Doomsday Clock

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Who Rules the World? by Noam Chomsky

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Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, corporate governance, corporate personhood, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, liberation theology, Malacca Straits, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, one-state solution, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, precariat, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, Stanislav Petrov, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, union organizing, uranium enrichment, wage slave, WikiLeaks, working-age population

The Clinton doctrine affirmed that the United States is entitled to resort to the “unilateral use of military power” even to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources,” let alone alleged “security” or “humanitarian” concerns.44 Adherence to various versions of this doctrine has been well confirmed in practice, as need hardly be discussed among people willing to look at the facts of current history. These are among the critical matters that should be the focus of attention in analyzing the nuclear deal at Vienna. 22 The Doomsday Clock In January 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced its famous Doomsday Clock to three minutes before midnight, a threat level that had not been reached for thirty years. The Bulletin’s statement explaining this advance toward catastrophe invoked the two major threats to survival: nuclear weapons and “unchecked climate change.” The call condemned world leaders, who “have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” endangering “every person on Earth [by] failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.”1 Since then, there has been good reason to consider moving the hands even closer to doomsday.

The undermining of functioning democracy is one of the contributions of the neoliberal assault on the world’s population in the past generation. And this is not happening just in the U.S.; in Europe the impact may be even worse.10 Let us turn to the other (and traditional) concern of the atomic scientists who adjust the Doomsday Clock: nuclear weapons. The current threat of nuclear war amply justifies their January 2015 decision to advance the clock two minutes toward midnight. What has happened since reveals the growing threat even more clearly, a matter that elicits insufficient concern, in my opinion. The last time the Doomsday Clock reached three minutes before midnight was in 1983, at the time of the Able Archer exercises of the Reagan administration; these exercises simulated attacks on the Soviet Union to test their defense systems. Recently released Russian archives reveal that the Russians were deeply concerned by the operations and were preparing to respond, which would have meant, simply: The End.

Russia also ordered its missile cruiser Moskva, with its long-range air defense system, to move closer to shore, so that it may be “ready to destroy any aerial target posing a potential danger to our aircraft,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced. All of this sets the stage for confrontations that could be lethal.19 Tensions are also constant at NATO-Russian borders, including military maneuvers on both sides. Shortly after the Doomsday Clock was moved ominously close to midnight, the national press reported that “U.S. military combat vehicles paraded Wednesday through an Estonian city that juts into Russia, a symbolic act that highlighted the stakes for both sides amid the worst tensions between the West and Russia since the Cold War.”20 Shortly before, a Russian warplane came within seconds of colliding with a Danish civilian airliner.


pages: 374 words: 114,600

The Quants by Scott Patterson

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Albert Einstein, asset allocation, automated trading system, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, buttonwood tree, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, centralized clearinghouse, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haight Ashbury, I will remember that I didn’t make the world, and it doesn’t satisfy my equations, index fund, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Meriwether, John Nash: game theory, law of one price, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, merger arbitrage, money market fund, Myron Scholes, NetJets, new economy, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, risk-adjusted returns, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Sergey Aleynikov, short selling, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, statistical arbitrage, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Predators' Ball, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, volatility smile, yield curve, éminence grise

As with a delicate spiderweb, a tear in one part of the financial system, in this case subprime mortgages, could trigger a tear in another part—and even bring down the web itself. The market was apparently far more intertwined than they had ever realized. MIT finance professor Andrew Lo, and his student Amir Khandani, published a definitive study of the meltdown in October 2007 called “What Happened to the Quants?” Ominously, they evoked an apocryphal Doomsday Clock for the global financial system. In August 2007, the clock ticked nearer to midnight, perhaps the closest it had come to financial Armageddon since Long-Term Capital’s implosion in 1998. “If we were to develop a Doomsday Clock for the hedge-fund industry’s impact on the global financial system,” they wrote, “calibrated to five minutes to midnight in August 1998, and fifteen minutes to midnight in January 1999, then our current outlook for the state of systemic risk in the hedge-fund industry is about 11:51 P.M.

For Mom and Pop Contents The Players 1 ALL IN 2 THE GODFATHER: ED THORP 3 BEAT THE MARKET 4 THE VOLATILITY SMILE 5 FOUR OF A KIND 6 THE WOLF 7 THE MONEY GRID 8 LIVING THE DREAM 9 “I KEEP MY FINGERS CROSSED FOR THE FUTURE” 10 THE AUGUST FACTOR 11 THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK 12 A FLAW 13 THE DEVIL’S WORK 14 DARK POOLS Notes Glossary Acknowledgments The Players Peter Muller, outspokenly eccentric manager of Morgan Stanley’s secretive hedge fund PDT. A whip-smart mathematician who occasionally took to New York’s subways to play his keyboard for commuters, in 2007 Muller had just returned to his hedge fund after a long sabbatical, with grand plans of expanding operations and juicing returns even further. Ken Griffin, tough-as-nails manager of Chicago hedge fund Citadel Investment Group, one of the largest and most successful funds in the world.

