Israel’s Gaza blockade has devastated economy outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel’s Gaza blockade has devastated economy: UN

AP, JERUSALEM

Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has cost the seaside territory as much as US$16.7 billion in economic losses, and sent poverty and unemployment skyrocketing, a UN report said on Wednesday.

The report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development echoed calls by international bodies over the years criticizing the blockade.

However, its findings, looking at an 11-year period ending in 2018, marked perhaps the most detailed analysis of the Israeli policy to date.

Israel imposed the blockade in 2007 after Hamas, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel’s existence, violently seized control of Gaza from the forces of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli measures, along with restrictions by Egypt, have tightly controlled the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory.

Israel says that the restrictions are needed to keep Hamas from building up its military capabilities.

The bitter enemies have fought three wars and numerous skirmishes.

However, critics say that the blockade has amounted to collective punishment, hurting the living conditions of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants while failing to oust Hamas or moderate its behavior.

Gaza has almost no clean drinking water, it has frequent power outages and people cannot freely travel abroad.

“The result has been the near-collapse of Gaza’s regional economy, and its isolation from the Palestinian economy and the rest of the world,” the UN agency said in a statement.

The report analyzed the effects of the closure, which has greatly limited Gaza’s ability to export goods, as well as the effects of the three wars, which took place in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014.

The most recent war was especially devastating, killing more than 2,200 Palestinians and displacing about 100,000 people from homes that were damaged or destroyed, according to UN figures.

Seventy-three people, including six civilians, were killed on the Israeli side, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and indiscriminate Hamas rocket fire brought life to a standstill in southern Israel.

Using two methodologies, the report said that overall economic losses due to the blockade and wars ranged from US$7.8 billion to US$16.7 billion.

Gaza’s economy grew by a total of just 4.8 percent during the entire period, even as its population grew by more than 40 percent, it said.

These economic losses helped propel unemployment in Gaza from 35 percent in 2006 to 52 percent in 2018, one of the highest rates in the world, the UN agency said.

The poverty rate jumped from 39 percent in 2007 to 55 percent in 2017, it said.

Based on Gaza’s economic trends before the closure, the report said that the poverty rate could have been just 15 percent in 2017 if the wars and blockade had not occurred.

“The impact is the impoverishment of the people of Gaza, who are already under blockade,” said Mahmoud Elkhafif, the agency’s coordinator of assistance to the Palestinian people and author of the report.

Israel has long accused the UN of being biased against it.

The report, for instance, included only a brief mention that indiscriminate rocket fire at Israeli civilian areas is prohibited under international law, it said.

“Palestinian militants must cease that practice immediately,” it said.

The ministry accused the UN agency of failing its mission to assist developing economies and presenting a “one-sided and distorted depiction” that disregards “terrorist organizations’ control over the Gaza Strip and their responsibility for what occurs in the Gaza Strip.”

“In light of all this, we cannot take the findings of the reports it publishes seriously, and this report is no different,” it said.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that the report revealed “the level of the crime” committed by Israel.

“This siege has amounted to a real war crime and pushed all services sectors in the Gaza Strip to collapse,” Qassem said. “These figures also reveal the international inability to deal with the illegal siege on Gaza.”

Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that pushes for freedom of movement in an out of Gaza, said that it was Israel’s “moral and legal obligation” to lift the closure.

“The true price paid by Palestinians in lost time, opportunities, and separation from loved ones is inestimable,” it said.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

Iran Rightly Fears An Attack by Trump

Iran Fears Attack by Trump; Quds Leader Instructs Shia Militia to Hold Fire Against US Targets

By Jacob JNovember 25, 2020 15:55 +08

Will President Donald Trump launch an attack against Iran in the dying days of his presidency? This question was initially a barb used by Trump haters to insinuate that the president might use the war to roil the election chaos further and stay on as president. However, a White House meeting last week that decided not to go ahead with the Iran attack plan made this charge a damp squib.

However, it seems the Iranians are still harboring fears of Trump fury. The latest reports say that Iran has ordered its allies in Iraq not to provoke the US under any circumstances. Tehran knows for certain that a missile attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone that kills a single American can turn the tables on them and give Trump enough reason to launch a legitimate attack on Iran.

‘Halt Attacks Until Biden Comes to Power’

The Middle East Eye reported exclusively that Iran sent a Quds force commander, Ismail Qaani, to Baghdad to instruct allies that they should refrain from all attacks until Joe Biden takes power in the White House.

Qasem Soleimani, Quds Force commander killed in US strike Wikimedia Commons

Qani arrived in Baghdad just 24 hours after rockets fired by Iraqi militia aligned with Iran fell outside the US embassy in Baghdad, the report said. The rockets missed the target but caused civilian casualties. For months, Iran’s armed proxies have been launching rocket attacks against the US targets in Iraq.

A Washington Post story last week said that though Trump dropped the plan to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran, he would still go ahead if there is provocation. The story said that Trump has laid out a ‘Tripwire’ for Iran — if any American is killed in an action that can be tied back to Iranian hands, a retaliation will be swift and certain.

‘Trump Wants to Drag Region Into an Open War’

Trump would not shy away from using a trigger to launch a full-scale strike on Iran, sources cited by the Post suggest. The revelation follows a report by The New York Times that said Trump mulled attacking an Iranian nuclear facility two weeks ago.

Iran is seized of this scenario completely, and is taking precautions to avert a last-minute move by the Trump administration, even as it is going ahead with its nuclear enrichment program that violates the terms of the deal with the world powers.

Though Trump has taken off the table a pre-emptive attack plan, Iran is still in his radar. The administration will not hesitate to launch an Iran attack in the event of an attack in the region that can be linked to Tehran. The scenario raises the possibility of the US launching a strike on Iran before January 20th, the report says.

Iran is, therefore, taking ample precautions. “Qaani made it clear that Trump wants to drag the region into an open war before leaving, to take revenge on his opponents over losing the election, and it is not in our interest to give him any justification to start such a war,” a senior commander of a Shia armed faction the Middle East Eye.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran September 14, 2007. Reuters

Trump Sends B-52 Bombers to Persian Gulf

Before travelling to Iraq, Qaani had visited Lebanon to have discussions with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the report said. In Baghdad, he held discussions with Hadi al-Ameri, head of the parliamentary Fatah bloc and commander of the Badr Organization. Qani was also meeting other allies and militia leaders.

“If war breaks out between Iran and America, its repercussions cannot be contained, and Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran will all be a battleground for both sides,” Qani is reported to have said.

Meanwhile, other reports said Trump has sent B-52 nuclear bombers to the Persian Gulf in a warning to Iran. “These missions help bomber aircrews gain familiarity with the region’s airspace and command and control functions and allow them to integrate with the theatre’s US and partner air assets, increasing the combined force’s overall readiness,” Lieutenant General Greg Guillot, commander of the US military’s 9th Air Force, was quoted by UK’s Express as saying.

