal of the richest members of the high-income sector is to lower taxes. Check. Social and economic mobility is low. Check.
In the developing countries Lewis studied, people try to move from the low-wage sector to the affluent sector by transplanting from rural areas to the city to get a job. Occasionally it works; often it doesn’t. Temin says that today in the U.S., the ticket out is education, which is difficult for two reasons: you have to spend money over a long period of time, and the FTE sector is making those expenditures more and more costly by defunding public schools and making policies that increase student debt burdens.
Getting a good education, Temin observes, isn’t just about a college degree. It has to begin in early childhood, and you need parents who can afford to spend time and resources all along the long journey. If you aspire to college and your family can’t make transfers of money to you on the way, well, good luck to you. Even with a diploma, you will likely find that high-paying jobs come from networks of peers and relatives. Social capital, as well as economic capital, is critical, but because of America’s long history of racism and the obstacles it has created for accumulating both kinds of capital, black graduates often can only find jobs in education, social work, and government instead of higher-paying professional jobs like technology or finance— something most white people are not really aware of. Women are also held back by a long history of sexism and the burdens — made increasingly heavy — of making greater contributions to the unpaid care economy and lack of access to crucial healthcare.
How did we get this way?
What happened to America’s middle class, which rose triumphantly in the post-World War II years, buoyed by the GI bill, the victories of labor unions, and programs that gave the great mass of workers and their families health and pension benefits that provided security?
The dual economy didn’t happen overnight, says Temin. The story started just a couple of years after the ’67 Summer of Love. Around 1970, the productivity of workers began to get divided from their wages. Corporate attorney and later Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell galvanized the business community to lobby vigorously for its interests. Johnson’s War on Poverty was replaced by Nixon’s War on Drugs, which sectioned off many members of the low-wage sector, disproportionately black, into prisons. Politicians increasingly influenced by the FTE sector turned from public-spirited universalism to free-market individualism. As money-driven politics accelerated (a phenomenon explained by the Investment Theory of Politics, as Temin explains), leaders of the FTE sector became increasingly emboldened to ignore the needs of members of the low-wage sector, or even to actively work against them.
America’s underlying racism has a continuing distorting impact. A majority of the low-wage sector is white, with blacks and Latinos making up the other part, but politicians learned to talk as if the low-wage sector is mostly black because it allowed them to appeal to racial prejudice, which is useful in maintaining support for the structure of the dual economy — and hurting everyone in the low-wage sector.  Temin notes that “the desire to preserve the inferior status of blacks has motivated policies against all members of the low-wage sector.”
Temin points out that the presidential race of 2016 both revealed and amplified the anger of the low-wage sector at this increasing imbalance. Low-wage whites who had been largely invisible in public policy until recently came out of their quiet despair to be heard. Unfortunately, present trends are not only continuing, but also accelerating their problems, freezing the dual economy into place.
What can we do?
We’ve been digging ourselves into a hole for over forty years, but Temin says that we know how to stop digging. If we spent more on domestic rather than military activities, then the middle class would not vanish as quickly. The effects of technological change and globalization could be altered by political actions. We could restore and expand education, shifting resources from policies like mass incarceration to improving the human and social capital of all Americans. We could upgrade infrastructure, forgive mortgage and educational debt in the low-wage sector, reject the notion that private entities should replace democratic government in directing society, and focus on embracing an integrated American population. We could tax not only the income of the rich, but also their capital.The cost of not doing these things, Temin warns, is incalculably high, and even the rich will end up paying for it:
“Look at the movie, Hidden Figures: It recounts a very dramatic story about three African American women condemned to have a life of not being paid very well teaching in black colleges, and yet their fates changed when they were tapped by NASA to contribute to space exploration. Today we are losing the ability to find people like that. We have a structure that predetermines winners and losers. We are not getting the benefits of all the people who could contribute to the growth of the economy, to advances in medicine or science which could improve the quality of life for everyone — including some of the rich people.”
Along with Thomas Piketty, whose Capital in the Twenty-First Century examines historical and modern inequality, Temin’s book has provided a giant red flag, illustrating a trajectory that will continue to accelerate as long as the 20 percent in the FTE sector are permitted to operate a country within America’s borders solely for themselves at the expense of the majority. Without a robust middle class, America is not only reverting to developing-country status, it is increasingly ripe for serious social turmoil that has not been seen in generations.
A dual economy has separated America from the idea of what most of us thought the country was meant to be. 

