Babylon The Great’s Hypocrisy Not Democracy


U.S. elections ranked worst among Western democracies. Here’s why.

By Pippa Norris
PostEverything
March 29 2016

The world is transfixed by the spectacle of U.S. elections.

From New York, London and Paris to Beijing, Moscow and Sydney there is endless heated debate in the news media and across dinner tables about the factors fueling the remarkable success of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, speculation about a brokered convention shattering the old GOP, and the most likely outcome of a polarizing Trump-Hillary Clinton battle in the fall.
This contest matters. It is the election for the most powerful leader in the Western world, and some — like the Economist Intelligence Unit — regard Trump as a major risk to global prosperity and stability. Also, as citizens of one of the world’s oldest democracies, Americans like to think that the United States provides an influential role model for how elections should run in other countries.
The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), founded in 2012, provides an independent evaluation of the quality of elections worldwide. The EIP’s results have been published in several books, including my own “Why Electoral Integrity Matters” and “Why Elections Fail” — books that focus on comparing the quality of elections, understanding why problems arise, and diagnosing what can be done about these flaws.

We can use the data collected by the EIP to ask: Is the United States the electoral role model it imagines itself to be?

In practice, recent years have seen a long series of vulnerabilities in the conduct of U.S. elections, as documented by the 2014 report of the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Indeed, these issues have been under close scrutiny ever since the notoriously flawed ballot design in Florida in 2000.

Since then, the commission has reported wait times in excess of six hours to cast a ballot in Ohio, inaccurate state and local voter registers, insufficiently trained local poll workers, and the breakdown of voting machines in New York.

Standards remain uneven across the country. The Pew Center’s 2012 Election Performance Index, for instance, suggests that states such as North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin performed relatively well against a range of quality indicators combining voting convenience and electoral integrity. Other states, including California, Oklahoma and Mississippi demonstrated noticeable shortfalls.
It was no different during the 2014 midterm elections. The news media reported a range of problems on polling day — some trivial, others more serious. It is unclear whether these arose from accidental administrative mistakes or intentional dirty tricks.

At least 18 state election websites were reported to have experienced disruptions on election day, preventing voters from using the sites to locate polling places and ballot information.
In Virginia, a state Department of Elections spokesman said that 32 electronic voting machines at 25 polling places experienced problems. In both Virginia and North Carolina, The Washington Post reported cases of electronic polling machines that recorded a vote for the Democratic candidate when the screen was touched to cast a vote for the Republican. And in Texas the statewide voter registration system crashed, forcing many to complete provisional ballots when poll workers were unable to confirm voter eligibility.

Meanwhile, new state laws requiring voters to present photo identification caused confusion in several states, including Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.

These problems are not fading away.

During the primary in North Carolina this year, there was confusion about new photo ID requirements and long lines. Court decisions over voter identification laws remain pending in Texas and Virginia.
As well as repeated procedural flaws, there has been speculation that public disgust with the role of money in politics, and the role of major donors in buying access to Congress, is one of the major factors driving the primary campaigns.

Much of Trump’s visibility comes from exploiting his advantage in attracting free social media and spending less on TV airwaves than any other major candidate. He commonly claims that his organization is more self-funded than most presidential campaigns, without support by a super PAC. This may appeal to voters who are suspicious of the role of money in U.S. elections and of the honesty of politicians who are seen to be in the pockets of rich donors and corporate interests.
Similarly, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has campaigned on his ability to raise funds from multiple small donors. He claims that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, has been more beholden to establishment donors and fat fees from corporate speaking engagements.
Suspicion of the role of money in politics seems to be widespread.

In the 2012 National Election Survey, for example, when the public was asked whether “rich people buy elections,” two-thirds of Americans agreed with this statement.

Some may be tempted to think headlines are exaggerating the true extent of any problems in the United States by highlighting negative cases, which are actually fairly isolated.

Is there actually more systematic evidence suggesting that U.S. elections are flawed? And how does the United States compare with other long-standing democracies worldwide?

New evidence that gives insights into this issue has been gathered by the Electoral Integrity Project. This independent research project is funded by the Australian Research Council’s Laureate award with a team of researchers based at the University of Sydney and Harvard University.

The 2015 annual Year in Election report compares the risks of flawed and failed elections, and looks at how well countries around the world meet international standards. The report gathers assessments from over 2,000 experts to evaluate the perceived integrity of all 180 national parliamentary and presidential contests held between July 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2015, in 139 countriese. These include 54 national elections held last year.

