Thursday, March 31, 2016

Antichrist’s Grip Tightens (Revelation 13:18)

Baghdad protests continue amid calls for new govt
World Bulletin / News Desk

Prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has warned that his bloc in parliament would vote to withdraw confidence from Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi if the latter failed to appoint a new government by Thursday, while demonstrations by al-Sadr’s supporters  continued outside Baghdad’s Green Zone.

“Parliament has given the prime minister until Thursday [to present a new government] and he must abide by this deadline,” al-Sadr said in a message to supporters camped outside Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone.

If he [al-Abadi] fails to do so, we will… vote to withdraw confidence from him,” he warned.
Al-Sadr’s “Ahrar” bloc in parliament holds 34 seats in the 328-seat assembly and three ministerial portfolios in Iraq’s current government.

On Monday, parliament gave al-Abadi a three-day deadline to present a new cabinet lineup or face a vote of no-confidence.

The move came amid large protests by al-Sadr’s supporters aimed at pressuring the prime minister to appoint a government of “technocrats” untainted by corruption or sectarianism — both of which, critics say, have hamstrung Iraq’s previous post-invasion governments.

– No Iranian mediation –

Al-Sadr, meanwhile, denied reports of Iranian mediation aimed at ending the protests by his followers.

“No one has dared to negotiate with me or try to convince me to withdraw [demonstrations by my supporters] from outside the Green Zone,” al-Sadr told Al-Itesam daily on Wednesday.

“There is no Iranian mediation; I don’t think the Iranians would get involved,” he said.

Al-Abadi, for his part, says he has presented a reform program aimed at fighting rampant corruption.
“The program also includes mechanisms for choosing non-party technocrats for top [government] posts,” he said.

The prime minister, however, did not clarify as to whether he would abide by the three-day deadline set by parliament for him to present a new government lineup.

Last summer, Iraq’s parliament approved a sweeping raft of reforms proposed by al-Abadi. The reforms are aimed at meeting popular demands to eliminate government corruption and streamline state bureaucracy.

Antichrist seeks Al-Abadi ‘s impeachment (Revelation 13)

Sadr warns Iraqi PM he will seek his impeachment unless reforms begin now

By Rudaw

Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold a sit-in outside the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad. Photo: AP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraq’s firebrand Shiite cleric, warned Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to “stop giving futile promises” and start with grassroots government reforms if he wants to avoid impeachment.

We advise the prime minister to stop giving futile promises,” Sadr said in a message, convoyed by an official from his Sadrist Movement before supporters in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, where Sadr is staging a sit-in.

Sadr and hundreds of his supporters entered Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday to stage a sit-in to pressure the government on reforms.

Sadr warned in his message that if the embattled prime minister fails to move on reforms, he would go to parliament to seek his impeachment.

He has also warned Abadi not to “blow your anger on peaceful demonstrators, since they have been legally waging their opposition. Rather, he better blow his anger at the corrupt” officials.
Abadi pledged on Tuesday that he would announce a cabinet reshuffle shortly.

“We promise all parties that the reshuffling of the government cabinet will begin soon,” he said, explaining that “calls for reform should not worsen the security and stability of the government.”
But Sadr has been pressuring Abadi to implement a wider reform package that would include replacing several ministers with apolitical technocrats, in a bid to eliminate patronage and corruption.
In one instance of the wide corruption that critics say is eating up Iraq, early this month auditors in the Iraqi parliament revealed that the defense ministry had spent $150 billion on weapons in the last decade but only a fraction of that had gone to buying weapons, with the rest gong missing.

Iraq’s defense ministry “is one of the most corrupt ministries,” the spokesperson for the parliamentary auditing committee, Adil Nuri, told Rudaw.

The auditing committee conducted an inquiry into three new arms deals of the defense ministry last month, according to Nuri. He said he found “that the ministry had signed $350 million worth of contracts with Eastern European countries but the inquiries showed that there has been a lot of corruption in the price and types of weapons.”

Sadr warns he will seek Iraqi PM’s impeachment unless reforms begin now

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Preparing For The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Small quake hits Va. near epicenter of Great East Coast Earthquake of 2011

Did You Feel the Virginia 2011 Earthquake?
Did You Feel the Virginia 2011 Earthquake?

The Australian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Australia will soon sell uranium to Ukraine for power generation.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will arrive in the United States on Wednesday for a global nuclear security summit and will also attend a dinner meeting at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama.

She will have talks with British, Dutch and Singaporean leaders and foreign minister counterparts.
At the summit, leaders will discuss ongoing international co-operation on nuclear security and the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear material or sabotaging nuclear facilities.

Ms Bishop will sign an agreement with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to supply uranium for power.

Australia already supplies uranium to Canada, China, France, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the UK and the US.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Dirty Bomb Is Just A Short Matter Of Time

Nuclear Materials Remain Vulnerable to Theft, Despite U.S.-Led Effort
Trucks transported highly enriched uranium in Kiev, Ukraine, in March 2012, part of an American-sponsored effort to remove from the country a stockpile of fuel large enough for eight or more nuclear bombs. Credit Gleb Garanich/Reuters

WASHINGTON — As President Obama gathers world leaders in Washington this week for his last Nuclear Security Summit, tons of materials that terrorists could use to make small nuclear devices or dirty bombs remain deeply vulnerable to theft. Still, Mr. Obama’s six-year effort to rid the world of loose nuclear material has succeeded in pulling bomb-grade fuel out of countries from Ukraine to Chile, and has firmly put nuclear security on the global agenda.

But despite the progress, several countries are balking at safeguards promoted by the United States or are building new stockpiles.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, where some of the largest stockpiles of civilian nuclear material remain, has decided to boycott the summit meeting, which begins Thursday night. Mr. Putin has made it clear he will not engage in nuclear cleanup efforts dominated by the United States.
In addition, Pakistan’s embrace of a new generation of small, tactical nuclear weapons, which the Obama administration considers highly vulnerable to theft or misuse, has changed the way the administration talks about Pakistani nuclear security. While Mr. Obama declared early in his presidency that the United States believed Pakistan’s nuclear assets were secure, administration officials will no longer repeat that line. Instead, when the subject comes up, they note the modest progress Pakistan has made in training its guards and investing in sensors to detect break-ins. They refuse to discuss secret talks to persuade the Pakistanis not to deploy their new weapons.

