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TBR News July 15, 2018

Jul 15 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8

Washington, D.C. July 15, 2018: “I have learned from a source in the Chase Manhattan bank that his people are scared literally shitless over the news, gleaned from a very competent German intelligence service, that a group, totally off the screen, not Muslim and probably American-based, have managed to crack the entrance information into the electronic, international banking wire and transfer system. These are:

  • SWIFT (Bruxelles)

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions

  • CHAPS (London)

Clearing House Automated Payments System

  • CHIPS (New York) – Private Sector

Clearing House Interbank Payments System

  • FEDWIRE (New York) – US Government

Fedwire Funds Service

If, as the German reports have rumored, someone or some group successfully sabotages these systems, the world of international banking and the entire country would suffer a terrible blow that would take months, if not years, to recover from. Billions of dollars in bank transfers would vanish instantly and replicating the data, if the attackers know what they are doing, would take eons to try to replace.

For instance, the BofA transfers $200.000,000 to a bank in Germany and in a nano second, the transfer vanishes. No money is sent and none received.

I do not know if this operation is connected with other very disruptive activities that our Brave Defenders of Liberty are trying to track but the Germans seem to feel that the elements involved are not Arabs or Russians but Americans because of the idiomatic English in the messages they have decoded.”

The Table of Contents

  • The Empire in Collapse
  • America’s 10 worst states to live in
  • Heatwave sees record high temperatures around world this week
  • Detaining immigrant kids is now a billion-dollar industry
  • ‘On a mission to destroy families’: Ice targets migrants in once safe spaces
  • U.S. court order brings faster reunions of immigrant parents and children
  • In the J20 Trials, the Feds Said They Went After “Bad Protesters.” That Just Means Another Crackdown on Dissent
  • Iranian Overview


The Empire in Collapse

by Christian Jürs

Because of the growing, and serious, public discontent that had been manifested during the course of the Vietnamese War from 1950 through 1973, the American governmental establishment resolved to take steps to recognize, infiltrate and neutralize any significant future national anti-government actions.

Once the most powerful nation, the United States is rapidly losing its premier position in the international sphere while at the same time facing a potential serious anti-government political movement developing in that country. The number of unemployed in the United States today is approximately 97,000,000. Official American sources claim that employment is ‘always improving’ but in fact it is not. Most official governmental releases reflect wishful thinking or are designed to placate the public

This situation is caused by the movement, by management, of manufacturing businesses to foreign labor markets. While these removals can indeed save the companies a great deal of expenditure on domestic labor, by sharply reducing their former worker bodies to a small number, the companies have reduced the number of prospective purchasers of expensive items like automobiles.

The U.S. government’s total revenue is estimated to be $3.654 trillion for fiscal year 2018.

  • Personal income taxes contribute $1.836 trillion, half of the total.
  • Another third ($1.224 trillion) comes from payroll taxes.

This includes $892 billion for Social Security, $270 billion for Medicare and $50 billion for unemployment insurance.

  • Corporate taxes add $355 billion, only 10 percent.
  • Customs excise taxes and tariffs on imports contribute $146 billion, just 4 percent
  • The Federal Reserve’s net income adds $70 billion.
  • The remaining $23 billion of federal income comes from estate taxes and miscellaneous receipts.
  • The use of secret offshore accounts by US citizens to evade U.S. federal taxes costs the U.S. Department of the Treasury well over $100 billion annually.

By moving from a producing to an importing entity, the United States has developed, and is developing, serious sociological and economic problems in a significant number of its citizens, and many suffer from serious health problems that are not treated.

It is estimated that over 500,000 American citizens are without any form of housing. Many of these people either are living on the streets, in public parks, living in cars or in charity shelters. There are at present over 200,000 family groups in America with over 300,000 individuals involved and 25% of the total are minor children.

Over 80,000 individuals are permanently without any residence. Many of these have physical disabilities such as chronic alcoholism or drug addiction. Many are classified as having severe mental disorders.

About 50,000 of these homeless individuals are military veterans, many of whom have serious physical or mental problems. One of the most common mental disorders is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Governmental treatment for these individuals is virtually non-existent.  Approximately half of this number are either black or Latin American (“Hispanics” in official designation.)

Of the total number of the homeless individuals, approximately 10% are female.

Official but private, estimates are that there over 500,000 youths below the age of 24 in current American society that find themselves homeless for periods lasting from one week to a permanent status.

Over 100,000 of this class are young people who are defined as being homosexual. Those in this class find themselves persecuted to a considerable degree by society in general and their peer groups in specific.

Approximately 50% of this homeless population are over the age of 50, many of whom suffer from chronic, debilitating physical illnesses that are not treated.

Drug deaths in the U.S. in 2017 exceeded 60,000.  Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involved prescriptions. Opioids are a class of strong painkillers drugs and include Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin which are synthetic drugs designed to resemble opiates such as opium derived morphine and heroin. The most dangerous opioid is Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. The increasing demand for these drugs is causing them to be manufactured outside the United States.

Suicide is the primary cause of “injury death” in the United States and more U.S. military personnel on active duty have killed themselves than were killed in combat last year.

The growing instability of American families is manifested by the fact that:

  • One out of every three children in America lives in a home without a father.
  • More than half of all babies are being born out of wedlock for women under the age of 30 living in the United States
  • The United States has the highest child abuse death rate in the developed world.
  • The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world although the numbers have declined in recent years due to the use of contraceptives.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate and the largest total prison population in the entire world. The criminal justice system in the United States holds more than 4,166,000 people in 1,719 state prisons, 102,000 in federal prisons, 901,000 in juvenile correctional facilities, and 3,163,000 in local jails. Additionally, 5,203,400 adults are on probation or on parole.

The number of people on probation or parole has increased the population of the American corrections system to more than 9,369,400 in 2017. Corrections costs the American taxpayer $69 billion a year.

There are a huge number of American domestic and business mortgages, (67 million by conservative estimate) which have been sliced up, put into so-called “investment packages” and sold to customers both domestic and foreign. This problem has been covered up by American authorities by cloaking the facts in something called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System)

This results in the fact that the holders of mortgages, so chopped and packed, are not possible to identify by MERS or anyone else, at any time and by any agency. This means that any property holder, be they a domestic home owner or a business owner, is paying their monthly fees for property they can never own.

Another festering problem consists of the official loans made to students in colleges and universities in the U.S. the predatory nature of the $90 billion student loan industry. These so-called student loans are the most serious economic problem faced today by American university students.

