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Daniel Ellsberg and Takashi Tanemori join Hiroshima Day protest at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory

Daniel Ellsberg speaks during a demonstration to protest nuclear weapons outside the fence of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

Daniel Ellsberg speaks during a demonstration to protest nuclear weapons outside the fence of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

Bay area activists protest nuclear weapons on 70th anniversary of atomic bomb, Contra Costa Times, 7 Aug 15 By Dan Lawton LIVERMORE — About 300 activists from a wide range of Bay Area organizations converged early Thursday on Lawrence Livermore Laboratory to protest nuclear weapons on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

 Dozens of the protesters — many of them elderly — were peacefully arrested after refusing an order by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office to disperse. According to organizers, the gathering had a dual focus: to raise awareness about the money spent on nuclear weapons research at the lab and to pay respect to the Hiroshima victims. The Aug. 6, 1945, bombing, along with the subsequent bombing of Nagasaki three days later, are credited with expediting the end of World War II.

Similar events were held across the world.

“U.S. plans to modernize the arsenal are also underway at Livermore Lab,” said Marylia Kelley, a lead organizer and executive director of Tri-Valley Cares, which was one of about 40 organizations taking part in the protest.

Kelley said a large part of the lab’s funding in the 2016 fiscal year — about 85 percent, or $1 billion — is earmarked for weapons. Those statistics are backed up by documents from the Department of Energy. She said that money is being spent on tasks such as designing new long-range warheads and other improvements to the nuclear arsenal.

The United States is prohibited from manufacturing new nuclear weapons by a nonproliferation treaty signed in 1968……

Takashi Tanemori, who was an 8-year-old boy living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped, told the crowd that he has made peace with losing his family in the bombing, as well as his eyesight.

“The greatest way to avenge your enemy is by learning how to forgive,” he said.

But Tanemori, dressed in flowing black robes and wearing sunglasses, also cautioned the crowd that the threat of nuclear weapons will be extremely hard to eradicate……

Also speaking at the event was Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower and former military contractor who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The documents were a top-secret study of U.S. strategy in Vietnam. Ellsberg was sentenced to 109 years in prison for his actions, but his conviction was eventually overturned.

Now a prominent anti-nuclear weapons activist, Ellsberg, 84, said he still remembered the “ominous feeling” he had when the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Daniel Ellsberg speaks during a demonstration to protest nuclear weapons outside the fence of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)

“The killing at Hiroshima was mass murder,” he said…….

August 7, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Israel to once again assassinate Iranian Nuclear Scientists?

murder-1flag-IsraelIsrael to Resume Assassinations of Iranian Nuclear Scientists?
In interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel, Israeli defense minister hints Israel could target Iranian scientists to halt nuclear program. Israel to Resume Assassinations of Iranian Nuclear Scientists?, Arutz Sheva, 7 Aug 15 

In interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel, Israeli defense minister hints Israel could target Iranian scientists to halt nuclear program. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has hinted Israel could resume assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists…….

Comparing the Iran deal to attempts by western Allies to appease Nazi Germany prior to World War Two, Ya’alon said historians would view the agreement as a “historic mistake” and a mere attempt to “kick the can down the road.”

And in what appeared to be a subtle threat, Ya’alon added thatIsrael “bore no responsibility for the lives of Iranian nuclear scientists,” in what appeared to be a subtle threat.

Israel is believed to be behind a series of assassinations of at least 5 top Iranian scientists involved in Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program, though it has never commented on the allegations. Most of the scientists were reportedly killed by unknown assassins placing “sticky bombs” on their cars, sometimes in audacious daylight operations.

But those assassinations – along with other covert operations including cyber attacks against Iran – have petered out in recent years, with the last known attack occurring in 2013. The halt in assassinations is believed to be a result both of direct American pressure on Israel to stop them, as well as other western states’ pivot towards detente with Tehran and away cooperating with Israel on such operations.

Ya’alon also hinted Israel could also consider airstrikes against Iranian nuclear weapons facilities as a last resort.

Analysts have long debated the viability of a unilateral Israeli strike, with many assuming such a strike to be impossible without US cooperation.

