Small LinkSwarm this time.
“Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned on Thursday, hoping to strengthen his hold on power in snap elections after seven months in office in which he fought Greece’s creditors for a better bailout deal but had to cave in.”
Turns out promising free ice cream, only to deliver expensive rotted cabbage, wasn’t popular with Greek voters.
Nor were his actions popular with members of his own party, 25 of whom have broken off to form the new National Unity Party, who will evidently return to the “demand free ice cream and insist others pay for it” strategy Tsipras abandoned in the face of the sinister force know as reality.
On the plus side, Greece just used it’s new bailout fund to make a debt payment to the European Central Bank for the last batch of money it borrowed to prop up its unsustainable welfare state.
We’re in that happy honeymoon period after Greece gets more money and before Eurocrats are shocked, shocked that Greece’s economy is still a festering pile of fail that all those and promised economic reforms haven’t actually been implemented.
Give it another six to nine months…
Last week was almost Russian Tank Week on BattleSwarm, but a plethora of news intervened (like Vladimir Putin intervening in the affairs of neighboring states).
But one interesting tidbit I didn’t get to was the fact that Russia has introduced a new generation of tanks (and mechanized fighting vehicles more generally, all based off the same base platform).
So is the new Russian T-14 Armata main battle tank something to worry about, or does the M1A2 Abrams retain clear technological superiority?
To my very, very outsider eyes, the answer is somewhere in-between.
First the description from Jane’s:
The T-14 is Russia’s first truly new tank design since the T-72, designed in the early 1970s. Based on the Armata Universal Tracked Platform, the T-14’s most attention-grabbing feature is its unmanned turret, with all of the MBT’s three crew (commander, driver, gunner) seated in a well-protected crew compartment at the front of the hull.
Notably, the unveiled turret dispels suggestions the MBT would be armed with a coaxial 30 mm cannon, in addition to its 2A82A 125 mm main gun. Indeed the pre-production vehicles paraded by Russia feature neither a 30 mm cannon nor a coaxial machine gun (MG) armament as expected, although the production vehicles might eventually feature the dual 30 mm cannon/7.62 mm MG.
Although the T-14’s turret features a large bustle, it remains unclear whether this features the autoloader/weapon-handling system for the MBT’s main gun or serves another purpose (meaning the T-14 would retain the vulnerable hull-mounted carousel system present in previous Russian MBTs). Some reports also indicate Russia has not entirely abandoned its ambitions to arm Armata with a 152 mm main gun. If this is the case, it could explain why the T-14’s unmanned turret has an unusually high profile relative to the position of the 125 mm main gun, with the turret possibly designed to incorporate growth potential up to the 152 mm calibre.
T-14 is armed with a remote-controlled turret (RCT) armed with a 7.62 mm PKTM MG, with the unit also functioning as the commander’s independent sight. The gunner’s sight is mounted to the left side of the main gun and shielded by a two-piece armoured door to protect it from small arms fire. A barrel reference unit is mounted above the base of the 2A82A main gun, which notably lacks a fume bore extractor (which would be superfluous given the turret is unmanned). Metrological, satellite communications, GLONASS, datalink, and radio communications antennae are fitted on the roof of the turret.
The MBT’s turret is literally covered in a variety of launcher and sensor systems understood to be linked to a new APS system, which some reports call ‘Afghanit’. At the base of each side of the turret are five large and fixed horizontally arrayed launch tubes covering the 120° frontal arc of the turret. These bear a strong resemblance to the launchers for the earlier Drozd and Drozd-2 APS, which fired a hard-kill 107 mm unguided projectile armed with a high-explosive-(HE) fragment warhead to defeat incoming anti-tank guided weapons (ATGWs).
The T-14 is also fitted with four sets of smaller-calibre launchers, with each unit armed with 12 launch tubes. Two horizontally trainable launcher units are fitted on either side of the top of the turret, while two apparently fixed and vertically facing launcher units are recessed into the top of the tank’s turret.
