Russians accused by UK in spy case: We were in Salisbury for tourism

Reuters: Russians accused by UK in spy case: We were in Salisbury for tourism. Quoting,

“Our friends had been suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town,” one of the men said of the English town of Salisbury in a short clip of the interview played by RT.

They said they may have approached Sergei Skripal’s house by chance but did not know where it was located. They had stayed less than hour in Salisbury, they said, because of bad weather.

“Alexander Petrov” and “Ruslan Boshirov” (aliases) actually visited Salisbury twice, on March 3 and 4. (Telegraph) Guests of two-star London hotel where Salisbury suspects stayed discover Novichok was found in bedroom.

Was the weather really that bad? On March 4, 2018, in Salisbury, it was partly sunny. The high temperature was 51F/35C. There was just the teeniest drizel, about 1/100 inch of precipitation, not enough to dampen the spirit. Visit  Weather Underground, use “calendar”,  and search for Salisbury. On the same day in Moscow, whence you came, it was snowing, with a high of 15F/14C.

We are sorry your stay was so short. Was there anything you liked that might bring you back again? The thrilling stench of death in the air?

Russia the main suspect in U.S. diplomats’ illness in Cuba: NBC

(NBC) U.S. officials suspect Russia in mystery ‘attacks’ on diplomats in Cuba, China.

Only two state actors with conceivably hostile intent have the required technological base, Russia and China. Hence my early suspicion of Russia. Quoting,

The suspicion that Russia is likely behind the alleged attacks is backed up by evidence from communications intercepts, known in the spy world as signals intelligence…

The evolving evidence:

  • Reality of the attacks, of which there was initially considerable doubt.
  • Circumstance.
  • Intent, supplied by signals intelligence.
  • Feasibility, with reverse engineering in progress.
  • Smoking gun. Although an actual instance of use is unlikely to have forensic witness,  a close substitute is the weapon itself.  If it can be made, it can be bought.

Circumstance, satisfied long ago, has been followed by intent. Feasibility and smoking gun remain unsatisfied. But convictions for murder have been obtained solely from circumstantial evidence. There is already enough to indicate that the attacks cannot be a rogue operation.


“Although the U.S. believes sophisticated microwaves or another type of electromagnetic weapon were likely used on the U.S. government workers, they are also exploring the possibility that one or more additional technologies were also used, possibly in conjunction with microwaves…”

In previous articles, I explored ultrasound. Microwave is discussed in Havana “Sonic” Attacks; Microwaves?  Weaponizing either requires  innovation beyond the obvious. So consider:

  • An attack by multiple technologies at different times could deprive brain tissue of the chance to recover from what medicine calls the “insult”.
  • Simultaneous attacks via microwave and ultrasound could produce synergistic damage, analogous to drug interactions.

Havana “Sonic” Attacks; Microwaves?

(CNN) Microwaves suspected in ‘sonic attacks’ on US diplomats in Cuba and China, scientists say.

This is about the newly popular theory that microwaves, not ultrasonic sound, are responsible for the brain injuries of U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China.  Golomb’s paper (pdf) Diplomats’ Mystery Illness and Pulsed Radiofrequency/ Microwave Radiation is a plausibility argument.

I would have preferred  that the statement on page 2,  “Sonic mediation was justly rejected by the experts”,  had not been made.  The word “justly” suggests that the author may have an emotional stake in the outcome.  But the article does establish that the symptoms are compatible with microwaves.  Quoting, the stated conclusion is:

Conclusions and Relevance: Reported facts appear consistent with pulsed RF/MW as the source of injury in Cuba diplomats.

This is not the same as proof that microwaves are causal. New, incompatible facts could emerge that invalidate the hypothesis.

There is a tentative implication that pulses of microwave, not continuous-wave, are required to produce damage. Very slight heating of brain issue is proposed to cause a pressure wave inside the skull which hits the inner ear from the inside.

