POWER GRID DOWN DRILL TO BE CONDUCTED BY US GOVERNMENT
Power grid vulnerabilities are finally garnering some attention by government officials. An electrical grid joint drill simulation is being planned in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Thousands of utility workers, FBI agents, anti-terrorism experts, governmental agencies, and more than 150 private businesses are involved in the November power grid drill.
The downed power grid simulation will reportedly focus on both physical and cyber attacks. The antiquated electrical system in the United States has been one of the most neglected pieces of integral infrastructure.
The EMP Commission, created by Congress, released a report in 2008 calling for increased planning and testing, and a stockpiling of needed repair items.
The SHIELD Act, which is stalled in Congress, is the first serious piece of legislation in many years to attempt to address the vulnerabilities of the power grid in. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, a recent American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) report gave the power grid a “D+” when grading various pieces of infrastructure and public services in the United States.
The disaster drill is being described as a crisis practice unlike anything the real power grid has ever experienced. The GridEX II drill Nov. 13-14 will focus primarily on how governments will react if the electrical grid fails and, for instance, the food supply chain collapses.
American utility companies are responsible for running approximately 5,800 power plants and about 450,000 high-voltage transmission lines, controlled by various devices which have been put into place over the past decades. Some of the utility companies which oversee the power grid reportedly use “antique computer protocols” which are “probably” safe from cyber hackers,” The New York Times reported.
The Times said experts call the power grid the nation’s “glass jaw.” Even the military gets 99 percent of its power the same way everyday citizens get it – from commercially run companies.
“If an adversary lands a knockout blow, [experts] fear, it could black out vast areas of the continent for weeks; interrupt supplies of water, gasoline, diesel fuel and fresh food; shut down communications; and create disruptions of a scale that was only hinted at by Hurricane Sandy and the attacks of Sept. 11,” The Times said.
Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Curt Hebert stated that if the nation fails at electricity, “we’re going to fail miserably” at everything else.
Hebert also noted that during prior power grid drills, the scenario assumed the system would be up and running again relatively quickly after an attack. This drill will assume it’s out much longer.
If the power grid fails, a lack of electricity and food delivery are only the first wave of troubles facing the American people. Police could face major problems with civil unrest. Of course, there also would not be any electric heating or cooling, which easily could lead to many deaths depending on the season.
A 2012 report by the National Academy of Science said terrorists could cripple the nation by damaging or destroying hard-to-replace components, some of which aren’t even made in the United States.
“Of particular concern are giant custom-built transformers that increase the voltage of electricity to levels suited for bulk transmission and then reduce voltage for distribution to customers,” The Times said in a summary of the report. “… Replacing them can take many months.”
Said Clark W. Gellings, a researcher at the Electric Power Research Institute, “I don’t think we pay quite enough attention to the technology fixes that would allow us to make the power system more resilient.” Off The Grid New
PROPHECY WATCH: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A STRIKE ON SYRIA? IT DEPENDS ON HOW FAR THE U.S. GOES
America’s expected “limited” strikes in Syria could push the country into an even more dangerous and unpredictable downward spiral or even an international crisis, but doing nothing may be unconscionable and has consequences of its own. Iran says a U.S. strike in Syria will result in disaster in the region. Syria’s foreign minister promised the Syrian military would defend against an attack in ways that will “surprise” the world. Israel said it is putting its missile defenses, including the Iron Dome and Arrow systems, on their highest state of alert. Hezbollah is fighting hand in glove with the Syrian regime. The group has tens of thousands of rockets just across Israel’s northern border. It could fire them if it fears it’s losing its ally. In Syria, rebels hope foreign military intervention will be just enough to make the regime wobble. They say they’ll be ready with their own offensive to push the regime over the rest of the way. So what happens in Syria, and around the Middle East in the hours and days after a military strike? A lot depends on how far the United States goes to destabilize President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The ‘do nothing’ option
At this point, doing nothing doesn’t sound likely.
If the United States doesn’t respond, as Secretary of State John Kerry suggested Monday, where is the world’s humanity and morality?
Imagine living in the Damascus suburbs now. How would Americans feel if they had just been attacked by gas-filled bombs that choked to death hundreds, including many children, in their beds, and a stronger nation with the power to punish those responsible said, “Sorry, it’s not my problem, but we do feel bad for you”?
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We remember the ancient principle of the sages, ‘If we are not for ourselves, who is for us?’”
The ‘do little’ option
The United States could launch a symbolic strike, destroying a few arms depots and runways, but that would not significantly change the balance of power in the Syrian war.
