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Far-reaching quakes put Ehime’s atomic evacuation plans in doubt

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Protesters rally against the restart of the Ikata nuclear power plant in the town of Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, on July 24

MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREF. – When two earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 and 7.3 struck Kumamoto Prefecture in April, the shock was felt not only in Kumamoto but also about 170 km away, in the small town of Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, home to a nuclear power plant.

For years, residents had been told that the Median Tectonic Line, which runs from Kyushu to Honshu and passes just 5 km away from the Ikata plant, was not active and that there was nothing to worry about. After the April quakes, no abnormal atomic activity was reported, but residents are now worried a large quake in the area, followed by tsunami, could not only damage the plant but also make evacuation from the peninsula Ikata lies on impossible.

The restart of Ikata reactor 3, slated for Aug. 12, has put those concerns in sharp focus and raised questions about just how realistic evacuation will be in the event of a natural disaster — especially an earthquake that sends a tsunami churning toward the nearly 124,000 residents living within 30 km of the plant.

The official evacuation plans assume emergency vehicles will have a certain degree of access to the low-lying roads on the peninsula, which are often only a few meters above sea level. But what happens if the roads are flooded by tsunami or damaged beyond use due to landslides? There are about 5,000 people on the peninsula living on the western side of the Ikata plant who might be cut off from escaping by land to the designated evacuation areas lying east of the plant,” said Tsukasa Wada, an Matsuyama-based antinuclear activist who is fighting to keep the Ikata plant closed.

In granting permission last year to restart Ikata’s No. 3 unit, Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura dismissed such concerns, saying the rock formations around the plant are strong. But the prefecture has designated 194 areas in the town of Ikata as highly susceptible to landslides.

To get to the Ikata plant from Matsuyama by car or bus also involves passing through a series of tunnels. Tunnel construction experts have testified in past lawsuits involving the plant that many of the tunnels are weak, suggesting that an earthquake could cause cave-ins, rendering them unusable.

The central government and the prefecture are aware that land evacuations alone could prove impossible. So the official plans also include evacuations by air and, most controversially, by sea. The plans assume there is time to evacuate by sea before radiation from the plant spreads, and that ships can dock at nearby ports even if the peninsula’s main access road has been destroyed by a quake, tsunami, or both.

The April quakes in Kumamoto led to fears in neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture about running the two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant. That helped fuel the election last month of Gov. Satoshi Mitazono, who is against nuclear power and has said he’ll try to shut down the two Sendai reactors.

But in late July, Ehime Gov. Nakamura insisted that, despite the results in Kagoshima and growing concerns in Ehime, where an opinion poll by the daily Ehime Shimbun in July found 54 percent of respondents opposed to the restart, he had no intention of canceling or postponing it to revisit the issues of the plant’s safety or the evacuation plans.

The conditions are different in each of the different areas where nuclear power plants are located, as is the age of the reactors in each area and their structure. You can’t compare them. In particular, for the process leading up to restarts, the approach and system is different for each area, with different plans for evacuation,” Nakamura told reporters at a regular press briefing.

But even a Shikoku Electric Power Co. survey in late May and early June of nearly 28,000 households lying within 20 km of the Ikata plant showed that, compared with a similar survey last year, more people were skeptical of safety assurances and fewer were convinced of the need for nuclear power. Shikoku Electric admits that the Kumamoto earthquakes probably influenced this year’s results.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/05/national/far-reaching-quakes-put-ehimes-atomic-evac-plans-doubt/#.V6ZakzUnDIU

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August 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

If Abe is serious, he should listen in earnest to anti-nuke calls

(We can choose) a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening.” That was how Barack Obama wound up his 17-minute-long public address during his historic visit to Hiroshima on May 27.

He was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city leveled by the world’s first atomic bombing. The 71st anniversary of that event fell on Aug. 6. Nagasaki suffered the same fate as Hiroshima three days later, on Aug. 9, 1945.

Obama’s visit to Hiroshima was a benchmark event. Even so, nuclear stockpiles around the world are still in excess of 15,000 warheads. A world without nuclear weapons remains a distant dream.

Action is needed to carve out the future. In this regard, there are particularly high expectations for the role of Japan, which experienced the ravages of atomic bombings.

But the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are increasingly suspicious of the central government’s intentions. In their view, the government seems to be obstructing the global trend for trying to eradicate nuclear weaponry.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who accompanied Obama during his Hiroshima visit, pledged that he would “continue to make incessant efforts” toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons.

But what precisely is he determined to do, we wonder. The key question here is that of a concrete vision.

TOKYO EMBARRASSED BY TALK OF ‘NO FIRST USE’

The Washington Post reported last month that the Obama administration is considering changes in its nuclear policy.

Notably, a declaration of “no first use” is reportedly being weighed as an option. The term refers to a country’s pledge that it will not be the first to use nuclear arms unless it comes under nuclear attack from another nation. China and India, among the world’s nuclear weapon states, have adopted that policy.

No first use” is expected to significantly reduce the role of nuclear arms in security policy. It is also believed to be highly effective in urging other nuclear weapon states to engage in nuclear disarmament.

Ten U.S. Democratic senators have called on Obama to declare “no first use.” The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have sent a letter to Obama to express their support for the potential nuclear policy changes, saying such moves would “mark an important step toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons.”

But Tokyo appears to be embarrassed by this. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said only that Japan and the United States “should remain closely in touch” over the matter. When the Obama administration reviewed its nuclear policy in 2010, it stopped short of declaring “no first use” out of consideration for Japan and other U.S. allies.

At the United Nations, meantime, there is growing momentum to outlaw nuclear arms, which are inhumane weapons, under international law.

A U.N. working group, which has been discussing the matter since February in Switzerland, is holding its final session this month. The working group’s chairman has worked out a draft report that says, “A majority of States expressed support for the commencement of negotiations … in 2017.”

Japan is one country that is not part of that “majority of States.” Tokyo has reiterated at the working group’s sessions that the time is not ripe for declaring nuclear weapons illegal in view of the current security climate.

Seventy-one years after the A-bombings, the very country that suffered the nuclear attacks is trying to block the trend for nuclear disarmament.

PERSISTENT DEPENDENCE ON NUCLEAR UMBRELLA

The backdrop here is Japan’s dependence on the “nuclear umbrella,” under which it relies on the nuclear arsenal of the United States to deter attacks from other countries.

Tokyo believes Japan must stay under the nuclear umbrella, not the least because it has to face up to China, which is pursuing a rapid military buildup, and to North Korea, which has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests and test-firings of missiles.

