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!!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hawaiian sovereignty activists' message intercepted

A next-generation U.S. Standard Missile 3 interceptor on Tuesday successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean , the Missile Defense Agency announced on Wednesday.

The SM-3 Block 1B was fired from the USS Lake Erie after the ship's AN/SPY-1 radar identified and monitored a "separating ballistic missile target," which was launched from the the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the Defense Department agency said in a press release.

The guided missile cruiser maintained watch on the target and transmitted flight path directions to the SM-3 Block 1B. The interceptor positioned itself as directed by the ship and fired a hit-to-kill warhead at the missile. The kinetic warhead through the force of impact eliminated the threat.

It was quickly determined that the ICBM had been fired from an abandoned sugar plantation by members of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, also known as ke ea Hawai‘i.  A preliminary investigation indicated that members of the group, which includes a number of retired aerospace engineers, had worked in secret over much of the past decade at the old Kekaha Sugar Company mill building the missile and launch apparatus.

The Kekaha Sugar Company mill, from where the  harmless ICBM was launched. 

A spokesperson for ke ea Hawai'i said that "We have never seen even a hint of redress from the United States for the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani, and for the prolonged military occupation that began with the 1898 annexation. As far as we're concerned, both the overthrow and annexation were, and continue to be, illegal."

Immediately after destroying the missile, the Erie steamed to the site where it found thousands of pieces of paper floating on the surface.  They all had the same message printed on them.  The message in Hawaiian, said " Honi ko'u 'elemu haoles!"  The message was sent to the National Virtual Translation Center, which was unable to translate the message.  A native Hawaiian sailor was finally located on board the Erie.  Barely keeping a straight face he translated the words as "Kiss my tushy outsider."

The following day the Director of National Intelligence issued a new directive that is intended to improve foreign language skills throughout the U.S. intelligence community.

Further investigation determined that missile designers had programmed the missile to self destruct over a major city on the West coast of the U.S. mainland, dispersing the harmless paper messages in a wide arc over the city.

Red-faced officials at the Pentagon were not amused, and would make no official comment.  A Pentagon staffer, who asked not to be named, said that there is no plan for a retaliatory strike since Kauai is part of the United States.

Observers from all around Kauai have reported constant drone overflights since the June 27th missile launch and interception, particularly in the area surrounding the Kekaha Sugar Company mill.  Thousands took to the streets in protest of the drone flights, with a major protest rally at Honolulu's Iolani Palace.

Thousands of Hawaiian sovereignty supporters chanting
"Honi ko'u 'elemu  haoles" outside the Iolani Palace on June 28th

The Missile Defense Agency said that it's system is ultimately to be deployed as part of a developing U.S.-NATO missile shield in Europe. "Today’s intercept is a critical accomplishment for the second phase of the president’s Phased Adaptive Approach consisting of the SM-3 Block 1B interceptor that will be employed in an Aegis Ashore system in Romania in 2015."

Of 28 intercept trials to date of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense technology, 23 have been successful. The Aegis antimissile program is intended to eliminate short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The program is operated jointly by the U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency.

When asked what the Pentagon is doing to protect against long range ballistic missiles, a department spokesperson said, "We'll have to get back to you on that."


Editor's Notes:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

B-2 Bombers need The Midas Touch

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Air Force has ordered dozens of spare tailpipe components for its stealthy B-2 bomber fleet following the discovery of corroded engine exhaust systems, according to service officials.

“The B-2 is approaching 25 years of service life and the tailpipes are beginning to show signs of wear,” said Michele Tasista, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Global Strike Command, based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.  Tasista quipped that the (original) exhaust system on her 1970 Toyota Corolla (with 300,000 miles) has outperformed the system on the Northrop Grumman-built B-2 "by a country mile." 

"The B-2 tailpipe assembly is failing at a faster-than-expected rate and … that may be the most challenging aspect of keeping [the aircraft] in the inventory,” said a former bomber program official (and employee of Northrop Grumman) who asked not to be named in discussing the sensitive subject. “[We’ve been] afraid that the tailpipe assembly would force you to retire the B-2 earlier -- or you’d get a bill to be paid that would be potentially unacceptable.”  