At least 2,965 kilograms of civilian HEU have been removed during the Obama administration (the total of all reductions on this chart). That is potentially enough for 100 or more bombs
Russia has never publicly declared its civilian HEU inventories. In recent years, Russia has diluted 5,000 kilograms of civilian HEU under Clinton-era programs. The United States and Russia have also diluted tens of thousands of kilograms of military HEU since 2009. The United States retains a reserve of 20,000 kilograms of HEU for civilian use.

Pakistan, China, India and Japan are all planning new factories to obtain plutonium that will add to the world’s stockpiles of bomb fuel.

And Belgium, where a nuclear facility was sabotaged in 2014 and where nuclear plant workers with inside access went off to fight for the Islamic State militant group, has emerged as a central worry. The country is so divided and disorganized that many fear it is vulnerable to an attack far more sophisticated than the bombings in the Brussels airport and subway system last week.

For the first time, the Nuclear Security Summit will include a special session on responding to urban terrorist attacks — and a simulation of how to handle the threat of imminent nuclear terrorism.
“The key question for this summit,” said Matthew Bunn, a nuclear expert at Harvard and a former White House science adviser, “is whether they’ll agree on approaches to keep the improvements coming.”

The nuclear initiative has been a signature issue for Mr. Obama: It is among the goals he campaigned on in 2008 and part of the reason he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize barely a year into his presidency. Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Tuesday that the administration’s overall efforts had made it “harder than ever before for terrorists and bad actors to acquire nuclear material.”

But the administration’s budget for aiding global nuclear cleanups has been cut by half; some officials argue that less funding is needed with fewer nations willing to give up nuclear materials. A report Mr. Bunn helped write noted, “The administration is now projecting lower spending year after year for years to come, postponing or canceling a wide range of nuclear security activities that had been included in previous plans.”

In a recent report, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a private advocacy group in Washington that tracks nuclear weapons and materials, warned that many radioactive sources were “poorly secured and vulnerable to theft.” The report called the probability of a terrorist’s detonating a dirty bomb “much higher than that of an improvised nuclear device.”

Ingredients for so-called dirty bombs, which use conventional explosives to spew radioactive material, are still scattered around the globe at thousands of hospitals and other sites that use the highly radioactive substances for industrial imaging and medical treatments. Less than half of the countries that attended the last nuclear summit in 2014 pledged to secure such materials, and they in turn represent less than 15 percent of the 168 nations belonging to the International Atomic Energy Agency.And while the administration succeeded in getting more than a dozen countries to give up their civilian stockpiles of highly enriched uranium, a main fuel of atomic bombs, the Nuclear Threat Initiative said in another report that some 25 nations still had such materials — enough for thousands of nuclear weapons.

The report called highly enriched uranium “one of the most dangerous materials on the planet,” warning that an amount small enough to fit in a five-pound sugar bag could be used to build a nuclear device “with the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of people.”

Still, that does not mean Mr. Obama’s efforts have failed altogether. He is expected to announce a major achievement soon: the removal of roughly 40 bombs’ worth of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium from Japan. Some of the uranium was fabricated in pieces the size of squares of chocolate that could be easily slipped into a pocket, a terrorist’s dream.

And Ukraine was the site of a success that, in retrospect, looks even bigger than it did four years ago.
On a bitterly cold day in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in March 2012, two years before Ukraine descended into crisis, a team of Americans and Ukrainians packed the last shipment of highly enriched uranium into railway cars, ridding the country of more than 500 pounds of nuclear fuel. It would have been enough to build eight or more nuclear bombs, depending on the skill and destructive ambitions of the bomb maker.

“We had vodka,” recalled Andrew J. Bieniawski, then a United States Energy Department official central to the elimination. “It was amazing.”

Yet there are signs that what began as a global effort to prevent terrorists from obtaining the world’s deadliest weapons is fracturing.

In fact, there is a case to be made that even as vulnerable stockpiles have shrunk, the risk of nuclear terrorism has not.

There is evidence that groups like the Islamic State are more interested than ever in nuclear plants, materials and personnel — especially in Belgium, where the attacks last week killed more than 30 people.

The Belgian police discovered last year that Islamic State operatives had taken hours of surveillance video at the home of a senior official at a large nuclear site in Mol, Belgium. The plant in Mol, a northern resort area, holds large stocks of highly enriched uranium.

Laura Holgate, Mr. Obama’s top adviser on nuclear terrorism, noted on Tuesday that the United States had worked with Belgium to “reduce the amount of nuclear material” at one key site. Asked about the Islamic State’s interest in obtaining nuclear fuel from Belgium, she said, “We don’t have any information that a broader plot exists.”

Ms. Holgate told reporters that this week’s meeting would address the question: “How do you sustain the momentum to the summit after the summit ends?”

Every week, we’ll bring you stories that capture the wonders of the human body, nature and the cosmos.

The results of previous summit meetings have ranged from treaty ratifications to the establishment of more than a dozen training centers around the globe where guards, scientists, managers and regulators sharpen their skills at preventing atomic terrorism.

Near Beijing, one of the largest training centers opened this month. “It’s in our national interest” to help foreigners secure their atomic materials, said Nick Winowich, an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, one of the American nuclear labs that helped in the center’s development.

The biggest wins have been the removal of all highly enriched uranium from 12 countries, including Austria, Chile, Hungary, Libya, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam. The material was mostly reactor fuel. But officials said terrorists could have turned it into least 130 nuclear weapons.

Critics of the summit process point to vague communiqués that seem to have done little to drive hard decisions. A sense of summit fatigue now seems to prevail, the critics add, noting that Russia’s withdrawal evades some of the biggest security problems.