The interview follows reports that Iran is already busily “sanitizing” its Parchin military complex to hide evidence of nuclear weaponsdevelopment from nuclear inspections.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

USA nuclear weapons numbers shrink, but nuclear weapons budget balloons out

weapons1Why the US nuclear budget grows while the stockpile of warheads shrinks
Obama’s plan to modernize and replace the nuclear arsenal will soon push nuclear weapons spending to Cold War levels
 Aljazeera America, August 7, 2015  by Michael Pizzi   @michaelwpizzi & Michael Keller   @mhkeller “……… American taxpayers will soon be spending more on nuclear weapons in real dollars than they have since the end of the Cold War. In October 2013, just four months after calling for yet another one-third reduction in the stockpile, President Barack Obama announced plans to “modernize” the entire nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years, arguing that updating and replacing the so-called nuclear triad — the submarines, jets and ballistic missiles designed to deliver warheads — will help create a leaner, sleeker nuclear fleet. But leaner doesn’t mean cheaper, at least not in the short term. According to a recent study by two researchers at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Jeffrey Lewis and Jon Wolfsthal, Obama’s modernization program could carry a price tag of over $1 trillion, vaulting nuclear weapons spending relative to the overall defense budget to a level comparable to the 1980s………

Watchdog groups say the lack of transparency behind Obama’s ambitious nuclear weapons spending is worrying. Except for an unprecedented data release on the nuclear stockpile in 2010, the government doesn’t provide comprehensive budget estimates for its nuclear weapons programs. Instead, the budget for nuclear weapons spending is spread across two different departments, Defense and Energy, and it often overlaps with conventional military spending. A regular bomber, for example, can be “nuclear certified” to carry nuclear warheads, meaning that its cost might be hidden in the conventional military budget. In other cases, research and design programs for nuclear weapons modernization are classified and therefore don’t show up in spending estimates at all.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan body that tracks government spending, has projected Obama’s plans for the nuclear arsenal at $348 billion through 2024. But that time frame stops just before the modernization plan’s costs are projected to spike, in the mid-to-late-2020’s, said Lewis of the Monterey Institute. A recent study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington D.C.-based think tank that works closely with the Pentagon, found that the actual cost could total $963 billion between 2014 and 2043.

In short, the American public and even their representatives in Congress have very little idea how much these weapons will end up costing them. “If you’re a member of Congress, you can’t make informed decisions about need and affordability if you don’t know the current and projected costs of the things you’re supposed to exercise oversight over,” said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association. “Whether you think we need more or fewer or zero nuclear weapons, we ought to know from a good-government perspective how much this is going to cost.”

August 7, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear deal is supported by Jews in Iran

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranIran’s Jewish community gets behind nuclear deal with U.S.USA Today, 7 Aug 15 Reese Erlich, GlobalPost TEHRAN, Iran — Tapo, one of six kosher restaurants in Tehran, has become an informal hangout for the city’s small Jewish community. During a lunchtime rush last week customers ate savory kebabs while excitedly discussing the signing of the U.S.-Iran nuclear accord.

“There was lots of joy for us,” said Horiel, a Jewish customer who declined to give his last name. “It was not only the Jewish community that was happy. The nation was happy.”

Most Iranian Jews strongly disagree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s denunciations of the accord. Horiel said his ancestors came from Jerusalem, “but I’m an Iranian Jew. Israel will get nothing with threats and war.”

Israeli leaders and conservative politicians in the U.S. have denounced the accords as too weak, saying they’ll allow Iran to eventually develop atomic weapons.

Iranians argue that they never built a nuclear bomb and have no intention of doing so. They broadly support the accord in hopes that the U.S. will lift economic sanctions and the economy will improve.

But the agreement also lessens international tensions, says Homayoun Sameyah Najafabadi, chair of the Tehran Jewish Committee, the country’s main Jewish organization. “There was the possibility of war,” he said. “With the deal signed, it will take war off the table and bring stability to the region.”

Najafabadi said that Israel’s opposition to the accord “has no impact on the Jewish community in Iran.”…….. Jewish leaders estimate there are between 12,000 and 30,000 Jews here today, making Iran’s the second-largest Jewish population in the Middle East after Israel.

But those who have chosen to stay in Iran have a long history of opposition to hawkish Israeli governments. Many consider themselves Jews but not Zionists.

The Islamic Republic of Iran allows freedom of worship for Jews and Christians, according to Siamak Morsedegh, the Jewish representative to Iran’s parliament. He points out that unlike some other countries in the region and in Europe, Jewish templesin Iran have not been attacked.

“There (is) no need for guards in front of our synagogues,” he said………..

GlobalPost Special Correspondent Reese Erlich received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for his reporting from Iran. His latest book is “Inside Syria: The Back Story of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect.”