Air Force officials say they have found an affordable fix: A combination of new spare parts, preventive techniques and repair procedures.

The service has ordered 56 tailpipe spares from Northrop Grumman in an "affordable" $76.6 million (roughly $1.4 million per tailpipe) fixed-price contract awarded last year, using fiscal 2011 funds, according to Sue Murphy -- a spokeswoman for Air Force Materiel Command in Dayton, Ohio -- and other program officials.

The new parts will be available to replace “aged metallic components that are showing typical ‘wear and tear’ as a result of operating in a hot environment,” as the pipes convey engine exhaust to the outside air, according to Gary Roehrig, who directs B-2 product support for defense contractor Northrop Grumman. Each bomber has four tailpipes, one for each engine.

Rusting exhaust systems at Whitemen Air Force Base
These particular components are not repairable and are being replaced to keep the low-observable aircraft functioning, Roehrig said in a written response to questions.  He said his company will provide first delivery of the new spares in two years.  The procurement is to be completed by 2019, the Northrop Grumman official said.

Midas, better known for its famous"Customer First"commitment, attempted to bid on the B-2 tailpipe replacement assemblies, but according to a company spokesperson was thwarted every step of the way.  "They just kept saying we didn't understand how the bidding process works."

Midas called Northrop Grumman "just another opportunistic bottom feeder.  $1.4 million a pop for a tailpipe?  Who's fleecing whom here?  Exhaust systems aren't exactly rocket science.  I bet they used some cheap materials to maximize their greedy bottom line."

We've been building high performance exhaust systems for over 50 years.  We could have delivered those tailpipes for just $99.99 each, completed delivery (and installation) in a matter of weeks, and would have included our famous Lifetime Guarantee*."

When asked why Midas was not considered, and the fix-priced contract instead awarded to Northrop Grumman with absolutely no competition, Tasista replied that "We do not comment on sensitive procurement issues such as this one.  That being said, our partnership with Northrop Grumman and its suppliers will ensure the B-2 remains one of the most survivable weapons systems in the world."

The B-2 was first fielded in 1994 and can carry both nuclear and conventional munitions.  A B-2 pilot who asked not to be named for fear of losing the opportunity for a job at Northrop Grumman after retiring from the Air Force said that he wouldn't trust Northrop Grumman to replace the tailpipe on his aging Volkswagen Rabbit. "They'd charge me an arm and a leg, and I would have no guarantee it would last more than maybe a thousand miles, and that's if I was lucky."

Service and company officials distinguished the internal B-2 tailpipe cracks caused by “wear and tear” over time from allegedly unrelated design-related fissures that have plagued a separate, external component of the aircraft, the “aft deck,” for several years.

Northrop Grumman last year won another gargantuan $109 million contract to manufacture a redesigned aft deck, the company announced in November.  According to a company spokesperson, "the newly redesigned structure reflects Northrop Grumman's thorough thermal and structural analysis of the aft deck its adjoining structures and the operating environment [that should have been conducted in the first place]."

"Implementing a redesigned aft deck is an important part of guaranteeing the long-term viability of the B-2," said Dave Mazur, Northrop Grumman's vice president of Long Range Strike and B-2 program manager. "We are committed to assisting the Air Force in developing and implementing proactive solutions that are in the best interest of Northrop Grumman's bottom line the B-2 fleet."

* Lifetime Guarantee valid for as long as you own your car aircraft


Editor's Note: Thanks to Global Security Newswire for the article that was butchered to create this piece: http://www.nti.rsvp1.com/gsn/article/b-2-bomber-tailpipe-cracks-compel-new-spare-parts-production/?mgh=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nti.org&mgf=1, and this Northrop Grumman news release: http://investor.northropgrumman.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=112386&p=RssLanding&cat=news&id=1628402

Friday, June 22, 2012

National Do Not Kill Registry launched

News Release

June 21, 2012  - For Immediate Release

Contact:   Emma Haltsworth, Director of Public Relations
                  National Agency for Ethical Drone-Human Interactions

Washington, DC - The National Agency for Ethical Drone-Human Interactions (NEDHI) announced the formation of a Do Not Kill Registry, its first public program.

