NEW YORK NEWS by: Eric Snitil, James Battaglia Posted: May 29, 2021 / 06:21 PM EDT / Updated: May 29, 2021 / 06:26 PM EDT
LIVINGSTON COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC) — Residents of Livingston County, New York felt a 2.4-magnitude earthquake Thursday evening, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which studies landscapes, natural resources, and natural hazards that threaten the country.
It happened at 8:41 p.m., and many in the region felt the shake. Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty tweeted about the earthquake just before 9:30 p.m., saying his office was receiving multiple calls from concerned residents.
Schumer, Gillibrand urge USDA to fund more NYS dairy farmers According to Eric Snitil, the chief meteorologist at NEWS10’s sister station in Rochester, earthquakes under 3.0 magnitude are difficult for the general public to notice. However, because Thursday’s quake occurred at a depth of roughly 2.3 miles, a little over 12,000 feet. Anything under 44 miles is considered “shallow.” Shallow quakes have a higher likelihood of being noticed, so even at a 2.4 magnitude, you might feel it.
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Miles A. Pomper, David Santoro Monday, Aug. 30, 2021
Satellite photos recently obtained by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the Federation of American Scientists, and others appear to show that China is building vast fields of new missile silos in its sparsely populated western region. That has prompted fears that Beijing may be well on its way to possessing a much larger nuclear arsenal than anyone had expected and aspiring to rival the United States and Russia, the two countries that have traditionally dominated the global nuclear order. If this comes to pass, tripolarity will for the first time become the primary feature of that order, with concerning implications for nuclear stability. What’s more, in the current security environment characterized by heightened U.S. competition with both Beijing and Moscow, tripolarity would be especially bad news for Washington.
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Over the past six months, the world has edged closer to nuclear war than it has been since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Doomsday Clock is ticking toward midnight. The global power balance has been dramatically reshuffled, and the potential for disastrous miscalculation hasn’t been so high in 80 years. The match and fuse for this is instability — an exaggerated sense of U.S. weakness and lack of capability and resolve — that could lead to huge, aggressive military miscalculations and mistakes by our enemies. The Biden administration has set the table for such a catastrophe.
The timing could not be more dangerous. China has changed strategic direction and has been building its nuclear stockpile and delivery systems. China also has continued to develop hypersonic weapons, including stand-off “carrier killers,” space weapons and cyber capabilities to blind opponents’ strategic and conventional systems. Russia has been advertising (mostly for domestic consumption, but nonetheless worrying) its “unstoppable” delivery systems, and has a very capable nuclear stockpile and military. Iran will continue to move forward with building nuclear weapons. Pakistan and India both have significant nuclear capability in an increasingly unstable part of the world. Nuclear-armed North Korea is again assuming a more belligerent posture. Israel has a full nuclear triad (land, air, subs) to respond to existential aggression. The U.K. and France have significant nuclear deterrents. The world is a powder keg.
In Hollywood terms, today’s capacity for nuclear holocaust is thousands of times greater than the era portrayed in the Armageddon films “On the Beach,” “Fail Safe,” or “Dr. Strangelove.” There would not be anything left for “Mad Max.” Climate disasters may be unfolding over the next hundred years. Nuclear disaster is unfolding now. COVID-19 has killed more Americans than the flu typically does. Nuclear war could kill us all. Our leaders must get their priorities straight.
The danger lies in the growing global perception of weakness and incompetence in the Biden administration, combined with claims of the politicized weakening of the FBI, CIA, State Department and Defense Department. This has crystallized in Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s unsure Anchorage meeting with the Chinese, Biden’s wooden Geneva summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the colossal failure of the Afghan withdrawal, which may devolve into a humiliating hostage crisis for America, and the budget- and inflation-based defunding of Defense. In addition, the fully politicized Intelligence and Armed Services committees on Capitol Hill add to the danger. Our enemies may decide that now is the time to move.
It would be a huge miscalculation.
Catastrophic mistakes at this scale often unfold when isolated events light powder kegs, which then inexorably explode into global conflict.
