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Review of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg-Review http://www.freepressjournal.in/book-reviews/the-doomsday-machine-confessions-of-a-nuclear-war-planner-by-daniel-ellsberg/1338115By Kalyani Majumdar | Aug 19, 2018 

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, is written by none other than Daniel Ellsberg, one of the most famous whistleblowers of modern history. Ellsberg is a former United States military analyst and is best known for releasing the top secret Pentagon Papers.

The cover of the book has a quote by another famous whistleblower from recent times, Edward Snowden, that says, “The long-awaited chronicle from the father of American whistle-blowing.” And, it is no secret that Ellsberg is a strong supporter of Snowden. Steven Spielberg’s 2017 movie, The Post, is perhaps one of the bravest movies Spielberg has made. The Guardian, in London, brought the two famous whistleblowers together in an interview during a two-hour internet linkup between Ellsberg in California and Snowden in Moscow, wherein, they discussed the issues pertaining to ethics, press freedom, world politics, and so on.

Interestingly, back when, Snowden was deliberating on his decision to leak secret NSA documents that revealed the scale of mass surveillance by the government, it was a 2009 documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, that inspired him and he finally went on with releasing the documents.

In the book, Ellsberg says, “In 1959, the nuclear control officer on the staff of CINCPAC Admiral Harry D. Felt told me that President Eisenhower had given Felt a secret letter, signed by himself, delegating to Felt the authority to execute his nuclear plans on his own initiative if he felt necessary at a time when communications were out between Washington and his headquarters in Hawaii… Only the President could legitimately make the decision whether or not to go to nuclear war, and that he must make the determination personally at the moment of decision… That is what the American public has been told throughout the nuclear era.”

The book has opened a Pandora’s Box, and it is only time that will tell us, whether Americans, Russians, other world leaders, and the entire human race can rise against these challenges and reverse these policies and eliminate the danger of near-term extinction caused by their own inventions. In the introduction-section, Ellsberg’s statements are spine-chilling as he states, “In sum, most aspects of the U.S. nuclear planning system and force readiness that became known to me half a century ago still exist today, as prone to catastrophe as ever but on a scale, as now known to environmental scientists, looming vastly larger than was understood then. The present risks of the current nuclear era go far beyond the dangers of proliferation and non-state terrorism that have been the almost exclusive focus of public concern for the past generation and the past decade in particular… The hidden reality I aim to expose is that for over 50 years, all-out thermonuclear war—an irreversible, unprecedented, and almost unimaginable calamity for civilization and most life on earth — has been, like the disasters of Chernobyl, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, Fukushima Daiichi, and before these, World war I, a catastrophe waiting to happen, on a scale infinitely greater than any of these. And that is still true today.”

“To those who struggle for a human future.” These poignant words by the author on the very first page of the book say everything, well, almost everything. For the rest, grab this insightful book.

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August 20, 2018 Posted by | resources - print, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Transport of nuclear wastes – environmental danger, and police-state style security

The danger: Police state The nuclear industry has traveled a long, dark way from its claims in the 1950s that it would produce energy too cheap to meter, Keegan said.

With nuclear power plants being retired around the globe, the age of nuclear energy has become the age of nuclear waste, Keegan said. No solution has been found for the safe disposal or storage of the waste, which remains dangerous essentially for eternity.

As the LaSalle proposal suggests, the potential involvement of the military, the secrecy of the transportation routes and the absence of consultation with the public are signs of a police state taking shape, according to Keegan.

“We’ve become a police state in which the transportation of the lethal excrement of the nuclear industry — nuclear waste — is totally secret and takes place under military escort,” said Keegan.

One of the costs: Our civil liberties.

“The industry and the government say, Sorry, we can’t tell you the details,” said Keegan. “We’re protecting you by not telling you.

Exelon Corp. proposes shipping nuclear waste by road through Port Huron, Route is under review by NRC, By Jim Bloch For The Voice, 18 Aug 18

    • Federal officials are considering approving a highway shipping route for high-level nuclear waste between the LaSalle nuclear reactors in Illinois and the city of Port Huron — and environmental groups are concerned……….