The Obama administration has also presided over a steady drop in American spending on international nuclear security. Budgets fell from over $800 million in 2012 to just over $500 million in 2016. For 2017, the White House has proposed less than $400 million — half the spending of the high point.

The administration has defended the cuts, saying they reflect the completion of some programs and upgrades and the suspension of cooperative work with Russia after its invasion of the Crimean Peninsula.

“The summit process has achieved some very important objectives,” said Kenneth N. Luongo, president of the Partnership for Global Security, a private group that advocates new nuclear safeguards. “But it needed to aim higher. The world is not becoming any easier to deal with. There’s still a responsibility to think big.”

Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago

It happened before, and it could happen again.
By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM

On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.

The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.

According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.

The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.

A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:

“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”

The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.
The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.

The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.

“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”

The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.

“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.

The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.
There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.
According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.

“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,
that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,
the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;
O turn to God; lest by his Rod,
he cast thee down to Hell.”

Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”

There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.
Well, sort of.

In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”

It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.

In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”
If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

North Korea Fires More Missiles

South Korea says North Korea fired short-range projectile
Associated Press
By KIM TONG-HYUNG, Associated Press
In this Oct. 10, 2015, file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers remarks at a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea.
© Wong Maye-E/AP Photo In this Oct. 10, 2015, file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers remarks at a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired a short-range projectile from an area near its eastern coast on Tuesday, South Korean officials said, in what appears to be another weapons test seen as a response to ongoing military drills between Washington and Seoul.
The projectile was fired near the North Korean port city of Wonsan and flew about 200 kilometers (125 miles) before crashing into land northeast of the launch site, South Korean military officials said.
It was unclear whether the projectile was a ballistic missile or an artillery shell, said a Joint Chiefs of Staff official who didn’t want to be identified, citing office rules. It was too early to tell whether North Korea used a land target to test the accuracy and range of its weapons or experienced problems after planning a launch into the sea, said an official from Seoul’s Defense Ministry, who also didn’t want to be named because of department rules.
North Korea has fired a slew of short-range missiles and artillery shells into the sea and has threatened nuclear strikes on Washington and Seoul since the start on March 7 of the annual springtime war games between the United States and South Korea.
North Korea also launched a medium-range ballistic missile into waters off its east coast for the first time since 2014 and touted a new artillery system it says could turn the South Korean capital of Seoul into a “sea of flames.” Experts say the North’s new artillery launchers can fire 300-millimeter shells up to 200 kilometers (125 miles), theoretically reaching Seoul and its surrounding metropolitan area, where nearly half of the 50 million South Koreans live.
North Korea routinely tests short-range missiles and artillery systems but tends to do more launches in times of tension with the outside world. It condemns the annual military drills between Washington and Seoul as a rehearsal for an invasion. Tensions are particularly high this year because the drills are the largest ever and follow a recent North Korean nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch. Washington and Seoul say the drills are defensive in nature and they have no plans to invade North Korea.

The New Nuclear Terrorism (Daniel 8:4)

Amid IS Terrorism, New Fears Of A Nuclear Motive
By Michael Moran

WASHINGTON – The discovery of surveillance footage of one of Belgium’s nuclear facilities in a raid on Islamic State terror cells has lent new urgency to efforts at securing such sites against possible heists of nuclear materials.

Since the end of the Cold War, the risk of nuclear proliferation has focused primarily on suspected state-led efforts – mostly in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and North Korea. But the video footage found during the arrest in February of suspected IS member Mohammed Bakkali, linked to the November 13 attacks on Paris, has caused shudders in western security circles. Since then, the IAEA has confirmed that radioactive material has disappeared from hospital facilities in the area of Iraq held by IS, raising concern that the group might be planning to build a radiological “dirty bomb.”

A dirty bomb is not a nuclear weapon per se, but rather a conventional explosive that would disperse highly radioactive material over a wide area. Though infinitely less lethal than an actual nuclear explosion, officials believe such a device could be highly lethal and render small areas of major cities uninhabitable for a prolonged period.

All of this should be top of mind later this week when President Barack Obama convenes the last of a series of Nuclear Security Summits (NSS) launched by the US in 2010 to focus on securing the widespread stocks of potentially lethal radioactive materials stored all over the world. The threat posed by such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists is highlighted in this new documentary released to coincide with the summit.

The nuclear security summits, held every two years since 2010, have bolstered international cooperation and raised awareness about the threat of nuclear terrorism posed by inadequately secured nuclear materials worldwide. For instance, the number of countries where highly enriched uranium or plutonium is stored has fallen – but 27 states still store such material, and not always in the most secure circumstances.

The March 31-April 1 summit at the White House in Washington will be the fourth such summit, and as Obama’s tenure is almost over, the final in the NSS series. Whether this work will continue is something that deeply concerns nuclear security experts.

“If the leaders finish this meeting and there’s no mechanism to continue engaging each other, to continue making commitments to build the global system we need for nuclear material security, we won’t reach the point that we need to in terms of a legal architecture, in terms of leaders that are committed to nuclear security, and in terms of building accountability,” says Joan Rolfing, president of the Nuclear Threat Institute, a nonprofit group that studies nuclear issues.

Another concern is Russia’s absence from the summit. Regarded as one of the more vulnerable links in the chain of nuclear material security, Russia has refused to participate in the final summit after its actions in Ukraine prompted US and EU economic sanctions. That has some experts worried that IS or other terrorist groups could take advantage of the loss of focus.

“The fact that Russia decided not to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit any longer is very detrimental to the process, because the United States and Russia remain the main holders of both nuclear weapons and nuclear material,” said Togzhan Kassenova of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Russia is extremely important to the secure nuclear future of the whole world. I just personally hope that maybe, with time, Russia will come back to cooperation with their partners on this very, very important issue.”

Meanwhile, in Belgium, authorities rescinded security badges from several employees of the country’s nuclear facilities late last week after investigations raised concerns about a possible IS plot to infiltrate or even sabotage the country’s nuclear power facilities. In 2012, Belgium confirmed that two employees of its nuclear power facility in Doel quit to join IS jihadists fighting in Syria. The issue, as they say, is on the front burner.

