If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?

Funny question in the headline, yes?

But since President Obama worries more about the threat of terrorists’ improvised nuclear device going off in a major American city than anything Russia can throw at us, I was wondering if the government had deigned to share with us citizens any tips for, you know, surviving something their own intelligence points to as the likeliest unlikely Black Swan event.

Well, no. And yes.

No — very few people in Washington, D.C., who work for the government have any idea what they would do if a 10-kiloton nuclear device exploded at the intersection of 16th and K streets.

You can always look to movies to figure this stuff out, right? And in movies, since nuclear radiation is BAD, the thing to do is to get away from it as quickly as possible. In the movies, electronics are fried, too, the response is chaotic, and hundreds of thousands of people die.

Interestingly enough, though, the government has done quite a bit of work to figure out what exactly would happen if a suitcase nuke — which, I know, doesn’t really exist, but, for the sake of this example, bear with me — actually did explode a few blocks from the White House.

And curiously, and perhaps hearteningly, it turns out that there is quite a lot that you or I can do if we get stuck in Washington when something like that happens. Choices we make could very well make the difference between our imminent death and a relatively full and happy life, assuming the bomb is a one-off.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory released a report in 2011 that spells all this out. It hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves.

It’s called the “National Capital Region Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism” and it makes for fascinating reading.

Did you know, for example, that:

  1. The WORST thing for someone to try to do, in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion that they survive, is to get in a car and drive away.

  2. Unless you’re within about a third to a half a mile radius of ground zero and the shelter options are poor, the BEST thing for someone to do is to find a stable location inside a well-built apartment or office building — the majority of which will remain standing outside that half mile radius — and stay there for 24 hours.

And if you were very close to ground zero and you did survive — and a lot of folks will — the best thing for you to do is to:

A. Take immediate shelter somewhere, because fallout will rain down on you if you don’t.

B. Wait an hour.

C. Then, walk about a half-dozen blocks laterally until you find intact large buildings to shelter you.

  1. The electromagnetic pulse from a ground burst will NOT, in fact, knock out all types of communication. Some? Maybe.

  2. If you live in a single-family house with thin walls, your chances of surviving in the immediate aftermath of a blast and not getting cancer later are exponentially higher than if you seek shelter in a bigger building, even one that might literally be next door.

  3. Rescuers should NOT put on radiation protection gear if it will slow them down. So long as the fallout has stopped falling, they’re best advised to turn out in their normal gear.

  4. Though thousands of people will die from the blast effects, almost all — about 96 percent — of the other potential casualties could be avoided if people understood the basics of what to do in the event of mass radiation exposure.

  5. Did I mention that the worst place to be in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear blast is in a car trying to get away? The so-called DFZ — the Dangerous Fallout Zone — will extend out as much as 20 miles, but it is likely to be extremely narrow. (If it’s not, that means the concentration of radioactive particles will be lower.) The vector and location of this zone depends on the wind. And its size will shrink with every passing hour.

  6. Penetrating trauma from broken glass is probably the largest treatable cadre of blast injuries.

I admit that I don’t know what forum the president or anyone else could use to educate people in major cities about this stuff. Government never wants to alarm people. But maybe a little bit of alarmism is worth it, if it turns out that a terrorist’s nuclear blast is a lot more survivable than we might think, if only we do certain things.

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Another Banker Found Dead

Zero Hedge
April 6, 2014

mere two weeks since former JPMorgan banker, Kenneth Bellando jumped to his death, Bloomberg reports that the former CEO of Dutch Bank ABN Amro (and his wife and daughter) were found dead at their home after a possible “family tragedy.” This expands the dismal list of senior financial services executive deaths to 12 in the last few months. The 57-year-old Jan Peter Schmittmann, was reportedly discovered by his other daughter when she arrived home that morning. Police declined to comment on the cirumstances of his (and his wife and daughter’s) death. This is not the first C-level ABN Amro banker to be found dead. In 2009, former CFO Huibert Boumeester was discovered with (assumed self-inflicted) shotgun wounds.

As Bloomberg reports,

Former ABN Amro Group NV Netherlands Chief Executive Officer Jan Peter Schmittmann, his wife and a daughter were found dead at their home today after a possible “family tragedy,” Dutch police said.

