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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PLUTONIUM IN NIF COMING SOON

PLUTONIUM IN NIF COMING SOON

The NNSA Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request states that plutonium shots at NIF will begin in the coming fiscal year. For those who want to check the reference, it is in Volume 1 on Page 156 under “Highlights of the FY 2015 Budget Request.” It does not mention what may happen re: contamination of the NIF target chamber. Nor does it reference the LLNL environmental impact statement that describes an increase in radiation exposure to employees if plutonium is used in NIF.

108 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good idea. Shouldn't be doing these experiments on Z anyways.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a really bad idea. Another spigot to open to keep money flowing to NIF, I suppose. But bad for everyone else in the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

We really need to stop this one. The Residents of Livermore don't need plutonium on the facility, even the miniscule amounts they claim they will need. There is no credible containment plan anyways. Let them have their ignition science experiments. But let the NM labs play around with Pu.

Anonymous said...

Settle down. The professional managers will write and approve an IWS which will be so detailed, no shot could be attempted due to adherence.

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for the nervous nellies and the wacko environmentalists, this interesting and potentially ground-breaking research area could be carried out safely and without risk to the public. If LANL can do containment with large amounts of Pu and HE in a shot, why can't LLNL contain a gram or less?

Anonymous said...

LLNL isn't the test site, so it's reasonable to ask, where does that gram of extremely toxic evaporated Pu go?

Anonymous said...

LLNL isn't the test site, so it's reasonable to ask, where does that gram of extremely toxic evaporated Pu go?

May 14, 2014 at 9:22 PM

If you knew anything, you'd know Pu isn't "toxic." It is a mildly radioactive heavy metal in the isotopic form under consideration. And the comparison wasn't to NTS, it was to LANL firing sites, which have used Pu in contained shots for decades.

Anonymous said...

The BS on this site is amazing sometimes. Pu is extremely toxic. Or perhaps you know more than the NRC? http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/plutonium.html

Anonymous said...

The BS on this site is amazing sometimes. Pu is extremely toxic. Or perhaps you know more than the NRC? http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/plutonium.html

If you need to get your information from something that basic, you're not qualified to be brandishing it with such certainty.

Plutonium, like many heavy metals, has potentially toxic properties. The quantities of plutonium available to disperse, however, are too small to make those effects particularly relevant, unlike the case with uranium. For plutonium, radiological effects predominate from a regulatory and health effects perspective.

Plutonium is nothing to treat lightly. If ingested, it yields a statistically increased chance of developing certain cancers over a 50 year period. As far as toxicity goes, however, it pales in comparison to any number of common industrial chemcials that can kill you immediately in accidental releases.

Anonymous said...

This has got to be one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. Is someone really such a half wit that they believe the NNSA Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request is supposed to include detailed safety plans for its line items?

Budgets.
Safety analyses.

You may discern by their completely different names that they are, in fact, completely different topics. Surrprisingly enough, they answer to different requirements as well. As amazing as it may be to believe, there are actually documents outside a budget request that specifically address safety issues and potential radiation exposures from the use of plutonium targets at NIF.

Where does that gram of evaporated Pu go? As stunning as it may seem, in a nationwide endeavor stretching back almost seventy years, involving the handling of metric tons of plutnoium across the country, people have actually figured out how to contain a gram of plutonium in pretty much any form. In fact, if you're fixated on that single gram it's not really very hard at all.

Give the whole industrial revolution thing a little credit, huh?

And I'm not even saying plutonium isn't a hazard. But how do some of you idiots even sleep at night with all the obvious and ubiqitous hazards in your house from modern technology? Oh, that's right--you're completely ignorant of them and the associated risk factors.

Anonymous said...

Doublespeak like May 14, 2014 at 11:13 PM is exactly why residents of Livermore need to be concerned. These mad condescending scientists can't be trusted.

Anonymous said...

These mad condescending scientists can't be trusted.

May 15, 2014 at 6:44 AM

Certainly not the ones who actually know something!

Anonymous said...

