Well Within Range of North Korean Missiles, Hawaii Turns to Cold War Air Raid Sirens

On the same day North Korea test fired its Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, which very likely has the ability to hit anywhere within the United States, state authorities in Hawaii announced plans to resume monthly tests of air raid sirens on the islands. The idea probably now seems even more reasonable and could portend something of a renaissance for the rest of the country’s crumbling civil defense infrastructure.

Shortly before noon on December 1st, 2017, Hawaii’s Statewide Outdoor Warning Siren System will go off in a test that the state government will combine with a more typical one for the Emergency Alert System. The sirens will sound a steady “Attention Alert Signal” tone for one minute, followed by another minute of a wailing “Attack Warning Signal.” A number of areas near Campbell Industrial Park on the island of Oahu will then hear a separate “whooping” sound, which, in actual emergency, would indicate a hazardous materials incident.

The Emergency Alert System test will then give residents the “all clear” on their radios and televisions. Further tests will occur every month. “There will be no exercise or drill on this day,” an official press release added about the December 2017 siren blasts, suggesting that there may be such events in the future.

According to Reuters, this is the first time these Cold War-era sirens have gone off since the 1980s. A separate report by Atlas Obscura says that Hawaii stopped testing of the systems entirely in the mid-1990s.

The video below features the sounds of wide array of different models of warning sirens and has examples of both the steady and wailing tones.

In announcing the plan on Nov. 28, 2017, Hawaii Governor David Ige said that the tests reflected a “new normal” in light of North Korea’s dramatic ballistic missile developments since the beginning of the year. In July 2017, the North Koreans demonstrated their first ever intercontinental ballistic missile (IBCM), the Hwasong-14, which experts estimated could reach Hawaii, Alaska, and California, at the very least.

“A possibility of attack today is very remote,” Ige added. “But we do believe that it’s important that we be proactive, that we plan and are prepared for every possibility moving forward.”

The U.S. military’s “Pacific Command would take about five minutes to characterize a launch, where the missile is going, which means the population would have about 15 minutes to take shelter,” Vern Miyagi, the administrator for Hawaii's own Emergency Management Agency, said at the shared press conference. “It's not much time at all, but it is enough time to give yourself a chance to survive.”

You can watch the entire press conference regarding the siren tests by Governor Ige and the other Hawaii state officials below.

This projection is based, at least in part, on the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s assessment that a single North Korean missile carrying one 150-kiloton nuclear warhead exploding over Pearl Harbor – a major military target that could be the actual focus of such a strike – would kill 18,000 people instantly and injure another 50,000 to 100,000 across a miles wide blast radius. However, this does not take into account the possibility of multiple, simultaneous or near simultaneous impacts, or that the Hwasong-15 looks like it could accommodate a much larger multi-megaton thermonuclear weapon or more than one smaller warhead.

The HS-15 is truly a monster of a missile, and its broad and blunt nose cone could eventually carry multiple warheads and decoys, or one larger nuclear device.

It is possible that U.S. military could intercept some of these incoming missiles during an actual attack. Unfortunately, as we at The War Zone have noted repeatedly, the United States’ multi-part ballistic missile defense shield has yet to prove it can reliably take out incoming threats and has never had to go up against anything approaching a real world target.

At a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September 2017, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford said that U.S. ballistic missile defenses could protect Hawaii. However, he made sure to add the caveat that his assessment was in regards to a “limited” IBCM attack and based on what the U.S. military then knew about North Korea’s capabilities. It is entirely possible his view of the situation has changed with the appearance of the Hwasong-15.

The “chance to survive” would be subject a host of other fact, as well. Hawaii’s civil defense infrastructure itself has no kept up with the continued growth of the islands’ population, leaving entire neighborhoods lacking even the limited comfort of an officially designated fallout shelter, according to CNN. Hawaiian authorities have not announced any plans to expand these facilities or add new ones to go along with the reactivation of the sirens.

Below is an old U.S. Civil Defense film about how to build your own family fallout shelter.