Watch the winds of God‘s wrath: Jeremiah 23

Watch: Time lapse of 30 storms in record Atlantic Hurricane season

by Scott Sistek | KOMONews.com Meteorologist

Tuesday, November 24th 2020

GOES-16 image shows 5 tropical systems spinning in the Atlantic at the same time on Sept. 14, 2020. (Photo: NOAA / GOES-16)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The record-smashing Atlantic Hurricane season of 2020 is nearing a close (on Nov. 30) after a relentless assault on the Eastern Seaboard, Gulf Coast, Central America and Caribbean Islands.

There were a total of 30 named storms this season, breaking the old record of 28 set in 2005 and for just the second time ever the National Hurricane Center ran out of names to call the storms and had to dip into the Greek Alphabet for reserves.

Of the 30 storms, a record 13 became hurricanes — six of them “major” hurricanes reaching Category 3 strength or higher. And somehow Louisiana got mercilessly picked on with five storms making landfall in their state.

According to NOAA, this is the fifth consecutive year with an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with 18 above-normal seasons out of the past 26.

“This increased hurricane activity is attributed to the warm phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) — which began in 1995 — and has favored more, stronger, and longer-lasting storms since that time,” NOAA officials said. “Such active eras for Atlantic hurricanes have historically lasted about 25 to 40 years. An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.”

234 killed outside the temple walls: Revelation 11

Gaza’s Great Return March: 234 killed, 17 investigations, one indictment

Two years after Israeli soldiers killed more than 200 Palestinians during Gaza’s Great Return March, the IDF has done little more than whitewash its own violence.

By Orly Noy November 25, 2020

Razan a-Najjar died about two-and-a-half years ago, but I can still clearly see her in my mind’s eye. The 21-year-old paramedic was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during one of the Great Return March protests in Gaza on June 1, 2018. Witnesses say she was shot as she made her way toward the fence that separates Israel and the Gaza Strip to tend to the wounded, donning a white medical coat.

Pictures of the smiling young woman flooded the online world but were soon lost in the sea of photos and names of those who were killed during the weekly protests, in what quickly became a weekly ritual of death, despair, and blood.

A-Najjar was one of more than 200 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers during the Great Return March protests over the course of 86 weeks, beginning in March 30, 2018. According to the UN, more than 33,000 people were wounded in these protests, some so seriously they were forced to have their limbs amputated. The victims included men, women, children, medical crews, people with disabilities, journalists, and others. I vividly remember those dreaded Fridays, when we would follow the reports from the field with horror, updating by the hour. I remember feeling that what was happening there was atrocious on a different scale. It was inconceivable.

Inconceivable, and yet not entirely surprising. In an interview with +972 Magazine before the protests began, one of the organizers of the march, Hasan al-Kurd, underscored the civilian nature of the planned protests, while at the same time voicing concern over the possibility of a lethal response from the military.

He couldn’t have been more right. When human rights organizations petitioned against the IDF open-fire regulations used in these protests, with one case brought by human rights groups Yesh Din, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Gisha, and HaMoked, and another by Adalah and Gaza-based Al Mezan, the military took the approach that the mass killings and injuries in Gaza were not a matter for criminal investigation. Rather, it claimed the incidents were part of Israel’s armed conflict with Hamas — even if the protesters were largely unarmed civilians who took no part in hostilities.

As such, according to the military, whatever happened during the protests fell squarely under the rules of war, and any complaints about deaths and injuries should be dealt with under a different legal framework. And so, rather than putting these complaints through the usual track for military criminal investigations, they were referred to the oddly-named General Staff Mechanism for Fact-Finding Assessments.

This mechanism, which was established after the 2014 Gaza war, is meant to perform quick factual assessments of suspected breaches of the rules of war. A position paper released this week by human rights group Yesh Din, which relies on figures received from the military, reveals that the main function of this authority is — as always — to whitewash Israeli violence.

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas is shot at Palestinian protesters on the border with the Gaza Strip, as Palestinians demonstrate to mark Naksa Day, June 8, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The paper also reveals that while the fact-finding authority looked into 234 Palestinian deaths, only 17 investigations have thus far been opened, most of which are still ongoing. Only one indictment has been filed, ultimately resulting in a plea bargain in which the shooting soldier was charged with a disciplinary rather than criminal offense. The indictment itself makes no mention of the offense related to the actual killing, and the soldier was given a lenient sentence of 30 days’ military community work, a suspended prison sentence, and a demotion to the rank of private.

Two years after the Great Return March began, around 80 percent of the incidents forwarded to the fact-finding authority for assessment are still under review or investigation. It is also important to note that the mechanism failed to look into even a single case among the thousands of injuries, many of them severe — including ones that have left victims permanently paralyzed or forced to undergo amputations. These were not deemed worthy of even a performative review.

Furthermore, all the materials collected during the review remain privileged and cannot be used as evidence against suspects on the almost hypothetical off-chance that the army ultimately orders a criminal investigation. An equally interesting detail is the identity of the person at the helm of this authority: Maj. Gen. Itai Veruv, the head of the military colleges.

A footnote in Yesh Din’s position paper provides the following tidbit about Veruv: in 2009, while serving as the commander of the IDF’s Kfir Brigade — the largest of Israel’s infantry brigades, which has a particular history of brutality toward Palestinians in the West Bank — Veruv testified in the trial of Lt. Adam Malul, who had been charged with beating Palestinians. Veruv admitted he allowed soldiers to use physical violence during spontaneous “interrogations” of Palestinian civilians, even when they were passersby who were suspected of nothing and posed no danger.

Palestinian protesters seen at the Gaza border fence, during a Great Return March protest, Gaza Strip, September 28, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Veruv was officially reprimanded for these comments by the General Officer Commanding Army Headquarters. Yesh Din and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed a High Court petition demanding his immediate suspension as well as a criminal investigation. A year later, in June 2010, the Military Advocate General at the time, Avichai Mandelblit, did order a criminal investigation against Veruv and the petition was deleted. The investigation was closed without any action against Veruv in January 2011.

For nearly two years, week in and week out, the military sent trained marksmen with full protective gear to face off against residents of the besieged and battered Gaza Strip who went to protest near the fence. Judging by the cumulative experience gained over 50 years of occupation, each and every one of those soldiers had every reason to believe that no matter what happened when they squeezed that trigger, the system would protect them and cover up their crimes. The 234 dead, 17 investigations, and solitary indictment — for the killing of a 14-year-old boy — that ended in 30 days of military community work, a suspended sentence, and a demotion to the rank of private, prove they were right.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Fear of the first nuclear war explodes: Revelation 8

Fears of TOTAL WAR in south Asia explode as Pakistan accuses India of backing terrorism

TENSIONS in south Asia are threatening to spiral out of control after both Pakistan and India presented dossiers to the UN Security Council accusing the other of stoking terrorism.

