Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday: In The News

Pope Francis Claims Global Economy Is Close To Collapse

Pope Francis has launched a scathing attack on the global economic system, warning it is near collapse because of a 'throwaway culture' of greed and the 'atrocity' of youth unemployment.
The Roman Catholic leader openly blasted the 'idolatrous' economy for disregarding the young, which he says has led to shocking levels of youth unemployment and will lead to a lost generation.
The 77-year-old also criticised the economy - which he said had 'fallen into a sin of idolatry, the idolatry of money' - for surviving on the profits of war.
The Pope's damning message came amid comments he made about the break-up of countries such as Scotland and Catalonia, which came as a huge blow to the Scottish Yes campaign. 
In an interview with Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, he said: 'Our world cannot take it anymore. Our global economic system can’t take any more.

'We discard a whole generation to maintain an economic system that no longer endures - a system that to survive has to make war, as the big empires have always done. 

'The economy is moved by the ambition of having more and, paradoxically, it feeds a throwaway culture.'
The pontiff expressed particular concern over the 'worrisome' statistics of youth unemployment.

During the interview, Pope Francis - who has not shied away from speaking out since he took over as the head of the church - denounced the influence of war and the military on the global economy.
He said: 'Since we cannot wage the Third World War, we make regional wars. And what does that mean? That we make and sell arms.
'And with that the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies -- the big world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money -- are obviously sorted.
'This unique thought takes away the wealth of diversity of thought and therefore the wealth of a dialogue between peoples.'

Last Wednesday, a small power station in Nogales, Arizona was the site of a mysterious bomb attack that left no injuries, nor any witnesses. The assailant(s) broke into the facility sometime between 4pm Tuesday and 8 am Wednesday, and planted a small incendiary device on the valve of a 50,000 gallon diesel tank. The device managed to burn the surface of the steel, but failed to ignite the fuel inside the container. If they had succeeded it could have disrupted power for 30,000 people.

The FBI is currently investigating the attack, but have no leads as far as we know. There were no signs of vandalism that are often left behind by environmental terrorists, who would normally be suspected in an electrical grid attack. The FBI is currently looking into several other incidents that were reported earlier this year:

“On Thursday, law-enforcement officials said the FBI was looking at past suspicious incidents in the area, citing one near Sahuarita, north of Nogales. In that incident, someone was reported to be trying to cut power lines, law-enforcement officials said.
On Feb. 9, target shooters near a substation in that area were seen on security cameras, causing alarm. Police and the utility’s security officers traveled to the site to ask the shooters to move along, but they were gone when police arrived, Salkowski said.”

This incendiary attack has officials worried after a similar incident was reported at a power substation in San Jose earlier this year. The attack was initially considered to be a case of vandalism until more details were exposed to the public, nearly 10 months after the fact.

On the surface, this recent attack doesn’t appear to have as much in common with the shooting in San Jose. The suspects didn’t use firearms and they failed to disrupt the facility as much as the San Jose incident. The facility they attacked was merely a backup power producer for peak hours, not a major substation. What they do have in common is a little more startling though.

Both attacks reveal the possibility of scouting and probing the property before the attack, in this case armed individuals were seen in the area several months before, and it was reported that someone was trying to cut power lines nearby in a separate case. Both attacks involved assailants infiltrating the facility after hours and despite the coordination of the attacks, neither succeeded in disrupting the power supply in any meaningful way. And of course both incidents involved cheap and relatively low tech weapons to destroy this expensive equipment. Neither incident left the traditional calling signs of a terrorist group.

Let’s play devils advocate for a moment, and assume the possibility that both attacks were perpetrated by the same organization (and given the multiple individuals involved in the San Jose attacks, it is definitely an organization of some kind). The coordination and lack publicity from any terrorist groups seems to imply, at least in my mind, that this is state sponsored. If they were sponsored by some foreign state, they certainly had the means to do way more damage and disrupt the power supply in a big way. So Why didn’t they?