Forty experts were asked to assess each election by answering 49 questions. The overall 100-point Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) index is constructed by summing up the responses.
Americans often express pride in their democracy, yet the results indicate that domestic and international experts rate the U.S. elections as the worst among all Western democracies.
Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are at the top of the ranking, all scoring over 80 on the 100 point PEI Index. Several democracies from diverse regions and cultures — for example, Israel and Canada — are ranked in the middle of the pack.
But the United States scores 62, a full 24 points lower than Denmark and Finland. The U.K. also performs fairly poorly, along with Greece and Australia. One reason for this is that proportional electoral systems — which translate votes into seats on a proportional basis — usually tend to score higher as they provide more inclusive opportunities for smaller parties. All of the Nordic countries, for example, use a proportional system.

Comparisons can also be drawn with all 180 parliamentary and presidential elections included in the latest report, covering 139 countries. The 2012 U.S. presidential election ranks 60th out of 180 elections worldwide, close to Bulgaria, Mexico and Argentina.

This is no one-time shortcoming. The 2014 U.S. congressional elections rank even worse, 65th out of 180 worldwide.

By contrast, elections in many newer democracies are seen by experts to perform far better in the global comparison, such as in Lithuania (ranked 4th), Costa Rica (6th), and Slovenia (8th).

What produces these results? To explore this issue, EIP also conducted a second survey with almost 200 experts to compare the performance of the 2014 congressional elections across 21 U.S. states.
The results show that the worst problem across most states involved gerrymandering of district boundaries to favor incumbents. The mean score for U.S. states was just 42 on a 100-point scale.
Other weaknesses concerned whether electoral laws were unfair to smaller parties like the Green Party, favored the governing party or restricted voters’ rights.

Campaign finance — for example, whether parties and candidates had equitable access to public subsidies and political donations — was also seen by experts as a problem.
Finally, voter registration was also viewed critically. Issues here included whether the register itself was accurate, with, in some cases, citizens not listed, and, in others, ineligible voters registered.
By contrast, voting processes were rated more favorably. Factors here included whether any fraudulent votes were cast, whether the voting process was easy, whether voters were offered a genuine choice at the ballot box, along with the vote count and post-election results. These last two measures each received a high score of 85.

Much debate in the United States focuses on potential risks of fraud or voter suppression at the ballot box, but, in fact, experts rate earlier stages of U.S. elections more critically.

Why are U.S. elections particularly vulnerable to these sorts of problems? It is a complex story.
In my book “Why Elections Fail,” I argue that a large part of the blame can be laid at the door of the degree of decentralization and partisanship in U.S. electoral administration. Key decisions about the rules of the game are left to local and state officials with a major stake in the outcome. For example, gerrymandering arises from leaving the processes of redistricting in the hands of state politicians, rather than more impartial judicial bodies.

Moreover, the role of money in U.S. campaigns has become progressively deregulated in recent decades, thanks in part to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, while election costs have spiraled. Add to that the fuel of an inflammatory campaign by Trump, and the prospects for agreement about the outcome of the election become more remote.

The Hypocrisy of the Antichrist


Support for Iraqi rejection of anti-LGBT attacks
Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch has endorsed Iraqi Shiite clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr’s call for an end to violence against sexual minorities, reported last month on this blog. HRW issued this press release:
(Beirut, August 18, 2016) – State and non-state actors in Iraq should heed the prominent Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s July 2016 statement banning violence against those who do not conform to gender norms, Human Rights Watch said today.

Since early 2009, Human Rights Watch has documented kidnappings, executions, and torture by militia groups, including al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, of gay men and men perceived to be gay. The killings have continued unabated.

“Finally, the head of one of the groups whose members have carried out serious abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Iraq is condemning these heinous attacks,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “We hope this will change behavior in successors to the Mahdi Army and other ranks, and spur the government to hold accountable those who commit these crimes.”

A Human Rights Watch report found that in early 2009, Iraqi militia members began a wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of men suspected of homosexual conduct, or of not conforming to masculine gender norms, and that Iraq authorities did nothing to stop the killings. The killings began in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, a Mahdi Army stronghold, and were then replicated by members of militia groups in many cities across Iraq. Mahdi Army spokesmen promoted fear about the “third sex” and the “feminization” of Iraqi men, as well as suggesting that militia action was the remedy.

In 2012, militia members opened a second wave of attacks on people categorized as part of the “emo” subculture, styles that critics associated with heavy metal music, and rap. In early February 2012, signs and fliers appeared in the Baghdad neighborhoods of Sadr City, Hayy al-Habibiyya, and Hayy al-‘Amil that threatened people by name with “the wrath of god” unless they cut their hair short, concealed their tattoos, maintained “complete manhood,” and stopped wearing so-called “satanic clothing.” Similar posters appeared in other neighborhoods, also listing names.

In the following weeks, Human Rights Watch received reports of several dozen youths killed as part of the campaign. While it was unclear who was behind the campaign, at the time al-Sadr called the targets of the campaign “crazy fools” and a “lesion on the Muslim community” in an online statement, but also maintained that they should be dealt with “within the law.”

