nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Pot pourri of the week’s nuclear and climate news

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

Climate change adds to nuclear danger, bringing Doomsday Clock closer to midnight.

Nuclear fusion - far too costly, even if they could get it to work

Marshall Islands’ case against nuclear powers unfolds at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

India:Details remain vague on nuclear deal between Obama and Narendra Modi . USA persuades India to weaken its nuclear liability law – double standards here . Nuclear risks now covered by India’s government  and Weapons proliferation standards weakened .

 USA: Efforts to reform its dysfunctional nuclear weapons complex are just not good enough.  Conflicts of intereston Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise.   USA’s nuclear utilities want ratepayers to cough up for uneconomic nuclear power plants.  Florida lawmaker wants repeal of laws allowing  nuclear power companies to get “advance money” from customers.

Cyber warfare now the goal of USA’s National Security Agency (NSA) New Edward Snowden Files Reveal Scope of NSA Plans for Cyberwarfare

Americans embracing rooftop solar : it makes sense economically

UK:    £3bn to be spent on massive Trident nuclear weapons project, without  Parliament being consulted .     tax-payer landed with the astronomic costs of Sellafield nuclear facility. Government secrecy about China’s involvement in the new £24bn Hinkley nuclear power plant.  British tax-payers to buy into the French-led new Hinkley Pointnuclear power plant consortium

In Scotland, renewable energy beats nuclear power

Iran: US Republicans out to destroy nuclear talks. Rouhani’s and Obama’s difficult path to a compromise

France: freedom of speech threatened by AREVA

Japan: Nuclear watchdog approves release into sea of groundwater near Fukushima reactors. Fukushima radioactive water clean-up is 2 months behind schedule .  Fatal accidents cause TEPCO to suspend decommissioning at Fukushima No. 1 power plant. Japanese government for now gives up its plan to begin transporting radioactive wastes tointerim storage sites

Canada’s record breaking wind energy results

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

USA persuades India to weaken its nuclear liability law – double standards here

Under pressure from GE and Westinghouse, the two American nuclear vendors hoping to sell billions of dollars worth of reactors to India, the Obama administration has demanded that Section 17(b) and Section 46 of the Indian liability law be deleted or amended.

Double standards? The irony is that American nuclear suppliers operate under a domestic liability regime that allows operators to sue them for recovery of damages in the event of an accident. That is how Metropolitan Edison, the operator of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, sued Babcock Wilcox after the infamous 1979 accident.


Modi,-Narendra-USAWhy India should say no to US demand to dilute its nuclear liability law
 The Modi government should resist pressure from Barack Obama, who landed in New Delhi on Sunday morning, to change key provisions to favour foreign supplier of reactors. Siddharth Varadarajan Scroll.in  26 Jan 15 

With the issue of nuclear liability emerging as an obstacle in the relationship between India and the US, the Modi government is under pressure to dilute the law in favour of foreign reactor suppliers. Without this, we are told, it will not be possible to operationalise the US-India nuclear agreement and provide the country with the electricity its people need.

In the event of a major nuclear accident in India, one which damages lives and property, what does the law say about how liability is to be apportioned? Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | India, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

President Obama failed his commitment to reducing nuclear weapons

Obama puppet

 

Over the next 30 years, the bill could add up to $1 trillion. Instead of spending less on nukes, we’re spending more – and a new nuclear arsenal comes at the expense of more important national security programs.

Missing a nuclear opportunity http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/230565-missing-a-nuclear-opportunity 25 Jan 15  By Will Saetren In the State of the Union address, President Obama once again failed to rekindle his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. This is inexcusable. The Cold War ended nearly 25 years ago, but the threat of nuclear annihilation remains. Preventing nuclear disaster is possible, but it requires a serious commitment from all of us – the government, private sector, and regular citizens. Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Nuclear risks covered by India’s government under new deal with USA

Insurers to offer Rs 750 cr capacity for nuclear pool; rest from govt, Standard.com  M Saraswathy  |  Mumbai  January 26, 2015

text-my-money-2Both operators and suppliers would be provided as cover against associated risks The Modi,-Narendra-USAproposed nuclear risk pool that will be set up in India will have five government-owned insurance companies (General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC), New India Assurance, Oriental India Insurance, National Insurance and United India Insurance) providing half the capacity for the Rs 1,500-crore pool. The rest will come from the central  government.