In response to the volatility, the Federal Reserve, which didn’t know about the SocGen trades, slashed short-term rates by three-quarters of a point, a bold move that frightened investors because it smacked of panic. Still, even as the system teetered on the edge, many of the smartest investors in the world couldn’t see the destructive tsunami heading directly for them. The implosion of Bear Stearns in March was a wake-up call. The Doomsday Clock was ticking. Around 1:00 p.m. on March 13, 2008, Jimmy Cayne sat down at a card table in Detroit and began to craft his strategy. The seventy-four-year-old chairman of Bear Stearns, seeded fourth in a group of 130 in the IMP Pairs category of the North American Bridge Championship, was squarely focused on the cards in his hand. Bridge was an obsession for Cayne, a product of Chicago’s hardscrabble South Side, and he wasn’t going to let his company’s troubles get in the way of one of the most important competitions of the year.


pages: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

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3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Haight Ashbury, Hyperloop, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, technological singularity, telepresence, telerobotics, the medium is the message, the scientific method, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, V2 rocket, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Yogi Berra

But long before that, the Sun will start to burn hotter as it consumes its hydrogen; about half a billion years from now, the temperature on Earth will have risen enough to make the oceans boil.12 Those timescales are long enough that we might be forgiven for not getting too worried. The best metric for proximate danger is the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Starting in 1947, a group of scientists and engineers created the Doomsday Clock to show how far we were from apocalypse. As the threat of nuclear holocaust receded, the proximity of the clock to midnight started to take into account the possibility that through climate change, biotechnology, and/or cyber-technology we could cause irrevocable harm to our way of life and the planet. The clock sat at two minutes to midnight in 1953, at the nadir of the Cold War. In 1991, it receded to seventeen minutes to midnight with the fall of the Soviet Union.

Asteroid strikes and supervolcanoes don’t qualify because they’re random events that some civilizations will survive and others won’t experience because their planet and solar system are different from ours. The technological innovations that drive the argument and act more effectively as filters are those that almost all civilizations eventually discover, where their discovery almost universally leads to disaster (Figure 55). Figure 55. In the short history of the “nuclear age,” we have come close to a holocaust several times. The Doomsday Clock tracks our proximity to Armageddon. Civilizations may become unstable and destroy themselves. This issue impacts the prospect of companionship and contemporaneous communication in space. Bostrom has said: “I hope that our Mars probes will discover nothing. It would be good news if we find Mars to be completely sterile. Dead rocks and lifeless sands would lift my spirits.”14 Why would he be so grumpy about one of our best pieces of technology?

In the future, as the Sun uses its nuclear fuel and settles into a more compact configuration, it will “burn hotter,” so the Earth will not remain habitable for the full span that the Sun has nuclear fuel, another 4 to 4.5 billion years. Microbes that live inside rock or far below the surface of the ocean are immune to moderate changes in solar radiation since they live off geological energy. As the Earth becomes intolerably hot, we’ll have to develop Biospheres for the whole population—assuming humans persist that long. 13. Since 2012, the Doomsday Clock has stood at five minutes to midnight, uncomfortably close to disaster. The explanation associated with that judgment is worth quoting in full: “The challenges to rid the world of nuclear weapons, harness nuclear power, and meet the nearly inexorable climate disruptions from global warming are complex and interconnected. In the face of such complex problems, it is difficult to see where the capacity lies to address these challenges.


pages: 511 words: 148,310

Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide by Joshua S. Goldstein

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Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, Doomsday Clock, failed state, immigration reform, income inequality, invention of writing, invisible hand, land reform, long peace, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, selection bias, Steven Pinker, Tobin tax, unemployed young men, Winter of Discontent, Y2K

Institute of Peace Press, 2007: 39–52. Brzezinski, Zbigniew. Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Robert Stewart [Scribner], 1993. Buhaug, Halvard, and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch. “Contagion or Confusion? Why Conflicts Cluster in Space.” International Studies Quarterly 52, 2008: 215–33. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Doomsday Clock: Timeline. 2007. Accessed 6/5/09 at www.thebulletin.org/content/doomsday-clock/timeline. Burnham, Gilbert, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy, and Les Roberts. “Mortality after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: A Cross-Sectional Cluster Sample Survey.” The Lancet 368, October 21, 2006: 1421–28. Cairns, Edmund. A Safer Future: Reducing the Human Cost of War. Oxford, UK: Oxfam Publications, 1997. Callahan, Kevin J. “The International Socialist Peace Movement on the Eve of World War I Revisited: The Campaign of ‘War against War!’

This is still several times higher than makes sense, but impressive progress nonetheless. Overall, writes journalist Gregg Easterbrook, “historians will view nuclear arms reduction as such an incredible accomplishment that it will seem bizarre in retrospect so little attention was paid while it was happening.” The numbers I just quoted came from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , a wonderful source of information. The Bulletin is also the creator of the famous “doomsday clock,” which claims to track the rising and falling danger level for nuclear war over the years. In 1968 the clock was set to a dramatic “seven minutes to midnight” as the Vietnam War and other Cold War–era wars raged. Over the years the hands of the clock moved forward and back as tensions rose and fell. In 1988, they stood at six minutes to midnight. Given the progress on nuclear arms, one would expect the clock to be set back to at least eleven-thirty P.M.

