The Ruble Crashes

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meets Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov at Villa Taverna in Rome

Within the time it took to write a tweet about the value of rubles in dollars or euros, that number changed. On Monday, the Russian Central Bank bought a billion dollars worth of rubles. Late Monday night, the Central Bank upped the prime rate from 10.5% to 17%. Neither stemmed the fall.

So Russia is facing a currency crisis: inflation is likely; high interest rates will damp down development; people will be less able to travel outside Russia. US and EU sanctions, along with Russia’s countersanctions, add to this.

How will this affect the rest of the world, […]

Why The IAEA Doesn’t Want To Go To Marivan

Yukiya-Amano-with-President-Rohani-1

Gareth Porter and Robert Kelley want to know why the IAEA turned down Iran’s offer of “one managed access” to the Marivan site, mentioned in the November 2011 IAEA report as one site where weapons development experiments may have taken place.

Marivan is mentioned once in that report, actually “in the region of Marivan,” which could cover a wide territory. An experiment (or possibly more than one) on a multipoint initiation system monitored by optical fibers to a high speed streak camera is believed to have taken place there in 2003 (paragraph 43). […]

No Bomb Material At Paldiski

500Paldiski 1995 SKB

Paul Goble summarizes Russian commentary and interviews and interprets what they may mean at his blog, “Window on Eurasia – New Series.” Goble worked in the US State Department during the fall of the Soviet Union, focusing on the Baltic States. He speaks Russian and Estonian fluently.

From an interview with Mikhail Delyagin, a Moscow commentator who has criticized Vladimir Putin in the past but now says he is completely in line with the Kremlin leader, Goble speculates that Moscow may be considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, on the basis that Moscow has […]

Sunday Comics

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Jeff Stahler

Jeff Koterba

Steven Sack

Joel Pett

Clay Jones

Jeff Danziger

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German Prosecutor: No Evidence NSA Tapped Merkel’s Phone

German Chancellor Merkel uses a Nokia slide mobile during a session of the lower house of parliament the Bundestag in Berlin

An investigation into the claim in an October 2013 Der Spiegel article that NSA tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone has turned up no supporting evidence. (English explanation of the Der Spiegel article here.) The German Federal Prosecutor says that the document claimed as evidence is not an official NSA document. Spiegel offers an explanation. [Google Translate of the German articles is not bad.]

Spiegel claimed that the document was from Edward Snowden’s materials. I have been concerned since the Snowden affair became public that some or all of those documents […]

Discussing Nuclear and Political Risk Communication

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Some subjects are taboo on pro-nuclear power discussion forums. Like how to promote nuclear power.

A great many of the people on those forums are engineers and scientists who have worked in the field or enthusiasts who may have learned quite a bit about the technology. There is also a significant group of enthusiasts who love the technology but don’t know much about how it works.

One of the unspoken (and hotly denied if challenged) rules of those forums is that there must be nothing that can be taken for criticism of nuclear power. Could a civilian nuclear […]

The Senate Torture Report

The Senate Torture Report has now been released. Much of what it says echoes what many of us have thought all along: that torture is wrong and inconsistent with the ideals of the United States as well as treaties and conventions to which it is signatory; that torture is ineffective in obtaining intelligence, and that the agencies using torture were lying to the rest of the government.

The report has graphic and horrifying details. It’s never been necessary to know those details in order to know that torture is wrong, but the coverups make it necessary to lay them out […]

The Budapest Memorandum and Nonproliferation

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There is an argument about whether the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 obligates the United States to take action against Russia’s incursions into Ukraine. It is clear that Russia, as a signatory agreeing to respect Ukraine’s boundaries, has violated the Memorandum. Some commentators say that the requirements on the other signatories (the United States and Great Britain) are to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and refrain from coercion only, while others argue that the Memorandum requires that the other signatories do something about Russia’s violation, in particular aid Ukraine militarily.

Part of the argument for a more […]

Sunday Comics

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Chanu

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Is Putin Reconsidering His Options?

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Kevin Drum said it first: Vladimir Putin is having a horrible, no good, very bad diplomatic year. He’s lost the South Stream gas pipeline to Europe. Romania was key, despite the Kremlin’s attempt to decrease its fracking industry. Kevin’s list:

Ukraine is more firmly allied to the West than ever. Finland is wondering if it might not be such a bad idea to join NATO after all. The Baltic states, along with just about every other Russian neighbor, are desperate to reinforce their borders—and their NATO commitments. Russia has been dumped from the G7 and […]

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