The bulk of Golomb’s paper consists of anecdotal or uncontrolled experiments that suggest that the modern environment produces widespread exposure to toxic levels of pulsed microwaves. This may be true. I’m one of the bunch who hold a cellphone well away from our heads, and use the speakerphone or earbuds.

Cellphone use may cause the appearance of heat shock proteins in the brain. (PUbMed) Mobile phones, heat shock proteins and cancer. This is an entirely different kind of damage from that produced by ionizing radiation, such as x-rays. There exists the statistical possibility that John McCain’s glioblastoma was caused by diagnostic x-rays.

Heat shock may result in delayed disease, or nothing at all. Induced pressure waves may be causative or benign. On page 12, Golomb remarks

Scientific “skepticism” about RF/MW health effects is well represented in the literature, but is of the industry-fueled stripe(think tobacco): Effects of conflicts of interest on research results (as well as on funding, regulatory agencies, legislation and academics ) vis a vis RF/MW, has been repeatedly documented and decried 93-97…

I’ve written extensively about the ultrasonic hypothesis, where audible sounds are a side effect. Like the microwave Frey effect, ultrasound can “project” audible sound at a distance. I did not consider microwaves because of the absence of a particular feature from the incident reports. If you stick your finger in a low power microwave beam, around 6 milliwatts/square centimeter, at a few gigahertz, your finger will feel noticeable warmth. Warmth is sensed when there is a differential between the upper and lower ends of the skin thermoreceptors.

Reports of sensations of warmth are absent. Quoting Kenneth Foster via Wikipedia on the proposed MEDUSA weapon,

Experts, such as Kenneth Foster, a University of Pennsylvania bioengineering professor who published research on the microwave auditory effect in 1974, have discounted the effectiveness of the proposed device. Foster said that because of human biophysics, the device “would kill you well before you were bothered by the noise”. According to former professor at the University of Washington Bill Guy, ”There’s a misunderstanding by the public and even some scientists about this auditory effect,” and “there couldn’t possibly be a hazard from the sound, because the heat would get you first”.[9]

The absence of “warmth” is not insurmountable, but it adds a complexity,  that the microwave frequency must be low enough to prevent a skin temperature gradient detectable by the skin thermoreceptors.

The GSM “2G” cellphone is the second primary obstacle to the microwave theory. GSM, which dominated the world cellphone landscape from about 1991 to 2005, is a cellphone standard that uses both UHF and  microwave frequencies. Unlike systems that came before or after, GSM is characterized by intense pulses of energy. If you remember hearing strange noises on your radio that you tracked to somebody’s phone, that was GSM. Pulses from GSM phones  interfered with a lot of supposedly well shielded electronic equipment. The phones were banned from sound studios.

GSM is still in operation as “2G”. If you use your phone in a fringe area, absent 3G or 4G coverage, your phone defaults to it. The result is 1 or 2 watts of microwave emitted very close to your skull, in the form of intense bursts. Check out your phone at Highest and Lowest Radiation Cell Phones.

One or two watts of energy up against your head is equivalent to tens of thousands of watts a few hundred yards distant, unless the transmitter has a very large, very conspicuous and not very portable antenna. The larger the antenna, the sharper the beam.  So we have questions:

  • GSM phone are not optimized as weapons. Is the magic of the theory in the shape of the pulses?
  • If a GSM phone is in any way a proxy for the optimized weapon, where are the legions of brain damaged cellphone users?

When it’s all squared away,, we may finally have the answer to a riddle. (Newsweek) Why Does Vladimir Putin Avoid Smartphones?

Reuters: Yemen’s separatists attack military academy in Aden

Reuters: Yemen’s southern separatists attack military academy in Aden. Quoting,

Southern separatists opened fire on a military academy graduation ceremony in Yemen’s port city of Aden on Saturday, killing a cadet and wounding at least two others, witnesses said. … The incident is the latest in a series of killings and bombings in the southern city…

Yemen, Saleh (Now Dead), and Civil War, Part 2 anticipates a tertiary conflict. Quoting,

There are actually three conflicts:

  • Primary. Houthi versus non-Houthi.
  • Secondary. north versus south.
  • Tertiary, potential.  Zaydi versus Sunni in the north.