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Iran, Israel, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear power and nuclear weapons plans intrinsically linked

peaceful-nukeflag-UKShining a light on Britain’s nuclear state, Guardian, Phil Johnstone and  , 7 Aug 15 
Debates over Trident and energy policy are rarely joined up. But are there deeper links between Britain’s nuclear deterrent and its commitment to nuclear power? 
Two momentous issues facing David Cameron’s government concern nuclear infrastructure. The new secretary of state for energy, Amber Rudd, recentlyconfirmed her enthusiasm for what is arguably the most expensive infrastructure project in British history: the Hinkley Point C power station. At the same time, a decision is pressing on a similarly eye-watering commitment to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Ostensibly distinct, both of these issues are intensely controversialextremelyexpensiveagonisingly protracted, and often accompanied by vicious political rhetoric. Yet commentators rarely ask how these decisions might be connected. Could such links help to explain the strength of the UK’s nuclear lobby? Britain remains one of only a handful of countries committed to a “nuclear renaissance”, with senior government figures asserting the manifest falsehood that there is “no alternative” to nuclear power. Meanwhile, support for renewables and energy efficiency has been cut.

It seems that Whitehall is in denial about the widely acknowledged performance trends of nuclear power and renewables. The reality is that renewables manifestly outperform nuclear power as low carbon energy sources. Successive UK andinternational studies show they are already more competitive than nuclear. And renewables costs continue to fall. Yet after more than half a century of development (and far greater levels of cumulative public support), nuclear costs keep rising. The performance gap just keeps on growing.

Nor is there any good excuse for ignoring such overblown nuclear promises. Problems of reactor safetynuclear waste and weapons proliferation remain unsolved. Nuclear security risks are uniquely grave. With finance in question andtechnical difficulties mounting, the deteriorating prospects of the Hinkley project are the latest episode in a familiar pattern.

So why is the UK so persistent in pursuing new nuclear power? If the nuclear lobby is driving this, why have other countries with stronger nuclear industries nonetheless developed far more sceptical positions? In the case of Germany, this has meant the country with the world’s most successful nuclear industry and a less attractive renewable resource than the UK, nonetheless undertaking a wholesale shift from one to the other.


One striking factor is an apparently strong correlation between those countries most eager to construct new nuclear with those expressing a desire to maintain nuclear weapons. But care is needed before jumping to conclusions. Historically,links between enthusiasms for nuclear power and nuclear weapons are well-explored. Almost all the attention here has focused on possibilities for diverting nuclear weapons materials like highly enriched uranium and plutonium. These connections were crucial in early nuclear developments, and remain so in contemporary proliferation threatsBut it is highly doubtful they explain the UK situation. An elaborate global nuclear safeguards regime introduces formidable barriers. And the UK has since the end of the Cold War maintained enormous gluts of key weapons materials………

the links between UK civilian nuclear power and military interests in nuclear submarines run deep. What is remarkable is the complete lack of discussion these provoke in the media, public policy documents, or wider critical debate. Yet the stakes are very high. Does the commitment to a submarine based nuclear deterrent help to explain the intensity of high-level UK support for costly, risky and slow nuclear power, rather than cheaper, quicker and cleaner renewable technologies?

If so, the conclusions are not self-evident. For some supporters of a nuclear deterrent, the additional burdens of nuclear power may seem entirely reasonable. But the almost total silence on these connections raises crucial implications for democracy. Imminent decisions that the government must take over nuclear power and the nuclear deterrent are hugely significant. There is a responsibility on all involved to be open and accountable. Otherwise, it will not just be electricity consumers and taxpayers that pay the price, but British democracy itself.

Phil Johnstone is a research fellow and Andy Stirling is a professor of science and technology policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK government just quietly funding Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

text-SMRsUK invests in advanced nuclear fuel research, World Nuclear News, 7 Aug 15  “……The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has awarded £1.5 million ($2.3 million) to the NNL and £1.0 million ($1.6 million) to the University of Manchester to fund new capital equipment for nuclear fuel and manufacturing research……..

NNL said that fuels are being developed with the aim of not only enhancing safety performance, but also to improve the economics and efficiency of existing and future reactors, including some designs of small modular reactors. …..
Work on nuclear fuels research and development is carried out through the Nuclear Fuel Centre of Excellence (NFCE), launched jointly by the University of Manchester and NNL last October. Access to the new equipment will also be available to researchers from outside the NNL through funded research programs facilitated by the NFCE.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Thousands hospitalised as Tokyo experiences record heat wave

Japan in Hot Water — Longest Heatwave on Record for Tokyo, Tens of Thousands Hospitalized

This morning, at 10:53 AM local time in Tokyo, the temperature was a sweltering 95.2 F (35.1 C) and climbing

For six days running thermometers in that city have been above 95 degrees F (35 C). That’sthe longest unbroken string of 95 degree + highs Japan’s capital has experienced since record-keeping began 140 years ago in 1875. In other words, parts of Japan are experiencing never-seen-before heat.

