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Mnuchin: Debt-Limit Should Be Tied To Harvey Disaster Funds

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After warning earlier this week that the Hurricane Harvey cleanup effort would drain the government’s coffers more quickly than expected – meaning that Congress would need to pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling ASAP – Treasury Secre…

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What is Fort Galt? Interview With Founder Gabriel Scheare

September 3, 2017 TDB 0

Via The Daily Bell

Gabriel Scheare began mining Bitcoin in 2013 and then moved into real estate development a year later by co-founding Fort Galt, a new start-up village for entrepreneurs. He lives in Valdivia, Chile, near the project build site.

Listen to the full audio here, or read below for the slightly abbreviated transcript.

So What is Fort Galt?

Fort Galt is a startup village for entrepreneurs. So it’s not that unlike other gated communities, or homeowner’s associations, except that it’s very intentional in its design, and who it’s catering to.

It sort of came to being when I met my business partners, Luke and Lourdes Crowley at an entrepreneurship boot camp called exosphere. And that was a three-month program where a whole bunch of people gathered together in Chile from all over the world with business ideas and basically just trying to figure out what they wanted to do with themselves.

Some people had some good ideas, some not so much, but it was this great sort of an incubator type environment where there was a whole lot of cross pollination going on because everyone was living in close quarters, working in close quarters so ideas flowed very freely…

And so we really loved this environment… but it was very limited time wise, after the three months everyone went back to their home countries and fell back into their old habits. A lot of the business ideas never panned out and people just kind of let things fall apart.

But we got to thinking, what if we could solve that shortcoming at the end of the pipeline there. What if we could provide housing options, some kind of residential option for this where people wouldn’t have to go home after three months, where they could stay and keep working as long as they needed to.

We eventually got together… and we started basically asking ourselves what would our perfect community look like? Where do we want to live? How can we incorporate this theme into some sort of a permanent living environment?

And that was essentially three years ago and it has been sort of this slow step by step process of figuring everything out from absolutely nothing to where we are right now. Which is this gorgeous coast property in Valdivia rainforest. And we are essentially ready to pour concrete now once the weather clears up.

Did you all have this same Atlas Shrugged idea? Are you all big fans of Ayn Rand, or all pretty libertarian?

We all kind of have that background in common. It’s not a prerequisite for people moving in though. A lot of the people that we met at exosphere were very much not libertarians in their speech in what they professed. But what we found was that if you expatriate from your home country and you’re an entrepreneur… and go your own way and carve out your own way and make your own life–you’re pretty libertarian.

…So we did meet some of those, and some of those types of people even ended up joining us in the end. It was kind of reassuring that way and we have sort of incorporated that lesson in our own marketing and design. We don’t try to make it sound like we are only appealing to hardcore Objectivists. If you’re responsible for your own outcomes, if you’re a self-motivated self-reliant type person then you’re most of the way there.

It sounds like it’s more for young entrepreneurs and a lot of people that move there would have to be more location independent, is that correct?

That was the idea, and we incorporated in the design of our first main residential building, a handful of these small entry level affordable rooms with those types of people in mind. But we also found that we were appealing to a lot of other types that we didn’t count on.

A lot of retirees that are looking for an interesting environment to live in and interesting people to work around and a lot of ex-military people for some reason. They kind of go through this phase where they kind start to reevaluate their life choices and start planning an exit strategy and we tend to pop up on their radar.

How do you feel about the military people, is there a little piece of you that’s like, oh good, now we have this tight knit community that can defend itself?

The more talent we have the better. I kind of adhere to this concept of keeping the community small enough where you can actually know everyone very well. That’s the context I grew up in, in a small farming community. You didn’t have very many neighbors but you made the effort to get to know them very well because you knew you would have to lean on them sometimes.

It was kind of anarchism in practice just by default because there were no cops around. There was this one summer where we had all these straw bales that caught fire and the whole farm could have burnt down but the neighbors saw the smoke and they all came and put the fire out. Not the fire department the neighbors. So we are carrying that philosophy into this context. We want basically an environment populated your ideal neighbors.

Could this be a curation space for investors, with the young entrepreneurs living alongside older experienced retirees?

