Passport

Nuking the Gulf spill

Navy submarine vet and Columbia University nuclear policy scholar Christopher Brownfield has an odd post over at the Daily Beast on a potential solution for the Gulf oil spill. He begins: 

On Day 1 of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, my gut instinct was to nuke the well shut.

Really? That was his gut instinct? Nuclear weapons? Brownfield goes on to say that Obama probably won't use this strategy because it would be "problematic" for his global anti-nuclear agenda. I'm no nonproliferation expert, but I can think of a few other reasons why setting off a nuclear weapon 50 miles off the coast of the United States might be "problematic." In any case, Brownfield feels the well could be effectively shut using just conventional explosives, if the military were to get involved. 

This was also intriguing:

On Thursday, my gut instinct for nuking shut the well was confirmed when CNN reported that the Soviet military had used nuclear explosives on four separate occasions, beginning in 1966, to seal off runaway oil and gas wells under water.

Weird. Frequent FP contributor Julia Ioffe has more on this practice:

Komsomoloskaya Pravda, the best-selling Russian daily, reports that in Soviet times such leaks were plugged with controlled nuclear blasts underground. The idea is simple, KP writes: “the underground explosion moves the rock, presses on it, and, in essence, squeezes the well’s channel.”

Yes! It’s so simple, in fact, that the Soviet Union, a major oil exporter, used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities. The first happened in Uzbekistan, on September 30, 1966 with a blast 1.5 times the strength of the Hiroshima bomb and at a depth of 1.5 kilometers. KP also notes that subterranean nuclear blasts were used as much as 169 times in the Soviet Union to accomplish fairly mundane tasks like creating underground storage spaces for gas or building canals. [My emphasis.]

"How would the Soviets have handled this," is not necessarily the first question I ask when faced with environmental catastrophe, but things are getting pretty desperate out there.

Gerald Herbert-pool/Getty Images

Passport

Saudi religious police get beat up by a girl... again

This very amusing story has been making the rounds

When a Saudi religious policeman sauntered about an amusement park in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Mubarraz looking for unmarried couples illegally socializing, he probably wasn’t expecting much opposition. But when he approached a young, 20-something couple meandering through the park together, he received an unprecedented whooping.

A member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Saudi religious police known locally as the Hai’a, asked the couple to confirm their identities and relationship to one another, as it is a crime in Saudi Arabia for unmarried men and women to mix.

For unknown reasons, the young man collapsed upon being questioned by the cop. According to the Saudi daily Okaz, the woman then allegedly laid into the religious policeman, punching him repeatedly, and leaving him to be taken to the hospital with bruises across his body and face.

This is not the first time this has happened. Back in 2007, Passport blogged the story of a religious cop who was pepper-sprayed in the face by a young woman while her friend filmed it on a cellphone. These are still isolated incidents, but could also be signs that women are starting to take the once-feared Mutaween less seriously after a series of government measures to curb their power and prosecute abuses.