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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Mahdi is Coming

The Errors of Balaam - Chuck Missler

Global Financial Perfect Storm

Worldwide Illuminati Network Supporting Witchcraft and Pagan Lifestyles To Debut on Halloween

NEW YORK — A new worldwide network that will support new age, witchcraft, spiritual, pagan and other alternative lifestyles and feature a 24-hour online television and radio network plus Internet on demand services will debut October 31, said co-founders Steve McManus and Elizabeth Sturino.

“People interested in these lifestyles haven’t had a centralized location where they can find the latest information,” McManus said. “With the Illuminati Network, they will not only be able to find such items as their favorite occult radio personalities, but they will also be able to find information on all alternative lifestyle events and issues.” The network will also have children’s programming for parents who want to educate their children about their lifestyle.

Sturino added that the network will also be able to shed light on many inaccuracies and misconceptions.

“There are many modern witches, but they do not fly around on brooms,” she said. “There is a very progressive community of people who practice witchcraft who have never been able to fight misconceptions with a single voice.”

Currently, people involved in these lifestyles must do time consuming searches to find programming and information. Key alternative lifestyle media personalities typically drive large market share and have fiercely loyal customer bases but are difficult to locate.

“Just like the consumers, advertisers who want to reach occultists have difficulty reaching this fragmented market,” he said.

In addition, the network plans on being an active player in the media landscape, providing reporters, editors and producers with a comprehensive list of occult experts and spokespersons who will weigh in on controversial issues in a timely manner. The cofounders believe the Illuminati Network will become the hub of the occult universe worldwide, and will ultimately start to change how the general public views it.

“We are tired of the misconceptions surrounding these lifestyles in the media, but those misconceptions have never been consistently challenged by people who are competent and informed,” Sturino said. “That will now change.”

Rock Hill Herald Online

Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2012/10/26/4367259/worldwide-illuminati-network-supporting.html#storylink=cpy

Iran threatens to halt crude exports if sanctions intensify

INTERNATIONAL. Iran will suspend all oil exports, pushing global crude prices higher, if the U.S. and Europe tighten sanctions further on the OPEC member’s economy, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi warned.

“If you continue to add to the sanctions, we will stop our oil exports to the world,” he said at a news conference in Dubai. “The lack of Iranian oil in the market would drastically add to the price.”

Iran wants “reasonable” prices for crude and doesn’t seek an increase, he said earlier today. Brent crude for December settlement was US$1.09 lower at US$108.35 a barrel on the London- based ICE Futures Europe exchange at 2:36 p.m. local time. Prices for the grade have risen 11% since the European Union banned purchases of Iranian crude on July 1.

Iran’s oil exports have dwindled in the face of U.S. and EU sanctions on its energy and financial industries. The International Energy Agency, which advises the world’s biggest industrialized economies, reported that Iranian shipments slumped to 860,000 barrels a day in September from 1.1 million barrels in August.

About 40% of Iran’s exports last month were destined for China, according to tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

A unilateral halt in Iran’s oil sales would be “extremely unlikely,” said Robin Mills, head of consulting at Dubai-based Manaar Energy Consulting and Project Management.

“That would be suicide for them, and the U.S. would say, ‘Great. They’re sanctioning themselves,’” he said in a telephone interview. Qasemi’s threat was a possible sign of the Tehran government’s desperation, said Mills, a former Iran specialist at Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

“If you’re talking about something like 800,000 barrels a day of exports, the oil market can live without it, but the Iranians can’t,” he said, adding that the drop in crude prices suggested markets don’t believe the threat is serious.

Qasemi declined to say how much crude his nation is exporting now. Iran has a plan for functioning without oil revenue, he said, without elaborating. Qasemi blamed “belligerent” policies for tightening global energy supply, speaking earlier at an international conference, and said restrictions on Iran affect consumers.

Oil sales generated half of Iran’s official revenues, and crude and refined products together accounted for almost 80 percent of the country’s total exports, according to a U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration report last November.

The Persian Gulf nation, formerly the second-biggest producer among the 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has slipped to fourth place, behind Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait, data gathered by Bloomberg show. OPEC states no longer have individual production quotas since the group has agreed only to a collective supply target, which members have been exceeding by about 2 million barrels a day for many months.

The Islamic republic is pumping 4 million barrels a day, most of it for domestic consumption, Qasemi said. His output figure differs from data compiled by Bloomberg showing that Iran produced an average of 2.85 million barrels a day in September.

Simon Wardell, an energy researcher at Global Insight Inc., a London-based consultant, said he’d be surprised if Iran followed through on Qasemi’s export warning.

“I suspect this is just an attempt to try and drive the price a little bit higher again in order to maximize the oil revenue, but it would be ultimately self-defeating,” Wardell said in a phone interview. “It does indicate that they are under quite a bit of pressure.”

Iran has historically sought higher oil prices, in contrast to Saudi Arabia, which has tried to keep them at more attractive levels for consuming nations. Saudi Arabia is by far the biggest producer in OPEC, pumping 9.8 million barrels a day last month, according to the Paris-based IEA.

Qasemi said his country plans to invest $100 billion in energy projects over four years and pressed for “non-political investment” in such resources.

Iran supports its candidate, Gholamhossein Nozari, in a four-way contest for the position of secretary-general of OPEC, he said. Governors of the group’s members are meeting at OPEC’s Vienna headquarters this week to select a new secretary-general for the first time in six years, with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Ecuador also fielding candidates.

Iran faces international sanctions because of its nuclear program, which the U.S. and allied nations say may be aimed at developing weapons technology. The Iranian government counters that it wants nuclear energy only for non-military use.

Business Intelligence

Superstorm Sandy aftermath: Aerial video of devastation in New York, New Jersey

Muslim Persecution of Christians

Swedish authorities are actually trying to find the 28-year-old Saudi woman, Maryan, who converted to Christianity, to extradite her back to Saudi Arabia to face Sharia justice, possibly including execution.

The aftermath of collective punishment for Pakistan's Christians—the inevitable byproduct of the notorious Rimsha Masih blasphemy case, concerning a possibly mentally challenged, 14-year-old Christian girl falsely accused of desecrating a Quran—was more dramatic than the blasphemy case itself. Indeed, knowing what was in store for them, some Christians even held a symbolic funeral procession, carrying a Christian leader in a coffin and digging a grave for the "deceased."

Their apprehension proved too true—especially after another pretext for Muslims to riot emerged: the YouTube Muhammad video. After Friday prayers, Muslims attacked, killed, and robbed the Christians in their midst, who account for a miniscule 1.5% of Pakistan's population. St. Paul's Church in Mardan was attacked by hundreds of Muslims armed with clubs and sticks. After looting and desecrating the church, they set it on fire . Next, Muslims raided a nearby church-run school; they looted and torched it, as well, and burned down a library containing more than 3,000 Christian books. Although the library also contained thousands of books on Islam—making the Muslim mobs' actions blasphemous under Pakistan's law—"the attack continued for more than three hours, with minimal efforts by the authorities to stop it."