Absolutely, and that is one of the things that attracted me to Chile in the first place. There was this other project that was promising a very similar environment where you would have the young nimble start-up kids co-mingling with the older retiree people who have more experience to share, could be valuable mentors, maybe some investors with capital to share… so yea we are definitely working that angle.

How much of a town do you think you’ll be able to make it?

I’m a big believer Dunbar’s number which says once you get over 100 people it gets really hard to actually know them. So somewhere near 100-150 people, I would think would be kinda the max.

What will happen if there is overwhelming demand for this? Would you start another next door? Or say tough luck?

We just have to listen to the market on that. If there is a waiting list of people that want to live in the same general location, then we have to find another property close by…

But for me, the long term plan is to replicate this all over the world, using the Freemason concept of having a lodge in each town so people can travel freely and work easily and integrate into new places as they are traveling. So eventually we can network all these locations together to be a sort of decentralized nation that’s not dependent on any one physical country.

The fact that it’s on the coast, is that more than aesthetic? Or is there something there?

Ha! You’re thinking ahead. You can’t really look at the beach and not envision building some kind of a port there. It doesn’t have to be anything enormous but some kind of a dock or something at some point will definitely be considered. We do have members that have boats and it would be convenient for them. And of course, we are all big fans of seasteading so we would love to participate in that…

I’ve heard you say in the past, the reason you’re channeling Ayn Rand is that [the inhabitants of Galt’s Gulch] weren’t just going off on their own, they were going to Galt’s Gulch to live amongst these other producers. How can you make sure the people moving here are that type of person? Is there a curation process? 

Yes, we do vet people before we let them join. normally that just involves getting to know them a bit through conversations. And we have a lot of people that like to come down and actually visit the site see it for themselves. We have had to turn a few people away but not very many…

Right now all the big decisions are made by the founding partners, just by default, because we are the ones that are actually here doing stuff. As things come together and people move in on site and the population blossoms it will be up to the members to decide whether or not they like our service…

So people will own their own lots?

Yes. If you look on the website there’s a map showing the lots and you can buy any of those right now. We aren’t actively pushing them yet because we decided to focus on marketing the main building first because that’s kinda the reason for people to be here.

I mean unless you just love living on the coast in a gorgeous rainforest, which I mean I would. But that’s not enough of a reason to really justify leaving your life behind and moving to Chile and taking a huge leap like that. But once the crown jewel is in place then we think that will serve as a sufficient magnet to really attract people to come and buy lots…

In the main building in order to avoid all the SEC regulations and crap like that, we came up with a clever system kind of based again on the Freemason model of a private club. There’s a lot of loopholes around rules and things like that there, so what it is you’re are buying a membership into the clubhouse.

So you are not buying property which the SEC would regulate. We don’t have to worry about our US clients or anything like that because they aren’t buying land they aren’t buying any kind of asset. They are buying a membership which entitles them to exclusive use of their room. And it’s transferable, they can pass it on to their heirs, they can sell it. In practice, it is as if they bought the property. But legally speaking it is just a club membership.

And dispute resolution?

The first step is just resolve your own problems, come on, we’re all frickin grown-ups, act like them. But if that fails people agree to a third party arbitrator…

It’s just sort of a case by case thing, but there are steps in our policy to handle these things…

We’re definitely not like that stereotypical homeowner’s association that runs around measuring blades of grass.

Who’s gonna build the roads?

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads. Seriously though, we do have these little paths throughout the village. How they want them built up, will be up to them, the members that is.

Right now they’re just tramped down dirt, they are fine for most cars. But if they want gravel they can have gravel if they want pavement that’s fine, if they want solid platinum, I guess that’s possible. It’s all comes down to how much do they want to pay for.

I once lived at a homeowners association in California that was built around of a golf course, and everyone resented that gold course because it was just a money pit. There was no avoiding having to pay for it so I definitely learned my lessons from that and we are not imposing costs on the members that they don’t want. It is just going to be up to them, how much service do they want, how much infrastructure do they want, and are willing to pay for.

What part of the project are you most focused on right now, where’s all your time and energy going?

… I started this new little project called the Crypt Academy which is essentially a one room schoolhouse. The idea being that we will offer free educational courses for the locals… to promote cryptocurrency use. Because here in South America it is still one of those crazy nerd things that doesn’t make any sense and is scary and stuff. We just need a physical interface to help people get comfortable to help people use it and try it.