The National Agency for Ethical Drone-Human Interactions (N.E.D.H.I.) was founded in September of 2001 to monitor and regulate the use of drones both domestically and internationally.

While the use of drones is intentionally not bound by international treaties or constitutional limits, NEDHI simultaneously understand the urgent need to develop and enforce new ethical frameworks as drone use becomes more commonplace as a tool of U.S. foreign policy.

Through an active collaboration between N.E.D.H.I., the brave pilots and operators of the U.S. drone program, and the American public, NEDHI believes that it can find the political and moral solutions needed to both protect the security of the United States while also satisfying the concerns of the broader global community.

The Do Not Kill Registry, the agency's first public program, forges an innovative path towards new solutions that will help give people around the world the peace of mind urgently needed during these times of escalating drone conflict.

While what the future holds for the U.S. drone program remains uncertain, U.S. citizens can rest safely knowing that NEDHI will continue to diligently review and monitor the national drone kill list in order to ensure proper cautionary measures are taken while also continuing to take advantage of the military effectiveness of targeted drone strikes on militants around the world.

NEDHI Director of Public Relations Emma Haltsworth
on a recent field visit to Afghanistan. 
United States citizens can apply to add their names to the Do Not Kill Registry, thereby avoiding accidental casualties in NEDHI's mission to make the world a safe place for Democracy and Free Enterprise.

When asked by a reporter at today's news conference whether the Do Not Kill Registry would have some of the nagging problems of the National Do Not Call Registry, Haltsworth retorted, "This is about alot more than robo calls.  We're pushing for nothing less than 100 percent here."

Another reporter asked whether some people might mistakenly sign up on the National Do Not Call Registry thinking they are signing up for the Do Not Kill Registry Haltsworth paused for a moment and said, "We'll have to get back to you on that one."

You can read more about the agency and NEDHI's mission by clicking here.

For further information on the drone program and new Do Not Kill Registry citizens can contact NEDHI directly by e-mailing donotkillregistry@gmail.com.

DISCLAIMER: Adding your name to the 'Do Not Kill' Registry does not guarantee that you will not be the target of a drone strike but only that an additional review process will be undertaken before you are labeled an enemy militant and added to the national kill list.


Note:  Thanks to the creative genius of the people at Occupy Wall Street for creating this wonderful parody on yet another dark chapter in the latter days of a dying empire.  This "news release" was fashioned out of the following URLs created by Occupy Wall Street: http://occupywallst.org/article/add-yourself-national-do-not-kill/ and http://www.donotkill.net/about.php.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The NSA values your privacy! Really!!!

The surveillance experts at the National Security Agency won’t tell two powerful United States Senators how many Americans have had their communications picked up by the agency as part of its sweeping new counter terrorism powers. The reason: it would violate your privacy to say so.

That claim comes in a short letter sent Monday to civil libertarian Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. The two members of the Senate’s intelligence oversight committee asked the NSA a simple question last month: under the broad powers granted in 2008′s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA?

Well, DUH!!!

Obviously the senator's staffers have been asleep at the wheel.  Had they been reading Wired magazine they would have been able to tell the senators everything they need to know about how the NSA is building a MASSIVE spy center large enough to store every word phoned, texted, emailed, tweeted or otherwise communicated over the airwaves or phone/cable lines for the next millennium.

Don't ya miss the days when they did things the old fashioned way???
Of course, the geniuses at the NSA (despite all their fancy algorithms to capture certain words and phrases that might remotely indicate a sinister, terrorist plot) will, at some point, throw up their hands and ask, "Why the Hell did we waste a few trillion dollars for all this worthless information."

That being said, we can all rest a little easier knowing that they won't be violating our privacy while sucking all our phone calls, emails, tweets and picture messages into the Bluffdale Black Hole.  I'm going to sleep much better tonight.

A $2 Billion Black Hole. But don't worry, we're not violating your privacy!
The Utah Data Center will cost $2 Billion (or more) to build, an estimated $40 Million annually just for electricity and, I would venture, hundreds of millions in salaries, maintenance, various and sundry other costs.  At least they won't be spending much at the office supply store (no paper)!

And for your information senators, you can be pretty damn sure that everyone inside and probably a pretty good number of folks outside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA.  In fact, this post should get picked up just as soon as I click "Publish."  So NSA; stick that in your $2 Billion data center.


Note: Paragraphs in italics are from Wired.com, The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), March 15, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Shell Arctic Rig Fails in Rehearsal

This just in from the YES MEN, who just this past week engaged in a covert operation in Seattle.  Go YES MEN!!!

Arcticready or #Shellfail? Shell's Climate Disaster Gets a Rehearsal

Activists claim responsibility for viral sensation, corporate makeover

NEW behind-the-scenes VIDEO HERE   

(original #shellfail video here)

Greenpeace, the Yes Lab, and members of the Occupy movement are claiming responsibility for a set of actions that have focused intense attention on Shell's Arctic drilling program.

"This experience shows that a few energized people can compete with the billions that Shell spends on advertising and lobbying," said James Turner from Greenpeace, who posed as an advertising executive at the event. "As people find out how this oil company is exploiting global warming to cause yet more global warming, thus endangering everyone, they won't allow it, no matter how many billions Shell has in its war chest."

The centerpiece of the action was a lavish party in the Space Needle, in which a model of an Arctic-bound oil rig "accidentally" spewed liquid in the face of the rig designer's "widow"—actually 84-year-old Occupy activist Dorli Rainey, well known for having been brutally pepper-sprayed in the face by Seattle Police during Occupy protests last fall.

A one-minute video of that "malfunction," shot by Occupy "infiltrator" Logan Price, quickly reached the top spot on Reddit and the #2 spot on Youtube, with a half-million views in less than 24 hours.

"We know that climate change is putting the entire planet at risk," said Rainey. "It's our duty to stop companies like Shell from using fossil fuels as a lethal weapon—even if it means being sprayed again and again in the face."

As Shell denied, with disappointing blandness, having had anything to do with the party or the "malfunction," the Yes Lab sent out a press release on Shell's behalf, threatening anyone who reposted the video and attacking also the activists' brand-new ArcticReady.com website, which includes a social media ad generator and a dangerously addictive children's video game called Angry Bergs. The fake Shell release generated additional media coverage.

Earlier this year, Shell obtained a legal injunction stopping any Greenpeace activist from coming within 1km of any Shell vessel. To thank the company, Greenpeace teamed up with the Yes Lab to plan a promotional advertising campaign for Shell's Arctic drilling efforts, which Shell prefers to keep quiet. Besides the ill-fated ceremony and the website, the campaign includes a number of other elements that will shadow Shell's summer Arctic destruction campaign.

The device which sprayed Rainey's face was a model of Shell's drill rig, the Kulluk, which is set to soon depart Seattle for the Arctic. The Kulluk was built in 1983 by Mitsui, the same company that, two decades later, built the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon. Earlier this year, Mitsui paid out $90 million to the U.S. for its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

"What Shell is preparing to do in the Arctic is the height of obscenity," said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Lab. "We've got to do everything we possibly can to draw attention to this unfolding disaster, and more importantly we've got to stop it."

"The melting Arctic is becoming a defining environmental issue of our era, and this campaign is just a taste of what's to come," said Turner.

(Note: As of this writing, some major news sources are still posting information from the fake Shell press release. The Yes Lab's intention is not to allow misinformation to linger.)

        James Turner, Greenpeace, james.turner@greenpeace.org, 415-812-1142
        The Yes Lab, info@yeslab.org

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Get Your Master of Drones Degree Today!

