Connect with us


Series of Mysterious Explosions Rock Iran; Iran Vows Retaliation

There have been five mysterious explosions and fires in Iran in a short time frame. Iran claims they will retaliate, as they indirectly blame the U.S. and Israel.

Justin MacLachlan



(TMU) – There have been five mysterious explosions and fires in Iran in a short time frame, many at secure sites. Iran claims it will retaliate, as they indirectly blame the U.S. and Israel for attacks on the infrastructure.

On June 25th, a massive explosion in Tehran burned a hillside near a suspected missile complex at Khojir which was blamed on a gas leak. Subsequently, there was a reported power outage in the city of Shiraz, leaving 1.2 million households without electricity, according to reports. This power outage was allegedly caused by an explosion that took place at a power station in Shiraz, Radio Farda reported.

Iranian TV showed video footage of what they claimed was the industrial fuel storage facility that had blown up.

Then on June 30th, a medical center suffered a gas explosion in Tehran, killing at least 19 people, which was again blamed on a gas leak.

However, Iranian authorities later walked back claims it was a gas leak and detained one person, while they are still seeking to arrest at least four others over the deadly blast at the clinic in Tehran.

Following the medical center incident, on July 2nd there was an explosion at Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility.

On Thursday, there was also a large fire that broke out in a garden in Iran’s Shiraz. The cause of the fire remains unknown, according to the news outlet Alarabiya.

Finally, it has now been reported that an explosion rocked a nuclear power station Zargan in southwestern Iran on Saturday, affecting the transformer in the city of Ahvaz.

Tasnim, an Iranian news site, reports that the fire at the nuclear plant was quickly put out by firefighters, and power was restored after partial outages. At the same time, the Mahshahr Petrochemical Zone also announced that there was a chlorine leak in the Karun Petrochemical plant.

It’s worth noting that, on Thursday, hours after a building at a nuclear facility was reportedly blown up, that there were reports of an “explosive device” planted inside the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, which raises questions about the nuclear power station explosion that happened Saturday in Ahvas.

The New York Times reported that “a Middle Eastern intelligence official…said the blast was caused by an explosive device planted inside the facility. The explosion, he said, destroyed much of the above-ground parts of the facility.”

A group called the “Cheetahs of the Homeland” claimed responsibility for the explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility, according to emails allegedly sent to BBC Persian prior to the attack. The emails arrived “hours before any news of the incident had emerged,” according to Radio Farda, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The group, which has never been heard of by Iranian officials, claims to be dissident members of Iran’s security forces, according to the Associated Press.

Later, there was even a video uploaded to social media of the group claiming responsibility. Tehran said it knew the cause of the explosions but stated it wouldn’t make them public due to “security reasons.”

IRNA news indirectly blamed the “Zionist regime and the US” and said they were “crossing red lines.” Even stranger, a Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Jarida Daily, added to that claim, stating the attacks were in retaliation for an alleged attempt by Tehran to hack Israel’s water infrastructure, The Times Of Israel reported.

“So far Iran has tried to prevent intensifying crises and the formation of unpredictable conditions and situations,” IRNA said. “But the crossing of red lines of the Islamic Republic of Iran by hostile countries, especially the Zionist regime and the U.S., means that strategy … should be revised.”

The unnamed source continues, expressing that Israel was behind two of the blasts at Iranian facilities. One facility being related to uranium enrichment, the other for missile production. The paper went on to further detail how Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jets bombed a site located in the area of Parchin, which is believed to house a missile production warehouse.

Al-Jarida claimed to have learned from unnamed sources that the Natanz fire was the result of a cyberattack aimed at the gas compression systems, and that a blast allegedly caused a crack in a reactor building. The same newspaper previously reported that the Parchin incident was also caused by a cyberattack.

The claims weren’t confirmed by Israeli officials. However, it’s notable that The Times Of Israel reported there was a cyberattack in April on Israel’s water infrastructure – in an attempt to create dangerous levels of chlorine into the Israeli water supply.

