ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Korean Herald Reports Tunnel Disaster At N. Korean Nuke Test Site–200+ Dead

    A tunnel under construction at North Korea’s nuclear test site collapsed and as many as 200 workers could have been killed, a Japanese news report said Tuesday.

About 100 people were trapped inside when the unfinished tunnel at the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site collapsed, and an additional 100 people could have been killed while trying to rescue those trapped as a second collapse occurred, Japan’s TV Asahi reported.

The report didn’t provide further details, such as when the accident happened.

Experts have warned that the North’s nuclear test site must have become fatigued and unstable from six nuclear tests, including last month’s latest and most powerful one, that a collapse could happen at any time.

Kim Jong-un. Yonhap

On Monday, the chief of South Korea’s weather agency Korea Meteorological Administration, Nam Jae-cheol, said during a parliamentary meeting that another nuclear blast could trigger a collapse of the North’s mountainous test site and a leak of radioactive materials.

Once Again, US Spec. Forces Killed In Mali Under Suspicious Circumstances

SEE: Special Ops US Commandos Found Dead In Mali With Moroccan Prostitutes ]

Two Navy SEALs under investigation in death of Green Beret in Mali

 

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar of Lubbock, Texas, died in Mali on June 4, 2017. His death is being investigated as a homicide.

Two members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six are under investigation in the death of an Army Green Beret in Mali this past June, according to U.S. officials. The death is being investigated by the Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service.

On June 4, Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar was found dead in his room in embassy housing in Bamako, Mali.

U.S. officials confirm that two Navy SEALS are under investigation for Melgar’s death, and that the SEALS belong to the elite SEAL Team Six.

U.S. Department of State  The U.S. Embassy Bamako, Mali is seen in an undated photo posted to the State Department website.

One official said the death is being investigated as a homicide and that investigators are looking into Melgar’s suspected asphyxiation.

An investigation was immediately launched by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. That investigation was transferred to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service on September 25.

“NCIS can confirm we are investigating the death of SSGT Melgar but beyond that, NCIS does not discuss the details of ongoing investigations,” said Ed Buice, an NCIS spokesman.

A U.S. official said Melgar’s death is being investigated as a homicide.

The news of the investigation into Melgar’s death was first reported by the New York Times.

Melgar’s death was not publicly announced by the Pentagon at the time of his death. Not every military fatality overseas is required to be disclosed publicly by the Pentagon. Typically the rule of thumb is that fatalities are required to be announced for named operations, such as Operation Inherent Resolve.

Melgar was part of a small group of U.S. military personnel working in Bamako, Mali in support of the U.S. Embassy. The Lubbock, Texas, native enlisted in the Army in January 2012 as an 18X. In 2013, he started his Special Forces training, and was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) in 2016, after he’d completed the Special Forces Qualification and Special Forces Engineer courses.

Melgar conducted two deployments to Afghanistan as an engineer sergeant.

 

Hekmatyar’s deputy Nabi Ahmadi kidnapped from Peshawar

[SEE: Now, the Hekmatyar Option.]

[Hekmatyar and “Islamic State of Afghanistan” (Taliban) Allegedly Dealing With ISIL for Post-2014–Sept. 26, 2014]

Afghan deputy governor Nabi Ahmadi kidnapped from Peshawar

Afghan deputy governor Nabi Ahmadi kidnapped from Peshawar

PESHAWARUnidentified gunmen abducted Muhammad Nabi Ahmadi, the deputy governor of Afghanistan’s Kunar province, in Dabgari area of Peshawar on Friday.

“At first we thought that he was somewhere nearby when he didn’t respond to our calls,” newly appointed Afghan Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Consul General Moeen Mrastyal told The Express Tribune on the phone on Saturday.

READ MORE:   US Senate blocks attempt to repeal US Military authority in Afghanistan war

“We then informed the Kabul government and also the Pakistani high-ups about him,” he added.The consul general said the governor had arrived in Peshawar on Thursday and scheduled an appointment with a doctor in Dabggari the next day.

READ MORE:   11 US Army soldiers hit in a Afghan Taliban explosive trap

“There, he was abducted by unidentified gunmen and we still haven’t heard anything about him,” he added.

Mrastyal said he was in regular touch with the K-P law-enforcement agencies and had also informed the K-P governor about the abduction. “We hope that he will rescued soon.”

READ MORE:   USA special envoy on Afghan-Pak Richard Olson meets General Raheel Sharif in GHQ

Ahmadi’s abduction was confirmed by officers at the Shah Qabool police station.

