August 31, 2015

More On Grid Hardening and Related Issues

We've taken breaks from our usual fluf-blogging to post about electro magnetic pulse before, tentatively running the math on some worst case scenarios, but we don't pretend to be experts on the topic. 


However, here is a panel of actual experts including James Woolsey and Henry Cooper (who some of you will remember from his work with HIGH FRONTIER) who, in 2013, held forth on the matter for a bit over an hour.


Amongst the things discussed is the possibility of multiple cascading Fukishimas. I was also surprised at the offhanded comment about the North Koreans being caught smuggling missiles into/ out of Cuba

One other interesting bit of information we've turned up on the topic pertains to the more modest nukes and delivery systems that a group with ambition and cleverness could extemporize. In 1958 the US conducted a series of nuclear tests called Hardtack 1. This included a test to determine the effects of a anti aircraft missile warhead that was simulated by lofting a small fission device via a ballon. The yield of shot Yucca was only 1.5 -1.7 kilotons but according to this article, the detonation was just high enough to trigger the High Altitude EMP effect. The fact that most of the observation equipment was destroyed by power surges was chalked up to improper calibration until the later high altitude tests that had populated areas (Like Hawaii) in line of sight revealed that the problem was not with the test equipment. Note that the tropical location would result in far lesser effects than one in a middle latitude location like the continental United States or Europe or Australia....or Kasputin Yar.

So a nuke as small as 1.5 kilotons delivered via balloon could still cause considerable mayhem by tripping breakers and burning out transformers. 

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August 19, 2015

News of the 21st Century

This Iran deal just gets better and better...I knew they weren't allowing the U.S.A. to do inspections of the Iranian nuclear sites, but if this AP story is correct then the agreement is not merely dreadful...it's clinically insane.


VIENNA (AP) — Iran, in an unusual arrangement, will be allowed to use its own experts to inspect a site it allegedly used to develop nuclear arms under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.

"Unusual arrangement"...well that is not an inaccurate assessment. 

Read the whole thing. This is not somer obscure site, but rather Parchin, where Iran is perfecting explosive lenses

This is so batscat bonkers that I'm a tad skeptical. However, it would fit with a certain school of thought that the issue on our end is neither fecklessness nor naiveté, but rather motivation. 

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Russia has imprisoned (for 15 years) an Estonian they abducted. 

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The Russian economy may be much worse than thought...which could have either calming or incendiary effects upon that states behavior. 

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China is not retiring the old DF-5 ICBMs. Rather, they are upgrading the series of liquid propellant missiles. The new models increase their range to be able to hit targets anywhere on earth, with multiple warheads. This is similar to the arrangement that Russia has, with a few dozen heavyweight missiles complementing their road mobile ICBMs.

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Oh. Look...




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Finally..the kind of story that would not be out of place in an 80's film SET in the 21st century.... 

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August 12, 2015

Desperation Can Lead to Poor Choices

Nations that are under stress from within or without have historically been prone to attempt unifying their populations and ameliorating or postponing their economic reckoning by military adventure.


In other news...there is this
....Russia is within the perfect storm of an economic crisis. So, the Russian economy started stagnating in 2013. It was never really able to recover after the 2008-2009 recession, and in 2013 the economy really started to slow down. It's just grinding to almost a halt outside of energy. And so that was the very start of it. Then we had 2014 happen. The situation between the West and Russia over Ukraine eventually, of course, led to sanctions. And then, at the same time as sanctions against Russia, we had oil prices pretty much fall in half. And so it was multiple items put together, in which you had the Russian economy just take a nosedive over the past year and a half.

To the southeast of Russia, China is devaluing its currency.
The wild couple of days in the currency market compounded the damage already done by July’s stock market crash to the Communist Party and President Xi Jinping’s reputation as competent stewards of the country’s economy. Xi has amassed unprecedented political control and eliminated potential rivals through a massive crackdown on both corruption and political dissent. That might be all fine by Chinese citizens as long as the government continues to provide strong economic growth, but it works less well when the government seems incompetent on economic matters. The "Chinese dream” Xi has promised citizens includes not just national greatness but personal wellbeing.

However, despite this, the Chinese government is still hoarding oil....