All told, recent days have seen fully 25 percent of Japan’s cities and towns hit temperatures above 95 F. It’s a heat that sinks bone deep. That gets into the blood. That makes it hard to keep going outdoors. A heat that causes injury and, sometimes, death. And over this summermore than 35,000 people have been hospitalized throughout Japan due to heat injury. Of those, more than 850 have remained hospitalized for three weeks or more. And from this grim tally 55 have now lost their lives.

Hot Ocean Waters Breed Heat Domes

The record hot air temperatures have come on due to a combination of factors. First, the ocean around Japan is abnormally warm. Recently, near-Japan sea surface temperatures have ranged from 2-5 degrees Celsius above established averages. That’s excessively hot water, especially when one considers that El Nino will typically draw the warm waters south and eastward. But this year is not at all typical with unusual-to-record heat now ranging much of the Pacific Ocean basin.

(Extreme sea surface temperatures and a heat dome high pressure system are setting the stage for record heatwaves and tragic heat injuries in Japan. Ocean temperatures in the region have ranged up to 5-6 C above average for this time of year. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Near Japan, the added ocean warmth lends both heat and humidity to the air about the archipelago land mass. A combination that can push wet bulb readings into ranges that are ever more difficult for human bodies to manage.

Concordant with the exceptionally hot waters surrounding Japan is a heavy heat dome high pressure system dominating the atmosphere above it. This heat dome, as with many weather systems under the regime of human-caused climate change, has been doggedly persistent. Setting up an excessively long-lasting period of record heat that has now continued off and on for weeks.

Multiple Heatwave Mass Casualty Events for Record Hot 2015

Japan joins India, Pakistan, and the Persian Gulf Region as locations experiencing heat capable of producing mass casualty events this year. In India, more than 3,000 lost their lives due to high heat and humidity during late May and early June. In Pakistan, more than 1,500 died due to the heat even as hospitals were overwhelmed by related injuries. And in Iran last week, wet bulb temperatures rocketed to a stunning 34.7 C.

Under human-forced climate change it’s a sad fact that heatwaves proliferate. We are now four times more likely to experience a heatwave on any part of the globe than we were back during the 1880s. Before our fossil fuel burning warmed the global climate by 1 degree Celsius. And as maximum temperatures and humidity push toward and past the wet bulb limit of 35 C, we are unfortunately likely to see more and more of these heatwave mass casualty events.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | climate change, Japan | Leave a comment

The essence of the Iran nuclear deal

Breaking Down The Iran Nuclear Deal: Here’s What You Need To Know  ELIZABETH KIEFERIt’s been a busy week in Washington, between the fight for women’s healthcare and ramping up to the first GOP debate. In the midst of it all, discussions about the Obama administration’s Iran Nuclear Deal have continued to unfold. Wednesday, the president gave a speech addressing critics of the controversial agreement.

“The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war,” he said. “Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.” He also asked the audience of 200 at American University how this nation can justify going to war without first taking a stab at a diplomatic deal.

It’s a good question. There is no simple answer. The basic facts of the deal are these: The U.S. wants to curb Iran’s access to uranium and plutonium — decreasing the country’s supply by 98% over time — so that eventually, it would take an entire year to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon. In return, the U.S. would make its own concessions, including sanctions relief.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been slow to publicly warm to any kind of deal with Iran, though the right has been especially incensed. “This deal paves the way to Iran getting the bomb and gives $150 [billion] to the mullahs. That’s not leadership,” Jeb Bush wrote on Twitter yesterday. Republicans, led by Rep. Ed Royce, went so far as to introduce a disapproval resolution — which many high-profile members of his party have hopped on board.

Democrats are coming around. Today, Kirsten Gillibrand announced her support and clarified her reasoning in a lengthy post on Medium. Since 2010, the New York senator has pushed for sanctions against Iran and checks on its spiraling nuclear program. “The Iranian regime with a nuclear weapon posed — then and now — an existential threat to the State of Israel and dangerously threatens our own national security interests,” she wrote. “Bottom line: Iran possessing a nuclear weapon would be a game-changing event that cannot and will not be allowed. That was true then — and it remains true today.”

