Category: America

Russian nuclear attack on Yellowstone supervolcano ‘guarantees destruction of US’

A RUSSIAN attack on the Yellowstone supervolcano with “hyper-calibre” nuclear weapons are “guaranteed to destroy” the United States, according to a military expert.

By Joshua Nevett / Published 26th October 2018

Trump announces plan to pull out of Russian nuclear deal

Russia should abandon the idea of creating conventional ground forces capable of defeating NATO and “occupying Europe”, Sivkov Konstantin vice president of the Russian National Geopolitical Academy, has said.

Instead, Russia should focus on making nuclear war “irrational” and “meaningless” for the US by looking for an “asymmetrical answer”, Konstantin wrote in an article for VPK News.

Because Russia cannot compare with the US in the nuclear race, he argued, finding another a solution that plays to its strengths “remains the only way out”.

He suggested Russia should capitalise on its technological superiority to create “hypercalibre nuclear munitions” loaded with the equivalent of 100 megatonnes of TNT.

IN THE CROSSAIRS: Russia has been urged to develop advanced nuclear weapons with large yields (Pic: GETTY)

To put that into context, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War Two exploded with the energy of about 15 kilotonnes of TNT – a fraction of the warheads proposed by Konstantin.

The most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated, tested by the USSR in 1961, yielded an estimated 50 megatonnes and may have reached 100 megatonnes in its “final form”.

Konstantin argues that Russia needs to produce “40–50 such warheads for heavy ICBMs or ultra-long torpedoes” to ensure mutually assured destruction, known as MAD, in the event of a nuclear war with the US.

He cited Yellowstone supervolcano and the San Andreas Fault Line as pressure points that are “critically dangerous for geophysical conditions in the United States”.

UNSTABLE: Yellowstone has dangerous ‘geophysical conditions’, Konstanti said (Pic: GETTY) Related

“Such attacks are guaranteed to destroy the USA”

“Such attacks are guaranteed to destroy both the USA as a state and the entire transnational elite,” he wrote.

“This again makes a large-scale nuclear war irrational and reduces the chances of its occurrence to zero.”

His terrifying assessment comes amid US threats to unilaterally withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987 during the Cold War.

Trump threatened to pull out of a treaty eliminating some nuclear missiles, including Pershing missiles, due to what he said was Russian non-compliance.

Labour MP Fabian Hamilton said Trump’s “dangerous” threat would “unilaterally withdraw” the USA from a global system of trust the country had been at the forefront of “painstakingly” building, leaving European allies exposed.

“In 1987 it was Europe at the epicentre of the Cold War and the arms race between America and Russia,” he said.

“Withdrawal from the INF brings back the spectre of Pershing missiles stationed in Europe and here in the UK – something I remember vividly from the 1980s.

“If that nuclear conflict was to happen between the two major nuclear powers the UK and our EU allies would probably be the first to be hit.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9443

US and Arab states affirm commitment to new security alliance

Manama Dialogue focuses on countering Tehran’s influence in the region

Mina Aldroubi

Updated: October 28, 2018 05:28 PM

A military conference in Bahrain has affirmed Washington’s push to create a new security and political alliance with Arab Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan, to combat Iranian expansion in the region.

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis said Washington is in discussions to form an inclusive Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) during the two-day meeting.

“The United States is committed to working by, with, and through allies and partners across the region to make this concept a reality and reinforce deterrence of hostile actions,” Mr Mattis said during his address.

Washington is pushing for a deeper cooperation between the Arab states on missile defence, military training, counter terrorism and strengthening regional and economic and diplomatic relations.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir and his Bahraini counterpart Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa told the forum that talks were held about a framework for MESA that included Qatari officials and that the proposed alliance would not be affected by the ongoing boycott of the tiny Gulf state.

MESA “is an alliance for security and prosperity for the region and will be open to those who accept its principles,” Sheikh Khalid said, adding that the alliance would also cooperate on economic issues.

Washington reiterated support for its regional partners to defend themselves against Iranian-backed Houthi attacks on their territories and at the same time called for an urgent end to the fighting in Yemen.

“We stand against Iran’s unsafe even reckless behaviour in the maritime domain like the July attacks on international shipping by Iranian-supplied Houthis in the Bab Al Mandeb,” Mr Mattis said.

Iran’s behaviour disrupts maritime security and global trade, he said, particularly online. “We stand against Iran’s conducting destructive and costly cyber-attacks against sovereign nations and corporations.”

These developments indicate a policy shift in focus towards Iran’s “malign behaviour” in the region, said Kari Schaki, deputy director at the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

“Striking that on the list outlined by Secretary James Mattis of US concerns about Iran, its nuclear programme and sanctions was last,” Ms Schaki said.

