Tag Archives: Russia

Russia Eyes Higher Taxes, Price Controls to Curb Smoking

www.express.co.uk (cc)

www.express.co.uk (cc)

Strict new guidelines on where Russians can and cannot smoke, which Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law late February, went into effect Saturday.

 BBC News reports:

Smoking will be banned at workplaces, housing block stairwells, buses and commuter trains and within 15m of train stations and airports.

From 1 June 2014, all cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, shops, markets, shopping centres and long-distance journeys on ships and trains will become smoke free.
The sale of tobacco will also be prohibited at street kiosks and minimum prices will be set for cigarettes.

But a government official told Bloomberg.com that its goal of cutting smoking in half, in a country where 40 percent of the citizens light up, might require more encouragement:

 

“The health ministry will be pushing for faster excise-tax growth,” Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said in an e-mailed answer to questions from Bloomberg. “Our goal is a radical reduction of smoking. That could be reached by economic measures.”

The Health Ministry proposed raising the tax to 4,000 rubles ($125) per 1,000 cigarettes by the end of 2015, from 510 rubles, according to a letter dated Sept. 22 from Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova to Golodets obtained by Bloomberg News.

The Government approved a Finance Ministry proposal last week with a tax as high as 1,250 rubles in 2015.

 

In its current form, the law has no teeth–  until lawmakers approve amendments sometime next month, police can’t give tickets or impose fines for public smoking.

 

Defense Issues Weekly: Arms Control Association nothing more than a leftist propaganda group

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Russia continues building up its nuke arsenal

Russia continues to steadily build up and modernize its strategic and tactical nuclear arsenal, in line with the stated wishes of Russian leaders and Moscow’s current nuclear doctrine.

That doctrine prioritizes nuclear weapons above all others in Russia’s arsenal, makes them the basis of Russia’s security and superpower status, treats the US and its NATO allies as enemies, and allows the Russian military to use nuclear weapons first, even if the adversary doesn’t use them or if the opponent is a non-nuclear state.

Russia is currently modernizing all three legs of its nuclear triad. The ICBM force – the Strategic Missile Forces – is developing several new ICBM types simoultaneously. One is the “Son of Satan”, a new heavy ICBM intended to replace the SS-18 Satan (R-36M) – the most powerful ICBM ever fielded on Earth, with capacity to carry 10 powerful warheads and up to 28 decoys and other countermeasures.

Another is the Avangard, although it is not clear what that ICBM is. Another is a rail-mobile ICBM under development. A fourth new ICBM type, the Yars-M, is currently in production in both the silo-based and the mobile version. Finally, a fifth one, a “pseudo-ICBM” with a planned range of 6,000 kms, is being developed to circumvent the INF Treaty. Russia currently has 434 ICBMs.

The Russian Air Force has resumed production of modern, supersonic Tu-160 Blackjack bombers and is now developing a next generation bomber, scheduled to enter service in 2020. Concurrently, Russia is modernizing its older Tu-95 and Tu-22M bombers.

The Russian Navy has begun receiving next-gen Borei class ballistic missile submarines. Eight are on order.

The Russian tactical nuclear arsenal is undergoing significant modernization, too. Among the new delivery systems entering service are the Su-34 tactical bomber, the Su-35 Flanker multirole aircraft, and the SS-26 Stone short-range ballistic missile.

Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal – vastly bigger than America’s – is not bound by any treaty limits or inspections, and its strategic nuclear arsenal is slated to grow, not shrink, unlike that of the US.

Under the New START treaty, which the Democrats and liberal Republicans such as Henry Kissinger and George Shultz hailed as good for US national security, only the US is obligated to cut its nuclear arsenal – by one third. Russia is allowed (and accordingly continues) to grow its own arsenal. Then-Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov promised in the Russian parliament that not one Russian warhead or delivery system would be cut, and the Defense Ministry has kept that promise.

Also, the treaty has a very weak verification regime and does not, in any way, limit the number of ICBMs Russia can field, nor does it prohibit Russia to field road- or rail-mobile ICBMs (Russia already has the former and is developing the latter). Under the old START treaty, rail-mobile missiles were prohibited. Also, the treaty doesn’t count Tu-22M bombers as strategic, even though they are.

In short, the treaty gives Russia a lopsided advantage, which Moscow is only too eager to exploit.

Under current plans, Russia’s inventory of ICBMs and bombers will grow, as new bombers join the fleet and older ones are modernized, and ballistic missile submarines’ warhead delivery capacity will be increased with “Liner” missiles.

The only side cutting its nuclear arsenal in this treaty – indeed, anywhere in the world outside Britain – is the US. Despite the Obama administration’s publicly articulated goal of “Global Zero”, nobody is following the US.

Arms Control Association receives funding from extremist groups

The Arms Control Association (ACA), a liberal group founded in 1971 to promote arms control treaties and policies, receives generous funding from a panoply of leftist groups every year. This means that ACA, which claims to be an objective association conducting “research” and presenting “information” to policymakers and the public, is effectively a mouthpiece for extremely leftist groups seeking the unilateral disarmament of the United States.

These groups include the Ploughshares Fund, an organization whose explicit aim is to eliminate the US nuclear arsenal (and nuclear weapons worldwide, the problem being that no one is following the United States’ unilateral disarmament “example”), as well as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which advocates leftist policies on issues ranging from disarmament to “reproductive health” (i.e. abortion), to “community development”, to “international migration”.

ACA’s financial sponsors also include the Carnegie Corporation of New York – which has been advocating pacifism, the appeasement of America’s enemies and America’s disarmament for a long time – and the Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust, which also advocates America’s complete and unilateral disarmament (as well as unlimited abortion rights).

Other ACA sponsors include the Colombe Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Prospect Hill Foundation, and the New Land Foundation. All of these organizations support America’s and global disarmament as well as a panoply of other liberal policies. The Colombe Foundation states explicitly on its website:

“Colombe Foundation seeks to create a peaceful world through changes in American foreign policy.”

This implies that the US is an aggressor and a threat to world peace.

It further states that:

Colombe Foundation supports organizations working for a shift from wasteful military spending to investments in programs that create real national security grounded in meeting human and environmental needs.  It further supports organizations that advocate for foreign policy that is balanced with diplomacy and prevention rather than dominated by Cold War threats, war and aggression.”

The Prospect Hill Foundation’s website states:

“The Foundation makes grants in four program areas: Environment, Nuclear Disarmament & Nonproliferation, Reproductive Health and Justice, and Criminal Justice; and additionally supports the philanthropic interests and activities of Beinecke family members through Sponsored Grants in the areas of arts and culture, environmental conservation, civic affairs, social services and educational institutions.”

Besides the ACA, the PH foundation also supports many other pro-nuclear-disarmament groups in the US, including the NRDC, the UCS, and the ISIS.

House defense authorization bill takes shape

The annual defense authorization bill is taking shape in the House, as all HASC subcommittees have released their marks and the full committee prepares to do so.

The bill would deny the DOD the authority to carry out significant, overdue reforms for which the DOD has repeatedly requested authorization: healthcare and retirement programs reform, retirement of excess aircraft, and base closure.

The bill would, at the same time, preserve the seven cruisers and two amphibious ships the Navy wants to retire while the cruisers still have 20 years of service life remaining; fully fund the next generation bomber, jammer, drone, and missile programs; fully fund the nuclear triad, aircraft carriers, surface combatants, and submarines; and give the DOD funding and authorization for most other programs it has asked for.

Nonetheless, the refusal to authorize reforms proposed by the DOD will cost the Department additional billions of dollars every year. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment has warned that unless such reforms are implemented, personnel pay and benefits will consume the entire defense budget by FY2039.

China conducts massive cyber attack, steals weapon designs

On Tuesday, May 28th, the Washington Post and the Washington Free Beacon reported a massive Chinese cyberattack which occurred in the last few weeks and resulted in the theft of the designs and specifications for dozens of major US weapon systems, including the F-35 and F/A-18 strike jets, the PATRIOT, THAAD, and Aegis ballistic missile defense systems, and the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. This will save China tens of billions in development costs while also enabling it to defeat US missile defense systems.

A separate recent report has concluded that, overall, Chinese hacking costs the US 300 billion dollars annually in lost intellectual property.

The attack was conducted by Chinese military hackers, who conduct smaller-scale, but very frequent, attacks on US government networks daily.

However, the US government still denies that any crippling attack has happened or that China is a potential adversary who should be confronted – despite pleas from even some Democrats, such as SASC Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), to confront China about its cyberattacks on the US. Pentagon spokesman George Little said that “We maintain full confidence in our weapon systems” and denied that anything calamitous had happened.

Meanwhile, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, an Obama appointee, still wishes to pursue “cooperation” with China on countering cyberattacks and securing cybernetworks and continues to believe in moral equivalence between the US and China.

Efforts to defend US cybernetworks are seriously hampered by a lack of any legislation on the matter, standards of data protection, and enabling of seamless sharing of information between industry and the government. To redress these problems, the House has passed a cyberbill this year and in 2012, but the Senate, led by Harry Reid, has failed to act. President Obama has issued an executive order, but an EO is not a law, can apply to federal executive agencies only, and the Obama EO only increases the regulatory burden on industry while failing to actually redress the above-mentioned problems.

