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Monday, November 3, 2014

Are Russian Bombers Flying Nuclear Drills Near Europe Or Just Testing NATO’s Defenses?

Nuclear-capable Russian bombers are flying over the North Sea and the Atlantic. And U.S. Air Force officers are very concerned at what could be a rehearsal of a deadly mission.

Russian bombers may be flying nuclear strike drills over the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea, current and former U.S. Air Force officers believe. At the very least, these officers tell The Daily Beast, the Russian Air Force is aggressively probing what NATO calls European airspace in an effort to gauge the reaction times of the western alliance’s defenses.

Since Oct. 28, NATO air defenses have detected and monitored four groups of Russian combat aircraft over the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Black Sea. Norwegian F-16 fighters intercepted one particular group of Russian aircraft on Oct. 29 that included four, nuclear-capable Tupolev Tu-95 Bear H strategic bombers and four Ilyushin Il-78 aerial refueling tankers. Once intercepted, six of the Russian aircraft headed for home while the two remaining Tu-95 bombers continued southwest, parallel to the Norwegian coast, before eventually turning back towards Russia.

The giant, propeller-driven Tu-95 is a launch platform for the 1,600 nautical mile range Raduga Kh-55 nuclear-tipped cruise missile. The weapon carries a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead; by comparison, the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki was a mere 21 kilotons. Some active-duty and retired U.S. Air Force officials told The Daily Beast that the Tu-95s might have been flying to certain predetermined launch points for their nuclear missiles.

“That could certainly be the case,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the service’s influential former intelligence chief. “It is not farfetched that at some point within the next two years [Russian President Vladimir] Putin makes a more aggressive move in Eastern Europe and uses a nuclear threat to deter a NATO response.”

Of course, every nuclear capable air force runs exercises to practice its so-called “strategic deterrence.” It’s the pace and scale of these current flights that have military observers concerned.

“Our bomber crews regularly fly training sorties for their full range of potential missions, including strategic deterrence practice missions,” Mark Gunzinger, a former B-52 pilot and current air power analyst the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said. “[The Russian Air Force] has never stopped flying training sorties, but it’s apparent that the scope of this one is catching people’s attention.”

Asked if at least some of these flights were nuclear drills, Gunzinger responded, “that is probably the case.”
The giant, propeller-driven Tu-95 is a launch platform for the Raduga Kh-55 nuclear-tipped cruise missile, which carries a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead. By comparison, the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki was a mere 21 kilotons.

Another former Air Force officer—one with extensive experience with Russian tactics—cautioned not to interpret either the European or Alaskan flights too darkly. “A probe to test western responses, yes,” the former officer wrote in an email. “More activity than in the recent past, yes. Nuclear strike rehearsal, unlikely. Capabilities are easy to measure. Intent is not.”

Analyst Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS Independent Research, said that the recent display of Russian air power was just another provocation in a long line of similar antagonistic moves by Russia. The Russian strategic bomber foray into the Atlantic is also reminiscent of a September incident where two nuclear-capable Tu-95s bombers, two Il-78 tankers and two MiG-31 Foxhound fighters were intercepted near Alaska.

“This reminds me of the exercises Russia has been flying in the Pacific for a few years now, just transferred to the European theater,” Grant said. “I don’t read this as a specific nuclear or conventional scenario practice, rather an exercise in long-range navigation and provocation. It’s clearly designed to annoy NATO but from a purely tactical perspective, this was still a pretty small display of airpower.”

Another former Air Force F-4G and F-15E electronic warfare officer said that there simply is not enough information to be certain of what the Russians’ intentions are. “It could be anything,” said Michael Pietrucha. “There’s nothing wrong with long range training sorties because they allow you to work out the kinks for a variety of missions.”

Nonetheless, the foray into European airspace by the Tu-95 Bear bombers is cause for concern. That’s not just because of the Bear bomber’s long-range nuclear weapons capability, but also because of the Russian’s general disregard for international air traffic norms. Not only did the Russians not file a proper flight plan, they also did not have active transponders—which would allow civilian air traffic controllers to see them. The situation could lead to a serious accident where an airliner might collide with a Russian bomber.

