Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pulling Another Brick from the Wall

Wall Collapse
The little things build up.

We've had a year in the United States where the fabric of civil society continued to unravel in many public ways. Much of the expressions of this unraveling continued to match up with how socionomics describes negative mood eras. From campus protests, to the Black Lives Matter movement, to a deepening divide among partisans of the two main political parties, to the Donald Trump phenomenon - it looked and sounded like a country in the grip of negative mood. The DJIA managed to start the year at around 17,800 and finish around 17,500, and though that change doesn't look like much, it encompassed a year where we swung from 18,351 to 15,651 and back again.

While I'll save my projections for 2016 for a later post, I did want to draw your attention to an issue that is getting some press and which I think matters deeply for reasons beyond the headlines. I want you to think a bit about the fact that the United States is on the cusp of withdrawing recognition of the identification documents issued by a handful of states which make up the Union.

As Ars Tehcnica put it:
TSA may soon stop accepting drivers’ licenses from nine states

The citizens of several US states may soon find that they can't use their drivers' licenses to get into federal facilities or even board planes.

Enforcement of a 2005 federal law that sets identification standards, known as "Real ID," has been long-delayed. But now Department of Homeland Security officials say enforcement is imminent. The "Real ID" law requires states to implement certain security features before they issue IDs and verify the legal residency of anyone to whom they issue an ID card. The statute is in part a response to the suggestion of the 9/11 Commission, which noted that four of the 19 hijackers used state-issued ID cards to board planes...
...The law was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2008 but was subject to repeated delays. In recent months, DHS has been telling states those delays are over and that the law will be implemented in 2016. However, any restrictions on air travel won't go into place without at least 120 days' notice, and no state has received such a notice yet. In several states, however, restrictions on entering federal buildings could kick in as early as January 10...
The latest list (as of 31 December 2015) from the DHS has the following states shown as non-compliant and subject to enforcement as of January 10, 2016:
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Washington
Many articles address the initial concerns for people who hold ID cards from these states. The main issue on most people's minds is that they won't be able to be used as an ID to get past TSA for air travel. It also means they won't be able to get into federal facilities using their valid driver's license to boot.

We'll see how it works out in practice, but let's also think beyond the hassle factor and the clown show way popular media will deal with it (on the one hand, crazy state level conspiracy nuts won't abide by a sane law passed for our own good - on the other hand, this is yet another federal overreach and unfunded mandate put to the states with no real positive outcome other than an expansion of Big Guvmint). Socionomics tells us to expect anger and separatism in negative mood eras. Now imagine setting up lines at airports where Americans from non-compliant states need a passport to travel internally (via airlines) or are treated for all intents and purposes as foreign nationals before they can visit federal facilities. How is that going to play? Some of us with day jobs in one of the non-compliant states listed above who have to travel to D.C. on occasion to work with regulators are wondering just how we are supposed to meet with the feds if we can't get in the front door.

Would this include Congress? By that I mean not only will Congressional members have to use passports to travel, but what about citizens who want to visit their representatives? What about other facilities which are federally regulated such a nuclear power plants? How might this affect interacting with the IRS?

Add this issue to the various marijuana legalization and state-level gun law movements which smack of nullification (as we discussed last month) and we are pulling at yet another thread of our national fabric and setting up another psychological break between the states and the central government in D.C.

More to come on this issue, I am sure.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year. Keep your eyes open and your powder dry.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Risk ON? Risk OFF?

While I am still cooking some longer posts that will go in-depth on some of the macro-level issues that a negative Socionomic mood era can produce, I'd like to share the following from EWI.

As usual, I regard a lot of what they produce as not only interesting, but actionable.

- - -

Here is the opening paragraph of the just-published, subscriber-level report from our friends at Elliott Wave International, the world's largest independent financial forecasting firm.
[We have] been tracking a steady global shift to greater financial conservatism over the last 18 months. As we noted in October, the long duration of the transition from a "risk on" to a "risk off" attitude suggests that the next decline will "go deeper and last longer than that of 2007-2009," which was the biggest bear market since the Great Depression. The relationship between the MSCI Emerging Markets Index and the MSCI World Index on this chart shows a trend away from risk that will gradually ...
Now, I'm sorry, but I have to cut it off there, because the next part shares EWI's big-picture forecast, typically reserved for paying subscribers (but we have arranged for you for free at this link).
EWI's subscribers pay $59 per month to read insights like these and others, so they would string me up if I copied and pasted them right here into this email. But for the next week only, you can read their urgent new report in full, 100% free. It will be on your screen in about one minute.

Follow this link to unlock the rest of this report now -- free this week only >>

About the Publisher, Elliott Wave International
Founded in 1979 by Robert R. Prechter Jr., Elliott Wave International (EWI) is the world's largest market forecasting firm. Its staff of full-time analysts provides 24-hour-a-day market analysis to institutional and private investors around the world.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Nuclear Strike of the Month (December 2015): Target Dabiq


Daesh and the Apocalyptic Battle at Dabiq

Note on the Nuclear Strike of the Month Series: In this series I want to illustrate various ways attacks using nuclear weapons can play out.  I will be using Dr. Alex Wellerstein's online NUKEMAP tool to generate the estimates of the blast and follow-on effects and we'll be turning to concepts found in Nuclear Emergencies to help evaluate consequences.