A warning for America

Do, 21/09/2017 - 03:00
Anonymous - A WAKE UP MESSAGE FOR AMERICA... (2017-2018)


Use of tactical nukes in Korea was discussed

Do, 21/09/2017 - 02:53
Mattis: Use of tactical nuclear weapons discussed with South Korea

Military Times,18 September, 2017

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed Monday that the U.S. and South Korea have discussed employing tactical nuclear weapons as an option to defend against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
The acknowledgment from Mattis comes as the U.S. and international community grapple with increasingly aggressive nuclear weapons testing by North Korea.
In the last few weeks, North Korea has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and tested a hydrogen bomb, according to U.S. Strategic Command’s assessment of the program.
Last Thursday, as Mattis was at STRATCOM assessing the U.S. nuclear posture, North Korea fired another intermediate range missile over Japan, sending millions of Japanese citizens into shelters.
On Monday, Mattis said there are military options to use against North Korea that would not result in mass casualties for Seoul, but he would not go into specifics.
South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo told his parliament he had requested the U.S. consider the return of tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula during a U.S. visit with Mattis earlier this month.
On Monday, Mattis confirmed the exchange, but did not provide further details.
“We discussed the option,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
“We have open dialogue with our allies on any issue they want to bring up.”
However, the risk of reintroducing the weapon to the peninsula could be grave, said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, STRATCOM commander, who met with reporters during Mattis’ visit.
“I think it is actually a very dangerous term to use, because I think every nuclear weapon that is employed is strategic,”
The U.S. has around 500 B-61 low-yield, or “tactical” nuclear gravity bombs ― some with yields as small as 0.3 kilotons in their arsenal, said James McKeon, a nuclear weapons analyst for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
However, it’s not the size that determines their tactical or strategic status, McKeon said. The bombs are tactical ― and not governed by the 2010 new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START treaty ― if they are delivered on a tactical aircraft, such as an F-16 or F-15 fighter jet, McKeon said.
The weapons become strategic if delivered via on of the nation’s strategic assets, such as the B-2 or B-52 nuclear-capable bombers.
Tactical nuclear weapons were removed from the South Korean Peninsula in 1991 in a previous attempt to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
To Hyten, the weapons are the same regardless of delivery or yield, because of the risk that North Korea would also choose to employ a low-yield device and bring both nations into an escalated, nuclear conflict.
“To call it a tactical weapon brings into the possibility that there could be a nuclear weapon employed on a battlefield for a tactical effect,” Hyten said. “It’s not a tactical effect. If somebody deploys what is a non-strategic nuclear weapon or a tactical nuclear weapon, the United States will respond strategically, not tactically because they have now crossed a line ― a line that hasn’t been crossed since 1945.”

Spring in Australia: crops in NSW are being abandoned

Do, 21/09/2017 - 02:02
These articles are designed to conceal as much as they reveal.You would think that crop failures in New South Wales would be major headlines but no, it is only in one minor publication across the whole internet.
The SMH article says it is going to be ‘quite hot’ and fails to mention that days into spring this is completely unprecedented; another record falls.
Only right in the middle of the article where it is designed to be overlooked is the punchlineNSW has never had a 40-degree day recorded in September, and the latest model runs are putting such a temperature in play, according to the Bureau of Meteorology”
Seasonal outlook: NSW crops abandonedCROPS have being abandoned in parts of NSW after months of severe frosts combined with poor rainfall and warm spring temperature
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The Weekly Times, 21 September, 2017
The NSW Department of Primary Industries’ latest seasonal outlook, released last week, painted a bleak picture for some major cropping regions in the state.NSW DPI seasonal conditions co-ordinator Ian McGowen said crops west of the Newell Highway have been “virtually written off”.“Across north western and central western NSW and areas of the Riverina, many crops have been abandoned,” the DPI report said.“In eastern areas, a combination of warm daytime temperatures and multiple frosts put pressure on crops, progressively reducing the yield potential of winter cereals and canola.”The report also said more than one-third of the state received below-average rainfall last month, with the north east receiving the lowest falls..And topsoil moisture modelling from the DPI and CSIRO showed while it remained stable in western and central NSW, there were major declines across the north and the central to north coast.Mr McGowen said growers in the worst-affected regions were turning livestock onto crops, after poor rainfall and severe frosts stunted winter pasture growth.He said the Bureau of Meteorology had reported that Condobolin had suffered up to 25 more frosts than average this year from the start of August until last week, when the temperature dipped below 2C.“We’ve seen head frosting in cereals, and some stem frosting,” he said. “In canola and pulses there has been flower and pod abortion.”“It’s very difficult to assess how much damage a frost has done until its ready to harvest.”Condobolin farmer Peter Dowling told The Weekly Times dying canola, wheat and barley had been sprayed out in his district “for weed control and to keep cover on the ground”.A Kikoira near, near West Wyalong, Mark Hoskinson said conditions were “shocking” and that if he didn’t receive rain in the next week he would put livestock on grain crops.“What’s not frosted is under severe moisture stress. It looks like it will be a complete wipe-out here unless there is a rain soon,” he said.It wasn’t all bad news. Mr McGowen said topsoil moisture improved across the south, eastern and central Riverina, Monaro and south east of the state.Corowa grower Pat Drum said his crops were starting to “dry off a bit” after very good rain in autumn, but he wasn’t too concerned yet about the cropping season. @page { margin: 2cm } h1 { margin-bottom: 0.21cm } h1.western { font-family: "Liberation Serif", serif } h1.cjk { font-family: "WenQuanYi Micro Hei"; font-size: 24pt } h1.ctl { font-family: "Lohit Devanagari"; font-size: 24pt } p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; line-height: 120% } a:link { so-language: zxx }


