01/28/15
EMP Attack

We asked an expert: ‘What exactly is an EMP, and how much damage could it do?’ His response was terrifying.

By: Benjamin Weingarten
TheBlaze

In light of nuclear negotiations with Iran, the general conflagration in the Middle East, Russia’s march and a whole host of other chaotic situations worldwide, recently we sat down with an expert on national security, foreign policy and in particular nuclear proliferation, John Wohlstetter, to discuss the gravest threats to the American homeland.

Wohlstetter, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and London Center for Policy Research, two conservative think tanks, recently released an updated edition of his book on this very topic, “Sleepwalking With the Bomb,” and delivered a speech earlier in January titled “Rethinking the Unthinkable Why Failures of Imagination, Projection, and Strategy Court Nuclear Catastrophe” that piqued our interest.

During our interview with Wohlstetter, we had the chance to ask a very basic set of questions about what is potentially the most devastating of all weapons that could be launched at the market homeland: Electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Wohlstetter’s five minute primer, which you can find below, covers (i) What exactly an EMP is, (ii) How much damage it could cause in a worst case scenario and (iii) How an EMP attack might transpire:

What would the doomsday scenario of an EMP attack against an America whose infrastructure is not currently protected look like?

In a worst case scenario the detonation would be over Dorothy’s Kansas, in the center of the country. And at 300 miles altitude, you would have a circle, 360 degrees, with a radius of 1,470 miles…that covers the continental United States lower 48 states.

And in a worst case, you could see within a year 90% of the population die, as you don’t have electric power, nothing works, you can’t even get food to market. It would be catastrophic beyond belief.

And if you do it over the Eastern seaboard, you could center an explosion at a lower altitude, say 20-30 miles up over Pennsylvania. And you would cover about, if you centered it there…375 miles…And what you would do with that is take down the Eastern interconnection which supplies 70% of the country’s electric power.

Given that our infrastructure is not protected against this attack today — an infrastructure that Wohlstetter argues could be hardened for a figure of around $10 billion — are there at least contingency plans in place?

If the Congressional panel that looked at it was correct, in a worst case…you could see 90 percent or 100 percent of the network taken out. And if that happens, you can’t recover. It’s not like out of a disaster like a hurricane where you have edge recovery — communities that bring in supplies, rebuild for you, house people who have been displaced as happened after Katrina for example. You don’t have that edge recovery. In the case of the network, there are some transformers in big systems that take several years when you order them to bring them in and put them online. And…at least on what is know publicly, we do not have an adequate supply [of them]. [Link ours]

During the interview, which you can find below, we also had the chance to discuss several other critical topics including:

  • The biggest threat to American national security today
  • Why the nature of the threat of a nuclear weapon is far more worrying today than during the Cold War
  • The knock-on effects of a nuclear Iran
  • The strength (or lack thereof) of America’s missile defense system
  • How an EMP could be launched above the U.S.
  • Why the concept of mirror imaging is essential to understanding America’s foreign policy failures
  • And much more

Rethinking the Unthinkable Why Failures of Imagination Projection and Strategy Court Nuclear Catastrophe by…

 

Note: The link to the book in this post will give you an option to elect to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale to a charity of your choice. Mercury One, the charity founded by TheBlaze’s Glenn Beck, is one of the options. Donations to Mercury One go towards efforts such as disaster relief, support for education, support for Israel and support for veterans and our military. You can read more about Amazon Smile and Mercury One here.

01/28/15
Israel

Violence from the North

Arlene from Israel

Yesterday, four rockets were launched from a Syrian-held position roughly seven kilometers inside of Syria; two of the rockets landed in the Israeli Golan Heights.  They landed in open areas and there were no casualties.  Military sources identified this as a joint effort of Hezbollah and Syrian forces; the IDF said that Syria would be held responsible for whatever happened inside of its territory.  Within hours, Israel responded with an artillery attack that yielded a direct hit on the source of the rockets.

~~~~~~~~~~

That was yesterday.  Today was much worse. This time the attack was from Lebanon, not Syria, and it claimed casualties.  Some five or six Kornet anti-tank missiles were launched in an ambush attack against military vehicles traveling on a road about two kilometers inside of Israel, in the village of Ghajar.  The launching site is estimated to have been four or five kilometers from the IDF vehicles.

A burnt vehicle is seen near the village of Ghajar on Israel's border with Lebanon
Credit: Reuters

Two IDF soldiers were killed: Staff Sergeant Dor Nini, 20, and Major Yochai Kalangel, 25 (on the left below).

Israeli Soldiers

Credit: YNet

Reports are not consistent, but some additional seven soldiers were injured.

At the same time, there were mortar shells aimed at IDF bases in the area.

Israel responded with return fire into Lebanon, and declared the Lebanese responsible for what happens on their soil.  As was to be expected, the Lebanese are furious with Hezbollah for operating against Israel from their territory.

Hezbollah declared the attack to be retribution for the death of the “martyrs” in the convoy that Israel had hit.

~~~~~~~~~~

At this point in time, additional information is scarce.  I post now simply to get the word out (not sure how widely this will be covered); more will follow in a day or two.

~~~~~~~~~~

I cannot sign off, however, without noting that yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp of Auschwitz.  Survivors – fewer in number every year -assembled there for a major ceremony.

Credit: Daily Mail

The message is that we dare not forget.  And that message carries enormous urgency today, as anti-Semitism in all its virulence is on the rise.

The difference for Jews now as versus 70 years ago is the existence of the State of Israel.  Our leaders here have a solemn obligation to defend Israel with great strength and determination.  Whether the world likes this or not is irrelevant.

01/28/15
Jewish Star

An Auschwitz Anniversary

By: Alan Caruba
Warning Signs

Auschwitz

There was some serious irony when U.S. Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew gathered together with French President Francois Hollande and a Russian delegation led by Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s chief of staff, along with leaders from Germany and Austria to participate in the January 27 ceremony commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945 by Russian troops.

I suspect that an entire generation or two born after that year, 70 years ago, may have little or no knowledge of what Auschwitz was. It was a Nazi death camp located in Oswiecim, Poland. Its full name was Auschwitz-Birkenau and it is estimated that one million people, mostly Jews, were killed there.

I say “irony” because Auschwitz-Birkenau was part of a system of six Nazi death camps that included Belzac, Chelmo, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. Each camp was filled with the victims of a widespread anti-Semitism that had existed in Europe for two thousand years, so it was not difficult for the Germans to turn a blind eye or the French and others to provide assistance in rounding up their Jews.

Jewish StarThe camps engaged in large scale murder to fulfill Adolf Hitler’s intention to exterminate every Jew in Europe. In 1933 there had been nine million living in 21 nations that would be occupied during World War II. By 1945, two out of every three European Jews had been killed.

In addition to the Jews, an estimated five million others deemed enemies of the state for political or other reasons such as being Communists, trade unionists, gypsies or homosexuals also died in the camps.

What is rarely acknowledged is that the Europeans of that era were largely educated, had a rich culture of music, literature, and drama, and many were church-goers. In short, you would not have been able to tell them apart from the Europeans of today.

The Nazis wrote the book on the use of terrorism to facilitate their barbaric, murderous theology of death. The Muslims that have moved to Europe have adapted it to their own ends, seeking like the Nazis to become globally dominant. They don’t have death camps—yet—but the widespread and constant slaughter in which they are engaged has a similar feel to it.

In the 1930s those European Jews had few places to which to flee. They were not even that welcome in America where anti-Semitism was widespread. Those that could did emigrate and, again there is irony because several of the German physicists that came to the U.S. were instrumental in the creation of the atomic bomb that ended World War II while others played roles in the Nazi’s defeat during the war. One such emigrant, Albert Einstein, was the first to suggest the creation of the weapon to Franklin Roosevelt.

In response to European anti-Semitism, a movement called Zionism had begun before World War II with the intention of reestablishing Israel as a Jewish state where Jews could be safe. The movement was founded by Theodor Herzl in 1896. Here again there is irony because the movement was dominated by secular Jews who were not motivated by Jewish history or the Torah. What they wanted was to be free of the oppressive antipathy of the nations in which they lived. What they were seeking was emancipation.

By the time World War II occurred they were a force to be recognized in Israel, known at the time as the Palestinian Mandate and run by the British who, as often as not, shared the anti-Semitism that had given life to the Zionist movement. It would take the Holocaust to accelerate the movement of Europe’s surviving Jews to Israel which in 1948 declared its sovereignty and was immediately attacked by the Muslim nations surrounding it.

Fast forward to our times and the Jews of Israel as well as those around the world know one truth. If Iran is permitted to reach a point where it can create its own nuclear weapons and put them on their missiles, Israel will only be minutes away from an extermination that the Iranian leadership and the other Muslim nations of the Middle East have openly called for since Israel came into being and the Islamic Revolution took control of Iran in 1979.

This time, however, the same nuclear weapons that would destroy Israel would also be turned on the United States because the shouts of “Death to America. Death to Israel” are a part of the daily lives of the Iranians, as well as others in the region.

What makes these days so dangerous is that the United States of America is engaged in negotiations with an Iran that has never made a secret of their intention to be a nuclear-armed nation. What makes these days so dangerous is that the President of the United States has barely hidden his own anti-Semitism and animus toward Israel.

One can only pray that seventy years hence some other writer will not be commenting on the second great annihilation of the Jews, literally within the lifetime of people who were alive during the first one. I am one of those people and Auschwitz is not some place that existed a long time ago. It was yesterday.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

01/28/15
Snowed In

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Snowed In Edition

The Watcher’s Council

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rqm3xursN8A/VMZUg-wsb3I/AAAAAAABqDc/beJ75C6IVPY/s1600/Boston%2Bsnow.jpg

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

The Council In Action!

*Terresa Monroe-Hamilton of The Noisy Room was quoted quoted from coast to coast on Christian radio for a post at Right Wing News: For God and country’ recruiting poster was ordered removed by the US Army; ‘God’ is a problem in Obama’s military

*This week, Trevor Loudon, Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion, The Political Commentator and The Pirate’s Cove earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an email address (mandatory, but of course it won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6 PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out on Wednesday morning.

Simple, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have for you this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that! And don’t forget to tune in Friday for the results!

01/27/15
Trey Gowdy

Chairman Gowdy Questions State Department and CIA at Benghazi Select Committee Hearing

State Dept Benghazi Witness Gets Grilled About His Criticism Of Conservatives

Gowdy Opening Statement at Benghazi Select Committee Hearing

Letter of response from Chairman Gowdy and Statement from the Communications Director on release of letters by Democrats

Democrats accuse GOP of breaking promises on Benghazi panel

01/27/15
The Russian Bear

Oil Prices Changing The Face Of Global Geopolitics

In a documentary that aired recently on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s popular The Fifth Estate program, an allegory of Vladimir Putin was presented. The wily Russian president was described growing up in a shabby St. Petersburg apartment, where he would often corner rats.

Now, punished by low oil prices and Western sanctions against Russian incursions in Ukraine/ Crimea, Putin is himself the cornered rat. Many wonder, and fear, what he will do if conditions in Russia become increasingly desperate.

In the last six months oil prices have plunged over 50 percent and the Russian economy is hurting. The country now faces slowing economic growth, a depressed ruble, and runaway inflation estimated to be up to 150 percent on basic foodstuffs.

The Kremlin is counting on austerity cuts to help balance its budget, which has revenues coming in at $45 billion lower than earlier projections. The exception, significantly, is defense. With the military exempted from the austerity plan, it begs the question of whether Putin will “play the nationalist card,” such as he did in Crimea, in an effort to strengthen greater Russia during a period of economic weakness.

Georgia On His Mind

We are already seeing this to be the case. As Oilprice.com reported on Tuesday, Putin is set to absorb South Ossetia – Georgia’s breakaway republic that declared itself independent in 1990. Under an agreement “intended to legalize South Ossetia’s integration with Russia,” Russia would invest 2.8 million rubles (US$50 million) to “fund the socio-economic development of South Ossetia,” according to Agenda.GE, a Tbilisi-based news site.

The situation is analogous to Crimea because, like Crimea, South Ossetia contains a significant Russian-speaking population with ties to the Motherland.

If Putin succeeds in annexing the tiny province, it will be a real poke in the eye to the United States, which provoked Russia in the early 1990s by promoting construction of a pipeline between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia. The BTC pipeline moves oil from Baku in Azerbaijan to Tbilisi in Georgia and then onward to Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

BTC started operating in 2006. Then, two years later, Putin built his own pipeline to cut out Georgia. The South Ossetia pipeline run by Gazprom stretches 75 kilometers from South Ossetia to Russia.

The current move on South Ossetia is a way for Russia to assert its energy independence in the face of Western sanctions and low oil prices.

It comes as Russia announced plans to divert all of its natural gas crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey. As Bloomberg reported last week, Gazprom will send 63 billion cubic meters through a proposed link under the Black Sea to Turkey – after the earlier South Stream pipeline, a $45-billion project that would have crossed Bulgaria, was scrapped by Russia amid opposition from the European Union. By sending the gas to Turkey and on to Europe via Greece, Gazprom is in effect sending Europe an ultimatum: build pipelines to European markets, or we will sell the gas to other customers.

According to one observer, the proposed land grab in South Ossetia combined with the snub to Europe by shifting its gas to Turkey and bypassing Ukraine, is a classic Putin power play:

“Russia is preparing to absorb a province of neighboring Georgia, and delivering an ultimatum to Europe that it could lose much of the Russian gas on which it relies,” Steve LeVine writes in Quartz. “Putin has argued that the west is simply intent on ousting him and weakening Russia… Faced with these perceived attempts to undercut him and his country, Putin suggests that he has no choice but to pull around the wagons and stick it out. This could go on a long time.”

Iran: Falling Oil Prices Spur Peace Dividend

Some have speculated that the oil price crash was orchestrated by the Saudis, possibly in collusion with the United States and other Gulf states, to punish Iran, its main political and religious rival in the Middle East.

Whether or not that is true, there is no denying the effects of a low oil price on Iran’s economy. “Iran is already missing tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue due to Western sanctions and years of economic mismanagement under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” Bloomberg reported on Jan. 7. Like Russia, Iran is looking at spending cuts in next year’s budget, which is based on an overly-optimistic $72 a barrel crude oil price.