Separately, gunmen on motorbikes dressed in green (Islam's color) opened fire on the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral in Hyderabad , where they murdered at least 28 people. Their immediate target appears to have been a nun, Mother Christina. Days later, unknown men reportedly threatened workers at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Hyderabad. "We will teach a lesson to the Christians," they said, and destroyed the hospital's windows and doors. Naeem Samuel, the bishop of Trinity Evangelical Church was assaulted, severely beaten, and injured as he exited his church.

Meanwhile, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, far from condemning such outrages, validated them by falsely accusing the Muhammad movie for all the violence—even as they exposed their double standards by refusing to denounce paintings offensive to Christians, such as "Piss Christ." The New York Times also exposed its bias by defending the anti-Christian "Piss Christ" as "art," while condemning the anti-Muslim Muhammad movie as hate-speech.

Categorized by theme, the rest of September's stories of Christian persecution around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and in country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Church Attacks
Bahrain: Long considered the most tolerant nation in the Arabian Peninsula, with a 30% non-Muslim population of foreign workers, Bahrain is the latest Muslim nation to exhibit intolerance toward churches: Sunni clerics strongly opposed the planned construction of a Catholic church, "in a rare open challenge of the country's Sunni king. More than 70 clerics signed a petition last week saying it was forbidden to build churches in the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam." One prominent cleric, Sheik Adel Hassan al-Hamad, proclaimed that "anyone who believes that a church is a true place of worship is someone who has broken in their faith in God."

Egypt: Kasr El-Dobara, the largest evangelical church in the Middle East, located in Egypt, was besieged by "unknown people" hurling "stones and gas bombs." The first gas bomb thrown at the church was described as an "error" by police, but it was soon followed by other bomb attacks, which lasted through midnight until early Friday. Worshippers locked themselves inside the church and put on masks to avoid gas poisoning. Some of those trapped inside looked for help by trying to contact politicians, journalists, and even the "moderate" Muslim Brotherhood. All the Brotherhood did was announce on TV that the attackers were not members of the Muslim Brotherhood. After the men conducting the siege finally left, and the trapped Christians finally came out, not a single police or security agent to counter the attacks or protect the church could be found.

Indonesia: The several-year-long campaign against GKI Yasmin Church took another turn for the worse, asauthorities ordered the congregation to relocate—a demand that abrogated a previous agreement which had permitted the church to exist, provided that a mosque would be built next door, and to which the church had agreed. Moreover, a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 ordered the GKI Yasmin's building to be reopened; it had been shut down in 2008 by local Muslims who, along with the mayor, to this day still refuse to comply with Supreme Court ruling. As one church leader said, "The rule of law in Indonesia has collapsed." Since its forced closure, the congregation has been holding services in the street in front of its half-constructed building or in private homes.

Lebanon: Two unknown assailants opened fire on the Saint Joseph Church in the town of Bqosta near Sidon; they damaged the building's windows.

Nigeria: A suicide bomb attack on Saint John's Catholic Church claimed three lives, including those of a woman and a child; 44 others were seriously injured. Another report describes the typical aftermath of church attacks in Nigeria: "One month after gunmen opened fire inside Deeper Life Bible Church [August 7] … members of the church have yet to resume worship services and other activities. 'All of us are traumatized by this attack. [There is] no family in this church that is not affected by this incident,' said Stephen Imagejor, an assistant pastor whose wife, Ruth, was killed, and their two daughters, Amen, 12, and Juliet, 9, hit by bullets and hospitalized. In all, 19 died. Church members say they were attacked specifically because of their Christian faith. They may have been a target, they say, because some of the dead include former Muslims who had converted to Christianity. And in the aftermath. 'Many are now saying that they can no longer come to the church,' Imagejor said. 'But we will eventually try to see how we can get those of us that have survived the attack to return to the church for worship services. But, I do visit them to encourage them to remain steadfast in the faith in spite of the persecution.'"

Spain: In Catalonia, a Catholic church was attacked by Moroccan Muslims, who, along with two other Moroccan Muslims, have been detained and charged with multiple assaults and robberies, including using clubs used to rob, terrorize and beat local Spaniards.

Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism

Egypt: The U.S. embassy in Cairo issued a press release saying it had "credible information suggesting terrorist interest in targeting U.S. female missionaries in Egypt. Accordingly, U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance." Also, an Egyptian court sentenced a Christian teacher to six years in prison after convicting him of the blasphemy of "insulting Prophet Muhammad"—and defaming the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Muhammad Morsi, on his Facebook page.

Maldives: Airport customs officials seized 11 books about Christianity from a Bangladeshi expatriate who came to the Maldives by way of Sri Lanka. Later the same day, another Maldivian national was caught with more Christian books, after he arrived in the Maldives also from Sri Lanka. The pair were handed over to police. According to the Maldives Religious Unity Regulations, "It is illegal in the Maldives to propagate any faith other than Islam or to engage in any effort to convert anyone to any religion other than Islam. It is also illegal to display in public any symbols or slogans belonging to any religion other than Islam, or creating [sic] interest in such articles. It is also illegal in the Maldives to carry or display in public books on religions other than Islam, and books and writings that promote and propagate other religions…"

Saudi Arabia: The hunt continues for a 28-year-old Saudi woman, Maryan, who embraced Christianity and fled the country, first gaining sanctuary in a Lebanese church, and then fleeing to Sweden. Earlier, the woman had said that, although she "was raised to hate Judaism and Christianity she has come to love those religions since finding peace in Christianity." Two men, a Christian Lebanese and a Muslim Saudi are accused of proselytizing, and helping her escape. Prosecuting lawyer, Humood Al-Khaldi, said that while in Islam it is clear that the penalty for apostasy is death, "the roles played by the two men, the Saudi and Lebanese, in making the girl become Christian should be taken into consideration," meaning that they, too, must be brought to judgment. Swedish authorities are actually helping to find her to extradite her back to Saudi Arabia to face Sharia justice, including possible execution.

Somalia: Muslims shot three converts to Christianity. The men had converted while in Ethiopia in 2005, but when Muslims began noticing they were not serious about attending mosque prayers, the men were attacked by "militants," who burst into their home and opened fire. Similarly, another family that had embraced Christianity fled their village after receiving death threats. Still another convert, who fled to Kenya, said "Pastors and Christians are very afraid. I know people, mainly Christian converts, who had to leave their homes and their families because of pressures from these terrorists." The messages of the Islamists include statements such as, "Stop your harmful ideologies and preaching to the Muslims," and, "Some Somali Muslims are already affected by this cancer of Christianity… they will be under the sword of the mujahedeen (holy warriors)... We know where you are... We ask Allah to help us make his purpose reign... We are reaching millions of youth to join our jihad against the enemy of Islam and to terrorize by any means we can to make them understand that they are nothing but lowly infidels."

