The blast in West, Texas produced a yield equivalent to about a kiloton of TNT. They know this by measuring the size of the mushroom cloud. You see they did so many open air nuke tests in the 40s and 50s that there is actually a formula for this. The amount of anhydrous (dry) ammonia gas in the tanks was enough to yield 1.2 kilotons if it was all consumed in the blast. This was 1350 times what was allowed by Federal regulations, but since the Reagan Administration it's been up to the states to enforce these sort of work place rules. We don't know yet if the massive amount of ammonia nitrate also stored on the sight played any roll in the blast, it's an oxidizer and won't explode unless mixed with fuel oil.
Texas doesn't like to interfere in the rights of business. In fact there was nothing keeping the plant or something even worse from being right in the middle of town. The only zoning restriction in Texas is how close a strip club can be to a residence, church or school. Nuclear scale explosives? No problem, there's a vacant lot between the school and the nursing home, move right in, as long as your female workers keep their tops on. The thing about anhydrous ammonia is it's not particularly flammable, it burns at a lower temperature than its ignition point. The big concern for public safety is that you can use it to cook meth. That is it's safe as long as you follow the applicable regulations, funny how ignoring what the nanny state tells you tends to work out badly.
It turns out that scholarly research paper by economists Reinhart & Rogoff that the right has been using to justify austerity instead of spending money to stimulate the economy was so much BS. An econ grad student was studying the work and found a spread sheet coding error that produced completely erroneous data. When Paul Ryan stands up and says we must have austerity, go ahead and snicker or better yet, laugh out loud.
The Gold Bugs aren't giving up of course, they claim the gold market collapse was due to 'market manipulation' by the central banks who are buying all the gold, or Wall Street in cahoots with Obama (like they get along), or some unknown force (bare boobs maybe?). Now they claim that there is in fact a shortage of physical gold and dealers can't get any to sell. Seriously? Maybe the dealers just don't want to sell gold for less than they paid for it on the hopes the price will come back, and in fact the price is slowly climbing. Glenn Beck started using Boston within hours to start ginning up panic among his listeners that they needed to buy gold to protect themselves.
Tell the suckers they can't get any and they'll pay way above market. Speaking of that, bullets are the new 'gold'. People are paying four times retail for some calibers that are supposedly in short supply. This is even stupider than the gold nonsense, there has supposedly been a shortage of ammunition for five years and you don't need to mine bullets. They aren't hard to make and I'll bet you that a Congressional inquiry would discover they're not making them at anywhere near capacity, but the NRA will never allow one of those, it's not in the Second Amendment. It is in Article One, but that part of Constitution doesn't count. www.prairie2.com and Twitter @BruceEnberg