Prime Minister Narendra Mdoi in his statement at the joint press interaction with President Barack Obama of America, said the civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our (India-US) transformed relationship, demonstrating new trust…….. Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | India, politics | Leave a comment

Britain’s government broke promise not to build nuclear reactors until a waste solution found

Ill-founded hope The belief was always that science would find some way of neutralising the dangerous radioactivity, and then it could be buried as simply as any other rubbish. This hope has proved to be ill-founded.

text-wise-owlThe British government promised four years ago it would not build any more nuclear power stations until it had found a solution to this 50-year-old problem. But it has abandoned the promise

Still No Solution to Storage of High-Level Radioactive Nuclear Waste  http://ecowatch.com/2015/01/25/no-solution-radioactive-nuclear-waste/ Paul Brown, Climate News Network | January 25, 2015 A private consortium formed to deal with Europe’s most difficult nuclear waste at a site in Britain’s beautiful Lake District has been sacked by the British government because not sufficient progress has been made in making it safe.

It is the latest setback for an industry that claims nuclear power is the low-carbon answer toclimate change, but has not yet found a safe resting place for radioactive rubbish it creates when nuclear fuel and machinery reaches the end of its life.

Dealing with the waste stored at this one site at Sellafield—the largest of a dozen nuclear sites in Britain—already costs the UK taxpayer £2 billion a year, and it is expected to be at least as much as this every year for half a century.

Hundreds of people are employed to prevent the radioactivity leaking or overheating to cause a nuclear disaster, and the cost of dealing with the waste at this site alone has already risen to £70 billion.

Dangerous to humans

This extraordinary legacy of dangerous radioactive waste is present in every country that has adopted nuclear power as a form of electricity production, as well as those with nuclear weapons. No country has yet solved the problem of how to deal with waste that remains dangerous to humans for thousands of years. Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Fukushima radiation in Pacific monitored by Canadian citizen scientists

flag-canadaB.C.’s citizen scientists on alert for radiation from Japan, Vancouver Sun  BY AMY SMART, TIMES COLONIST JANUARY 25, 2015 Since October, citizen scientists have been dipping buckets into the waters of B.C.’s coast, looking for fallout from the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Japan.

At the centre of the search are two man-made isotopes, Cesium-134 and Cesium-137, which act as “fingerprints” for radiation specific to the Japan disaster. Both isotopes were released when the reactors failed in the aftermath of an earthquake and tsunami, just as they were during nuclear testing in the mid-20th century.

Cesium-137While Cesium-137 has a half-life — the time it takes for the radioactivity to fall to half its original value — of 30 years, Cesium-134’s is only two years. That means that if Cesium-134 is found in a sample, scientists can be certain it came from Fukushima.

“It’s been sufficiently long since atmospheric weapons testing last century or the Chernobyl disaster that we don’t see traces of [Cesium-134 from those sources] anymore,” said University of Victoria ocean chemist Jay Cullen. “So if we detect it in seawater or an organism, then we know that sample has been affected by Fukushima.”

The radiation is as close as 100 kilometres, with levels expected to peak over the next two years. But so far, members of the InFORM Network — citizen scientists, and representatives from academia, government and non-governmental organizations — haven’t found anything in seawater samples collected by volunteers at 14 coastal locations.

“The models of ocean circulation that the physical oceanographers have put together suggest that we are going to see it along the coast and we can expect it to arrive over the next couple of years, the heart of that contaminated plume,” said Cullen, who leads the network.

InFORM is also monitoring marine life, which can absorb radiation. The first results, from sockeye salmon and steelhead trout selected for their known migration paths, showed traces of Cesium-137, but no Cesium-134……….

John Smith, a senior research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, agrees that the health risks are likely to be “extremely low.” At its peak, the radiation in the plume is expected to be three to five becquerels per cubic metre of water. Canadian guidelines for safe drinking water impose a limit of 10,000 becquerels per cubic metre, he said.

For Smith, who began monitoring the plume’s spread in 2011, it provides a “dye test” for testing theories about ocean currents. The results will have implications for all kinds of models, including understandings of climate change, he said.

“This was a unique oceanographic event in that a large quantity of radioactivity was deposited into the ocean off Japan at a given moment in time and at a given location. It was a tremendous disaster. But it has provided an oceanographic tracer for currents that has never occurred before.”…….. www.vancouversun.com/health/citizen+scientists+alert+radiation+from+Japan/10758982/story.html

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Canada, oceans, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Weapons proliferation standards weakened in new USA-India nuclear trade deal

The Short Walk Home. How PM Modi, President Barack Obama Clinched Nuclear Deal NDTV  All India | Reported by Nidhi Razdan (with inputs from agencies) | January 25, 2015 Within hours of US President Barack Obama’s arrival in Delhi, a landmark breakthrough on nuclear trade was clinched with Prime Minister Narendra Modi……….