The officers said they were trying to locate the governor and rescue him.

Last year, former Afghan governor Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi was rescued in Mardan, two weeks after he was abducted in Islamabad.

India’s first wheat shipment leaves Iran’s Chabahar port for Afghanistan

India’s first wheat shipment leaves Iran’s Chabahar port for Afghanistan

 

 

Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani flagged off the shipment of wheat from India to Afghanistan via video conferencing
The Chabahar port on Iran’s coast serves as a crucial junction for trade among India, Afghanistan and Iran. Photo: Reuters

The Chabahar port on Iran’s coast serves as a crucial junction for trade among India, Afghanistan and Iran. Photo: Reuters

New Delhi: India on Sunday sent its first consignment of wheat for Afghanistan to be shipped through the Chabahar port in Iran, seen as a “landmark” move to operationalise the strategic transit route.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani flagged off the shipment of wheat from India to Afghanistan via video conferencing, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said.

“The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan,” it said in a statement.

On the occasion, Swaraj reiterated India’s continued commitment to support reconstruction, capacity building and socio-economic development of Afghanistan, including under the framework of the New Development Partnership that she had jointly announced with Rabbani last month during the meeting of India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council.

“She also renewed commitment to work closely with regional and international partners to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan,” the MEA said. It said the Chabahar port in Iran will open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries and the wider region.

“The two foreign ministers welcomed the fact that this is the first shipment that would be going to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port after trilateral agreement on establishment of international transport and transit corridor was signed during the visit of the prime minister of India to Iran in May 2016,” the MEA said.

Six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan over the next few months. Swaraj and Rabbani also reaffirmed their commitment to continue their cooperation for the benefit and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan and the region. India and Iran have already expressed commitment for early completion of the work on the Chabahar Port project.

Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Persian Gulf nation’s southern coast, lies outside the Persian Gulf and can be easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan. The port is likely to ramp up trade between India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.

India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternate and reliable access routes, bypassing Pakistan. An air freight corridor between India and Afghanistan was also operationalised earlier this year to give a fillip to the bilateral trade relations.

The GOP Doesn’t Even Have the Courtesy to Hide Its Sociopathic Priorities

[In Trump-World, Only Christian Liberals Are Burdened w/the Poor, the sick, etc.]

 

The GOP Doesn’t Even Have the Courtesy to Hide Its Sociopathic Priorities


 

By @EricLevitz 
Make Oligarchy Great Again. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Thursday, House Republicans decided that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are such an urgent necessity, it would be worth adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit to ensure their passage. Hours later, the Republican president declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” — but refused to commit a single dollar of new funds to address it.

To preempt criticism of the latter point, the White House tweeted a meme:

Although the GOP has voted to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit for their tax plan, the president has actually proposed some $5.8 trillion in cuts (to be offset with unspecified loophole closures and spending cuts). According to an analysis from the Tax Policy Center, the top one percent of income earners would collect about 80 percent of that lost revenue.

So, at a time when corporate profits and income inequality are at historic highs — and drug overdoses are killing more than 50,000 Americans a year — the White House is bragging that it has treated the opioid epidemic as though it were 0.017 percent as important as tax cuts for the wealthy.

And even this is an overstatement. Note that tweet’s passive voice: The $1 billion Trump refers to here was appropriated under the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law by Barack Obama last December. This administration hasn’t allocated any new funds to fight the epidemic. In fact, it spent the better part of its first year in office trying to cut $1 trillion for Medicaid, one of America’s primary sources of funding for addiction treatment.

Historically, conservatives have made an effort to hide the fact that they have priorities that almost no one in the United States would endorse. When Republicans voted against economic stimulus at a time of deep recession, or expanding affordable health insurance to low-income people in an era of widespread medical bankruptcies, or relief funding for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, they would insist that they were not indifferent to the suffering of the non-affluent, but were merely convinced that a higher national debt posed a greater threat to the unfortunate than anything else.

The House Freedom Caucus has used this rationale to deny aid to victims of natural disasters and force the government to the brink of debt default. At this very moment, they are blocking reauthorization of the $8 billion Children’s Health Insurance Program until Democrats agree to offset that money with cuts to health-care programs for adults.

And yet, on Thursday, the Freedom Caucus declined to oppose one of the largest debt increases in American history, while many of its loudest fiscal hawks voted to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit for tax cuts — which is about 187 times the amount of money they refuse to add to the deficit for children’s health care.