No approval can be given to a “no first use” policy and a prospective treaty to ban nuclear weapons, both of which would erode the deterrent potential of the nuclear umbrella, according to Tokyo’s position.

Let us remember, however, that nuclear deterrence theory is a relic of the Cold War period. The government of Japan has not ruled out a possible use of nuclear weapons by the United States. That is broadly at odds with the sentiment of the Japanese public, which does not want a repeat of the ravages of a nuclear attack.

As long as deterrence theory is adhered to, other nuclear weapon states will also stick to their reliance on nuclear arsenals, which means the risk of a nuclear war would never diminish.

It goes without saying that the security climate should be taken into account from a tough viewpoint. Many experts believe, however, that conventional war potential–basically that of Japan and the United States–alone is functioning as a sufficient deterrent on North Korea and China.

We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without (nuclear weapons),” Obama said in his Hiroshima address.

Kazumi Matsui, the mayor of Hiroshima, cited that passage in his Aug. 6 Peace Declaration, and added, “We need to fill our policymakers with the passion to … create a security system based on trust and dialogue.”

Courage and passion: These qualities are probably expected from the government of Japan more than anything else. Tokyo should start striving to seek a security policy that does not rely on the nuclear umbrella and begin holding talks with Washington to achieve that goal.

Abe has attended the peace ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki every year. He has also had opportunities to hold dialogue with representatives of A-bomb survivors.

But the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki strongly distrust Abe. The prime minister has not only rushed through policies that undermine the pacifist principles of the Constitution, such as lifting Japan’s self-imposed ban on the right to exercise collective self-defense and enacting new security legislation. He has been less than willing to listen to earnest pleas. In 2014, for example, he used the phrase, “It’s a matter of opinion,” to dismiss concerns expressed by an A-bomb survivor.

POIGNANT CALLS FROM A-BOMBED CITIES

The Nagasaki Peace Declaration to be released Aug. 9 is expected to include, for the first time in two years, a demand for enacting a law to set down Japan’s three non-nuclear principles–not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction into Japan, of nuclear weapons.

Sumiteru Taniguchi, an 87-year-old A-bomb survivor, strongly called, during a drafting committee meeting, for the inclusion of that passage.

Those who never experienced that abominable war are trying to have the (pacifist) Constitution amended,” Taniguchi said. “As a survivor of the A-bomb, I have to continue calling out loud as long as I am alive.”

Poignant calls from the A-bombed cities represent the starting point of efforts to realize a world without nuclear arms. If Abe wishes, as he says he does, to lead initiatives to have nuclear weapons abolished, the first thing he should do is to face up in earnest to the calls of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and seek out a way to go hand in hand with them.

http://www.newsjs.com/url.php?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.asahi.com%2Fajw%2Farticles%2FAJ201608060027.html

August 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

A mother’s love, after Hiroshima

Behind her the dome ruins in Hiroshima.Japanese children in summer kimono offer prayers with paper lanterns..jpg

 

 

“Someday, the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of August 6, 1945, must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change.”

President Obama said these words standing in front of the cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Parkon May 27. At that moment, the debates about why he should or should not visit Hiroshima and what he should or should not do there no longer mattered to me. As the daughter of a hibakusha, a survivor of the Hiroshima attack, I was grateful that the president paid respect to the victims who died that day, to those who lived, and to those who continue to live, being victims to their memories of August 6.

My mother, Toshiko Ishikawa, was a 12-year-old girl in Hiroshima the day the atomic bomb was dropped. She was young enough to not quite grasp why it happened, yet old enough to never forget what happened. My mother lost her family, friends, and home, yet she never lost her ability to love.

My mother moved to the United States in 1959 and shortly after that became a US citizen. My mother did not hold hatred; instead she hoped that such a weapon would never be used again on any country. I have presented her experience to middle schools for the past six years, so students would understand there’s more to August 6th and 9th than the textbook picture of the mushroom cloud and a few sentences stating the bomb ended the war. By telling her story to a new generation of future voters, I hope I am honoring her wish and making her proud.

I wrote my middle-grade historical fiction,The Last Cherry Blossom, when teachers inquired if I had a book that they could add to their class reading list to complement my discussion. The Last Cherry Blossom published this month. It’s a bittersweet time for me. My mom passed away in January 2015. However, she did read the latest draft (at that time) of the manuscript, and she knew it would be published.

I wanted to write this book not just to honor my mother and her family, but to honor all the people who suffered or died from the effects of pika don. We need to remember the immense destruction a nuclear weapon produced in the past. Not for blame, but to realize how much worse the damage could be today and how many more innocent lives would be lost. Because the first step toward nuclear disarmament is remembering that the people under those famous mushroom clouds were someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, or child.

Originally, scientists said nothing would grow again in Hiroshima for many years after the bomb was dropped. Yet the cherry blossoms bloomed again the following spring. The cherry blossoms endured, much like the spirit of the people affected by the bombing in Hiroshima.

Last summer my family visited Hiroshima to honor my mother at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Victims. Standing on the same ground where she experienced so much horror and destruction at the age of 12 broke my heart.

My mother lost so much that fateful day, yet she gained an inner strength she never thought possible. The love she gave my daughter and me proved that love prevails over fear.

Kathleen Burkinshaw lives in Charlotte, NC, and is the author of The Last Cherry Blossom (Sky Pony Press August 2016).

http://thebulletin.org/mothers-love-after-hiroshima9707?platform=hootsuite

August 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

6 August – UK Peace campaigners remember 1945 atomic bombing of Japan

world-nuclear-weapons-freeflag-UKPeace campaigners in Keighley to remember 1945 atomic bombing of Japan and to call for a nuclear weapon free world http://www.keighleynews.co.uk/news/14663443.Peace_campaigners_in_Keighley_to_remember_1945_atomic_bombing_of_Japan_and_to_call_for_a_nuclear_weapon_free_world/    / Miran Rahman, 5 Aug 16 

A VIGIL to mark the 71st anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be staged in Keighley on Saturday

The event will run from 8am to 9am in Town Hall Square and will include silent reflection, words and song.

Sylvia Boyes, one of the peace campaigners taking part in the event, said: “This country, and all the nuclear weapons states, are planning to upgrade their nuclear weapons arsenals.

“Our Government has taken the decision to renew the Trident nuclear bomb system despite the knowledge this perpetuates the threat of nuclear annihilation for generations to come. “This despite the fact that while social care, education and health services need more funding, the cost of Trident is likely to amount to £200 billion.

“The European Union referendum may have been a chance-in-a-lifetime, but the issue of the nuclear weapons threat is of equal, if not greater, importance to each and every one of us worldwide.

