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Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Climate Change and Migration Patterns: Hitting the Fan

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The journal Climate Change recently published a joint article entitled “Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century”.[1] The collective of authors consists of the specialists Jos Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis and G. Zittis. And their conclusions are dire indeed, as summarized by the journalist Matt Atherton: “Up to 500 million people living in the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] could be forced to leave their homes because of extreme heat predicted in the near future, researchers have said. A study has found that these regions will become uninhabitable by the end of the century, when temperatures of up to 50C will become the norm during the summer months”.[2] Or, if you like a more scientific wording: “We conclude that the MENA is a climate change hotspot that could turn into a scorching area in summer. There is general consent that heat extremes impact human health, contribute to the spreading of food- and water borne diseases, and that more intense heat waves increase premature mortality. In the past, climate assessments of social and economic impacts due to changing weather extremes, including consequences for human security and migration, have often focused on storms, floods, droughts and sea level rise. It is increasingly recognized that hot weather extremes cause a loss of work capacity and aggravate societal stresses, especially for disadvantaged people and vulnerable populations (IPCC 2014). We anticipate that climate change and increasing hot weather extremes in the MENA, a region subject to economic recession, political turbulence and upheaval, may exacerbate humanitarian hardship and contribute to migration”.[3]

Jos Lelieveld

Jos Lelieveld, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and co-author of the above-quoted study,  said that “[i]n future, the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy . . . Climate change will significantly worsen the living conditions in the Middle East and in North Africa. Prolonged heat waves and desert dust storms can render some regions uninhabitable, which will surely contribute to the pressure to migrate”.[4] Or, if you will, the present migration crisis in Europe is but the beginning of the real crisis that will surely happen as the century moves along into the near future . . . And at this juncture, the World Bank has also just released another report: “Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP by 2050, spur migration, and spark conflict, according to a new World Bank report High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy. The combined effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rising exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain, the report finds, with these effects expected to be most pronounced in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia”.

 

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[1] J. Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis & G. Zittis, “Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century” Climate Change (25 March 2016). http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-016-1665-6.

[2] Matt Atherton, “Climate change: Middle East and North Africa to become uninhabitable forcing mass migration” IBT (03 MAy 2016). http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/climate-change-middle-east-north-africa-become-uninhabitable-forcing-mass-migration-1558023.

[3] J. Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis & G. Zittis, “Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century”, p. 13.

[4] Matt Atherton, “Climate change: Middle East and North Africa to become uninhabitable forcing mass migration”.

Another Ankara Blast: Sunday, 13 March 2016

Ankara 13-03-16

 “A blast caused by a suicide car bombing hit the center of Ankara on Sunday evening. The explosion resulted in over a hundred casualties. At least 34 people were killed and 125 injured in the explosion, according to the Turkish health ministry, as cited by Sputnik news agency. “It’s a car bomb, [it happened] in the heart of Ankara. . . and today is Sunday, many people may be outside,” Turkish journalist Onur Burcak Belli told RT by phone, adding that the scene of the blast is “very close to a shopping mall” and that “many cars are on fire and apparently a public bus is also on fire. I was nearby when I heard the explosion, and there were casualties all around. . . the numbers of dead are increasing,” an eyewitness told RT by phone, adding that “the explosion was actually bigger than the last one in Ankara.”.[1]

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“No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. A security official said that initial findings suggest the attack was carried out by Kurdish PKK fighters or a group affiliated with them, Reuters reported”.[2]

The following day: “Turkish warplanes bombed camps belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the north of Iraq early on Monday [, 14 March], Turkey’s army has confirmed. The strikes come less than 24 hours after a car bomb in Ankara killed at least 37 people. A total of 11 fighter jets were involved in the bombardment of the PKK positions. Eighteen targets were hit, including ammunition depots and shelters, the Turkish military said in a statement, as cited by Reuters. Turkey believes the PKK is a terrorist organization and Ankara has blamed the Kurdish separatist group for a number of recent terrorist attacks in the country, including Sunday’s car bomb at a transport hub in the Turkish capital, which killed at least 37 people and injured dozens more”.[3] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (aka the Prez) said he would bring terrorism “to its knees,” and that the Turkish state would “never give up using its right of self-defense . . . All of our security forces, with its soldiers, police and village guards, have been conducting a determined struggle against terror organizations at the cost of their lives,” Erdogan said in a written statement, as cited by the Hurriyet Daily News. “These attacks, which threaten our country’s integrity and our nation’s unity and solidarity, do not weaken our resolve in fighting terrorism but bolster our determination,” he added.[4]

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[1] “Car bombing rocks Turkish capital Ankara, 34 dead, 125 injured” RT (13/14 March 2016). https://www.rt.com/news/335463-central-ankara-blast-sunday/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome.