Are you depressed about the high cost of a college education?  Worried that your bachelors degree (or even a Masters or PhD) won't help you pay off that huge college debt until you're ready to retire (and maybe not even then)??  Worried that there won't even be jobs in your chosen profession???
Well, worry no more!!!  The folks at Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU) have got you covered.
It's "Unmanned Education" at its best.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are the wave of the future.  They are all the rage in terrorist tourist hotspots like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen where they're killing people in droves.  And the market for UAVs (and all the jobs associated with them) is huge.  There is no end in sight for their possible uses, although picking off would-be "terrorists" (pretty much anyone with dark skin, a beard and a gun it would seem) is still Numero Uno for President Obama and his merry band of hunter-killers.

Learn the basics now . For the latest UAV developments take the online UAV FUNDAMENTALS EXECUTIVE COURSE course. This 8 week, 2 hours per week, course is taught online with a live instructor and is for anyone who wants a solid understanding of "Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle Components, UAV Communications & Data Links, UAV Sensors & Characteristics, UAV Ground Control  Systems, Civil UAV Types, Roles and Operations, Small UAVs, Civil Airspace Integration, Sense and Avoid Systems, UAV Mishaps, Causes of Failure, Improving Reliability, Human Machine Interface, UAV Alternative Propulsion (Fuel Cells and Solar), UAV Navigation, UAV Autonomous Operations, UAV Swarming, Future UAV Roles & Technologies."

In addition to the Executive Course you can work towards your Master's of Engineering
Unmanned (Air/Ground/Sea) Systems Engineering, or even a PhD Degree
Unmanned (Air/Ground/Sea) Systems Engineering.  With one of these degrees you will be soaring toward a brighter future.

The military is currently the largest user of UAVs, and growing.  There is no end to the possibilities for arming UAVs and killing people.  The Pentagon is even considering Unmanned nuclear powered and nuclear weapons-capable bombers.  Just imagine handling the joystick for one of those bad boys!!! 

Still not convinced?  Just check out some of the other applications for UAVs:

"Pipeline Inspection
Stratospheric Telecommunications Airship
High Altitude Imagery
Maritime Surveillance
Environmental Sensing
Media and Traffic Monitoring
Law Enforcement
Natural disasters
Real Estate Photography
Hurricane Monitoring
Cryospheric Research - Arctic and Antarctic
Bridge Inspection
Transmission Line Inspection
HAZMAT Inspection
Emergency Medical Supply
Traffic Monitoring
Aerial Surveying
Damage Assessment
Insurance Claim Appraisal
Real Estate Marketing
Concert Security
Sports Video
Runway Inspection
Virtual Tours
Landmark Inspection
Coffee Harvest Optimization
Crop Disease Management
Herd Tracking and Management
Forestry Inspection
Fisheries Management
Species Conservation
Wildlife Inventory
Mineral Exploration
Remote Aerial Survey
Forest Fire Surveillance
Forest Fire Mapping
Volcano Monitoring
Remote Aerial Mapping
Oil Spill Tracking
Snow Pack Avalanche Monitoring
Ice Pack Monitoring
Poaching Patrol"

UVU Courses are selling out fast, so don't wait.  You don't want to miss this opportunity of a lifetime.  Start your education today so you'll be ready for the future.  And that future is UAVs!!!

"Unmanned systems and their supporters will be invading Las Vegas for AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2012! For four exciting days, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center will become the world’s largest robotics playground!"

Two happy UVU graduates at play, er... work.
Drop by the Unmanned Vehicle University Booth #5040 at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, 6 - 9 August, Mandalay Bay Casino, Las Vegas, and receive $100 off your first course at UVU.

Check out the Website for information on faculty, classes, e-learning and more.  Better yet, drop in to the main campus in Tacoma, Washington.  Operators are standing by 24/7 to talk with you.


Material in this post is from the Unmanned Aerial University Website: http://www.uxvuniversity.com/ 

And YES, Unmanned Aerial University IS for real!!!  And so is the photo of the young lad named Ali who (along with much of his family) was a victim of a drone strike.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Radiation is like an angry wife!