The president has admitted that that an Iran Nuclear Deal has the potential to monetarily benefit terrorist groups. He has admitted that it’s an imperfect plan. But what he has also said — and what other politicians who favor the deal, including Gillibrand, have acknowledged — is that, right now, it’s the best we have.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Dead dolphins near Fukushima show sign of radiation poisoning

Japanese scientists find signs of radiation poisoning in 17 dead dolphins near Fukushima,  by David Gutierrez  The Watcher on August 06, 2015 Seventeen dolphins found mysteriously beached near the site of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have died from radiation-induced heart damage, a scientific analysis has suggested…….

White lungs a sign of radiation poisoning?

In April 2015, scientists from Japan’s National Science Museum conducted autopsies on the beached dolphins. They found that nearly all of them had lungs that were entirely white, indicating a condition known as ischemia – that is, loss of blood to the organs. The animals’ internal organs showed no signs of infection or any other disease.

“I have never seen such a state,” the chief researcher said.

While the researchers did not draw the connection themselves, ischemia is a well known symptom of radiation poisoning. In particular, studies have shown that small doses of radiation over time can produce ischemic heart disease (IHD). Higher rates of IHD have been observed among workers at the Mayak nuclear facility in Russia, with a higher risk among those exposed to greater levels of gamma radiation. Increases in IHD rates were also observed among emergency workers who responded to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, as well as among residents exposed to radioactive fallout from the disaster. In the latter case, rates of IHD had increased by two to four times by 1988………

Some Pacific nations are certainly taking the possibility seriously. In 2011, nineteen Pacific states launched a study into the possible impacts of radioactive releases from Fukushima on the Asia-Pacific region specifically and the Pacific Ocean more generally.

The United States did not participate in the study.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

This Week: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Nuclear News

GLOBAL:  Independent assessment of the state of the nuclear industry. Bleak outlook for Generation IV nuclear reactors, as Generation III look like failing.  Nuclear lobby promotes a new ‘health disorder’ – radiophobia.


  • The psychological effects of Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.  The internet is awash with articles about this. I am sure that it is true – that the mental and stress effects are huge, and taking a huge toll on health. My problem is – that the nuclear lobby is using this fact to propagandise their idea that ionising radiation is not harmful to the body.
  •  Sickness and death of marine animals. The Internet is also awash with this, and many are naming Fukushima ionising radiation as the cause. And it might be. But there are other possible causes – such as the direct and indirect effects of ocean warming, and other climate change features. We need to scrutinise these news items, with a sceptical eye.)

HIROSHIMA. Commemorative events around the world. And let us not forget Nagaskai’s experience of nuclear bombing. Every year, thousands of Hiroshima survivors treated for radiation-induced illnesses. Japan’s nuclear bombing survivors speak out against nuclear power

CLIMATE CHANGE: Climate change brings increasing dangers and costs to nuclear stations  The nightmares of climate change are already upon us. Ecomigration happening as climate change already submerging islands.

JAPANProblems ahead, if Japan restarts mothballed nuclear reactors. Judicial review panel votes to indict ex-Tepco executives. Nuclear watchdog proposes raising maximum radiation dose to 250 millisieverts. Japan’s Abe Government Risks Fukushima Victims’ Lives with “Forced Return” to Contaminated Areas.

Fukushima: Damaged fuel rod containers, suspicious death at Fukushima nuclear plant. TEPCO exploits homeless, mentally disabled men, in Fukushima nuclear clean-up. Discharge Canal Contamination Rising in Fukushima Daiichi. Fukushima buildings sinking — Structures decaying, getting more unstable. China sends back infant milk formula to Fukushima.

USA: Obama props up a failing nuclear industry, with nuclear energy a centerpiece of his climate push!  New nuclear reactor technologies benefit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The  Plan does not support existing nuclear reactors. USA government makes rules on ionising radiation in water more lax. Will USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission allow the nuclear lobby to set radiation standards?   Postponed indefinitely – the opening of U.S. government’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Hundreds Flee California Wildfires as Governor Declares State of Emergency. $10 billion bonanza to save Exelon nuclear plants in Illinois? Problem for Modular Nuclear Reactors – they’re just as costly as the old ones

UK: Top bank advises UK government to delay or cancel Hinkley nuclear project. Bradwell: Handing Future UK nuclear Infrastructure to the Chinese.  Labor leader candidate Jeremy Corbyn sets out plans for UK nuclear disarmament.

