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Espionage from Greenglass to the NSA


David Greenglass died in July, but the New York Times just heard about his death last week. Probably many people under thirty have never heard of him.

Greenglass was a machinist in the Manhattan Project. His sister, Ethel, was married to the leader of a Soviet spy ring. In 1945, Greenglass provided drawings, and possibly even a model, of the nuclear weapon built at Los Alamos. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were tried for spying in 1951, found guilty, and put to death in 1953. Greenglass spent nine and a half years in prison.

Practically all of [...]

Disabled Russian Sub Near Sweden?

The Swedish armed forces are conducting a search for what may be a disabled Russian submarine. They detected a distress call in Russian and have what they consider reliable evidence of a submarine in Swedish waters. A Russian tanker remains in the area.

The Swedish coast around Stockholm and military bases to its south is islands, inlets, and straits. During the Cold War, Russia regularly sent subs into those areas. Russia disguises intelligence-collection ships as tankers and freighters.

Russia has, of course, denied that any of its vessels are in the area [...]

Sunday Comics


Artist: Patrick Chappatte

Artist: Randy Bish


Artist: Rachel Gold


Artist: David Fitzsimmons


Artist: Steve Breen


Artist: Unknown



Another Round of Iran Talks Ends

The deadline for this six-month extension of talks between Iran and the P5+1 (US, Russia, Britain, France, China, and Germany) looms on November 24. Vague optimism is being voiced by the US, but it’s clear that significant differences on a final deal still remain.

I haven’t posted much about the Iran negotiations for a while, because there hasn’t been enough information. Both sides make noises about how the other side needs to get real, but there are not many specifics. The speculations by onlookers settle into the kinds of things I would speculate: differences on enrichment capacity and [...]

Fusion – Vaporware and Otherwise (Maybe)

A couple of new projects in fusion and a reported confirmation of Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat device are in the news.

RT news should always be looked at critically. When you read the story “Russia develops hybrid fusion-fission reactor, offers China role,” about halfway through, you find that in fact no such reactor yet exists.

And building one is “a goal for tomorrow” rather than the distant future, as is the case for a fusion reactor like the famous France-based International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) that Russia collaborates on, Kovalchuk said.

That’s Mikhail Kovalchuk, director of the Kurchatov Institute. [...]

Personal Protective Equipment for Ebola Workers


A health-care worker in Dallas has been diagnosed with Ebola fever after having cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who died there from the disease. It seems likely that this worker failed to deal properly with her personal protective equipment (PPE). It’s easy to do if you’re not accustomed to suiting up. I tweeted some of my thoughts, but they’re probably worth a post.

I’ve suited up for working with plutonium and other hazardous chemicals. There are some general things you learn.

Regard all outer surfaces of your PPE as contaminated. Remove them so [...]

Sunday Comics

Artist: Jack Ohman

Artist: Darrin Bell


Artist: Jack Ohman

Artist: Matt Wuerker

Artist: Cameron Cardow

Artist: John Cole


Artist: Graeme MacKay

James Jesus Angleton And Edward Snowden

In light of the latest Edward Snowden revelations, it’s worth looking back at the CIA career of James Jesus Angleton.

Angleton was a trusted figure in the CIA, the chief of counterintelligence from 1954 to his resignation in 1974. Counterintelligence deals with attempts of other intelligence agencies to mislead or subvert one’s own intelligence agency.

In the early 1960s, a Russian defector, Anatoli Golitsin, claimed that the KGB had infiltrated the CIA. Another defector, Yuri Nosenko, claimed that Golitsin was a KGB plant. A summary of the story can be found here.

One of the prizes of counterintelligence is [...]

The Media and WIPP

I’ve been trying to understand the situation at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico. They had a leak in February 2014 and have found a drum that appears to have heated up and blown its top in somewhat less than an explosion. People have gone into the area where the drum burst and experiments have been done in labs, but there isn’t a full understanding of what happened. The records have been searched, and it appears that there is only one other drum like the one that burst.

That’s what I’ve reconstructed from several sources, along [...]

Exclusive: Reporters, We Know You Have Sources!

I keep wondering why I see headlines like this:

Exclusive: Libya asks chemical weapons watchdog to remove stockpile: sources

We know that reporters have sources. This is not headline news.

If the sources were not anonymous, they would be identified, say, as “The Libyan president asked today…” So the headline is proudly proclaiming another story based on unevaluatable, unknown sources who don’t want to put their names to their claims. Is this, then, a warning that the article is probably not worth reading and I can skip it?

I suspect that the headline writer feels a [...]


timecholsTim Echols
RT @NEI: Day 2 of Nuclear Science Week is all about nuclear careers http://t.co/irV4ASGsxh @nuclearsciweek #NSW14
20 hours ago
timecholsTim Echols
RT @Nuclear_policy: .@NRCgov Chair Allison Macfarlane leaving Jan. 1 for position at George Washington University. #nuclear
20 hours ago
don4georgiaDon Parsons
RT @timechols: Turning old bombs to carbon-free power. Why wouldn't we finish this job? http://t.co/5tTQRgCkda @MonicaTrauzzi @NEI @neimag
20 hours ago
KerriWFXLKerri Copello
RT @timechols: Turning old bombs to carbon-free power. Why wouldn't we finish this job? http://t.co/5tTQRgCkda @MonicaTrauzzi @NEI @neimag
20 hours ago
jacobadelmanJacob Adelman
.@NRCgov chief Macfarlane to leave agency for teaching post at #GWU http://t.co/Upb8vrrrY4 via @BloombergNews
21 hours ago