For those of you who don't have a degree in nuclear physics, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency has finally translated the lofty science of radiation health physics into terms that the rest of us can understand.  Allow me to summarize:
  1. Radiation = "Wife's screaming to her husband"
  2. Radioactivity = Wife's "agitated state"
  3. Radioactive Material = "the wife herself"
Can you believe these guys (they must be men; who else would come up with such an absurd analogy???)???
Cartoon originally at Japanese Atomic Energy Agency Website
So now you know everything you need to know about Radioactivity; and you didn't have to spend years in graduate school.  What's more - Radiation must not be that bad for us if it's just like my wife screaming at me.  It might actually be therapeutic.  One might wonder, however, how women got the rap for that nasty radioactive stuff.  Read the article below to find out. 


Radiation: Shall I compare thee to an angry Japanese wife?

By Miki Kayaoka
TOKYO | Tue Jun 5, 2012 4:42am EDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese research agency has dropped a controversial public relations campaign aimed at educating women about nuclear safety that compared radiation to the screaming voice of an angry wife.

The Japanese Atomic Energy Agency devoted a page on its website to an effort to "make the hard words used in the nuclear power industry" more easy to understand, particularly for women.

The page, which included a cartoon of an angry, fist-waving wife and her cowering husband, compared the wife's yell to radiation. It continued the metaphor by saying that the women's increasing agitation could be compared to "radioactivity", while claiming the wife herself was comparable to "radioactive material".

The webpage, first published in 2010, was dropped on Monday after the agency received dozens of complaints.

"I have no idea why this page suddenly attracted people's attention, but we would have deleted it earlier had we known about this page," said Yusuke Uehara, a spokesman for the government-affiliated agency which conducts nuclear research, including work on safety.

"This discriminates against women, which is inappropriate."

All 50 of Japan's operable nuclear reactors remain offline after a series of meltdowns and hydrogen explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant forced evacuations and renewed scrutiny of Japan's policy towards atomic energy.

Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the Fukushima plant, said last month that the radiation released in the first days of the Fukushima disaster was almost 2-1/2 times the amount first estimated by safety regulators.

The accident was the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

The "radioactive wife" cartoon had been created by a group of six women who live near Tokaimura, site of a 1999 nuclear accident at a uranium reprocessing plant.

(Reporting by Miki Kayaoka; Editing by Elaine Lies and Nick Macfie)


Source URL: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/05/us-japan-radioactivewife-idUSBRE8540CX20120605

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trident: Circumcision or...

All right Friends,

I know, I know!!!  You're all thinking I've gone off the deep end, and the censors should be called in right about now.  But wait; this is all very much on the up and up.  It seems that just maybe we in the U.S. can learn a thing or two about how to get a discussion going about nuclear weapons - Trident in this particular case.

I'm referring to Willard Foxton's article in the Huffington Post titled "Is it Time for Britain's Nuclear Circumcision?"  You certainly won't see an article - at least we haven't yet - with that kind of title authored by anyone here in the Colonies... er, States.

I love this guy; it's like we're kindred spirits.  He starts off by saying, "Sometimes, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills."  I know just how he feels!  He also refers to himself as a "Feminist, Multiculturalist Tory."  That just has to be good.   But I digress... He continues: 

I seem to be one of the only people who has noticed that amid the biggest financial crisis in a generation, parliament has just insouciantly waved through £350 million on some drawings of some new submarines. Maybe I'm being unfair - maybe there will also be scale models to sit on an admiral's desk too, maybe even a Troy Tempest uniform for Nick Clegg to dress up in - but it still seems like a hell of a lot of money.

Of course, this £350 million quid is just a down-payment - the start of the whole bloated nightmare of the hooting defence procurement panjandrum. Now that we've paid out £350 million quid on sci-fi submarine drawings, any attempt to now withdraw from this commitment will be met with a round chorus of boos and hisses about wasted money.

There is almost literally no political debate on this issue, which I find astounding. I mean, I understand why, in narrow, party political terms.

But wait!  It keeps getting better. Foxton comes up with a new corporate moniker for BAE Systems the folks who make a killing on the British Trident whether or not it ever fires off a nuke: Ocean Going Holocaust Delivery Mechanism Manufacturers Inc.
Still, this is a big deal - we are not only putting a truly vast sum of money at stake - the defence contractors estimate £25 billion, so we can assume at least three times that, 10 years late - we are also binding ourselves into a strategic commitment to maintaining not just a nuclear arsenal, but to a uniquely cold-war era one, based around submarine launched ballistic missiles.