This problem arose due to federal legislation originating in the mid-1990s which effectively removed basic consumer protections from student loans, thus permitting extensive penalties and the methodology for enforced collection.

Because of the highly inflated cost of higher American education, very few students from high school can afford university education. The new college graduate has, on average, a student loan in excess of $20,000 and students attending graduate programs have average debts of over $40,000.

America today has seriously failing public school systems. Upper economic class Americans are able to send their children to expensive private schools and avoid the exceedingly incompetent public systems. The average American lower school graduates are only a step above illiteracy and their lack of knowledge of world affairs is quite unbelievable.

A small number of extremely wealthy men control and operate all of the major American print and television media.

Each of the few very powerful, rich men have their own reasons for deciding what qualifies as news.

But the public in America now gets its news, without cost, from various internet sites and the circulation number of major print news has dropped dramatically. This has forced the internet editions of the print news media to erect what they call “paywalls.” This permits a very limited number of articles to be read or downloaded before the system demands money for the use of additional material.

The major print media in America is faced with imminent bankruptcy and are making frantic efforts at attempts to prevent free news sites from being aired on the internet.

Government surveillance of the American public is very widespread and at the present time, almost every aspect of an American citizen, or resident, is available for official surveillance. This includes mail, television viewing, telephone conversations, computer communications, travel, ownership of property, medical and school records, banking and credit card transactions, inheritances and other aspects of a citizen’s daily life.

This is done to circumvent any possible organization that could contravene official government policy and has its roots in massive civil resistance to governmental policy during the war in Vietnam. The government does not want a reprise of that problem and its growing surveillance is designed to carefully watch any citizen, or groups of citizens, who might, present or future, pose a threat to government policy.

Another factor to be considered is the current American attitudes towards racial issues. There has always been prejudice in the United States against blacks. In 1943 there were bloody riots in Detroit and Los Angeles, the former aimed at blacks and the latter against Mexicans. Since then, there has been chronic racial prejudice but it has been relatively small and very local. Also, there is growing anti-Semitic prejudice in American but this is officially ignored and never is mentioned in the American media. Much of this growing problem is directed at the brutal actions of Israel against Palestinians. Israelis have an undue influence in the American political scene. The very far right so-called neo-cons are almost all Jewish and most are Israeli citizens. Also, the middle-level ranks of American CIA personnel are heavily infiltrated by Israelis and it is said that any secret the CIA has is at once passed to Israel and that countries needs are assuming importance in CIA actions.

The attitudes of the working class Americans were inflamed during the last presidential elections by Mr. Trump who catered to them and encouraged rebellious attitudes. By speaking against Central American illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump has caused a polarization of attitudes and the militant right wing in America, currently small in number but well-organized and potentially very dangerous, has begun to make its views very well known in public demonstrations.

This movement has played into the hands of far-right American political manipulators.

It is their intention to clandestinely arm these groups and use them to cause violent public confrontations with the far left groups.

By causing this potential violence, the manipulators intend to use the American military to move into unstable area to, as they say, ‘establish law and order’ while in reality, they will use martial law to firm up their basic control of a potentially fractious public.

It is then intended, according to information, to incorporate organized, para-military groups into a sort of domestic Federal police force. These people will not be punished for their actions but rewarded and utilized to ensure further right-wing control of the country.



America’s 10 worst states to live in

July 10, 2018

by Scott Cohn


Far be it for us to dent your home state pride, but the fact is that there are ways to objectively measure quality of life, and some states do not measure up as well as others. Our Quality of Life category in America’s Top States for Business, worth 300 out 2,500 total points, looks at factors such as violent crime rates, area attractions, health care, and environmental quality, based on our Top States methodology and sources. These are the 10 worst states to live in this year.

  1. New Mexico

This state calls itself the Land of Enchantment. But by the numbers, that borders on false advertising. In 2016, the most recent full year of statistics available from the FBI, New Mexico recorded the second-highest violent-crime rate in the country and the highest rate of property crime. In the first quarter of 2018, the Albuquerque Police Department reported a 50 percent increase in homicides from the year before. New Mexico had the fourth-highest rate of drug deaths in the United States last year, and more than 22 percent of its children live in poverty.

2018 Quality of Life score: 113 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Crime, health

Strengths: Attractions, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 9th worst (tie)

  1. (tie) Mississippi

One of this state’s most famous natives was Elvis Presley, who was known to have a penchant for peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches. Too many Mississippians appear to be following his example. Mississippi has the second-highest obesity rate in the nation. Mississippi had the nation’s highest cardiovascular death rate in 2017 and the second-highest rate of cancer deaths. Also last year, Gallup found Mississippi had among the highest levels of economic anxiety in the nation. The Magnolia State takes its nickname from a sturdy, robust tree that is abundant in the state. Mississippians might want to look around themselves for some inspiration.

2018 Quality of Life score: 111 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, inclusiveness

Strengths: Low crime, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 7th worst

  1. (tie) South Carolina

Today it is known as the Palmetto State and tourists flock to its 187 miles of coastline, historic sites and a fixture of cultures. But the state loses points due to a high crime rate. In addition, South Carolina is one of America’s unhealthiest states, with one of the highest incidences of diabetes in the nation.

2018 Quality of Life score: 111 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, high crime

Strengths: Attractions, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 15th worst

  1. Oklahoma

Oklahoma has the fourth-highest rate of on-the-job deaths in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state also has a high obesity rate. Regular exercise does loads to improve general well-being and quality of life, yet only about half of Oklahomans report that they exercise frequently, or at all.

2018 Quality of Life score: 106 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, high crime, lack of inclusiveness

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 3rd worst

  1. Missouri

Missouri has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the nation. In 2017 the state reported 600 murders, an 11 percent increase from the year before. Missouri could also stand to show some more inclusiveness. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the state lacks protections against discrimination for LGBT people, as well as discrimination laws related to employment, including protections for age and marital status.

2018 Quality of Life score: 101 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: High crime, health, lack of inclusiveness

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 5th worst

  1. Indiana

The Crossroads of America is not known for its tolerance of the cross-section of Americans who live and work there. After intense outcry from business leaders and others, the state in 2015 adjusted the deeply controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act soon after it was signed into law by then-governor Mike Pence. The changes, also approved by Pence, helped ease fears that the law could be used to justify discrimination. But Indiana still lacks explicit protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, age or marital status.