“The call must go out that Trident must be disarmed, and a commitment made to work for a nuclear-free world.”

August 6, 2016 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

The ever increasing danger of nuclear apocalypse: the Pentagon’s plan

policy of nuclear bombing of targeted cities is still on the drawing board of the Pentagon. While today’s list of targets remains classified, cities in Russia, China, the Middle East, North Korea are on the target list.

What we are dealing with is the criminalization of the State, whereby officials in high office are complicit in fostering the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons.

bombed city

Remember Hiroshima: No Danger of Nuclear War? The Pentagon’s Plan to Blow up the text-relevantPlanet http://www.globalresearch.ca/there-is-no-danger-of-nuclear-war-or-is-there/5500276 By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, August 05, 2016 More than 2000 nuclear explosions have occurred since 1945 as part of nuclear weapons’ testing.

Officially only two nuclear bombs (Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 6 and 9, August 1945) have been used in an act of war.

The media consensus is that a nuclear holocaust is an impossibility. 

Should we be concerned? 

Publicly available military documents confirm that nuclear war is still on the drawing board  of the Pentagon.

Compared to the 1950s, however, today’s nuclear weapons are far more advanced. The delivery system is more precise. In addition to China and Russia, Iran, Syria and North Korea are targets for a first strike pre-emptive nuclear attack.

Let us be under no illusions, the Pentagon’s plan to blow up the planet using advanced nuclear weapons is still on the books.

War is Good for Business: Spearheaded by the “defense contractors” (Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, British Aerospace  et al), the Obama administration has proposed a one trillion dollar plan over a 30 year period to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons, bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) largely directed at Russia and China.

A new arms race is unfolding. Russia has in turn responded to US threats through a major modernization of its strategic nuclear weapons arsenal.

Political Insanity

The use of nuclear weapons is casually endorsed by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who believes that nuclear weapons are instruments of peace-making. Her election campaign is financed by the US military industrial complex which produces the WMDs.

Meanwhile, scientists on contract to the Pentagon have endorsed the use of tactical nuclear weapons, which are said to be “harmless to the surrounding  civilian population because the explosion is underground.” The tactical nukes are bona fide thermonuclear weapons, with an explosive capacity between one third and six times a Hiroshima bomb. They have been cleared for battlefield use (in the conventional war theater) by the US Senate and their use does not require the approval by the Commander in Chief.

The people at the highest levels of government who make decisions regarding the use of nuclear weapons haven’t  the foggiest idea as to the implications of their actions.

Cold War versus Post Cold War Nuclear Doctrine 

A recently released classified Pentagon document (1959) confirms that during the Cold War, 1200 cities extending from Eastern Europe to the Far East were targeted for systemic destruction.

According to 1956 Plan, H-Bombs were to be Used Against Priority “Air Power” Targets in the Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe.

Major Cities in Soviet Bloc, Including East Berlin, Were High Priorities in “Systematic Destruction” for Atomic Bombings.  (William Burr, U.S. Cold War Nuclear Attack Target List of 1200 Soviet Bloc Cities “From East Germany to China”, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 538, December 2015

Today’s List of Targeted Cities 

This policy of nuclear bombing of targeted cities is still on the drawing board of the Pentagon. While today’s list of targets remains classified, cities in Russia, China, the Middle East, North Korea are on the target list. An Associated Press report quoting Pentagon sources (June 4, 2015) confirms that:

The Pentagon has been actively considering the use of nuclear missiles against military targets inside Russia, …  Three options being considered by the Pentagon are the placement of anti-missile defenses in Europe aimed at shooting Russian missiles out of the sky; a “counterforce” option that would involve pre-emptive non-nuclear strikes on Russia military sites; and finally, “countervailing strike capabilities,” involving the pre-emptive deployment of nuclear missiles against targets inside Russia.

The AP states: “The options go so far as one implied—but not stated explicitly—that would improve the ability of US nuclear weapons to destroy military targets on Russian territory.” In other words, the US is actively preparing nuclear war against Russia.

Robert Scher, one of Carter’s nuclear policy aides, told Congress in April that the deployment of “counterforce” measures would mean “we could go about and actually attack that missile where it is in Russia.” According to other Pentagon officials, this option would entail the deployment of ground-launched cruise missiles throughout Europe.

The criminality and recklessness of the foreign policy of Washington and its NATO allies is staggering. A pre-emptive nuclear strike against Russian forces, many of them near populated areas, could claim millions of lives in seconds and lead to a nuclear war that would obliterate humanity.

Even assuming that the US officials threatening Russia do not actually want such an outcome, however, and that they are only trying to intimidate Moscow, there is a sinister objective logic to such threats.” (Niles Williamson, Military Madness: US Officials Consider Nuclear Strikes against Russia, World Socialist Website, June 5, 2015, emphasis added)

 Nuclear Tests Worldwide

Over 2000 Nuclear Tests have been conducted since 1945.

Five “Non-Nuclear States” (Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Turkey)
Possess and Deploy Nuclear Weapons

Five non-nuclear states (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey) have deployed the B61 tactical (thermonuclear) against targets in the Middle East and the Russian Federation.. The latest and more advanced version is the B61-12, which is contemplated to replace the older B61 version.

Today’s Potential Targets for US Nuclear Attacks

Are countries in the Middle East potential targets for a nuclear attack? (For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky,  Dangerous Crossroads: Is America Considering the Use of Nuclear Weapons against Libya? Global Research, April 2011).

The tactical nuclear weapons were specifically developed for use in post Cold War “conventional conflicts with third world nations”.  In October 2001, in the immediate wake of 9/11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld envisaged the use of the B61-11 tactical nuclear bomb in Afghanistan. The targets were Al Qaeda cave bunkers in the Tora Bora mountains.

Rumsfeld stated at the time that while the “conventional” bunker buster bombs “‘are going to be able to do the job’, … he did not rule out the eventual use of nuclear weapons.” (Quoted in the Houston Chronicle, 20 October 2001, emphasis added.)

The use of the B61-11 was also contemplated during the 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq as well as in the 2011 NATO bombings of Libya.

In this regard, the B61-11 was described as “a precise, earth-penetrating low-yield nuclear weapon against high-value underground targets”, which included Saddam Hussein’s underground bunkers:

 ”If Saddam was arguably the highest value target in Iraq, then a good case could be made for using a nuclear weapon like the B61-11 to assure killing him and decapitating the regime” (Defense News, December 8, 2003).

