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Will Trump change personality and policies? The signs are not good.


Optimists are hoping for a Trump makeover. They cling to his brief victory remarks suggesting that he wants to be the “president of all the people.” In his 60 Minutes interview following the election Trump said that the protestors were out in the streets because “they do not know me.” They recall his statement some months ago that he had to say outlandish things in order to get greater media attention and reach more people than his Republican primary competitors.
Character and personality are not prone to change in most people. Especially in the case of Trump, who sees these campaign tactics as reasons for his “successes.” However, the assumption to exalted, higher offices of public trust and power sometimes brings out the better angels.

So far, though, the signs are foreboding. Trump values loyalty, and people like Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich stuck with him at his lowest points earlier this year. Trump knows very little about the awesome job given him by that dead hand from the past – the Electoral College – which has once again caused a plurality of voters to see their chosen candidate lose (Even Trump acknowledged its unfairness on CBS’s 60 Minutes after the election).

Lack of knowhow coupled with blind loyalty brings Trump to rely heavily on these old hands behind the worsening corporate state and military belligerence.

His transition appointments are delighting the corporatists. The man chosen to oversee the changes in the Environmental Protection Agency denies that climate change is man-made and scowls at regulation of harmful pollutants. Trump has opened the door to the big oil and gas lobbyists to control the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior. Wall Streeters are smacking their lips over Trump cavorting with opponents of regulating that giant gambling casino.

His military advisers do not come from the ranks of prudent retired officials who see perpetual war for what it is – a mechanism for national insecurity, authoritarianism and profits for the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about in his 1961 farewell address. To the contrary, many of Trump’s military advisors have been quick to embrace an Empire mentality and its warfare state.

One can imagine how a major stateless terrorist attack on the U.S. during his administration could provoke Trump into a heavy-handed retaliation with dangerous and unforeseen consequences. This is exactly what these adversaries want him to do in order to further spread their propaganda campaign against the U.S. Meanwhile, our civil liberties, and the domestic necessities of the people are shoved aside.

His first two major assistants – Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon – have called for corporate tax reductions and elimination of the estate tax on the rich (the only ones who pay it). Despite the “small government” façade, they are not likely to challenge the deficit-swelling combination of a larger military budget, decreased revenue and continuation of the bailouts, subsidies and giveaways known as crony capitalism that have enriched Trump and his plutocratic allies over the years.

Intrigue and internal fighting inside the White House and top Cabinet levels are likely if Trump insists on giving powerful roles to his three children and son-in-law (albeit without pay). Nepotism and conflicts of interest are acidic cocktails and undermine the integrity and transparency of public office.

Then there is the explosive crackdown on immigrants – many of whom benefit millions of Americans by working in low-wage jobs – that can produce daily turmoil, not to mention the exorbitant human cost of breaking up families in communities across the country.

In past Republican Party electoral victories, there was always a modicum of checks and balances to slow their plutocratic greed and power grabs. As of January 21, 2017 the Republican Party controls the Executive Branch, the Congress, the Supreme Court and most likely 33 governorships and 32 state legislatures. The anti-democratic Electoral College is the cause this November of giving the GOP control over the White House and, by extension, the Supreme Court (see

Other than an unlikely vigorous and fearless free press, not just in Washington but also back in the localities, or a self-destructive Trump implosion, the redeeming power of the people can only come from the grass roots.

Our country is in an extraordinarily high-risk condition, given who possesses the reins of power. Self-described conservatives and liberals can curb that power if they form alliances back in the Congressional districts around the major initiatives on which they agree (See my book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left/Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State). Such alliances have occurred with success in the past.

With the power brokers employing their divide-and-rule tactics, such potent political alliances will require citizen action and adequate funding in all Congressional districts with focused and sustained intensity on their Senators and Representatives. Congress, with only 535 lawmakers, is the most accessible of the checks and balances reachable by the people back home.

How many enlightened billionaires, serious citizen-patriots and advocates for transforming elections and governance step up?

November 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Yes, you read it right! North Pole is 36 degrees warmer than normal!

The North Pole is an insane 36 degrees warmer than normal as winter descends, WP,  November 17 Political people in the United States are watching the chaos in Washington in the moment. But some people in the science community are watching the chaos somewhere else — the Arctic.


It’s polar night there now — the sun isn’t rising in much of the Arctic. That’s when the Arctic is supposed to get super-cold, when the sea ice that covers the vast Arctic Ocean is supposed to grow and thicken.