“It’s alarming, especially, that they would fly without their transponder on particularly when they’re certain to fly on or cross an a multitude of international air routes,” one Air Force bomber pilot told the Daily Beast. “The interrogative capability of most modern airline and transport carrier transponders rely on the transmission of other transponders to ensure positive deconfliction.”

The airspace over the Atlantic is especially busy with a lot of airliner traffic. The U.S. bomber pilot acknowledged that the U.S. Air Force also conducts long-range bomber patrols, but American aircraft always follow proper flight procedures and other regulations.

“I’ve flown on the west of Portugal, it was a busy place to fly because a lot of air routes funnel into the Med [Mediterranean] there,” the bomber pilot said. “The U.S. does what are called ‘global power’ missions on occasion, but never without squawking, or talking, or filing flight plans, and we rarely seek to draw an escort.”

In addition to the strategic bomber patrols in the Atlantic, the Russian Air Force also flew another bomber mission over the Black Sea on Oct. 29 with two Tu-95 Bears, which were escorted by two Sukhoi Su-27 air superiority fighters.

The Russian Air Force also flew additional sorties over the Baltic Sea with tactical strike fighters on Oct. 29. Portuguese F-16 fighters assigned to protect the Baltic states—which belong to NATO—intercepted a group of two MiG-31 interceptors, one Su-27 fighter and two pairs of Su-34 and Su-24 fighter bombers. The same group of Russian jets was intercepted on the previous day.

No matter what the intent of the specific flight, the larger goal—a re-introduction of Russian military might into Europe—is clearly working, a senior U.S. military officer told The Daily Beast.

“It certainly demonstrates their effort to re-assert themselves in the region and regain their past form,” this official added. “It appears to be successful, certainly from the standpoint that Russian airpower has re-entered the conversation and our NATO allies have had to respond to their incursions. It strikes me as destabilizing.”

The U.S. Air Force would not officially comment on the matter and deferred all queries to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Pentagon did not return calls for comment.

Credit to The Daily Beast


Drones will likely be phased out of war in favor of spying on the population

China has developed and successfully tested a highly accurate laser defense system against light drones.

The homemade machine boasts a two-kilometer range and can down “various small aircraft” within five seconds of locating its target.

Boasting high speed, great precision and low noise, the system is aimed at destroying unmanned, small-scale drones flying under an altitude of 500 meters and at speeds below 50 meters per second, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement by one of the developers, the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP).

A recent test saw the machine successfully bring down over 30 drones – a 100-percent success rate, according to the statement. The laser system is expected to play a key role in ensuring security during major events in urban areas.

“Intercepting such drones is usually the work of snipers and helicopters, but their success rate is not as high and mistakes with accuracy can result in unwanted damage,” explained Yi Jinsong, a manager with China Jiuyuan Hi-Tech Equipment Corp.

Yi told Xinhua that small-scale, unmanned drones are relatively cheap and easy to use, which makes them a lucrative choice for terrorists. Concerns have also been raised recently over drones involved in unlicensed mapping activities, and the negative effect this could have on both military and civil aerial activities.

The academy is currently working on developing similar laser security systems with greater power and range, the Chinese news agency reported.

The drone industry has been booming in recent years, with the challenge to build small, hard-to-track drones that are difficult shoot down.

The US military is to get a new drone, small enough to fit into a uniform pocket, weighing a mere 80 grams. The so-called Extreme Access Pocket Flyer can fly for two hours, transmitting HD-quality video the whole time, without resorting to Wi-Fi.

According to a report by the independent, nonprofit, public policy institute, Stimson, the US has the “world’s largest and most sophisticated fleet of weaponized UAVs,” though America is “not likely to remain the world leader in the development of innovative UAV technologies.”

US military forces had at least 678 drones in service in 2012, according to a study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, as reported by the Guardian.

Credit to Infowars

The Hagmann & Hagmann Halloween Special

Putin to the Western Elites: World War III Is Inevitable

Told an audience at a recent conference that the U.S. will start WW III and the event is inevitable.
Told an audience of Western elites, at a recent conference, that the U.S. will start WW III and the event is inevitable.

