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TBR News January 16, 2020

Jan 16 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. January 16, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose

Commentary for January 16: “Trump’s obvious instability coupled with his frantic desire to be noticed has so alarmed the Pentagon that steps are being taken to prevent Trump from starting a major war. What these steps are is not clear but there is no question that Trump has gone too far this time and is now viewed the way Nero and Caligula were in Rome…dangerous to everyone and unstable in the extreme.
If Trump departs early from the Oval Office, there will be sincere mourning in fanatic Christian circles as well as in the Kremlin but they have no power to do more than mourn.
Trump has been of enormous assistance to Putin’s plans and the Christian far right has very little power other than to jump up and down and howl.”

Trump’s Approval/Disapproval rating January 15 reporting
Source   Approve    Disapprove
YouGov     39%           52%

The Table of Contents
• Germany confirms Trump made trade threat to Europe over Iran policy
• Croatian fisherman discovers suspicious orange cube that belongs to the US military
• Navy places order for 166,500 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sonobuoys in $219.8 million deal
• Fate of Nuclear Sub Base in Scotland Unclear after Brexit
• Iranian Missiles
• Russia’s Suspected Internet Cable Spy Ship Appears Off Americas
• The Season of Evil
• Encyclopedia of American Loons

Germany confirms Trump made trade threat to Europe over Iran policy
Defence minister says Trump threatened to impose 25% tariff on European cars
January 16, 2020
by Patrick Wintour Diplomatic Editor
The Guardian
The United States threatened to impose 25% tariffs on cars to push Europeans to initiate proceedings against Iran for violating the nuclear deal, the German defence minister has confirmed.
“This threat exists,” said the German defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, at a press conference in London.
She was asked about an article in the Washington Post that claimed Trump had secretly warned France, Germany and the UK that the US would impose a “25% tariffs on European cars” if they did not activate the mechanism for the settlement of disputes (MRD) of the Iranian international nuclear agreement reached in Vienna in 2015.
Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters on Thursday: “This expression or threat, as you will, does exist.” She is in the UK to meet her counterpart, Ben Wallace, to discuss Anglo-European defence cooperation post-Brexit.
Her remarks came as ministers from the five countries with nationals killed in the Ukrainian plane downed by the Iranian military met in London to coordinate their response to the Iran’s handling of the crash inquiry, as well as treatment of victim’s families.
Following the meeting the ministers called for an independent and transparent investigation governed by international civil aviation conventions. With emotions running high over the US assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Suleimani, as well as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ belated admission of responsibility for downing the jet, Iran is likely to bridle at being told how to carry out its own inquiry.
A Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 plane was shot down outside Tehran killing all 176 crew and passengers. Iran’s handling of the crash led to four days of street protests mainly in Tehran.
Iran initially denied responsibility for the crash, but three days later admitted that it had downed the plane believing it was an incoming US missile. An Iranian national security commission is investigating the episode.
There is concern that some in Iran are refusing to cooperate with the international investigation and refusing to hand over the black box flight recorder. There are claims within the country that the US may have jammed Iranian radar, making it impossible for the anti-aircraft battery operator to have checked the status of the plane.
Trump made his tariffs threat to Europe relatively recently and European diplomats insist they had already made the decision in principle to trigger the dispute mechanism because of previous Iranian steps away from the deal, but had not announced the move in deference to a request from China.
As a result they claim the Trump threat did not push Europe into abandoning its policy of trying to keep the nuclear deal with Iran alive.
But the threat is a further insight into Trump’s modus operandi, with Europe – in effect using threats of economic sanctions and the power of the dollar to try to force Europe to follow US foreign policy.
The news will only confirm the view of Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, that Europe is failing to stand up to a high school bully. Zarif met the EU external affairs chief, Josep Borrell, to discuss the European decision to trigger the dispute mechanism, describing it as “a strategic mistake”.
Meanwhile, the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, revealed that Iran is now enriching more uranium than it did before it agreed to a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015.
Speaking on live TV on Thursday, Rouhani said: “We are enriching more uranium than before the deal was reached … Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress.”
Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under the nuclear deal in retaliation to Washington’s withdrawal from the pact in 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.
Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement in part because it did not address Iran’s support for armed groups across the region and its ballistic missile programme.
Iran continued to abide by the agreement until last summer, when it began openly breaching some of its limits, saying it would not be bound by the deal if it saw none of its promised economic benefits.
After the airstrike on 3 January that killed Gen Qassem Suleimani, the architect of Iran’s regional military operations, Iran said it would abandon all restrictions in the nuclear deal.
Previously it has appeared that Iran has only modestly increased its nuclear activity. In recent months it has boosted its level of enrichment of uranium to 4.5% higher than the 3.67% limit set by the agreement – but far from the 20% enrichment it was engaged in before the deal. Uranium must be enriched to 90% to be used in a nuclear weapon.
In his speech, Rouhani acknowledged the sanctions had caused economic pain but said such considerations could not be separated from foreign policy and national security.
He also acknowledged the rising tensions with the US. “A single bullet can cause a war, and not shooting a single bullet can lead to peace,” he said, adding that his administration was seeking greater security.