., the graph on p. 7 of UNHCR 2009. 14 Newly displaced. . . . return home: UNHCR data; UNHCR 2009: 19–21; see also Harff and Gurr 2004: xii. 14 Child soldier recruitment: Polgreen 2008c. 14 Global Peace Index: Accessed 6/8/10 at www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi-data/#/2010/scor/. 14 Brookings: Livingston et al. 2010. 15 Peace factors: Kriesberg 2007: 99–101, 113. 15 Intractable: Crocker, Hampson, and Aall 2005: 3–4. 16 Fatality totals by war: PRIO battle-death data, see Lacina and Gleditsch 2005; Bethany Lacina, personal communication, October 2010. 18 War on terrorism: Allison 2004. 18 Mind-boggling 30,000: Data from Federation of American Scientists and National Resource Defense Council, reported in New York Times, April 8, 2010. 18 Fallen in just twenty-five years: In addition, each side has several thousand weapons waiting in line to be dismantled. 18 U.S. tactical nuclear: Norris and Kristensen 2011. 18 Storage facilities: Norris and Kristensen 2009: 86. 18–19 Incredible accomplishment: Easterbrook 2003: 70. 19 Doomsday clock: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2007. 19 Total number of refugees: UNHCR 2000: 310. Higher numbers mentioned earlier include internally displaced persons. 19–20 Warned West Point cadets: Shanker 2011. 20 Global turmoil: Mearsheimer 1990: 6; Kaplan 1994; Brzezinski 1993; see also Cooper 2003: vii, 5, 25, 83. 20 Ghastly and persistent: Collier 2009: 7, 3, 4; O’Hanlon 2003: 2. 20 Mention that violence is decreasing: Crocker, Hampson, and Aall 2007; Brown 2007: 39; King 2007: 115; Gurr 2007: 133, 134, 151; Urquhart 2007: 265; O’Hanlon 2007: 323; Freedman 2007: 261. 20 No less dangerous: Solomon 2007: xi; Crocker, Hampson, and Aall 2007: 6. 21 Rape of Nanking: Chang 1997; Rummel 1991: 6–7; see also Slim 2008: 236. 21 Aerial bombardment: Slim 2008: 56–57. 21 Dresden. . . . raid: Taylor 2004: 448. 21 Fifty German cities. . . .

What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World by Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian

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banking crisis, British Empire, Doomsday Clock, failed state, feminist movement, Howard Zinn, informal economy, liberation theology, mass immigration, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Thomas L Friedman, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus

Eleven of the dozen years since 1995 were among the twelve hottest years since 1850, when temperatures were first widely recorded.1 That’s one threat. The effects of global warming are going to come, but you can mitigate them, adjust to them, and prepare for them. The disaster is not imminent. In the case of nuclear weapons, on the other hand, a disaster is always imminent, and the likelihood of catastrophe is increasing. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently moved its doomsday clock up a couple of minutes to “five minutes to midnight.”2 Even conservatives like George Shultz and Henry Kissinger are warning that the nuclear threat is serious and getting more serious.3 In part, the threat comes from nuclear proliferation. But a lot of the cause of the proliferation is right here. Washington’s bellicose, aggressive militarism is causing proliferation. Actually, you can read about this on the front page of the New York Times today.4 Intelligence sources are now conceding, a bit evasively, that they “misread” the intelligence about North Korea at the very same moment that they “misread” the intelligence about Iraq.

Jimmy Carter,” Boston Globe, 16 December 2006. 32 For background, see Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, chap. 9. 33 Yehoshua Porath, Ha’aretz (Tel Aviv), 25 June 1982, translated from the Hebrew edition. 34 Carter, Palestine, Appendix 7, “Israel’s Response to the Roadmap, May 25, 2003,” pp. 243–47. 35 See, among other examples, Patrick E. Tyler, “With Time Running Out, Bush Shifted Mideast Policy,” New York Times, 30 June 2002. 7. THREATS 1 Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew C. Revkin, “Science Panel Says Global Warming Is ‘Unequivocal,’” New York Times, 3 February 2007. 2 “‘Doomsday Clock’ Moves Two Minutes Closer to Midnight,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, media release, 18 January 2007, online at http://www.thebulletin.org/media-center/announcements/20070117.html. 3 George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” Wall Street Journal, 4 January 2007. 4 David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, “U.S. Concedes Uncertainty on Korean Uranium Effort,” New York Times, 1 March 2007. 5 For a thorough analysis, see Mike Davis, The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu, rev. ed.


pages: 741 words: 179,454

Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Andy Kessler, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discrete time, diversification, diversified portfolio, Doomsday Clock, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, global reserve currency, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, load shedding, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, pets.com, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Satyajit Das, savings glut, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the market place, the medium is the message, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