The state’s predicament is likely no worse than the situation across the rest of the country, either. This underscores the issues that the United States as a whole might face if it decides to reintroduce large-scale civil defense measures in light of a the potential for a North Korean nuclear attack.

After the end of the Cold War, as the threat of a nuclear conflict seemed to recede, federal, state, and local governments saw no need to maintain fallout shelters, bunkers, and other similar infrastructure. In 2006, the United States retired the old "Civil Defense" symbol and replaced it with a new "Emergency Management" logo for state and local emergency management organizations. In October 2017, Robert Blakeley, who created the official fallout shelter sign while serving with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, died at 95.

The old Cold War-era The post-2006 Emergency Management logo. Robert Blakeley iconic

Even before the Soviet Union collapsed, authorities demolished or sold off hardened facilities as advances both in early warning technology and enemy weapons rendered them obsolete. Many Americans alive today still remember dubious “duck and cover” drills that were almost certainly more of a panacea than anything else.

What money has gone into maintaining and modernizing such sites has focused largely on specialized facilities to shelter the president of the United States, their advisers, and other senior leaders in order to maintain a “continuity of government” in the event of a nuclear attack and preserve America’s ability to launch a potentially world-ending retaliatory strike. You can read about those plans in detail in The War Zone’s own extended chat with Garrett Graff, author Raven Rock: The U.S. Government's Secret Plan To Save Itself While The Rest Of Us Die.

You can watch one of the famous Cold War-era "Duck and Cover" public service announcements below.

The lack of interest in maintaining these warning systems and shelters extends to air raid sirens, which officials in many cases have left to rot and rust away. The poor state of equipment is so widespread and well known that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) official manual on “National Warning System Operations” doesn’t mince words in its instructions about how to operate the equipment.

“FEMA recognizes that there has been a reduction in the number of active siren systems throughout the warning community,” the handbook states bluntly. “However, for those communities that still operate sirens as well as other systems, the following apply to warn the public to take immediate action.”

The guide has sections detailing both the standardized attention and alert and attack warning signals that Hawaii will use in their upcoming test. In 1955, the United States government discontinued the use of a third “all clear signal.” Officials determined that nuclear fallout would make it dangerous for anyone to come out of their shelters even after the attack was over and instead recommended the use of a radio to receive further instructions.

Even in cities with sirens still in place, they may be non-functional. After 9/11, many jurisdictions went to test these systems only to find out that they had fallen into disrepair, or worse.

A badly weathered warning siren in Marshfield, Wisconsin in 2009.

“Since 9/11, a lot of cities are revisiting their old systems,” Ed Wise, an Atlanta-based funeral-home director with a side business selling and restoring sirens, told The Baltimore Sun in 2004. “A lot of times, they try to crank them up after 40 years and they just catch on fire.”

Hawaii, which is often at risk of severe natural disasters, such as typhoons and tsunamis, appears to have maintained and upgraded much of its siren infrastructure, to help alert residents in those situations. There are readily available pictures of solar-powered siren towers on Oahu and elsewhere in the state.

Depending on how the new, regular siren tests go in Hawaii, and if state officials end up adding in actual preparedness exercises or drills, other states could decide to follow suit and implement their own plans. With the Hwasong-15 out in the open, its no longer just the Hawaiian islands that are in range of North Korea's missiles.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

Trucking Industry Divided on Electronic Logging Mandate

A long-running industry battle continues over a federal requirement that commercial vehicles be equipped with electronic logging devices now less than three weeks away.

The U.S. Supreme Court in July declined to hear a challenge from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to the federal safety mandate, which is slated to take effect Dec. 18, calling for nearly all interstate commercial drivers to use ELDs to monitor hours of service.

Advocates including the American Trucking Associations said the rule is an important effort to improve safety by better ensuring compliance with hours-to-service rules that stipulate how many consecutive hours can be driven in a given period.

Opponents including the OOIDA view it as a costly regulatory burden that harms small trucking and other businesses.