The idea of the one room schoolhouse goes back to where I grew up. My grandparents went to one and that was very common back then where you’d have the older kids in school mixed in with the young kids so they could help them and then the young kids had fresh perspectives on things and they can help each other.

It’s just this melting pot of not just talent but also enthusiasm too because sometimes you can get burnt out. And sometimes the teacher needs help too like managing a bunch of kids is hard sometimes. We know this is a village where kids will be growing up so thinking ahead and having a facility like that in place will be useful. We can use it not just for putting on workshops but also for our own children to go to school in.

It almost sounds like this is an alternative to college?

Our experience at exosphere made [it] painfully clear. College and university or whatever is obsolete. That model is completely useless now, it looks like a joke. So we need to rethink this, and that doesn’t necessarily always mean making things more high tech more advances and weird.

Sometimes you can look to the past for inspiration too. And basically, with this one room school house that’s the point because we are teaching cutting edge scary tech stuff were balancing that out by doing it in a more comfortable old fashioned environment to help people feel comfortable through the process…

How can readers keep up with what you’re doing?

If you want to keep tabs on what we’re doing, we do have a mailing list for the newsletter at FortGalt.com.

[We’re] gearing up to do fundraising for the construction of crypt academy, so the fundraising will be going through September… and you can keep track of that at cryptacademy.com.

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“We’ll See” Trump Responds Asked If He’ll Attack N.Korea, May Halt Trade With Any Country Doing Business With Kim

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After President Trump condemned North Korea’s “hostile and dangerous” actions this morning, hours after the rogue state’s 6th nuclear test, and according to the Kim regime first test of a hydrogen bomb, the press wanted to know one thing: will the US attack North Korea? “We’ll see,” Trump responded, leaving church when a press pooler shouted a question about if he plans to attack North Korea. Earlier, commenting on Twitter, Trump called the country “a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success”, although that statement too failed to provide clarity into what the next tactical step could be.

As reported shortly after midnight ET, the latest North Korean provocation reinforced the danger facing America, Trump had said earlier in a series of tweets, adding that “talk of appeasement” is pointless. “They only understand one thing!” Trump wrote, without elaboration, as he prepared to meet later with his national security team. It was the first nuclear test since Trump took office in January.

The precise strength of the explosion, described by state-controlled media in North Korea as a hydrogen bomb, has yet to be determined. According to the AP, South Korea’s weather agency said the artificial earthquake caused by the explosion was five times to six times stronger than tremors generated by the North’s previous five such tests. The impact reportedly shook buildings in China and in Russia.

And while Trump decides to what the proper course of action is, his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was busy calling counterparts in Asia, while Steven Mnuchin, said he was putting together proposed new sanctions for Trump to consider that would seek to cut off trade with North Korea, although as we said earlier, it’s unclear what kind of penalties might make a difference. Lassina Zerbo, head of the U.N. test ban treaty organization agreed, saying that sanctions already imposed against North Korea aren’t working.

Last month, Trump warned that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely” and that the U.S. would unleash “fire and fury” on the North if it continued to threaten America. The bellicose words followed threats from North Korea to launch ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, intending to create “enveloping fire” near the military hub that’s home to U.S. bombers. So far, Kim has called Trump’s bluff every single time, without any retaliation besides just more jawboning by the US president, which considering a direct response by N. Korea to a US attack could result in millions of dead South Koreans, is probably not the worst outcome.

Meanwhile, as Trump lashed out at North Korea on twitter this morning, while China remains by far the North’s biggest trading partner, Trump appeared to be more critical of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has attempted to reach out to the North. To that point, the WSJ reported yesterday that the White House was weighing withdrawing from a five-year-old bilateral trade pact known as KORUS, with a decision set to come as soon as this coming week, according to people familiar with the matter

“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” Trump said.

Shortly after noon ET, Trump underscored the threat of trade war involving both South Korea and China, when he tweeted “The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.”

The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017

He also said that he will be meeting “General Kelly, General Mattis and other military leaders at the White House to discuss North Korea. Thank you.”

I will be meeting General Kelly, General Mattis and other military leaders at the White House to discuss North Korea. Thank you.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017

Meanwhile, China’s Xinhua News Agency said President Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, meeting on the sidelines of a Beijing-led economic summit, agreed “to adhere to the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, have close communication and coordination and properly respond” to the test.