Uzbekistan: A disabled Christian woman, who walks with crutches, and her mother were brutally beaten with sticks in a violent police raid on their home. The officers turned the home upside down, seizing Bibles and other religious literature. At the police station, officers tried to pressure them to accept Islam, saying it was better than Christianity, and that a married man could marry them because Muslim men are allowed to have four wives. When the women refused to comply, the officers beat them again. The court ordered the destruction of the literature.


[General Abuse and Suppression of Non-Muslims as "Tolerated" Citizens]

Bangladesh: A new report indicates that some 300 Christian children were recently abducted and forcibly converted to Islam: So-called intermediaries visit poverty-stricken communities, where they convince families to send their children to a mission hostel, charging them the equivalent of US$ 500 to $1,200 for school and board. "After pocketing the money, the intermediaries sell the children to Islamic schools elsewhere in the country 'where imams force them to abjure Christianity.'" http://www.asianews.it/files/img/BANGLADESH_OK.jpgThe children are then instructed in Islam and beaten; after full indoctrination, they are asked if they are "ready to give their lives for Islam," presumably by becoming jihadi suicide-bombers.

Iran: Pastor Behnam Irani, imprisoned for "holding house church services and leading Muslims to Christ," continues to suffer health problems, while receiving no aid: "First, his eyesight is dimming and he has not been given access to a doctor to get prescription lenses. Second, he has a bleeding ulcer in his intestines. This has caused him to have bloody stool, vomiting blood, resulting in unconsciousness at one point. Third, from an accident several years ago, he had metal placed in his knee, and according to a family member it needs to be replaced every so often."

Syria: Christians fleeing to the Lebanese border are still being targeted, kidnapped, and in some cases murdered for ransom money. One report said 280 were held hostage by "armed gangs" taking advantage of the chaos of the war. Some of those kidnapped are later found slaughtered on the road.

Turkmenistan: A new report indicates how "the situation [for Christians] has got markedly worse since July and we don't know why." Among other reports, Christian homes were raided and Bibles confiscated; Christians were threatened for not participating in Muslim prayers; they lost their jobs and businesses; Christian children are being harassed and discriminated against in schools. In one instance, "secret police officers raided a flat where five elderly Christian women had gathered for worship, as was their regular practice. They were so frightened by the incident that they have stopped meeting together."

Uzbekistan: A former Uzbek Muslim who converted to Christianity and eventually became an active Protestant house church leader, was subsequently persecuted by the state, and fled with his family to Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan wants him to return to face charges that he practiced religion "outside state regulation." Because of its evangelical nature, Protestantism is banned in Uzbekistan. His case now rests before the country's highest court, which has yet to set a hearing date.

Pakistani Dhimmitude

Pakistan continues to show that it is one of the absolute worst nations for Christians and other non-Muslims; it requires its own section for September:

A 16-year-old Christian girl, Shumaila Masih, was gang-raped for hours by Muslims—joining the countless Christian girls and boys raped and murdered in Pakistan. Three Muslim men met her on the street, trying to persuade her to go with them. When she refused, she was forcibly abducted and taken to the home of one of the men, who took "turns raping her for hours. The attack took place at 11 am, in broad daylight, but no one intervened to save Shumaila, despite her desperate cries and pleas for help." Around 5 pm, her father and his cousins began searching for her; when they came to the rape-house, they heard her cries and rushed to it: "At the sight of the men, the three young Muslims fled, leaving Shumaila naked and in pain on the bed."

According to a new report, as many as 2,000 women and girls from various minority sects, especially Christianity, were forcibly converted to Islam through rape, torture and kidnappings, and 161 people were charged with blasphemy in 2011. "The actual number is larger as many cases go unreported… For instance, policemen are involved in more than 60 percent of sexual abuse cases of street children."

A separate report discussing the murder of a Christian youth by Muslims, notes that "Christians are harassed by criminal gangs and Islamic terrorist groups of ethnic Pashtuns: armed to the teeth, the militants enter the area to collect jizya [extortion money imposed on Christians and Jews, according to Quran 9:29]. Militants raid houses, steal and abuse women and children for fun. The local population is terrorized."

Another 16-year-old Christian girl, Sumbal, a maid working for Muslims, was "beaten harshly" by the family with "pipes and iron rods … afterwards, she was taken to the washroom and terribly tortured there." When the child's parents learned of the incident, they went to retrieve their daughter but were told by the family that they did not know her whereabouts. According to Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association: "Yet again we have violence against a teenage Christian maid. The fact that the family are refusing her mother access is very disturbing. What are they covering up? Is it the fact that the girl was murdered, as in a recent case where a senior lawyer in the same city tortured to death a young Christian girl servant? Is it to try and concoct a story about her condition, or has she been raped and forced to marry and convert as so many young Christian girls are?"

Soon after a Muslim opened a madrassa [Islamic school] near where Christians held their tent church worship, Muslims began harassing the Christians; they sprayed bullets on the Christians' homes saying things like, "Convert to Islam or leave this neighborhood." The Muslims also tried to trick a pastor into admitting he proselytized Muslims; and they gather in front of the church and harass Christian girls as they exit after services.

About this Series

Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions, "Muslim Persecution of Christians" was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.
To show that such persecution is not "random," but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws that criminalize and punish with death those who "offend" Islam; theft and plunder in lieu ofjizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like dhimmis, or second-class, "tolerated" citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

Gatestone Instutute


Quarter-billion-dollar stimulus grant creates just 400 jobs

Battery maker A123 Systems vowed thousands of new jobs when it received a nearly quarter-billion-dollar stimulus grant in late 2009, but federal job-tracking figures show only a few hundred positions were created before the company joined a growing list of federally backed energy businesses that ended in bankruptcy.

The latest quarterly report on file with a federal stimulus tracking database shows just seven positions created through the grant from April to June this year. Previous quarters’ job reports contained anywhere from a handful of positions created to more than 100 new jobs.

But even when the quarterly reports are combined, a total of 408 new positions were reported under the stimulus program since 2009, amounting to more than $300,000 spent for each new job reported.

“A123 has been struggling for some time. Was the company struggling when the Energy Department decided to award it a federal grant? Did the Energy Department perform enough due diligence before making this award?” Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota said when they recently pressed Energy Department officials to explain the selection process.

The company’s bankruptcy has spawned renewed scrutiny on the Energy Department after it backed several other businesses now involved in high-profile bankruptcies, including Solyndra LLC, the California-based solar panel manufacturer that went broke after burning through a half-billion dollars in federal money.

Energy Department officials say the job creation numbers are misleading, noting that the jobs verified by The Washington Times through the government database don’t include many other positions that were created but not reported on the federal Recovery.gov tracking website.

“Recovery.gov reflects a small portion of the total employees working on our projects — serving as a quarterly snapshot of only those workers paid directly with Energy Department funds,” department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman wrote in an email.