[2] Car bombing rocks Turkish capital Ankara, 34 dead, 125 injured”.

[3] “Turkey warplanes hit Kurdish PKK camps in northern Iraq – Turkish army” RT (14 March 2016). https://www.rt.com/news/335484-turkey-hits-kurds-iraq/.

[4] “Turkey warplanes hit Kurdish PKK camps in northern Iraq – Turkish army”.

WikiLeaks: Operation Sophia

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On the WikiLeaks website the following announcement can be read: “Today, [Wednesday, ] 17 February 2016, WikiLeaks is releasing the classified report about the first six month of Operation SOPHIA, the EU military intervention against ‘refugee boats’ in Libya and the Mediterranean”.[i] And next, explaining that “[t]he report, dated 29 January 2016, is written by the Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino of the Italian Navy, for the European Union Military Committee and the Political and Security Committee of the EU. It gives refugee flow statistics and outlines the performed and planned operation phases (1, 2A, 2B and 3), the corresponding activities of the joint EU forces operating in the Mediterranean and the future strategies for the operation. One of the main elements within the report is the planned, but still pending transition from Phase 2A (operating in High Seas) to Phase 2B (operating in Libyan Territorial Waters) due to the volatile government situation in Libya, where the building of a ‘Government of National Accord’ (GNA) is still under way. The report presses the responsible EU bodies to help speed up the process of forming a ‘reliable’ government in Libya that in return is expected to ‘invite’ EU forces to operate within their Territorial Waters (Phase 2B) and later even give permission to extend the EU military operations onshore (phase 3). In the last month there have been half a dozen high level meetings between EU and US officials (including with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome) as it is claimed by the US military that up to 5,000 Islamic State fighters have taken control over parts of the Libyan coast. Serious pressure has been placed on Libya’s major power groupings to speed up the completion of the GNA and ‘invite’ Western forces. A GNA invitation was expected in January. Libyan press has reported that US, UK and French special forces have already arrived (there is no public admission by the Western countries). Within Europe, Italy and the UK have been the driving forces behind the military intervention”.[2]

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In the report, Admiral Credendino declares that “[i]rregular migration across the Mediterranean Sea is continuing at a significant rate, with over 929,000 migrants arriving in Europe this year. However, since September [2015] we have seen two significant changes in the flow. Firstly there has been a reduction in the proportion of migrants using the central Mediterranean route as opposed to the eastern route. Prior to the start of the operation there was an even split between the people using the central route and the eastern route, whereas now 16% migrants use the central route, with almost 83% of migrants using the eastern route. Secondly, since September, for the first time in 3 years, we have seen a 9% reduction in the migrant flow using the central route. This is an encouraging decrease in the flow and should continue to be driven down through EUNAVFOR MED’s continued efforts. In October [2015], we successfully transitioned to phase 2A (High Seas), therefore for the first time having an effect on the smuggler and traffickers’ business model. For the autumn surge I had 16 assets (ships and air assets) under my command which were used to successfully provide a higher degree of deterrence against the smuggler and traffickers’ activities in international waters. Since the start of the operation, our actions have contributed to the arrest of 46 suspected smugglers and the disposal of 67 boats. Due to the effectiveness of phase 2A (High Seas), smugglers can no longer operate with impunity in international waters. They have to stay within Libyan Territorial Waters, as they otherwise would be apprehended by EUNAVFOR Med operation SOPHIA assets. My outreach activities have successfully contributed to an improved understanding and acceptance of the operation within the International Community. Since the start of the mission, I have met with very senior representatives from 6 different countries, 9 different EU organisations, 14 different international organisations, including the United Nations, the International Organisation for Migration, the ICRC and both the African Union and Arab League. During this reporting period I have consolidated my relationships with key interlocutors and I have seen a demonstrable improvement in their view of the operation. Moving forward, from a military perspective, I am ready to move to phase 2B in Libyan Territorial Waters, but there are a number of political and legal challenges that must be addressed before I can recommend such a transition. These include the legal finish in terms of our powers to apprehend suspected smugglers in Territorial Waters and who will prosecute any suspected smugglers detained there. We will also need to cooperate with and deconflict our activities with those of any other international missions that might operate within Libya once a Government of National Accord has been established. Critical to our exit strategy is a capable and well-resourced Libyan Coastguard who can protect their own borders and therefore prevent irregular migration taking place from their shores. Indeed, through the capability and capacity building of the Libyan Navy and Coastguard we will be able to give the Libyan authorities something in exchange for their cooperation in tackling the irregular migration issue. This collaboration could represent one of the elements of the EU comprehensive approach to help secure their invitation to operate inside their territory during Phase 2 activities. Moreover, training together during phase 2 could also be a key enabler to build confidence and facilitate the conduct of Phase 3 operations jointly with the Libyan authorities. Also, to avoid coordination problems within the AOO and prevent the risk of incidents, it is highly desirable that one single mission should be assigned the training task of the Libyan Navy and Coast Guard. In my view, EUNAVFOR MED could have an important role to play in this domain. This would of course, should the Member States agree to it, imply an amendment to the OPLAN. In conclusion, while still much needs to be done to disrupt the smugglers’ business model, EUNAVFOR MED has nonetheless achieved significant results in its first 6 months of its life. In this respect the main message to the International Community is that the EU is capable of launching a military operation in record time, displaying a strong resolve and remarkable unity of intent, as demonstrated by the 22 Member States participating in the operation “.[3]