While leaders of superpowers were moving slowly, regional concerns were at breaking point: South Korea held a National Security Council meeting chaired by Moon. Officials in Seoul said Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, spoke with his South Korean counterpart for 20 minutes about an hour after the detonation. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the test “absolutely unacceptable.”

Nuclear tests are crucial to perfecting sophisticated technologies and to demonstrating to the world that claims of nuclear prowess are not merely a bluff. The North claimed the device it tested was a thermonuclear weapon, also known as a hydrogen bomb. That could be hard to independently confirm. It said the underground test site did not leak radioactive materials, which would make such a determination even harder.

At the same time, the simple power of the blast was convincing. Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said it might have been as powerful as 70 kilotons. North Korea’s previous largest was thought to be anywhere from 10 to 30 kilotons. “We cannot deny it was an H-bomb test,” Onodera said.

Even before this morning’s H-bomb test, the AP reported that Japan was debating whether to develop a limited pre-emptive strike capability and buy cruise missiles, ideas that were anathema in the pacifist country before the North Korea missile threat. With revisions to Japan’s defense plans underway, ruling party hawks are accelerating the moves, and some defense experts say Japan should at least consider them.

After being on the backburner in the ruling party for decades, a possibility of pre-emptive strike was formally proposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by his party’s missile defense panel in March, prompting parliamentary debate, though somewhat lost steam as Abe apparently avoided the divisive topic after seeing support ratings for his scandal-laden government plunge.

 

“Should we possess pre-emptive strike capability?” liberal-leaning Mainichi newspaper asked the following day. “But isn’t it too reckless to jump to discuss a ‘get them before they get you’ approach?”

Following the latest, most powerful nuclear test, Japan’s resolve for a preemptive strike will only strengthen further.

Meanwhile, more is likely to come from North Korea.  Just before Sunday’s test, according to state media, Kim and the other senior leaders at the party presidium meeting discussed “detailed ways and measures for containing the U.S. and other hostile forces’ vicious moves for sanctions.” The photos released earlier showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a silver, peanut-shaped device that the state-run media said was designed to be mounted on the North’s “Hwasong-14” ICBM. The North claims the device was made domestically and has explosive power that can range from tens to hundreds of kilotons. For context, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the U.S. had a 15-kiloton yield.

Of course, the biggest concern to date is that not only are options to pressure Pyongyang limited, but the Kim regime seems to be growing more bold with every unanswered provocation. Further economic and trade sanctions, increased diplomatic pressure and boosting military maneuvers or shows of force would likely all be on the table. Which is why we expect that following today’s meeting between Trump and Kelly, General and “other military leaders”, the sequence of events involing US military intervention in North Korea will finally start to move.

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A Word To The Wise – “You’re A Mercenary If…”

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The Burning Platform’s Jim Quinn notes that:

I have no idea if Major General Higginbotham actually penned this or not but it is a stark warning, one that I have maintained for years, that a civil war in North America (if it happens in the USA it will take Mexico and Canada along for the ride) will not be as cut and dry and as some folks would like.

 

There are no definable sides to our current predicament, no political organization to speak of, and as such a wide spread conflict would become chaos in short order. The continent would get very tribal very quickly. Political ideologues proceed with caution.

 

You won’t like what you are about to read.

Via Kunckledraggin.com,

“If you are paid $25.00 an hour to show up to a rally to “counter” the other party using physical force and violence, you are not a “counter protestor.” You are a mercenary.

There is no need for further debate on this. You were paid to attack someone you don’t know for reasons that you couldn’t care enough about to go there for free. You did your “job” and collected your check and your reimbursement of expenses. You’re a mercenary.

Not a Patriot. Not a Social Justice Warrior. Not a Defender of Freedom or Liberty. Not an upholder of Truth or Justice. None of those things you claim to be. You are a mercenary.

And mercenaries are not lawful combatants and deserve whatever comes their way at the hands of the people they are attacking.

You have no 1st Amendment rights when you’re a mercenary.

Doesn’t matter what side you’re on. Doesn’t matter what cause you’re showing up to disrupt. If you can’t express yourself peacefully through diplomatic means, then you better be prepared to meet your maker at the hands of someone who is only barely keeping their own violent tendencies at bay through a massive exercise of self-control.