The 1996 Plan to Nuke Libya 

The B61-11 tactical nuclear weapon was slated by the Pentagon to be used in 1996 against Libya: “Five months after [Assistant Defense Secretary] Harold Smith called for an acceleration of the B61-11 production schedule, he went public with an assertion that the Air Force would use the B61-11 [nuclear weapon] against Libya… “(http://www.nukestrat.com/us/afn/B61-11.htm,)

“Senior Pentagon officials ignited controversy last April [1996] by suggesting that the earth-penetrating [nuclear] weapon would soon be available for possible use against a suspected underground chemical factory being built by Libya at Tarhunah.  (David Muller, Penetrator N-Bombs, International Action Center, 1997)

Tarbunah has a population of more than 200,000 people, men, women and children. It is about 60 km East of Tripoli. Had this “humanitarian bomb” (with a ”yield” or explosive capacity of two-thirds of a Hiroshima bomb) been launched on this “suspected” WMD facility, it would have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, not to mention the nuclear fallout…  The man behind this diabolical project to nuke Libya was Assistant Secretary of Defense Harold Palmer Smith Junior. “Even before the B61 came on line, Libya was identified as a potential target”. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – September/ October 1997, p. 27 )

Concluding Remarks

Nuclear war –which threatens life on planet earth– is not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern, including the local level crime scene or the tabloid gossip reports on Hollywood celebrities.

What we are dealing with is the criminalization of the State, whereby officials in high office are complicit in fostering the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons. The media has camouflaged the implications of America’s post Cold war nuclear doctrine, which was formulated in a secret meeting at US Strategic Command Headquarters on Hiroshima Day, August 6, 2003.

On August 6, 2003, on Hiroshima Day, commemorating when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima (August 6 1945), a secret meeting was held behind closed doors at Strategic Command Headquarters at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

Senior executives from the nuclear industry and the military industrial complex were in attendance. This mingling of defense contractors, scientists and policy-makers was not intended to commemorate Hiroshima. The meeting was intended to set the stage for the development of a new generation of “smaller”, “safer” and “more usable” nuclear weapons, to be used in the “in-theater nuclear wars” of the 21st Century.

In a cruel irony, the participants to this secret meeting, which excluded members of Congress, arrived on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing (August 6) and departed on the anniversary of the attack on Nagasaki (August 9). (Michel Chossudovsky, Towards a World War III Scenario, The Dangers of Nuclear War, Global Research, Montreal, 2012)

The Hiroshima Day 2003 meetings had set the stage for the “privatization of nuclear war”. Corporations not only reap multibillion-dollar profits from the production of nuclear bombs, they also have a direct voice in setting the agenda regarding the use and deployment of nuclear weapons.

All the safeguards of the Cold War era, which categorized the nuclear bomb as “a weapon of last resort”, have been scrapped. “Offensive” military actions using nuclear warheads are now described as acts of “self-defense”. During the Cold War, the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) prevailed, namely that the use of nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union would result in “the destruction of both the attacker and the defender”.

In the post Cold war era, US nuclear doctrine was redefined. There is no sanity in what is euphemistically called US foreign policy. At no point since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, has humanity been closer to the unthinkable…

Stay informed, spread the word far and wide. To reverse the tide of war, the broader public must be informed. Post on Facebook/Twitter.

Confront the war criminals in high office.

What we really need is real “Regime Change in America”.

August 6, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Nuclear industry cannot stop inevitable predominance of renewables. Britain should stop nuclear

poster renewables not nuclearflag-UKThe debate about Hinkley is a distraction https://www.foe.co.uk/blog/debate-about-hinkley-distraction Simon Bullock 02 August 2016

Nuclear power is not the answer. Renewables, energy saving, and energy storage are a much better deal for bill-payers as well as tax-payers, and renewables offer more scope to provide employment.

Renewable power has grown rapidly in the last 5 years, and as wind and solar costs continue to fall we should be swiftly getting on with generating masses of home-grown renewable electricity.

Compare that with this reality: British electricity users will pay £81 billion for Hinkley Point C electricity in its first 35 years.

In the early 1990s, Margaret Thatcher cancelled the nuclear build programmes because the economics couldn’t be made to work. Has anything changed? The cost of construction for Hinkley has gone from £5.6 billion in 2008, to £24.5 billion now. Wouldn’t we be better off using that money to give an energy efficiency upgrade to millions of homes? And perhaps what really worries people more than the financial cost of the project is the radioactive waste that will need looking after for thousands of years.

Hinkley Point C will not be owned by the UK, instead, we will be gifting it to the Chinese and French states. If that’s not enough, consider these 3 points:

the Chinese and French states. If that’s not enough, consider these 3 points:

  • In Finland the same design nuclear power station is still not working, and it’s nine years late while costs have tripled
  • It will lock British taxpayers into high-cost electricity for 60 years, but wind and solar are already cheaper and their costs are still falling, and it will be a decade before Hinkley will power any kettles
  • There’s no need for it – thanks to a leap-forward in energy saving, projections for the electricity demand we will need in 2025 have fallen by 77 terawatt hours – that’s three times what Hinkley would produce

In the last 5 years there has been a global energy revolution: the costs of renewable energy have reduced, and there have been huge strides in the fields of energy storage and smart grids. These trends will continue, as the National Infrastructure Commission’s Smart Power report points out.

Theresa May has rightly delayed making a decision, so this is the opportunity to pause, change tack, and prevent bill-payers being saddled with unnecessary cost well into the future.

The government is starting to see which way the wind is blowing, so it is policy folly to lock the UK into long-term, polluting, expensive nuclear projects.

Renewables and energy storage is the future. The nuclear industry cannot stop the inevitable. But the government can and should stop Hinkley.

August 6, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention putting on pressure for nuclear disarmament

This is a critical moment for the disarmament movement, and activists in Canada and abroad are pushing for broad public support for a nuclear ban. In September, the United Nations’ open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament will present its final report, hopefully laying out a path toward a convention banning these weapons for good.

flag-canadaNuclear disarmament: back on centre stagELIZABETH RENZETTI, The Globe and Mail, text-relevantAug. 05, 2016 Could Donald Trump accidentally be the best friend of the nuclear disarmament movement? This may sound like Dr. Strangelove-level madness, but the prospect of the Republican presidential candidate anywhere near the nuclear launch codes could be a pivotal movement for public awareness, and it comes at a critical time for the movement to ban those weapons.

Consider, first, that the disarmament movement, although well-organized and determined, has done its important work largely in the dark for the past three decades. It’s just not an issue that electrifies the public, even if it should. As former U.S. defence secretary William Perry writes in his recent book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, “Our chief peril is that the poised nuclear doom, much of it hidden beneath the seas and in remote badlands, is too far out of the global public consciousness. Passivity shows broadly.”