Defense Issues Weekly – May 28th

NOTE: From this edition forward, Defense Issues Weekly will appear on weekdays. This week, it will appear on Tuesday, and afterwards, it will appear on Mondays.

US on course to gut its military…

With sequestration in effect and no prospect of it being cancelled, the DOD will have to cut an additional $550 bn from its budget over the next decade on top of all the defense cuts already implemented or mandated. Accordingly, the DOD is now devising three budgetary plans for three different contingencies.

The first assumes that only $100 bn per decade in cuts is implemented, i.e. that Congress accepts Barack Obama’s budget proposal. The second assumes $300 bn, and the third $500 bn in cuts over the next decade.

Under the first scenario, the Army would take the biggest hits, mostly in force structure. Under the second and third, all services would have to make deep cuts in their size, modernization programs, and mission readiness alike. DOD officials have privately conceded to DefenseNews.com that should the full $500 bn cuts of the sequester hit the Department, the military would be severely weakened and would not be able to defeat a major adversary, let alone a peer competitor (such as China or Russia).

$500 bn in additional budgetary cuts would also mean the military won’t get the promised and badly needed equipment and munitions to prevail in theaters where access is denied by the enemy with anti-access/area-denial weapons and where the free use of the airspace, the sea, cyberspace, and outer space is in danger. This means no new bombers, cruise missiles, carrier-capable drones, or other crucial weapons needed to prevail in such environments – which are becoming more common every day.

DefenseNews.com reports that:

“If the second option — the $300 billion cut — were put in place, the cuts would be levied against all the services.

The third option assumes full sequestration, or $500 billion over the decade. Sources with insight into the SCMR say this option would wreak the most havoc on the military and force the cancellation or scaling back of several major acquisition efforts.

These sources also said the magnitude of the cut could prevent the military from being able to fight a major war against a near peer competitor.”

Also, by the end of May, four Washington think-tanks – the CSBA, the CNAS, the AEI, and the CSIS – intend to present their own plans on how to cut defense spending by the amount required by sequestration. These presentations will attempt to lull the public into thinking that such deep defense cuts can be done safely, without jeopardizing national security or any key mission of the military.

While 62% of all Americans oppose further defense cuts and believe the defense budget is either “about right” or inadequate, and even though the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats oppose sequestration, there is little prospect of the issue being resolved. The two sides vehemently disagree on how to solve the problem, with Republicans opposing any new tax hikes and Democrats advocating a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts. Both sides have firmly entrenched in their positions and neither side is willing to blink first.

Also, both parties are being held hostage by extremists on both sides of the spectrum who oppose any compromise and believe sequestration is sacred and should stay on the books.

Already prior to sequestration, the military had to make significant cuts, from cancelling programs to retiring hundreds of aircraft, multiple surface combatants and amphibious ships, and 80,000 troops. These cuts would have to be several orders of magnitude deeper if sequestration were to stay on the books.

At present, the US Navy has only 284 commissioned ships – the fewest since 1915 and able to supply only 59% of combatant commanders’ requirements – while the Air Force is flying the oldest and smallest fleet of aircraft in its entire history, with average aircraft age at over 24 years. Moreover, most USAF bombers, tankers, airlifters, and fighters are much older.

The Marines are poised to decline to 182,000 troops, the fewest since the 1950s, even without sequestration, but with sequestration, the USMC would shrink to only 150,000 troops, the fewest since the late 1940s. The US nuclear arsenal, at just 5,000 warheads, is over 75% smaller than 20 years ago.

…and so is France

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The French government is also in the process of deeply cutting the country’s military, further weakening it after deep cuts implemented by President Sarkozy (2007-2012) (photographed above).

After the newest cuts – outlined in the White Paper on Defense released on April 29th – are fully implemented, the French Army will have only 7 brigades and only 200 tanks. Its fleet of lighter combat vehicles, helicopters, and other platforms also faces significant cuts.

The French Navy will not get the second aircraft carrier that President Sarkozy promised in 2007 nor a fourth amphibious assault ship of the Mistral class. After the 2 ageing air-defense frigates (destroyers) of the Cassard class are retired without replacement, the Navy will have only 2 destroyers for air defense. The frigate fleet will also shrink, from 18 to 15, while second-rate frigates will be reclassified as first-rate ones. It will shrink further as ageing vessels leave service, because only 8 new frigates (FREMM class) will be built – not the 11 planned just a few years ago, or the 17 originally planned.

The planned air-defense frigate type (FREDA) will not be built.

Yet, the deepest cuts will fall on the already-overstretched French Air Force, the world’s oldest. It currently has only 226 combat aircraft (Rafale, Mirage 2000, Mirage F1), but will have to cut that to a paltry 180 per the newest defense cuts. The entire French military will have only 225 combat aircraft (mostly Rafales and Mirage 2000s; the remaining Mirage F1s will be retired). This is another steep cut in combat power for an Air Force already deeply cut since 2000 (when it had 382 combat aircraft) and 2006 (when it had 330). The previous President, Nicolas Sarkozy, allowed the French Air Force and Navy combined to have only 300 combat aircraft.

The Air Force’s tanker fleet will also shrink, from 14 to 12. Thus, the FAF will see the fleets of its two most important aircraft types – multirole fighters and tankers – shrink at the very time when these aircraft types are playing the lead roles in France’s wars, from Afghanistan to Libya to Mali, where France doesn’t have any local airbases and has had to fly combat missions (performed by the very multirole fighters the government wants to cut, of course) from metropolitan France through Algerian airspace with aerial refueling on the way.

Likewise, the order for A400M airlifters has been cut from 70 to 50.

France’s Malian operation has revealed a shortage of tankers and airlifters, which France has had to ask the US and Britain for, but the French government remains stubborn in cutting the Air Force.

For overseas operations, France will be able to contribute only 15,000 troops in total, backed up by one amphibious assault ship and a dozen fighters. This means that, as retired French generals have admitted, France will be able to conduct only small-scale operations overseas, and in coalition expeditionary operations, it won’t be able to offer more than a symbolic contribution.

Russia exports A2/AD arms worldwide

Russia has stepped up its exports of anti-access/area-denial weapons – such as air defense systems and anti-ship missiles – worldwide, particularly to nations unfriendly to the US, as the US ponders how to counter such weapons while its own defense budget is shrinking rapidly.

Russia has recently decided – despite US and Israeli protests – to sell advanced S-300 air defense systems and Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles and launchers to Syria, whose government is battling a Sunni Islamic insurgency and fears a Western or Israeli intervention.

The sale follows Moscow’s earlier decision, though not yet inked in a firm contract, to supply 24 Su-35 multirole fighters (with a combat radius of 1,000 nm and thrust-vectoring-capable engines), supersonic TVC engines for China’s domestically-produced fighters, S-400 (SA-21) air defense systems (with a range of 400 kms), and the Tu-22M bomber production line (China plans to build 36 of these aircraft) to Beijing, which has already built a massive, impressive network of A2/AD weapons, mostly supplied by Russia and threatening America’s ability to project power in the Western Pacific.

Russia has also sold S-300 air defense (SAM) systems, Kilo class submarines, and Su-30MKV multirole fighters to Venezuela and has been sued by Iran in international courts to deliver the S-300 systems it had promised to Tehran.

The S-300 and S-400 systems are more capable than the PATRIOT and render the airspace protected by them firmly closed to nonstealthy aircraft and missiles, as do upgraded legacy Soviet air defense systems such as the SA-6 and SA-11/17.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130519/DEFREG02/305190007/DoD-Examines-3-Budget-Cut-Scenarios

Defense Issues Weekly

Russia builds up, US cuts unilaterally

The Obama administration is preparing to announce a new round of deep, unilateral  cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal, writes Bill Gertz of the Washington Times.
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Writing in his weekly Inside the Ring column, Gertz states it will happen “soon” and that a Pentagon “review”, written precisely to “justify” these new, deep, unilateral cuts, will be used for that purpose. The cuts, as many outlets have already announced, may bring the arsenal to as few as 1,000 (or fewer) warheads. Gertz states this “review” was completed, and the decision to cut was made, months ago, but have been withheld from the public so far to prevent Obama from losing the 2012 presidential election.

Obama, having been reelected by the American electorate in 2012, will not to have to face voters ever again.

The result will be not just a deep, unilateral cut in America’s nuclear deterrent, but also a possible cancellation of warhead modernization programs, a replacement for the B-52’s aging cruise missiles (the B-52 has such a huge radar signature it cannot safely enter enemy airspace itself), the new “boomer” (ballistic missile submarine) class, and a plutonium pit producing facility in New Mexico, all of which were promised by Obama in 2010 during the New START ratification debate and in the New START ratification resolution. Construction of the said facility is also mandated by the FY2013 NDAA.

(NOTE: In 2010, this writer warned not to believe or accept President Obama’s modernization promises on the grounds that his word cut not be trusted under any circumstances; however, this writer’s warnings were roundly ignored and 13 Republicans foolishly voted for the treaty. Some of these Republicans are now the same individuals complaining about Obama’s failure to fulfill his promises, even though Obama never intended to keep those promises.)

Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense has announced it will continue growing its nuclear arsenal and modernizing it substantially, including the development of a new road-mobile ICBM (the Yars-M, tested successfully last year) and a rail-based ICBM (thus further adding to Russia’s arsenal of ICBMs). It also plans to develop a heavy ICBM (the “Son of Satan”) and an ICBM called the “Avangard”, as well as a “pseudo-ICBM” with a range of 6,000 kms, to counter China’s large nuclear arsenal of 3,000 warheads.

The US, on the other hand, does not have any road- or rail-mobile ICBMs and has no plans to develop any, although the USAF is studying such options.

Rail-mobile ICBMs were prohibited by the first and second START treaty, but are not forbidden by the one-sided New START treaty negotiated by the Obama State Department and signed by Obama in April 2010. Russia is now taking advantage of this huge loophole, as well as of the loophole (also found in previous START treaties) that does not count its 171 Tu-22M strategic bombers as such under these treaties. It’s also taking advantage of New START’s extremely weak verification regime, which gives it ample opportunity for cheating.

Concurrently, Russia is modernizing the other legs of its nuclear triad: its next generation bomber is scheduled to enter service in 2020 (as are the forementioned ICBMs), and the first of its new class of ballistic missile submarines, the Yuri Dolgoruki of the Borei class, joined the Russian Navy’s fleet last year.

Historically, Russia, and before it, the Soviet Union, has never complied with any arms control treaty it has signed.

Critics have charged that by cutting the US nuclear arsenal deeply and unilaterally below New START levels, Obama is inviting Russian nuclear blackmail of the US and dramatically undermining US national security, while needlessly dismantling the only weapon type that has never failed for its entire 67-year-long existence.

 Dempsey appeases China

During his visit to China last week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, an Obama appointee, asked China for help in combating cyber attacks.

Despite the well-documented fact that many, if not most cyberattacks on the US originate from China and have been perpetrated by the PLA and other Chinese government entities, Dempsey put his faith in China’s benevolence, asking its leaders for help and proposing Sino-American “cooperation” on the matter.

Such “cooperation” would mean that Chinese government and military personnel would gain intimate access to US computer networks and thus be able to find out how to navigate – or disable – them and how to steal more information from the US government.

Yet, Gen. Dempsey called a Sino-American “working group” recently established “to combat cyber attacks” “both timely and appropriate”, and claimed that cyber attacks do as much damage to the Chinese as to the US economy.

Similarly, last year, Hillary Clinton claimed that both the US and China have been “victims of cyber attacks”, suggesting moral equivalence moral equivalence between the two countries.

Heritage Foundation analyst David Inserra commented recently:

“By turning a blind eye to China’s obvious bad cyber behavior, Dempsey and others are encouraging China to keep hacking, since there will obviously be no consequences from Washington. Even worse, by recommending more cooperation with China on this issue, the Obama Administration is actually rewarding the Chinese for their hacking by allowing them to become more familiar with our cyber systems and cybersecurity responses—and thus better prepared to spy on or disrupt them.(…)

The U.S. should change its approach to China on cybersecurity. China is not a victim on this issue; it is the perpetrator, and the U.S. should take actions that make its hacking more costly and painful—for instance, by calling out Beijing for its bad actions and ceasing to cooperate. The U.S. should also pursue legal and economic actions against Chinese companies that trade in stolen U.S. intellectual property. On top of that, the U.S. should break down Chinese censorship of the Internet and support the free flow of information within China.

Failing to change the U.S. policy toward China’s cyber crimes will only encourage more crime and attacks. It’s time to stand up to China and defend American interests.”

Ray Mabus: cutting warships, playing with boats

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus still insists on decommissioning 7 of the Navy’s newest cruisers while building 55 littoral combat ships that lack appropriate combat power, survivability, and are very vulnerable to cyber attacks.

The Navy’s released FY2014 budget proposal still insists on decommissioning the cruisers .

At the same time, Mabus insists on continuing the Littoral Combat Ship program of building 55 poorly-armed, easy-to-sink boats armed with nothing more than a gun and a few short-range missiles and costing $440 mn each, without counting the cost of their combat modules.

Mabus has hailed the LCS program as “one of our very best shipbuilding programs”, even though it is grossly overbudget and behind schedule and produces poorly-armed boats that cannot defend themselves. Think-tanks such as the CNAS and the Heritage Foundation have called for truncating LCS production.

The Navy’s own shipbuilding plans and girues also show that the service will not reach even its meagre goal – set last December – of reaching 306 ships, let alone the 313 ships the Navy said it needed as recently as December 2011. Indeed, the service’s plans show its ship fleet – especially the fleets of cruisers, destroyers, and submarines – shrinking deeply during the next 2 decades. During and after that period, the Navy’s total ship number will be significantly inflated by LCSes.

Critics, such as House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Randy Forbes (R-VA-04), have charged that the Navy is woefully underinvesting in its ship fleet and leaving it too small for the missions of today, let alone those of the future. They claim that, as the US “pivots” to the Western Pacific and continues to attempt to deter Iran in the Gulf, a large ship fleet is needed to keep the peace in both theaters, which are predominantly maritime.

Currently, the Navy is able to meet only 59% of Combatant Commanders’ requests for ships and only 61% of their requests for submarines.

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Partial remedies have been suggested by think tanks such as the CNAS and Brookings. The former proposes establishing “red teams” to evaluate what it calls the “unconstrained” requirements of COCOMs, while Brookings proposes to station more warships abroad to make more available where they’re needed. It points out that one warship forward-deployed abroad (e.g. in Japan) is worth 4 warships based in the US.

Congressman Forbes proposes to increase the annual shipbuilding budget from $15 bn to $23 bn per year. That budget has been stagnant at $15 bn per year for several years.

Rebuttal of the 6 most popular myths about nuclear weapons

As it continues to campaign for deep cuts in America’s defenses, the Left has particularly aimed its arrows at the US nuclear deterrent, which protect America and over 30 of its allies against the most catastrophic threats: a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack; a large-scale conventional attack; and nuclear proliferation. It is the most effective nonproliferation program ever enacted.

It is falsely claimed that:

1)      Nuclear weapons are irrelevant in the 21st century security environment. They are relics of the Cold War.

2)      A “world without nuclear weapons” is both realistically attainable and desirable.

3)      The nuclear triad is too expensive and not worth the cost.

4)      The entire nuclear arsenal is too expensive and siphons money away from other defense programs.

5)      Conventional weapons, missile defense systems, and cyberweapons can replace nuclear weapons in a very wide range of missions and scenarios and against the vast majority of targets.

6)      The fewer nuclear weapons the US has, the better; cutting America’s nuclear deterrent makes America safer.

Let’s deal with these myths one after another.

Myth #1: Nuclear weapons are irrelevant in the 21st century security environment. They are relics of the Cold War.

The facts: Nuclear weapons are HIGHLY RELEVANT in the 21st century security environment. They protect America and all of its allies against the following three, potentially catastrophic, security threats: a nuclear/chemical/biological attack, a large-scale conventional attack, and nuclear proliferation.

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megoizzy (CC)


The US nuclear arsenal is the most effective counter-proliferation program ever created. It has discouraged all of America’s allies except Britain and France from developing nuclear weapons, reassuring them that they don’t need to do so because the US provides a powerful nuclear umbrella to them. Such an umbrella is ESPECIALLY needed now – more than ever – given the nuclear threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

Russia has 2,800 strategic nuclear warheads (including 1,550 deployed) and up to 4,000 tactical warheads – and the means to deliver all 6,800 if need be. Its 434 ICBMs can collectively deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; its 14 ballistic missile submarines can deliver over 2,200 warheads to the CONUS (while sitting in their ports); and each of its 251 strategic bombers can carry up to 7 warheads (1 freefall bomb and 6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles). Its Tu-95 bomber fleet alone can deliver over 700 warheads to the middle of America.

China has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, and the means to deliver 1,274 of them. Among these are almost 70 ICBMs, 120-140 MRBMs, over 1,600 SRBMs, dozens of land-attack cruise missiles, six ballistic missile submarines, and 440 nuclear-capable aircraft. While the vast majority of its SRBMs and cruise missiles are reportedly conventionally-armed at present, they could be armed with nuclear weapons anytime, which is called “breakout capability.”

Then there’s North Korea with its nuclear arsenal (which it has announced it will grow) and ICBMs capable of reaching the US, and Iran, which is coming closer to achieving nuclear weapon status everyday.

Besides deterring nuclear attack, nuclear weapons also protect America’s treaty allies against a large-scale conventional attack – ensuring that it has never happened so far.

Myth #2: A “world without nuclear weapons” is both realistically attainable and desirable. 

The facts: A world without nuclear weapons (“Global Zero”) is neither achievable nor desirable. Not achievable, because no other country in the world is following America’s disarmament “example” (and foreign countries don’t care about America’s “examples”; they care only about their self-interest). No other country is following the US on the road to “Global Zero”. Accordingly, there will NEVER be a world without nuclear weapons.

