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Trump administration wants $716 billion for defense for fiscal 2019

Why the military wants $716 billion from Congress,The Hill , The Trump administration is poised to ask Congress for $716 billion for defense for fiscal 2019, a major hike that budget analysts say aligns with administration’s stated goals of bulking up the military and preparing it to potentially fight near-peer rivals after years of focusing on terrorism.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Costs of France’s Flamville nuclear power project have exploded, and delays ballooned

Le Parisien 3rd Feb 2018, [Machine Translation] EPR Flamanville: four questions on an industrial
disaster. Seven years late and a quote that has tripled in ten years: the
site of the EPR Flamanville Friday received the visit of Sébastien
Lecornu, Secretary of State Nicolas Hulot.

Started in April 2007, the EPR was to cost € 3.3 billion and enter service in 2012. Except that the site
has accumulated the setbacks, the highlight of which was in April 2015,
after the discovery by the ASN of a anomaly in the steel of the lid and
bottom of the reactor vessel. In June 2017, EDF obtained authorization from
the ASN to operate the tank, but confidence in EPR technology has been
eroded. The bill exploded: around € 11 billion.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, France, technology | Leave a comment

Divestment from nuclear weapons funds – one strong move to reduce danger of nuclear war

Global Voices: Citizens can help reduce risk of nuclear conflict, Marc and Craig Kielburger / .FEBRUARY 4, 2018 

Marzhan Nurzhan has a mission. The 25-year-old from Kazakhstan is rallying global youth to tackle one of the biggest threats to her generation. But time may be running out.

On Jan. 25, partly in response to North Korea’s recent weapons tests, international scientists moved the hands of the “Doomsday Clock” — a symbolic gauge that measures the risk of nuclear war — to 11:58. It’s the closest to midnight we’ve been since 1953.

Midnight represents Armageddon.

Nurzhan has been an international advocate for nuclear disarmament ever since she learned of the impact nuclear weapons had on her country. Two million Kazakhstanis still suffer cancer and birth defects, the fallout from decades of Soviet weapons tests.

While many international organizations are active on nuclear disarmament, advocates such as Nurzhan face a major challenge getting ordinary people engaged, especially youth.

During the Cold War, public demonstrations against nuclear arms were common. Today, not so much. Increased threats haven’t increased public interest, says Nurzhan.

Rob van Riet, peace and disarmament co-ordinator for the World Future Council, says: “[Nuclear disarmament] feels too large for a lot of people and they feel powerless.”

Issues such as climate change are daunting, but tangible. Ordinary citizens can contact politicians, demanding policies that reduce emissions.

More importantly, people have at least some control over their household energy use. But making superpowers give up their huge arsenals, let alone influencing a rogue state such as North Korea, seems unattainable.

Still, Nurzhan and Van Riet insist ordinary people can help reduce the global risk of nuclear conflict.

A powerful tool is divestment. The U.S., Russia and China want to upgrade their aging nuclear arsenals, and develop new types of smaller weapons that could be used on the battlefield. The companies that build parts for those bombs are supported by investors such as pension funds, and even our personal RRSP funds.

We can pressure investors to drop these companies from their portfolios, pushing them to get out of the bomb business.

Canada is uniquely positioned to be a leader in nuclear disarmament. As climate change makes Arctic waters more accessible to submarines, Russia and the US increasingly see the north as a key part of their nuclear strategy, according to van Riet.

As a respected Arctic nation, Canada could lead the campaign to make the region a nuclear-free zone.

Likewise, with public pressure, Canada could play a diplomatic leadership role and insist that all nuclear states follow the example of China and India and declare a “no first use” policy.

This would reduce the risk of conventional conflicts escalating into nuclear war.

But if Canada is to be that leader, we have to make it a priority for our government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been conducting town halls across the country — a great opportunity to raise the issue, notes Douglas Roach, a former Canadian senator and Ambassador for Nuclear Disarmament.

“If he’s not hearing from people, he’s going to think people don’t care.”

The Cold War might be a distant memory, but its terrifying ghost still haunts us.

It’s time for us to engage again on nuclear disarmament.

The clock is ticking.

Craig and Marc Kielburger are the co-founders of the WE movement, which includes WE Charity ME to WE Social Enterprise and WE Day. For more dispatches from WE, check out WE Stories.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Downwinders could be eligible for compensation for illnesses caused by nuclear radiation

Days Past: Are you a Downwinder? , Shannon Williams, The Courier, 4 Feb 18  Downwinder: this term has become well known in Yavapai County. Downwind radiation exposure has been cited in many cancer diagnoses and blamed for the deaths of many long-term residents of the county.