By James Bickerton 03:32, Wed, Nov 25, 2020 | UPDATED: 08:35, Wed, Nov 25, 2020

World War 3: Vision 2020 outlines plans for ‘full dominance’

The nuclear armed rivals have fought each other four times since independence, with three of the conflicts taking place over the disputed territory of Kashmir. India has faced an insurgency in Kashmir since 1989 from nationalist and Islamist elements which it has long accused Pakistan of stoking.

On Monday India submitted a dossier to the UN accusing Pakistan of systematically supporting terrorism within its territory.

One day later Pakistan submitted a similar document accusing India of backing terrorism in Pakistan.

Munir Akram, Pakistan’s UN ambassador, called on the international community to “take note of Indian terrorism and subversion against Pakistan and to prevail on India to desist from these illegal and aggressive activities”.

He claimed India is in violation of Security Council resolutions condemning terrorism and the UN Charter.

Pakistan and India have accused each other of backing terrorism at the UN (Image: GETTY)

Pakistan submitted a dossier on terrorism to the UN (Image: GETTY)

However an Indian spokesman fired back arguing it is Pakistan that has been backing terrorism.

He said: “Pakistan can cry hoarse from the rooftops.

“But they cannot change the fact that they are the epicentre of terrorism.

“Their lies have no takers.”

India and Pakistan have fought four wars since 1947 (Image: GETTY)

India and Pakistan have contested control of Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim dominated region currently split between the two powers, since both became independent in 1947.

Last week India alleges four gunmen, from the Pakistan based group Jaish-e-Mohammad, crossed into Indian controlled Kashmir using a tunnel.

After being spotted they opened fire, though there are no reports of any casualties.

Pakistan has strongly denied any involvement in the attack.

India has been fighting an insurgency in Kashmir since 1989 (Image: GETTY)

“We have provided irrefutable evidence of India’s state sponsored terrorism” (Image: GETTY)

Earlier this month Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, directly accused India of being involved with terrorism.

He commented: “We have provided irrefutable evidence of India’s state sponsored terrorism inside Pakistan.

“Details of financial & material support & Indian state’s direct involvement in terrorism have been given to the world which, in the face of this evidence, cannot remain indifferent or silent.

“We expect the international community to force India to end its terrorism & bring to justice those responsible for killing thousands of innocent people in Pakistan.

Pakistan: Emergency services respond to explosion in Karachi

“Our resilient & courageous security agencies & forces will continue to give their all to protect our people.”

The remarks were greeted with a firm denial by Indian authorities.

In February 2019 tensions between India and Pakistan exploded into armed clashes along their contested border.

Abhinandan Varthaman had his F15 shot down in February 2019 (Image: GETTY)

India conducted strikes inside Pakistan aimed at a militant group it blamed for a suicide car bombing which killed 40 Indian troops.

Pakistan retaliated and during the conflict an Indian F-15 fighter jet was shot down.

It’s pilot, wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was taken prisoner and later released back into Indian hands.

The Saudi horn turns against Pakistan: Daniel

Israel Wants Pakistan’s Nuclear Teeth Broken & Saudi Arabia Could Land The First Punch

OPED By Haider Abbas

EurAsian Times DeskNovember 25, 2020

US’ topmost ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has given a very conflicting message to Turkey, as well as to Qatar, for a ‘handshake’ as it organized the G20 summit. It was, in fact, quite warranted as finally the iron curtains of secrecy between KSA and Israel had to be unveiled, and there might be a ‘brewing reaction’ to it.

Hence, KSA gave into extending the ‘hand of friendship’ to Turkey and Qatar, whereas the reality is that KSA has already cost billions of USD to Turkey by its boycott of Turkish goods, and also did KSA had planned an attack on Qatar with the help of UAE and Bahrain. The ground attack was disallowed by Trump, but which, had made the then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cost his job.

KSA after playing a pivotal role in UAE and Bahrain ‘normalizing’ their relations with Israel, has finally come out in the open, as it has come to light, that KSA crown prince MBS secretly met Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Mike Pompeo, reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz on November 23, 2020.

This has put to rest all the speculations that maybe even before the US president Donald Trump walks-out, KSA would accept Israel, which perhaps, Trump wishes to carry this sobriquet as last of his achievements.

Mohamad bi Salman at the G20 Riyadh Summit

But, the possibility of working out the modalities of a war on Iran as a joint venture of the US, Israel and KSA, has surely grown. India for that matter is firmly with Israel and the US along with KSA, more particularly so, after it had to bow out of the Chabahar project from Iran.

Iran and China, and with it Pakistan, is now the other bloc. KSA denies the meeting but The Wall Street Journal on November 24, 2020, confirmed it.

The world polity is very dangerously poised and there are all signs of a world war getting to its near possibility. Turkey is pitched against Greece, UAE is lobbying against Turkey and cozying up with Greece.

Israel and India are supporting Greece. KSA has long been against Iran alongside Israel while against Turkey too, while China-Pakistan are lined-up against India, and the US is locking horns with China in the South China Sea and supporting Taiwan against China.

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan has just ended after a ceasefire brokered by the Russian president Vladimir Putin on November 23, 2020, who has also refused to recognize Biden as the new president of the United States. Thus, throwing a reality, that even if Biden makes it to office, he would not be called a full president by Russia, and may be by others too.

Biden, it is quite understood by the way of his politics, is going to wreak wars, and he has particularly vowed not to supply weapons to KSA, in the wake of the allegations of the involvement of KSA crown prince MBS in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Therefore, a US withdrawal from Afghanistan or fresh deployment in Iran is getting near. But what is most intriguing is that while MBS, Netanyahu and Pompeo met, there was an attack on KSA’s biggest oil giant Aramco by Houthis rebels from Yemen, on November 23, 2020. The timing was important. The act has again thrown a big question as to how Houthis have become so technologically advanced?

Is Iran arming them as is widely considered? Or maybe any investigative journalist might unravel it that Israel is supplying it through its proxies? Or is Israel doing it and getting it claimed by Houthis with Houthis not even getting a whiff of it?

The same way Blackwater does it in Afghanistan and Deash comes to claim it. Of course, the attack has opened new avenues for Israeli Dome missile defense technology for KSA to safeguard its boundaries after it had refused to buy Russian S-400 out of pressure from the US.

There is a lot of churning in world polity as Biden will be considered weak both externally, as well as internally, and to bolster the US image a war, therefore, would be a must. While China, which has challenged US superpower status, has given an offer to KSA to change its oil payments from Petro Dollars to Petro Yuans, which KSA is very likely to spurn, as it only plays to the tunes of the US for the last 70 years.

It is also very likely since MBS’ love affair with Israel has gone public that KSA would now openly threaten Pakistan to take back its workforce, and maybe, influence the Saudi-sponsored 56-nation Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to accept Kashmir as a part of India.