Russia has recently declared it will not cut its nuclear arsenal nor enter into any negotiations to that end. It is actually building UP its arsenal (as allowed to do so by the New START) and modernizing it. China, which has up to 3,000 nuclear warheads, is also rapidly building up and modernizing its arsenal, and refusing to even disclose its size or enter into any talks – let alone formal treaty negotiations – about it. Likewise, India and Pakistan refuse to join the Nonproliferation Treaty, disclose the size of their arsenals, or enter into any talks – let alone arms control treaties – pertaining to these arsenals. Ditto North Korea, which has recently announced it will NEVER give up its nuclear arsenal and that, if anything, it will INCREASE its size and restart the Yongboyng reactor to harvest plutonium from spent fuel rods.

So NO nuclear power wants to join the West in its suicidal nuclear disarmament quest. None whatsoever. Not Russia, not China, not India and Pakistan, not North Korea. And, of course, Iran is racing towards nuclear power status.

Even Bruce Blair, a supporter of America’s nuclear disarmament, testified recently before the House Armed Services Committee on March 19th that even if America cut its nuclear arsenal deeply, e.g. along the lines of what his organization (Global Zero) proposes, NOBODY would reciprocate. (1:04:41)

Which is true – Russia, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, etc., are all refusing to even cut, let alone eliminate, their nuclear arsenals. Obama has NO followers on the road to his totally unrealistic goal of “global zero”. There will never be a “global zero.”

Nuclear weaponry is a genie that cannot be put back into the bottle. It cannot be “un-invented” or banished from the face of the Earth, contrary to the unrealistic dreams of several US Presidents, including Ronald Reagan (this shows that, alas, Reagan wasn’t perfect and had some flaws).

Nor would a “nuclear-free world” be safer and more peaceful than it is now, contrary to Obama’s false claims that the US should “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” On the contrary, it would be less peaceful and secure.

Humanity lived through “Global Zero” – in a world without nukes – for almost its entire history from its dawn to 1945. During that time, there were numerous and horribly destructive wars between the great powers of the time, each one leading to huge casualties among combatants and civilians and to great destruction. Examples included the Peloponesian war, Rome’s wars of conquest, the Hundred Years War, the Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, the Seven Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, and of course, the two World Wars. Not to mention the numerous bloody civil wars such as those in the US (1861-1865) and Russia (1918-1923).

5 million people, including 1 million Frenchmen, died in the Napoleonic Wars. Proportionally to the populations of today, that would be 50 million Europeans, including 10 million Frenchmen. French casualties in these wars were 14% higher than in WW1. In that war alone, about 10 million people died; in World War 2, over 60 million, and its perpetrators attempted the extermination of entire nations (peoples) and even races. The sheer barbarity and murder witnessed during that war is unmatched by any conflict before or after that war.

Since 1945, however – the advent of nuclear weapons – there has been NO war between the great powers. And it is mostly, if not entirely, because of nuclear weapons, which have moderated their behavior and forced them to accept coexistence with each other even if they have diametrically opposed ideologies. Nuclear weapons have taught them that even the most difficult compromise is better than a nuclear exchange.

Nuclear weapons have not ended war completely – no invention will ever do that – but they have eliminated great power wars. All wars since 1945 have been either between smaller, non-world-power countries (e.g. conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors), or between a world power and a weaker country (e.g. Iraq, Vietnam), or between a country and an insurgency (e.g. the US vs the Taleban).

Such conflicts have a much smaller scale, body count, and destructive power than great power wars. Since WW2, there hasn’t been a conflict even approaching the sheer barbarity and destruction of WW2, and it is mostly, if not entirely, due to nuclear weapons.

Instead of seeking their scrapping, we should all learn to love them.

Myth #3: The nuclear triad is too expensive and not worth the cost.

The facts: The nuclear triad is NOT too expensive and is well worth the cost. The ICBM leg of the nuclear triad – the cheapest, most ready, most responsive, and most dispersed leg – costs only $1.1 bn per year to maintain; the bomber leg, only $2.5 bn per year. The entire nuclear arsenal, including all the warheads, missiles, bombers, submarines, supporting facilities, and personnel costs only $32-38 bn per year to maintain, which is only 6.3% of the entire military budget ($611 bn in FY2013, pre-sequestration).

For that low cost, taxpayers get a large, diverse, survivable nuclear triad capable of surviving even a large-scale first strike and of striking anywhere in the world with any needed measure of power. A triad that gives the President huge flexibility in where, when, and how to strike; a triad that keeps the enemy guessing as to how the US would retaliate.

As Robert Kaplan says, “Don’t give your enemy too few problems to solve because if you do, he’ll solve them.”

Without the ICBM leg, the enemy would have to destroy only 2 submarine bases, 3 bomber bases, and any SSBNs that would be on patrol. WITH the ICBM leg still existing, the enemy would also have to make sure he destroys every single USAF ICBM silo; there are 450, and the USAF may have built decoy siloes.

Numbers don’t lie. Liberals do.

Without a triad, the nuclear deterrent would’ve been much less survivable than it is. This will be even MORE important as the arsenal is cut to even lower, post-New-START, levels.

A nuclear triad is the most survivable and most flexible nuclear arsenal arrangement ever invented, which is why the US, Russia, China, and Israel all have it, and why India is developing it. The Air Force is also considering the development of a rail-mobile ICBM, which could be hidden in innocently-looking, civilian-style railroad cars.

Myth #4: The entire nuclear arsenal is too expensive and siphons money away from other defense programs.

The facts: According to the Stimson Center, maintaining the US nuclear deterrent costs ca. $32–36 bn per year, including all the warheads, delivery systems, support facilities, personnel, and nuclear-related intelligence. This is a paltry 5.872% of the FY2013 military budget ($613 bn per the FY2013 NDAA). Modernizing the nuclear arsenal will, according to Stimson, cost up to $390 bn over the next decade, i.e. $39 bn per year on average. This is 6.4% of the FY2013 military budget. These are microscoping percentages.

So the US provides a large nuclear umbrella to itself and to over 30 allies at a cost of only 6% of its total military budget.

Furthermore, even if the ENTIRE nuclear arsenal were scrapped IMMEDIATELY and UNILATERALLY today, that would “save” a paltry $36 bn per year and thus fail to come even close to paying for sequestration, let alone balancing the federal budget.

No, the US nuclear arsenal is not siphoning money away from anything. As usual, it’s a scapegoat for liberals.

It is, in fact, other, more costly defense programs that are siphoning money away from nuclear deterrence and other defense priorities. For example, the development and acquisition of 2,400 short-range, understealthed, slow, sluggish F-35 strike jets will cost $400 bn. A single aircraft carrier costs $15 bn, yet is tragically vulnerable to ballistic and cruise missiles, submarines, and naval mines. Yet, the biggest cost drivers in the defense budget are personnel programs (pay, benefits, healthcare, retirement, etc.), which, unless seriously reformed, will consume the ENTIRE defense budget by no later than FY2039. That means no money for nuclear deterrence or for weapons of any kind.

And while F-35s and aircraft carriers are increasingly and prohibitively expensive, they’re also increasingly vulnerable and useless for the threat environments the US military will have to operate in. Meanwhile, the next generation bomber will be able to strike from well over the horizon – even the CONUS – and submarines have always been stealthy. USAF ICBMs sit in hardened siloes, can strike any place on the planet, and may be replaced by rail-mobile ones (see above).

Myth #5: Conventional weapons, missile defense systems, and cyberweapons can replace nuclear weapons in a very wide range of missions and scenarios and against the vast majority of targets.

The facts: Such claims are preposterous. None of these weapons have anything even close to the destructive, crippling power of atomic weapons.

Conventional weapons utterly lack such power. Even the most powerful conventional bombs – MOABs and the now-retired Daisy Cutters – have the explosive power approaching only that of the lowest-yield nuclear warheads, and MOAB is not even designed to penetrate anything.

Cyberweapons can shut down computer networks, but only temporarily, and can’t physically destroy anything. Buildings, vehicles, warships, aircraft, and humans will still exist. Cyberweapons can only complement other types of arms, but never replace them.

Nor can missile defense ever replace nuclear weapons. It has long been an article of faith among conservatives, including conservative think-tank analysts, that it can, but the truth is that it can’t. This truth will be uncomfortable for them, but my job as defense analysts is to tell people the truth, not what they want to hear.

Missile defense technology is still in its infancy. Moreover, one needs several interceptors to shoot down one missile. For example, to shoot down one Russian ICBM would take 7 ground-based interceptors of the type deployed in AK and CA. US missile defense systems (except the PATRIOT) have never been tested in massive missile barrages – the type of missile attacks the US will actually have to counter.

Furthermore, BMD systems’ ability to distinguish real warheads from decoys is yet unclear, and there are no systems available for boost-phase interception. But worst of all, BMD interceptors are far more expensive than the ballistic missiles they’re designed to intercept. A THAAD missile costs $9-10 mn; an SM-3, $10 mn; a ground-based interceptor, $70 mn. It is far cheaper to build and launch ballistic missiles than to intercept them. Furthermore, America’s enemies already have such huge inventories of BMs of all types – measured in thousands – that they are and will always be able to overwhelm American BMD systems through sheer numbers.