Now, consider that Mr. Trump has made this existential threat – Russia and the United States each have nearly 2,000 weapons deployed and ready to launch – not so much theoretical as terrifyingly real. This week, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough created a stir when he said he had heard that a “foreign policy expert” was briefing Mr. Trump, and the presidential candidate mentioned nuclear weapons, asking, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”……

This is a critical moment for the disarmament movement, and activists in Canada and abroad are pushing for broad public support for a nuclear ban. In September, the United Nations’ open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament will present its final report, hopefully laying out a path toward a convention banning these weapons for good.

The eight nuclear powers (North Korea is the ninth) will try to block this. Canada, which has traditionally sided with it large and domineering American friend on nuclear-arms issues at the UN, could instead take a leading and ground-breaking role toward a more stable and peaceful world, as it did with the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines in 1997. (Last year, Canada was one of only 29 countries refusing to endorse a humanitarian pledge to seek a weapons treaty at the UN, along with the United States and Britain, also a nuclear power. Meanwhile 139 countries supported the pledge. Seventeen abstained, including the nuclear states India, Pakistan and China.)

More than 800 members of the Order of Canada have supported the campaign by Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, and the group Science for Peace has started a national letter-writing campaign to persuade Canadian lawmakers. This may take some doing……..

As long as the disarmament issue remains at the back of the public consciousness, nothing will change. In early August every year, the world briefly stops to remember the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then moves on again. This might be changing, though: There were powerful protests last month as British lawmakers voted to renew the Trident nuclear submarine defence, and alarm bells when the failed Turkish coup threatened Incirlik Air Force base, where the United States stores some of its nuclear weapons…….

both Russia and the United States are moving, in real time, to refurbish their nuclear arsenals.

It’s worth keeping in mind the words of Mr. Perry, who witnessed the devastation of Japan as a soldier stationed there after the Second World War: “I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War – and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face.” That’s a scary message, but fear can be a great motivator, at the right time. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/nuclear-disarmament-back-on-centre-stage/article31284426/

August 6, 2016 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

How to know if a nuclear bomb works without setting it off

text-relevantThe Nuclear Button U.S. Presidents Can Push at Will   , Bloomberg  eroston  , 5 Aug 16 As President Barack Obama counts down his last months in office, he has returned to one of his earliest and most ambitious promises, one he fully articulated in Prague in 2009: “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.“

In the tumultuous years since, it’s probably become clear to him the only way America can rid the world of nuclear weapons would involve the (until recently) unspeakable prospect of using them. Proposals for radical reductions have been largely stymied by political realities at home and growing threats abroad. The deal Obama did make with Iran infuriated Republicans (and some Democrats). Now he’s going around the first branch again: He is asking the United Nations to help him revisit the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which turns 20 next month. White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says the administration wants to strengthen detonation detection as well as support for nations that already ban tests.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate, who have consistently blocked treaty ratification, are far from amused—a situation made worse when you throw in the prospect of UN involvement in American national security matters. In the two decades since President Bill Clinton signed the treaty, the U.S. has studiously avoided any testing. Republican opponents nevertheless maintain that tying America’s hands threatens the national interest (tests are underground—above-ground explosions generally ceased in 1963 under a separate accord).

But all the old arguments being dusted off for the latest battle seem to ignore a key fact that may moot the entire debate, at least over U.S. testing: Advances in technology have made live testing pointless. We can do it all in the lab.

 How to know a bomb works without setting it off

Nuclear bombs have a special status. They are the president’s weapons. Obama’s longstanding position, that the U.S. can design, build, and maintain nuclear weapons without testing them, raises at least one practical question: Without actual explosions, how will he know his weapons work?

Two advances in science and technology help answer the question: simulation and seismic monitoring. Let’s dip into the deep past for a minute………

Now the Energy Department’s National Laboratories sign off on the safety and war-readiness of U.S. weapons through monitoring, simulation, and maintenance. Ironically, “Trinity” is not only a haunting national landmark in New Mexico, but also the name of a supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory capable of performing 40 quadrillion calculations a second.

Another reason Obama’s proposal shouldn’t be viewed as a new security initiative is tied to monitoring. In January, nuclear experts quickly knew that the quakes coming from North Korea were caused by a bomb, but not a hydrogen bomb. The seismic signal was nearly identical to earlier atomic tests.

Some 76 countries host about 170 seismic monitoring stations that listen 24 hours a day for disturbances on land. Complementary systems listen to the oceans and sniff for radioactivity. Any expansion of monitoring would make it easier to discern the characteristics of a detonated device, but the world is pretty well covered as it is.

Despite political obstacles, scientists have made nuclear weapons testing increasingly harmless to humans and the environment. The countries what benefit from such advances, especially those that signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, are probably less interested in what the U.S. does about making sure testing stays in the lab than they are about who gets the real nuclear button come November.

—With assistance by Toluse Olorunnipa in Washington.   http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-05/the-nuclear-button-u-s-presidents-can-push-at-will

August 6, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Consumer-funded nuclear bail out will have an unprecedented impact on the nuclear power industry

taxpayer bailoutImpacts of NY’s Nuclear Power ‘Bail Out’ and Solar, Wind Boost, Epoch Times, By Epoch Times  |  August 3, 2016 

New York State’s Clean Energy Standard, approved by the Public Service Commission on Aug. 1, will have an unprecedented impact on the nuclear power industry.

It includes what has been called a consumer-funded bail out of upstate New York’s struggling nuclear power plants.

Nuclear energy is treated in the state’s plan as a bridge to a renewable energy future. The commission said nuclear is necessary to maintain stability in the power grid as New York makes the transition toward the standard’s goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

By subsidizing nuclear power alongside solar and wind, the state is making a bold statement about the value of nuclear reactors as zero-emission energy sources. This could ripple to other states, inspiring similar initiatives to revive the sputtering nuclear industry.

Impacts of the clean energy plan on the nuclear, solar, and wind industries will affect New Yorkers in many ways………

How It Works

Electricity providers will be required to obtain a targeted number of renewable energy credits (RECs) and zero-emissions credits (ZECs) each year.

A REC is created each time 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity is generated by a renewable resource. RECs can then be sold and traded among providers.  ZECs, on the other hand, are related solely to the nuclear plants. These credits are created when zero-emission nuclear power is generated.

So the state awards ZECs to the nuclear companies, which the energy providers must buy from them. The costs of the ZECs that electricity providers purchase will be passed on to the consumer, baked into the supply charges on consumers’ bills.

 A back door may be opened for New Yorkers opposed to supporting nuclear energy.
  This is how consumers will pay for reviving the nuclear plants.