On Thursday, the OOIDA voiced support for a request that the mandate be delayed by Indiana, with the state's attorney general, Curtis Hill Jr., arguing that many commercial drivers—an estimated 200,000 of whom live in Indiana—are not prepared for it.

The OOIDA, the entity that lost the bid to get the nation's highest court to review the ruling, continues its opposition amid ongoing support for the requirement by the American Trucking Association, which this week urged Congress to support the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's implementation of the new rule.

“As a committed advocate for the safe and efficient transportation of freight over America’s highways, ATA believes ELDs will improve safety by ensuring strict compliance with hours-of-service requirements,” said Collin Stewart, president of Stewart Transport, speaking on behalf of the ATA.

Federal data shows that an ELD reduced the truck crash rate by 11.7 percent and reduced hours-of-service violations by 50 percent when compared to users of paper logs.

Porsche Partners with CODE University for Digital Future

Earlier this week Porsche executives were in Silicon Valley to talk about their digital research hubs branded as Porsche Digital. The hubs allow Porsche to have centers which focus on car connectivity and the advancement of driver assist technologies. These hubs also allow Porsche to be geographically located in technological hubs, allowing them to develop new strategic partnerships more easily. Today it announced its latest partnership, this time with CODE University.

Porsche and CODE plan to launch joint projects and promote close collaboration for the purpose of exchanging knowledge. CODE University of Applied Sciences is a private university that offers degree programs in software engineering, interaction design, and product management. This will give Porsche access to a recruiting ground for fresh software engineers.

It will be great for Porsche as it will be able to gain perspective from engineers outside of the realm of automotive business. Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman of the executive board and member of the executive board for finance and IT, said “Our industry is currently undergoing its greatest upheaval in 100 years. To boost our innovative strength during this time of change, we need to be open to partnerships like the one we have established with CODE. We need the perspective of digital natives, of people who think differently and work on topics that may not have even crossed our minds.”

Inside Porsche Digital's Silicon Valley location

Obviously, the partnership is a huge victory for CODE as well, no doubt helping them to market to potential students.Thomas Bachem, founder, and chancellor of CODE said, “The digitalization of mobility is a major challenge that will change all our lives. We want our students to be part of this exciting development and use the support we have received from Porsche to shape and expand this concept first-hand through practical projects.”

This partnership no doubt was born out of the proximity of Porsche Digital’s hub to CODE’s headquarters. Both are headquartered are in Berlin, a short walk away from each other. For a gearhead going to school for coding, this is a dream come true.

Mercedes Promotes X-Class by Sponsoring UCI Mountain Bike Championship

Mercedes is branching out into pickup trucks with its new X-Class. It’s not the first time Mercedes experimented by going off-road. It's been rewarded for its more adventurous vehicles in the past with strong demand for trucks like the 4x4-Squared and G-wagons. Stepping into the world of luxury trucks shouldn’t present too much of a problem.

The luxury brand is marketing the new vehicle through partnerships like its recent venture with the Union Cycliste Internationale. Starting next year, Mercedes will become the presenting sponsor of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.

Mercedes hopes that the eye-catching promotional activities will help jump-start the arrival of the new trucks. It is planning a host of online and offline marketing initiatives in conjunction with the newly announced partnership. It's debuting the hashtag #MBWorldCup to get the word out. Also, X-Class trucks will be on hand at each event. Spectators can get VIP rides along the competition route and test drives in the pickup.

X-Class UCI Mountain Bike World Championships advertisement

Speaking on the marketing initiative Sonja Schneemann, head of marketing communications and operations Mercedes-Benz Vans said, "Mountain biking enjoys tremendous popularity around the world – both as a hobby and a professional sport. The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup takes place globally, and attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators. It is additionally broadcasted in 86 countries. As such mountain biking, and in particular the partnership with the UCI, is a perfect match for our X-Class. The X-Class is aimed at sports enthusiasts and those who live an active lifestyle. The core markets are not only Europe, but also Australia, South Africa and South America.”