My rationale is to show a wide range of nuclear attack scenarios short of all-out thermonuclear war. The idea is to give readers a feel for the destructive power of nuclear weapons, provide scenarios as thought experiments for your own planning, and to discuss what nuclear weapons can and (sometimes more importantly) what nuclear weapons can't do.

For a variety of reasons, it is my opinion we will see nuclear weapons used in warfare sometime between now and 2030. We might as well brush up on the basics. 


Nuclear Strike of the Month:  Dabiq

This scenario takes Daesh at its word and envisions a battle centering on the town of Dabiq. In this scenario, Daesh forces have assembled in the area for a major showdown with the forces of "Rome".  In this instance, one or more of the nuclear powers involved in the conflict in "Syria" and "Iraq" come to the conclusion that detonating a nuclear warhead over the site is warranted.

In this scenario we are making an assumption that the various players in the multi-sided conflict in "Syria" and "Iraq" actually want to see Daesh defeated, or at least the nuclear powers have decided it is time.

The Scenario

After taking Aleppo, Russian and Syrian forces loyal to Assad shifted focus to the south, rolling up various groups while holding a line extending to Raqqa. A new U.S. administration backs away from its support for the proposed Qatari pipeline through Syria and begins aiding Iraqi and Iranian-backed forces in Iraq substantially as well as coordinating closely with Russian forces, leading to a slaughter in Ramadi and a bloodbath in Mosul, which puts Daesh on the run.

The roll-up of Daesh continued up and until the fall of Raqqa. Where an historic photo captures a U.S. Special Forces officer shaking hands with a Russian Spetznas officer over the dead body of an ISIS commander. 

Daesh forces retreat for a death-or-glory battle in Dabiq. In addition, sleeper cells in Russia, the U.S., the U.K., and France, conduct a series of near-simultaneous terrorist strikes against soft targets. Shopping malls, football stadiums, markets, and tourist hotels are targeted. The deaths number in the thousands.

The Attack 

After joint consultation between the leaders of the four countries, including observers from China and India, the United States launches an SLBM armed with a W88 warhead and detonates it over Dabiq.



Air Burst Over Dabiq

Not much to see in terms of this kind of attack modeling. The destruction would be vast. An air burst would allow for forces to move in post-detonation, though one would expect to give it a week or so just to minimize contamination.

For an alternative view, here is what the detonation footprint and fallout pattern look like for a ground burst:
Ground Burst at Dabiq

Ground Burst at Dabiq, regional view
As a ground burst would foul the headwaters of the Euphrates as well as deposit radionuclides in lakes and reservoirs Turkey depends upon, one would need to be very angry with Turkey (and Iraq to a degree) to contemplate a ground burst here. 

The Aftermath

I'll let you think about what an attack on what, to some of the Salafists, is the equivalent of Megiddo (that is, Armageddon) in their world view. The potential blowback in places like Saudi Arabia or Turkey could be immense.

Thoughts and Plans

My thoughts on this one are that while we continue to regard the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear opponent as unlikely, I wish to continue to remind you that when we make these historical phase changes - the U.S. in 1860, Europe in 1939, the USSR in 1991 - the "rules" the various elites have fashioned to help control situations in the old order go out the window.

There is another thought for you to ponder as well, and that is, as we've seen over the course of the Nuclear Strike of the Month series this year, nuclear weapons are extremely blunt instruments. The damage and slaughter they can do is immense, but there are many other factors in fighting a war than body counts.

NOTE: This is the final installment in the Nuclear Strike of the Month series. While I do expect to continue to blog on this topic, we have covered plenty of ground over the past year in terms of scenarios. Future work is expected to drill more deeply into specifics of handling a post-nuclear war environment or analyzing current events which might lead to an exchange.

Clown Show Disclaimer 

Due to the subject matter of this post, it will be necessary to provide the following disclaimer. Blog posts like this tend to bring out comment trolls ready to gin up the Clown Show of name-calling, knee-jerk willful misinterpretation, and angry discourse generating much sound and fury, but which in the end, signifies nothing. Such comments will be deleted. 

I am not promoting nuclear war. I am not attempting to wish such an attack upon any population anywhere.  I am attempting to provide a plausible scenario which might lead to the use of nuclear weapons. My expectation is that you will use this scenario to war game whatever plans you may be putting into place to deal with this new era we find ourselves in and see if you are as ready as you hope.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Poking the Bear

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/03508/russia-1_3508898b.jpg
Russian Plane Shot Down by Turkish F-16s

As I am sure any reader of FutureJacked is already well aware of, Turkish F-16s have shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter jet. They claim the Russian jet invaded Turkish airspace. The Russians disagree.

