My Childhood Rape and My Life That Might Have Been
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 04:56:38 -0400

My Childhood Rape and My Life That Might Have BeenPhoto Illustration by The Daily BeastI have become, it seems, something of a collector: old magazines filled with young starlets, Mason jars full of homemade concoctions, confidants who were once wayward lovers, and a cat who hasn’t lived with his rightful owner—my now grown middle child—for too many years. There is a row of empty ceramic planters lining my window sill, awaiting soil and seeds and a goodness that will never arrive.Then there are the scars, both physical and emotional, that I have collected—too numerous, it seems, and too painful to count. Sometimes, I run my fingers across the blemishes—the nicks and pits and disfigurements—that litter my body. There are few mirrors in my house, lest I am forced to see the fullness of their bounty. Each one whispers its own story. Each one holds its own trauma, some petty and some profound, one and all a maker of all that is me. A thin brown keloid marks the spot along my right heel, sliced open by a broken bottle in the yard some 46 years ago when we lived in a Duck Hill public housing project. There are various other cuts and burns, some abrasions from scraping concrete, hopping fences and climbing trees. They remind me of the moments when I rejected my girlness, the femininity that left me vulnerable and afraid. I rarely think about them now or even about the small rise of skin on my back, where a man who swore he loved me shoved a blade into the meat of my shoulder as I ran screaming for my life. I tell myself that, for the most part, I have let them and the circumstances that wrought them go, and that some things, like the cat at my feet, must simply be embraced. There are a few, though, that have yet to heal. Goldie Taylor—An Open Letter to the Young Woman ‘Raped at Spelman’It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen—a 24-inch orange 10-speed with a black seat and matching vinyl-wrapped handlebars. I first spotted it on the lower floor of a Northwest Plaza department store. My godfather, Thom Puckett, promised that if I helped out around his Sinclair gas station, he would “see about that bicycle.” I swept the stockroom, grabbed extra cans of motor oil for my “uncle” Frank, and washed window shields for every customer that pulled up to a full-service pump. Puckett, who would later buy and teach me to drive my first car, made good on his word. It was 1980 and I had just finished sixth grade. I had been elected student council president in an all-white school. The gravity of that missed me. They were simply my friends. Some still are. We played together in a creek awash with nuclear waste, ferried cakes to celebrate Mrs. Bateman’s birthday, and learned to swim at Tiemeyer Park. I could not know it then, but the world was changing around me as the evening news carried stories of an Olympic boycott, a child born from a test tube, a presidential election, and American hostages in Iran. I remember witnessing a solar eclipse from the back playground at Buder Elementary School, our makeshift viewfinders fashioned from shoeboxes. Even then, I was mesmerized by it all. Johnny Carson was the king of late night television. CNN aired its maiden newscast. My older sister got married and had a baby that summer.Weeks after Mt. St. Helen’s spewed its lava, smoke and ash into the sky, I pulled the bike from the side yard and left our small pale green house on St. Christopher Lane. It was morning, the sun still low but already burning away the dewy air. My legs, even with the saddle lowered flush with the frame’s top tube, were barely long enough to reach the pedals. I was headed to summer camp, a free city-run program at Schafer Park. It wasn’t far. Maybe a half mile. I proudly parked my bike alongside the gazebo and spent the day playing checkers, swatting tennis balls and stringing colorful beads.Some time that afternoon, I started the way home, pushing my way up sloping St. Williams Lane. Clumsily switching gears, I felt a tug at my bicycle seat as I hit the top up the small incline. It was a familiar face—an older boy, maybe 16 or 17, named Chris. What unfolded next left a wound so deep and abiding that, until this summer, I could not speak it aloud. I told myself that, like the stack of cookbooks I never open, this was a chapter best left closed. I told myself it did not matter. I remember being led down a path that led to Hoech Jr. High School and through the parking lot to a house on the other side of Ashby Road, just south of Tiemeyer Park. He pushed me through the door of a screened-in back porch, yanked down my blue and white basketball shorts, and raped me on the slat board flooring.I was eleven years old. I remember the long walk home, the darkening sky above and the buzzing winged insects that danced around the streetlights. Long after the last of the sun had drifted from the sky, I sat on our painted concrete porch sobbing, waiting for somebody to come home. My panties bloodied, my arms and knees scraped. The pain seemed to come