SEVERE Heatwave about to grip Queensland @page { margin: 2cm } h1 { margin-bottom: 0.21cm } h1.western { font-family: "Liberation Serif", serif } h1.cjk { font-family: "WenQuanYi Micro Hei"; font-size: 24pt } h1.ctl { font-family: "Lohit Devanagari"; font-size: 24pt } p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; line-height: 120% } a:link { so-language: zxx }

HigginsStorm Chasing,
20 September, 2017



After the non-existent and dry Winter for Queensland, we are about to be dealt a harsh blow as a prolonged heatwave is forecast to lash the State starting on Thursday in the West and Friday in the East! Above image – Saturday Forecast Maximums via OCF


A high pressure system is forecast to be situated off the Queensland Coast, staying near stationary from Thursday until Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday the high is expected to slowly drift towards the East however the ridge is likely to extend back towards the State. This high is likely to combine a series of low pressure troughs moving through NSW, SA and Southern parts of Queensland, generating a very constant and very dry North-Westerly flow across the region which will see temperatures skyrocket.From Thursday onwards, temperatures are expected to scorch into the mid to high 30’s across Western parts of the State. By Friday, the heat (35ºc+) should cover the majority of Inland QLD, with 30-35ºc across Eastern parts of the State. On Saturday we could see temperatures rise ito around 40ºc across South-Western QLD with the majority of Inland QLD sitting above 37ºc and places like Ipswich, Beaudesert and Gatton rising into the mid to high 30’s.


A cooler change is forecast to move through the Southern districts later on Sunday / early Monday however temperatures are likely to remain above 30ºc for most areas (well above average for this time of year). Temperatures across the South-East corner, Central and Northern districts are likely to stay very hot for this time of year (35ºc+).


The increase heat is expected to also lead to a significant increase in fire danger potential. Fire danger threats should reach at least very high levels, potentially severe across several districts throughout the heatwave period (Thursday to Wednesday).

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Sydney weather: 'Quite hot' conditions this weekend as NSW records in play

SMH,
20 September, 2017



Temperatures in Sydney will climb into the 30s in coming days as very warm air from inland Australia gets drawn to the coast, setting up potentially NSW's first 40-degree day recorded in September.



A "vast area" of the state will have very high fire danger by the weekend, with some areas tipping into "severe" risks, Ben Shepherd, a spokesman for the NSW Rural Fire Service, said.

The mercury will begin a steady rise from Wednesday's relatively chilly - though bang on average - forecast top of 20 degrees in the city to 25 degrees by Thursday as the sunshine increases.



By Saturday, Sydney will be looking at a top of 33 degrees but most of inland suburbs will be reaching higher temperatures, including 36 degrees in Penrith, according to the updated Bureau of Meteorology forecasts.



"It's really going to be quite hot in Sydney," Jacob Cronje, senior meteorologist at Weatherzone, said.



The worst of the heat, though, will be felt in the state's north-west, where are a large region is likely to endure 39 degrees or hotter conditions on Saturday.