Such a strike from the U.S. and a few partner nations would very likely be coupled with strident warnings from American officials, most likely President Barack Obama personally, saying that if chemical weapons were ever used again, there would be greater punishment next time. But can threats after a weak action be taken seriously?
Syrian rebels, and anyone else who opposes President Assad, would be disappointed and demoralized. They would say the United States is afraid of Syria and wants to keep Assad in power. They would say Assad used chemical weapons and only got a slap on the wrist.
They would ask, “How much more suffering do we have to endure before someone helps us?” They would feel truly isolated from the world. Radical groups would have a stronger case to make to Syrians that only al-Qaeda and extremist Islam can protect them.
President Assad could only conclude that he got away with using weapons of mass destruction.
The war would continue. More Syrians would die. Al-Qaeda could grow stronger. And Bashar al-Assad would remain in power.
The do a ‘little more’ option
Rebels would certainly be encouraged by strong U.S. military strikes, especially if they carry on through two to three days. The strikes could help the rebels advance.
But they could also create a false optimism, a belief that the regime is collapsing when in fact it is not. The rebels could throw themselves into battle, hoping their time to finish off Assad had arrived, only to discover that the regime is much stronger than they anticipated, and suffer enormous losses in the days and weeks after an attack.
I’m reminded of Iraqis in 1991. The United States encouraged Iraqis to rise up after Saddam Hussein’s army was driven out of Kuwait. Washington assumed Saddam was weak after losing the 1991 Gulf War. Iraqis rose up, but Saddam’s troops killed thousands – Iraqis say tens of thousands — in a counter-offensive.
The do ‘a lot’ option
If the United States — most likely with other countries including Turkey, France and Britain — attacks military targets in Syria in a major way, it could knock the weakened Syrian regime off its last legs. The regime now is heavily dependent on Hezbollah and Iran to keep the war going. Most of the government’s attacks are launched from a distance, by missiles and helicopters. The army rarely sends in troops for face-to-face combat. Resupply is a problem. So is the risk of defection.
If the Syrian regime starts to collapse, the fighting could get very intense. Assad, in desperation, could use more chemical weapons. The regime could decide to fight to its last breath. We could enter a phase of battles more horrific than any yet seen in the Syrian war.
Syria could break into regions, some controlled by Alawites loyal to the military and the Assad family, others controlled by Kurds, and still more run by Sunni rebel factions, including the al-Qaeda linked “Islamic State,” which is rapidly replacing the Nusra Front as the most powerful radical group in Syria.
There could be ethnic and sectarian fighting. In this scenario, the regime would break apart as heavy fighting rages. The United States would have to hope that its ally in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, would prevail amid the chaos.
Internationally, Iran seems unlikely to risk a confrontation, but Hezbollah, fearing the loss of its regional ally, could decide to play for public support in the Arab world by attacking Israel. Israel would respond. Lebanon would suffer major losses. If Syria collapses completely, the United States and the world would have to consider who, and what, fills the vacuum. NBC World News
PROPHECY ALERT: ISRAEL AIRLIFTS 450 ETHIOPIANS IN LAST OPERATION TO BRING ANCIENT COMMUNITY TO JEWISH STATE
Isaiah 43:5-6 – “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ and to the south, `Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth…
Israeli authorities have completed what they say is the final large airlift of Ethiopian immigrants, ending decades of efforts to bring the remnants of an ancient community to the Jewish state. Tali Aronsky, spokeswoman for the semi-official Jewish Agency, says 450 people arrived Wednesday. They are Falash Mura, a community whose ancestors converted from Judaism to Christianity under duress about 100 years ago, but managed to keep some Jewish customs. Aronsky said the airlift caps a three-year operation that brought in 7,000 Falash Mura. Thousands of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel. Many arrived in secret airlifts in 1984 and 1990. Small numbers of Falash Mura remain behind in Ethiopia. Dozens of their relatives held a protest at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem Wednesday to demand Israel bring them over. Fox News
FORTY PERCENT OF U.S. COMPANIES TO ALTER HEALTH CARE PLANS, DROP COVERAGE, DUE TO OBAMACARE
As the official start date for Obamacare draws ever closer, there is more evidence that the law simply won’t perform as advertised and, in fact, will cause even greater harm to American society than without the “healthcare reform” it was supposedly crafted to deliver.
Particularly hard hit will be businesses that are going to be required to provide certain levels of health insurance coverage to their employees. The result is going to be a) higher costs to the businesses’ customers; and b) a net loss in employment, especially full-time employment.
A new employer survey has found that a plurality of mid-sized and large businesses – 40 percent of 420 companies surveyed – said they are planning changes to the designs of their insurance plans next year and other changes to reduce employee related costs as a new excise tax imposed by Obamacare approaches with pricier plans.