More than 80 million barrels of new strategic reserve capacity is scheduled to start operations this year, and China will continue purchases to fill those tanks, according to Chauhan.

...and are saying that they may be the worlds largest oil importer this year. 

North Korea has the advantage that its economy is already rock bottom and has nowhere to collapse to. However, the drought is causing problems for a country where forestry is serious business
Naturally, the hermit kingdom is ramping up its uranium enrichment and mining as well as making noises about another nuclear test in October


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August 05, 2015

OK This is Neat

An old ad for the Seawolf amphibian variant that was aimed at military customers. I'm skeptical about the claim this you tuber made in the title, but I particularly like the boarding operation at 7:00 and "ninja mode" at 8:25. 



This would be my dream plane. 

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August 04, 2015

How Much Will 150 Billion Dollars Buy?

Obviously, production and sales tax issues aside, one could purchase 150 billion of those sketchy Dollar Tree steaks. However, one would not be Iran, which is getting 150 billion in frozen assets freed up as part of the deal to...ummm....slow their acquisition of nukes.


Anyway, it is rumored that they have made some interesting purchases:

150  Chinese J-10 fighters  (Guestimated at 5.625 billion)
250  Russian SU-30 Strike fighters (Guestimated at 9.375 billion)
100(!)  Russian IL 78 refueling tankers (Guestimated at 3.5 billion)

That is a hell of a lot of planes.  It's an especially large number of tankers, though if they are serious about power projection 4 fighters per tanker is not unrealistic...it just means the Iranians have given a lot of thought to logistics and other non-flashy assets an air-force needs.

The cost estimates come from Wikipedia and Global security and are WAGs only that don't take into account associated ordinance purchases, training or fuel costs. However, 18.5 billion leaves a lot of wiggle room for these and other pointy, sharp things before 150 billion is reached  and its not like the 150 billion is their budget...it's extra. 

A few things about this story.
Iran can't actually take delivery for a few years under the terms of the agreement and it's likely that most of the planes couldn't be built /delivered for some time anyway. However  a chunk of the Chinese order (and possibly the Russian one as well) actually appears to be a preexisting order from 2007, which was frozen because of the sanctions, so its possible that some of the planes have been built and also conceivable that the ex-post facto nature of the arrangement could allow delivery sooner than normally allowed. That is unclear, but the deal is so full of unpleasantness that it is not beyond the realm of possibility. 

This story itself is thinly sourced. It has popped up in a couple of places, but it seems to always refer back to the DEBKA story or a Wall Street Journal article currently behind a paywall. However, It is well within Iran's financial means and similar numbers of planes were being ordered in 2007 so it is very plausible. 

This story also gives some idea of what a windfall Iran has gotten irrespective of the nuclear aspects of the deal by having its assets unfrozen. In adjusted dollars this is a slightly bigger infusion of cash than The Marshall Plan was for Europe

Oy.

Dennis Prager has a good overview of the situation.... 



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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. 

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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

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

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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. 

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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 19, 2015

Meanwhile...This Happened...

Someone has been cutting fiber optic cables in California.







There is also the matter of the nontrivial terrorist attack in France recently that is not getting anywhere near the coverage it warrants.  

On the Russian front....wait...lets not put it that way.
Regarding Russia, there is some relief about the reports that the Russian air-force is having a bad month. This is an understandable sentiment , but it doesn't necessarily mean that their planes are no threat. It could just be a byproduct of training at a high tempo under realistic conditions...which they'd be doing if they were anticipating trouble.

Iran will not be allowing US nuclear inspectors to...inspect. 

In what I'm sure must be completely unrelated news, North Korea is hinting at a new series of nuclear tests in October. 

Pakistan, that bastion of reason and stability in South Asia, is greatly expanding their nuclear arsenal.


Venezuela has laid claim to two thirds of Guyana.



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July 08, 2015

Betting Against Ourselves

We here at Brickmuppet Blog were somewhat surprised at just how fast the topic of the post below went from obscure to focus of major interest. 


It is our sincere hope that that pattern does not repeat with THIS story. 

