Friday, October 01, 2004

Doomsday clock, not keeping time right

The Atomic Bulletin for Scientists has a famous "doomsday" clock, and currently it's set seven minutes to midnight.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has told the world what time it is since 1947, when its famous clock appeared on the cover. Since then, the clock has moved forward and back, reflecting the state of international security.

It's currently off, and needs to be reset - to two minutes before midnight.

Forget the debates, forget the economy, forget the stupid bickering of liberals and conservatives over who's doomed economic policies are better - forget even Iraq. There is only one story that matters, and it's not even on the front page as far as I can see.
Posted 9/29/2004 1:27 PM

Kyrgyzstan nabs man on plutonium charge

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — A man was arrested for trying to sell plutonium in an undercover investigation, the Kyrgyz security agency said Tuesday amid rising worries of a growing black market trade in radioactive materials.

National Security Service agents posing as buyers arrested the man on Sept. 21 after confirming that he was in possession of plutonium-239, agency spokeswoman Chinara Asanova said.

Asanova did not say how much of the radioactive material — which can be used in atomic weapons and as a reactor fuel — was confiscated. But she said it was held in 60 small containers.

The suspect's identity was not released.

Plutonium-239 is not used in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic in central Asia, Asanova said, and it was not known where it was obtained.

Plutonium is officially on the black market. This was just a two bit buyer as well in a backwater, if he had it that means that it's pretty much available widely. It's like cockroaches, if you see one ...

There is no other story that matters right now. Sometimes I really hate people. How can they worry about whether or not their candidate is 'born again' or takes communion when Plutonium is available to terrorists? It's a definite derangement. This is another reason why I haven't bothered to talk about the debates. It's kind of irrelevant. Hopefully Kerry will win, but there are more important things going on.


At October 1, 2004 at 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but the election is important, because treating these problems with due seriousness is important. Bush cut back on the program that used to buy up nuclear materials from the ex-Soviet states and gave their scientists and engineers new jobs - to keep them off the market.

But, personally, I consider it only a matter of time until the US gets hit with a small nuke. Everything Bush has done has made it more, not less, likely. And the right wingnuts think he's some sort of security president.

Makes me angry even thinking about it. Fools.


At October 1, 2004 at 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hell, this isn't a bug in the neo-con/fundy-con plan--it's a feature.

By pissing off a huge chunk of the earth's population and cutting back on efforts to round up stray plutonium, they make a nuclear attack on U.S. soil almost inevitable. (And yet I still live in NYC. Talk about cognitive dissonance.)

A terrorist attack of such a magnitude would quickly lead to the realization of all the neo-con/fundy-con dreams: a militarization of American society, the start of a war of extermination in the Middle East, the institution of a one-party state, the elimination of any pretense of Constitutional protection.

Naw, terrorists getting their hands on plutonium isn't a crisis for the Bush crew. It's the fulfillment of their fondest wishes. That's why they are so dangerous.

At October 1, 2004 at 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree, just because the media isn't paying attention doesn't mean the pols aren't:
Last nights debate:
"LEHRER: New question, two minutes, Senator Kerry.

If you are elected president, what will you take to that office thinking is the single most serious threat to the national security to the United States?

KERRY: Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. There's some 600-plus tons of unsecured material still in the former Soviet Union and Russia. At the rate that the president is currently securing it, it'll take 13 years to get it.

I did a lot of work on this. I wrote a book about it several years ago -- six, seven years ago -- called "The New War," which saw the difficulties of this international criminal network. And back then, we intercepted a suitcase in a Middle Eastern country with nuclear materials in it. And the black market sale price was about $250 million.

KERRY: Now, there are terrorists trying to get their hands on that stuff today.

And this president, I regret to say, has secured less nuclear material in the last two years since 9/11 than we did in the two years preceding 9/11.

We have to do this job. And to do the job, you can't cut the money for it. The president actually cut the money for it. You have to put the money into it and the funding and the leadership.

And part of that leadership is sending the right message to places like North Korea.

Right now the president is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons. The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn't make sense.

You talk about mixed messages. We're telling other people, "You can't have nuclear weapons," but we're pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using.

Not this president. I'm going to shut that program down, and we're going to make it clear to the world we're serious about containing nuclear proliferation.

KERRY: And we're going to get the job of containing all of that nuclear material in Russia done in four years. And we're going to build the strongest international network to prevent nuclear proliferation.

This is the scale of what President Kennedy set out to do with the nuclear test ban treaty. It's our generation's equivalent. And I intend to get it done.

LEHRER: Ninety seconds, Mr. President.

BUSH: Actually, we've decreased funding for dealing with nuclear proliferation about 35 percent since I've been the president. Secondly, we've set up what's called the -- well, first of all, I agree with my opponent that the biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network. [17. That's not what Kerry said: he said nuclear proliferation--which Bush has not taken to be a highest priority problem.] And that's why proliferation is one of the centerpieces of a multi-prong strategy to make the country safer."

Of course cutting spending on this issue is suicidal and typical of neocon thinking. Now, of course as long as our southern border resembles swiss cheese we are vulnerable...of course we have no national id system or any method of really examining visa applicants that is adequate. I feel soooooo safe. Phoenix is that heaven too unimportant to be a good ground zero.


At October 1, 2004 at 10:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No real border or port security is a serious problem. Even if Kerry comes through with buying up all the excess nuke material, we'll still have to contend with AQ types with conventional stuff like car bombs.

However I don't see Kerry or the Democrats beefing up border security or fixing our Visa system at all. They are way too PC and worried about pissing off American businesses and individuals that depend on cheap disposable labor for profit. Even as bellicose as Bush is, he won't dare secure our borders.

The downside to not having reasonably secure borders is of one of these days AQ will do a samba across our southern border and take out a couple thousand urbanites.

Only then we will take action, not before.


At October 2, 2004 at 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the 10-1,4:11 poster I have to ask, why would the Middle-Eastern Islamists want the war escalated to extermination? We and Israel would win; Israel would no doubt welcome a war of extermination. I imagine the Islamists would want to keep it low-level which is where their style of fighting works.

At October 3, 2004 at 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing to keep in mind, Neighter the democrats or the republicans want to find real, logical, economical long term solutions to the problems of the country, let alone the world. We, the people, get frenched by the left, and frenched by the right. They all "LIE" just some, more that others. So, we are back to choosing between the lesser of two evils.

How do you judge a man? By what he "Says" and what he "Does"!!! First, you look at what he did in the past. Then what he does in the pressent, from that you have a fair ideal of what he will do in the future. Now when you throw money and favors into the equation, it becomes more dificult to extrpolate into the future.

The good can go bad, the bad can go good. there is no guarenty. Just the hope that more good will come about than bad.

Sometimes we have to sacrifice a little now, for something better in the future. Most times, if we don't sacrifice now the future is worse and harder than it otherwise could have been. What today means the moon to us, tomorrow, means nothing. So, we should think very hard about what we get today, as to the price we will pay for it in the furture!

Jim Coomes

At October 3, 2004 at 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sacrifice is the 3rd rail of American politics. Americans have grown accustomed to having a free lunch in terms of policy decisions. IOW no forseeable costs to themselves.

Another thing that I think has screwed politics is political correctness. This nasty communist meme found a home here among uber progressives and now we can't talk about a range of issues with being labeled some sort of monster.

Talk about securing our southern border and you get labeled a racist and xenophobe.

Talk about limiting growth in the southwestern states to prevent a water shortage and you get labeled "anti-captilist" or just "insane".

Talk about fixing NAFTA or WTO and get labeled by Democrats "against free trade".

Don't even dare think security profiling as being a good thing.

At October 5, 2004 at 12:36 PM, Blogger J Thomas said...

Just as a side issue I tend to think security profiling is an irrelevant thing. If we need it, that says we don't have a prayer.

Look at it this way. If you're after drug smugglers, and you get 5% of them without profiling but you get 20% of them with profiling, then you're doing a much better job with profiling. Use it.

But if you're after terrorists and you get 5% of them without profiling and you get 90% of them with profiling, you lose. There will be more 9/11s.

Profiling is based on the assumption that you won't catch many of them anyway, and it gives you the chance to catch more. But we need to catch all of them. It isn't enough to catch the stupidest and most uninformed ones with profiling.

If you have some other method that gets 95% of the terrorists, it's real unlikely that profiling will get many of that last 5%. So if we have an adequate security profiling is useless. And if we have an inadequate security that mostly doesn't catch them, the profiling will get some but not nearly enough.

It's kind of similar to the problems we used to have with detecting submarines. If you're trying to catch commerce raiders, catching half of them is doing pretty good, they lose half their subs the first mission and they can't replace them fast at all. But if you want to catch boomers, subs that carry nukes, catching half of them is not nearly good enough, the other half can kill you on their first mission.

Profiling is an argument between PC and anti-PC, it isn't actually about security.

At October 7, 2004 at 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not plutonium. Just a bunch of smoke alarms.

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