FRANCE: The end of the line for AREVA’s model of “birth to grave” nuclear processes. €7bn needed to keep loss-making nuclear company AREVA alive.

FINLAND: Fennovoima the last hurrah for nuclear industry in Finland.

SPAIN: Dispute in Spain about where to put radioactive trash.

SOUTH AFRICA:  facing a R1-trillion nuclear financial disaster.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

The atomic bombing of Nagasaki, and its aftermath – theme for this week

Entering the nuclear age, body by body — the Nagasaki experience, Asia Times, BY  on AUGUST 6, 2015   (From

By Susan Southard  [This essay has been adapted from chapters 1 and 2 of Susan Southard’s new book Nagasaki Life After Nuclear War
Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, with the kind permission of Viking.] “…….The five-ton plutonium bomb plunged toward the city at 614 miles per hour. Forty-seven seconds later, a powerful implosion forced its plutonium core to compress from the size of a grapefruit to the size of a tennis ball, generating a nearly instantaneous chain reaction of nuclear fission. With colossal force and energy, the bomb detonated a third of a mile above the Urakami Valley and its 30,000 residents and workers, a mile and a half north of the intended target. At 11:02 a.m., a superbrilliant flash lit up the sky — visible from as far away as Omura Naval Hospital more than 10 miles over the mountains — followed by a thunderous explosion equal to the power of 21,000 tons of TNT. The entire city convulsed.

At its burst point, the center of the explosion reached temperatures higher than at the center of the sun, and the velocity of its shock wave exceeded the speed of sound. A tenth of a millisecond later, all of the materials that had made up the bomb converted into an ionized gas, and electromagnetic waves were released into the air. The thermal heat of the bomb ignited a fireball with an internal temperature of over 540,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Within one second, the blazing fireball expanded from 52 feet to its maximum size of 750 feet in diameter. Within three seconds, the ground below reached an estimated 5,400 to 7,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Directly beneath the bomb, infrared heat rays instantly carbonized human and animal flesh and vaporized internal organs.

As the atomic cloud billowed two miles overhead and eclipsed the sun, the bomb’s vertical blast pressure crushed much of the Urakami Valley. Horizontal blast winds tore through the region at two and a half times the speed of a category five hurricane, pulverizing buildings, trees, plants, animals, and thousands of men, women, and children. In every direction, people were blown out of their shelters, houses, factories, schools, and hospital beds; catapulted against walls; or flattened beneath collapsed buildings.

Those working in the fields, riding streetcars, and standing in line at city ration stations were blown off their feet or hit by plummeting debris and pressed to the scalding earth. An iron bridge moved 28 inches downstream. As their buildings began to implode, patients and staff jumped out of the windows of Nagasaki Medical College Hospital, and mobilized high school girls leaped from the third story of Shiroyama Elementary School, a half mile from the blast.

Nagasaki victimThe blazing heat melted iron and other metals, scorched bricks and concrete Nagasaki-drawing-1
buildings, ignited clothing, disintegrated vegetation, and caused severe and fatal flash burns on people’s exposed faces and bodies. A mile from the detonation, the blast force caused nine-inch brick walls to crack, and glass fragments bulleted into people’s arms, legs, backs, and faces, often puncturing their muscles and organs. Two miles away, thousands of people suffering flesh burns from the extreme heat lay trapped beneath partially demolished buildings.

At distances up to five miles, wood and glass splinters pierced through people’s clothing and ripped into their flesh. Windows shattered as far as eleven miles away. Larger doses of radiation than any human had ever received penetrated deeply into the bodies of people and animals. The ascending fireball suctioned massive amounts of thick dust and debris into its churning stem. A deafening roar erupted as buildings throughout the city shuddered and crashed to the ground……

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | 1 Comment

70 years on, the nuclear threat looms as large as ever

Ban the bomb: 70 years on, the nuclear threat looms as large as ever, The Conversation, Associate Professor, International Education and Learning Unit, Nossal Institute for Global Health, School of Population and Global Health at University of Melbourne August 6, 2015 “……..The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Hiroshima best photo copy

Rumours had been circulating in Hiroshima that the city was being saved for something special. It was. The burst of ionising radiation, blast, heat and subsequent firestorm that engulfed the city on August 6 killed 140,000 people by the end of 1945. Many were incinerated or dismembered instantly; others succumbed over hours, days, weeks and months from cruel combinations of traumatic injury, burns and radiation sickness.

Three days later, another B-29 carrying a bomb equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT headed for Kokura. Because of clouds blocking visibility, its cargo was dropped over Nagasaki instead, raining similar radioactive ruin and killing 90,000 people by the end of 1945.