 A Patriot missile defense battery operated by Germany on the Syrian-Turkish border received "unexplained commands” from a "foreign source,” sparking fears it has been hacked...,


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June 23, 2015

How Many Nuclear Bombs WOULD it Take

...to effectively knock most of the world back into the 7th century?


Well, to physically devastate the planet through blast and heat would take thousands upon thousands of bombs, probably more than existed at the height of the cold war. 

However, all we have to do is bring down the thing that (philosophical advances notwithstanding) makes the modern world modern...our technology.

One could go a long way to doing that with an Electro Magnetic Pulse. There are a few ways to get these, but we're talking about nukes, so one can obtain the effect by detonating a nuclear weapon at high altitude. The sweet spot seems to be an area with a lower limit between 18 and 31 miles up (depending on latitude and other factors) and an upper limit around 300 miles into space. The effects are caused by interaction with the earth's atmosphere and magnetic field and extends to the visible horizon. The effects radii for various altitudes can be seen here...



The actual effects are fairly consistent throughout the area with a horseshoe shaped area containing a zone of very high effects and a small area just north (or south in the southern hemisphere) of ground zero with minimal effects.



Most of the area has between 50 and 80% of the maximum intensity of effects. The effects can be...impressive.


  The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) fused all of the 570-kilometer monitored overhead telephone line with measured currents of 1500 to 3400 amperes during the 22 October 1962 test. The monitored telephone line was divided into sub-lines of 40 to 80 kilometres (25 to 50 mi) in length, separated by repeaters. Each sub-line was protected by fuses and by gas-filled overvoltage protectors. The EMP from the 22 October (K-3) nuclear test caused all of the fuses to blow and all of the overvoltage protectors to fire in all of the sub-lines of the 570 km (350 mi) telephone line.The EMP from the same test caused the destruction of the Karaganda power plant, and shut down 1,000 km (620 mi) of shallow-buried power cables between Astana (then called Aqmola) and Almaty.  

Even assuming these were maximum effects and most areas would receive 30-80% of this effect this messes everything up. 

Back to the question at hand. How many bombs would it take for a not entirely rational government to apply those effects to the entire world?

Well, using the 1470 mile radius of the affected area we get an area of 6,788,670 square miles. The earth has a total surface area  of 196,939,900 square miles (rounded after conversion from km) and 196,939,900 / 6,788,670 = 29.010 so one would need less than 29 of these to send the whole Earth back into the dark ages (less because the nefarious individuals doing his would not need to hit most of the 70% of the surface area that's oceans, Antarctica, or themselves.

Now a small crazy country that wants to do this and had the capability to make 25 bombs a year and a transportable ballistic missile, and a modest merchant marine might discreetly disperse these missiles to where they could be simultaneously launched for global coverage... like so...


Iranian Shabab 4? missiles and their TELs on small container shiip.

Now to what end would they do this?

Well a conquering, convert or die army is kind of like a zombie apocalypse, with fast, tool-using, gun shooting zombies (except they don't often bite) and we've seen some of what can happen when a group like that moves into an area that's demoralized and destabilized...



Of course if this outfit ever encounters a proper modern military, they'll get curb-stomped. 

Note though that if you have the same goal and can demoralize and destabilize the entire world, by say, knocking a good chunk of it back to the 7th century, even if only for a few years...well., these people have a sense of history...



Imagine this transpiring while the whole world is knocked on their behinds by a power failure, starving and desperate, and assume to that kept aside a few nukes for military bases and tactical usage.

That would probably be quite a powerful motive for those who consider modernity itself to be an abomination.

Is this likely? Would it work?....probably not.

But, if you're crazy enough to roll the dice with nukes you're crazy enough to try really crazy crap especially since the EMP doesn't require particularly challenging targeting capability and could conceivably do far more damage than the same nuke could via blast and heat.  

Anyway, I was surprised that you could do it with 20-30 midsize nukes.

UPDATE: Corrected some typos, fixed a hyperling and. umm, removed the picture of Mum-Ra. 

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June 08, 2015

Methods by Which a "Junior Varsity Squad" Might Reach Critical Mass


This post was initially a long, rambling tangent to an earlier post where it didn't really fit. Now it is a slightly longer rambling post that attempts to build off this article with a creative dateline that that was linked to Saturday by Elizabeth Price Foley. . In my estimation it does warrant some more extensive consideration. 


