Putin Schools Trump In The Game Of Chess

James Marson and
Amie Ferris-Rotman
Updated Dec. 30, 2016 7:45 p.m. ET
MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin said Russia wouldn’t expel U.S. diplomats in response to new U.S. sanctions despite the recommendation of his foreign minister, a move that seemed aimed at embarrassing the Obama Administration while expressing hope for stronger U.S. relations once President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
Mr. Putin’s decision came after Russia’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, said in a nationally televised address that Russia must respond to the U.S. moves, which included kicking out 35 Russians it alleged were intelligence operatives serving under diplomatic cover. Instead Mr. Putin chose not to act, and invited the children of U.S. envoys to a New Year’s celebration held at a concert hall on the grounds of the Kremlin.
The Russian leader’s move appeared choreographed to highlight an attempt at rebuilding ties with the U.S. that have been at their worst since the end of the Cold War, strained by allegations of Russian hacking and aggression in Ukraine. But Mr. Putin reserved the right to respond in the future.
Mr. Trump praised Mr. Putin for his restraint in a Twitter message posted Friday. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin),” Mr. Trump wrote. “I always knew he was very smart!”
Mr. Putin on Friday slammed the new U.S. measures, which included imposing new sanctions on Russian agencies and companies, saying that they were aimed at further undermining U.S.-Russian relations. “We will formulate further steps in restoring Russian-American relations according to the policy that the administration of President D. Trump conducts,” Mr. Putin said.
Both Democrats and Republicans have been warning Mr. Trump that Mr. Putin is no friend of the U.S. and have signaled that they may step in to tighten sanctions on Russia if the Trump administration insists on taking a conciliatory approach to Mr. Putin.
Mr. Trump “can say all the nice things he wants, but that’s not going to change Vladimir Putin’s efforts to have a Greater Russia,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told MSNBC on Friday. “He will be looking at a Senate that is very resolute in its views and may very well act independent of what the executive branch has done.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) has also said that Russia doesn’t share America’s interests. While he welcomed the Obama administration’s decision to impose the new sanctions, he hasn’t said whether he thinks additional sanctions or other steps are warranted.
The clearest picture of congressional sentiment will emerge next week, when Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R., Ariz.) plans to hold a hearing on foreign cyber threats to the U.S. Mr. McCain has said that Russia and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee will be part of the focus. Among those scheduled to testify are Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Adm. Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency.
The Kremlin’s decision Friday contrasts sharply with Russia’s previous treatment of U.S. diplomats in Russia. The State Department earlier this year expelled two Russian officials, citing Russian mistreatment of U.S. diplomats.
U.S. diplomats have long complained of harassment and intrusive surveillance in Russia. Americans serving on government business in Russia are briefed on the dangers of being put in compromising situations by Russian intelligence.
Earlier this year, Russian national television broadcast footage appearing to show a Russian police officer tackling a U.S. official outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The Russian foreign ministry claimed he was a spy. Footage showed the Russian pinning the person, described as a U.S. diplomat, to the ground. He is then seen sliding across the ground in an attempt to get inside the embassy.
Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, was a frequent target of state television camera crews who stalked the diplomat and cast him in an unflattering light, tailing him and confronting him with hostile questions. He said Friday that Mr. Putin’s move appeared aimed at swaying Mr. Trump.
“He thinks he will have the ability with Trump to pursue important objectives defined by Putin, and why mess that up?” he said. “For Putin the objectives are pretty clear: the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions, getting Trump to agree with what he’s doing in Syria and his dream of dreams—the recognition of Crimea,” he added, referring to the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The Obama administration imposed new sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies and expelled what the State Department said were 35 intelligence operatives allegedly serving under diplomatic cover in the U.S. over Russia’s alleged use of cyberattacks to interfere with the presidential election.
The White House said in a statement that cyberattacks targeting the U.S. elections “could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government.”
Russia has denied involvement, and Mr. Lavrov on Friday accused the U.S. of having no evidence.
Mr. Putin said the expelled Russian diplomats will spend the New Year holiday at home with family. “We will not create problems for American diplomats. We will not send any home,” he said.
The moves by Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin show how both leaders are trying to shape future U.S.-Russia relations before Mr. Trump takes office, said Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.
Most of the 35 suspected intelligence operatives heading back to Russia on Saturday will be from Russia’s Washington embassy, with about a dozen departing from San Francisco, according to a statement on Facebook from the Russian consulate in San Francisco.
The Obama administration gave the Russians 72 hours to leave the country. “No tickets left for shorter and more comfortable itineraries,” the Facebook​ post said.
“Putin is looking beyond Obama, and has sought to counter Obama’s sanctions in a way that would not hurt chances of better relations under Trump,” Mr. Trenin said. “Trump finds himself in an interesting situation. He is being tested simultaneously both by his predecessor and a foreign leader.”
The State Department also notified Moscow that, as of noon on Friday, it would be denied access to two Russian government-owned compounds in the U.S. In return, Mr. Lavrov had said Americans should be banned from using their vacation home near Moscow. Mr. Putin said diplomats could use “leisure sites” over the holidays, without specifying which locations he was referring to.
“The outgoing American administration of Barack Obama, who have accused Russia of all mortal sins and tried to blame us for the failure of its foreign policy initiatives, among other things, has groundlessly made additional accusations that Russia interfered in the U.S. election campaign at the state level,” he said.
U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and the email account of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Officials said the sanctions imposed Thursday were a response to Russia’s election interference, its meddling in American foreign policy more broadly and its harassment of U.S. diplomats.
The U.S. had previously imposed sanctions on Russia over its military interventions in Ukraine. The two countries have also clashed over Russia’s military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
—Siobhan Hughes and Felicia Schwartz contributed to this article.
Write to James Marson at james.marson@wsj.com

NYC Plays With Nuclear Fire (Revelation 6)

During the maintenance, inspectors had found a small number of bolts had degraded that fasten plates that direct cooling water. Two bolts had failed entirely. Degradation of these particular bolts was not unexpected; it’s a well-known and well-studied issue that was first identified in European reactors. Indian Point replaced the bolts after finding no additional damage.
Jerry Nappi, spokesman for Entergy at Indian Point, says Entergy, which owns the reactors, went beyond replacing the damaged parts to ensure the reactor is operating safely.
“The inspections were planned in advance and done in conjunction with additional reviews and inspections in accordance with commitments we made to the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission],” said Nappi. “Entergy replaced all degraded bolts at Unit 2 this year plus an additional 51 bolts to provide added assurance of safety.”
Anti-nuclear-energy groups had used the planned shutdown and the degraded bolts found during Indian Point’s inspection to petition the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to prevent Indian Point from restarting. NRC reviewed their claims, found them lacking, and allowed the restart to move forward.
Environmentalists Go to Court
Having failed to halt the restart, environmentalists filed a lawsuit against NRC in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In Friends of the Earth et al. v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Friends of the Earth (FOE) requested the court issue an emergency order suspending Indian Point’s Unit 2 and Unit 3 operations.
In a statement responding to FOE’s complaint, NRC Senior Attorney Charles Mullins wrote, “In conclusion, NRC has concluded that Unit 2 is safe to operate under both normal conditions (‘normal plant operation’) and extreme conditions (‘the most limiting faulted conditions’), … There is thus no reason to disturb the agency’s considered judgment, formed based on its unique technical expertise, that the plant’s continued operation … will not result in the irreparable harm.”
The NRC brief also cautioned environmentalists that “… framing of their petition here as an ‘emergency’ simply invites the Court, inappropriately, to substitute its judgment about nuclear safety for the NRC’s technical expertise.”
The U.S. Department of Justice announced it approved of NRC’s response to initial problems at Indian Point, and on June 23, 2016, the court ruled the NRC determination concerning Indian Point’s safety was sound, thereby denying FOE’s request to have the nuclear plant’s operations suspended.
Mark Ramsey (m15@ramseyweb.com) writes from Houston, Texas.

