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  • Three Steps To Reverse A "Doomsday" Clock

    Submitted by Vladimir Kozin via OrientalReview.org,

    The recent book review “A Stark Nuclear Warning” by Jerry Brown, in which he has shared views on William J. Perry’s memoirs “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink”, raises a lot of questions and concerns.

    Jerry Brown unequivocally describes Perry, who held many important positions in the past, including the U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1994-1997, as a double-hated man.

    On the one hand, as the U.S. Secretary of Defense he helped to build a formidable U.S. nuclear arsenal several decades ago, being responsible for important technological advances with respect to U.S. nuclear forces, like launching the B-2 a heavy strategic bomber; revitalizing the aging B-52, a bomber from the same category as SOA (Strategic Offensive Arms) inventory; putting the Trident submarine program back on track; and making an ill-fated attempt to bring the MX ICBM, a ten-warhead missile, into operation.

    On the other, William J. Perry has been identified as a staunch proponent of avoiding nuclear danger, nowadays, when he has retired and embarked “on an urgent mission to alert us to the dangerous nuclear road we are travelling.” He is clearly calling American leaders to account for what he believes “are very bad decisions”, such as the precipitous expansion of NATO right up to the Russian border (William J. Perry was a very brave man when he became the lone Cabinet member who opposed President Bill Clinton’s decision to give Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic immediate membership in the Alliance). William J. Perry has also not been supportive of President George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia in 2002.

    It is interesting to note that a person who took an active part in the continuous U.S. SOA and TNW (tactical nuclear weapons) build-up today has concluded that there could be no acceptable defence against a massive-scale nuclear attack. According to him, the great paradox of the nuclear age is that deterrence of nuclear war is sought by building ever more lethal and precise weapons. For the sake of reality it should be underscored that this notion has to be attributed exclusively to the USA, who has a long time ago embarked upon an “offensive unconditional nuclear deterrence strategy” which has not practically been changed so far.

    Jerry Brown observes that William J. Perry is convinced that parity is “old thinking” because nuclear weapons can’t actually be used – the risk of uncontrollable and catastrophic escalation is too high. Seemingly, he shares the earlier maxim once articulated by President Ronald Reagan: A nuclear war cannot be fought, because it can never be won.

    Unfortunately, in his remarks Jerry Brown has made a number of inaccuracies in describing some facts of the immediate past and the present-day military-political environment.

    He writes that: “…both the Soviet Union and the United States had developed hydrogen bombs”. In reality, the USA was the first state that produced H-bomb (1952), the USSR responded lately (1953). As is known, the USA was the first one who has produced an A-bomb; while the Soviet Union did so only in 1949. The USA was the first one who has created a classic SOA triad (ICBM, SLBM and heavy bombers), and MIRV ICBM. The USSR followed suit.

    That is why it is irrelevant to claim that “the Soviets just stepped up their nuclear efforts and so did the U.S.”

    turquie

    Jerry Brown reminds about the Cuban missile crisis, but does not clarify that it has been initiated by Washington who unilaterally has deployed medium-range nuclear missiles “Jupiter” with 1 megaton each in Italy and Turkey, and at a time when the USA had nuclear warheads superiority over the Soviet Union as 17:1 (revelation by Robert McNamara). Only after that dangerous action Moscow has decided to move its SNF to Cuba (note: before the Cuban missile crisis has been resolved, the Soviet leaders have not even authorized to install nuclear warheads upon the missiles and combat aircraft brought to Cuba).

    Jerry Brown is of opinion that the Cold War was over, and the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union were located not only in Russia, but also in three new republics that “were not capable of protecting them.” After the demise of the USSR, Russia has brought all SOA and TNW from these republics back to its territory, despite the fact that all these nuclear assets have been strongly protected. This measure has been agreed upon between Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus and the Western nuclear powers.

    I do not believe that the Cold War is over despite the Paris Charter for a New Europe heralded that in 1990. The Cold War has entered a new phase – qualitatively more dangerous that its first phase. Cold War 2.0 is characterized by a vast military build-up of NATO near the Russian borders, and a complete stalemate in arms control: currently there are 15 unresolved issues in this domain between the USA and Russia. In the first stage of Cold War Moscow and Washington signed 7 nuclear arms control accords, CWC and BWC, CFE-1 and CFE-1A treaties, a number of CBM arrangements. Since 2010 nothing has been done in this sphere.