“A123’s manufacturing facilities are employing hundreds of workers on site in Michigan — plus workers up and down the supply chain — building advanced batteries here in the U.S.”

The Massachusetts-based battery maker received a $249 million grant in December 2009 through President Obama’s stimulus program, of which the company received about $129 million before it went bankrupt this month. Like all other recipients of stimulus loans or grants, A123 Systems was required to report job creation statistics to Recovery.gov.

Officials also say the grant was used for manufacturing equipment, so the jobs reported included workers responsible for installing the factory equipment, but not those who would later use that equipment during the assembly process.

The company declined to discuss how it reported jobs through the stimulus program.

The last quarterly report on file, from March to June 2012, lists seven jobs created, but it also hinted at other challenges, with the company acknowledging “operational challenges and quality assurance issues.”

In a quarterly report released months earlier, the company cited a weakening market and other factors for “negatively impacted” production levels.

The language contained in the stimulus reports stands in sharp contrast to the optimistic talk of company officials less than two years earlier.

“Over the next several years, we expect to create thousands of jobs in Greater Detroit and plan to continue our expansion in the area as we do our part in helping the U.S. emerge as a global leader in the production of advanced lithium ion batteries,” company President David Vieau said after the company opened a factory in Livonia, Mich., in the fall of 2010.

Read more: Quarter-billion-dollar stimulus grant creates just 400 jobs - Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/29/hiring-stats-elusive-in-latest-energy-failure/#ixzz2At6tfiQn
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

This was only a fraction of what the Iranians can expect

An Israel airstrike was behind the explosion last Wednesday at a Sudanese weapons factory, and that attack was a “dry run for a forthcoming attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities,” according to a weekend report in the Sunday Times of London, which also implied the seeds of the attack were planted in the 2010 alleged Mossad assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

Citing anonymous Israeli and western defense sources, the British newspaper alleged that an IAF force consisting of eight fighters, two helicopters and a refueling plane were used in the attack on the weapons factory near Khartoum. The force flew down the Red Sea, avoiding Egyptian air defense, and used electronic countermeasures to prevent detection while over Sudanese territory.

Four fighters made the bombing run, the other four were used for air cover, and the helicopters, which carried 10 commandos each, were in reserve in case a rescue operation was needed to recover a downed pilot.

“This was a show of force, but it was only a fraction of our capability — and of what the Iranians can expect in the countdown to the spring,” an Israeli defense source was quoted as telling the Sunday Times.

Israeli officials have neither confirmed nor denied striking the site. Instead, they accused Sudan of playing a role in an Iranian-backed network of arms shipments to Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel believes Sudan is a key transit point in the circuitous route that weapons take to the Islamic militant groups in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

The Sudanese government last Wednesday immediately pointed the finger at Israel for the fire at the Yarmouk Complex that killed two people, and said that four Israeli aircraft bombed the factory.

On Saturday, furthermore, Khartoum claimed it had proof of Israeli involvement. Sudan says 60 percent of the factory was completely destroyed in the attack, and the rest badly damaged.

Sudanese officials said the government has the right to respond to what the information minister said was a “flagrant attack” by Israel on Sudan’s sovereignty, and the right to strengthen its military capabilities.

An American monitoring group said on Saturday that satellite images of the aftermath of the Wednesday explosion suggested the site was hit by an airstrike. The images released by the Satellite Sentinel Project to the Associated Press showed six 52-foot (16-meter) wide craters at the compound.

Military experts consulted by the project found the craters to be “consistent with large impact craters created by air-delivered munitions,” Satellite Sentinel Project spokesman Jonathan Hutson said.

The Yarmouk military complex in Khartoum, Sudan seen in a satellite image made on October 12 2012, after the alleged attack. (photo credit: AP/DigitalGlobe via Satellite Sentinel Project)

The target may have been around 40 shipping containers seen at the site in earlier images, the group said. It said the craters center on the area where the containers had been stacked.

Sudan was a major hub for al-Qaeda militants and remains a transit for weapon smugglers and African migrant traffickers. Israeli officials believe arms that originate in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas go through Sudan before crossing Egypt’s lawless Sinai desert and into Gaza through underground tunnels.

According to the Sunday Times, in 2010 when Mossad agents assassinated Hamas arms procurer al-Mabhouh in Dubai, they found a copy of a 2008 defense agreement between Iran and Sudan.

The agreement allowed Iran to build weapons in Sudan under Iranian supervision. The Times wrote that the “Israelis discovered later that a large contingent of Iranian technicians had been sent to the Yarmouk factory… the Iranians were building advanced Shahab ballistic missiles and rockets at a plant in the factory compound.”

These missiles were seen as “a direct threat,” according to an Israeli security expert quoted by the Times.

Opened in 1996, the Yarmouk factory is one of two known state-owned weapons manufacturing plants in the Sudanese capital. Sudan prided itself on having a way to produce its own ammunition and weapons despite United Nations and US sanctions.

The satellite images indicate that the Yarmouk facility includes an oil storage facility, a military depot and an ammunition plant.

The monitoring group said the images indicate that the blast “destroyed two buildings and heavily damaged at least 21 others,” adding that there was no indication of fire damage at the fuel depot inside the military complex.

The group said it could not be certain the containers, seen in images taken Oct. 12, were still there when explosion took place. But the effects of the blast suggested a “highly volatile cargo” was at the epicenter of the explosion.

“If the explosions resulted from a rocket or missile attack against material stored in the shipping containers, then it was an effective surgical strike that totally destroyed any container” that was at the location, the project said.

A witness told the project that three planes were seen “flying fast around southern Khartoum, to the northwest and northeast,” while a fourth larger plane flew toward the northeast at a higher altitude.

Yarmouk is located in a densely populated residential area of the city approximately 11 kilometers (seven miles) southwest of the Khartoum International Airport.

Wednesday’s blast sent exploding ammunition flying into homes in the neighborhood adjacent to the factory, causing panic among residents. Sudanese officials said some people suffered from smoke inhalation.

A man who lives near the factory said that, from inside their house, he and his brother heard a loud roar — what they believed was a plane — just before the boom of the explosion sounded from the factory.

Also on Saturday, a report in the Examiner quoted an “Israeli counterterrorism source” saying Israel bombed the Sudanese munitions plant, which has also produced chemical weapons.

The Examiner’s source claimed that “the Israeli government reported to news reporters that four Israeli military planes attacked and destroyed the arms factory in Khartoum.”

Contrary to the Examiner report, Jerusalem has been tight-lipped since Khartoum. Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday had no comment about the incident. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 2 there was “nothing to say” about the subject.

The Examiner’s source reiterated the charge made in the Israeli press and by the Sunday Times that Sudanese-made arms funded by Iran make their way to Hamas and Hezbollah armories. The article claimed that Iran pays Bedouin to smuggle Sudanese arms from the Red Sea coast across Sinai to the Gaza Strip.