Croatian fisherman discovers suspicious orange cube that belongs to the US military
January 15, 2020
When a crew of Croatian fishermen netted a mysterious orange cube in the waters of the Adriatic, they had no idea that the device was connected with a puzzling US Navy operation in the area. Spoiler alert: it’s about Russia.
Trawling between the islands of Mljet and St. Andrew last week, the crew of the Marian II, a Croatian fishing boat, pulled something unusual out of their nets: an orange cube, weighing 100 kilos and measuring 130cm wide, with an anchor underneath.
Fisherman Darko Kunac Bigava took the cube ashore, and local media began to speculate as to what exactly it was. It didn’t take long for internet sleuths to link its appearance with the activity of a US Navy vessel in the area.
According to open-source mapping software, the USNS Bruce C. Heezen, a Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship, had been crisscrossing the same patch of water as the Marian II, evidently looking for its lost cargo.
Local news site Morski.hr wondered why exactly a US warship “did such maneuvers in our territorial waters, far away from Rijeka,” where it had been undergoing repairs. The Navy came knocking on Bigava’s door shortly afterwards, asking the Croatian fisherman to return the device.
Bigava said that the Americans escorted him to his ship, took the device, and handed him around $3,000 for his time and for his damaged fishing nets.
So what had Bigava stumbled upon? The first clue is in a label attached to the box. The sticker contained barcodes and tracking numbers, and indicated that the object was sent to Croatia by courier from the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Though this center is known for testing rocket engines, it is also home to several naval units, including the Naval Oceanographic Office, responsible for collecting and processing underwater samples and mapping data.
The mystery was solved on Tuesday, when US Military Sealift Command spokesman Travis Weger told The Drive that “Bruce C. Heezen was executing an oceanographic survey, which was coordinated with Croatian authorities.”
Weger said that the cube is a kind of buoy with a transponder attached, used in the sonar scanning of the ocean floor. The Bruce C. Heezen had “deployed the float in Croatian territorial waters to test upgraded systems.”
Of course, the US is not simply mapping the seabed of the Adriatic for mapping’s sake. The US Navy claims to have noticed an increase in Russian submarine activity in the wider Mediterranean region, and has already reactivated the US 2nd Fleet – which includes a number of Virginia class submarines – in response.
Though Weger declined to provide any further information, Forbes writer and maritime expert H.I. Sutton noted that a Teledyne Model R12K Acoustic Transponding Release and a Kongsberg cNode transponder were attached to the buoy. According to Teledyne, the R12K is used for “deep water asset recovery,” and upon receiving a command from the surface, jettisons a weight, allowing the buoy to be collected.
The US and Croatia worked together on the Bruce C. Heezen’s mapping mission, as is normal for NATO allies. However, other countries have taken a dim view of American oceanographic missions in the past. Chinese authorities seized an underwater drone belonging to the USNS Bowditch – a sister ship of the Bruce C. Heezen – in the South China Sea in 2016.
So what had Bigava stumbled upon? The first clue is in a label attached to the box. The sticker contained barcodes and tracking numbers, and indicated that the object was sent to Croatia by courier from the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Though this center is known for testing rocket engines, it is also home to several naval units, including the Naval Oceanographic Office, responsible for collecting and processing underwater samples and mapping data.
The mystery was solved on Tuesday, when US Military Sealift Command spokesman Travis Weger told The Drive that “Bruce C. Heezen was executing an oceanographic survey, which was coordinated with Croatian authorities.”
Weger said that the cube is a kind of buoy with a transponder attached, used in the sonar scanning of the ocean floor. The Bruce C. Heezen had “deployed the float in Croatian territorial waters to test upgraded systems.”
Of course, the US is not simply mapping the seabed of the Adriatic for mapping’s sake. The US Navy claims to have noticed an increase in Russian submarine activity in the wider Mediterranean region, and has already reactivated the US 2nd Fleet – which includes a number of Virginia class submarines – in response.
Though Weger declined to provide any further information, Forbes writer and maritime expert H.I. Sutton noted that a Teledyne Model R12K Acoustic Transponding Release and a Kongsberg cNode transponder were attached to the buoy. According to Teledyne, the R12K is used for “deep water asset recovery,” and upon receiving a command from the surface, jettisons a weight, allowing the buoy to be collected.
The US and Croatia worked together on the Bruce C. Heezen’s mapping mission, as is normal for NATO allies. However, other countries have taken a dim view of American oceanographic missions in the past. Chinese authorities seized an underwater drone belonging to the USNS Bowditch – a sister ship of the Bruce C. Heezen – in the South China Sea in 2016.

