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Colorado’s Highway 71 – Nuclear Death Alley

October 15, 2019

Me, posing in front of N-4. photo credit – Nancy Fey

We’ve started our ten day vacation. Heading north from Denver to the Nebraska Panhandle and South Dakota. Spending the night at Gering, Nebraska, just south of Scottsbluff; big beef, bean and back in the day, sugar-beet growing country. Over the next few days we’ll be heading north into South Dakota.

On the back fence if you blow the photo up a bit you’ll see the symbol N-4. N-4 lies on Highway 71 from Brush, Colorado to Scottsbluff, Nebraska. I would guess the distance we traveled on it today was about 100 miles.

That’s me in front of the fence.

N-4 is one of the 49 nuclear weapons sites in the northeast corner of Colorado. Behind that fence, underground is a Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile. It is referred to as “The Dan Schaeffer” Missile after a right wing Republican Congressman. Just up the road also on Highway 71 is N-3, referred to as “Gary Hart’s Missile. Former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm , Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder also have missiles named for them.

Also passed L-8, L-9, among others, before crossing over from Colorado into Nebraska south of Kimball – a town which used to claim the proud title of “Missile Center USA.” A Titan I nuclear missile stands in a park, honoring the hidden missiles that once lurked underground all around Kimball. The top third was blown off in a windstorm in 2009. The missile was dismantled in 2014, partially restored in 2016 and now calls Denver, appropriately enough, home. Maybe we won’t move to Kimball, even if houses there only average $75,000.

A Minuteman III can carry up to three thermonuclear weapons, and were initially armed with the W62 warhead with a yield of 170 kilotons. Compare that to the Hiroshima bomb which was about 15 kilotons. A part of what is called the nuclear “triad” until the end of the Cold War in 1989, the United States had some 1000 Minutemen 3s scattered in clusters throughout the upper Midwest, in Montana, both North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and some in Missouri. Since then their numbers have been more than halved to around 400, but one of the active clusters is exactly the region we passed through. It touches three states – southeast Wyoming, western Nebraska in that state’s “panhandle’ and the northeast corner of Colorado. 
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N-4 is one of the 49 nuclear weapons sites in the northeast corner of Colorado. Behind that fence, underground is a Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile. It is referred to as “The Dan Schaeffer” Missiile after a right wing Republican Congressman. Just up the road also on Highway 71 is N-3, referred to as “Gary Hart’s Missile. Former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm , Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder also have missiles named for them.
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Between Brush and Scottsbluff on HW 71 I counted no less than 12 Minuteman III launching pads. Once you know how to spot them, they are easily identified, even without the military vehicles that stood at the entrance of some of them.

Titan Missile that used to be in Kimball, Nebraska’s park before a wind gust blew it down

12 sites with each missile carrying three warheads means that on this lonely, rather desolate road where the only living thing we saw were prong-horned antelope and a few prairie dogs – there are probably 36 thermonuclear bombs a few feet under the ground with enough kilotonage – no exaggeration – to destroy pretty much the entire world or close to it.

Should the President give the order, they are on hair-trigger alert; their computerized systems can be activate, and into launch mode in less than 30 seconds. Ready to fire at a moment’s notice on the eastern plains of Colorado not far from Pawnee Buttes. Kind of heartwarming that the supervisor of the Minuteman nuclear weapons program was arrested a few years ago, charged with heading up a drug distribution ring to the military personnel manning the weapons. Sweet.

 — in Stoneham, Colorado.

The Syrian Maelstrom: In NE Syria, Washington Turns to Turkey, Dumps Its Kurdish Allies; Kurds turn to Damascus, Their Only Option, Really

October 14, 2019

Syria – one country. Damascus fighting all US-Israeli-Turkish attempts at balkanization.

In NE Syria, Washington Turns to Turkey, Dumps Its Kurdish Allies

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“We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (Lord Palmerston)

 

We have no lasting friends, no lasting enemies, only lasting interests.

Winston Churchill

 

America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests

Henry Kissinger

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Washington is caught between its long range goal of reorienting U.S. military forces to face the growing influence of China with is long-term involvement in the Middle East. The one demands Washington reduce its Middle East military footprint, including in Syria, the other insists that U.S. troops not only remain in the region, but play a more active role. 

Something’s got to give. 

The media in the United States has latched onto the latest move of the Trump Administration on Syria. Essentially, despite its Syria plans for partition having been scotched, Washington still clings its plans to dismember Syria into enclaves, one of them being in that country’s northeastern region. Coming to the conclusion that its erstwhile ally, the Kurdish YPG, does not have the where-with-all to maintain the region separate from Damascus as Washington would like, the Trump Administration has essentially “changed horses” and passed the baton on to its stronger regional partner and NATO ally, Turkey.