    So, it is incorrect to state that “the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States did not make any effort to slow nuclear competition; they did just the opposite.”

    The reaction of Moscow to the fielding of the U.S. ground-based BMD assets in Europe was portrayed by Jerry Brown inaccurately.  Such elements plus sea-based components of the U.S BMD “shield” really create formidable threat to Russia and its allies because of two major reasons:

    (a) the launching tubes of the U.S. BMD system Mk-41 can house not only defensive interceptors, but also offensive cruise missiles and other war-fighting means in the framework of the “Prompt Global Strike” which can be used as a first-strike weapon versus Russia;

     

    (b) the U.S. and NATO BMD system has been tied up to their nuclear and conventional forces – such “appropriate mix” has been stamped up at the three recent NATO Summits in Chicago (2012), Newport (2014) and Warsaw (2016).

    Washington still does not want to abrogate its Cold War thinking: to cancel its first use of nuclear weapons’ concept. All U.S. Administrations have declined to accept several Soviet and Russian initiatives on that issue.

    President Barack Obama failed to ratify the CTBT (1996), though he has promised to do it during his presidency.

    1029655857

    Recently, in the framework of NATO the debates on the further strengthening of this largest military bloc reliance on nuclear weapons have intensified.

    The talk is about expanding the geographic scope and the total number of military exercises conducted with simulated use of bombs equipped with mock nuclear warheads, carrying military computer games on the use of nuclear weapons on the European continent, as well as the development of special scenarios on transformation of hypothetical conflict involving the general conventional forces into the conflicts with the use of nuclear weapons.

    Suggestions have been made that in the course of combined command and staff games of a “new type” with the help of computer simulation while resolving non-nuclear and nuclear tasks in the scenario of the regional and global environment the condition of the “use of Russian strategy of nuclear escalation” as a counterweight to the “nuclear counter-escalation” to NATO is included. The idea of involving in such games not only representatives of the military, but also high-ranking civilian government officials participating in making the important decisions of national importance is articulated.

    On June 25, 2015, during a hearing before the Committee on Armed Services of the US Congress devoted to the prospective role of nuclear weapons the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work called to oppose to the Russian nuclear doctrine by the U.S. nuclear capabilities with the aim to launch a strategy of “de-escalation of escalation.” In other words, it is interpreted in Washington in such a way that an escalation of threats of the limited use of nuclear weapons should be used to de-escalate conflicts fought with conventional weapons.

    Commenting on the debate that took place during the meeting of the defense ministers of the member countries’ of the “transatlantic solidarity” in Brussels on 8 October 2015, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to NATO Adam Thomson has publicly complained that before the Alliance held separate military exercises with the use of conventional and nuclear weapons, but has never tested the transformation of the first type of exercises in the second ones. But he further recognized with appreciation that the recommendation of the “transformation of NATO military exercises with the use of conventional weapons into nuclear drills” became the focus of attention within the Alliance.

    Pentagon chief Ashton Carter on the same day told a news conference that the transatlantic pact should prepare an “updated instructions on the use of nuclear weapons” in order to adapt to new threats and challenges of the 21st century and, in particular, called for “better integrate non-nuclear and nuclear deterrence.” His compatriot Alexander Vershbow, NATO Deputy Secretary General, said at the Berlin Security Conference November 17, 2015, the Alliance also must “modernize nuclear deterrence, strengthening his best means of early warning and intelligence.”

    In 2014-2016 in order to develop new nuclear posture the U.S. strategic nuclear forces held several military exercises in Central and Eastern Europe, and North Africa, employing heavy strategic bombers B-52H and B-2A, capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

    In March 2004 Washington initiated on the constant basis a large-scale NATO air patrol operations in the airspace of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, code-named “Baltic Air Policing”. It involves combat aircraft (DCA), which are potential carriers of tactical nuclear weapons. Over the past twelve years, i.e. from March 2004 to July 2016, fifteen countries of the Alliance, that is, more than half of NATO member-states have been participated in this operation near Russian borders, including the three major Western nuclear powers: the USA, the United Kingdom and France. This operation is conducted day-in-day-out, and 365/366 days per annum.