US President Donald Trump, who in May withdraw the United States from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran, has strongly backed Saudi Arabia in its efforts to counter Iran’s influence.

The next wave of US sanctions against Iran are due to come into effect on November 4.

Gulf Arab foreign ministers also touched on Middle East peace initiatives, with Sheikh Khalid lauding efforts by Oman, which hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday in the first visit in more than 20 years.

Oman’s foreign minister, Yousuf bin Alawi, told the forum that Muscat was offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but was not acting as mediator.

When asked about Saudi’s regional view of Israel, Mr Al Jubeir said that the Kingdom has no relations with Tel Aviv.

“We think that the key to normalising relations with Israel will have to be the peace process and this is enshrined in the Arab Peace Initiative… that calls for Israel to withdraw from occupied Palestinian territory and allow a Palestinian state within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital in exchange for peace and normalisation,” he said, adding that this remains the Kingdom’s position.

Jordan’s foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that the Israel-Palestine peace process was of vital importance for his country but he warned that the current deadlock was a “fertile ground” for extremism and radicals.

“The situation is extremely dangerous now… if the deadlock continues it [will] create an environment of despair which could explode at any moment and which provides fertile ground for every spoiler and every radical to exploit with a view of propagating an agenda of hate and fear.”

Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for US Central Command told The National: “US Central Command strongly supports GCC and regional nations working together for the security and stability of the region. All nations prosper when they find common purpose and common ground on the pursuit of peace.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9441

Russia And China Are Apparently Both Under The Impression That War With The United States Is Coming…

October 28, 2018 by Michael Snyder

Could it be possible that the U.S. is heading for a major war?  If you ask most Americans that question, they will look at you like you are crazy.  For most people in this country, war with either Russia or China is not something to even be remotely concerned about.  But the Russians and the Chinese both see things very differently.  As you will see below, Russia and China both seem to be under the impression that war with the United States is coming, and they are both rapidly preparing for such a conflict.

Let’s start with Russia.  After repeatedly slapping them with sanctions, endlessly demonizing their leaders and blaming them for just about every problem that you can imagine, our relationship with Russia is about the worst that it has ever been.

And when the Trump administration announced that it was withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, that pushed things to a new low.  In the aftermath of that announcement, Russian official Andrei Belousov boldly declared that “Russia is preparing for war”

He said: “Here recently at the meeting, the United States said that Russia is preparing for war.

Yes, Russia is preparing for war, I have confirmed it.

“We are preparing to defend our homeland, our territorial integrity, our principles, our values, our people – we are preparing for such a war.”

Here in the United States, there is very little talk of a potential war with Russia in the mainstream media, but in Russia things are very different.  Russian news outlets are constantly addressing escalating tensions with the United States, and the Russian government has been adding fuel to that fire.  For example, the Russian government recently released a video of a mock nuclear strike against their “enemies”

Russian submarines have recently carried out a mock nuclear attack against their “enemies.” The Russian government has released footage of the atomic strike and it is sparking fears that the third world war is quickly approaching.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has published shocking videos that show a range of nuclear missile drills including a submarine carrying out a mock atomic strike. These videos are the latest in a series of escalating war-games ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Express UK.

I’ll give you just one guess as to who the primary enemy in that drill was.

And what Russian President Vladimir Putin recently told the press about a potential nuclear war was extremely chilling

If any nation decides to attack Russia with nuclear weapons, it may end life on Earth; but unlike the aggressors, the Russians are sure to go to heaven, President Vladimir Putin has said.

“Any aggressor should know that retribution will be inevitable and he will be destroyed. And since we will be the victims of his aggression, we will be going to heaven as martyrs. They will simply drop dead, won’t even have time to repent,” Putin said during a session of the Valdai Club in Sochi.

Under normal circumstances, Putin would never talk like that.

But these are not normal times.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping is ordering his military to focus on “preparations for fighting a war”

China’s President Xi Jinping ordered the military region responsible for monitoring the South China Sea and Taiwan to “assess the situation it is facing and boost its capabilities so it can handle any emergency” as tensions continue to mount over the future of the South China Sea and Taiwan, while diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing hit rock bottom.

The Southern Theatre Command has had to bear a “heavy military responsibility” in recent years, state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying during an inspection tour made on Thursday as part of his visit to Guangdong province.

“It’s necessary to strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” Xi said. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly. “We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war” the president-for-life added.

So who are the Chinese concerned that they may be fighting against?

Needless to say, the United States is at the top of the list

The president instructed the military to ramp-up opposition to ‘freedom of navigation’ exercises being undertaken by the US, Australia, France, the UK, Japan and others through the waterway through which arterial shipping lanes have grown since the end of World War II.

Tensions over the South China Sea have been increasing for several years, and starting a trade war with China in 2018 has certainly not helped things.

