About this Blog

The Loose Nukes is an attempt (by people who should probably be under 24 hour supervised psychiatric care) to bring attention to somewhat serious issues like nuclear weapons, militarism and other seemingly random, unrelated issues through vain attempts at social satire and other futile gestures of total contempt for a fading empire that continues to employ nuclear weapons, the ultimate instruments of an erectile dysfunctional national security state, as instruments of foreign policy. OK, you probably get the idea by now. We are obsessed by run-on sentences, peace and justice, having fun, and don't know when to quit. At any rate, we don't think nuclear weapons are a very good idea, and are most definitely unhealthy for living things. We also think the folks running this Empire should just get over it.

And now the NOT SO FINE PRINT: Read further at your own risk... and remember, DON'T PANIC; this is all SATIRE at its worst (or best, depending on one's mental state)! And some of the stuff in here is even true!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oops; there goes the playhouse!!!

Here's one from the "we couldn't make up stuff this good" department.

SAC (sort of) Nukes Kids' Playhouse

On the afternoon of March 11, 1958, the Gregg sisters—Helen, six, and Frances, nine—and their cousin Ella Davies, nine, were in the playhouse their father had built for them in the woods behind their house in Mars Bluff, South Carolina. About four o’clock they tired of the playhouse and moved 200 feet to the side yard. This kept them from becoming the first Americans killed by a nuclear weapon released on U.S. territory. U.S. Air Force B-47E medium bomber serial number 53-1876A dropped its nuclear weapon in the woods behind the Greggs’ house at 4:19 P.M. The high-explosive trigger in the bomb blew up on contact with the ground, leaving a crater 50 feet across and 35 feet deep and injuring the three girls. All that remained of the playhouse were a few twisted shards of the corrugated metal that had been its roof.

OK, you're probably thinking "Geez, first they accidentally drop a nuke, and then score a bulls eye on the kids' playhouse. What are the odds of that???" But really, it gets even better.   How do you think they dropped it in the first place???

Right Out Of Dr. Strangelove

At 3:51, as required by regulations, co-pilot Woodruff rotated his seat to face aft and pulled the lever to disengage the locking pin from the nuclear weapon. It could now be dropped instantly in case of an emergency. At 3:53 the plane took off to join three other B-47s for a formation flight to Europe. When the B-47 reached an altitude of 5,000 feet, Woodruff again rotated his seat, this time to re-engage the locking pin. He worked the locking lever unsuccessfully for five minutes as the B-47 climbed to 15,000 feet to join the three other aircraft. At this point, the crew knew it had a problem. The pilot told the bombardier, Captain Kulka, to go into the bomb bay to try to seat the locking pin by hand. This was not a trivial decision; the bomb bay was not pressurized, so the entire plane had to be depressurized. Because the plane was at 15,000 feet, the crew had to go on oxygen. Further complicating matters, the entrance to the bomb bay was so narrow that a parachute could not be worn into it. The task was doomed from the start; later testimony indicated Kulka had no idea where to find the locking pin in the large and complicated bomb-release mechanism. After a tense 12 minutes searching for the pin, the bombardier decided, correctly, that it must be high up in the bomb bay and invisible because of the curvature of the bomb. A short man, he jumped to pull himself up to get a look at where he thought the locking pin should be. Unfortunately, he evidently chose the emergency bomb-release mechanism for his handhold. The weapon dropped from its shackle and rested momentarily on the closed bomb-bay doors with Captain Kulka splayed across it in the manner of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. Kulka grabbed at a bag that had providentially been stored in the bomb bay, while the more-than-three-ton bomb broke open the bomb-bay doors and fell earthward. The bag Kulka was holding came loose, and he found himself sliding after the bomb without his parachute. He managed to grab something—he wasn’t sure what—and haul himself to safety. Moments later the plane was rocked by the shock wave of the blast when the bomb hit the ground.

An "Unscheduled" Bomb Drop

In case of an unscheduled bomb drop, Air Force regulations required the crew to immediately notify its base by a special coded message. Because the procedure had never been used, the operations center at Hunter Air Force Base did not recognize the strange incoming message. As a final indignity, the pilot was reduced to radioing an open, uncoded message to the civilian tower at the Florence airport six miles west of Mars Bluff asking them to advise Hunter by telephone that aircraft 53-1876A had lost a “device.”

Here's The Best Part

General LeMay, who was by then vice chief of staff of the Air Force, called Captain Koehler directly to get a telephone briefing on what had happened. LeMay, perhaps the only operational commander in the Air Force who had actually performed maintenance on his bombers, understood Koehler’s explanation, and the crew was released.

If we read between the lines of that last sentence we understand that the problem with the "locking pin" was probably NOT an isolated instance. We can also see that the bomb bay episode got past the censors and over to a Hollywood screenwriter who conjured up that now famous scene in Dr. Strangelove (1964) in which Slim Pickens jumps on the thermonuclear bomb, releases what must have been the jammed locking pin, and rides it all the way down. Fortunately for Captain Kulka, it didn't quite play out the same way in real life.

As for the members of the Gregg family, who lost their country dream home, the kids' playhouse and

...6 to 14 chickens (the chickens were free-range, and some were vaporized in the explosion; the Air Force was reluctant to commit itself to a spécific number without a body count)
they ended up (after a protracted lawsuit against the government) moving into a "neat brick bungalow" in the city.
Learning From One's Mistakes

The Mars Bluff incident obliged the Air Force to make significant changes. The composition of the high explosive used in nuclear-weapon triggers was promptly reformulated. No longer would it be possible for the explosive trigger in a nuclear weapon to be set off by concussion; the new design required a specific electrical impulse. While the Air Force and the Department of Energy do not discuss such matters, it seems likely that the changes cost hundreds of millions of 1958 dollars. Also, within days of the accident, a regulation was published requiring that locking pins be inserted in nuclear-weapon bomb shackles at all times, including takeoffs and landings.

Fortunately, in this particular accident the "fissionable nuclear core" was NOT in the bomb at the time of the accident.  Otherwise, that crater in the Gregg's back yard would have been a whole lot bigger, AND it would have been a whole lot more than "chickens" that were "vaporized."

Editor's Note:  All items in italics or quotes are from the original article, “Aircraft 53-1876A Has Lost A Device”: How the U.S. Air Force came to drop an A-bomb on South Carolina, by Clark Rumrill, in American Heritage, 2000, Volume 51, Issue 5, http://www.americanheritage.com/content/%E2%80%9Caircraft-53-1876a-has-lost-device%E2%80%9D?page=show

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Google Street View: Coming to an Occupied Territory near you!

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — After months of discussions with Israeli security officials, Google has launched its popular Street View service in the country's largest cities.

Israel had raised concerns that images of its streets could be used by terrorists. But last August, Google said it reached a deal with the government.

Google officials formally unveiled Street View on Saturday, and the company's servers were quickly overwhelmed by traffic on the site.  Google analysts soon realized that all the site views were coming from the Occupied Territories.  Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, or day of rest.

Google Street View provides detailed panoramic photos of nearly every house and public institution in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Dimona to the Web. 

The pictures offer images of ordinary life, contested areas, religious sites and nuclear weapons sites in the Holy Land. Due to security issues, areas around several sensitive sites, such as the military headquarters in Tel Aviv and a large dome-shaped object in Dimona, are blurred.

Google is currently in negotiations to expand Street View to the Occupied Territories.  Israeli officials, however, are split on this issue.

