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 – April 12, 2016

Russia’s economy depends on oil, and the oil price has plummeted over the past year. Then there are the sanctions that Europe and the United States have laid on Russia, and Russia’s countersanctions. Even the military is seeing cuts, although Vladimir Putin seems determined to forge ahead. Here are some graphs from the New York Times on the Russian economy. Sam Greene explains why those charts are not the last word. How Russians are coping. (Image from RTE News) Read More

Congratulations to MIIS!

Last Friday, April 8, a remarkable meeting was held at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, California. Attendees included Lassina Zerbo, executive director of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization; Jerry Brown, Governor of California; Rose Gottemoeller, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and Nonproliferation;  and Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. Read More

Links – April 4, 2016

Eleven and a half million documents stolen from the law firm Mossack Fonseca and put on line. Two early stories based on the documents are here and here. There will be more to come. Mossack Fonseca specializes in helping people to hide large amounts of money through offshore shell companies and other means. Here’s an FAQ. The president of Iceland has resigned over the exposure of his company. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin figure in the revelations. Photo: Panama City, where Mossack Fonseca is located.  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