Russia starts reinforcing naval fleet in Crimea

Sevastopol (AFP) – Russia announced Wednesday that it had begun expanding and modernising its Black Sea fleet based in Crimea with new ships and submarines, just months after annexing the peninsula from Ukraine.

“Today we have started forming a powerful Black Sea fleet with an absolutely different level of air service, coastal missile and artillery troops and marines,” said Alexander Vitko, the Black Sea fleet commander, in a message to servicemen. Continue reading

Ethiopia army voices readiness to pay the price for Nile dam

A host of Ethiopian army commanders have voiced their readiness to protect the country’s multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project, currently at the heart of a major row with Cairo due to Egyptian fears the dam could threaten its traditional share of Nile water.

State-run television reported that military commanders had visited the project site, during which they had voiced their readiness to “pay the price” to protect the dam, which they described as a “national project.”

According to state television, the visit – the first by military commanders to the site – came as part of activities marking Ethiopia’s Army Day. Continue reading

Study Predicts More Frequent And Severe Blackouts In The Coming Years

A new assessment from a British and New Zealand research team has concluded that the worldwide electrical grid will suffer more frequent and significant outages if current trends continue.

In their report, which was published in the Social Space Scientific Journal, the two authors noted that nearly three quarters of American transmission lines are more than 25 years old. Continue reading

Megatons To Megawatts: Russian Warheads Fuel U.S. Power Plants

Here’s a remarkable fact: For the past two decades, 10 percent of all the electricity consumed in the United States has come from Russian nuclear warheads.

It was all part of a deal struck at the end of the Cold War. That deal wraps up today, when the final shipment of fuel arrives at a U.S. facility. Continue reading

African states push back on Chinese oil deals

NIAMEY, Niger – In Niger, government officials have fought a Chinese oil giant step by step, painfully undoing parts of a contract they call ruinous. In neighboring Chad, they have been even more forceful, shutting down the Chinese and accusing them of gross environmental negligence. In Gabon, they have seized major oil tracts from China, handing them over to the state company.

China wants Africa’s oil as much as ever. But instead of accepting the old terms, which many African officials call unconditional surrender, some cash-starved African states are pushing back, showing an assertiveness unthinkable until recently and suggesting that the days of unbridled influence by the African continent’s mega-investor may be waning. Continue reading

China betting on overland energy-supply lines

SINGAPORE – China’s strategy to diversify supply routes for its rapidly rising energy imports has just taken a major step forward.

On July 15, natural gas from Myanmar (aka Burma) started to flow along a recently completed pipeline that stretches for 1,100 kilometers from the sea coast, through jungle and mountains, to Kunming in southwest China.

There it will feed into other gas lines supplying homes, industries and power plants generating electricity in the world’s biggest energy user. Continue reading

Russia’s Putin eyeing military dominance in Central Asia amid water quarrels

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are landlocked and mountainous countries—75% and 90%, respectively—in Central Asia. The countries’ mountains provide abundance of potable water, which feed the two major rivers of Central Asia.  The scarcity of other natural resources understandably results in Bishkek’s and Dushanbe’s attempts to use the water more wisely—building hydropower plants (HPP) for generating electricity.  Dushanbe is aiming at erecting the tallest dam in the world—a 335-meter (about 1,000 feet) tall concrete wall on the Vakhsh River (turns into Amu-Darya River).  Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, is securing Russia’s backing in building a 275-meter dam on the Naryn River (turns into Syr-Darya River). Continue reading

Coal Industry Under Attack

A map has been generated at FreeMarketAmerica.org which tracks jobs lost on account of the Sierra Club’s war on coal. The data for the map comes from the National Mining Association, which says that over 1.2 million jobs have been lost in the coal industry. If mining stocks haven’t been doing well – whether we are talking coal or even gold – consider the environmental hits taken by the mining industry. Like the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest, coal mining has been specially targeted for reduction.

It’s true, of course. Last June Bloomberg ran a piece, “Displaced coal miners face slim job prospects.” All around the country, coal jobs are being lost. Coal is one of America’s key energy resources. It is an energy resource we don’t have to import. But the Obama Administration appears determined to crush the coal industry in order to save the planet from global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes global warming is caused by greenhouse gases produced by coal as well as oil. Therefore, a radical effort is underway to curtail the use of coal.