At this point, even many U.S. analysts can see the writing on the wall.  For instance, just consider what Harvard Professor Graham Allison recently told Steve LeVine

He said, if history holds, the U.S. and China appeared headed toward war.

Over the weekend, I asked him for an update — specifically whether the danger of the two going to war seems to have risen.

“Yes,” he responded. The chance of war is still less than 50%, but “is real — and much more likely than is generally recognized.”

Of course we didn’t get to this point overnight.  Tensions with Russia and China have been simmering for quite a while, and both of those nations have been rapidly modernizing their military forces.  For much more on this, please see my recent article entitled “Russia And China Are Developing Impressive New Weapons Systems As They Prepare For War Against The United States”.

Sadly, the vast majority of the U.S. population is utterly clueless about these things.

But those that are serving in the military have a much better understanding, and one recent survey found that about half of them expect the U.S. to be “drawn into a new war within the next year”…

Nearly half of all current military troops believe the United States will be drawn into a major war soon, a jarring rise in anxiety among service members worried about global instability in general and Russia and China in particular, according to a new Military Times poll of active-duty troops.

About 46 percent of troops who responded to the anonymous survey of currently serving Military Times readers said they believe the U.S. will be drawn into a new war within the next year. That’s a jarring increase from only about 5 percent who said the same thing in a similar poll conducted in September 2017.

Those numbers are jarring.

Some major stuff must be going on behind the scenes in order to go from 5 percent to 46 percent in a single year.

We truly are living in apocalyptic times, and our world seems to be getting more unstable with each passing day.

We should hope for peace, but throughout human history peace has never lasted for long.  Major global powers continue to edge closer and closer to conflict, and that is a very dangerous game to be playing.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9439

Drums of War with Russia Banging Louder than Ever

The Russian nuclear arsenal is getting a major boost in spending from the Kremlin.

Oct 19

China may be quickly becoming America’s newest “big enemy,” but it won’t replace Russia as Enemy No. 1 of the Deep State and Military-Industrial Complex in the U.S., and tensions are still building between Washington and Moscow.

As TruNews reported Thursday, President Vladimir Putin told an audience at a policy conference in Sochi that his country’s hypersonic missiles would be deployed in the “coming months,” potentially allowing Russia to leapfrog both China and the U.S. in terms of nuclear deterrence capability. The U.S. has no means of preventing a strike from a hypersonic attack, which travels at speeds far greater than Mach 5.

Of the six advanced weapons systems Putin unveiled earlier this year, two of them will be ready for deployment by 2020, according to military intelligence sources who spoke with NBC News. The report didn’t say which two systems would be ready.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute notes that Russia is well into its 10-year military modernization program, which began in 2011, and has now turned its attention to its “nuclear triad”—ground, sea, and air-based delivery systems—“dramatically” increasing its funding for nuclear weapons. In 2016, the most recent year for which budget data is available, spending on acquisition and modernization of Russian nukes has increased by 427 percent since 2010.

Russia now has the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world.

It also has some of the most sophisticated aerial defense systems in the world, and has been exporting that technology, most recently to Syria, which has received S-300 systems in the wake of the downing of a Russian surveillance aircraft during airstrikes by Israel. Military sources in Syria are reporting that specialists are now reprogramming the S-300 aerial defense systems delivered there to prepare them for their local mission, which requires replacing Russian codes with those for the Syrian military.

Israel has strongly condemned the presence of S-300s in Syria and has vowed to destroy them if they pose a threat to their aircraft while engaging Iranian military outposts in the war-torn country. One the Russian specialists have completed their work, which will make them distinctly Syrian, they will leave the country, potentially opening the door for Israel to bomb them without crossing any of Moscow’s so-called “red lines.”

But, a gross miscalculation could lead to a military conflict that drags the U.S. and the West into a full-scale war with Russia.

Outside of the Israel-U.S.-UK machinations for war with Iran, the leaders of Russia, Turkey, Germany, and France are scheduled to meet in Turkey later this month to discuss a final “political settlement” in Syria that could lead to an end to the seven-year civil war. According to reports, the leaders will exchange a number of views, and will hold “bilateral discussions” on the sidelines of the gathering.

Russian officials said “other pressing international issues”—likely a reference to Iran—would also be discussed.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9435

You Have Been Warned: Experts Tell Us That A Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake And Tsunami Will Destroy Everything West Of Interstate 5

October 18, 2018 by Michael Snyder

One day it will happen.  With little or no warning, the Cascadia Subduction Zone will produce a catastrophic earthquake and accompanying tsunami that will essentially destroy everything west of Interstate 5 in the Pacific Northwest.  It will be the worst natural disaster up to that point in American history, and as you will see below, the experts are saying that we are completely and utterly unprepared for it.  Of course the San Andreas Fault gets more publicity, but the truth is that the Cascadia Subduction Zone is capable of producing a quake “almost 30 times more energetic” than anything the San Andreas Fault can produce.  The Cascadia Subduction Zone stretches from northern Vancouver Island all the way down to northern California, and one expert recently told CBN News that all of the major cities in the region are essentially “built on a time bomb”…

“It’ll spread from Canada to California over 800 miles,” Oregon State University paleoseismologist Chris Goldfinger told CBN News.