from everywhere. I waited there with my cat Lucky, afraid to go inside until my mother turned into the gravel drive. I was unmoored. I had no idea what that meant then, but it seems the only fitting word writing this now. I belonged nowhere, and to no one specifically. Nobody took me to see a doctor. Not for my injuries, not for the infection that came after. Nobody went to the police or even sat me down to talk through what happened. My mother gave me two pills—antibiotics I assume—and rubbed ointment on the boil. I remember the pitying look she gave me, and the anger she seemed to have for me. I could not help but to believe that whatever happened to me, wherever I had been, had been my fault. Looking back, I can only imagine what manner of hell might have been unleashed in our predominantly white, working-class neighborhood where we were one of only three black families. I cannot imagine what might have been said to an all-white St. Ann police department, which took a particular interest in my decidedly black teenage brother. Or maybe, my mother’s response was a byproduct of the horrors she experienced as a child. I can make no excuses for the care and protection I was not given, though I can now give them some measure of context. Part of me understands or at least wants to. Part of me wants to go back, to demand more and better for myself.As I returned later to pull my bike from the opening of a tunnel along Coldwater Creek, where it had been ditched, I remember thinking, knowing that I was on my own. It was not the first time I had been molested and it would not be the last. The sexual violence that I endured during my formative years—at five when a neighbor boy in our housing project lured a group of my playmates into an upper bedroom, at 13 when an older cousin in the basement of my aunt’s house, through high school when a football coach preyed on me and my classmates. Sometime in 1981, I was sent to live with an aunt in East St. Louis, the crumbling town my mother had fought so relentlessly to leave. I slept on the living room floor for several years, often soiling myself in the night. When I wasn’t scrubbing floors, polishing furniture or lining a church pew, I immersed myself in books of every sort. The library in our bottoming-out neighborhood was my refuge, my safe harbor. I found Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes and James Baldwin there. To them, and to an 8th grade honors English teacher, I owe my very survival. I was without my mother then, detached from all that I had known. My blackness was suddenly present and burdensome in ways I cannot number or name. The school smelled of piss, the lunches served in plastic wrappings and the texts missing full chapters. I won another race for student council president, joined the speech team—winning statewide competitions—and wrote essays that brought accolades. Anything to escape the lack and despair of the half burned-out school house. Goldie Taylor—Why I Waited Decades to Tell Anyone I Was RapedThere are no repressed memories for me, only a tucking away. Some of the marks on my psyche are indelible, I know. But nothing was so hurtful as the sense of abandonment I felt then and even now. It has marred relationships with my closest family and undermined my ability to navigate the waters of intimate relationships. I learned to fight, early on, as a means of self preservation and I rarely leave home after the street lights come on. This summer, as I began pulling together old essays and penning a spiritual memoir, these are the things I know that I cannot avoid. If I am to speak of my life, of the joys and triumphs, the vulnerabilities, ailments and healings, of the rocky road made smooth by the might of my own faith that there has and will be better, there is nothing I can leave out.I think now about the life that went unlived, the one that gathered layers of mold in the dark cabinets of desolation. I sometimes wonder what I might have been, but for the puss and scarring of sexual violence, how it formed and defined and confined me. Even so, I marvel in the journey itself, the things I learned to reject and accept, the withering of my faith and the solace I have created for myself in its absence. There is a strange peace in this, an odd sense of surety that I cannot shake. It allows me no hatred, no compulsion for retribution. The wounds are without salt. There is a comfort knowing that my tomorrows, if nothing else in this world, belong to me. What I choose to carry with me, to what extent what lay behind me colors the road ahead, is a decision that only I can make. “You wanna fly,” Toni Morrison wrote, “you gotta give up the shit that weighs you down.”At some point, I imagine I will get around to planting that herb garden. But, for now, I am content to bear witness to my own blooming. Though the scars remains, there is a life—I know—beyond them.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. 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Here’s How Germany Could Boost Its Economy, If It Wants to Act
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 02:00:00 -0400