The agreement resolved differences over the liability of suppliers to India in the event of a nuclear accident and U.S. demands on tracking the whereabouts of material supplied to the country……..

India has offered to set up an insurance pool to indemnify companies that build reactors in the country
Buy-US-nukesagainst liability in case of a nuclear accident.

Sources say America has forfeited its demand on insistence on “flagging” or tracking the nuclear material they supply to India, required under its rules to ensure it is not being used for military purposes.  India said the demand was intrusive, especially because safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, are in place.

Nuclear commerce worth billions of dollars was meant to be the centrepiece of a new strategic relationship between the United States and India, allowing New Delhi access to nuclear technology and fuel without giving up its weapons.

But a tough liability law which was cleared by the Indian parliament in 2010 and holds equipment suppliers liable for damages for an accident had meant that billions of dollars in trade were held up by concerns over exposure to risk. The US said this is a sharp deviation from international norms that put the onus on the operator to maintain safety. For India, the law grew out of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, the world’s deadliest industrial accident, at a factory owned by U.S. multinational Union Carbide Corp, which families are still pursuing for compensation.

The law had so far effectively shut out Western companies from a huge market, as energy-starved India seeks to ramp up nuclear power generation by 13 times, and also strained U.S-Indian relations. …http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/the-short-walk-home-how-pm-modi-president-barack-obama-clinched-nuclear-deal-653481

January 26, 2015 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA’s nuclear utilities want ratepayers to cough up for uneconomic nuclear power plants

nukes-hungryAmerica’s nuclear power utilities seek big ratepayer bailouts, Daily Kos.com   by nirsnet JAN 23, 2015 
America’s nuclear power utilities are increasingly saddled with aging, uneconomic reactors. Their operating and maintenance costs are rising, and in many locations they’re no longer able to compete with low-cost natural gas and the growing use of wind and solar power.

For a year now, Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear utility, has been complaining–loudly–that at least five of its 11 Illinois reactors are uneconomic. And the nuclear giant has threatened to close some or all of these reactors if it can’t get some form of bailout (a word Exelon despises, but is nonetheless accurate). Of course, there are many who would feel much better if those threats were actually promises….

But Exelon hasn’t said what it wants Illinois to do about these threats. The utility has said it wants Illinois to institute a vague “market-based solution” to Exelon’s economic problems. Last year, Exelon floated the idea that it needs some $580 million/year in additional revenue to make up for its nuclear fleet’s losses. The utility did get the legislature last year to order state agencies to produce a report that Exelon hoped would provide backing for its position. But that report didn’t exactly do what Exelon wanted. Instead, it found that Illinois could easily handle the threatened reactor shutdowns; that if they occurred, it might bolster clean energy development in the state; and that bailing out Exelon would be expensive.

Why Exelon hasn’t articulated what it wants is obvious: it knows that when it puts down real numbers for the subsidies it seeks, then people will be able to figure out what a bailout may cost. Even the “market-based solution” Exelon wants, which is utility-speak for a means of hiding the costs, will have to have numbers attached to be meaningful………..

Exelon doesn’t appear to be gaining any new friends. Even the Chicago Sun-Times editorialized on the issue, beginning its piece: “The people of Illinois got a bit of good news Wednesday when a report by several state agencies essentially said nobody should rush in with baskets of cash to rescue Exelon’s fleet of nuclear power plants.” The paper said the legislature should “be in no hurry to play along” with Exelon.

NRG Energy, one of Exelon’s major competitors in the state, was even less charitable, saying in a statement to Midwest Energy News,

These reports demonstrate that the economic situation for multiple nuclear facilities is more manageable than originally thought. The report finds that the retirements of the Illinois nuclear fleet won’t cause reliability problems with the state’s electric supply, except under extreme scenarios never before seen in US energy markets. In addition, short-term job losses could be replaced with increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

    In any event, any subsidy to these plants, already paid for many times over, is unnecessary and could easily cost more than the rate increase costs of nuclear plant retirements. Allowing the market to work, which means no “subsidy legislation,” will save ratepayers more than $120 million per year and create almost 10,000 new Illinois jobs between now and 2020.