Michael Moran is a New York-based Managing Director for Global Risk Analysis concentrating on the United States and global issues at Control Risks, the world’s leading political, integrity, and security risk consultancy.

The Nuclear Disaster At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

‘Faulty bolts’ discovered at Indian Point nuclear power plant

BUCHANAN  – Hundreds of “faulty” and “missing” bolts were discovered during a planned outage at Indian Point nuclear power plant and will keep a reactor shutdown for several additional weeks.
A scheduled inspection at the Buchanan power plant of more than 2,000 bolts on the face of a removable insert liner in the plant’s Unit 2 reactor “revealed issues” with about 11 percent of the bolts, or 220, Entergy said in a released statement on its website Tuesday. The issues found included “missing bolts” and “other degradation requiring replacement of the bolts,” Entergy said.

The bolts, which are about 2 inches long and made of stainless steel, hold plate inserts together inside the reactor, Entergy said.

The newly discovered issues will add several weeks to the outage, Entergy said.

The issues found with the reactor’s insert liner did not have any impact on public health or safety, Entergy said. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, among other agencies, have been notified.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has repeatedly criticized Indian Point’s safety record and called for the closure of the aging plant, said in a released statement that the discovery of “hundreds of faulty bolts” raised “deep concerns.”

“This is the latest in a long series of incidents that raise deep concerns about the management, maintenance and equipment standards at this plant,” Cuomo said in the statement.

“While there is no immediate danger to public health and safety, this troubling news further validates the State’s ongoing investigation into the operations of this aging power plant and our position that it should not be relicensed,” he added.

The bolt issues were identified during the Indian Point Unit 2’s “Aging Management Program,” which is implemented once every 10 years in connection with the plant’s ongoing licensing renewal. The first inspection began on March 7 during a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.
Engineers conducted more than 350 inspections to equipment during the planned maintenance, Entergy said, including testing and inspections of the reactor containment area, the reactor vessel, the control rod mechanism, coolant pump motors, and steam generators.

Entergy said that the comprehensive inspections show that critical components at Unit 2 continue to perform safely and as intended.

“Safety is always our first priority, and the hundreds of inspections performed over the last few weeks demonstrate these programs work as designed,” said Larry Coyle, site vice president and Entergy’s top official at Indian Point. “Safeguards and automatic detection equipment are in place to alert plant operators of impacts on safe operations.”

Earlier this year, radioactive tritium-contaminated water was discovered in samples of groundwater monitoring wells. Entergy said at the time that there was no impact to public health or safety.

Since 2007, Entergy has been seeking to extend its licenses for Indian Point’s two reactors, Units 2 and 3, for 20 more years. The nuclear power plant can continue to operate until the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission decides on its application, which can take several years.

But Cuomo’s office seems intent on preventing the nuclear power plant from gaining the certification necessary to continue operating.

In November, the New York Department of State refused to give Indian Point a certificate required for future use of the Hudson River. Months later, Entergy filed suit against in federal court seeking a court order to toss out the state’s refusal, contending the state certificate is not needed for the plant’s continued operation.

Antichrist Makes Demands On Iraqi Government (Revelation 13)

Controversial Shiite cleric enters restricted Baghdad Green Zone to address corruption with Iraqi PM
Qassim Abdul-Zahra, The Associated Press | March 28, 2016 1:17 PM ET

BAGHDAD — Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi Sunday night after beginning a sit-in in Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone intended to be a show of force following his calls to combat government corruption.

Earlier in the day security forces stepped aside to allow al-Sadr to enter the Green Zone after weeks of protests in the Iraqi capital. Al-Sadr has repeatedly called on al-Abadi to enact sweeping economic and political reforms.

“I am a representative of the people and will enter the (Green Zone),” al-Sadr told hundreds of his supporters gathered outside the compound’s walls, asking his followers to stay outside and remain peaceful.

As al-Sadr walked through a checkpoint to enter the Green Zone, officials in charge of the compound’s security greeted the cleric with kisses and provided him with a chair. Al-Sadr was accompanied by his personal security detail and the leader of his Shiite militia, Sarayat al-Salam.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye / Getty Images
Ahmad Al-Rubaye / Getty Images
Supporters of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr take part in a sit-in inside Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone.
After he began his sit-in, al-Sadr’s supporters started erecting tents and laying down mattresses.
In February, al-Sadr demanded Iraqi politicians be replaced with more technocrats and that the country’s powerful Shiite militias be incorporated into the defence and interior ministries.

After weeks of growing protests in the Iraqi capital, al-Sadr repeatedly threatened to storm the compound if his demands for government overhaul were not met. Baghdad’s Green Zone, encircled by blast walls and razor wire, is closed to most Iraqis and houses the country’s political elite as well as most of the city’s foreign embassies. Al-Sadr has called it a “bastion” of corruption.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye / Getty Images
Ahmad Al-Rubaye / Getty Images
Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr prays inside his tent during a sit-in inside Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone.
Most Iraqis blame the country’s politicians for the graft and mismanagement that are draining Iraq’s already scarce resources. Unlike the widespread, largely civic protests last summer, however, al-Sadr’s demonstrations are attended almost exclusively by his supporters, who have made few concrete policy demands.

Earlier this month, Iraqi security forces manning checkpoints in Baghdad again stepped aside to allow al-Sadr’s supporters to march up to the Green Zone’s outer walls to begin a sit-in, despite a government order deeming the gathering “unauthorized.” The move called into question Prime Minister al-Abadi’s ability to control security in the capital.
Ahmad Al-Rubaye / Getty Images
Ahmad Al-Rubaye / Getty Images
Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr urged Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to propose a “convincing” reform package but hinted that further protests if he did not would remain non-violent.
“I thank the security forces,” al-Sadr said before beginning his sit-in. “He who attacks them, attacks me,” he added.