The system works, like any Ponzi scheme, as long as everyone believes the debt can be paid back and the market value of assets bought with that debt keeps rising. The economy inexorably gravitates toward debt-fueled consumerism, inflation, and increasing debt. This leads to a constant cycle of credit booms and bust. In the second half of the twentieth century, credit money gradually became the primary form of money, leading to an explosion of debt. In 1947 the directors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago created the doomsday clock. The minutes to midnight represent the time remaining to catastrophic destruction (midnight) of the human race from global nuclear war. In 1989 Seymour Darst, a New York real estate developer, created the financial equivalent. He installed the national debt clock—a billboard-size digital display on Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) in Manhattan, New York, that constantly updates to show the current U.S. public debt and each American family’s share of it.

In the 1950s, Herman Kahn, a strategist at the RAND Corporation, and Ian Harold Brown, a risk analyst, proposed a doomsday machine. It consisted of a computer linked to a stockpile of hydrogen bombs, programmed to detonate them and bathe the planet in nuclear fallout at the signal of an impending nuclear attack from another nation. In Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, there is speculation about whether the Russians possess this technology. Currently, the doomsday clock reads around 5 minutes to midnight. In 2008, as the global financial crisis gripped the world, the financial equivalent of the doomsday machine—an unstable system of money and unsustainable levels of debt—reached midnight and imploded. Money Is Nothing At each step of the transition from commodity to paper to credit, money became more unreal, and detached from the real goods and services that money can be exchanged for.

See also exotic products AIG, 230-234 arbitrage, 242 central banks, 281-282 deconstruction, 235-236 first-to-default (FtD) swaps, 220-221 Harvard case studies, 214-215 hedging, 216-217 Italy, 215-216 Jerome Kerviel, 226-230 managing risk, 124 markets, 235, 334 municipal bonds, 211-214 price movements, 210-211 risk, 218-219 design of, 225 Fiat, 222-223 Greece, 223, 225 sale of to ordinary investors, 332-333 sovereign debt, 236-238 TARDIS trades, 217-218 TOBs (tender option bonds), 222 Derman, Emanuel, 309 Derrida, Jacques, 236 Descartes, René, 228 Detroit, 42 Deutsche Bank, 79, 195, 272, 312 Devaney, John, 255 di Lampedusa, Giuseppe, 353 digitals, 211 Dillion Read, 201 Dimon, Jamie, 283, 290 dinars, 21 Diners Club, 71 Dirac, Paul, 104 dirty bombs, 26 disaster capitalism, 342 discrete time intervals, 121 dismal science, 102-104 dispersion swaps, 255 distressed debt trading, 242 distributions, normal, 126 diversification, 122-124 dividends, 119 Dixon, Geoff, 156 documentation requirements, 181 DOG (debt overburdened group), 161 dollars American, 21-22, 28, 87 aussies, 21 kiwis, 21 Zimbabwe, 23 domain knowledge, 64 domestic corporate profits, United States, 276 Dominion Bond Rating Service, 283 doomsday clock, 34 Dorgan, Bryan, 67 Douglas, Michael, 167, 310 Dow 36,000, 99 Dow 40,000: Strategies for Profiting from the Greatest Bull Market in History, 97 Dow 100,000, 97 Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), 89, 97, 126 Dr. Doom, 95 Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 35 Drexel Burnham Lambert, 140, 230 Drexel Harriman Ripley, 144 Drexel system, 151-152 Druckenmiller, Stanley, 261 Drucker, Peter, 63 drunk trading, 40 Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), 82-83 Dublin as a financial center, 83 Duncan, Richard, 235 Dunninger, Karl, 355 Duquesne Capital Management, 261 Durand, David, 116, 119 DVT (deep vein thrombosis), 166 Dynamite Prize in Economics, 304 E early return of capital, 156 earnings General Electric (GE), 61 loans, 70 Eastern Europe, reintegration of after fall of Berlin Wall, 295 Eaton Leonard LBOs, 150 eBay, 345 Ebbers, Bernie, 54 economic growth, risk, 295-296 economic rents, 276-277 economics, definition of, 102 Economics of Happiness, The, 364 Economist, The, 62, 77, 327 Edens, Wesley R., 239 education, finance careers, 308-313 bonuses, 317-318 compensation, 313-320 efficient market hypothesis (EMH), 118, 303 Ehrenreich, Barbara, 186 Einarsson, Sigurdur, 275 Einhorn, David, 256, 259, 274 Einstein, Albert, 90, 126, 128 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 294 El-Dorado economics, 84-85 Electric & Musical Industries, 157 Elias, David, 97 Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, 313 Eliot, T.S., 321 Ellis, Bret Easton, 313 embedded loss leverage, 193 EMEA Trading in Local Currency, 318 emerging markets, 124 EMI Group, 157, 162 emotional market hypothesis, 303 Emperor Franz Joseph I, 163 employee benefits, 47 energy, 251 engineering, financial, 55-57 engineers, financial, 308 Engle, Louis, 131 Enron, 49, 55-56, 154, 283, 307, 313 Enron, 288, 307, 328 Enterprise Fund, 145 equilibrium, markets, 327 equities, 55 equity, 119 long-short funds, 240-242 private, 155, 164 failures, 162-163 infrastructure, 158 public sector services, 161 tranches, 170, 192 Equity Office Properties, 155 Ernst & Young, 244 EU (European Union), stabilization funds, 354 Eurex, 227 European debt crisis, 357-359 euros, 21 event-driven funds, 242 Ewing, J.R., 147 ex ante (expected risk), 246 ex post (based on actual risk), 246 excess spreads, 169 exchanges, money, 23-24 Exor, 222 exotic products, 73-74 expensive capital, reduction of, 75 expiry, 120 exploding ARMs, 183 exploitation, 38 exports from China, 85 exposure to catastrophic weather events, 251 F Fair Isaacs Corporation, 181 fallen angels, 144 falsifying financial statements, 289-291 Fan, Henry, 218 Fannie Mae, 339 fascism, 29 fat tails, 126 fata morgana, 130-131 Faust, 36 FCIC testimony, Alan Greenspan, 304-305 Fear of Flying, 73 fear of loss of status, 43 FEB Trucking, 150 Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC or Freddie Mac), 180 Federal Housing Administration (FHA), 179 Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA or Fannie Mae), 179 Federal Reserve, 97, 316 Federated Department Stores, 150 fees consulting, 316 derivatives, 215 hedge funds, 245 leveraged buyouts (LBOs), 141-143 Feldstein, Martin, 316 Ferguson, Charles, 316 Ferguson, Niall, 87, 156 Ferguson, Nicholas, 163 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 65 Fiat S.P.A.