Take this opportunity to recall historical moments have a way of snowballing out of control during negative mood eras. The power play going on in Syria and Iraq has pulled in every major power on the planet except India.

Take time out to review your situation. If war - real war - comes, expect to see strict capital controls, a lockdown on social media and internet platforms, dislocations across all sorts of economic and service sectors (especially if China decided to halt certain exports, say of rare earths and other key components to the West), a potential spike in oil if critical refineries and transport nodes in the Middle East were hit.

Should this really mark the beginning of a downward spiral to a nuclear exchange, take time to review the Nuclear Strike of the Month series and wargame your current preparations.

While I'm not convinced this is the trigger to a global war, history can move at absurd speed when the proper conditions are in place.

Be prepared, friends. If you aren't prepared - get there.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Automation, Jobs, and What Comes Next


In my recent post, Your Greatest Enemy, I emphasized the idea that as our current system continues to fly apart, being able to think creatively about how to handle this new environment will be critical. In that spirit, give a listen to Charles Hugh Smith and Chris Martenson in this excellent talk about automation, jobs, finance, and how might we go about building a new system of work, community, and governance - or at least thinking about it - before the final implosion hits us.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Nuclear Strike of the Month (November 2015): Target The Day After

The Day After (1983)
Note on the Nuclear Strike of the Month Series: In this series I want to illustrate various ways attacks using nuclear weapons can play out.  I will be using Dr. Alex Wellerstein's online NUKEMAP tool to generate the estimates of the blast and follow-on effects and we'll be turning to concepts found in Nuclear Emergencies to help evaluate consequences.

My rationale is to show a wide range of nuclear attack scenarios short of all-out thermonuclear war. The idea is to give readers a feel for the destructive power of nuclear weapons, provide scenarios as thought experiments for your own planning, and to discuss what nuclear weapons can and (sometimes more importantly) what nuclear weapons can't do.

For a variety of reasons, it is my opinion we will see nuclear weapons used in warfare sometime between now and 2030. We might as well brush up on the basics. 


Nuclear Strike of the Month:  The Day After

This month we will pick up where the other Nuclear Strike of the Month scenarios left off - the day after the detonation. We'll focus more on the "Thoughts and Plans" section rather than the attack scenario this time.

I am shamelessly pulling the title from the 1983 TV Movie of the same name. I recall watching it as a young teenager in complete horrified fascination. If you find yourself with a few hours to kill, it is well worth your time to watch, if nothing else than for a snapshot of the way sociopolitical issues around nuclear war were being communicated in the early 1980's :



The Scenario
In keeping with the spirit of the TV Movie, this scenario will begin with a strategic nuclear strike on Kansas City. We will then discuss not so much the attack itself, but what steps might you have been able to take prior to the attack and what survivors on the ground would face in the aftermath.

Any attack like the one envisioned here would almost certainly be part of a much larger series of strategic attacks on the United States (and we should assume, a significant retaliatory strike upon the country. I'm using nominal yields of 1 MT for the attacks.

The Attack

Kansas City was struck across the entire metro area. The Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail yards, the downtown airport, and the bridges over the Missouri River were primary targets. To the north, the Kansas City International Airport was hit as well. To the south, the National Nuclear Security Administration's National Security Campus (known better as the Kansas City Plant), where non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons packages are fabricated, was another target, receiving a groundburst, in an attempt to destroy any subterranean facilities.

NOTE: The permanent link to the attack scenario in NUKEMAP for some reason resets all the attacks as groundbursts, so if you follow the link and see the extra fallout paths, along with less (initial) casualties, it is an artifact of the program. Feel free to tinker with the scenario as you see fit.
Four nuclear detonations over Kansas City, Missouri (1 MT each)
The Aftermath
The estimated death toll is just under 800,000 dead immediately, around a quarter-million injured - and this leaves out the further effects of radiation sickness from either the initial blast or from ingesting fallout, nor does it address hunger and thirst.

As a reminder, here are what the color codes mean for the blast effects:
And the effects of the fallout:


The effects on infrastructure are quite severe. Kansas City is the second largest rail hub in the United States. The major rail yards would be utterly destroyed. All the major bridges over the Missouri River would be destroyed as well. Kansas City serves as a major center for intermodal and trucking transport - that would be shot as well.

Most of the major hospitals in the region are located in the blast zone - KU Med, St. Luke's, Truman Medical Center, the VA Medical Center on 35th Street, along with uncounted clinics and pharmacies.

Schools, water utilities, power utilities, power lines, fiber-optic cabling, cell phone towers would all be devastated. Knock-on effects on the entire regional power grid, whether from the disruption of power supply and infrastructure or from EMP blast effects, would almost certainly down power for cities and towns hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

The fallout pattern looks sickly similar to what we saw when we modeled the destruction of Whiteman Air Force Base back in August. The effects on farmland, the lower Missouri River watershed, and roads and railways outside the initial blast zone are also tremendous. Plus, we have to think, if we are in a total or near-total war scenario, if Kansas City is getting hit, so is Whiteman AFB, and probably St. Louis.