Israel is the first Middle Eastern country to offer Street View. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Riot police perform traditional line dance at drone protest

Knob Noster, MO, April 15, 2012:  Riot police greeted peace activists with a traditional Air Force line dance during a drone protest at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Activists had gathered at Whiteman Air Force Base on April 15, 2012 to oppose the continued use of drones by the U.S. military.  The protestors were expressing their concerns that drones, piloted from thousands of miles away, have been killing scores of innocent children, women and men in other countries.

The peaceful protestors were greeted by roughly 50 Air Force Military Police lined up across the base entrance in full riot gear.  As the activists, led by Nobel Peace Prize nominee and megaphone toting diva Kathy Kelly, broke into a rousing chorus of Alleluia the entire troop of riot police responded by line dancing in rhythm to the music. 

Beating their batons against their plastic shields and high stepping in perfect rhythm to the music, the riot police moved forward toward the protestors like a precision drill team.  One protestor said she had never seen anything like it in her 30 years of peace protests.  "They just seemed to be so moved by our singing," she remarked. 

Tamara Severns of KC, a protest coordinator, took the megaphone, telling the young MPs, “As I look around, you’re the same age as all the kids out here. We want peace, and you guys want peace. You don’t want to go kill people.” Kathy Kelly called to them, “We assuredly mean you no harm.”

Referring to the shields covering their faces and bodies, she said, “I think of the Good Witch Glenda in The Wizard of Oz.” Kathy sang, “Come out, come out, wherever you are!” She added, “You’re very good–you don’t frighten us. But the U.S. owns half of the world’s weapons. We could change this … together. We look forward to being in the front line with you” to ban war’s weapons.

Following the action at Whiteman Kathy Kelly's agent contacted the base commander to ask if the MP precision drill team might be available to  perform with her at her next gig.  The base commander had not yet responded to his messages as of the following day.

See the line dance on video:

Editor's Postscript:  Check out Kathy Kelly's post at Voices for Creative Nonviolence, For You, A Thousand Times Over

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

North Korea... Who's Next??? And, who cares...

Ladiesssssss and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, and military-trained marine mammals everywhere.  Welcome to the launching of The Loose Nukes!!!

Do you suffer from anxiety, worrying about the roughly 20,000 nuclear weapons around the world, many of which are ready to launch, drop and roll at the whim of a particular nation's fearless leader, or in one or more case a rogue general perhaps?

Do you wonder about all those nuclear warheads (and other nuclear stuff) being transported regularly on our nation's highways and byways?

Do stories of ladders puncturing nuclear missile nose cones, drunk drivers transporting nukes, bombers flying around with nuclear armed missiles (when the crew doesn't even know there are nuclear warheads on those missiles), and stuff like that worry you just a little bit?

And does it scare you just even a tiny bit that the briefcase (with nuclear weapons launch codes and all that important stuff) that follows President Obama around 24 hours a day strapped to the arm of a military officer is called the "FOOTBALL"??? 

If you answered "yes" to even one of these questions, you need to bookmark this Blog.  Of course, if you answered yes to all of these questions, then you should just build a bomb shelter, stock it with tranquilizers, and settle in for the duration.

The Loose Nukes was destined to invade the World Wide Web.  With endless war and the continuing pursuit of nuclear weapons by the U.S. and the rest of the world, we could all use a little humor to take the edge off.  After all, it could all end with some Nervous Nellie pushing the button just because some technician in NORAD (the place from which the U.S. tracks missiles and Santa Claus) loaded a test tape but failed to switch the system status to "test"; DUH! (Yes, that really happened in 1979 back in the dark ages when they actually had "tape")

The Loose Nukes is all about having fun, and maybe even raising a little consciousness while we're at it.

With all the hand wringing about North Korean rocket/missile (call em what you like) launches that barely get off the ground, let alone more than a few hundred miles out to sea before disintegrating, one has to wonder why.  Tom Lehrer's timeless song titled "Who's Next" puts it all in perspective. 

If this doesn't calm your nerves, then all I can say is call a therapist.

With a reverent (or irreverent as the case may be) nod to The Atomic Comics...