pages: 449 words: 127,440

Moscow, December 25th, 1991 by Conor O'Clery

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Anton Chekhov, Berlin Wall, central bank independence, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, haute couture, land reform, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Sinatra Doctrine, The Chicago School

Meanwhile, some one hundred presidents of large American companies arrive in Moscow for a Kremlin meeting on stimulating trade. They were invited by the Soviet government which no longer exists. The meeting goes ahead, with Yeltsin’s people, two days later, to the relief of the somewhat bewildered executives. With the end of the Soviet Union, the editors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago move the hands of the Doomsday Clock back to seventeen minutes before midnight. Six years before, when Gorbachev took office, the big hand stood at three minutes to Armageddon. (In January 2010, with new tensions among the world’s nuclear nations and in light of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the hands are moved forward again to six minutes to midnight.) Freed from presidential responsibilities, Mikhail Gorbachev helps Raisa in the evening to put their new homes in order.

See also Nuclear suitcase Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) creation of members of See also Alma-Ata agreements; Belovezh agreement; Three-state union Communist Party of the Soviet Union criminality by leaders of conference speech (1988) Communist Party of Russia Communist regimes, ousting of Confederative union state Congress of People’s Deputies of the Russian Federation. Congress of People’s Deputies of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR Corruption and economic reform See also Party privilege Cuenca, José Currency controls Dacha, presidential De Gaulle, Charles Declaration of Sovereignty of the RSFSR Demonstrations Diplomats Doomsday Clock Drozdov, Valery Eastern Europe Economic reform and corruption and five-hundred-day plan and Gorbachev and organized crime and shock therapy and Yeltsin See also Perestroika Economic union Esalen Institute Esalen Soviet American Exchange Program Estonia. See also Baltic republics Falin, Valentin Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (FSB) Five-hundred-day plan. See also Economic reform Flags, switching of Fokin, Vladimir Food donations Food shortages.


pages: 1,152 words: 266,246

Why the West Rules--For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future by Ian Morris

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Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Doomsday Clock, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Flynn Effect, Francisco Pizarro, global village, God and Mammon, hiring and firing, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, market bubble, mass immigration, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, out of africa, Peter Thiel, phenotype, pink-collar, place-making, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Sinatra Doctrine, South China Sea, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, upwardly mobile, wage slave, washing machines reduced drudgery

During the Cold War the mathematician, pacifist, and meteorologist (until he abandoned weather research after realizing how much it helped the air force) Lewis Fry Richardson made a widely cited calculation that there was a 15–20 percent likelihood of a nuclear war before 2000. By 2008, however, the energy scientist Vaclav Smil could offer a positively sunny estimate that the chance of even a World War II–scale conflict (killing 50 million people) before 2050 was well under 1 percent, and in January 2010 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the minute hand of its celebrated “Doomsday Clock”—indicating how close we stand to Nightfall—back from five minutes to six minutes before midnight. The second priority is to slow down global weirding. Here things are going less well. In 1997 the world’s great and good gathered at Kyoto to work out a solution, and agreed that by 2012 greenhouse gas emissions must be cut to 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels. The proposed cuts, however, fell mostly on rich Western nations, and the United States—the world’s biggest polluter in the 1990s—refused to ratify the protocol.