The best way to protect against missiles of any kind is to kill the archer, not the arrow. Only “offensive” systems – strike systems – can do that. This includes ICBMs, SLBMs, cruise missiles, bombers, and theater strike aircraft.

Myth #6: The fewer nuclear weapons the US has, the better; cutting America’s nuclear deterrent makes America safer.

The facts: These claims are also completely false. No nation in history has become more secure by disarming itself – whether uni-, bi-, or multilaterally. No nation in history has increased its security by indulging in arms reduction and disarmament – such policies have only weakened, and reduced the security of, the  nations practicing them.

Myth #6 is, in fact, an utter rejection of any principle or notion of deterrence or of peace through strength; it turns these principles upside down. Myth #6 is essentially a claim that weakness is good and leads to peace and security; that weakening one’s own military (and that’s what cutting its arsenals of weapons does – it weakens the military) makes one more secure and the world more peaceful.

Many variations of this myth have been uttered by the Left. For example, during the forementioned HASC Strategic Forces Subcommitteee hearing, its ranking member, Democrat Jim Cooper of Tennessee, an ardent enemy of nuclear weapons, claimed that the biggest cut in America’s nuclear deterrent – made by the elder President Bush in the early 1990s – was “a good thing”, that it made America and the world more secure and peaceful, and that this is supposedly shared by the “mainstream” of American opinion. Another strident leftist, John Garamendi (D-CA), claimed that “whatever we can do to cut nuclear arsenals – here, in North Korea, around the world”  is a good thing.

Their claims are blatant lies, of course. As I’ve already stated, no nation in history has become more secure by disarming itself, and America won’t be the first. President Bush’s deep unilateral cut in America’s deterrent is a textbook example of that. He cut the arsenal by almost half, withdrew US nuclear weapons from Korea and from surface warships unilaterally, terminated MX ICBM production and B-2 bomber production at just 21 aircraft, terminated the Midgetman SRBM, and terminated warhead production and testing.

Yet, no one else has reciprocated. Since then, China has dramatically increased its nuclear arsenal – to at least 1,800 and up to 3,000 warheads – while North Korea and Pakistan joined the nuclear club, India and these two countries have conducted nuclear tests, and Iran has made dramatic progress towards nuclear weapon capability. Russia has begun rebuilding and modernizing its arsenal.

So Bush’s deep nuclear cuts only weakened America’s deterrent (and confidence in it) while utterly failing to discourage others from developing or increasing their own arsenals. Two new states have joined the nuclear club, others have conducted tests, and Iran is well on its way there.

That’s because cutting America’s nuclear deterrent DOES NOTHING to prevent or even slow down nuclear proliferation or encourage others to disarm themselves. It is perceived (correctly) as a sign of American weakness and appeasement. It only emboldens America’s enemies while leading America’s allies to doubt the US umbrella. It does NOTHING, and will never do anything, to eliminate or even reduce the arsenals of other powers.

Other nuclear (and aspiring) powers don’t care about America’s “example” or observance of arms control treaties; they care only about their own military strength and see nuclear weapons as a key element of that. America has NO followers on the road to “Global Zero” – which other nuclear powers simply DON’T want to travel. Even Bruce Blair has admitted at 1:04:41 that even if the US totally disarmed itself, NO ONE would follow suit.

Thus, we have refuted all of the 6 most popular leftist lies about nuclear weapons. It is impossible (and not even necessary) to refute all myths that have been made about these crucial instruments of deterrence; and the vast majority of the lies about them fall under one of these 6 categories.

Nuclear weapons are NOT a threat to America’s or the world’s security; on the contrary, they are key to preserving it far into the future. They are irreplaceable instruments of peace and deterrence.

North Korea: Proof that “arms control” has utterly failed

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In December, North Korea tested an ICBM which delivered a North Korean satellite to the Earth’s orbit, thus demonstrating the capability to miniaturize payloads and to deliver such payloads to the orbit – and to the US.

In February, the North Koreans declared that not only will they not surrender their nuclear arsenal, they’ll actually INCREASE it, and published a video simulating a nuclear strike on the US.

Last month, they withdrew from the 1953 Panmunjon armistice that suspended the Korean War, put their missile force on its highest alert level, threatened to attack the US and its allies in Asia, cut off all hotlines with the South, and brought the KoreanPeninsula to the brink of war.

Meanwhile, Russia announced that she will not agree to any further cuts in its vast nuclear arsenal and confirmed she’ll continue the comprehensive modernization of her entire arsenal – strategic and tactical, ICBMs, bombers, and SSBNs alike.

In the first days of April, North Korea declared it’s in “a state of war” with the South and that it will never surrender its nuclear arsenal or even discuss its existence; that its arsenal is “non-negotiable”; and that it has “confirmed” plans of a nuclear attack on the US. Meanwhile, China amassed troops on its border with North Korea to show support of its fraternal Communist neighbor (China’s only formal treaty ally).

Now, North Korea often makes threats and uses bellicose rhetoric, but rhetoric of such degree of bellicosity and intensity – and openly threatening (and even simulating) a nuclear attack on the US – is something scarcely heard of. So is the acquisition of ICBMs capable of striking the US homeland and miniaturizing warheads to make them fit atop missiles. That’s something only Russia, China, and NK itself have mastered to date.

Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to increase and modernize their large nuclear arsenals – strategic and tactical.

What has brought this disastrous situation about? What does it show?

It proves the utter failure of “arms control” (read: disarmament) and appeasement policies, which have pursued since 1989 by successive administrations, Republican and Democratic.

It proves the utter failure of the “arms control” and appeasement policies advocated (to this day) by pro-arms control groups such as the Arms Control Association, the Ploughshares Fund, Global Zero, and the “Council for a Livable World”.

For decades, these liberal, extremely-leftist treasonous groups have claimed that cutting America’s nuclear deterrent would make the US and the world safer; that “less is more”; that it would somehow magically “induce” Russia to cut its own arsenal or at least stop growing it; and that it would somehow convince North Korea and Iran to stop pursuing nuclear weapons, or at least convince other countries to put pressure on Pyongyang and Tehran.

 

All of these claims were always blatant lies. Nothing more. Yet, many were duped by them, including the 71 gullible Senators who voted for New START in December 2010, in the twilight days of the 111th Congress. Some Americans may still be duped by these lies. Yet, no one should be, for they were never anything more than lies.

 

For many years, I have been warning that the claims of arms controllers – such as the above-mentioned ones – are blatant lies, have been refuting them, and have been reminding people that the ONLY thing that can guarantee America’s and allies’ security is a strong, unmatched US military, including a large, modern nuclear deterrent.

 

Turns out I was right all along, and the proponents of “arms control”, arms reduction, and disarmament, including the ACA, Ploughshares, the CLW, and Global Zero were wrong all along.

 

Since 1991 – the end of the Cold War – America’s nuclear arsenal has been cut by over 75%; numerous nuclear-capable systems have been terminated entirely; nuclear testing has been suspended indefinitely; the remaining arsenal (and its supporting infrastructure) have been allowed to decay; and US tactical nukes have been unilaterally withdrawn from US ships and the KoreanPeninsula.

 

Yet, all of that has utterly failed to convince Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran to stop pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles of increasing range. It has also completely failed to convince other countries to put heavy pressure on these rogue states. Thus, it has utterly failed to stop or even slow down nuclear proliferation. Pakistan became a nuclear power in 1998; North Korea in 2006; and Iran is well on its way to the nuclear club.

 

22 years of cutting America’s nuclear deterrent deeply have also utterly failed to convince China to stop expanding its nuclear arsenal which, according to the most credible estimates by veteran nuclear strategist Professor Philip Karber and former Russian missile force commander Gen. Viktor Yesin, consists of at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, along with their delivery systems: dozens of ICBMs, 6 ballistic missile submarines, 440 nuclear-capable aircraft, over 1,600 short-range, and up to 120 medium-range ballistic missiles, plus nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

 

And now, Russia, having substantially reduced its nuclear arsenal in the 1990s and early 2000s, is now rebuilding and modernizing it rapidly. Permitted by New START to grow its deployed arsenal, it has done so, reaching 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 deployed launchers (plus many others nondeployed). It is now building it up beyond New START limits, and its tactical nuclear arsenal, estimated at up to 4,000 warheads and their delivery systems, is not limited by any treaty in any way. It consists of a wide range of systems: nuclear torpedoes, nuclear naval mines, nuclear depth charges, nuclear artillery shells, freefall bombs, warheads for SRBMs, etc.

Cutting America’s nuclear stockpile unilaterally under Presidents Bush and Obama has thus utterly failed to “induce” Russia to stop growing and modernizing its own arsenal. Nor has it “induced” it to refrain from provocations like simulated bomber strikes on US missile defenses in Alaska, CA, Guam, and Japan – four months within less than a year, as chronicled by the WFB’s Bill Gertz.

Every policy must be judged by just one standard: whether it succeeds or fails in advancing US interests and national security. “By their fruit ye shall know them”, said Jesus Christ.