In a 2015 report, the Iraqi group Iraqueer and the US-based organization OutRight Action International (formerly the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission) documented the kidnapping and murders of gay men by members of Iraqi militia groups, including the Brigades of Wrath (Saraya al-Ghadhab) and League of the Righteous (Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq) between 2009 and 2015. The groups condemned the Iraqi government for “stand[ing] by and allow[ing] murderous hate violence to occur, fully aware of what is happening.”

The government responded by establishing an LGBT committee in late 2012 to address abuses against the LGBT community. However, LGBT activists in Baghdad have told Human Rights Watch that this committee has taken few tangible steps to protect LGBT people. In addition, a member of the committee said, two of the original nine members vanished in 2015 in what he believed was related to their role on the committee. The committee has had no news of them since. Other members have left the committee without explanation, he said, leaving only four remaining.

With the rise of the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, gay men, transgender women, and gender non-conforming people are at even greater risk. The group has executed a number of people accused of sodomy or perceived to be gay.

While Iraq’s Penal Code does not directly criminalize same-sex intimacy, article 394 criminalizes extra-marital sexual relations. That provision effectively criminalizes all same-sex relations, since the law does not provide for same-sex marriage.

Al-Sadr’s July 7 2016, statement expresses his view that same-sex relationships and cross-dressing are not acceptable, but that gender non-conforming people – whom al-Sadr claims are suffering from “psychological problems” – nevertheless deserve the right to live. “[You] must disassociate from them [but] not attack them, as it increases their aversion and you must guide them using acceptable and rational means,” the statement read.

Despite the lack of full tolerance in al-Sadr’s statement, his call to end violence against LGBT people is an important step, Human Rights Watch said. He should ensure that those in the ranks of the militia under his command, the Peace Brigades (Saraya al–Salam), obey the order and should hold accountable commanders who do not.

Iraq’s government should take its own measures to ensure that attacks on LGBT people are punished, and the LGBT committee should actively monitor and report on human rights abuses against LGBT people and advise the government on concrete steps to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination. Iraq’s legislature should quickly decriminalize extra-marital sexual relations.
“While al-Sadr is still a long way from fully embracing human rights for LGBT people, his statement shows that he understands the importance of stopping abuses against them,” Stork said. “The statement represents an important change in the right direction, and should be followed by concrete actions to protect LGBT people from violence.”

India Ups The Ante Against Pakistan (Daniel 8)

India Tests Nuclear-Capable Missile, US Looks the Other Way

The Indian Army's Brahmos Missiles, a supersonic cruise missile, are displayed during the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi, India.
03:11 18.02.2016(updated 03:13 18.02.2016)
 

In a major sign of the country’s growing military prowess, India has launched a surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. The test highlights Washington’s hypocrisy when it comes to nuclear development.

The Prithvi-II missile, first tested in 1996, officially entered service with the Indian military in 2003, but has had a mixed success rate. In 2010, for instance, a missile specifically built for testing purposes failed.

On Monday, the Indian military launched an unarmed Prithvi-II randomly selected from its stockpile. While the missile missed its intended target, it did achieve the desired altitude and distance.
In theory, this gives New Delhi the ability to launch a nuclear-capable ballistic missile into Pakistan.
India developed nuclear weapons in 1998, but because they were not a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, few third-party countries would provide New Delhi with the missiles necessary to carry the weapons that could effectively deter an attack from Pakistan.
The Chinese government reportedly aided Pakistan’s development of nuclear-capable missiles. India’s latest test means that tensions could increase between the long-time rivals, with both New Delhi and Islamabad capable of using the threat of nuclear warfare over the conflict in Kashmir.

The United States has repeatedly discouraged India from developing ballistic missiles, but its response to this month’s test is decidedly different from the one given in the wake of North Korea’s recent actions.

Earlier this month, Pyongyang launched a satellite into orbit. Washington fiercely criticized the move as a veiled attempt at testing North Korea’s ballistic missile capabilities.

“Our concern though is that they do a space-launch but really it’s the same technology to develop ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles],” a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said ahead of the launch.

Following that incident, President Barack Obama felt compelled to assure South Korea of the strength of their alliance.

Boeing Delta 4 Heavy rocket rises from the launch pad during its first unmanned launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif (File)
© AP Photo/ The Santa Maria Times, Bryan Walton, File)
 
 

“The United States stands in solidarity with the ROK [South Korea] and will take the necessary steps to fulfill our ironclad commitment to defend the ROK and our other allies in the region,” Obama told South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

On Wednesday, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest announced that President Obama plans to sign a bill that will impose additional sanctions on Pyongyang.

“The administration is deeply concerned with North Korea’s recent actions and their recent provocations, and I can confirm the president does plan to sign H.R. 757, which includes sanctions measures against North Korea and will serve to increase pressure on North Korea,” Earnest told reporters.