The Pakistan Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

By Rizwan AsgharDecember 30, 2016
Pakistan continues to strengthen and expand its nuclear capabilities – diversifying weapons, fielding new delivery vehicles and accumulating fissile material.
With four fully operational plutonium production reactors in Khushab, we are capable of producing at least 40kgs of weapon-grade plutonium a year. Pakistan’s nuclear security managers are also successfully pursuing expanded uranium enrichment capabilities.
According to the most recent estimates, Pakistan has a stockpile of 130-140 nuclear warheads and plans to continue to produce more weapons over the next decade. Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione believes that Pakistan has enough fissile material for about a hundred more. However, there is agreement among nuclear experts that if proliferation continues at its present pace, Pakistan will be the world’s fifth largest nuclear power with an arsenal of 220-250 weapons by 2025.
Many have argued that further expansion of our nuclear capabilities depends on the future growth of India’s nuclear weapons programme. In the view of such analysts, Pakistan is seeking to create a full spectrum deterrence to reduce the possibility of a premeditated conventional military attack from India.
In February 2016, the National Command Authority (NCA), Pakistan’s highest decision-making body on nuclear and missiles policy issues, pledged to do everything to effectively respond to the threats to national security. Unless our civilian authorities and military generals still believe that national security is all about military security, we are headed in the wrong direction.
Given India’s aggressive military posture towards Pakistan, I am not against keeping a strong nuclear deterrent. However, Pakistan’s evident willingness to be locked into a nuclear arms race is ill-considered at best and dangerous at worst. Pakistan has enough weapons to destroy India several times over and we do not need to further expand our nuclear capabilities. Lowering the threshold for nuclear use is an extremely dangerous nuclear posture. Why making such a choice?
Pakistan should officially declare a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. We need to get rid of unnecessary weapons systems and save billions of rupees which can be used on education and health.
Kenneth Waltz, a pre-eminent American political scientist, argued that the “credibility of small deterrent forces” is more than enough to deter not just nuclear use but conventional attacks as well. The mere possibility of nuclear retaliation can successfully deter countries from initiating conventional attacks.
Another American political scientist and national security expert, Thomas Schelling, analysed deterrence in terms of bargaining theory and argued that “the basic existence of a nuclear weapons capability” should provide sufficient deterrence to conventional conflicts. Deterrent power remains unaffected by the unlimited expansion of nuclear arsenal.
The real question then is: why do we need so many nuclear weapons? The provocative cold start doctrine is dead. India’s current leadership is well aware that it cannot carry out a targeted strike inside Pakistani territory without the risk of massive retaliation. Pakistan has a strong nuclear force structure. Developing tactical nuclear weapons capability to counter military threats is not a wise approach.
The people of Pakistan have no idea how dangerous this course of action is. Not many Pakistanis wake up thinking about the dangers of nuclear weapons. And why should they? Pakistan has great national pride in its nuclear weapons programme and playing even a small role in the promotion of world peace is not our priority. People are totally unaware of the risk of planetary catastrophe posed by the very existence of these weapons.
The whole world is on the edge due to an insane rush towards arms buildup in South Asia but we seem to be unaware of it. During a recent policy debate at University of California, San Diego, a writer was alarmed at witnessing a consensus among many scholars from Ivy League universities regarding the possibility of a nuclear war between Pakistan and India. What are we doing to reduce these concerns? Nothing.
Scholars and researchers who generally present Pakistan’s case in international conferences and other seminars are totally unqualified for this job. Their only qualification is their ability to unquestionably accept the narrative of the nuclear establishment. We are facing an overall foreign policy crisis because of our tendency to choose unqualified people for important positions.
In a nutshell, Pakistan should take three steps – stop producing more fissile material and officially declare that it will not produce any more nuclear weapons, sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treat (CTBT) and let the Conference on Disarmament (CD) start negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, and be more open to constructive criticism and hire only well-qualified scholars who can articulate Pakistan’s stance in a convincing and cogent way.
These steps will not only help ensure that Pakistan is emerging as a responsible nuclear state but also make India look bad. Pakistan’s current leadership must take these steps if it wants to promote the integration of the country into the global system.

Why Australia is a Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Why Australia is a Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7) 

Global uranium production is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 4.3 per cent, to reach 76,493 tonnes in 2020, research and consulting firm GlobalData revealed.
The company’s latest report states that growth in production is needed to meet upcoming demand from new reactors. It outlined that output at Four Mile increased from 750t in 2014 to 990t in 2015.
There are 22 new reactors scheduled for completion in 2017, with a total capacity of 22,444 megawatts (MW), according to GlobalData.
This includes eight reactors in China with a combined capacity of 8510 MW, two reactors in South Korea with a combined capacity of 2680 MW, two reactors in Russia with a combined capacity of 2199 MW, and four reactors in Japan with a combined capacity of 3598 MW.
Global uranium consumption is forecast to increase by five per cent, to reach 88,500t of triuranium octoxide (U₃O₈) in 2017.
The major expansions to nuclear capacity are projected to occur in China, India, Russia and South Korea over the next two years to 2018. The United States is forecast to remain the largest producer of nuclear power in the short term, with the recent completion of the 1200 MW Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor in Tennessee.
Cliff Smee, GlobalData’s head of research and analysis for mining, said: “Commercial operations at the Cigar Lake project in Canada commenced in 2014, with an annual uranium metal capacity of 6900t.
“The project produced 4340t of uranium in 2015, compared with 130t in 2014. Meanwhile, production at the Four Mile project in Australia rose from 750t in 2014 to 990t in 2015.
“By contrast, production from the US declined by 32 per cent in 2015, while in Namibia it decreased by 20 per cent. This was due to respective declines of 33 per cent each at the Smith Ranch-Highland and Crow Butte mines in the US, and falls of 20 per cent and 13.6 per cent at the Rossing and Langer Heinrich mines in Namibia.”