The mask is off. The debt never mattered. The GOP is a party owned and for sociopathic plutocrats. Republican voters may be skeptical of “big government.” They may hate bureaucracy and red tape. But approximately zero percent of them believe it’s responsible to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit for rich people’s tax cuts, but reckless to add $8 billion children’s health care. In fact, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 75 percent of Republican voters want to prioritize deficit reduction over cutting taxes on the wealthy, while 63 percent say the same about cutting them for corporations.

In a functioning republic, a major political party wouldn’t think of spending trillions of dollars on an unpopular gift to the economic elite while refusing to commit more than $1 billion to a public-health emergency concentrated among its own voters. In the United States in 2017, the Republicans are doing just that — and don’t even feel a need to hide it.

How Did Fracked American Shale Gas Become the Solution To Puerto Rico’s Electrical Nightmare?

[SEE:  Two-person energy firm’s $300 million contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical grid ; Questions arise about Whitefish company’s Puerto Rico contract ]

Colonel Noel Zamot, Commandant of The Air Force Test Pilot School, after his Fini Flight at Edwards AFB, CA. June 13, 2012. AFFTC Aerial Photographer Christian Turner.

Puerto Rico’s painful power recovery gets a new director

 

 

PREPA, backed by the governor, Rosselló, has called for a $470 million offshore liquefied natural gas port on the island’s south coast to receive LNG shipments from U.S. shale gas reserves.

A federal emergency manager has been placed in charge of the tortuous efforts to restore electric power in Puerto Rico five weeks after Hurricane Maria struck, amid mounting criticism that the island’s bankrupt public utility has badly mismanaged the crisis.

The Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board, created by Congress to monitor restructuring of the U.S. territory’s $70 billion debt load, announced yesterday that Noel Zamot, the board’s revitalization coordinator and a retired Air Force colonel, will serve as “chief transformation officer” for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

The board said Zamot’s immediate priority will be to accelerate grid reconstruction on the island, where three-quarters of the population remains without electricity, according to the San Juan government’s website.

But Zamot, born and raised in Puerto Rico, will also lead the planning of a restructured electricity grid once the emergency is over, the board said, giving him a pivotal role in what has been an intense debate between PREPA and its independent regulator, the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, over what the future grid should look like.

“Zamot will lead the transformation of PREPA and the rebuilding of the electricity sector,” the board said.

The post-hurricane repair campaign has been split between crews brought in by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, given overall charge of grid recovery by President Trump in late September, and PREPA, which rejected mutual aid assistance from mainland municipal utilities, bewildering utility executives.

Instead, PREPA signed up a small company, Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC, to mobilize and move line crews to the island, saying it chose Whitefish because the company did not require an upfront financial commitment from the bankrupt utility.

Zamot’s appointment follows demands by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee; the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona; and other U.S. lawmakers for a review of the $300 million grid repair contract PREPA awarded to Whitefish (Energywire, Oct. 25).

Committee spokesman Parish Braden said the “size and unknown details of this contract raises numerous questions.” Democrats have questioned whether the choice of Whitefish was connected to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who comes from Whitefish, Mont., and is friends with the founder of Whitefish Energy. Whitefish is a 2-year-old company that has never coordinated a major grid restoration.

Zinke told The Washington Post he had no involvement in the lucrative contract. Interior Department representatives have provided the same answer to E&E News.

The Whitefish contract has also roiled local politics, where members of the Puerto Rico Senate have vowed to investigate the contract. Yesterday, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general to audit the Whitefish Energy contract award by the end of this month.

State of crisis

An Army Corps spokesman said its restoration work was now being closely coordinated with PREPA, but the relationship among PREPA, Whitefish and the Federal Emergency Management Agency remains in flux. FEMA, which has committed to cover 100 percent of the grid repair costs, has not yet received reimbursement requests from PREPA for work by Whitefish and other contractors, a FEMA spokesman said.

The controversy over Whitefish accelerated the search by PREPA’s critics and the White House for independent oversight of the recovery. That search was complicated by sharp political sensitivities among Puerto Rico political leaders, the utility’s labor union and many Puerto Ricans about the federal role in the island’s governance, according to people close to the issue.

For his part, Zamot became an obvious candidate for the oversight role, said Jorge Camacho, former system planning chief for the District of Columbia Public Service Commission, who assisted in damage assessments after Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico. Zamot met with Department of Energy officials over the past two weeks and emerged as someone who could not only guide the hurricane recovery but also the planning on future grid restructuring, Camacho said.