Okay. I read May 14, 2014 at 11:13 PM. It's not doublespeak. It's a straight forward explanation of facts that are very well established. It even notes that the hazards of plutonium are not to be taken lightly. It's a little cheeky about the NRC reference, but that's understandable given how the reference was introduced.

There is a huge difference between inhaling some plutonium that might give you cancer somewhere down the road and getting enveloped by a cloud of chlorine gas that eats your lungs out in seconds.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Los Alamos early Pu worker cohort showed many instances of greater than expected longevity associated with low but measurable uptake. An interesting dip in the mortality curve at low threshold doses.

Anonymous said...

Oxidized Pu particulate matter lodged in the lungs can have serious health effects even in minute quantities.

Anonymous said...

Dude how do you get a ramp wave over long enough timescale in only am crow optic sample? Oh what's that you say? It's really just a shock compression, not isentropic? Oh if that's the case just do a HE driven experiment at nts. Or even better, do the isentropic compression rightly so on a macroscopic sample at nts or some other facility. We've had enough be from the LLNL NIF people. Where is that high pressure Ta phase transition PRL they kept talking about? You BS artists are running out of con games, bro.

Anonymous said...

Oxidized Pu particulate matter lodged in the lungs can have serious health effects even in minute quantities.

May 15, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Duh, moron.

I think that's what everyone has said. That's where the statistically increased chance for cancer over 50 years comes from. Which is still nowhere as bad as things that will kill you today.

Anonymous said...

Give the lack of benefits (other than jobs) of doing this idiotic work (see note on isentropic versus shock), this is the kind of risk that should be avoided. The work is not worth doing.

Anonymous said...

what kind of moron would prefer to do this work on nif over nts, or even z for that matter?

Anonymous said...

The moron who is the guy who says, "Pu isn't as bad as those other things that will kill you instantly, therefore it's safe and you should shut up because I know better than you."

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely nothing to be gained from these microscopic experiments for which LLNL scientists are unable to tell the difference between a shockless and shocked compression. It's not merely a personnel problem, but a problem with the suitability and time-scales associated with the NIF platform.

Anonymous said...

Lots of low-information bloggers here, lots of Pu fear-mongering, lots of blather. Very little actual knowledge of the experiments or of the actual risks.

Anonymous said...

incidents EDolinsecond lvestrugfown artedgebVery little actual knowledge of the experiments or of the actual risks.

May 15, 2014 at 8:49 PM


This must be a job description for a LLNL "scientist"

Anonymous said...

Yeah those LLNL scientists really need a refresher in the SCIENCES.

That reminds me, aren't we supposed to hear about a breakthrough discovery regarding a high pressure Ta phase transition from experiments on NIF?

Still waiting. But not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see anyone say "Pu isn't as bad as those other things that will kill you instantly, therefore it's safe and you should shut up because I know better than you." That's the retort of a fool.

What I read them saying is that it's not a significant risk to shoot tiny targets of plutonium in NIF,certainly not for anyone outside the building itself. The facts seem to back that up.

This kind of stuff just discredits environmentalism. If you want to know why we're having such a hard time getting real environmental threats taken seriously by too much of the public, look in the mirror. This kind of "boy who cried wolf" nonsense over everything hurts the movement as a whole.

Anonymous said...

The problem here is scientists failing to see things from the public point of view. 10:07 and other posts above are arrogant, condescending and dismissive, and seem oblivious to this reality: The public does not trust you, does not trust your definition of facts (actually there are none above, regarding containment of the Pu in a NIF shot), and does not care what you think is "nonsense". You have no credibility at all with the average Joe, and saying the same thing but louder will just make it all worse. Just the way it is, and THAT attitude was created decades ago by the scientists themselves.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, someone does sound arrogant, condescending, dismissive and oblivious to reality. But it's not the scientists.

Emotional fixations absolutely convinced of their own self-righteousness are not trusted by anyone thinking clearly. That's why you're baying at the moon about a fictitious public. One that isn't rising up against an activity authorized by their elected representatives.

Anonymous said...

Voice of reason, oh comm'on sort it out. Facts are facts. Pu is as complicated as it gets. The cows come and go. The bull remains the same, hey. Read all about it... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium

Anonymous said...