Thoughts and Plans
For this kind of massive attack scenario, one should expect to have at least some sense of impending world crisis prior to the missiles flying. While a massive attack out of the blue can't be completely ruled out, this adds so many variables that you might as well not leave your fallout shelter if this truly worries you.

I recommend you check out this resource for your reading, thinking, and planning pleasure. One caveat - they are trying to sell you stuff. That said, my review of the materials is that they line up quite well with nuclear war civilian survival planning documents for the last several decades. At a minimum you should at least think about the six main points they talk to.

Education and thought is key here and in a post-attack situation you will need to be able to adjust on the fly. For instance, the website in the link above sells, among other things, potassium iodide tablets. Well, let's say you didn't prepare, or you get caught away from  your home or shelter and believe a fallout cloud is going to settle on you. One of the key dangers in the early days post-attack is the ingestion of I-131, a radioactive isotope which will go to your thryoid and cause illness or death in large doses. By taking a potassium iodide tablet, your body would take the iodine from the tablet and load your thyroid, meaning not much radioactive iodine can latch on, thus protecting you (from that particular isotope - NOT any of the others). Well, in the U.S. at least, almost all the commercial salt sold to restaurants and grocery stores is "iodized salt" - so in an emergency scenario, find a salt shaker and iodize yourself. While not perfect, it is something.

Plans are one thing. Keeping your head in panicky situation and handling it well is something entirely different.

Regarding your personal situation, nuclear attack survival planning is dependent upon several factors, listed from what I regard as the most important down to least important:

Luck
  • Are you in an area which is targeted?
  • Is the wind blowing fallout towards you or away from you?
  • Is the wind blowing fallout towards or away from a reservoir or river you depend on? 

Your Neighbors
  • Do you have good working relations with your neighbors? 
  • Are they generally as prepared as you are?
  • Have you worked with them in the past as part of a group effort, whether in a civic organization or local government? 
  • Which ones are veterans?
  • Which ones are cops? Firefighters? Belong to the National Guard?
  • Which ones own firearms?
  • Do you trust them?
  • Do you live in an area with a history of violent ethnic tensions?

Your Preparations
  • Are you prepared? If you had to blink for the slightest second at that question, please head over to this FEMA resource and see if your preparations meet their suggestions for getting ready before an attack.
  • If you do not have a fallout shelter, where is your designated shelter? Is it in your home? At a local center or shelter?
  • If you are relying on your home, say a basement, do you require a sump pump to keep it dry? What happens when the entire power grid goes down for an extended period of time?
  • Do you have enough water? If you quickly answered yes, you are lying to yourself. You will need more water than you ever imagined. If you do not believe this, conduct a "stress test" of your emergency preparations. Pick a three-day weekend and shut off the power and water to your house. Survive on your supplies. Stay in your home or yard (whatever you think the scenario is you want to test). See what you think of your prepping after three full days.
Your Proximity to Federal or State Government Power Centers
Being close to major power centers can be a blessing and a curse. The elites will need their technocrats, soldiers, and workers able to serve them. This should lead to at least some level of shelter and supply.

On the flip side, the elites will get all "eggs must be broken to make our omelets" and that might mean a lot of razor wire fences, deportations, and shots fired.

In the Medium Term

Longer term issues begin to arise in the weeks and months post-attack. Reading through civil defense documents from an era such as the 1950's, there are often assumptions that city folks, or at least a big fraction of them, can leave town and find shelter with friends and/or family back on the farm. Well, those days are long over. Rural America has been strip-mined by corporate agriculture practices. There is no longer a huge network of mixed-product farms where at least some fraction of calories can be grown locally. The soils have been worked so hard that even carving up these large plots means a soil without the necessary microbes and organic matter to grow much of anything without inputs in the form of bulk fertilizers, anhydrous ammonia, chemical pesticides, etc. 

This has real implications. Urban life will be severely disrupted for a very long time. Historically in times or war or collapse, urban centers have suffered and rural areas (at least the ones not caught in a war zone or in the path of brigands or a leaderless mob that was once an army) have managed to survive. Would that be the case now? The bridge from here to there has to span an enormous learning curve. In our quest for efficiency and specialization, vast skillsets have been lost by the bulk of the population. Growing food for real, as in, you and your kids will eat what you grow or you will actually starve, is hard. Very hard. Learning it on the fly, worrying about fallout getting in the food chain, etc. These would be tough.

And that is just the aspect of food. Play out similar scenarios for getting the basics of life without reliable transportation networks or electricity. Hospitals and clinics would become little more than places where the sick could be made a little more comfortable and where amputation would make a comeback. Infection would kill those who now can just go to a pharmacy and get a $10 prescription for keflex.

Lastly, always remember, success and survival is a team sport. You can't watch your own back every hour of every day. If all your neighbors decide to vote and come over with their rifles and redistribute your year's supply of food, where does it leave you? Unless you've volunteered it, it leaves you at a minimum and outcast and quite possibly dead. Your neighbors, your family, your friends - these people can help you survive trying times. They'll all be suffering as well. There is strength in numbers. Yes, I know, groups of people are a pain in the ass. Just figuring out the agenda for a Lodge meeting, or coming up with a speaker and menu for a civic group luncheon can be trying - how much worse would it be in a disaster scenario? Granted - but we have evolved as social animals. It is what it is.

