Thursday, April 23, 2020

 We've said it before if you aren't reading your 'DAILY SOCOTTRA you are missing out on that rare commodity Wisdom / humor. If you read Vic/s biographical info you will find this paragraph:

"His last Government assignment was in a senior position at the Department of Health and Human Services, of all places, concentrating on support to the Public Health Emergency Preparedness mission; thus, his last active mission was not against the terrorists, but against SARS. He proudly wears the Public Health Service Meritorious Unit Commendation along with the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement, or would if he could find the ribbons". We can't think of a better background from which to monitor, write about and edit the evolving events of the C-3 Virus contagion devastating the world.


China - Asia - Reborn?
There are a great many details, but the essence of it seems to be this:
The first victim was a researcher in a lab in the city of Wuhan, in central China. The virus began to spread. China - that is, the Chinese government - that is, the Chinese government acting under the implicit (and perhaps explicit) orders of Emperor Xi, tried to hide the fact of the virus from the outside world. They succeeded initially, and caused thousands more to die - that’s the considered opinion of a wide range of authorities - and caused untold trillions of dollars in economic loss. 

Beijing has since repeatedly resorted to lies. To date more than 100,000 world wide have died. We can assume tens of thousands more will die as a result of the world wide economic recession (and certainly a depression in many countries) that will follow.
Inside China the lies continue; how many people contracted the virus? The Chinese number stands firm well below 100,000, with fewer than 4,000 dead. The numbers are certainly fabrications. How many people have or had COVID 19? We’ll probably never know. Nor will we know how many died. One estimate is that, as of more than a week ago, roughly 100,000 had died in China.
We do know that more than 7,000 bodies were cremated in just a few crematoria in Wuhan in a several week period in March. We know that cell phone accounts of millions of people have been cancelled, presumably those who are related to or know of the correct number of infected and dead. We know that hundreds of thousands (probably well more than a million) of citizens of Wuhan and the surrounding area traveled outside of Wuhan and Hubei province after the virus began spreading; that means the virus spread to the rest of China – no matter what Beijing says. And we know that bloggers in China keep reporting (and having their service cut off) that the real situation in China is vastly different, and worse, than what is being reported.
Meanwhile, Beijing has tightened controls on the media, and has continued to pump large amounts of money into the economy (far larger than normal. So has the US, but we’re quite open about it). The Chinese are hiding, as best they can, any accurate numbers about their economic performance.
Anger and frustration inside China continues to mount. The anxiety generated by concerns over the virus itself have been compounded by the belief the government in Beijing is suppressing the truth about the virus and about treatments and care for the sick.
An economy with grave structural weaknesses, open political dissent in Hong Kong, a virus that may still be uncontrolled in certain Chinese cities – all compounded by a government that’s seen as hiding the truth from an already troubled population.
These are not circumstances that allow those at the top to sleep well at night.
Autocracies and oligarchies like an appearance of law and legitimacy but in reality that’s a veneer; in the end they fall back on power – the police state. China – and Emperor Xi – have developed that to a fine edge over the past decade or so, and he now sits atop the largest, most sophisticated police – surveillance state in history. But that level of power and control can work against him – he has deputies, and the deputies want to keep their position, their power. What happens when they start feeling that they’re sitting on top of a “tiger” – a population increasingly frustrated with lies and oppression , angry at Beijing, angry at Xi, for covering up the virus in order to make himself look good.
And all this on top of a looming economic failure only made worse by that same virus and Beijing’s actions in covering it up.
What if one of the cliques at the “top of the pyramid” now see Xi as a direct threat to their staying on top as well? Might Xi’s ouster be a way to ameliorate the problem, to calm the anger of the mob, to throw fresh meat to the tiger?
If so, how might it happen? As a general rule, there are two ways for kings, dictators, and emperors to fall: either from an outsider – in which case everyone on the inside is at risk, or the insiders get rid of him themselves. While violent “palace coups” make for great operas and action movies – and it’s certainly possible.
Consider what happened to Nikita Khrushchev: plotting began months earlier, certainly by March 1964, inside a very small circle led by Leonid Brezhnev. On October 12th, 1964, while Khrushchev was on vacation in the Caucasus, Brezhnev held a meeting of the plotters, they agreed it was time to act; they then contacted Khrushchev and asked him to return to Moscow for a special meeting of the Praesidium. Khrushchev was vaguely suspicious that something wasn’t right, but traveled home and was greeted by his friend Gen. Semichastny, head of the KGB, who then arrested him. Two days later a meeting of the Praesidium and Central Committee and officially removed him from power and he “retired” to his dacha.
Perhaps Xi can hope for a similar fate…
The elites may be thinking about it – they’re idiots if they’re not. Real power, as Mao cautioned, “grows out of the barrel of a gun.” And while Xi controls the guns, he controls the guns through his minions. Are his minions getting antsy?
And let’s hope there’s been some thinking about this at the Pentagon and the State Department; that we have a plan in place – just in case – to provide some sort of regional stability during such a transfer of power.
And maybe, just maybe, an internal collapse would provide a chance for all those “others” who have been trampled on by the Chinese Communist Party, the Tibetans, the Mongols, the Uighurs, etc. Maybe we can even hope Communist China might break up into its component parts.
Maybe something good might come of this virus after all.
Perhaps folks are just being hopeful. But, it’s Easter after all, a time of infinite hope.
Copyright 2020 Arrias

