Uranium cubes, lost and found – How close the Nazis came!


Uranium cube from the failed Nazi reactorJohn T. Consoli/U of Maryland

❝ When University of Maryland physicist Timothy Koeth received a mysterious heavy metal cube from a friend as a birthday gift several years ago, he instantly recognized it as one of the uranium cubes used by German scientists during World War II in their unsuccessful attempt to build a working nuclear reactor. Had there been any doubt, there was an accompanying note on a piece of paper wrapped around the cube: “Taken from Germany, from the nuclear reactor Hitler tried to build. Gift of Ninninger.”

❝ Thus began Koeth’s six-year quest to track down the cube’s origins, as well as several other similar cubes that had somehow found their way across the Atlantic. Koeth and his partner in the quest, graduate student Miriam “Mimi” Hiebert, reported on their progress to date in the May issue of Physics Today. It’s quite the tale, replete with top-secret scientific intrigue, a secret Allied mission, and even black market dealers keen to hold the US hostage over uranium cubes in their possession. Small wonder Hollywood has expressed interest in adapting the story for the screen.

This truly is an interesting read. From the tale of just how close the Nazis got to a working nuclear reactor to how some of these cubes ended up in the United States. Enjoy!

Not only in the Panhandle…

❝ President Donald Trump was tickled last Wednesday when an audience member at a Florida rally suggested shooting migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexican border.

Trump was bemoaning the legal protections afforded migrants and espousing the need for a border wall when he asked rhetorically, “How do you stop these people?”

❝ “Shoot them!” someone shouted from the Panama City Beach crowd, according to multiple news media reports.

The remark drew a chuckle from the president, who shook his head, pointed in the audience member’s direction and said, “Only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.”

“Only in the Panhandle,” he repeated to laughs and cheers from the crowd.

The one-liner that immediately comes to mind is…”When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Doesn’t really matter who said it. It’s hard to dispute. And – more or less – it’s already here.

One of the Three Writers Who Taught Me About War

❝ What everybody knows about John Hersey is that he wrote “Hiroshima,” the one widely read book about the effects of nuclear war. Its place in the canon is assured, not only because it was a major literary achievement but also because reporters haven’t had another chance to produce an on-the-scene account of a city recently blasted by a nuclear weapon. Yet Hersey was more of a figure than that one megaton-weighted fact about him would indicate. Born in 1914, he had an astonishingly rapid ascent as a young man. Because he was a quiet, sober person who lived an unusually unflamboyant life by the standards of celebrated American writers, it’s easy to miss how much he achieved.

❝ By the time Hersey reached his mid-thirties, he had worked as an assistant to Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and as a reporter for Henry Luce, the founder of Time-Life. He had published five books about the Second World War—two works of nonfiction and three heavily researched novels. One of these novels, “A Bell for Adano,” which he wrote in a month, won a Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a long-running Broadway play and then a Hollywood movie. Another, “The Wall,” set in the Warsaw ghetto, was the first major book about the Holocaust. Meanwhile, Hersey, as a magazine writer, had reported from all over the world. For The New Yorker, he wrote the original version of “Hiroshima,” along with the first, mythmaking account of John F. Kennedy’s heroics as the skipper of PT-109 in the Pacific theatre, and a five-part Profile of Harry Truman, based on what must be the most copious access a sitting President has ever given to a journalist…

❝ “Hiroshima” is still probably the best-known piece The New Yorker has ever published. When it appeared, in August, 1946, it took up an entire issue, a signal the magazine has chosen to send only that once. Its publication marked the end of the magazine’s founding era and the beginning of its maturity…

I read “Hiroshima” the year it came out. I have carried that first edition with me everywhere I have lived. Some other time I may write about the other two works in the title of this post. All were about World War 2. All were about war, more powerfully, more thorough, more introspective than you would have expected so close to a war filled with as much death and destruction as that one. I reread it every few years. The others as well.

I was eight years old when it was published. I was not an ordinary eight-year-old, I guess. The understanding of war, so many aspects of war I gleaned from those pages, has stayed with me all my life. That has grown and changed in some ways over time. The same is true of the others.

Please read the article. You will learn more about this author. And please read “Hiroshima”.

The Fake President Called Former President Jimmy Carter To Talk About China


Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

❝ President Trump called former President Jimmy Carter for the first time…[weekend of April 13/14]

❝ Earlier this year, Carter sent Trump a letter with some advice about managing the U.S.-China relationship. Carter oversaw the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries 40 years ago.

On Saturday evening, Trump called Carter to talk about it. It was the first time they’d spoken, Carter said. He said Trump told him that he is particularly concerned about how China is “getting ahead of us…”

❝ Carter said he agreed with Trump on this issue.

“And do you know why?” Carter said. “I normalized diplomatic relations with China in 1979. Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war,” he said…

❝ Carter said the United States is “the most warlike nation in the history of the world” due to a desire to impose American values on other countries, and he suggested that China is investing its resources into projects such as high-speed railroads instead of defense spending.

If you read up on uses for a national military, China follows an old model where the military is truly constituted for national service. That primarily means damage control and service to communities hit by natural disasters. Enough of those to go around to keep any standing forces occupied. Plus actual defense.

The wasted money in some quarters is viewed as production of non-consumable goods to aid our economy. A subsidy without calling it such. The Cold War took care of motivation for politicians who got subsidized industries and employment in their districts. Little or no inflation resulted from the subsidies because consumer goods don’t really include tanks or aircraft carriers.

Climate change coming — corporate coppers are getting ready

❝ …Their statistical and tactical approaches (are) fundamentally connected. All businesses exposed themselves to risk, which had to be mitigated, insured or, more relevantly, defended against. Even if the Pinkertons couldn’t predict the specific risks of the future, they had a general sense of what it might look like — and what opportunities they might avail themselves of as it materialized.

According to the World Bank, by 2050 some 140 million people may be displaced by sea-level rise and extreme weather, driving escalations in crime, political unrest and resource conflict. Even if the most conservative predictions about our climate future prove overstated, a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in temperature during the next century will almost certainly provoke chaos, in what experts call climate change’s “threat multiplier”: Displacement begets desperation begets disorder. Reading these projections from the relative comforts of the C-suite, it wasn’t difficult to see why a company might consider enhancing its security protocols.

❝ For Pinkerton, the bet is twofold: first, that there’s no real material difference between climate change and any other conflict — as the world grows more predictably dangerous, tactical know-how will simply be more in demand than ever. And second, that by adding data analytics, Pinkerton stands to compete more directly with traditional consulting firms like Deloitte, which offer pre- and postdisaster services (supply-chain monitoring, damage documentation, etc.), but which cannot, say, dispatch a helicopter full of armed guards to Guatemala in an afternoon. In theory, Pinkerton can do both — a fully militarized managerial class at corporate disposal.

Better read this, folks! Our Fake President and the Republican Party of Pimps for corporate America have their side of this question already picked out. To them, mitigating the effects of climate change – much less reversal – aren’t especially critical to the class of profiteers who will own the cool breezes of mountaintop sanctuaries and any other calm, cool, company command posts (golf course included) they require. Folks who need jobs that pay well for ignoring who you kill and maim will not be in short supply.