FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 12th through 15th 2018

Fireball Saying of the Day

Today I was a hero. I rescued some beer that was trapped in a bottle.

 

Fireball on China and North Korea

I’ve mentioned several times here in FOD that I believe one of the worst things that could happen to China, from their prospective, would be a fall of the North Korean family business/government of Kim Jung Un.  A reunification of North and South Korea would result in US and/or western aligned troops on the border with China, a prospect much feared by China. Additionally a North Korea experimenting or threatening with nuclear weapons is one thing, but a North Korea with a real nuclear delivery capability is likely to foster the development of western supported nuclear capabilities in South Korea and eventually Japan.  And dare we mention Taiwan in that nuclear soup?  Such developments would realign the balance of power in Asia to China’s great disadvantage.  Remember just a few months ago Kim Jung Un made that mysterious train trip to China?  Since that time we have seen a distinct change in North Korea’s behavior.  No further missile testing, no boasting of eventual war with the US and/or other nations in the region.  And now President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un on June 12 in Singapore, the US president announced Thursday.  I think it possible Kim Jung Un was called upon Xi Jinping’s proverbial red Chinese carpet during that train trip.  Xi says, “OK Kim dude, it’s perfectly fine for you to play with your nuclear toys, but threatening the US and other countries in the region upsets my plan for dominance in Asia long term.  So here are your choices: make a deal with the US and soon before they export nuclear weapons to both South Korea and Japan and before they develop additional missile systems capable of shooting down your weapons and by extension my ICBMs in my backyard; OR, I will find a new family to operate North Korea.  Now go back home and execute my command.  We saw where North Korea has promised to allow the world to watch it blow up some of their nuclear test facilities.  Likely that already happened.  Back on 3 September when North Korea conducted its latest nuclear test on Punggye-ri registering 6.3 magnitude on earthquake sensors.  Several minutes later however, geologists detected a smaller 4.1 magnitude rumbling.  That got scientists speculating as to whether the nuclear test site, hidden inside a mountain, actually collapsed.  A massive collapse could render the test site useless for future nuclear tests and may even increase the risk of radioactive gases escaping from the rock and into the air, scientists said.  The case for this so-called “tired mountain syndrome” was bolstered three weeks ago, when North Korea announced that it planned to shut the main testing facility at Mount Mantap where five of the six tests, including the last explosion, took place. A few weeks ago, a group of Chinese geologists claimed in a study published in Geophysical Research Letters that the mountain had collapsed following the latest nuclear test. Of course the Chinese might be lying.  That wouldn’t surprise me either.  Now we see Kim Jung Un has cancelled recently scheduled talks with South Korea after the failure of the South and the US to cancel scheduled military exercises.  Then again he has always been unpredictable.  We can expect the unexpected.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 12th through 15th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 22nd through 27th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on – Winston Churchill

 

Sea Hunter Transferred to US Navy

The Sea Hunter is an autonomous unmanned surface vehicle (USV) launched in 2016 as part of the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program.  It was christened 7 April 2016 in Portland, Oregon. It was built by Vigor Industrial.  (Vigor also builds all the ferries for the Washington State Ferry System).  The vessel continues the line of experimental “Sea” ships, including the Sea ShadowSea Fighter, and Sea SliceThe Sea Hunter is classified as a Class III USV and designated the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).  It is an unmanned self-piloting craft with twin screws, powered by two diesel engines with a top speed of 27 knots.  Its weight is 135 tons, including 40 tons of fuel, adequate for a 70-day cruise. Cruising range is “transoceanic,” 10,000 nautical miles at 12 knots fully fueled with 14,000 gallons of diesel, enough to “go from San Diego to Guam and back to Pearl Harbor on a tank of gas.”   Sea Hunter has a full load displacement of 145 tons and is intended to be operational through Sea State 5, waves up to 6.5 ft high and winds up to 21 knots and survivable through Sea State 7, seas up to 20 ft high. The trimaran hull provides increased stability without requiring a weighted keel, giving it a higher capacity for linear trajectories and better operations in shallow waters, though the greater width decreases maneuverability.   It is expected to undergo two years of testing before being placed in service with the U.S. Navy. If tests are successful, future such craft may be armed and used for anti-submarine and counter-mine duties, operating at a small fraction of the cost of operating a destroyer, $15,000-$20,000 per day compared to $700,000 per day; it could operate with Littoral Combat Ships, becoming an extension of the LCS ASW module.  Deputy US Defense Secretary Robert Work said that if weapons are added to the ship, a human would always remotely make the decision to use lethal force.  Following successful initial development, it was reported on 1 February 2018 that DARPA had handed development of Sea Hunter to the Office of Naval Research.  On 22 June 2016, Sea Hunter completed initial performance trials, meeting or surpassing all performance objectives for speed, maneuverability, stability, seakeeping, acceleration/deceleration, fuel consumption, and mechanical systems reliability in the open-ocean. Upcoming trials will include testing of sensors, the vessel’s autonomy suite, compliance with maritime collision regulations, and proof-of-concept demonstrations for a variety of U.S. Navy missions.  The Sea Hunter MDUSV was adopted by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in summer 2017 for operational testing and evaluation for mine-countermeasure, EO/IR, and submarine detection capabilities. Plans for FY 2018 include adding intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and offensive anti-submarine payloads.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 22nd through 27th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 12 through 15 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