……….In New York, meanwhile, Exelon is looking for another ratepayer bailout: this one for its antiquated Ginna reactor,  which it says has lost $100 million over the past three years. Exelon wants the NY Public Service Commission to approve a new above-market power purchase contract with Rochester Gas & Electric that would cost ratepayers more than $200/year each. RG&E at first appeared willing to do so, but is now looking at other possible alternatives that would lead to Ginna’s shutdown…..

For its part, the second-largest nuclear utility, Entergy, already closed its uneconomic Vermont Yankee reactor. Its Pilgrim reactor in Massachusetts is also teetering on the edge of viability; Entergy’s solution so far is similar to one of Exelon’s ideas: get Pilgrim included in the state’s new Clean Energy Standard. As in Illinois, this wouldn’t lead to any new carbon reductions, but would serve to prevent investment in new, genuinely clean energy technologies. So far, Massachusetts has held firm in its view that no existing power plants, including Pilgrim, should be included in the new standard, but with a new Republican governor that stance could change. The state will hold public hearings on its standard in March.

Ohio’s FirstEnergy can be added to the list of bailout seekers. It is seeking subsidies that the Ohio Consumers Counsel puts at $3 Billion to keep its Davis-Besse reactor and some old, decrepit coal plants operating.

The portion for Davis-Besse alone is at least $171 million/year and NIRS estimates that the actual price tag may be $225 million/year above the market rate for electricity.

Ohioans are not happy with the prospect of such rate increases. As the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported Wednesday, some 200 people crammed into a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) hearing in Cleveland  “to vent rage about the company’s latest rate proposal, and at times, its actions over the last decade.”

As is the case elsewhere, some of FirstEnergy’s power plants, especially the Davis-Besse reactor and the Sammis coal plant, can’t compete with lower cost natural gas and wind power. Since FirstEnergy doesn’t own those gas and wind plants, it wants ratepayers to pay the much higher costs of keeping Davis-Besse and Sammis open……..

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/23/1359730/-America-s-nuclear-power-utilities-seek-big-ratepayer-bailouts#

January 26, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Details remain vague on nuclear deal between Obam and Narendra Modi

Obama and Modi agree to limit US liability in case of nuclear disaster, Guardian,  in Delhi @RobertsDan 26 Jan 15 Decision set to lead to contracts worth billions of dollars but hopes for a US-China-style air pollution deal are dashed. US industrial interests took centre-stage at the start of Barack Obama’s visit to India as he and the prime minister, Narendra Modi, outlined a deal to limit the legal liability of US suppliers in the event of a nuclear power plant catastrophe.
Modi,-Narendra-USA

Thirty years after an infamous chemical leak killed thousands at Union Carbide’s factory in Bhopal, the threat of tough Indian compensation laws has frustrated US hopes of an export boom in the energy sector – despite an agreement by former US president George W Bush to share civil nuclear technology in 2005.

After pressure from US diplomats, the Indian government was thought to have agreed a state-backed insurance scheme that would cap the exposure of nuclear suppliers and open the door to billions of dollars of new contracts. India will also allow closer tracking of spent fuel to limit the risk of it falling into terrorist hands.

“Today we achieved a breakthrough understanding on two issues that were holding up our civil nuclear cooperation,” Obama said on Sunday………

Details of the deal remain vague, however, and officials stressed they were still working out the finer arrangements of the scheme, which is designed to avoid the need to change Indian law……….

The two governments also said they had struck deals to share defence technology and improve dialogue in future, with a security hotline between Obama and Modi……….

“Nuclear liability remains the cinder in the eye of the relationship right now,” Rick Rossow, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said in Washington last week. “Nuclear cooperation was the high-water mark for our bilateral history and the fact that India’s nuclear liability law precludes American involvement, it stings.”

US suggestions of full legal indemnity for suppliers were knocked by the Indian government, which is wary of trying to overturn a 2010 nuclear liability law in parliament……. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/25/obama-modi-limit-us-liability-nuclear-disaster

January 26, 2015 Posted by | India, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Fukiashima radioactive water clean-up is 2 months behind schedule

Fukushima-water-tanks,-workFukushima Watch: Tepco Two Months Behind on Cleaning Tainted Water http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/01/26/fukushima-watch-tepco-two-months-behind-on-cleaning-tainted-water/ By MARI IWATA Tokyo Electric Power Co. says it will need an additional two months to process all the highly contaminated water in storage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The power company previously said it would clean all the water by the end of March. A Tepco spokesman said Friday that the process had been slowed down by the need for workers to frequently clean the filters of the water processing system. He also said the system needed more initial adjustments than first expected when it came into use.