It is unclear whether this second system fires hard-kill (ie warheads) or soft-kill (ie anti-infrared/laser-obscuring smoke) munitions, or a combination of the two. It is also unclear if the vertically mounted units are fireable, or simply storage for reload units for the two trainable launchers. One limitation of the Drozd systems were that they provided no protection against threats emanating from above the tank, so mounting the fixed launchers vertically could be one way to provide protection against top-attack threats.
Providing warning and guidance for the APS system are two types of sensors mounted around the T-14’s turret. Two large sensors, believed to be electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR)-based laser warning receivers, are angularly mounted on the front of the turret providing 180° coverage, while four smaller sensors (covered but believed to be radars) are mounted around the turret providing 360° coverage.
Armata features a notably different hull design to the T-72/90. One striking difference is the road wheels, which are of a different design to the T-72/90’s, while the Armata features seven road wheels, to the six of the previous MBT designs, with the drive wheel at the rear. This is similar to the T-80 MBT family, which also has chassis with seven smaller road wheels.
It is not known whether Armata is equipped with a gas-turbine or a diesel engine [given how the Russian chain of command swore off gas-turbine engines after the T-80’s performance in the first Chechen war, probably diesel. -LP] , but the T-14’s powerpack is mounted at the rear of the MBT, with two internal fuel tanks mounted on either side, and exhausts also mounted on either side. Day/night cameras are mounted around the T-14’s turret to provide situational awareness, while a forward-looking EO/IR (FLIR) system is mounted on the front of the hull for the driver. The driver’s hatch has no periscopes. When driving buttoned-down, the driver may be in a reclined position, using a set of periscopes mounted on a second hatch directly behind him.
NII Stali is understood to have designed a new form of steel armour for the Armata family. Speaking to TASS, a NII Stali representative said the “steel armour alloy, named 44S-sv-Sh [44S–], is approved by the Armata’s developer. The alloy’s operational testing has been started and it can be used in prospective vehicles’ parts”. The use of the 44S-sv-Sh steel in Armata is intended to provide protection at a similar level to STANAG 4569 (first edition) Level 5. The high level of 44S-sv-Sh’s protection is ensured by the short-grained material structure, the optimised legation process and the special heat processing. The steel has also been designed to maintain its characteristics in very cold conditions.
The Armata design is also understood to utilise explosive reactive armour (ERA) within its base design (rather than the appliqué ERA tiles seen on previous Russian MBTs), with views from above the MBT showing a distinctive tiled pattern indicative of ERA on the top of the vehicle’s chassis and turret. Although what appear to be ERA tiles are present on the turret roof, much of the sides of the turret appears to be just a thin cladding covering the various APS and sighting systems rather than armour. Appliqué armour (unclear if passive or ERA, or both) is fitted to the forward two thirds of the T-14’s sides, while the rear third is protected by bar armour to provide clearance for the T-14’s exhausts.
Here’s a picture of the front by way of NPR:
I’m not going to get into the electronics/sensor/packages, since it’s all devil-in-the-details stuff impossible to evaluate at this point. (The active protection system could be very interesting, but there’s no way of knowing how it stacks up to Israel’s Trophy or the still-under-development U.S. Quick Kill.)
The big reasons I think the M1A2 retains overall superiority:
That said, there are a number of interesting features on the T-14:
All this assumes that significant numbers of the T-14 actually get built, given that Russia has cancelled at least two separate tank programs (Black Eagle and the T-95) to follow on to the T-72/T-80, and that their economy is really biting the yak in the wake of the oil price collapse and Ukraine sanctions. But the shared Armata platform probably helped reduce development and production costs, and I suspect it will get put into production, as a big new main battle tank seems like exactly the sort of thing Vladimir Putin likes seeing built.
This is just a quick overview based on limited information. Those with more information and/or deeper subject knowledge are welcome to sound off in the comments.
Update: Missed this Jane’s update on the T-14’s armor.
The base armour on the new tank consists of metal-ceramic plates. Novosibirsk-based company NEVZ-Ceramics has already launched serial production of this product, according to Andrey Nikitin, the head of the company’s armoured ceramics bureau. “We finished the trials this year and the elements revealed their declared capability,” he said.
Nikitin said the new metal/ceramic armour provides one-and-a-half times more resistance than fully metal systems.