Clown Show Disclaimer 
Due to the subject matter of this post, it will be necessary to provide the following disclaimer. Blog posts like this tend to bring out comment trolls ready to gin up the Clown Show of name-calling, knee-jerk willful misinterpretation, and angry discourse generating much sound and fury, but which in the end, signifies nothing. Such comments will be deleted. 

I am not promoting nuclear war. I am not attempting to wish such an attack upon any population anywhere.  I am attempting to provide a plausible scenario which might lead to the use of nuclear weapons. My expectation is that you will use this scenario to war game whatever plans you may be putting into place to deal with this new era we find ourselves in and see if you are as ready as you hope.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Socionomics and Marijuana Legalization

As we continue to try and map the channels down which this new era of negative mood is going to flow, I suggest you set aside some time to watch the above video courtesy of the Socionomics Institute.

I think this issue encapsulates much of what we'll be facing - an issue long thought settled (marijuana has been a Schedule 1 drug for decades) is being reopened and fought against from the ground up, the public opinion on the illegality of pot has shifted dramatically and the governing structures in place are lagging significantly. While legalization has proceeded on a state-by-state basis, it is still illegal at the federal level.

This dynamic between the state-level approach to ending marijuana prohibition is fascinating and could inform the way other expressions of negative mood might get implemented. In short, having the states legalize this substance while still keeping it illegal under federal law - and letting the states go forward in this manner - is straight-up old school Nullification. Now, legally there is actually a bit more gray area as the states are not technically voiding Federal law, but the next step to replaying the Nullification Crisis isn't a big one and certainly not inconceivable should the next economic crisis prompt Federal laws which dramatically and negatively affect key states such as California, Texas, or Florida.

This tactic - of using state laws to neuter or otherwise render hard to enforce Federal laws - is also being tried with gun rights issues.

Makes you really wonder what else we might see in this arena. If cyber security becomes the next big bogeyman and the US moves in the direction of the UK as it attempts to ban all encryption that can't be compromised by the government, does California set up its own laws in defiance of a federal ban? What other areas do you see the states setting up in opposition to the Feds?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Your Greatest Enemy

Don't Believe Everything You Think

A brief reminder from FutureJacked Headquarters - be very careful of your assumptions. As Will Rogers once put it,
It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble. It's what we know that ain't so.
We continue, day by day, to edge towards a social, political, economic and demographic earthquake which will shear the foundations of the post-World War II world and provide us with the opportunity to build again from the rubble.

In the best of times you should always be ready to challenge your assumptions. To grab another quote, this time from a tome which alternately aggravates or inspires depending on your wiring:
Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.
In challenging times, clarity of thought is priceless.

With this in mind, here is a recent Pop Trends, Price Culture podcast from the formidable Robert Folsom which is well worth listening to and pondering next time you are so sure you are "right" that no other options are even conceivable:


I don't mean to say abandon all principles, but I do mean you should be flexible in your thinking and open to new solutions in a world where the assumptions built into the systems we all grew up with will be challenged. New solutions may involve radical changes in how you work and interact with your neighbors and your fellow citizens. Be mindful that a new world with new assumptions in the birthing. We may think the new baby is ugly, but we still have to deal with it.

And for those of you who like to dig deeply into the source material, here is the Dunning-Kruger paper for your viewing pleasure:


Friday, October 16, 2015

Nuclear Strike of the Month (October 2015): Target Middle East Tactical Exchange

150 kT Air Burst west of Baalbek, Lebanon, in the Bekaa Valley

Note on the Nuclear Strike of the Month Series: In this series I want to illustrate various ways attacks using nuclear weapons can play out.  I will be using Dr. Alex Wellerstein's online NUKEMAP tool to generate the estimates of the blast and follow-on effects and we'll be turning to concepts found in Nuclear Emergencies to help evaluate consequences.

My rationale is to show a wide range of nuclear attack scenarios short of all-out thermonuclear war. The idea is to give readers a feel for the destructive power of nuclear weapons, provide scenarios as thought experiments for your own planning, and to discuss what nuclear weapons can and (sometimes more importantly) what nuclear weapons can't do.

For a variety of reasons, it is my opinion we will see nuclear weapons used in warfare sometime between now and 2030. We might as well brush up on the basics. 


Nuclear Strike of the Month:  Tactical Nuclear Exchange in the Middle East

This month we will examine how nuclear weapons might be used tactically, as part of a direct military campaign. With all the talk recently about the Iranian Nuclear Deal, and now with the intervention of Russia in the Syria mess, I want to postulate a situation where Israel feels compelled to use nuclear weapons on the battlefield to reverse severe setbacks on the battlefield. I'm not including a first strike on Israel by, say, a nuclear-armed Iran or even Russia, because the retaliation Israel is capable of would push any response into a strategic nuclear exchange of damn near old Soviet-US proportions. I'll admit the following scenario is a huge stretch - Israel is not going to lose a conventional engagement in my opinion, but for the sake of trying to see how nukes might get deployed in the Middle East, we'll at least postulate it here.

