Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Peace In Our Time?

Stratfor is reporting that peace negotiations between Syria and Israel have matured to the point where a draft treaty has been crafted:


Geopolitical Diary: Syrian-Israeli Peace Deal In Perspective
April 30, 2008
Stratfor has received an unconfirmed report that the U.S. administration is currently reviewing a peace agreement drafted by Syria and Israel. Some of the terms of the alleged deal involve Syria regaining its military, political and economic influence in Lebanon in exchange for suppressing its militant proxies — Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Syria and Israel also reportedly came up with a system to create a demilitarized zone along the Israeli-Syrian border in which Syria would pull back four miles for every one mile that Israel pulls back its forces. The Golan Heights would be returned to Syria, though Israel would likely retain full rights to the key water source in the territory.

If this information is true, it would indicate the ongoing peace negotiations between Israel have reached a critical phase. Our first clue that these were not simply talks for the sake of talks came when the negotiations broke into the public sphere a little more than a week ago. The lack of denials followed by a public acknowledgment by both the Israeli and Syrian leaderships demonstrated that something serious was going on. The deal could just as well evaporate given the complexities surrounding the issue, but if the two sides have actually crafted together a peace agreement that is now being debated among U.S. officials in Washington, then the political map of the Middle East could undergo some major changes in the near future...

A peace deal makes complete sense for both sides, it would benefit both Israel and Syria and it possibly explains the very, very odd behavior of both sides after the Israeli bombing of an apparent nuclear reactor under construction on Syrian soil.

I'm still skeptical that they can get it done - too many outside players would be happy to see such a deal scuttled, namely Hezbollah, Iran, the various Palestinian groups and the United States.

Plus, it is the perfect setup for an attack. Lull your opponent into complacency, then strike. Now, I strongly doubt Israel wants to decapitate the Assads, but perhaps using these talks is a way to calm down the Syrians in a run-up to an attack on Hezbollah.

We shall see.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More on Decentralized Nuclear Power


Toshiba continues to push forward with the NRC on getting the 4S nuclear reactor design through the approval process.

For those of you following along with John Robb's Resilient Community work over at GlobalGuerrillas, such a system would be ideal for the MicroGrid concept - a plug-and-play power source that lasts for decades, requiring a small staff and little maintenance to the reactor system. No long outages. The fuel economy of these sodium-cooled designs is proven. No waste worries as Toshiba will take the entire core out and send it back to Japan for reprocessing.

This, in my opinion, will be a big deal after we move through what I expect will be an ugly transition period over the next 4-6 years. As we shape the kinds of communities that will thrive in the coming New World, power systems like the 4S (and other small nuclear systems) will have the potential to play a key role in keeping the lights on, keeping the computers computing and giving an edge to the communities that benefit from it.

Another Item for Your Watch List

A muddy field can ruin your day...

We try to give out action items here at FutureJacked, in addition to the occasional rant on economics, politics, war and energy. Here are two items for you to keep on your radar.


Crops

Not to alarm you, but it's wet out here in Flyover Country. The most recent Crop Progress and Condition report for Missouri is ugly:

Agricultural Summary
Continuing rains and below normal temperatures have all farm activities and crop progress well behind the normal pace, while temperatures dropped to the lower 30’s the later part of the week. There were 1.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Warmer weather is urgently needed for producers to begin planting in earnest. Spring tillage is 24 percent complete, over a month behind last year and the 5-year average. State-wide, topsoil moisture rates 48 percent adequate and 52 surplus...

...Corn planting is 8 percent complete for the State, nearly 4 weeks behind last year...

Now, this is not a crisis by any means.

Yet.

Keep an eye out for ag stories or check in on crop progress reports for various big ag states. Mississippi is having serious problems with flooding and there is talk of a drought later in the year. With grain stocks at historic lows, you want to be ahed of the curve on any potential shortages come year-end. The time to plan is now. Something to think about when those of you in the U.S. get your check from the guvmint. Instead of spending it on crack and hookers - or the Wal-Mart equivalent thereof - you might think about adding to your pantry. Just a thought...


A Musical Socionomic Alarm

As you all know, I try and monitor non-traditional indicators that help gauge the changing social mood, in the context of socionomics.

Listening to a country station on the drive home yesterday gave me another indicator for you. If you hear a popular country artist remake Merle Haggard's "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?" or Bocephus' "A Country Boy Can Survive" - and it hits in the Top Ten on the Country charts, then you can rest assurred you are nearing a bottom in social mood - or are at least on the steep downhill side of the slope.

Both songs were hits in 1981 - a great year to make major countertrend moves into equities and U.S. Treasuries. Had you used those tunes as a socionomic signal, you would have been scouring around for bargains.

This is NOT investment advice, just an observation.

Keep your eyes open and your powder dry, friends.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Couple of Items to Chew On

Posting may be spotty early this week. Things are getting crazy busy here.

Stupid Syrians

First, for those continuing to follow the Syrian nuclear reactor story, Dr. Jeffrey Lewis has a new post up over at Arms Control Wonk which discusses Just How Big Was Al Kibar Again? Worth a read. Again, I'm still stunned by the complete idiocy of such a move by Syria, no matter how big or small such a reactor was. Natural selection at work, I guess. You can't fix stupid.

Impossible Dinosaurs

And, for something completely different, check out a site entitled The Solution to the Big Dinosaur Paradox. This guy has a theory that addresses the ugly secret of paleontology - that is the fact that the big dinosaurs completely violate the mass scaling laws (where the volume of an object/animal increase by the cube as surface area increases by the square).

Basically, according to physics and biomechanics as we know them today, dinosaurs could not have existed - they were too huge. Their muscle and bone structure couldn't have handled it.

Personally, I think his theory, while it may have merit, doesn't solve all the problems. I still favor a heresy that can't be uttered outside of the blogosphere just yet - that gravity, which today provides an acceleration of 9.8 meters per second per second, might be variable, not constant. Especially if it ever turns out that gravity has an electromagnetic component to it. I may be wrong, but if gravity is just a product of the environment of this solar system and might be variable depending on solar field output and some other mechanism, then we start to explain a lot of other mysteries as well.

Happy Monday

Think on it. I'll hopefully get caught up and we can review more on the upcoming war between Israel and Hezbollah (and probably Syria and possibly Iran) as well as the economic situation (holding steady and should hold steady for a month or two more - I hope).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Syrian "Reactor" and the Senate Hearing

Let's examine what is publicly available about what the CIA told the Senate today regarding the Syrian building that was destroyed by the Israelis last year. To recap, I have been a skeptic that this building housed a reactor facility for a number of reasons.

By the way, if any of you out there that catch a mistake on my part, please kick me an email at flagg707_at_gmail_dot_com.