While al-Abadi proposed a reform package last August, few of his plans have been implemented as the leader has made several political missteps and struggled with the country’s increasingly sectarian politics amid the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group. Shiites dominate the central government, while the country’s Kurds in the north exercise increasing autonomy and much of the Sunni population has either been displaced by violence or continues to live under IS rule.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The North Korean Nuclear Threat Against Babylon

North Korean Nuclear Threats Spotlight US Missile Defense

As North Korea rattles its nuclear saber, threatening to bomb the U.S. at “any moment,” a nerve-jangling question hangs in the air: If Pyongyang did launch a nuclear-armed missile at an American city, could the Pentagon’s missile defenses overcome their spotty test record and shoot it down beyond U.S. shores?

America has never faced such a real-life crisis, and although officials say they are confident the defenses would work as advertised, the Pentagon acknowledges potential gaps that North Korea or others might be able to exploit, someday if not immediately.

One possible vulnerability involves a foe’s “countermeasures,” or decoys carried aboard long-range offensive missiles to fool a U.S. interceptor missile into hitting the wrong target.

The Pentagon has poured at least $84 billion into missile defense over the past decade and is planning to spend another $3.3 billion over the next five years for a single element of the system, known as Ground-based Midcourse Defense, or GMD. Its key part is a network of interceptor missiles designed to launch from underground silos, fly into the path of an enemy missile as it arcs through space and smash into it, destroying it.

That system has failed three of its last four intercept tests. The only success in that series was the most recent test, in June 2014.

A congressional watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office, said in February that the Pentagon “has not demonstrated through flight testing that it can defend the U.S. homeland against the current missile defense threat.”

Adm. William Gortney, America’s homeland defender as head of U.S. Northern Command, told Congress this month that the nation needs “more capable forces and broader options.” Key improvements are in the works, including a “long-range discrimination” radar for more effective tracking of incoming missiles.

The North Koreans’ harsh rhetoric, including a threat in late February to deal “fatal blows at the U.S. mainland any moment,” is linked in part to its anger at U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which the North sees as a rehearsal for an invasion.

No one is predicting a bolt-out-of-the-blue North Korean nuclear attack, but the threat looms larger as the Koreans seemingly stride closer to fielding a nuclear-armed missile that can reach U.S. territory. Already this year they have claimed a successful H-bomb test, put a satellite into space orbit and claimed a successful simulated test of the warhead re-entry knowhow needed for a missile strike on the United States. On Thursday, the North claimed to have successfully tested a solid-fuel rocket engine which, if true, would mark a significant further technological advance. The use of solid fuel reduces launch preparation time and thus shortens warning time for U.S. defenses.

More appears to be in store. State-run media reported earlier this month that leader Kim Jong Un ordered preparations for a “nuclear warhead explosion test” soon and test-firings of “several kinds of ballistic rockets able to carry nuclear warheads.” With increasing regularity, the North Koreans are claiming major advances on the nuclear front that have caught Washington’s attention, even if they are exaggerated.

President Barack Obama, who plans to address 50 heads of state gathered in Washington this week for a nuclear security summit, has said North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear and missile programs “increasingly imperils the United States.”

Of particular worry is a long-range missile under development in North Korea that the U.S. calls the KN-08. The Pentagon’s most recent public report on North Korea says the KN-08 has a range of more than 3,400 miles, putting it into the category of an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM.
Gortney said the KN-08 has “profound implications,” especially if it is deployed as a road-mobile weapon, meaning it could be moved and launched from vehicles that make it less vulnerable to detection. Such mobility, he said, would enable the North Koreans to elude or confound traditional U.S. pre-launch warning systems.

Gortney says the North Koreans may have figured out how to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop a KN-08 missile.

“While the KN-08 remains untested, modeling suggests it could deliver a nuclear (weapon) to much of the continental United States,” Gortney told a Senate panel March 10.

The segment of U.S. missile defenses designed to stop a long-range North Korean missile are the interceptors based at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Three years ago this month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the Pentagon would increase the number of deployed interceptors to 44 by putting an extra 14 at Fort Greely. The price tag for that expansion, initially put at $1 billion, has jumped to $1.5 billion.

None of the extra 14 interceptors has been deployed yet but all are to be in place by the end of next year. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a House committee last week that the Pentagon also is working on a more effective “kill vehicle,” which is the 5-foot-long device attached to the top of an interceptor; its internal guidance system helps steer it into an oncoming missile, destroying it by force of impact.

Follow Robert Burns on Twitter at

Pakistani Terrorism And Nukes (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistan is terror ground zero with nukes: David Andelman

Half a world away from Belgium, terror and death have hit another American ally and where the stakes are even higher. This time, the target was Pakistan — a suicide bomb ripping through a Christian Easter celebration in the heart of Lahore, capital city of the Punjab, killing scores, wounding hundreds. It was a powerful and direct message to Pakistan, which unlike Belgium, likely has the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal.

The message to the nation’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, from a faction of the Pakistani Talban, who quickly claimed responsibility for the attack in his home base of Lahore, was simple and direct. “He can do what he wants, but he will not stop us,” said Ehsanullah Ehsan. a group spokesman.

It was as clear evidence as possible that the Taliban is determined to destabilize, even topple the government or nudge it away from its pro-American position into one more favorable to the radicals’ toxic agenda. The 20 pounds of explosives packed around quantities of ball bearings were designed to maximize the lethal footprint of the blast. And the fact that it took place Southeast of Islamabad, far from Taliban strongholds along the Afghan frontier suggests its ability to work its will as it pleases.

The danger for America is that such a move comes against a background of deeply troubling activity in a region that itself is teetering on the brink of profound unrest. It was, after all, in Pakistan, where an American Navy SEAL team located and terminated Osama bin Laden. It is also Pakistan where the Taliban and other tribal forces maintain their back offices and arms depots for their immediate aim of overthrowing the American-backed regime in neighboring Afghanistan.

They are waiting — for the American withdrawal and at the same time for a more accomodating attitude among the leadership of Pakistan toward their wants and needs.