Tepco plans to give a more detailed outline of the water processing schedule in March, the spokesman said.

A large amount of groundwater keeps flowing underneath the reactors, creating about 300 to 400 tons a day of highly contaminated water. The water has been stored in about 1,000 tanks set up at the site.Tepco has been processing the water to remove most of the radioactive materials to reduce the contamination to a low level. The system is unable to remove tritium, a less harmful material.

The company now says it won’t finish processing the stored water until May. After that it will have sufficient capacity to deal with the daily inflows of groundwater.

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment

India’s solar plants above canals save water

INDIA BUILDS SOLAR PLANTS ATOP CANALS TO SAVE LAND, WATER. https://jpratt27.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/india-builds-solar-plants-atop-canals-to-save-land-water/As India moves to ramp up investment in solar power, it is exploring innovative places to install solar plants, including across the top of canals.

Last weekend, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon inaugurated a new “canal-top” solar energy plant in Vadodara district in India’s western state of Gujarat. “I saw more than glittering panels – I saw the future of India and the future of our world,” said Ban. “I saw India’s bright creativity, ingenuity and cutting-edge technology.”

solar-canal-India

Experts identify two major advantages in building solar plants atop canals: efficient and cheap land use, and reduced water evaporation from the channels underneath. business-standard.com

January 26, 2015 Posted by | India, renewable, water | Leave a comment

Prime Minister Narendra Modi supports climate action, ready for big expanse in renewable energy

We very much support India’s ambitious goal for solar energy and stand ready to speed this advancement with additional financing,” Obama said during the news conference at Hyderabad House.

flag-indiaModi Shifts on Climate Change With India Renewables Goal, Bloomberg  By Reed Landberg and Natalie Obiko Pearson  Jan 26, 2015    Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is ready to expand its use of renewable energy as a way to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, a signal that his government is moving toward joining an international deal on global warming.

After a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in New Delhi, the prime minister said that his nation along with all others has an obligation to act on reducing the fossil-fuel emissions blamed for damaging the climate.

The remarks represent a shift in India’s tone on global warming………….

Environmental groups led by the World Resources Institute in Washington said Modi appeared to be moving toward a nationwide goal on renewables, expanding its current program of reaching 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022.

“This announcement builds on the recent progress on climate made between the U.S. and China,” Continue reading

January 26, 2015 Posted by | climate change, India, renewable | Leave a comment

Fatal accidents cause TEPCO to suspend decommissioning at Fukushima No. 1 power plant

Tepco suspends Fukushima No. 1 cleanup to probe fatal accidents Japan Times STAFF WRITER JAN 23, 2015 Tokyo Electric Power Co. has said it will suspend decommissioning work at the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 power plant until it completes safety checks related to two fatal accidents at its facilities in the prefecture this week……http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/01/23/national/tepco-suspends-fukushima-no-1-cleanup-to-probe-fatal-accidents/#.VMWMHtKUcnm

January 26, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

In today’s political climate a nuclear weapons near-miss could bring armageddon

atomic-bomb-lHow a nuclear near-miss in ’95 would be a disaster today Twenty years ago, a string of coincidences nearly set off a US-Russia nuclear crisis, but calmer heads prevailed. The risk is much higher today By Theodore Postol Boston Globe   JANUARY 25, 2015   ON JAN. 25, 1995 — 20 years ago today — the launch of a lone scientific rocket from a small island off the northwest coast of Norway set off Russia’s nuclear attack early warning system.

As the rocket took off, it initially passed above the horizon of the curved earth into the field of view of Russian radar. After the motor shut down, the rocket then coasted to higher altitudes — into the middle of the major attack corridor between the US intercontinental ballistic missile fields at Grand Forks, N.D., and Moscow. Unknown to the scientists who launched it, one of the rocket’s stages finished its powered flight at an altitude and speed comparable to that expected from a Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile. This combination of events exactly fit the template of an attack scenario under which nuclear weapons are intentionally exploded at high altitudes so as to blind early warning radars before a major bombardment of Russian nuclear forces.