First, some aerial recon photos. We will review these pictures going on the assumption that this is a nuclear reactor facility.



Nothing new here. This the building housing the "reactor." This does not appear to be a standard containment building. It appears to be a confinement building. This is not mere wordplay.

Containment means that the reactor vessel and associated equipment is surrounded by a thick concrete shell. This concrete shell is built to withstand overpressures within the structure, in case of a rupture or steam line break which would cause an explosion. It is built to "contain" the results of a catastrophic failure of the reactor vessel. Secondarily, such structures are generally built to withstand airplane impacts and other hazards exterior to the reactor.

Confinement is a less-robust means of enclosing the reactor. In the U.S. you will see "confinement" structures over small research reactors. Perhaps the Syrians decided just to use confinement. That makes little technical sense, but nothing about this story makes any technical sense.

These two pictures are interesting. This shows why I regard the structure as "confinement" and not "containment." Containment structures are made from "single-pour" concrete. This does not appear to be a single-pour structure, but it may just be a bad angle.



And here is the money-shot. The above picture is the clincher for me. The aerial photos are all ambiguous at best. Those overhead shots could be anything. This picture here, however, would sway me from the strong skeptic camp to stunned acceptance that yes, the Syrians were building a reactor. Let's compare the above picture to a picture from the Yongbyon reactor in North Korea:


Image courtesy Armscontrolwonk

Alarm bells are going off now. I would never have believed the Syrians to be so stupid - as my previous posts indicated. Next, if you are interested, here is the video presentation from the CIA. Assuming that this is not Israeli disinfo, big props to their spy for the pics:




Online Videos by Veoh.com

Recap

I had believed that there was no way the Israelis attacked a nuclear reactor last year. The Syrians would never be so stupid as to believe they could build a reactor and hide it from the Israelis I reasoned, in addition to the many technical issues:

  1. As soon as you start up a reactor, radioactive noble gases are released and are practically impossible to contain. There are detectors all over the world set up to detect just such fission product gases. As soon as Syria began operation, someone was going to know.
  2. Where's the fuel reprocessing and the plutonium processing facilities? Whether the Syrians were going to use REDOX, PUREX, UREX, or some other processing to remove the plutonium from the fuel, it would require substantial infrastructure that is nowhere to be found. Burning fuel rods gains them nothing without the ability to pull out the plutonium, cast it, work and weaponize it.
  3. Where's the waste handling system? When you reprocess used nuclear fuel, it generates waste streams that must be taken into account, especially if you are trying to hide a clandestine nuclear program. This would not be a trivial facility.
  4. Where was the fuel going to come from?
  5. Where did or where was Syria going to get nuclear-grade graphite to operate the reactor? It takes a very high-purity form of graphite to serve as a moderator in this type of reactor. Natural graphite carries with it significant quantities of boron, a neutron poison, that would render a reactor built with it useless.

Implications

There are only two real implications from the data above:

The Syrian governing elites are retarded. Seriously. How could they think they could get away with building such a facility? How?

Or, the Israelis are playing a very risky game and spreading disinformation in an effort to secure U.S. support when they attack Hezbollah and Syria in the coming months. This also has holes in it.

While I am not Israel's biggest fan (I still remember the U.S.S. Liberty and think Jonathan Pollard should have been taken out and shot at the gate of the Israeli embassy, his body left to rot in the sun for a week) I would not think they would play such a game, especially since all Syria would have to do is open up the site to the IAEA as soon as the bombing ended.

The Syrians did NOT open up the site after the bombing ended.

The above pictures are consistent with a reactor under construction. As unbelievable as it may sound, I have to say that I have been swayed and believe the idiots were really trying to build a reactor.

I can't tell you why - they sure as hell weren't going to be making a bomb any time soon.

Endgame

Goodbye Assad. I imagine Vegas will put a line out on how long you last once Israel begins the next round of beat-downs in the Middle East - probably some time in late May or early June. My guess is the over/under will be somewhere around two weeks.

I was wrong in my earlier assessments, it appears. I was basing my assumptions on Syria acting like a rational player that knew the Israelis had thoroughly penetrated every aspect of her governing elites. People that stupid deserve what they get. Especially when you think you can play around with nukes, because, as we've discussed before, Amateurs Don't Do Nuclear Weapons.

Follow-up

I suggest you check out Fabius Maximus' blog over the coming weeks. He's been doing an excellent analysis of how aspects of the Iraq war are being covered by different portions of the media and blogosphere. If, as I expect, Syria and Hezbollah wind up on the receiving end of significant ordnance in the coming months, I'm sure he will be providing the same valuable service for that conflict as well.

Video of the Syrian "Reactor"

Looks like we'll have video for the upcoming review of Syrian "nuclear" activities.

U.S. Sees N. Korean Links to Reactor
by David Sanger
WASHINGTON — After seven months of near-total secrecy, the White House is preparing to make public on Thursday video evidence of North Koreans working at a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor just before it was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike last September....

...Other pictures, officials say, show what appears to be the construction of a reactor vessel inside the building that Israel later destroyed. It is unclear what the administration is willing to release...

I'll definitely want to see the picture of this "reactor vessel." It should be interesting to see what info and pics they release to the public. Click here and here for previous coverage of this topic.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reminder

Just FYI, the offer by Elliott Wave International for free access to over $300 worth of trading lessons (which we discussed here) expires on Friday.

Even if you don't trade regularly, click over and download or review what you can. Events may force us all to get a little more active with our paper assets here in the coming months and free access to information that professionals pay dearly for might come in handy, even if you don't need access to it now.

Or not, it is completely up to you.

A Bad Sign for the U.S. Economy

We haven't blogged much on the U.S. economy recently. That's mainly because there is nothing truly new to say. There is a financial hurricane churning offshore. It will be a bad hurricane, but like all storms, it will pass, leaving behind devastation and a playing field open to new competitors. The "experts" choose to ignore this hurricane. Fine by me.

The current working hypothesis is that after a series of radical moves by the Fed and the banksters, that confidence has temporarily been restored. I am hoping for a muddle-through scenario or even a significant rally in the DJIA to carry us into early summer. Then I expect some serious trouble as the Q2 numbers come in and the ugly deterioration of bank and investment firm balance sheets comes to light and we then get a very steep plunge in equity prices.

The following story does nothing to shake my fear of a medium-term problem:


UPS: "Dramatic slowing in the U.S. economy"
from Calculated Risk
...UPS's first quarter results illustrate the dramatic slowing in the U.S. economy. At our investor conference on March 12th, we told you that volume growth in January had been up 3%. But in the six weeks prior to the conference, it had been negative. We also said if these trends persisted through March, we would not achieve the earnings guidance we had provided for the quarter. [The] trends did continue. Many have become sharply more negative in the last two months. ... The great unknowns are the severity and the duration of the current economic slowdown. Many of our customers have tightened their belts resulting in a shift away from our premium air products to ground shipments...

