November 15, 2015

Meanwhile: In Worcester

It looks like someone hit a National Guard Armory in Massachusetts. According to the article the thief or thieves made off with...


Six M4 assault rifles, 10 pistols, and several long guns

That isn't exactly going to arm a brigade but.....Wait...What?

What does that even mean?

The M-4 is a carbine, but it's still a rifle.

Perhaps, by longgun they mean sniper rifles?

"Who knows. It's reporters talking about guns."



In any event,  even correcting for Gell-Mann, this is potentially noteworthy. 

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November 10, 2015

Portents in the Shipping Industry

Maersk is the worlds biggest maritime shipping company.


It's quite common if sailing in Hampton Roads Harbor to see three or more Maersk ships.

The company, presumably knows something about the shipping industry. 


 "We believe that global growth is slowing down,” he said in a phone interview. "Trade is currently significantly weaker than it normally would be under the growth forecasts we see.”


This does not jive with other forecasts, and certainly, with regards to domestic air and ground shipping industry my completely anecdotal and unscientific observations have been of daily box tsunamis. However, the shipping company I work for seems to be benefitting considerably from the explosion in online ordering, and we are spinning up for the hell called "Christmas".  Maersk handles 15 percent of worldwide maritime trade. They have a particularly good vantage point to see things on a macro scale that includes raw materials as well as finished products. They probably should be taken seriously.

I cannot speak to their corporate culture or analytical methods, but in my experience inspecting their vessels in the Coast Guard, Maersk always ran tight ships with highly professional crews. They seemed pretty squared away.

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October 31, 2015

Spooky Goings On

It's Halloween.

Let's sit around and tell scary stories. 



...and Ichabod Crane never saw his chips again.

Russia just conducted a combined arms exercise that included live firing of several strategic missile systems in a coordination.
On 30 October 2015, Russia conducted a test of the command and control system that involved a number of strategic and non-strategic systems. As part of the exercise, K-117 Bryansk submarine of the Project 667BDRM/Delta IV-class launched a R-29RM missile from the Barents Sea. K-223 Podolsk submarine of the Project 667BDR/Delta III class launched a R-29R missile from the Sea of Okhotsk. The Strategic Rocket Forces conducted a launch of a Topol/SS-25 missile from Plesetsk, while the Tu-160 strategic bombers launched cruise missiles toward targets at the Pemboy and Kura test ranges. In addition, Velikiy Ustyug small missile ship launched a Kalibr cruise missile from the Kaspian Sea. The exercise also involved a launch of an Iskander cruise missile from Kapustin Yar.
So, yeah. A comprehensive nuclear strike drill involving all the nuclear capable services as well as actual expenditure of ICBMs and SLBMs. 
Of course all militaries need to train (I wish ours would do more drills of this nature than it does) so this would not automatically be a concern if it weren't for all the other stuff going on with Russia right now.

 Russia's authorities should revive the old Cold War practice of training civilians on how to respond in the event of a large-scale nuclear attack, a senior government official said on Friday.

Note that the article couches this in terms of a response to the U.S. nuclear weapons modernization (which consists of improving the accuracy and lowering the yield on a group of existing bombs designed 45 years ago). No mention is made of the Russian deployment of 2 different ICBM types and current development of a new super heavy ICBM, no less than 3 different types of SLBM and a new cruise missile that is in direct violation of the INF treaty

Meanwhile, we are sending troops into Syria to help the people the Russians are shooting at. This could easily result in American and Russian forces shooting at each other. Does anyone see a downside to this?

Of course, one of the main problems in Syria is ISIS, which, as this article points out, has beyond it demonstrated depravity and stated goals a considerable potential to cause chaos in Europe even if they continue applying pressure indirectly via the refugee crisis. 

Meanwhile:

North Korea looks to be prepping for a new nuclear test. This would be logical since there are indications that they have some advanced, lightweight weapon designs they probably want to evaluate.  Furthermore, given that their nuke program has a lot of technical exchange with Iran, It probably won't be just a Nork Nuke being tested. 

Speaking of which, in a development that comes as a shock to only the most obtuse, the Iran Nuclear Deal is pretty much scuttling all efforts at non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as nations that gave up their nuclear programs look at the terms Iran got and conclude they were saps, those that are pursuing them conclude that the days of consequences for such actions have passed and a general feeling begins to take hold that the controls are off and everyone who values their sovereignty had best get them soon. 

Some folks think that the huge fissure opening near Yellowstone (well, in the same state) indicates renewed vulcanism is imminent at the worlds largest advertisement for storable food.  THe government isn't making any preparations for ashfall, and they are saying that the phenomena is a peculiar type of landslide...so it's probably just craboids. 






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August 29, 2015

Kaga

They named her Kaga...





