Unknown Cloud Seen from Space Station
Added by Kimberly Ruble on October 13, 2013.
This weekend, an astronaut from Italy, Luca Parmitano, put some very strange photographs upon his account at Twitter which had been taken from the International Space Station. They showed what appeared to be some sort of unknown cloud that was rising directly above the horizon of the Earth at twilight, the types of man-made clouds that usually appear after rockets have been shot off.
What is so weird about this is that there were no planned launches by NASA because of the government shutdown or from any United States commercial spaceflight corporation. Europe and Russia neither one had announced any scheduled launches at that time as well. Nevertheless, there was something that got fired up into space.
Another picture showed what appeared to be a curved trail of a white smoky tail, this being water vapor and exhaust which is made by a rocket going through the atmosphere. There were strange designs created after being pounded by high elevation winds. Then Parmitano showed another picture of the cloud and that seemed to be caused by the rocket crumbling over the Earth.
Mike Hopkins, who is a NASA astronaut, and is stationed on the ISS, also tweeted his observation of the clouds, and stated that he saw something being launching up into space. He said he was not sure what it was but that the clouds it left behind were amazing.
To see some sort of unexpected rocket being launched outside their window had to be unsettling for the ISS team. Did they ever discover what the rocket actually was?
It is believed that Strategic Rocket Forces in Russia had a successful secret trial takeoff of a Topol/SS-25 missile. The rocket was sent up from Kapustin to the Shagan trial area located in Kazakhstan. Conferring to a representative of the Rocket Forces, the experiment was used to check characteristics of the Topol rocket, and to check the systems of the Sary Shagan test site.
This missile is the newest addition to Russia’s military fleet, and it is the first international airborne missile to be developed after the disbanding of the Soviet Union. Intercontinental missiles are used as nuclear weapon delivery systems, and are able to be launched into space and deliver their payloads over thousands of miles away.
According to the Information Telegraph Agency in Russia, various news agencies reported the test was needed to make sure of the stability of the performance characteristics of this class of missile during the extension of its life, preparation of its various measuring systems, and the testing of warheads of ballistic missiles.
The news reports also said the missile test was a triumph, that the practice target they aimed at in Kazakhstan was hit. So it does appear that the cloud encounter was produced by the disintegration of the top part of the Topol’s rocket.
The trouble is that this is a notice to everyone that even though World Space Week had just ended, a festivity which marks the anniversary of the signing of the Outer Space Treaty which banned the militarization of space, that human beings still are testing the transfer apparatuses for weapons of mass destruction, even as the peaceful civilian ISS (crew) watch(es) from their windows and can do nothing when they happen to notice clouds of unknown origin coming into existence right in front of their eyes.
Archive for the ‘War’ Category
Posted by Xeno on January 15, 2014
Posted by Xeno on December 18, 2013
From privacy concerns to monopolies, some people have been growing increasingly concerned over some of Google’s business practices for years now. Wonder what those types think now the search giant owns a company that makes military robots.
Yes, Google has splashed out and purchased Boston Dynamics, the same company who we’ve featured here a number of times before for their terrifying work on both humanoid and dog-like (or, you know, Metal Gear-like) robots.
The New York Times says Google is being “circumspect” as to why Boston Dynamics has been bought, only suggesting that it’ll add significant clout to their own in-house robotics efforts.
Which it no doubt will. But the interesting part of this is that Boston Dynamics currently has a contract with the US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is what robots like Atlas and Big Dog were built for.
That puts Google in the military contractor business, at least temporarily while the contract is honoured, though the company says it has no business staying in the field once those obligations are done.
I never get tired of watching this thing. It’s so creepy.
Posted by Xeno on December 17, 2013
European countries bordering Russia’s territory of Kaliningrad say they are worried at reports that Moscow has put nuclear-capable missiles there.
Lithuania and Poland both issued statements of concern.
Russia has not confirmed the report but insists it has every right to station missiles in its western-most region.
Moscow has long threatened to move Iskander short-range missile systems to Kaliningrad in response to the United States’ own European missile shield.
Russia sees the missile shield as a threat to its nuclear deterrent.
It was one of the biggest sources of confrontation between Moscow and Washington during the presidencies of George W Bush and Vladimir Putin.
President Barack Obama tried to “reset” relations with Russia, and the shield system was revised – but it survived in a different form and continued to antagonise Russia.
The US insists that the missile shield is not aimed at Russia but designed to defend Europe from attack from “rogue states” – assumed to include Iran. …
BREAKING: Federal Judge rules entire NSA data collection program unconstitutional – a violation of the 4th
Posted by Xeno on December 17, 2013
Judge Leon of the DC District Court has held that the NSA’s bulk collection of telephony metadata violates the Fourth Amendment and has enjoined the entire program (stayed pending appeal).