A Countdown To...?


The new shed built on the ruins of the supposed "nuclear facility" attacked by the Israelis

I've banged out a series of long posts on why I personally believe that this upcoming "revelation" that our North Korean friends were helping the Syrians build a reactor to produce plutonium borders on the ridiculous for both technical and strategic reasons. Please read Syria, Israel and the Mystery Attack - More Lies the Gray Lady has Told Me? and Here We Go (Middle East Version) for a review.

It is, however, also a current working tenet here in the FutureJacked bunker that such accusations will be used as an excuse for attacking Syria and their Hezbollah associates, with the added gravy of letting the neo-con faction in the U.S. government throw Ambassador Chris Hill under the bus and scuttle negotiations with the NORKs.

Once details are leaked from this briefing, we will go over them in detail. Until then, keep an eye on this developing situation.

CIA to describe North Korea-Syria nuclear ties
By Paul Richter and Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
WASHINGTON -- CIA officials will tell Congress on Thursday that North Korea had been helping Syria build a plutonium-based nuclear reactor, a U.S. official said, a disclosure that could touch off new resistance to the administration's plan to ease sanctions on Pyongyang.

The CIA officials will tell lawmakers that they believe the reactor would have been capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons but was destroyed before it could do so, the U.S. official said, apparently referring to a suspicious installation in Syria that was bombed last year by Israeli warplanes.

Wonkish Irriation Alert - a reactor of the Yongbyon design is NOT a "plutonium-based nuclear reactor." Dear God, please miracle some scientific knowledge down into the fact-checking staff at the L.A. Times. Please. Pretty please. This design allows for the production OF plutonium via U-238 capturing a neutron during the fission of U-235. And YES, it does matter. A Pu-based reactor is an entirely new level of technical sophistication implying a serious supply chain of plutonium fuel and significant mastery of reprocessing - vital elements in both bomb and power programs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Georgia Heats Back Up

So much for Russian-Georgian tensions easing:


Georgia Says Russia Downed Spy Plane
by Simon Montlake, Christian Science Monitor
Diplomatic tensions have flared in the Caucases over the fate of a Georgian spy plane allegedly shot down Sunday as it flew over a breakaway pro-Russian region. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who has cultivated military ties with the US and sought to join NATO, accuses Russia of shooting down the unmanned drone. The United Nations Security Council is due to discuss the incident on Wednesday.

The incident has drawn attention to friction between Russia and former Soviet territories that favor closer Western engagement, including NATO membership. It also underscores lingering tensions over unrecognized breakaway states in the region following Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, which Russia strongly opposed...

Check out our previous coverage of the troubles between Georgia and Russia here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Literary Aside

I performed a strategic review of the world situation over the weekend - going back over my action plans for dealing with good, muddled and bad socionomics conditions and how current events in places like Europe, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, et al, could wind up directly affecting my life, family and career.

In doing so, I recalled a quote from Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power, a sentiment very applicable to those of us who are trying to game out what I expect will be an enormous upheaval in the "American Way of Life" in the coming years. I pass it along for your consideration:

Half of your mastery of power comes from what you do not do, what you do not allow yourself to be dragged into. For this skill you must learn to judge all things by what they cost you. As Nietzsche wrote, "The value of a thing sometimes lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it - what it costs us." Perhaps you will attain your goal, and a worthy goal at that, but at what price? Apply this standard to everything, including whether to collaborate with other people or come to their aid. In the end, life is short, opportunities are few, and you have only so much energy to draw on. And in this sense time is as important a consideration as any other. Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of others - that is too high a price to pay.

The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene, pages xxi-xxii

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A View to a Kill

U.S. soldier on patrol

FutureJacked readers will almost certainly already be aware of this, but let's review quickly:


Moqtada al-Sadr issues 'all-out-war' ultimatum
Deborah Haynes in Baghdad
The head of the most powerful Shia militia in Iraq has threatened all-out war in a final ultimatum unless Iraqi and US forces halt operations against his fighters.

The prospect of a showdown with the al-Mahdi Army of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who launched two uprisings against US forces in 2004, comes as fears mount of a renewed campaign of bloodletting by Sunni Islamist al-Qaeda. An upsurge in violence on these two, key fronts could unravel a raft of security gains made by the US military over the past year, at a time when more than 20,000 US troops are withdrawing from the country.

Hojatoleslam al-Sadr issued his threat to Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, last night as operations against his forces continued in the southern oil-hub of Basra, the Baghdad slum of Sadr City and elsewhere...

Let's develop a list of things to watch for as this unfolds. I have an even more keen interest in this region of the planet these days as a good Friend of FutureJacked is about to deploy to the sandbox in the near future.

Look for initial "victories" by Iraqi "national army" forces (mostly old Badr Brigade types and tribals allied with them) supported by U.S. and British arms. Look for initial gains in Baghdad as well, especially if the U.S. can get enough walls up quickly and begin partitioning Sadr City.

4GW outfits like Sadr's collection of forces (and the various gangs and other tribals in Basra) are going to appear to lose big at first. There will be airstrikes. There will be neighborhoods "taken". Blood will fill the media stream and expect to see high body counts for "militants" and "insurgents".

Please keep your eyes peeled for secondary stories, though. This will tell the tale of whether the Coalition forces are backing the right strongman to impose order or whether we have backed unpopular militias to make sure that any success must be dependent upon keeping U.S. forces in-country:

  • Keep a tally of the bombardment of the Green Zone. Coalition forces will work hard to push "secure" zones out as far away from the Green Zone as possible. With the proliferation of crude rocket tech, this could be difficult to achieve.
  • Keep an eye on the petroleum infrastructure. If al-Sadr's folks want to get real nasty, look to see bombings of pipelines, refineries and the other usual suspects that go along with 4GW destabilization of infrastructure.
  • Logistcs, logistics, logistics. Watch for attacks on the supply convoys that feed Coalition forces in Baghdad. That long road from Kuwait could get even longer. This could lead to significant, if temporary and spotty, supply shortages at just the wrong time.
  • The rise (or fall) of the Blame Iran meme. This, in my opinion, may well be the key fallout of this upcoming wave of violence (if al-Sadr makes good on his threat to go to war). If we see mostly references to how local forces are attacking off their own resources, then that means the U.S. and Iran are working towards an agreement or have one in place and al-Sadr was the lamb to be sacrificed. If we see continuous drumbeats of "Iran is supplying terrorists with EFPs, rockets and arms" then, my friends, my long months of hoping for a dramatic diplomatic breakthrough between the U.S. and Iran may well be dashed and we'll have to reactivate the Iran WarWatch.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pondering

Pondering the events of the week...