Zheng 2005. 604 “great drain robbery”: cited from Kynge 2006, p. xiii. 605 “a threat to world peace”: Ipsos-Reid poll (April 2005), cited from “Balancing Act: A Survey of China,” The Economist, Special Report, March 25, 2006, p. 20 (available at http://www.economist.com/specialreports). 605 threat to global stability: Gallup poll (October 2007), cited from “After Bush: A Special Report on America and the World,” The Economist, March 29, 2008, p. 9 (available at http://www.economist.com/specialreports). 605 “PEOPLE AGONIZED”: China Daily headline (May 1999), cited from Hessler 2006, p. 20. 605 “strategic conspiracy”: Chinese Communist Party resolution (2004), cited from “Balancing Act: A Survey of China,” The Economist, Special Report, March 25, 2006, p. 15 (available at http://www.economist.com/specialreports). 605 “it is more likely”: Graham and Talent 2008, p. xv. 606 “No physical force”: Norman Angell, The Great Illusion (1910), cited from Ferguson 1998, p. 190. 606 “international movement of capital”: Jean Jaurès, cited from Ferguson 1998, p. 190. 606 “must involve the expenditure”: Prime Minister Edward Grey in conversation with the Austrian ambassador to Britain, July 1914, cited from Ferguson 1998, p. 191. 606 “total exhaustion”: Grey, letter to the German ambassador to Britain, July 24, 1914, cited from Ferguson 1998, p. 191. 607 “I do not know”: Albert Einstein, interview with Alfred Werner, Liberal Judaism (April—May 1949), cited from Isaacson 2007, p. 494. 608–609 estimates: Richardson 1960; Smil 2008, p. 245, http://www.thebulletin.org/content/doomsday-clock/overview. 609 “guys with gross obesity”: Anonymous official in the Indian Foreign Ministry, cited from “Melting Asia,” The Economist, June 7, 2008, p. 30 (available at http://www.economist.com). 609 “The first era”: T. Friedman 1999, p. xix. 609 “Globalization 3.0”: T. Friedman 2005, p. 10. 610 “The only salvation”: Albert Einstein, New York Times, September 15, 1945, cited from Isaacson 2007, pp. 487–88. 610 “If the idea”: Albert Einstein, comment on the film Where Will You Hide?

., “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2007, p. A15 (available at http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=2252&issue_id=54; “Toward a Nuclear-Free World,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2008 (available at http://online.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB120036422673589947.html); Perkovich and Zaum 2008; Sagan and Miller 2009–2010. Decline of arsenals: Norris and Kristensen 2008, 2009a, b, 2010. Doomsday Clock: http://www.thebulletin.org/content/media-center/announcements/2010/01/14/it-6-minutes-to-midnight. Reducing consumption: McKibben 2010, Wells 2010. Kyoto Protocol: text at http://unfccc.int/kyoto-protocol/items/2830.php. Data on emissions since 1990: http://unfccc.int/files/inc/graphics/image/gif/total_excluding_2008.gif; http://co2now.org/. Estimate of costs: Juliette Jowit and Patrick Wintour.


pages: 351 words: 96,780

Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky

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anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, cuban missile crisis, declining real wages, Doomsday Clock, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, invisible hand, liberation theology, long peace, market fundamentalism, Monroe Doctrine, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Thomas L Friedman, uranium enrichment

Now Europe is internally at peace, just as North America has been since the native population was virtually annihilated, half of Mexico conquered, the US-Canada border established, and the phrase “United States” transformed from plural to singular 150 years ago. On a global scale, however, the practices, institutions, and dominant culture remain largely unchanged. The portents cannot be lightly dismissed. prev | Content | next Chapter 4 Dangerous Times Concern about current threats is widespread and realistic. In February 2002 the famous “doomsday clock” of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was advanced two minutes toward midnight, even before the release of the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review, which elicited shudders worldwide. With different threats in mind, strategic analyst Michael Krepon regarded the final days of 2002 as “the most dangerous time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.” A high-level task force concluded that “we are entering a time of especially grave danger [as we] are preparing to attack a ruthless adversary [Iraq] who may well have access to [weapons of mass destruction].”


pages: 1,351 words: 385,579

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

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1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, George Santayana, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, long peace, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, V2 rocket, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Snow, Herman Kahn, Carl Sagan, and Jonathan Schell) wrote that thermonuclear doomsday was likely, if not inevitable.137 The eminent international studies scholar Hans Morgenthau, for example, wrote in 1979, “The world is moving ineluctably towards a third world war—a strategic nuclear war. I do not believe that anything can be done to prevent it.”138 The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, according to its Web site, aims to “inform the public and influence policy through in-depth analyses, op-eds, and reports on nuclear weapons.” Since 1947 it has published the famous Doomsday Clock, a measure of “how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction—the figurative midnight.” The clock was unveiled with its minute hand pointing at 7 minutes to midnight, and over the next sixty years it was moved back and forth a number of times between 2 minutes to midnight (in 1953) and 17 minutes to midnight (in 1991). In 2007 the Bulletin apparently decided that a clock with a minute hand that moved two minutes in sixty years was due for an adjustment.