The bodies of a father and mother and their daughter were found at the property” in the town of Laren, 32 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Amsterdam, Dutch police said in a statement on their website today. Leonie Bosselaar, a police spokeswoman, said in a telephone call with Bloomberg News that the deceased were Schmittmann and two family members.

The police received a call around 10:30 a.m. local time from a family acquaintance who said something may be wrong at the property, according to the statement. Bosselaar declined to comment further on what may have happened.

The Dutch newspaper AD reported, without citing anyone, that the family was discovered by Schmittmann’s second daughter when she arrived home this morning. She was scheduled to travel to India with her parents, where she had an internship lined up, the newspaper said.

Schmittmann, 57, joined ABN Amro in 1983 as assistant relationship manager and was named head of the lender’s Dutch unit in 2003. He stepped down from the Amsterdam-based bank in December 2008, after the company was nationalized earlier that year.

Sadly, given recent trends, the default assumption is that it is suicide until proven otherwise which is just as disturbing from a sociological perspective. (on the bright side, at least as far as we know, we was not involved in HFT) but further to that, this is not the first ABN Amro seniot executve to be found dead. In 2009, Schmittmann’s former CFO was found dead from shotgun wounds:

The former chief financial officer of Dutch bank ABN Amro has been found dead with shotgun wounds near his home in Surrey, the BBC has reported.

Huibert Gerard Boumeester was found dead yesterday, Sunday, with shotgun wounds, one week after being reported missing and “vulnerable”. Reports claim he was found with two shotguns which he had brought from his home, though Thames Valley Police say his death is currently being treated as “unexplained”.

Boumeester, 49, left his role as CFO encompassing responsibility for group-widefinance, risk management, investor relations, communications and strategic decision support in March 2008 citing “personal reasons” six months after ABN Amro was bought by Fortis, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander. The Dutch government now owns Fortis Bank and has taken direct ownership of its stake in ABN Amro. The British government owns most of RBS.

There are suggestions that Boumeester took his own life

Schmittmann owned 2phase2 (apparently an asset management company) and was a co-founder of 5 Park Lane (what appears to be a private equity / management consultancy) according to his LinkedIn profile:

This brings the sad list of senior financial services exectives who have died in the last few months to 12:

1 – William Broeksmit, 58-year-old former senior executive at Deutsche Bank AG, was found dead in his home after an apparent suicide in South Kensington in central London, on January 26th.

2 – Karl Slym, 51 year old Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym, was found dead on the fourth floor of the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok on January 27th.

3 – Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old JP Morgan employee, died after falling from the roof of the JP Morgan European headquarters in London on January 27th.

4 – Mike Dueker, 50-year-old chief economist of a US investment bank was found dead close to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State.

5 – Richard Talley, the 57 year old founder of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado, was found dead earlier this month after apparently shooting himself with a nail gun.

6 – Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG, also died last month, however the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown.

7 – Ryan Henry Crane, a 37 year old executive at JP Morgan died in an alleged suicide just a few weeks ago.  No details have been released about his death aside from this small obituary announcement at the Stamford Daily Voice.

8 – Li Junjie, 33-year-old banker in Hong Kong jumped from the JP Morgan HQ in Hong Kong this week.

9 – James Stuart Jr, Former National Bank of Commerce CEO, found dead in Scottsdale, Ariz., the morning of Feb. 19. A family spokesman did not say whatcaused the death

10 – Edmund (Eddie) Reilly, 47, a trader at Midtown’s Vertical Group, commited suicide by jumping in front of LIRR train

11 – Kenneth Bellando, 28, a trader at Levy Capital, formerly investment banking analyst at JPMorgan, jumped to his death from his 6th floor East Side apartment.

12 – Jan Peter Schmittmann, 57, the former CEO of Dutch bank ABN Amro found dead at home near Amsterdam with wife and daughter.