2018 Quality of Life score: 100 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Lack of inclusiveness, health

Strength: Attractions

2017 Quality of Life rank: 6th worst

  1. Tennessee

With the fifth-highest violent-crime rate in the nation, the Volunteer State could still use some people to step up and start a neighborhood watch program. They might also want to volunteer for a smoking cessation program to help address the state’s alarmingly high rate of premature deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 100,000 people in Tennessee, nearly 9,500 people die before the age of 75. That is more than 30 percent higher than the national rate. And with no statewide antidiscrimination protections based on marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity, the state could stand to be more welcoming.

2018 Quality of Life score: 96 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Crime, health, lack of inclusiveness

Strengths: Attractions, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 9th worst

  1. Alabama

Alabama has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, the lowest concentration of mental health providers and no statewide protections against discrimination of any sort. Even so, Alabamans — or as some prefer, Alabamians — are feeling a bit better about their lot in life this year versus one year ago, with nearly two-thirds telling Gallup they feel “active and productive.” That helps the state improve on its last-place ranking in this category last year, even though Alabamans don’t exactly practice what they preach: Fewer than half say they exercise frequently.

2018 Quality of Life score: 87 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: High crime, health, lack of inclusiveness

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of life rank: Worst in the nation

  1. Louisiana

How’s Bayou? Not so good in Louisiana, one of the fattest states in the country, with the highest rate of infectious disease, according to the United Health Foundation. The state suffers from high crime and pollution, plus a fair amount of economic anxiety, scoring just 1 out of 25 on Gallup’s 2017 Economic Confidence Index. And despite anything you might have heard or seen on Bourbon Street, the state lags in inclusiveness, with no protections against discrimination based on marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

2018 Quality of Life score: 82 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, high crime

Strength: Attractions

2017 Quality of Life rank: 2nd worst

  1. Arkansas

Arkansas calls itself the Land of Opportunity, but some might beg to differ. While the state does provide protections against discrimination based on race, sex, religion and national origin, it lacks such protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and age. And it is one of only three states that bars localities from enacting wider protections of their own. According to the most recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16 percent of Arkansans reported frequent mental distress. That is the second-highest rate in the nation.

2018 Quality of Life score: 81 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Lack of inclusiveness, health, high crime

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 4th worst


Heatwave sees record high temperatures around world this week

From Europe to Africa, extreme and widespread heat raises climate concerns in hottest La Niña year to date on record

July 13, 2018

by Jonathan Watts

The Guardian

Record high temperatures have been set across much of the world this week as an unusually prolonged and broad heatwave intensifies concerns about climate change.

The past month has seen power shortages in California as record heat forced a surge of demand for air conditioners. Algeria has experienced the hottest temperature ever reliably registered in Africa. Britain, meanwhile, has experienced its third longest heatwave, melting the roof of a science building in Glasgow and exposing ancient hill forts in Wales.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the rising temperatures were at odds with a global cyclical climate phenomena known as La Niña, which is usually associated with cooling.

The first six months of the year have made it the hottest La Niña year to date on record,” said Clare Nullis of the WMO.

Taiwan is the most recent place to report a new high with a temperature of 40.3C in Tianxiang on Monday. This followed a flurry of other anomalies.

Last week, a weather station at Ouargla in Algeria’s Sahara Desert, reported a maximum temperature of 51.3C on 5 July, the highest temperature reliably recorded in Africa.

Even when the sun goes down, night is not providing the cooling relief it once did in many parts of the world. At Quriyat, on the coast of Oman, overnight temperatures remained above 42.6C, which is believed to be the highest “low” temperature ever recorded in the world. Downtown Los Angeles also saw a new monthly July minimum overnight record of 26.1C on 7 July.

Globally, the warmest year on record was in 2016, boosted by the natural climate cycle El Niño. Last year, temperatures hit the highest level without that amplifying phenomenon. This year, at the other cooling end of the cycle, is continuing the overall upward trend.

Swathes of the northern hemisphere have seen unusually persistent warmth due to strong, persistent high pressure systems that have created a “heat dome” over much of Eurasia.

“What’s unusual is the hemispheric scale of the heatwave,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “It’s not just the magnitude in any one location but that high temperatures are being seen over such a large area.”

Northern Russia’s exceptionally sunny weather – seen on TV by billions thanks to the World Cup – has caused wildfires that affected 80,000 hectares of forest near the Krasnoyarsk region, which reported daily anomalies of 7C above average. The Western Siberian Hydromet Center has issued storm warnings after temperatures of more than 30C for five days. Climate watchers fear this will accelerate the melting of permafrost, releasing methane – a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

In California, daytime records were also set last week at Chino (48.9C), Burbank airport (45.6C) and Van Nuys airport (47.2C). In Canada, at least 54 deaths have been attributed to the prolonged heatwave and high humidity in Quebec. Montreal saw a new record high temperature of 36.6C on 2 July.

In Europe, the WMO has warned of droughts, wildfires and harvest losses after the second hottest June on record. Over the past two weeks, records have been set in Tbilisi (40.5C), Shannon (32C), and Belfast (29.5C)

Britain has cooled slightly in the past two days, after 17 days of temperatures over 28C. This was the third longest heatwave on record, following the record 19-day run in 2013 and the famous summer of 1976, when there were two prolonged spells of 18 days and 15 days. Dean Hall of the UK’s Met Office said Britain’s temperatures were forecast to rise again over the coming week.

The concern is that weather fronts – hot and cold – are being blocked more frequently due to climate change. This causes droughts and storms to linger, amplifying the damage they cause. This was a factor in the recent devastating floods in Japan, where at least 150 people died after rainfall up to four times the normal level.

Paolo Ruti of the WMO said it was difficult to ascribe any one weather event to climate change, but that recent high temperatures, intense rains and slow-moving fronts were in line with forecasts of how rising emissions will affect the climate.

“Recent analysis suggests that anthropogenic forcing might indeed affect the characteristics of summer blocking events in the Euro-Asia sector, in particular leading to longer blocking episodes,” he said.

Extreme weather events have buffeted much of the world over the past 12months, from the “Day Zero” drought in Cape Town to the abnormally powerful hurricanes Harvey and Irma that buffeted the east coast of the US and Caribbean.

Underscoring the link, a new report from scientists at the World Weather Attribution group indicates that man-made climate change and its effect on rainfall made the recent Cape Town drought three times more likely.


Detaining immigrant kids is now a billion-dollar industry

July 13, 2018

by Martha Mendoza and Larry Fenn, Associated Press

ABC News

SAN ANTONIO — Detaining immigrant children has morphed into a surging industry in the U.S. that now reaps $1 billion annually — a tenfold increase over the past decade, an Associated Press analysis finds.

Health and Human Services grants for shelters, foster care and other child welfare services for detained unaccompanied and separated children soared from $74.5 million in 2007 to $958 million in 2017. The agency is also reviewing a new round of proposals amid a growing effort by the White House to keep immigrant children in government custody.

Currently, more than 11,800 children, from a few months old to 17, are housed in nearly 90 facilities in 15 states — Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

They are being held while their parents await immigration proceedings or, if the children arrived unaccompanied, are reviewed for possible asylum themselves.

In May, the agency issued requests for bids for five projects that could total more than $500 million for beds, foster and therapeutic care, and “secure care,” which means employing guards. More contracts are expected to come up for bids in October.

HHS spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said the agency will award bids “based on the number of beds needed to provide appropriate care for minors in the program.”

The agency’s current facilities include locations for what the Trump administration calls “tender age” children, typically under 5. Three shelters in Texas have been designated for toddlers and infants. Others — including in tents in Tornillo, Texas, and a tent-and-building temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida — are housing older teens.

Over the past decade, by far the largest recipients of taxpayer money have been Southwest Key and Baptist Child & Family Services, AP’s analysis shows. From 2008 to date, Southwest Key has received $1.39 billion in grant funding to operate shelters; Baptist Child & Family Services has received $942 million.

A Texas-based organization called International Educational Services also was a big recipient, landing more than $72 million in the last fiscal year before folding amid a series of complaints about the conditions in its shelters.

The recipients of the money run the gamut from nonprofits, religious organizations and for-profit entities. The organizations originally concentrated on housing and detaining at-risk youth, but shifted their focus to immigrants when tens of thousands of Central American children started arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years.

They are essentially government contractors for the Health and Human Services Department — the federal agency that administers the program keeping immigrant children in custody. Organizations like Southwest Key insist that the children are well cared for and that the vast sums of money they receive are necessary to house, transport, educate and provide medical care for thousands of children while complying with government regulations and court orders.

The recent uproar surrounding separated families at the border has placed the locations at the center of the controversy. A former Wal-Mart in Texas is now a Southwest Key facility that’s believed to be the biggest child immigrant facility in the country, and First Lady Melania Trump visited another Southwest Key location in Phoenix.

Advocates on both sides of the aisle criticize the growing number of kids housed in government shelters, but they have different reasons — and they blame each other.

“You can’t put a child in a prison. You cannot. It’s immoral,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat who has been visiting shelters.

Gillibrand said the shelters will continue to expand because no system is in place to reunite families separated at the border. “These are real concerns that the administration has not thought through at all,” she said.

But President Donald Trump says cracking down on immigration ultimately can lead to spending less money and having fewer immigrants in government custody.

“Illegal immigration costs our country hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said at a recent rally. “So imagine if we could spend that money to help bring opportunity to our inner cities and our rural communities and our roads and our highways and our schools.”

In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance policy” directing authorities to arrest, jail and prosecute anyone illegally crossing the border, including people seeking asylum and without previous offenses. As a result, more than 2,300 children were turned over to HHS.

In a recently released report, the State Department decried the general principle of holding children in shelters, saying it makes them inherently vulnerable.

“Removal of a child from the family should only be considered as a temporary, last resort,” the report said. “Studies have found that both private and government-run residential institutions for children, or places such as orphanages and psychiatric wards that do not offer a family-based setting, cannot replicate the emotional companionship and attention found in family environments that are prerequisites to healthy cognitive development.”

Some in the Trump administration describe the new policy as a “deterrent” to future would-be immigrants and asylum-seekers fleeing violence and abject poverty in Central America, Mexico and beyond.

But Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families — an HHS division — said the policy has exposed broader issues over how the government can manage such a vast system.

“It was never intended to be a foster care system with more than 10,000 children in custody at an immediate cost to the federal taxpayer of over $1 billion dollars per year,” Wagner said in a statement.

The longer a child is in government custody, the potential for emotional and physical damage grows, said Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The foundational relationship between a parent and child is what sets the stage for that child’s brain development, for their learning, for their child health, for their adult health,” Kraft said.

“And you could have the nicest facility with the nicest equipment and toys and games, but if you don’t have that parent, if you don’t have that caring adult that can buffer the stress that these kids feel, then you’re taking away the basic science of what we know helps pediatrics.”

A judge in California has ordered authorities to reunite separated families within 30 days — and the government has completed more than 50 of the reunions of children under 5 by Thursday.


‘On a mission to destroy families’: Ice targets migrants in once safe spaces

Dropping off the kids at school, delivering a pizza, visiting family – recent arrests have instilled fear for undocumented immigrants going about their daily lives

July 14, 2018

by Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington

The Guardian

It was an ordinary Friday on the job for Pablo Villavicencio, a delivery man at the Nonna Delia’s pizzeria in Queens, New York.

The father of two pulled up with a bulk lunch order at Fort Hamilton, an army base about a half hour from the restaurant. But unlike previous deliveries , this time Villavicencio, an undocumented immigrant, was arrested by federal immigration authorities and taken to a New Jersey jail.

Villavicencio, 35, was fast-tracked for deportation despite holding no criminal record. Had it not been for intense media scrutiny of his case, Villavicencio might not have been granted reprieve by a federal judge last month – which temporarily stalled his deportation but left him in federal custody.

But his case is far from unique.

A month later, an elderly couple attempted to visit their pregnant daughter-in-law and her husband at another military base in New York.

Margarito Silva and his wife, Concepcion Barrios, both undocumented immigrants, arrived at Fort Drum on the Fourth of July holiday. The couple carried the same identification cards – available to New York City residents regardless of immigration status – that they had used to visit family on other bases before.

They, too, were arrested by Ice.

Stories like those of Villavicencio, Silva and Barrios put faces and names to the targets of Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, which has instilled fresh fears of deportation in communities across America as they go about their daily lives.

Advocacy groups say the Trump administration’s reach is unfettered, as evidenced by the sharp rise in noncriminal arrests.

Under the president’s directive, which dramatically expanded the scope of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), immigration arrests rose 41% in 2017 compared with the same period from 2016. Noncriminal arrests, Ice’s own data showed, increased by 171%.