I know it sounds romantic to attend these rallies and get shit started with the other side. And when you’re young and passionate, it’s really easy to get whipped up into a frenzy of raw emotions. There is a reason why young people are preferred when it comes to warfare. They are easy to manipulate and control and set off.

But I’m telling you all this right now. You’ve got no idea what road you are starting down. Romance and idealism wears off really fast when you’re laying in a pool of your own blood trying to stuff your intestines back into your torn abdomen.

I’ve been lucky enough to go forty-two years without having to put the skills I learned in the Marines to use. I continue to train and keep those skills up to date because I see the madness that is happening all across this country. I don’t train to attack others like you do. I train to defend others FROM you. I’m not alone either.

There are thousands of men and women in this country who have seen war and death and don’t want any more to do with it. They want to live in peace. They want to forget the things they’ve had to do in the service of their country. They want to raise their kids and have family BBQs and build tree houses and soap box derby cars and have tea parties.

They don’t want this shit that you’re selling.

You have the extremist left and the extremist right that are doing their best to get something started. To force us into a Civil War. Even in the 1860’s, the violence between the North and South was nowhere near what we see today. Nowhere. Even. Close.

And yet we still had a war of ideology that consumed hundreds of thousands of lives.

All you young and naive kids on both sides of this equation who think that having a Civil War will advance your agenda or restore your vision of what you think is America, just remember this… Those of us older generations aren’t having any of this shit. And if you jump off, you better be prepared to deal with US. We don’t care what color you’re wearing or what sign you’re holding if you come after us, our friends, our family, our co-workers, our neighbors, etc., WE will kill you.

So remember that when you’re thinking that it’s just Left vs Right, or Liberal vs Conservative, or Commie vs. Fascist. We are the variable you’re not considering.

That “Silent Majority” that you pretend does not exist is getting really sick and tired of your bullshit.

Geoffrey B. Higginbotham
Major General, USMC (Ret.)
-SS

 

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A “Super-Powerful” EMP Attack: North Korea’s Newest Weapon Against The U.S.

September 3, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The dynamics of the standoff between the US and North Korea have shifted dramatically in the past week.

First, the North started with an unexpectedly sharp provocation – launching a missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido – before following that up with its sixth nuclear test. Also, judging by the size the earthquake detected in the country’s mountainous North on Sunday morning, North Korea may have been telling the truth when it said it conducted what it described as its first hydrogen bomb test.

And while the North bragged about the weapon’s “great destructive power” in a TV broadcast, what caught analysts’ attention was a mention of a different tactic: detonating  an H-bomb at high altitude to create an electromagnetic pulse that could knock out parts of the US electrical grid.

Here’s WSJ:

“North Korea’s threats against the U.S. now include a tactic long discussed by some experts: an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, triggered by a nuclear weapon that would aim to shut down the U.S. electricity grid.

 

North Korea’s state news agency made a rare reference to the tactic in a Sunday morning release in which the country said it was able to load a hydrogen bomb onto a long-range missile. The bomb, North Korea said, ‘is a multifunctional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP attack.’”

Unlike a conventional nuke, an EMP blast – think Oceans’ 11 – is not directly lethal, and serves mostly to knock out key infrastructure (useful when robbing a casino).

However, it would probably lead to an unknown number of indirect deaths as hospitals and essential infrastructure lose power.

“The idea of an EMP attack is to detonate a nuclear weapon tens or hundreds of miles above the earth with the aim of knocking out power in much of the U.S. Unlike the U.S. atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, such a weapon wouldn’t directly destroy buildings or kill people. Instead, electromagnetic waves from the nuclear explosion would generate pulses to overwhelm the electric grid and electronic devices in the same way a lightning surge can destroy equipment.”

In the worst possible scenario, regional power grids could be offline for months, potentially costing many deaths as people would eventually start running out of necessities like food and medicine. Lawmakers and the US military have been aware of the EMP threat for many years, according to WSJ. IN a 2008 report commissioned by Congress, the authors warned that an EMP attack would lead to “widespread and long-lasting disruption and damage to the critical infrastructures that underpin the fabric of US society.”

