Nuclear weapons

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Time to Derail Nuclear Treaty Talks?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 30/06/2020 - 4:01pm in

So, the kerfuffle of the moment is the claim that Russia paid a bounty to the Taliban for each killed American GI.

The sources are unnamed intelligence community members. No proof is provided beyond their anonymous word.

Intelligence communities never lie and certainly never anonymously and with no proof.

Sigh.

Meanwhile, the US and Russia had just begun talks to extend the New Start nuclear treaty. That treaty was to reduce the number of active nuclear launchers by half. Presumably, an extended treaty would reduce nuclear launchers or weapons further.

This is a good thing.

But it is not what a lot of people in the US military industrial complex want. Nor do they want Trump to leave Afghanistan, which he keeps talking about doing (though I doubt he will, even the possibility is anathema to the permanent state).

I think it is unlikely that Russia offered a bounty for US soldiers, but I don’t much care. US soldiers shouldn’t still be in Afghanistan, and if you want to talk hard realpolitik, Russia has interests in Afghanistan which far exceed those of the US. The US, which funded the Mujahideen to kill Russian soldiers (whether there was a bounty or not), is in no position to get all high and mighty about their occupying troops coming under attack by insurgents supported by another Great Power.

Whatever happened, further decreases in nuclear weapons, which are capable of wiping out all life on Earth, matter more.

Russia is a state which has done many evil things and is doing evil things today. Likewise, the US is a state which has done many evil things and is doing evil things today. Putin is a bad man (though, a competent one). Trump is a bad man (though largely incompetent–except not at campaigning).

Irrespective of the fact that both states have done bad things, including to each other, it is paramount that they reduce nuclear weapons, and that we avoid a nuclear war between these two states. We are not substantially safer than we were in the Cold War; they still have enough nukes to kill us all.

But also, don’t believe US intelligence agencies without hard proof, and certainly don’t believe anonymous sources.

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Experts Warn of New Nuclear Arms Race After Trump Signals US Withdrawal from START Treaty

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/05/2020 - 2:44am in

After pulling out of multiple international treaties designed to limit the global threat of atomic weapons, the Trump administration is now strongly indicating that it will also let the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expire in February 2021. START is commonly described as “the last remaining arms control agreement constraining the arsenals of the two major nuclear weapons powers,” the United States and Russia.

While the Trump administration’s actions have been largely overlooked in corporate media, they are causing panic among diplomats and specialists in the area. On Wednesday, the U.S. foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs published an extraordinary article from the two diplomats who led the American and Russian negotiating teams that extended the START treaty in 2010. Rose Gottemoeller, the American ex-Deputy Secretary-General of NATO and Anatoly Antonov, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, wrote that Trump’s recklessness should be a wakeup call to the planet and is “a chilling sign of how dangerous the world has become.” The two warned that, without a binding treaty, the nuclear arms race will immediately recommence, and Armageddon will not be far away.

While much of the corporate press pins the blame squarely on Moscow or Beijing for the diplomatic failure, both chief negotiators are adamant that there is only one barrier to a safer world, and he resides in the White House. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that the Russian side is ready to extend New START without any preconditions. There is nothing stopping U.S. President Donald Trump from immediately announcing the same,” they wrote.

Gottemoeller and Antonov describe the fast expiring New Start treaty as “the sole [remaining] legal instrument that keeps a new strategic nuclear arms race at bay.” Last February, Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, stating that he would “move forward with developing our own military response options.” Earlier that week the United States had received the first batch of low-yield nuclear warheads the president had previously ordered. Experts agree that these so-called mini nukes are far more likely to be used in battle and blur the lines between a conventional and nuclear conflict, making an all out example of the latter far more likely.

The Trump administration also recently pulled out of the Open Skies treaty, an agreement that allowed the world’s major players to freely observe each other from the air, increasing knowledge and understanding of everyone’s capabilities.

