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.