11:24 pm, do you ever actually talk to people outside the gates who don't have PhDs?

Anonymous said...

11:24 pm, do you ever actually talk to people outside the gates who don't have PhDs?

May 16, 2014 at 5:31 AM

Sure, but not about science, because they know little and care less.

Anonymous said...

11:24 pm, do you ever actually talk to people outside the gates who don't have PhDs?

May 16, 2014 at 5:31 AM

Again, your emotional fixation on things you do not understand leads you astray.

I don't actually work at the Lab. I just know some people who do. So I speak with plenty of people outside the gates who don't have PhDs, almost all of whom could care less about NIF. If presented with your arguments and the tone in which they are presented, most of them would consider you a hysteric.

Actual knowledge of what one speaks matters. The way in which one chooses to communicate matters as well. You would benefit from working on both.

Anonymous said...

May 16, 2014 at 11:09 AM, thank you for another nice dose of "arrogant, condescending and dismissive".

Anonymous said...

thank you for another nice dose of "arrogant, condescending and dismissive".

May 16, 2014 at 12:02 PM

E.g., "the truth."

Anonymous said...

Good

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for that breakthrough regarding the Ta high pressure phase transition from LLNL and NIF.

Anonymous said...

LLNL is world-renowned for their breakthroughs in Equation of State studies using Laser compression. You probably didn't know that, did you. The top experts in high pressure EoS come from LLNL.

Anonymous said...

hahaha you gotta be joking. u r a troll

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Anonymous said...

I hope not or NIF is going to be a nightmare to work on ever again. They'll be buried so deep in procedure paperwork they'll be lucky to do a shot a month. Personally I wouldn't want to be a worker bee on this device after the do the first Pu shot.

Anonymous said...

I think that shooting plutonium at NIF is a marvelous idea, and an absolutely fantastic opportunity for bureaucratic authorization basis paper shufflers. Contaminating the target chamber with Pu will certainly hasten the demise of this sand box for nerdy boys. Go for it!

Anonymous said...

They are doing it only because they don't like Sandia doing those types of experiments. LLNL hates Sandia for doing LLNL's job faster, better and more cheaply. LLNL doesn't care that NIF and WCI will screw up the experiments or analysis.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention, this is the Sandia that has so many managers without PhDs. Also home the chili cookoff that did not serve chili. No wonder why LLNL hates them... Chili cookoff with no chili, wtf?

Anonymous said...

You morons do realize that they will be using MILLIGRAM samples, not GRAM samples as you have assumed, and that you can make a secondary container for radioactive materials VERY EASILY using high speed shutters? They do this on Z all the time.

Get an education before you start posting garbage.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see you plan to do shock less compression on a microscopic sample on NIF you loser neckbeard.

Anonymous said...

Containment on NIF? What they are only going to use half the beams?

Anonymous said...

Containment on a sampleholder that needs to also let all those beams in... Wtf...

Anonymous said...

Even with small samples of plutonium, I wonder how engineering safety controls at JASPER in NTS compare and contrast to proposed engineering safety controls at NIF in Livermore for plutonium work?

Anonymous said...

JASPER is a cat 3 LLNL facility, designed to handle Pu, yet it was shut down in 2009 because of excessive contamination. Good luck with those Pu shots at NIF.

Anonymous said...

A mechanical shutter? Wide enough to allow laser beams in, and fast enough to shut tight before the (~10^7 cm/s ?) material blowing out ten millimeters away gets to the shutter, wow. The fastest shutters are in the millisecond range, and even 100 microseconds would be very slow given the speeds and necessary standoff distances. Does anyone know if there is in fact a containment plan, other than letting the vaporized Pu deposit all over the inside of the chamber?

Anonymous said...

Did NIF designers include plutonium shots in their concept design, final design, and construction phases, or is this a fresh plan B for NIF value? Can someone point to a public domain reference document on this?

Anonymous said...

They never cared about plutonium at the start. They just dreamed about Nobel prizes and ticker tape parades. A plan for programmatic work means a containment plan which they don't have. Most likely they will just splatter Pu all over the inside of the chamber only to collect unusable un interpretable data

Anonymous said...

