All posts by Number9

(CNN) US and Ukraine sign new security agreement; America, Arsenal of Democracy; Europe, Step Up!

(CNN) US and Ukraine sign new security agreement on G7 sidelines.

The agreement is not a treaty, and is not binding on the U.S. Let us hope that it will serve as an potent piece of symbolism, as did FDR’s fireside chat on December 29, 1940, which gave birth to the phrase, “arsenal of democracy.” Entering the real world as figuration, as many phrases do, the arsenal became an aspiration. A year later, when Pearl Harbor thrust America into war, aspiration became fact. Quoting,

“We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.”

Joining the Arsenal, Europe has made great strides in proactive support for Ukraine; this is the occasion to ask for more. See For Techies Only: (CNN) Ukraine is burning through ammunition faster than the US and NATO can produce it. Inside the Pentagon’s plan to close the gap.

The process of making dumb artillery shells has changed little since 1939, when the documentary was filmed in Philadelphia. It requires little or no automation. How many shells could they make by such a primitive process? (Wikipedia) Second Battle of El Alamein is instructive. Quoting,

…The fire plan had been arranged so that the first rounds from the 882 guns from the field and medium batteries would land along the 40 mi (64 km) front at the same time.[43] … The shelling plan continued for five and a half hours, by the end of which each gun had fired about 600 rounds, about 529,000 shells.

529,000 shells in a single battle. The provision by the U.S. and/or Europe of a million shells in a year to Ukraine becomes a mere token. Perhaps a reminder is in order, courtesy of (full text of speech) American Rhetoric:

“This is not a fireside chat on war. It is a talk on national security; because the nub of the whole purpose of your President is to keep you now, and your children later, and your grandchildren much later, out of a last-ditch war for the preservation of American independence, and all of the things that American independence means to you and to me and to ours.

The only things holding us back from providing Ukraine with Russian shell parity are costs, regulations which are petty against the fight for life, and bureaucratic sloth.  All of these can be swept aside with economic war powers. Europeans, step up! You have nothing to lose but a future in chains!

(CNN) US intelligence assesses Houthis in Yemen in talks to provide weapons to al-Shabaab in Somalia, officials say

(CNN) US intelligence assesses Houthis in Yemen in talks to provide weapons to al-Shabaab in Somalia, officials say.  Quoting,

The intelligence raises the alarming possibility that a marriage of convenience could make things worse both in Somalia and in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, where the Houthis have launched regular attacks on commercial shipping and US military assets since the war in Gaza began.

A specific motive was anticipated in US official: Iran has moved missiles to Persian Gulf. Quoting,

Where could missiles be emplaced and launched in a deniable way? A locale must be lawless, buyable, and deniable. It must adjoin the Red Sea,  which must be transited by the U.S. forces that use the Suez Canal. Lawless locations are implied by pirate activity. Most of the pirate havens have been cleaned out. Pirate activity  persisted in  the Galmudug region of Somalia  till at least 2017. (FP)  Somalia’s Pirates Are Back in Business. This shows what is possible. perhaps further up the coast towards Bab el Mandeb.

Eritrea, inside the Red Sea, above and adjacent to the strait Bab el Mandeb, is geographically perfect.  The Eritrean Islamic Jihad implies contested territory that Iran could rent for missile emplacements, which can be effectively camouflaged.

With missile emplacements on both shores of the Red Sea, the Houthis might hope for absolute interdiction  of maritime traffic. Quoting from CNN,

A potential deal could offer a new stream of financing for the Houthis, at a time when US officials say there are signs that the group’s primary patron, Iran, has some concerns about the group’s attack strategy. “Being able to sell some weapons would bring them much needed income,” the senior administration official said.

Highlighting the emergence of the Houthis as an independent actor, there are multiple hazards for Iran:

  • The ejection of French influence and Western militaries  from the Sahel was accompanied  by the substitution of Russian influence and mercenaries, considered more effective by the current crop of despots against Al-Shabaab. The Russians, allies of  Iran, are likely victims of Houthi weapon sales.
  • The effective closure of the Red Sea would be unacceptable to what used to be called the Third World.
  • The likely result of Houthi success would be a broader and more effective sanctions regime against Iran, which would indirectly diminish the Houthis and inconvenience major trading partner Russia.

In consequence, the Houthi problem will fester, going up, down, and sideways. It might motivate the West to empower ECOWAS.


(CNN) Donald Trump guilty on all 34 felony charges; Legal Basis of Trump’s Appeal

(CNN) Donald Trump guilty on all 34 felony charges.

See Manhattan DA Trump Felony Charge Will Go to Jury.

The devil is in the details, of translating a  noun, “supremacy” of the Supremacy Clause, to a verb, “preempt”, with the adverbs “broadly” or “narrowly.”

Trump’s appeal will be broadly based on the  Supremacy Clause. By use of the Supremacy Clause, the Federal Election Commission claims broad preemption of state election laws. This includes, as a debatable point of law, denial of the right of a state to enforce federal election statutes.

While the Federal Election Commission claims broad preemption, the actual case law favors the prosecution.