“Despite the rhetoric, Ice’s deportations are not focused on public safety threats,” said Lynn Tramonte, a director at the progressive immigration advocacy group America’s Voice.

“Under President Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has become a political police force with a singular mission: to destroy American families with immigrant members, no matter the cost to children.”

Felix Garcia, a father of three, was detained in January during a regular check-in with federal immigration authorities that for the past seven years had come and gone without issue. He begged an Ice officer for the chance to remain in the US, where he had lived for 23 years, for just a little longer to watch his eldest daughter graduate from medical school. Garcia was denied his request and reportedly deported to Guatemala in April.

Me van a djar detenido, mija. Sigue adelante, mija. Tu puedes,” Garcia had texted his daughter, Belsy Garcia Manrique, words that translated to: “They are going to detain me, my child. Keep going, my child. You can do it.”

Syed Ahmed Jamal, a father of three, was arrested in February outside of his home in Lawrence, Kansas, after readying his children for school. The native of Bangladesh had been in the US for more than 30 years and, according to his lawyer, had no criminal record beyond speeding tickets.

An undocumented immigrant with Down’s syndrome was not spared after Ice’s homeland security investigations special agents carried out a search of a tent installation company in Florida.

Juan Gaspar-Garcia, 30, was one of 28 people detained in the March raid, which federal authorities insisted was a “criminal search”. Gaspar-Garcia, who came to the US from Guatemala when he was 14, was held in a detention center for three weeks and was released after his sister launched an online petition.

When questioned on the circumstances of such cases, Ice has repeatedly issued a standard statement noting that the agency “does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement”.

“All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” the agency has said.

The controversial tactics were put in motion less than one week after Trump took office. On 25 January 2017, the newly-minted president transformed rhetoric into reality by signing an executive order that paved the way for Ice to detain undocumented immigrants in the US regardless of whether or not they hold a criminal record.

The shift marked a vast departure from the final years of Barack Obama’s administration.

Obama was denounced by critics for deporting record numbers of undocumented immigrants in the early years of his presidency. But immigration activists said the Obama administration implemented clear priorities in its second term that focused on detaining those with serious criminal histories, such as felony violations.

An analysis of Ice data by USA Today found that an average of 4,143 undocumented immigrants without a criminal record have been arrested each month under the Trump administration. By comparison, an average of 1,703 noncriminal arrests were made in the final two years under Obama.

Ice has rebuked the characterization that low priority arrests are “noncriminal”, citing the act of illegal entry to the US or overstaying a visa as violations of the law.

Another change in Ice policy that has drawn widespread condemnation is the arrest of undocumented immigrants in so-called sensitive locations, including places of worship, schools, hospitals and courthouses.

The agency has maintained it is not targeting such spaces, but reports have suggested otherwise.

A 19-year-old undocumented man, whose record included a DUII charge, was arrested as he left a hospital. Two fathers were arrested by Ice agents as they took their children to school. They had intended to arrest a third father, who was able to escape by seeking refuge in a nearby church. The arrest of a man who had just dropped his daughter at school went viral, filmed by his own family as his other daughter was heard sobbing from the car.

Sarah Mehta, a human rights research at the American Civil Liberties Union, said such arrests have resulted in “a very significant chilling impact” on immigrant communities.

“Under this administration, there isn’t the same recognition or protection of these spaces,” Mehta said of places once generally avoided by federal immigration authorities. “It’s almost as if they’re being singled out.”

A report produced by the ACLU found the expanded presence of federal immigration officials at courthouses had a particularly corrosive effect on the relationship between immigrant communities and law enforcement.

The report, which surveyed law enforcement, judges, prosecutors and survivor advocates across the country, found that immigrants were less likely to report crimes or assist in police investigations in 2017 compared with 2016. More than half of the judges who participated said court cases were interrupted due to an immigrant’s fear of coming to court, compared with 43% in 2016. And an overwhelming 82% of prosecutors reported that domestic violence was underreported by immigrants since Trump took office.

“The climate has become significantly more toxic in the community, with immigrant community members and their families being afraid of the very services that are supposed to be there to protect their rights,” Mehta said.

Even in some of the cases where Ice has been able to point to a target’s criminal record, there has been little room for nuance.

Armando Nunez-Salgado, 39, was picked up by agents in February while gardening in the backyard of his home in Napa County, California.

According to Ice, Nunez-Salgado had accrued a number of criminal convictions over the past 18 years and had already been deported four times. His wife Helena Ponce, who filmed the arrest, acknowledged some troubles in her husband’s past but disputed the account.

Nunez-Salgado had not been to prison in more than 15 years, Ponce said, and was a dedicated father to their teenage daughter who spent his free time counseling young people to stay away from gangs. But her husband’s arrest confirmed what the family perhaps knew all along.

“He always felt like they would come and get him eventually,” she said.


U.S. court order brings faster reunions of immigrant parents and children

July 14, 2018

by Kristina Cooke and Reade Levinson


When Yolany Padilla was released from immigration custody in Seattle last week, she assumed she would be quickly reunited with her 6-year-old son, who had been taken from her at the U.S.-Mexico border two months earlier.

But caseworkers at Cayuga Centers in New York, where the boy had been placed, told her lawyer that the government’s vetting process for reunification would take time. Fingerprint collection and analysis alone could take 60 days, and there would also be background checks of all the adults with whom she and her son would stay. It would likely be weeks before her son could be returned to her.

“I didn’t want to believe that could be true,” said Padilla, who comes from Honduras and is seeking asylum in the United States. “It hurt so much to even think it could be 60 days.”

That estimate changed abruptly on Thursday night after a federal judge’s order that the government streamline some vetting procedures for reunifying parents and children. Padilla’s lawyer, Leta Sanchez, received a call from Cayuga Centers’ general counsel saying the case had been referred for expedited processing.

On Saturday, Padilla and her son, Jelsin, were reunited at the Seattle airport, where he was flown from New York.

“It was like my heart was going to come out of my body,” Padilla said, speaking through a translator at the airport after the reunion.

Several immigration attorneys reached by Reuters said they had seen similar expedited reunions following a July 10 order by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in a case brought against the government by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The judge had previously ordered the government to reunify by July 26 as many as 2,500 immigrant children it had separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months. The separations were part of President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, though some of the separated families are also asylum seekers. That policy was abandoned in June in the wake of widespread protests.

On July 10, after examining how an initial wave of reunifications of young children had gone, Sabraw concluded that government vetting policies could be streamlined to speed the process.