We are using 150 kT warheads in this model. That may seem a bit on the high end for tactical weapons, and I admit it is a bit arbitrary, so feel free to alter the scenario if you like. I am modeling air bursts here as I am assuming the goal is to do maximum damage while avoiding intense long-term environmental issues and contamination. As usual zoom in and zoom out on the maps and see how exchanges like this compare to our analysis of a groundburst using multi-megaton warheads back in August.

The Scenario
Things really began to go downhill for Israel's strategic situation when the Great Slaughter of Palmyra finished off the last of the Daesh forces in Syria. Assad's revitalized army, along with support from Russian airstrikes, military advisers and special forces, contingents of Hezbollah, and several units of Iranian "volunteers" had chased Daesh out of Aleppo, out of Raqqa (with heavy losses on both sides), ending in the encirclement focused on Palmyra. The other insurgent forces fell rapidly as well, with only a few groups holding out in the extreme North under the protection of Turkey.

Iranian forces allowed a "back door" to remain open for a large number of Daesh forces as part of a Devil's bargain, giving them one chance at passage out of Syria, through Iraq, and into Saudi Arabia, which led several months later to the civil war which brought the House of Saud's focus back home and caused their support for Sunni forces in the general region to shrivel up.

While Syria began the process of rebuilding, they were no longer masters of their own fate, with Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah playing influential roles in major policy decisions. While juggling those outside influences, Assad also had to be wary of Turkey moving from occasional attacks on Kurdish positions to a full-blown invasion of Syria.

A series of provocations and miscalculations began to escalate all along Israel's northern border as they looked out across the frontier towards a Hezbollah which was even more emboldened now than they had been since the aftermath of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, to a Syria which now more resembled Lebanon in that Assad might run the official government, but there were strong forces within Syria completely out of his control. When Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah died in a massive explosion just outside of Baalbek, Hezbollah blamed the Israelis, the Israelis blamed it on an internal Hezbollah power struggle, and then rockets began to rain down on Israel from Hezbollah positions. First in ones and twos, then in waves.

Israel responded as they had in 2006, with massive bombardments and a major call-up of forces. What happened next had not been seen in Israel since the first dark days of the 1973 War. Instead of playing to script and waiting in fortifications to be shelled into pulp, waves of Hezbollah small combat teams in trucks and small armored vehicles streamed over the Northern border while at the same time conventional forces from Syria (and apparently led by Iranian officers in many cases) attacked the Golan Heights. These forces were all armed with next-generation tank-killer weapons and MANPADs which turned out to be more effective than intelligence estimates. Waves of drones flew south into Israel, some as kamikaze devices, some as decoys, some as surveillance platforms. While they had little direct effect on the battle, the psychological effect was intense, as swarms of them darkened the skies over Jerusalem and several crashed on the grounds of Dimona.

Then the unthinkable happened - an entire brigade found itself surrounded by Hezbollah forces near Dan, Israel - and they were cut down by a combined Syrian-Hezbollah attack before reinforcements could be brought to bear. The West Bank erupted into flames as sleeper cells sprang into action, bombing Israeli infrastructure and tying down security assets. A police station in a suburb of Haifa fell to a team and the Hezbollah flag was hoisted over the ruins.

The Attack
As the riots in the West Bank turned into actual occupation of Israeli government offices and the takeover of some towns and with the news of Syrian tanks commanded by Iranians victorious over Israeli forces and possibly driving south, and with apparently the latest generation of Russian anti-aircraft weapons in the hands of Israel's enemies - and proving effective in driving off close air support, the fateful decision was made to reset the balance.

Israeli intel identified two major Hezbollah staging areas in the Bekaa Valley and a key supply and transportation depot for the Syrian army. Intense discussions were held with the Russian military attache in Tel Aviv and messages send through back every available back channel - Hezbollah and Syria were to back off, or Israel would use all means at her disposal to stop the invasion. That night, televisions all over the world showed the green flag of Hezbollah flapping in the breeze over a burned out police station outside of Haifa and the Israeli cabinet agreed to act.

Strikes on Baalbek, Qarauon, and near Nawa
Three bombers, each carrying two nuclear warheads, one for delivery, one for backup, simultaneously took flight and, upon receiving the code word "Jephthah" they delivered their 150 kiloton warheads to target.

150 kT strike outside of Baalbek, Lebanon


The attack on Baalbek was meant to disrupt Hezbollah logistics and send a message to the major Hezbollah presence in the Bekaa Valley. Baalbek was damaged significantly, but as it was an airburst, fallout was minimized, though the effects of the blast in a confined valley amplified the damage outside the normal blast zone, shattering windows for hundreds of square kilometers.