The danger is that such wants and needs could extend into the arsenal of nuclear arms that Pakistan is expanding at breakneck sped. Already, its nuclear stockpile has passed neighboring India’s — 120 to 100 in terms of deployed warheads. This is a fraction of the numbers maintained by the United States and Russia. But at its current pace, Pakistan’s arsenal could balloon to 350 in the next decade — placing it third in the world, ahead of China, Britain or France. According to the Carnegie Endowment, Pakistan has enough highly enriched uranium to continue the buildup all but unchecked.
“The growth path of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, enabled by existing infrastructure, goes well beyond the assurances of credible minimal deterrence provided by Pakistani officials and analysts after testing nuclear devices,” the report concludes.

That leaves some frightening potential. Most of the new weapons are “low yield,” effectively tactical nuclear weapons, easily deployed — to vast and lethal effect — on isolated battlefields. Or, for that matter, carried in a suitcase into the heart of a city. Indeed, the Carnegie report does raise directly the prospects of “a risky strategy that would place weapons that are the least safe and secure close to the forward edge of battle — a battle that could be triggered by actions taken by extremist groups.”
This must be at least one aim of a multi-pronged campaign by the Taliban, with Sunday’s massacre only the latest skirmish. But it is clearly an aim that should have Washington deeply worried. A suggestion of the depth of this concern was the statement, issued immediately after news reached the White House. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price suggested, “We will continue to work with our partners in Pakistan and across the region, as together we will be unyielding in our efforts to root out the scourge of terrorism.”

Just how effective such an effort might be should become a central focus in the calculus of when and in what fashion to pull American forces out of Afghanistan and leave a nuclear armed-up region to its own devices.

The Nuclear Holocaust Draws Near (Revelation 15)

US, EU, Russia Nuclear War Is A Growing Possibility – Official

US, EU, Russia Nuclear War Is A Growing Possibility – Official
Hydrogen bomb from Pixabay
The nuclear threat is approaching closer to Europe as relations with Russia continue to degrade. There is a risk of nuclear confrontation as Russia continues to intimidate other nations while parts of the European continent call the country for exacerbating refugee crisis and threatening world peace. Will a new Cold War start?
While the number of nuclear weapons in Russia and United States declined compared to the Cold War era, still, both countries hold around 90 percent of the world’s stocks. Previously, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called out Russia for intimidating neighbors with nuclear weapons. Washignton also expressed concern about the matter.

“The risk of confrontation with the use of nuclear weapons in Europe is higher than in the 1980s,” Reuters quoted Igor Ivanov, Russia’s foreign minister from 1998 to 2004 and now head of a Moscow-based think-tank founded by the Russian government. “We have less nuclear warheads, but the risk of them being used is growing,” added the official.

The decision of the United States to set up its missile defense shield in Europe is also adding to the problem. Specifically, a part of the shield will be placed in Poland which is closer to the Russian border. Closer US troops is seen as a threat to the Moscow.

“It can be assured that once the U.S. deploys its missile defense system in Poland, Russia would respond by deploying its own missile defense system in Kaliningrad,” explained Ivanov.

More important, the EU sanctions placed against Russia will only strain the relationship further and escalate tensions. According to Italian prime minister and ex-president of European Commission Romano Prodi, it will be detrimental for the EU to push the policy against Russia.

“For any European country it is not easy to be in conflict with EU official course,” Sputnik quoted the official. “Italy seeks improving relations with Russia, but there are certain limits established by general EU policy. I believe that Russia should bend every effort to help EU members that aspire to repair relations,” Prodi added. He said that mending relations with Russia is challenging because of the limited opportunities brought upon by EU policy. He also considered the policy a series of mistakes. But more importantly, the official said that a political dialogue may help ease the situation.

The Sixth Seal Is Overdue (Revelation 6:12)

Is New Jersey overdue for major earthquake?
Devin Loring, @DevinLoring
17 hours ago
One of the most noticeable earthquakes in New Jersey measured a 5.30 on the Richter scale — a moderate quake – and was felt throughout Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
But that was in 1783, before colossal bridges connected New Jersey and New York, and cities were pre-skyscraper and modern infrastructure.
What would happen if New Jersey was rocked by a strong, or even moderate, earthquake today?
New Jersey may well soon find out. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said 10 years ago that we’re due for at least a moderate earthquake.
The region is not really well prepared for any level of shaking,” said Vadim Levin, an associate professor in the earth and planetary sciences department at Rutgers University. “The population density is so extremely high. … Look at earthquake-related disasters. They don’t link to the large size of earthquakes, but the confluence of how close they are to people.”
There are earthquakes in Jersey?
It has been over 200 years since New Jersey experienced that historic quake in 1783, and almost 100 years since Asbury Park experienced a quake – in 1927 – that toppled chimneys and knocked items off shelves
That means New Jersey is overdue for an earthquake, at least according to a brochure published by the NJDEP, in 2005.
The agency’s data indicates that intense quakes are likely to happen in New Jersey every 100 years or less.
“Long overdue for how long, that’s the question,” said Levin. “Once in ten generations is very difficult to study. That’s the biggest challenge (because) we live inside a stable plate.”
A “stable plate,” describes New Jersey’s tectonics. Here, the Earth’s crust “fits together and doesn’t deform very much,” Levin said.
Despite the stability of New Jersey’s crust, earthquakes are felt throughout New Jersey frequently.
In fact, earlier this month, a light earthquake was very noticeable to residents in and around Morristown. It was felt as far south as Jackson, and as far north as Suffern, New York.