Antichrist’s Men Martyred By ISIS (Rev 13:18)

Shia families told ‘don’t weep for our martyrs’ as fathers and sons die in holy war against Isis

Thousands rushed to fight jihadis in Mosul, but their friends and families are expected not to mourn
By  in Karbala
December 29, 2016 13:25 GMT

Iraqis mourn over a coffin
25 August 2016: Iraqis mourn over a coffin during the Najaf funeral of members of the Iraqi government forces and Shia fighters who were killed in the Khalidiyah area of Iraq’s Anbar provinceHaidar Hamdani/AFP
Just 15 minutes drive from the upscale homes and modern shopping centres of southern Iraqi city Karbala, Saif Saad’s streets are lined with houses built with breeze blocks and corrugated iron. One of the poorest neighbourhoods in Karbala, mounds of litter lie in heaps on the side of dusty dirt roads, some smouldering with acrid black smoke. Trucks and lorries, abandoned and rusting, dot the landscape.
Thirteen-year-old Obeida rides around Saif Saad on a sky-blue bicycle. On the bike, just a little too big for him, he passes a poultry shop and a tyre yard, where workers sit on seats salvaged from scrapped cars, as he returns home.
The house Obeida shares with his mother Raqwa and his four siblings stands apart from other nearby structures, and would be unremarkable were it not for the sign which dominates its front entrance.
It shows a serious-looking man holding a mounted automatic rifle. Above him flies the Iraqi national flag and below is depicted the Shia shrine of Imam Hussein and blossoming flowers. ‘The martyred hero Waleed Mohammed Hamed’, a red Arabic script reads next to the picture.
Obeida is the martyr’s son.
Raqwa remembers the night Waleed was killed with a sense of detachment, staring off into the middle distance as she retells the events. “At 1am they called me and they said he was wounded. They didn’t tell me that he was martyred then,” she says. “Then they called me again and asked to speak to his brother, and they told him about his martyrdom.”
Waleed suffered catastrophic injuries when, during the battle of Bayji in May 2015, he walked into a house rigged with an Islamic State (Isis) IED. He later died in hospital. He was a volunteer in the Shia Imam Ali Brigade and received no payment other than a one-off sum of 400,000 ID ($330).

Saif Saad
Obeida (centre), 13, stands with his younger brother and sister in their home in Saif SaadIBTimes UK

That is all that is to be said of Waleed Hamed’s death, as far as Raqwa is concerned, other than that he, like the hundreds of other Shia paramilitary fighters killed fighting Isis, died a hero in the eyes of his family and the community.
This is the first response of most from Iraq’s southern Shia heartlands when asked about paramilitary fighters killed by Isis.
Obeida remembers how his father, a labourer, would give him money to go to school. Otherwise, he says little more about him, apart from than that he is proud he died fighting Isis and defending Iraq. However, snippets of the hardship the family has endured since Hamed was killed is occasionally revealed.
“First we asked him to leave the Hashid Shabi [PMF] because he was a volunteer and we were unable to make ends meet on their own. I was forced to send my sons to sell gum on the road,” Raqwa says. “But he always said no.”
By the accounts of his family, Waleed was a deeply devout man, and apart from work his principal interest was in participating religious events regarding Karbala’s holy shrine to Imam Hussein, the Shia faith’s third Imam. He considered a pivotal fatwa called for by Iraq’s Shia religious leader Ayatollah Sistani in June 2014 to fight the Isis principal of faith. “He would say we should protect our families, we should liberate our cities and respond to the fatwa,” Raqwa says.
On the rough concrete wall of the family’s house adorned with decoration, Waleed’s photo hangs next to images of Shia devotion: pictures of Ayatollah Sistani, the religion’s highly revered imams and its holy places. Raqwa has to survive in the leaky house on her own, relying on religious charity to keep going.

Shia fighters sit in a
Shia fighters sit in a vehicle driving through a sandstorm near the village of Al-Boutha al-Sharqiyah, west of Mosul, on 2 December 2016, during the offensive to retake the city from Islamic StateAhmad al-Rubaye/AFP

“Many families have sent money to the brigade to support us,” she says. “The children go to schools related to the shrine. They get money from the Shia organisations and rely on their charity,” Raqwa adds.
On the walls of a room set aside in the Karbala headquarters of the Shia PMF, the Ali Akbar Brigade, pictures of martyrs stare down at visitors. The scores of killed, looking straight down the lens of the camera, died across Saladin province, Anbar and Nineveh. The battles and their names are written in white lettering on the black plastic posters.
The brigade’s base is in the former Ministry of Transport building and the fighting group’s flags fly alongside a fleet of government buses. Inside, base co-ordinator Naif Ahmed explains that in their most recent battles at Tal Afar, where the brigade was fighting to cut Isis supply lines, four men were killed by Isis. He says that Isis has inflicted most casualties through IEDs and suicide attacks, adding that these are the tactics of a fighting force in retreat.
Ahmed says martyrs are only to be celebrated, not mourned. If he is killed fighting – he expects to rejoin the battle against Isis in Mosul as he did in Saladin province (he has already arranged to have his son come and replace him) – he would consider it a blessing. An officer in the Iraqi army for two decades, his decision to join the PMU is a deeply religious one.
“I could have joined the Iraqi army and earned $2000 per month … but I decided to join the PMU because of its affiliation with my faith. [My faith] is much more important than my family because it is what keeps my family protected and secure,” he adds.

Members of Iraqi security forces
Members of Iraqi security forces and Shia militia fighters make their way in vehicles from Samarra to the outskirts of Tikrit on 28 February 2015Reuters

The Ali Akbar Brigade was formed immediately after the fatwa by Ayatollah Sistani and the first aspect of its fighters’ training is doctrinal. It is directly linked to the shrine in Karbala and it places the city’s religious authority above that of PMF command in Baghdad. Ahmed explains that, if called, to he would go to protect Shia shrines in Syria. Although all of Ali Akbar Brigade’s fighters remain in Iraq, Iraqi fighters have travelled to defend the shrine of Sayyidah Zaynab. Ahmed says he revers Zaynab as he does Hussein. “The only difference is Hussein is here close to us; she is far,” he explains.
The call to arms, for Ahmed, is far more important than the effect the war has had on his family, his absence and his reduced wages. “Right now I have two children in school and they are not doing very well because I am not teaching them,” he explains. “This is the priority. Even though they are not doing well in school, this is my priority. This much more important than my children’s education,” he says.
Outside the great mosque in Kufa, 80km south of Karbala, the tension between the loss of those killed fighting Isis and the political necessity of their heroism plays out once more. In one of the mosque’s central courtyards two young men are weeping over the coffin of their fallen friend, killed in the Mosul operation.
The wooden box is plastered with military adornments. The plastic coverings flash in the sun, yellow with the emblem of the PMF, red, white, green and black for the Iraqi flag and green and black for the Saraya al-Salam Brigade, Muqtada al-Sadr’s paramilitary organisation, the latest iteration of the Mahdi Army which fought the US invasion.
Approaching the two crying friends, their heads pressed on the coffin, an older man chastises them in front of a slowly forming group. “Why are you upset?” he asks. “You’ve had good news. Your friend is a martyr, he fought for this country.”

Kufa Mosque
Mourners gather around the coffin of a fighter killed in the Mosul offensive outside the Great Mosque of KufaIBTimes UK

Trump Will Trash Obama’s Russia Sanctions

Trump Responds To Obama’s Russia Sanctions

 6:28 PM 12/29/2016
President-elect Donald Trump offered a short response to President Barack Obama’s retaliatory measures against Russia.
“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in a two-sentence statement released just after 6 p.m. EST. “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation.”
Trump’s insistence that “it’s time to move on” may rankle some in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, many of whom contend that Russia deliberately attempted to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Obama announced a series of measures Thursday, which include the removal of 35 Russian operatives currently residing in the U.S. The individuals have 72 hours to leave the country.
Obama also announced that Russians would not longer have access to two facilities used for intelligence gathering and as a retreat by Russian operatives and diplomats working in the United States. The Russian Federation maintained ownership of a 45 acre property on Maryland’s Eastern Shore (not far from Washington, D.C.).
The retreat near Centreville, Maryland was purchased by the Soviet Union in 1972 and transferred to the Russian Federation in 1995. The property was widely covered as a retreat for Russian diplomats for decades. Obama also shut down another site in New York.
Obama also said that there would be summary reports from specific intelligence agencies, set to be released before the end of his presidency.