How did this happen? During the Cold War, the U.S. government built a huge nuclear arsenal. Above-ground testing began in 1951 at the Nevada Test Site, where over 100 nuclear bombs were detonated through 1958. All nuclear testing stopped in 1958 by agreement among the United States, the United Kingdom and the USSR.

The government detonated several above-ground devices in July 1962. This was the last time nuclear weapons were tested above ground. Nuclear testing continued below ground at the Nevada Test Site. From Jan. 21, 1951, to Oct. 31, 1958, and June 30, 1962, to July 31, 1962, when above-ground testing was conducted, were later designated as Downwind time periods.

After the 1962 testing period, many of the workers at the test sites and local residents filed class action lawsuits alleging exposure to known radiation hazards. All of the suits were dismissed by the courts. Congress responded by creating the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) on Oct. 5, 1990. The Act was then expanded in 2000, when the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program (RESEP) was created. RECA provides monetary compensation as an apology to individuals who developed certain cancers after their exposure to radiation. RECA authorized the payment of $50,000 to individuals who lived downwind from the Nevada Test Site and developed one of the specified diseases.

Congress designated several counties in Nevada, Utah and Arizona as areas impacted by the radiation exposure. In Arizona, the Downwind-eligible counties include Apache, Coconino, Gila, Mohave (above the Grand Canyon), Navajo and Yavapai………

Many local residents have been affected by these nuclear tests, as we now know. Perhaps the most well-known was longtime Prescott resident and former City Council member John Hanna, who died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October 2013 – which the government has acknowledged was likely caused by radiation from nuclear testing. Quoting from the book “Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West,” by Sarah Alisabeth Fox: “Many families” in the areas affected by fallout “kept livestock and gardens or bought meat, milk, and produce from their neighbors, unwittingly gathering radiological contamination … and placing it on their dinner tables.”

To file a RECA claim, individuals need to provide documentation to show physical presence in the Downwind counties for two years during the Downwind time periods.

In addition, individuals need to establish their diagnosis of a compensable cancer. Compensable diagnoses include leukemia, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and cancers of the thyroid, lungs, esophagus, and breast, among others. Applicants do not need to provide causation on their cancer diagnosis. They only need to gather medical records that show proof of the eligible cancer.

RECA expires on July 9, 2022. All Downwinder RECA claims must be submitted before this date.

Join Shannon Williams, health promotions manager with RESEP, when she presents “Downwinders Program: Are You Eligible?” at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at Sharlot Hall Museum. Come early, as seating is limited.

“Days Past” is a collaborative project of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Prescott Corral of Westerners International ( This and other Days Past articles are also available at The public is encouraged to submit proposed articles to Please contact SHM Library & Archives reference desk at 928-277-2003, or via email at for information.


February 5, 2018 Posted by | health, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Mars colonists will need to be genetically modified humans

If Elon Musk is to colonise Mars, he’ll need to recruit a crew of genetically-modified humans
People who live on Mars may need to be genetically altered to be resistant to radiation. And while it might seem a long way off, research is already underway to work out how this can be done. Wired,     

Radiation resistance in humans and animals is something we know little about, although we know it exists. At the moment, resistance tests are used to try and predict how much radiation cancer patients can survive, but one day this could be an important decider of who gets to venture into space.

Our Earth is protected from the harmful radiation from the Sun by our magnetic field, but astronauts that leave the planet will be bombarded with the dangerous particles…..

 it’s not impossible that in the future, humans could be gene-edited to better withstand the harshness of space; not limited to the radiation. …….

The lenses in our eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of the body when it comes to exposure to radiation. Astronauts, who are exposed to dangerous levels of space radiation, and survivors of atomic bombs and accidents such as Chernobyl, have been shown to be much more susceptible to a condition called radiation cataracts.

This special type of cataract, which was seen for the first time in a rabbit in 1897, is easy to detect because it grows from the back of the lens. Exactly what causes it is unknown, but the current best explanation is that it forms because of DNA damage.

If radiation-resistant humans are sent to Mars, this would make an interesting pot of humans from which new traits could evolve separately from those on Earth.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, technology | Leave a comment

Radiation still a stumbling block to space travel

NASA lecture: Radiation still a stumbling block to space travel Daily Press, Tamara Dietrich Contact Reporter, Senior Reporter, 4 Feb 18   The dream of exploring deep space has sparked the imagination for generations, but it always runs up against one cold, hard reality: radiation.