She also added that the X-Class is perfect for all your off-roading needs with its ample storage for your cargo, bikes, and tents. It’s going to take some time for the X-Class to rub off on the off-road crowd. We all still remember that Lincoln Blackwood right?

Proposal to Ban Driving With Dog in Lap in Michigan

If your dog crawls into your lap while you're diving in Michigan, you may in the future have to pull over.

That's because a bill introduced in the state legislature this week would prohibit drivers in the state from driving with a dog on their lap.

Introduced by Detroit Democrat LaTanya Garrett, the measure states "an individual shall not operate a motor vehicle while a dog is sitting in his or her lap," unless the canine is there for a medical reason under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Someone violating the rule would face a $100 fine for a first offense or $200 for a two-time offender.

Lest one thinks Garrett has something against dogs, she told MLive.com that she has two dogs as pets herself. But the lawmaker said she has seen others behind the wheel with a dog in their lap and other distractions.

"It's just too much going on when a driver really needs to be focused on the road. Two seconds of being distracted can cost lives, it can be very fatal," the website quoted Garrett as saying.

The legality of driving with a dog on one's lap is not clear under current law, which prohibits the carrying of a live animal "in or upon a vehicle without providing a secure space, rack, car, crate, or cage, in which livestock may stand, and in which all other animals may stand, turn around, and lie down during transportation."

Ebisu’s Autumn Matsuri Is Drifting Heaven on Earth

There's nothing like Matsuri at Ebisu Circuit. Three times a year—spring, summer and autumn—Japan's drifting mecca leaves its gates open for 36 straight hours. While the Matsuri was always a grassroots event, it now attracts countless amateurs and pros alike from all around the world.

The Ebisu Circuit race complex is located in the mountains of Nihonmatsu and its vast facility holds a total of seven individual tracks plus two skid pads. Tracks like Kita (North Course) and Touge Course combine technical turns with tricky elevation changes, while Higashi (East Course) and Nishi (West Course) offers a wider layout for manjis and high-speed entries. The most notorious track is Drift Stadium, immortalized by Daigo Saito's "jump drift," also known as Minami South.

And unlike the firm restrictions that regulate the Sports Car Club of America, the marshals at Ebisu are shockingly lenient, you'll find fully-built pro drift cars alongside beat-up drift missiles that look like scrap metal on wheels. With hardly any barriers and a low, low price of entry, it's no surprise Ebisu has become so popular.

YouTuber Sean Alessi captured the action that went down during this year's Autumn Matsuri. And while we get a glimpse of the locals like Naoki, Suenaga and Andy Gray, we're also introduced to new faces that have come to experience Ebisu for the first time.

It's a 36-hour party at Ebisu's Drift Matsuri and there's truly nowhere else on Earth quite like it. If you're motivated to visit Ebisu and experience the Matsuri for yourself, be sure to check out the PowerVehicles website, which offers the Drift Heaven Week "vacation" packages that coordinate with the spring, summer and autumn events. For now, you can also check out Sean Alessi's Autumn Matsuri video below.

Nissan’s Newest Kicks Is Somehow Worse Than the Juke

For a few months, the Juke was rumored to be on its way out. Though Nissan has yet to confirm this in any official capacity, it has announced what seems to be the likely successor for the compact crossover, calling it the "sixth" member of its lineup (while not listing the Juke in the other five). The automaker has begun to show off its more tame offering into the market as an "adventure-ready" entry into its portfolio of other crossover utility vehicles and SUVs, but after some mulling over, it seems like there's not much to make this crossover the least bit adventurous, even toppling the Juke from its reigning spot as king of the Nissan oddities.

2017 Nissan Juke

I'll just get it out of the way ahead of time, I've never been the biggest fan of the Nissan Juke. Its styling resembles that of a bulbous frog, its rear seats seem to be made for very small people (which I am not), and the hatch appears to be large enough to transport an Ikea end-table home in just over three separate trips. But, despite my reservations, I have to admit that Nissan did a few things right when it made the Juke.

