Springtime for Novichok

Like “yellow rain” and aerosolized anthrax, we now have another wide-open accusation of Soviet–well, okay, Russian–CBW capers that will be denied and disparaged by Moscow while Western governments sit tight on whatever evidence they claim to possess. Thank goodness that Matthew Meselson at least put an end to the bee poop scare long ago. A […]

Missile Defense: No News is Bad News

The Pentagon has decided to pull its blackout curtain over news about Ballistic Missile Defense flight tests, claiming a need to “safeguard critical defense information.” That this need has never existed before for such trials raises the timeworn question of whether what’s so terribly critical is the information or the risk of embarrassment. The latest […]

Project Pluto/Putin (Project Plutin?)

News that Russia is developing a nuclear-powered cruise missile will send aerospace buffs to the history stacks to peruse Project Pluto, a wacky 1950’s U.S. Air Force project that epitomized Cold War technology mania. About $2 billion in today’s dollars swirled down the drain before it was cancelled in 1964. No doubt such contraptions would […]

Home Sweet Debris Basin

Daytime temperatures returned to the normal mid-60’s this weekend in Los Angeles, but for the past couple of weeks they rose to the paradisiacal 80’s in clear skies and sweet morning air that answered the old question of why anyone would want to live here in a semidesert on the grinding edges of two tectonic […]

Robert Parry, 1949-2018: American Journalist

Required reading on State-of-the-Union day.

“History is kind of, you know, it’s quirky sometimes.”

Strategic Thoughts, pre-owned

In days of yore, when The Bomb was new and the Russkies were everywhere everyday, the halls of academe and government teemed with suits who made prosperous livings by theorizing about how Washington’s nukes and Moscow’s nukes matched up against each other. From the paskudnyak Herman Kahn’s homebuilt Hudson Institute to the endowed chairs of […]

War Stories

Bill Broad and David Sanger seem to have nothing else to do in the twilight of their New York Times careers than beat the North Korea anxiety drum. In the tradition of Drew Middleton, who never met a general whose bugle he wouldn’t blow on page one, they continue to pen the creative nonfiction prologue […]

Fourth Estate or Fourth Branch?

What better way to begin another embattled year for American journalism than reading James Risen’s Intercept account of how top editors at the New York Times dragged the polish off their shoes to delay publishing revelations about NSA domestic spying? It takes a long, long time to rise to that paper’s masthead–years of demonstrating what […]

Too Stupid for Words

With the end of another year in sight, this is traditionally a time to take stock. Fitting, then, that two news stories of the past week were about matters that defy commentary not because they are complex, but because they are too stupid for words. One, about the Pentagon having spent $22 million on “Advanced […]

Team B-

The proliferation of commercial satellites that take photos-for-sale of the Earth’s surface long ago spawned a small industry of shops that will study these pictures and tell you what they think is going on down there. Applications for agriculture, city planning, et cetera are obvious, but there is a lucrative subset of the business that […]