Here’s How Germany Could Boost Its Economy, If It Wants to Act(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Germany’s economy is in trouble and the government is dithering over whether to provide support in the form of fiscal stimulus.The administration is under increasing pressure now that it’s clear the economy shrank in the second quarter and the recession risk is growing. But politicians are opting to wait, given that the downside forces are largely external and it’s not clear how deep the slump will be.“If the manufacturing sector is in free-fall because your main trading partners are duking it out in a trade war, then obviously there is nothing you can do,” said Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “You can help to make sure that your domestic economy stays strong, but it’s not a clear story.”The government has run a budget surplus for the past five years and cut its debt burden to the lowest since before the financial crisis, giving it room to spend. The administration is ready to run a deficit should the economy collapse, Der Spiegel reported on Friday.If Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to break some taboos though, she could really loosen the purse strings, with consequences beyond the nation’s borders.Controversy Without RewardUnless the economic situation becomes dire, the government has to play by its fiscal rules. Even if it scraps a commitment to keep the budget balanced, a constitutional debt brake limits the fiscal bang to 10 billion euros ($11 billion) at most, says Oliver Rakau at Oxford Economics.Suspending the law would allow the government to run a deficit of about 1.5% of gross domestic product before it violates European Union rules limiting public debt to 60% of GDP, according to ING economist Carsten Brzeski.In the PipelineFor the time being, Berlin’s plans are staying put. The draft budget approved earlier this week doesn’t foresee any new debt through at least 2021.At the same time, the government has already set aside more than 150 billion euros for infrastructure, education, housing and digital technology over the next four years. That provides Europe’s largest economy with a boost of 0.4% of GDP and should be enough for now, reckons Berenberg economist Florian Hense.“Obviously they have to be very careful as to how much external headwinds are spreading into the domestic economy,” Hense said. “If unemployment is picking up then we might have an issue.”Build BiggerWith its infrastructure in poor shape, Germany could think big and commit to higher investment for the next 15 to 20 years, according Christian Odendahl, chief economist at the Centre for European Reform in Berlin. Germany is ranked highly in the overall global competitiveness index, but falls short in areas like road quality and internet connectivity.Such investment programs take longer to implement, but can have a bigger impact. They’d also give companies a reason to buy machinery and expand their capacity at a time when Germany is trying to transform itself in areas such as clean technology.Tax CutsChristian Schulz, an economist at Citigroup, says Germany could follow the U.K.’s example of 2008 and temporarily cut its sales tax to give consumption a boost. That could act as a “circuit-breaker” to prevent a deeper downturn.Or it could reduce social-security contributions for the poor. Income tax cuts -- the typical prescription advice Germany gets -- would backfire, Odendahl says, by depriving local governments of their lifeblood for investment.Cash for ClunkersFor a car-loving nation, the government could revisit its 2009 program of rebates for replacing older cars with more fuel-efficient models. As well as aiding a key industry -- one whacked by a diesel scandal and trade tensions -- the initiative would dovetail with the country’s drive to accelerate the switch to more environmentally friendly energy sources.BlackoutThe government’s “black zero” -- or balanced budget -- looks at risk. The hurdle for more aggressive spending is high though, and likely to remain so.“There is a good chance that the black zero will be gone next year because growth assumptions for the budget are too optimistic,” said Schulz at Citigroup. “Probably there will be a stimulus, but I’m skeptical on large numbers.”To contact the reporter on this story: Piotr Skolimowski in Frankfurt at pskolimowski@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Gordon at pgordon6@bloomberg.net, Fergal O'Brien, Jana RandowFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