Reunifications should not be delayed by “lengthy background checks,” the judge wrote, noting that such checks would not have been performed if the parents and children had never been separated.

Like Padilla, Yeni Gonzalez and Rosayra Pablo-Cruz were also beneficiaries of that order, their attorney believes.


New York attorney Jose Orochena received an email on Thursday evening saying his clients’ children, who ranged in age from 5 to 15, had been cleared for release and reunification. The next day it was confirmed that Gonzalez and Pablo-Cruz, both Guatemalan asylum seekers, could take their children home that day.

Orochena had been told by case workers at Cayuga just a few days earlier that his clients would have to undergo thorough background checks that included income verification and home studies, and that the process would take up to 60 days.

“It went from one extreme,” he said, in which the government required extensive and time-consuming vetting, to “just show me a birth certificate that she’s mom. We’ll take her word for it. We’ll let her go home with her kids.”

Health and Human Services official Chris Meekins said in a court filing on Friday that the government had modified its vetting procedures to comply with the July 10 court order, but he warned that the more rapid process “materially increases the risk of harm to children” and could result in children being placed in abusive environments or with adults who are not their parents.

Judge Sabraw disputed that assertion in a sternly worded order late Friday night, saying streamlined measures did not need to jeopardize child safety. He said parentage should still be verified and accused the government of “attempting to provide cover … for their own conduct in the practice of family separation, and the lack of foresight and infrastructure necessary to remedy the harms caused by that practice.”


On Friday, Pablo-Cruz emerged from a New York shelter beaming and holding hands with her two sons, ages 15 and 5, after two months apart from them.

During their separation, her lawyer said, 15-year-old Jordy and his mother had agreed to tell the younger Fernando that his mother was away from them because of work, thinking he would find that less alarming. When the family was reunited, Orochena said, Jordy engulfed his mother and sobbed for what “seemed like years.”

On Saturday after learning that 6-year-old Jelsin Padilla had boarded his plane to Seattle and would arrive midday, his mother’s attorney was pleased but cautious.

“This is a happy ending,” said Sanchez, “but we need to keep remembering there are so many parents out there that are still separated from their children.”

Additional reporting by Tea Kvetenadze; editing by Sue Horton and and Jonathan Oatis



In the J20 Trials, the Feds Said They Went After “Bad Protesters.” That Just Means Another Crackdown on Dissent.

July 14 2018

by Natasha Lennard

The Intercept

The last remaining defendants in the J20 trials, who faced a raft of charges related to a mass arrest on Inauguration Day, can breathe a sigh of relief. Last week, federal prosecutors decided to drop all remaining felony charges against the protesters, who faced decades in prison for rioting and conspiring to do the same. To defenders of First Amendment rights, the government’s failure to win convictions was a victory: The prosecutors’ novel theory of collective liability — that mere presence at a demonstration in which property damage occurred constituted a planned criminal offense — fell apart.

The cases were an outrage and an embarrassment from the moment D.C. police swept up over 200 people on the corner of L and 12th streets in Washington — a protest in which I took part, but was not arrested. Prosecutors scrambled and made underhanded moves, including withholding evidence and using far-right propaganda as purported evidence of a conspiracy.

Despite the complete absence of any convictions at trial, the government did notch some victories against the defendants. The prolonged and failed prosecution — an ordeal for those who lived through it — drained resources for activism from day one of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Yet the J20 narrative is more complex than a simple victory for protected speech over government repression. It was a troubling example of how the government will use the idea of the “bad protester” to shut down dissent. Aaron Cantú, a journalist and J20 defendant who was among the last to have his charges dropped, tweeted, “The state shamelessly weaponized the ‘good protester/bad protester’ narrative in this case. It’s time to put it to rest.”

This effort will not end with its failure to convict the J20 arrestees: Just this June, Republicans on Capitol Hill introduced the Unmasking Antifa Act of 2018 in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill is unabashed about its target. It calls for fines and a prison sentence of up to 15 years for anyone who “injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person” while wearing a mask or disguise — a bill that telegraphs the government’s future attempts to prosecute the masked protesters they failed to criminalize on Inauguration Day.

There can be no mistake that the Unmasking Antifa Act seeks to further criminalize anti-fascist protests against far-right extremists and neo-Nazis — it’s right there in the name. “It seems to be a way to prepare for the next J20-style repression to actually work,” Mark Bray, author of “The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” noted in a report from the Black Rose Anarchist Federation.

That anti-fascist demonstrators frequently wear masks for fear of harassment and retaliation from white supremacists unveils an irony in the bill’s focus on “antifa”: Many pre-existing state laws that make wearing masks illegal in certain contexts were aimed at Ku Klux Klan members. While anti-masking laws are not uncommon and have often been used in the past to arrest leftist and anarchist protesters, the weight of sentencing proposed in the new bill raises the stakes considerably and exemplifies efforts under the Trump administration to protect the speech of fascists and condemn that of anti-fascists. Legislative proposals of this sort illustrate that the government’s delineation of the “bad protester” during the J20 trials is far from put to rest and is firmly focused on the left.

The prosecution in the J20 cases attempted to paint every arrestee as a “bad protester,” in most cases drawing only on the fact that a defendant wore a mask, dressed in black, and remained in the march from its start to its end in police nets. For the majority of the defendants who engaged in no property damage at all, it might have been tempting to assert that they were in fact the law-abiding “good protesters,” while actively condemning and drawing attention to the actions of a few window-breakers.

Yet the J20 trials provided an anecdote, a lesson in collective resistance, and a refusal to allow government and law enforcement narratives about “good protesters” and “bad protesters” to prevail. While many will disagree with the ethics or value of property damage as a protest tactic, the defendants’ united front meant the government could not weaponize co-defendants to bolster their weak case.

“I’m glad no one went to prison from this case. The case was bullshit from day one. Two-hundred-plus people resisted these charges and got out,” Dylan Petrohilos, a Washington-based activist and former J20 defendant, told me. “Our solidarity inside and outside the courtroom saved us and protected each other.” All but 21 defendants refused to take plea deals, and no one cooperated with the state against another protester.

The legal risks to protesters have been brought to new heights by the significant rise in anti-protest laws around the country since Trump’s inauguration. In February, the National Lawyers Guild noted that 58 bills had been proposed in 31 state legislatures. If passed, they would “crack down on dissent, chill the right to protest, and increase penalties for demonstrators and the organizations that support them,” the guild said.