In his strongest speech, ever, directed at the United States, in front of the rest of key members of the Western world, Putin drew a line in the sand with regard to American imperialism.
The following are excerpts of Putin’s speech delivered at the Valdai conference in Sochi, just a few days ago. The speech was directed at Western elites.
“Russia will no longer play games with the United States and engage in back-room negotiations… Russia is prepared for serious agreements, but only if these agreements are conducive to collective security… All systems of global collective security now lie in ruins. There are no longer any international security guarantees at all and the party responsible for the destruction of global collective security is The United States of America…
…The builders of the New World Order have failed by having built a sand castleRussia favors a conservative approach to introducing innovations into the social order, but is not opposed to investigating and discussing such innovations, to see if introducing any of them might be justified…
…Russia has no intention of building an empire of their own, but will not go fishing in the murky waters created by America’s ever-expanding “empire of chaos…
…Russia’s challenges lie in developing her already vast territory)…Russia will not attempt to reformat the world in her own image, but neither will she allow anyone to reformat her in their image. Russia will not close herself off from the world, but anyone who tries to close her off from the world will be sure to reap a whirlwind. Neither is Russia willing to act as a savior of the world, as she has in the past…

…Russia does not wish for the chaos to spread, does not want war, and has no intention of starting one.However, today Russia sees the outbreak of global war as almost inevitable, is prepared for it, and is continuing to prepare for it. Russia does not war, nor does she fear it…

…Russia does not intend to take an active role in thwarting those who are still attempting to construct their New World Order, However, Russia will oppose their efforts if they begin  to impinge on Russia’s key interests. Russia would prefer to stand by and watch them give themselves as many lumps as their poor heads can take. But those who manage to drag Russia into this process, through disregard for her interests, will be taught the true meaning of pain…
…Russia’s will rely not on the elites to set the tone for the future, and these decisions will result from the will of the people…”

Russia Is In War Mode

Russian air incursions are the worst that they have been since the height of the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Russian air incursions are at an all-time high

The RAF has intercepted Russian military aircraft as they neared UK airspace for the second time  in the past week. This incident follows Norwegian interception of two Russian bombers last Wednesday.
The Baltic countries are also witnessing a dramatic increase in Russian military violations of NATO air space in which the Russians appear to be testing their ability to penetrate the NATO’s air defenses.
Even the number of times that Japanese fighter jets have been forced to scramble to intercept Russian military aircraft has more than doubled in the last six months, amid  the escalating diplomatic tensions between Japan and Russia.
Russia has even violated American airspace in Alaska with multiple air incursionS designed to test and discover the sophistications of  America’s ability to detect and intercept Russian fighters and nuclear bombers.
russian arctic oil and gas fields

Coupled with the air incursions, Putin has the Russian economy in war mode. He even has the Russian military prepared to militarily seize the “resource rich” Arctic


Maybe we can call a "Mulligan" on his presidency.
Maybe we can call a “Mulligan” on his presidency.
Putin has warned that “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations,” Putin said. “This is a reality, not just words.”
The United States would be wise to prepare in kind. Is anyone else concerned that our first and last line of defense is Barack “let’s play nine” Obama?

