DANGER ZONE: As Russia Violates Arms Treaty, Obama Continues Slashing U.S. Nuclear Deterrent

Guest post by Investor’s Business Daily

Disarming America: The U.S. has announced plans to place 50 nuclear missiles in storage as part of its commitment to the New START Treaty signed with Russia, ignoring Moscow’s violation of another arms treaty.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday the United States’ Strategic Force Structure designed “to comply with the New START Treaty,” as a Defense Department press release notes. It means that 50 Minuteman III missiles — out of a current force of 450 — will be removed from their silos and stored away.

The silos will be kept “warm,” that is, available for future use and for re-insertion of the missiles.

But it is doubtful that an administration that has as its goal a world without nuclear weapons and that promised the Russians “flexibility” in the gutting of U.S. missile defense would ever even contemplate such a move. The missiles are gone.

The Air Force now deploys three ICBM wings on its bases in Wyoming (Francis E. Warren), North Dakota (Minot), and Montana (Malmstrom). Each operates 150 ICBMs, with a squadron consisting of 50. The Obama administration proposes getting rid of one of those squadrons.

The remaining 400 deployed ICBMs would be the lowest number since 1962, according to a history of the ICBM force written by Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists.

He says that the U.S. had 203 deployed ICBMs in 1962, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, with the force expanding rapidly to 597 the following year and topping 1,000 in 1966.

The question is why. The New START Treaty was designed for a bipolar world that no longer exists. It ignores China’s rapidly growing and increasingly deadly military and missile force as well as threats from an unstable North Korea and a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran.

The president has said he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons, but so far it seems to mean only a world without U.S. nukes.

Meanwhile, Russia is taking the other route, making sure that its arsenal is updated and ready. It recently had its strategic forces carry out a large-scale military drill that included the test-launch of two land-based ICBMs and two submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Russia has also been testing the Yars-M ballistic missile, a weapon with a range prohibited by the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The INF prohibits America and Russia from developing, testing or possessing ballistic or cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

Russia is suspected of developing such intermediate-range ballistic missiles, or IRBMs, by claiming they’re really intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, to replace older weapons.

The Yars-M missile, also known as the RS-26, is a clear and blatant violation of the INF Treaty, according to Mark Schneider, a specialist on Russian missiles at the National Institute for Public Policy in Virginia.

As former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and former Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation, reported in Foreign Policy magazine’s website, Russia is also developing, testing and possibly ready to deploy the R-500 cruise missile.

Not only are our land-based ICBMs being slashed, but also the other two legs of our nuclear “triad,” ballistic-missile submarines and strategic bombers. The Air Force is trimming its bomber fleet from the current deployed total of 93 to 60 — including 19 B-2 stealth bombers. And by 2018, the Navy will reduce the number of deployed and nondeployed submarine-launched ballistic nuclear missiles to 280 from the current 336.

Some of the missile tubes aboard the Navy’s 14 Ohio-class ballistic submarines will be altered so they can no longer launch ballistic missiles.

This is insanity and a clear departure from President Ronald Reagan’s doctrine of peace through strength. Weapons do not start wars, but appeasement of tyrants does.


Read more at Investor’s Business Daily

Doug Ross @ Journal

This Is a Monster: Sunspot Now Larger Than Jupiter… Continues to Unleash Solar Flares

solar-storm2

As most Americans go about their daily lives without care or concern for what’s happening around them, 92 million miles away a catastrophic threat may well be in the making.

In January, the NOAA identified a sizable sun spot dubbed AR 1944. Within hours of warnings being issued about the potential for this particular region of the sun to cause earth-directed coronal mass ejections it sent an X-class solar flare our way. While powerful, that particular flare and the subsequent M-class flares were not strong enough to cause any significant disruptions on earth.

But as the spot rotated to the other side of the sun things got interesting… and ever more dangerous for the people of earth.