Simply put, exposure to space radiation during a long mission or while exploring a place like Mars increases the likelihood of an astronaut dying from cancer.

Yes, astronauts are willing to take some risks, but within reason, said John Norbury, lead research physicist in the Space Radiation Group at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton.

According to the American Cancer Society, the average American male stands a roughly 22 percent chance of dying from cancer in his lifetime; an American woman, just under 19 percent.

“It’s not a do-or-die situation,” Norbury said. “It’s, rather, how much does the risk of dying from cancer increase on a mission?”……….

Senior research physicist Sheila Thibeault said “Radiation in space is much, much, much more hazardous than on Earth, so this is a space problem. And it’s a very challenging problem to try to figure out how we’re going to get astronauts to Mars and back safely. And how to get astronauts to the moon and stay there for a while and get back.” ……..

Prolonged exposure doesn’t just increase one’s lifetime cancer risk, but can cause serious acute health effects.

Here on this planet, we’re largely protected from most solar and cosmic particles by the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field. That magnetic field also offers some protection to crews in low-Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station……..


February 5, 2018 Posted by | radiation, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Belgium’s nuclear power stations a danger to neighbouring countries

Belgium’s neighbors fear a nuclear incident  ,I cover energy, environment and EU politics in Brussels  , 4 Feb 18, 

Last summer, when the Belgian government revealed that seventy new cracks had been discovered in the boiler of the country’s Tihange 2 nuclear reactor, towns near the country’s borders reacted with exasperation.

The power plant lies just 60km from the triple border where Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands meet, close to the Dutch town of Maastricht and the German town of Aachen.

These were not the first cracks to be discovered. Tihange is now more than four decades old, but it was built to only have a lifespan of 30 years. Already in 2014 an inspection found thousands of small ‘microcracks’ in the reactor. The neighboring German state of Northrhine-Westphalia became so alarmed that it ordered iodine tablets for German citizens in case of a Belgian nuclear accident.

Tihange isn’t the only plant of concern. The Doel 3 reactor, near the Belgian port city of Antwerp next to the Dutch border, also has cracks. These reactors have been subject to sudden shutdowns which have caused disruption to the Belgian electricity network. The country is 40 percent reliant on nuclear power for its electricity.

n neighboring Germany, nuclear power has remained very unpopular with the public since the 1970s. After the 2011 Fukishima nuclear disaster in Japan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to phase out nuclear power in the country for safety reasons. But Germany is powerless to do anything about nuclear plants just across its borders, which pose the same safety risks to German citizens as domestic plants would.

NEVERTHELESS, GERMAN POLITICIANS HAVE harshly criticized what they see as Belgian inaction over the safety of its aging plants. And the concern is likely to grow louder following the broadcast of a documentary this week on German television alleging a series of near-accidents at the Tihange plant.

 No cooperation

But despite the complaints from Dutch and German politicians, a report published this week found that they haven’t made much of an effort to work with their Belgian counterparts to resolve the problem. A Belgo-German cooperation group set up in 2016 has done little to change that situation, it found.

The report, published by the Dutch Safety Board, did not address the safety of the plants but instead the degree to which the three countries are working together on their maintenance and contingency plans in the event of a nuclear incident. It found that though cooperation has been set up on paper, “it probably will not run smoothly if a nuclear accident were to occur in reality.”

According to the report, preparations for an incident at the plants varies widely between the three countries. Some have iodine pills at the ready, others have evacuation instructions that differ from those that would be given to neighboring populations. In the event of an accident, the report warns, citizens would not know which set of instructions to follow.

The result, the report warns, could be “confusion and unrest” – particularly as linguistic and cultural differences are exasperated by an unfolding emergency situation.

For their part, the Belgian government insists that despite the cracks, the reactors are still perfectly safe and the temporary shutdowns have been simply due to an abundance of caution. Nevertheless, the country’s health ministry said in 2016 that it would provide iodine tablets to citizens around the plant, just in case.

While many Belgians share their neighbors’ alarm, others feel that they are being used as a political punching bag by neighboring politicians looking to score cheap points. While there is deep anti-nuclear feeling in Germany and The Netherlands, Belgium has a similarly positive attitude to the power source as its southern neighbor France.