Navy places order for 166,500 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sonobuoys in $219.8 million deal
by John Keller
Military and Aero Space. com
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare (ASW) experts are replenishing their supplies of air-launched sonobuoys with a variety of capabilities ranging from taking the temperature of ocean layers at different depths, to detonating submerged explosive charges.
Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $219.8 million order Tuesday to ERAPSCO Inc. in Columbia City, Ind., for as many as 166,500 AN/SSQ series sonobuoys for anti-submarine warfare (ASW).
Sonobuoys enable Navy ASW forces to detect, track, and pinpoint potentially hostile submarines operating in the open ocean and in coastal areas that could be threats to Navy carrier battle groups or other forces. Information from these systems can help enable precision attacks with air-launched torpedoes.
Tuesday’s sonobuoy order involves purchases of the SSQ-36 bathythermograph (BT); SSQ-53 passive directional low frequency analyze and record (DIFAR); SSQ-62 directional command active sonobuoy system (DICASS); SSQ-101 air deployed active receiver (ADAR); SSQ-110 multi-static non-coherent source; SSQ-125 multi-static coherent source; and MK-84 signal underwater sound devices.
Aircraft can drop a pattern of sonobuoys, which relay information back to the aircraft by radio link, to determine the exact locations of enemy submarines.
Related: Global market for ASW sonobuoys set to grow by 40 percent over the next five years
The AN/SSQ-36B provides vertical temperature profiles of the ocean layer for ASW and research, and used widely in ASW operations to evaluate local effects of seawater temperature on sonar propagation and acoustic range prediction.
The AN/SSQ-53F uses four hydrophones — each one a multichannel directional piezoelectric ceramic transducer — that operate at depths of 90, 200, 400, and 1,000 feet to listen for potentially hostile submerged enemy submarines. Aircraft can drop a pattern of sonobuoys, which relay information back to the aircraft by radio link, to determine the exact locations of enemy submarines.The SSQ-53F has three sensors: a constant shallow omni (CSO), an advanced DIFAR sensor, and a calibrated wideband omni. The buoy digitally conditions and amplifies the acoustics and provides directional data that helps establish azimuthal bearing to the submarines being tracked.
The AN/SSQ-62E DICASS sonobuoy is for detecting and localizing submarines in preparation for attack. It can provide range and bearing to the target to fix position, and can support any of the four acoustic frequencies as selected via the Electronic Function Select.
The AN/SSQ-101 ADAR sonobuoy provides a commandable passive search capability, and functions as the receiver in a multistatic active receiver system. The device uses a pentagon-shaped horizontally oriented pattern of hydrophones to detect and beamform underwater sound waves.
The AN/SSQ-125 sonobuoy is a source in a multistatic field, and can generate a variety of waveforms, and is designed to work with the AN/SSQ-53F, AN/SSQ-77C, and AN/SSQ-101 sonobuoys.
Related: Navy Boeing P-8 maritime patrol jet to receive anti-submarine warfare (ASW) system upgrades
The AN/SSQ-125’s RF channel can be programmed to any of the standard sonobuoy operating channels. At any time after deployment, the AN/SSQ-125 can be commanded to change its operating parameters or depth (deeper only), generate a ping, or scuttle.
The signal underwater sound (SUS) MK-84 submarine communications device, meanwhile is an expendable electro-acoustic device that provides one-way acoustic communications with submarines, as well as simulating the drop of an ASW weapon during tactical exercises.
ERAPSCO operates as a joint venture between the Sparton Corp. Defense & Security segment in Le Leon Springs, Fla., and Ultra Electronics USSI in Columbia City, Ind. Ultra also is developing miniature sonobuoys designed for launch from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The company will do the work on this contract in DeLeon Springs, Fla. and Columbia City, Ind., and should be finished by October 2020.
SOSUS, an acronym for sound surveillance system, is a chain of underwater listening posts located around the world in places such as the Atlantic Ocean near Greenland, Iceland and the United Kingdom—the GIUK gap—and at various locations in the Pacific Ocean. The United States Navy’s initial intent for the system was for tracking Soviet submarines,[1] which had to pass through the gap to attack targets further west. It was later supplemented by mobile assets such as the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS), and became part of the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS).
SOSUS systems consisted of bottom-mounted hydrophone arrays connected by underwater cables to facilities ashore. The individual arrays were installed primarily on continental slopes and seamounts at locations optimized for undistorted long range acoustic propagation. The combination of location within the ocean and the sensitivity of arrays allowed the system to detect acoustic power of less than a single watt at ranges of several hundred kilometres. SOSUS monitoring stations went by the acronym LNOPF.

Fate of Nuclear Sub Base in Scotland Unclear after Brexit
by Richard Sisk
The White House cautiously expressed concern this week that the fallout from Brexit could lead to Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom and shutter a Trident nuclear submarine base that plays a key role in NATO deterrence against Russia.
When asked about the fate of Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde at Faslane on Scotland’s west coast, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he could only hope that Scotland, where nationalists have long argued for closing the sub base, would choose to remain in the U.K.
At a press briefing Wednesday, Earnest noted that Scotland voted in a 2014 referendum against independence. “We made clear at the time that, again, that was a decision for voters in Scotland to make,” he said.
“But the United States’ view has been and continues to be that a united U.K. is in the best interest of the United States. It makes them a stronger partner. It makes them more effective in contributing to the NATO alliance that’s the bedrock of our national security,” Earnest said.
However, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was already drawing up plans for a second independence referendum following the U.K.’s vote last week to leave the European Union, the so-called “Brexit.”
“The significant and material change in circumstances” following Brexit, which was opposed by 62 percent of voters in Scotland, made another independence vote inevitable, Sturgeon said.
“It is, therefore, a statement of the obvious that a second referendum must be on the table, and it is on the table,” she said.
Currently, Britain’s four nuclear Vanguard-class ballistic missile submarines armed with Trident missiles — HMS Vanguard, Victorious, Vengeance, and Vigilant — are based at Faslane on the River Clyde, and all of its nuclear warheads are stored at Coulport about eight miles away.
There are no alternative sites for Faslane and Coulport in England, according to George Washington University analyst Hugh Gusterson, and building alternative sites and coming up with replacements for the aging Trident subs would cost upwards of $20 billion and take possibly 20 years.
Writing in the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, Gusterson said that a “British parliamentary report in 2012, written in response to increasing concerns that Scotland might secede from the United Kingdom, concluded a suitable base to replace Faslane and Coulport would be “highly problematic, very expensive, and fraught with political difficulties.”
On a visit to Faslane and a tour of HMS Vigilant in January, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon touted Britain’s nuclear deterrent as a mainstay of NATO.
“It has never been more needed than now,” Fallon said. “We needed it in the Cold War and we need it even more now in a more unpredictable and more dangerous world.”
Fallon scoffed at the suggestion of Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn that Britain should scrap the Tridents and send the subs out on patrol without nuclear weapons.
“That’s like making imitation rifles — those would be pointless patrols,” he said. “If you are going to have a deterrent, you have to be prepared to use it.”
But whether Britain maintained the deterrent hinged on the fallout from Brexit.
At a forum on Brexit this week, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass gave a gloomy forecast.
“Actually, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, I do believe that this is the beginning of the end of the United Kingdom. To me it’s a question of when and not if Scotland has a second referendum, and this time it will almost certainly pass, based on the argument that it is more important to be in Europe than in the U.K.”
Haass said that the question of Scotland and “whether it will go off on its own as an independent country would raise fundamental issues, for example, about the ability of the use of ports for our nuclear — for submarines carrying nuclear weapons. So I think it raises lots of defense-related issues.”