Attack near Qaraoun, at the southern end of the Bekaa Valley
The second strike in the Bekaa Valley was detonated over Lake Litani, blasting the dam, and sending a huge wall of water down the valley. Roads were destroyed and those note destroyed by the blast were washed out, choking off a major resupply route for the offensive into Israel.

150 kT blast near Nawa, Syria
The attack on Syrian soil destroyed an armored battalion in transit as well as severely damaging a fuel supply depot which had been set up without the secrecy the Iranians and Syrians had hoped for.

The Aftermath
The psychological effect was almost more devastating than the actual attacks. Just as no one had expected the Russians to come into Syria guns blazing at the end of 2015, no one had expected the Israelis would use nuclear weapons on the battlefield unless either first struck by them or in imminent danger of being overrun by conventional forces. The Israeli cabinet had decided that their enemies needed to be reminded of the force which could be brought to bear on them. That, combined with Israel sorting out its mobilization efforts, resulted in a rollback of Syrian forces all the way to Damascus and an ugly slaughter in South Lebanon the burned out eventually.

Thoughts and Plans
Using a nuclear warhead against an opponent who is not a major state and does not go to war with huge forces arrayed in the field becomes tricky, at least from this armchair warplanner's point of view. Psychological or political effects aside, many of the enemies faced on today's battlefields are dispersed irregulars - they don't line themselves up in nice, nukeable rows like a Soviet tank division.

Use this information in your planning as you see fit.

Clown Show Disclaimer

Due to the subject matter of this post, it will be necessary to provide the following disclaimer. Blog posts like this tend to bring out comment trolls ready to gin up the Clown Show of name-calling, knee-jerk willful misinterpretation, and angry discourse generating much sound and fury, but which in the end, signifies nothing. Such comments will be deleted. 

I am not promoting nuclear war. I am not attempting to wish such an attack upon any population anywhere.  I am attempting to provide a plausible scenario which might lead to the use of nuclear weapons. My expectation is that you will use this scenario to war game whatever plans you may be putting into place to deal with this new era we find ourselves in and see if you are as ready as you hope.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Deflation: It's Been a Stealth Move

Friends of Futurejacked - still working on this month's Nuclear Strike of the Month post and have a couple of large posts which have been under construction for some time. In the meantime, please enjoy this interesting piece from Elliott Wave International:



Millionaires show poor market timing

By Elliott Wave International

We've seen it time and again: The investment crowd often hops aboard a financial trend just as it's about to end.

Government itself is actually a case in point. Here's what the August 2007 Elliott Wave Financial Forecast said:

[In July], The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast discussed governments' knack for committing to a trend when it is finally ending. A front page article in the July 24 issue of The Wall Street Journal titled, "Governments Get Bolder in Buying Equity Stakes," confirms the strength of this very dependable sell signal.

Just two months later (October 2007), the stock market registered its historic high.

Overseas buyers are another major chunk of the investment crowd. That group was also ramping up their purchases of U.S. stocks back in late 2007.

Corporations are likewise part of the herd.

Let's fast forward to 2015, and read what our August 14 Short Term Update had to say just before the worst part of the recent selloff:

Selling pressure was exhausted on Wednesday (Aug. 12), when stocks declined sharply early in the session but rallied to erase all or most of the early-day losses. The most astounding aspect of that day was [that] much of the stock being bought was not by individual investors or by institutions, but by companies themselves. A unit of Goldman Sachs that executes share buybacks for clients had its busiest day since 2011. ... Companies are bad market timers.

Indeed, our independent analysis indicated that the stock market rally was ending. Here's a chart that the August 14 Short Term Update showed [wave labels available to subscribers]:

By the end of the week that followed, the Dow and S&P were down nearly 6%, while the NASDAQ was down nearly 7%.

Here's a weekly S&P 500 chart from August 21:

But even as the selloff was underway, still another group was hopping aboard what they thought would be a continued uptrend.

Millionaires may be richer -- but they aren't any better at predicting stock market moves than the rest of the population.

The latest Millionaire Investor Confidence Survey, from Spectrem Group, shows that millionaires became more bullish on the economy and markets just before stocks fell into correction territory in late August.

According to the survey, which was conducted between Aug. 14 and Aug. 20, millionaire confidence during the month rose to its highest level in 11 months ... .

CNBC, September 2

As we know, the market timing of these millionaires could not have been worse.




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This article was syndicated by Elliott Wave International and was originally published under the headline Stocks: Why Following the Crowd is Usually a Big Mistake. EWI is the world's largest market forecasting firm. Its staff of full-time analysts led by Chartered Market Technician Robert Prechter provides 24-hour-a-day market analysis to institutional and private investors around the world.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Nuclear Strike of the Month (September 2015): Target Big Cities

Nuke by Emir Simsek

Note on the Nuclear Strike of the Month Series: In this series I want to illustrate various ways attacks using nuclear weapons can play out.  I will be using Dr. Alex Wellerstein's online NUKEMAP tool to generate the estimates of the blast and follow-on effects and we'll be turning to concepts found in Nuclear Emergencies to help evaluate consequences.

