Russia and the NRA

McClatchy reports today that the FBI is investigating whether the National Rifle Association received money from the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. The NRA, of course, backed Donald Trump heavily. I’m going to work through the article in some detail, because it’s hard to get at the bottom line.

The news is that there is an investigation into Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is closely connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The sources did not say whether there was evidence that the NRA received Russian money. Read More

Estonia Considers Its Monuments

Estonia’s Justice Minister, Urmas Reinsalu, said early in January that the government could take down the Soviet war memorial at Maarjamäe because it is falling apart and it is not on the official list of historic monuments. This led Prime Minister Jüri Ratas to suggest that the entire area, which includes a German cemetary and a memorial under construction to the victims of Communism, be designated a historic area.

The Soviet Union built many war memorials across its territory, particularly to commemorate World War II, or the Great Patriotic War, as they call it. I find those monuments moving; they are, after all, memorials to people who died in wars and who had families who grieved them. I’ve been to the Maarjamäe memorial a few times. Read More

Links – January 13, 2018

For this Martin Luther King weekend, memories of Mississippi in the 1960s. Top photo: The author, Danny Lyon, outside the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee headquarters, 1962.

The 100-year capitalist experiment that keeps Appalachia poor, sick, and stuck on coal. This article should be reprinted and quoted everywhere.

Inter-Korean talks are more than just “a good thing”. The myth of a limited strike on North Korea – worse than dumb.

Speaking loudly and carrying a little stick – the myopic US debate on Iran. Why regime change in Iran wouldn’t work.

Do-it-yourself drones attack a Russian airbase in Syria.

This is the best summary I’ve seen of the Steele dossier recently.

Would 90 Percent of Americans Really Die from an EMP Attack? NO!

 

Trump’s Nonexistent Cyberdeterrence

Michael Morell and Mike Rogers argue that the United States has failed to deter Russia from its attacks on our electoral system because those attacks continue. They rely on a model of deterrence that assumes that what Russia is doing is in some way equivalent to physical war. They feel that the Barack Obama administration and Congress did not administer heavy enough penalties. They want “policies that prevent adversaries from achieving their objectives while imposing significant costs on their regimes.” but do not say what those policies would be. Read More

Links – December 26, 2017

Missile defense isn’t going to save us from North Korea. In the top June 1, 2009, photo, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, center, gets briefed on interceptor missiles at Ft. Greely, Alaska. The missiles carry a nonexplosive “kill vehicle” that is supposed to intercept and destroy enemy ballistic missiles in space. (John Wagner / Associated Press)

We are not “running out of time” on North Korea, as National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster likes to say. Here’s why.

A status report on North Korea’s nuclear programRead More

Links – December 11, 2017

How a war with North Korea might play out. The price of war with North Korea. Excellent long-read backgrounder from Jeffrey Lewis on the history and strategy of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program (photo from here). More background, and denial by US of facts on the ground. The reentry vehicle on the North Korean ICBM.

According to this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that North Korea is ready to talk. That’s from Friday. I haven’t seen any followup.

Bad Idea: Resuming Nuclear Testing.

The looming end of the INF Treaty.

Eerik-Niiles Kross: Estonia’s James Bond.

Comparing China’s situation to the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1991.

 

 

 

 

Steele Dossier Claims Updated

In February, I published a breakdown of the claims in the Steele dossier in table form, so that they might be more amenable to analysis.

I have now updated that breakdown with material relevant to the claims. My objective is not to prove or disprove the material in the Steele dossier, but rather to provide evidence that has surfaced. What I have collected is not exhaustive, and it is more detailed for some claims than for others. I have used primarily major news sources.

Overall, there is much support for the claims of the dossier. Not surprisingly, there is much less information about interactions within the Kremlin than other claims. Other material that sometimes has been hailed as supporting the dossier’s claims does not fully connect all the parties or actions.

So here it is, a work in progress.

 

Top photo: Journalists outside Christopher Steele’s offices shortly after his identity was made public.

 

Cross-posted to Balloon Juice.

Links – Thanksgiving 2017

I know very little about Zimbabwe’s politics, but these sources seem reliable.  Zimbabwe’s clean slate: What brought Mugabe down, and why he didn’t see it coming.  Robert Mugabe’s Inner Circle Implodes. It’s good to see that this hasn’t exploded into a civil war, but it’s not over yet.

Negotiate with North Korea, chapter 3745. Long read on how North Korea may be tracking its missile tests. It’s important to get as much data as possible out of each test, but there need to be receiving stations for the data. Top photo from here. Read More

Ruthenium-106 Over Europe

In September, a cloud of ruthenium-106 spread over Europe. Ruthenium-106 is used in nuclear medicine, and it is extracted from used nuclear reactor fuel. The amounts were tiny – one of the things about radioactive materials is that they can be detected at very, very low concentrations.

There are many atmospheric sampling stations around Europe, and their readings were mapped. The top graphic is the result. The center of the cloud was between the Ural Mountains and the Volga River. The amounts over Europe were not dangerous to health, but the amounts closer to the source might have been. Ruthenium was no longer detected in France after October 13. Read More