But in fall of 2016 — which has been a zany year for the region, with multiple records set for low levels of monthly sea ice — something is totally off. The Arctic is super-hot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia.

At the same time, one of the key indicators of the state of the Arctic — the extent of sea ice covering the polar ocean — is at a record low. The ice is freezing up again, as it always does this time of year after reaching its September low, but it isn’t doing so as rapidly as usual.

In fact, the ice’s area is even lower than it was during the record-low 2012:

Twitter’s expert Arctic watchers also are stunned. Zack Labe, a PhD student at the University of California at Irvine who studies the Arctic, tweeted out an image on Wednesday from the Danish Meteorological Institute showing Arctic temperatures about 20 degrees Celsius higher than normal above 80 degrees North Latitude.

“Today’s latest #Arctic mean temperature continues to move the wrong direction . . . up. Quite an anomalous spike!,” Labe wrote. Here’s the figure: [on original]

“Despite onset of #PolarNight, temperatures near #NorthPole increasing. Extraordinary situation right now in #Arctic, w/record low #seaice,” added Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA.

This is the second year in a row that temperatures near the North Pole have risen to freakishly warm levels. During 2015’s final days, the temperature near the Pole spiked to the melting point thanks to a massive storm that pumped warm air into the region.

So what’s going on here?

“It’s about 20C [36 degrees Fahrenheit] warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,” Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, said by email Wednesday…….

November 19, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Europe adopts new rules on disposal of nuclear waste

relevant AustraliaUnder the new law, export to countries outside the EU will be allowed but only under strict and binding conditions.  

The third country must have a final deep geological repository in operation when the waste is shipped. [Ed note: This kind of regulation would finish off South Australia’s crazy plan to commercially import nuclear waste]

At present, such deep geological repositories do not exist anywhere in the world nor is a repository in construction outside of the EU.

Europe Adopts Long-Term Nuclear Waste Storage Law     BRUSSELS, Belgium, July 19, 2011  For the first time, the European Union has committed itself to the final disposal of its nuclear waste. Heads of government today adopted the radioactive waste and spent fuel management directive, “in order to avoid imposing undue burdens on future generations.”…..

The directive will enter into force at the latest in September of this year. Member States will have two years to transpose its provisions into their national laws.

By 2015, governments must submit their first national programs to the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, which will examine them and can require changes……

Some 7,000 cubic meters of high-level nuclear waste are produced across the EU each year. Most Member States store spent fuel and other highly radioactive wastes in above-ground storage facilities that need continuous maintenance and oversight and are at risk of accidents, such as airplane crashes, fires or earthquakes. Hungary and Bulgaria currently ship nuclear waste to Russia.

In its most controversial provision, the new law allows export of nuclear waste to countries outside the EU. In its initial proposal, the Commission had advocated a complete export ban.

On June 23, 2011, the European Parliament in its plenary session voted in favor of a complete export ban as proposed by the Commission. In a close vote, MEPs backed a ban on exports of nuclear waste to non-EU countries, with 311 votes in favor, 328 against and seven abstentions.

However, the European Council today approved a version of the directive that allows export.

As the legal basis for this directive is the Euratom Treaty, the European Parliament is only consulted, an its opinion is not binding. The final decision is taken only by the Council, composed of the heads of government of every EU Member State and the president of the European Commission.

Under the new law, export to countries outside the EU will be allowed but only under strict and binding conditions.

The third country must have a final deep geological repository in operation when the waste is shipped.

At present, such deep geological repositories do not exist anywhere in the world nor is a repository in construction outside of the EU.

It takes a minimum of 40 years to develop and build a deep geological repository, the Commission said today in a statement on adoption of the new directive.

According to already existing EU laws on the shipment of spent fuels and radioactive waste, the export to African, Pacific and Caribbean countries, as well as to Antarctica, is explicitly ruled out.

Greenpeace EU nuclear policy adviser Jan Haverkamp was critical of the new law, saying shipment of nuclear waste to countries outside the EU should not have been allowed.

“Despite pressure from the European Commission to block exports, the new rules will allow Hungary and Bulgaria, countries that currently have agreements for the export of nuclear waste to Russia, to continue transferring radioactive material,” said Haverkamp.

“European governments have adopted an out of sight, out of mind approach to radioactive waste, but all they are doing is dumping the long-term problem on someone else and putting Europeans at risk by allowing dangerous waste convoys,” Haverkamp said. “Only countries that face the unsolvable problem of radioactive waste head-on by ending their reliance on nuclear power can stop the vicious circle that shifts responsibility to the next generations.”