The attack on Israel’s water supply involved six Israeli water facilities. The incidents were actually successful, damaging Israel’s water supply and wastewater management. Iran successfully hacked into the controllers that ran the water pumps including the chlorine tanks that control the addition of chlorine to Israeli water distribution pipes. It’s important to note how potentially lethal to the civilian population such an attack is to release large amounts of chlorine into the water supply.

After the attack on the water plants, Israel responded stating:

“Iranian attacks crossed a red line,” a senior Israeli official said. “This is an attack which defies all [ethical] codes, even in war. Even from the Iranians, we did not expect such a thing. This is an attack which it’s forbidden to conduct.”

The first alleged Israeli response to the water supply attack was an alleged Israeli cyberattack on the Shahid Rajaee shipping terminal in Bandar Abbas, Iran. That attack caused minor disruption and was criticized as a weak reaction to the dangerous water supply move by Iran. The Iranians expressed that the attack on the shipping terminal was a failure.

A report by the Washington Post, citing foreign and US officials, said Israel was likely behind the hack that brought the “bustling Shahid Rajaee port terminal to an abrupt and inexplicable halt” on May 9th.

“Computers that regulate the flow of vessels, trucks and goods all crashed at once, ­creating massive backups on waterways and roads leading to the facility,” the Post reported.

An unnamed Western official also told Israeli TV that the cyberattack was retaliation for Tehran’s failed attempted assault in April on Israel’s water infrastructure, Times Of Israel reported.

Iran hinted that the explosion at its Natanz nuclear facility was a “cyber attack.” Although not stating such directly. They comments were made by Iran’s civil defense chief, Reuters reported.

“Responding to cyber attacks is part of the country’s defense might. If it is proven that our country has been targeted by a cyberattack, we will respond,” said Iranian civil defense chief Gholamreza Jalali.

Reuters further reports that three Iranian officials spoke to the news agency on the condition of anonymity stating they believed the fire was the result of a cyberattack, but failed to cite evidence. Two of those officials blamed Israel, while one of the officials said the attack had targeted a centrifuge assembly building – referring to the delicate cylindrical machines that enrich uranium.

Experts told the Associated Press that the Natanz incident apparently impacted a centrifuge production plant above Iran’s underground Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.

This isn’t the first time that Natanz has been struck by an attack, if that is what we’re looking at here.

In 2010, workers found that high-speed centrifuges had been sabotaged by the ‘Stuxnet’ computer worm.

There is no public information available to determine if at least some of the latest explosions were indeed the result of a sophisticated cyber-attack. Nor is there evidence suggesting that all four incidents last week are connected, however, it seems to be a hell of a coincidence.

It’s also important to note that the Stunext computer worm was allegedly designed to be non-lethal, unlike all the recent attacks which have caused large explosions.

Is this even technologically possible?

According to an expert at Kaspersky labs, in 2003 Evgeny Kaspersky stated that when the U.S. North East had its power outage, it was caused by a virus. The infamous Stuxnet virus was designed to destroy nuclear power plant infrastructure.

In fact, the CIA even admitted this was possible in 2008 when former CIA senior analyst Tom Donahue admitted they had evidence of successful cyber attacks against critical national infrastructures outside the United States. The SANS Institute, a computer-security training body, reported the CIA’s disclosure, according to CNET.

“We have information that cyberattacks have been used to disrupt power equipment in several regions outside the U.S.,” Donahue said. “In at least one case, the disruption caused a power outage affecting multiple cities.”

Then in 2009, CBS 60 minutes reported that electrical blackouts impacting millions of people in Brazil in 2005 and 2007 were caused by hackers targeting control systems.

Let’s circle back to Iran, and something more relevant.

For those who don’t remember, former President Barack Obama in his first months in office secretly ordered cyberattacks on the computer systems that ran Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, including Natanz, with Stuxnet, New York Times reported.

Around 2006, under then-President George W. Bush, cyberattacks were authorized under Operation Olympic Games. The first known attack was reported in 2007 according to Symantec Corp who uncovered a version of the Stuxnet computer virus that was used to attack Iran’s nuclear program, Reuters previously reported.

Under Obama, the program continued and Stuxnet accidentally infected unintended targets which eventually compromised the secrecy of the entire covert operation.

As reported in 2013, the discovery of an early Stuxnet version showed the worm was in development no later than November of 2005, almost two years earlier than had been previously thought. According to an article published by BuzzFeed, the more aggressive version of Stuxnet was unilaterally released by Israel personnel, to the “consternation of many of their U.S. counterparts.”

The secrecy of the operation known as “Nitro Zeus” which reportedly targeted Iran’s air defenses, communications, and power grid, “was blown,” a U.S. source told filmmakers of the documentary film Zero Days, according to BuzzFeed. “Our friends in Israel took a weapon that we jointly developed—in part to keep Israel from doing something crazy—and then used it on their own in a way that blew the cover the operation and could’ve led to war.”

If we are looking at a Stuxnet version 2.0, this new virus proves to be a bigger, more sophisticated malware than the original that was unleashed on the world.

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.

Good News

“I Never Thought I’d Live to See This Day”: The Beginning of the End for Nuclear Weapons




Today is the day the United Nation’s Treaty on Nuclear Weapons goes into effect. It’s the long planned but seemingly impossible day millions — if not billions — of people have waited for since Hiroshima Day, August 6, 1945.

Today, the U.N. treaty declares that the manufacture, possession, use or threat to use nuclear weapons is illegal under international law, 75 years after their development and first use. Actions, events, vigils and celebrations will be held around the nation and the globe to mark this historic moment.

Even though I’ve spent most of my life working for the abolition of nuclear weapons, I never thought I’d live to see this day. The most striking test of faith came in none other than Oslo, Norway, where my friend, actor Martin Sheen, and I were invited to be the keynote speakers at the launch of something called “The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons,” or ICAN, which went on to the win the Nobel Peace Prize.

I have been arrested dozens of times for nonviolent civil disobedience actions against nuclear weapons, including at the White House, the Pentagon, several Trident submarine bases, the SAC command base near Omaha, Nebraska, the Nevada Test Site and Livermore Labs. Since 2003, I have led the annual Hiroshima Day peace vigil outside the national nuclear weapons labs in Los Alamos, New Mexico. I had been planning with friends a major anti-nuclear vigil, rally and conference near Los Alamos, New Mexico to mark the 75thanniversary of Hiroshima, but instead, we held a powerful virtual online conference seen by thousands that featured Dr. Ira Helfand, co-founder of the Nobel Prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility and one of the leaders of ICAN.

On Dec. 7, 1993, with Philip Berrigan and two friends, I walked on to the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina, right through the middle of national war games, up to one of the nuclear-capable F15 fighter bombers and hammered on it, to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that some day people would “beat swords into plowshares and study war no more.” For that act, I faced 20 years in prison, was convicted on several felony counts, spent nine months in a tiny cell, several years under house arrest and continued to be heavily monitored by the government. My friends, Dan and Phil Berrigan, who launched the Plowshares movement dreamed of this day. Other friends sit in prisons across the nation today for their recent actions.

But this was something else. This was a first for me. We had been brought to Oslo by the Norwegian government. We stood before some 900 people that Saturday night, March 1, 2013, at the civic forum, which preceded the global gathering of representatives from over 132 nations. (Of course, the United States refused to attend.) The formal meeting would start Monday morning. As far as we could tell, there had never been such a conference before in history.

Martin began his talk by thanking ICAN for their work to build a global abolition movement, and encouraged everyone to keep at it. He read aloud their general call for nuclear-armed states to completely eliminate nuclear weapons—and a treaty banning any state from developing them.  