Washington has given no indication that it will pursue similar sanctions against India.

The Hypocrisy of the Scarlet Woman (Revelation 17:4)

The Clintons’ shameful hypocrisy on racism

Hillary-Clinton-Dark-G

With Hillary Clinton’s campaign claiming African Americans as a main base of support, Paul Heideman reminds us that her record on racism is cynical and scandalous.

The Saudi’s Wahhabist Hypocrisy (Dan 7)

In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS


Saudi Arabia Forms Muslim Anti-Terror Coalition

The 34-member bloc will fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan, deputy crown prince says

By AHMED AL OMRAN in Riyadh and ASA FITCH in Dubai
Dec. 15, 2015 9:59 a.m. ET

Saudi Arabia’s plan to form a Muslim antiterrorism coalition has underlined a new muscular foreign policy aimed at confronting the extremist group Islamic State, even at the risk of wading deeper into the region’s messiest conflicts.

Calling terrorism a “disease which affected the Islamic world first before the international community as a whole,” Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Tuesday the coalition of 34 Muslim states would fight the scourge in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

Besides the 34 Muslim nations who signed up to the coalition, Riyadh said more than 10 other countries, including Indonesia, expressed their support of the new bloc. The kingdom’s main rival Iran, however, was absent from the list.

The formation of the coalition followed criticism from U.S. and European politicians that Saudi Arabia hasn’t done enough to fight Islamic State and other terrorist groups. Islamic State militants took over large swaths of Iraq and Syria last year and are the focus of the U.S.-led air campaign in which Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries are participating.

Some Saudis believe the time has come to show the government is serious about fighting Islamic State, a Sunni militant group that has roots in its own region and religion.

Islamic State “is the seed of evil that we have let out of the can in the Middle East,” Prince Turki Al Faisal, chairman of King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, told the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai. “It’s our responsibility to vanquish it.”

But it is also unclear what Saudi Arabia is asking the other countries to do—whether it is a loose grouping to talk strategy and share intelligence or the first step to establishing an actual fighting force.

The new Saudi-led coalition will have a joint command center in Riyadh to “coordinate” and develop means to fight terrorism militarily and ideologically, Prince Mohammed told a hastily called news conference at a Riyadh air base early Tuesday morning.

Some countries that were listed as members expressed willingness to review such a proposal but didn’t appear to make any formal commitment to a military coalition.

Turkey, the only country in the alliance that is also a NATO member, welcomed the new coalition. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday that “the best response to those striving to associate terrorism and Islam is for nations of Islam to present a unified voice against terrorism”
Meanwhile, Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad Momani said the war against terrorism was “our war and the Muslims’ war,” according to a statement carried by the official Petra news agency.

William Hague, a former U.K. foreign secretary, told the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai on Tuesday that more Arab involvement was needed to combat Islamic State and counter the extremist narrative that it was at war with the West. Making it effective required coordination, however, he said.
“To make something like NATO, you really have to decide to act together…to send people to act and die in another country,” Mr. Hague said.

For Riyadh, the risks of such aggressive military action on a broad scale have become apparent in Yemen.

The Yemen coalition, composed of mostly Sunni Muslim Arab allies, began bombing the Houthis from the air on March 26. It deployed a ground force in July, soon recapturing the southern city of Aden and pushing toward the capital, San’a.

The campaign, however, has been costly for the Saudi government, both in financial and human terms. Human rights groups have also criticized the coalition for the large number of civilian casualties caused by airstrikes and fighting on the ground. The United Nations estimates the death toll of the war at more than 5,800 people.

Many observers see the war in Yemen as the outgrowth of a regional confrontation between Sunni Muslim states and mainly Shiite Iran. Saudi Arabia and its allies support Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi while Iran gives political backing—some say military support—to the Houthis, a group whose members adhere to the Zaidi offshoot of Shiite Islam.

A seven-day cease-fire started in Yemen at noon Tuesday, local time, as United Nations-mediated peace talks began in Geneva. Fighting was still taking place in the country’s oil-rich Marib province and parts of the south in the hours leading up to the pause, according to local security officials.

Christopher Davidson, a professor at Durham University in the U.K. who specializes in Gulf affairs, said the new alliance was primarily a way for Saudi Arabia to generate positive news about its role in international affairs following recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Both of the assailants in the California attack had spent time in the kingdom.

Yet divisions within the participating countries of the Islamic coalition don’t bode well for its effectiveness, he said.

“The constituent members of the new coalition mostly fall on the Sunni side of the sectarian fault-line and are themselves deeply divided on a number of key policy areas,” Mr. Davidson said.

“The probability that it can become an effective international security alliance is therefore almost zero.”