    Washington is modernizing its TNW, including those fielded in Europe, and has no intention to pull them back to the CONUS.

    B61_2014_03

    Two of the five existing types of nuclear bombs, namely B-61-7 and B-61-11, as well as a new perspective bomb B-61-12 have “of strategic importance”, as may be delivered to targets not only by tactical aircraft but also by heavy strategic bombers B-52H and B-2A: each can carry 16 such bombs. Both types of strategic bombers can to travel the distance of 11,000 km without refueling in the air, and more than 18,000 km with mid-air refueling. For this reason these types of bombs in the documents of the Pentagon and the State Department are labeled as “strategic”.

    A new bomb B-61-12 with a pin-point accuracy is a first-strike nuclear weapon.

    Hans Kristensen, a Danish researcher, working at FAS, points out that “… it is expected that in the next decade, NATO’s nuclear forces will undergo major improvements that will affect increasing quality performance characteristics of both the nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. The planned modernization will significantly increase the military potential of the Alliance’s nuclear policy in Europe.”

    The “doomsday” clock is ticking. Nowadays it shows 23.57. Too alarming.

    What to do? Seemingly, three initial steps are badly needed...

    First. To make a pledge of no-fist-use of nuclear weapons a universal norm, starting from the USA and Russia. As a preliminary step towards this goal to make a commitment to resort to a defensive unconditional nuclear deterrence that threatens no one. Such notion will require no costs.

     

    Second. The USA should withdraw all its TNW from Europe and the Asian part of Turkey.

     

    Third. A multilateral new ABM Treaty limiting the number of BMD interceptors and their geographical deployments has to be elaborated.

    The next U.S. Administration has to seriously consider these steps.

  • Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta; Until You Get Sentenced To 21 Months In Federal Prison

    Many of us, at one point or another, have wondered what it would be like to quit a job in a blaze of glory...taking down computer networks and leaving a trail of mayhem in our paths on the way out the door. No, just us?   

    Project Mayhem

    Well, turns out that if you ever do go down that path it's probably best
    not to text your co-worker shortly thereafter admitting to the crime. 
    Unfortunately, that's exactly what former Citibank employee Lennon Ray
    Brown did and now he's facing a $77,000 fine and 21 months in a federal
    prison.

    Per a press release from the Department of Justice, Mr. Brown, upset about a negative work review, decided to get even by taking down 90% of Citibank's networks across North America.  Per the Department of Justice:

    ...at approximately 6:03 p.m. that evening, Brown knowingly transmitted a code and command to 10 core Citibank Global Control Center routers, and by transmitting that code, erased the running configuration files in nine of the routers, resulting in a loss of connectivity to approximately 90% of all Citibank networks across North America.  At 6:05 p.m. that evening, Brown scanned his employee identification badge to exit the Citibank Regents Campus."

    Unfortunately, Brown then made a "slight" unforced error when he decided to send a text message to his co-worker admitting to the crime:

    “They was firing me. I just beat them to it. Nothing personal, the upper management need to see what they guys on the floor is capable of doing when they keep getting mistreated. I took one for the team. Sorry if I made my peers look bad, but sometimes it take something like what I did to wake the upper management up.”

    Guess these situations don't always go so well as portrayed in the movies.  Oh well, live and learn.

  • Who Buys Legal Weed?

    Via Priceonomics.com,

    Marijuana pop culture has traditionally centered around the young male smoker and his high times. But the legalization movement has made marijuana more accessible than ever been before, and cannabis’s application as a painkiller is particularly appealing to senior citizens. 

    So what does the typical, recreational marijuana user look like today? And how do the preferences and spending habits of groups like young men and senior citizens differ? 

    We explored these questions by drawing on the data of Headset, a Priceonomics customer with a large dataset of cannabis retailer transaction data. Since many of these cannabis dispensaries have customer loyalty programs, the data includes information about customers’ age and gender. We decided to use to this data to learn more about who buys weed and what they smoke or consume.

    The data suggests that smokers in the customer loyalty program are overwhelmingly male, accounting for about 70% of all members. And, while customers range from ages 21 to 95, over 50% of loyalty members are under 40.  