Also, according to Towers Watson, the firm conducting the survey, 60 percent of companies look at private health insurance exchanges as one way of controlling their healthcare and administrative costs by dumping their employees into the state-run health insurance pools called for under the law – as predicted a couple of years ago.
No big changes soon, but they’re coming
While most of the companies don’t yet have near-term plans to make the big dump, clearly, they are coming. The companies who are looking to dump, by the way, collectively employ 8.7 million workers.
More from CNBC:
The study also found those same companies are increasingly unlikely to offer their employer-sponsored plan for retirees older than age 65 as Obamacare state insurance exchanges go into effect, and as Medicare remains available to those people.
The number of employers either very or somewhat likely to discontinue such plans for those retirees grows from 25 percent in 2014 to 44 percent in 2015, according to Towers Watson, the global professional services company….
That, too, has been foretold.
Still, the vast majority of the companies – 82 percent – believe it is “important” to offer existing workers subsidized health care, as part of their “employee value proposition” for 2014, the study found.
Also, 98 percent of the employers said they don’t have definite plans to discontinue company health insurance plans next year or in 2015 and dump their workers into state exchanges. But how many of those companies will eventually change direction and dump sooner will depend in large part on several factors: how well the exchanges work (no one even knows yet how they will work); overall cost of coverage (will it stay the same, go up or, more likely, increase?); and any political changes to the law.
“Most companies very much still see health-care benefits as a core offering,” Ron Fontanetta, a senior health-care consultant at Towers Watson, told CNBC. “It’s a very visible benefit, and it garners a lot of attention among executives, in part because it’s very visible to employees and also because it costs a lot.”
Nevertheless, company-sponsored healthcare changes are afoot, and they are a) directly related to Obamacare; and b) anything but positive.
New tax increases looming
For instance, the Towers Watson study was released on the same day it was reported that UPS told its white-collar employees the company would no longer cover 15,000 working spouses, beginning next year, because of increased medical costs and “costs associated with the Affordable Care Act.”
It’s not that “greedy American corporations” want to discontinue health insurance coverage. CEOs see such coverage as a necessary perk that attracts a higher quality employee. But the reality is that Obamacare is going to boost costs, so firms are being forced to rethink the benefit.
Companies “are increasingly asking questions about ‘where are we taking our future strategy? How does the challenge of offering health care reconcile with our broader financial goals as an organization?’” said Fontanetta. “They want to understand, increasingly, what are the different strategic pathways [the companies] might take,” Fontanetta said.
The looming excise tax, by the way, becomes effective in 2018 – one of the law’s many penalties, taxes, fees and punishments. Natural News
BREAKING NEWS: IRAN JOINS SYRIA IN THREATS “THOUSANDS OF MISSILES’ TO RAIN ON ISRAEL”
WAR DRUMS: Iran is threatening to launch a massive missile strike against Israel if the United States attacks Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people, which could touch off a full-blown war in the region. “The day of reckoning is near,” according to Hossein Shariatmadari, the chief editor of Keyhan newspaper, an outlet controlled by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. An Op-Ed penned by Shariatmadari Tuesday warned that the impending confrontation between the West and Syria would “provide the long-awaited opportunity for revenge against Israel and America.”
The editor recalled the U.S.-led attack on Baghdad on March 20, 2003, and President George W. Bush’s boast to reporters seven days later that the “Iraq war is over.” But when the last U.S. soldiers were leaving Iraq in December 2011, nearly 4,500 Americans had been killed and the war had cost America trillions of dollars. Shariatmadari said that Washington, instead of open war against Syria, has been waging a proxy war against the Assad regime with the help of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt. He said now it is ready to directly confront Syria militarily, one of the members of the Resistance Front along with Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. However, despite Syrian rebels receiving financial and military support from those Middle East countries, not only has the Assad regime not been overthrown but it has opened a “new chapter for the Resistance where it formed the forces of ‘defense of Homeland,’ a force similar to the Basij militias (in Iran).”
Iran has long drawn a red line around the Assad regime. And Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, Israel’s neighbor, are armed with thousands of missiles. The three members of the Resistance Front have a joint war room. “Because of the failure of the intended proxy war, America and some Arab and European countries are preparing to attack Syria on the false claims that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons,” the editor said. “However, America can certainly start the war but it won’t be the one to end it.”