The question someone in parliament - be they a pinko, dope-smoking commie-coddling lefty pacifist, or an austerity loving, state-hating, swivel eyed right winger - should be asking is "Would Britain in the mid-21st century become a significantly less safe place if we possessed different, cheaper nuclear weapons?"

Even if you leave aside the moral arguments around nuclear weapons - and I'm sure BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, unlikely to rebrand any time as Ocean Going Holocaust Delivery Mechanism Manufacturers Inc any time soon - would like us to, there are compelling practical arguments for a different kind of weapons system. A real public argument around what form our should take deterrent, or indeed, whether we should have one at all, and about defence generally, is badly needed.

If you look around, and ask the forbidden question, "what are the plausible threats to Britain?", the Trident system becomes increasingly suspect.

Does it stop Terrorism? Do nuclear weapons deter that? Where are we going to fire a Trident in retaliation for a terrorist attack? Mecca? Belfast? Bradford?

Then, Foxton takes up the age old question of "deterrence."  And he asks all the right questions, including what's up with Britain's reliance on the U.S.???  But he really hits the nail on the head when he asks how deterrence will work with rogue states like Iran or France!!!

Is it a deterrent to rising powers like China or Russia? If Britain were to stand alone in a showdown with nukes on the table, it would be doomed. The UK's security against big power aggression must depend on our alliance with the USA. It's hard to swallow but sadly true - and in any case, the trident system is totally reliant on US technology, expertise and support, so any idea it is an "independent deterrent" is sadly flawed.

Of course, there is a real threat that could be deterred from rogue states like Iran or France. But we must ask ourselves the question, is a ballistic missile system the best answer for that? There is an important distinction between retaining a some nuclear weapons and none at all.

Are cheaper nuclear cruise missiles fired from cheaper, multirole attack submarines any less deterring? Are they less deterring if the missile is fired from a ship? From a plane? From a really big cannon?

I'd conclude that they are slightly less deterring, but only slightly - there is a slim chance of shooting down a cruise missile, or destroying an aircraft before it launches one. But it ignores the reality that there could be tens or hundreds coming through - it's not a chance I'd bet on, when losing the bet is a whole city and hundreds of thousands of people burned to ashes. It's a gamble someone would only take if they probably wouldn't be deterred by our ballistic missiles anyway.

Foxton really gets it.  And I mean GETS IT!!!  He truly understands the ultimate rational for a nuclear weapons system like Trident (subs, missiles, the whole catastrophe).  And he articulates it in terms that are so beautifully and artfully British.  It is, of course, the "big willy" argument (or "massive willy" as the case may be).  In Foxton's own words:

The arguments deployed for keeping Trident, rather than some other system, are often weak, even laughable. Notably, some worry about trifles like the international legality of cruise missiles - as though a bomb that incinerates hundreds of thousands is fine so long as it drops vertically rather than horizontally. Among those who want to keep Trident, probably the most cited, but least convincing, is what is known in the as the "big willy" argument.

This argues that Britain's influence - our permanent UN security council seat, our trade links, our ability to have David Cameron cheering for Chelsea in the White House situation room - would be in jeopardy if we began dismantling some of our nuclear weapons. This is tragic, 1950s, post-imperial thinking. National security is vital - but having a massive willy to wave in the faces of other leaders is not.

Of course, Foxton keeps the options open when he calls for open discussions about issues of such magnitude as Trident. 

That's not to say there aren't some convincing reasons to have a like-for-like replacement - I just wish we would have those discussions openly, unfettered by weak-kneed short-term political calculations. What we really need is real debate on the topic - personally, I'm sure we can be just as safe if Mr. Cameron decides he can cope with a little circumcision.