For the next 48 hours we spoke non-stop, in workshops, to the press, to small groups and large groups. We were given a private tour of the Nobel Peace Prize museum, attended a reception with the Norwegian Parliament and met many members and politicians whom we urged to carry on their initiative for the abolition of nuclear weapons, including Norway’s foreign minister, the Vice President of Parliament, and the Mayor of Oslo.

It was there at that reception that we met Dr. Ira Helfand, who told us that—for the first time in four decades—he felt hopeful about nuclear disarmament. There has never been such an important gathering in history, he said with a smile.

At one point during the ICAN conference, a teenage student asked to speak privately with me. He confided that he was one of the survivors of the massacre a year and a half before, when an insane shooter killed 78 children during their summer camp on an island in a large lake not far from Oslo. My new friend told me how he dodged the bullets and swam far out into the lake and barely survived. He wanted to talk with me about nonviolence and forgiveness. I encouraged him on his journey of healing toward a deeper peace, but was profoundly moved by his connection between the summer camp massacre and the global massacre that can be unleashed through nuclear weapons. He saw now what most people refuse to see. And he was determined to do his part to prevent a global massacre of children.

All of these experiences were so touching and inspiring, but there was something even more powerful afoot. From the moment we landed in Oslo, as we met various dignitaries and longtime anti-nuclear leaders from around the globe, we heard the same statement over and over again: We are going to abolish nuclear weapons.

After a while, Martin and I looked at one another and thought to ourselves: something’s not right with these people. Sure, we do what we can, of course, but we’re not going to live to see the abolition of nuclear weapons. Our new friends were drinking the Kool-Aid.

But we didn’t know who we were dealing with, nor did we yet understand the faith and hope that undergirds lasting global change movements. These were the same people who organized the global campaign to outlaw landmines in 1997. These were the same people who organized the global campaign to ban cluster bombs in 2008. Now, they were telling us calmly, they were setting their sights on nuclear weapons. They intended to use the same tried and true strategy to slowly plot their end. This was going to work. No doubt about it.

All we have to do is get 50 nations to sign a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons, they said; then we can slowly chip away at every other nation in the world, until all that are left of the nine nuclear weapons nations who will eventually be shamed into dismantling their weapons and signing the United Nations’ Treaty. It was a no-brainer.

“Well, good luck with that,” we said.

And here we are. Today, the treaty goes into effect. Today is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.

For my friends and me, this is a day we never quite believed we would see.

“Right now, the treaty does not legally apply to the United States,” said Ken Mayers of Veterans for Peace New Mexico, “because we have not signed or ratified it. But that does not mean we will not be feeling the moral force of the treaty. All nuclear weapons, including the thousands in the U.S. stockpile, have been declared unlawful by the international community.”

Mayers and others will keep vigil today near the labs in Los Alamos, New Mexico, calling for an end to weapons development. Similar vigils will be held across the United States today with banners hung outside nuclear weapons production sites declaring “Nuclear Weapons Are Illegal!”

“The treaty is a turning point,” said Joni Arends, of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. “On the one hand, it is the end of a long process to outlaw nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it is just the beginning of a new movement to confront nuclear weapons states and demand they lift the dark shadow of nuclear annihilation that has loomed over the world for the last 75 years.”

“The U.S. was among the last major countries to abolish slavery but did so in the end,” said Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “To modify Dr. King’s famous quote: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards [the] justice’ of abolishing nuclear weapons. This ban treaty is the beginning of that end and should be celebrated as such.”

Every time we have journeyed up to Los Alamos over the years, we offered the same, simple message: Nuclear weapons have totally failed us. They don’t make us safer; they can’t protest us; they don’t provide jobs; they don’t make us more secure; they’re sinful, immoral and inhuman. They bankrupt us, economically and spiritually.

According to the Doomsday Clock, we are in greater danger now than ever. A limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan is very possible; an all-out nuclear war would end life as we know it. If we spent billions instead on teaching and building nonviolent civilian-based defense systems and nonviolent conflict resolution programs around the world, to be orchestrated by the United Nations, we could make war itself obsolete.

The work of ICAN and the United Nations to get 50 nations to outlaw nuclear weapons and build a process toward their elimination is one of the most exciting, hopeful—if widely ignored—movements in the world today.

Just before Christmas, Dr. Helfand called me. He continues to work morning to night in a Massachusetts clinic treating COVID patients, but he wanted to talk about the treaty. “How can we push Americans to demand that the United States sign the treaty and dismantle our arsenal,” he asked me? “How can we mobilize the movement to make President Biden and the U.S. Congress do the right thing?”

That’s the question. We talked about various efforts we could make, and agreed to do what we could. “The responsibility lies with us,” he said. “We were the first to use nuclear weapons; we must be the ones to end them once and for all.”

A few days later, he sent me an email with the gist of our message. In addition to climate change, the nearly 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world pose an existential threat to humanity. The threat of nuclear war has never been greater, with tensions rising between the United States, Russia and China. Even a limited nuclear war could kill hundreds of millions, and bring about a global famine that would put billions of people at risk. A larger war could kill the vast majority of humanity.

“This is not the future that must be,” Dr. Helfand wrote me. “Nuclear weapons are not a force of nature. They are little machines that we have built with our own hands, and we know how to take them apart. Nations around the world have come together in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is time for us to move back from the brink and eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us.”

And so, the day has come when that long dreamed of future has become a real possibility. Our task is to make the possible probable, and then actual. Time to get back to work. We need to call President Biden and Congress, write letters to the editor, mobilize the movement, tell the nation: Let’s abolish nuclear weapons now, once and forever, and use the billions of dollars we spend on these weapons to vaccinate everyone, rebuild our nation, protect the environment, abolish war and poverty, and welcome a new culture of peace and nonviolence.

As I learned in Oslo, anything is possible if you believe.

Republished from under Creative Commons

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.
Continue Reading


33 Missing Children Recovered During Human Trafficking Operation




A large human trafficking investigation in Southern California involving multiple law enforcement agencies successfully recovered 33 missing children during a recent operation. 

The FBI announced the conclusion of the investigation this week, and disclosed that there are currently over 1,800 investigations involving missing and exploited children. The investigation was called “Operation Lost Angels” and began on January 11th as a part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

While few details were revealed about the cases, the FBI said that at least 8 of the children had been sexually exploited. The agency noted that there has been an increase in child trafficking cases in recent years.

According to a statement from the FBI, “It is not uncommon for victims who are rescued to return to commercial sex trafficking either voluntarily or by force, fraud or coercion. This harmful cycle highlights the challenges victims face and those faced by law enforcement when attempting to keep victims from returning to an abusive situation. Victims may not self-identify as being trafficked or may not even realize they’re being trafficked.”

Assistant FBI Director Kristi K. Johnson told FOX 11 Los Angeles that, “The FBI considers human trafficking modern-day slavery, and the minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims. While this operation surged resources over a limited period of time with great success, the FBI and our partners investigate child sex trafficking every day of the year and around the clock.”

Statements from investigators also noted that some of the children needed multiple interventions after returning to whoever was exploiting them. Investigations into numerous suspects have been opened and one suspected human trafficker has been arrested. The FBI also noted that not all of the children were victims of trafficking, for example, one of the children was kidnapped by their parent during a custody battle.

The FBI announced that they made 473 human trafficking arrests last year and initiated 664 investigations across the country.

This is just one of many similar operations that have taken place across the state, and the entire country in recent years.

Over the past five years, the US Marshal Service (USMS) has recovered missing children in 75% of the cases it has received. And of those recovered, 72% were recovered within 7 days. Since 2005, the USMS has recovered more than 2,000 missing children.

Late last year, a massive law enforcement operation in Ohio called Operation Autumn Hope resulted in the arrest of 179 people under suspicion of human trafficking, and the rescue of 109 victims, 45 of whom were missing children. Some victims were as young as 14 or 15 years old.