Shariatmadari said that Israel is the “Achilles’ heel of America and its European allies and without a doubt with the start of an attack on Syria, thousands of missiles will rain down all over the occupied lands (Israel), which will destroy its critical facilities as it was obvious that its missile defense system (the Iron Dome) could not prevent missiles reaching Tel Aviv.” He also warned Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and others who support attacking Syria that they themselves will come under attack from Syria. “Muslims should welcome the news of an attack on Syria as it will provide the long-awaited opportunity for revenge, which should destroy the enemies of Islam,” Shariatmadari concluded.
Seyed Reza Taghavai, the head of Iran’s Policy Council of Friday Prayers, hinted that Khamenei is guiding the events in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza despite Iran publicly saying that it has nothing to do with them, Fars News Agency reported Monday. “People stand tall because of (Khamenei’s) guidance and in Syria where it has resisted against the unbelievers,” he said. Meanwhile, the Islamic regime’s reporting agency Abna.ir published images of commanders of the Zolfaghar Battalion fighting in Syria. It said that the Zolfaghar and Abolfazle Abass battalions are mostly made up of Iraqi and Lebanese Shiites in fighting the Syrian rebels.continue
OBAMA: SPEAKING IN MLK’S SHADOW ‘LIKE FOLLOWING JESUS’
When President Barack Obama takes to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial today for his scheduled 2:45 pm address to the thousands of people who will mass there for the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington, it won’t be the first time he’s stood in the shadow of Martin Luther King.
Four years ago Obama went to Oslo, Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor Kingreceived 45 years earlier. King was leading a campaign of nonviolent resistance to racial injustice in this country when was given the world’s most prestigious peace prize. Obama, who had won election as this nation’s first black president just 13 months earlier, got his prize ”for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” even as the U.S. was in the midst of two wars.
“When you are talking about Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, you’re talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history,” Obama said during a recent interview on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “And the words that he spoke at that particular moment, with so much at stake, and the way in which he captured the hopes and dreams of an entire generation, I think, is unmatched.”
But that doesn’t mean Obama will be unmindful of his linkage to King when he stands before the statue of the Great Emancipator to give an address that will be heard around the world. This was clearly on the president’s mind Tuesday night. After he made some formal remarks during a White House reception for a broad cross section of civil rights leaders, entertainers, politicians and social activists, I heard Obama quip to someone standing nearby: “Man, can you believe they have me speaking tomorrow, 50 years to the day of the greatest speech ever given. That’s like following Jesus.”
Religion aside, Obama was as conscious of King’s footprint when he accepted his Nobel Prize, as he most certainly will be when he speaks on the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech King gave the year before he went to Oslo to gather his Nobel Prize.
While King, in Nobel Prize address, said that ”violence never brings permanent peace,” Obama – responding to King’s words in his Nobel speech – said ”I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.”
That’s the difference between the visionary and the political leader. It showed up in Oslo in the words these two great men spoke – and it will, no doubt, shape history’s judgment of the power and influence of what they each said from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. USA Today
PROPHECY WATCH: MAN INSERTS RFID CHIP IN OWN HAND FOR CELL PHONE DATA USAGE
From cartoon characters to celebrities faces and misspelled sayings, there are some strange tattoos out there. But one man may have made it to the top of the list. Artist Anthony Antonellis barely winced as a Brooklyn body modification specialist cut open the skin between his thumb and index finger with a 0.75 inch blade and inserted a small RFID chip. The RFID chip is the size of a grain of sand and was encased inside of a glass capsule before being placed under Antonellis’ flesh. ”I Eternal Sunshine‘d that entire hour of my life,” Antonellis told Animal New York who filmed the procedure. So why did Antonellis go through 30 minutes of pain to have a chip inserted in his hand that is completely invisible from the outside? The chip stores 1KB of data and contains information for a GIF that is readable by cell phones. ”Think of it as a changeable, digital net art tattoo vs. fixed information,” Antonellis said. The GIF is of pixelated rainbow colors and appears on screen when a compatible smartphone is held two centimeters from the chip. Fox News
ALDERMAN CALLS FOR DEPLOYMENT OF DRONES TO PROTECT KIDS WALKING TO SCHOOL IN AMERICA
If a Chicago alderman has his way, the city could someday see drones buzzing through the skies as part of an effort to keep students safe as they walk to school.
“We could use the help.!” Ald. George Cardenas (12th) tweeted, along with an article from The Telegraph outlining ways the remote-controlled, unmanned aerial vehicles — commonly known as drones — have been used outside of military actions. “Why not use drones in safe passage.??”
During a follow-up phone interview, Cardenas said “there is no doubt technology is migrating from military use. … It’s going to take time to find those uses in an urban environment. It is, however, the future and I think people will want to take that leap. I think eventually we’re going to have to look at this technology.”