In January, Trump directly threatened Iran with genocide, a key advisor of his, Sheldon Adelson, long pushing Washington to drop a nuclear bomb on a less inhabited area of the Islamic Republic as a powerplay. The U.S. remains the only country to use an atom bomb during war, doing so against Japan twice in 1945. It also used depleted uranium shells in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia, causing spikes in cancer rates and birth defects.

Washington’s ire, however, has moved away from the Middle East and is pointed squarely at China and Russia, as the new Pentagon budget for 2021 makes clear. The Pentagon is looking to spend some $705 billion on opposing the two states, including funding for, in its own words, “more advanced high-end weapon systems, which provide increased standoff, enhanced lethality and autonomous targeting for employment against near-peer threats in a more contested environment.”

In January, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved their famous “Doomsday Clock” – a measure of how close we are to the end of the world, to 100 seconds to midnight, the most dangerous moment in human history, citing the “dangerous rivalry and hostility among the superpowers increases the likelihood of nuclear blunder.” The fact that world experts believe that we are closer to annihilation than even during the Cuban Missile Crisis gained only moderate public attention.

In his newest book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Daniel Ellsberg noted that 50 years ago his team calculated that, in the event of a perfectly executed U.S. nuclear attack on the U.S.S.R., with zero Soviet retaliation whatsoever, around 99.9 percent of the American population would likely die from the vast amounts of smoke generated from the fires over Russia that would eventually engulf the entire planet. Ellsberg now believes that 99.9 percent was an underestimate because the concept of nuclear winter was not fully understood at the time.

Gottemoeller and Antonov ended their article with a plea to the United States to come to its senses: “The novel coronavirus pandemic should serve as a powerful reminder of the fragility of the international system. This is exactly the wrong moment to undermine or weaken other key components of that system, especially in the nuclear realm,” they wrote, “Now more than ever, it is essential to ensure that a nuclear war that cannot be won will never be fought.”

Feature photo | President Donald Trump, center, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, behind him at right, addresses members of the military during a visit at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019. Alex Brandon | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Experts Warn of New Nuclear Arms Race After Trump Signals US Withdrawal from START Treaty appeared first on MintPress News.

Is This the Most Insulting Comment Aliens Have Said to an Abductee?

I’ve just finished reading Dr. David Clarke’s The UFO Files, a history of UFOs in Britain from the phantom airship scares of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the abduction experiences from the 60s onwards, the 70’s craze created by Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, right up to the years immediately preceding the book’s publication in 2009. The book was written to accompany the release of the government’s files on UFOs by the National Archives, and is naturally based on the records compiled by the MOD, the Air Ministry, RAF and armed forces, and the Airmiss inquiry group, which investigates near misses between aircraft.

It’s a fascinating book that shows that UFOs have been around for over a century and that the government and the British military don’t really know any more about them than anyone else. The aliens haven’t established secret bases in Britain, and neither to the RAF or anyone else for that matter have alien bodies stashed away in a secret hangar somewhere. The official government line, repeated over and again, is that UFOs or of ‘no defence significance’, and they really don’t want to get involved unless it’s absolutely necessary. They’ve therefore investigate UFO sightings and encounters when it affects national security, such as if the UFOs may actually be foreign planes. The last government report on the phenomenon concluded that most of them were generated by people wrongly identifying a variety of artificial objects and natural phenomena. Those that couldn’t be properly identified, were probably poorly understood meteorological phenomena, electromagnetic plasmas, which could also create hallucinations through interfering with the brains of witnesses. This part of the report was, however, attacked by scientists on its release as pseudoscience.

But very many of the UFOs reported over the years have been people mistaking a variety of normal objects and phenomena for alien craft. During the First World War, an anti-aircraft crew at an army base in Cumbria fired at what they honestly believed was a German Zeppelin. Except that an officer, arriving at the scene, reported that he saw them staring at a star. It was discovered during the Second World War that flocks of migrating birds could make radar trails very much like approaching enemy aircraft, although the airmen sent up to intercept them would find no-one except themselves up there. During the Cold War, UFO reports were generated by the Americans releasing the Mogul spy balloons from their base in Scotland, as well as later flights by spy planes like the U2 and SR-71. These were so secret, the Americans didn’t inform their NATO allies in the countries across which the planes and balloons traveled on their way to the USSR. As a result, RAF jets were scrambled to intercept these unidentified aircraft, while there was a spate of UFO reports along the German border.

Some UFO sightings were also caused by particularly spectacular fireball meteors burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere. One of these was responsible for the Berwyn mountain crash, dubbed by some ‘the Welsh Roswell’. A series of meteors were seen over England, followed by an earthquake measuring 4-5 on the Richter scale centred in Bala. It was feared that a military plane had crashed on the mountain, as several had done so previously. The RAF therefore sent up a mountain rescue squad, which found nothing and came back down again. This was subsequently inflated into stories of the RAF’s retrieval of a crashed UFO and alien bodies.

Other sightings were caused by the re-entry of Soviet spacecraft burning up in the atmosphere. This is believed to be the cause of the Rendlesham Forest incident, ‘the British Roswell’, in which a group of American squaddies from a USAF base entered the forest to encounter a triangular UFO in 1980. It seems that the Americans seen the rocket for a Soviet Cosmos spy satellite re-entering, and then the lights from a nearby lighthouse, believing they came from an alien spacecraft.

One MOD scientific/intelligence officer believed that most UFO reports could be satisfactorily explained if they had been investigated immediately they occurred, rather than sometime afterwards. Nevertheless, there are encounters that are still genuinely perplexing. Such as the report a trucker driving through Devon in the ’70s made at a local police station. He had been driving along the main road there when a craft shaped like a mushroom descended, landing on the road ahead, out of which came six short figures wearing uniforms. After gesturing at him, the creatures eventually got in their spacecraft, which lifted up into the air and flew on, leaving the trucker shaken by the experience.

And then there’s the encounter reported by a gent in Basingstoke in 1968. The fellow had been walking down by the canal one morning when a UFO descended and he was taken aboard by their occupants. They examined him, before telling the poor chap, “You can go. You are too old and infirm for our purposes.” Popular SF, which seems to have strongly influenced the content of UFO encounters, has been full of tales of evil aliens coming to other to conquer and enslaved humanity, and carry off people off for breeding purposes. It’s usually females, as in the SF B-movie Mars Needs Women, but sometimes men as in the 1949 Hammer flick, Devil Girl from Mars. This episode occurred around about the time of the Villas Boas encounter, when a Brazilian farmer of that name had been abducted by aliens and forced to have sex with a red-headed alien woman. Possibly the crew of the Basingstoke UFO also had something similar in mind. If so, both they and the poor bloke they abducted were out of luck. Or perhaps they had in mind something far more unpleasant, in which case their intended victim was lucky. The Contactees, who met peaceful aliens in the 1950s, and the abductees from the 1980s onwards, were given messages by humanity by the aliens they encountered. These tend to moralistic sermons preaching international and intergalactic brotherhood, peace, an end to nuclear weapons and concern for the environment. Sometimes they include descriptions of the aliens’ own planets and their societies. Sometimes they’re even whisked away on journeys to these distant worlds. This poor fellow didn’t get any of that, just the blunt statement that he was too old and infirm for them. He was spared the horror and humiliation of being examined and experimented upon, but their comments still seem just a tiny bit insulting. They could have put it a bit more tactfully.

My own feeling is that UFOs, when they aren’t misidentified normal objects or phenomena, are internal visionary experiences drawing on the imagery of Science Fiction, but expressing deep-seated human fears and needs. I don’t know what generates them. I think some are probably the result of poorly understood psychological states, such as sleep paralysis. But I also wonder if others are genuine encounters with something paranormal, something that in previous centuries took the form of fairies and other supernatural beings, and now takes the form of aliens and spaceships as images more suitable for our technological society.

While David Clarke’s done excellent work researching the government’s UFO archives, and has shown that very many of them have entirely rational explanations, there may still be something genuinely paranormal out there. But it didn’t want the man from Basingstoke it encountered on that day in 1968.

Aussies Want Nuclear Weapons Ban - NFP Report

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/12/2014 - 7:00am in