Of course, Fake President heads backwards on nuclear weapons


Kengo Nikawa’s watch. It took him 16 days to die.

Seventy-five years ago Thursday, the U.S. became – and remains – the only country in the world to detonate a nuclear weapon against an enemy…

The Hiroshima death toll reached an estimated 200,000 by 1950 as those who survived the blast succumbed to fatal burns, radiation sickness and various cancers…

The Trump administration has withdrawn from a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and world powers designed to limit Tehran’s nuclear capabilities.

President Donald Trump-led talks with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un aimed at denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula have stalled.

The Trump administration has suspended compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Reagan administration-era initiative that slashed the number of midrange missiles held by the U.S. and Russia.

Trump has abandoned the Open Skies Treaty – negotiated by President George H.W. Bush after the collapse of the Soviet Union and designed to be a check on nuclear weapons by allowing surveillance flights over signatories’ territories.

Trump has signaled he may not renew New START, the last major U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control treaty, unless China also agrees to be bound by its constraints. Beijing has not committed either way. New START expires in February, just weeks after there’s a new, or renewed, U.S. president in the White House.

Marshall Billingslea, the top U.S. envoy for nuclear negotiations, has confirmed the Trump administration has discussed holding the first nuclear test since 1992. “I won’t shut the door on it, because why would we,” Billingslea said in late June in Vienna, Austria, although he said there is no reason to carry out a test “at this time.”

Reason has nothing to add to policymaking by the whim of an ignorant autocrat and his lackeys. Anyone think Congress has enough backbone to stand in opposition?

Boom Times for Doomsday Bunkers

❝ In his pitch to potential buyers, Larry Hall touts his condominium’s high ceilings and spacious living rooms. Then there are the swimming pool, saunas and movie theater. But what really sets the development apart, in his view, is its ability to survive the apocalypse.

Mr. Hall has converted a former military nuclear missile vault into a luxury condominium built 15 stories into the Earth’s crust. He is a leader among a new group of real estate developers investing in the nation’s central prairies and Western foothills: doomsday capitalists.

❝ Americans have, for generations, prepared themselves for society’s collapse. They built fallout shelters during the Cold War and basement supply caches ahead of Y2K. But in recent years, personalized disaster prep has grown into a multimillion-dollar business, fueled by a seemingly endless stream of new and revamped threats, from climate change to terrorism, cyberattacks and civil unrest.

❝ Bunker builders and brokers have emerged as key players in this field. And they see the interior of the country, with its wide-open spaces, as a prime place to build. Aiding them is history. During the Cold War, the military spent billions of dollars constructing nuclear warheads and hiding them in underground lairs around the nation, often in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Those hideaways, emptied of their bombs, are now on the market and enterprising civilians are buying them (relatively) cheap and flipping the properties. Eager customers abound.

Good thing I really wish to stay retired. It is so easy to sell to stupid and scared…and well off. Can’t be a more “American” market than Doomsday real estate.

Guys who protect nuclear weapons — can’t find their hand grenades!


Something looking like this

The Air Force is offering $5,000 for leads on the whereabouts of a box of explosive grenade rounds that its personnel accidentally dropped on a road in North Dakota while traveling between two intercontinental ballistic missile sites — the facilities scattered across the U.S. heartland that stand ready to launch nuclear warheads at a moment’s notice.

Airmen from the 91st Missile Wing Security Forces team were traveling on gravel roads May 1 in North Dakota when the back hatch of their vehicle opened and a container filled with the explosive ammunition fell out, according to a statement from Minot Air Force Base.

❝ On May 11, the Air Force sent more than 100 airmen to walk the entire six-mile route where the grenades were probably lost, according to a statement from the local Mountrail County sheriff. But two weeks after it was lost, the box of explosives still hasn’t been found.

I think the appropriate phrase is “they can’t find their butts with both hands”…

Trump may be only 7 months away from acquiring nuclear weapons

According to an alarming new global risk report published Tuesday by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump may be just seven months away from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“A year ago, the threat didn’t seem great enough to warrant serious concern, but at this moment, a nuclear-capable Trump is now a very real and very imminent possibility,” said UNODA high representative Kim Won-soo, adding that the agency’s current projections showed Trump potentially procuring nuclear weapons, as well as advanced ballistic missile technology, as early as January of next year.

❝ “The longer we wait to act, the closer he comes to obtaining a nuclear arsenal. The final red line for preventing him from acquiring this devastating capability comes in early November. If he is not properly dealt with before then, there will be no way to stop him from going nuclear.”

While U.N. officials said the international community should prepare for the destabilizing effects of Trump acquiring such weapons, they still held out hope that citizens of his nation might yet rise up against him and topple the extremist before he posed a global existential threat.

Please. And thank THE ONION while you still have a chance.

Brits need nuclear attack subs like a homeless dude needs to buy a rocket launcher

I wrote a joke the other day, along the lines of: “Our greatest fear is that we die alone – which is why I intend to take quite a few people with me.” And it would be funnier, I suppose, if it didn’t constitute Britain’s actual policy on defence.

…Trident, we’re told, symbolises Britain’s place in the world. Of course, I understand Cameron saying he thinks Britain is still a great country…but we don’t actually have much sense of history, and don’t really travel, so it seems odd that we’re being told to spend hundreds of billions of pounds projecting a version of ourselves that we barely understand on to people we will never meet…Persuading austerity Britain to spend billions on Trident is like convincing a tramp he needs a bazooka.

What is the British way of life? What do we value? Daytime drinking; freedom of speech (for anybody who isn’t joking); a big centre-forward who can hold the ball up; making drunken, sexual online threats to respected academics; hating people from a broadly similar town 30 miles away…and whatever the opposite of reading a history book is. I’m not saying it’s all bad…Perhaps we need to face up to the fact that Britain is becoming a sort of redneck country that doesn’t give a shit about education or health, but needs to have the latest weapons…

…The officers in charge of launching the missiles are trained to “fire and forget”. That’s fire up to 160 nuclear warheads, and forget that the world has been reduced to a cursed sandscape where the strongest mutants will rule as Petrol Sheriffs. The government insists that we are prepared for cyber attack, but to be honest we’re rarely prepared for snow in winter. Having Trident – which genuinely has an operating system called Windows for Submarines – might almost be like a half-hearted suicide attempt…

In the final moments of life on Earth, someone will think of arranging their hands to make a shadow puppet, creating a dragon or a dove to be immortalised by the bomb. They’ll know that nobody will ever see it, but they’ll do it anyway. And this, I think, is what it is to be any kind of artist these days, with no posterity to address but still compelled, for reasons you don’t understand, to work in the terrible now.

I’ve sliced and diced this a bit to fit Frankie Boyle’s rant into a reasonable blogging space. Please RTFA – especially if you’re the sort of proper football fans we are in my household. You’ll get all the innuendo as well as any student of global politics.

“Windows for submarines?” Har.

U.S. nuclear secrets thrown out with the trash – for 20 years


Erik Schelzig/AP

In June 2014, a worker at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee was surprised to find U.S. nuclear secrets inside a trash bag marked for disposal along with standard rubbish. Taking a closer look, the worker found 19 more documents in the bag that were either marked classified or were later determined to contain information that should have been labeled secret.

A dozen more bags of trash sat nearby, awaiting transport to an open landfill where Y-12 workers routinely dump garbage with no bearing on national security. When employees of Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services, Y-12, LLC, the contractor responsible for running the site at that time, poked inside two of these additional bags, they found more top-secret documents…

Many of the records discovered that day detailed how the department’s employees and contractors worked with nuclear explosive materials, such as highly-enriched uranium, housed at the Y-12 complex. But it quickly got worse: Further investigation by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees such work, led officials to conclude that nuclear secrets had been thrown away with lax security at the Tennessee plant for more than 20 years…

When the Energy Department investigated the items plucked from the trash, it determined some of the documents had never been reviewed by the staff responsible for making classification decisions. Those that had been reviewed were erratically categorized, according to the NNSA’s notice of violation to Babcock & Wilcox. Some were marked at higher or lower classification levels than the information warranted. Others were designated classified when they held no sensitive information, according to the notice of violation.

The documents that genuinely did contain high-consequence secrets were vulnerable to theft throughout their journey from the nuclear site and at the disposal location for unclassified waste. And they were not “destroyed beyond recognition” to assure they wouldn’t be recovered, as the Energy Department requires, according to the notice of violation. Since 2005, they were transported by a truck driver without clearances to an unprotected landfill; before then, it’s unclear where they went, but the notice says that no special precautions were taken even then for discarding the classified material…

Protection of nuclear materials and secrets at Y-12 has been under scrutiny since July 28, 2012, when an 82-year-old nun and two more peace protestors penetrated the security perimeter and advanced far enough to scrawl graffiti on a storage vault full of weapon-grade nuclear materials.

RTFA for droll answers to simple questions. This would all be good for a laugh at incompetence excepting that the other end of this two-headed-snake is the end which bites ordinary workers, researchers, individuals who are targeted for political reasons. The usual mishandling of craptastic classified materials then becomes as important as life itself — to petty bureaucrats and politicians.

Nuclear weapons screwup withheld from experts reviewing nuclear weapons screwups


Oops!

In the spring of 2014, as a team of experts was examining what ailed the U.S. nuclear force, the Air Force withheld from them the fact that it was simultaneously investigating damage to a nuclear-armed missile in its launch silo caused by three airmen…

The accident happened May 17, 2014, at an underground launch silo containing a Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM. The silo, designated Juliet-07, is situated among wheat fields and wind turbines about 9 miles west of Peetz, Colorado. It is controlled by launch officers of the 320th Missile Squadron and administered by the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base at Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The Air Force said that while three airmen were troubleshooting the missile, a “mishap” occurred, causing $1.8 million in damage to the missile. The service declined to explain the nature of the mishap, such as whether it caused physical damage, saying the information is too sensitive to be made public.

The three airmen were immediately stripped of their certification to perform nuclear weapons duty. The missile was taken offline and removed from its silo. No one was injured and the Air Force said the accident posed no risk to public safety.

More than a year later the three airmen were recertified and returned to duty.

At the time of the accident, a group of nuclear weapons experts was nearing the end of a three-month independent review of the entire U.S. nuclear force…The experts were operating on orders from then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who asked them to begin their review in March. They reported their results to him June 2.

The AP asked Lt. Col. John Sheets, spokesman…whether the May 17 accident had been reported to the Hagel-appointed review group…“No. The accident was going through the investigative process when” the review teams made their visits to ICBM bases, Sheets said. Pressed further, he said he could say no more and referred questions about this to the Pentagon, which did not immediately comment…

…The Air Force would not disclose the cause or the evidence. It said the cause is cited in the investigation report. The Air Force refused to make that public, saying the report is classified, even though the service’s own policy requires the public release of accident board reports.

The amount of damage to the missile — $1.8 million, according to the Air Force — suggests that the airmen’s errors might have caused physical damage, Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said. If so, he said, it could have been categorized by the Air Force as a “Bent Spear” event, which is an official reporting code word for a significant nuclear weapon incident…

…Pentagon leaders were briefed on the results of the accident investigation in December 2015. Members of Congress also were briefed…

Oh.

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.