The big one

Researchers don’t really understand why earthquakes happen on the East Coast, especially because in New Jersey, small earthquakes happen over a diffuse area and do not form an easily identifiable zone of action, Levin said.
“What makes us slightly more nervous these days is the recent Virginia earthquake,” Levin said. “That event was rather large, there was serious damage, and of course, no prior history of such events recorded.”
In 2011, the 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia was felt from Georgia to Maine, in Michigan and Illinois, and in Canada according to the United States Geological Survey.
“That (2011 earthquake) damaged a nuclear power plant — not severely, only to the extent that it had to shut down operations,” said Arthur Lerner-Lam, deputy director of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.
It points out the issue of fragility on our infrastructure,” Lerner-Lam said. “The resiliency or vulnerability of our bridges, tunnels, power lines, pipelines, is a very important feature of the overall vulnerability of the metropolitan region.”
What makes East Coast quakes all the more unpredictable is that quakes here differ from those on the West Coast, where they are more frequent. Because the earth on the East Coast has different properties than the west, shakes from quakes are transmitted farther here than they are in California, Levin said.
Getting protection
Standard homeowner, renter, and business insurance policies typically do not cover earthquake damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Only 7 percent of homeowners that responded to an Institute survey in 2014 said they had earthquake insurance.
Only about 2 percent of homeowners in the Northeast have earthquake coverage, the survey revealed.
Levin said he declines to have earthquake coverage, saying hurricanes and flooding are a much greater risk in New Jersey.
“If an event is extremely unlikely, how much money is worth investing in safeguarding from it?” Levin said.
Although there is no reliable way to predict a major earthquake, let’s just say experts don’t think whole cities will crumble or be consumed by the ocean, as depicted by Hollywood.
“I’m planning to take my class to see ‘San Andreas.’ Oh my God, that’s such overkill,” Levin said.

Antichrist,begins sit-in inside Green Zone to push for reforms

Iraq’s Sadr begins sit-in inside Green Zone to push for reforms

Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr speaks during a sit-in at the gates of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone March 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily
An Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr speaks during a sit-in at the gates of Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone March 27, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily

Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr speaks during a sit-in at the gates of Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone 

March 27, 2016.
Reuters/Khalid al Mousily
Powerful Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr entered Baghdad’s Green Zone, the heavily-fortified center of the capital housing government buildings and embassies, on Sunday to keep up pressure on the government to enact reforms.

Thousands of Sadr’s supporters began a sit-in at the district’s gates more than a week ago and continued to camp out despite heavy rains earlier in the day, but Sadr took the protest forward by entering the zone itself.

“Beloved protesters, I will enter the Green Zone by myself and (my escorts) only. I sit in inside the Green Zone and you sit in at its gates. None of you move,” he told them before walking past a security checkpoint near parliament and the upscale Rashid Hotel into the Green Zone.
Sadr is urging Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to move ahead with a plan announced more than six weeks ago to replace current ministers with unaffiliated technocrats in a bid to tackle systemic political patronage that has abetted graft.

Television channels affiliated with Sadr’s political party showed him greeting guards as he entered the district with armed guards, then sit down on a white plastic chair beside concrete barriers. He sipped on bottled water before sitting on the ground inside a green tent his aides had erected.
Protesters waving Iraqi flags outside expressed support for the move by Sadr, one of the country’s most savvy political operators who commands the loyalty of millions of Iraqis and has at times appeared very close to neighboring Shi’ite power Iran.

One supporter held a sign reading: “No retreat, no blood, no surrender.”


It was not immediately clear how long Sadr, the 42-year-old who rose to prominence when his Mahdi Army battled U.S. troops following the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, planned to continue his personal demonstration.

Along with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric, Sadr has re-emerged as a leader in matters of state in recent months after a period of relative quietude.

Abadi, who has been slow to deliver reforms but pledged to reveal a cabinet reshuffle this week, has voiced concern that Shi’ite street protests could spin out of control and endanger Iraq’s security when it needs to focus on fighting Islamic State.

Corruption and the U.S.-backed war against the ultra-hardline Sunni militants are depleting the government’s finances as revenues are declining due to lower oil prices.

If Abadi fails to deliver long-promised anti-corruption measures, his government may be weakened just as Iraqi forces are gearing up to try and recapture the northern city of Mosul.

The Green Zone, originally set up to protect U.S. occupation forces from suicide bombings, has been kept in place by successor Iraqi authorities for security reasons.

Roads and bridges over the Tigris River leading to the district were closed on Sunday, shutting down movement in central Baghdad as night fell.

(Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Rev 6:12)


New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan

By Brooklyn Eagle

New York, NY – The last big earthquake in the New York City area, centered in New York Harbor just south of Rockaway, took place in 1884 and registered 5.2 on the Richter Scale. Another earthquake of this size can be expected and could be quite damaging, says Dr. Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.
If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.

But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.

Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate boundaries, while Brooklyn is inside the North American plate, far from its boundary.

“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.

While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.

“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”

Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”

While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

Pakistan Terrorists Kill Christians On Easter (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistanis hunt for militants behind blast that killed at least 65

Pakistani authorities launched a hunt on Monday for militants behind a suicide bomb that killed at least 65 people in an attack that targeted Christians and was claimed by a Taliban faction that once declared ties with Islamic State.

Most of the victims of the bomb attack at a park in the eastern city of Lahore on Sunday evening were women and children enjoying an Easter weekend outing.

“We must bring the killers of our innocent brothers, sisters and children to justice and will never allow these savage inhumans to over-run our life and liberty,” military spokesman Asim Bajwa said in a post on Twitter.

Officials said at least 65 people were killed and about 300 wounded. The death toll was expected to rise.

Pakistan has been plagued by militant violence for the last 15 years, since it joined a U.S.-led campaign against Islamist militancy after the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States.
A faction of the Pakistani Taliban called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack, and issued a direct challenge to the government.

“The target was Christians,” said a faction spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said.

“We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore.”
The group has claimed responsibility for several big attacks after it split with the main Pakistani Taliban in 2014. It declared allegiance to the Islamic State but later said it was rejoining the Taliban insurgency.

While the army, police, government and Western interests have been the prime targets of the Pakistani Taliban and their allies, Christians and other religious minorities have also attacked.
Nearly 80 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a church in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2013.

The security forces have killed and arrested hundreds of suspected militants under a major crackdown launched after Taliban gunmen massacred 134 children at a military-run school in Peshawar in December 2014.

Lahore is the capital of Pakistan’s richest province, Punjab, and is widely seen as the political heartland of Sharif and his ruling party.