Judged by its results – its “fruit” – arms control and arms reduction have been an utter, dangerous failure for the West, including the US, some of the results of which we’re now witnessing in the Korean Peninsula, as an increasingly emboldened Pyongyang mounts its provocations and threats, and grows its nuclear arsenal while the US cuts its own.

Russia’s, China’s, and Pakistan’s nuclear buildups, and Iran’s race to the nuclear club’s doors while exposing Western sanctions as toothless likewise prove the utter failure of “arms control”.

Only a large, modern, multi-legged nuclear deterrent and a multilayered missile defense system can provide security and peace for the US, its allies, and the world at large. Nothing else will work. Any attempt to try anything else is doomed to fail – as arms control has – and would be an unneeded distraction from the work that needs to be done to rebuild and modernize America’s nuclear deterrent.

It is high time for the US to stop cutting and start building up and modernizing its nuclear deterrent, resume the development and testing of nuclear weapons, and build a comprehensive, multilayered missile defense system.

Saturday Night Cigar Lounge with Taylor – April 27th 2013

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When: Saturday, April 27th, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: Saturday Night Cigar Lounge with Taylor on Blog Talk Radio

What: Saturday nights were meant for cigars and politics.

Hear Taylor and his co-host Liz Harrison talk about everything from the past week – from politics, to news, to books, and entertainment. Whatever comes to mind, and of course, sobriety is not likely.

Tonight: Tonight, Taylor’s talking on the Boston Marathon suspected bombers, and their lovely (wacky) family. More analysis, of foreign connections, repercussions of Mirandizing the suspect, and whether or not the FBI dropped the ball.

Boston Take Aways

Boston was a city that had artificially seized up – made motionless and frozen in fear by 24 hour coverage. That same 24 hour news coverage, with its instantaneous updates, and conjecture-as-news, as exhausting as it was, provided us with a few valuable insights. The media and the government both showed themselves as highly amateurish at times, but perhaps most instructive, the resilience and ability of Americans to stand together in dire times was also shown. We saw both the best, and at times, the worst of humanity.

It is an easy claim that the Tsarnaev brothers were the most vile and inhumane criminals we have seen in some time. Although, not killing nearly as many innocent people as the gutless cowards of 9/11/2001, the Tsarnaevs’ methods were much, much more personal. It is very doubtful that any of the 9/11 terrorists knew any of their 3,000 victims, beyond sitting down beside them on a plane that day, and the victims were a part of a group – victim to both terror, and the randomness of a terribly, macabre, draw. The Boston Marathon bombers carefully chose their spots and their victims, including an innocent 8-year old boy and his family.

The greatest reactions were of the people – who immediately after the tragedy, where seen treating the injured, giving solace to victims in shock, and transporting casualties blocks to the nearest ambulances. When the government ordered people to stay inside, and yet, help with the manhunt, by reporting anything that they saw – it was then that the people came through with the most important tip of the manhunt. The hull of a small boat was the location of Djhokhar’s last free breaths.

Nearly as disgusting as the Tsarnaevs themselves, was the media. Constantly jumping from one allegation or anonymous leak to another, they cannot have helped in the hunt for Dzhokhar. They were also slow to report, perhaps getting nervous when an embarrassed CNN reported incorrect information, and had to apologize. Various members of the press, whether officially representing their employers or not, showed incredible amounts of racism and bigotry. People like Salon’s David Sirota hoped for the bombers to be white Americans. People like MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry denied Islam had any connections with the violent acts. Indeed, in their hurry to receive air time and acclaim, the media personalities doubled down on political correctness, and did not seem to double-check at all.

Government played both two roles in the Boston tragedy: it was both heroic capturing force, who marshaled so many resources to catch mysterious terrorists, and heavy-handed ogre, telling people to stay inside their homes, when no one seemed sure where the terrorist was. For sure, the lasso thrown around Boston seemed to tighten the senses of fear and anxiety, in both the innocent citizenry, and the police force responsible for an extraordinary task: finding suspects who had already killed one officer, and had exchanged fire with them. The police did get their man, but the so many tense moments had a high cost to everyone involved.

Perhaps the most important take-away here is that government showed itself, again, as a mechanism of re-activity  not pro-activity. Despite government’s regulations, and recent increased calls for gun control, the Tsarnaevs scoffed at those past laws and regulations, and procured and used weapons against police. The government assures us, passing new legislation will be different – the future terrorists and criminals will follow these new rules.

Will anything change? Will the media report more slowly, and more carefully? Will the citizenry be more willing to report suspicious people? I hope. The images of an innocent, naked man face-down in the street,massed, flashing red and blue lights,  bloody sidewalks, and police with determined, clinched jaws should not soon be forgotten.

Carlos Arredondo holds Old Glory

Saturday Night Cigar Lounge with Taylor – April 20th 2013

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When: Saturday, April 20th, 10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific

Where: Saturday Night Cigar Lounge with Taylor on Blog Talk Radio

What: Saturday nights were meant for cigars and politics.

Hear Taylor and his co-host Liz Harrison talk about everything from the past week – from politics, to news, to books, and entertainment. Whatever comes to mind, and of course, sobriety is not likely.

Tonight: Tonight, of course some talk about the Boston Marathon suspected bombers. Otherwise, who knows? We’re all sleep-deprived, so anything could happen! And we might end up with a friend or two from other talk shows calling in. (Yeah, we’d love to let you know who, but all our friends are just as sleep-deprived, so it’ll be whoever can manage to stay awake for the show!)

Chechnya – Republic in turmoil

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Chechnya has been a republic in turmoil since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Terror attacks in Russia have often been perpetrated by Chechens, and the region has been considered a hot bed for terrorism. However, this has not been widely reported or talked about in the U.S., and for good reason. Traditionally, Chechnya has been considered a taboo topic for U.S. administrations – a concession that has been granted to Russia by Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton. However, while Obama has not mentioned Chechnya publicly, his administration has not been silent on that region. Two Chechens were listed on the Magnitsky List – a list named for a whistle-blower in Russia that died in custody. [More information on the Magnitsky case here, and here.]

As far as motives to attack the U.S., there is at least one theory about why Chechen separatists might consider that a viable option. Since a terrorist attack in 2004 at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia where over 380 were killed, Russia and the U.S. have a common enemy – Islamic terrorists. Some Chechens were involved in that attack.

But Chechnya primarily remains in opposition with Russia – a battle that has been waged for at least 200 years. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not known for having a “soft touch” with anyone that disagrees with him, and the Chechens are no exception. Anna Politkovskaya – a journalist in Moscow – built a reputation for being critical of Putin for human rights violations in Chechnya. She was murdered on October 7, 2006. Trials (and re-trials) against her accused killers should be starting soon. That likely doesn’t change the opinion of some Russians and Chechens alike that have thought Russian leaders aren’t displeased with the fact that Politkovskaya was killed.

As for terrorism rooted in the Chechnya region, apparently the violence has increased in the past year. The entire North Caucasus region is affected by these activities, the most recent in Ingushetia. Whether or not this unrest has spilled over to U.S. soil remains to be seen. However, it does place a statement made by Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign in perspective.

South African Guard Tries to Lay Hands On Putin’s ‘Nuclear Suitcase’, Russian Spokesman Throws South African Gov Under the Bus

At this year’s BRICS summit, Russian President, Vladimir Putin’s security detail was challenged while trying to enter a building.

via the Daily Mail-

Armed guards from Vladimir Putin’s entourage were involved in an ugly fight in South Africa after they were ordered to put top secret suitcases – believed to contain the codes for Russia’s nuclear arsenal – through a security scanner.

Angry ‘pushing and shoving’ broke out after some members of Putin’s security detail were prevented from following the Russian president into the conference hall staging the summit, which was hosted by South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma and also involved Brazil, Russia, India and China.

What’s interesting is the apparent lack of diplomacy that happened next, when a Russian spokesman threw the host of the summit (South Africa) under the bus.

Kremlin officials blamed the embarrassing bust-up on the South Africans, with Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying: ‘They manage football better. A lot of confusion.’

He added: ‘The incident happened because of the fault of the inviting side.’

Also interesting?  The spokesman said South Africans “manage football  better” in response to the incident over the suitcase presumed to have nuclear codes.  This is interesting, because the American counterpart to that suitcase just so happens to be referred to as a “football” by members of our President’s security.  (of course, in this case, “football” refers to “soccer”, but an interesting tidbit, still)

SO WHAT IS THIS BRICS SUMMIT ABOUT, ANYWAY?

Simply put, it’s a group of five (it used to be four) nations that happen to have large populations and a lot of economic potential, but they lack the same kind of pull that the United States and Europe have enjoyed over the years.  It has been their hope that maybe they can band together and use their synergies to help achieve prominence and leverage on the world stage that they haven’t been able to obtain individually.  As this piece on Bloomberg details, their results, so far have been mixed at best.

WHO ARE THESE BRICS NATIONS?

An investment analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. famously came up with the BRIC designation (South Africa was an afterthought) in 2001

Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa.