AR1944 has since been renamed to AR1967, and the region is now more active than it was in January. According to sky photographer John Chumack, AR1967 has grown considerably. It is now wider than Jupiter. That’s big. So big, in fact, that you can fit over 100 earth-sized planets into it.

ar1967
(Credit: John Chumack – Sunspot AR 1967 - Galactic Images)

Space.com calls it a monster:

“The massive sunspot AR 1967 is now wider than the planet Jupiter and is very active,” Chumack told Space.com in an email on Feb. 4. “Yesterday no less than seven M-class solar flares have erupted from this region.”

The sunspot group AR 1967 has continued to unleash several solar flares as it makes its two-week trek across the face of the sun, as seen from Earth.

And while AR1967 is not earth-facing as of right now, it will be in a couple weeks. Last week the sunspot unleashed seven M-class flares in a single day. And though earth was spared from getting hit by a higher-level X-class flare, the potential for such an event certainly exists and is estimated to be around 50% because of the region’s high level of activity.

It doesn’t happen often that the sun unleashes a solar flare powerful enough to cause serious damage, yet in the last decade we narrowly escaped the worst-case scenario twice.

The first instance occurred in 2003, when researchers spotted the most powerful solar flare ever recorded. That one came in at a whopping X-45 class. We got lucky that time, as the flare was not earth directed. But had it been, it could have led to widespread grid-down scenarios all over the planet as power grid infrastructures would have seen surges strong enough to destroy electrical transformers and substations.

The second incident occurred in 2012 and most people didn’t event hear about it. It wasn’t disseminated by the mainstream press until a full year later. That flare was so intense that it prompted one expert to claim the world escaped an EMP catastrophe:

‘There had been a near miss about two weeks ago, a Carrington-class coronal mass ejection crossed the orbit of the Earth and basically just missed us,’ added Peter Vincent Pry, who served on the Congressional EMP Threat Commission.

‘Basically this is a Russian roulette thing,’ he said. ‘We narrowly escape from a Carrington-class disaster.’

A Carrington-class catastrophe refers to an 1859 solar event that lead to surges across the world, which resulted in a (literal) meltdown of telegraph communications equipment.

CU-Boulder professor Daniel Baker noted that the 2012 flare was unprecedented:

The speed of this event was as fast or faster than anything that has been seen in the modern space age”

And to put into perspective what would have resulted had this flare not bounced off our atmosphere, Baker followed up with an ominous assessment:

Had it hit Earth, the July 2012 event likely would have created a technological disaster by short-circuiting satellites, power grids, ground communication equipment and even threatening the health of astronauts and aircraft crews.

We have proposed that the 2012 event be adopted as the best estimate of the worst case space weather scenario…

We came close.

So close that Congressional members are coming around to the idea that we could well experience the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it should a high level X-class flare be directed at earth.

It’s no longer just an outlier, according to Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) who is a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

It’s a certainty:

The Likelihood of a severe geo-magnetic event capable of crippling our electric grid is 100%.

The reality is that one of these days, perhaps even the next time AR 1967 swings around, earth could get hit by a flare similar to what missed us in 2003 and 2012.

The fall out from such an event would be nothing short of a worldwide catastrophe, as electrical power lines, utility plants, GPS systems, telecommunications equipment (including your cell phone), cars, and anything else not hardened against an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) is rendered instantly inoperable.

What would follow is complete pandemonium as the entire global infrastructure, especially in developed nations, completely collapses.

A security report presented to Congress predicts that such a scenario would be long-term, widespread, and result in the deaths of 90% of the population of the United States.

As retired Congressman Roscoe Bartlett has warned, our ailing grid is simply not ready for it. And no one is willing to pony up the tens of billions of dollars necessary to upgrade our domestic infrastructure.

In the grand scheme of things, the sun unleashes these powerful flares on a regular basis. It will do so again. And chances are that our planet will not be ready for it.

But this time it won’t just be telegraphs or a hydro power station in Ontario that goes down. It’s going to be a massive hit and it’s going to affect anyone on this planet who is dependent on the daily functioning of electrically powered systems.