—Peter Wonacott in Dubai and Emre Peker in Istanbul contributed to this article.

Babylonian Hypocrisy (Ezekiel 17)


US hypocritical about policy on nuclear weapons: Analyst
Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:59AM

A new investigative report showing 33,480 US nuclear workers have died of radiation exposure over the last seven decades exposes America’s hypocrisy with regard to nuclear weapons, says an international lawyer in Indonesia.

Barry Grossman made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Sunday when asked about the yearlong investigation by McClatchy which reveals that America’s great push to win the World War II and the Cold War has left “a legacy of death on American soil.”

The death count, disclosed for the first time, is more than four times the number of American fatalities in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Grossman said that the report should not be mistaken for a critique of America’s hypocritical policy toward other nations and its use of weapons of mass destruction which led to the death of many innocent people.

“These disclosures are of course interesting but let’s not lose sight of what this is all about. This is not a well documented criticism of the US nuclear weapons program or of America’s hypocrisy in dictating the international community’s policy stance on nuclear proliferation. Indeed, the McClatchy report concedes, almost celebrates, the fact that most Americans regard the work of those featured in this story as a heroic and patriotic endeavor,” he said.

“Of course, no mention is made in any of this sentimental waffle about the hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed and the huge expanses of territory contaminated by America’s use of depleted uranium war heads, cluster bombs and chemical weapons in other nations. After all, when it comes to tugging at people’s heartstrings and fine-tuning the US policy-making machine, only white American lives matter and even then, only those who do not whine too much about doing their patriotic duty,” he added.

“Rather than being a genuine attempt to question America’s $1 trillion, 30-year commitment to modernizing its nuclear command, by objectively highlighting the dangers faced by previous generations of workers, this piece of selective investigative journalism in fact makes a strong case for fully supporting America’s $1 trillion nuclear modernization program,” Grossman stated.
“The report is little more than a saccharine celebration of what passes in America as grassroots heroics, albeit expressed in an envelope which focuses on exposing the failure to compensate many of the almost 110,000 or so killer moms and dads who contracted life-threatening illnesses as they worked to assemble and disassemble US made weapons,” he noted.

“So what if, from the millions of Americans who have worked in the US weapons industry to make sure that innocent people can be killed around the world, some 32,000 have died from cancers supposedly contracted while doing their heroic duty. What did they expect the outcome of their murderous efforts to be? A ticker tape parade in Manhattan to honor their selfless sacrifice?” he asked.

“In any case, make no mistake about it – nobody cares about them” Grossman said, adding, “Their eventual suffering was nothing more than an unfortunate consequence of them doing their duty. The important subtext here – the US public will tacitly agree – is that people do their duty to keep America great by killing in the name of empire.”

“Moreover, by noting that the death toll among those working in America’s nuclear weapons industry is ‘more than four times the number of American casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,’ this report is as likely to encourage criticism of ‘Peaceniks’ as it is to serve as a basis for questioning the deliberately cultivated, but nothing if not psychotic sensibilities of Americans who overwhelmingly support America’s über violent militarism and the war-based economy that has evolved from such lunacy,” the analyst noted.

“After all, how dare people complain about doing their duty abroad in support of the empire when so many ordinary moms and dads have given their lives quietly while working in support of the war effort at home? If anyone has any doubts about this, no doubt Donald Trump will set them straight,” Grossman concluded.

The nuclear report comes as the US prepares to upgrade its aging nuclear arsenal to the tune of $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

Jewish Hypocrisy (Ezekiel 17)

 
Study estimates Israel’s nuclear weapon count stands at 115
By YOSSI MELMAN
Fri, 20 Nov 2015, 07:18 PM

Report by US based institute estimates Israel produced 660 kilograms of plutonium in 50 years.
A study conducted by the Washington- based Institute for Science and International Security estimated that Israel had 115 nuclear bombs in its possession in 2014.
The study, which was conducted by the institute’s founder David Albright as part of a more comprehensive evaluation of the worldwide inventory of plutonium, approximated that Israel produced plutonium at a rapid pace in the past 50 years since the inception of its nuclear reactor in Dimona, acquiring 660 kilograms of plutonium, taking into account an estimation error of 150 kilograms.

A single nuclear bomb requires three-to-five kg. of plutonium, the study estimated.
Albright’s assessment of Israel’s nuclear bomb inventory differed from previous studies.
Those based on the revelations of Mordechai Vanunu, the former technician at the Dimona nuclear plant who was imprisoned for 18 years for divulging secrets related to Israel’s purported nuclear weapons program, stood at 200. A study by Sweden’s Peace Institute estimated the count at 80 bombs.

Albright’s study reiterated previous suspicions that Israel’s nuclear weapons are produced in the vicinity of Haifa, and also delved into the myriad of nuclear-weapon delivery vehicles at the country’s disposal.

