Tag Archives: Pantex

Russian cyber attack: a frightening act of aggression

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Those nasty, sinister Russians are at it again, only this time they have leveled their latest attack against this country at a target with which I have happen to have a touch of familiarity.

I used to live in and work in Amarillo, Texas, which is just a bit southwest of a massive complex where the Department of Energy stores nuclear weapons. The Pantex plant employs a lot of folks in the Texas Panhandle. It also stores thousands of nuclear warheads. The Russians reportedly hacked into DOE’s system and possibly have obtained vital information related directly to the Pantex operation.

This is frightening stuff, man. Meanwhile, what is the commander in chief — Donald John Trump — doing about it? Hmm. Let me think. Oh, I know! Not a damn thing!

He remains fixated on election results and phony allegations of fraud and illegal ballot-casting in an election that resulted in his loss to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

I used to comment on occasion while working at the Amarillo Globe-News about issues relating to Pantex. I cultivated many sources associated with the operation in Carson County. I became acquainted, too, with those associated with the Peace Farm, a site near the Pantex plant with the aim of protesting the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

Pantex is a big part of the Texas Panhandle community. So, when I hear about a Russian hack into our nuclear weapons storage operations — of which Pantex is a key player — this story hits close too close to home for comfort.

Meanwhile, it is damn time for Donald Trump to condemn in the strongest language possible the Russians for mounting this latest frontal assault on this nation’s security.

‘Giant of a man’ passes from the scene

I just got word that Amarillo, Texas, has lost one of its truly great men, a powerful — but humble — man who stood far taller than his relatively diminutive stature.

Wales Madden Jr. was 91 years of age.

Wow, this news saddens me to my core.

It is impossible to overstate the influence and impact that Wales had on the community he loved. Indeed, his legacy will be felt across the vast state.

I don’t know if the University of Texas has a “Texas Exes” godfather, but it should have been Wales Madden Jr. This man loved UT. He loved them Longhorns. He served on the University of Texas System Board of Regents. Wales remained a giant presence around the system long after he left that public office.

That’s not nearly the entirety of Wales Madden’s legacy.

He was among the pioneers of the Texas water management strategy. He served with the Texas Water Conservation Board and helped shape Texas water policy for decades.

He rubbed shoulders with politicians, but mainly with Republicans. He was a dedicated member of the Grand Old Party. In the picture I have posted with this blog entry you can see Wales in the company of Ronald W. Reagan.

However, he also teamed with individuals associated with the other political party. I remember a particular friendship he had with the late Jerome Johnson, another lawyer of significant renown in Amarillo. Madden and Johnson worked together to lobby the Department of Energy to install an office in Amarillo that sought to research effective disposal of plutonium, a byproduct of the massive Pantex nuclear weapons storage and assembly plant northeast of Amarillo. Both men used to joke about how a dedicated Democrat could work with an equally dedicated Republican for a common purpose.

His friendships covered the huge spectrum of political and socio-economic interests. His kindness was legendary and I was a recipient over many years of this gentle man’s good cheer.

In early 1995 I made the move from Beaumont to Amarillo to become the editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. A dear friend of mine who grew up in Amarillo, but who had moved on to a lengthy career in journalism, offered this piece of advice: Get close to Wales Madden, he said. My friend described Wales as a “gray eminence” who was one of the community’s wisest men.

I did what my friend suggested. Wales and I became friends. I grew to respect this man greatly.

Amarillo is full of fine men and women who contribute mightily to the community’s well-being. Few of them have quite the impact that Wales Madden Jr. delivered through his many years of dedication to the community he loved with all of his gigantic heart.

Thornberry to head armed forces panel

It’s official: Mac Thornberry is going to become the next chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

They’re cheering at three key locations in Thornberry’s sprawling 13th Congressional District in Texas: at the Bell/Textron and the Pantex operations in Amarillo and at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls.

Thornberry’s constituency includes those enormously important operations.

Here’s the question: Is the veteran Texas Panhandle congressman going to protect these operations from possible budget cuts at the expense of other equally important defense-related projects?

I pose the question because for the two decades Thornberry has served in Congress, he’s been ensconced comfortably and quietly on the back bench. He hasn’t made much noise about the work he does on behalf of those projects. He does so quietly and with little fanfare.

Now, though, he assumes a high-profile role as chairman of one the House’s most visible committees. He’s become the go-to guy on armed services issues. The pressure is going to be on the congressman to deliver the goods back home while listening with a fair and impartial ear to the needs of his colleagues’ districts elsewhere. There might even be colleagues on his committee who’ll be sure to push hard for spending in their districts. With limited money — relatively speaking — to go around, the House panel is going to have to husband its resources carefully.

How is Chairman Thornberry going to respond to those pressures with the eyes of the nation fixed on how he conducts himself and how he runs this congressional committee?

Good luck, Mr. Chairman.