In a report published last month, the Hill noted that the North could choose to carry out an EMP attack on Japan or South Korea as a more politically acceptable act of aggression. Such an attack could help the North accomplish its three most-important political goals, the Hill said.

“North Korea has nuclear-armed missiles and satellites potentially capable of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. EMP is considered by many the most politically acceptable use of a nuclear weapon, because the high-altitude detonation (above 30 kilometers) produces no blast, thermal, or radioactive fallout effects harmful to people.

 

EMP itself is harmless to people, destroying only electronics. But by destroying electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures, the indirect effects of EMP can kill far more people in the long-run than nuclear blasting a city. In this scenario, North Korea makes an EMP attack on Japan and South Korea to achieve its three most important foreign policy goals: reunification with South Korea, revenge upon Japan for World War II, and recognition of North Korea as a world power.”

Scientists first discovered a hydrogen bomb’s ancillary EMP capabilities after testing one in the Pacific in the early 1960s.

“When the U.S. tested a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific in 1962, it resulted in lights burning out in Honolulu, nearly 1,000 miles from the test site. Naturally occurring electromagnetic events on the sun can also disrupt power systems.

 

A 1989 blackout in Quebec that came days after powerful explosions on the sun expelled a cloud of charged particles that struck earth’s magnetic field.”

Some experts who spoke with WSJ said it would be impossible to guarantee success during an EMP attack, since the weapon would need to detonate with near perfect accuracy.

“Skeptics generally acknowledge that an EMP attack would be possible in theory, but they say the danger is exaggerated because it would be difficult for an enemy such as North Korea to calibrate the attack to deliver maximum damage to the U.S. electrical grid. If it a North Korean bomb exploded away from its target location, it might knock out only a few devices or parts of the grid.”

The North Korea said its hydrogen bomb had explosive power of tens of kilotons to hundreds of kilotons – so of course if it landed to close, or the attack was mishandled in other ways, what was meant to be an EMP attack would result in a nuclear strike. At least one expert said using an EMP attack would make little sense when the North could cause much more destruction with a nuclear ground attack.

“Others say that even if North Korea had the technical capability to deliver a damaging electromagnetic pulse, it wouldn’t make strategic sense to use it because Pyongyang could wreak more destruction with a traditional nuclear attack directed at a large city.

 

A rogue state would prefer a “spectacular and direct ground burst in preference to a unreliable and uncertain EMP strike. A weapon of mass destruction is preferable to a weapon of mass disruption,” wrote physicist Yousaf M. Butt in a 2010 analysis.”

Luckily, if US military authorities truly fear an attack, there are some long-term steps the US could take to minimize the effectiveness of an electromagnetic pulse attack. Defenses could be bolstered inexpensively by designing electrical-grid components to withstand sudden pulses, just as the grid already is protected against lightning strikes. The US could also build backup systems that could step in for the principal electrical grids in an emergency.

If the North’s latest nuclear test, conducted early Sunday, didn’t involve a hydrogen bomb, the weapon used was at least close to it according to US officials. It was the North’s first nuclear test since late last year, and also the first since tensions between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump began escalating shortly after his inauguration. China, Japan, South Korea and the US have already condemned the attack, with China and South Korea threatening to work with the Security Council to bring more onerous sanctions against the defiant North.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump in a series of tweets hinted that he was frustrated with diplomatic measures, which he referred to as “appeasement.” We imagine there are more than a few generals whispering in his ear about the potential success rate of a surgical strike.

* * *

Finally, here is a repost from July 2014, in which hedge fund legend Paul Singer, head of Elliott Management, said that “there is one risk that stands way above the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence” – an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).  Three years he may be proven correct.

From: “The “Most Significant Danger” According To Elliott’s Paul Singer

EMP: THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DANGER

 

While these pages are typically overflowing with scary or depressing scenarios, there is one risk that stands way above the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence. Even nuclear war is a relatively localized issue, except in its most extreme form. And the threat from asteroids can (possibly) be mitigated.

 

The risks associated with electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, represent another story entirely. It can occur naturally, from solar storms that send “coronal mass ejections,” which are massive energetic bursts of solar wind, tens of millions of miles in a mere few hours. Or it can be artificial, produced by a high-altitude (at least 15 miles) explosion of relatively low-yield (even Hiroshima-strength) nuclear weapons.