Israel developed the Jericho-ballistic missile, according to Albright, along with nuclear-capable cruise missiles and an aircraft that can deliver nuclear weapons. It also may have the technology to launch missiles from submarines, Albright reported.

According to the study, Israel also has the advanced know how to miniaturize nuclear warheads and fit them on missiles.

The Nobel Laureate’s Hypocrisy (Ezekiel 17)

 
U.S will negotiate if North Korea abandons nuclear weapons
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Today, 8:47 PM ET

U.S. is ready to negotiate with longtime adversary North Korea as it has with Iran, but Pyongyang has to be serious about abandoning nuclear weapons, President Barack Obama said Friday.

Obama was speaking after meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, a close ally, who echoed the U.S. leader’s view.

The North has conducted three nuclear tests since 2006 and is developing a mobile ballistic missile that could potentially hit the U.S.

U.S. is ready to negotiate with longtime adversary North Korea as it has with Iran, but Pyongyang has to be serious about abandoning nuclear weapons, President Barack Obama said Friday.

Obama was speaking after meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, a close ally, who echoed the U.S. leader’s view.

The North has conducted three nuclear tests since 2006 and is developing a mobile ballistic missile that could potentially hit the U.S.

Park has cultivated closer relations with China as she looks to coax Beijing away from its traditional embrace of Pyongyang. Last month, she prompted handwringing in Washington when she attended a Chinese military parade marking the end of World War II that was snubbed by leaders of most major democracies.

But Obama said he had no problem with Park meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, and joked that Xi “was in this room, eating my food,” during a state visit to the U.S. last month.

“We want South Korea to have a strong relationship with China, just as we want to have a strong relationship with China. We want to see China’s peaceful rise. We want them to be cooperating with us in putting pressure on the DPRK,” Obama said, referring to the North’s official title, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

But he added that the U.S. would expect South Korea to speak out if China fails to abide by international norms and rules.

The U.S. has voiced mounting concerns to Beijing over cyber theft and China’s massive island-building the disputed South China Sea.

Obama and Park discussed the often-touchy relations among China, Japan and South Korea, whose leaders are to hold a long-awaited summit in Seoul in early November. Park said that the summit will be an opportunity to improve South Korea’s relations with another key U.S. ally, Japan, which would be welcomed by Washington.

The Sins Of The Son (Rev 13:10)

  

Bush invaded Iraq to revenge on his dad – Ex-CIA official
02.06.2015 | Source: Pravda.Ru

Former CIA Deputy Director has conceded real reasons of invasion to Iraq.

According to the official data, one of the reasons to trigger off war with the country at the other end of the world, was that senior officials at Bush’s Administration claimed that Iraq not only possessed nuclear weapons, but also posed a direct threat to the US.

As former Vice President Dick Cheney claimed at the time, Iraq was reconstituting nuclear weapons in addition to biological and chemical ones they owned.

Michael Morell, former CIA Deputy Director refuted the statement in the interview on May, 19 and said that was not true.

Morell admitted that politicized intelligence publicly perverted the truth and gave false information on Iraq’s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction as well as Saddam Hussein’s links to Al Qaeda.

Indeed, Bush was hell-bent on revenge against Saddam Hussein, as evidenced in his statement a month before the report, “After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.”

Morell said that his job was not to tell the truth, but “carry CIA’s best information and best analysis to the president of the United States and make sure he understands it.”

– See more at: http://english.pravda.ru/news/world/02-06-2015/130841-iraq-0/#sthash.kqKZLrcl.dpuf

OBummer, Nuclear Abolition Is Not In God’s Plan (Rev 15-16)

Obama’s Nuclear Hypocrisy: He Promised A World Without Nukes, What Happened?

Instead, nuclear abolition itself is being abolished.