How It Will Affect Consumers

The nuclear industry is having trouble competing with low natural gas prices. ZECs essentially force state residents and businesses to pay above-market rates for nuclear energy.

But the governor’s office and Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman suggested a back door may be opened for New Yorkers opposed to supporting nuclear energy.

press release from Cuomo’s office stated that consumers may be offered a 100 percent renewable energy option. The idea is that consumer demand for 100 percent renewable energy could naturally encourage the development of new renewable energy facilities.

“If it does that,” Zibelman said at the commission hearing on Aug. 1, “then I think it’s fair to say to those customers, if you truly don’t want to buy nuclear, we will allow you not to be required to contribute to that program.

“We’re asking staff to look at that and we’ll see how we can make that happen.”

In addition to providing various options for consumers, Zibelman said clear labeling will be important. “What I would like to know, as a consumer, [is] that if I’m … buying what is a ‘green product’ … are those megawatts really green,” she said. If it’s only 50 percent renewable, for example, the consumer will be told so in clear terms……..http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2130861-impacts-of-nys-nuclear-power-bail-out-and-solar-wind-boost/

August 6, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

The power to order a nuclear strike

text-relevantDebate Over Trump’s Fitness Raises Issue of Checks on Nuclear Power, NYT By WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGER AUG. 4, 2016           Hillary Clinton has fueled a debate over whether her rival for the presidency, Donald J. Trump, is fit to command America’s atomic forces. “Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis,” she said in her address at the Democratic convention last week. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

This portrayal has become such an issue in the campaign that President Obama was asked about it at a news conference on Thursday, where he echoed Mrs. Clinton’s concerns. Her charge raises a question: Is there any check on a president’s power to launch nuclear arms that could destroy entire cities or nations?

The short answer is no, though history suggests that in practice, there may be ways to slow down or even derail the decision-making process. No one disputes, however, that the president has an awesome authority.

If the United States appeared to be under nuclear assault, the president would have minutes to decide whether the threat was real, and to fire as many as 925 nuclear warheads with a destructive force greater than 17,000 Hiroshima bombs, according to estimates by Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington.

The commander in chief can also order the first use of nuclear weapons even if the United States is not under nuclear attack.

“There’s no veto once the president has ordered a strike,” said Franklin C. Miller, a nuclear specialist who held White House and Defense Department posts for 31 years before leaving government service in 2005. “The president and only the president has the authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.”Washington keeps details of the nuclear chain of command and its workings secret. The spokesman for the National Security Council, Ned Price, refused to say whether any other member of the chain of command could stop a presidential order to use nuclear weapons………..

In movies and popular culture, the president is depicted as having a finger on the button. In fact, there is no button, but

rather a vast complex of rules and equipment, including careful procedures for the military to authenticate th

e identity of the commander in chief. The president’s emergency satchel — a black briefcase full of war plans, authentication codes and communication devices — follows him (or her) just about everywhere, carried by an aide trained in the procedures.
The president’s authority over nuclear decision-making challenges the Constitution’s clear declaration that only Congress holds the power to declare war. In practice, the arrival of the nuclear age dismantled the traditional rules by rewriting the timelines of war. It would take 12 minutes or less for weapons fired from submarines to reach Washington, and 30 minutes for warheads from most intercontinental missiles. Bombs dropped by aircraft, if they could pierce the country’s air defenses, would take only hours.

As a result, Congress began delegating the powers of nuclear war-fighting to the president, starting with Harry S. Truman — the only president who has ever ordered a nuclear strike against another nation.

….In practice, the arrival of the nuclear age dismantled the traditional rules by rewriting the timelines of war. It would take 12 minutes or less for weapons fired from submarines to reach Washington, and 30 minutes for warheads from most intercontinental missiles. Bombs dropped by aircraft, if they could pierce the country’s air defenses, would take only hours……..http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/05/science/donald-trump-nuclear-c

August 6, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA elections 2016, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The mindless media bashing of Donald Trump is a dangerous mistake

The Danger of Excessive Trump Bashing http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/38405-the-danger-of-excessive-trump-bashing , Consortium News 04 August 16
highly-recommendedThe prospect of Donald Trump in the White House alarms many people but bashing him over his contrarian views on NATO and U.S.-Russian relations could set the stage for disasters under President Hillary Clinton, writes Robert Parry. 
 Widespread disdain for Donald Trump and the fear of what his presidency might mean have led to an abandonment of any sense of objectivity by many Trump opponents and, most notably, the mainstream U.S. news media. If Trump is for something, it must be bad and must be transformed into one more club to use for hobbling his candidacy.

While that attitude may be understandable given Trump’s frequently feckless and often offensive behavior – he seems not to know basic facts and insults large swaths of the world’s population – this Trump bashing also has dangerous implications because some of his ideas deserve serious debate rather than blanket dismissal.

Amid his incoherence and insults, Trump has raised valid points on several important questions, such as the risks involved in the voracious expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders and the wisdom of demonizing Russia and its internally popular President Vladimir Putin.

Over the past several years, Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment has pushed a stunning policy of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia in pursuit of a “regime change” in Moscow. This existentially risky strategy has taken shape with minimal substantive debate behind a “group think” driven by anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda. (All we hear is what’s wrong with Putin and Russia: He doesn’t wear a shirt! He’s the new Hitler! Putin and Trump have a bro-mance! Russian aggression! Their athletes cheat!)

Much as happened in the run-up to the disastrous Iraq War in 2002-2003, the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies bully from the public square anyone who doesn’t share these views. Any effort to put Russia’s behavior in context makes you a “Putin apologist,” just like questioning the Iraq-WMD certainty of last decade made you a “Saddam apologist.”

But this new mindlessness – now justified in part to block Trump’s path to the White House – could very well set the stage for a catastrophic escalation of big-power tensions under a Hillary Clinton presidency. Former Secretary of State Clinton has already surrounded herself with neocons and liberal hawks who favor expanding the war against Syria’s government, want to ratchet up tensions with Iran, and favor shipping arms to the right-wing and virulently anti-Russian regime in Ukraine, which came to power in a 2014 coup supported by U.S. policymakers and money.

By lumping Trump’s few reasonable points together with his nonsensical comments – and making anti-Russian propaganda the only basis for any public debate – Democrats and the anti-Trump press are pushing the United States toward a conflict with Russia.

And, for a U.S. press corps that prides itself on its “objectivity,” this blatantly biased approach toward a nominee of a major political party is remarkably unprofessional. But the principle of objectivity has been long since abandoned as the mainstream U.S. media transformed itself into little more than an outlet for U.S. government foreign-policy narratives, no matter how dishonest or implausible.