 

Different initiators of EMP have different pulses and different effects. But the bottom line is that EMP fries electronic devices, including parts of electric grids. In 1859, a particularly strong solar disturbance (the “Carrington Event”) caused disruption to the nascent telegraph network. It happened again with similar disruptions in 1921, before our modern power grid came into existence. A NASA study concluded these events have typically occurred around once per century. A repeat of the Carrington Event today would cause a massive disruption to the electric grid, possibly shutting it down entirely for months or longer, with unimaginable consequences.

 

Only two years ago, the sun let loose with a Carrington-magnitude burst, but the position of the earth at the time prevented the burst from hitting it. The chances of additional events of such magnitude may be far greater than most people think.

 

The artificial version of EMP, a kind of nuclear attack, would require between one and three high-altitude nuclear explosions to create its effect across all of North America. It would not cause any blast or radiation damage, but such an attack would have consequences even more catastrophic than a severe solar storm. It could not only bring down the grid, but also lay down a very intense, very fast pulse across the continent, damaging or destroying electronic switches, devices, computers and transformers across America.

 

There is no way to stop a naturally occurring EMP, and nuclear proliferation, combined with advances in weapons delivery systems, make the artificial version a distinct possibility, so the dangers are very real.

 

What can be done about this risk? Critical elements of the power grid and essential electronic devices can be hardened. Spare parts can be stockpiled for other, less critical hardware. Procedures can be developed as part of emergency preparedness so that the relevant government agencies and emergency response NGOs are ready to respond quickly and effectively to an episode large or small.

 

Why are we writing about EMP? Because in any analysis of societal risk, EMP stands all by itself. Congressional committees are studying this problem, and federal legislation is laboriously working its way through the process. We think that raising people’s consciousness about what should be an effort by both parties to make the country (and the world) safer from this kind of event is a good thing to do.

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Egypt authorities ban Sunday edition of pro-govt daily

September 3, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

The Egyptian authorities have banned publication of the Sunday edition of a pro-government newspaper for questioning the security apparatus’s failure to arrest a former government minister convicted of corruption. According to a statement released by private daily Al-Bawaba, publication of the paper’s Sunday edition was banned because it featured a news report on the failure of Egypt’s security apparatus to arrest Habib al-Adly, a former interior minister who served under autocratic President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak was forced to step down as president following an 18-day popular uprising in early 2011. After having played a central role in Mubarak’s repressive regime from 1997 to 2011, Al-Adly was slapped with a seven-year jail sentence in April — along with millions of dollars […]

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Musharraf says will face Bhutto murder trial in Pakistan

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
Author: 
AFP
Sun, 2017-09-03 17:22
ID: 
1504448860789517800

ISLAMABAD: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf said he would return to Pakistan to face trial in the murder case of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
A Pakistani court on Thursday pronounced Musharraf a fugitive in the murder trial but acquitted five men accused of involvement in the 2007 assassination of Bhutto, the first female prime minister of a Muslim country.
In a statement issued to the media Sunday, Musharraf said the verdict of the Rawalpindi Anti Terrorism Court was not against him.
“I will certainly come back to Pakistan and face the trial, as and when I am medically fit,” he said.
“I have been framed in the Benazir Bhutto murder case by way of political victimization, while I had nothing to do with her untimely and tragic death,” he said.
“I have not been the beneficiary of prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder and the entire case as pitched against me is materially false, fictitious, fabricated and is a result of political intrigue,” the former army chief said.
The anti-terrorism court branded Musharraf as an absconder and ordered the confiscation of his property.
The verdicts are the first to be issued since Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack nearly a decade ago, sparking street violence and plunging Pakistan into months of political turmoil.
Former president and military ruler Musharraf is alleged to have been part of a broad conspiracy to have his political rival killed before elections. He has denied the allegation.
He was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder, and facilitation for murder in 2013, in an unprecedented move against an ex-army chief, challenging beliefs the military is immune from prosecution.
But he has been in self-imposed exile in Dubai ever since a travel ban was lifted three years later.
Musharraf’s government blamed the assassination on Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement. He was killed in a US drone attack in 2009.
In 2010, the UN report accused Musharraf’s government of failing to give Bhutto adequate protection and said her death could have been prevented.

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