What to discuss at the end of the week?

Credit?

On this Friday, we could discuss the ongoing credit crunch. Citi wrote down $16 billion dollars worth of assets and the market rallied like mad this morning. And don't tell me it is the "final kitchen sink write-down". Enjoy that while it lasts, but the rotten balance sheets are beginning to reek. Anyone who can do math is realizing that these Level 3 assets are festering garbage and the big banks are loaded to the gills with them. Turning to regional banks, we find balance sheets loaded with construction loans to developers and builders - right in the teeth of an emerging slow-down in CRE. Not pretty, but enough traders are still popping Xanax that they can ignore it for the moment.

The Middle East?

We could discuss the situation in the Middle East, but there is no real change there. Things are tense. Much is going on underneath the surface events that are being reported to the public. Everyone is wondering when Israel will launch the attacks to settle the score with Hezbollah over the 2006 Summer War or when Hezbollah will launch the attacks to settle the score with Israel over the Mugniyah hit. No one (who is talking, at least) knows for sure, so many are talking about it as if they do.

Socionomics?

Or, we could discuss the muddled socionomic picture, but again, there is nothing fresh to report. We see signs of conflicted social mood everywhere. Food riots on one hand, rallies in the equity markets on the other. The growth of the Secession meme continues and walls are going up left and right, yet we also see popular culture still expressing a dominant positive theme, with even recent horror movies more campy than fearful. The only thing I can think to say about social mood is that we are in a long, drawn-out transition period where the delusions of the last huge spike in positive mood are still blinding the vast majority of the media outlets to the creeping tide of negativity that is popping up around the country and around the world.

Iraq?

Iraq is still Iraq. No new ideas have been put forth to provide a template for what "victory" might look like. No new strategic initiatives have been implemented other than to buy off Sunni Tribals and the Badr Brigades (pardon me, Iraqi National Army) and hope for the best. Good men and women are dying for a policy rooted in self-delusion and hubris. Alas, no change there either.

Or...

So, with little new to report, let's turn our attention to one of the enduring mysteries of our time - was it an attack by the Lizard Man, or a mad frenzy of violence by Bigfoot?

Bigfoot in S.C.? Experts: ‘it’s the real deal’
‘It’ attacked a van in Bishopville and attracted a Bigfoot-hunting team to the state
By RANDY BURNS - The (Sumter) Item
BISHOPVILLE — Something apparently attacked Bob and Dixie Rawson’s van in the early morning hours of Feb. 28.

The Rawsons live about two miles southeast of downtown Bishopville. They woke up Feb. 28 to find the front fender of their 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan chewed up, bite marks through the front grill, wheels on both sides bitten and metal crumpled in a wad. There was also blood on the front and sides of the car.

While there has been no “official” sighting of the Lizard Man since July 1988, the Rawsons’ evidence has created a stir, not just locally but nationwide.

After the Rawsons contacted a Columbia TV station, the story was aired on CNN. In March, filmmaker and self-proclaimed Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi and his five-man team visited Bishopville to discover the truth of the Lee County incident...

Have a great weekend...

Edward N. Lorenz, RIP

Edward N. Lorenz

Edward N. Lorenz, generally regarded as the father of modern Chaos Theory, has passed on to that undiscovered country from whence no traveler returns.


Edward N. Lorenz, 90; scientist developed influential chaos theory
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Edward N. Lorenz, the MIT meteorologist whose efforts to use computers to increase the precision of weather forecasts inadvertently led to the discovery of chaos theory and demonstrated that precise long-range forecasts are impossible, died of cancer Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 90.

Lorenz was perhaps best known for the title of a 1972 paper, "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?" The memorable title pithily summarized the essence of chaos theory -- that very small changes in a system can have very large and unexpected consequences...

Chaos Theory is incredibly useful and quite liberating in a sense - when you know there are limits to predictions it forces you to be flexible and creative. Breaking the mindset of the "Clockwork Universe" was, in my opinion, a very important milestone in the history of ideas.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A DIY World

Check out this wave of posts by John Robb over at Globalguerrillas. He lays out a framework of how the action space we will all operate in might evolve in the coming years:

When reading the articles, think also of how you might leverage such systems for development of DIY systems for producing or working with local goods, especially localized ag products and leveraging scrap or "waste" products. Lot's of room to the upside for quick thinkers in a world where I believe the authority of various levels of governance will be declining at the street level and where things we take for granted like stable electricity supplies, easy access to credit, cheap food and transport fuels will all become much more volatile in both price and availability.

Here We Go (Middle East Version)

Satellite imagery showing the Syrian site in August last year (L) and after its alleged evacuation by Syria, in October. (DigitalGlobe)

Looks like a U.S. Senate hearing on the IAF attack on Syria last year is in the cards. How this is spun will, in my opinion, be a strong signal of whether Israel is about to drop the hammer on Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, et al, or whether this has just been a period of rising tensions, like many other periods in the Middle East.

U.S. Senate to discuss N. Korea-Syria nuclear ties
By Amos Harel and Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondents
The American administration intends to give the Senate Intelligence Committee an account of the nuclear ties between North Korea and Syria for the first time on April 22.

Senior IDF officers have warned, however, that the release of any information containing details of the Israeli Air Force strike in Syria last September could increase tension between Israel and Syria. The meeting is expected to be held behind closed doors at Israel's insistence, but the Americans did not promise not to brief journalists afterward.

Media reports in the United States could alter the gag order Israel has imposed on Israeli media coverage of the IAF's strike in Syria.

Just a quick review of why I am still very, very skeptical of claims that Israel attacked a Syrian "nuclear" site:


  1. I am asked to believe that Syria thought it could build a nuclear reactor without the Israel intel services discovering it. I cannot believe this. You have to have lots of specialty equipment. Even in a basic reactor like the Yongbyon design that supposedly was provided Syria, you need nuclear-grade graphite, fuel and the controls to run it. Dictators can be delusional and they can be stupid, but to survive in the arena of Middle Eastern politics, you can't be totally delusional or else you will be very dead, very soon.
  2. It's not just the fact that I am asked to believe a nuclear reactor was being built, it's the fact that to use such a nuclear reactor as a way to generate Pu-239 for use as warhead material requires an enormous infrastructure. You have to be able to remove the used fuel (which is intensely radioactive), get it to a processing center where you will use large quantities of acids to break down the fuel and separate out the Pu-239. Well, to get Pu-239 in relevant amounts, you would have to run that reactor for at least 4-6 months, then go through an extensive industrial process to isolate the plutonium - all the while releasing radioactive gas into the atmosphere in quantities that can be measured by the many detection posts that cover the earth.
  3. Then, to make the plutonium useful, you have to work with the metal to get it cast into proper shape. Did I mention that plutonium is quite toxic and very difficult to work with when you have to machine parts to fine tolerances?
  4. Then you have to have a legitimate bomb design. You have supposedly got your reactor from the North Koreans. These jokers, who did have all the above as far as facilities, by the way, had a miserable failure of a bomb test a few years back. Even with all the advantages of infrastructure and a regime dedicated to the bomb effort, they failed. And I'm asked by the opinion-leaders to believe that Syria thinks they can use that same system and get better results? Riiiiight.
  5. Okay, there are also other options, I guess. Things like North Korea has provided finished plutonium or "dirty bomb" material. I guess that is possible, but again, we are back to the fact that if this supersensitive material was somehow shipped between two of the most scrutinized countries on earth - without detection - they then went and stored it in a light industrial building up near the Turkish border. Riiiiight.