Losing History

To conform with the neocon-driven narratives, much recent history has been lost. For instance, few Americans realize that some of President Barack Obama’s most notable foreign policy achievements resulted from cooperation with Putin and Russia, arguably more so than any other “friendly” leader or “allied” nation.

For instance, in summer 2013, Obama was under intense neocon/liberal-hawk pressure to bomb the Syrian military supposedly for crossing his “red line” against the use of chemical weapons after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2103.

Yet, hearing doubts from the U.S. intelligence community about the Assad regime’s guilt, Obama balked at a military strike that – we now know – would have played into the hands of Syrian jihadists who some intelligence analysts believe were the ones behind the false-flag sarin attack to trick the United States into directly intervening in the civil war on their side.

But Obama still needed a path out of the corner that he had painted himself into and it was provided by Putin and Russia pressuring Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons, a clear victory for Obama regardless of who was behind the sarin attack.

Putin and Russia helped Obama again in convincing Iran to accept tight restraints on its nuclear program, an agreement that may mark Obama’s most significant foreign policy success. Those negotiations came to life in 2013 (not coincidentally after Secretary of State Clinton, who allied herself more with the bomb-bomb-bomb Iran faction led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had resigned and was replaced by John Kerry).

As the negotiating process evolved, Russia played a key role in bringing Iran along, offering ways for Iran to rid itself of its processed nuclear stockpiles and get the medical research materials it needed. Without the assistance of Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the landmark Iranian nuclear deal might never have happened.

Obama recognized the value of this Russian help but he also understood the political price that he would pay if he were closely associated with Putin, who was already undergoing a thorough demonization in the U.S. and European mainstream media. So, Obama mostly worked with Putin under the table while joining in the ostracism of Putin above the table.

Checking Obama

But Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment – and its allied mainstream media – check-mated Obama’s double-talking game in 2013 by aggressively supporting a regime-change strategy in Ukraine where pro-Russian elected President Viktor Yanukovych was under mounting pressure from western Ukrainians who wanted closer ties to Europe and who hated Russia.

Leading neocon thinkers unveiled their new Ukraine strategy shortly after Putin helped scuttle their dreams for a major bombing campaign against Assad’s regime in Syria. Since the 1990s, the neocons had targeted the Assad dynasty – along with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq and the Shiite-controlled government in Iran – for “regime change.” The neocons got their way in Iraq in 2003 but their program stalled because of the disastrous Iraq War.

However, in 2013, the neocons saw their path forward open again in Syria, especially after the sarin attack, which killed hundreds of civilians and was blamed on Assad in a media-driven rush to judgment. Obama’s hesitancy to strike and then Putin’s assistance in giving Obama a way out left the neocons furious. They began to recognize the need to remove Putin if they were to proceed with their Mideast “regime change” dreams.

In late September 2013 – a month after Obama ditched the plans to bomb Syria – neocon National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman wrote in The Washington Post that Ukraine was now “the biggest prize” but also was a steppingstone toward the even bigger “regime change” prize in Moscow. Gershman, whose NED is funded by Congress, wrote:

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

By late 2013 and early 2014, with Gershman’s NED financing Ukraine’s anti-government activists and journalists and with the open encouragement of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, the prospects for “regime change” in Ukraine were brightening. With neo-Nazi and other Ukrainian ultra-nationalists firebombing police, the political crisis in Kiev deepened.

Meanwhile, Putin was focused on the Sochi Winter Olympics and the threat that the games could be disrupted by terrorism. So, with the Kremlin distracted, Ukraine’s Yanukovych tried to fend off his political crisis while limiting the violence.

However, on Feb. 20, 2014, snipers fired on both police and protesters in the Maidan square and the Western media jumped to the conclusion that Yanukovych was responsible (even though later investigations have indicated that the sniper attack was more likely carried out by neo-Nazi groups to provoke the chaos that followed).

A Successful Coup

On Feb. 21, a shaken Yanukovych agreed to a European-brokered deal in which he surrendered some of his powers and agreed to early elections. He also succumbed to Western pressure that he pull back his police. However, on Feb. 22, the neo-Nazis and other militants seized on that opening to take over government buildings and force Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives.

The U.S. State Department and its Western allies quickly recognized the coup regime as the “legitimate” government of Ukraine. But the coup provoked resistance from the ethnic Russian populations in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, political uprisings that the new Kiev regime denounced as “terrorist” and countered with an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” or ATO.

When Russian troops – already in Crimea as part of the Sevastopol naval basing agreement – protected the people on the peninsula from attacks by the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, the intervention was denounced in the West as a “Russian invasion.” Crimean authorities also organized a referendum in which more than 80 percent of the voters participated and favored leaving Ukraine and rejoining Russia by a 96 percent margin. When Moscow agreed, that became “Russian aggression.”

Although the Kremlin refused appeals from eastern Ukraine for a similar arrangement, Russia provided some assistance to the rebels resisting the new authorities in Ukraine. Those rebels then declared their own autonomous republics.

Although this historical reality – if understood by the American people – would put the Ukrainian crisis in a very different context, it has been effectively blacked out of what the American public is allowed to hear. All the mainstream media talks about is “Russian aggression” and how Putin provoked the Ukraine crisis as part of some Hitlerian plan to conquer Europe.

Trump, in his bumbling way, tries to reference the real history to explain his contrarian views regarding Russia, Ukraine and NATO, but he is confronted by a solid wall of “group think” asserting only one acceptable way to see this complex crisis. Rather than allow a serious debate on these very serious issues, the mainstream U.S. media simply laughs at Trump’s supposed ignorance.

The grave danger from this media behavior is that it will empower the neocons and liberal hawks already nesting inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign to prepare for a new series of geopolitical provocations once Clinton takes office. By opportunistically buying into this neocon pro-war narrative now, Democrats may find themselves with buyer’s remorse as they become the war party of 2017.


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

August 6, 2016 Posted by | media, politics international, Ukraine, USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Power of social media: Di Caprio on climate change

People really do pay attention to climate change — when Leonardo DiCaprio talks about it https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/08/05/the-leo-effect-when-dicaprio-talked-climate-change-at-the-oscars-people-suddenly-cared/?utm_term=.8c0872bcf47e  By Chris Mooney August 5 Do celebrities matter? The answer — modern, big data approaches are showing — is pretty clearly “yes.”

Earlier this year, a team of researchers documented that when Charlie Sheen told the world that he had HIV, media attention to the virus — which had been in long decline — spiked massively.