A Cyberattack Could Wreak Destruction Comparable to a Nuclear Weapon
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 00:30:00 -0400

A Cyberattack Could Wreak Destruction Comparable to a Nuclear WeaponPeople around the world may be worried about nuclear tensions rising, but I think they’re missing the fact that a major cyberattack could be just as damaging – and hackers are already laying the groundwork.With the U.S. and Russia pulling out of a key nuclear weapons pact – and beginning to develop new nuclear weapons – plus Iran tensions and North Korea again test-launching missiles, the global threat to civilizationis high. Some fear a new nuclear arms race.That threat is serious – but another could be as serious, and is less visible to the public. So far, most of the well-known hacking incidents, even those with foreign government backing, have done little more than steal data. Unfortunately, there are signs that hackers have placed malicious software inside U.S. power and water systems, where it’s lying in wait, ready to be triggered. The U.S. military has also reportedly penetrated the computers that control Russian electrical systems.Many intrusions alreadyAs someone who studies cybersecurity and information warfare, I’m concerned that a cyberattack with widespread impact, an intrusion in one area that spreads to others or a combination of lots of smaller attacks, could cause significant damage, including mass injury and death rivaling the death toll of a nuclear weapon.Unlike a nuclear weapon, which would vaporize people within 100 feet and kill almost everyone within a half-mile, the death toll from most cyberattacks would be slower. People might die from a lack of food, power or gas for heat or from car crashes resulting from a corrupted traffic light system. This could happen over a wide area, resulting in mass injury and even deaths.This might sound alarmist, but look at what has been happening in recent years, in the U.S. and around the world.In early 2016, hackers took control of a U.S. treatment plant for drinking water, and changed the chemical mixture used to purify the water. If changes had been made – and gone unnoticed – this could have led to poisonings, an unusable water supply and a lack of water.In 2016 and 2017, hackers shut down major sections of the power grid in Ukraine. This attack was milder than it could have been, as no equipment was destroyed during it, despite the ability to do so. Officials think it was designed to send a message. In 2018, unknown cybercriminals gained access throughout the United Kingdom’s electricity system; in 2019 a similar incursion may have penetrated the U.S. grid.In August 2017, a Saudi Arabian petrochemical plant was hit by hackers who tried to blow up equipment by taking control of the same types of electronics used in industrial facilities of all kinds throughout the world. Just a few months later, hackers shut down monitoring systems for oil and gas pipelines across the U.S. This primarily caused logistical problems – but it showed how an insecure contractor’s systems could potentially cause problems for primary ones.The FBI has even warned that hackers are targeting nuclear facilities. A compromised nuclear facility could result in the discharge of radioactive material, chemicals or even possibly a reactor meltdown. A cyberattack could cause an event similar to the incident in Chernobyl. That explosion, caused by inadvertent error, resulted in 50 deaths and evacuation of 120,000 and has left parts of the region uninhabitable for thousands of years into the future.Mutual assured destructionMy concern is not intended to downplay the devastating and immediate effects of a nuclear attack. Rather, it’s to point out that some of the international protections against nuclear conflicts don’t exist for cyberattacks. For instance, the idea of “mutual assured destruction” suggests that no country should launch a nuclear weapon at another nuclear-armed nation: The launch would likely be detected, and the target nation would launch its own weapons in response, destroying both nations.Cyberattackers have fewer inhibitions. For one thing, it’s much easier to disguise the source of a digital incursion than it is to hide where a missile blasted off from. Further, cyberwarfare can start small, targeting even a single phone or laptop. Larger attacks might target businesses, such as banks or hotels, or a government agency. But those aren’t enough to escalate a conflict to the nuclear scale.Nuclear grade cyberattacksThere are three basic scenarios for how a nuclear grade cyberattack might develop. It could start modestly, with one country’s intelligence service stealing, deleting or compromising another nation’s military data. Successive rounds of retaliation could expand the scope of the attacks and the severity of the damage to civilian life.In another situation, a nation or a terrorist organization could unleash a massively destructive cyberattack – targeting several electricity utilities, water treatment facilities or industrial plants at once, or in combination with each other to compound the damage.Perhaps the most concerning possibility, though, is that it might happen by mistake. On several occasions, human and mechanical errors very nearly destroyed the world during the Cold War; something analogous could happen in the software and hardware of the digital realm.A cyberattack wouldn’t be launched from a nuclear operator’s console, like the one shown here from the decommissioned Oscar Zero site, but rather through cyberspace. A human might not even be required. Jeremy StraubDefending against disasterJust as there is no way to completely protect against a nuclear attack, there are only ways to make devastating cyberattacks less likely.The first is that governments, businesses and regular people need to secure their systems to prevent outside intruders from finding their way in, and then exploiting their connections and access to dive deeper.Critical systems, like those at public utilities, transportation companies and firms that use hazardous chemicals, need to be much more secure. One analysis found that only about one-fifth of companies that use computers to control industrial machinery in the U.S. even monitor their equipment to detect potential attacks – and that in 40% of the attacks they did catch, the intruder had been accessing the system for more than a year. Another survey found that nearly three-quarters of energy companies had experienced some sort of network intrusion in the previous year.But all those systems can’t be protected without skilled cybersecurity staffs to handle the work. At present, nearly a quarter of all cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are vacant, with more positions opening up than there are people to fill them. One recruiter has expressed concern that even some of the jobs that are filled are held by people who aren’t qualified to do them. The solution is more training and education, to teach people the skills they need to do cybersecurity work, and to keep existing workers up to date on the latest threats and defense strategies.If the world is to hold off major cyberattacks – including some with the potential to be as damaging as a nuclear strike – it will be up to each person, each company, each government agency to work on its own and together to secure the vital systems on which people’s lives depend.This article by Jeremy Straub originally appeared at The Conversation in 2019.Jeremy Straub is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at North Dakota State University.Image: Wikipedia.

Suicide-bomb at Kabul wedding leaves 63 dead and 182 wounded
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 23:48:39 -0400

Suicide-bomb at Kabul wedding leaves 63 dead and 182 woundedA suicide-bomb blast ripped through a wedding party on a busy Saturday night in Afghanistan’s capital, leaving at least 63 dead and almost 200 injured. The Taliban denied responsibility for the blast at a west Kabul wedding hall, in a minority Shi'ite neighbourhood, packed with more than 1,000 people celebrating a marriage. Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi said the attacker set off explosives among the wedding participants. He later said 63 people had died and 182 wounded in the attack. "Among the wounded are women and children," he added. Both the Taliban and a local affiliate of the Islamic State group carry out bloody attacks in the capital. The blast occurred near the stage where musicians were and "all the youths, children and all the people who were there were killed," witness Gul Mohammad said. One of the wounded, Mohammad Toofan, said that "a lot of guests were martyred." "There are so many dead and wounded," said Ahmad Omid, a survivor who said about 1,200 guests had been invited to the wedding for his father’s cousin. "I was with the groom in the other room when we heard the blast and then I couldn’t find anyone. Everyone was lying all around the hall." An Afghan man mourns near the body of his brother after he was killed in an explosion at wedding hall in Kabul Credit: AP Outside a local hospital, families wailed. Others were covered in blood. The blast at the Dubai City wedding hall in western Kabul, a part of the city that many in the minority Shiite Hazara community call home, shattered a period of relative calm. On August 7, a Taliban car bomb aimed at Afghan security forces detonated on the same road, killing 14 people and wounding 145 - most of them women, children and other civilians. Kabul’s huge, brightly lit wedding halls are centres of community life in a city weary of decades of war, with thousands of dollars spent on a single evening. "Devastated by the news of a suicide attack inside a wedding hall in Kabul. A heinous crime against our people; how is it possible to train a human and ask him to go and blow himself (up) inside a wedding?!!" Sediq Seddiqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said in a Twitter post. The wedding halls also serve as meeting places, and in November at least 55 people were killed when a suicide bomber sneaked into a Kabul wedding hall where hundreds of Muslim religious scholars and clerics had gathered to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The Taliban denied involvement in an attack that bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State affiliate. A wounded man receives treatment at a hospital after an explosion at wedding hall in Kabul Credit: AP Saturday night’s explosion came a few days after the end of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, with Kabul residents visiting family and friends, and just before Afghanistan marks its 100th independence day on Monday under heavier security in a city long familiar with checkpoints and razor wire. The blast comes at a greatly uncertain time in Afghanistan as the United States and the Taliban near a deal to end a nearly 18-year war, America’s longest conflict. The Afghan government has been sidelined from those discussions, and presidential spokesman Seddiqi said earlier on Saturday that his government was waiting to hear results of President Donald Trump’s meeting on Friday with his national security team about the negotiations. Top issues include a US troop withdrawal and Taliban guarantees not to let Afghanistan become a launching pad for global terror attacks. While the Taliban earlier this year pledged to do more to protect civilians, it continues to stage deadly attacks against Afghan security forces and others in what is seen by many as an attempt to strengthen its position at the negotiating table. The conflict continues to take a horrific toll on civilians. Last year more than 3,800, including more than 900 children, were killed in Afghanistan by the Taliban, US and allied forces, the Islamic State affiliate and other actors, the United Nations said.

Top Chinese, North Korean generals meet in Beijing
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 23:23:05 -0400

Top Chinese, North Korean generals meet in BeijingTop military leaders from North Korea and China have recommitted themselves to strengthened exchanges between their armed forces during a meeting in Beijing. The meeting Saturday came as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised another test-firing of an unspecified new weapon, seen as an attempt to pressure Washington and Seoul over nuclear negotiations and joint military exercises. The official Xinhua News agency says Zhang Youxia, the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, met Kim Su Kil, director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army.

Russia's Nuclear-Powered ‘Skyfall’ Missile with Unlimited Range: A Doomsday Weapon?
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 23:00:00 -0400