“DOE knew oversight was needed on the electricity rebuild,” Camacho said. “He was what we were working toward. I’m very happy,” Camacho added. “The oversight board stepped up and realized this was in the best interest of the people of Puerto Rico.”

“The [oversight] board, created under the Obama administration and appointed on a bipartisan and bicameral basis, is doing its work,” Braden said.

Puerto Rico’s beleaguered public power company owes creditors $9 billion. PREPA’s system was in a “state of crisis” before back-to-back hurricanes swept across the island and destroyed the grid, according to a report to the Puerto Rico Energy Commission by consulting firm Synapse Energy Associates, as a result of long-standing financial and operational mismanagement.

“Deferred and inadequate investment in infrastructure, a loss of key staff, and a myopic management focus on large risky bets have left PREPA with generation and transmission infrastructure literally falling apart, unnecessarily high costs, a utility operating out of compliance with commonwealth and federal law, and alternative options rapidly disappearing,” said the Nov. 23, 2016, report by Synapse authors Jeremy Fisher and Ariel Horowitz (Energywire, Sept. 29).

Most of the power generation is on the island’s south side, far from population centers around San Juan, requiring a stretched-out transmission system that was easy prey for hurricane winds. But the question of how to rebuild it — if the capital financing can be found — has split Puerto Rico’s leadership.

PREPA, backed by the governor, Rosselló, has called for a $470 million offshore liquefied natural gas port on the island’s south coast to receive LNG shipments from U.S. shale gas reserves. That would allow some oil- and coal-fired generators to convert to gas. But the energy commission has sharply criticized PREPA’s plan and restricted work on the LNG proposal, sidelining it for now while directing the utility to elevate renewable energy options.

With Puerto Rico’s recovery and rebuilding plans coming under increasing scrutiny, a group of Puerto Rico business and environmental activists has invited members of Congress and staff to a meeting tomorrow to join the debate and work toward a sustainable energy plan. The Institute for Competitiveness and Sustainable Economy of Puerto Rico framed the discussion: “PREPA, rather than rebuilding the same storm-vulnerable centralized grid it had — with generation concentrated in the south and with long south-to-north transmission corridors — would do well instead to create microgrids and integrate more distributed generation and storage into its system.”

President Trump, who met with Rosselló on Oct. 19, has promised not only to support power restoration on the stricken island but also the reconstruction of its grid.

“I know you were talking about rebuilding your electric plant long before the hurricane; you’ve been wanting to do that for a long time,” Trump said to Rosselló. “So maybe this is a reason that we can do it. And we’ll help you, and we’ll all do it together.”

Twitter: @HMNorthey Email: hnorthey@eenews.net

Are Iraqi Forces Attacking Peshmerga In Kirkuk, Or Not?–depends on who you ask

Gen. Qassem Soleimani

[Fear of Iranian general left Iraqi Kurdish oil fields deserted –Reuters]

[Iraqi Army denies claims of clashes with Kurdish Peshmerga near Syrian borderAlmasdar News*

*Al-Masdar has several Syria-based correspondents, and claims sources within the Syrian military.]

15 personnel of Peshmerga, PMFs killed, injured, northwest Mosul

 

 

Forces from al-Hashd al-Shaabi.

Zummar (IraqiNews.com) Fifteen people of Kurdish and Shia-led troops were killed and injured during confrontations that occurred on Thursday in northwest Mosul, an informed source said.

“The confrontations that occurred today in Zummar left two personnel killed and six others wounded of Peshmerga’s fourth brigade. They were transferred to Duhuq hospitals,” the source told Alghad Press.

“Clashes also left four personnel of al-Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilization Forces], including leaders, killed and others wounded in al-Jazrawiya village.

In related news, a Peshmerga source said chief of Kurdistan Democratic Party’s Sinjar branch was killed in artillery shelling in Zummar.

“Wahid Bakuzi was killed as artillery shelling targeted Peshmerga locations in Zummar, the source told AlSumaria News.

“Two personnel of Bakuzi’s guards were killed in the shelling,” the source, who preferred anonymity, added.

Earlier on the day, the Kurdistan Region Security Council said Iraqi troops have launched an attack against Peshmerga troops deployed in Zummar.

KRG offered on Wednesday to impose a ceasefire and resort to dialogue to defuse the military and political standoff with Baghdad.

Iraqi forces reportedly tightened their control, on the same day, over the Rabia border crossing with Syria after the withdrawal of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Moreover, troops headed toward Ibrahim al-Khalil border crossing with Turkey seeking control on it.