The Complete Interactive Guide To How The NSA Spies On Everything You Do

Zero Hedge
April 6, 2014

With all the hoopla about missing airplanes, renewed wars of the cold variety, and rigged markets, it is easy to forget that America is now officially a totalitarian state of the Orwellian kind, where the population has – involuntarily – ceded all of its privacy in exchange for… something. Because it certainly isn’t security. So we are happy to provide a reminder of just this, especially since as BusinessWeek notes, it gets harder to keep track of all the bizarre ways the National Security Agency has cooked up to spy on people and governments. This may help.

Data in Motion

NSA’s spies divide targets into two broad categories: data in motion and data at rest. Information moving to and from mobile phones, computers, data centers, and satellites is often easier to grab, and the agency sucks up vast amounts worldwide. Yet common data such as e-mail is often protected with encryption once it leaves a device, making it harder—but not impossible—to crack.

Data at Rest

Retrieving information from hard drives, overseas data centers, or cell phones is more difficult, but it’s often more valuable because stored data is less likely to be encrypted, and spies can zero in on exactly what they want. NSA lawyers can compel U.S. companies to hand over some of it; agency hackers target the most coveted and fortified secrets inside computers of foreign governments.

Where the Data Goes

Much of the data the NSA compiles from all these efforts will be stored in its million-square-foot data center near Bluffdale, Utah. It can hold an estimated 12 exabytes of data. An exabyte is the equivalent of 1 billion gigabytes.

And some of the specific methods the NSA uses to spy on US citizens and the occasional offshore “terrorist”:

 

  • Call Recorder – The agency can intercept and store for up to a month 100 percent of a foreign country’s telephone calls, which can be sorted and played back.

 

  • Clone Phones – Foreign targets’ cell phones can be surreptitiously swapped for an identical model with built-in listening and data collection devices.

 

  • Fake Shops – Diplomats at the 2009 G-20 summit in London were tricked, with the NSA’s help, into using an Internet cafe that had been rigged to send data to British intelligence.

 

  • Travel Trackers – The NSA has several ways to follow the movements of intelligence targets as they get off planes, drive across borders, or move around a city, including an implant that directs a cell phone SIM card to send geolocation data via text message.

 

  • Special Delivery – Spies intercept computers that foreign targets buy online, fit them with devices that send data to the NSA, and box them back up for normal delivery.

 

  • X-Ray Vision – Radar waves beamed into a room can detect what is being typed on a keyboard or displayed on a computer screen.

 

  • Credit Cards – The agency tapped into the network of Visa and major banking systems to collect troves of transaction data.

 

  • Satellites – The NSA infiltrated German satellite communications used in remote locations such as drilling platforms—and by the country’s diplomats.

 

  • Gamer Spies – Agency employees join World of Warcraft and Second Life communities, hunting for criminal networks and recruiting informants. They’ve also infiltrated Microsoft’s Xbox Live network.

 

  • Cell Towers – Base stations mimicking cell towers siphon location data from targets’ phones. Agents can also intercept mobile calls with a shoe-box-size receiver.

 

  • Submarines – The agency can collect worldwide Internet traffic with a modified nuclear submarine that taps undersea fiber-optic cables—allowing spies to vacuum data from millions of users.

 

  • Secret Selfies – Malware planted in an iPhone can secretly activate its camera and microphone, turning it into a listening device. Malware for Windows mobile phones enables complete remote control of the handset.

 

  • Fake Rocks – Transmitters hidden inside rocks and other objects can receive information from NSA taps implanted in nearby computers even if they’re “air gapped” machines or networks that aren’t hooked up to the Internet—among the hardest of all digital targets.

 

The Stasi is spinning in its grave… with jealousy.

Gun advocates credit new concealed carry laws for sharp drop in Chicago murder rate

The Washington Times
April 6, 2014

Chicago police are reporting that the murder rate for the first quarter of the year is the lowest it’s been in more than 50 years, which gun advocates are attributing to a concealed carry law passed in Illinois last year.

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=9487273

The first three months of 2014 have seen the fewest number of homicides since 1958 — six fewer than this time in 2013, and 55 fewer than this time in 2012, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Gun-rights advocates argue that concealed carry laws can reduce crime and keep the population safer. The state began accepting applications for permits in January.

“The facts are every time guns have been allowed, concealed-carry has been allowed, the crime rate has gone down,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, just months before Illinois passed the concealed carry law in July 2013.

Full article here