Wanaaring, which holds the current NSW record for September at 39.6 degrees in 2004, is among the expected hotspots.



NSW has never had a 40-degree day recorded in September, and the latest model runs are putting such a temperature in play, according to the Bureau of Meteorology



Mr Cronje said that each wave of cold fronts moving across the country at this time of year tends to draw in the hot, dry conditions building over central Australia. So far, there's little sign of a break of that pattern of heat pooling in the red centre.



"I don't think that heat is going anywhere," he said.



Alas for those holding out for rain, there are few signs of more than the odd shower for most parts of NSW over the coming week, including Sydney.



So far Sydney has recorded just 24.4 millimetres of rain since the start of July.



That tally - if not added to by more than 3.7 millimetres by the end of the month - would be the city's second driest July-September period on record, trailing only 1907, Blair Trewin, senior climatologist with the bureau, said.



Fire risks to be elevated



Along with the dry conditions and rising temperatures, winds are also likely to strengthen in coming days, Mr Cronje said, adding to the fire risks.



Fire authorities are gearing up for a more active and early fire season.



As of Wednesday, the state had more than 50 fires burning, nine of them uncontained, Inspector Shepherd said.



Sydney has already had its first total fire ban day, with last Wednesday's 33.8 degree maximum the first time the mercury had topped 33 degrees in the city by the first half of September in almost 160 years of records.



While it's too early to say whether the city will have another day of total fire ban during the coming warm patch, Inspector Shepherd said it may only take the increase in forecast wind speeds of a couple of kilometres per hour to nudge Sydney into that category.



As it is, areas of north-west NSW stretching into the Hunter are likely to have severe fire danger ratings for the weekend, he said.


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Via FacebookAnother day, another very warm to hot and windy day along the coast and in the northeast of NSW.

Expecting to see things heat up dramatically this week into the weekend and I will be bringing comprehensive details on the dangerous fire weather expected this weekend in a lot of NSW and southern QLD.

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Very hot and dry northwesterly winds will extend down into these regions later in the week into the weekend and this coupled with extremely low humidity and very dry vegetation, fire weather warnings are almost a certainty across vast areas of these states.
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4 major earthquakes in 24 hours

Do, 21/09/2017 - 01:26
Japan earthquake: Magnitude 6.1 tremors hit east coastThe earthquake struck early in the morning 
the Independent,20 September, 2017

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 has been detected off the coast of Japan.
The US Geological Survey said that the earthquake struck about 175 miles south east of Kamaishi, and around 200 miles east of Fukushima.
It is the third major earthquake to strike around the world in the last 24 hours - following one in Mexico that measured a magnitude of 7.1, while another 6.1 magnitude earthquake stuck New Zealand.
The depth of the earthquake, which struck at 2.37am local time, was measured at 10km. Details of any damage are yet to emerge, and no tsunami warning has yet been issued.
Only 41 people reported feeling the effects of the quake to the US Geological Survey.
A tsunami sparked by an earthquake in the Pacific hit the nuclear plant in Fukushima in 2011 causing a major disaster - with the water disabling the emergency generators required to cool the reactors at the plant after they had automatically shut down.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 has been detected off the coast of Japan.
The US Geological Survey said that the earthquake struck about 175 miles south east of Kamaishi, and around 200 miles east of Fukushima.
It is the third major earthquake to strike around the world in the last 24 hours - following one in Mexico that measured a magnitude of 7.1, while another 6.1 magnitude earthquake stuck New Zealand.

The depth of the earthquake, which struck at 2.37am local time, was measured at 10km. Details of any damage are yet to emerge, and no tsunami warning has yet been issued.
Only 41 people reported feeling the effects of the quake to the US Geological Survey.

A tsunami sparked by an earthquake in the Pacific hit the nuclear plant in Fukushima in 2011 causing a major disaster - with the water disabling the emergency generators required to cool the reactors at the plant after they had automatically shut down.
New Zealand hit by strong 6.1 magnitude earthquake just hours after Mexico City disasterTremors recorded 140 miles west of sub-Antarctic Auckland Island, according to US Geological Survey


theIndependent,
19 September, 2017



An undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck in the remote Southern Ocean south of New Zealand on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.



The quake, at a shallow depth of 10 km (6 miles), was recorded 211 km (140 miles) west of the sub-Antarctic Auckland Island, off New Zealand's South Island, the USGS said.