Instead of the tertiary conflict, the secondary has become active. The original prediction was based on the passivity of northern Sunnis towards the tradition of Zaydi governance.

We need a friends-and-enemies table to sort this out:

  • All Zaydis are Shia. These are religious terms.
  • Most Houthis are Zaydis. Houthis are a movement, not a religion.
  • Not all Zaydis are Houthis, and not all Houthis are Zaydis.
  • Saleh, like almost all the rulers of Yemen,  was Zaydi, but an active enemy of the Houthis (mostly of the same religion), until his fall from power.  When the Houthis overthrew Mansour Hadi, Saleh allied with the Houthis to regain some power.
  • Mansour Hadi is a southern Sunni.
  • The southern separatists, the same region and religion as Hadi, have attacked the “government” forces of which Hadi is the titular head.

This makes no sense unless one concludes that the conflict, cloaked as sectarian struggle, is actually a tribal conflict over the scarce resources necessary for life.

What remains for the tertiary conflict to become active? For the military situation, refer to Yemen Hodeidah Assault and  (Middle East Eye, 7/26)  Stalemate in Yemen: Why has the battle for Hodeidah ground to a halt? As long as the Houthis stalemate the Saudi coalition, they are not clearly losers. Should this resolve in the favor of the coalition, it is likely that the tertiary conflict will activate.








Mysterious Russian satellite; It’s a Tristatic Locator

(CNN) Mysterious Russian satellite worries experts.

CNN doesn’t ask around enough.  It’s not hard to figure out the likely mission of the Russian satellite.  It’s most likely a  tristatic array.

The U.S. has a stealth satellite program, which aims to prevent detection of the satellite from the surface of the earth.. For this limited goal, it is necessary to specially design the surface of the satellite that faces earth. The surfaces of the satellite that cannot be seen from earth may have relaxed requirements of low observability.

In all cases involving stealth targets,, there is a huge advantage in observing the target from multiple locations. Bistatic radar, where the transmitter and receiver are separately located, can detect a stealth aircraft, though not necessarily track it.

So the “Russian doll” design of the mystery satellite is intended to detect satellites that are difficult to see, but not absolutely invisible. With three dolls, the basic principle of  radar, of timing the signal echo to measure distance, becomes inessential. With pure triangulation, the relative speed of the target is immaterial.

For the Russian approach to work,  a rough idea of where the satellite is required. The satellite is launched on a trajectory that will take it a bit above the target. The biggest doll gets a whiff of the target via radio or thermal emissions and a rough orbit determination.  Then it ejects the intermediate doll into an appropriate nearby orbit. The ejection must be timed carefully, since the two dolls will drift apart. With two observations, they are on their way to a triangular solution.  Now they know where to send the third doll; the U.S. stealth satellite is triangulated, possibly via LIDAR.

The above explains why the dolls are launched as a set, to maximize the time they can stay in close proximity.

In the finale, one of the dolls places itself in the way of the U.S. satellite. Explosives are not required; when cars crash in space, there are no survivors.

Since U.S. reconnaissance satellites possess sensors of extraordinary complexity, functionality, and cost, they cannot be replaced by constellations of more survivable micro satellites. It may be necessary to host future systems on space-planes like the X-37. Since the X-37 has very high delta-V, it could escape the trap of the Russian dolls.

U.S. Space Force

(WaPo) Pence details plan for creation of Space Force in what would be the sixth branch of the military.

I take the pov of Mattis. Quoting,

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last year that he opposed a new department of the military “at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions.”

Separate service arms were historically the result of the different primary elements of land and sea, and rudimentary communication between the two. Before radio, synergistic application of force was rare. With radio, interservice rivalry became the artificial barrier. Since World War II, generals in charge of theaters have fought not just  the enemy, but also the parochial barriers that come from having separate service arms.