Russia's Nuclear-Powered ‘Skyfall’ Missile with Unlimited Range: A Doomsday Weapon?An explosion during a missile test on Russia’s White Sea on August 8 that killed seven nuclear scientists and caused radiation levels to briefly spike in the region has drawn new attention to Moscow’s development of exotic new weapons designed to deliver long-range strategic nuclear strikes.As reports of the accident circulated, Moscow claimed that it had been testing a “liquid fuel rocket.” Rosatom, the state nuclear energy agency, then stated it was working on an “isotope power source in a liquid propulsion system.”Convincing evidence has led to a consensus among foreign experts that missile being tested was likely a 9M730 Burevestnik (“Petrel,” a seabird)—a prototype of a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Such a missile—if it can be made to work—would be powered by a very small nuclear reactor, allowing it to fly practically unlimited distances at very high speeds.Burevestnik’s existence is no secret. In March 1 2018, Putin revealed as one of six new weapons under development by Russia—also including hypersonic missiles and intercontinental-range nuclear drone torpedoes.While a companion piece details the fallout from the deadly testing accident, this piece will seek to answer a simple question: why on earth is Russia seeking to develop such a peculiar and complicated weapon in the first place?Cruise Missiles to Fly Under an Anti-Ballistic Missile ShieldQuite simply, the pursuit of unconventional weapons like the Burevestnik stems from Russian fears that America’s new anti-ballistic missile systems put Moscow’s nuclear deterrence at risk. Intercontinental ballistic missiles fly extremely high and fast—but they are also highly visible to sensors and generally fly in a predictable trajectory. Using advanced sensors, the United States can potentially detect and shoot down a small number of ICBMs with the few dozen interceptors it has deployed. That’s far too few interceptors to stop Moscow’s hundreds of ballistic missiles, but Moscow is paranoid American defense will continue to improve.Unlike ballistic missiles, cruise missiles skim close to surface, allowing them to hug terrain and maneuver around obstacles. These characteristics mean ground-based radars may only have a detection angle on cruise missiles when they’re only a few dozen miles away. While defenses do exist that can potentially shootdown cruise missiles, the short detection range and interception windows would mean that it wouldn’t be practical to create a huge defensive umbrellas like those provided by anti-ballistic systems.However, most cruise missiles simply can’t pack enough fuel to fly thousands of miles on intercontinental attacks—and usually can’t sustain speeds much faster than an airliner when traveling longer distances. A nuclear-powered cruise missile could—theoretically—have practically unlimited range, and sustain supersonic speeds, making it hard to intercept, and allowing it to circumnavigate bubbles of radar coverages and leverage terrain to minimize the chance of interception.The Russian claim that a “liquid-fuel” booster was being tested may not in fact be inaccurate. The most likely scheme for a nuclear-powered missile involves a ramjet engine, in which the reactor would heat onrushing air at speeds exceeding twice the speed of sound. This expanding heated air would be squeezed out the engine’s rear nozzle, resulting in sustainable supersonic propulsion.However, conventional booster would be required for the missile to move fast enough for the ramjet to work. Therefore, The Drive’s Joe Trevithick argues it’s possible scientists were testing the robustness of the missile’s reactor when exposed to the heat and physical stress caused by the rocket boosters—with explosive results.Another issue is that the Burevestnik’s unshielded reactor core could potentially leave behind a trail of radioactive emissions and contaminants over everything it overflies. In fact, in the early 1960s, the United States’ Project Pluto developed a nuclear ramjet-powered missile that was canceled in part due to concerns over its extreme radioactive pollution—though not before its designers considered whether its extreme radioactive emissions could be weaponized! The problem remained that the trail of sickness-inducing radiation would begin over friendly territory.Failed TestsWestern intelligence had already been keeping tabs on Skyfall prior to Putin’s speech. Around a dozen tests have been held since 2016, first at Kapustin Yar (near Volgograd), then the Pan’kovo test site on Yuzhny island. Only two were successful. However, Pentagon snooping of the latter by WC-135 weather reconnaissance planes used to measure radiation may have led to the program’s relocation to Nyonoksa, which is distant from international airspace.In the most successful test in November 2017, which can be seen in a video released by Putin, the Skyfall missile flew little more than twenty miles before crashing into the sea. The nuclear refueling ship Serebryanka, which was also present at the accident in August 8, was dispatched to recover the possibly irradiated debris. These results suggest the program is far from mature. Thus, Pranay Vaddi argues in a piece on Lawfare that Burevestnik should not have any impact on renewal of the New START Treaty regulating deployed strategic nuclear weapons, as it is unlikely to enter service in the next decade.Clearly, Russia is still far from solving the daunting challenges of developing a practical and functional nuclear-powered missile. Even if the Skyfall is eventually developed into an operational system, deploying dozens of strategic missiles each with their own miniature nuclear reactors would be extremely expensive and pose costly political, safety and security risks—as was amply demonstrated by the tragic incident on August 8.Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.Image: Flickr

British MPs press Johnson to recall parliament over Brexit
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 21:26:25 -0400

British MPs press Johnson to recall parliament over BrexitBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under pressure Sunday to immediately recall lawmakers from their summer holiday so parliament can debate Brexit. More than 100 MPs have written to Johnson to urge him to reconvene and let them sit permanently until October 31 -- the date Britain is due to leave the European Union. "Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt Britain's departure from the EU.

U.K. Faces Fuel, Food Shortages, Port Delays Post-Brexit
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 19:33:46 -0400

U.K. Faces Fuel, Food Shortages, Port Delays Post-Brexit(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. will grapple with a shortage of fuel, food and medicine as well as job losses and a disruption at its ports of as long as three months with a no-deal Brexit, the Sunday Times reported, citing leaked government documents.The dossier called “Operation Yellowhammer,” prepared by the cabinet office, also warned that the supply of fresh food could be reduced, it said. Critical elements of the supply chain, including ingredients, chemicals and packaging, may be affected, the paper added.The newspaper said the document had been compiled this month to set out the “most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than worst-case scenarios.“A no-deal exit from the European Union may also result in the return of a hard border in Ireland, which may trigger protests and road blockages, the document said.Petrol import tariffs will lead to the closure of two oil refineries, the loss of 2,000 jobs, strikes and disruptions, the document said.To contact the reporter on this story: Sebastian Tong in San Francisco at stong41@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Kopit at skopit@bloomberg.net, Linus ChuaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