Under the new directive, national programs have to include plans with a concrete timetable for the construction of disposal facilities, as well as a description of the activities needed for the implementation of disposal solutions, costs assessments and a description of the financing schemes. They will have to be updated regularly.

Safety standards drawn up by the International Atomic Energy Agency will become legally binding.

Information will be made available to the general public and workers, and the public will have opportunities to participate in the decision-making process.

At least every 10 years, Member States are required to invite international peer reviews to exchange experience and ensure the application of the highest standards.

Finally, two or more Member States can agree to use a disposal facility in one of them.

More than 50 years after Europe’s first nuclear power reactor became operational – the UK’s Calder Hall power plant in 1956 – there are still no final repositories for nuclear waste.

Under the Euratom Treaty, the EU has the legal competence to protect the general public from ionizing radiation. The energy mix is a national competence.

The Commission said it will “closely and carefully” monitor the implementation of the new directive, in particular progress made in building disposal facilities for radioactive waste and spent fuel and, if they occur at a later stage, possible exports of radioactive material.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

President of the COP22 climate summit urges Trump to join world action on climate chnage

trump-worldClimate summit chief pleads with Trump not to ditch Paris treaty
Marrakech COP22 president urges US president-elect to join battle against global warming for sake of humanity,
Guardian, , 19 Nov 16, The president of the COP22 climate summit in Marrakech has made a direct plea to the incoming US president Donald Trump to join the struggle against global warming for the sake of humanity and the planet.

Salaheddine Mezouar, who is also the Moroccan foreign minister, had spent most of the week-long summit diplomatically trying to steer clear of questions about Trump, telling reporters at one point that “no one can stop history”.

But asked for a direct message to the president-elect in the last question of the summit’s final press conference, Mezouar issued a heartfelt plea. “We count on your pragmatism as well as your commitment to the spirit of the international community, in a huge struggle for our future, for the planet, for humanity and the dignity of millions and millions of people,” he said.

“This is about what our planet is going to be tomorrow, and what we are going to leave behind,” he added.

Trump was a spectre haunting much of the COP proceedings and a final “Marrakech call” by nearly 200 nations yesterday affirmed their “highest political commitment” to combating climate change, in a thinly coded warning to the far-right tycoon.

But his election did not prevent some of the world’s poorest countries from announcing a major emissions-cutting initiative before delegates boarded their planes home. In total, 48 nations promised to cut their carbon emissions dramatically and rapidly move to 100% renewable power as the UN climate summit in Marrakech drew to a close on Friday.

Bangladesh, Ethiopia and the Philippines were among the countries which said they would now file plans for becoming zero-carbon societies by the middle of the century, in line with the Paris deal’s aspiration of limiting global warming to 1.5C…….

November 19, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The Trump ascension – the positive, and the negatives

TrumpThat so much power over the U.S. nuclear arsenal is placed in the hands of one man – any man – bodes ill for humanity, while completely undermining the war power granted to Congress in the U.S. constitution.  That the man in question should be Donald Trump, with all his personal flaws, challenges the United States and the world as never before in human history.

Trump, Nuclear Weapons and the Human Future,CounterPunch,  “………The most positive policy proposal Trump will bring to the table as president is his desire to improve and strengthen relations between the U.S. and Russia, which have deteriorated badly in recent years.  This is one hopeful sign that could lead to renewed efforts by the two countries to reduce their nuclear arsenals and reverse current plans to modernize these arsenals.

The Numerous Negatives

Trump’s behavior during the presidential campaign was often erratic, seemingly based on discernable personality traits, including narcissism, arrogance, impulsiveness, and a lack of predictability.  If these traits provide a fair characterization of Trump’s personality, what do they suggest for his control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal?

Trump’s narcissism seems to be reflected in his need to be liked and treated positively. During the primaries, if another candidate criticized him, Trump would respond with even stronger criticism toward his attacker.  On the other hand, if someone praised Trump, he would respond with praise.  This could result in creating a spiral in either a positive or negative direction.  A negative spiral could potentially get out of hand, which would be alarming with regard to anyone with a hand hovering near the nuclear button.

His narcissism was also reflected in his need to be right.  Even though Trump is reported to not read very much and to have a limited range of experience, he is often certain that he is right and boldly asserts the correctness of his positions.  At one point, for example, he argued that he knew much more than military leaders about the pursuit and defeat of ISIS.  His assuredness of his own correctness seems also rooted in arrogance reflecting his fundamental insecurity.  This insecurity and his belief in his own rightness, when combined with his success at making money, leads him to be self-reliant in his decision-making, which could result in his taking risks with threatening or using nuclear weapons.  He said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, “My primary consultant is myself.”  While this may make consensus easy, the range of perspective is dangerously narrow.