It is no longer the proprietor of a military force that enhances the grandeur and security of the nation, but a provisioner of social security and material well-being. Nonetheless, for all the differences between the American “mad cowboys” and the European “surrender monkeys,” the parallel movement of their political culture away from war over the past six decades is more historically significant than their remaining differences. IS THE LONG PEACE A NUCLEAR PEACE? What went right? How is it that, in defiance of experts, doomsday clocks, and centuries of European history, World War III never happened? What allowed distinguished military historians to use giddy phrases like “a change of spectacular proportions,” “the most striking discontinuity in the history of warfare,” and “nothing like this in history”? To many people, the answer is obvious: the bomb. War had become too dangerous to contemplate, and leaders were scared straight.

Apollonian cultures discounting, temporal; see also self-control discrimination disgust Disney, Walt distress and sympathy-altruism hypothesis District of Columbia, homicides in Divinity, ethic of; see also disgust; Purity, ethic of Djilas, Milovan DNA testing Dodds, Graham dodgeball domestic violence outside U.S. dominance and anarchy and the brain as cause of war circuit in brain gender differences in group (tribalism) hierarchies of and information introduction of concept and nationalism dominance (cont.) and sadism and self-esteem and social identity as zero-sum game dominance hierarchy Dominica Donohue, John Doomsday Clock dopamine Dostoevsky, Fyodor Douglas, William O. Douglass, Frederick Dover Doctrine Dowd, Maureen Doyle, Arthur Conan Draco Draize procedure drones drugs: decriminalization of 1960s trafficking War on Drugs Druids Dubner, Stephen Duck Soup (film) Duckworth, Angela dueling Dukakis, Michael Dulles, John Foster Dumas, Alexandre père Durham, Margaret Dworkin, Andrea Dylan, Bob dynasties, see Age of Dynasties; monarchy Eastern Europe abortions in and democracy and genocide violence against women in wars in East Timor Easy Rider (film) Eckhardt, William Eden, William education and civil war and democracy IQ tests method and content of ego depletion egotism Egypt, ancient Egypt, modern Eichmann, Adolf 80:20 rule Eighty Years’ War Einstein, Albert Eisenhower, Dwight D.


pages: 465 words: 124,074

Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism From Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda by John Mueller

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airport security, Albert Einstein, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, Doomsday Clock, energy security, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, long peace, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, oil shock, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, side project, uranium enrichment, William Langewiesche, Yom Kippur War

Public opinion polls conducted in the United States characteristically found very substantial percentages opining that the next world war would occur within 25 years.2 With some desperation, schemes were formulated at the war’s end to try to invalidate such gloomy sentiments. Some Western scientists, apparently consumed with guilt over having participated in the development of a weapon that could kill with much-heightened effectiveness, helped found the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1945. It soon sported its “doomsday clock” on the cover, suggesting that there was hope of preventing Armageddon, but only if we were quick about it. The clock has remained poised at a few minutes before midnight ever since, from time to time nudged slightly one way or the other by various events. (Amazingly, in 2006 the Bulletin launched a subscription campaign boldly and unapologetically built around the slogan “Dispensing facts instead of fear for over sixty years.”)


pages: 542 words: 132,010

The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain by Daniel Gardner

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Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Doomsday Clock, feminist movement, haute couture, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mandatory minimum, medical residency, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Y2K, young professional

Uncertainty is so central to the nature of science that it provides a handy way of distinguishing between a scientist talking as a scientist and a scientist who is using the prestige of his white lab coat to support political activism: Look at the language. If a scientist delivers the simple, unconditional, absolutely certain statements that politicians and journalists want, he is talking as an activist, not a scientist. In January 2007, a group of leading scientists, including astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, announced that the hands of the “Doomsday Clock”—a creation of the board of directors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists—would be moved forward. It was “five minutes to midnight,” they said. A key reason for this warning was the fact that, according to the statement of the board of directors, “global warming poses a dire threat to human civilization that is second only to nuclear weapons.” Thanks to the prestige of the scientists involved, this statement garnered headlines around the world.


pages: 448 words: 116,962

Singularity Sky by Stross, Charles

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anthropic principle, cellular automata, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological constant, Doomsday Clock, Extropian, gravity well, Kuiper Belt, life extension, means of production, new economy, phenotype, prisoner's dilemma, skinny streets, technological singularity, uranium enrichment

Presently, they shut down and coasted, retaining only enough reaction mass for terminal maneuvering when they got within ten seconds of the enemy. Ahead of the Lord Vanek, the glinting purple crosses of the unpowered torpedoes fell forward toward the enemy. A minute later, Gunnery Two spoke up. "I've lost missile one, sir. I can ping it, but it doesn't respond." "Odd—" Mirsky's brow furrowed; he glanced at the doomsday clock. The battlecruiser was closing on the destination at a crawl, just 40 k.p.s. The enemy was heading toward them at better than 200 k.p.s., decelerating, but their thrust was dropping off—if this continued, closing unpowered at 250 k.p.s., their paths would intersect in about 500 seconds, and they'd be within missile-powered flight range 200 seconds before that. These long, ballistic shots weren't expected to cause real damage, but if they came close, they would force the enemy to respond.