The linked piece talks about the likelihood of ISIS buying a complete atomic bomb. It is a worriesome read to be sure, however, that is not the only way they could mischief with fission. 

The notion of a "dirty bomb" which is an explosive that disperses radioactive waste is already well known. Less well appreciated however, is the very real possibility that  a terrorist outfit could actually build an actual fission device that could realistically be in the same class as the weapon that devastated Hiroshima in 1945. 

Matthew Bunn, who was involved in nonproliferation issues during the Clinton Administration testified before Congress in 2008. amongst his testimony was this bit of joy...
 
   One study by the now-defunct congressional Office of Technology Assess- ment summarized the threat: "A small group of people, none of whom have ever had access to the classified literature, could possibly design and build a crude nuclear explosive device . . . Only modest machine-shop facilities that could be contracted for without arousing suspicion would be required. 


"How is that possible?" one might ask? After all The Manhattan Project, was a vast undertaking that took six years , thousands of people and most of the electrical capacity of the TVA so one might be excused for skepticism.. 

However, the crux of the endeavor was not manufacturing Little Boy, Little Boy was an afterthought. William Tobey and Pavel Zolotarev suggest (on page 7 of this presentation) that over 90% of the effort of the Manhattan project was getting the fissionable fuels (Oralloy and Plutonium) for the bombs.  The initial bomb  bomb design"Thin Man" was found to be a dud, so effort went into developing the complex implosion system needed to detonate plutonium for what became the Mark 2 bomb design (Gadget, Fat Man, Able and Baker) Mark 1 was redesigned and simplified as Little Boy, a weapon that was so simple that it was not even considered necessary to test it.

 In fact to keep from impacting the main (Fat Man) effort,  its construction was contracted out to 3 machine shops! According to Wikipedia, these were The Naval Gun Factory in Washington D.C. , a Naval Ordinance Contractor in Centerline Michigan and The Expert Tool and Die Company in Detroit. These Government and commercial contractors were given plans for only the components they were to build (so none of them knew what they were building). Little Boy was a hedge in case the much more efficient Fat Man design did not work. 

Well they both worked, but the big difficulty was not their design or construction, it was getting the plutonium and enriching the uranium. 

So...If ISIS can get its hands on 140 odd pounds of Oralloy (highly enriched uranium), and if they somehow had access to a machine shop,...
 
...then it's entirely possible that they could build something akin to Little Boy. Its significant that the people who built Little Boy were not atomic scientists and did not even know what they were building, only that they were building machine parts to spec.

This is in actuality,  probably more likely than getting ahold of a working nuke. It's disturbingly non-far-fetched in fact, as both the Tobey / Zolotarev presentation linked above and a seperate presentation by the aforementioned Mathew Bunn have overviews of relevant incidents involving weaponizeable fissionables.



This CRS Report for Congress comes to similar conclusions and makes for sobering reading. The scenario involving a crude nuke in a supertanker taking on oil in the Houston Shipping Channel is particularly worrisome, given that so many of out geopolitical opponents would really like to get oil prices up. 

It should be noted that oralloy is not terribly common and the crude, Little Boy type weapons we are discussing here are quite wasteful (needing 140 pounds of oralloy for a critical mass) so any conceivable heist is unlikely to enable for than a few bombs. On the other hand,  global stockpiles of the stuff are measured in tons

How much damage could a small, crude nuke do? 
Well, Little Boy was the crudest of crude bombs ever made. It probably serves as a template for what a non-state group could realistically do given that it was right at the minimum amount of Oralloy for a Uranium weapon without really advanced gadgetry. Bombs made by state actors such as Iran or stolen from Pakistan are likely to be significantly more powerful unless they are advanced weapons designed to be small.  

Little Boy therefore should probably be taken as good ballpark estimate of the yield a crude terrorist weapon might have.

There are uncertainties about how powerful  Little Boy was, with estimates ranging between 13 and 16 kilotons with most references saying around 15 kt, therefore, it seems appropriate to again post a video of the 15 KT Upshot Knothole-Grable test. 

(An extensive overview of the damage assessment can be seen here


A good overview of what would be done to something other than a desert can be found in this report by FEMA and Lawrence Livermore which details the effects of a 10 kiloton improvised nuclear device on Washington DC.

Reactor grade plutonium is much more accessible, but is harder to handle and requires challenging processing. Additionally, if plutonium is used in a gun type weapon (which is what "Thin Man" was) it will fizzle and blow apart before a full detonation, however the Tobey and Zolotarev presentation mentioned previously seems to indicate that a fizzle could approach a kiloton. 


Even if significantly less than a kiloton such a weapon could cause considerable havoc. A Texas City sized explosion with the added effect of radiation pulse, fallout and dispersing toxic plutonium would be devastating. Even a near total fizzle, an Oklahoma City sized blast with the added contamination and associated terror of "OMG!! ATOMIC!1!" would cause panic beyond that seen on 9-11-01. 

More sophisticated implosion devices are extremely challenging, but their use should not be completely dismissed. Such weapons, after all, require the sort of advanced, cutting edge technologies as were available in the late 1930's to mid 1940's. They would allow 4-10 times as many bombs to be made for any given amount of fissionable material, as well as much larger yields. Still, the technical skill, physics knowledge and manufacturing ability required are at once so diverse and specialized that they are vanishingly unlikely to be used by non-state actors. They additionally might, due to their sophistication, require a test, that, upon occurring in ISIS or Boko Haram territory, would most likely inspire a sudden intensity, clarity and unity in response from the western nations heretofore unseen.  So the picture isn't completely grim.

But it is certainly cause for vigilance.



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June 01, 2015

A Necessarily S.W.A.G. Based Overview of the North Korean SSB

Over at Covert Shores, H.I. Sutton has put together an analysis of the North Korean SSB, which is tentatively called the Sinpo class. 




The striking thing is how small it is. This, of course, means it has limited capabilities, but even those limited capabilities should give one pause. Furthermore, it also puts such a vessel within the capability of small countries. 

It is notable that Iran, which has expanded its sub building capability from costal midgets to mid sized submarines, has an active technology exchange program with the DPRK. Indeed, their domestic submarine industry is largely based on North Korean technology and they have tested a similar launch rig already.

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Mobile Crematoria and Other Foreign Affairs Developments

It is being reported that Russia has dispatched mobile crematoriums to burn their dead and thereby cover up the casualties they are suffering in East Ukraine from the world and their own public. 

Apropos of nothing to be sure, but noting that Putin has gotten very vociferous in his defense of the sanctity of the Russian Orthodox Church, I looked up their views on cremation. Golly....


It is unclear what the HELL is actually going on in Kharkov and the Donbass but there are indications that the Ukranians are not collapsing quite yet...

...which may explain this

Looking askance at these developments, Poland and Lithuania, in addition to massively upping their own defense expenditures, are both offering NATO bases and asking the U.S. to deploy troops there....
...Canada and Germany look posed to step up if NATO decides to accept the bases. More from a Canadian perspective here


Such developments have some people anxious which no doubt contributed to this tweet going a bit viral...



 

Fortunately there is nothing else happening in the w....oh wait.
 
China is putting artillery and jets on the islands that it has, with incredible speed, made out of reefs it stole from the Philippines and Viet-Nam. Even the Guardian is noting that the Chinese island construction project is unprecedented and worrisome.

In response, the US and the Philippines have just signed an agreement setting up a defensive line in the SCS. Of course the most worrisome issue is that after all the redlines, fecklessness and lassitude of the last 7 years, the Chinese reportedly don't think that the US is a concern. This could lead to a considerable miscalculation on their part.  

The situation with ISIS/ISIL is...sub-optimal to be sure, but take heart. It could be worse...I mean it's not like...oh wait....
ISIS Isn't Wrong About Being Able to Get Nuclear Weapon From Pakistan, India's Defense Minister Says

Meanwhile the efforts to keep the other denomination of crazy from getting nukes is going about as well as expected. It should be noted that Iran has close technical relationships with North Korea which is already a nuclear power. 

North Korea is also facing a terrible drought again which could lead to another round of nuclear rocket testing trying to get food...or it could destabilize a paranoid, insular nuclear power. 