While the Bloomberg piece suggests that the BRICS summit can sometimes (or often) come across as a fruitless endeavor, it should be noted that these countries are becoming more and more coveted by various corporations around the world due to their large populations and practically untapped markets.

India, for example, has been seen by many as the next place for a great smartphone boom, as more of it’s 1.2 billion citizens become upwardly mobile.

New world order emerging from BRICS summit

Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS) met in Durham, South Africa this week to discuss a new world bank which will allow them to trade and fund their projects independent of the World Bank and the U.S. Dollar.

South African President Jacob Zuma saud that the group has “decided to enter formal negotiations to establish a BRICS-led new development Bank based on our own considerable infrastructure needs, which amount to around $4.5 trillion over the next five years.”

Today Brazil and China announced that they will do business using each other’s currencies instead of using the U.S. Dollar – the world’s predominate reserve currency.

As the BRICS development bank matures, the members hope it will allow some of the world’s largest emerging economies to ignore and later supplant the World Bank and IMF.

Others are skeptical. .

Chief executive of the Johannesburg-based Frontier Advisory Martyn Davies said “I think there was too much hype around it”. Davies continued saying that the BRICS”are still battling to create the economic institutions to back their geopolitical rhetoric … the rhetoric is not supported by the substance.”

Where the World Bank has been largely the puppet of the U.S. and the IMF under the hand of Europe, the BRICS development bank effort is being largely pushed by China.

Many of the nations involved are economic powerhouses in their own regions, but the group is not yet a functional alliance. Many experts believe that for the bank to emerge as a global economic power, it will need to pull in new members from other emerging nations.

The idiocy of arms control treaties with Russia

During his SOTU speech, Obama announced his intention to cut the barely-adequate US nuclear arsenal even further, below the 1,550 deployed strategic warheads allowed by the New START treaty. He said he would do so together with the Russians. This (together with Republicans’ and the public’s general disinterest in defense issues) probably softened the Republican response to and criticism of Obama’s plans. And wrongly so, because cutting America’s nuclear deterrent is ALWAYS wrong – even if it is done with Russia.

For decades, Americans have been told the lie that cutting the nuclear deterrent is fine as long as it is done bilaterally with Moscow. (Today, many proponents of America’s disarmament are openly propagating the lie that even cutting the nuclear deterrent unilaterally and deeply is fine, but most Americans and policymakers, quite sensibly, reject that claim.) Making such cuts bilaterally, with Russia, is supposed to make them OK.

But they’re NOT OK. They’re still wrong and dangerous. Here’s why.

First and foremost, Russia has decided to make itself an enemy of the United States and, under Vladimir Putin, it has engaged in very aggressive, provocative, anti-American behavior – in both word and deed. In terms of rhetoric, Russia has been constantly spewing radically anti-American rhetoric from its state-owned media outlets (TV, radio, newspapers) at home and in the United States (vide e.g. the Kremlin-owned “RussiaToday/RT” network operating in the United States, and allowed to do so by the Obama Administration despite being an anti-American propaganda-tool of a foreign regime hostile to the US, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act); hysterical propaganda campaigns against the US and American foster parents; mobilizing its thugs to demonstrate against the US and to assail American diplomats; Vladimir Putin’s unending stream of anti-American propaganda; smear campaigns against those Russians (like MP Dmitry Gudkov) who are not hostile to the US; and discriminatory laws such as the recent statute banning the adoption of Russian children by American citizens.

Russia’s hostility has been even worse when measured in deeds. Russia continues to shield the odious, WMD-wielding regimes of Iran and Syria – the ayatollahs and Assad – from UN sanctions and to supply them with weapons – which are often used against innocent civilians, especially in Syria. Moscow continues to back the odious, torture-practicing, totalitarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus and the Kim family regime of North Korea. It continues to occupy Georgia, which it attacked without any justification whatsoever in 2008. It continues to supply Iran with uranium which Tehran is enriching to ever-higher levels. It continues to wage a Cold-War-style arms race against the US.

But most troubling are Russia’s increasingly aggressive military actions and its repeated threats to preemptively strike the US and its allies with nuclear weapons. In the last 9 months, Russia has flown US bombers into or near US airspace and practiced nuclear strikes against the US military four times – a frequency not seen since the tensest years of the Cold War – and earlier this year held the largest nuclear triad exercises since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Four times in the last 9 months the Russian Air Force’s Tupolev intercontinental bombers came into or near US or allied airspace, practicing attacks against the US military. The first such instance in the last 9 months was in June, when the RuAF’s Tu-95 bombers, escorted by Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters and supported by AWACS and tanker aircraft, flew very close to Alaska and its missile defense installations. When asked by the press what they were doing there, Russian Air Force spokesmen said they were “practicing attacking the enemy”. (USAF fighters intercepted those aircraft.)

Then, on July 4th, to poke America, the Russians flew their bombers into US airspace over California, thus essentially committing an act of war. (Again, an interception was made.)

Then, last month, on February 12th, Russian Tu-95 bombers flew around the island of Guam, a highly important US military hub in the Western Pacific with strategically important air, naval, and landbases.

And just a few days ago, Russian Tu-95 bombers flew over South Korea just as the US and South Korean militaries were practicing defending South Korea from its aggressive Northern neighbor.

Moreover, in the last 6 years, highly-ranking Russian military and civilian officials have repeatedly made threats to preemptively attack the US and its allies with nuclear weapons, especially if they don’t toe Russia’s line and deploy missile defense systems on European soil.

That is the behavior of a hyper-aggressive threat to world peace and security, NOT of a responsible, trustworthy partner who can be mollified, made a responsible, productive partner, and trusted to honor commitments – whether on arms reduction or any other issue whatsoever.

Secondly, Russia has repeatedly stated that it does NOT want to be involved in any further arms reduction and has flatly refused to even enter such negotiations, let alone to make any cuts in its vast arsenal of 6,800 warheads (including 2,800 strategic warheads), 14 ballistic missile submarine with 16-20 missiles each, 251 strategic bombers, and 434 ICBMs that are, by themselves, capable of carrying 1,684 warheads to the CONUS, not to mention Russia’s vast arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

Thirdly, cutting America’s nuclear deterrent bilaterally, with Russia, only weakens that deterrent – and thus, America and its military – generally as well as vis-a-vis the other nuclear powers, especially China.

And China, contrary to the lies of the proponents of America’s nuclear disarmament, has far more than the mere 240 warheads they claim. It has between 1,274 and 3,000 nuclear warheads. No one knows for sure how many exactly, but it’s obvious it has far more than just a few hundred:

  • It has built a vast, 3,000-mile-long network of tunnels and bunkers for missiles and nuclear warheads. You don’t build such a huge network for just a few hundred warheads and their carriers – because you don’t need to. You build such a vast network only for a huge nuclear arsenal.
  • Publicly available, open-source data indicates that China has far more than just a few hundred warheads. For example, it has 430 nuclear-capable strike and bomber aircraft (H-6s, JH-7s, Q-5s), 36 MIRVable DongFeng-5 heavy ICBMs, over 30 DF-31 ICBMs, some DF-41 ICBMs, over 80 DF-21 medium range ballistic missiles (as well as 40-60 of their older DF-3 and DF-4 cousins), 1,600 short-range ballistic missiles, hundreds of nuclear capable CJ-10/20 and DH-10 cruise missiles, and 6 ballistic missile submarines (one Xia class and five Jin class boats).
  • Two very credible analysts – former DOD nuclear strategist Professor Philip A. Karber and former Russian missile force Chief of Staff Gen. Viktor Yesin – have made credible analysis showing that China has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads.

Now, why does China lie and refuse to release any credible information about its nuclear arsenal (and about its armed forces and military buildup in general)? Because lying and secrecy are very effective methods of concealing one’s military buildup, lulling one’s opponent into a false sense of security, deceiving the enemy as to one’s own capabilities and intentions, and keeping the enemy guessing and unready for your actions and capabilities.

This is why Sun Tzu, whom the Chinese military and government are strictly following, advised deception, lying, and total secrecy. He wrote in his treatise on military affairs, the Art of War:

“All warfare is based on deception.

Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” – Chapter I, verses 17-18

“Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength. (…)

Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it.

By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him.” – Chapter V, verses 17 and 19-20

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” – Chapter VII, verse 19

China’s military buildup will be addressed in a separate article; here, I will just state that it’s no coincidence that China has engaged in a secret, massive nuclear weapons buildup and that it refuses to release any accurate information on it and instead feeds the world with blatant lies about its nuclear arsenal and nuclear weapons employment policy. The Chinese have learned deception (and its value) from their master and fellow countryman, Sun Tzu.

In short, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to cut America’s nuclear deterrent any further, and doing so even bilaterally with Russia – even under a treaty – is still absolutely unacceptable. Obama Admin officials and their political appointees wearing uniforms must not be allowed to get away with the cover that “we only support doing so bilaterally with Russia”. That is still not good enough. The ONLY correct answer is “the US nuclear arsenal must not be cut any further.”

Why deep defense cuts MUST be avoided at all costs

I could just as well title this article “why defense must always be fully funded” or “why America must always maintain a strong, second-to-none defense”, but all three titles effectively mean the same thing, so I have chosen the above one.