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Rather than offering a lasting solution to the current migrant crisis, the EU’s reaction called Operation Sophia primarily appears to be an exercise in containment, aimed at the ruthless individuals and gangs who have built up a viable “business model” to exploit desperate people fleeing either war and/or economic deprivation and ruin. The EU is now apparently cooperating closely with the U.S. in order to stem the flow yet unwilling to put a stop to the basically imperialist military and economic policies at the very root of the problem.

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In fact, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union constituted by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg released a press statement last year, which explained the rationale behind the whole operation: “[t]he EU naval operation against human smugglers in the Mediterranean will be able to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking on the high seas, in line with international law. The Political and Security Committee also agreed that EU NAVFOR Med should be renamed “Sophia” after the name given to the baby born on the ship of the operation which rescued her mother on 22 August 2015 off the coast of Libya. The new name of the operation will be formally adopted by the Council at the earliest opportunity. The decision by the Political and Security Committee to launch the first step of phase 2 of the operation follows an assessment by the Council on 14 September that the conditions to move to this stage have been met. The Operation Commander Rear Admiral Credendino has judged the transition possible as member states provided the assets needed for this more active phase in the force generation conference of 16 September 2015 . . . The operation is aimed at disrupting the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean and to prevent the further loss of life at sea. It is part of a wider EU comprehensive approach to migration, tackling both the symptoms and root causes such as conflict, poverty, climate change and persecution”.[4]

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[1] “EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″ WikiLeaks (17 Feb 2016). https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/.

[2] EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″.

[3] “Executive Summary. EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015” WikiLeaks release: (17 Feb 2016), pp. 3-4. https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/EEAS/EEAS-2016-126.pdf.

[4] “EUNAVFOR Med – EU agrees to start the active phase of the operation against human smugglers and to rename it ‘Operation Sophia'” Presidency of the Council of the European Union (28 September 2015). http://www.eu2015lu.eu/en/actualites/communiques/2015/09/29-eunavfor-med/index.html..

Medya Mahallesi (4 Aralık 2015)

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04.12.2015 – Medya Mahallesi – 1-2. Bölüm. Konuk: Hüsnü Mahalli / Yurt Gazetesi Yazarı.  

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Ebola Update 29 August 2014

‘Here are three things you need to know about the deadly Ebola outbreak’s progression this week (29 August 2014)’.

‘Hala Gorani speaks to Peter Piot, the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, about the ongoing epidemic and when it might end (28 August 2014)’

Ebola Outbreak: From West Africa to the Rest of the World???

The news agency Reuters‘ Derick Snyder and Daniel Flynn write that “[h]ealth workers in West Africa appealed on [6 August 2014] for urgent help in controlling the world’s worst Ebola outbreak as the death toll climbed to 932 and Liberia shut a major hospital where several staff were infected, including a Spanish priest. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it would ask medical ethics experts to explore the emergency use of experimental treatments to tackle the highly contagious disease after a trial drug was given to two U.S. charity workers infected in Liberia. With West Africa’s rudimentary healthcare systems swamped, 45 new deaths from Ebola were reported in the three days to Aug. 4, the WHO said. Liberia and Sierra Leone have deployed troops in the worst-hit areas in their remote border region to try to stem the spread of the virus, for which there is no known cure”.[1]

As I originally posted about two years ago: “The website Prime Health Channel informs us that the ‘period of incubation for ebola virus hemorrhagic fever is usually 5 to 18 days but may extend from 2 to 21 days depending on the type of virus that one contracts. The Ebola virus symptoms hemorrhagic disease that is generally noticed in individuals contracting the viral disease are high fever, nausea and vomiting, headache, muscular pain, malaise, inflammation of the pharynx, and diarrhea accompanied with bloody discharge, and the development of maculopapular rashes along with bleeding at other body orifices. Besides these, abdominal pain, joint pain, chest pain, coagulopathy, hiccups, low blood pressure, sclerotic arterioles, purpura, petechia are the other symptoms that are particular to the species of Zaire ebola virus and Sudan ebola virus. This kind of reference to these two particular species of virus is due to the fact that the other three species of ebola virus are either non–pathogenic to human beings or have very few cases to facilitate the detection of its symptoms’”.[2]

Now back to today, August 2014, and Snyder and Flynn continue that the “[i]nternational alarm at the diffusion of the virus increased when a U.S. citizen died in Nigeria last month after flying there from Liberia. Authorities said on [6 August 2014] that a Nigerian nurse who had treated Patrick Sawyer had also died of Ebola, and five other people were being treated in an isolation ward in Lagos, Africa’s largest city. With doctors on strike, Lagos health commissioner Jide Idris said volunteers were urgently needed to track 70 people who came into contact with Sawyer. Only 27 have so far been traced . . . U.S. health regulators on [6 August 2014] authorized an Ebola diagnostic test developed by the Pentagon for use abroad on military personnel, aid workers and emergency responders in laboratories designated to help contain the outbreak. The test is designed for use on people who have symptoms of Ebola infection, are at risk or may have been exposed to the virus. It can take as long as 21 days for symptoms to appear after infection. In Saudi Arabia, a man suspected of contracting Ebola during a recent business trip to Sierra Leone also died early on [6 August 2014] in Jeddah, the Health Ministry said. Saudi Arabia has already suspended pilgrimage visas from West African countries, which could prevent those hoping to visit Mecca for the haj in early October [2014]. Liberia, where the death toll is rising fastest, is struggling to cope. Many residents are panicking, in some cases casting out bodies onto the streets of Monrovia to avoid quarantine measures, officials said”.[3]

USA Today‘s Doug Stanglin reports that the “U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued its highest-level alert for a response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. “Ops Center moved to Level 1 response to given the extension to Nigeria & potential to affect many lives,” CDC chief Tom Frieden said [6 August 2014] on Twitter. Level 1 means that increased staff and resources will be devoted to the outbreak, officials said. It is the first time the agency has invoked its highest level alert since 2009, over a flu outbreak. Meantime, a Nigerian nurse who had treated the country’s first fatality from Ebola two weeks ago has died from the virus that has now claimed more than 900 lives in the latest outbreak, Nigerian health officials said. The World Health Organization, which convened a two-day emergency meeting of global health workers to discuss the crisis in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, said [on 6 August 2014] that the death toll had jumped to 932, an increase of 45 fatalities in just four days. Next week, the WHO will convene a panel of medical ethicists to explore the use of experimental treatment in the latest outbreak in West Africa”.[4]

 

[1] Derick Snyder and Daniel Flynn, “West African healthcare systems reel as Ebola toll hits 932”Reuters (06 August 2014). http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/06/us-health-ebola-idUSKBN0G61ID20140806.

[2] “Uganda’s 2012 Ebola Outbreak” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (06 August 2013). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/ugandas-2012-ebola-outbreak/.

[3] Derick Snyder and Daniel Flynn, “West African healthcare systems reel as Ebola toll hits 932”.

[4] Doug Stanglin, “CDC issues highest-level alert for Ebola” USA Today (06 August 2014). http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/08/06/ebola-nigeria-saudi-arabia-virus-death-toll/13663973/.

Party till you Nuke: Minot Air Force Base, ND

 

‘AP was given special access inside an American nuclear missile command center and found antiquated equipment supporting the nation’s deadliest weapons – adding to problems plaguing the Air Force that include low morale and security lapses. (8 July 2014)’.