However, unlike Russia, which is “circling the wagons” and pulling further away from the West currently, the oil price drop could actually lead to more of a détente between Iran and Western countries. In a speech on Jan. 4, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s economy “cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world,” while at the same time, Iran’s foreign minister was negotiating a nuclear deal that could see the lifting of UN sanctions, the Washington Post observed.

Then there is the cooperation between the West and Iran over the terrorist group ISIS. The National Post’s J.L. Granatsein wrote in a column on Tuesday that Iran has deployed substantial numbers of its Revolutionary Guard elite Al Qods brigade into Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, along with Western allies including the US, Britain, France and Canada. This is despite Iran’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria’s president Assad.

“Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed, but not much can be stranger than this. Led by the Americans, hitherto the Great Satan to the Iranian leaders, the ties between the West and Iran are becoming tighter, each side reacting to the horrors of Islamist fundamentalism throughout the region,” Granatsein writes. “The Iranians have been hurt by sanctions, and they are being wracked even more by the falling price of oil. Easing curbs on trade and Iranian banks may mitigate the effects of the oil price collapse.”

Venezuela Bracing For The Worst

The other major loser in the oil price collapse, Venezuela, may not see such a positive outcome. Wracked by decades of economic mismanagement by Hugo Chávez, the South American oil producer was already struggling to pay its debts when new president Nicolás Maduro came to power.

Now, with inflation running at 60 percent and lines forming outside state grocery stores for food and other basic supplies, Maduro faces the specter of serious social unrest if conditions do not improve. The country has some of the world’s cheapest gasoline prices, but Maduro has refused to end fuel subsidies, fearing, no doubt, a repeat of widespread riots in 1989 that left hundreds dead after gasoline prices were allowed to rise.

Venezuela is even more dependent than Russia on the price of oil, earning some 96 percent of its foreign currency from oil sales, putting Maduro in the untenable position of either borrowing more, despite crushing debts, or slashing spending:

“With only $20 billion left in its reserves, and $50 billion in debt to China alone, Venezuela appears headed toward a choice between abandoning its oil giveaways and defaulting on its debts, or starving its own population to the point of revolt,” according to the Washington Post.

Source: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Crushing-The-U.S.-Energy-Export-Dream.html

By Andrew Topf for Oilprice.com

01/27/15
Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise dresses down Howard Dean

By: James Simpson
DC Independent Examiner


Perhaps we should give Howard Dean a break. He is a serial liar and goes off on unhinged rants based on “facts” with no more connection to reality than Disneyland. His behavior can often only be described as lunatic. So perhaps we should just pity the obviously deranged man, say a prayer for him to be restored to sanity, or at least the proper balance of meds.

Anyway, feeling it necessary to weigh in on the great American film, “American Sniper,” Dean said, “There’s a lot of anger in this country, and the people who go see this movie are people who are very angry.” He added, “I bet you if you looked at the cross-section of the tea party and people who see this movie there’s a lot of intersection…”

Now before we react, let’s remember that “American Sniper” is a movie about the heroic acts and hardships faced by Chris Kyle, our nation’s top-rated sniper. It accurately portrays his anguish about duty to country vs duty to his family. I can guarantee you Howard Dean never suffered such conflicts. Dean, like most Democrats, is only anguished when not getting his way – and collapses in episodes of screaming and temper tantrums when this happens. He’s a spoiled, selfish yuppie without the charm.

Actor Gary Sinise, who has done a lot for America’s veterans, had a quick response to Dean that was priceless:

To Howard Dean, I saw American Sniper and would not consider myself to be an angry person. You certainly have a right to make stupid blanket statements, suggesting that all people who see this film are angry, but how is that helpful sir? Do you also suggest that everyone at Warner Brothers is angry because they released the film? That Clint Eastwood, Jason Hall, Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller and the rest of the cast and crew are angry because they made the film? Chris Kyle’s story deserved to be told. It tells a story of the stress that multiple deployments have on one military family, a family representative of thousands of military families. It helps to communicate the toll that the war on terror has taken on our defenders. Defenders and families who need our support. I will admit that perhaps somewhere among the masses of people who are going to see the film there may be a few that might have some anger or have been angry at some point in their lives, but, with all due respect, what the hell are you talking about?

Yes Howard, what the Hell are you talking about? But there is truth to what Dean says. I am angry right now. I become so every time I hear a phony, fraud, corrupt, self-serving, slime ball like Howard Dean disgracing our country, its heroes and its people with spiteful, dishonest invective. It is a reminder – and we get more than enough every single day with the Zero-in-Chief – that Dean, Obama and people like them are literally destroying our country before our eyes, while shoving our tax dollars in their pockets as fast as they can. So in that sense, I guess maybe Dean has a point after all. I rarely take time to listen to these idiots, but when I do, I guess I understand Dean better, because I feel in need of meds myself.