There are still differences. Apart from basic training, which is influenced by the primary element,

  • Since a naval vessel consists of complex machinery enclosed by a hull, a naval officer is almost always an engineer.
  • For  pilots, gymnastic skills are prized, indicating superior ability to orient in three dimensional space.
  • West Pointers swear by American football as uncannily similar to combat. Melding traditional warfighting skills, extreme fitness, and  high technology, ground force soldiers are furthest along the path of technical integration resulting in the cyborg.

The strategies and tactics required by each environment are different, but they share  the common requirements of training in human resources and command. Since the differing environments are natural barriers to force integration, a large part of the path to becoming a general officer is cross training.

We could look at the degrees of freedom of motion  (DOF) for each service. Neglecting intermodal transport, such as helicopter, naval aircraft, and the  depth of a submarine:

  • Navy. A naval vessel is described by a position and a velocity (bearing). It has 4 degrees of freedom. Latitude and longitude convert to X and Y, giving  (X, Y,  Vx, Vy). A naval vessel accelerates only for a short interval before reaching a constant value close to the top speed of the vessel.
  • Ground forces have a sequence of positions, roughly equivalent to two degrees of freedom. Velocity and bearing are not as meaningful as the estimated time of arrival at a way-point, which hopefully aligns with a   phase line on a battlefield map.
  • Air Force. For purpose of intercept or targeting, an airplane or missile has 9 degrees of freedom, 3 each of position, velocity, and acceleration. With the addition of “jerk” to the target equations, 12 may be counted.

A space force vehicle has the same degrees of freedom of movement as an Air Force airplane. The differences:

  • It’s harder to get into space.  The amount of energy required is hundreds of times greater.
  • It’s harder to maneuver once you get there. The ability to maneuver is described by the maximum delta-V. An airplane can make almost unlimited turns, because it uses the air. In space, rockets must be used, and they have limited power and fuel.
  • It’s harder to get back to earth. All the energy used to get into space is turned into heat.  An ordinary airplane would melt.

The boundary between air and space is the Kármán Line, 62 miles up. Below the line, things can fly. Above the line, they have to be thrown. Throwing, which involves rockets, is much more expensive than flying.

Do these differences make it sensible to create a Space Force? No, because:

  • The degrees of freedom of motion are the same as the Air Force.
  • A spacecraft can gain maneuverability by diving below the Kármán Line, gaining delta-V, and swooping back up. So the dividing line between an airplane and space plane is fuzzy.
  • Satellite survivability, redundancy, and replacement  are not addressed in any meaningful way.
  • New bureaucracy is almost always bad. It’s surprising the idea would come from an administration hep on cutting regulations. It is impossible to divide the mission in a logical way.

There has been a huge investment in Block III Arleigh Burke destroyers especially oriented towards missile defense.  The Air Force X-37 space plane is an operational success. Narrowing the responsibilities of the existing services ignores the intermodal nature of this problem.

The problem of survivable weapon systems, particularly of space assets, is real. While the idea of a Space Force may  attract funding, it is not a functional concept.

Let’s not solve real problems with a bureaucracy bloated before it’s even born.




Sanctions: To Russia With Love

This is for the particular interest of Russian readers. Your side of the story is omitted, because you know it.

(CNN) Trump administration slaps more sanctions on Russia after Skripal poisonings. Quoting a tweet by Dmitry Polyanskiy, first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the UN [misspellings his],

“The theater of absurd continues. No proofs, no clues, no logic, no presumption of innocense, just highly-liklies. Only one rule: blame everything on Russia, no matter how absurd and fake it is. Let us welcome the United Sanctions of America!”

Polyanskiy’s credibility is zero. For Russia, the court is no longer public opinion. In the West, institutional memory has taken over. Although we don’t have a professional bureaucratic class like France,  the 4000+ people who make up the bulk of appointed officials take this oath:

I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.[80]

The Russians may think  the new sanctions are another move in the game called diplomacy. This would be one more  mistaken perception that clouds Russia’s view of the West. This is no longer about diplomacy; it’s about public safety.

