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+ - Is Elon Musk's new PowerWall a Game Changer?-> 1

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Is Elon Musk's new PowerWall a Game Changer? Maybe yes and maybe no: 'But fantastic battery storage doesn’t actually lower the cost of renewable energy. It doesn’t decrease the amount of energy that needs to be produced. Nor does it increase renewable’s low capacity factor or its low efficiency.' The author ultimately decides that the PowerWall could allow countries to install a really low-carbon energy mix, but cautions: 'But let’s not confuse a great battery with solving the real problems of our energy future.'
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+ - The Marshall Islands, nuclear testing, and the NPT->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: A devastating read by Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former senior policy adviser to the Energy Department's secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment. Alvarez details the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands and explains the lawsuits the Marshallese have filed against the nuclear weapons states. The lawsuits hope to close the huge loophole those states carved for themselves with the vague wording of Article VI of the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty), wording that allows those states to delay, seemingly indefinitely, implementing the disarmament they agreed to when they signed the treaty. This is a must-read article. It also has an official US Nuclear Test Film at the top of the story.
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+ - How to know if Iran breaks its word: Financial monitoring->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: This is a fascinating read from Aaron Arnold of the Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard's Kennedy School. Arnold points out that the Iran Nuclear Framework Agreement specifies not only that international inspectors will have access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, but will also gain access to Iran’s nuclear supply chain, in order to verify that components and materials are not diverted to a covert facility. 'To insure additional transparency, the preliminary framework calls for a dedicated procurement channel to approve the supply, sale, and transfer of certain nuclear-related and dual-use parts, technologies, and materials on a case-by-case basis.' Arnold points out that this is a tricky area, because Iran has shown extraordinary skill at getting around financial sanctions, and it's unclear what international body will monitor Iran's financial transactions. The article then details steps that could be taken to ensure that Iran's financial transactions are transparent and cannot be used to obtain dual-use materials, including the requirement that Iran join the international Financial Action Task Force. Great read..
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+ - The New York Times was wrong; Russian uranium deals don't threaten world supply ->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: A recent article in the New York Times notes that the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and associated firms are gaining control of a growing number of uranium resources and mining operations. The article, headlined Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal focuses on donations to charities connected to former US President Bill Clinton and his family, made by businessmen who stood to profit from the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with worldwide uranium-mining interests. But a major premise of the article is that Russian uranium control threatens the security of the global uranium supply. Steve Fetter and Erich Schneider demolish the idea that Russian control of uranium stocks is a threat to global security.
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+ - Navy's new laser weapon: Hype or reality?->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: MIT's Subrata Ghoshroy deconstructs the Navy's recent claim of successful testing with the Laser Weapon System. It seems the test videos released to the press in December were nothing more than a dog and pony show with scaled-down expectations so as to appear successful: 'When they couldn’t get a laser lightweight enough to fit on a ship while still being powerful enough to burn through the metal skin of an incoming nuclear missile, they simply changed their goal to something akin to puncturing the side of an Iranian rubber dinghy.' Ghoshroy is an entertaining writer who is an 'old hand' in the laser research industry. He gives a explanation here of the history of laser weapons, and how the search for 'SWAP' continues: 'At the end of the day, good beam quality and good SWAP—size, weight and power—still determine the success or failure of a given laser weapon, and we’re just not anywhere near meeting all those requirements simultaneously.'
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+ - Rubio is wrong: the United States IS modernizing its nuclear arsenal->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: PolitiFact calls out Marco Rubio on his claim that the US is the only nuclear weapons state that is not modernizing its nuclear weapons arsenal. According the Nuclear Notebook, which a month ago posted an update on US Nuclear Forces 2015: 'Over the next decade, [the US] also plans to spend as much as $350 billion on modernizing and maintaining its nuclear forces.' Rubio seems to be the only one who doesn't know what's happening with the US nuclear weapons budget.
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+ - But can the IAEA verify the Iran deal?-> 1

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards analyst Alissa Carrigan looks at an important question that needs an answer: Given the staffing requirements of the verification framework outlined in the Iran deal, can the IAEA actually carry out sufficient verification in Iran? Carrigan breaks down what is required for the IAEA to do its job, and compares the work that will be required in Iran to what the agency did in South Africa and Iraq. Great stuff.
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+ - Inside the Military-Police Center That Spies on Baltimore's Rioters->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Adam Weinstein on a program designed to catch terrorists attacking Baltimore that is now being used to spy on protesters: 'On Ambassador Road, just off I-695 around the corner from the FBI, nearly 100 employees sit in a high-tech suite and wait for terrorists to attack Baltimore. They’ve waited 11 years. But they still have plenty of work to do, like using the intel community’s toys to target this week’s street protests.' Great read.
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+ - Seafloor sensors record possible eruption of underwater volcano->

Submitted by vinces99
vinces99 writes: If a volcano erupts at the bottom of the sea, does anyone see it? If it is Axial Seamount, about 300 miles offshore and 1 mile deep, the answer is "yes." Thanks to high-tech instruments installed last summer by the University of Washington to bring the deep sea online, what appears to be an eruption of Axial Volcano on April 23 was observed in real time by scientists on shore.

“It was an astonishing experience to see the changes taking place 300 miles away with no one anywhere nearby, and the data flowed back to land at the speed of light through the fiber-optic cable ... in milliseconds,” said John Delaney, a UW professor of oceanography who led the installation of the instruments as part of a larger effort sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Delaney organized a workshop on campus in mid-April at which marine scientists discussed how this high-tech observatory would support their science. Then, just before midnight on April 23 until about noon the next day, the seismic activity went off the charts. The gradually increasing rumblings of the mountain were documented over recent weeks by William Wilcock, a UW marine geophysicist who studies such systems. During last week’s event, the earthquakes increased from hundreds per day to thousands, and the center of the volcanic crater dropped by about 6 feet in 12 hours.

“The only way that could have happened was to have the magma move from beneath the caldera to some other location,” Delaney said.

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+ - Cloud control: Climatologist Alan Robock on the effects of geoengineering->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: In this interview with Rutgers University climatologist Alan Robock, he discusses geoengineering and nuclear winter. Robock believes that geoengineering is not the solution to global warming because of its many risks and unknowns. He notes that some of the technology that would be required to implement geoengineering has not been developed and that many socio-political questions would have to be resolved before it could be put into practice. To start with, the world would have to reach agreement on a target temperature and on what entity should do the implementing. Robock’s biggest fear with regard to geoengineering is that disputes over these questions could escalate into nuclear war which in turn could cause nuclear winter, producing global famine among other effects. Fascinating, wide-ranging interview with one of the world's top climatologists.
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+ - The United States just might be Iran's favorite new nuclear supplier->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Nick Gillard from Project Alpha points out that for more than 3 decades, Iran has purchased goods for its nuclear program largely from the shadows. With the Framework Agreement, that will almost certainly change: 'According to the US State Department, one of the agreement’s provisions creates a dedicated procurement channel for Iran’s nuclear program. This channel will 'monitor and approve, on a case-by-case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer to Iran of certain nuclear-related and dual-use materials and technology.' That is terrific news for US companies, because Iran is known to covet US-made parts required for their program, most of which are 'dual-use.'
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Comment: Re:Iran says Fordo site is off limits to inspector (Score 1) 2

Fordo is ground zero for Iranian nuclear weapons research and development. Unless ALL of Iran is open to inspections there can be no verifiable agreement.

This is incorrect information circulated by Iran hawks prior to the Framework Agreement. Fordow is to be made into an international research center, and they won't be enriching uranium there for 15 years. Further: "Almost two-thirds of Fordow’s centrifuges and infrastructure will be removed. The remaining centrifuges will not enrich uranium. All centrifuges and related infrastructure will be placed under IAEA monitoring."

+ - Iranian nuclear agreement unlikely to trigger a regional nuclear weapons cascade-> 2

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Although such a possibility can't be dismissed entirely, a close analysis of probable scenarios suggests that a final Iranian nuclear agreement is unlikely to trigger a regional nuclear weapons cascade. Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary point out that civilian nuclear programs do not necessarily imply a military threat; in fact, under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), member countries are allowed to pursue civilian nuclear programs. The authors then go through several countries to discuss their individual nuclear ambitions and what those ambitions might mean to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
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+ - Proponents of strengthening sanctions against Iran don't understand sanctions->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Aaron Arnold writes that those who want to hold out for a “better deal” with Iran by strengthening sanctions do not consider the reality of the current sanctions regime. He explains the reality of how sanctions work, and how past sanctions against Iran have led to changes in the global banking structure that make future sanctions against any country (including Iran) more tricky.
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+ - Terrorism expert on the incomplete investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Terrorism expert Charles Blair's article is in time for the April 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Blair examines the evidence and concludes that '...turf battles among the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States Secret Service, and local law-enforcement' were a big part of the failure to intercept the plot by Timothy McVeigh and others to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. In addition, these same turf battles led to the derailment of the post-blast investigation. Blair examines evidence that shows the plot may have originated, or at least been supported by, a Christian Identity commune 150 miles from Oklahoma City. Information obtained 'from a confidential informant only a few months before the bombing made plain that the Murrah building likely was being targeted, 'but this information was largely ignored. Blair makes the case that domestic terror attacks from the far right are still a very real possibility, something we especially should be concerned about as the anniversary of the bombing approaches: 'To them, April 19 is a hallowed date reflecting the oppressive forces of the New World Order, 'when the forces of darkness attacked the forces of light.'
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