Credit to Common Sense 

Prophecy Of Major distress Coming to The Middle East

Most People Cannot Even Imagine That An Economic Collapse Is Coming

Thinking - Public DomainThe idea that the United States is on the brink of a horrifying economic crash is absolutely inconceivable to most Americans.  After all, the economy has been relatively stable for quite a few years and the stock market continues to surge to new heights.  On Friday, the Dow and the S&P 500 both closed at brand new all-time record highs.  For the year, the S&P 500 is now up 9 percent and the Nasdaq is now up close to 11 percent.  And American consumers are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season.  That is an amount of money that is larger than the entire economy of Sweden.  So how in the world can anyone be talking about economic collapse?  Yes, many will concede, we had a few bumps in the road back in 2008 but things have pretty much gotten back to normal since then.  Why be concerned about economic collapse when there is so much stability all around us?
Unfortunately, this brief period of stability that we have been enjoying is just an illusion.
The fundamental problems that caused the financial crisis of 2008 have not been fixed.  In fact, most of our long-term economic problems have gotten even worse.
But most Americans have such short attention spans these days.  In a world where we are accustomed to getting everything instantly, news cycles only last for 48 hours and 2008 might as well be an eternity ago.
In the United States today, our entire economic system is based on debt.
Without debt, very little economic activity happens.  We need mortgages to buy our homes, we need auto loans to buy our vehicles and we need our credit cards to do our shopping during the holiday season.
So where does all of that debt come from?
It comes from the banks.
In particular, the "too big to fail banks" are the heart of this debt-based system.
Do you have a mortgage, an auto loan or a credit card from one of these "too big to fail" institutions?  A very large percentage of the people that will read this article do.
And a lot of people might not like to hear this, but without those banks we essentially do not have an economy.
When Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, it almost resulted in the meltdown of our entire system.  The stock market collapsed and we experienced an absolutely wicked credit crunch.
Unfortunately, that was just a small preview of what is coming.
Even though a few prominent "experts" such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have declared that the "too big to fail" problem is "over", the truth is that it is now a bigger crisis than ever before.
Compared to five years ago, the four largest banks in the country are now almost 40 percent larger.  The following numbers come from a recent article in the Los Angeles Times...
Just before the financial crisis hit, Wells Fargo & Co. had $609 billion in assets. Now it has $1.4 trillion. Bank of America Corp. had $1.7 trillion in assets. That's up to $2.1 trillion.
And the assets of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the nation's biggest bank, have ballooned to $2.4 trillion from $1.8 trillion.
At the same time that those banks have been getting bigger, 1,400 smaller banks have completely disappeared from the banking industry.
That means that we are now more dependent on these gigantic banks than ever.
At this point, the five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for 67 percentof all assets in our financial system.
If someone came along and zapped those banks out of existence, our economy would totally collapse overnight.
So the health of this handful of immensely powerful banking institutions is absolutely critical to our economy.
Unfortunately, these banks have become deeply addicted to gambling.
Have you ever known people that allowed their lives to be destroyed by addictions that they could never shake?
Well, that is what is happening to these banks.  They have transformed Wall Street into the largest casino in the history of the world.  Most of the time, their bets pay off and they make lots of money.
But as we saw back in 2008, when they miscalculate things can fall apart very rapidly.
The bets that I am most concerned about are known as "derivatives".  In essence, they are bets about what will or will not happen in the future.  The big banks use very sophisticated algorithms that are supposed to help them be on the winning side of these bets the vast majority of the time, but these algorithms are not perfect.  The reason these algorithms are not perfect is because they are based on assumptions, and those assumptions come from people.  They might be really smart people, but they are still just people.
If things stay fairly stable like they have the past few years, the algorithms tend to work very well.
But if there is a "black swan event" such as a major stock market crash, a collapse of European or Asian banks, a historic shift in interest rates, an Ebola pandemic, a horrific natural disaster or a massive EMP blast is unleashed by the sun, everything can be suddenly thrown out of balance.
Acrobat Nik Wallenda has been making headlines all over the world for crossing vast distances on a high-wire without a safety net.  Well, that is essentially what our "too big to fail" banks are doing every single day.  With each passing year, these banks have become even more reckless, and so far there have not been any serious consequences.
But without a doubt, someday there will be.
What would you say about a bookie that took $200,000 in bets but that only had $10,000 to cover those bets?
You would certainly call that bookie a fool.
But that is what our big banks are doing.
Right now, JPMorgan Chase has more than 67 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 2.5 trillion dollars in assets.
Right now, Citibank has nearly 60 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 1.9 trillion dollars in assets.
Right now, Goldman Sachs has more than 54 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it has less than a trillion dollars in assets.
Right now, Bank of America has more than 54 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 2.2 trillion dollars in assets.
Right now, Morgan Stanley has more than 44 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it has less than a trillion dollars in assets.
Most people have absolutely no idea how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is.
The truth is that these "too big to fail" banks could collapse at any time.
And when they fail, our economy will fail too.
So let us hope and pray that this brief period of false stability lasts for as long as possible.
Because when it ends, all hell is going to break loose.
Credit to Economic Collpase

"Globalization Is Turning In On Itself And It Is Each Man For Himself"