MBS may also force OIC to forsake Gilgit-Baltistan as Pakistan’s fifth province, which is the gateway of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and which the US and India want to get killed at every cost.

As for Israel, it finds Pakistan as the only Muslim state with nuclear teeth, and through KSA it wants Pakistan’s jaws broken, to the ultimate advantage of India. How China will relate to this is for the world to see.

The Main Cause of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)


Indian Point Energy CenterNuclear power plant in Buchanan, New YorkIndian Point Energy Center (IPEC) is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York, just south of Peekskill. It sits on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 36 miles (58 km) north of Midtown Manhattan. The plant generates over 2,000 megawatts (MWe) of electrical power. For reference, the record peak energy consumption of New York City and Westchester County (the ConEdison Service Territory) was set during a seven-day heat wave on July 19, 2013, at 13,322 megawatts.[3] Electrical energy consumption varies greatly with time of day and season.[4]Quick Facts: Country, Location …The plant is owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, and includes two operating Westinghouse pressurized water reactors—designated “Indian Point 2” and “Indian Point 3″—which Entergy bought from Consolidated Edison and the New York Power Authority respectively. The facility also contains the permanently shut-down Indian Point Unit 1 reactor. As of 2015, the number of permanent jobs at the Buchanan plant is approximately 1,000.The original 40-year operating licenses for units 2 and 3 expired in September 2013 and December 2015, respectively. Entergy had applied for license extensions and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was moving toward granting a twenty-year extension for each reactor. However, after pressure from local environmental groups and New York governor Andrew Cuomo, it was announced that the plant is scheduled to be shut down by 2021.[5] Local groups had cited increasingly frequent issues with the aging units, ongoing environmental releases, and the proximity of the plant to New York City.[6]ReactorsHistory and designThe reactors are built on land that originally housed the Indian Point Amusement Park, but was acquired by Consolidated Edison (ConEdison) on October 14, 1954.[7] Indian Point 1, built by ConEdison, was a 275-megawatt Babcock & Wilcox supplied [8] pressurized water reactor that was issued an operating license on March 26, 1962 and began operations on September 16, 1962.[9] The first core used a thorium-based fuel with stainless steel cladding, but this fuel did not live up to expectations for core life.[10] The plant was operated with uranium dioxide fuel for the remainder of its life. The reactor was shut down on October 31, 1974, because the emergency core cooling system did not meet regulatory requirements. All spent fuel was removed from the reactor vessel by January 1976, but the reactor still stands.[11] The licensee, Entergy, plans to decommission Unit 1 when Unit 2 is decommissioned.[12]The two additional reactors, Indian Point 2 and 3, are four-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors both of similar design. Units 2 and 3 were completed in 1974 and 1976, respectively. Unit 2 has a generating capacity of 1,032 MW, and Unit 3 has a generating capacity of 1,051 MW. Both reactors use uranium dioxide fuel of no more than 4.8% U-235 enrichment. The reactors at Indian Point are protected by containment domes made of steel-reinforced concrete that is 40 inches thick, with a carbon steel liner.[13]Nuclear capacity in New York stateUnits 2 and 3 are two of six operating nuclear energy sources in New York State. New York is one of the five largest states in terms of nuclear capacity and generation, accounting for approximately 5% of the national totals. Indian Point provides 39% of the state’s nuclear capacity. Nuclear power produces 34.2% of the state’s electricity, higher than the U.S. average of 20.6%. In 2017, Indian Point generated approximately 10% of the state’s electricity needs, and 25% of the electricity used in New York City and Westchester County.[14] Its contract with Consolidated Edison is for just 560 megawatts. The New York Power Authority, which built Unit 3, stopped buying electricity from Indian Point in 2012. NYPA supplies the subways, airports, and public schools and housing in NYC and Westchester County. Entergy sells the rest of Indian Point’s output into the NYISO administered electric wholesale markets and elsewhere in New England.[15][16][17][18] In 2013, New York had the fourth highest average electricity prices in the United States. Half of New York’s power demand is in the New York City region; about two-fifths of generation originates there.[19][20]RefuelingThe currently operating Units 2 and 3 are each refueled on a two-year cycle. At the end of each fuel cycle, one unit is brought offline for refueling and maintenance activities. On March 2, 2015, Indian Point 3 was taken offline for 23 days to perform its refueling operations. Entergy invested $50 million in the refueling and other related projects for Unit 3, of which $30 million went to employee salaries. The unit was brought back online on March 25, 2015.[21]EffectsEconomic impactA June 2015 report by a lobby group called Nuclear Energy Institute found that the operation of Indian Point generates $1.3 billion of annual economic output in local counties, $1.6 billion statewide, and $2.5 billion across the United States. In 2014, Entergy paid $30 million in state and local property taxes. The total tax revenue (direct and secondary) was nearly $340 million to local, state, and federal governments.[15] According to the Village of Buchanan budget for 2016–2017, a payment in lieu of taxes in the amount of $2.62 million was received in 2015-2016, and was projected to be $2.62 million in 2016–2017 – the majority of which can be assumed to come from the Indian Point Energy Center.[22]Over the last decade, the station has maintained a capacity factor of greater than 93 percent. This is consistently higher than the nuclear industry average and than other forms of generation. The reliability helps offset the severe price volatility of other energy sources (e.g., natural gas) and the indeterminacy of renewable electricity sources (e.g., solar, wind).[15]Indian Point directly employs about 1,000 full-time workers. This employment creates another 2,800 jobs in the five-county region, and 1,600 in other industries in New York, for a total of 5,400 in-state jobs. Additionally, another 5,300 indirect jobs are created out of state, creating a sum total of 10,700 jobs throughout the United States.[15]Environmental concernsEnvironmentalists have expressed concern about increased carbon emissions with the impending shutdown of Indian Point (generating electricity with nuclear energy creates no carbon emissions). A study undertaken by Environmental Progress found that closure of the plant would cause power emissions to jump 29% in New York, equivalent to the emissions from 1.4 million additional cars on New York roads.[23]Some environmental groups have expressed concerns about the operation of Indian Point, including radiation pollution and endangerment of wildlife, but whether Indian Point has ever posed a significant danger to wildlife or the public remains controversial. Though anti-nuclear group Riverkeeper notes “Radioactive leakage from the plant containing several radioactive isotopes, such as strontium-90, cesium-137, cobalt-60, nickel-63 and tritium, a rarely-occurring isotope of hydrogen, has flowed into groundwater that eventually enters the Hudson River in the past[24], there is no evidence radiation from the plant has ever posed a significant hazard to local residents or wildlife. In the last year[when?], nine tritium leaks have occurred, however, even at their highest levels the leaks have never exceeded one-tenth of one percent of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission limits.In February 2016, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a full investigation by state environment[25] and health officials and is partnering with organizations like Sierra Club, Riverkeepers, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Scenic Hudson and Physicians for Social Responsibility in seeking the permanent closure of the plant.[citation needed] However, Cuomo’s motivation for closing the plant was called into question after it was revealed two top former aides, under federal prosecution for influence-peddling, had lobbied on behalf of natural gas company Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) to kill Indian Point. In his indictment, US attorney Preet Bharara wrote “the importance of the plant [CPV’s proposed Valley Energy Center, a plant powered by natural gas] to the State depended at least in part, on whether [Indian Point] was going to be shut down.”[26]In April 2016 climate scientist James Hansen took issue with calls to shut the plant down, including those from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “The last few weeks have seen an orchestrated campaign to mislead the people of New York about the essential safety and importance of Indian Point nuclear plant to address climate change,” wrote Hansen, adding “Sanders has offered no evidence that NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] has failed to do its job, and he has no expertise in over-riding NRC’s judgement. For the sake of future generations who could be harmed by irreversible climate change, I urge New Yorkers to reject this fear mongering and uphold science against ideology.”[27]Indian Point removes water from the nearby Hudson River. Despite the use of fish screens, the cooling system kills over a billion fish eggs and larvae annually.[28] According to one NRC report from 2010, as few as 38% of alewives survive the screens.[29] On September 14, 2015, a state hearing began in regards to the deaths of fish in the river, and possibly implementing a shutdown period from May to August. An Indian Point spokesman stated that such a period would be unnecessary, as Indian Point “is fully protective of life in the Hudson River and $75 million has been spent over the last 30 years on scientific studies demonstrating that the plant has no harmful impact to adult fish.” The hearings lasted three weeks.[30] Concerns were also raised over the planned building of new cooling towers, which would cut down forest land that is suspected to be used as breeding ground by muskrat and mink. At the time of the report, no minks or muskrats were spotted there.[29]SafetyIndian Point Energy Center has been given an incredible amount of scrutiny from the media and politicians and is regulated more heavily than various other power plants in the state of New York (i.e., by the NRC in addition to FERC, the NYSPSC, the NYISO, the NYSDEC, and the EPA). On a forced outage basis – incidents related to electrical equipment failure that force a plant stoppage – it provides a much more reliable operating history than most other power plants in New York.