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Rethinking China

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


VIDEO: Iranian Attack Boats Harass U.S. Navy, Coast Guard Vessels in Persian Gulf By: 

A Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels conducted unsafe and unprofessional actions against U.S. Military ships by crossing the ships’ bows and sterns at close range while operating in international waters of the North Arabian Gulf. U.S. forces are conducting joint interoperability operations in support of maritime security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. US Navy photo.

Monday, April 20, 2020



Preparing to lower a nuclear test canister and diagnostic cables into a test shaft.

The mushroom cloud formed by the "Mike" test of an experimental thermonuclear device rises above Enewetak Atoll, November 1, 1952.
 The suspicion began when U.S. signals intelligence noticed that a frequently monitored Chinese transceiver appeared to be going periodically silent, The stations going periodically silent are in  Chinese territory and  designed to detect radioactive emissions and seismic tremors. Adding to the concerns there is high tempo of activity at China’s Lop Nur test site, extensive excavations at the site,appear to be underway, and apparent possible  use of special chambers to contain explosions..Could this indicate a resumption of testing, or test preparation for low yield nuclear weapons testing at the Lop Nur site? The activity monitored suggest low yield nuclear weapons violation of agreements reached over the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, of 1996 . However, as alarming as the possibilities are the 1996 accord allows a range of activities to assure the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons. Such permissible activities. include experiments involving fissile material, as long as the experiments don’t produce a nuclear-explosion.. So why is the Dragon refurbishing explosive containment chambers? In all fairness it should be noted that neither China nor the United States have ratified the 1996 accords, but both have agreed to abide by the provisions of the accords.

File:Nuclear artillery test Grable Event - Part of Operation Upshot-Knothole.jpg
 GRABLE EVENT - Part of U.S. Operation Upshot-Knothole, was a 15-kiloton test fired from a 280-mm cannon on May 25, 1953
 This new development could also be a ruse to affect upcoming global nuclear weapons discussions requested by the Trump Administration.The single most effective way to resolve concerns about very low-yield nuclear explosions according to a number of arms control experts  and enforce compliance with the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is for the U.S and China to ratify the treaty . If China actually complied, the International community would have the option of demanding intrusive, short-notice on-site inspections. of such facilities.. The Dragon will  probably double the size of its nuclear stockpile over the next decade according to some experts within the U.S.Defense Intelligence Agency. 
China may, and we put emphasis on "may":, be secretly conducting nuclear weapons tests . If so these tests would be  tests with very low explosive power despite Beijing’s assertions that it is strictly adhering to an international accord banning all nuclear tests,. These would be field grade weapons .similar to the nuclear cannons we once had deployed in Korea. Unlike their intercontinental nuclear missile stock pile such weapons are more aimed at neighbors resisting Chinese territorial ambitions.than a direct threat to the United States unless we decide to intervene on some Dragon aggression with one of our regional allies.  China’s arsenal is estimated to be about 300 nuclear warheads. , By contrast  the U.S. has a stockpile of about 3,800 nuclear warheads compatible with short range and long range delivery systems.  that could be carried on long-range and short-range delivery systems, However,  only an estimated  1,700 are deployed. 
The Trump, Administration is undertaking a comprehensive review of U.S. China relations. These latest moves by the Dragon are likely to add to existing strains over China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its militarization of the South China Sea and trade disputes..

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Service Module Damage: A Photographic Analysis By Andy Saunders In The Apollo Flight Journal

The APOLLO FLIGHT JOURNAL published a recent photographic essay on the service module damage to the ill fated but surviving Apollo 13 capsule by Andy Saunders. Apollo13 was damaged and had to circle the moon instead of landing in order to get a gravity boost for what has been called a "sling shot '"return to earth, As illustrated by the APOLLO FLIGHT JOURNAL the postmortem on this flight is still studied for the lessons that can be learned. The links above take you to the article by Andy Saunders. Below is the link to the APOLLO FLIGHT JOURNAL home page.
Journal Home Page

Details of the original photographic analysis which formed a significant part of the 1970 investigation can be found in Apollo 13 document collection. of the Apolllo Flight Journal.  with particular reference to the following documents

We urge serious STEM orientated students of space technology to read this post and read regularly The Apollo Flight Journal . We'd also like to suggest to the various law school space law instructors the flight and aftermath of Apollo 13 as a case study. While we don't know of any post landing litigation identifying the potential of liability cases would seem an excellent exercise.



FULL STORY in gCaptain  by Salvatore R. Mercogliano, Ph.D.

It is sometimes said among U.S, Merchant Marine Officers that the Coast Guard provides safety services to the world's largest non existent merchant marine. Our deep draft shipping has so deteriorated that even the Navy owned Merchant Marine Manned ("CIVMARS" in NAV speak) sea lift ships are aging, and too scarce to carry anywhere near the cargo burden that a near peer conflict would require. While the Navy's Merchant manned sea lift fleet sends each ship to sea properly manned ; the command has great difficulty providing reliefs on time for the promised rotations. There is a constant recruitment / retention problem. MARAD , not the Coast Guard is responsible for insuring that we have an American Merchant Marine, We had a significant ocean transport fleet capable of fulfilling the congressional mandate of being of sufficient numbers and capacities to support military sea-lift in an emergency and carrying a significant portion of foreign trade. That fleet disappeared after the end of construction and operational differential subsidies from MARAD.  . 

 Despite the shortage of traditional sea going merchant marine berths in America's fleet the states and the Maritime Administration support five state maritime academies training officers for the traditional ocean transport merchant marine, plus the national Merchant Maine Academy at Kings Point NY.. The academies continue to require military or maritime five year service obligations for all cadets who receive Federal subsidies, which includes most of them. 

 Due to the shortage of traditional sea going in foreign commerce jobs the service obligation in recent years has been liberalized to include graduate education and subsequent service in naval architecture and admiralty law. Most cadets receive a naval reserve commission as well as a third mate's or third assistant engineer's license upon graduation. Active service in the military also fulfills the the service obligation. Most academies have of late been holding "alternative career seminars" where cadets are introduced to on the water careers in the various Jones act fleets. 

Those who do land such billets may only serve as officers in the US mainland to Puerto Rico and Alaska and Hawaii trades, and aboard a very few coastal tankers.and large ferries.  The other Jones Act trades  such as River towing, offshore oil production and support are highly specialized and have a separate licensing structure for officers, Many traditional Merchant Officers today still labor under the illusion that an ocean license transfers easily into any inland or coastal trade. This hasn't been true for about a decade or more. Realizing the special skills and technologies required to operate in the more specialized trades the Coast Guard abolished their "Lesser Included Waters" rule from the licensing structure. For an academy grad to enter the inland towing trade or offshore oil and mineral industry trade he or she must expect to undergo an apprentice ship followed by a new license exam. Graduate cadets do get "sea time credit" for whatever "blue water" time they may have and the academy diploma often shortens their time in arriving at a formal apprenticeship. With a shorter time into a Wheel house or engine room apprenticeship and shortened "sea service time" many who do choose this route with its much lower starting pay attain officer status in about two years sometimes less.

 Despite the availability of Jones Act fleet jobs the academies continue to train cadets for the skills normally required aboard ocean going freighters, bulk carriers, and tankers. Cadets are also trained in naval custom courtesies , and tradition and other areas of knowledge useful to a new Navy or Coast Guard Ensign. This form of education is precisely what is needed under current law to make the graduating cadets eligible for direct entry into the military as junior commissioned officers. There is no regular route to military officer commissioning for the officers in the specialized Jones Act trades, though there was a lot of such commissioning during WWII. 

 To support the mission of the academies and to add some hands on experience for the cadets each academy operates a training ship. The fleet of five such ships assigned to the state academies is aging and has no particular mission in providing sea lift assistance or any other predetermined mission to support the naval forces in time of war. All that is about to change as the Maritime Administration prepares to deliver to the state academies five purpose built training vessels. Dr. Marcogliane writing in g Captain describes the new vessels which have built in national defense /emergency  support capabilities. We urge our readers to read the full article in g Captain...  "g Captain" is one of the best sources of maritime news, we always have a link to g Captain in our NEWS AND INTELLIGENCE SERVICES SECTION...   .  .. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Important Launch Of GPS System Satellite Delayed By The C-19 Outbreak.

Seal of the United States Space Force.svg

President Trump moved to strengthen U,S. infrastructure against the disruption of critical Space based services such as GPS.The relevant executive order addresses improvement of precision , and timing or "PNT". Not only will such actions improve commercial navigation but it also improves our military's precision strike warfare capability. The Executive order is designed to  prevent an electronic disruption of the numerous systems that rely on accurate PNT, most notably the GPS navigation system. American commercial  uses of PNT presently include traffic management and precision agriculture and in the future will be needed for driver-less cars and drones; additionally critical infrastructures reliant on PNT include the electrical power generation and distribution grid., communications infrastructure and mobile devices, transportation, weather forecasting and emergency response.The President ordered Federal agencies to investigate and survey their PNT vulnerabilities within one year. Federal agencies are directed under the order to survey PNT vulnerabilities within one year.

The executive order is designed to help ensure that we will have uninterrupted access to essential services that rely on PNT, However in our opinion the executive order does more to strengthen accuracy withing the system than to prevent or help recovery from enemy attack. We direct your attention to our Space Force related white paper;
which among other things presents a low cost land based defensive system against such threats. We are all for improvements in accuracy. However we think the GPS and comparable systems need real protection and rapid recovery of capabilities. That appears to be part of a growing portfolio of tentative missions for the new Space Force. The link below will take you to the relevant post.

As written the executive order reflects the growing threat to government, the military and society as a whole from electronic warfare such as an electromagnetic pulse, a nuclear blast or a solar storm. U.S. Intelligence and senior Military planners expect major electronic attacks against precision navigation systems like GPS satellites in the early stages of a break out of hostilities.
GPS is a critical link in conducting precision-strike warfare.  Most advanced missiles systems rely on information provided by the satellites to guide missiles to specific targets, often with an accuracy of several feet. The new Space Force is already involved in the GPS mission. And it has run into a snag courtesy of the COVID-19 Virus. See below for more details.