Two other personality traits could also make more likely Trump’s use of nuclear weapons: his impulsiveness and his lack of predictability.  Impulsiveness is not a trait one would choose for a person with the power to launch the U.S. nuclear arsenal.  When it comes to deciding to use the Bomb, a personality that is calm, clear and measured would seem to inspire more confidence that caution would be employed.  Predictability would also seem to inspire confidence that a President Trump would refrain from deciding to respond with overwhelming force when he is in a negative spiral and out of patience with a country or terrorist organization that is challenging the U.S., which he may interpret as mounting a challenge to himself personally.Where Does Trump Stand?

On many issues, including on the use of nuclear weapons, it is not clear where Trump stands, due to his contradictory statements.  Here is what Trump said in March 2016 at a town hall event when host Chris Matthews asked him if he might use nuclear weapons:…..

 ConclusionPerhaps the singular positive of Trump’s desire to improve the deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia will lead to achieving progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons.  A lot will depend on who Trump chooses for key cabinet positions, but even more will depend on his consultations with his key advisor (himself).

That so much power over the U.S. nuclear arsenal is placed in the hands of one man – any man – bodes ill for humanity, while completely undermining the war power granted to Congress in the U.S. constitution.  That the man in question should be Donald Trump, with all his personal flaws, challenges the United States and the world as never before in human history.David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (

November 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Swiss can’t give away nuclear reactors, let alone sell them

radiation-sign-sadflag-SwitzerlandSwiss try to give away nuclear plants, but find no takers, REneweconomy, By  on 18 November 2016 Energy Transition  The operator of Switzerland’s nuclear reactors, Alpiq, reportedly offered reactors to France’s EDF at no cost or “a symbolic franc.” The French, who have their hands full with their own struggling fleet at home, refused the offer. A potential power shortfall still looms in the background. Craig Morris explains.

On the weekend, Swiss media reported (in German and in French) that Swiss reactor operator Alpiq could find no buyer for its two nuclear plants and is therefore hoping to give them to the Swiss state. The firm’s CEO is quoted saying that France’s EDF was not interested even at no cost because it “has its own problems pertaining to nuclear power at present.”

It is possible that the announcement is a bargaining chip just in case the Swiss decide in their referendum later this month to phase out nuclear. Alpiq’s Gösgen reactor would then have to close in 2024; Leibstadt, in 2029. The company may thus be looking for ways to ask for money from the Swiss state in return for a closure. At present, the firm is apparently losing 2 billion francs annually but can only pass on half of those losses to consumers.

Oddly, neighboring France faces a power shortage that should lead to greater demand in Switzerland; the aforementioned losses have been part of a longer trend stemming back to the solar boom of Germany (see my report from 2012), which began bringing down prices on spot power markets despite Chancellor Merkel’s nuclear phaseout of 2011. Solar and wind have simply grown faster than anyone expected.

As I recently explained, France has more than a third of its reactors closed at present. At the beginning of November, it was announced (in French) that five of the 20 reactors (out of 58) currently undergoing inspections would not come back online this month as expected.

Concerns of a power shortage also extend to the UK, where system operator National Grid warned of a potential shortfall on Monday, November 07. Power prices have reached as high as 40 pence on the spot market, whereas 4 pence would be more usual (play around with this table). The British were importing power full blast on line from the Netherlands and France, thereby contributing to the drain on French supply.

As a result, French prices were also high that Monday, reaching nearly 40 cents. But that’s nothing: a power trader says it is “almost certain” that France will reach its price cap of three euros per kilowatt-hour on the exchange this winter. The head of EDF, which operates all of France’s reactors, has now said that the danger of a blackout this winter is real (in French). At that point, France might import from the UK no matter what the cost, and the British would fire up their strategic reserve……..

The problem is thus that France and the UK have failed to build enough renewables, especially biogas plants running on waste (which are dispatchable), while they wasted time hoping to build nuclear plants that never emerged. As for the Swiss, well, they have suffered from the same indecision but may set it aside finally in their referendum on November 27.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Switzerland | Leave a comment

TEPCO to be sued by cancer victim, former Fukushima worker

legal costsflag-japanCancer patient compensated for Fukushima work to sue TEPCO THE ASAHI SHIMBUN November 18, 2016 A 42-year-old man diagnosed with leukemia after working at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant plans to sue Tokyo Electric Power Co., saying the utility failed to take adequate precautions against radiation exposure.