Happily, we can all rest assured that none of the above is of any concern, because all of these things are denied the position of "top story" by the fact that Bruce Jenner looks quite hot for a 65 year old in a one piece, presumably meaning that we can now use plastic surgery and photoshop to make the scary stuff go away. 

Nothing to see here...Move along. 

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Two Hours Well Spent

Here is an FPRI panel with three scholars giving talks on on the First World War. The whole thing is worth your time. The first covers just how unexpected the disaster was and why that was. The second talk (25 and a half minutes in) is also quite interesting, with Rutger's Kate Epstein debunking some long held misconceptions about the British Empire's position and strategy at the beginning of the war. To me the third is particularly fascinating. In it, John R. Schindler (who blogs at Double Cross Committee) goes into detail about role Austria-Hungary played in the genesis of the catastrophe.  That one starts about 43 minutes in.



I was aware that things went to worms for the KuK early on, but Schindler makes it clear that their setbacks were far worse than is generally supposed, making the fact that held on till the end a fairly impressive feat. 

The Q&A is generally worthwhile too. 

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April 04, 2015

While We All Wait

.... with baited breath, to discover who amongst us will make the next misstep on the constantly shifting tightrope of acceptable discourse and get inducted into the Emmanuelle Goldstein society, we should not ignore the wackiness transpiring elsewhere. 


Norway has...well...mislaid something....

Only six years ago, Norwegian politicians decided that Russia no longer posed a significant threat and that it was time to sell its top secret base called Olavsvern, which was hewn into a mountain and equipped with the most sophisticated electronics available. It’s located near the small town of Ramfjord near Norway’s border with Russia.

That's certainly...awkward.

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In other news the negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear program has produced some tentative results.
None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be "reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.

That from the bastion of reactionary rightwingery that is the Washington Post. 

Actual footage of our crackerjack negotiating team negotiating.

Next Big Future looks at the numbers and notes that alarmist claims that Iran will be able to make 32 bombs a year are overblown. In fact the worlds largest state sponsor of terrorism will only be able to make 25 nuclear bombs a year. 


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China seems to be building a naval base in Namibia

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The Middle East continues to deteriorate.
The US is asking all Americans to leave Yemen...but won't provide an evacuation.

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Al Shabab has killed nearly 150 people at a university in Kenya. Neo has thoughts and links here

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My State's bar association turns out to be a little bit evil

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Finally, on a arguably less serious note, the President of Russia's Academy of Geopolitical Problems demonstrates why he does not run the Academy of Geological Problems...
"Geologists believe that the Yellowstone supervolcano could explode at any moment. There are signs of growing activity there. Therefore it suffices to push the relatively small, for example the impact of the munition megaton class to initiate an eruption. The consequences will be catastrophic for the United States - a country just disappears," he said.  
 

Even multi-megaton nukes pale in sheer scale to geological processes. Besides, while the Yellowstone magma chamber is huge, it is currently about 85% solid. Now a 20 megaton nuke ( the largest the Russians have) would leave 800 foot deep crater, so there might be a tiny chance that several of them going off simultaneously might suddenly excavate enough material to relieve enough pressure to cause something to happen (besides a Russia ending retaliatory strike), but it would probably not be a VE-8 eruption. They'd likely be infinitesimally  better off targeting Clear Lake, Newberry, Medicine Lakes or Long Valley and would be better served still by not being so silly. 


Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:03 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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March 18, 2015

Nothing to See Here

It seems that while we weren't looking,  the Chinese agreed to provide Argentina with 5 offshore patrol vessels (actually in this case, small corvettes). The Argentines, for no reason whatsoever, we are sure, have decided to name them the Malvinas class. 



 

This is part of a larger deal where the Argentines got debt forgiven, infrastructure and "stuff" in exchange for mineral wealth, corn and beef. The "stuff" includes several nuclear reactors in exchange for a Chinese spacecraft tracking station in Patagonia and other, undisclosed concessions.

 
Terra Del Fuego, Sri Lanka, Dominica, all those atolls in the South China Sea, the new Nicaraguan canal, and feelers along the Cape of Good Hope.

China has issues to be sure, but the Middle Kingdom also has the choke points covered. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:30 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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