But Matt Waite, a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska, believes using drones to patrol the city’s streets isn’t a good idea. Waite is involved in an effort that uses drones in news gathering and documents the experiments by the school’s Drone Journalism Lab on a blog.
“There’s still a big safety issue, especially with the small ones,” he said. “They have a tendency to crash from time to time. So now you have something with spinning blades over the top of children that could fall out of the sky. That would seem unwise.”
Waite also said the tactic would face major regulatory hurdles. Public agencies wishing to use a drone must obtain what’s known as a Certificate of Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, which can take years, he said.
And there are legal questions.
“What happens if a camera catches kids committing crimes? Is that admissible in court? Do police have to get a warrant to watch these kids? Can you suspend a kid for acting a fool on their walk?” he asked.
Add to that concern about restricted airspace within the city and its two major airports, and Waite said that’s “a tall, tall order to overcome.”
Still, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International says drones can be a boon to law enforcement agencies by keeping officers out of dangerous situations, helping with search and rescue missions, responding to natural disasters and saving on the bottom line. The group claims drones can operate for as little as $25 to $75 per hour, which is far less than the $400-per-hour cost of using a manned helicopter.
“The technology could certainly be used to help keep children safe. Importantly, however, it is up to local leaders to determine whether this is an appropriate use in their community,” said AUVSI spokeswoman Melanie Hinton.
Still, the suggestion to use drones from Cardenas drew immediate backlash on social media.
“Did 12th Ward Alderman @georgeacardenas just advocate that Military Drones be used on CPS safe passage routes?” tweeted Martin Ritter, a member of the Local School Council at Whitney Young High School and a Chicago Teachers Union organizer. Ritter later tweeted, “Flying tanks are not the answer.”
Melissa Lindberg said over Twitter that Cardenas “just proved he’s unsuitable to hold elected office: drones in the city? Gee, what could possibly go wrong?” And another Twitter user said, “Interesting how there’s willingness to spend on anything BUT schools.”
But Cardenas said critics weren’t considering the non-military, public safety use of the devices.
And he admitted he might’ve been too quick firing off his Tuesday morning tweet.
“You know me, sometimes my brain gets ahead of myself. I read things and it intrigues me on the possibilities,” he said. “It’s a technology with a lot of potential and it could be really interesting in years to come. So yeah, I’m going to throw it out there.” DNAinfo Chicago
WAR DRUMS: ISRAEL DEPLOYS IRON DOMES TO NORTHERN INTERCEPTOR DEPLOYMENT
BREAKING NEWS: Ahead of a US strike against Syria, the IDF Wednesday installed two Iron Dome missile interceptors in the northern “Valleys” region and Safed in addition to Haifa. Another Iron Dome battery was posted in the heavily populated central district. Arrow, Patriot anti-missile missiles, as well as Iron Domes, have been deployed more widely across Israel than ever before. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Israel’s Arrow and Patriot interceptors are linked to the US missile shield with which their operation is synchronized. DEBKA
Western attack to punish Syria likely to begin with barrage of more than 100 missiles in 48 hour blitz
A British and American attack to punish Syria for using chemical weapons will see the two allies launch a barrage of more than 100 missiles in a blitz lasting up to 48 hours, according to military insiders and diplomatic sources.
A Royal Navy Trafalgar class submarine will join forces with American warships in the Mediterranean to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles in an attack that is likely to begin within days.
The missiles would be unleashed to destroy Mr Assad’s command and control facilities, weapons delivery centres, intelligence bases and militia training camps.
Military commanders sealed agreement on the scope of attacks with regional allies and the Syrian opposition, officials at a two-day summit in Amman said last night.
The two day meeting in Jordan saw Gen Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US joint chiefs, and Gen Sir Nick Houghton, the head of Britain’s Armed Forces, set out detailed war plans to service chiefs from 10 countries.
A Jordanian official said: “There was consensus that the international community must take action in Syria and that missile strikes by naval or air forces would be the best response.”continue
What did this man put in his hand?
From cartoon characters to celebrities faces and misspelled sayings, there are some strange tattoos out there. But one man may have made it to the top of the list.
Artist Anthony Antonellis barely winced as a Brooklyn body modification specialist cut open the skin between his thumb and index finger with a 0.75 inch blade and inserted a small RFID chip.
The RFID chip is the size of a grain of sand and was encased inside of a glass capsule before being placed under Antonellis’ flesh.
So why did Antonellis go through 30 minutes of pain to have a chip inserted in his hand that is completely invisible from the outside?
The chip stores 1KB of data and contains information for a GIF that is readable by cell phones
Oldest Map Of The World Carved Onto Ostrich Eggs Discovered
Evangelista Anita Fuentes