Being a crossover, Nissan surprisingly kept the manual transmission alive and kicking. You could still row through all six gears while bringing the kids to school because they missed the bus on the day of the science fair. Thanks to an optional tiny turbo under the hood, the Juke's 1.6-liter four-cylinder pumped out a surprisingly respectable and instantaneous 188 horsepower, making your trip to the grocery store an exhilarating experience. All four wheels received power from the gearbox so that you could pretend you were Ken Block while ripping sick all-wheel-drive donuts in you're development's cul-de-sac. Nissan even crammed a 600 hp VQ38DETT in a select few and called them the Juke-R. But, sadly, many Jukes were outfitted with a plethora of lackluster packages that made the car feel, well, beige.

2019 Nissan Kicks

Now, that very same beige seems to be the standard package that comes with absolutely every single Kicks. A 1.6-liter motor still sits in the engine bay of the kicks, but sadly loses much of its power due to the lack of turbocharger included with the car. An underwhelming 125 hp will be available at the press of the right foot, delivered through a soul-crushing CVT-only transmission. Nissan also removed the option for an all-wheel-drive model, delivering power only to the front wheels.

The Kicks' two slight advantages over the Juke come in the form of fuel economy and price. The CUV will reach an EPA-estimated 33 miles per gallon, a whole 4 mpg more than the Juke. Consumers can also expect MSRP to drop $2,000 on the base model, making the Kicks available for just $19,000. An interesting side-note, Nissan will also bring back some two-tone color combinations for the Kicks, something which gives us fond memories of the '90s when times were simpler, and cars had a bit more soul.

The Kicks' two-tone paint job

So with no fun factor of a manual gearbox, an all-but-lifeless engine, no all-wheel-drive to make sure the kids go to school on a snow day, and no frog-like design that made the Juke at least interesting to look at, who is Nissan marketing the Kicks to? Apparently, people who love tech, according to the automaker's press release.

We'll admit that its interior is pretty snazzy. Premium-looking stitching reaches across the dashboard, accenting its curvatures and giving a false-sense of sportiness to a flat-bottom steering wheel, similar to one found in a Volkswagen GTI. A generous 7-inch display is the main point of the technology-focused portion of the car. Its display will not only play a symphony of music that the driver chooses through a Bose sound system but will also display a full 360-degree birds-eye view (remember the Juke cam?) of the Kicks thanks to four cameras affixed to the vehicle. Nissan further boasts that it has three ways for techies to access social media, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or NissanConnect—because that's necessary to do while driving.

Nissan Kicks Interior

Compared to the Juke, the Kicks' driving experience has been simplified and the car's interior has been modernized, stuffing it full of weird quirks and features that are appealing to someone who likes that kind of stuff. A more spacious platform has been given to the occupants of the car, sacrificing uniqueness and power in the process, which to many isn't a price worth paying. The Kicks seems to be a compromise for everything, but isn't that what a crossover is supposed to be?

More importantly, I think I just became a fan of the Juke.

Mazda Team Joest Dazzles with ‘Soul Red Crystal’ RT24 Prototype

Mazda Motorsports and decorated Le Mans competitors Team Joest are geared up and floored for a fresh campaign in the International Motor Sports Association WeatherTech Sportscar series. Strenuous endurance testing at Daytona and Sebring have prepared the German outfit for its January debut at the Rolex 24, and with a crew of star drivers in tow, Joest seems ready for action. Now, after revealing a striking "soul red crystal' livery at the Los Angeles Auto Show, it looks the part of a championship-winning team that will battle with Team Penske/Acura for newcomer glory.

Dressed in deep crimson, the new Mazda prototype hopes to perform like it looks—damn fast. The driver lineup should help those efforts, too, as World Endurance Championship vets Harry Tincknell and Oliver Jarvis will compete full time for the Joest-ran team. Rene Rast and Spencer Pigot were also named as endurance drivers for the IMSA series, placing the squad in direct competition with the star power of Penske who has Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves on tap for 2018.

The No. 55 Mazda RT24-P DPi will run this redesigned livery next season after a partial program this year. The team's return to DPi racing is highly anticipated, and after years of dominating the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Audi, its new partnership with Mazda could breed a load of success.