Sharif’s office condemned the blast as a cowardly act and said a response had been ordered, without elaborating.

Pakistan’s security agencies have long been accused of nurturing some militants to use for help in pursuing security objectives in Afghanistan and against old rival India.

The Pakistani Taliban are fighting to topple the government and install a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Sharif’s opponents have accused him of tolerating militancy in return for peac
e in his province, a charge he strongly denies.

(Reporting by Asad hashim; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

The Awaiting Disaster at Indian Point (Revelation 6:12)

Richard Brodsky: Rethink subsidizing New York’s nuclear power plants

Published 9:46 pm, Sunday, March 27, 2016
One of the enduring untruths about nuclear power is that it is cheap.
The public concern about the consequences of a nuke disaster was always pitted against nuclear energy’s supposed economic benefits. We are bombarded by advertising by the corporations that own nuke plants about how important they are to the economy. However dangerous, whatever the risk of a Fukushima, Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, we can’t afford to close them down.
That myth has been permanently shattered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It’s not cheaper. They can’t operate without a subsidy. And a subsidy they may be about to get. This is all happening in the relative quiet of the state’s administrative bureaucracy.
Cuomo directed the Public Service Commission to come up with an energy plan that addressed climate change. This is a good thing. The consequences of global climate change to New York are obvious to anyone with eyes to see. The PSC has come up with a far-reaching plan, which can fairly be described as smart, bold and innovative. Also a good thing. Part of the plan is financial subsidies of old nuclear power plants. Not so good.
The PSC has properly focused on renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. Nukes, whatever their economics, have relatively low carbon emissions. But economics, the excessive cost of nuclear power, was about to close the Ginna and FitzPatrick plants upstate. So Cuomo is proposing to subsidize the two plants, keep them open and benefit from their low carbon emissions.
Subsidies for nuclear power? There are better, safer and cheaper ways to meet the carbon reduction goals. And, at the same time, Cuomo remains committed to closing the downstate Indian Point plant. It is excluded from the subsidies, which may be legally difficult to achieve.
If it sounds complicated, it is. The move toward reduced carbon emissions in New York is the right thing to do. But the truth is that operating old, out-of-date nukes is a calculated safety and public health risk, one that is not worth taking. Better to put more emphasis on conservation and other renewable sources like wind and solar power, which are already included in the overall plan.
There are some conclusions to be drawn. We’ve begun to pay attention to the crisis in our transportation infrastructure. There’s a growing sense that we need to invest in roads, bridges and such. We have not paid attention to other vast infrastructure systems, like drinking water, telecommunications and energy.
As good a job as the PSC has done — with the exception of the nuke subsidy — these are too big to leave to administrative agencies. The long predicted crisis for all our infrastructure systems is upon us, and the Legislature and the governor need to elevate, and politicize, the major changes that are coming. The state will inevitably have to commit large sums of money to these systems, and voters should know about and participate in the decisions.
Cuomo stepped forward on a difficult issue, much to his credit. The overall strength of the Cuomo/PSC energy plan is clear. So are the public health and safety dangers of New York’s ancient, costly and technologically risky nuclear plants. The glaring problems of subsidizing nuclear power and the Indian Point anomaly need rethinking.
Richard Brodsky is a fellow at the Demos think tank in New York City and at the Wagner School at New York University

The Growing Risk Of Nuclear Terrorism (Revelation 15:2)

Credit Cristóbal Schmal

The recent attacks in Belgium and elsewhere would have been catastrophic if the terrorists had gotten their hands on nuclear weapons or even a primitive “dirty bomb,” which combines nuclear material with conventional explosives. International efforts to prevent access to such weapons have made significant progress in recent years, but there is still a long way to go.

The Nuclear Security Summit, started by President Obama in 2010, aims to address this problem by encouraging governments to secure and eliminate weapons-usable nuclear materials. The fourth of these meetings begins Thursday in Washington, with more than 50 world leaders, including President Xi Jinping of China, expected to attend, though not President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

In the last six years, such meetings have persuaded 14 countries and Taiwan to give up their weapons-usable plutonium and highly enriched uranium. Twelve others, including France, Russia and the United States, have decreased their stockpiles of nuclear materials. Many states have made nuclear-related facilities more secure and have strengthened cooperation against nuclear smuggling. Nuclear detection equipment has been installed at more than 300 international border crossings, airports and seaports.

But progress is slow, even though the need for enhanced protections has become more urgent, given the concerns that terrorist groups are seeking nuclear technology. More than 1,800 metric tons of nuclear material remain stored in 24 countries, much of it vulnerable to theft, according to former Senator Sam Nunn, co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy group. An increasing number of countries are pursuing nuclear energy projects, even though they lack the legal, regulatory and security frameworks to ensure that such programs, designed to produce power, not weapons, are protected, he said.

Experts say that many officials do not believe that nuclear terrorism is a serious threat. Even if the chances are small that terrorists will acquire a nuclear weapon, the fact that the potential consequences are devastating should propel summit participants to aggressively plug security gaps
Another effort to focus attention on nuclear threats is more quixotic but still valuable. The Marshall Islands, which decades ago was the site of 67 nuclear tests conducted by the United States, has brought suit at the International Court of Justice at The Hague against nations with nuclear weapons for failing to move toward disarmament, as required by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and international law in general.

The suit was initially filed against all nine nations with nuclear weapons, including the United States, Russia, France, China and Britain, which signed the treaty, as well as India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, which are not treaty members. But only Britain, India and Pakistan have recognized the court’s jurisdiction and so are the only ones now subject to the litigation. The court is expected to decide later this year whether the suit can proceed. Though no one expects the court to force the nuclear states to disarm, a verdict against them could increase pressure on them to exercise more restraint.

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States and Russia have sharply reduced their nuclear arsenals, but Moscow has rejected further negotiations and both countries are pursuing costly new modernization programs. India, Pakistan and North Korea are also expanding their programs. There are signs that overall stockpiles of nuclear weapons and nuclear material material may again increase. That disturbing trend must be reversed.