"...JASPER is a cat 3 LLNL facility, designed to handle Pu, yet it was shut down in 2009 because of excessive contamination..."

My point exactly.

Different materials, but how many chamber related "special material" leaks, near miss situations, or employee mishandling or exposure to toxic or carcinogenic materials have occurred in NIF already? Zero? Just asking.

Anonymous said...

It will be Deuterium EoS all over again

Anonymous said...

How many times have radioactive samples been used as targets in NIF to date?

Anonymous said...

Lots of NIF-hate here. Very little actual information and detail. Could it be that all of the people knowledgeable about NIF have long since abandoned this blog because of the haters? Was that the intended result?

Anonymous said...

What ever did they do about that deuterium EoS fiasco? Did they ever retract the paper of publish a corrigendum?

Anonymous said...

Hey Larry, how you propose to get a shock less ramp on da sample for such a small sample?

Anonymous said...

They plan to remove the Pu from the inside surface of the chamber between shots using baby wipes and try to account for all the Pu by the radioactivity from the spent baby wipes.

Anonymous said...

"...Lots of NIF-hate here. Very little actual information and detail. Could it be that all of the people knowledgeable about NIF have long since abandoned this blog because of the haters? Was that the intended result?..."

The plutonium questions are reasonable and yes many on this blog don't work at LLNS or NIF. The constructive thing to do is to point to formal design reviews and discussions to shed light on the matter. Calling people "haters" makes you come off as just another shill for NIF at all costs.

Anonymous said...

It will be Deuterium EoS all over again

May 18, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Probably. The people in charge of the effort are 3rd-rate, and under enormous pressure to produce something that others can claim as valuable. So the official outcome is predetermined, whether or not reality supports it.

Anonymous said...

The constructive thing to do is to point to formal design reviews and discussions to shed light on the matter.

May 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Sure, but that simply begs the question. It would require people who are knowledgeable about NIF to weigh in, but they have all abandoned this blog.

Anonymous said...

NIF was built for ICF, and other applications were after thoughts. Experiments with Pu on NIF were discussed at least 15 years ago, but AFAIK they never drove requirements of any kind. Public reviews and discussions are hard to come by, given classification and sensitivity. Might as well ask Marylia Kelley.

Anonymous said...

I like the baby wipes idea. wipe it up, flush it down the toilet. out of sight, out of mind. that's the llnl way.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Pu experiments became "official" in 2005. This was a few years before completion of the NIF and long after it was designed, and after early experiments were already done. So no, obviously, Pu experiments did not drive facility requirements.

Anonymous said...

1. We can design NIF to reach ignition
2. We can build NIF within budget
3. We can build NIF on schedule
4. We ran into ignition challenges

1. We can design systems in NIF for safe plutonium
experiments
2...
3...

Anonymous said...

LLNL is the Center of Excellence for plutonium science for this nation. It's undeniable.

It's only fair that we use its fine new tool to further our advancement in this area. We are the world's experts in this area and will always be pushing the limits of what is possible. We are born to lead, not follow. Bravo, LLNL!

Anonymous said...

I'd rather hire somebody from the Periphery of Excellence who doesn't think quite so highly of himself.

Anonymous said...

People with the largest egos tend to make the most spectacular mistakes that their egos won't let them see. History is full of examples, and closer to home we have Ed Moses and the NIF to make the point.

Anonymous said...

Any manager (LANS or LLNS) with a huge ego, smug, or otherwise operating open loop, require a nurturing and enabling environment to sustain the behavior and still prosper. "It takes a village" of the inept to raise a manager devoid of remorse, empathy, ownership, or consequence.

Anonymous said...

What does plutonium work in NIF at this time signify if anything? How would plutonium experiments in NIF impact ignition experiments that are already very pricey per shot? Turn around time?

Anonymous said...

May 22, 2014 at 6:41 AM:
What does plutonium work in NIF at this time signify if anything?

> It signifies LLNl's struggle to remain in some way connected to Pu science.

How would plutonium experiments in NIF impact ignition experiments that are already very pricey per shot?