He’s a leading expert on this once unknown fault line. The lack of knowledge about it meant construction all over the Northwest went up wherever and however for many, many decades without taking giant earthquakes into account.

“The whole Pacific Northwest is very, very fragile. Essentially our cities are turn-of-the-century cities built on a time bomb,” he intoned.

And the kind of scenario I am talking about has happened before.

Back in the year 1700, a massive quake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone triggered a tsunami so large that it crossed the Pacific Ocean and damaged coastal towns in Japan.

Today, the city of Seattle is one of the epicenters of America’s thriving tech industry, but it was literally built on landfill.  So when the shaking comes, the ground underneath everyone’s feet will literally liquify.  At that point virtually every major structure will collapse and multitudes of people will die.

And those that don’t die from being crushed by falling buildings could end up dying from falling glass and debris.  According to the head guy at FEMA’s headquarters in Bothell, there will be “three feet of broken glass” in downtown Seattle as a result of the earthquake…

“When the skyscrapers start swaying…well, a lot of them are designed to have their windows pop out,” said Matt Caesar at the region’s FEMA headquarters in Bothell, Washington.

There’ll be three feet of broken glass on the roads underneath those buildings in downtown Seattle — three feet of glass. We don’t even see three feet of snow,” he stated.

So there won’t be any heroes running around like Dwayne Johnson pulling people out of collapsed buildings, because nobody will be able to travel through the mountains of glass and fallen debris.

Most Americans cannot even conceive of such a disaster because they have never seen anything like it.  Even big budget Hollywood disaster movies don’t even come close to replicating what the real thing will be like.

According to Oregon State University paleoseismologist Chris Goldfinger, the Cascadia Subduction Zone is capable of producing an earthquake that is “almost 30 times more energetic” than anything that the San Andreas Fault is capable of producing…

Everyone knows the Cascadia’s cousin in California: the San Andreas Fault. It gets all the scary glamor, with even a movie this year, “San Andreas,” dramatizing an apocalypse in the western U.S.

Truth is, the San Andreas is a lightweight compared with the Cascadia.

The Cascadia can deliver a quake that’s many times stronger — plus a tsunami.

“Cascadia can make an earthquake almost 30 times more energetic than the San Andreas to start with, and then it generates a tsunami at the same time, which the side-by-side motion of the San Andreas can’t do,” said Chris Goldfinger, a professor of geophysics at Oregon State University.

Let’s talk about that potential tsunami.  Goldfinger says that a massive quake could produce a giant wall of water 100 feet high that would destroy everything in sight

The tsunami would bring water 20 to 80 – maybe even 100 – feet higher than today’s high tides. Most of the structures that have survived the killer quake but built too low will be smashed into by a devastating wall of water. And the next surge could be even higher, and the one after that higher still.

It won’t just be the water causing destruction, but everything it picks up. Goldfinger described what would happen all around and on the spit of land where CBN News interviewed him in the middle of Newport, Oregon’s Yaquina Bay, a few hundred yards from the Pacific.

“Then suddenly you’ve got a bay full of fishing boats, refrigerators, cars and everything else,” Goldfinger explained. “And it’s like a glacier of debris that’s just kind of sloshing back and forth.”

Seattle would be destroyed.

Tacoma would be gone.

Portland would essentially no longer exist.

We are talking about complete and utter devastation on a scale that has never been seen before in modern times.

At one point, the head of FEMA’s Region X was quoted by the New Yorker as saying that “everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast”

If the entire zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2. That’s the very big one.

…By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

In the Pacific Northwest, everything west of Interstate 5 covers some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people.

If you live west of Interstate 5 right now, you better hope that such a disaster does not happen soon, because when it does take place you will probably die.

And in this article I have not even mentioned one of the most important seismic events in the Northwest that experts tell us will definitely happen someday.

Mt. Rainier has been described as “the most dangerous mountain in America”, and a full-blown eruption of that volcano would be far, far worse than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Experts tell us that Mt. Rainier is capable of producing rivers of super-heated mud that are hundreds of feet high and that would travel at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.  These “rivers of death” would kill everything that they encounter, and entire communities would be swallowed up in just moments.  Today, approximately 150,000 people live on top of old Mt. Rainier mudflows, and someday those people will pay a very great price for being so foolish.  There is a reason why I included an eruption of Mt. Rainier in my novel, and experts assure us that the volcano is a ticking time bomb which could go off at any moment.