The case law favors the prosecution; appeals courts have allowed incidental use of federal election statutes, where the federal statutes are not actually subject to prosecution in a state court.

I’ve misplaced the case law; it’s out there.

Trump Trial Jury; Napkin Calc, Probability of Conviction

Putting aside human messiness, consider a situation where each juror is like an independent coin flip. Since this is a criminal case, unanimity is required.
If the chance each juror votes for conviction is 99%,  the chance of conviction  is 0.99¹² • 100%=  89%.
If the chance each juror votes for conviction is 95%,  the chance of conviction  is 54%.
If the chance each juror votes for conviction is 90%,  the chance of conviction  is 28%.
If the chance each juror votes for conviction is 85%,  the chance of conviction  is 14%.
This is why the court of public opinion is a mediocre predictor of jury verdicts.





(CNN) ‘Soviet-style purge’: Expert on Putin arresting military brass

(CNN) ‘Soviet-style purge’: Expert on Putin arresting military brass.

The suggestion is that this is not really motivated by a drive against corruption. If it were, it would be a terrible miscalculation by Putin. He has miscalculated, but not on grounds he knows so well.

The salary of a Russian mid-rank general is around $35K / year, for which his complicity is required in,  since January, an average of 964 daily casualties – delivering young Russian men to death or disability. He could make more slaughtering chickens in the West. So what keeps him going?

Without the corrupt inducements of the Russian military, nothing. Those beneath him on the promotion ladder see their future inducements vanish.

This logic  implies that Putin’s purge must be accompanied by a not-quite-visible element of possibly revised corruption. The present system must continue, perhaps with explicit authorizations from above, in return for the one element that has been a constant of his reign – loyalty.

Watch the colonels, denied the Mercedes of their dreams. (CNN) ‘I’m smiling’: Ret. Lt. Gen. Hertling reacts to Putin news; Putin takes Command.

The pot simmers. Premature, perhaps, but not to be discounted: Power Transition in Russia? Revolution? Part 3 — Has Revolution begun?

(CNN) US assesses Russia likely launched a counter space weapon; Russian Dolls in Orbit

(CNN) US assesses Russia likely launched a counter space weapon last week.
For a description of a conventional, non-nuclear weapon, see Mysterious Russian satellite; It’s a Tristatic Locator.
The Russian weapon inevitably enjoys a cost exchange advantage over the largest category of U.S. spy satellites; cost translates directly to capabilities. Optics for the largest birds require multiple years to manufacture. Several possible mitigations exist:
  • Stealth, which is already in use.
  • Transition to  platforms with unpredictable mobility (large Delta-v budget), such as the Boeing X-37 space plane.
  • Low cost satellites, with severely reduced capability.

This discussion is non-nuclear.

(CNN) China’s newest aircraft carrier heads to sea for first time; Sloppy Journalism

(CNN) China’s newest aircraft carrier heads to sea for first time.


 As for the US Navy’s size advantage over the Fujian, the Ford displaces 100,000 tons and the 10 Nimitz-class ships 87,000 metric tons.

This is incorrect. Ford and Nimitz are within 3000 tons of each other.  The writer may have conflated different load conditions, metric and English ton units, or both.


With a displacement of 80,000 metric tons, the Fujian dwarfs the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) two active carriers, the 66,000-ton Shandong and the 60,000-ton Liaoning.

“Dwarf” is not appropriate. “Incremental” is.

Really interesting questions, such as

  • electrical power generation
  • performance of the electromagnetic catapult system
  • modern armor and survivability
  • availability of insensitive munitions, key to survivability
  • quality of the structural steel
  • weapons system integration
  • durability of the propulsion plant

are not addressed. This is sloppy, lazy journalism.




(CNN) House passes key foreign aid package — Kudos to Speaker Johnson

(CNN) House passes key foreign aid package. Quoting,

A number of lawmakers who backed the aid packages today said their views on House Speaker Mike Johnson as a leader changed after the speaker put bills on the floor despite a threat against his job.

Well done, Speaker Johnson. You have secured your place in history.

The long term continuity of U.S. foreign policy remains at risk. See “America First”; Crisis in U.S. Government; Looking for a Gig. Alignments have changed since then, but the principle remains.

(CNN) ISIS claims responsibility for attack in busy Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 60 dead

(CNN) ISIS claims responsibility for attack in busy Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 60 dead.

This was anticipated; see (CNN) Russia accuses Ukraine of mounting ‘sabotage’ attack across border. Quoting,

The Freedom for Russia Legion, Russian Volunteer Corps, and associated groups are inspirational to ethnic secession.  In the near term, the  [typo corrected] Caucasus will become restive, awakening old   memories and yearnings.

In the cause of Caucasus secession, ISIS is both a natural ally and a viable, importable ideology.

This will force action by Kadyrov, with troops withdrawn from Ukraine.

The alleged video of a Tajik perpetrator’s confession, with an improbable secular motive — “for money”, is likely a fiction contrived to meet the needs of the Russian state, which involve popular support for mobilization.