I would like to apologize to anyone whom I haven’t offended yet. Please be patient, I will get to you shortly.

Air Strike on Syria – Comment

First let me say I applaud President Trump’s decision to launch what appeared to be a successful surgical strike on Syrian chemical weapons infrastructure and capabilities.  In aligning our efforts with those of Britain and France we establish a unified position against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian supporters.  The Pentagon   boasted Saturday that its coordinated show of military force obliterated key chemical weapons facilities in Syria and set back the country’s chemical weapons capabilities “for years.”  I have severe doubts in that regard.  Russia has already publically stated it will replace weapons lost during this US led strike with more viable weapons.  See my thoughts on Operation El Dorado below.  But military and Middle East experts say the predawn onslaught — touted by the Defense Department as “precise, overwhelming and effective” — appears to have been little more than an empty gesture and likely did not do much to alter Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military calculus.  Gen. Douglas Lute, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said that Assad’s threshold for pain is very high because “he’s in a fight for his life” to maintain control of his country, which has been mired in a seven-year civil war.  He doesn’t fear a mid-term election.  The airstrikes, which targeted three facilities involved in research or storage of chemical weapons in western Syria, won’t disable him from taking further action — whether chemical or conventional, Lute said.  “I think he’s feeling reasonably good right now,” Lute said of Assad. “Some of his facilities were struck, but it doesn’t really challenge his hold on the country.”  President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the military to strike targets in Syria in conjunction with France and the United Kingdom after a suspected chemical weapons attack reportedly killed dozens of Syrians. According to the Pentagon, those targets included a scientific research center in the capital of Damascus, a chemical weapons storage facility near the city of Homs, and a chemical weapons equipment and military outpost also near Homs.  Syria and all the issues surrounding the conflict in the area is a complicated issue.  We have allowed it to become much more complicated because US administrations, past and present have been unwilling or unable to take a leading role. Into that vacuum have stepped Russia and Iran.  If we want regime change, then we need to be strong in our efforts to effect that change.  That means stronger sanctions, a possible no-fly zone, a possible shipping blockade and border embargos. It would be most inappropriate to call it “mission accomplished.”  Oh, it’s too late for that!

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 12 through 15 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 2nd through 8th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Laughing is one of the best exercises; it’s like running inside your mind. You can do it almost anywhere and it’s even better with a friend.

 