In both cities, ground temperatures reached about 7000° Celsius. Radioactive black rain poured down after the explosions.

In both weapons, less than one kilogram of material was fissioned. The physics of the Hiroshima bomb were so simple and predictable that the bomb was not tested prior to use. The Nagasaki plutonium bomb required a more sophisticated design. A prototype was exploded at Alamogordo in New Mexico on July 16, 1945, detonated by Australian nuclear physicist Ernest Titterton.

The survivors of the two bombings bore the legacy of terrible injuries and scars on top of the cataclysmic trauma of what they witnessed. They also faced discrimination and ostracism, reduced opportunities for employment and marriage, and increased risks of cancer and chronic disease, which stalk them, even 70 years later, for the rest of their days.

Over the past 30 years I have had the privilege of visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a number of occasions. What never ceases to amaze me is the extraordinary compassion, wisdom and humbling humanity of hibakusha. Never have I heard even the slightest hint of an understandable desire for revenge or retribution.

An unfulfilled quest

The constant yearning of hibakusha is that no-one else should ever suffer as they have suffered: nuclear weapons must be removed from the face of the earth.

In the newly established United Nations, there was the same understanding. The first resolution passed at the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in London in January 1946 established a commissionto draw up a plan “for the elimination of national armaments of atomic weapons”.

Today, there is ample cause for existential despair and a poor prognosis for human custodianship of the biosphere. No nuclear disarmament negotiations are in train. Even reduced from their Cold War peak, massively bloated nuclear arsenals of 15,650 weapons jeopardise not only the living but those yet to be born.

Were one Hiroshima bomb to be detonated every two hours from the end of 1945, the global arsenal would not yet be consumed. All the nuclear-armed states continue to invest massively in development and modernisation of their arsenals. In the Conference on Disarmament, it has not been possible to agree even on an agenda for 19 years.

The five-yearly review conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the principal treaty regulating nuclear weapons and legally binding nuclear-armed states to disarm, recently ended in failure. Britain, Canada and the US (acting for Israel, not even a party to the treaty), refused to accept a March 2016 deadline for a conference, promised for 20 years, to discuss a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, conflict in Ukraine and Crimea has re-inflamed Cold War risks of armed confrontation and nuclear war between NATO and Russia.

However, there are grounds to be hopeful about decisive progress on a circuit-breaker. The first ever intergovernmental conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons have been held – three in the past two years. These have led to 113 nations signing a humanitarian pledge committing them to work to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons……..

In appealing to the 1982 UN Second Special Session on Disarmament, Hiroshima Mayor Takeshi Araki said:

Hiroshima is not merely a witness of history. Hiroshima is an endless warning for the future of humankind. If Hiroshima is ever forgotten, it is evident that the mistake will be repeated and bring human history to an end.

Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima added:

Nagasaki has to be forever the last city in the world bombed by nuclear weapons!

On the 70th anniversary of the bombings, banning nuclear weapons is long overdue. The remaining survivors should see negotiations on a ban treaty underway by the time a new year dawns.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

One living witness to the history of Hiroshima bombing survivors

Survivor Koko Kondo shares horror of Hiroshima’s ground zero by: YUKA HAYASHI The Wall Street Journal August 06, 2015 Every year, Koko Tanimoto Kondo tours her hometown carrying the tiny, tattered pink tunic she wore on the day, 70 years ago, she and her family survived the world’s first atomic bombing.On storytelling tours around the August 6 anniversary, Ms Kondo, who was eights months old when the bomb hit, tells ­students about the devastation that destroyed her home and haunted her for decades.She recalls when her American fiance abandoned her days before their wedding because his relatives thought radiation ­exposure had made her unable to bear children.

She shares the humiliation she felt as a teenager, standing naked on a stage while doctors and ­scientists scrutinised her for signs of radiation’s long-term effects on the body.

She offers tales of ordinary Americans who sent food and built homes for the victims, and continued for decades after the war to send cheques on birthdays to sons and daughters of Hiroshima connected through “moral adoption”.Ms Kondo’s father, Kiyoshi Tanimoto, was a US-educated minister at a church in Japan. When Hersey visited Hiroshima in the spring of 1946, Tanimoto shared with him a detailed ­account of the horror and chaos he witnessed. In the book, Tanimoto is described as passing by “rank on rank of the burned and bleeding”, scurrying to find water for dying victims, and removing a dead body from a rowboat to carry those who were still alive, after apologising to the dead man for doing so.

Ms Kondo and her mother were buried under the parsonage of her father’s church. Her ­mother managed to hoist her out of the rubble after chipping away at “a chink of light” that they could eventually fit through. When Tanimoto was reunited with his wife and baby, he was “so tired that nothing could surprise him”. Hersey wrote in his ­account, which first appeared in the New Yorkermagazine in ­August 1946, a year after Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the first and only cities in history to experience a nuclear bombing………..

Ms Kondo shows the visitors where her father’s church stood before it collapsed, burying her under the rubble. She takes them to the river her father crossed in a rowboat to carry victims, some grotesquely burned, to escape the devastation. They go to the Red Cross Hospital, where thousands went for refuge. Ms Kondo’s brief appearance in the book Hiroshima, by journalist John Hersey, set her on a path to become a messenger from ground zero.

August 7, 2015 Posted by | Japan, social effects, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The nightmares of climate change are already upon us

climate-changeThe Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here
The worst predicted impacts of climate change are starting to happen — and much faster than climate scientists expected,
Rolling Stone, By  August 5, 2015 Historians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan. Some snapshots: In just the past few months, record-setting heat waves in Pakistan and India each killed more than 1,000 people. In Washington state’s Olympic National Park, the rainforest caught fire for the first time in living memory. London reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest July day ever recorded in the U.K.; The Guardian briefly had to pause its live blog of the heat wave because its computer servers overheated. In California, suffering from its worst drought in a millennium, a 50-acre brush fire swelled seventyfold in a matter of hours, jumping across the I-15 freeway during rush-hour traffic. Then, a few days later, the region was pounded by intense, virtually unheard-of summer rains. Puerto Rico is under its strictest water rationing in history as a monster El Niño forms in the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifting weather patterns worldwide.

On July 20th, James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065. The authors included this chilling warning: If emissions aren’t cut, “We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.”

Eric Rignot, a climate scientist at NASA and the University of California-Irvine and a co-author on Hansen’s study, said their new research doesn’t necessarily change the worst-case scenario on sea-level rise, it just makes it much more pressing to think about and discuss, especially among world leaders. In particular, says Rignot, the new research shows a two-degree Celsius rise in global temperature — the previously agreed upon “safe” level of climate change — “would be a catastrophe for sea-level rise.”

Hansen’s new study also shows how complicated and unpredictable climate change can be. Even as global ocean temperatures rise to their highest levels in recorded history, some parts of the ocean, near where ice is melting exceptionally fast, are actually cooling, slowing ocean circulation currents and sending weather patterns into a frenzy. Sure enough, a persistently cold patch of ocean is starting to show up just south of Greenland, exactly where previous experimental predictions of a sudden surge of freshwater from melting ice expected it to be. Michael Mann, another prominent climate scientist, recently said of the unexpectedly sudden Atlantic slowdown, “This is yet another example of where observations suggest that climate model predictions may be too conservative when it comes to the pace at which certain aspects of climate change are proceeding.”

Since storm systems and jet streams in the United States and Europe partially draw their energy from the difference in ocean temperatures, the implication of one patch of ocean cooling while the rest of the ocean warms is profound. Storms will get stronger, and sea-level rise will accelerate. Scientists like Hansen only expect extreme weather to get worse in the years to come, though Mann said it was still “unclear” whether recent severe winters on the East Coast are connected to the phenomenon.

ocean-heatingAnd yet, these aren’t even the most disturbing changes happening to the Earth’s biosphere that climate scientists are discovering this year.

For that, you have to look not at the rising sea levels but to what is actually happening within the oceans themselves.

Water temperatures this year in the North Pacific have never been this high for this long over such a large area — and it is already having a profound effect on marine life………

August 7, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | , | Leave a comment

China sends back infant milk formula to Fukushima

The principle radioactive poison that is being tested for in Japanese foods is cesium-137. Unfortunately, there are also other deadly poisons that have been spewed in lesser amounts by Fukushima disaster. These include americium-241, plutonium-236, uranium-238, thorium-232 and the extremely dangerous isotope, strontium-90. All of these contaminants may also be found in food from Japan, including in baby formula.

Fukushima Baby Milk Formula Declared Unfit by China  August 5, 2015 –  BY JOHN LAFORGE Chinese authorities seized more than 881 pounds of baby milk formula that had been imported from Japan because it had been produced in areas known to be heavily contaminated with radioactive material emitted by three damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi complex. Continue reading

August 7, 2015 Posted by | children, China, Japan | Leave a comment