He will also sue Kyushu Electric Power Co., operator of the Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture where he had also worked, in the lawsuit expected to be filed at the Tokyo District Court on Nov. 22.

The man, who is from Kita-Kyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture, will demand about 59 million yen ($541,000) in total compensation from the two utilities.

“TEPCO and Kyushu Electric, as the managers of the facilities, are responsible for the health of workers there, but they failed to take adequate measures to protect them from radiation exposure,” said one of the lawyers representing him.

“The man was forced to undergo unnecessary radiation exposure because of the utilities’ slipshod on-site radiation management, and as a result had to face danger to his life and fear of death,” the lawyer said.

The lawyers group said the man has a strong case, citing a ruling by labor authorities in October 2015 that recognized a correlation between his leukemia and his work in response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

It was the first time cancer was ruled work-related among people who developed the disease after working at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The planned lawsuit will be the first legal action against TEPCO brought by an individual whose work-related compensation claim has already been granted.

Between October 2011 and December 2013, the man worked at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to set up a cover on the damaged No. 4 reactor building and perform other tasks.

The man also did regular maintenance jobs at the Genkai plant.

His accumulative radiation exposure at the two plants came to about 20 millisieverts.

He was diagnosed with acute myelocytic leukemia in January 2014.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, Legal | Leave a comment

American environmental officials appointed by Trump will be climate deniers

text politicsFlag-USATrump begins filling environmental posts with clowns 17 November 2016 by John Abraham Come on, you can admit it. I admit it. I admit that after Trump’s election victory, I secretly hoped and even though that his rhetoric was worse than its bite. He only said those crazy things during the campaign to get elected. He wouldn’t really follow through on his plans to completely gut the US commitment to keeping the Earth habitable. Oh how naive we were. Trump’s plan to fill positions in his administration shows things are worse than we could have ever feared.

According to recent reports, Trump has picked long-time climate denier and spokesperson for the fossil fuel industry Myron Ebell to head the Environmental Protection Agency transition. This basically means the EPA will either cease to function or cease to exist. It also appears that the US will pull out of any agreements to limit greenhouse emissions. 

It means we have missed our last off-ramp on the road to catastrophic climate change. That may sound hyperbolic, but I study the rate that climate change is happening – the amount of heat accumulating in the Earth’s system. We didn’t have any time to waste in implementing Obama’s aggressive plans, and Trump will result in a decade of time lost.

So who is Myron Ebell? He is a director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and chair of the Cooler Heads Coalition. Where did he get his PhD in science? Nowhere. In fact, he isn’t a scientist at all, but he does have a degree in economics. Yeah!

Is there any conflict that Ebell’s Competitive Enterprise Institute is funded by companies such as ExxonMobil and groups such as the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation? Surely not.

Myron Ebell is not new to obstructing action on climate change. Years ago, it was reported that he favored editing Bush-era scientists’ reports on climate change.

It isn’t just Ebell. Trump has other insiders, some of who represent fossil fuel companies, working on the transition.

What this selection also tells us about Trump is that he is surrounding himself with people who are not knowledgeable in a topic and will not effectively educate him. Not that educating Trump was ever possible. But there was always the outside chance he would take his contrarian streak to a new level and be contrarian to the contrarians. We now see that is not going to happen. If Trump listens to anyone, it will be people who think like he does and represent special interests who would be most affected by his policies. We have a fox guarding the hen house.

I know Trump won’t listen, but I have a wager for him. I could randomly pull an Earth scientist’s name out of a hat and any name I pulled would be better than Myron Ebell. I challenge Trump and his administration to actually include real scientists in forming legislation and action on environmental issues. And I am not talking about scientists that are connected to rightwing thinktank groups. I am talking about independent unaffiliated scientists. Cripes, just go down to the neighborhood university, pick anyone – they will be better than what you have now.

Or Trump could attend the world’s largest geophysics meeting, which occurs in just a few weeks (American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting).

Click here to read the rest

November 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Presidency of Donald Trump could improve USA-China relations

Donald Trump Offers Hope of Less Hostile Policy toward China, Huffington Post, 11/18/2016 
Doug Bandow Contributing writer, policy analyst
 U.S.-China relations are likely to benefit from the election of Donald Trump as president. Hillary Clinton’s policy toward China emphasized confrontation. In a leaked email she was quoted as privately threatening to “ring China with missile defense” if Beijing didn’t bring North Korea to heel. She also said Americans should “put more of our fleet in the area.”