And now, many of the same researchers are back with another demonstration. They find that when Leonardo DiCaprio used his Oscar speech earlier this year to exhort action on climate change, tweets and Google searches about the topic were enormous and, at least in the case of tweets, appear to have set a new record based on analyses between 2011 and the present.

“A single speech, at a very opportunistic time, at the Oscar ceremony, resulted in the largest increase in public engagement with climate change ever,” says John Ayers of San Diego State University, who completed the work with colleagues from the University of California San Diego, the Santa Fe Institute, and other institutions. Their study was just publishedin the open access journal PLOS One.

DiCaprio, winning the Oscar for best actor for “The Revenant” on Feb. 28, said this:

Making “The Revenant” was about man’s relationship to the natural world — a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous peoples of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this, for our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.

When DiCaprio said this, 34.5 million people were watching.

Ayers and his colleagues used a combination of media coverage searches using the Bloomberg Terminal, Twitter content searches and Google trends search data to examine the consequences. They also closely examined how the public response to this moment compared with past attention to climate change at key times, including during the Paris climate negotiations and the 2015 Earth Day.

They also used a modeling approach to estimate what typical media coverage and social media engagement with the subject of climate change would have been if DiCaprio had not spoken out — what a more “normal” level of attention would be.

The result was that while there was virtually no news media response to DiCaprio (most journalists don’t take their marching orders from celebrities speaking out), the social media and search response was enormous.

August 6, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry revs up for a new political lobbying campaign

Nuclear trade group shakes up leadership  http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/290405-nuclear-trade-group-shakes-up-leadership  By Timothy Cama – 08/04/16 

The nuclear power industry’s Washington trade group is shaking up its leadership and consolidating numerous executive positions.

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) said Thursday that it’s consolidating its governmental affairs, communications and policy offices into one operation.

USA nuclear lobby

 Alex Flint, the group’s top lobbyist who has been there for a decade, will leave this fall, along with Scott Peterson, the head of the communications shop, who has worked for the NEI since it was formed in 1994. The NEI will look to hire a new leader for its external affairs operations.

The moves come at a pivotal time for the nuclear industry, when many of the fewer than 100 reactors in the country are closing due to increasing costs and competition from cheap natural gas and only a small handful of new plants are being constructed or even planned.

“The nuclear energy industry is facing one of the most transformational periods in its history. Additionally, 2017 and 2018 lie ahead as a critical window for us,” Marvin Fertel, NEI’s president, said in a statement.

“The new presidential administration will be in place, providing a valuable opportunity to change the dialogue on the importance of nuclear energy to our economic and environmental goals. Given the change in leadership and looking at this pivotal period for our industry, we are acting now to better position NEI to have enduring impact in the political and policy arena.”

Fertel himself is retiring at the end of the year.

The shakeup is happening as the industry has a number of important matters on which they are pressing lawmakers to act. The industry’s congressional allies are expected next year to make a new push to enact nuclear waste legislation that could lead to construction of the Yucca Mountain waste site in Nevada, along with short-term disposal areas.

The industry is also pushing for renewal of a tax credit for newly built nuclear plants that has not yet been used.

The NEI spent about $2.35 million in federal lobbying last year, according to disclosures it provided to Congress.

August 6, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Measuring of climate footprint by 533 cities, and more coming

logo Paris climate1Cities rush to measure climate footprint after Paris deal http://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-climatechange-cities-data-idUSKCN10F0D0 BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) , 5 Aug 16 – The number of cities reporting on their efforts to tackle global warming has risen 70 percent to 533 around the world since the adoption of the Paris climate change agreement in 2015, the group collecting the data said.

The cities – which provide annual information on their planet-warming emissions, the climate hazards they face, renewable energy targets, risks to their water supply and other environmental aspects – now represent 621 million citizens globally, CDP said on Thursday.

“When cities measure their climate footprint and seek a sustainable path to green growth powered by clean energy, they take us all further towards the global transition to low emissions and resilient development,” said Patricia Espinosa, the new head of the U.N. climate change secretariat.

In December, 195 nations reached a deal to limit climate change by shifting from fossil fuels to green energies by 2100.

CDP, a UK-based non-profit formerly called the Carbon Disclosure Project, said more cities are doing an inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions, as a first step to managing their climate impact, amid growing awareness of climate risks.

Today four in 10 cities are measuring their emissions, compared with one in 10 cities in 2011, when CDP launched a program to help them reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.CDP highlighted a nearly four-fold increase since last year in the number of African cities disclosing climate information, to 46 from 12.

Newcomers include Accra in Ghana, Kisumu in Kenya, Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of Congo and Antananarivo in Madagascar.

August 6, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

New Jersey won’t be following New York’s example of subsidising the nuclear industry

N.J. unlikely to follow N.Y.’s subsidies of nuclear industry, NJ.com  August 5, 2016 Tom Johnson  from NJ Spotlight
Profitable nuclear-plant owner PSEG might like to be subsidized, but that’s unlikely to happen in the Garden State New York this week handed lucrative subsidies to the nuclear industry to keep a trio of power plants upstate afloat, but New Jersey is unlikely to follow suit anytime soon.

Subsidies, which in this case amount to $965 million over two years paid by electric customers, are also being sought in other states across the nation as the costs of operating nuclear units have made it difficult to compete economically with cheaper gas-fired plants.

The New York system may serve a model for others wrestling with the question. Between 10 to15 nuclear power plants are at risk of closing in the near future and another half dozen already have closed, according to energy executives.

It is an issue Public Service Enterprise Group, the owner of three nuclear plants in south Jersey, is trying to raise, but it faces a bigger hurdle in getting policy makers’ attention.

PSEG CEO and president Ralph Izzo acknowledged as much during an earning call with analysts last week. For one thing, PSEG’s plants are profitable, unlike their counterparts in New York and other states, Izzo conceded. “It does impair our ability to have the same level of interest and participation in the discussion,” he said, when asked about prospects for similar incentives in New Jersey.

Still, the company is “engaging policymakers” in early conversations about what the incentives could look like, Izzo noted. Those discussions presumably continued yesterday afternoon when he toured the PSEG plants with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester)……..

Steven Goldenberg, an energy lawyer, said the nuclear plants owned by PSEG have been paid off several times already. He argued that happened when they were regulated by the state; when the company was given $3 billion in ”non-existent” stranded costs; and when they enjoyed artificially high prices of electricity set by expensive natural gas…….

New York established its subsidies, dubbed zero-emission credits, through the regulatory process. In other states, legislation is required to enact similar incentives, a more onerous process, according to Paul Patterson, an energy analyst. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/08/nj_unlikely_to_follow_nys_subsidies_of_nuclear_ind.html

August 6, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment