Links – August 1, 2016

The rest of the world keeps going, even though Donald Trump is sucking all the oxygen out of the coverage. And I’m as guilty as anyone. It’s hard to know how much to say about the ignorant and bigoted comments that appear daily. There does need to be pushback, but not at all clear how much. Read More

Links – April 16, 2016

My op-ed in Physics Today on the use of fear in discussions of nuclear terrorism. It appears that a number of other people are seeing that hyping the fear factor isn’t the best way to discuss these issues: Elisabeth Eaves in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Al Mauroni in War on the Rocks, and a group educating journalists on nuclear matters. Also some good sense on how to protect nuclear plants from terrorists. Photo from the Physics Today article. Read More

Links – March 16, 2016

Russia is partially withdrawing its troops from Syria. It will maintain its naval and air bases there but will remove some unspecified amount of troops and equipment. Every reason you can think of has been offered in the speculation as to why and why now. Here’s a reasonable interpretation from Randa Slim, who has been involved in Track II discussions with Russia. Also from Mark Galeotti. How much will Russia continue to support Assad? Will Assad support the peace process with his protector partially gone? And how will other parties to the conflict respond? Nobody really knows. Here’s an article about strained relations between Russia and Iran. Read More

Links – January 16, 2016

Today will probably be Implementation Day in the Iran nuclear agreement. Jim White has pulled the relevant sections from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement. There will be many news stories. The short version is that Iran has, much more quickly than I expected, disassembled its easy pathways to a bomb and opened up for intensive IAEA inspections in return for lifting of a great many sanctions. This will depress the price of oil, as Iranian oil comes on the markets.

Update (10:30 am, MST): Iran has released 4 American prisoners, in exchange for the release of 7 Iranian prisoners in the US. Below the fold: Relevant documents and news reports on Implementation Day, which came in just under the wire, Vienna time.

Read More

Links – January 5, 2016

China wants to build a new rail route to Europe. That would help to open commerce for the Central Asian nations along the way. Those nations were part of the Soviet Union, and Russia sees them as its sphere of influence. But it is not in a position to promote something like that new rail route. Plus Russia would like to ally more closely with China, but their respective economies would easily subordinate Russia in that relationship. Interesting times ahead. Read More