As for Foxton's closer, this is the only part of his brilliant essay with which I must vehemently disagree.  From a kosher standpoint circumcision would never be enough for Trident.  The only option I can see for such a horrific, omnicidal weapons system is ________________ (fill in the blank). 


Read Willard Foxton's full article, Is it Time for Britain's Nuclear Circumcision?, at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/willard-foxton/britains-nuclear-circumcision_b_1536588.html

Saturday, June 2, 2012

U.S. may put nuclear arms in Constitution

N. Korea Puts Nuclear Arms in Constitution - U.S. Could Follow

North Korea identifies itself as a nuclear power in its revised constitution, according to a copy displayed on the country's official web portal.
The revised North Korean constitution includes
the phrase "nuclear power" (underlined in red).

The constitution was revised at last month's meeting of the rubber-stamp Supreme People's Assembly, and the preface details the accomplishments of former leader Kim Jong-il, claiming he changed the North into a "nuclear power and invincible military superpower."

The move has stimulated a heated debate in the U.S. Congress.  Following on the heels of North Korea's announcement, Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-PA, has called for a Constitutional Ammendment declaring the United States a nuclear power.

When asked about his pursuit of such an ammendment Rep. Pitts replied that "if Kim Jong-un wants to publicize the fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons and use them as a bargaining tool just as his father did, we are going to respond, tit for tat.  And besides; we are the world's greates nuclear power.  Why shouldn't that be enshrined in our Constitution?"


Source of original article used in this fake article: N. Korea Puts Nuclear Arms in Constitution, http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/05/31/2012053100646.html

Friday, June 1, 2012

Obama engages clergy to bless secret "kill list"

WASHINGTON - Nothing else in President Obama’s first term has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record. His actions have often remained inscrutable, obscured by awkward secrecy rules, polarized political commentary and the president’s own deep reserve.

In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.

They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”

His first term has seen private warnings from top officials about a “Whac-A-Mole” approach to counterterrorism; the invention of a new category of aerial attack following complaints of careless targeting; and presidential acquiescence in a formula for counting civilian deaths that some officials think is skewed to produce low numbers.

The administration’s failure to forge a clear detention policy has created the impression among some members of Congress of a take-no-prisoners policy. And Mr. Obama’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, has complained to colleagues that the C.I.A.’s strikes drive American policy there, saying “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people,” a colleague said.

Beside the president at every step is his counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, who is variously compared by colleagues to a dogged police detective, tracking terrorists from his cavelike office in the White House basement, or a priest whose blessing has become indispensable to Mr. Obama, echoing the president’s attempt to apply the “just war” theories of Christian philosophers to a brutal modern conflict.
President Obama in the Oval Office with Thomas E. Donilon, left, the national
security adviser, and John O. Brennan, his top counterterrorism adviser in a
moment of prayer before signing off on the week's targeted assasination list.
 (Photo: Pete Souza/The White House) 
It is the strangest of bureaucratic rituals: Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.

This secret “nominations” process is an invention of the Obama administration, a grim debating society that vets the PowerPoint slides bearing the names, aliases and life stories of suspected members of Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen or its allies in Somalia’s Shabab militia.

The video conferences are run by the Pentagon, which oversees strikes in those countries, and participants do not hesitate to call out a challenge, pressing for the evidence behind accusations of ties to Al Qaeda.

In what some Administration officials see as a rather bizarre twist (and possibly a way to counter such challenges), the President's high "priest" convinced Obama to include members of the clergy in the weekly decision-making meetings.  It is, according to Brennan, an effort to apply Christian principles, and particularly Just War Theory, in such an extreme situation. 

The names of the clergypeople participating in the "nomination" process are a closely guarded secret.  An unnamed White House staffer said "although we cannot share the names of those involved for reasons of National Security and their individual safety, we can assure you that one clergyperson from every major denomination has been invited to participate in this process." 

When asked whether a Muslim cleric is included in the "nomination" process the staffer said "no comment."


Thanks to the New York Times, the source for the article that was butchered to create this fake article: Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will, By and , Published: May 29, 2012,  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/world/obamas-leadership-in-war-on-al-qaeda.html?_r=1&pagewanted=8&permid=554