Nuclear Targets confirm White House/Pentagon agreed with Nazis on bombing civilians

Target category No. 275 from the nuclear target list for 1959 may be the most chilling. It is called simply “Population.”

For the first time, the National Archives and Records Administration has released a detailed list of the United States’ potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union, showing the number and the variety of targets on its territory, as well as in Eastern Europe and China.

It lists many targets for “systematic destruction” in major cities…The targets are referred to as DGZs or “designated ground zeros.” While many are industrial facilities, government buildings and the like, one for each city is simply designated “Population.”

“It’s disturbing, for sure, to see the population centers targeted,” said William Burr, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University that obtained the target list in response to a request first made in 2006. Mr. Burr, who specializes in nuclear history, said he believed it was the most detailed target list the Air Force had ever made public.

The targets are identified only generically, with code numbers that correspond to specific locations. The exact addresses and names of facilities from that period are in a still-classified “Bombing Encyclopedia,” which Mr. Burr said he was trying to get declassified…

❝Targeting civilians has often been viewed as a way of undermining enemy morale, prompting a revolt or surrender — and conceivably leading to a shorter war. And so the large-scale bombing of civilians has sometimes been defended on humanitarian grounds, even after the firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden, Germany, and the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

One of the most contemptible events in the run-up to World War 2 was the deliberate bombing of civilians, of the city of Madrid in Spain by Hitler’s Condor Legion. Interceding on behalf of Franco’s fascist Phalange in the Spanish Civil War.

I thought this article might be a reasonable follow-on to discussions about the TV series, Manhattan – with the posting just below this one about journalistic agitprop on behalf of the project leading up to the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagaski. In one of this season’s last episodes, a scientist chartered by peers to attempt to convince the military not to drop the bomb on a civilian population – instead reverses the policy and calls for killing as many civilians as possible so the horrors of nuclear weapons shows the world what awaits the stupidity of a nuclear arms race.

We now have confirmation how well that worked out. At least from “our side”. You know, the one with the moral high ground.

The improbable William Laurence


William Laurence on Tinian Island before the Nagasaki bombing

The most recent episode of MANHATTAN features the arrival of a character based on one of my favorite real-life Manhattan Project participants: William L. Laurence, the “embedded” newspaperman on the project. The character on the show, “Lorentzen,” appears in a somewhat different way than the real-life Laurence does, showing up on the doorstep of Los Alamos having ferreted out something of the work that was taking place. That isn’t how Laurence came to the project, but it is only a mild extrapolation from the case of Jack Raper, a Cleveland journalist who did “discover” that there was a secret laboratory in the desert in 1943, and was responsible for one of the worst leaks of the atomic bomb effort.

William Laurence, however, was solicited. And he was the only journalist so solicited, invited in to serve as something of a cross between a journalist, public relations expert, and propagandist. (When a character on the show hisses to Lorentzen that they “don’t give Pulitzers for propaganda,” she is, as the show’s writers all know, incorrect — the real-life Laurence did receive a Pulitzer for his reporting on the Nagasaki bombing, and it was a form of propaganda, to be sure.)

William Leonard Laurence was born Leib Wolf Siew, in Russian Lithuania. In 1956 he gave an interview to the Oral History Research Office at Columbia University, and, well, I’m just going to let him tell his own “origin story,” because there’s no way I could capture his “flavor” any better than his own words do:

❝I was born in Lithuania, in a very small village. You know Lithuania was one of the strange never-never-lands, you might say, in a certain culture, because it was there that the Jewish intellectual, the Hebraic scholarly centers, were gradually concentrated.. …

The Lithuanian villages were out of space and time, because you know, a life there, in the ghetto, you might say — because that was the only place where the Russianized government permitted Jews to live — they lived there in the 19th century when I was born and the early part of the 20th century in a way that might have been the 15th century, the 16th century. It made no difference. They wore the same type of clothing. They lived the same kind of life, because it was the same culture, you know.

RTFA for another piece of important history you’re not likely to bump into elsewhere. I only posted the bare bones beginning above.

Some of it makes me chuckle. The last couple of firms I worked for before retirement had me up on the hill – so to speak – every once in a while. There are a couple of folks in today’s Los Alamos community I respect for their personal honesty and scientific acumen. Per capita, it is the wealthiest little town in America. Death and destruction pays very well in the Free World.

I met Dr. Oppenheimer a couple times in NYC. Both times, at public forums dedicated to nuclear disarmament and the struggle for peace in the Cold War. Though he was just trying to be part of the audience, he received a standing ovation when spotted.

The TV series is entertaining, BTW. The line between historic record and fiction is pretty well blurred. The flavor, the conflicts between the US military and folks who actually believed in constitutional freedoms as much as scientific freedom of inquiry is well represented. Then – as it is today.

How to make socks pause binge-watching TV when you doze off

❝Netflix has released a step-by-step guide to making socks that are designed to do more than just keep the feet of binge-watchers warm and cosy. The Netflix socks detect when the wearer has fallen asleep and pauses the currently playing program to prevent them from losing track of their favorite show.

❝The Netflix socks require some practical knowledge of electronics, programming, and soldering, so it’s fair to say these aren’t aimed at the mainstream public, but rather at the maker/geek community. If you’re making the socks from scratch, you’ll also need some knitting skills, but you can use an existing pair of socks if need be.

❝The socks work using a combination of an Arduino microcontroller, an accelerometer, a momentary button, a battery, and various LEDs. Once put together using Netflix’s guide, the socks use actigraphy to detect when the wearer has fallen asleep. This essentially involves tracking the wearer’s movements, with the socks sending a signal to pause playback when the wearer has remained inactive for a set period of time.

They’re expensive. $60 for parts.

Not really a necessity, though the few times I’ve discovered a great series – in it’s 3rd season, I could have used something like this, say, watching 3 episodes in a row, every night, till I was current with THE KILLING. Amazon does the automagic start 30 seconds or so after you finish an episode of a series – just like Netflix. And HBOGO has all the episodes of GAME OF THRONES which I can access on AppleTV.