The prosecution of protest, as in the J20 cases, takes a practical and ideological toll on a movement: It forces arrestees and their allies to shift focus from the reasons and righteousness of their demonstration — in the case of J20, an explicitly anti-fascist show of resistance against the inauguration of a white supremacist administration — to a focus on proving the legality and constitutionality of their actions. As such, even failed prosecutions serve the administration by diverting the energies of a movement and fixing them within the terrain of criminal justice.

We can be sure that the government will not take its failure in the J20 prosecutions quietly and dial back anti-resistance repression. In its statement announcing the dismissal of the remaining charges, the U.S. attorney’s office continued to defend its infirm prosecution. “The destruction that occurred during these criminal acts was in sharp contrast to the peaceful demonstrations and gatherings that took place over the Inauguration weekend in the District of Columbia,” the statement said,” and created a danger for all who were nearby.”

The rhetoric of dangerous protesters as a contrast to “peaceful demonstrations” will continue to undergird government’s anti-resistance, anti-anti-fascist efforts. But at least we have the guiding example of the J20 defendants to follow when it comes to responding with solidarity and resilience. “The state failed at silencing dissent,” said Petrohilos, “and today our movement is stronger than it was on J20.”


Iranian Overview

July 15, 2018

by Christian Jürs

Although the media has been full of various hints of some kind of an American/Israeli air strike on Iranian atomic facilities, to include production centers and possible missile sites, all of this is just calculated disinformation, designed to frighten Iran into dismantling her nuclear facilities, abandoning her missile development program (although most of Iran’s missile defenses are imports from Russia and China) and permitting permanent on-site inspectors. This bluff is being seconded by CIA organized Iranian dissidents. However, that having been said, if Iran were to actually be armed with nuclear weaponry, thanks to Pakistani and Chinese assistance, the damage to the world’s stability is incalculable. If Iran gets atomic weapons, this would, without any doubt, initiate a nuclear arms race in the Middle East with Saudi Arabis, Turkey and Egypt striving to develop their own nuclear weaponry.

Although the broadcast threats of a military attack on Iran are false, should they be considered, as they have, facing facilities heavily guarded with Russian and Chinese aircraft missiles facilities, a saturation bombing attack would only succeed in merely delaying any weapons program Iran might have,. Such an attack would surely also invite reprisals from Iran’s proxies in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, or Iraq.

The Obama administration is scrambling to tighten trade sanctions against Iran after the disclosure last week that Tehran was hiding a heavily fortified facility that many believe is designed to make material for nuclear weapons.

The United States and its allies can tighten sanctions all they want – The United States already has extensive sanctions against Tehran. But without the Chinese on board sanctions don’t have the official weight of the United Nations Security Council, and are thus taken less seriously by the world community. Iran is vulnerable to sanctions on both oil it exports and the gasoline it imports. The oil side is where the country generates serious money, and an embargo could come in the form of restricting oil sales or imports of equipment designed to increase production from the country’s aging oil fields.

But the kind of sanctions that would really hit Iran’s economy – sanctions against its energy industry – are thought to be off the table because China and other nations are too reliant on Iran’s oil.

China oil imports, on a daily basis

  • 740 thousand bbls per diem from Saudi Arabia
  • 544 thousand bbls per diem from Iran
  • 451 thousand bbls per diem from Angola
  • 299 thousand bbls per diem from Russia
  • 275 thousand bbls per diem from Oman
  • 217 thousand bbls per diem from Sudan

Worldwide Buyers of Iranian oil on a daily basis

  • Japan buys 523 thousand bbls per diem
  • China buys 411 thousand bbls per diem
  • India buys 374 thousand bbls per diem
  • South Korea buys 258 thousand bbls per diem


Iran is the world’s fourth-largest crude exporter and holds the planet’s third-largest supply of proven oil reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. The country exported nearly two and half million barrels of oil a day in 2008. Despite being a huge oil producer, Iran lacks the refining capacity to turn all that crude into gasoline. As a result, it imports up to half of the gasoline it consumes. Much of that gasoline comes from India. But barring a Security Council resolution, India isn’t likely to stop these shipments for a few reasons: It’s big business; India imports a lot of crude from Iran; India doesn’t’ want Iran getting any closer to China, India’s long-time rival in the region; and India has its eye on getting natural gas imports from a huge field Iran controls under the Persian Gulf.

Oil exports account for nearly half the government’s revenues and most of those exports go to Asian countries, with China taking a big chunk.

The Chinese rely on Iran for 15% of their oil imports. Moreover, China has been investing heavily in the country as it looks to lock up resources for its growing economy. Meanwhile, interest from Japanese, European and Canadian firms wanes in the face of U.S pressure. State-run

Chinese oil firms are now thought to have deals worth over $100 billion with Iran.

And even though the Russians have signaled a recent willingness to step up sanctions – perhaps due to Obama’s plans to scrap a missile defense system in Central Europe – it’s thought that they’re still not willing to go after Iran’s energy sector.

Iran knows its navy is no match for the ubiquitous and powerful U.S. Navy. So any credibility Iran may have in its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz rests on its asymmetric assets like small speedboats and more conventional weapons like anti-ship missiles and naval mines.

In addition to its fast attack missile boats, which are part of the conventional navy, Iran also has much smaller speedboats employed by the naval arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These vessels gained some notoriety in January 2008 when they were used to harass U.S. warships in the strait.

There are many ways these boats can be employed against tanker traffic in the strait, but most involve massing them in swarms to overwhelm any shipboard defenses. Scenarios include using these small, highly maneuverable vessels to launch rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and other ordnance at larger vessels or packing them with explosives for use in suicide attacks. Although an RPG peppering is unlikely to do more than irritate a conventional warship that displaces nearly 10,000 tons, U.S. war-gaming has suggested that suicide tactics could present a danger to warships as well as tankers trying to maneuver in the cramped waters of the strait.

Modern warships — though hardly as agile or maneuverable as small boats — are heavily armed. U.S. surface combatants not only employ five-inch naval guns but also generally have multiple .50-caliber heavy machine guns arranged to cover all quadrants and often 25 mm Bushmaster cannons. Indeed, a potential attacker can now  find a Bushmaster mounted amidships not far from where the USS Cole was struck on any Arleigh Burke-class destroyer it encounters in the strait. In addition, the U.S. Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, designed as a final line of defense against anti-ship missiles, is being upgraded to include optical and infrared sensors for use against surface targets.