For the people who haven’t been following the Planned Parenthood videos, I boiled it down to this:
Bonus: Guess what career Josef Mengele pursued in Argentina post-Auschwitz? Go ahead. Guess.
Holy fark. If you thought the previous videos were difficult to watch, you might want to skip this one entirely.
“She gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face.”
While the baby was still alive.
It looks like hackers have dumped everything they stole from affair/scam/blackmail site Ashley Madison, which comes to a hefty 10 gigs of compressed data, including:
user names, first and last names, and hashed passwords for 33 million accounts, partial credit card data, street names, and phone numbers for huge numbers of users, records documenting 9.6 million transactions, and 36 million email addresses. While much of the data is sure to correspond to anonymous burner accounts, it’s a likely bet many of them belong to real people who visited the site for clandestine encounters. For what it’s worth, more than 15,000 of the e-mail addresses are hosted by US government and military servers using the .gov and .mil top-level domains.
The leak also includes PayPal accounts used by Ashley Madison executives, Windows domain credentials for employees, and a large number of proprietary internal documents. Also found: huge numbers of internal documents, memos, org charts, contracts, sales techniques, and more.
Maybe Ashley Madison should close up shop now and save itself the trouble of waiting until the lawsuits force them into bankruptcy.
In honor of their incredible incompetence, and the sleazy idiocy of their entire business model, here are the Top 10 Ashley Madison pickup lines recovered from the server:
- “Did you get those 27 dick pics I sent you?” — CarlosDanger@Hotmail.com
- “Do you need money? I can create all I need out of thin air!” — firstname.lastname@example.org
- “I’ve got this one weird trick that will totally rock your cooter!” — RagingStud@buzzfeed.com
- “Yeah, I’ve got to be willing to throw my body in the path of a bullet. My big, sweaty male body. Pretty hot, huh?” — ProtectAndSex@secretservice.gov
- “I’m into submission, saving the environment, and raising taxes.” — Loverboy@dnc.org
- “I’m into submission, saving the environment, and raising taxes.” — TotallyIndependent@mediamatters.org
- “You can have sex with me, or I can have your entire family liquidated. Your choice.” — SuperDuperStudMiffinVlad@kremlin.ru
- “Sure, Miss Wong, I’ll let you use my login!” — SecuritySupervisor@opm.gov.
- “Whip me like I’m an underperforming index fund!” — email@example.com
- “Hill will never know. She’s off in Dubai picking up a crate of money.” — SexySaxophone@clintonfoundation.org
I missed this when it went up last week, but Larry Correia put up interesting post predicting the 2016 Presidential nominees:
But the glory is in the details:
Ain’t gonna happen. He was the media’s initial pick, and it was even more painfully obvious than when all the democrats showed up in our open primaries to “cross the aisle” to nominate McCain, and then promptly ditched him for Obama on election day. But Jeb’s got zilch. Actual conservatives don’t like him, the Tea Party hates him. On the issues, he’s mumble mumble amnesty and mumble mumble that’s not what Common Core was supposed to mumble. Seriously, do you know any actual voter who likes Jeb? Can you think of one? I can’t. Jeb has all the suck of the old, dying, big government GOP, so the conservative base will be even less enthusiastic for him than they were for Romney and McCain, with the added benefit that his last name is Bush, so automatically half the country hates him.
Is he right? I want to believe him on Cruz, and that’s always a dangerous reason to believe something. But as he notes “At this early point in the campaigns I got Dole, Bush, and Romney right. McCain surprised me, but I think I was just blinded by my dislike for him. I predicted Obama as soon as he got done with that first original DNC speech, and sadly got that one right…”
Dwight covered the indictment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on “three felony counts of securities law violations” a while back, but I wanted to touch on a few unusual aspects to the indictment.
Now I’m just a simple
Hyper-Chicken from a backwoods asteroid blogger, so I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of the security laws Paxton theoretically violated. But it does appear that something stinks about the Paxton indictment:
The two charges of fraud against Paxton don’t involve misrepresentation on Paxton’s part, or any other violation of a clear principle. Rather, the prosecutors think Paxton should have volunteered more information about his own investments in the course of selling stock in a company, and that his not doing so amounts to fraud.