 In the mean time, people in this triple border region don’t know who to believe. But their attitudes tend to be set by which side of the border they reside in. In the event of a nuclear accident, however, the radiation would effect them all equally.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Death of a hero who saved White Sea from nuclear disaster

Captain who saved White Sea from nuclear disaster dies at 67, Barents Observer  When a training missile exploded in the silo, Captain Igor Grishkov immediately dived his enormous Typhoon submarine to flush away burning rocket fuel before the other nuclear weapon-tipped missiles were set on fire.  By Thomas Nilsen, February 03, 2018

One of Russia’s most unknown heros, submarine captain Igor Grishkov, is dead 67 years old, the blog site Korabel reports. After retirement, he moved to Severodvinsk by the White Sea where he lived until his death this week.

Severodvinsk Mayor, Igor Skubenko, is quoted saying Captain Grishkov will remain forever in the history of Severodvinsk and his successful experience and struggle to rescue the submarine will be adopted by many other submarine commanders.

Failed coup in Moscow

What happened in the White Sea in September 1991 is little known to open public sources. Captain Igor Grishkov was sailing out the White Sea to the area where he was told to launch a ballistic test missile supposed to hit the designated target on the Chukotka Peninsula in the Far East of the Soviet Union.

Grishkov’s vessel, TK-17, was the fifth of the six giant Typhoon class submarines……..

The Typhoon submarines and the on board SS-N-20 nuclear missiles are designed to launch its nuclear weapons from submerged position. So also for this test on September 27, 1991.

10-9-8-7-6….. , then suddenly the missile exploded, blowing off the cover of the silo. Captain Grishkov ordered his men in the command centre of the submarine to blow the tanks with air and make an emergency surfacing. At surface, the crew could see a massive fireball over the deck.

All 20 nuclear missile-silos on the Typhoons are in front of the tower.

The fire came from the solid propellant of the exploded missile that had leaked inside the silo and all around the deck near the blown-to-pieces part of the silo-cover. Also the rubber-cover of the outer hull was on fire. Within seconds, Captain Grishkov reportedly understood the danger. What would happen if the fire spread and triggered overheating of the highly flammable propellant in the other 19 missiles. Those who were not on board for test shooting but aimed for real nuclear war.

Dive man, dive!

There was only one option; dive down again and hope the seawater would extinguish the fire. He warned his crew members in the missile compartment to be prepared for flooding. Diving a more than 30,000 tons heavy vessel just after emergency surfacing is not easy, its dangerous and its risky.

But the alternative was so much worse.

The commanders on bridge managed the task quickly and then surfaced again. The manoeuvre was successful and a real nuclear catastrophe in the White Sea was miraculously prevented……….

Back in port, the accident was kept secret to most people. Damage control was done, the burnt silo was cleaned and sealed off and the rubber on the outer hull was repaired. The silo in question was never used again, and TK-17 continued to sail with 19 missiles until she was laid up in 2004 and put in reserve.

Although the heroically saving of his crew and submarine, Captain Igor Grishkov was never awared with the medal “Hero of the Soviet Union” or today’s “Hero of Russia”.  …….


February 5, 2018 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Russia | Leave a comment

A-bomb survivors react to US nuclear policy  Atomic bomb survivors in Japan have expressed anger and disappointment over the new US nuclear strategy.

Toshiyuki Mimaki is a survivor from Hiroshima and a member of Nihon Hidankyo, the Japan Confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations.

Mimaki said he feels outrage at the policy. He says if a president of a major power wants to increase and modernize nuclear capabilities, it means A-bomb survivors will never see a world without nuclear arms.

He said nuclear arms do not make the world safer and such weapons should never be used regardless of size.

Koichi Kawano heads the Nagasaki-based Hibakuren, a liaison council for A-bomb survivors at the prefecture’s Peace Movement Center.

Kawano said the announcement poured cold water on the achievement last year of the adoption of a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

He said the new US strategy, which aims to develop smaller nuclear arms, could lower the bar for the use of such weapons. He said this would raise the likelihood of nuclear war. Noting the presence of US military bases in Japan, Kawano urged the Japanese government to make more diplomatic efforts to prevent war.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear Safeguards Bill may not protect the UK’s nuclear industry after Brexit

Institute for Government 2nd Feb 2018,  The Nuclear Safeguards Bill may not protect the UK’s nuclear industry
after Brexit. While the Nuclear Safeguards Bill is an important step
towards avoiding a regulatory gap for the UK’s nuclear industry

February 5, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear informant to USA gaoled in Iran

Ian Jails ‘Nuclear Spy’ For Six Years, Radio Free Europe 4 Feb 18 Tehran’s prosecutor says an unnamed person has been sentenced to six years in prison for relaying information about Iran’s nuclear program to a U.S. intelligence agent and a European country.

Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told judiciary news website Mizan that the Iranian court also ordered the confiscation of the money the convict allegedly received for the information.

Dolatabadi said the alleged spy met the U.S. agent nine times and provided him with information about “nuclear affairs and sanctions.”

The convict also provided the information to a European country, the prosecutor added, without providing further details.

In December, Dolatabadi said Iran’s Supreme Court had upheld a death sentence against Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish academic convicted of providing information to Israel about Iran’s nuclear and defense plans and personnel.

Djalali, a researcher at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, has denied the charges.

Iran insists its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, while the United States and other countries claim it has been trying to develop nuclear weapons………

Baquer Namazi, a retired UNICEF official, and his son Siamak are serving 10-year prison sentences.

A United Nations human rights group and the United States have called for their immediate release.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Iran, Legal | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s hostility to the 2015 nuclear deal is dampening foreign investment in Iran

Iran says Trump’s hostility to nuclear deal scares investors,

Iran says President Donald Trump’s hostility to the 2015 nuclear deal is dampening foreign investment in the energy sector despite the lifting of sanctions.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters on Sunday that the uncertainty over the future of the agreement, which Trump has repeatedly threatened to scrap, is scaring off potential investors.

Trump re-certified the deal in January but said he would not do the same in May unless it is fixed.

Iran hopes to attract more than $150 billion to rebuild its energy industry after years of sanctions. Last year it signed a $5 billion gas deal with France’s Total SA and a Chinese oil company to develop a massive offshore gas field.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

name of Name of Eskom, Africa’s largest electricity company, synonymous with corruption in South Africa

Eskom: the power giant at the core of S.Africa’s state rot, by Philippe ALFROY/AFP 

The name of Eskom, Africa’s largest electricity company, has become synonymous with the worst corruption scandals in South Africa and the utility could well become the final nail in the political coffin of President Jacob Zuma.

The sacking of yet another of its short-lived CEOs this week and the release of dire financial results confirmed the depth of the crisis plaguing the power utility.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba admitted Eskom represents the single worst crisis facing the government…….


February 5, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

South Australia’s world-leading solar energy system

Reuters 4th Feb 2018, South Australia’s state premier Jay Weatherill announced a plan on Sunday to create a network of 50,000 home solar systems backed by Tesla Powerwall batteries, ahead of a state election in March.

“We lead the world in renewable energy with the world’s largest battery, the world’s largest solar thermal plant and now the world’s largest virtual power plant,” he said in a televised interview from the state capital of Adelaide. “The size of it is the reason why it’s going to be a success.” The project would begin with a trial on 1,100 public housing homes, the government said on its website.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, renewable | Leave a comment

Energy Efficiency in UK

SPRU 2nd Feb 2018,  Blog by Dr Charlie Wilson (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research).

UK homes account for just under a quarter of national greenhouse gas
emissions. Improving their efficiency not only reduces emissions, but also
improves health and wellbeing, and creates jobs.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently retweeted the
headline findings of UKERC-CIED research published last year: up to 50% of
energy used in homes can be saved through energy efficient renovations and
other measures, contingent on supporting policies.

Are these supporting policies in place? The Green Deal was introduced with fanfare in 2013,
replacing obligations on utilities with a market-based approach for
informing homeowners about cost-effective efficiency measures and providing
‘pay-as-you-save’ loan financing.

Our research found that although the Green Deal did effectively raise the salience of energy efficient
renovations, it failed in other important ways:

First, it treated energy efficiency as special rather than as a ‘mundane’ feature of broader
home improvements.

Second, it emphasised financial aspects of renovation
decisions rather than tap into the underlying tensions in domestic life
which renovations could help resolve. A

And it was attractive to homeowners only once they had already decided to renovate, so didn’t help boost
renovation rates. Uptake rates of Green Deal finance were extremely low,
and confidence in the scheme plummeted. Less than 2 years after its
introduction, it was largely shelved. The Clean Growth Strategy published
last October includes measures for improving the efficiency of fuel-poor
and low-income homes, but offers little to the two thirds of owner-occupied
homes in the UK, nor the private rental sector (beyond an aspiration to
“develop a long-term trajectory” to improve energy performance). The
post-Green Deal policy vacuum persists.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment