12.30.11

The end is nigh

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism, War On Terror at 10:25 am by George Smith

Here’s a kook summary for the end of the year, all brought on by the wide publicizing of Newt Gingrich’s love for electromagnetic pulse doom mythology. I correctly called Gingrich’s bubble about to burst a week ago. His mania for electromagnetic pulse doom stories proved unpalatable, along with many other things, to many.

However, Gingrich will always have the EMPAct America yearly conference at Niagara Falls. (Joke: You’ve won first prize in a travel lottery — a weekend in Niagara Falls! Second prize is a week in Niagara Falls!)

From the wires, on electromagnetic pulses ending civilization, still echoing from the examination of Gingrich’s personal fancy:

Apocalypse 2012 — an obscure author who specializes in the end-times/survivalism fringe market, curses US politicians for not doing enough to save us from a coronal mass ejection.

“If [EMP doom] sounds far fetched, then you haven’t spoken to Lawrence Joseph, a Los Angeles-based writer who has spent much of his life preaching this frighteningly plausible vision of the Apocalypse,” it reads.

“As only politicians can, they dashed the hopes of a healthy civilization,” the man told CTV News.

And with that, let’s move on to Family Security Matters and “A Warning from Russia.”

Written by one of EMPAct America’s lobbyists, the article is distraught over the New York Times piece on Gingrich and EMP doom.

The Russian newspaper, Pravda, has delivered us a warning, one to heed:

[If] the U.S. continues in its attempts to fight terrorists and provide support to our NATO partners, we will “provoke” an EMP attack that will kill many millions, potentially end civilization as we know it, and ultimately result in the loss of our sovereignty. This warning is not the first to have emanated from Russia. One of the most notable was described in testimony before a House Armed Services Committee Hearing held on July 22, 2004—a high-level Russian official (Chairman of the International Affairs Committee) had issued a similar threat to two sitting Congressmen while discussing U.S. involvement in the former Yugoslavia.

The Russians are not alone. An EMP attack against the United States has been written about and discussed openly within China, North Korea, and Iran …

“It is therefore baffling that the New York Times would take an obviously partisan stance to a major threat,” it continues.


Cryptome publishes a notice in the Federal Register on a meeting to be held on January 9 by the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Committee. Public comments on threats delivered to the Committee to be published later at regulations.gov.

Summary of the agenda, as published:

Sensitive Threat Briefings against the Homeland.
Briefing on Strategic Implementation Plan to Counter Violent
Extremism Domestically.
Update on Border Security and Evolving Threats.
US Coast Guard, Update on Counterterrorism Efforts Around the
World.
TSA Frequent Travelers Program Operational Update.
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Threat–Lessons Learned and Areas of
Vulnerability, and
Evolving Threats in Cyber Security.
Basis for Closure: In accordance with Section 10(d) of the Federal
Advisory Committee Act, it has been determined that the meeting
requires closure as the premature disclosure of the information would
not be in the public interest.

Alert readers will have noticed that DHS threat analysis can be moved by newsmedia subject matter — even when there is no actual threat imminent menace at the root of such stories.

That is, if enough people are talking about electromagnetic pulse doom, even though the net result has been skepticism and damage to a presidential political campaign, homeland security is moved to be briefed on the notional matter.

Also worth consideration: Briefing on Strategic Implementation Plan to Counter Violent Extremism Domestically.

Generally speaking, there was no violent domestic extremism in 2011 unless one counts the Giffords shooting. And Occupy Wall Street is not armed.

In fact, the FBI’s end of year list of top ten terror cases is a paltry one, domestically consisting only a people nabbed in a variety of wanna-be plots uncovered by the loose chatter of those arrested.

At number 2 on the list, the Georgia Ricin Beans gang of pensioners:

Four Georgia men in their 60s and 70s were arrested last month for planning to manufacture the biological toxin ricin and purchasing explosives for use in attacks against American citizens. The defendants are alleged to be part of a fringe militia group.

Coincidentally, and earlier this this month, DD blog has posted extensively on the extremism and heavily armed survivalists associated with the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy.

One these pieces reads:

The script: The US will collapse soon, through an unspecified series of disasters which include (but are not limited to) total electrical grid failure, rampant bioterrorist-spread disease, and the death of money. Only those in the country, on farms with their own fruit trees, vegetable crops, chainsaws for cutting firewood, elevated water supply, and Bible-reading skills will survive. You will have to defend yourself from the hordes fleeing the cities, just like in AMC’s The Walking Dead.

You must view all three Urban Danger teasers to get the full bit. (I jumped on the grenades so you don’t have to.) But watching the one posted, if you can endure it, delivers the general idea. There ain’t no progressives in this bunch. Or children and other young people, it would appear.

This old white Christian paranoid End Times mania is inseparable from the electromagnetic pulse attack story. And the political professional EMP lobby has always nourished it.

These days it’s virtually mainstream due to adoption by significant segments of the country’s dysfunctional and increasingly irrational political class.


Number 2 on the FBI list of top stories/arrests in terrorism/violent extremism.

12.28.11

Ron Paul Music Machine (continued)

Posted in Fiat money fear and loathers, Phlogiston, Rock 'n' Roll at 1:28 pm by George Smith

More on the Alex Jones-like cult devotion to Ron Paul in 2011 tunes written for and about him. No one else, not even pop star celebrities, comes close. The best exude sly bits of humor in the lyrics, a rare commodity in the Paul legion. It’s a demographic so sincere in belief its default position is always closer to the dour than the joyful. Paul’s apocalyptic predictions of what will happen to the country also draw survivalists and end-timers. Like him, they strongly value the hoarding of precious metals and the building of bunkers.

This lady name checks “Aden-hauer” [sic] and Charles de Gaulle!

An tongue-in-cheek almost perfect adaptation of the old classic, “Downtown.”

Lyrics:

Ron Paul, he’s really not that old
Ron Paul, he’d rather pay with gold

Ron Paul, he’ll open up the fed
Ron Paul, drinkin’ raw milk in bed

This young fellah is trying out a poor man’s Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger/Hank Williams soft sell approach. I like it.

Horribly unappreciated at 40-some views. If you sent them 10 dollars for every view it still wouldn’t pay for the love and money they’ve put into the Paul campaign.

Even death metal bands with Cookie Monster vocalists love the Constitution and sound money.

Lyric:

“When they’re talkin’ shit about Ron Paul, they’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me/I would suggest they shut their trap before they lose all their teeth …”

This appears absolutely true.

This is an adaptation of a Scottish fighting/dancing tune but, for the life of me, I can’t recall the title now. Check back later.

“I bet there is nobody singing about that douchebag Newt Gingrich,” writes one commenter under one of the many places it’s been uploaded to YouTube.

A rootsy hippie-ish folk lilt. Right now there’s probably someone singing something like this at a coffee house open mike near you. And I bet they’re mentioning freedom, liberty and something bad happening to the Fed. Go check, I’ll wait.

Bomb Iran (an occasional series)

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Imminent Catastrophe at 8:43 am by George Smith

Way way back DD blog gamed a confrontation between the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf. It seems slightly pertinent to drag it out with today’s chatter about Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz and the US Fifth Fleet’s ability to stop it. Which would be considerable. The only limitations would seem to be having enough ammo on hand to handle the turkey shoot.

Reads the Washington Post:

In addition to the threats, Iran has started a 10-day naval exercise to demonstrate what it calls “asymmetrical warfare,” a military doctrine aimed at defeating U.S. aircraft carriers in a potential Persian Gulf conflict by using swarms of rocket-mounted speedboats and a barrage of missiles.

DD blog gamed it, as part of a larger thing which included going after the Iranian nuclear program, in 2007.

The strategy doesn’t work.

And a summary is here.

The Iranian navy has a very short and exciting life in Operation Radiating Rubble,” I wrote.

Iran’s relatively paltry naval assets are here at GlobalSecurity.Org.


Beware the Green Pantywaists.

12.26.11

The Empire’s Dog Feces: Not quite a Screamer

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle at 1:39 pm by George Smith

No surprise, the US Army has committed 5 million dollars to bring smaller flying assassins to bear on paupers.

Called the Switchblade, here’s Aerovironment’s promotional video for the item.

Five million seems a fairly small outlay for a drone order, suggesting performance restrictions not apparent in Aerovironment’s promotional video for the Switchblade. Limitations seem to be that it doesn’t really do anything a direct fire heavy weapon can’t do more cheaply or by something in the air and already on call. And the company’s stock price, over a six month period, still looks generally stagnant with a slight decline.

Various advertisements suggest the Switchblade limits “collateral damage” to civilians in proposed assassinations.

However, would you stand next to the person targeted? From the promotional video, it seems not.

The post title references the bleak science-fiction movie, Screamers, and the Autonomous Mobile Sword.

At Aerovironment, a soCal firm I’ve occasionally touched on as one of the dingleberries of the Empire’s Dog Feces beat, they wish.


Look at these horrible booger-eating nerds.

“The Switchblade is a pretty cool piece of kit, it is a nice culmination of technologies … that have come to the fore for very small but lethal technology,” says the man in the video.

You can’t satirize the US national security business.

Secrets about stuff that no longer matters

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Decline and Fall at 11:52 am by George Smith

Back when I still had hope, twenty years ago, I once wrote about a very secretive government agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, for a daily newspaper in the heartland. The NRO operated our spy satellites and I’d discovered (I was not the first) that its head had graduated from the same school I had, Lehigh University in Bethlehem.

I’ll get back to this in a minute.

On Christmas Day the AP published a story on declassification of HEXAGON, one of the NRO’s old spy satellite programs. The piece created the impression that it was still a big secret.

However, even by the time I stumbled across it, 1991, it wasn’t, really. HEXAGON, along with the spy satellite agency, was an open secret. And while it may not have been known to average Americans it had been written about for years by a number of DC journalists and authors who delved intelligence matters.

And that was over twenty years ago.

Reported AP:

For more than a decade they toiled in the strange, boxy-looking building on the hill above the municipal airport, the building with no windows (except in the cafeteria), the building filled with secrets.

They wore protective white jumpsuits, and had to walk through air-shower chambers before entering the sanitized “cleanroom” where the equipment was stored.

They spoke in code.

Few knew the true identity of “the customer” they met in a smoke-filled, wood-paneled conference room where the phone lines were scrambled. When they traveled, they sometimes used false names.

At one point in the 1970s there were more than 1,000 people in the Danbury area working on The Secret …

“The Secret” was the “Big Bird” spy satellite, its optics made by Perkin-Elmer in Danbury, also called the Hexagon KH-9.

The AP story informs HEXAGON was declassified in September. And for its piece it digs up a bunch of the old pensioners who worked at Perkin-Elmer, delivering its custom-ordered mirrors, lenses and machinery for the government’s spy birds.

The news agency and the old folks labor to inject some gee-whiz character into the narrative.

However, now it’s just odd and quaint. Two decades has been a very long time.

In passing e-mail today, Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy blog, remarked it “seems excessive.”

In the intervening period the country has seen radical change. The old threats are gone. And all of the people involved in the matter are either retired and nearing the end or passed on.

Even Lehigh University, the engineering and science school in Bethlehem that trained the National Reconnaissance Office chief who was the subject of my old news piece is no longer the home of “the Engineers.”

Now, it’s the school of the “Mountain Hawks,” a lame change, made because it currently enrolls more liberal arts majors than those working toward technical degrees.

The Associated Press interviews the spouses and offspring of some of the satellite workers long since departed. And it seems a bit cruel that they all had to wait until just a couple months ago to find it was OK to be told what their loved ones worked on.

“He was a Cold War warrior doing something incredibly important for our nation,” one son says of his father to the news agency.

“To know that this was more than just a company selling widgets … that he was negotiating contracts for our country’s freedom and security,” a departed engineer’s wife adds at the piece’s conclusion.

However, two decades ago it wasn’t really a secret, anymore. If you wanted to know you just had to do a little digging.

In 1991, for the Morning Call newspaper, I tried to interview Martin Faga, then the head of the National Reconnaissance Office, although not identified as such anywhere in the government record. His press officer/secretary successfully fended off the effort.

The Call was also interested in getting some background on the man from his alma mater. None of the engineering people I called at Lehigh were interested in admitting much. Even though I was nice in the newspaper they were clearly annoyed anyone would inquire about such important and allegedly still “secret” things.

At the time, I wrote (pieces excerpted):

Quick: Name the U.S. intelligence organization so ultra-secret the majority of Americans have never heard of it more than three decades after its creation — an organization so critical to national security that it commands a bigger budget than the CIA.

Of course you’re stumped. Top secrets are supposed to be that way.

And, odds are, you’ve never heard of Martin C. Faga, a Bethlehem native and Lehigh University graduate, who supervises the Pentagon’s clandestine National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which runs America’s most covert satellite and aerial spying programs.


Lacking any formally identified office, its letterhead classified, it is one of the last intelligence organizations that the government declines to acknowledge in any way — a status similar to that of the National Security Agency (puckishly referred to as the No Such Agency) in the mid-1970s.

Created as a joint Air Force-CIA effort to run spy satellites for the intelligence community and the military, the NRO was originally envisioned as an unclassified operation. But operating from offices on the fourth floor of the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., it quickly be came the holiest of secrets during the Kennedy administration, when Cold War tensions with its target, the Soviet Union, escalated precipitously.


[When] the Challenger blew up in the mid-1980s, derailing the civilian space program, it took with it the secret agency’s ability to lift 15-ton photo-intelligence birds at a time when close surveillance of the Soviet Union was of highest priority in the Reagan administration.

During his tenure as head of the NRO, Faga has had to grapple with the task of restoring the NRO’s capability to orbit heavy spy payloads independent of the Space Shuttle.

Because of political decisions made when the NRO was led by Hans Michael Mark, under secretary of the Air Force under Jimmy Carter, the clandestine organization had hitched its wagon firmly to NASA. Left without a means to reliably orbit key equipment, the NRO moved to restore its autonomy under Edward Aldridge (NRO chief during the Reagan years) and, later, Faga, by redesigning the retired giant Titan ICBM as its primary workhorse and expanding launch facilities at Vandenberg, Calif., and Cape Canaveral, Fla., so spy satellites could be efficiently launched from either coast.

That effort has been continually plagued with problems. Titans failed catastrophically in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster, destroying themselves and two Keyhole satellites, a HEXAGON in 1985 and a more-advanced model, known as a KENNAN, the following year.


[In 1991], the number of journalists and authors aware of NRO operations in anything more than a general sense can be counted on the fingers of one hand: William Burrows, a New York University journalism professor and author of “Deep Black”; Vince Kiernan, a military space reporter for Space News; Weiner, and Jeffrey Richelson, an investigator who has published a number of carefully researched books on the U.S. intelligence community.

Richelson, Weiner, Kiernan and FAS scientist [John Pike, now director of GlobalSecurity.Org, a national security affairs public information site for which I am a Senior Fellow] all named Faga as head of the NRO during interviews in preparation for this story.

During attempts to interview Faga for this article, his public information officer, Air Force Capt. Marty Hauser, requested a list of questions that might be asked of the assistant secretary.

After the questions were reviewed by Faga’s office, Hauser said that Faga would not be able to address two general queries concerning surveillance of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear efforts and the classification of current and future “technical collection” programs.

However, Hauser said that Faga would be willing to speak about the path that led to his career in intelligence. Later calls to his office elicited no response.

At Lehigh University, the assistant secretary studied electrical engineering and physics. Enrolled in the Air Force’s ROTC program and active in Bethlehem’s Trinity Episcopal Church, he is remembered by professors at the university as reserved, an extremely organized student who “knew his stuff,” according to LU Dean John Karakash.

After graduating from Lehigh in 1964 with a master’s degree in electrical engineering, following a bachelor of science degree in 1963, Faga entered the Air Force as a second lieutenant. He was assigned to the Air Force’s Systems Command, a huge organization which oversees the research and development of military space technologies.

While there, Faga worked on laser and infrared applications in reconnaissance.

(The NRO also operates from within Systems Command as the Office of Space Systems at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.)

From 1968-’69, Faga was employed as a technical representative for Perkin-Elmer Corp., a manufacturer of scientific instrumentation.

Perkin-Elmer’s optical division, a highly classified installation in Danbury, Conn., developed the HEXAGON spy satellite’s 6-foot reflector-equipped Cassegrain-focus telescope in the early ’70s. Hughes, a defense contractor, now owns and runs the division.


Marty Faga, even in retirement, the quiet man. If he has something interesting to say no one will ever know it.

Today, at Lehigh University, Faga is listed as part of its engineering advisory council. Along with a rather avuncular and jolly-looking portrait.

“Mr. Faga has served on the Commission for the Protection and Reduction of Government Secrecy,” it reads.

Perhaps so.

But Faga’s contribution to any reduction in secrecy or increase in transparency regarding now historical matters would appear indiscernible to any but a few.

So much time has passed, the secrets — if they are told — are just curious old tales of now-antiquated technical triumphs and past glories in a country that no longer exists.

12.25.11

Good Misuse of Hank Williams

Posted in Decline and Fall, Phlogiston, Rock 'n' Roll at 10:38 am by George Smith

H/T to Pine View Farm for the heavy lifting.

12.24.11

Experts On Anything, Any Age, Inc — drone mythology

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 1:36 pm by George Smith

Stories and theories on demand, at your fingertips.

At the end of Drones over paupers: An Empire Merry Xmas, a syndication piece at GlobalSecurity.Org, I made the joke: How difficult is it to find someone to assert the Beast [the US stealth drone] was taken over by alleged Iranian cybergenius and tricked into landing [there], for a website, desperate for eyeballs, that used to be a newspaper that went out of business in the real world for lack of readers?

A bit of an in-joke, it references the Christian Science Monitor for its role in hyping the current phlogiston.

For the punch-line, go out to the reprint here.

It includes some added superciliousness and a couple extra assorted funnies. See if you can spot them.

Also for laughs, a must read at a German pub called Techblog — the link takes you to a Google-translated copy of the piece which goes on to claim a 21-year old Iranian hacker, or somebody, did the deed. Or furnished the cracks. Or conquered the world.

The original — auf Deutsch — is here.

By default, it must make more sense. However, it probably lacks the more-appropriate-to-subject zany quality imparted by the Google auto-translation.

12.23.11

Sorta big in the Hindu Kush

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Rock 'n' Roll, War On Terror at 2:58 pm by George Smith

The above is a Google/YouTube analytics shot of where the listens/views for “The National Anthem,” my Predator drone tune, come from. US is #1, obviously. Afghanistan is #2. Heh. Sometimes small curious presents come in the guise of statistics.

Now I’m not into much belief that the Taliban and civilians in the countryside have the most broadband connections for idle surfing.

Which leaves our guys, the men who call for the drones, stumbling across it. Or people in for the Karzai share of national loot.

“If you have gold and your ass don’t smell; We won’t bomb you straight to Hell”

Get eaten by amoebas and die

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Phlogiston at 2:12 pm by George Smith

Whadda ya do if you’re corporate America and a gruesome news story has just run on people in the south who died from amoebas eating their brains, protozoa shot into their sinuses during use of “neti pots”?

Well, because you have no heart and are only worried about the bottom line, you immediately exploit. Take out an Internet ad campaign, like the one above, from which I snagged the screen snap.

Reads one news story from Louisiana:

Only distilled or sterile water should be used when irrigating the sinuses, the Missouri health department said today in an alert following the deaths of two people in Louisiana.

The deaths were caused by an organism called Naegleria fowleri that can lead to a brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis. Both people had used tap water to flush water through their noses with a device known as a neti pot.

The organism travels to the brain through the nose, destroying tissue as it goes. It can not cause an infection by drinking water through the mouth …

The infections can occur when people swim in fresh water lakes and rivers and inhale water up their noses. In rare cases the cause has been linked to untreated swimming pools or tap water … There are about three cases of Naegleria fowleri infections a year in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tap water is sanitized by chlorination but not rendered sterile. That is,
most microbes — but not all, are killed. And in the case of Naegleria, if a couple of them are present in the tap — in areas where the water is taken from sources where they are found — shotgunning them into the sinus with a “neti pot” is … not so good.

Way way back in the day, when trying to pick Ph.D. research, I was interested in invasive microorganisms because of their potential production of proteolytic enzymes, catalysts which degrade connective tissue.

Because of this I occasionally browsed papers on Naegleria infections. They were always fatal. And in the years since not much progress has been made on Naegleria infection for two reasons: Its relative rarity and the fact it presents so late the patient is beyond hope and no treatments can be tested for efficacy.

As for use of “neti pots”? It’s a vile habit, old wive’s tale preventive scam medicine for stupid people in modern America.

I had allergies as a child. Many kids do and it’s no big deal.

However, with my parents all slight illnesses or infirmities were to be vigorously attacked, no matter the pain and cost involved.

So every other Saturday morning in the spring and summer for a couple years I was taken to an eye, ear, nose and throat man in the county seat for mechanical neti-potting treatments.

There I’d be strapped into a chair, my head restrained and my body tilted back. A nozzle would be stuck up my nose and a machine would begin pumping saline water through my sinuses for a few minutes.

Sh-pummm, sh-pummmm, sh-pummmm went the machine.

“Cough, ackkkk, gurgle-gurgle-gurgle!” went me.

When I could snatch a breath, I’d scream. It was kind of like being water-boarded, I suppose.

Now isn’t that a nice story?

Cult of EMP Crazy: Roscoe strikes back

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Extremism at 12:40 pm by George Smith

Perturbed by the semi-bad press the New York Times gathered for the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy/Newt Gingrich piece a week or so ago, Roscoe Bartlett, the ancient GOP Congressman from Maryland who is one of the cult’s leaders, replied:

Threats to the United States from a shockwave of electricity known as an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, are not “far-fetched” …

Americans should be relieved to know that the bipartisan Congressional EMP Caucus, which I head with Representatives Yvette Clarke (a Democrat from New York) and Trent Franks (a Republican from Arizona), is working with colleagues to protect our grid from EMP.

The House unanimously approved the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act in 2010 to give the federal government needed authority to protect the grid against EMP. Legislation to protect the grid against EMP is also advancing in the Senate.

Bartlett, as is always the case with the cult, calls the issue bipartisan. It is bipartisan in that the GOP-led electromagnetic pulse doom caucus has always been successful in getting one or two insignificant Dem congresspeople to be pets (or sock puppets).

It’s a role custom-fit for Congressmen with either no ability or no inclination to author any meaningful legislation. For example, if you try to find anything significant by Bartlett, or birther Trent Franks of Arizona, it’s a tedious search.


Bartlett on first: Preparing for life after electromagnetic pulse doom is fun, he implies.

Does Roscoe Bartlett look like someone anyone with a shred of sense would pay attention to? Rhetorical, obviously.

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