In response, a few days later, units of the Kurdish YPG turn to Damascus, agree to merge their military units under with that of the Syrian army. At least one source suggests that this development was facilitated by Russia. Given the choices open to the Kurds at the moment, such a move is the only viable option, its only way to face Washington’s betrayal and the Turkish incursion. Besides, there is no such entity as “Northern Syria,”  it being nothing more than a part of Washington’s plan to balkanize Syria either de jure or de facto. Read more…

Yom Kippur (by a fake Jew)

October 8, 2019

Jewish home on Djerba, Tunisia. North African Jewry – a shadow of its past.

Actually there is nothing “fake” about Lisa Danielle Gallant’s Judaism. This poem touches something more profound than going to synagogue. 

Lisa is the daughter of my late cousin, Elizabeth Bradspies Gallant whom I miss. 

Yom Kippur (by a “fake Jew”) by Lisa Danielle Gallant.

I did not fast today,
nor refrain from work.
I did not pray to a god I don’t believe in,
nor abstain from washing.
I did not ask for forgiveness
although I’m certain I’ve caused pain.
I reflected though, on this past year,
on my actions towards others, towards myself, and towards the greater good.
I found strength in my family.
I found love in my heart.
I found confidence, peeking shyly around the corners, but demanding to be heard.
I found gratitude for my relationships, for my strengths, for my body, even in it’s struggles.
May I be granted a fresh start this year.
May I be gentle with my beauty.
May I be strong when I need to be and may I please, have a soft place to land.

Iran Ready to End Nuclear Standoff with United States Once Sanctions are Lifted — The Rabbit Hole

October 3, 2019

Published by InfoBRICS on October 3rd, written by Sarah Abed Washington and Tehran back French President Macron’s four-point document in principle, but distrust overshadows any potential progress. Last week’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, presented the perfect opportunity for dialogue and diplomacy between the United States and Iran, in what would have […]

via Iran Ready to End Nuclear Standoff with United States Once Sanctions are Lifted — The Rabbit Hole

How the Saudi Oil Field Attack Overturned America’s Applecart —

September 28, 2019
Military bases around Iran

US military bases galore…The map does not include the U.S. naval Armada in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Eastern Mediterranean Sea…Useless against Houthi drones…

Overturning The Apple Cart Dispatches From The Edge Sept. 28, 2019 In many ways it doesn’t really matter who—Houthis in Yemen? Iranians? Shiites in Iraq? — launched those missiles and drones at Saudi Arabia. Whoever did it changed the rules of the game, and not just in the Middle East. “It’s a moment when […]

via How the Saudi Oil Field Attack Overturned America’s Applecart —

The wigeons are back at Clear Creek Valley Park

September 27, 2019

Red-tailed hawk – the female I believe – a top the cell tower across from Clear Creek Valley Park

September 27, 2019. Clear Creek Valley Park.

Things are starting to get interesting again after a pause in activity.

I hadn’t see the red-tailed hawk couple for several months now, perching as the pair often does a top a cellular tower just west of Tennyson St. in South Adams County. From atop the tower a wonderful view of all the ponds – former gravel pits for the interstate, I-76 – filled with water from Clear Creek. And then suddenly one of the pair appeared. If you look closely at the photo above, notice the mouse in her mouth.

I’ve been waiting for the ducks to appear.

Where have they been? I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I miss them – gadwells, cinnamon, blue-winged and green-winged teals, golden eyes, buffleheads, hooded and common mergansers, scaups, avocets, ring-necked ducks and redheads, ruddy ducks and I’m really lucky an occasional wood duck among them as well.

One male (white stripe across from the back to the front of his head, with a green patch covering his eye on the right) and a bevy of American Wigeon females just arrived.

With the exception of a few mallards, year round residents of the Denver area and the ever present Canadian Geese, most of the ducks have been been gone as well, having migrated, according to the birding books much further north into Canada and the Arctic to breed and take advantage of the rich summer food supplies available to them.

For the past month, not much variety at Clear Creek Valley Park. A lot of snowy egrets who roost just north of the railroad tracks in a pond just east of Lowell Blvd. About a dozen of them in all, with one particular bully of a male who’s always chasing the females away from the good fishing spots, monopolizing them for himself. Killdeer, another year round resident, abound as well. And then there is the osprey pair that nest at the top of a telephone poll just east of Jim Baker Reservoir both trying to nudge their shy offspring out of the nest.

Enough to see for sure, but nothing like the dramatic variety that call Clear Creek Valley Park ponds home in the fall and spring before they migrate either south or north. I didn’t expect to see anything new this morning, but the presence of the red-tailed hawk should have alerted me to the fact that things were about to change.

Juvenile wigeon

Sure enough, on the small pond closest to Tennyson St., a small group of ducks. I imaging that they are mallards but my binoculars tell me otherwise. It’s a group of American Wigeons, one breeding male amidst a group of six non-breeding males and females sunning themselves on a small sandbar in the middle of the pond. As they enter the breeding season the color of the females will change. And then some others that I did not recognize at first, but these turned out to be juvenile Wigeons, this according to the trusty Guide to Sibley Birds (2nd edition) that I picked up in last fall at Cheyenne Bottoms (in Kansas).