Now, my skepticism aside, the Israelis don't just conduct raids for nothing. This one was well-planned and well-executed. I am still skeptical that anything nuclear was the point of it, but frankly, the Syrians are acting guilty of something. If that had just been an innocent storage shed, if I were Assad, I'd have opened up the entire area to IAEA inspection and invited every reporter in the region to inspect it.

There is so much going on right now in the Middle East that just is not playing out to the old scripts. I still think something big is coming down. That's why I am paying so much attention to this right now.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Syria and Israel, Again

Beirut during the Summer War between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006

We have not seen the announcement of "details" on the Israeli attack on a "suspected Syrian nuclear facility" which I suggested in Heads Up would be the warning sign that hostilities between Israel and Syria would begin. We touched on the topic again briefly, this time including Hamas in the equation, in Another Warning Flare.

Well, let's do a little news-stringing this morning to review the situation further. The pressure is building in the Middle East and it looks almost coordinated:

We have this from DEBKAfile, breathless as usual:

Exclusive: Another Syrian armored division masses on Israeli-Lebanese borders

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Damascus has deployed the 10th arm[or]ed corps at the Massaneh crossing of Mount Hermon. It links up with the northwestern positions the 14th division took up last month on the Syrian-Israeli border which cuts through the Hermon range...

And this from the Middle East Times:

What's going on in Syria?
by Olivier Guitta, Middle East Times

Syria has been regularly popping up in the news. In fact, recent events point to the importance of that country for the future of the Middle East. Syria's political situation may indeed have an important impact on a few countries: first of course Lebanon, second Iraq, third Israel, and finally Iran.
First, one should not underestimate Syria's potential for creating havoc on a whim by using some of the militant groups it actively supports: such as Hezbollah and Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon, or Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories...

...Indeed, Assad is viewed as a weak leader who, for example, did not retaliate after Israel bombed Syria's nuclear facility back in September 2007. At the same time, Israelis have privately complained that the United States is not "allowing" them to go through with the negotiations with Assad...

And then we get this from Ynet News:

Report: Syria bracing for Israeli attack

by Roee Nahmias
Is Syria preparing for war? Qatar's al-Watan newspaper reported Monday that political and media sources in Damascus expressed concerns that war may breakout between Israel and Syria before long.

According to the report, the nationwide emergency drill held by Damascus in response to a similar drill held by Israel last week, is one of the preemptive steps taken by Syria, which is supposedly responding to reports of Israel holding strategy meeting with the US in an attempt to devise an attack on both Syria and Iran...

Wow, where to begin. We have a mix of anlayses that look calculated to prepare folks for serious trouble. DEBKAfile is always on the watch for threats to Israel and tends to exagerrate the implications of moves among the many players in the Middle East. That said, something is going on in Syria. I personally think it is probably more related to the fact that President Assad's brother-in-law is suspected of setting up Mugniyah for a hit and of playing footsie with the CIA. It's a shame he was discovered on that last point. We are going to need a strong man ready to put in place if/when the bombing of Syria begins. But DEBKAfile goes a bit further, suggesting that Syria was getting ready to move into attack mode. That is ludicrous on the face of it. In an old-fashioned showdown between armored forces, Israel wins 100 times out of 100. Syrian tanks are old. They would not have air superiority, which is a prerequisite for an armored offensive. It would be a massacre. They Syrians know it. DEBKAfile knows the Syrians know this. Very, very fishy.

And then there is the Middle East Times article painting Assad as a weak leader. Weak? This is the guy that survived the crisis that blew up with Hariri was assassinated in Lebanon, resulting in the expulsion of Syrian forces from that country. That was a huge negative blow to the regime, but Assad managed to survive and remove potential enemies while doing it. Assad is now moving against his powerful brother-in-law and has apparently managed to get him under arrest and get his people in the intel structures. The author, Guitta, has to know this. I wonder what the impetus was behind getting this article out there, which has already been picked up by at least 7 news outfits in the Middle East (according to a very unscientific scan of Google News).

And the Ynet News story - that's more standard, but also just as worrying. Israel conducts a massive 5 day drill. Syria responds with a small readiness drill of their own. Syria is painted as being the source of instability.

Somethings brewing my friends, I'm just not sure what. The reason I have been worrying so much about this recently is the potential for blowback that leads to a return to major fighting in Iraq and an attack on Iran. I've discounted the potential for an attack on Iran over the last six months or so, but the expected big diplomatic breakthrough hasn't occurred yet. I'm sure they are working on it, but the longer it drags on, the more the potential for mistakes builds.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Teutonic Socionomic Signal

During a turn towards negative mass mood, socionomic theory tells us that societies will encourage more restrictions on transportation. In an echo of the 55 mph national limit imposed in the U.S. during the downturn of the 1970's, Germany is now clamping a speed limit down on the autobahn:


Germany: Speed Limit Is Now A Reality

Well, it finally happened. The world famous, bullet-fast, no-speed-limit German autobahns may soon become just like every other highway – boring.

"For the first time in the country's highway history," reported Germany's Deutsche Welle this week, "a German state has set a speed limit on its Autobahn…limiting car traffic to 120 km per hour."

Calls to slow down the autobahns were sounded several times this decade – because, reportedly, "The danger of serious accidents…is reduced wherever there is a speed limit" (DW), and because fast driving "senselessly wastes energy and harms the climate." (Reuters)...

Note that Reuters and Deutsche Welle touch on memes that I believe will be leveraged by governments and mass movements to clamp down on societies across the globe - the "safety at any cost" culture, the "energy crisis" meme and of course, the big hammer in the elites' toolkit - environmental concerns.

These memes will be used as the excuses to describe and act out the coming wave of negative mood. Be sure your career, your portfolio and your loved ones are not on the "wrong" side of the trends.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Deal With Iran?