We live at a time when seismic activity is rising all over the world, and this is particularly true along the Ring of Fire.

The entire west coast of the United States lies directly along the Ring of Fire, and unfortunately the “Big One” is likely to arrive a whole lot sooner than most people are anticipating.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9433

The US witch population has seen an astronomical rise

By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz & Dan KopfOctober 4, 2018

Spirituality is now firmly placed in mainstream culture. The growing interest in astrology driven by millennials, as well as the popularity of crystals and tarot cards via the ballooning wellness industry, have brought mysticism from the fringes, and right into your Instagram feed.

However, as the cosmetics giant Sephora recently found out, mysticism and its more formal manifestation, witch culture, are not topics to be taken lightly. When the company tried to commodify and condense witch-related practices into a “Starter Witch Kit,” they managed to piss off a bunch of actual witches, forcing the kit’s manufacturer to apologize and pull the product.

The kit was clearly aimed at dabblers in witchcraft, rather than those who actually practice it, which was perhaps part of the miscalculation. Data on the existing population of self-identified practicing witches suggests that a robust—and growing—witch community exists.

By the numbers: witches, Wiccans, and Pagans

Though the data is sparse, what we do know is that the practice of witchcraft has seen major growth in recent decades. As the witch aesthetic has risen, so has the number of people who identify as witches.

The best source of data on the number of witches in the US comes from assessments of the Wicca population. Not all people who practice witchcraft consider themselves Wicca, but the religion makes up a significant subset, as Alden Wicker noted for Quartz in 2016.

Wicca is a largely Western religious movement that dates back to the mid-20th century in the US and UK. According to the site wicca.com, it’s a belief system informed by “pre-Christian traditions originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales,” that promotes “free thought and will of the individual, and encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature.

Birgitte Necessary, who describes herself as a Green Witch from Washington State, defines the religion similarly, explaining it as “a deep adherence to nature and natural law, an attention to the cycles of the earth and the lives within it.” As a Green Witch, Necessary adds that her practices mostly revolve around the plant kingdom and herbal healing.

While the US government does not regularly collect detailed religious data, because of concerns that it may violate the separation of church and state, several organizations have tried to fill the data gap. From 1990 to 2008, Trinity College in Connecticut ran three large, detailed religion surveys. Those have shown that Wicca grew tremendously over this period. From an estimated 8,000 Wiccans in 1990, they found there were about 340,000 practitioners in 2008. They also estimated there were around 340,000 Pagans (pdf) in 2008.

Although Trinity College hasn’t run a survey since 2008, the Pew Research Center picked up the baton in 2014. It found that 0.4% of Americans, or around 1 to 1.5 million people, identify as Wicca or Pagan—which suggests continued robust growth for the communities.

Data on Wicca identification is ever sparser in the UK, the other country with a significant Wicca population. A 2011 government census found that there are 12,000 Wiccans in England and Wales, but previous surveys didn’t collect data on the group.

The rise of witchcraft

“Witch Hill” is an 1869 painting depicting a girl found guilty of witchcraft on her way to the gallows in Salem.

Witchcraft had a long and complicated history before the wellness and beauty industries became recently obsessed with it. Witches have been a fixture in the popular imagination for centuries: And from Snow White to The Crucible to Melisandre in Game of Thrones, beauty, sexuality, and the quest for eternal youth have been baked into our perception of witches.

That perception is also, of course, tied to a bloody history of persecution of witchcraft’s practitioners, and the term “witch” itself has been used as a multipurpose misogynist slur. It’s perhaps that centuries-long perception that has led modern-day witches to reclaim the term, and even coalesce into a political movement.

Some modern witches, such as Courtney Brooke, place themselves in a subset of witches that adhere to a feminist dogma and identify specifically as “feminist witches”:

The mainstreaming of mysticism makes sense when you consider how it overlaps with the interests of the millennial women. As Wicker noted, witchcraft is the perfect religion for liberal millennials who are already involved in yoga and meditation, mindfulness, and new-age spirituality. With that foundation, they might show up for pagan holidays or new moon gatherings, or begin to explore the more serious spiritual concepts at the root of these practices.

This is all aided by the rise of witches on social media (just check out the extremely popular #witchesofinstagram hashtag on Instagram), and a certain kind of Instagrammable witchiness has been identified by market trend-spotters as “mysticore.”

The Hoodwitch, for example, is a bona fide witch influencer, with 329K Instagram followers, who practices “everyday magic for the modern mystic,” and appears at events like LA’s BeautyCon to do tarot readings:

The numbers on Wicca and Paganism may well undercount the total number of witches. Indeed, as Necessary notes, some witches reject Wicca in its current form as “a new age less-than-perfect reinvention of witchcraft.”