As highlighted by Tess Pennington, a grid-down scenario is no laughing matter and something to be taken very seriously:

Consider, for a moment, how drastically your life would change without the continuous flow of energy the grid delivers. While manageable during a short-term disaster, losing access to the following critical elements of our just-in-time society would wreak havoc on the system.

  • Challenges or shut downs of business commerce
  • Breakdown of our basic infrastructure: communications, mass transportation, supply chains
  • Inability to access money via atm machines
  • Payroll service interruptions
  • Interruptions in public facilities – schools, workplaces may close, and public gatherings.
  • Inability to have access to clean drinking water

How prepared are you for a scenario in which the grid is non-functioning for an extended period of time?

It wouldn’t take long for society to fall apart if it were to happen. Recent evidence suggests that within three days we’d be in a world of trouble.

With all of the variables at play we can probably all agree that the possibility on any given day is extremely low. But over a timeline of fifty or a hundred years, it becomes a lot more likely.

The last time a major solar event struck earth was 1859.

Are we due for another one?


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

THE GENIUS OF DEMOCRAT GOVERNANCE: Chicago’s Detroitification Continues Apace

Guest post by Ted Dabrowski

Triple-notch credit downgrades for government entities are supposed to be rare.

They normally happen only in response to major financial events, such as a sudden fiscal emergency.

But Chicago just received its second triple-notch downgrade in just six months. And that spells trouble for Chicago taxpayers.

Citing skyrocketing pension costs and a lack of meaningful solutions, Fitch Ratings lowered the city of Chicago’s debt to A- from AA- last week. That’s just four notches away from junk-bond status.

Fitch’s downgrade comes on the heels of Moody’s Investors Service’s triple-notch downgrade of Chicago in July, prompted by the agency’s new methodology that nearly doubles the city’s official pension shortfall to $ 36 billion.

But Fitch didn’t just take Chicago’s credit rating down one notch — they hit Chicago with a triple-notch downgrade. Why?

Fitch Analyst Arlene Bohner said Chicago is approaching an “inflection point where inaction on pension reform will negatively impact the city’s finances and threaten to crowd out spending on city services.”

The city has already shuttered nearly 50 schools in the Chicago Public Schools system. And rather than hiring more police to battle crime, the city is resorting to paying overtime for existing officers. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has warned that property taxes will double if no real pension solution is found.

Fitch agrees. It says that if the city were to properly fund its pension system, city property taxes would “rise a dramatic 136%.”

So far, the Illinois General Assembly’s only response to the pension crisis was to pass a pension “fix” for the Chicago Park District. That fix calls for a tax hike on city residents, forces workers to keep paying into a broken system and does nothing to change the way the city runs retirements for its city workers.

Make no mistake: this bill is bad for city workers and taxpayers and will only perpetuate the problem.

There’s only one real way to change the rating agencies’ outlook on Chicago. And that’s to end defined benefit pensions and move to a system in which workers control their own retirements.


Read more at Illinois Policy Institute

Doug Ross @ Journal

Obamacare Meltdown Continues: $171 Million State Exchange Website Running on Paper; Many States Have Zero Signups

A health insurance website reveals the ugly debacle that is Obamacare:

HHS has released no comprehensive data on how many people have enrolled for health insurance using the HealthCare.gov system…

…Oregon hasn’t even tried to open its exchange website … Vermont — a thinly populated state — received a large, $ 171 million grant to run its exchange and upgrade its technology, but its exchange system is still so buggy that officials are relying on paper applications

…In Oregon and Colorado, the official number of completed applications is still zero.

…As of Thursday, Delaware — a state relying on HHS to handle enrollment — had not yet confirmed news of any insurer making a single enrollment through the HealthCare.gov system.

As we predicted all along, Obamacare is a complete and utter clusterbungle. And it hasn’t really even kicked in yet.

All the efficiency of the DMV combined with the compassion of the IRS. That’s Obamacare.

Hat tip: BadBlue Money News.

Doug Ross @ Journal