The company is proposing to transport the nine spent fuel rods, weighing about 5 pounds apiece, inside a 24-ton, collision-absorbing, heavily shielded shipping cask to the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario, Canada, for testing.

The Chalk River site is about 425 miles northeast-east of Port Huron on the far side of Algonquin Provincial Park.

………Michael Keegan, with Don’t Waste Michigan and the Coalition for a Nuclear-free Great Lakes, uncovered the proposed shipment. Keegan said shipments of high-level liquid nuclear waste from Chalk River through Buffalo to the Savannah River Site, owned by the Department of Energy in South Carolina, are accompanied by military escort. About 75 of the 150 shipments have taken place, Keegan said.

The danger: Environmental catastrophe

Critics of the proposed shipment site the danger of an environmental catastrophe if the container was compromised en route.

  • “Irradiated nuclear fuel rods discharged from commercial nuclear power plants are highly radioactive, a million times more so than when they were first loaded into a reactor core as ‘fresh’ fuel,” according to the Chicago-based Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “Even after decades of radioactive decay, a few minutes of unshielded exposure could deliver a lethal dose. Certain radioactive elements (such as plutonium-239) in ‘spent’ fuel will remain hazardous to humans and other living beings for hundreds of thousands of years. Other radioisotopes will remain hazardous for millions of years. Thus, these wastes must be shielded for centuries and isolated from the living environment for hundreds of millennia.”
  • David Kraft directs NIRS.“We have serious concerns about shipping high-level radioactive waste from Exelon’s LaSalle reactors to a port city,” said Kraft in a statement. “Except in cases of extreme emergency, we believe that irradiated fuel should only be moved once for permanent isolation.”

    Port Huron sits at the mouth on the St. Clair River, part of the crucial linkage between the Upper and Lower Great Lakes.

    “A ground route would take the wastes either over the Blue Water Bridge, which crosses the St. Clair River, or by rail, through a tunnel that connects the two countries,” said Kay Cumbow, with the Port Huron-based Great Lakes Environmental Alliance, in a statement.

    “A spill, release or fire here or near waterways that flow into the St. Clair River could potentially ruin one of the largest fresh water deltas in the world — the St. Clair Flats — and potentially poison forever the drinking water for up to 40-plus million people of the Great Lakes, including residents of Canada, the U.S., U.S. Tribes, First Nations and other Indigenous Peoples.”

    The danger: Police stateThe nuclear industry has traveled a long, dark way from its claims in the 1950s that it would produce energy too cheap to meter, Keegan said.

    With nuclear power plants being retired around the globe, the age of nuclear energy has become the age of nuclear waste, Keegan said. No solution has been found for the safe disposal or storage of the waste, which remains dangerous essentially for eternity.

    As the LaSalle proposal suggests, the potential involvement of the military, the secrecy of the transportation routes and the absence of consultation with the public are signs of a police state taking shape, according to Keegan.

    “We’ve become a police state in which the transportation of the lethal excrement of the nuclear industry — nuclear waste — is totally secret and takes place under military escort,” said Keegan.

    One of the costs: Our civil liberties.

    “The industry and the government say, Sorry, we can’t tell you the details,” said Keegan. “We’re protecting you by not telling you.”………..http://www.voicenews.com/news/exelon-corp-proposes-shipping-nuclear-waste-by-road-through-port/article_8fac9570-a335-11e8-9174-43616dba264b.html

August 20, 2018 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

A Green Wave is coming to USA Politics This November

The Coming Green Wave This silent majority will no longer stand by as the Trump administration tries to destroy a century of bipartisan love of the land. NYT, By Timothy Egan, Aug. 17, 2018 

If emotions were water, and you took all the heartbreak felt by the millions who followed the plight of a starving orca whale grieving over her dead calf, you’d have a river the size of the mighty Columbia.

If anger were a volcano, and you let loose all the rage felt by people over the daily assaults on public land by the Trump administration, you’d have an eruption with the fury of Mount St. Helens.