Fireball Opinion: Better the Rule Of Law Than The Rule of Deals

President Trump is the first president in recent memory that has not emerged from the ranks of professional politicians, but rather a professional businessman.  I applaud President Trump’s efforts to “make America great again.”  I never thought we were not great!  Lots can be said regarding the current discussions regarding tariffs against China.  I do believe it’s appropriate to listen to experts or at least economists regarding the benefits of tariffs.  I have not heard from a single economist who favors or even endorses tariffs as an appropriate tool to use against China.  While no one argues the need to curtail China’s theft of intellectual property, it is important to look at each opportunity American’s companies have entered into and evaluate whether that individual company knowingly or unknowingly entered into an agreement that made  their intellectual property vulnerable to being compromised by a totalitarian regime intent on stealing every manufacturing advancement and/or technology advancement for their own benefit.  It has always been the case and has accelerated since the US allowed and supported admitting China to the World Trade Organization.  There is ample evidence to support multiple violations of nearly every rule.  Yet the US and other nations has been the beneficiary of cheaply produced goods that has continued to support the US and other nation’s economies for decades.  I would encourage the President to use the rule of law to counter China’s activities rather than attempting to make another deal.  The Rule of Deals never goes smoothly and is not consistent with our nation’s values.  And while I’m at it, I think in particularly inappropriate for the President to attack a public corporation like Amazon for what appears to be a veiled personally vindictive attack on the Jeff Bezos, who in addition to being the founder and CEO of Amazon also owns the Washington Post.  President Donald Trump lit into Amazon.com Inc. for the second time in three days with a pair of Twitter messages last week that said the online retailer “must pay real costs (and taxes) now!”  The president on Saturday claimed, citing reports he didn’t specify, that the U.S. Postal Service “will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon” and added that the “Post Office scam must stop.” Amazon has said the postal service, which has financial problems stretching back for years, makes money on its deliveries.  Amazon shed $53 billion in market value on Wednesday after Axios reported that the president is “obsessed” with regulating the e-commerce giant, whose founder and chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos. Those losses were pared on Thursday, the final day of a shortened trading week, even as Trump tweeted that Amazon was using the postal service as its “Delivery Boy.”  The Postal Service is losing money, but its package delivery service is profitable, unlike its letter delivery.  The Postal Service is required by law to cover its costs for delivering competitive products, such as packages for Amazon. The Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees the service, set the appropriate share of the costs of package delivery at 5.5% a little more than a decade ago.  Since then, the service’s delivery of packages has grown substantially, and the United Parcel Service argued in a submission to the commission in 2015 that a realistic appropriate share of costs for those deliveries should be about 24.6%.  A Citigroup analysis last year found that that difference would amount to about $1.46 per parcel, which might serve as the basis for Trump’s $1.50 figure. An op-ed penned in July by Josh Sandbulte in the Wall Street Journal cited that analysis in arguing the Postal Service’s estimate of costs for delivering packages should be revised. In response, US Postal Service executive Joseph Corbett wrote that the op-ed provided an “inaccurate and unfair account,” and that the Postal Regulatory Commission has determined each year that the service is covering its costs for package deliveries.  Sandbulte is co-president of Greenhaven Associates, a money management firm that owns FedEx common stock.  Corbett asserted the Postal Service’s financial insolvency is the result of its inability to overcome “systemic financial imbalances caused by legal and other constraints,” such as a price cap on revenue-producing products that doesn’t take changes in delivery volumes and costs into account.  The Postal Service’s biggest money problem is that it has billions in retirement obligations to its workers that it can’t afford.  Amazon pays the US Post Office to deliver packages to customers’ doors, including on Sundays, and because Amazon ships so many packages though the post office, it’s charged at a lower rate than most customers.  But Amazon does not receive a special rate; it pays the rate that the post office charges other bulk shippers.  Neither Amazon nor the post office has disclosed the details of its agreement, but the Postal Service says the deal is mutually beneficial.  On Thursday, Trump tweeted another accusation about Amazon not paying “taxes to state & local governments” and “putting many thousands of retailers out of business.”  Amazon collects sales tax in every state that charges one and remits it to the states, which is nearly every state. Amazon also pays local property taxes on its distribution centers as well as on the Whole Foods stores it purchased last year.  Amazon maintains it helps small businesses in a tough retail climate, helping vendors reach a mass audience.  This isn’t the first time Trump has accused The Washington Post of being a lobbying arm of Amazon. While both companies are owned by Jeff Bezos, Amazon does not have a stake in The Washington Post.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 2nd through 8th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 28th through April 1st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

The man who smiles when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on – Richard Bloch

 

Support Needed

Each day when send our children to school.  It’s time we support those teachers by paying them commensurate with their responsibilities – educating the next generation of American citizens.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 28th through April 1st 2018”