While Trump primarily emphasized trade issues, Clinton’s approach would have risked a military confrontation while adding new tensions to U.S.-China relations. This approach also would have driven Beijing closer to the ever provocative Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The DPRK’s nuclear program has become Northeast Asia’s biggest security challenge. Today the North is believed to have enough nuclear materials for up to 20 nuclear weapons. By 2020 Pyongyang could have at least 50 and perhaps as many as 100 nukes.

Marry such an arsenal to accurate long-range missiles and Pyongyang’s mischief-making ability would expand dramatically. China understands the dangers and wants to keep the Korean peninsula nuclear-free……..

America, usually through its secretary state, including Clinton, has made a practice of simply telling the PRC what the U.S. desires and complaining when China does not deliver. Alas, the time, if it ever really existed, when Washington could simply dictate to others has passed. Even more, the time when anyone could dictate to Beijing has passed……..

American policymakers understandably are frustrated by China’s continuing support for North Korea. However, threats like that advocated by Clinton almost certainly would be counter-productive. The U.S. is unlikely to apply pressure sufficient to coerce Beijing into acting against its interest. But the attempt would make China less willing to cooperate in the future.

Instead, Washington needs to relearn the art of diplomacy and seek to persuade rather than dictate. Doing so might not be as satisfying as making demands. But such a course would be more likely to succeed. Which should be everyone’s objective in dealing with North Korea. Ironically, despite his bluster, incoming President Donald Trump may be more open to such an approach than would have been a President Hillary Clinton.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

World environment movement ready to fight Trump on climate change

poster-climate-FranceGlobal green movement prepares to fight Trump on climate change
Election of a climate sceptic as US president sparks outpouring of donations and a surge in planned protests and court challenges,
Guardian, , 19 Nov 16, The global green movement is preparing for the fight of its life against efforts by Donald Trump to rollback action on climate change, with a surge in fundraising, planned court challenges and a succession of protests.

Environmental activists said the election of a climate change denier as US president, along with the prospect of former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and various oil billionaires holding senior posts, has prompted an “outpouring” of donations.

This week, comedian, John Oliver, used his show to urge viewers to give to the Natural Resources Defense Council, while EarthJustice, a specialist in environmental law, reported a “substantial increase” in donations to wage the expected legal battles ahead. The Sierra Club said it has had 9,000 new monthly donors since election day, more than they had in the year to date.

After spending eight years cheering and occasionally scolding Barack Obama, environmentalists are now moving on to a war footing. Campaigns will be pitched around climate action and protecting national parks, with green groups claiming that public support for these things means that Trump has no mandate to tear them apart.

With Congress and the White House in Republican hands, the message will have to resonate in conservative ears rather than just energise the base…….

Environmentalists said that, while Trump’s hand in the courts and Congress might be stronger than it was when they fought against George W Bush, one key difference was that businesses were now convinced of the need for curbing emissions. At the UN climate talks this week in Marrakech, a coalition of businesses including Kellogg’s and Mars, urged leaders to commit to long-term carbon plans.

“Ten years ago, US business wasn’t on board about tackling climate change,” said Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth in the UK. “This time round you have a situation where US businesses and businesses more globally [support action], so this time around the environmental movement does not feel like it is on its own. We’re much better placed to fight this.”

In the UK, a cross-party group of MPs and environment groups has already begun meeting to discuss how to respond to anti-environmental rhetoric from the Trump administration, and how to deal with the consequences of the president elect delivering on his promise to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement……..

In Australia, the Trump victory is driving an intensified focus from environmentalists to put a stop to a proposed coalmine there, which would be the biggest in the already coal-rich nation, and one of the biggest in the world……

November 19, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, politics | Leave a comment

USA Judge refuses to dismiss Youth Climate Lawsuit

legal actionclimate-changeJudge Won’t Dismiss Youth Climate Lawsuit; Stage Set for Historic Trial ,17 November 2016 By Dana DrugmandTruthout | Report As global temperature continues to rise — with 2016 slated to set a new high for the third consecutive year — young climate activists are rising to the occasion and breaking new legal ground. Finally, a landmark youth-led climate change lawsuit may move forward to trial.

On November 10, 2016, US District Court Judge Ann Aiken ruled in favor of 21 youth plaintiffs suing the federal government over its inadequate action to prevent anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).

