Thursday, August 5, 2021

200,000+ left homeless in Beirut as city is ‘devastated’ by shock blast, governor explains

from RT:

Up to 300,000 people in Beirut have been left without a home after the deadly explosion that ripped through a large part of the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, the governor of the city said.

The powerful eruption devastated entire neighborhoods and affected roughly half of the city, Governor Marwan Abboud told local and international media.

With numerous buildings damaged by the blast wave, between 200,000 and 300,000 people in Beirut have been left without a home and will need food, water and shelter. Preliminary estimates place the damage anywhere between $3 billion and $5 billion and “maybe more,” Abboud added.

US ‘Emergency’ Arms Sales

by Thalif Deen, Consortium News:

The UN held a session that highlighted the humanitarian crisis in Yemen last week and the next day the White House announced a large weapons sale to the Saudi-led coalition, Thalif Deen reports.

When the UN Security Council met last week to discuss the deaths and devastation caused to civilians in ongoing military conflicts and civil wars, the killings in Yemen and the air attacks on hospitals, schools, mosques, and market places — whether deliberate or otherwise — were singled out as the worst ever.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TAKES UNPRECEDENTED STEP AND LABELS IRAN’S REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS CORPS AS A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION

by Geoffrey Grinder, Now The End Begins:

President Trump announced the designation Monday morning, in a shift from the decades in which the U.S. has viewed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.”This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” Trump said in a White House statement. “The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia Are About to Make More Disastrous and Idiotic Mistakes – Part 2

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by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:

In Part 1 of this series, I detailed the recent aggressive power plays initiated by 30-something Saudi princeling Mohamed bin Salman (MBS), who is effectively the absolute leader of Saudi Arabia at this time. I also highlighted how 30-something U.S. princeling Jared Kushner, son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump, may have been involved in MBS’s scheming during an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia a little over a week before the purge hammer dropped. Today’s post will focus on what I think this means for the future of the Middle East, as well as U.S. imperial ambitions.

Before I get started, I want to make something clear. I don’t think I’m Nostradamus or anything. These posts are based on the assumption that certain realities remain in place in the months and years ahead. The first is that Mohamed bin Salman’s attempt to consolidate power will prove successful, at least long enough for him to make more extremely stupid mistakes. The second assumption is that Donald Trump will continue to foolishly give this princeling a blank check when it comes to whatever insane aggressions he pursues within the region.

It’s perfectly clear that MBS views recent setbacks in Syria, where Saudi ISIS forces were routed by Russia and Assad, as unacceptable. As such, he’s looking for another place to fight a proxy war with Iran. Never mind the fact that his war in Yemen has been a total failure and humanitarian disaster, MBS doesn’t appear to be someone who lets one failure get in way of future failures. He appears to have chosen Lebanon as the place for his next chaotic adventure.

In that regard, I found a post published at Moon of Alabama extremely informative. Here’s an excerpt from that piece:

Four days ago we asked: Is The “Moderate Al-Qaeda” Set To Target Hizbullah?. The implied answer in that piece was “Yes, the war is coming to Lebanon.”

Today the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri resigned with a statement issues from Saudi Arabia on the Saudi Arabian TV station Al Arabia (video). This is the opening shot of the war.

The Saudi-Israeli-U.S. axis will lose this war while Iran and Russia will win from it.

Earlier this week the extremely sectarian Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan had threatened Hizbullah in Lebanon and announced surprises:

Firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on Monday called for “toppling Hizbullah” and promised “astonishing” developments in “the coming days.”

Referring to his Sunday tweet about the Lebanese government, the minister said: “I addressed my tweet to the government because the Party of Satan (Hizbullah) is represented in it and it is a terrorist party. The issue is not about toppling the government but rather that Hizbullah should be toppled.”

“The coming developments will definitely be astonishing,” al-Sabhan added.

While the fighting in Syria and Iraq was ongoing, Lebanon was kept at peace. With the wars ending Lebanon is again the place where proxy fights are carried out.

The resignation of Hariri is intended to provoke a constitutional crisis in Lebanon and to prevent new parliament elections. The further Saudi plan is likely to evolve around these elements:

  • The Trump administration will announce new sanctions against Hizbullah and against Lebanon in general.
  • The Saudi government will slip some of its al-Qaeda/ISIS proxy fighters from Syria and Iraq into Lebanon (possibly via Turkey by sea). It will finance local Lebanese terror operations.
  • There will be new assassination attempts, terror attacks and general rioting by Sunni extremist elements against Christians and Shia in Lebanon.
  • The U.S. will try to press the Lebanese army into a war against Hizbullah.
  • Israel will try to provoke and divert Hizbullah’s attention by new shenanigans at the Lebanese and Syrian border. It will NOT start a war.

The plan is unlikely to succeed:

  • The Lebanese people as a whole have no interest in a new civil war.
  • The Lebanese army will not get involved on any specific side but will try to keep everyone calm.
  • Sanctions against Hizbullah will hit all of Lebanon, including Sunni interests.
  • A new Sunni prime minister will be found and installed, replacing the resigned Saudi puppet.
  • Russian and Iranian economic interests will find a new market in Lebanon. Russian companies will engage in Lebanese gas and oil extraction in the Mediterranean and replace U.S. involvement.

The miscalculated Saudi/U.S./Israeli plan against Hizbullah can be understood as a helpless tantrum after their defeat in Syria and Iraq.

In their manic attempts to push back against perceived Iranian (and Russian) influence the Saudis and the U.S. have enabled Iran (and Russia) to gain better and more secure standing that they could ever have hoped to achieve otherwise. Why the Saudis think that their new adventure in Lebanon will have a different result is beyond me.

I completely agree with the above analysis. Everything Saudi princeling MBS has attempted overseas has been an unmitigated disaster, and I expect his Lebanon plan and any that follow will end the same way. The reason this is so important to the world is Donald Trump has completely attached himself to this reckless lunatic. I’ve been warning about this all year, but in case you have any doubts.

When it comes to the incredible stupidity of Trump going all in with this guy, I came across two perfect paragraphs written by Daniel Larison in The American Conservative.

Trump’s embrace of the Saudis has been one of the greatest blunders of his presidency to date, and today he has reaffirmed that he has profoundly bad judgment when it comes to this relationship. There is no reason to have confidence in Salman and his son after the last two and a half years, and there is certainly nothing to support the claim that they know what they are doing. The war on Yemen has become a quagmire for the Saudis and their allies and a catastrophe for the people of Yemen. Trump supports it. The campaign against Qatar has been a useless and ill-advised misadventure that is also hurting members of the Saudi-led bloc. Trump has been an enthusiastic cheerleader. The crown prince is carrying out a massive purge that will drive away foreign investment in the short term and destabilize the kingdom. Once again, Trump is only too happy to approve of anything the Saudi government does, no matter how dangerous or despicable it may be.

Read More @ LibertyBlitzkrieg.com

Trump Must Back Iraq Withdrawal Promise With Action

by Ron Paul, Ron Paul Institute:

Earlier this month, while meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister, President Trump reaffirmed his intent to remove all US troops from Iraq. “We were there and now we’re getting out. We’ll be leaving shortly,” the president told reporters at the time.

Although President Obama should never have sent US troops back into Iraq in 2016, it is definitely well past time to remove them as quickly as possible.

Over the weekend, the Administration announced it would be drawing down troops currently in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,500. That’s a good start.

Damascus To Become A “Ruinous Heap”?: Syria Threatens To Attack The Golan Heights And Israel Prepares For War

by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:

The winds of war are blowing once again, and it isn’t going to take much to spark a major conflict in the Middle East.  This week is the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the civil war in Syria, and after the nightmare that the people of Syria have been through, you would think that the Assad regime would be eager for peace.  But instead, Assad appears to be ready to go for broke.  If Syria can spark a Middle East war that results in the complete destruction of Israel, Assad would be remembered as a hero in the Islamic world forever.  Instead of a legacy of civil war and crushing poverty, Assad’s legacy would be one of wartime leader that brought total victory over Syria’s most hated enemy.  But of course such a conflict would be a huge risk, because if it went badly the city of Damascus would be completely flattened and the nation of Syria as we know it today would be entirely destroyed.  And considering how overwhelmingly powerful the Israeli military is, it would seem to be a very foolish risk to take.  Unfortunately, Assad does not appear to be thinking rationally.  On Thursday, Syria officially threatened “to attack Israel unless it withdraws from the Golan Heights”.  The following comes from the Jerusalem Post

Explosion Hits Russia’s Largest Virus Lab Which Houses Plague, Smallpox, Ebola And Other Deadly Viruses

via Activist Post:

A sudden explosion at a Siberian virus research center on Monday reportedly left the facility engulfed in flames, according to several Russian news outlets.

Firefighters and other emergency personnel were dispatched to the “Vector Institute” located several miles from Novosibirsk – an emergency which was upgraded “from an ordinary emergency to a major incident,” according to RTdue to the research center for virology and biotechnology housed in the facility; however, the mayor of Koltsovo said there were no biologically dangerous substances in the area where the explosion occurred, and that the Vector laboratory was not in use at the time.

An Ever Increasing Number of Military Ships Arrives to the Eastern Mediterranean

by Martin Berger, New Eastern Outlook:

The last couple weeks in the Eastern Mediterranean could remind a casual observer of some sort of a military parade, with members of the US-led coalition bringing an ever increasing number of military assets to the region.

The number of warships flying various flags being dispatched as a show of force to the Eastern Mediterranean has been increasing on a daily basis. The warships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, including HNLMS De Ruyter of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Greece’s Elli,HMCS Ville de Québec of the Royal Canadian Navy, and four American Tomahawk-wielding destroyers – USS Carney, USS Ross, USS Winston S. Churchill and USS Bulkeley. Even the flagship of the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet USS Mount Whitney made an appearance in the region together with at least three of the multi-purpose Los Angeles class nuclear submarines, one of which was the USS Newport News, which was previously stationed in Gibraltar.

AI could spark a nuclear apocalypse by 2040, new study warns

by Lance D Johnson, Natural News:

A new study conducted by the RAND Corporation warns that advances in artificial intelligence could spark a nuclear apocalypse as soon as 2040. The researchers gathered information from experts in nuclear issues, government, AI research, AI policy, and national security. According to the paper, AI machines might not destroy the world autonomously, but artificial intelligence could encourage humans to take apocalyptic risks with military decisions.

Humans will inevitably trust in AI technology to a greater extent, as advances are made in AI for detection, tracking, and targeting. The newfound data intelligence that AI provides will escalate war time tensions and encourage bold, calculated decisions. As armies trust AI to translate data, they will be more apt to take drastic measures against one another. It will be like playing chess against a computer that can predict your future moves and make decisions accordingly.

When Did The Democrats Turn Into The ‘War Party’? The Disastrous History Of False Flags Being Used To Take America Into War

by William B Stoecker, All News Pipeline:

There was a time when the left at least pretended to stand for peace and to oppose excessive militarism and unnecessary wars…but that time, apparently, is long past. Leftists today, motivated by a mindless hatred for President Trump and by identity politics, seem not to care that we still have troops in harm’s way in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, or that we are aiding Saudi Arabia in a brutal war against Shiite rebels in Yemen, or that we still have contingents of troops (mostly spec ops) in African countries most of us cannot find on a map.

It was not always so. America has a fine tradition of principled opposition to wars and to conscription. Lincoln’s Civil War was never popular; most Northerners would have rather let the South go its way. They may have opposed slavery or desired to preserve the Union, but not to the point of being willing to die for such causes. The most violent draft riots in US history took place in New York City during the Civil War. Europeans in 1914 marched off to war with boundless enthusiasm, but most Americans would have preferred to let the Europeans settle their own problems without our becoming involved.

Just A Little Sloppy Record-Keeping? The Pentagon’s $35 Trillion ‘Accounting Black Hole’

from ZeroHedge:

It sounds more appropriately news out of The Onion or Babylon Bee given this is *Trillions* and not just billions — though that itself would have been remarkable enough. Naturally, the first and only question we should start with is: how is this even possible?

Over the past two weeks of coronavirus headlines and heightened global anxiety, along with impeachment coverage and after over the Super Bowl weekend Americans huddled in living rooms in blissful oblivion, a story which in more normal times would be front and center has gone largely unnoticed. To be sure, the Pentagon couldn’t be happier that this bombshell has taken a back burner in global headlines:

The Pentagon made $35 trillion in accounting adjustments last year alone  a total that’s larger than the entire U.S. economy and underscores the Defense Department’s continuing difficulty in balancing its books.

