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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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+ - Killer Robots in Plato's Cave->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Mark Gubrud writes about the fuzzy definitions used to differentiate autonomous lethal weapons from those classified as semi-autonomous: 'After all, if the only criterion is that a human nominates the target, then even The Terminator...might qualify as semi-autonomous.' Gubrud wants a ban against autonomous hunter-killer weapons like the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile and the canceled Low-Cost Autonomous Attack System, and vague definitions surrounding autonomous and semi-autonomous weapons will allow weapons that should be classified as autonomous but aren't. Existing definitions draw a 'distinction without a difference' and 'will not hold against the advance of technology.' Gubrud prefers a definition that reduces autonomy to a simple operational fact, an approach he calls 'autonomy without mystery.' In the end, Gubrud writes, 'Where one draws the line is less important than that it is drawn somewhere. If the international community can agree on this, then the remaining details become a matter of common interest and old-fashioned horse trading.'
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+ - The myth of going off the grid->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick writes: Dawn Stover uses Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla will soon be unveiling plans for a battery that could power your home as a starting point to explore the idea that "going off the grid" is going to solve climate change. 'The kind of in-house energy storage he is proposing could help make renewables a bigger part of the global supply. But headlines announcing that a Tesla battery “could take your home off the grid” spread misconceptions about what it takes to be self-sufficient—and stop global warming.' Stover worries that shifting responsibility for solutions to climate change from governments to individuals creates an 'every-man-for-himself' culture that actually works against energy solutions and does little to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, 'smart grid' technology would be much more efficient: 'With a smarter grid, excess electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines could be distributed to a network of on-the-grid home and car batteries. Some utilities have also experimented with using home water heaters as an economical substitute for batteries:' Good points about the economic and climate consequences of going off-grid.
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+ - The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast, 96% of Marine Life Went Extinct

Submitted by merbs
merbs writes: The biggest extinction event in planetary history was driven by the rapid acidification of our oceans, a new study concludes. So much carbon was released into the atmosphere, and the oceans absorbed so much of it so quickly, that marine life simply died off, from the bottom of the food chain up. That doesn’t bode well for the present, given the similarly disturbing rate that our seas are acidifying right now.

"If you want to eat hippopatomus, you've got to pay the freight." -- attributed to an IBM guy, about why IBM software uses so much memory

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