Paxton isn’t being accused of telling a lie, which is a factual question. He’s being accused of the much more subjective charge of misleading investors by failing to state a material fact. Actually, the indictments just allege the failure to state a fact; they don’t explain how anyone was misled.
Mateja told Texas Lawyer he had expected Paxton would be accused of making a fraudulent misrepresentation, and that he was surprised by the actual indictment.
“They are saying that it was unlawful for him to fail to mention that he had not personally invested (in a tech company called Servergy) and he would be receiving compensation,” Mateja said.
If that by itself were found to be a crime, securities traders across the state could be facing criminal exposure every time they make a sale, unless they take the unusual step of telling clients that they hadn’t purchased the stock for their own portfolios.
Paxton did have stock in Servergy, though: 100,000 shares that he’s been reporting on his annual disclosure forms since 2011.
The prosecutors are apparently unclear about whether Paxton already held those shares when he solicited investors, or whether he got them later, as they accuse him of failing to disclose to them that he “would be compensated, and had, in fact, received compensation from SERVERGY, INC., in the form of 100,000 shares.”
So either he would be or he had been. What the newspapers miss is that this isn’t an explicit violation of any law. It’s the special prosecutors’ opinion that Paxton should have volunteered this information.
The Paxton indictment becomes even more suspect when you see who’s really behind them, mainly Texas Speaker Joe Straus’ team.
There is now little doubt that the coalition government of liberal Republicans and Democrats who control the Texas House are responsible for the politically motivated indictments against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The leadership of that coalition, headed by Speaker Joe Straus, and Paxton have been political opponents for several years. In 2011, Paxton challenged Straus for the Speaker’s office and though he was unsuccessful, Paxton went on to win an open state senate seat in 2012. From there, he launched an underdog bid for Attorney General, defeating Straus’s boyhood friend, Rep. Dan Branch, in the process.
The indictments against Paxton were unsealed on Monday to reveal that the complainants were none other than Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) and a Florida businessman with connections to Cook, Joel Hochberg.
Cook is chairman of the powerful House Committee on State Affairs. It was at Cook’s Austin home that Straus was chosen to be speaker in 2009. As one of Straus’s most powerful lieutenants, Cook used his committee this session to stop a major ethics reform package, to bury pro-life legislation and legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration, and to prevent a vote on legislation aimed at protecting paychecks from being raided by public employee unions.
Hochberg was not well known to Texans before Monday, but research reveals connections to Cook spanning decades. Cook earned his millions at the helm of a videogame publishing company named TradeWest that was founded by his father. Joel Hochberg was the creator of the popular video game “Battletoads” and other games that were published by TradeWest in the 1990s.
(I never played it, but Battletoads is widely described as the most difficult video game to beat of all time. )
On Saturday, just before the indictments were leaked to the New York Times by one of the special prosecutors involved in the case, we ran a piece examining, amongst other things, a series of open records requests filed with the offices of several members of House leadership. The requests, which were filed with the offices of House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio), Rep. Jim Keffer (R–Eastland), and Rep. Charlie Geren (R–Fort Worth), sought records of communications and meetings with the Travis County DA’s office about Paxton’s case. It is unclear what records specifically were being sought, but it is clear that the person who filed the requests, Democratic operative Matt Angle, thought there had been communications between those offices and the DA about Paxton.
Since then, a source has informed us that two other member’s of Straus’s leadership team, Rep. Drew Darby (R–San Angelo) and former Republican Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, were overheard discussing Paxton’s case at the 2014 Republican State Convention. According to the source, Darby and Hilderbran stated that they were waiting until after the 84th legislature commenced to renew their attacks on Paxton.
In short: The Paxton indictment, like the Perry indictment, appears to be more about politics than crime.
(Hat tip: Push Junction.)
A bomb blast in a busy tourist area of Bangkok has left 12 dead, and injured at least 20.
The Erawan Shrine “is to the Hindu god Brahma but is also visited by thousands of Buddhists each day.”
Given the country is still fighting a stubborn Muslim insurgency in the south, this has the hallmarks of a jihad bombing.