Ever since the Ukraine invasion of February 2014, Russia has been busy demolishing her attractiveness and standing in the West. It’s now considered dangerous to

This is not small potatoes. If Bill Browder does not live to be a hundred, we will blame the cleverness of  Russia. It is the most unbrilliant, perverse PR campaign by Russia that could be imagined. The saber rattling, the poisons, the Syria atrocities… these things are getting to us.

Why the drama? To emphasize that this has escaped the realm of propaganda. The oath-takers are thinking that while it’s still more likely to be struck by lightning than to die of Russian poison, the thought is not absurd. Salisbury has a low density suburban layout. What if the same Novichok release had occurred in Manhattan? Who is to say the poison is not already stored at the Russian mission? Improbable? Who can say? They have shown they are willing to use it.

The Western reaction to  a few trivial killings and elections mischief puzzles Russia. How could such a meticulously crafted policy of assassination and subversion provoke such outrage?  A quote of the famed mathematician John von Neumann is on point:

“There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

The Russians think they possess such precise understanding of Western society that they can both manipulate it, and operate within it, without detection. But they don’t know what they’re talking about.  It results from the myth that authoritarian societies are swift and nimble, while democracies are slow and clumsy.

Now let’s get formal, and put it in the context of history.

There is something to the Russian myth. Since 2014, Russia’s foreign policy has shown tactical flexibility and surgical precision.  It is tempting to call it Putin’s foreign policy. But while Putin makes the ultimate decisions, he is influenced by the society in which he lives, and particularly, the Kremlin inner circle, which is a zoo of ideas about the West, some old, some new, and mostly incorrect. The oldest of the zoo comes right out of Das Kapital,  that capitalists are motivated almost exclusively by money. The idea survives in modern Russia as a cynical relic.

There was some truth to this. In the post colonial era, corporations managed to influence the Third World by various means, some illicit, to create favorable environments for enterprise and investment. This worked to at least some extent into the 1960’s, fostering the illusion that foreign capital could thrive almost anywhere, subject to the occasional revolution or expropriation. The multinationals executed their own foreign policies.

In the past 30 years or so, this resolve of capitalism has weakened. The experience of foreign capital in Russia has been harsh. Several trends have been encouraged by this weakening:

  • Policy shift: Increased use of economic power as an instrument of foreign policy: sanctions and tariffs, facilitated by domestic economic pressures.
  • Policy shift:  Only the most carefully controlled trade is compatible with states that exhibit aggressive military postures or diplomatic stances, or conduct subversive or lethal activities against the U.S. or allies.
  • In the U.S., some dirigisme, state direction of a free market economy.
  • Loss by the multinationals of power to push back against the above.

Let’s recap. We started off with all the reasons why Russians are running their reputation into the ground, from the anecdotal to the momentous. Then we looked at how this is reflected in Western policy changes. This is just a light sketch. You can weave back and forth on this loom. The momentous is quite sensitive to anecdote; the assassination of  Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, a single pistol shot, started World War I.

There are more ideas in the Kremlin zoo. To be continued in a bit.













Apologies to Foreign Governments and Intelligence Services re Bot Filtering

If you’re in government or intel, and your bot/crawler/scraper has been blocked, please read.

Web traffic to any website includes a large proportion of bots and crawlers- automated engines, some of which are good, others malevolent. There’s also quite a bit of hacking. Since Intel9 has limited bandwidth, bots noticeably slowed the site.

It was decided to enable filters to block most of the bots that are not part of public search engines, with exceptions made for bots that are light on bandwidth. If you are an official organization, and your bot was blocked, my apologies. There is no way for me to tell it is you from a nameless IP address without a corresponding DNS record.

Every government, most especially our European allies, and including Russia, is welcome to scrape Intel9 with bots. The caveat is that if a bot scrapes the site from top to bottom frequently, and I have no way of determining its benign intent, it will be blocked.

If it is practical for you, as it may be for some  official organs outside the intelligence communities, drop me a line, and I’ll make sure not to block you.

Intel9's world view

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!