I suspect these attacks are probing missions. 

While the American power grid is incredibly vulnerable, it is still massively complicated. If someone were attempting to bring it down, they need to know its ins and outs, and they need know where it is most vulnerable. They need to know how difficult it is to bypass the security of these facilities. They need to develop a map of all of our power plants, substations, power lines etc. Heck, they may even pull off minor attacks of little consequence, just so the news may give them more information on the facility.

Since this organization appears to be fairly low budget, they have to figure out how they can destroy the grid with the fewest number of attacks. There certainly exists a handful of locations that if disrupted, could eliminate the power supply for millions of Americans, if not everyone in the country. These perpetrators are not yet ready to pull off such an operation. They need to see what happens, on the small scale at first, when certain parts of the grid are damaged or disabled.

Its haunting repetition of the same few notes and open harmonies give a new video from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, a definite Middle Eastern flavor.

Its message about killing Jews and Christians ties it securely to those members of Islam who follow the Quran, observers say.
The video, which is being publicized by the Middle East Media Research Institute, comes from ISIL, a part of the forces that now are reaching out across the Middle East to establish a Shariah-enforcing religious state.
Officials at the Religious Freedom Coalition note the singing is about “slaughtering of Jews and Christians and establishing an Islamic dictatorship.”
“These killers are marching victoriously through Iraq today, murdering thousands in Syria; and terrorizing unarmed citizens throughout Africa,” the organization said. “They’re on the march and Obama helps them through his inaction or by directly supporting their efforts in nations like Syria.”

The move came hours after Israeli planes pounded several sites in the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for rockets fired earlier in the day.

Ashdod, a city of some 200,000, sits several kilometers from the Gaza Strip and has been targeted with rockets in the past

On Saturday, several rockets were fired toward Ashkelon, all of which landed in open fields and did not cause any injuries or damage.

Israel responded with a large sortie over Gaza, its second since Thursday.
“In response to the three rockets fired earlier this evening at Israel, an IAF aircraft targeted three terror activity sites and two weapon storage and manufacturing facilities in the southern Gaza Strip, as well as a terror activity site in the central Gaza Strip,” the IDF said. “Direct hits were confirmed.”
On Thursday, a Gazan rocket damaged a road in the Eshkol region.

They call themselves the Army of God (Jund Allah) and claim to be fighting to unite mankind under the banner of Islam as “the only true faith.” To achieve that goal, they believe they should revive the Islamic Caliphate, the theocratic empire developed after the death of Prophet Mohammed in 632 AD.

Adepts of the caliphate movement are present throughout the world, including the United States, under different labels. In many places, from the Philippines to Nigeria, passing by Thailand, India, Afghanistan and Syria, they have taken up arms to capture a chunk of territory as the embryo of their dream empire.

In recent months, a branch of the movement, known as Da’esh or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been capturing territory in Syria. Last week, it used its Syrian base as a springboard for conquest in Iraq, ending up in control of the western parts of Mosul, the country’s third-largest city, as well as parts of Saddam Hussein’s native town of Tikrit.

Theoretically, all practicing Muslims must work to unite mankind under the banner of Islam, as the Koran regards the two previous Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity, as “corrupted and cancelled.” Others, such as Hindus and Buddhists, not to mention atheists, who do not subscribe to any of the Abrahamic faiths, are regarded as “deviants” to be goaded into the Right Path.

To many Muslims, the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate by Ataturk in 1924 is a deep historic wound that shall heal only when a new caliphate is set up to resume the ghazavat (wars of conquest) against the Infidel.

In fact, the dream of reviving the caliphate is one of the key unifying themes between radical Islamists and ordinary Muslims.
The reason is that, over the past century or so, Islam has been gradually reinterpreted as a political ideology rather than a religion. Just as Communism was a religion expressed through a secular vocabulary, Islam has become a political ideology using a religious vocabulary.

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