> Very little if they are designed properly for containment, except possibly for schedule, which no one cares about anyway.

Turn around time?

> Again, about the same as an "ignition" shot, if they are designed properly.

Anonymous said...

If I recall from the many NIF design reviews I sat through(and gave), the Pu shots were to be done in a second target chamber (fewer ports/diagnostics needed), under ICF/Stockpile Stewardship. Most of us oldtimers thought this was stupid. Management thought it would tap an infinite source of Stockpile Stewardship money. Management is always right, no matter the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Pu shots are the hail-mary attempts for a facility that is in trouble with the clocks ticking. Bloggers predicted the attempt bait-and-switch using Pu to hide the failures of ignition. Why do we say it is a bait-and-switch? Deuterium EoS tells you everything about the capability (actually incapability) for LLNL to do high quality cutting-edge measurements compared to its national lab and academic competitors.

Anonymous said...

They should stick to ignition and user-facility related experiments.

Anonymous said...

LLNL staff are fully capable of high-quality cutting-edge measurements, but many of the managers who drive these sorts of high-profile experiments are not. And so they don't understand when they are on-track to generate garbage, and care much more about the milestone and publicity than they do about doing it right. The ignition project was the most glaring high-profile failure along these lines, but there are others including the old D2 EOS experiments. It will be very surprising if anything really useful comes out of Pu experiments on the NIF, unless the real goal is just to generate churn.

Anonymous said...

Does NIF need plutonium funded work soon to prevent more layoffs at NIF or associated lab wide layoffs?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter, the environmental review will fail since it must be approved by the state.

Anonymous said...

LLNL drove off rainmakers over the last decade leaving behind a huge pool of immensely mediocre scientists and managers. So does NIF need Pu funded work to prevent layoffs? They need whatever they can get. Their experimental EoS effort is a complete joke. It's like asking whether Greece will fall if they aren't bailed out.

It begs the question why we have LLNL at all to begin with. There is a stupid gentleman's agreement regarding mission-space among the labs. LLNL is not a center of excellence for anything, and all they have to protect their "turf" is this so-called agreement. It's time to throw that out. LANL, LLNL and Sandia should be able to compete for funds over all mission spaces, including engineering, and primary physics.

Anonymous said...

Unless there is a scientific consensus that NIF has reached a brick wall requiring billions more or an order of magnitude more peak power or energy, why not stay the course for ignition for a few more years? What is the incremental cost to do so against the potential
pay off?

Anonymous said...

...why not stay the course for ignition for a few more years?

May 23, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Sure, what the hell? It's only been 40 or so years of completely wasted taxpayer money. Who cares?

Anonymous said...

Sure, what the hell? It's only been 40 or so years of completely wasted taxpayer money. Who cares?

May 23, 2014 at 2:58 PM

More like 50 years ! Oh, but they now have the codes corrected and well calibrated against the real world, so everything is hunky-dory. When your grandchildren push the switch, light will be due to ICF. (NOT)

Anonymous said...

What are the scalable, reliable, and carbon free alternatives? Not coal. More Fukushima
fission plants? Conservation won't cover the growing demand either.

Anonymous said...

..why not stay the course for ignition for a few more years? What is the incremental cost to do so against the potential
pay off?

May 23, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Arguments like this brought us to spend the many billions we already have. It's a recipe for never, ever stopping, as long as the cost of the next couple years is small compared with what you have already spent then you cannot ever stop. What if, what if.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps so, but the problem statement remains.
What are the viable environmentally friendly energy alternatives given the projected global need?

Anonymous said...

"Environmentally friendly" includes gas-fired power plants and clean coal-fired plants too. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Plants need it to live, humans and other animals create it by living. The carbon content of the atmosphere has spiked tremendously over the past few decades, but the average global temperature has be constant for about 16 years. The "correlation" is BS. The climate ALWAYS changes, sometimes drastically, and has done so since before humans existed.

Finally, everyone knows (even if some won't admit it) that ICF will NEVER be a viable power source.

Anonymous said...

"Clean coal"? Uranium, thorium, and mercury are going up those stacks and in the air. No free lunch here.

http://web.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

Anonymous said...