AP’s Robert Burns explains further that the “nuclear missiles hidden in plain view across the prairies of northwest North Dakota reveal one reason why trouble keeps finding the nuclear Air Force. The ‘Big Sticks’, as some call the 60-foot-tall Minuteman 3 missiles, are just plain old. The Air Force asserts with pride that the missile system, more than 40 years old and designed during the Cold War to counter the now-defunct Soviet Union, is safe and secure. None has ever been used in combat or launched accidentally. But it also admits to fraying at the edges: time-worn command posts, corroded launch silos, failing support equipment and an emergency-response helicopter fleet so antiquated that a replacement was deemed ‘critical’ years ago. The Minuteman is no ordinary weapon. The business end of the missile can deliver mass destruction across the globe as quickly as you could have a pizza delivered to your doorstep”.[1]

The Systems Specialist-information Technology/telecom James Kirkpatrick, who has worked in the University of Wyoming Division of Information Technology from 1972 to 2007, states on a dedicated website that the “Minuteman missile was named for the American Revolutionary War militia who could (as legend has it) be ready to fight in one minute. Unlike most of its predecessor ICBMs such as Atlas and Titan I, Minuteman can be launched very quickly because of its solid-fuel rocket motor. Titan II was liquid fueled but could also be launched very quickly. Early in the program it was known as Weapon System Q but renamed to Minuteman around February 1958. Minuteman I was known as SM-80, LGM30A/B, and HSM-80A/B. Minuteman II was known as LGM-30F. Minuteman III is known as LGM-30G. Minuteman III has three warheads though treaties will reduce that to one. The three stages of Minuteman III missiles are manufactured by three different contractors (Thiokol, Aerojet-General, and United Technologies). Fifty Minuteman III launch facilities (and five alert facilities) around Warren AFB (flights P through T) were converted to the Peacekeeper (MX) system in the late 1980s but as of October 2005 all fifty have been retired and the facilities decomissioned. As of 2005, Warren’s missiles have been reduced to one warhead. But those at Minot and Malmstrom will have a mix of between one and three warheads (it sounds like the Air Force is either undecided or does not wish to be clear on the question)”.[2]

The journalist Burns adds that “even as the Minuteman has been updated over the years and remains ready for launch on short notice, the items that support it have grown old. That partly explains why missile corps morale has sagged and discipline has sometimes faltered, as revealed in a series of Associated Press reports documenting leadership, training, disciplinary and other problems in the ICBM force that has prompted worry at the highest levels of the Pentagon. The airmen who operate, maintain and guard the Minuteman force at bases in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming came to recognize a gap between the Air Force’s claim that the nuclear mission is “Job 1” and its willingness to invest in it”. [3]

In 2012, Michelle Spencer, Aadina Ludin and Heather Nelson compiled a report detailing just how dangerous the situation has become nowadays: “[o]n August 31, 2007, a U.S. Air Force B-52 plane with the call sign ―Doom 99‖ took off from Minot Air Force Base (AFB), North Dakota, inadvertently loaded with six Advanced Cruise Missiles loaded with nuclear warheads and flew to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. After landing, ―Doom 99‖ sat on the tarmac at Barksdale unguarded for nine hours before the nuclear weapons were discovered”.[4] Burns says that the Spencer-Ludin-Nelson “study found that Air Force leaders were ‘cynical about the nuclear mission, its future and its true – versus publicly stated – priority to the Air Force’. Several key leadership posts have since changed hands, and while [Michelle] Spencer says she sees important improvements, she’s worried about the Air Force’s commitment to getting the nuclear forces what they need”.[5] In other words, the U.S. is sitting on top of a bunch of lethal weapons that could theoretically wipe out life as we know it, but the authorities do not seem overly concerned and this might very well lead to serious problems in the future . . . problems that would not just affect North Dakota and the U.S., but potentially the whole of the world . . .

 

[1] Robert Burns, “Why nukes keep finding trouble: They’re really old” AP (08 July 2014). http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/07/08/3736956/why-nukes-keep-finding-trouble.html.

[2] Jim Kirkpatrick, “Minuteman Missile Site Coordinates”. http://w3.uwyo.edu/~jimkirk/minuteman.html.

[3] Robert Burns, “Why nukes keep finding trouble: They’re really old”.

[4] Michelle Spencer, Aadina Ludin & Heather Nelson,”The Unauthorized Movement of Nuclear Weapons and Mistaken Shipment of Classified Missile Components”, p. 1. http://timeswampland.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/ada557097.pdf.

[5] Robert Burns, “Why nukes keep finding trouble: They’re really old”..