Like Izumo, she's named after a prefecture that doesn't exist anymore, so yeah, they are naming them after the WW2 warships.. We think of Kaga mostly in context of Perl Harbor and the Darwin raid, (and Midway obviously) but like Izumo, the old Kaga was heavily involved in the unpleasantness in China...in particular she was the ship that provided air support during the 1932 Shanghai incident. 

This means something.
more...

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August 03, 2015

A Few Things That Make One Just Throw Up Ones Hands And Go Watch Cartoons


For many, the major concern regarding the high octane nightmare fuel that is Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is loose nukes getting into the hands of one of the many Islamist organizations that operate in the country with and without official sanction. For instance:
PESHAWAR, Pakistan—Six leading figures of the Pakistani Taliban pledged allegiance to the terror group ISIS, one of them claimed in an audio message released Tuesday
(There is no word on their position regarding Lion hunting.)


 However, the possibility of Pakistan straight up using their atomic weapons in a war is nontrivial. A lethal 12 hour long gunfight in an Indian border town has thrown tinder on the hot-plate that is India and Pakistan's relationship. This despite the fact that no lions were harmed during the incident. 

 It is part of a general pattern of deterioration of India/ Pakistan relations..

Conditions are ripe for a crisis in this strained environment, even more so if a terrorist attack on Indian soil—such as Monday’s—is traced back to extremist groups supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). These rising tensions make crisis management more difficult and increase the risk of a conflict with nuclear dimensions.

Pakistan and India have been to war several times and Pakistan's statement that they consider battlefield nuclear weapons to be legitimate equalizers should certainly give one pause since once nukes start popping off all in a conflict where both sides have them, all sorts of nastiness is likely to ensue. 

Here is an estimate of the soot cloud that would be generated by 100 nuclear weapons of 15 kiloton yield going off over cities. 


The scale on the bottom measures reduction in watts per square meter.

These estimates tend to lean towards the pessimistic, however, this study assumes blast yields somewhere between approximately one half and one quarter those of the underground tests the countries have conducted and since both countries had stockpiles of around 100 weapons in 2011 (and have been building them up since) the number of blasts modeled is perhaps half what one would see in a real war. It concludes that growing seasons would be reduced between 10 days and a month in many parts of the world.
 Smoke emissions of 100 lowyield urban explosions in a regional nuclear conflict would generate substantial globalscale climate anomalies, although not as large as in previous "nuclear winter”scenarios for a full-scale war (11, 12). However, indirect effects on surface land temperatures, precipitation rates, and growing season lengths (see figure, page1225) would be likely to degrade agricultural productivity to an extent that historically has led to famines in Africa, India, and Japan after the 1783 1784 Laki eruption (13) or in the northeastern United States and Europe after the Tambora eruption of 1815 
This does not include estimates of ozone layer depletion which might persist for as much as 5 years. These models should be taken with a grain of salt of course, but it is apparent that if India and Pakistan go at it full on it would cause problems worldwide.

There has been little coverage of the deteriorating situation between the two nations in the U.S. media which is remarkable given that many of the hypothetically targeted cities in the studies contain zoos, which in turn might contain....lions. 

***********

Fortunately, no negative impact upon any lions is considered imminent, hence the lack of interest by the media. 

Ukranian 'rebels' are reportedly building a dirty bomb, ie: a conventional explosive laced with radioactive substances to increase its lethality, or at least fear inducing effect. Like everything coming out of the confused region this should be treated with some skepticism, especially since the media has determined that it does not merit extensive coverage despite the fact that, if true it would be an obvious threat to the proud people eating lions of Kiev

*************

Puerto Rico is defaulting on its debts. This is the U.S. Greece, fortunately no lions seem to have been harmed. 

************

China's stocks fell 29% in July. This is having some ripple effects, but may, in the short term, lower the number of Chinese businessmen able to pay for safaris to hunt lions. 

 ************
Poaching lions is a thing worthy of notice, but when the Jews start to flee a nation, it is warning sign of dreadful ugliness in the works .

************

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July 07, 2015

A Minor Detail, Scarcely Worth Mentioning

Over 20% of PRC stocks have had their trading suspended.


But wait. There's more!

In an extraordinary move, the People’s Bank of China has begun lending money to investors to buy shares in the flailing market. 


"Umm...What?"

That just smacks of desperation. The article also mentions twice that the government is concerned about "monstrous public disorder" which further fails to instill confidence. 

This ray of sunshine comes courtesy of SDA.  


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June 14, 2015

To Break the News

I did not realize until this weekend that the aforementioned phrase could mean someone was literally breaking the news.


But now I know, because this weekend a certain individual has actually broken the news....into little bitty pieces.



.gif via

I didn't say a word for a while because I thought that this HAD to be a hoax. Alas, no, and the crazy, it keeps piling up.

If you have stock in The Onion, sell now because their business model is no longer valid. 

It's sad really. If she hadn't broken the news, the following stories might be getting more play. 



Chinese Admirals are saying that they are authorized to ram japanese ships in the South China Sea. (I suspect that their authorization comes from the legal theory known as "General Principals") 


ISIS is making inroads into...Afganistan

Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, has been wracked by intense jihadist activity for a month and is deteriorating further. 