The latest estimate is up from $30.7 trillion in 2018 and $29 trillion in 2017, the first year adjustments were tracked in a concerted way, according to Pentagon figures and a lawmaker who’s pursued the accounting morass.

Russian AK-47 Manufacturer Building Fully Automated Lethal Combat Machines

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by Joseph Jankowski, Planet Free Will:
The debate over the role robots will play in the future of warfare is one that is taking place right now as the development of automated lethal technology is truly beginning to take shape. Predator drone style combat machines are just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come down the line of lethal weaponry and some are worried that when robots are calling the shots, things could get a little out of hand.

Recently there has been some debate at the U.N. about “killer robots,” with prominent scientists, researchers, and Human rights organizations all warning that this type of technology – lethal tech. that divorces the need for human control – could cause a slew of unintended consequence to the detriment of humanity.

The U.S. Is Inches From A War With North Korea In Which Millions Could Die

by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog

We are just inches away from the outbreak of World War III, and yet most Americans seem completely oblivious to what is happening.  On Friday, North Korea conducted a missile test which proved that it now has the capability of hitting major U.S. cities in the western half of the country.  Every diplomatic effort to end North Korea’s nuclear program has completely failed, the Chinese have shown that they do not intend to do much of anything to intervene in this crisis, and the United Nations is a dead end.  Given enough time, the North Koreans will build hundreds of ICBMs capable of delivering nukes to cities all over America, and the Trump administration has already indicated that they will never accept this.  If no other way can be found to derail North Korea’s nuclear program, President Trump will almost certainly order a military strike, and that could set off a war in which millions could die.

Personally, I am stunned that North Korea’s missile test on Friday didn’t receive more attention from the mainstream media, because the truth is that this was the biggest step toward war on the Korean peninsula since 1953

After North Korea’s missile launch on Friday, the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists shared its fears that the country’s latest weapon had the capacity to reach major US cities.

When it launched the missile on Friday, North Korea aimed it on a high trajectory which allowed the weapon to crash in to the Sea of Japan.

The ground range of the test was 6,500 miles, according to multiple agencies, and it had a flight time of around 47 minutes.

If the missile had been fired at a standard trajectory, it could have easily reached Los Angeles, Denver or Chicago.

In other words, more than half the continental United States is now within range of North Korean missiles…

Preliminary data from the launch reveals that half, if not most, of the continental U.S. would be in range of the missile tested Friday.

“Looks like it pretty much can get to New York, Boston and probably falls just short of Washington,” David Wright, co-director and senior scientist for the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told CNBC.

This is supposed to be a red line for President Trump, and it will be extremely interesting to see how he responds in the days ahead.

On Twitter, Trump sounded like a man that is completely out of patience with North Korea

“Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue.China could easily solve this problem!”

In addition to Trump, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is also indicating that time for diplomatic maneuvering has run out

The time for talk is over. The danger the North Korean regime poses to international peace is now clear to all.”

The Trump administration has already made it very clear that they will not be going to the UN Security Council with this matter because they believe that would be a dead end.

At this point, the available options for dealing with North Korea are narrowing rapidly, and direct military action appears to be gaining favor.  In fact, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy released a statement on Saturday night warning that the U.S. is ready to use “rapid, lethal and overwhelming force”

The U.S. and its allies are prepared to use “rapid, lethal and overwhelming force,” if necessary, against North Korea, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces warned Saturday night.

The statement from Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, U.S. Pacific Air Forces commander, came after the militaries of the U.S., South Korea and Japan spent 10 hours conducting bomber-jet drills over the Korean Peninsula.

Read More @ TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com

War Drums: Europe Readies A Naval Task Force As Iran Threatens To “Secure” The Strait Of Hormuz

by Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog:

It is funny – for decades we have never had any problems with commercial ships passing through the Persian Gulf, but all of a sudden it has become a major flashpoint.  As you will see below, the Iranians are now warning that they plan to “secure” the Strait of Hormuz, and meanwhile a plan for a European-led naval task force to confront the Iranians is rapidly coming together.  The seizure of a British tanker a few days ago really rattled British officials, and they are determined to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.  Of course the more the Persian Gulf region becomes saturated with military assets, the more likely it is that a “mistake” will happen, and it sure won’t take much of a spark to start World War 3 at this point.