The Fine Art of Negotiation, courtesy Hollywood Today

Charles Hugh Smith over at Of Two Minds takes up a theme we've discussed here before - that the situation in Iraq is (and has been for nearly a year) ripe for a deal between Iran and the U.S. that stabilizes the region into acceptable spheres of influence.


Did the U.S. Cut a Deal with Iran?

History is chockful of secret diplomacy which is later revealed to have played a decisive roles at key turning points. Sometimes secret deals are made, other times opportunities/openings are squandered. Either can mark a "tipping point" into conflict or cooperation.

The main point is that the public and media have literally no clue that critical negotiations or correspondence is passing between supposed enemies/neutral parties. In recent history, a prime example might be Nixon's visit to China and the secret meetings which led to diplomatic relations. The media had no clue that such negotiations were in progress...

...There are two compelling pieces of evidence which suggest the U.S. negotiated a deal with Iran in May, 2007. The first is a chart of coalition combat deaths in Iraq [note, follow link for chart], which show a steady increase up to May 2007 as horrifically effective armor-piercing roadside bombs were deployed by insurgents.


Second, the U.S. made it clear that such advanced weaponry was coming from Iran...

Much as I despise the Mullahs, a deal is the only real option for the best interests of the U.S., in my opinion. The blowback and unintended consequences of attacking Iran are just too great. If we see an announcement in the coming months about Iran suspending enrichment activities or agreeing to significant restrictions under IAEA supervision, then we can feel even more confident that a deal a major proportions has been struck.

Note the kind of analysis done by Mr. Smith and compare it to the "analysis" relayed via Forbes which we discussed in Iran War Porn.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blogroll Addition

I've added Politics in the Zeros to the blogroll under Random and Useful. Check out the wide selection of thoughtful postings on society, government, current events, war and economics - well worth your time to check out daily.

Another Warning Flare

Hamas fighter during last year's attacks against Fatah in the Gaza Strip

In Heads Up, we looked at the possibility of a new war between Israel, Hezbollah and/or Syria and/or Iran.

I left out Hamas. They may actually be the first to feel the hammer fall. It would be a way for the IDF and IAF to stress-test the changes they incorporated into doctrine after the war with Hezbollah in 2006, plus, Hamas seems to be getting more professional in their military ops:

Analysis: A drill in the North, a war in the South

by Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post
While this week's nationwide emergency exercise focused attention on the missile barrages Israel might suffer in a future conflict with Syria, Hizbullah and Iran, Wednesday's events are a reminder of a conflict that is already taking place - the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday, Palestinian terror groups claimed two victories in their daily attacks against Israel. The first was the well-planned ambush against a force from the elite Egoz reconnaissance unit in Gaza during which gunmen killed an Israeli soldier. Later in the day, four terrorists infiltrated the Nahal Oz fuel depot along the Gaza border and shot dead two Israeli civilians...

I have to think that Israel will make a serious and sustained incursion into Gaza on the heels of these two attacks. Keep an eye on how it plays out.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

For Traders

One theme of FutureJacked is that markets for commodities, equities and bonds will become increasingly volatile in the coming years as we transition into whatever awaits our society.

Some of you out there trade your own accounts and prosper at it. For those that want to consider trading as an option, Elliott Wave International is giving another free preview of one of their premium services. For those inclined to do more than park assets in a mutual fund, this is one way you can learn to prepare for the volatile times ahead. I've had good feedback on other free offerings from EWI, so I'm posting on this one as well. Those of you who take advantage of this offer, kick me some feedback (flagg707 _at_ gmail _dot_ com) so that I have an idea of whether to keep posting free offers from Elliott Wave International in the future.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Heads Up

IDF unloads on Syria during the Yom Kippur War, picture from PBS

In the spirit of an FYI, Stratfor's George Friedman has issued a report that compiles a long list of small warnings that might be the signal flares of a new war in the Middle East. I suggest giving it a good read.

Like Stratfor, I've been mystified as to just what the hell the Israelis were doing in their attack on Syria last year (see here, here, and a long one here).

I have no clue what is going on, but I will give you my best guess for a warning sign that the Israelis are about to go out and try to beat the holy hell out of Syria and Hezbollah - it will be some sort of big press announcement that Israeli forces brought back "proof" that Syria was building a nuclear reactor with the assistance of Iran and/or North Korea. I personally will be quite skeptical of this and assume a frame-up job for reasons I blogged about previously, but it doesn't matter what I think. That will be my personal signal that Israel is going to ratchet things up to a shooting war.

Worry Points

If that happens, start worrying about the unintended consequences, start worrying about blowback to U.S. forces in Iraq if Iran decides to show its displeasure by encouraging attacks in Baghdad and points south, and start worrying about what all this would mean for oil prices, commodity prices in general and the potential for terror attacks by Hezbollah in areas outside the Middle East.

Will Israel decide it is time for Assad to go, topple his government with a drive on Damascus and risk the chaos that would follow?

Will Israel decide to go whole hog and bomb Iran?

I wouldn't lock down the bunker just yet, but be wary. Hopefully this all blows over...

UPDATE: The plot thickens - 'Fars:' Syria arrests Saudi in Mughniyeh probe

Amateurs Don't Do Nuclear Weapons

Picture of the towers at the Khusab heavy water processing facility, courtesy globalsecurity.org

Sad news out of Pakistan that two workers at the Khusab Heavy Water production facility in Punjab have died due to a chemical leak at the processing station.

Heavy water reactors allow you to go critical with natural uranium and breed plutonium. This works well for power plants, but it also works as a method of producing Pu-239 for warhead material (which is the impetus behind the Pakistani program).

I bring this up as a follow-up to the Iran War Porn post from a few days back. Nuclear weapons manufacture requires a significant industrial supply chain and wide-ranging expertise in physics, metallurgical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, logistics, civil engineering, explosives and twenty other science and engineering specialties.

For those that think you can just steal some used fuel rods, extract the plutonium and make a bomb from them, this is just another small reminder that amateurs don't do nuclear weapons. The entire supply chain, from R&D to production must be run by professionals or you don't get an effective device.

Amateurs talk nuclear weapons (like Messr. Andelman in the Forbes review of Iran, les choix des Armes?).

Amateurs hyperventilate about the ease in which "rogue states" will acquire these weapons and end the world.

Professionals talk logistics, maintenance and Quality Assurance/Quality Control programs.

Professionals worry about keeping the Pu-240 isotope at a small fraction of the Pu-239 isotope when breeding, making good lenses to focus the explosives, making the "physics package" robust enough to be launched in a missile or dropped as a bomb.

Professionals ask tough questions when Iran claims to be installing up to 6,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges, questions like what is the mean time between failure on each centrifuge? On each cascade? What is the purity of the hex going into the cascade? What is the max rotation speed? The tails assay coming out as opposed to what is being claimed?