pages: 492 words: 153,565

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon by Kim Zetter

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Ayatollah Khomeini, Brian Krebs, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Doomsday Clock, drone strike, Edward Snowden, facts on the ground, Firefox, friendly fire, Google Earth, information retrieval, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Loma Prieta earthquake, Maui Hawaii, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, smart grid, smart meter, South China Sea, Stuxnet, uranium enrichment, Vladimir Vetrov: Farewell Dossier, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero day

Also per author interview with David Albright in January 2012. 35 Albright, Peddling Peril, 200–1. 36 The UN Security Council applied economic sanctions against Iran in December 2006, and in March 2007 it voted unanimously to freeze the financial assets of twenty-eight Iranians linked to its nuclear and military programs. 37 Just when matters with Iran were at their most tense, North Korea tested a nuclear device. The deteriorating nuclear situation on multiple fronts prompted the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on January 17, 2007, to move the minute hand of its famous Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. Instead of seven minutes to Doomsday, it was now set to five. 38 Due to export controls and other difficulties producing the rotors from maraging steel, as the centrifuge design required, Iran had abandoned production of the IR-2s in 2002. But Iranian scientists modified the design to substitute a carbon fiber rotor instead and sometime after 2004 resumed production. 39 Collins and Frantz, Fallout, 259. 40 “Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Address at the 2007 Herzliya Conference,” January 24, 2007.


pages: 631 words: 171,391

One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War by Michael Dobbs

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air freight, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doomsday Clock, global village, Google Earth, kremlinology, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, stakhanovite, yellow journalism

Known as "Black Saturday" around the Kennedy White House, October 27, 1962, was a day of stomach-churning twists and turns that brought the world closer than ever before (or since) to a nuclear apocalypse. It was also the day when John F. Kennedy and Nikita S. Khrushchev, representing the rival ideological forces that had taken the world to the edge of nuclear annihilation, stepped back from the abyss. If the Cuban missile crisis was the defining moment of the Cold War, Black Saturday was the defining moment of the missile crisis. It was then that the hands of the metaphorical Doomsday Clock reached one minute to midnight. The day began with Fidel Castro dictating a telegram urging Khrushchev to use his nuclear weapons against their common enemy; it ended with the Kennedy brothers secretly offering to give up U.S. missiles in Turkey in exchange for a Soviet climbdown in Cuba. In between these two events, Soviet nuclear warheads were transported closer to Cuban missile sites, a U-2 spy plane was shot down over eastern Cuba, another U-2 strayed over the Soviet Union, a Soviet nuclear-armed submarine was forced to the surface by U.S.


pages: 546 words: 176,169

The Cold War by Robert Cowley

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anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doomsday Clock, friendly fire, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, RAND corporation, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, Stanislav Petrov, transcontinental railway

A final point emphasizes the awesome threat posed by ICBMs, as well as their central place in the deterrent balance of terror at the strategic heart of the Cold War: Both the Soviet Union and the United States were so terrified of the threat of an ICBM attack and, paradoxically, so determined to preserve the stabilizing deterrent power of the threat that—at least so far as the public record shows—no missile was ever launched from an operational ICBM silo, nor was an ICBM ever fired with a live nuclear or thermonuclear warhead aboard. The War Scare of 1983 JOHN PRADOS For four decades and more, we lived in perpetual fear of war. The nuclear doomsday clock appeared to be forever stuck at one minute to midnight, the witching hour for the world. Several times the long hand moved forward by several alarming seconds. To put the feeling another way, it was like walking around with collective aneurysms in our brains that could burst all at once and kill without warning. We might forget about the danger as we went about our daily routines; we knew with certainty that it would never go away.


pages: 684 words: 188,584

The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era by Craig Nelson

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Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, continuation of politics by other means, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Doomsday Clock, El Camino Real, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, music of the spheres, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, Project Plowshare, Ralph Nader, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, V2 rocket, William Langewiesche, éminence grise

Soon after, they installed a hotline teletypewriter between Moscow and Washington so that it wouldn’t take six hours to get a telegraph during a crisis. But the most dramatic change was the American public’s attitude about nuclear war. Before Cuba, it was common US wisdom that another world war was in our future, and that armed conflict with the Soviet Union, likely nuclear, was certain. For thirty years, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was published with a doomsday clock set at minutes to midnight; in 1960, C. P. Snow called atomic war a mathematical certainty, and many others, including Albert Einstein, had a similar outlook. In 1959, 64 percent of Americans said “war, especially nuclear war” was their country’s biggest problem . . . but by 1965 it was 16 percent. The Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature cites north of 400 articles on the subject “nuclear” for each year from 1961 to 1963 . . . but by 1967, there are around 120.