    We also found that while Flower (your typical marijuana bud) accounts for about half of the purchases made by each demographic, each group has its own quirks. Compared to the opposite sex, men prefer concentrates and women prefer pre-rolls and edibles. Older consumers prefer edibles to pre-rolled joints.

    ***

    We began our analysis by examining the the customer split by gender. Are men or women more likely to visit cannabis dispensaries often?

    Data source: Headset

    Accounting for 68.9% of customers, the ratio of men to women is well over 2:1. This disparity is not surprising given cannabis culture’s emphasis on the male pothead.  

    Next we examined the distribution of customer age.

    Data source: Headset

    25- to 29-year-olds account for the largest percentage of customer loyalty members (20%), followed by 21- to 24-year-olds (16%). Yet the average customer age is 37.6-years-old, which is a higher than one might expect given stereotypes about marijuana users. The average age for female customers is slightly older at 38.2, while the average age for males is 37.4. People ages 65 to 95 make up less than 5% of customers.

    We also wanted to look at customer spending habits. Below is the distribution of average dollars spent per trip to the store.

    Data source: Headset

    Most people spend between $25 and $50 per trip to a marijuana store, with a $33 median spend per trip. 34.7% of customers spend less than $10 on average, usually picking up a single item like a half gram pre-roll or a carbonated beverage. Only 8.2% spend more than $100/trip.  

    We also analyzed the distribution of annual spend by customer loyalty members on marijuana. The chart below shows the total amount spent in dispensaries over the last year by customers who have been loyalty members for over one year.

    Data source: Headset

    The median customer spends $645 on pot each year, and over 57% of customers spent more than $500. Very few customers—less than 10%—spent over $2,500.

    So do different demographics have different shopping habits? To investigate, we first analyzed the marijuana purchasing behavior of loyalty members by gender.

    Data source: Headset

    For the most part, men and women have similar shopping and spending habits. Men shop slightly more often, visiting the store about every 19.5 days compared to 21.5 day for women. Although men buy fewer items per trip, they spend almost as much ($33) as women ($35).  

    Next we looked at these habits segmented by age.

    Data source: Headset

    Older loyalty members generally visit dispensaries less frequently, but they spend more when they do visit. Customers in their 80s spend the most per trip, with a median spend per trip of $64. Customers in their 40s, however, spent the most last year: a median of $823. 

    In a previous blog post, we looked at the most popular types of cannabis products. We were curious to see if the popularity of particular products differed by demographic. The chart below displays the product preferences of men and women.

    Data source: Headset

    Flower, which is “traditional” marijuana bud, is the most popular product for both genders. But it is even more popular among men: flower accounts for 4.4% more of their purchases. Women tend to buy more Pre-Roll and Edibles, while men buy more Concentrates. Women also tend to experiment more with non-traditional products (Other) such as Beverages, Tincture & Sublingual and Topicals.

    We also explored product preferences by age.

    Data source: Headset

    Each segment buys mostly Flower, with those in their 50s buying Flower at the highest rate. Older customers buy less Pre-Rolls than their younger counterparts. Pre-Rolls make up 27% of purchases among customers in their 20s, and this ratio drops down with each age band to only 8% of purchases for those 80 years or older. Conversely, the proportion of both Edibles and Other purchased increase with age—from 6% to 18% and 3% to 12%, respectively.   

    ***

    In contrast to the stereotypical depictions of marijuana users in popular culture and the mainstream media, our customer loyalty data shows that there is a wide range of pot smokers. Each customer segment brings their own habits and product preferences with them into the marijuana store. 

    As the industry develops, talking generically about “marijuana” and “pot sales” may become like referring to “alcohol sales” rather than talking about beer, wine, and cocktails.

  • No ID, No Problem - Feds Overrule North Carolina Voting Rules As "Discriminatory"

    Hillary and the federal government are determined to ensure a "fair" and "open" election this November and will stop at nothing to reverse discrimination against "oppressed" segments of the American electorate, well at least if you live in a large swing state.  This morning, the WSJ reported that the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia struck down North Carolina's voter ID law just days after we wrote about Virginia's similar effort to register 200,000 "oppressed" felons.  The ruling asserts that North Carolina's law violated the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against low-income and minority voters, saying:

    “In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees. This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

     

    “Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inept remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist.”

    Meanwhile, Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, described the ruling as a "stinging rebuke of the state’s attempt to undermine African-American voter participation, which had surged over the last decade."

    While we have no doubt that the intentions of Hillary and the various federal organizations involved in this process are "pure," we do wonder why we so often see greater efforts to "protect" the "oppressed" voters in larger swing states like Virginia and North Carolina but not so much in a small states like New Hampshire, which has a very strict voter ID requirement but only 4 electoral votes and has swung Democrat in 5 out of the past 6 Presidential elections.  Surely, low-income and minority voters are just as likely to be "oppressed" in New Hampshire as in North Carolina, right?

    Ballotpedia posted the following graphic which highlights the voter ID requirements of each state in the US with the red states having the most strict requirements:

     

    Voting Restrictions by State

    It just so happens, that we may have stumbled upon the perfect solution to this problem which we recently discussed in a post titled "There Is Now A Marketplace For White People To Make Reparations Payments"...a state-issued ID could make a very good reparation offer.

    The decisions for the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can be read in its entirety below:

  • Hillary Promises "I'm Not Here To Take Away Your Guns"

    Via The Daily Bell,

    Hillary Clinton at her DNC speech: “I’m not here to take away your guns” …   Hillary Clinton wants you to know one thing about her position on gun control: “I’m not here to repeal the Second Amendment. I’m not here to take away your guns.”  She elaborated further on her comments, which she made at her Democratic National Convention speech accepting the presidential nomination: “I just don’t want you to be shot by someone who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place.” –Vox

    During her acceptance speech, see above, Hillary said she wasn’t going to take away guns in the US, but this is untrue.

    She knows just how to do it.

    First of all, she will make guns more expensive with new back ground checks.

    Second, she will make guns manufacturers liable for selling guns that later are used in crimes.

    But that is just the beginning.

    Hillary doesn’t actually believe that people in the US should have guns.

    In a Fox post HERE entitled, “Four ways Hillary Clinton will work to end gun ownership as president,” John Lott points out that in an appearance on ABC, Hillary would not say whether citizens had a constitutional right to own guns.

    George Stephanopoulos pushed Clinton twice on whether people have a right to own guns on ABC News’ “This Week”:

     

    “But that’s not what I asked.  I said do you believe that their conclusion that an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right?”

     

    Clinton could only say: “If it is a constitutional right…”

    Clinton like other gun opponents, believes an overabundance of guns are responsible for the shootings that take place in the US, especially in mass shootings.

    But there are many questions about these mass shootings.

    David Steele, second-highest-ranking civilian in the U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence and former CIA clandestine services case officer, has said this here:

    “Most terrorists are false flag terrorists, or are created by our own security services. In the United States, every single terrorist incident we have had has been a false flag, or has been an informant pushed on by the FBI. In fact, we now have citizens taking out restraining orders against FBI informants that are trying to incite terrorism. We’ve become a lunatic asylum.”

    Such FBI involvement leads one to ask whether there are forces in and behind the US government that are manufacturing violence in order to justify continued anti-gun agitation.

    Authoritarian governments and those who back them don’t want people to have guns because without guns, it is much easier to force people to obey. When people are not armed, genocide becomes a more viable and convenient option.

    Government killed hundreds of millions in the 20th century. The 21st century may equally bloody, especially if guns continue to be confiscated.

    In the US, many citizens have fought back against gun confiscation.  But if Hillary wins the presidency, discussions about gun control will become moot.

    Guns will be confiscated. Lott explains it this way:

    Until 2008, Washington, D.C., had a complete handgun ban. It was also a felony to put a bullet in the chamber of a gun. In effect, this was a complete ban on guns. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down these laws.

    But the constituency of the Supreme Court is changing. Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are Bill Clinton appointees. Sonia Sotomayor was appointed by Obama as was Elana Kagan.

    “If Hillary wins in November, she will appoint [Antonin] Scalia’s successor and the Supreme Court will overturn the Heller decision.  Make no mistake about it, gun bans will return.”

    Only one more appointee is needed.

    Conclusion: Hillary herself will not have to “pull the trigger” on gun confiscations. She will let the Supreme Court do it for her.


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