According to the Examiner’s Israeli source, “hundreds of rockets (mostly with ranges of 20-40 kilometers), about 1,000 mortar shells, dozens of individual anti-tank missiles, and tons of explosives and explosives-making materials have been smuggled” via Sinai to the Gaza Strip.

The TImes of Israel

Don't Worry Germany - Your Gold At The New York Fed Is Safe And Sound

The hurricane water surge has come and gone, devastating downtown New York, but one place, the one that represents the deepest hole burrowed south of Houston street and literally lies on the New York bedrock 80 feet below street level, is safe and sound. The place, of course, is where over 20% of the world's tungsten gold is stored. Especially that of Germany (wink wink). And Germany, whose central bank was recently caught in a series of official disclosure faux pas as described here in regards to its official gold holdings, can rest assured that nothing that hasn't already happened to its gold, happened last night.

As the WSJ explains:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York‘s downtown office remains open for business and unharmed by Hurricane Sandy, a bank spokesman said Tuesday.

The spokesman said the facility located on Liberty Street in lower Manhattanremains secure and suffered no flooding. The New York Fed is the U.S. central bank’s key point of contact with financial markets, and its castle-like construction is also the repository for a substantial amount of gold.

In other words, those who believe that the vault of the NY Fed contains over 20% of the world's gold, can continue doing so.

And as a reminder for those who missed it the first time around, here is a refresh on the world's "safest" place:

This Is Where The Gold Is(n't) - The New York Fed Guide To The Most Valuable Vault In The World

Much has been said about the secretive vault situated 80 feet below ground level at 33 Liberty street, which contains over 20% of the world's gold (allegedly*), currently estimated at over $350 billion. Some have even robbed it: with the barrier between fantasy and reality a blur, courtesy of the total farce we live in which has rendered the IPO of TheOnion impossible, there is nothing wrong with actually believing Die Hard With A Vengeance did in fact happen. But if your knowledge of the vault is limited to the perspective of one John McClane, you are missing our on a lot. Which is why the new York Fed, in those rare occasions when it is not monetizing debt, and/or telling Citadel which securities to buy, has been courteous enough to put together "The Key To The Gold Vault" - the official brochure of the warehouse where more gold is stored than at any other place in the world.

Some excerpts:

The gold stored at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is secured in a most unusual vault. It rests on the bedrock of Manhattan Island—one of the few foundations considered adequate to support the weight of the vault, its door, and the gold inside—80 feet below street level and 50 feet below sea level.

As of early 2008, the Fed’s vault contained roughly 216 million troy ounces of gold (1 troy oz. is 1.1 times as heavy as the avoirdupois ounce, with which we are more familiar), representing about 22 percent of the world’s official monetary gold reserves. At the time, the vault’s gold value was about $9.1 billion at the official U.S. government price of $42.2222 per troy ounce, or about $194 billion at the market price of $900 an ounce. At the current official U.S. government price, one of the vault’s gold bars (approximately 27.4 pounds) is valued at about $17,000. At a $900 market price, the same bar is worth about $360,000.

Foreign governments and official international organizations store their gold at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York because of their confidence in its safety, the convenient services the Bank offers, and its location in one of the world’s leading financial capitals.

The Bank stores gold in the form of bars that resemble construction bricks and stacks them on wooden pallets like those used in warehouses. To reach the vault, the bullion-laden pallets must be loaded into one of the Bank’s elevators and sent down five floors below street level to the vault floor. The elevator’s movements are controlled by an operator who is in a distant room and communicates by intercom with the armed guards accompanying the shipment.

Once inside the vault, the gold bars become the responsibility of a control group consisting of representatives of three Bank divisions: Auditing, Vault Services, and Custody. A member of each division must be present whenever gold is moved or whenever anyone enters the vault.

If everything is in order, the gold is either moved to one or more of the vault’s 122 compartments assigned to depositing countries and official international organizations or placed on shelves in one of the “library” compartments shared by several countries. The bars are stacked one at a time in an overlapping pattern similar to that used to stabilize a brick wall. Each compartment is secured by a padlock, two combination locks, and an auditor’s seal.

And here is why we used a * footnote above:

Confidence results from the Bank’s being part of the Federal Reserve System—the nation’s central bank and an independent governmental entity. The political stability and economic strength of the United States, as well as the physical security provided by the Bank’s vault, also are important factors.

Good luck finding it then. And for those who want to pull a Simon Peter Gruber and have already rented out the dump trucks:

Storing almost $194 billion [ZH: at very old prices] of gold makes extensive security measures mandatory at the New York Fed. An important measure is the background investigation required of all Bank employees. Continuous supervision by the vault control group also prevents problems from arising by ensuring that proper security procedures are followed.

The Bank and its vaults are secured by the Bank’s own uniformed protection force. Twice a year, each federal officer must qualify with a handgun, shotgun and rifle at the Bank’s firing range. Although the minimum requirement is a marksman’s score, most qualify as experts.

Security is also enhanced by a closed-circuit television system and by an electronic surveillance system that alerts Central Watch when a vault door is opened or closed. The alarm system signals the officers to seal all security areas and Bank exits. This can be accomplished in less than twenty-five seconds.

The gold also is secured by the vault’s design, which is a masterpiece of protective engineering. The vault is actually the bottom floor of a three-story bunker of vaults arranged like strongboxes stacked on top of one another. The massive walls surrounding the vault are made of a steel-reinforced structural concrete.

There are no doors into the gold vault. Entry is through a narrow 10-foot passageway cut in a delicately balanced, nine-feet-tall, 90-ton steel cylinder that revolves vertically in a 140-ton, steel-and-concrete frame. The vault is opened and closed by rotating the cylinder 90 degrees. An airtight and watertight seal is achieved by lowering the slightly tapered cylinder three-eighths of an inch into the frame, which is similar to pushing a cork down into a bottle. The cylinder is secured in place when two levers insert large bolts, four recessed in each side of the frame, into the cylinder. By unlocking a series of time and combination locks, Bank personnel can open the vault the next business day. The locks are under “multiple control”—no one individual has all the combinations necessary to open the vault.

The weight of the gold—just over 27 pounds per bar—makes it difficult to lift or carry and obviates the need to search vault employees and visitors before they leave the vault. Nor do they have to be checked for specks of gold. Gold is relatively soft, but not so soft that particles will stick to clothing or shoes, or can be scraped from the bars. The Bank’s security arrangements are so trusted by depositors that few have ever asked to examine their gold.

To think: so much trouble for a little tungsten...

Zero Hedge

Middle East in anticipation of war, reaching its peak after US elections

As some political experts claim there will be the risk that a new “big wave” in the Middle East could reach its peak after the American presidential elections, and that the region might plummet into the abyss. They say that Israel is ready to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

At the same time the Islamic Republic, whose economy is on the verge of collapse due to the sanctions, is also prepared to stand up to Israel.