Nuke's ain't easy, folks. Always remember that when a policy-maker or Beltway Genius tries to sell you on war, sanctions or diplomacy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Iraq Boiling

Just in time for the start of the hot season in Iraq, we see Maliki cranking things up a notch in his ongoing feud with Sheikh Moqtada al-Sadr:



Picture from the BBC

Iraqi leader warns Sadr movement
from the BBC

Nouri Maliki told CNN that the cleric's movement would not be allowed to take part in elections unless it disbanded its militia, the Mehdi Army.


The prime minister and major Iraqi parties had already called for militias to be dissolved as the government waged a security campaign against the groups. But it was the first time that Mr Maliki had singled out the Mehdi Army. "A decision was taken... that they no longer have a right to participate in the political process or take part in the upcoming elections unless they end the Mehdi Army," Mr Maliki said...


Wow. I did not expect this. My expectation was that after the ugliness in Basra and the realization that the Sadr's forces are quite strong relative to the "government" forces (Badr Brigade with Iraqi Army patches on their shoulders) that a quiet deal would be reached in a backroom somewhere in the Green Zone and things would calm down heading into the elections.

Looks like Maliki's Dawa party, along with Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (who holds the leash on the Badr Organization) and I'm sure a variety of smaller tribals and gangs, plus the biggest gang of all in Iraq, the U.S. military, has decided it is time to force a show-down and break Sadr. I could be wrong here and an accomodation could be reached, but they obviously want him neutered.

I guess I should wish them luck. It disgusts me to watch U.S. forces support scum like the Badr Organization (any outfit with roots in fighting against their own countrymen on the side of the Iranians makes me want to puke) but Iraq is a messy place and I guess the bright boys and girls in the Green Zone have figured that Sadr has to go first. Plus, reinstating strongman rule, even if it is just in the South and in Baghdad, must seem preferable to the track that is being followed at the moment - a road that leads to something as ugly as the Lebanese Civil War.

I wish them luck in trying to damp down the violence, but considering the many cross-currents among gangs, tribes and political factions, this kind of crackdown could end very badly.

Prediction: For what it is worth, my guess is that U.S. forces will enter into the fray on the side of the "government" according to the press releases that will be issued. Initial success will probably carry over into the early summer, with a lot of folks declaring "victory" against Sadr until a break point is reached and Sadr is either killed or he decides it is time to go into full resistance mode and then we can expect massive infrastructure attacks, interdiction of supply convoys coming up from Kuwait and a potential wholesale bloodbath by August or September.

Wish for best, prepare for the worst.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Aztlan Rising?


Hat tip to Harleydog over at Prudens Speculari for bringing this amazing ad to my attention. All sorts of alarm bells went off when I read the back story.

As the L.A. Times puts it:

Mexico reconquers California? Absolut drinks to that!

The latest advertising campaign in Mexico from Swedish vodka maker Absolut promises to push all the right buttons south of the U.S. border, but it could ruffle a few feathers in El Norte...

...The campaign taps into the national pride of Mexicans, according to Favio Ucedo, creative director of leading Latino advertising agency Grupo Gallegos in the U.S. Ucedo, who is from Argentina, said: “Mexicans talk about how the Americans stole their land, so this is their way of reclaiming it.

It’s very relevant and the Mexicans will love the idea...”

The first thing that boiled up in me was where's the freaking map showing that Mexico "stole" the land from Spain when they revolted? Or the map that shows the land Spain "stole" from the Aztecs, Inca and various other indigenous pepples?

But that's not the point.

Good advertising engages the emotions and associates those emotions with what you are trying to sell. The target audience for this ad is Mexican. Obviously the execs in charge of the advertising campaign think they have a raw vein of emotion to exploit here. Ad execs, like all professionals, come in various shades of competency. In this case, it looks like the folks at Absolut have picked a firm that knows their work.

One of the key items to take away from this is that the ad agency exec interviewed specifically stated, regarding the topic of Mexican anger and claims on the land north of the Treaty line: "It's very relevant..."

Relevant? The results of a war that ended 140 years ago? To my Anglo self, that seems absurd. Hell, while the ashes of the War for Southern Independence may still burn bright in a few places down South, if you ran an ad for Dixie Beer showing a map of North America with the C.S.A. carved out along the bottom, you wouldn't get this kind of emotion on a wide scale - and I grew up in the South.

But it is not about what I think, it is about what Absolut's Mexican customers think. If this ad campaign is successful and if the ad execs are correct in stating that this is a "relevant" topic for modern Mexicans, then folks, I would say that this is a potential pre-cursor to significant ethnic tensions in what is currently the Southwest.

This sort of thing was a topic of discussion in Catastrophic Abundance and one of my exercises at the end of the book was to suggest that you research Aztlan. I have touched on the topic of a reconquista movement supported by Mexico in Socionomic Trendspotting for 2008, Future News Headlines, and California as Leading Indicator.

But "touched on" the topic is about all I've done or plan to do until the first bombings begin - or until this latest wave of immigration is firmly acculturalized in the U.S. With the U.S. entering a period of negative social mood and with the Mexican government facing a very serious problem with the ongoing collapse of petroleum output, I fear the result will be a polarized population and extremists supported by a Mexican government that needs to use such a reconquista as an outlet for the many intelligent and motivated young men and women who need something bigger than themselves to believe in and who would have zero economic prospects in a Mexico facing petro-collapse and economic disaster.

Absolut Vodka has tapped into a stream of anger, separatism (from the U.S. point of view) and ethnic partitioning. This is straight out of the socionomic playbook for downtrends and conflict. If we really are headed into a period of negative social mood, then expect this story to grow from a mere dispute over advertising and national pride to the kind of thing where bullets and IEDs get exchanged.

For those of you who who live in the Southwest and are not of Hispanic ancestry, keep an eye out for how the trend is moving and have some plans in place to cover worst-case scenarios. I don't want you to think we are inciting ethnic tension here at FutureJacked - that is not the case. The elites of the world like to partition us off into various groups of "us" versus "them" as a way of keeping people distracted from the great economic and social engineering issues of the day. That said, the default to tribalism and "us" versus "them" works great because it is a hard-wired mechanism in the human brain. To wish it away, to ignore it, would be stupid.

Keep your eyes open. Watch the trends. Try to extrapolate trends out and think about ways to plan for a future that might be much more violent, much more ethnically oriented and much more worked up about redressing ancient grievances by taking it out on you.

Watch for Aztlan Rising.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Control

Be sure to check out 'Image Control and Power' over at Soob's site. Good stuff for those of us concerned about how and why human beings react to the images they consume.

Iran War Porn

Granted, the Iran WarWatch has been canceled here a FutureJacked headquarters, but please do check out War With Iran?, a Forbes book review of 'Iran, le choix des armes?' to get your war porn fix.