[31][32] Beginning at the end of 2015, Governor Cuomo began to ramp up political action against the Indian Point facility, opening an investigation with the state public utility commission, the department of health, and the department of environmental conservation.[33][34][35][30][36][37] To put the public service commission investigation in perspective: most electric outage investigations conducted by the commission are in response to outages with a known number of affected retail electric customers.[38] By November 17, 2017, the NYISO accepted Indian Point’s retirement notice.[39]In 1997, Indian Point Unit 3 was removed from the NRC’s list of plants that receive increased attention from the regulator. An engineer for the NRC noted that the plant had been experiencing increasingly fewer problems during inspections.[40] On March 10, 2009 the Indian Point Power Plant was awarded the fifth consecutive top safety rating for annual operations by the Federal regulators. According to the Hudson Valley Journal News, the plant had shown substantial improvement in its safety culture in the previous two years.[41] A 2003 report commissioned by then-Governor George Pataki concluded that the “current radiological response system and capabilities are not adequate to…protect the people from an unacceptable dose of radiation in the event of a release from Indian Point”.[42] More recently, in December 2012 Entergy commissioned a 400-page report on the estimates of evacuation times. This report, performed by emergency planning company KLD Engineering, concluded that the existing traffic management plans provided by Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester Counties are adequate and require no changes.[43] According to one list that ranks U.S. nuclear power plants by their likelihood of having a major natural disaster related incident, Indian Point is the most likely to be hit by a natural disaster, mainly an earthquake.[44][45][46][47] Despite this, the owners of the plant still say that safety is a selling point for the nuclear power plant.[48]Incidents▪ In 1973, five months after Indian Point 2 opened, the plant was shut down when engineers discovered buckling in the steel liner of the concrete dome in which the nuclear reactor is housed.[49]▪ On October 17, 1980,[50] 100,000 gallons of Hudson River water leaked into the Indian Point 2 containment building from the fan cooling unit, undetected by a safety device designed to detect hot water. The flooding, covering the first nine feet of the reactor vessel, was discovered when technicians entered the building. Two pumps that should have removed the water were found to be inoperative. NRC proposed a $2,100,000 fine for the incident.▪ In February 2000, Unit 2 experienced a Steam Generator Tube Rupture (SGTR), which allowed primary water to leak into the secondary system through one of the steam generators.[51] All four steam generators were subsequently replaced.[citation needed]▪ In 2005, Entergy workers while digging discovered a small leak in a spent fuel pool. Water containing tritium and strontium-90 was leaking through a crack in the pool building and then finding its way into the nearby Hudson River. Workers were able to keep the spent fuel rods safely covered despite the leak.[52] On March 22, 2006 The New York Times also reported finding radioactive nickel-63 and strontium in groundwater on site.[53] In 2007, a transformer at Unit 3 caught fire, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission raised its level of inspections, because the plant had experienced many unplanned shutdowns. According to The New York Times, Indian Point “has a history of transformer problems”.[54] On April 23, 2007, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined the owner of the Indian Point nuclear plant $130,000 for failing to meet a deadline for a new emergency siren plan. The 150 sirens at the plant are meant to alert residents within 10 miles to a plant emergency.[55] On January 7, 2010, NRC inspectors reported that an estimated 600,000 gallons of mildly radioactive steam was intentionally vented to the atmosphere after an automatic shutdown of Unit 2. After the vent, one of the vent valves unintentionally remained slightly open for two days. The levels of tritium in the steam were within the allowable safety limits defined in NRC standards.[56] On November 7, 2010, an explosion occurred in a main transformer for Indian Point 2, spilling oil into the Hudson River.[57] Entergy later agreed to pay a $1.2 million penalty for the transformer explosion.[54] July 2013, a former supervisor, who worked at the Indian Point nuclear power plant for twenty-nine years, was arrested for falsifying the amount of particulate in the diesel fuel for the plant’s backup generators.[58] On May 9, 2015, a transformer failed at Indian Point 3, causing the automated shutdown of reactor 3. A fire that resulted from the failure was extinguished, and the reactor was placed in a safe and stable condition.[59] The failed transformer contained about 24,000 gallons of dielectric fluid, which is used as an insulator and coolant when the transformer is energized. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that about 3,000 gallons of dielectric fluid entered the river following the failure.[60] In June 2015, a mylar balloon floated into a switchyard, causing an electrical problem resulting in the shutdown of Reactor 3.[61] In July 2015, Reactor 3 was shut down after a water pump failure.[citation needed] On December 5, 2015, Indian Point 2 was shut down after several control rods lost power.[62] On February 6, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo informed the public that radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked into the groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility.[25]Spent fuelIndian Point stores used fuel rods in two spent fuel pools at the facility.[52] The spent fuel pools at Indian Point are not stored under a containment dome like the reactor, but rather they are contained within an indoor 40-foot-deep pool and submerged under 27 feet of water. Water is a natural and effective barrier to radiation. The spent fuel pools at Indian Point are set in bedrock and are constructed of concrete walls that are four to six feet wide, with a quarter-inch thick stainless steel inner liner. The pools each have multiple redundant backup cooling systems.[52][63]Indian Point began dry cask storage of spent fuel rods in 2008, which is a safe and environmentally sound option according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.[64] Some rods have already been moved to casks from the spent fuel pools. The pools will be kept nearly full of spent fuel, leaving enough space to allow emptying the reactor completely.[65] Dry cask storage systems are designed to resist floods, tornadoes, projectiles, temperature extremes, and other unusual scenarios. The NRC requires the spent fuel to be cooled and stored in the spent fuel pool for at least five years before being transferred to dry casks.[66]Earthquake riskIn 2008, researchers from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory located a previously unknown active seismic zone running from Stamford, Connecticut, to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, New York—the intersection of the Stamford-Peekskill line with the well-known Ramapo Fault—which passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant.[67] The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast, but scientists dispute how active this roughly 200-million-year-old fault really is. Many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. Visible at ground level, the fault line likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.[68]In July 2013, Entergy engineers reassessed the risk of seismic damage to Unit 3 and submitted their findings in a report to the NRC. It was found that risk leading to reactor core damage is 1 in 106,000 reactor years using U.S. Geological Survey data; and 1 in 141,000 reactor years using Electric Power Research Institute data. Unit 3’s previous owner, the New York Power Authority, had conducted a more limited analysis in the 1990s than Unit 2’s previous owner, Con Edison, leading to the impression that Unit 3 had fewer seismic protections than Unit 2. Neither submission of data from the previous owners was incorrect.[69]According to a company spokesman, Indian Point was built to withstand an earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale.[70] Entergy executives have also noted “that Indian Point had been designed to withstand an earthquake much stronger than any on record in the region, though not one as powerful as the quake that rocked Japan.”[71]The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Indian Point was Reactor 2: 1 in 30,303; Reactor 3: 1 in 10,000, according to an NRC study published in August 2010. Msnbc.com reported based on the NRC data that “Indian Point nuclear reactor No. 3 has the highest risk of earthquake damage in the country, according to new NRC risk estimates provided to msnbc.com.” According to the report, the reason is that plants in known earthquake zones like California were designed to be more quake-resistant than those in less affected areas like New York.[72][73] The NRC did not dispute the numbers but responded in a release that “The NRC results to date should not be interpreted as definitive estimates of seismic risk,” because the NRC does not rank plants by seismic risk.[74]IPEC Units 2 and 3 both operated at 100% full power before, during, and after the Virginia earthquake on August 23, 2011. A thorough inspection of both units by plant personnel immediately following this event verified no significant damage occurred at either unit.Emergency planningThe Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.[75]According to an analysis of U.S. Census data for MSNBC, the 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Indian Point was 272,539, an increase of 17.6 percent during the previous ten years. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 17,220,895, an increase of 5.1 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include New York (41 miles to city center); Bridgeport, Conn. (40 miles); Newark, N.J. (39 miles); and Stamford, Conn. (24 miles).[76]In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima incident in Japan, the State Department recommended that any Americans in Japan stay beyond fifty miles from the area.[citation needed] Columnist Peter Applebome, writing in The New York Times, noted that such an area around Indian Point would include “almost all of New York City except for Staten Island; almost all of Nassau County and much of Suffolk County; all of Bergen County, N.J.; all of Fairfield, Conn.” He quotes Purdue University professor Daniel Aldrich as saying “Many scholars have already argued that any evacuation plans shouldn’t be called plans, but rather “fantasy documents””.[42]The current 10-mile plume-exposure pathway Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) is one of two EPZs intended to facilitate a strategy for protective action during an emergency and comply with NRC regulations. “The exact size and shape of each EPZ is a result of detailed planning which includes consideration of the specific conditions at each site, unique geographical features of the area, and demographic information. This preplanned strategy for an EPZ provides a substantial basis to support activity beyond the planning zone in the extremely unlikely event it would be needed.”[77]In an interview, Entergy executives said they doubt that the evacuation zone would be expanded to reach as far as New York City.[71]Indian Point is protected by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including a National Guard base within a mile of the facility, as well as by private off-site security forces.[78]During the September 11 attacks, American Airlines Flight 11 flew near the Indian Point Energy Center en route to the World Trade Center. Mohamed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers/plotters, had considered nuclear facilities for targeting in a terrorist attack.[79] Entergy says it is prepared for a terrorist attack, and asserts that a large airliner crash into the containment building would not cause reactor damage.[80] Following 9/11 the NRC required operators of nuclear facilities in the U.S. to examine the effects of terrorist events and provide planned responses.[81] In September 2006, the Indian Point Security Department successfully completed mock assault exercises required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.[citation needed] However, according to environmental group Riverkeeper, these NRC exercises are inadequate because they do not envision a sufficiently large group of attackers.[citation needed]According to The New York Times, fuel stored in dry casks is less vulnerable to terrorist attack than fuel in the storage pools.[65]RecertificationUnits 2 and 3 were both originally licensed by the NRC for 40 years of operation. The NRC limits commercial power reactor licenses to an initial 40 years, but also permits such licenses to be renewed. This original 40-year term for reactor licenses was based on economic and antitrust considerations, not on limitations of nuclear technology. Due to this selected period, however, some structures and components may have been engineered on the basis of an expected 40-year service life.[82] The original federal license for Unit Two expired on September 28, 2013,[83][84] and the license for Unit Three was due to expire in December 2015.[85] On April 30, 2007, Entergy submitted an application for a 20-year renewal of the licenses for both units. On May 2, 2007, the NRC announced that this application is available for public review.[86] Because the owner submitted license renewal applications at least five years prior to the original expiration date, the units are allowed to continue operation past this date while the NRC considers the renewal application.On September 23, 2007, the antinuclear group Friends United for Sustainable Energy (FUSE) filed legal papers with the NRC opposing the relicensing of the Indian Point 2 reactor. The group contended that the NRC improperly held Indian Point to less stringent design requirements. The NRC responded that the newer requirements were put in place after the plant was complete.[87]On December 1, 2007, Westchester County Executive Andrew J. Spano, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer called a press conference with the participation of environmental advocacy groups Clearwater and Riverkeeper to announce their united opposition to the re-licensing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of the Attorney General requested a hearing as part of the process put forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.[citation needed] In September 2007 The New York Times reported on the rigorous legal opposition Entergy faces in its request for a 20-year licensing extension for Indian Point Nuclear Reactor 2.[87]A water quality certificate is a prerequisite for a twenty-year renewal by the NRC.[citation needed] On April 3, 2010, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ruled that Indian Point violates the federal Clean Water Act,[88] because “the power plant’s water-intake system kills nearly a billion aquatic organisms a year, including the shortnose sturgeon, an endangered species.”[citation needed] The state is demanding that Entergy constructs new closed-cycle cooling towers at a cost of over $1 billion, a decision that will effectively close the plant for nearly a year. Regulators denied Entergy’s request to install fish screens that they said would improve fish mortality more than new cooling towers. Anti-nuclear groups and environmentalists have in the past tried to close the plant,[citation needed] which is in a more densely populated area than any of the 66 other nuclear plant sites in the US.[citation needed] Opposition to the plant[from whom?] increased after the September 2001 terror attacks,[citation needed] when one of the hijacked jets flew close to the plant on its way to the World Trade Center.[citation needed] Public worries also increased after the 2011 Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and after a report highlighting the Indian Point plant’s proximity to the Ramapo Fault.[citation needed]Advocates of recertifying Indian Point include former New York City mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph W. Giuliani. Bloomberg says that “Indian Point is critical to the city’s economic viability”.[89] The New York Independent System Operator maintains that in the absence of Indian Point, grid voltages would degrade, which would limit the ability to transfer power from upstate New York resources through the Hudson Valley to New York City.[90]As the current governor, Andrew Cuomo continues to call for closure of Indian Point.[91] In late June 2011, a Cuomo advisor in a meeting with Entergy executives informed them for the first time directly of the Governor’s intention to close the plant, while the legislature approved a bill to streamline the process of siting replacement plants.[92]Nuclear energy industry figures and analysts responded to Cuomo’s initiative by questioning whether replacement electrical plants could be certified and built rapidly enough to replace Indian Point, given New York state’s “cumbersome regulation process”, and also noted that replacement power from out of state sources will be hard to obtain because New York has weak ties to generation capacity in other states.[citation needed] They said that possible consequences of closure will be a sharp increase in the cost of electricity for downstate users and even “rotating black-outs”.[93]Several members of the House of Representatives representing districts near the plant have also opposed recertification, including Democrats Nita Lowey, Maurice Hinchey, and Eliot Engel and then Republican member Sue Kelly.[94]In November 2016 the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the application to renew the NRC operating licences must be reviewed against the state’s coastal management program, which The New York State Department of State had already decided was inconsistent with coastal management requirements. Entergy has filed a lawsuit regarding the validity of Department of State’s decision.[95]ClosureBeginning at the end of 2015, Governor Cuomo began to ramp up political action against the Indian Point facility, opening investigations with the state public utility commission, the department of health and the department of environmental conservation.[33][34][35][30][36][37] To put the public service commission investigation in perspective, most electric outage investigations conducted by the commission are in response to outages with a known number of affected retail electric customers.[38] By November 17, 2017, the NYISO accepted Indian Point’s retirement notice.[39]In January 2017, the governor’s office announced closure by 2020-21.[96] The closure, along with pollution control, challenges New York’s ability to be supplied.[citation needed] Among the solution proposals are storage, renewables (solar and wind), a new transmission cables from Canada [97][98] and a 650MW natural gas plant located in Wawayanda, New York.[99] There was also a 1,000 MW merchant HVDC transmission line proposed in 2013 to the public service commission that would have interconnected at Athens, New York and Buchanan, New York, however this project was indefinitely stalled when its proposed southern converter station site was bought by the Town of Cortlandt in a land auction administered by Con Edison.[100][101][102] As of October 1, 2018, the 650 MW plant built in Wawayanda, New York, by CPV Valley, is operating commercially.[103] The CPV Valley plant has been associated with Governor Cuomo’s close aid, Joe Percoco, and the associated corruption trial.[104] Another plant being built, Cricket Valley Energy Center, rated at 1,100 MW, is on schedule to provide energy by 2020 in Dover, New York.[105] An Indian Point contingency plan, initiated in 2012 by the NYSPSC under the administration of Cuomo, solicited energy solutions from which a Transmission Owner Transmission Solutions (TOTS) plan was selected. The TOTS projects provide 450 MW[106] of additional transfer capability across a NYISO defined electric transmission corridor in the form of three projects: series compensation at a station in Marcy, New York, reconductoring a transmission line, adding an additional transmission line, and “unbottling” Staten Island capacity. These projects, with the exception of part of the Staten Island “unbottling” were in service by mid-2016. The cost of the TOTS projects are distributed among various utilities in their rate cases before the public service commission and the cost allocation amongst themselves was approved by FERC. NYPA and LIPA are also receiving a portion. The cost of the TOTS projects has been estimated in the range of $27 million to $228 million.[107][108][109][110][111] An energy highway initiative was also prompted by this order (generally speaking, additional lines on the Edic-Pleasant Valley and the Oakdale-Fraser transmission corridors) which is still going through the regulatory process in both the NYISO and NYSPSC.Under the current plan, one reactor is scheduled to be shut down in April 2020 and the second by April 2021.[112] A report by the New York Building Congress, a construction industry association, has said that NYC will need additional natural gas pipelines to accommodate the city’s increasing demand for energy. Environmentalists have argued that the power provided by Indian point can be replaced by renewable energy, combined with conservation measures and improvements to the efficiency of the electrical grid.[113]

The winds of God‘s wrath prepares to pound Florida: Jeremiah 23

Hurricane center expects system east of Florida to gain subtropical traits later this week

By JOE MARIO PEDERSEN

ORLANDO SENTINEL

NOV 25, 2020 AT 3:42 PM

Despite the near end of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center is staying vigilant in monitoring a low-pressure area with odds of becoming the 31st named storm of the year toward the end of the week.

The end of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season is just six days away but one more name could be added to the record-setting list as the National Hurricane Center increases the odds for the development of a system just east of Florida.

A broad area of low pressure is several hundred miles east-southeast of Bermuda and is shedding off disorganized showers, along with gale-force winds, to the east of its center, the NHC said in its 1 p.m. update.

The system has a 10% chance of becoming a tropical depression or a tropical storm in the next two days, but the NHC decreased its five-day forecast to a 20% chance of developing. The low’s odds remain minimum due to strong upper-level winds limiting the development of the system Monday.

Babylon the Great Fruitlessly Threatens the Iranian Nuclear Horn

B-52 Bombers Just Sent A Warning To Iran: Don’t Build Nuclear Weapons

Michael Peck10:38am EST

Aerospace & Defense

I cover defense issues and military technology.

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress taking-off with [+]

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Why did two U.S. B-52 bombers fly from North Dakota to the Persian Gulf last weekend?

Most likely, it was a warning to Iran: don’t build nuclear weapons and don’t attack U.S. troops.