The most immediate explanation for what went wrong that day appears to be serious shortfalls in the Russians’ detection apparatus. But the underlying root cause stems from Russian paranoia. Fears created and bolstered by the relentless, obsessive — and ongoing — American nuclear force modernization program. This initiative was, and remains today, heavily focused on increasing the killing power of each deployed US nuclear warhead, producing and reaffirming concerns by Russian military analysts and leaders that the United States might truly be preparing to fight and win a nuclear war against Russia.

What happened after these initially ambiguous events has been a source of extensive speculation in the West. Fortunately, political tensions between Russia and the United States and Europe at the time of the incident were very low, but it is known that the alarm caused Russia’s then leader, Boris Yeltsin, to be called and kept closely informed by the Russian military leadership while the rocket was tracked until it reached and passed its maximum altitude of 1,400 kilometers.

Today the situation is far more dangerous……….. In the different political circumstances of 2015, the same cautious assessment of the rocket’s trajectory by Russia’s political and military leaders might not be possible……..

Both sides need to be very careful. While the United States cannot control what the Russians do, it can act so as to make foolish decisions on their part — and on ours — less likely. Three ways to achieve this end are worthy of consideration……..https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/01/25/how-nuclear-near-miss-would-disaster-today/TG4nhiUzPyFtcV0QGybj6J/story.html

January 26, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA propaganda system destroys democracy

media-propagandaHOW PROPAGANDA CONQUERS DEMOCRACY, bigOfeature  Nicolas JS Davies January 25, 2015 In recent decades, the US propaganda system has grown more and more sophisticated in the art of “perception management,” now enlisting not only government PR specialists but careerist journalists and aspiring bloggers to push deceptions on the public. By Nicolas JS Davies.

Do we live in a country where citizens are critically informed on the issues of the day by media that operate independently of the government? Or do our political leaders deliberately plant a false view of events and issues in the mind of the public that complicit media then broadcast and amplify to generate public consent for government policy?

This is a basic test of democracy for the citizens of any country. But the very nature of modern propaganda systems is that they masquerade as independent while functioning as the opposite, so the question is not as straightforward as it seems.

In Democracy Incorporated; Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, political scientist Sheldon Wolin examined how America’s “managed democracy” has devolved into “inverted totalitarianism,” concentrating power and wealth in the hands of a small ruling class more efficiently and sustainably than 20th Century “classical totalitarianism” ever succeeded in doing.

Instead of sweeping away the structures of constitutional government like the Fascists, Nazis or Soviets, this “political coming-of-age of corporate power” has more cleverly preserved and co-opted nominally democratic institutions and adapted them to its own purposes.

Self-serving politicians and parties compete for funding in election campaigns run by the advertising industry, to give political investors the most corrupt President, administration and Congress that money can buy, while courts uphold new corporate and plutocratic political rights to ward off challenges to the closed circle of wealth and political power.

Oligarchic corporate control of the media is a critical element in this dystopian system. Under the genius of inverted totalitarianism, a confluence of corrupt interests has built a more effective and durable propaganda system than direct government control has ever achieved.

The editor or media executive who amplifies government and corporate propaganda and suppresses alternative narratives is not generally doing so on orders from the government, but in the interest of his own career, his company’s success in the corporate oligarchy or “marketplace,” and his responsibility not to provide a platform for radical or “irrelevant” ideas.

In this context, a common pattern in five recent cases illustrates how the U.S. government and media systematically deceive the public on critical foreign policy issues, to generate public hostility toward foreign governments and to suppress domestic opposition to economic sanctions and to the threat and use of military force.

1. Non-Existent WMDs in Iraq. ……..

Calling out foreign nations on weak evidence is an essential core element of US propaganda strategy. US officials quickly and loudly establish the narrative they want the public to believe, and leave it to the echo chamber of the complicit US media system to do the rest.

2. Non-Existent WMDs in Iran. …….

US officials believe they can win a global propaganda war, much as they think they won the Cold War. But they seem to be losing the global struggle for hearts and minds… As the lies that clothe our emperor and our empire become ever more transparent, Americans are inevitably growing more skeptical than ever of politicians and the media.

3. Sarin Attack at Ghouta in Syria. ……
4. Who shot down Malaysian Airlines MH 17? ………
Note: Nicolas JS Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. Davies also wrote the chapter on “Obama At War” for the book, Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader. The above article was posted at Information Clearing House.     http://bigozine2.com/feature/

January 26, 2015 Posted by | media, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 920 other followers