There were no tsunami warnings issued immediately after the quake.
The quake was felt strongly in the capital Wellington but no damage to buildings has been reported.



Train services were briefly disrupted in the area.



Two smaller quakes — a 4.7 and 5.0 magnitude — were also recorded off the New Zealand coast.



New Zealand is prone to earthquakes as the country is situated on the boundary of two major tectonic plates, the Pacific and Australian plates.



The news comes just hours after a powerful 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City, toppling dozens of buildings and killing more than 200 people.


6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes Vanuatu


Radio NZ,
21 September, 2017




A 6.4 magnitude earthquake has hit Vanuatu, 85km northwest of Isangel, the US Geological Survey says.



In a post a short time ago, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected.



The quake struck the centre of Erromango Island at a depth of 200km.



Erromango has a population of just under 2000 people.




Vanuatu - like other countries along the Pacific's 'Ring of Fire' - is prone to earthquakes.


Mexico suffers volcano eruption same day as deadly quake

As if Tuesday’s deadly earthquake in Mexico wasn’t enough, a volcano also erupted amid the violent shaking.



Volcano Popocatepetl — about 45 miles southeast of quake-ravaged Mexico City and about 30 miles from the temblor’s epicenter — belched ash and gas as the 7.1-magnitude temblor rocked the country’s central region.



The 17,700-foot peak also blew its top amid the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.



Tuesday’s earthquake, which claimed at least 225 lives, and the death toll continues to rise as rescuers pick through the rubble, was not responsible for the eruption, according to National Coordinator of Civil Protection, Luis Felipe Puente.



A church at the foot of the mountain collapsed during the quake and eruption, killing 15 parishioners worshipping inside.



Pope Francis said he was praying for victims in the majority-Catholic country.




“In this moment of pain, I want to express my closeness and prayers to all the beloved Mexican people,” he said.


"This is a natural disaster, we cannot avoid, we can't stop it exploding"Bali's Governor warns of imminent eruption on Gunung Agung, volcano





















Bali's Governor has urged people to remain calm amid fears of a volcanic eruption on the holiday island.

Seismic activity at the Mount Agung, or Gunung Agung, volcano significantly increased on Monday, leading authorities to issue a level 3, or high, alert and evacuate areas within 7.5 kilometres.

"We see that the earthquake frequency is very high, this is worrying when it comes to eruption," said Kasbani, the head of the Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation.

"The areas should be closed, no hiking because the seismic activity will trigger dangerous gas." Mount Agung is a popular hiking spot for foreign tourists.

Kasbani said no volcanic ash had been detected but smoke was rising from the crater.

The alert level would be raised to 4, or dangerous, if it became clear an eruption was imminent.






Scenes from Mexico City

UPDATE:

Bali tsunami warning as massive 5.7-magnitude earthquake strikes off the coast of Indonesia
  • An undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 5.7 struck off the coast of Bali
  • The quake was detected north-east of Kemeduran and sparked tsunami fears
  • Quake was 125km north-east of Surabaya and had a depth of 588km
  • It's the latest in a series of earthquakes that have rocked 'The Ring of Fire'


Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico

Do, 21/09/2017 - 01:05
Hurricane Maria knocks out power to all of Puerto Rico, cripples other islands – “This is total devastation. This is something of historic proportions.”

By Holly Yan and Cassandra Santiago20 September 2017

http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2017/09/hurricane-maria-knocks-out-power-to-all.html

(CNN) – Hurricane Maria's eye has left Puerto Rico, but the mammoth storm is still lashing the island with devastating winds.
Maria weakened to a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday afternoon, hurling winds of 115 mph. But hurricane-force gusts topping 74 mph still extend over much of Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said.
Maria's brute force wiped out electricity to the entire island. "We are 100% without power," a spokesman for the Puerto Rico governor's office said Wednesday.
The storm also ripped trees out of the ground and caused widespread flooding.
"This is total devastation," said Carlos Mercader, a spokesman for Puerto Rico's governor. "Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same. … This is something of historic proportions."
Maria has already killed seven people on the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, said Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
Browne said he had been communicating with the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, who reported "widespread devastation" and whose own house was shredded by the storm.
Maria is expected to dump a total of 12 to 18 inches of rain on Puerto Rico before barreling toward the Dominican Republic. [more]
HurricaneMaria knocks out power to all of Puerto Rico, cripples other islands


This was LIVEstream coverage, recommended if you have time.

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