If the coronavirus doesn’t get you…

Los Alamos National Laboratory will release radioactive vapors into the atmosphere to ventilate several barrels of tritium-tainted waste generated during the Cold War.

The lab informed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month that it would ventilate four waste containers, beginning April 17, to relieve the built-up, radioactive hydrogen in the barrels’ headspace to prevent them from rupturing while they’re being handled. The EPA approved the application for the radioactive release last year…

Wind velocity and direction would be factors during the release…

If the federal [radiation] limit is reached before all the drums are ventilated, the remaining drums would be put back into storage at the lab until next year…

L.A.N.L. is more cautious about these containers since their last radioactive leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad six years ago. They packed a waste drum with a mixture of cat litter and nitrate salts, causing it to explode and spray radiation.

They had to shut down W.I.P.P. for three years and the cleanup cost American taxpayers $2 billion.

Navy’s Robo-Craft has NO crew and one big machine gun


MCSpl3 Rebekah M. Rinckey

One of the most important but generally overlooked missions of the U.S. Navy is port security. While incidents in peacetime are generally rare, the 2000 terrorist attack on the destroyer USS Cole remains a real danger. Now the Navy is experimenting with using one of its newest unmanned boats as a way to protect warships sitting pierside from attack.

Since the attack on the Cole, the Navy has gotten a lot more serious about port security. Now the service is testing the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) as an unmanned, autonomous sentry capable of protecting much bigger ships from interlopers. The service is testing CUSV at Norfolk Naval Base, where it simulated patrolling near the guided-missile destroyer Arleigh Burke and the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis.

CUSV is a small, unmanned boat developed by Textron Systems. CUSV is also modular and can be adapted to many different roles. For the harbor security role, the Navy added electro-optical cameras, loudspeakers, and a remote-controlled .50-caliber machine gun. While CUSV has the ability to conduct many tasks autonomously, such as patrolling a set geographic area, only a human monitoring the situation remotely can fire the weapon.

Anyone out there who DOESN’T know any geeks/gamers/hackers who’d love to play with this [guaranteed to be] overpriced toy?

Germ Warfare experiments return under our fake president

” Research at a secretive Army germ warfare lab about 50 miles from Washington, D.C. that works with tularemia, which spreads more easily than anthrax, has been partially restarted after a federal inspection found two failures in containing unnamed germs or toxins.

No one was exposed to any germs or toxins at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Maryland, according to the institute commander…

” “Our concept is to start with a small group of people, secure approval for a limited number of studies, and then gradually expand,” said Col. E. Darrin Cox, the new commander of the institute…

” In 2009, research was suspended after the discovery that more than 9,200 vials, about one-eighth of its stock, wasn’t listed in the institute’s database.

They’re back! Of course, a sinister creep like Trump would OK resumption of this slimy research. Warms the cockles of every heartless rightwing fanatic, acquiring another illegal means to kill lots of people.

Exactly, the sort of war crime potential that makes Trump voters giggle and fart.

A doomsday gap…?

❝ The Air Force’s secretive space plane returns after more than two years : The space plane spent 779 days, 17 hours in space…

❝ As ever, the biggest question surrounding the Air Force’s space plane concerned what it was up to during its long flight in low-Earth orbit. “The spaceplane conducted on-orbit experiments,” an Air Force news release stated, blandly. “The distinctive ability to test new systems in space and return them to Earth is unique to the X-37B program and enables the US to more efficiently and effectively develop space capabilities necessary to maintain superiority in the space domain.”

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Sam Gilbey

When guns retire from military service they still have a lot of death remaining


Smithsonian item No. 222,349Keith Brown

❝ Guns outlive their designers, makers, and first users. When they retire from military service, they still have a lot of death in them.

I held the evidence of this in my hands in April, in the Gun Room of the military collection at the National Museum of American History. Thanks to helpful and knowledgeable curators, I was able to operate the loading and firing mechanism of item No. 222,349: a breech-loading Peabody-Martini rifle produced almost 150 years ago. It was in perfect working order.

❝ I thought back to that rifle when I heard in September that U.S. arms manufacturer Colt has suspended production of its AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Some view Colt’s decision as a victory for gun-control activists, but it barely diminishes civilian consumer choice or access. There are already 16 million AR-15s in the United States and their modular design, and widely available and interchangeable parts, make them virtually immortal. Though the AR-15 owes its existence to Colt, it has done what military technology has done throughout history: It has escaped the control of its producers.

RTFA. Nice piece of history. Nice example of the postwar life of military firearms. In the instances of repatriated machine guns, they are usually “dewatted” – rendered incapable of rapid repeating fire. Enabling that function, again, after civilian sale, used to be called re-watting. BITD.

US Nuclear Force moving on from floppy disks — finally

❝ In 2014, “60 Minutes” made famous the 8-inch floppy disks used by one antiquated Air Force computer system that, in a crisis, could receive an order from the president to launch nuclear missiles from silos across the United States.

But no more. At long last, that system, the Strategic Automated Command and Control System or SACCS, has dumped the floppy disk, moving to a “highly-secure solid state digital storage solution” this past June, said Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron…

❝ In 2016, the Government Accountability Office wrote that SACCS runs on an IBM Series/1 computer dating from the 1970s and that the Defense Department planned “to update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017,” but it’s unclear whether those upgrades have occurred.

You could ask the clown in the Oval Office and he not only wouldn’t know the answer – he wouldn’t know who to call.

Military warned about extremist violence at screenings of “JOKER” – no one warning civilians

❝ The U.S. military has warned service members about the potential for a mass shooter at screenings of the Warner Bros. film Joker, which has sparked wide concerns from, among others, the families of those killed during the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado…

In a September 18th email, service members were instructed to remain aware of their surroundings and “identify two escape routes” when entering theaters. In the event of a shooting…“Run if you can,” the safety notice said. “If you’re stuck, hide (also known as ‘sheltering in place’), and stay quiet. If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can.”

RTFA for details, background – a copy of the Army email – and discussion of the Great American Pastime of mass murder.

Trump craps on our Constitution, rips off taxpayers and Congress does next to nothing!

❝ In early Spring of this year, an Air National Guard crew made a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies…What wasn’t routine was where the crew stopped along the way: President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland.

Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.

Trump says “Jump!” Pentagon says “How high, boss?”

❝ On previous trips to the Middle East, the C-17 had landed at U.S. air bases such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany or Naval Station Rota in Spain to refuel, according to one person familiar with the trips. Occasionally the plane stopped in the Azores and once in Sigonella, Italy, both of which have U.S. military sites, the person added.

But on this particular trip, the plane landed in [Prestwick] — a pitstop the five-man crew had never experienced in their dozens of trips to the Middle East. The location lacked a U.S. base and was dozens of miles away from the crew’s overnight lodging at the Turnberry resort.

Prestwick needs more dollar$ to keep from bankruptcy – and Trump needs Prestwick to stay in biz to even hope to jack up his overpriced Turnberry Resort to profitable.

RTFA for all the slimy details. The worst of it is the Pentagon rolling over and sticking all four feet in the air for the Fake President. Paying million$ for fuel when our military is one of the biggest providers of jet fuel in the world is absurd – and taxpayers continue to pick up the tab.

Trumpolini knows his meal ticket is getting ready to disappear. The carrion-eating flock in Congress lets him getaway with graft no president has ever tried on; so, why not push it another notch. Directly crap on Constitutional writ prohibiting payoffs and kickbacks to his business and properties. A criminal enterprise that the original constitutional congress figured might be tempting to some crooked politician. An impeachable offense written into the foundation of our laws…that the fake president not only flouts, he gets aid and comfort from brass hats in the Pentagon along the way.

Thanks to UrsaRodinia and Ignorance is Strength

Navy will stop trying to guide ships by touchscreen


US Navy photo

❝ The Navy will begin reverting destroyers back to a physical throttle and traditional helm control system in the next 18 to 24 months, after the fleet overwhelmingly said they prefer mechanical controls to touchscreen systems in the aftermath of the fatal USS John S. McCain collision.

The investigation into the collision showed that a touchscreen system that was complex and that sailors had been poorly trained to use contributed to a loss of control of the ship just before it crossed paths with a merchant ship in the Singapore Strait…

❝ Rear Adm. Bill Galinis said that bridge design is something that shipbuilders have a lot of say in…not covered by any particular specification that the Navy requires builders to follow…

Rear Adm. Lorin Selby said that the move to achieve greater commonality is not just limited to where helm control systems are installed in the bridge, but how functions appear on the screens of the control systems, and anything else that would contribute to confusion for a sailor moving from one ship to another within the same class.

“When you look at a screen, where do you find heading? Is it in the same place, or do you have to hunt every time you go to a different screen?…”

How long have we been designing weapons of war? It doesn’t matter if the discussion comes down to small controls or large less precise controls. Inconsistency between vessels means the crew running the ship can only reliably operate one particular product. Moving to another ship in the same class prompts disaster.

Moving to digital controls isn’t a problem on its own; but, consider lifelong habit when designing systems, folks. Anyone you know driving a car where the steering, speed and braking are controlled by a touchscreen?