Wigeons are “dabbling ducks.” As with the other dabblers, they can often be seen with the butts in the air, their heads underwater finding anything that is edible. They are known for eating a higher percentage of plant matter than other dabbling ducks. Breeding males, like the one shown above, have a brownish grey head with a green stripe covering and behind their eyes and a white head. With a good pair of binoculars they are easily identified.

Here is a quote about Wigeons from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.:

The best time to see American Wigeons in the Lower 48 is from August through April. During these months check wetlands, ponds, and nearby agricultural fields and listen for their unique nasal whistle, which is often the first clue that they are around. From a distance the male’s gleaming white forehead and white rump sides are sure to grab your attention. American Wigeons flush easily if disturbed, so watch from a distance to get the best looks. During hunting season, they tend to be even more wary and may shift to feeding in fields at night and larger, safer lakes and ponds with vegetative cover during the day.

I am assuming that this small group of Wigeons is the first of many that will be heading south from Canada and Alaska to spend several months in the streams and ponds of Colorado’s mountains and front range. They are known to be quite vocal and, characteristically, they were quacking up a storm today. And my experience corresponds to this description: they are easily flustered and suspicious of people getting too near. It helps that I have a good telephoto lens to photograph them from a distance. In a month or two they’ll be flooding the lakes in Denver parks, City Park, Washington Park and Berkeley and Rocky Mountain Parks near where I live.

I watched them for about a half hour, alternating between resting on the sand bar and dabbling in the pond and then moved on, pleased to think that this is just the beginning of what I expect to be a typically active duck migration from the north.

Female kestrel… I’ve seen them before at Clear Creek Valley Park, but not for a good six months.

And then a surprisingly calm kestrel. It let me approach to within closer than fifty feet before flying away. I believe it was a female as the males have a clear blue streak of feathers running down their backs, in between a white underbelly with brown spots and an orange and black striped back. This one (photo on the right) doesn’t have the blue streak.

Small and slender with “a boldly patterned head” they are known for hovering above their prey unlike other small falcons and hawks. There is another spot, north on Federal Blvd near what decades ago used to be the Savory Mushroom Farm, where a kestrel pair appear to call home. I’ve gone up there and watched them a number of times. Feisty little hawks their claws are formidable weapons despite their small size. Needless to say, this one at Clear Creek Valley Park is not waiting for a duck but perusing the scene for smaller game.

A hint of things to come. The migration season is beginning.

The male snowy egret who won’t let the females fish anywhere near him, spending an inordinate amount of time chasing them away.

“Stranger Than Strange – The Rapture, Armageddon and Igniting a War With Iran – The Christian Fundamentalist Evangelical Program Being Implemented by the Trump Administration” – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. September 24, 2019 – Transcript Part Two.

September 26, 2019

The Chosen Ones, or so they have come to believe. Actually they look a bit lost is space

Transcript – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogue – September 24, 2019 – Part Two

“Stranger Than Strange – The Rapture, Armageddon and Igniting a War With Iran – The Christian Fundamentalist Evangelical Program Being Implemented by the Trump Administration” – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. September 24, 2019 – Transcript Part Two.

(Continued from Part One)

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As one of them said, this is a cosmic, divine battle between Good and Evil with Jesus Christ being the only solution for our world. The term “the only solution for our world” was actually spelled out by Mike Pompeo in one of the speeches he gave in the U.S. Midwest. He commented that while members of the Christian Community are trying to reach some kind of balance, relationship with their fellow Muslims and Jews, the Evangelicals are encouraging their community, encouraging their churches, their audiences to hate, because the struggle is “cosmic” – “Join the war, be a part of the rapture” as Pompeo said.

This is what we are facing today. Ibrahim Kazerooni

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It is quite a different thing when Evangelicals are speaking about it in Church than from when they are advising the President of the United States. Their views become much more toxic, if you like, once proposed to a U.S. president in weekly advisory board meetings.

By themselves, the Evangelicals do not have this power, this access but one of the points that we have emphasized this evening is the manner in which they have piggy-backed on this “unholy alliance” with the Neo-cons and militarists and as a result have come to a position of undue influence of a kind that the country and the world is really not used to. – Rob Prince

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Rob Prince: I want to add something to your analysis and that is the influence that Conservative Christian/Evangelical ideas have had within the military itself. It is considerable.

Already nearly 15 years ago, disturbing reports surfaced of Christian Evangelical proselytizing by the staff at the Air Force Academy in 2004-5 in which non Christian – Jewish and Muslim cadets were harassed for their religious views.

It turns out this was the type of the iceberg.

Today let’s just give a few indications of how powerful – and integral to Trump’s base of support as this influence is – and how racist it is. Read more…