A reliable source says Taliban leaders are living quite freely in Karachi, but because they have nothing to do with the government they are left alone. To date, neither intelligence reports nor the media have been able to confirm the suspect presence. Yet the TTP has managed a number of attacks in the city, targeting polio workers, politicians, and top police officer Chaudhry Aslam.

 (Note: Pakistan has an unknown number of nuclear weapons, the security of which is, no doubt, as leading source of insomnia amongst world security officials.)

In other Pakistan news: Their relations with India (who you may remember is a nuclear power with a comparable arsenal and is being poked by China ) are deteriorating over the issue of sectarian terrorists, Pakistan's releasing a fellow who planned the Mumbai terrorist attack (and border disputes)

With regards to Saudi Arabia's quest for nukes, there is this:
More importantly, Saudi Arabia is investing in a civil nuclear industry. "Where would Saudi Arabia train the scientists to work on its secret program?” Zakaria wonders. Oh, I don’t know, how about the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy? Somehow Zakaria never mentions that Saudi Arabia is building a dedicated city for training nuclear scientists. I can’t predict whether this investment will pay off, but then again neither can Zakaria — if he even knows it exists.


Iran launched a satellite back in February, from a military base, that carried a 110 pound payload. While it did not stay in orbit as long as planned (indicating that  they have quite a bit of work to do), they are making a fair amount of progress. A  very rough rule of thumb is that a rockets payload to low orbit plus 50% what the rocket can put on the other side of the world so keep an eye on the estimates of their satellites mass.

If you are confused about the Sunni/ Shia divide this is a decent primer

Having read that, note that the power vacuum left by American fecklessness has Middle East leaders concerned about a Sunni/Shia "Big War" (more on that here).

The U.S. is looking at sending heavy weapons to Eastern Europe.

Russia is testing a new ABM system



U.S.A. Today has a article on the  Cheyenne Mountain Nuclear resistant bunker complex which as we mentioned earlier, is being reactivated and hastily filled with personnel and communications gear in anticipation of {REDACTED}. The title of the article indicates that this will keep the data snoops out....

This is huge. Ace has multiple links, some analysis as well as a flaming skulls, which still may not adequately convey the gravity of the situation. 
The  US is now in a similar position to what Germany and Japan were in WW2 in that Russia and China have everything...EVERYTHING. The solution is harder than simply changing the codebooks, because we can't get rid of ALL THE PERSONNEL.
For a professional perspective on this, John Schindler has thoughts on just how bad this is here, here and here. (It's REALLY bad). I urge you to read them all. There is a NPR interview with him here

This is the biggest national security story in decades, and it is on the level of Pearl Harbor. Given that it has been going on for a year or more the friskieness of the Russians and Chinese over the last several months comes into perspective. The damage will take years to fix. 

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June 10, 2015

Well THIS Slipped Under The Radar

I just noted a story that seems to me to be rather significant, but is getting very little play. Indeed it is several days old already. 
It's almost as if the powers that be are offended by the story and do not wish it to see the light of day. Certainly this development is frankly, likely to cause much upsetedness in some circles, as there is a certain, aroma of scandal attached to it. 

We here at Brickmuppet Blog find ourselves struggling to find the proper words to describe this turn of events. 



Yeah. That works!

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May 03, 2015

Meanwhile...

While Baltimore is the focus of the news...

Stuff continues to happen...

Finland has sent activation orders to 900,000 reservists
No, that is not a typo, the number is nine hundred thousand. 
This is not a full mobilization, but the country is sending letters to all reservists clarifying where they are to report in the event of one.


The Iranians have seized the MV Maersk Tigris. The vessel is registered to the Marshall Islands. This gets complicated because while the Marshall Islands is an independent country, they are a US protectorate. The US, New Zealand and Australia have arrangements like this with several of their former territories. The upshot is that this is exactly the same legally as if it were a US ship. Note that earlier on the 29th, the Maersk Kensington which IS US flagged, was intercepted and ordered to heave to in the same area but refused. There is more on this here. It appears the the Navy is going to be convoying US ships through the straits of Hormuz

There is some further oddness going on in the hermit kingdom. Of course I'm sure that an unstable regime with nuclear weapons is nothing to worry about



Finally, there has been some good news. There are reports that ISIS head Al-Bagdadi has suffered a case of extreme chiropracty due to some US bombs. This could strike at the heart of the caliphates legitimacy. More verifiable, is that 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria have been rescued from Boko Haram. These are not the girls who were kidnapped last August but some of the many other girls that have been kidnapped by the Islamist group.   


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March 28, 2015

What is This?

I can't even....





That didn't help at all.
Allow me to explain...
The issue is not that the fellow defected, it's the buried lede in the last sentence.

 The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal

The most disturbing thing is that I'm not even
...shocked.

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