As is unfortunately usual when professionals with little-to-no nuclear background discuss nuclear power or nuclear weapons, we get some rather extreme word usage. For instance, the review author hyperventilates on the consequences of an Iranian nuclear weapon. One juicy quote:
What could happen should the world, or at least the part of the world that is immediately concerned about the future of mankind and the planet, lose sight of the fact that any further expansion of membership in the "nuclear club" could have catastrophic consequences for the very existence of life as we know it?

Dude, relax. An Iranian bomb would be on the order of 50 kT, give or take, depending on how it was boosted, the amount of HEU they decided to go with, etc. That is not going to end the world.

I think Messr. Andelman has apparently bought into the nuclear-bombs-end-the-world propaganda that was foisted on the public back in the Cold War years. One-off or even regional nuclear weapons exchanges - while horrible and leading to catastrophic local effects - are not going to end the human race.

There is also talk of how AQ Khan "brought the nuclear arms race to the subcontinent and far beyond" - but no mention (in the review - I am not sure how the book spins it) of the fact that India kicked Pakistan's ass in multiple wars, then detonated a nuclear weapon near the border (code named "Smiling Buddha" - I shit you not). Huh, if I'm a country that has been defeated multiple times in conventional wars by a neighboring country and then I see that neighbor developing a nuclear bomb, I might develop one of my own as well. But I digress. It's just that this kind of simplistic discussion of nuclear proliferation topics ignores so much critical information that it is mind-boggling.

Yes, we should fear nuclear war and yes we should work diligently to prevent weapons proliferation and push disarmament, but if we are going to address the Iranian nuclear issue with any hope of success, we must also keep our eyes on the facts and on the true ramifications, not wander off into a funhouse of nightmare scenarios that have no basis in physics. And the elites who help shape opinions need to help keep that discussion on a more rational plane.

As for the book itself, I unfortunately do not read French. Check out this useful review, though, and if you do find a translation, read it and evaluate it for yourself.

From reading Messr. Andelman's recap of the scenarios, it sounds like a lot of fear, hype and standard doom thinking. I don't see reference to issues that Iran would face, like problems with the material to build the 10,000 centrifuges postulated in one scenario, discussion of the many, many issues involved in making a fissile package of material robust enough to launch in a warhead, no discussion of extreme unlikelihood of Hezbollah allowing itself to be used as a front organization for a nuclear attack on Israel - knowing that Lebanon would be cease to exist mere hours later.

And I certainly see no reference to modern 4GW theory in discussion of military scenarios. Another indicator that this is a book produced by someone locked into the ossified industrial war - colonialist mindset that seems to infest the older generation of European elites. Oh well.

Sounds like more attempts to get the "Iran nuclear war" meme pimped out to the public instead of a cold review of the situation. Be wary of supposed experts trying to sell you on war - especially those claiming that their "scenarios" are only for educational purposes of how bad it would be.

Psy Ops can be tricky beasts and when the elites are mounting a campaign to sell you something - be it a new deodorant, a new television program or a war - you need to watch all the food they are preparing for your brain to feast upon, and then "eat" wisely.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Nice Socionomic Countertrend Indicator

As most of you know, I am working on an assumption that social mood (click here for a socionomics primer if this is new to you) peaked last year, as modeled by various equity market indices. Working on that assumption, I've been looking for a number of expressions of negative mood to begin manifesting. These include:
  • A wave of secessionist movements that provide serious challenges to established states

  • Negative themes in literature and movies (i.e. torture, critical acclamation of horror flicks, etc.)

  • Walls

The last item I think will be a particularly good marker for what I expect will be a decades long expression of negative social mood and anger. FYI, one great resource for the growth and use of walls, bunkers, tunnels and fences to constrain and atomize society can be found at the blog Subtopia.

So, with that in mind, I was pleasantly surprise to see this strong indicator of positive social mood pop up in the mediastream:


Picture courtesy of Reuters

Cyprus tears down barricade dividing island
By Michele Kambas and Simon Bahceli

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Greek and Turkish Cypriots pulled down barricades on Thursday separating them for half a century, reopening a street which became a symbol of Cyprus's ethnic partition.

The reopening of Ledra Street was meant to be a step towards ending the island's division, an obstacle to Turkey's membership of the European Union and a source of tension between NATO partners Athens and Ankara.

Hundreds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots crossed Ledra after the 80-metre (262 ft) stretch of road in the main commercial district of Nicosia was opened to pedestrians in a ceremony attended by UN envoys and dignitaries from both communities...


Combined with the rise of U.S. stock markets in the face of fundamentals and news that would lead one to expect a collapse in values, this story leaves me even more convinced that we should see a few months of positive social mood, rising or stable markets and a belief that the Fed has "fixed" the credit crunch.

I still think this will be a final Indian Summer before a seriously ugly "winter" of negative mood moves into the drivers seat for the 300 million of us here in the U.S. - but hey - enjoy it while it lasts.

UN Satellite Maps and Somali Pirates


I found a link to a UN Somali Pirate Map via Wired's Danger Room.

Makes one wonder what you could do with things like crime statistics and Google Earth.

UPDATE: Obviously others have thought the same thing about linking crime stats to interactive maps - check out IncidentLog.

Misc Admin

FYI, I've cleaned up a number of the links and banners on the site, dropping a number of them that saw no traffic. This site is definitely not a profit-making venture, but at the same time, I only want to keep links that folks find useful.

I've added an Elliott Wave Internationl link - to their Futures Focus. A number of you are interested in commodities (both from a trading perspective and from the concern about supplies and the impact on geopolitics) and this is a good source for both free and proprietary info.

Feedback is always welcome. You can kick me an email at flagg707 _at_ gmail _dot_ com.

Thanks as always for taking time out of your day to visit FutureJacked.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

One Last Window of Opportunity?

With the ferocious rebound/Sucker's Rally yesterday and a less-bad ADP employment number today, it looks like we may make it into late spring or early summer before the markets threaten to tank again.

I've said this before, but want to emphasize it again - get your fiscal house in order. This is a delusional rally based on expectations that have little foundation on corporate profit, balance sheet health or consumer spending trends.

I am hoping for a few months of optimism, one last positive socionomic wave of positive emotions and belief in the Sugar Daddy Federal Reserve theory, something that will give us all a few more months of reasonable calm in the markets. When people wake up and realize that there is a reason Command Economies like the old Soviet Union failed, then the Fed's efforts to gain regulatory authority over wide swaths of the investment community will be seen in a much darker light. Until then, let them eat cake while you prepare yourself.

I still expect 2008 to be The Year Everything Changes, but you still have time to position yourself economically (and geographically) to prepare yourself for massive volatility and to prepare to take advantage of that volatility while others stand still in shock.