At The Margin
A few things are also appearing on my radar screen – future visions if you like – that I want to share with you. These are not conclusive, but rather a stream of unfiltered thoughts, which will develop over time.
I virtually never use geopolitics to assess asset markets. I have learned the hard way over time that it is the way to the poor house. Economies run financial markets, not wars.
But I do note that at the margin, the world’s geopolitics is changing. Gone are the fluffy days of Putin shaking hands with George Bush agreeing to keep the world supplied with oil, gone are the days of China helping US firms make profits using their cheap labour, gone are open-for-business days of Europe, gone is the Japanese military neutrality, gone are the Saudis as an unshakeable ally, gone is Israel also a steadfast ally, etc.
What is happening is something deeply concerning. Globalisation is turning in on itself and it is each man for himself.
This was always going to be the outcome of an imbalanced, debt-drowning world. Everyone wants a cheap currency and since that doesn’t work then everyone wants to find some way to get the upper hand on their own terms.
I have had recent conversations with a long-term strategy group within the Pentagon about economic threats to the US and the risk of global collapse, and the potential for it to turn into a military outcome. It seems that the Department of Defence’s deep thinkers are mulling over the kinds of issues we all are – is the inevitable outcome a military one?
They don’t know either but they give it a probability and thus need to understand it and plan for it.
My issue has been for a long time that the true threat to the world is not the Muslim nations we so like to beat as a scapegoat (gotta have an enemy, right?) but China.
The Pentagon’s think-tank also agrees.
If China has an economic collapse, which again is a high probability event, then what are the odds of massive civil unrest? And would a military conflict put the people back on the side of the government (i.e. how the Nazis came to power)?
I agree. I think this is the risk somewhere down the road.
I also, along with this defence strategy group, think that there is a risk that the Western powers meddling in the time of bad economic crisis will form strong alliances between let’s say Russia and China.
In direct opposition to the government, many people inside the Pentagon are saying, “Please don’t fuck with Russia, they are not threatening us militarily but securing their own borders, we cannot control the outcomes, and most of them are bad, probably not militarily but economically, and economic instability causes outcomes we can’t forecast – even seizing the assets of powerful Russians has unintended consequences”.
Here, here. The law of unintended circumstances is a bitch.
Everyone is also looking carefully at the risk of Catalonia now having a referendum that is deemed to be unconstitutional, and then trying to enforce it in the streets.
Europe is trying to hold itself together yet the member states themselves are in danger of splitting up. How does that manifest itself? What are the risks? We just don’t know.
I think the trend of each nation for itself, a move away from globalisation either in terms of global trade, or in terms of global finance and a move towards military build-ups, is well under way. I don’t know how far it will go but I do know that I am uncomfortable with it, and that it poses some considerable risk to the stable economic system that so many have enjoyed since the late 1980s.
* * *
For some further observations on the role of globalization and what its unwind would mean..
... Gordon T. Long's take on the "Globalization Trap" is a worthwhile read.
Credit to Zero Hedge

PLA's DF-31B ICBM 'poses threat to US national security'

DF-31A launchers together with DF-15B tactical missiles during a military parade held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC in 2009. (Internet photo)

After China tested its DF-31B intercontinental ballistic missile on Sept. 2, the Washington-based Strategy Page said that this new missile with a range of 10,000 poses a serious challenge to the national security of the United States.

The report said that China is estimated to have 400 missiles with the capability to carry nuclear warheads. Only a few dozen of them including the DF-5, the DF-31A/B and the DF-41 can reach the United States, however. China is believed to have had about 24 DF-5 missiles in service over the past 20 years. Even though they are capable of reaching the United States, few of them were believed to be operational because of reliability and maintenance problems.

Most of China's ballistic missiles are tactical missiles like the DF-21, which is capable of hitting targets in Russia and India. The United States has the capability to intercept nearly all DF-5s launched from China and Beijing claims that it has not aimed its missiles against any nation. While the DF-26C is being developed to replace the older DF-21, China is designing new missiles such as the DF-31A/B and the DF-41 to replace the role played by the DF-5 in the past.

With a range of 15,000 kilometers, the DF-41 can be used against any targets in the United States. It can be moved, erected, and launched from a special truck. The article said that the missile has very similar capabilities to the 36-ton Minuteman III of the United States, first deployed in the 1970s. However, the DF-41 is unlikely to enter service with the PLA for quite some time.

China's nationalistic tabloid Global Times said that the DF-31B will be able to enter service much faster because it is only an upgrade version of the DF-31A.

Credit to wantchinatimes.com

CDC Shuts Down Labs "Missing Deadly Pathogens"