But whatever the exact number is, it’s clear that witches are among us—and the current trajectory suggests that their population will continue to grow.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9426

Chinese official finds Trump ‘very confusing,’ says US warships at China’s doorstep building tension

By Gregg Re | Fox News

President Trump’s inner circle is “very confusing” for foreign diplomatic officials in Washington to navigate, China’s U.S. ambassador Cui Tiankai told “Fox News Sunday” in an exclusive wide-ranging interview.

Cui added that U.S. warships are “on the offensive” near China, days after a U.S. destroyer nearly collided with a Chinese military vessel in the South China Sea. The Pentagon said the Chinese ship came within 45 yards of the U.S. destroyer, in an intentionally “unsafe” maneuver.

Cui’s comments come as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump prepare for a possible meeting at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, next month, amid a rapidly escalating trade conflict between the two nations that some have called a new cold war.

Asked by host Chris Wallace whether Trump listens primarily to hardliners like trade director Peter Navarro — who has characterized China as the economic “parasite of the world” — or moderates like chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Cui responded simply, “You tell me.”

The envoy added that other ambassadors seemingly have the same issue. President Trump has repeatedly said he tries to avoid “telegraphing” his moves to foreign adversaries.

“Honestly, I’ve been talking to ambassadors of other countries in Washington, D.C., and this is also part of their problem,” Cui said. “They don’t know who is the final decision-maker. Of course, presumably, the president will take the final decision, but who is playing what role? Sometimes it could be very confusing.”

Trump, citing widespread intellectual property theft in China that cuts into the profits of U.S. companies doing business there, placed tariffs on approximately $200 billion of Chinese imports in September, following his imposition of significant tariffs on nearly $35 billion in Chinese goods in July. China quickly retaliated with $60 billion in tariffs of its own.

The White House has bipartisan support for hitting back at Chinese intellectual property theft. In an interview in June, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., ordinarily a fierce Trump critic, agreed with the administration’s China policy and said that the country “takes total advantage” of the U.S.

“Not only do they steal our intellectual property, they keep our good companies out, and say the only way you’re going to be able to sell your American products in China … is if you come to China, make them there, and give us the techniques and intellectual property,” Schumer said.

And the president has insisted his tariffs are already having a major impact.

“Their economy has gone down very substantially, and I have a lot more to do if I want to do it,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” last week. “They lived too well for too long and, frankly, I guess they think the Americans are stupid people. Americans are not stupid people. We were led badly when it came to trade.”

But in his interview with Fox News, Cui denied that China permits or engages in widespread intellectual property theft, and said even the suggestion was an affront to the country’s population.

“I think all of these accusations about how China has developed are groundless and not fair to the Chinese people,” he told Wallace. “You see, China has 1.4 billion people. It would be hard to imagine that one-fifth of the global population could develop and prosper not by relying mainly on their own efforts, but by stealing or forcing some transfer of technology from others — that’s impossible.”

“It’s important to notice who started this trade war. We never want to have a trade war.”

— China’s U.S. ambassador Cui Tiankai

He added: “It’s important to notice who started this trade war. We never want to have a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests.”

Concerns have been raised that China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasurys, might start dumping its holdings as a way to pressure the United States in the trade dispute. But Mnuchin said this possibility didn’t concern him because it would be contrary to Beijing’s economic interests to start dumping its Treasury holdings, and would be “very costly” to China.

Top U.S. officials have warned that the ongoing conflict with China extends beyond trade. In Senate testimony on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that “China, in many ways, represents the broadest, most complicated, most long-term counterintelligence threat we face.”

He added that “Russia is … fighting to stay relevant after the fall of the Soviet Union,” while “China is fighting tomorrow’s fight…and it affects every sector of our economy.”

Vice President Pence, meanwhile, has accused China of trying to interfere with U.S. elections, including by targeting tariffs toward industries that support Trump and even spreading propaganda in U.S. media outlets.

In response, Cui effectively called the U.S. the aggressor in several spheres of influence. Chinese state-run media companies have recently bought newspaper inserts in U.S. newspapers to influence local opinion in favor of China.

“You see, Chinese media, they are just learning from America media to use all these means, to buy commercial pages from newspapers, to make their views known or to cover what is happening here,” Cui said. “This is normal practice for all the media.” (China does not generally permit foreign-owned media companies to buy such political inserts in its own domestic papers.)

The envoy also said that Chinese warships, which harassed and nearly collided with a U.S. destroyer recently in the disputed South China Sea, had responded appropriately to an intervention on their “doorstep.” Beijing has built up military fortifications on two contested Chinese man-made islands there despite pledging not to do so.