Another effort, called Operation Stolen Innocence, concluded in Tallahassee, Florida, in November, with the arrest of 170 people.

Investigators are urging victims and people who are aware of victims to speak out. Victims and witnesses can report information to the Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1-888-373-7888.

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.
Continue Reading


Teachers Union Berated Trump for Reopening Schools, Now It’s Praising Biden for Doing the Same




The same teachers’ organization that roundly condemned Donald Trump’s attempts to prematurely reopen schools are now applauding Biden’s decision to do the same, even as the coronavirus pandemic reaches new levels.

Joe Biden has made the reopening of schools, colleges, and universities a key priority. On his first full day in office, he signed an executive order “to support the safe reopening and continued operation of schools, child care providers, Head Start programs, and institutions of higher education,” hoping to achieve a near full reopening within 100 days. The order states that the 78-year-old former Delaware senator considers it his duty to “ensure that students receive a high-quality education during the coronavirus.”

The country’s largest labor union, the National Education Association (NEA) came out in strong support of the move. “President Biden’s plan provides great reason for sorely-needed optimism” said the organization’s new president, Becky Pringle. “Educators are encouraged not only by President Biden’s leadership, but also by knowing that there is finally a true partner in the White House who will prioritize students by working with educators in the decision-making process,” she added in an official statement.

The NEA has a close relationship with the Democratic Party. Over 97% of NEA political donations in the last two years went to the Democrats, the organization endorsing Joe Biden for president and calling for Trump’s immediate removal from office earlier this month while putting out official statements mourning the death of liberal icons like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Indeed, García was reported to be among the front runners for Biden’s pick as Secretary of Education.

This is quite the U-turn from the union, which boasts a membership of nearly 2.3 million educators nationwide. In April, as President Trump was attempting to do the same thing, the NEA offered blistering opposition. “Trump’s call to reopen school buildings is dangerous for students [and] staff,” it wrote, condemning the president’s attempts to sacrifice teachers for the sake of reopening the economy.

Similarly, in September, the organization was categorically against Trump’s renewed push to reopen. No one should listen to Trump or his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, claimed then-NEA leader Lily Eskelsen García, accusing him of “creating more panic for stressed families” and “politicizing” the reopening of schools by linking it with the November election. Yet Biden has made clear that his decision was made on the same “save the economy” logic as Trump’s. When schools are open again, “Think of all the people who can get back to work,” he said, as he signed the order, “all the mothers and single fathers that are staying home taking care of their children.”

While we may know more about the virus now than last year, it seems clear that the pandemic is actually far more out of control now than previously. In late April, the U.S. was averaging 30,248 new cases per day and 2,010 deaths, per Worldometers data. In September, those numbers were 35,934 daily cases and 757 deaths. Today, however, the country can expect to see 193,758 new cases and around 3,176 new deaths. In fact, the ten deadliest coronavirus days have all occurred in the past four weeks. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the majority of Americans consider the pandemic to be completely out of control.

Biden’s decision also comes at a time when comparable nations are quickly moving in the opposite direction. Authorities in the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands have all announced the closure of schools, despite lower rates of contagion than the U.S. in some cases.

“The problem is not that schools are unsafe for children,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who made the decision to close them for three months, despite previously being adamantly against the idea in principle. “The problem is schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.” European studies have shown that, although highly unlikely to be gravely affected by the virus themselves, children are as likely to contract and pass it on as adults, making schools potential superspreading potshots. British teachers are twice as likely to contract the coronavirus as the general population. COVID cases among American educators are also rising. While there are reasons to support reopening, particularly the psychological toll that isolation takes on children and the loss of valuable teaching time, other nations see the virus as a greater danger.

The union’s decision to support school reopening, even as the pandemic hits new heights, might suggest to some that leadership is putting its loyalties towards the party before its membership and giving Democrats a free pass.

Republished from under Creative Commons

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.
Continue Reading