But will Iran listen?

The two B-52H bombers belonging to the U.S. Air Force’s 5th Bomb Wing took off from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, on November 21st. They were quickly detected by aircraft spotter enthusiasts who used the aircrafts’ Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transponders to track their movements.

The bombers, call signs Warbird1 and Warbird 2, were tracked crossing the Atlantic, flying past Gibraltar to the Eastern Mediterranean, then passing over central Israel north of Jerusalem, according to the Aircraft Spots site on Twitter. Tracking was lost as the aircraft crossed into Jordanian airspace and then continued on to the Persian Gulf, before being re-detected on the return flight over the Atlantic west of Spain. With the Persian Gulf more than 7,000 miles from North Dakota, the non-stop flight meant the B-52s – originally designed as intercontinental bombers in the 1950s – were in the air at least 24 hours.

A press release by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which covers the Middle East, said the “short-notice, long-range mission” was intended to “deter aggression and reassure U.S. partners and allies.”

“The non-stop mission demonstrates the U.S. military’s ability to deploy combat airpower anywhere in the world on short notice and integrate into CENTCOM operations to help preserve regional stability and security,” CENTCOM said. What the bombers actually did during the mission, and what their armament was, is unclear: the CENTCOM announcement merely noted that the B-52s worked with Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) air operations centers, F-15E and F-16 warplanes, and KC-10 and KC-135 tankers.

Interestingly, the final sentence in the CENTCOM press release blandly stated that the “last U.S. long-range bomber presence in the Middle East was in early 2020.” While the Air Force periodically dispatches long-range Bomber Task Force missions as show-the-flag operations, the question is why fly heavy bombers – and fly them so publicly — on Iran’s border now?

The answer almost certainly is that the B-52s were intended as a warning to Iran. Last week, the New York Times reported that President Trump had asked his advisers for options regarding U.S. strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. Trump’s query reportedly came after the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that Iran has increased its stockpile of nuclear material in the wake of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from a multinational nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama White House. Meanwhile, on November 17, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq fired rockets that landed near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

It appears less than coincidental that the B-52 flew over Israel and Jordan – two key American allies in the Middle East – before continuing to the Persian Gulf and Iran’s border. “Although B-52s can be tracked online quite often, the fact that the WARBIRD 1 and 2 flights were visible on the most popular flight tracking websites seems to prove the mission was a clear show of force against Iran,” noted the Aviationist Web site.

However, the question remains: what exactly will the B-52 flights accomplish? The U.S. already maintains considerable forces near Iran’s borders, which have included Air Force F-15s based in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, one or two Navy aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, as well as Marine amphibious units and various special forces. U.S. troops also operate in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Despite all this military might, and the crippling economic effects of U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, Iran continues to expand its nuclear program and to develop other weapons, such as ballistic missiles. A few B-52s won’t change that equation, even if armed with nuclear weapons that at best would be perceived as nothing more than a colossal bluff.

Why the Saudi Arabian nuclear horn will be an ally: Daniel 7

Why the reported Israeli-Saudi meeting is such a big deal

Henry Olsen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, gives a statement in Jerusalem on Thursday. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, addresses the G-20 summit in Riyadh on Sunday. (Maya Alleruzzo/AFP, Getty Images)

The enmity between the Jewish state and the Arab Islamic world is long and deep. Israel fought four wars with its neighbors between 1948 and 1973, and has engaged in continuing conflict with many Arab states ever since. Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations had participated in some of those wars, bankrolled Palestinian terrorist groups and refused to diplomatically recognize Israel. Even as Israel made peace with Egypt and Jordan, Saudi Arabia and its allies continued to consider peace with any Israeli government as unacceptable.

That has changed for the oldest of diplomatic reasons: self-interest. The Iranian regime views both Israel and the Sunni gulf kingdoms as illegitimate and has worked tirelessly to bring them down. Tehran also funds terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, and rebel groups such as those in Yemen, to put military pressure on Saudi Arabia and Israel. This alone brings these two together.

Iran’s attempt to bring Iraq fully under its sway particularly presents threats to the Saudis and the gulf kingdoms. Iraq shares extensive borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. If Iranian-backed troops were ever stationed in the Shiite regions in southern Iraq, they could easily launch an invasion at a moment’s notice. Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, which is directly south of Kuwait, holds much of the kingdom’s oil wealth and Shiite population, and the oil-rich gulf kingdoms also all border the Eastern Province. It is crucial to Saudi and the gulf kingdoms’ security that Iranian forces be kept as far away as possible.

It is against this backdrop that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon must be understood. Were Iran ever to obtain such a weapon, its ballistic missile technology would put Israel and the Arabs alike at risk of nuclear blackmail. That in turn amplifies the conventional military power of Iran and its proxies. The Islamic republic could launch invasions or incursions as it pleases, secure in the knowledge that its nuclear weapons would deter serious retaliation.

Changes in U.S. policy during the Obama administration sent shock waves into the region. Both Israel, which is believed to possess its own nuclear deterrent, and the Arab kingdoms had long relied on the United States to protect them against Iranian subversion. The Iran nuclear agreement clearly called that implicit guarantee into question. For the Israelis, it meant that they could no longer be sure that U.S. troops would be deployed to assist them in a crisis. For the gulf kingdoms, it meant they needed a firm, nuclear-armed ally whose commitment to opposing Iran was unquestioned.

The recent dramatic changes in Arab policy toward Israel make sense when viewed in this light. For Israel, an alliance with the Arab gulf powers provides military might that could be deployed on its behalf in the event of a mutual threat. It also provides, in theory, geographic proximity to Iran to launch any secret incursions that U.S. ships or bases might currently provide. For the Arabs, it ensures that a nuclear-armed power stands behind them should Iran ever obtain a weapon, and establishes a connection with Israel’s vaunted intelligence agencies. A de facto alliance would also reduce dependence on the United States and its domestic political whims, replacing U.S. mediation with direct ties between the nations’ security apparatuses. Abandoning the Palestinians in the face of such concrete advantages is, if artfully done, obviously in the security interest of the Saudis and gulf kingdoms.

The national security appointments President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday are not likely to give either side more comfort. John F. Kerry, who will serve as Biden’s climate envoy, was secretary of state when the Iranian nuclear accord was signed, and was part of the Obama administration’s not-so-subtle opposition to Netanyahu in the 2015 Israeli election. The incoming director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, signed a letter calling on the Democratic Party to revise its draft 2020 platform language on Israel to make it more vocally opposed to Netanyahu’s stated goals regarding the West Bank and Palestinian statehood.

Israel and the Arab kingdoms know that Iran means to destroy them. As writer Samuel Johnson once put it, impending death “concentrates [the] mind wonderfully.” The Biden administration is likely to find that this alliance of strange bedfellows will force its Middle East policy to look much more like the Trump administration’s than any of them currently imagine.