We are being told from all directions by various kinds of people – from liberals like Clinton Admin official Gordon Adams to libertarians like Justin Amash and Mick Mulvaney to supposed conservatives like Rush Limbaugh that America can afford deep cuts in the defense budget and still have a strong military; or, in the case of other libertarians, like the Students For Liberty/Ron Paul crowd, that America doesn’t need a strong military, that it would only be a tool of oppression, and that America can safely retrench and hide behind oceans and nothing will threaten it.

But all of those claims are garbage, and in this article, I’ll show you why. They might’ve made some sense during the 18th century, when any attack on America would’ve had to be a seaborne invasion or one from Mexico or Canada.

But in the 21st century, when America has vital interests around the world, when its economy is deeply interconnected to those of its allies and friends (such as Japan and South Korea), and in the era of nuclear weapons, ICBMs, ballistic missile submarines, intercontinental bombers, EMP weapons, and cyber attacks, such beliefs are utterly ridiculous. Those who indulge them live in a kum-ba-yah world.

Let us start with this timeless principle taught by Sun Tzu in his Art of War (ch. 8, v. 11):

“The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.”

We should not delude ourselves that we will never be attacked, or not for a long time, or that America is somehow invincible or unassailable, or that its military is overwhelmingly superior when this is clearly not the case.

Providing for the common defense is not only necessary, it is the Federal Government’s #1 Constitutional DUTY. Art. IV, Sec. 4 of the Constitution clearly imposes this obligation on the government; the majority of enumerated powers granted to the Congress deal with military matters; and the Preamble to the Constitution – makes it clear that one of the reasons why the federal government was create in the first place is to “provide for the common defense”. Furthermore, the military is the ONLY significant expenditure authorized by the Constitution. Federal entitlement and welfare programs are utterly unconstitutional and thus illegal.

Furthermore, the claim – often made by proponents of deep defense cuts in order to lull Americans into a false sense of security – that the US military is still overwhelmingly superior to those of other countries – is completely false (although I wish it was true). The militaries of China and Russia, as documented in detailed analysis here, have already closed the vast majority of the gaps between their and the US military’s capabilities, and are now working hard on closing the remaining few gaps. Where those gaps still exist, as in aircraft carriers, for example, China and Russia have created asymmetric advantages of their own with anti-access/area-denial weapons such as aircraft carrier killing missiles.

For a detailed analysis of China’s and Russia’s military capabilities, see here.

Another oft-made false claim which is supposed to justify deep defense cuts is that they could supposedly be done safely if the military were just granted the flexibility to decide where to make the cuts and that if such reductions are made “strategically”, in a “targeted” manner, they can supposedly be done safely.

The “studies” produced by CATO, the “Project on Defense Alternatives”, the Center for American Progress, POGO-TCS,  the NTU, and Sen. Tom Coburn (RINO-OK) are often invoked as examples and as supposed “proof” that deep defense cuts can be done safely.

But I have read and analyzed virtually all of these “studies”, and ALL of them would, if implemented (God forbid), result in the utter gutting of the US military. Why? Because the vast majority of the cuts they call for would be directed at the muscle and bone of the US military – the force structure (i.e. the size of the military), its personnel, weapons, munitions, and forward deployments.

These “studies” call for deep personnel, weapon inventory, weapon program, and force size cuts across the board to all four Services (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force) and to the already barely-adequate nuclear deterrent. They call for killing dozens of crucial modernization programs, including the Long Range Strike Bomber, the ICBM replacement program, the V-22 Osprey, the F-35, the Virginia class, and many others.

If one were to plan on how to completely gut the US military, one could not come up with a better plan than those produced by the above-mentioned leftist think-tanks (most of which, including CATO, POGO, and the CAP, are co-funded by George Soros) and by Sen. Coburn. These plans seem to be deliberately designed to gut the US military.

And NONE of these proposals or “studies” are really “strategic”, because none of them are underpinned by any strategy, only by a desire to gut the US military. Strategy is about setting priorities, funding them fully, and cutting back only on non-priority programs/objectives/activities; failure to set priorities and to fund them adequately is essentially the same thing as sequestration.

But in those “studies”, there are no priorities – like sequestration, they all call for deep, across-the-board cuts to everything the US military has and does – mostly to the muscle and bone of the military.

The first and only “priority” of these studies’ authors is to gut the US military, plain and simple.

I have refuted these ridiculous “studies” here, here, here, and here among other articles.

For his part, HumanEvents columnist Robert Maginnis wrongly claims that the US can make these cuts safely if it simply scraps a number of current missions.

But that is wrong. To make cuts on the scale of sequestration, the US military would have to jettison dozens of missions – including many crucial, necessary missions connected to America’s own national security (not just that of its allies). For example, air, naval, and ground superiority, nuclear deterrence, and missile defense.

Those who call for jettisoning many military missions and cuts on the scale of sequestration need to be made to say what exact missions they think the military should scrap and be forced to admit that doing so would mean not meeting America’s security needs and thus imperiling national security.

As then-SECDEF Robert Gates said in 2011:

“These are the kinds of scenarios we need to consider, the kinds of discussions we need to have.  If we are going to reduce the resources and the size of the U.S. military, people need to make conscious choices about what the implications are for the security of the country, as well as for the variety of military operations we have around the world if lower priority missions are scaled back or eliminated.  (…)  To shirk this discussion of risks and consequences – and the hard decisions that must follow – I would regard as managerial cowardice.

In closing, while I have spent a good  deal of time on programmatic particulars, the tough choices ahead are really about the kind of role the American people – accustomed to unquestioned military dominance for the past two decades – want their country to play in the world.”

Then there are those like Rush Limbaugh and Rand Paul who falsely claim that sequestration would be a mere cut to the growth rate of defense spending. But that is a blatant lie.

As the CBO has proven, and as I have documented here, sequestration would cut the base defense budget from $525 bn today to $469 bn in March and keep it well below today’s level (and even below $500 bn) for the next decade at least. By FY2022, the last year of the “sequestration decade”, the base defense budget would be at $493 bn – still below $500 bn and well below today’s level of $525 bn.

defensebudgetaccordingtothecbo2

Meanwhile, OCO (war) spending is shrinking annually from its FY2011 peak and is set to disappear in FY2016, once all US troops leave Afghanistan.

The DOE’s defense-related (nuclear) programs and the DOD’s unspent balances from previous years are also subject to sequestration, as are all other national-security-related agencies.

In other words, sequestration would be an IMMEDIATE, REAL, DEEP, and PERMANENT cut in defense spending. It would not be a mere cut in the rate of growth. In other words, Rush, Rand, and other sequestration pooh-poohers are blatantly lying. (And the people spreading that lie are children of the Father of Lies himself.)

President Ronald Reagan articulated the need for a strong military – and the case against defense cuts – well here and here.

Let Robert Gates – a man of whom I’ve been very critical – nonetheless have the last word here:

“Since I entered government 45 years ago, I’ve shifted my views and changed my mind on a good many things as circumstances, new information, or logic dictated.  But I have yet to see evidence that would dissuade me from this fundamental belief: that America does have a special position and set of responsibilities on this planet.  I share Winston Churchill’s belief that “the price of greatness is responsibility…[and] the people of the United States cannot escape world responsibility.”  This status provides enormous benefits – for allies, partners, and others abroad to be sure, but in the final analysis the greatest beneficiaries are the American people, in terms of our security, our prosperity, and our freedom.

I know that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war.  But there is no doubt in my mind that the continued strength and global reach of the American military will remain the greatest deterrent against aggression, and the most effective means of preserving peace in the 21st century, as it was in the 20th.”

Precursor to Friday’s near-miss asteroid reported to hit Russia

Throughout the week, news outlets have been reporting on the asteroid that will pass so close to Earth that it may knock out some GPS, telecommunication and/or television satellites. Now, RT is reporting that a part of it has already caused damage on the surface of the planet.

Youtube and twitter photos from Russians are showing a bright trail of light and even a ground-level fire – suspected to be from a precursor of the asteroid reported to pass close to Earth on Friday afternoon.

RT.com used a screen shot from this Youtube  vidoe posted by Gregor Grimm posted this photo of the supposed astroid:

The two contrails are more indicative of a jet than a meteor, but Russian and Western scientists have confirmed that an approximately 75 ton meteor entered the atmosphere and either exploded in the air or struck the ground over the Ural Mountains.

Several of the reports in the story try to relate it to the 1908 Tunguska event. In that near collision, a meteor came within several miles of Earth over Siberia and exploded causing massive devastation to trees and land, but no deaths. Had that meteor have come just a few hours later, millions of Europeans would likely have been incinerated.

This video from “potapow” on youtube shows something that looks much more like a meteor/meteorite event:

Several people reported loud bangs, shaking and windows being broken. It remains to be seen if this event (or events) was/were precursors to Friday afternoon’s expected passing of a huge asteroid near our planet.

Russia’s emergency ministry says that only one meteorite struck near the Russian town of Satka, in the Ural mountain region, while other reports site multiple meteorites.

Some minor injuries, mostly cuts from broken glass, have also been reported.

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