So far, uncertainty in the US presidential race has served as a containment factor. But what will happen after the elections? Irina Fedorova, a specialist in Iranian-US relations, delivers a “partly cloudy” forecast for the near future; “Before the Inauguration on January 20 it is hardly possible to anticipate any sudden political moves from the US president who will be elected on November 6. The main task of the new, or old, president with the US political elite, will be the formation of a new government. That is why foreign policy issues will not take precedence in that period.

The issue that will influence the US president's opinion on the possibility of a military strike against Iran will be the crisis in Syria, including the problem of Bashar al-Assad. Until those problems are resolved, the US president's attention will be focused on Syria.”

The Israeli factor cannot be ignored either, the current situation in Israel provides much food for thought. The Knesset is dissolved and elections are set for January 22, the day after the new president of the USA is inaugurated. There are two politicians who are ready for a war against Iran; Benjamin Netanyahu from Liquid and Avigdor Lieberman of Israel is Our Home,and there is a very real possibility that one of them will win. The likelihood of finding a solution to the Iranian problem between the US and Israeli elections cannot be ruled out completely, but during that period, anti-war pressure on the Cabinet will dwindle to almost zero. That is because, although the Knesset deputies continue with their duties, they are essentially already “lame ducks” in the absence of a sitting parliament. The current Knesset cannot be expected to address the issue of a no-confidence vote before the elections and, in the event of a successful strike against Iran, as anticipated by its proponents, it would be seen as a vote winner in the election run up.

While Israel’s right wing politicians consolidate, the military makes no effort to conceal its active preparations for combat. Military exercise follows military exercise. Some experts even concede that the al-Hartum factory strike, widely attributed in the press to Israel, could have been a rehearsal of sorts.

Iranians are not sleeping through the crisis either; in early October they initiated the launch into Israel's airspace of the Iranian drone aircraft Hesballoy. On October 29 a large-scale military exercise began in the region along the Iraqi border.

It is not however the growing military activity in Iran that worries Israel, but the Iranian nuclear programme. Recently, there was an announcement that Iran had finished the installation of a centrifuge at the “Fordo” underground military facility. Western experts believe that Iranian nuclear specialists can now produce uranium enriched not only to 60%, but the 90% purity required for weapons grade material. If true that can only serve to encourage Israel to strike first. Irina Fedorova observed: “There can be unpredictable decisions in politics and it is possible that the situation could arise when the Israeli military, without Washington's approval, would start an operation against Iran. In that case the USA would, without doubt, support Israel.”

And many experts believe that that is just what is likely to happen, right after the US presidential elections.

Voice of Russia

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Superstorm aftermath: Video of damage, flooding in New York in Sandy's wake

Sid Roth... Revelation of America's Future

Tony Blair: the EU needs a president

In a move interpreted by some as a job application, the former prime minister said the EU could do with a strong leader approved by the people.

He also warned that too deep a political divide between Britain and the core eurozone countries could lead towards a break-up.

"Out of this European crisis can come the opportunity finally to achieve a model of European integration that is sustainable," said Mr Blair. "A Europe-wide election for the presidency... is the most direct way to involve the public."

Europe's millions of residents might feel "alienated" unless they have a direct say in who is governing them, Mr Blair told the Nicolas Berggruen Institute on Governance.

"An election for a big post held by one person - this people can understand," he said. "The problem with the European Parliament is that though clearly democratically elected, my experience is people don't feel close to their MEPs."

Speaking in Berlin, he said the EU must not allow too big a divide to grow up between Britain, which wants to claw back powers from Europe, and countries like France and Germany opting for more political union.

"I would give a stark warning: if eurozone structures end up with a Europe that is fundamentally divided politically as well as economically; rather than a Europe with one political settlement that accommodates different levels of integration within it, the EU as we know it will be on a path to break up," he said.

In a thinly veiled warning to David Cameron, he said playing "short-term politics" is not in Britain's interest and urged the UK to take "a constructive role in shaping this new union".

The Prime Minister is currently under pressure to call a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU from eurosceptics in his party. Other European states, such as Finland, have expressed fears that the UK is waving "bye bye" to the EU.

Mr Blair today made it clear that forgng Britain's role in the EU as it changes will be a "tricky task".

"But it is an essential one if the UK is not to be sidelined and Europe to be without the active participation of such a large and significant member of the existing union," he said.

The Telegraph

MSNBC Entertains Possibility Of Delaying Elections Due To Hurricane Destruction

ANDREA MITCHELL: We've seen in the past situations where power is not restored, in our own region here, for days, for more than a week -- for ten days. What happens if we get to election day and they don't have power? Which you need for many of these election booths, for the voting booths, which you need for people to get to the polls. Is there any precedent for doing something such as postponing a national election?

CHUCK TODD: Well, look, elections are run by state and local officials. The federal government does not run the elections as it is. Look, there is some precedence to this. During 9/11, on 9/11, was the New York City mayoral race and they delayed everything. You know, it would have to be up to a local authority to do that but that local authority -- I think, look, you're going to be getting into provisional ballot issues.

I think -- I think that that's the more likely scenario. You don't postpone the day itself, but maybe you expand the types of ballots, maybe you're more lenient on checking people in, but forcing provisional votes so it's going to take longer to verify the voters and all of those things. I think that that's the most likely scenario that you would have some localities that would have to move, change positions, maybe even delay, but that would seem the least likely option. But to come up with some way to deal with what you just said now, if you have an election voting machine and no power, do you deal with that?

Real Clear Politics

National security to be tested on Halloween in simulation using zombies

Move over vampires, goblins and haunted houses, this kind of Halloween terror aims to shake up even the toughest warriors: An untold number of so-called zombies are coming to a counterterrorism summit attended by hundreds of Marines, Navy special ops, soldiers, police, firefighters and others to prepare them for their worst nightmares.

"This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party," said Brad Barker, president of Halo Corp, a security firm hosting the Oct. 31 training demonstration during the summit at a 44-acre Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay. "Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened, it just hasn't happened all at once on the same night. But the training is very real, it just happens to be the bad guys we're having a little fun with."

Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.

In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes. The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies. At one point, some members of the team are bit by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment.

"No one knows what the zombies will do in our scenario, but quite frankly no one knows what a terrorist will do," Barker said. "If a law enforcement officer sees a zombie and says, 'Freeze, get your hands in the air!' What's the zombie going to do? He's going to moan at you. If someone on PCP or some other psychotic drug is told that, the truth is he's not going to react to you."

The keynote speaker beforehand will be a retired top spook — former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

"No doubt when a zombie apocalypse occurs, it's going to be a federal incident, so we're making it happen," Barker said. Since word got out about the exercise, they've had calls from "every whack job in the world" about whether the U.S. government is really preparing for a zombie event.

Called "Zombie Apocalypse," the exercise follows the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's campaign launched last year that urged Americans to get ready for a zombie apocalypse, as part of a catchy, public health message about the importance of emergency preparedness.

The Homeland Security Department jumped on board last month, telling citizens if they're prepared for a zombie attack, they'll be ready for real-life disasters like a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake or terrorist attack. A few suggestions were similar to a few of the 33 rules for dealing with zombies popularized in the 2009 movie "Zombieland," which included "always carry a change of underwear" and "when in doubt, know your way out."

San Diego-based Halo Corp. founded by former military special ops and intelligence personnel has been hosting the annual counterterrorism summit since 2006.

The five-day Halo counterterrorism summit is an approved training event by the Homeland Security Grant Program and the Urban Areas Security Initiative, which provide funds to pay for the coursework on everything from the battleground tactics to combat wounds to cybersecurity. The summit has a $1,000 registration fee and runs Oct. 29-Nov 2.

Conferences attended by government officials have come under heightened scrutiny following an inspector general's report on waste and abuse at a lavish 2010 Las Vegas conference that led to the resignation of General Services Administrator Martha Johnson. The Las Vegas conference featured a clown, a mind-reader and a rap video by an employee who made fun of the spending.

Joe Newman, spokesman of the watchdog organization Project on Government Oversight, said he does not see the zombie exercise as frivolous.

"We obviously are concerned about any expenditure that might seem frivolous or a waste of money but if they tie things together, there is a lesson there," Newman said. "Obviously we're not expecting a zombie apocalypse in the near future, but the effects of what might happen in a zombie apocalypse are probably similar to the type of things that happen in natural disasters and manmade disasters. They're just having fun with it. We don't have any problems with it as a teaching point."

Defense analyst Loren Thompson agreed.

"The defining characteristics of zombies are that they're unpredictable and resilient. That may be a good way to prepare for what the Pentagon calls asymmetric warfare," Thompson said.

Organizers can also avoid the pitfalls of using a mock enemy who could be identified by nationality, race or culture — something that could potentially be seen as offensive.

"I can think of a couple of countries where the local leaders are somewhat zombie-like," he joked. "But nobody is going to take this personally."

Fox News

U.S. Forces to Bring 'Smart' Artillery Shells to Korea

The U.S. Forces Korea is planning to introduce precision-guided artillery shells which could pulverize North Korea's long-range artillery batteries near the demilitarized zone.

The South Korean military considered buying the XM982 Excalibur shells after the North shelled Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010, but put off the decision due to their high price.

The Second U.S. Infantry Division already test-fired Excalibur rounds at the Anheung test site of the Agency for Defense Development in late May, a military source said Thursday. It will deploy them properly together with additional Patriot PAC-3 missiles and ATACMS surface-to-surface missiles by year's end.

The Excalibur is the world's first GPS-guided "smart" 155 mm shell. It is capable of hitting targets within a radius of less than 10 m. Excalibur rounds fell within less than 4.5 m of targets in about a dozen tests conducted in the U.S. until 2006.

Because they strike targets nearly vertically, they would be effective in hitting North Korean long-range artillery batteries positioned behind mountains, which are difficult to strike with K-9 self-propelled guns or multiple-launch rocket systems.

Excalibur rounds proved effective in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each shell costs W50-100 million (US$1=W1,114).

The Chosunilbo

Nation's Oldest Nuclear Power Plant, New Jersey's Oyster Creek, Declares Alert Following Water Surge


As a reminder, the biggest catastrophe that resulted from last year's Tohoku earthquake in Japan was not the earthquake itself, nor the infrastructure destruction from the susbequent tsunami, but the impact of the soaring water wall on the nuclear power plants in the coastline, namely Fukushima, and its aftermath, by now known all too well to all. So tonight too, all along the east coast, the biggest threat is not the wind, nor the rain, but the impact of the storm surge on the tens of nuclear power plants located in the vicinity of the rapidly rising tide. Such as Oyster Creek in New Jersey which just went on alert due to the surging water level.

From AP:

The nation's oldest nuclear power plant is on alert after waters from a colossal storm reached high levels.

Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, N.J., was already offline for regular maintenance before Sandy, a superstorm downgraded Monday night from a hurricane, slammed the East Coast.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says an "unusual event" was declared around 7 p.m. when water reached a high level. The situation was upgraded less than two hours later to an "alert," the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system.

Federal officials say all nuclear plants are still in safe condition. They say water levels near Oyster Creek, which is along the Atlantic Ocean, will likely recede within a few hours.

Oyster Creek went online in 1969 and provides 9 percent of New Jersey's electricity.

Zero Hedge

Iran able to defend Gulf, ensure its security: Ahmadinejad

Iran has the ability and the power to provide security and ensure stability for the Gulf region, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday, as the Islamic Republic continues its militarization efforts.

“The Islamic republic of Iran can provide the security for this region through its regional capabilities,” said Ahmadinejad during a ceremony to honor Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari and several other navy officials in Bandar Abbas on Monday.

“This region has enjoyed complete security in all times where there has not been any foreign intervention,” Ahmadinejad said.

“Iran has been the provider of security in the region,” he added, responding to U.S. and regional accusations to Tehran that its nuclear program and involvement in Syria and Lebanon was destabilizing to regional security.

“The security of the Gulf has only been altered in the past when there was foreign intervention,” he said. “However, no foreign [power] will succeed regardless of their motives” he added.

His statements come amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel and speculations of a possible war between the two countries.

Israel have recently said that it is prepared, alone, if necessary, to send warplanes, to destroy Iranian nuclear sites. Iran says it can defend itself and accused Israel of standing behind the bombing of a weapon factory in Sudan.

“The Iranian people have never been an aggressor but at the same time history has proven that they can defend themselves very well. If anyone wants to attack the unity of Iran we will deter them,” Ahmadinejad said

Sources close to the Iranian military told Al Arabiya that the country will “soon” announce “an important marine achievement which would enhance its deterrence powers.” No further details were provided.

Al Arabiya News

Police tear gas & water cannon Turkish secularists

Troika wants 150 reforms in Greece - now!

1990s East Coast Hurricane Drill Named “Sandy” with same path


Back in the late 90s, the National Hurricane Center in Miami conducted a drill based on a fictional hurricane named Sandy. In the drill, the storm strikes the East Coast.

The fictitious storm was modeled after the Hurricane of 1938. The “Long Island Express” was a Category 3 hurricane that hit Long Island and killed nearly 800 people cause nearly $5 billion in damages.

The hurricane now projected to hit the New Jersey coast is being compared to the Long Island Express.

A web page has surfaced from 1996 (the date is timestamped on the page’s source code) with “texts of the simulated bulletins, forecasts, discussions and strike probabilities along with the hurricane’s track were sent home with the seminar attendees. We named the simulated hurricane after Sandy, who incidentally was nine years old during the real Hurricane of 1938.”

The page is posted on the Westchester Emergency Communications Association website. It received an update by Alan Crosswell on Friday, October 17, 1997.


By Kirk Cameron

I’d never dug a grave before. It’s exhausting work. My arms are tired. My back is sore. And when I was finished, it didn’t give me a great sense of accomplishment. The fully dug grave just left me feeling – sad.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting with Glenn Beck in a private room at a very swanky hotel in Beverly Hills. He was gracious. He was kind. He asked about my family. We talked business, faith and the future of America. It was an impromptu coffee conversation that I will not soon forget. I like Glenn Beck. We discussed things that chilled my temperature to the core and then raised it back up to the boiling point.

Last evening, my wife and I enjoyed a quiet dinner for two, discussing the conversation I had with Glenn, when our daughter brought us news that something was wrong with our family dog. We went outside and found her lying in the backyard grass, unable to move. I literally felt her heart stop beating and her lungs deflate. It was an eerie feeling to watch something die. Tears and sobs flowed for the next hour while we all said “goodbye” to Sadie.

This morning, between soccer games, my son and I manfully dug Sadie’s grave. I wanted to dig it myself to honor “Old Faithful” for 14 years of companionship. When the kids return from their soccer games this afternoon, we’ll bury her.

I was happy to see my son with a shovel in his hands, eager to help me with the hard work. He did this because he loves Sadie.

It’s weird. The whole thing made me think about our country. I look around my neighborhood. I see bumper stickers on cars, political signs planted on street corners, and I hear conversations at the coffee shop and soccer field that leave me feeling so – sad.

I have the eerie feeling that I’m watching my community and country dig their own graves. And they’re really killing themselves to do it. They’re putting a ton of effort into their work. They’re exhausting themselves to keep abortion legal. They think raising taxes and spending other people’s money is a good idea. They tirelessly work to be “loving and tolerant” of things that will hurt their own families and dishonor God. And the crazy thing is, I think most of them really do love America. But they don’t realize that in all their misguided efforts, they’re actually digging her grave.

On Nov. 6, those who vote will choose life or death for many of our freedoms in this land. This presidential election outcome will have huge consequences. We have two men with very different ideas about what America should be. The right man could provide the fuel to get our country back on track, and the wrong man could prove to be the final nail in her coffin.

I can now speak from experience: Digging graves is hard work, especially when the name on the tombstone belongs to someone you love. Please don’t dig America’s grave. Learn the principles that have resulted in freedom, blessing and God’s protection for 400 years. If we love America, we can avoid her early death through personal repentance, family prayer and community action.

A wise president once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. … If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

On Nov. 6, get off the couch and vote for the man you believe will most protect the lives of unborn babies, will defend God’s design of marriage between a man and a woman and is most likely to hold back the flood of evil longest, to give you and I, as dads and moms, the most time to rebuild our country from the bottom up and the inside out, through the faithful training of our children.

May God bless you with wisdom during this critical time in our nation’s history.


Hamas Terrorists Firing Rockets on Israel from Houses in Gaza

Monday, October 29, 2012

U.S. looks to replace human surveillance with computers

Computer software programmed to detect and report illicit behavior could eventually replace the fallible humans who monitor surveillance cameras.

The U.S. government has funded the development of so-called automatic video surveillance technology by a pair of Carnegie Mellon University researchers who disclosed details about their work this week -- including that it has an ultimate goal of predicting what people will do in the future.

"The main applications are in video surveillance, both civil and military," Alessandro Oltramari, a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon who has a Ph.D. from Italy's University of Trento, told CNET yesterday.

Oltramari and fellow researcher Christian Lebiere say automatic video surveillance can monitor camera feeds for suspicious activities like someone at an airport or bus station abandoning a bag for more than a few minutes. "In this specific case, the goal for our system would have been to detect the anomalous behavior," Oltramari says.

Think of it as a much, much smarter version of a red light camera: the unblinking eye of computer software that monitors dozens or even thousands of security camera feeds could catch illicit activities that human operators -- who are expensive and can be distracted or sleepy -- would miss. It could also, depending on how it's implemented, raise similar privacy and civil liberty concerns.

A paper (PDF) the researchers presented this week at the Semantic Technology for Intelligence, Defense, and Security conference outside of Washington, D.C. -- today's sessions are reserved only for attendees with top secret clearances -- says their system aims "to approximate human visual intelligence in making effective and consistent detections."

Their Army-funded research, Oltramari and Lebiere claim, can go further than merely recognizing whether any illicit activities are currently taking place. It will, they say, be capable of "eventually predicting" what's going to happen next.

This approach relies heavily on advances by machine vision researchers, who have made remarkable strides in last few decades in recognizing stationary and moving objects and their properties. It's the same vein of work that led to Google's self-driving cars, face recognition software used on Facebook and Picasa, and consumer electronics like Microsoft's Kinect.

When it works well, machine vision can detect objects and people -- call them nouns -- that are on the other side of the camera's lens.

But to figure out what these nouns are doing, or are allowed to do, you need the computer science equivalent of verbs. And that's where Oltramari and Lebiere have built on the work of other Carnegie Mellon researchers to create what they call a "cognitive engine" that can understand the rules by which nouns and verbs are allowed to interact.

Their cognitive engine incorporates research, called activity forecasting, conducted by a team led by postdoctoral fellow Kris Kitani, which tries to understand what humans will do by calculating which physical trajectories are most likely. They say their software "models the effect of the physical environment on the choice of human actions."

Both projects are components of Carnegie Mellon's Mind's Eye architecture, a DARPA-created project that aims to develop smart cameras for machine-based visual intelligence.

Predicts Oltramari: "This work should support human operators and automatize video-surveillance, both in military and civil applications."


Iran says has images of restricted Israeli areas

Iran holds pictures of Israeli bases and other restricted areas obtained from a drone launched into Israeli airspace earlier this month, an Iranian lawmaker was quoted as saying on Monday.

Earlier this month, Israel shot down a drone after it flew 25 miles (55 km) into the Jewish state. Lebanese militant group Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the aircraft, saying its parts had been manufactured in Iran and assembled in Lebanon.

The drone transmitted pictures of Israel's "sensitive bases" before it was shot down, said Esmail Kowsari, chair of parliament's defense committee, according to Iran's Mehr news agency. He was speaking to Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam, Mehr reported on Monday.

"These aircraft transmit their pictures online, and right now we possess pictures of restricted areas," Kowsari was quoted as saying.

Israeli air space is closely monitored by the military and, except for commercial air corridors, is restricted, with special attention paid to numerous military and security installations.

Israeli threats to bomb Iranian nuclear sites if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop Tehran's nuclear program are a flashpoint for tensions in the Middle East. The West suspects the program is designed to develop a nuclear weapons capability, something Tehran steadfastly denies.

Iran's military regularly announces defense and engineering developments though some analysts are skeptical of the reliability of such reports.

On Sunday Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the downed drone did not represent Iran's latest know-how in drone technology, according to Mehr.

In April, Iran announced it had started to build a copy of a US surveillance drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, captured last year after it came down near the Afghan border.