Only a few years ago more than half our electricity was generated from coal. In the first quarter of 2012 the generation of electricity from coal dropped 21 percent from 2011 levels. The immediate culprit is the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAP). You can read about it at the Web Site of the EPA where it states: “On July 6, 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that protects the health of millions of Americans by helping states reduce air pollution and attain clean air standards. This rule, known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, requires states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states.” (In other words, coal is out.)

In the middle of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, when as many as 86 million are unemployed, how can the federal government purposely push for over 1.2 million in additional job losses? And yes, the job situation may be worse than official figures suggest. Readers should review CNN Money’s May 4 piece titled “The 86 million invisible unemployed” which stated that our work force has the “lowest force participation rate since 1981.”

As CNN Money explained, “Only people looking for work are considered officially unemployed.” So the situation is worse than the government represents. Yet the government would add to the number of those out of work by strangling the coal industry. When the price of oil remains high and a war in the Middle East could drive oil prices higher, wouldn’t it be wise to leave the coal industry alone? But then, we have to save the planet from global warming – or do we?

Full article: Coal Industry Under Attack (JR Nyquist | Financial Sense Online)

EMP and the Shield Act

So many years, so many warnings coupled with a growing number of threats — yet, America fails to prepare. This post is not to sound alarmist, but the basics of national security should be covered. Threats from America’s enemies are made on almost a daily basis… and perhaps one day they might follow through.

American and Soviet planners realized that an EMP effect could be used to win a nuclear war. As described by Dr. Pry above, EMP could be used to disrupt or destroy an enemy’s nuclear arsenal. Realizing this potential, the Soviet Union and the United States both developed super-EMP bombs. These weapons produce intense gamma radiation, enhancing the EMP effect so that hardened or protected weapon systems can still be damaged. After successful tests the Russians deployed an unknown number of EMP warheads. On its side, the United States failed to deploy its own version of the super-EMP weapon.

Since proliferation is the word of the day, American experts are now concerned that rogue states have acquired super-EMP technology. In fact, there is evidence that North Korea has developed and deployed its own version of the Russian super-EMP bomb. Russian military officials have privately warned the U.S. government that scientists from the Soviet super-EMP bomb project have been helping the North Koreans. Last Thursday I spoke with Dr. Pry, who said that North Korea may have tested a super-EMP weapon in May 2009. The “signature” of the North Korean test was consistent with a high-gamma output combined with relatively small blast output – of three kilotons.

Pry also described Iranian missile tests which appear to resemble high altitude practice strikes. It is well known that the Iranians and North Koreans have been collaborating. Both regimes consider the United States to be Enemy Number One. The propaganda of both regimes includes the promise that America will be destroyed. How this destruction is accomplished, we are not told. But simple observation of tests and preparations should provide us with a clue.

Even a localized EMP strike could take out the entire U.S. power grid because power stations are all interconnected, and damage would cascade through the system wiping out equipment that could not be replaced for at least 18 months. According to the “Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack,” an EMP attack “can damage or disrupt the infrastructure that supplies food to the population of the United States.” Supermarkets typically carry enough food to supply the local population for three days. Without electricity, Americans will starve. Less than two percent of Americans work on farms, according to the Commission report. “An attack that neutralized farming technology would depress U.S. food production.” The food distribution system is even more vulnerable.

The Commission report concludes: “Absolute deprivation of food, on average, will greatly diminish a person’s capacity for physical work within a few days. After 4 to 5 days without food, the average person will suffer from impaired judgment and have difficulty performing simple intellectual tasks. After 2 weeks without food, the average person will be virtually incapacitated. Death typically results after 1 or 2 months without food.”

In a continent-wide EMP attack, between one third and four-fifths of the population would die. As of today, the United States government has taken no action to prepare for this kind of attack, or harden vital systems essential for saving millions of lives. In 2010 Congress tried to pass the Grid Act (HR 5026). After being passed by the House, the Grid Act died in a Senate committee. Today we have a chance to pass another bill, called the “Secure High-Voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act” (the Shield Act). It acknowledges that American lives will be lost without electricity, so the grid must be protected. The cost of the Shield Act is minimal – pennies per month for the average electric bill. A better investment can hardly be imagined.

Full article: EMP and the Shield Act (JR Nyquist)