“Where the incident took place, you were right to say it was in South China Sea. So it’s at China’s doorstep,” Cui told Wallace. “It’s not Chinese warships that are going to the coast of California, or to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s so close to the Chinese islands and it’s so close to the Chinese coast. So who is on the offensive? Who is on the defensive? This is very clear.”

Cui said, however, that China would continue to “faithfully” implement sanctions against its longtime ally, North Korea, in order to restore stability to the region. He  said a “coordinated, phased, and step-by-step approach” to North Korean denuclearization is the best approach, mirroring the position of that country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

“How can you convince him to give up all the nuclear weapons without any hope that the U.S. would be following a more friendly policy towards him?” Cui asked.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Beijing last week, where top Chinese officials vowed to take “all necessary measures” to safeguard their country. They have since said that high-level communications continue between the two countries.

Still, there were signs tensions between China and the U.S. have eased somewhat in recent days. Global stock market indexes bounced back sharply Friday after their recent plunges, on word of the possible presidential meeting.

And reports have emerged that Mnuchin has advised against labeling China a currency manipulator — a status that could trigger penalties. The Chinese currency has been falling in value against the dollar in recent months, raising concerns that Beijing is devaluing its currency to make Chinese goods more competitive against U.S. products.

Mnuchin did not say this weekend what the forthcoming Treasury report, set to come out next week, will conclude about China’s currency practices. In the past, Treasury has placed China on a watch-list but found that Beijing did not meet the threshold to be labeled a currency manipulator.

The Treasury secretary met Thursday with Yi Gang, head of China’s central bank. “I expressed my concerns about the weakness of the currency.” Mnuchin said.

Cui told Wallace that China, despite its ongoing spat with the U.S. on a variety of fronts, remains optimistic about November’s planned meeting between Trump and Jinping. Kudlow, the chief White House economic adviser, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the one-on-one between the two leaders will “probably” happen.

“There’s a good mutual understanding and good working relationship between the two,” Cui said. “I hope and I’m sure this will continue.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9424

The US military is planning a serious showdown with China that would be a significant show of force on tense tides and involve American warships and aircraft

Ryan Pickrell

Oct. 3, 2018, 8:12 PM

US Navy guided-missile destroyers and guided-missile cruisers. U.S. Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Caleb Swigart

  • The US military is reportedly planning to send US warships, combat aircraft, and troops through the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in November in a series of exercises designed to send a message to Beijing.
  • The proposal, which comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and China, has yet to be approved.
  • In recent weeks, Washington and Beijing have quarreled over trade, sanctions, Taiwan, repeated bomber flights over disputed seas, and a confrontation between US and Chinese warships.

The US military is reportedly planning to put on a serious show of force in contested waters from the South China Sea to the Taiwan Strait as a warning to China and a reminder of the United States’ ability to rapidly confront and counter any potential adversaries.

The US Pacific Fleet has proposed a series of exercises for November that would see American warships and aircraft demonstrating US military might in disputed waterways in a message to Beijing, CNN reported Wednesday afternoon, citing several defense officials.

While one official reportedly characterized the plans as “just an idea,” others indicated that the proposal, which already has an operational name, is being circulated at various levels of the military.

Assuming the plan is approved, the operations would be carried out over the course of a week. The plan, derived from the National Defense Strategy and assertions that the US is once again in an age of great power competition with Russia and China, is still under consideration and will require input from the intelligence community on possible reactions from Beijing and other international actors.

News of this plan comes on the heels of serious incidents in the East and South China Seas.

Twice last week, the US sent B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bombers tearing through the South China Sea. Those flights were immediately followed by a joint military exercise in which a US B-52 bomber joined forces with Japanese fighter jets over the East China Sea and Sea of Japan.

China called the flights “provocative,” warning the US that it would take “necessary measures” to defend Chinese national interests. Several days later, the Chinese military conducted “live-fire shooting drills” in the South China Sea.

On Sunday, the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. During the routine operation, a Chinese Luyang II-class guided-missile destroyer confronted the US warship.

The Chinese vessel, according to the Pacific Fleet, engaged in “increasingly aggressive” behavior. The Chinese ship nearly collided with the US destroyer during the exchange, which was described as “unsafe and unprofessional.”

These incidents came amid other deteriorations in the US-China bilateral relationship, specifically issues pertaining to sanctions, trade, and Taiwan.

In the past two weeks, the US and China have canceled several high-level military-to-military meetings intended to defuse tensions. While some observers have expressed concern, noting that the situation is escalating to dangerous levels, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said the US and China simply need to learn to sort out their differences.