An incident in Sarajevo lit a powder keg of nationalistic, economic and ambitious personality struggles in Europe to unleash World War I. A century later, possible “Sarajevos” are numerous: China’s overly aggressive and self-confident People’s Liberation Army pushing for the use of military force against Taiwan, calculating a weak and ineffective U.S. response, leading to the sinking of a U.S. carrier and a potential march toward nuclear exchange. Major North Korean aggression against South Korea, or an off-course North Korean missile hitting a Japanese city. A successful Iranian (Hamas, Hezbollah) terrorist attack against an Israeli city. The seizure of one or more Pakistani nuclear weapons systems by a Taliban or another terrorist-linked group. Overt aggression or a “misunderstanding” between Pakistan and India. A “Crimson Tide” communications error. Proof that a devastating bioterror attack was intentional. The list of potential doomsday scenarios is endless.
The one powerful factor holding back such miscalculations has been coherent U.S. foreign policy and resolve, combined with pragmatists in Moscow and Beijing. But in the past six months, the world’s confidence in the U.S. leadership has begun to slip. An agonizing hostage crisis would make it even more dangerous. Added to that is the potential that a stubborn and wounded U.S. administration might overreact to try to show its strength. The U.S. has devastating countermeasures for all enemy strategies, and an enemy underestimating that power, combined with a White House trying to prove itself, could be disastrous.
In addition, there is no room for “disarmament,” “peace movement” or “the squad” nonsense politics. Today, “treaties” are useful but cannot prevent disaster. The return to safe global strategic balance will require America regaining the world’s respect, and our enemies’ fear. That is the only course to create the strategic balance to avert Armageddon. And it requires full bipartisan support — recent patterns of cynical opportunism have no place when facing these threats.
The only way forward is to fully recognize the growing danger and for this administration to immediately replace the inept National Security Council, State Department, Defense and perhaps intelligence teams with truly capable, first-class, experienced leaders. Most of the current team should go. Global security demands an immediate leadership, strategy, organization and process reset.
Grady Means is a writer (GradyMeans.com) and former corporate strategy consultant. He served in the White House as a policy assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Follow him on Twitter @gradymeans1.
“This chaos is masterminded by Hamas,” said the IDF.
Reports from Gaza indicated that the IDF responded by spreading tear gas with a drone, according to Ynet.Israel Air Force jets struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in retaliation to the launch of incendiary balloons that caused fires and violent demonstrations along the border fence at the weekend.The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that a Hamas military compound used for training and weapon production and a shaft for a terror tunnel near Jabalya were struck.Israel Air Force jets struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in retaliation to the launch of incendiary balloons that caused fires and violent demonstrations along the border fence at the weekend.The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that a Hamas military compound used for training and weapon production and a shaft for a terror tunnel near Jabalya were struck.
The rioters announced that they plan on rioting again at 8 p.m. on Monday.
Sanctioned by Hamas, the Islamist armed group that rules Gaza, Palestinian groups said on Saturday they were resuming protests at the Israel-Gaza border, aimed at pressing Israel to ease restrictions on the enclave. The Israeli military said hundreds of Palestinians gathered along the frontier during the night, hurling explosives and burning tyres.
The military said its troops responded with “riot dispersal means” and Gaza medics said at least six Palestinians were hurt, one seriously. A few hours later, Israeli pre-dawn air strikes targeted a Hamas weapons manufacturing complex and a tunnel it said was used by militants, after incendiary balloons were sent across the border.
There were no reports of casualties in the bombings.
But violence has recently increased despite an Israeli announcement this month of a resumption of Qatari aid to Gaza, a decision that had been seen as bolstering the truce.
Palestinian groups say Israel has yet to make good on its word and over the past two weeks militants have fired a rocket and sent balloons carrying incendiary material into Israel, setting off brush fires and drawing Israeli strikes on Hamas facilities.
Citing security threats, Israel keeps Gaza under a blockade, tightly restricting movement in and out of the territory that is home to 2 million Palestinians. Egypt also maintains Gaza restrictions.
(Reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; editing by Richard Pullin)
BAGHDA–Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has tried to share in the limelight and project himself as a pragmatic statesman on the occasion of the Baghdad Summit for Cooperation and Partnership.
On the eve of the summit, Sadr announced the reversal of his decision to boycott the early parliamentary elections scheduled for this October.
The Sadrist movement will enter the electoral contest hoping to achieve a comfortable parliamentary majority that would allow it to form the next Iraqi government.
Sadr seeks to take advantage of the failure of his major rivals in the Shia political camp to lead the country.
He voiced support for the summit, which brought together regional leaders in addition to French President Emmanuel Macron.
The gathering was hosted by Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Sadr tweeted, “Iraq can play an important role in establishing security and stability in the Middle East”.
He knows that, since 2003, the choice of Iraq’s rulers has been determined by an American-Iranian consensus, despite the intense competition that pits Washington against Tehran for influence over the country.
The leader of the Sadrist movement wants to shed the image of a sectarian religious leader and armed militia chief, assuming instead the mantle of a responsible statesman.
He said, holding the summit “is very important from an economic and security perspective and it is a clear indication of the importance of Iraq in the region.”
He added, “The summit was successful in bringing together many parties and Iraq can play a major role in establishing security and stability in the Middle East.”
Sadr also thanked Salih and Kadhimi, lauding the prime minister for “the effective impact he had in opening up to the international and regional environment, especially the Arab world.”
His words reflected Sadr’s support for the present Iraqi administration, though he had vowed in the past not to back any current or future governments.
On Saturday, the Iraqi capital hosted the Baghdad Summit for Cooperation and Partnership, with the participation of both Saudi Arabia and Iran.
This, of itself, was considered an achievement for the diplomacy of Salih and Kadhimi.
Overcoming the country’s instability and restoring its crumbling economy requires balanced relations with major regional players. This was Kadhimi’s goal behind the summit.
The countries taking part in the conference voiced their support for the stability of Iraq and its government’s efforts to “strengthen state institutions in accordance with constitutional mechanisms and to hold parliamentary elections under international supervision to ensure the integrity and transparency of the expected voting process.”
In their final statement, the leaders and representatives of participating countries welcomed “Iraq’s efforts to reach a common ground with the regional and international neighbours.”
The summit was held in the run-up to Iraq’s next parliamentary elections, which some consider as a last chance for change in the country that has been languishing for eighteen years under the rule of a group of religious parties and armed Shia factions under a cloud of suspected corruption and ineptitude .
The leader of the Sadrist movement senses his opportunity to achieve a watershed victory in the forthcoming elections as he seeks to boost his leadership credentials amid factional and political adversity.
Hong Kong, August 30 (ANI): The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, which controls China‘s nuclear arsenal, has attracted much attention recently with the discovery of no fewer than 250 intercontinental ballistic-missile silos in three separate installations deep inside China. However, one other arm of China‘s nuclear triad is yet to appear – the H-20 strategic bomber. Little is known about the H-20, although speculation abounds. One thing is certain, however, that its introduction to service is getting closer. Since WWII, bombers have been widely used in conflicts such as Afghanistan, Chechnya, the Gulf War, Iraq, Korea, Libya, Syria, Vietnam and Yugoslavia. The fielding of bombers stagnated in the latter stages of the Cold War, primarily because they were expensive to develop and also because their role in delivering nuclear weapons could be taken over by ICBMs. Douglas Barrie, Senior Fellow for Military Aerospace at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in the UK, told ANI about the advantages a strategic bomber brings: “Heavy bombers offer the traditional virtues of range and payload, medium bombersthe same, only less so. The associated costs of such capabilities, however, will continue to limit the number of operators.” Indeed, in the present day, only three air forces can field strategic bombers: China, Russia and the USA. Significantly, all three nations are developing new stealthy bombers to replace legacy fleets. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely any other country will join this American-Chinese-Russian triad any time soon. As Barrie noted, “It’s really difficult to see anyone else getting into the business, partly because it’s so expensive … and you’ve got to be an intercontinental, if not a global, power to have that kind of ambition.” Whereas the USA has already revealed artist’s impressions of its future B-21 Raider stealth bomber, minimal information has emerged from secretive China about its equivalent H-20. What is known is that the Xian Aircraft Industrial Corporation (XAC) is developing the H-20, and that its first official confirmation came from General Ma Xiaotian, the then People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) commander, in September 2016: “We are now developing a new-generation, long-range strike bomber that you will see sometime in the future.” ANI asked Barrie about the H-20, and he offered up this summary. “Beyond the designation and the Chinese military’s confirmation that it is working on a new bomber, little else has been confirmed about the program. It is probably a flying-wing design with signature management in mind.” A flying wing design is an aircraft that has no tail and where the fuselage is indistinguishable from the wing. The first bomber of this type was the B-2 Spirit of the US Air Force (USAF). Chinahas already flown flying wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), demonstrating both its familiarity with and mastery of such designs. Barrie’s mention of “signature management” refers to stealthiness, keeping the aircraft as unobservable as possible in multiple wave bands so that enemy radar will struggle to find and track it. “The laws of physics will determine what your limit is in an absolutist sense. And the other limit is just how much money your finances are willing to bear,” the IIISS member explained. Barrie described a curve of diminishing returns, where spending massively will achieve just tiny further improvements in stealth and performance. It is unknown what China‘s budget for the H-20 is, but it will assuredly be in the billions. The idea that the H-20 will be a flying wing design was seemingly confirmed by an Aviation Industry Corporation promotional video released in May 2018. Released to commemorate XAC’s 60th anniversary, that video showed the front view of a flying wing aircraft concept. This was followed in January 2021 by inclusion of a rendering of a flying wing bomber in a PLAAF pilot recruiting video. Thus we have tantalizing glimpses of what the H-20 might look like, with Chinese state paranoia refusing to offer up more than that. The China Daily published an article quoting Fu Qianshao, a retired PLAAF equipment expert, who proudly claimed the H-20would be more capable than the American B-2, bigger than the future B-21 and that it would “outshine its peers around the world”. However, this was mere gushing propaganda. In the article, Fu added: “Once the new bomber is unveiled, it will definitely be world-leading hardware thanks to our unique technologies, and will be equipped with reliable engines. People only need to wait patiently to see the rise of the Chinese aviation industry and the PLAAF.” It is relevant that Fu mentioned “reliable engines,” for sophisticated military jet engines have proved notoriously difficult for China to master. At this stage it is unclear what engines will power the H-20. Although it is making progress with engines like the WS10, now installed on the indigenous J-10 single-engine fighter, China still imports quantities of engines from Russia. The Pentagon’s 2020 report on China‘s military said “the PLAAF is seeking to extend its power projection capability with the development of a new stealth strategic bomber”. The Pentagon added that it should have the following features: “a stealthy design, employing many fifth-generation technologies; a likely range of at least 8,500km; a payload of at least 10 metric tons; and a capability to employ both conventional and nuclear weaponry.”
Indeed, it goes without saying that the H-20 will be capable of carrying nuclear weapons. It would not make sense to invest so many renminbi in an advanced bomber if it was not going to contribute to China‘s nuclear triad. The underwater arm of the triad consists of six Type 094 Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) each carrying up to twelve JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). China is also developing the next-generation Type 096 that will be armed with the more formidable nuclear-armed JL-3 SLBM with potential 9,000km range. Construction of the Type 096 could begin in the early 2020s. China has never confirmed its SSBNs have conducted patrols with JL-2 SLBMs aboard, but it must be assumed this is the case. The American Office of Naval Intelligence predicts China will have eight SSBNs by 2030, and that at least five are necessary to maintain a continuous peacetime presence. However, the bulk of China‘s nuclear arsenal resides in mobile transporter-erector launchers (the DF-31, DF-31A, DF-31AG, DF-41 and dual-capable DF-26) and silo- based missiles (the DF-5 series and in the future the DF-41). Last year’s annual report from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, titled Chinese Nuclear Forces 2020 and authored by Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda, claimed, “We estimate that China has a produced a stockpile of approximately 350 nuclear warheads, of which roughly 272 are for delivery by more than 240 operational land-based ballistic missiles, 48 sea-based ballistic missiles and 20 nuclear gravity bombs assigned to bombers.” The report continued, “The remaining 78 warheads are intended to arm additional land- and sea-based missiles that are in the process of being fielded.” Add to this China‘s fielding of hypersonic-speed warheads and multiple independent re-entry vehicles (multiple warheads within a missile cone), and one can see that China has a very sophisticated arsenal. Arrival of the H-20, an aircraft able to fly intercontinental distances and carry nuclear-armed missiles, will strengthen China‘s nuclear triad even further. Nobody really knows when the H-20 will enter service, but dates being speculated upon are the 2026-27 period. In comparison, the American B-21’s maiden flight is slated for May 2022, and the first B-21 should be operational by the mid-2020s. Thus, both countries could be fielding new stealth bombers at about the same time. What about existing Chinese bombers? The PLAAF and PLA Navy (PLAN) rely on a fleet of around 160 H-6 bombers built by XAC, these being a direct copy of the Soviet-era Tu-16 Badger. China has worked hard to prolong the life of the legacy H-6 fleet, and two of the most interesting variants are the H-6K and H-6N. The H-6K is fitted with more efficient Russian-built turbofan engines for greater range, and the type can carry up to six ADK-20 cruise missiles possessing a purported range of 2,500km. The PLAN’s equivalent is the H-6J maritime strike version that carries six supersonic long-range YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles. Meanwhile, when it comes to nuclear capability, the H-6N is particularly relevant. Capable of in-flight refuelling, the type has a belly recess instead of a traditional bomb bay. In October 2020, an H-6N was spotted carrying an air-launched ballistic missile featuring a hypersonic warhead. The mysterious missile could have a 3,000km range and might be operational by 2025. Although unverified, the approximately 20-strong H-6N fleet may also be able to carry the DF-100 cruise missile and DR-8 supersonic UAV. Nuclear-capable H-6Ns of the PLAAF’s 106th Brigade are stationed at Neixiang Air Base in Henan Province. The H-6 is hardly stealthy, but Chinafrequently sends them over the Western Pacific towards Guam and to circumnavigate Taiwan. Despite their age, they still pose a significant military and psychological threat to potential targets. According to Barrie, key characteristics of a modern strategic bomber are signature management (including the use of active and passive techniques), sensor integration and the ability to operate in a network-degraded or a denied environment. Too, they should be armed with very low-observable subsonic cruise missiles, high-speed cruise missiles and large numbers of medium-range conventional precision air-to-surface munitions. Furthermore, some self-defense weapons and perhaps long-range air-to-air missiles may also feature. The latter could be reserved for high-value targets like enemy airborne early warning aircraft and air-to-air refuelling platforms, for example. Once the H-20is fielded, China may also surprise many with the variety of weapons designed for it. China will doubtlessly seek to make the H-20 as cheap as possible to operate too, as bombers are incredibly expensive to fly and maintain. According to US FY2019 data, bombersare by far the most labour-intensive aircraft in the USAF’s inventory. For example, a B-2 needs almost 9,000 military personnel per 12 aircraft. This compared to less than 2,000 personnel per dozen MQ-9 Reapers in FY2019. It is possible the American B-21 will have unmanned systems flying alongside or even in place of when it goes into combat. If the USA is investing in this type of technology, then it seems likely China will be too. Beijing is already investing heavily in UAVs, both armed and reconnaissance types. Barrie pointed out that any UAV would need to have a similar range and payload as its associated bomber. “So if you use the same airframe, even if it’s a scalable airframe – the argument is you take the cockpit and crew out, you either make the whole thing smaller, or you up the fuel fraction or you up the weapon payload. If you’re making it out of the same design, the possible benefits are increasing production numbers. If you can produce more, your unit cost is lower.” An unmanned bomber could be used in a far riskier way than piloted aircraft. “Using an uninhabited system alongside a bomber would obviously have advantages,” Barrie explained. “You could fly it in ahead of a bomber to look at the threat environment or get hostile radars to light up and suppress them.” However, he noted, “You’ve got to have the same signature management because what’s the point of a fantastically stealthy platform with a crew, but a UAV that tells everybody there’s a low-observable bomber out there?” (ANI)
Inspectors cite evidence of resumed operations at the plutonium-producing plant, which had been shut down since 2018
By and Updated Aug. 29, 2021 7:14 pm ET
North Korea appears to have resumed operation of its plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon in a move that could enable the reclusive country to expand its nuclear-weapons arsenal, the U.N. atomic agency said.
The development, disclosed in the agency’s annual report on North Korea’s nuclear activities, adds a new challenge to President Biden’s foreign policy agenda, alongside the dangerous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and stalemated talks on restoring the 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
“Since early July, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation of the reactor,” said the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Yongbyon reactor appeared to have been inactive from December 2018 until the beginning of July 2021, the report noted. It added that signs that the reactor is now being operated coincide with indications that North Korea is also using a nearby laboratory to separate plutonium from spent fuel previously removed from the reactor.
The agency, whose inspectors were kicked out of North Korea in 2009, described the twin developments as “deeply troubling” and a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.