Iranian Missiles
According to the announcements of Iranian officials, Iran continues to produce unguided rocket systems named as Nezeat which can be considered as artillery rockets, this type of rockets have 100-200 kg of warheads and their range is between 100-160 km. At Zelzal rocket program which was started for a similar reason with Nezeat, INS guidance system was used and margin of error was so much decreased. Zelzal – 2 rocket’s another version which was produced with the cooperation of Syria is named as Fattah – 110. This 600 mm caliber rockets have a range of more than 200 km. It thought that Iran is transferring those rockets to Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. If launched, those relatively small ranged Fattah – 110 rockets can hit many critical civil and military targets in Israel. Existence of these rockets leaded Israel to develop air defence systems (Like Iron Dome and David’s Sling air defence systems owned by Rafale) for destroying small ranged rockets. While the battle in Southern Syria in 2006, Hezbollah launched 4000 rockets (most of them were Handmade Kassam Rockets) and this attack caused death of more than 40 Israel citizen and temporary migration of 250,000 people.
Both Şahap-1 and Şahap – 2 rockets are derivations of Russian Scud (R-17) rockets which were using liquid fuel. Şahap – 1 was developed in the end of the 80s with the help of North Korea and it is a derivation of SCUD-B Rockets which are ranged 300 km. It was thought that Şahap – 2 had become operational in the middle of 90s. Şahap – 2 rockets are derivations of Russian SCUD-C rockets and it was developed by the cooperation with North Korea. They have 550 km range and they have a warhead weight of 700 kg.
Medium ranged ballistic rockets have a range of 1000-3000 km. Iran Revolution Guards are using Şahap-3 rockets actively and testing more developed rockets in these days. Şahap-3 rockets are also in this rocket class. Şahap – 3 rockets were designed in the basis of No Dong-1 rockets with the cooperation of North Korea. Rockets became operational in the beginning of 2000s. The rocket which was known as Şahap has a range of around 1300 km. More developed Şahap – 3A’s range is around 1500-1800 km. The triangular warhead which is atmosphere cycled, rises the suspicions about Iran’s development of unconventional warheads. Circular error probability of Şahap – 3 rockets is between 500 and 1100 m according to Iranian Officials. They have a capacity of carrying warheads which are weighted 500-800 kg. It is known that, Şahap – 3 rockets gained the capacity of carrying atmosphere cycled warheads which can carry nuclear weapons. All series of the Şahap – 3 rockets have one leveled engines which work with liquid fuel. Iran officials are complaining about the difficulty of launching the rockets which use liquid fuel, because those rockets needed to get filled with fuel before launching. This issue directs Iran to develop rockets which use solid propellant with the information and technology gained from North Korea and China.
Iran continues working on high level ballistic missile technologies like GPS/INS guidance system, warheads which have capacity to carry nuclear weapons and so on. Iran may take the developments to the further points which they can produce ballistic missiles have more than 3000 km of range, called as IRBM. Iran’s action of putting satellites with its own capabilities is a signal for Iran’s inclination towards the dual use, both for civil and military uses. Iran’s space program may shade the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program in the near future. Officials from Iran state that Şahap – 5 and Şahap – 6 can be tested in 2015.
Mossad has Started Secret Operations
Possibility of an intervention on Iran is increased after Iran’s nuclear centrals has started to produce energy and at the same time Iran continues on missile development programs. Iran officials announced that according to the studies of Iran intelligence, MOSSAD has already started secret operations. According to those Iranian officials, secret operations of MOSSAD will be applied in three stages by the sign of Benjamin Netanyahu:
1) Planning assassinations for interrupting the Nuclear Program
2) Sabotaging nuclear facilities.
3) Hitting nuclear facilities with limited interventions.
According to Tehran death of nuclear physician Prof. Dr Mesud Ali Mohammed in a bombing attack is a part of these MOSSAD operations. Also murder of Mahmud al Mabhuh (one of the leaders of HAMAS) which was happened in his hotel room in Dubai was a part of these operations too. Iranian officials underline that Mabhuh’s role on Tehran-HAMAS relations, he was an important leader on this issue.
Tehran thinks that CIA and MOSSAD have a corporation on planning and organizing the attacks which are aimed through scientists who are working on Iran Nuclear Program. Iranian nuclear physics expert Shahram Amiri’s disappear while his umre visit to Saudi Arabia was a kidnapping operation of CIA, announced by senior official Manucher Muttaki. Besides this, Iran admits the Amiri’s role in the nuclear program. Iran Defense Ministry senior official Ali Rızari Asqhari’s disappearance in Turkey at February 2007 was thought as a part of those operations. If uranium enrichment and missile developments continue this fast, Iran may face with harsh sanctions of UN. Sanctions cannot convince Iran for stopping these programs at this point. After the US withdrawn from Iraq, Iran will become a military target. It is already known that Israel is closer to the intervention option. Hitting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure with a US aided Israel intervention option will be an issue which will be discussed often after 2011. It should not be forgotten that Russia and China’s opposition towards an intervention on Iran will be stronger than their opposition towards the Iraq War.
The Yingji-82 or YJ-82 (Chinese: 鹰击-82, literally “Eagle Strike”; NATO reporting name: CSS-N-8 Saccade) is a Chinese anti-ship missile first unveiled in 1989 by the China Haiying Electro-Mechanical Technology Academy (CHETA), also known as the Third Academy. Due to the Yingji-82 missile’s small radar reflectivity, low attack flight path (only five to seven meters above the sea surface) and strong anti-jamming capability of its guidance system, target ships have a very small chance of intercepting the missile. The single shot hit probability of the Yingji-82 is estimated to be as high as 98%. The Yingji-82 can be launched from airplanes, surface ships, submarines and land-based vehicles. Its export name is the C-802.
From the early 1990s, Iran’s focus shifted towards the development of the intermediate range Shahab-3 and Shahab-4 missiles. Shahab-3 is a single-stage missile, weighing 16 metric tons, and is liquid fueled. Shahab-3 is based on North Korea’s NoDong missile. There were reportedly ten tests from 1998–2006. It has a range of 1,300 kilometers with a 750 kg payload. This range provides the missile with the capability to hit key targets in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.. The launch site chosen here is Emamshar on the eastern border of Iran. Shahab-3 is also capable of striking key targets in Israel if the missile is launched from sites in western Iran.
Although the Shahab-4 has been characterized by Iran as a space launch vehicle, it could be used as a technical base for intermediate- and intercontinental-range missiles. The Shahab-4 was originally thought to be based on Soviet R-12 (SS-4 Sandal) technology obtained from Russia.
Later reports said that the Shahab-4 was based on the North Korean TaepoDong-I technology. The TaepoDong-I in turn is based on a NoDong-derived first stage and a Scud-derived second stage. The TaepoDong-I was first tested in August 1998 and neither North Korea nor Iran are known to have deployed this missile.
The current status seems to be unclear, and it could well have been terminated according to some sources. The results of a computer simulation for Shahab-4 shows that, if the missile was successfully developed, it would allow Iran to target Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey from launch sites anywhere in Iran.
Another Iranian project is the one- to two-stage solid-fueled Ghadr series of missiles. Solid rocket motors possess several advantages over liquid rocket engines, which make them ideal for military applications.
These advantages include their high density and low volume, nearly indefinite storage life, instant ignition without fuelling operations, and high reliability. The Ghadr missile also has a “baby bottle” style nose for extra aerodynamic efficiency.
In May 2005, Iran announced at a parade that Ghadr had a range of 1,800 kilometers. This range is sufficient to put the U.S. bases in the Middle-East and Israel under threat.
In September 2007, Iran paraded the Ghadr missile with a slogan from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reading, “The Iranian nation is ready to bring any oppressive power to its knees.”
Iran also announced that it had manufactured a new, solid-fueled missile named Ashoura. Ashoura reportedly has a range of approximately 2,000 kilometers. Iran is expected to flight test this missile in the near future. However, very little is known about other technical features of this missile.
Iran’s space program is now a cover for Iran’s development of longer-range missiles like the IRSL-X-2 and Shahab-6. Tehran claims these two rockets are exclusively for satellite launches, but as put by one expert, “a satellite launcher is basically a covert intercontinental missile.”
Iran tested its first sub-orbital rocket in February 2007. The rocket reached an altitude of 150 kilometers before falling back to Earth and deploying a parachute for recovery. Iran claimed that the rocket was intended for research and is part of its goal of launching Iranian manufactured satellites on Iranian manufactured rockets. It is estimated that the rocket’s operational range with the same payload against a ground target might be approximately 300 kilometers.
The known current missile capacities of Iran are:
Shahab-1 range 300 km
Fateh-110 range 300 km
Shahab-2 range 500 km
Zolfaghar range 700 km
Qiam-1 range 800 km
Shahab-3 range 2,000 km
Sejjil range 2,000 km
Squmar range 2,500 km

Russia’s Suspected Internet Cable Spy Ship Appears Off Americas
November 10, 2019
by H. I. Sutton
A controversial suspected spy ship has arrived in the Americas, open source intelligence indicates. According to position tracking data, the Russian Navy’s Yantar left her home port about a month ago, and has not been visible on open sources until suddenly appearing in the Caribbean on Friday. That she appeared on ship trackers so suddenly is unusual.
She has gained attention in the past for hovering in the vicinity of the undersea cables which connect the world. Called Submarine Communications Cables (SCC), these crisscross the world’s oceans carrying Internet traffic and military communications.
Yantar is a ship of particular interest among Western Navies. According to naval officers familiar with the situation, she is suspected of being involved in placing listening devices on undersea communications.
Yantar stands out because she is specially equipped for these types of mission, with at least three separate systems for conducting seabed warfare. She can deploy deep-diving submarines and has two different remote-operated vehicle (ROV) systems. And they can reach almost any undersea cable on the planet, even in deep water where conventional wisdom says that a cable should be safe.
Exactly what her mission is, is unclear in public sources. The Russian Navy describes her, euphemistically, as an oceanographic research vessel. She is operated by the Main Directorate of Deep Water Research, known by its Russian initials GUGI. She is based in Russia’s secretive submarine base in the Russian Arctic, Olenya Guba. That’s also the base of the ill-fated spy submarine Losharik on which 14 Russian ‘Hydronauts’ lost their lives in July.
Yantar arrived in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday and left this morning. Her next destination is unclear. Previously her deployments have been visible on the Automated Identification System (AIS). Because she is ostensibly a research ship, she broadcasts her position on AIS to avoid collisions. But this time she appears to have switched her AIS off for most of the voyage.
Open source analyst Steffan Watkins has pieced together her previous voyages in great detail using historic AIS data. I have also analysed this data. We can see that she has visited the wreck site of sunken Russian nuclear submarine Komsomolets off Norway. And the crash sites of Russian fighter jets off Syria. In 2017-18 she was involved in the hunt for the missing Argentinian submarine ARA San Juan. But more intriguingly, she has conducted searches near Internet cables in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, and likely elsewhere.
What exactly happens beneath the waves is unseen, but there is one piece of evidence which we can see via open sources. Through the historic AIS transmissions we can observe the search patterns. We can see the patterns she makes when she searches over a known object, like the wreck of a submarine. And when she searches for a crashed plane, or for the lost Argentinean submarine.
Those search patterns are different from when she is near Internet cables. So we can infer that she us doing something different, and using different systems.
So has she been searching for something on this trip? The journey from her base in the Arctic to the Caribbean is approximately 5,800 miles. With her cruising speed of 14.5 knots it should have taken her about two weeks. Instead it has taken her over a month. So it does appear likely.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 59