Mon Dec. 15, 2014 6:30 AM EST
obummer
This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.
Mark these days. A long-dreaded transformation from hope to doom is taking place as the United States of America ushers the world onto the no-turning-back road of nuclear perdition. Once, we could believe there was another way to go. Indeed, we were invited to take that path by the man who is, even today, overseeing the blocking of it, probably forever.
It was one of the most stirring speeches an American president had ever given. The place was Prague; the year was 2009; the president was the recently sworn in Barack Obama. The promise made that day is worth recalling at length, especially since, by now, it is largely forgotten:
“As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act… So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. I’m not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly—perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now, we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, ‘Yes, we can…’”
President Obama had been in office only three months when, boldly claiming his place on the world stage, he unequivocally committed himself and his country to a nuclear abolition movement that, until then, had at best existed somewhere on the distant fringes of power politics. “I know,” he added,
“that there are some who will question whether we can act on such a broad agenda. There are those who doubt whether true international cooperation is possible… and there are those who hear talk of a world without nuclear weapons and doubt whether it’s worth setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve. But make no mistake. We know where that road leads.”
The simple existence of nuclear weapons, an American president declared, paved the road to perdition for humanity.
Obama as The Captain Ahab of Nuclear Weapons
At that moment, the foundations for an imagined abolitionist world were modest indeed, but not nonexistent. The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) had, for instance, struck a bargain between nuclear haves and have-nots, under which a path to abolition was treated as real. The deal seemed clear enough: the have-nots would promise to forego obtaining nukes and, in return, the world’s reigning nuclear powers would pledge to take, in the words of the treaty, “effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament.”
For decades before the Obama moment, however, the superpower arsenals of nuclear warheads continued to grow like so many mushrooms, while new nuclear states—Israel, Pakistan, India, North Korea—built their own impressive arsenals. In those years, with the singular exception of South Africa, nuclear-weapons states simply ignored their half of the NPT bargain and the crucial clause mandating progress toward eventual disarmament was all but forgotten.
When the Cold War ended in 1991 with the disappearance of the Soviet Union, and the next year Americans elected as president Bill Clinton, who was famously against the Vietnam War, it was at least possible to imagine that nukes might go the way of internationally banned chemical weapons. But Washington chose otherwise. Despite a paucity of enemies anywhere on Earth, the Pentagon’s 1994 Nuclear Posture Review insisted on maintaining the American nuclear arsenal at Cold War levels as a “hedge,” an insurance policy, against an imagined return of Communism, fascism, or something terrible in Russia anyway—and Clinton accepted the Pentagon’s position.
Soon enough, however, even prominent hawks of the Cold War era began to worry that such a nuclear insurance policy could itself ignite a global fire. In 1999, a chief architect of the nuclear mindset, Paul Nitze, stepped away from a lifetime obsession with building up nuclear power to denounce nukes as “a threat mostly to ourselves” and to explicitly call for unilateral disarmament. Other former apostles of nuclear realpolitik also came to embrace the goal of abolition. In 2008, four high priests of the cult of nuclear normalcy—former Senator Sam Nunn, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, and former Secretaries of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger—jointly issued a sacrilegious renunciation of their nuclear faith on the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page. “We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons,” they wrote, “and working energetically on the actions required to achieve that goal.”
Unfortunately, such figures had come to Jesus only after leaving office, when they were exempt from the responsibility of matching their high-flown rhetoric with the gritty work of making it real.
Obama in Prague was another matter. He was at the start of what would become an eight-year presidency and his rejection of nuclear fatalism rang across the world. Only months later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in large part because of this stunning commitment. A core hope of the post-World-War-II peace movement, always marginal, had at last been embraced in the seat of power. A year later, at Obama’s direction, the Pentagon, in its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, actually advanced the president’s purpose, committing itself to “a multilateral effort to limit, reduce, and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide.”
“The United States,” that document promised, “will not develop new nuclear warheads.” When it came to the future of the nuclear arsenal, a program of responsible maintenance was foreseen, but no new ground was to be broken. “Life Extension Programs,” the Pentagon promised, “will use only nuclear components based on previously tested designs, and will not support new military missions or provide new military capabilities.”
Obama’s timing in 2009 was critical. The weapons and delivery systems of the nuclear arsenal were aging fast. Many of the country’s missiles, warheads, strategic bombers, and nuclear-powered submarines dated back to the early Cold War era and were effectively approaching their radioactive sell-by dates. In other words, massive reductions in the arsenal had to begin before pressures to launch a program for the wholesale replacement of those weapons systems grew too strong to resist. Such a program, in turn, would necessarily mean combining the latest technological innovations with ever greater lethality in a way guaranteed to reinvigorate the entire enterprise across the world—the polar opposite of “effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament.”
Obama, in other words, was presiding over a golden moment, but an apocalyptic deadline was bearing down. And sure enough, that deadline came crashing through when three things happened: Vladimir Putin resurfaced as an incipient fascist intent on returning Russia to great power status; extremist Republicans took Congress hostage; and Barack Obama found himself lashed, like Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab, to “the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious agencies which some deep men feel eating in them, till they are left living on half a heart and half a lung.” Insiders often compare the Pentagon to Moby Dick, the Great White Whale, and Obama learned why. The peaceful intentions with which he began his presidency were slapped away by the flukes of the monster, like so many novice oarsmen in a whaling skiff.