In addition, the size of the small IRGC boats significantly limits the amount of explosives they can effectively deliver. A single strike could be managed by effective damage control on the targeted ship, as was the case with the Cole, where a small boat packed with explosives detonated against the warship’s hull on the water line. Such a strike could well achieve a “mission kill” (scoring enough damage to prevent the ship from continuing to carry out its mission), but it would not likely sink the ship.

Also, the distance between the shoreline where such boats would lurk and the shipping lanes where ships transit the strait is considerable (on the order of 10 nautical miles), and even with suboptimal visibility, the armaments on a modern U.S. warship give it a substantial range advantage. Once hostilities commenced, swarms of small boats approaching alert warships would likely suffer considerable losses while closing the distance to the point where they could inflict damage themselves.

While a large tanker would lack the defensive and damage-control capabilities of a U.S. warship, its size would provide it with its own sort of protection. The bow wave alone would make it difficult for small craft to make contact with the hull. The flow of surface water along the hull of such a large, moving ship creates strong currents toward the ship’s stern. This would not necessarily prevent a small boat from making contact with the hull, but it would certainly complicate the effort. Indeed, though these small boats are maneuverable, they are not designed to operate a dozen miles from shore; the sea state itself in the middle of the strait could present its own challenges.

In addition, the size of the small IRGC boats significantly limits the amount of explosives they can effectively deliver. A single strike could be managed by effective damage control on the targeted ship, as was the case with the Cole, where a small boat packed with explosives detonated against the warship’s hull on the water line. Such a strike could well achieve a “mission kill” (scoring enough damage to prevent the ship from continuing to carry out its mission), but it would not likely sink the ship.

Also, the distance between the shoreline where such boats would lurk and the shipping lanes where ships transit the strait is considerable (on the order of 10 nautical miles), and even with suboptimal visibility, the armaments on a modern U.S. warship give it a substantial range advantage. Once hostilities commenced, swarms of small boats approaching alert warships would likely suffer considerable losses while closing the distance to the point where they could inflict damage themselves.

While a large tanker would lack the defensive and damage-control capabilities of a U.S. warship, its size would provide it with its own sort of protection. The bow wave alone would make it difficult for small craft to make contact with the hull. The flow of surface water along the hull of such a large, moving ship creates strong currents toward the ship’s stern. This would not necessarily prevent a small boat from making contact with the hull, but it would certainly complicate the effort. Indeed, though these small boats are maneuverable, they are not designed to operate a dozen miles from shore; the sea state itself in the middle of the strait could present its own challenges. In addition, crude oil does not easily ignite, so a supertanker’s load can actually serve to absorb explosions if such contact does take place. Indeed, tankers’ compartments for crude have long been segmented, limiting the damage from any one point of impact. Double hulls have been standard in new construction for nearly a decade now and will be required for all tankers by next year. This combination of design features and sheer size further limits the effectiveness of not only small boats but also anti-ship missiles and naval mines.

Though crude oil could certainly be spilled if both hulls were breached, even a series of impacts by small boats would have trouble doing more than bringing a large tanker to a slow halt. It is worth noting that when the French oil tanker Limburg was attacked by a small boat filled with explosives in 2002 in the more open waters of the Gulf of Aden, it burned for several days before being towed to port for expensive repairs.

Iran is also known to have a considerable arsenal of shore-based anti-ship missiles. Some of these missiles are U.S.-made, predating the Iranian revolution and fall of the Shah, and many were used in the Iran-Iraq War. Even in those days, Iran had begun to field Chinese missiles like Beijing’s copy of the Soviet SS-N-2 “Styx,” known as the “Silkworm.” A number of improved variants have been spun off from this basic design, including one reportedly built in Iran. Although slower and “dumber” than more modern anti-ship missiles, this class of weapons carries a bigger punch: a warhead weighing about 1,000 pounds. Warheads on Iran’s newer and smarter anti-ship missiles are one-half to one-third of that weight. These newer weapons include a considerable quantity of Chinese C-801 and C-802 anti-ship missiles (including indigenously built copies). The C-801 is a derivative of the widely proliferated French Exocet and U.S. Harpoon, while the C-802 is an improved version of the C-801. It was one of these missiles — almost certainly provided by Tehran — that struck the Israeli warship INS Hanit off the Lebanese coast during the conflict in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006

Missiles like the C-801/802 also have improved range and guidance systems. Even the shortest-range models (about 25 miles for the oldest Silkworms) have the reach to cover the strait’s designated shipping lanes from the islands of Qeshm and Larak. Longer-range variants put much of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman at risk from Iranian shores.

Iran has elements of its anti-ship missile arsenal deployed in batteries not only along its coast but also on key islands within the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz — with the islands of Qeshm, Sirri and Abu Musa most likely harboring significant quantities of anti-ship missiles. As a general rule, Iranian anti-ship missiles are launched from trucks and the batteries are mobile. Hence, they can be quickly repositioned as needed in a time of crisis. Fired from the coast, these missiles would emerge from the clutter of the shoreline and have very short flight times before impacting ships in the strait, leaving little time for defensive systems to react.

But the anti-ship missile option also presents fundamental challenges for Iran. Iran has only so many launch vehicles for its arsenal, so only a fraction of its anti-ship missile stockpile can be brought to bear at any given time. These batteries are not useful hidden in hills dozens of miles from shore. Most anti-ship missiles — including Iran’s — do not have a terrain-following capability, so they must have a relatively straight, clear shot at the ocean, with no major obstructions. This limits the depth within Iran from which launchers can threaten the strait, and it increases their vulnerability to American naval and air power.

Iran can also use air-launched anti-ship missiles of similar capability (and with similar payload limitations) in targeting vessels in the strait and the Persian Gulf. But fighter aircraft are much larger than anti-ship missiles and would provide additional warning when spotted by powerful American ship-borne radars. Moreover, Iran’s air force would be subject to rapid attrition at the beginning of any air campaign, and the United States would be able to quickly establish air superiority. Iran’s air force is in such a poor state of readiness that even in the early hours of a conflict it would not likely be able to sustain a high sortie rate for any significant length of time.

Thus, Iran must anticipate significant attrition of its anti-ship missiles once hostilities commenced, and it would certainly see an erosion of its ability to fully exploit the remaining missiles over time. So while Iran’s anti-ship missile arsenal could play a role in interdicting commercial traffic in the strait — and it would probably be an effective tool for a limited or controlled escalation — it would not be able to sustain anything more than a short-term campaign to close the choke point.




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