They all met back at the van, Lars chronically late because he had embarked on a conversation with a charming young lady in a leotard who was selling cookies for a school project. He left abruptly when her hulking father appeared and was somewhat short of breath when he arrived at the parking lot, empty handed but filled with a warm spirit of giving.
The next stop was a large, modern mall. It had a sporting goods shop, according to the telephone directory that Claude had leafed through, and he decided that he would need a wet suit for the Collins operation. Spring was coming soon enough and it was better to buy this suit as far away from Chicago as possible. Claude was very careful about such things.
He found the suit and bought it along with a small, black rubber raft and a pair of fins. The salesman wondered what someone wanted a wet suit for in the middle of winter so Claude explained he was going to dive on a wreck in Bermuda the week following.
Of course the temperature of the water in Bermuda precluded the use of a wet suit but the salesman had seldom been out of Duluth and no sane person would dive in Lake Superior without a wet suit, even at the height of summer.
They all met again at two in the afternoon in a corner of the mall that was somewhat distant from the main entrance and the huge parking lot.
Instead of walking back a half a mile, Chuck decided they could leave by a rear exit that was located down a hall next to a bowling alley.
The metal, windowless door opened into a long, narrow hallway at the far end of which was a bright rectangle of sunlit parking lot. There were people almost at the end of the hallway and some kind of a loud altercation was in progress. The door had closed and locked behind them so they had no choice other than to continue on towards the shouting and crying.
As they got closer, it was obvious that a very large, flabby man was punching and slapping a young boy across the face and slamming him up against the wall with some violence.
The man was screaming obscenities at the boy and then grabbed him by the throat and lifted him into the air.
Without saying anything, Claude dropped his parcel, tore off his parka and launched a savage attack on the man, punching him brutally in the kidneys. Lars, who was somewhat slower to react but equally active, rushed in behind Claude and began to slam his fists into the man’s ribs with sufficient force to crack two of them.
Shrieking with pain, the man dropped the boy and reached for something on his belt. When Claude saw it was a gun, he jerked the man around to face him, brought his knee up with terrible force into the man’s crotch. The man’s eyes bulged and he made mewing noises as he slowly doubled up in terrible pain. Chuck started to join in but Gwen grabbed him by the arm and held him back while Claude grabbed the moaning man by the ears, pulled his head down and then repeatedly slammed him full in the face with his knee. Blood and teeth flew out of the man’s shattered face and he fell to his knees and then toppled over as Claude began to kick his booted feet into the man’s ribs and back.
Lars, not to be outdone, began to kick the bubbling and retching man in the face and chest and if Chuck hadn’t broken loose from Gwen’s tight grip and grabbed him around the waist, there is no doubt that Lars would have killed him on the spot.
Claude was panting and his eyes were so filled with fury that Chuck let go of Lars and grabbed him. Claude whipped around and cocked his fist, almost punching Chuck in the face and then recognition came in his eyes and he stopped.
“That’s enough!” Chuck shouted, “Jesus, stop that right now! You’ll kill the fucker!”
Claude was breathing through his mouth, his face red with fury but he stopped his assault on the man who was now bubbling blood and mucus through his shattered nose.
The boy was squatting down on his haunches, back against the wall, with his arms over his head.
Chuck turned to Gwen, handing her the van keys.
“Hey, hey, love, get the van on the double and bring it up to the door. I mean now!”
She took the keys, stepped over the mess on the floor and went out the glass door carrying Claude’s package. Not too fast so as to attract attention, but quickly enough to get to the van.
It was Chuck who managed to control the scene, as much as it was possible with two enraged and powerful men who were still filled with outrage and adrenaline.
“OK, OK, leave him be. OK? Now, when the van comes, walk out the door and get into it. What are you doing?”
This was addressed to Claude who was looking through the man’s clothing.
“He’s got a gun and I’m going to get it.”
“Don’t shoot him, man!”
“Oh no,” Claude said as he pulled the automatic out of a belt holster, “just to keep him from shooting us. Jesus, a cop!”
He had found a badge and a pair of handcuffs. Further probing in the pockets of the moaning man produced a ring of keys, a switchblade knife and a wallet.
There was the short sound of a horn. Gwen was parked in front of the door with the engine running.
They started to leave and Chuck looked at the boy.
“Hey, what are we going to do about him?”
The boy put his arms down and looked up at them. One side of his face was red and his eye was rapidly swelling shut.
“Jesus, mister, don’t leave me here with him! He’ll kill me for sure when he gets up!”
“No,” Claude said, “the asshole won’t be getting up for a long time. Let me show you why…”
He grabbed a leg of the jerking man, put one heavy boot just above the knee, bent over and seized the leg by the ankle and pulled upwards. There was a sickening snap as the bone broke and the man fainted, his eyes rolling up in his pulped face.
Chuck pulled the boy to his feet.
“All right, kid, fine, we won’t leave you here. Come, come, we go out of here now!”
And they all ran to the door, the boy limping.
“Now cool it!” Chuck shouted and very slowly, they opened the door and climbed into the van. The door leading from the mall could only be opened from the inside and it slammed shut just as they drove off.
Chuck got up in front, next to Gwen.
“Good work, sweet one. Now pull over just behind that parked truck and let me take over. OK? Claude, put the kid on the back seat and make him lie down. Lars, stay where you are. OK? OK.”
They all changed places and Chuck drove sedately out of the parking lot in a line of departing customers.
He moved carefully with traffic, stopped at all the lights and approaching the northern outskirts of town, pulled into a strip mall and parked in front of a comic book store.
“Gwen, there’s a pharmacy just on the other side of the idiot store. Be a nice lady and go on in there and buy some butterfly bandages, antiseptic and an ice bag. Clear on the concept?”
“Clear on the concept Charlie.”
And a few minutes later she was back. Chuck got out of the van and walked a hundred feet to a liquor store where he bought a plastic sack of ice cubes.