Stack emission mitigation technology is proven,and not as expensive as massive taxpayer subsidies to solar and wind. Especially since power storage technology for when there is no sun or wind does not exist.

Anonymous said...

LLNL can have their ignition programs. I would bet money that another lab (even a foreign one) will get break-even before NIF does.

Anonymous said...

NIF is an excellent facility for furthering plutonium science and LLNL has the very best experts in this domain. It's a perfect match.

Perhaps some of the funding being wasted at LANL for plutonium research can now be moved over to LLNL were it can be more effectively be used to further plutonium research. NNSA needs to stop wasting money at a lab that only seems to know how to shutdown their facilities for safety reasons and then never gets them restarted.

Anonymous said...

Experimental Pu Sciences at LLNL??? hahahaha

Anonymous said...

What LLNL scientists SHOULD be doing are Pu experiments at NTS. But that's not what they're doing, I've been told. It's double-down time on NIF.

Anonymous said...

I would bet money that another lab (even a foreign one) will get break-even before NIF does.

May 23, 2014 at 8:42 PM

It is not going to happen, at any lab, anywhere, any time. ICF is a failed scientific concept that has cost too many dollars for too many decades. Keep trying to make gold from base metals, it would be more cost effective. The quest for "ignition" has become religious instead of scientific. The modern Holy Grail. With as much chance of success. Give it up, already.

Anonymous said...

It's double-down time on NIF.

May 23, 2014 at 9:28 PM

No, that was in about 2005, when the NIC started. It's triple-down time on NIF.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the next administration will do the right thing: shut dow LLNL and federalize LANL.

Anonymous said...

People have been talking about shutting down LLNL at least since 1993, not coincidentally around the time the NIF was conceived. Not going to happen, political obstacles alone are insurmountable.

Anonymous said...

Plus, no federal agency has the capability or expertise to run a nuclear facility. Neither DOE nor NNSA can run any facility directly. DoD can run research facilities, but the Navy wants nothing to do with nuclear weapons and the Air Force's recent failures with their ballistic missile force disqualifies them as well. In today's world, no one thinks the federal government is competent to do much of anything.

Anonymous said...

LLNL is slated for the slow-death scenario. It gives proponents "hope" that the lab will keep going, fighting the "good fight" while placing, one at a time, the nails into the coffin.

Anonymous said...

Adding Pu to NIF will have two important effects.

1. It will prevent other experiments from easily occurring.
2. It will greatly increase the D&D costs and extend the D&D timeline, which would be good for the local economy.

My guess is that management will use Pu as the last desperate experimental series. The last best hope.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that management will use Pu as the last desperate experimental series. The last best hope.

May 25, 2014 at 7:28 AM

And therefore, officially it will be a resounding success. There will be unbearably pressure on the scientists involved to overplay the results, because it cannot fail. This pattern has played out many times at the labs.

Anonymous said...

Funny how it is LLNL that brought itself willfully and intentionally to this precipice. They didn't want other useful programs to take away funding from NIF. A place like that should be allowed to die off.

Anonymous said...

Too many NIF eggs in the LLNS budget basket you say?
Or did you mean other programs in the complex?

Anonymous said...

just within LLNL.

Anonymous said...

LLNL will not "die off" until LLNS loses the contract by failing significant performance metrics and NNSA puts the contract out to bid AND GETS NO TAKERS! Poof! No contractor, pensions go to PBGC, all employees get laid off, and a short-term contract is let to shut the place down. But it won't happen until LLNS is gone. Too much money to be made.

Anonymous said...

NIF is getting killed off slowly... We need to stop this. Call your local representatitive and tell them to support NIF now.

Anonymous said...

NIF should be killed off faster!

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't just that NIF ignition failed. In the process NIF management discarded so many people and impacted so many programs that it became an island of self-importance.

Anonymous said...

All funded programs become "an island of self-importance" until the funding evaporates. Then they just become an island that everyone wants to escape from.

Anonymous said...

There is a special place in Hell for NIF upper management, and Moses will be entombed in ice in the 9th circle. Went far beyond any reasonable sort of island of self importance.

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