UPDATE 3-UK faces food, fuel and drugs shortages in no-deal Brexit - Times, citing official documents
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 19:16:10 -0400

UPDATE 3-UK faces food, fuel and drugs shortages in no-deal Brexit - Times, citing official documentsBritain will face shortages of fuel, food and medicine if it leaves the European Union without a transition deal, jamming ports and requiring a hard border in Ireland, official government documents leaked to the Sunday Times show. The Times said the forecasts compiled by the Cabinet Office set out the most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than the worst case scenarios.

UPDATE 1-UK parliament cannot stop Brexit, Johnson to tell Macron and Merkel
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 18:11:31 -0400

UPDATE 1-UK parliament cannot stop Brexit, Johnson to tell Macron and MerkelPrime Minister Boris Johnson will tell French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Westminster parliament cannot stop Brexit and a new deal must be agreed if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without one. The United Kingdom is heading towards a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Johnson has repeatedly vowed to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the Brexit divorce.

U.K.’s Johnson to Double Down on Brexit in Germany, France Trip
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 17:30:00 -0400

U.K.’s Johnson to Double Down on Brexit in Germany, France Trip(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Germany and France Aug. 21-22 to make clear that the country is leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a deal, his office said in a statement.Johnson will also use his trip, which comes ahead of the Group of Seven summit, to reiterate that parliament “will not, and cannot, cancel the referendum,” the statement said, adding that there needs to be a new Brexit deal.“Number 10 therefore believes there will be very little discussion of Brexit on the European visits this week. Each side will state its position and move on to other things,” the statement said.The Prime Minister’s Office said it expected discussions to revolve around issues on the upcoming G7 agenda, including foreign policy and security as well as the global economy and trade.“The EU are our closest neighbors and whatever happens we want a strong relationship after we leave,” the statement added.Germany’s Scholz: EU27 United on Brexit, Ready for All OutcomesTo contact the reporters on this story: Sebastian Tong in San Francisco at stong41@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Kopit at skopit@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Senegalese ex-UN food agency chief Jacques Diouf dies
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 16:18:43 -0400

Senegalese ex-UN food agency chief Jacques Diouf diesSenegalese Jacques Diouf who headed the UN food agency for 18 years has died at the age of 81, President Macky Sall said on Saturday, describing him "as one of Senegal's most valiant sons". Diouf, a former Senegalese ambassador to the United Nations, died in France following a long illness, his family said quoted by Senegal media. "Senegal has lost one of its most valiant sons with the death of our compatriot Jacques Diouf," Sall said on Twitter.

Sudanese protesters sign final power-sharing deal with army
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 16:16:22 -0400

Sudanese protesters sign final power-sharing deal with armySudan's pro-democracy movement and ruling military council signed a final power-sharing agreement Saturday at a ceremony in the capital, Khartoum, after weeks of tortuous negotiations. The historic deal paves the way for a transition to a civilian-led government after the military overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir months ago and the more recent deadly suppression of protests. Earlier this month, the two sides initialed a constitutional document in the wake of international pressure and amid growing concerns that the political crisis that followed al-Bashir's ouster could ignite civil war.

White House to Proceed With Ending Some Foreign Aid Payments
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 15:36:57 -0400

White House to Proceed With Ending Some Foreign Aid Payments(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration will move forward within days with a plan to cancel certain foreign aid payments authorized by Congress, setting up a fight with lawmakers opposed to the move.A senior administration official confirmed that the so-called rescissions package would be announced early next week.Some of the funding being zeroed out was for projects like installing solar panels in the Caribbean and creating safe spaces in Ireland for people upset about Brexit, said the administration official, who declined to be identified discussing plans not yet made public. Unspent funds for certain climate-related projects in Asia and Africa are also being targeted for elimination. CNN reported Saturday that the move would take aim at funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as the United Nations for certain peace-keeping operations in the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.The official said that Congress during the Trump administration has funded State and USAID at about $12 billion above the president’s budget requests, and that the rescission package would return some of that excess back to the budget.Republican lawmakers who are typically Trump allies, notably Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, this week urged the president to reconsider “in the strongest possible terms” after word of the possible rescissions was reported.“We share your concern about our mounting national debt, which in itself creates security risks to the country,” Graham and Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky said in a letter to Trump. “However, it has been reported that this proposal makes sweeping and indiscriminate cuts without regard to national security impacts.”(Updates throughout with detail.)\--With assistance from Jordan Fabian.To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Sink in Washington at jsink1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Kim expresses 'great satisfaction' over NKorea weapons tests
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 15:31:23 -0400