“It’s clear Judge Aiken gets what’s at stake for us,” said 17-year-old plaintiff Victoria Barrett, from White Plains, New York. “Our planet and our generation don’t have time to waste. If we continue on our current path, my school in Manhattan will be underwater in 50 years.”

Judge Aiken rejected defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, following the recommendation made by magistrate judge Thomas Coffin last April. Judge Coffin determined that the youths had standing and had potential constitutional and public trust claims.

The youth plaintiffs (who range from nine to 20 years old) and the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust claim violation of the public trust doctrine, and most prominently, violation of their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property due to climate instability. Federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are the main defendants, supported by the fossil fuel industry as interveners in the case. The plaintiffs allege that the government has known about the dangers of climate change for decades, yet deliberately pursued policies that enabled a fossil-fuel-based energy system and locked in dangerous levels of warming that may be irreversible.

Plaintiffs seek relief in the form of a court mandate that the US develop a climate recovery plan based on the current science……

Although this was not a decision on the merits, Judge Aiken acknowledged the substantive argument that the conventional policy response to the climate crisis has failed to prevent harm.

“This action is of a different order than the typical environmental case,” she wrote in her decision. “It alleges that defendants’ actions and inactions — whether or not they violate any specific statutory duty — have so profoundly damaged our home planet that they threaten plaintiffs’ fundamental constitutional rights to life and liberty.”

In seeking appeal, the government will ask the judge for certification that raises a jurisdictional question, but Vermont Law School professor Patrick Parenteau said she will likely deny this request, thus sending the case to trial.

“I think the case has a lot of moral force and a lot of rhetorical force, regardless of what its ultimate fate may be,” Parenteau told Truthout, adding that it will hopefully capture public attention and remind people that elections have consequences, particularly for younger generations……..

November 19, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

3 nuclear dangers, 3 opportunities – with President Trump

TrumpNuclear Trump: 3 Dangers and 3 Opportunities The man whom advisers did not trust with a Twitter account will soon have the unfettered opportunity to launch nuclear war. The Nation By Joseph Cirincione ,  NOVEMBER 16, 2016 

“……. The man who can be baited with a tweet, the man whose campaign team did not trust with a Twitter account, the man whose unpredictability and wild temperament made him an unacceptable choice for the majority of voters this November, will have, from that moment forward, the unfettered ability to launch nuclear war.

 There is no institutional check on a president’s ability to fire nuclear weapons should he or she wish to do so. President Trump will be able to launch, within minutes, one or one thousand nuclear weapons without any vote, any check, or even any serious deliberation.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | 2 Comments

The nuclear lobby gives its orders to the USA government

USA nuclear lobby

Act now for nuclear future, US Senate committee told 18 November 2016 The USA must take action now if it wants to have a “nuclear energy option” by 2030, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee was told on 16 November.

John Deutch, chairman of the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board (SEAB), presented the results from a task force study on the future of nuclear power to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, at the second of two oversight hearings on the future of nuclear power in the USA.

The task force was asked by US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to describe an initiative leading to a revitalised US nuclear industry of a scale able to deploy 5000 to 10,000 MWe of nuclear power annually, between 2030 and 2050. The report was approved by the full SEAB in September.

“If the country is going to have a nuclear [energy] option in 2030, it must an initiative of the scope and size that this committee [the Task Force] describes,” Deutch said. “If you do not undertake a major initiative now, it is inevitable that in 2030 the country will not have a nuclear option,” he said. Any such initiative would require time, significant public resources, a redesign of electricity markets, and “sustained and skilled” management. “There is no shortcut to doing this,” he said.

The task force called for market restructuring to avoid the premature retirement of nuclear power plants as a prerequisite for the success of any nuclear power initiative. It called for the carbon free nature of nuclear to be recognised in order to diminish the “cost disparity” between new nuclear – with high overnight capital costs of $5000 per kWe – and natural gas-fired generating capacity – with overnight costs of $1000 per kWe. This could be achieved through either a direct production payment proportional to the cost of carbon avoided – recommended by the task force as 2.7 cents per kilowatt-hour – or by the imposition of a carbon charge on the emissions from gas-fired generation.

Two-part program for new reactors

The task force recommended the USA pursues a two-stranded program to support the development of new plants. Reactors based on proven light-water reactor (LWR) technology would not need any additional federal support beyond the proposed 2.7 cents per kilowatt-hour production payment, although Department of Energy assistance with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing and possibly siting early reactors on federally-owned sites “would be appropriate and helpful”, it said.