Judge Leon recognizes that his holding conflicts with the reasoning of other district courts, but he expresses confidence that he is correct and that James Madison would be “aghast” at the NSA’s telephony metadata program. Finding the entire NSA metadata program unconstitutional, Judge Leon enjoins it, but he stays his order pending appeal to the DC Circuit.
This is a GREAT ruling, but unfortunately, it’s not going to do a thing in practice right now. He “enjoined” the entire program, but “stayed” his own decision, pending appeal – which will be coming.
In other words. He put a stop to the program, but put his own order on hold. NSA surveillance will continue. …
Posted by Xeno on December 17, 2013
One of the more jaw-dropping moments to emerge out of 60 Minutes’ profile piece on the National Security Agency yesterday was when NSA Director Keith Alexander had to ask permission from his superiors on whether or not he could answer a question.
The report, headed up by John Miller, himself a former FBI and National Intelligence official, was basically a soapbox for the NSA to downplay its malfeasance in light of the Edward Snowden revelations.“Did the NSA actually find a foreign power that had identified this capability and discussed using it offensively,” Miller asks Alexander at the 2:45 mark in the clip above.Alexander is about to speak but then turns his head towards what Miller describes as a “crowd of people in the dark,” and states, “I need time out on that.”According to Miller, Alexander then asked this group of people, “Can I answer that?”
Bear in mind that Alexander is the highest ranking individual in the National Security Agency and moreover a four-star general. Alexander is also Chief of the Central Security Service CHCSS and Commander of U.S. Cyber Command USCYBERCOM.
If Alexander is supposedly the top guy at the NSA, why does he need to ask shadowy advisors lurking in the background if he can even address a question?And who exactly are this group of shadowy people who have the power to give orders to the Director of the NSA and why don’t we know their names? Miller and his team said that a group of 20 “minders” would follow the reporters everywhere they went and carefully monitor each individual interview they conducted with NSA employees.One interview clip features a woman in the background who states, “please stop….back off” as another NSA worker begins to answer a question. …
See video from 60 Minutes interview at the NSA facility.
I find the fact that he is consulting with a team reassuring rather than alarming. With the fate of the nation in the balance, I’d want an entire team of the brightest most informed people carefully monitoring what any one individual can say in light of all the different programs they have. Any one of those 20 people (assuming they aren’t aliens…) would also be a high value target for a kidnapping or foreign influence so they should remain hidden. Nevertheless, there is no need to watch everything every American does constantly as we believe they are now doing.
Posted by Xeno on December 12, 2013
A report appearing in the pro-regime China Times brags that China’s launch of the Long March-3B rocket earlier this week is part of a long term plan to turn the moon into a Star Wars-style “death star” from which the PLA could launch missiles against any target on Earth.
It all sounds like something straight out of The Onion, but upon checking the sources it appears that this is indeed what Communist Party officials have been discussing this week following China’s flagship launch of a lunar rover, which is Beijing’s first spacecraft to land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.
The article appears on the Want China Times website, the English-language outlet of the The China Times Group, which is based in Taiwan and considered to be pro-unification and pro-Beijing. The article cites the Beijing Times, which is affiliated with the People’s Daily, as the source for the original report.
Under the headline PLA dreams of turning moon into Death Star, says expert, the report cites “experts in China” who are wargaming how the moon, “Can be transformed into a deadly weapon. Like the Death Star in Star Wars, the moon could hypothetically be used as a military battle station and ballistic missiles could be launched against any military target on Earth.”
“Various weapons testing sites could also be established on the moon,” the article adds, noting that the launch of the Long March-3B rocket is the start of “a more ambitious program.”
This report again reminds us that some of Beijing’s most jingoistic and aggressive rhetoric is often hidden in plain view, with Chinese military planners perfectly willing to go on the record and brag about their agenda to turn China into a forceful military superpower.
Last month, Chinese state-run media released a map showing the locations of major U.S. cities and how they would be impacted by a nuclear attack launched from the PLA’s strategic submarine force.
Top Chinese generals have also occasionally threatened America with nuclear strikes if the U.S. becomes embroiled in any future conflict involving Taiwan.
Tensions between the United States and China are currently running high after Beijing imposed an “air defense zone” over the disputed Senkaku Islands and hinted that it may shoot down any foreign aircraft entering the area. The U.S., Japan and South Korea quickly rendered this threat toothless by performing several overflights of the area without notifying Chinese authorities.
According to the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, the escalating crisis represents a “watershed moment for the world,” could signal the start of a new cold war, and means “Asia is on the cusp of a full-blown arms race.”
China has acted with increasing military aggression in recent months, first by sending warships to the coast of Syria to in September to “observe” the actions of U.S. and Russian vessels in the region and then by sailing a surveillance ship through Hawaiian waters for the very first time in an unprecedented move which was described as a provocative retaliation to America’s naval presence in the East China Sea.
Well, they will have to be careful not to trip on all of the German, Soviet, US bases already up there. Odds are they will have some accidents or encounter some “aliens” if they try to set up some of their own doomsday missile launchers this late in the game.
Posted by Xeno on November 28, 2013
Shireen Mazari information secretary for the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party
A Pakistani political party official has publicly named two U.S. CIA officials in connection with a police murder investigation into a drone strike.
Police had already initiated an investigation against unnamed persons after a recent drone strike that killed five. In a televised news conference Wednesday, Shireen Mazari, information secretary for the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said she filed an addendum to the police complaint, singling out two U.S. officials.
She gave the names of U.S. CIA Director John Brennan and a person identified as the CIA’s Station Chief based in Pakistan. U.S. officials did not confirm to CNN the accuracy of her claims.
“I can’t speak to the alleged operational issues, but more broadly I note we have a strong ongoing dialogue with Pakistan regarding all aspects of our bilateral relationship and shared interests,” a U.S. Embassy official in Pakistan told CNN.
If in fact Mazari outed the identity of a high-ranking CIA agent, it could have repercussions.
In 2010, the CIA recalled its top spy in Pakistan after he was identified in a lawsuit filed by a man whose son and brother were killed by a drone strike.
The PTI is led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, a staunch opponent of drone strikes. His party is demanding that the national government block the ground supply lines to Afghanistan unless the United States ends the strikes, which have focused on Pakistan’s loosely governed tribal areas where many militants are based.
The drone strike that Mazari linked the CIA officials to happened in northwest Pakistan. The suspected U.S. drone strike killed six people in Hangu district, targeting a seminary belonging to the Afghan Haqqani Network. It was said to be one of the first U.S. drone strikes outside of Pakistan’s tribal districts. …
Posted by Xeno on November 27, 2013
In a move designed to challenge China’s “air defense zone,” the US flew two B-52 Bombers over disputed islands in the East China Sea just days after Beijing implicitly threatened to shoot down aircraft entering the area.
Over the weekend, China released a map which included the clustered Senkaku islands and warned that all aircraft entering the zone must immediately identify themselves to Chinese authorities and face “emergency military measures.”
However, the US flew two B-52 bombers through the zone during a training mission today without notifying Beijing. There was no response from China. In conducting the mission, the Pentagon followed through on its promise that US pilots would not switch on their transponders and would defend themselves if attacked.
“We have continued to follow our normal procedures, which include not filing flight plans, not radioing ahead and not registering our frequencies,” said US Colonel Steve Warren.
Although the B-52 flyover was part of a pre-planned exercise, it has been characterized as a clear act of defiance against China’s territorial claims.
Japan responded to the Chinese threat by accusing Beijing of engaging in “profoundly dangerous acts that unilaterally change the status quo,” adding that the defense zone was “not valid at all.”
According to the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, the escalating crisis represents a “watershed moment for the world” and means “Asia is on the cusp of a full-blown arms race.”
“Even if the immediate crisis can be defused, we are clearly sliding into a new Cold War,” writes Evans-Pritchard, adding, “One misjudgment by either side in the East China Sea could change our world entirely. If you are not concerned, perhaps you should be.”
Posted by Xeno on October 8, 2013
Scientists, engineers and policymakers are all figuring out ways drones can be used better and more smartly, more precise and less damaging to civilians, with longer range and better staying power. One method under development is by increasing autonomy on the drone itself.
Eventually, drones may have the technical ability to make even lethal decisions autonomously: to respond to a programmed set of inputs, select a target and fire their weapons without a human reviewing or checking the result. Yet the idea of the U.S. military deploying a lethal autonomous robot, or LAR, is sparking controversy. Though autonomy might address some of the current downsides of how drones are used, they introduce new downsides policymakers are only just learning to grapple with.
The basic conceit behind a LAR is that it can outperform and outthink a human operator.
“If a drone’s system is sophisticated enough, it could be less emotional, more selective and able to provide force in a way that achieves a tactical objective with the least harm,” said Purdue University Professor Samuel Liles. “A lethal autonomous robot can aim better, target better, select better, and in general be a better asset with the linked ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] packages it can run.”
Though the pace for drone strikes has slowed down — only 21 have struck Pakistan in 2013, versus 122 in 2010 according to the New America Foundation — unmanned vehicles remain a staple of the American counterinsurgency toolkit. But drones have built-in vulnerabilities that military planners still have not yet grappled with. Last year, for example, an aerospace engineer told the House Homeland Security Committee that with some inexpensive equipment he could hack into a drone and hijack it to perform some rogue purpose.
Drones have been hackable for years. In 2009, defense officials told reporters that Iranian-backed militias used $26 of off-the-shelf software to intercept the video feeds of drones flying over Iraq. And in 2011, it was reported that a virus had infected some drone control systems at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, leading to security concerns about the security of unmanned aircraft.
It may be that the only way to make a drone truly secure is to allow it to make its own decisions without a human controller: if it receives no outside commands, then it cannot be hacked (at least as easily). And that’s where LARs, might be the most attractive.
Though they do not yet exist, and are not possible with current technology, LARs are the subject of fierce debate in academia, the military and policy circles. Still, many treat their development as inevitability. But how practical would LARs be on the battlefield?
Heather Roff, a visiting professor at the University of Denver, said many conflicts, such as the civil war in Syria, are too complex for LARs. “It’s one thing to use them in a conventional conflict,” where large militaries fight away from cities, “but we tend to fight asymmetric battles. And interventions are only military campaigns — the civilian effects matter.”
Roff says that because LARs are not sophisticated enough to meaningfully distinguish between civilians and militants in a complex, urban environment, they probably would not be effective at achieving a constructive military end– if only because of how a civilian population would likely react to self-governing machines firing weapons at their city. “The idea that you could solve that crisis with a robotic weapon is naïve and dangerous,” she said.
Any autonomous weapons system is unlikely to be used by the military, except in extraordinary circumstances, argued Will McCants, a fellow at the Brookings Saban Center and director of its project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. “You could imagine a scenario,” he says, “in which LAR planes hunted surface-to-air missiles as part of a campaign to destroy Syria’s air defenses.\” It would remove the risk to U.S. pilots while exclusively targeting war equipment that has no civilian purpose. …
Posted by Xeno on October 8, 2013
North Korea said on Tuesday its military would be put on high alert and be ready to launch operations, stepping up tension after weeks of rhetoric against the United States and South Korea, whom it accuses of instigating hostility.
Reclusive North Korea has often issued threats to attack the South and the United States but has rarely turned them into action. Such hostile rhetoric is widely seen as a way to push its domestic and international political agenda.
A spokesman for the North’s military warned the United States of “disastrous consequences” for moving a group of ships, including an aircraft carrier, into a South Korean port.
“In this connection, the units of all services and army corps level of the KPA received an emergency order from its supreme command to re-examine the operation plans already ratified by it and keep themselves fully ready to promptly launch operations anytime,” the spokesman said, referring to the Korean People’s Army (KPA).
“The U.S. will be wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster to be met by its imperialist aggression forces’ nuclear strike means,” the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
South Korea’s Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said later on Tuesday there was no indication of unusual activity by the North’s military.
Washington brushed off the North’s warning.
“We’ve seen this type of rhetoric from North Korea before,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “Such comments from North Korea will do nothing to end (its) isolation or reduce the costs (it) pays for defying the international community.”
In March, the North declared it was no longer bound by the armistice that ended fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War signed with the United States and China, and threatened to use nuclear weapons to attack U.S. and South Korean territories.
South Korea\’s defense ministry said the U.S. ships were taking part in a joint routine maritime search and rescue exercise with the South’s navy and said any criticism by North Korea was “wrong”.
The North has defied international warnings not to build nuclear and long-range missiles and is believed to have enough fissile material to build up to 10 nuclear bombs.
Most intelligence analysis says it has yet to master the technology to deploy such weapons.
The United States, which has 28,500 troops stationed in the South, regularly engages in drills with its ally, and has said the aircraft carrier USS George Washington was leading a group of ships to visit South Korea in a routine port call.
The impoverished North’s large but ageing conventional military is considered unfit to fight an extended modern battle but it staged surprise attacks against the South in 2010 that killed 50 people in aggression unprecedented since the war.
An attempt at dialogue in August led to the reopening of a jointly run factory park that had been shut amid high tension in April. However, talks have since hit a stalemate.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered his country’s military to be on standby for combat, the head of the South’s National Intelligence Service said in a report to parliament, according to Yonhap news agency.