While the car has about 60 percent of its bodywork in common with the outgoing model, a Joest representative reckons that some 60 percent of its underpinnings are new or modified for 2018. As detailed in an earlier report, the car's 600 horsepower four-cylinder engine has been tuned for reliability while also living in a much more breathable environment, hopefully proving well for the team in endurance runs like the season-opening race at Daytona.

Lewis Hamilton Weighing Option of Leaving Formula 1 After Next Season

Lewis Hamilton previously confessed that he considered retiring before this year's title fight with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel. He claimed that the F1 life had lost a bit of its zest, and after claiming another Drivers' Championship in 2017, the Mercedes pilot once again finds himself thinking about the future. In a recent interview with Motorsport, the 32-year-old Brit explained his current position, one that involves a bit of doubt and dose of reflection.

Hamilton's current role with Mercedes expands through 2018, and with an extension possibly in the works, he claims that retirement has its allures.

"It's like the weather. It's about trying to find the balance," said Hamilton. "I've currently got another year with the team and I do want to continue. But, I'm at that point where there's that question."

After October's Mexico Grand Prix, Hamilton seemed sure about his career. Riding on the heels of his fourth world title, he shot down any comparisons between himself and his former teammate, Nico Rosberg, saying he won't be leaving after being awarded the championship. But now, one month later, the downtime has suggested some highlights for the star.

"You can't come back to F1. Whatever happens, you are gonna miss it. If it's next year, if it's five years from now, you're gonna miss it when you finish." Hamilton then added, "There's a saying you stay as long as you can – I'm not quite sure about that exactly, but there is a lot of life left beyond it. There are things that I've missed in life."

In the interview, Hamilton explained that the one thing he misses the most is consistency. Having entered Formula 1 in 2007, he's had a full decade of travel and jet-setting. As he mentions, that could be enough.

"My auntie died from cancer and on her last day she said, 'I've worked every day with the plan of stopping one day and doing all these different things, and then I ran out of time.' So I'm battling with that in my mind.

"So I do live my life day-by-day and try to live it to the maximum. So that's what I'm fighting with – I want to keep racing but there are these other things I want to do. I want my cake and I want to eat it. I just want to make sure I choose the right time, but I think I will."

Pagani Will Now Perform Complete Zonda Restorations In-House

Pagani launched the radical Zonda supercar an unbelievable 18 years ago, encapturing the hearts of millennial fanboys and old-school purists in one beautiful, Italian effort. The car that placed the boutique automaker in the same talks of Ferrari and the founder's former employer, Lamborghini, has punched through an on-again-off-again production run since 1999. Now, nearly two decades after the first C12-coded Zonda left the Modena factory, Pagani is launching its own restoration program dubbed "Pagani Rinascimento".

Originally built beyond the standards of comparatively high volume supercar makers, the Zonda has evolved tremendously from its initial base that included a 388 horsepower 6.0-liter M120. Through its gradual stages of improvement, it was catered to by an increasingly close relationship between Pagani and AMG, and notably, became even faster and wilder by the end of its cycle. Company CEO Horacio Pagani vows to provide service for each Zonda model produced from its Genesis to now, claiming it as an effort of love.

"To bring back the light and the original splendor of these masterpieces is a pleasure as well as a great responsibility," said the eccentric Argentinian.

The Zonda C12 in its original form.

The company performed its first restoration two years ago on a prototype Zonda, affectionately named "La Nonna." This car was used as a tester during the automaker's early days, eventually eclipsing 1 million kilometers (620,000 miles). This sparked the idea for a full-fledged, factory-backed resto program.

As a part of this service, Pagani will open its doors to the 137 Zondas built between 1999 and today. During the build process, each subject will be treated to detailed drawings, images, and literature which will then be provided to the owner upon completion. The Italian marque will accept just one vehicle at a time to ensure quality and full focus, promoting the simple and perfectionist ethos that it has stood by since it was founded.