For advanced reactors based on new technology, the task force recommended a four-part program to bring a reactor from early concept to construction of commercial plant. It estimated such a program, including technology selection and construction of a first-of-a-kind commercial plant, would take up to 25 years and about $11.5 billion. The cost would be shared equally between the government and the private sector entity undertaking the project, with the government’s contribution coming in the earlier phases of the program.

The task force recommended the creation of an independent quasi-public corporation to manage the proposed advanced reactor initiative. It underscored the importance of addressing fuel cycle and waste management as part of the proposed initiative, noting that advanced reactors will raise different issues from LWRs for the front and back end of the fuel cycle. Deutch said committee staff had suggested a single entity could be created to manage both the advanced nuclear initiative and the implementation of the nuclear waste plans from the 2012 Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

The NRC should develop a staged approach for the licensing of advanced reactors, in consideration of the time and cost associated with obtaining construction and operation licences. The regulator already has the authority to proceed “and should do so now”, although it may require more budgetary support to do so, Deutch said. New advanced reactors constructed and licensed abroad would still require a full NRC review, he added.

The SEAB provides advice and recommendations to the secretary of energy on the department’s basic and applied research and development activities, economic and national security policy, educational issues, operational issues and any other departmental activities and operations as the secretary may direct. The duties of the board are solely advisory.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Iran arrests 12 members of nuclear negotiating team for espionage

handcuffedflag-IranReport: 12 members of nuclear negotiating team arrested by Iran for espionage, Jerusalem Post, 18 Nov 16 At least a dozen senior officials who were part of the negotiating team that conducted talks with the west regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program were arrested by Iranian authorities on espionage charges, Channel 2 citing an Iranian member of parliament reported Friday.

Iranian MP Husein Al Haj  said earlier this week that some of those arrested had dual citizenship but he did not disclose their identities or nationalities.

Government controlled media in Iran did not comment or acknowledge the arrests but Arab media outlets have been covering the story quite extensively.

Iranian authorities earlier in the year had carried out a similar arrest against another member of the negotiating unit, claiming the suspect was a “spy who had infiltrated the nuclear team.”

The suspect was later released on bail but was still under investigation at the time, former Iranian minister of intelligence Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said at a news conference on August 28…..

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Iran, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

India benefits from its No First Use doctrine on nuclear weapons

Six reasons why a No First Use nuclear doctrine is good for India, Hindustan Times, Manmohan Bahadur Nov 18, 2016  “…..The advantages of an NFU policy are many.
  • First, a hair-trigger alert, to ensure that the other side does not get a chance to strike first, does not have to be maintained and so forces and equipment can be in a relaxed posture; nuclear forces can be maintained in a de-mated condition waiting for orders from higher echelons to go to a higher alert status, thus ensuring that command and control stays firmly with the civilian political leadership, which is a very important aim.
  • Second, since there is no first use alert requirement, the chances of reacting to a false alarm are nullified.
  • Third, the onus of taking the decision to escalate to a nuclear use lies on the adversary and not on the party having an NFU doctrine.
  • Fourth, a first use would result in international opprobrium and weigh heavily on a country with a first use posture.
  • Fifth, a first use posture still requires a country to have survivable second strike capability as there is nothing such as a “splendid” first strike implying 100% decapitation of the adversary’s assets and leadership. And last, a NFU doctrine is cheaper to implement; for India, which has many economic targets to achieve, this is a very important factor.
The questioning of India’s NFU doctrine has been born out of the exasperation that has come about due to Pakistan’s use of sub-conventional methods under the overhang of its nuclear weapons. However, Pakistan knows that it cannot afford to use any nuclear weapons in a war, including its tactical nuclear weapons, as India would respond with massive nuclear retaliation as per its doctrine. Additionally, with China heavily invested in Pakistan, it would be in Beijing’s interest to ensure that the leadership of its geopolitical “outpost” does not take any rash decision of initiating a nuclear exchange.

As Parrikar said, India is a responsible nation; hence, India’s nuclear capability and resolve of its leadership should be the signals that convey India’s nuclear posture through its NFU doctrine. The avoidance of nuclear blackmail can be achieved by India demonstrating its readiness to accept risks that are not less than that of Pakistan. This is already happening through the element of signalling in the conventional exchanges between the two armies across the LoC in J&K. The NFU policy is just right for India as it ensures security for the nation and does not detract it from its march towards better prosperity for its people.

Manmohan Bahadur is retired Air Vice Marshal and distinguished fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi

November 19, 2016 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment