Over a thousand
scientists and public intellectuals, including Stephen Hawking, Daniel Dennett, Steve Wozniak, Noam Chomsky, and Elon Musk, have signed an open letter
calling for a ban on the development and deployment of "offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control”, i.e., the coupling of autonomous Artificial Intelligence to weapons systems.
: an interactive visualization of the international trade in small arms (generally defined as lethal weapons for use by individuals) from 1992 to 2011. Click on an individual country or type its name into the search box to examine it separately. Uncheck the boxes in the lower right corner to narrow down by category. Drag the slider at the bottom or click the graph button to view change over time. May take a while to load on slower connections. [more inside]
"The arms manufacturers of Aleppo used to be ordinary men—network administrators, housepainters, professors. Then came the bloody Syrian crisis. Now they must use all their desperate creativity to supply their fellow rebels with the machinery of death." [Via]
- oddly beautiful cross section photos of ammunition by Sabine Pearlman
, taken in a WWII bunker. The io9 write-up
has Redditor identification of the cartridges.
Nobel laureate's campaign calls for pre-emptive ban on autonomous weapons.
As our technology advances, it becomes more and more feasible to give more and more autonomy to our drones. A new campaign led by 1997 Nobel laureate Jody Williams
calls for an international ban on the design of autonomous weaponized drones. [more inside]
proliferation in Syria
has become something to watch. [more inside]
was recently released suggesting a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons
- robots that can pick and choose whom to fire on. If this sounds vaguely alarming
to you, don't worry - the Department of Defense issued a directive
indicating that fully automous robots may only decide to tase you
In the telling it has the contours of a creation myth: At a time of great evil and great terror, a small group of scientists, among the world’s greatest minds, secluded themselves in the desert. In secrecy and silence they toiled at their Promethean task. They sought the ultimate weapon, one of such great power as to end not just their war, but all war. They hoped their work would salvage the future. They feared it could end everything.
- Prometheus in the desert: from atom bombs to radio astronomy, New Mexico's scientific legacy
The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran has tripled its production of >20% enriched uranium in the past three months
, while adding 2,600 new uranium centrifuges to its main enrichment facility in Natanz
. The agency has not received a "satisfactory explanation" of how 20kg of uranium metal went missing from an Iranian research laboratory. Iran has been blocking IAEA inspections
, and the agency "is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities". In recent years, Russia and China have chosen to limit UN sanctions
against Iran, whose government denies it aims to make atomic weapons.
How two American kids became big-time weapons traders
- "Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history." (via
; previously on arms contractors
The Adventures Of A Would Be Arms Dealer
(PDF) is an eight-page comic illustrating how an illegal arms deal works in practice. Via
Excellent post over at BLDBLOG
on the history of Bannerman's Arsenal
, a ruined island castle in the middle of the Hudson river, created by a war profiteer who was at one time the world's largest arms dealer. Bonus points for the amazing accompanying photos by Shaun O'Boyle
, whose site Modern Ruins has been featured on the blue previously.
"It is a horrible device
nonetheless, and you are forced to wonder what the world has come to when human ingenuity is pressed into service to make a thing like this
." Raytheon says, "The system is available now and ready for action." [more inside]
The first armed robots
have hit the streets of Iraq and are now hunting evil-doers with high-powered M249 machine guns. The robots are called SWORDS, which stands for "Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System". Army focus groups apparently preferred this acronym over the more obvious PUBE (Predatory Unmanned Battle Engine). The robots are currently being piloted through the streets of Bagdad using remote control. According to an interview on CNET
with Chief Army Scientist Thomas Killion however, the army soon plans to make the killing machines fully automatic.
Make love not war? The Pentagon confirms that it was researching the possibility of a "gay bomb"
that could "turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting." BBC discusses this and other unorthodox U.S. weapons proposals
It sounds a lot like science fiction.
It moves at the speed of light and it can penetrate walls. The U.S. military has firepower that uses electromagnetic energy to blind, stun or kill targets. Defense contractors are eager, but the weapons
are not yet being deployed.
You got your Outkast in my Sun Tzu
Weaponry, military, and war footage set to music. Although the author believes
Enya did the song Adiemus, the target practice
video is kind of interesting. I couldn't find any videos set to Peace Train, however.
"Weapons of Mass Destruction", you say?
Question: If Iraq is the vicious rat and North Korea the
furious pygmy of WMD threats, where is the 800 pound gorilla? Answer -
"...law enforcement officials worldwide have seized 40 kilograms of Russian-origin uranium
and plutonium since 1991. Stanford researchers have also estimated that only 30 to 40 percent of
the nuclear material stolen from facilities in Russia and other territories in the former Soviet
Union are ever recovered by authorities."
the collapse of the Soviet Union left vast stores
of Nuclear weapons and weapons grade plutonium and uranium, and stocks of chemical and
biological warfare agents lying about at dangerously underfunded facillities scattered through
the vast expanse of the ex-Soviet realm. "Russian stockpiles of weapons and materials are
the most likely source for terrorists attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction"
said US Senator Richard Lugar, Republican chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee. An international effort to destroy these stores of ex-Soviet WMD's
is currently funded at a tiny fraction of the estimated cost of a possible US invasion and occupation of Iraq. (more inside)
Iraq: How Saddam hides the smoke and the guns
This account is from an Italian paper and appears in an Israeli site that sums up materials pertaining to the Middle East. Of course I am not able to verify its authenticity, nor would anyone, given the "hidden" nature of the man being interviewed. But it does suggest what the Bush administration and many pundits have been saying or implying for some time now.
"All this costs money. It costs more than we have."
One year ago today, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned of a "subtle and implacable" adversary whose "brutal consistency...stifles free thought...and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk." It wasn't freedom's obvious foes
; he was referring to waste in the Pentagon. The DOD uses so many different financial systems and interfaces it won't have auditable books for another five to 10 years
. It still manually enters purchases
made with electronic purchase cards. It fires whistleblowers
who call attention to shady missile defense deals. And every year, it completely loses track
of a quarter of the world's biggest military budget
"The old doctrine was that nuclear weapons were far too big and nasty to use, and now they've moved towards developing nuclear weapons they can actually use".
On the aniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, does the development of 'low-yield nukes'
threaten to blur the distinction between conventional and nuclear warfare.
One Hell of a Big Bang
-- Studs Turkel meets Paul Tibbets the pilot of the Enola Gay
. It's a great, though-provoking and disturbing interview to read on Hiroshima Day.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, watching the first mushroom cloud rise above the American nuclear test heartbreakingly codenamed Trinity, said: "Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds." Today, a half century after the first use of atomic weapons, in the birthland of the sacred text Oppenheimer quoted, 12 million people could die at once in a nuclear exchange.
Ah, Shiva as each of us...one hand on The Button, the other writing:
"The only way to live humanly - still - is in resistance to war. The prevention of war, in the nuclear age, must be a central purpose of every person's life."
Iraq Calls Bush's Bluff on Weapons Scrutiny.
Former U.N. Weapons inspector Scott Ritter claims that Iraq's new attitude toward inspections might undermine attempts to end Saddam Hussein's regime.
for the "U.S. brought it on themselves" crowd, courtesy of the New York Times.
"One report obtained by Dr. Zilinskas from the government is "Development of `N' for Offensive Use in Biological Warfare." `N' was the code letter for Bacillus anthracis, the germ that causes anthrax. Another is "The Stability of Botulinum Toxin in Common Beverages." The germ-derived substance is the most poisonous known to science."
Seems that the United States has been selling instructions for the creation of bio-weapons.
in the house
"We explained our situation and the guy [in the gunship] said, 'Where are you?' and we showed him, and he said, 'Where are the bad guys?' and we showed him that. There was a pregnant pause for a couple of seconds, and then he said, 'You need to move back 18 feet.' " -dragon's breath
cone of fire
The G-Rated War: Blowing Smoke, Pipe Dream, or The Real Hashish?
I want to spin antiwar arguments a slightly different way. Previous threads have been quite dim. This Cnn chat transcript focuses on the use of non-lethal weapons, the need to separate innocents from terrorists and separate terrorist networks from Islamic states, and the interviewee is as much as suit as they come. You could cut a diamond on that crew cut. I have several questions: 1) Is the US military actually going to use non-lethal weapons, or is this the new "smart bomb?" 2) Do the 'pacificists' among us consider this to be pacificist? 3) If you do favor peace over war, do you think this is a good compromise between peace and war, or is the issue by definition binary? More > >
21st Century Warfare
I've been waiting for the new issue of G2mil The Magazine of Future Warfare
to be posted to get Carlton Meyers' line on all things post September 11th and it's an all-you-can-eat buffet chock full o'links from a former Marine Corps officer--an anti-imperialist, anti-military/industrialist contrarian extraordinaire. Check out the special war supplement and assess the military options in Afghanistan
before you launch into a by jingo paean to what he refers to as Tom Clancy fantasies
about the Rangers. Do some extensive research in the magazine's back issues to read articles like Demobilize The US Army
, 21st Century Battleships - the U.S. Navy's greatest need
, why China can't invade Taiwan
--not to mention the $$$ saving concepts like the B-747 bomber
...& his line on National Missile Defense
The irony is that, if a workable NMD system is ever fielded, it only guarantees that a better method of delivery would be used, like a civilian airplane, ship, or truck. Tons of drugs are smuggled into the USA each year, can NMD stop that dangerous cargo? Almost two million people illegally cross America's borders each year with un-inspected luggage, can NMD stop them? Why spend billions of dollars each year on NMD while ignoring the real dangers?
That was from July...
Sen. Biden may scotch missile defense.
Didn't see any mention of this on the main American news sites I checked, as they celebrate Bush's recent policy triumphs in Congress and wink
at his fleeing for his ranch for a month. Even stories about his future challenges
don't refer to this, which seems important to me. You can bet the rest of the world is more interested in this story.
USA's Depleted Uranium Weapons
1 in 7 Gulf War veterans suffer from Gulf War Syndrome, including a high incidence of birth defects, respiratory, kidney and liver problems. There are outrageously high rates of leukemia and severe birth defects among Iraqi civilians. Now Israel uses DU weapons against Palestinians. After DU weapons were used in Kosovo,
Italy wants to know why Kosovo veterans are getting cancer.
Still the pentagon insists that "... we do not believe it poses any significant health risk." Does anybody in the US give a damn?
A Scourge of Small Arms
"The root causes of ethnic, religious and sectarian conflicts around the world are of course complex and varied, typically involving historical grievances, economic deprivation, demagogic leadership and an absence of democratic process. Although small arms and light weapons are not themselves a cause of conflict, their ready accessibility and low cost can prolong combat, encourage a violent rather than a peaceful resolution of differences, and generate greater insecurity throughout society--which in turn leads to a spiraling demand for, and use of, such weapons."