Kim expresses 'great satisfaction' over NKorea weapons testsNorth Korea said Saturday that leader Kim Jong Un supervised another test-firing of an unspecified new weapon, seen as an attempt to pressure Washington and Seoul over slow nuclear negotiations and their joint military exercises. Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, said that following Friday's launches, Kim expressed "great satisfaction" over his military's "mysterious and amazing success rates" in recent testing activity and vowed to build up "invincible military capabilities no one dare provoke." The report did not mention any specific comment about the United States or South Korea.

UPDATE 1-Several injured in Kashmir in clashes with Indian police
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 14:30:10 -0400

UPDATE 1-Several injured in Kashmir in clashes with Indian policeIndian security forces injured at least six people on Saturday in Srinagar, the main city in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, as several protests broke out against New Delhi's revocation of the region's autonomy last week. In New York, the U.N. Security Council held its first meeting in almost 50 years on Kashmir, a majority Muslim region claimed by both India and Pakistan - which controls its western third.

Airstrikes on Syrian rebel stronghold kill family of 7
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 12:41:09 -0400

Airstrikes on Syrian rebel stronghold kill family of 7Government and Russian airstrikes pounded the southern edge of a rebel stronghold in Syria's northwest on Saturday, killing at least seven members of one family, activists and a war monitor reported. The intense airstrikes were coupled with fierce ground clashes as the government, backed by Russia, pushed ahead with a months-old offensive seeking to chip away at territory on the periphery of the rebel enclave. Idlib and surrounding areas are home to 3 million civilians and is dominated by Islamist insurgents.

EU Chief Juncker to Undergo Emergency Gallbladder Surgery
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 11:40:19 -0400

EU Chief Juncker to Undergo Emergency Gallbladder Surgery(Bloomberg) -- European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is set to undergo emergency surgery to have his gallbladder removed.The EU leader was vacationing in Austria when he was taken back to Luxembourg for the operation, the EU said in a statement on Saturday. Juncker, 64, is set to leave his post when his term ends this fall. The former prime minister of Luxembourg has previously faced questions about his health. At a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit last year, Juncker was filmed struggling to keep his balance, which the commission later said was the result of a painful sciatica attack.Gallbladder removal surgery is a common procedure, according to the U.K.’s NHS website, which says an operation to take it out is often recommended if any problems with it develop. While such procedures are uncomplicated, it can sometimes take weeks before people return to normal activities.Juncker is scheduled to attend the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, next weekend, though the emergency procedure means the EU chief may not be in a position to participate. The leaders are expected to discuss global challenges in the economy and the environment as well as relations with Iran, Russia and North Korea.The gallbladder surgery comes as the EU leader is set to hand over the presidency of the European Commission to Ursula von der Leyen in October. Following her confirmation by the European Parliament last month, the former German defense minister is accepting nominations from EU member states for the team of senior officials who will be in charge of the bloc’s executive body for the next five years.The commission has in recent years had to grapple with complex challenges, including difficult negotiations with the U.K. as it plans to leave the bloc as well as simmering tensions with the U.S. over trade.(Updates with more background from fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at ndrozdiak1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Chad Thomas, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Iranian tanker to leave Gibraltar soon despite US pressure
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 11:39:39 -0400

Iranian tanker to leave Gibraltar soon despite US pressureThe shipping agent for an Iranian supertanker caught in a diplomatic standoff says the vessel is ready to depart Gibraltar on Sunday or Monday, as the U.S. made a last-minute effort to seize it again. The head of the company sorting paperwork and procuring for the Grace 1 oil tanker in the British overseas territory said the vessel could be sailing away in the next "24 to 48 hours," once new crews dispatched to the territory take over command of the ship. "The vessel is ongoing some logistical changes and requirements that have delayed the departure," Astralship managing director Richard De la Rosa told The Associated Press.

Iran tanker in limbo off Gibraltar as US issues warrant
Sat, 17 Aug 2019 10:12:01 -0400

Iran tanker in limbo off Gibraltar as US issues warrantA last-minute US warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker preparing to leave Gibraltar after weeks of detention cast doubt over its departure on Saturday, prolonging a diplomatic spat between Tehran, London and Washington. The US Justice Department alleged the ship was part of a scheme "to unlawfully access the US financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," which Washington has designated a foreign terrorist organisation. There was no comment from Britain or Gibraltar, its overseas territory.