When they got back onto the road again, Gwen filled the bag with ice and went into the back of the van. No one could see them through the tinted windows but there was more than enough light inside.

“Gwen, check him out and see if there’s any serious damage. OK?”
“Chuck, I’ve done this sort of thing before. Go back to driving.”
She had patched up her father a number of times, once even pulling a bullet out of his arm with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
The boy, who looked about fourteen, was thin and pale with dark blonde hair. He was wearing a thin jacket with a torn front and blue jeans with a hole in one knee. She gently took his hand away from the side of his face.
“Just relax and let me look at you.”
“Are you a nurse?” the boy asked with a cracking adolescent voice.
“No, I’m not. I know what I’m doing so just hold still and tell me if something hurts.”
There was blood on his face, running out of a split lip and she gently opened his mouth and felt his teeth. They were all tight and nothing was broken. The inner lip was bleeding but that would soon stop. She checked his whole face, cheekbones and nose and found no breakage. When she opened his jacket and pulled up his shirt, the boy tried to pull her hand away but she took the wrist and put his hand at his side.
“I’m looking for any broken ribs. Now just be still and let me know if something hurts.”
“My face hurts lady.”
“I know that. Just let me check the rest of you. Be good.”
She pulled up his shirt and looked at his upper torso. He was thin and pale and there were red splotches on his sides but no broken ribs. When she pulled the shirt back down he looked at her.
“Lady, he never hit me any lower. Please don’t take off my pants.”
She laughed.
“Fine. I’ve seen naked men before, kid, but we won’t embarrass you anymore. I’m just trying to help you.”
“I know. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” And she began to sponge the drying blood off of his face and neck with cotton swabs soaked in alcohol.
She looked at him as she cleaned him. He was not at all bad looking, black eye or not and he watched her nervously with an undamaged, large, bluish-green eye.
In about five more years, she thought, this one will be a real beauty.
“All right, kid, I’ve got some over-the-counter pain medicine for you. Put your head up and swallow two of these.”
He did, wincing as the cold bottled water hit his sore mouth.
“Did it get down?”
“Good boy. Now lie back and take it easy.”
There were blankets folded from a previous trip and she found a pillow which she pushed under his head. After covering him with the blankets, she put the ice bag on the side of his face, walked up and sat down in the front passenger seat.
“He’s not too bad off, Charley. Neck’s a little sore, a nice shiner, cut lip but no broken bones. Lots of bruises on the body but most of them are old. My God, what an afternoon!”
She turned around and looked at Claude who was sucking on a sore knuckle.
“You almost killed that pig, Claude.”
“So? Lars helped me. Go talk to him.”
“No, I’m talking to you now. You have one hell of a short fuse, don’t you?”
“Yeah, honeypot, I have a short fuse. Surprised you noticed it. You know, I ought to go back there and cut the asshole’s balls off and shove them down his throat.”
There was sudden nasal laughter from the back bench.
Claude looked back and the boy who was now grinning at him. He stuck a hand out through the blankets and held up a thumb in approval of the sentiment.
Claude made the same gesture back.
“Go ahead on, kid, say the word and we’ll go back and you can do the job.”
“That,” said Chuck as he turned onto the highway leading north, “is quite enough of that talk.”
Claude looked around.
“Where’s my fucking wet suit?”
“In the back with the rest of the stuff,” Gwen said.
“Oh. Fine. Thanks for saving it. I hate to waste money, dear.”
Chuck laughed.
“No, just waste a cop.”
“Well, I didn’t see you pitching in.”
“I stopped him,” Gwen snapped, “the two of you didn’t need any help and if there was any trouble, I brought this….” she pulled the elegant Walther out of her pocket.
“Jesus, can you use it?” Claude said.
“Believe it buddy. It wouldn’t be the first time either. Want something on the hand?”
“I’ll make it but thanks for the kind thoughts.”
There was silence for about ten minutes, broken when Chuck said to everyone and no one,
“Anyone mind if I put some decent music on the stereo system?”
No one minded or, if they did, said nothing so Chuck put on a Bach cantata.
Some movement reflected in the rear view mirror. It was from the bench seat and consisted of the fingers of a hand moving in time with the music.
Chuck half turned.
“Are we bothering you back there?”
“Oh no, you’re not bothering me. I don’t mind at all.”
Chuck turned to Gwen.
“We have a cultured passenger with us, dear. Lars is listening to some terrible noise and I think Claude is tone deaf.”
“I am not tone deaf. I don’t care about music one way or the other. Do you like that stuff, kid? Sounds like church to me.”
“I like it.”
“God loves you, kid.”
“I don’t think so.”
When they were twenty miles away from Duluth, Chuck turned into the parking lot of what was known in Midwest parlance as a family restaurant. This meant that they could get fried chicken, bratwurst and hamburgers along with steaks that were of the general consistency of shoe leather.
“Want food, lad?” Chuck asked as the other climbed out of the van.
“My mouth hurts, sir. Maybe a shake?”
“Got it. What kind?”
“Chocolate, if it’s OK with you.”
“It is and don’t call me sir.”
“While you’re all in there, could I listen to the rest of the CD?”
“Sure, I’ll turn it back on. Just for kicks, what is it?”
“The music? ‘Christians engrave this day.’ Isn’t that the BWV 63?”
“Shit, let me look. Yes, right on the nose. For that, you can have two shakes plus a hamburger. Want some Coke too?”
“You’re a growing lad. Coffee isn’t good for you but what the hell. Cream and sugar?”
“A politically correct young man with a hell of a shiner and really good taste in music. I’ll be back, so cool it,”
He put the music back on and walked into the restaurant.
“This kid is something else,” he said as he attacked a tuna salad sandwich.
Lars was still listening to his Walkman while trying to eat a cheeseburger and Gwen was making her way through a large salad.
“Why?” Claude asked as he sucked noisily on a spoon full of what passed for split pea soup.
“He likes Bach, that’s why.”
“Nah, he’s trying to be nice to you, that’s all. He’s trying to survive. I know all about that, Charlie.”
There was a general discussion, Lars excluded, about what to do with their battered guest.
“We aren’t going to throw him out of the car,” said Gwen, swallowing the last of the coated lettuce. “You know that. I think we’re stuck with him. And consider this, dudes; two of you just beat some local cop half to death. No witnesses but what if he dies? We can’t have the kid running around loose knowing who we are. Why not take him in for a little while and see what happens? He seems nice enough.”
“Oh you just want to mother someone, Gwen,” Claude said blowing his nose in a paper napkin.
“Damn you, Claude, you are a real asshole sometimes.”
“Tell me when I’m not and I’ll let you clean out my ears with your tongue. Actually, we could keep him around. He could do the chores and wash the dishes for us. He’d probably look cute in a frilly apron.”
“God you’re a dirty old man, Claude. Isn’t he, Chuck?”
“Claude may well be a dirty old man but after today I would say he was one of the organization.” He reached across the chipped table and shook Claude’s free hand.
“Why thank you.” They shook hands very solemnly. ” Of course I notice you hid behind Gwen when the rest of us men were taking care of business.”
The music had ended when they returned, Chuck carrying a paper bag with two chocolate shakes and a hot cheeseburger.
He moved towards the back of the van and set the bag down on top of the boy’s stomach.
“Here, just like I promised. Do the best you can with the burger. Wouldn’t do you any harm to eat something. If you really can’t eat it, let Lars have it. He’d eat roadkill.”
The good eye blinked rapidly.
“You are quite welcome. And now, off we go to the orphanage to check you in.”
Claude did not like any thought of an orphanage.
“Hey, knock that crap off, Charlie. I wouldn’t put my mother in an orphanage. The garbage can maybe but not an orphanage. He’s only trying to be funny kid. You can stay with us until your face gets better and then we’ll sell your body to the Arabs.”
Gwen fastened her seat belt.
“You know, I think he probably has a name. Why not ask him what it is instead of calling him ‘kid’?”
“My name is Alexis. Everyone calls me Alex.”
“That’s a civilized name, Alex ” Chuck said. “We’ll call you that than but never late to dinner.”
Both the shakes and the cheeseburger vanished, the latter very slowly, and by the time they reached the front gate, everyone but Chuck was half asleep with the exception of Alex who had a very strenuous day and the first big meal in a number of weeks. He was sound asleep, still clutching the greasy paper the cheeseburger had been wrapped in.
This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

Encyclopedia of American LoonsWalter L. Starkey

Walter L. Starkey is a Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Ohio State University, and a creationist. He does not appear to have done much scientific research at least since the 1950s, but since he has a degree he is nevertheless eligible for signing the Discovery Institute’s silly petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, thereby illustrating, if more illustrations were needed, just how laughable that petition actually is.
Starkey is also the author of several books defending intelligent design creationism, such as The Cambrian Evolution (which has been recommended by e.g. Harun Yahya) and Evolution Exposed and Intelligent Design Explained, which of course achieves neither of the goals suggested by the title by any stretch of the imagination. Evolution Exposed was a vanity press publication – The Cambrian Evolution was at least published by something called CSS Publishing, a publisher of “Christian Books, Christian Subscriptions, Sermon Subscriptions, Sermon Books, Sermon Resources, Christian Preaching Resources, Worship Resources … to meet that needs of pastors and the global ministry” – and was accompanied by a press release. According to the press release Starkey “discovered – backed with concepts on science, engineering, and mathematics – that the theory of evolution is the greatest scientific mistake of all time,” which one suspects wasn’t a very surprising discovery given that he had already published another book with the same conclusion years before. That his discovery is “backed with concepts from science, engineering, and mathematics” (our emphasis) doesn’t inspire much confidence in the author’s understanding of basic distinctions or how science works, for that matter. Of course, as we’d come to expect from creationist publications the book was never intended to be a science book, but a book for outreach: its explicitly intended audience was “young people who are in their formative years;” it’s all rhetorical tricks in the service of winning souls for Jesus, of course.
The aim of Evolution Exposed is to show “that (1) the natural forces of the earth have no intelligence whatsoever, and therefore they could not have designed the animals, (2) human beings are intelligent enough to design machines but they are not intelligent enough to design the animals, and (3) the only entity that could design the animals would be the superhuman being who is much more intelligent than any human being; thus, the theory of Intelligent Design.” In other words, Starkey does not have the faintest idea how evolution is supposed to work.
Diagnosis: Deluded, ranting pseudoscientist. Utterly lost, and probably relatively harmless.

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