My rationale is to show a wide range of nuclear attack scenarios short of all-out thermonuclear war. The idea is to give readers a feel for the destructive power of nuclear weapons, provide scenarios as thought experiments for your own planning, and to discuss what nuclear weapons can and (sometimes more importantly) what nuclear weapons can't do.

For a variety of reasons, it is my opinion we will see nuclear weapons used in warfare sometime between now and 2030. We might as well brush up on the basics. 


Nuclear Strike of the Month:  Selected Large Cities

This month we will step back from our postulated war scenarios and instead step through what an attack on several large cities would look like (both air burst and ground burst). I want to use this month's post to let you get a feel for blast coverage for a large city and hopefully help spark further thoughts that will apply to your specific situation.

The Scenario
The attacks scenarios will use a 150 kT shot and 1 MT shot for each. A 150 kT weapon is reasonable for MIRV'd ICBMs and a 1 MT weapon is reasonable (if possibly on the low end) for the bigger weapons in various arsenals around the world.

We'll show a ground burst and air burst for each, so you can see how significant fallout can be in a nuclear attack.

The Attack
First, let's start with everyone's favorite target: New York City


Over 890,000 dead and nearly 1.6 million injuries.
 


If you follow the link and note the casualties, you'll see a significant drop-off, down to the 400,000s of dead. In a densely populated city like New York, sparing several blocks can mean saving many lives and a ground burst means much more of the energy is going into the earth instead of maximizing the devastation. On the flip side, the fallout scar across the landscape will be a problem for many months (and in some places, years), though all those large concrete and steel buildings will help keep the deaths from fallout exposure from rising terribly high (assuming citizens can shelter in place - even a day will make a dramatic difference).

This attack leaves over 2 million dead and 3 million more injured. Remember, the U.S., Russia, and China have weapons larger than this 1 MT yield we are modeling here.



Another eye-opener on the potential impact of fallout. Be aware the casualty engine used by NUKEMAP is giving you a rough guess. 

Since the media and Western politicos tell us we need to hate and fear Putin, and our leaders love us and cherish us and have only our best interests in mind when they pimp that out, let's serve up our next target: Moscow


As we saw with New York - high density urban areas will suffer big casualties from a detonation optimized for destruction.




That is a dramatic effect from a single weapon clocking in at rougly ten times the power of the bombs which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


A 1 megaton shot over Red Square and you are seeing third degree burns almost to the outer ring road. 

 


Well over a half million dead, over 1.5 million casualties, and a scar of fallout for hundreds of kilometers. Again, ground bursts truly complicate the post-war picture.

And how can you have a nuclear scenario without getting the Middle East involved? That's right, you can't. So let's do what a lot of Congressional reps who have never seen battle want to do and nuke Tehran:


An optimized air burst right on top of the Azadi Tower. 600,000 dead and nearly 1.8 million injured.

 


More of the same. Note the idealized fallout pattern over the mountains. I have to assume actual weather patterns would probably leave much of the fallout pasted on the southern faces of the Elburz Mountains and will put a crimp in the skiing industry for quite a few  years to come...


Two million dead. Well over three million casualties.



Nearly three million dead and wounded in this scenario. Again, be wary of the very idealized fallout pattern for the particular geography.


The Aftermath
If the world gets to a point where major population centers are being targeted by nuclear weapons, then I am assuming we will have tipped over into a large-scale nuclear war. Limited wars and limited exchanges of nuclear weapons over military targets and/or critical infrastructure leave a lot of room to recover and maneuver. Just looking at these maps, especially of the 1MT ground shots, one gets that sinking realization that so many strategists came to during the Cold War. Yes, you can postulate how a country could survive a major nuclear war, but with the destruction of so much of the infrastructure of modern life and the fact that the United States no longer has a deep network of small mixed farms (too inefficient for modern agribusiness - some day being too efficient and not resilient enough will come back to haunt us) it becomes tough to see how life post-nuclear war is anything but a tough slog in a devastated landscape.

Thoughts and Plans
These are the scenarios for which bomb shelters were envisioned. You can play with your own situation in terms of warning time, what the traffic situation out of a major urban area might look like during a war scare, consider how the attacks and the consequent fallout might disrupt the transport networks that modern, efficient, corporate America relies on to feed this nation of consumers and TV watchers.

On that sobering note, have a good weekend.


Clown Show Disclaimer

Due to the subject matter of this post, it will be necessary to provide the following disclaimer. Blog posts like this tend to bring out comment trolls ready to gin up the Clown Show of name-calling, knee-jerk willful misinterpretation, and angry discourse generating much sound and fury, but which in the end, signifies nothing. Such comments will be deleted. 

I am not promoting nuclear war. I am not attempting to wish such an attack upon any population anywhere.  I am attempting to provide a plausible scenario which might lead to the use of nuclear weapons. My expectation is that you will use this scenario to war game whatever plans you may be putting into place to deal with this new era we find ourselves in and see if you are as ready as you hope.