Hence Obama’s course reversals in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria; hence the White House stumbles, including an unseemly succession of secretaries of defense, the fourth of whom, Ashton Carter, can reliably be counted on to advance the renewal of the nuclear force. The Pentagon’s “intangible malignity,” in Melville’s phrase, was steadily quickened by both Putin and the Republicans, but Obama’s half-devoured heart shows in nothing so much as his remarkably full-bore retreat, in both rhetoric and policy, from the goal of nuclear abolition.
A recent piece by New York Times science correspondent William J. Broad made the president’s nuclear failure dramatic. Cuts to the US nuclear stockpile initiated by George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, he pointed out, totaled 14,801 weapons; Obama’s reductions so far: 507 weapons. In 2010, a new START treaty between Moscow and Washington capped future deployed nukes at 1,500. As of this October, the US still deploys 1,642 of them and Russia 1,643; neither nation, that is, has achieved START levels, which only count deployed weapons. (Including stored but readily re-armed and targeted nukes, the US arsenal today totals about 4,800 weapons.)
In order to get the votes of Senate Republicans to ratify the START treaty, Obama made what turned out to be a devil’s bargain. He agreed to lay the groundwork for a vast “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenal, which, in the name of updating an aged system, is already morphing into a full-blown reinvention of the arms cache at an estimated future cost of more than a trillion dollars. In the process, the Navy wants, and may get, 12 new strategic submarines; the Air Force wants, and may get, a new long-range strike bomber force. Bombers and submarines would, of course, both be outfitted with next-generation missiles, and we’d be off to the races. The arms races.
All of this unfolds as Vladimir Putin warms the hearts of nuclear enthusiasts everywhere not only by his aggressions in Ukraine, but also by undercutting the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by testing a new ground-launched cruise missile. Indeed, just this fall, Russia successfully launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile. It seems that Moscow, too, can modernize.
On a Twenty-First Century Road to Perdition
Responding to the early Obama vision of “effective measures” toward nuclear disarmament, and following up on that 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, senior Pentagon officials pursued serious discussions about practical measures to reduce the nuclear arsenal. Leading experts advocated a shift away from the Cold War’s orgasmic strike targeting doctrine that still necessitates an arsenal of weapons counted in the thousands.
In fact, in response to budget constraints, legal obligations under a jeopardized non-proliferation treaty, and the most urgent moral mandate facing the country, America’s nuclear strategy could shift without wrenching difficulty, at the very least, to one of “minimal deterrence.” Hardcore national security mavens tell us this. Such a shift would involve a reduction in both the deployed and stored nuclear arsenal to something like 500 warheads. Even if that goal were pursued unilaterally, it would leave more than enough weaponry to deter any conceivable state-based nuclear threat, including Russia’s, no matter what Putin may do.
Five hundred is, of course, a long way from zero and so from the president’s 2009 goal of abolition, and yet opposition even to that level would be fierce in Washington. Though disarming and disposing of thousands of nukes would cost far less than replacement, it would still be expensive, and you can count on one thing: Pentagon nuclearists would find firm allies among congressional Republicans, who would be loathe to fund such a retreat from virtue’s Armageddon. Meanwhile, confronting such cuts, the defense industry’s samurai lobbyists would unsheathe their swords.
But if a passionate Obama could make a compelling case for a nuclear-free world from Prague in 2009, why not go directly to the American people and make the case today? There is, of course, no sign that the president intends to do such a thing any longer, but if a commander-in-chief were to order nuclear reductions into the hundreds, the result might actually be a transformation of the American political conscience. In the process, the global dream of a nuclear-free world could be resuscitated and the commitment of non-nuclear states (including Iran) to refrain from nuclear-weapons development could be rescued. Most crucially, there would no longer be any rationale for the large-scale reinvention of the American nuclear arsenal, a deadly project this nation is even now preparing to launch. At the very least, a vocal rededication to an ultimate disarmament, to the actual abolition of nuclear weapons, would keep that road open for a future president to re-embark upon.
Alas, Pentagon advocates of “minimal deterrence” have already been overridden. The president’s once fiercely held conviction is now a mere shadow of itself. As happened with Ahab’s wrecked whaling ship, tumultuous seas are closing over the hope that once seized the world’s attention. Take it for granted that, in retirement and out of power, ex-president Obama will rediscover his one-time commitment to a world freed from the nuclear nightmare. He will feel the special responsibility proper to a citizen of “the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon.” The then-former president’s speeches on the subject will be riveting and his philanthropy will be sharply targeted. All for naught.
Because of decisions likely to be taken this year and next, no American president will ever again be able to embrace this purpose as Obama once did. Nuclear weapons will instead become a normalized and permanent part of the twenty-first century American arsenal, and therefore of the arsenals of many other nations; nuclear weapons, that is, will have become an essential element of the human future—as long as that future lasts.
So yes, mark these days down. Nuclear abolition itself is being abolished. Meanwhile, let us acknowledge, as that hopeful young president once asked us to, that we know where this road leads.
James Carroll is a Boston Globe columnist and Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Suffolk University. He is the author, among other works, of House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power and, most recently, Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.