“We’re just going to have to learn how to manage this relationship,” he said Tuesday, adding, “We’ll do that. We’ll sort this out.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9413

In Bold Marketing Move, The Mormon Church Will No Longer Be Using The Name ‘Mormon’ In Effort To Rebrand Cult Image

Church President Russell M. Nelson announced guidelines in August requesting that people stop using “Mormon” or “LDS” as substitutes for the church’s full name. He said “Latter-day Saints” was acceptable shorthand. The term Mormon comes from the church’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, which followers believe is based on the record keeping of an ancient prophet named Mormon.

by Geoffrey Grider October 5, 2018

The term Mormon comes from the church’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, which followers believe is based on the record keeping of an ancient prophet named Mormon.

When someone says the word ‘Mormon’, what’s the first image that comes to mind? If you’re honest, you think of two young men on bicycles, wearing white shirts and ties, with backpacks, going from door to door to ‘spread the word’ about the religion of Joseph Smith. You may also think of Mitt Romney and the ‘magic underwear‘, the ‘magic stone‘ and cans of Coke with a red line through them. And that whole ‘Satan and Jesus are brothers‘ thing can really be off putting to some people.

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8 (KJV)

So the powers that be at Mormon Inc decided that a name change might just be the thing to make them appear less like a cult and more like a legitimate denomination of Christianity.

FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: The world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be singing the same tune but under a new name. The choir was renamed Friday to strip out the word Mormon in a move aimed at ending shorthand names for the religion that have been used for generations by church members and others.

The singers will now be called the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement . It’s a nod to the home of the choir for the last 150 years, the Tabernacle, located on church grounds known as Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.

The group had been known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir since 1929, when it began broadcasting a weekly radio program to a wide audience.

What the Mormon Church does not want  you to know…until after you join

Like all cults, the Mormon Church has a lot of wacky doctrine not found anywhere in the Bible, and they do their very best to keep it from prospective new members until they can “ease them” into it. This video will get you up to speed on what Mormons really teach and actually believe.

Church President Russell M. Nelson announced guidelines in August requesting that people stop using “Mormon” or “LDS” as substitutes for the church’s full name. He said “Latter-day Saints” was acceptable shorthand. The faith holds that the full church name was given by revelation from God to founder Joseph Smith in 1838.

The term Mormon comes from the church’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, which followers believe is based on the record keeping of an ancient prophet named Mormon. A church webpage that was up before Nelson’s announcement described the term Mormon as an “unofficial but inoffensive nickname for members.

But Nelson in his August statement urged people not to use Mormon or LDS. The “Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church,” he said.

Speaking later in Canada, Nelson acknowledged that it would be a “challenge to undo tradition of more than 100 years” but said the name of the faith is “not negotiable,” according to a video posted on a church website. He said church members need to use the proper name if they want outsiders to use it.

“We’re not changing names. We’re correcting a name,” Nelson said. “Some marketers change names hoping to be more successful — that’s not our point. We’re correcting an error that’s crept in over the ages.”

In a different video from the trip, Nelson said, “It’s not Mormon’s church, it’s not Moses’ church, it’s the church of Jesus Christ.”

Some Mormons do not realize that their temple Endowment ceremony was copied directly from occultic rites in Freemasonry.

The name change will be a big effort for the Utah-based faith that counts 16 million members worldwide. The renaming of the choir is the first step with many changes still to come. The church still uses Mormon in its Twitter handle.

The faith’s presidents are considered prophets who lead through revelations from God. Nelson, 94, ascended to the post in January after the previous president died.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9409

Chinese destroyer’s ‘unsafe’ interaction with USS Decatur in South China Sea seen in stunning photos

Fox News

This U.S. Navy photo, first obtained by gcaptain.com, shows the incident between the USS Decatur, left, and the Luoyang. (U.S. Navy)

A Chinese destroyer came a stone’s throw away from a U.S. Navy ship as the American vessel sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea, stunning photos released Tuesday showed.

In the photos, first obtained by gcaptain.com, the People’s Republic of China destroyer Luoyang is seen within 45 yards of the USS Decatur before the U.S. ship is forced to veer away to avoid a collision near the Gaven Reefs on Sunday, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman said.

The photos were deemed to be legitimate, but it wasn’t clear how they were obtained, a U.S. Navy official told Stars and Stripes.

The destroyer conducted an “an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver,” Gorman said. He added the Chinese ship conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers that were accompanied by warnings urging the Decatur to depart.

The USS Decatur, a guided-missile destroyer, was conducting a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea, a U.S. defense official told Fox News in a statement. The operation was conducted to “uphold the rights and freedoms of all states under international law. Decatur sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands,” the official said.

China claims the rights to most of the strategic waterway and has built man-made islands on reefs and equipped them with airstrips, radar domes and missile systems.

China opposed the U.S. warship’s entry into the waters around the reefs, the Chinese defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday. Chinese officials confirmed it sent the Luoyang to drive the USS Decatur away and urged the U.S. to stop its “provocative” actions.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9407