And if just one unorganized voting segment, the 60 million bird-watchers of America, sent a unified political message this fall, you’d have a political block with more than 10 times the membership of the National Rifle Association.

  • A Green Wave is coming this November, the pent-up force of the most overlooked constituency in America. These independents, Teddy Roosevelt Republicans and Democrats on the sideline have been largely silent as the Trump administration has tried to destroy a century of bipartisan love of the land.

  • But no more. Politics, like Newton’s third law of physics, is about action and reaction. While President Trump tries to prop up the dying and dirty coal industry with taxpayer subsidies, the outdoor recreation industry has been roaring along. It is a $374-billion-a-year economy, by the government’s own calculation, and more than twice that size by private estimates.

    That’s more than mining, oil, gas and logging combined. And yet, the centerpiece of a clean and growing industry is under attack by a president with a robber baron view of the natural world.

    I write from the smoke-choked West, where the air quality in major cities has been worse than Beijing this month. While Trump spends his days comparing women to dogs, and tweets nonsense about rivers flowing to the sea, the biggest wildfire in California history blazes away.

    After the four warmest years ever recorded, scientists have now warned that the next five will be “anomalously warm.” But Trump doesn’t even understand time zones, let alone atmospheric upheaval.

    In the face of these life-altering changes, Trump is drafting rules to make it easier for major polluters to drive up the earth’s temperature. While the orcas of Puget Sound are starving, Trump is trying to weaken the law that protects endangered species. And while lovers of the outdoors break visitation records at national parks and forests, Trump is removing land from protection.

    This is not green goo-goo or fantasy projection. You can see and feel the energy in places ignored by the national political press.

    “If D.C. comes for our public land, water or monuments again, they’ll have to come through me,” says Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat with an even chance of taking a longtime Republican seat in New Mexico, in an ad showing off her political chops.

    ……… Only one in 10 voters think Americans should use more coal. And more than 80 percent of millennials, soon to be the largest cohort of voters (if they ever turn out), believe there’s solid evidence behind these freakish manifestations of an overheated earth.

    Science, a huge majority believes, is not a conspiracy. And yet, this huge majority has been ignored. These people are now ready to “put aside our differences and stand together for the places we love,” as Tawney and Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, wrote in The Denver Post.

    You will see it in Minnesota, where the 140,000 people who work in outdoor recreation are furious at Trump’s attempt to open a sulfide-ore copper mine near Boundary Waters Wilderness. You will see it in a half-dozen tossup congressional races in California, where the administration is mounting the biggest assault yet on public health, with its attack on emission rules.

    If it’s self-interest powering the wave, such is the nature of politics. At a time of real peril for the things that most Americans love, the silent green majority has had enough.

    I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@nytegan). https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/17/opinion/trump-environment-green-wave.html

August 20, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

USA’s Pentagon anxious about China’s planned nuclear activities in South China Sea

China has nuclear plans in South China Sea: US  , Straits Times, AUG 18, 2018,   Chinese bombers also likely training for strikes against US, allied targets in Pacific: Pentagon

WASHINGTON • The Pentagon has sounded a warning over China’s plans to introduce floating nuclear power plants on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

In a new annual report assessing the nation’s military strength released on Thursday, it said Chinese bombers are also likely training for strikes against US and allied targets in the Pacific.

“China’s plans to power these islands may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute,” the Pentagon said in its 2018 report to Congress titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China”.

“China indicated development plans may be under way to power islands and reefs in the typhoon-prone South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations; development reportedly is to begin prior to 2020.”

China Securities Journal – a Chinese state-run financial newspaper – said in 2016 that China could build up to 20 floating nuclear plants to “speed up the commercial development” of the South China Sea, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.

Beijing claims more than 80 per cent of the South China Sea, which carries around US$3.4 trillion (S$4.7 trillion) worth of global trade each year. Five other countries – including the Philippines and Vietnam – also have claims in the waters……..https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/china-has-nuclear-plans-in-s-china-sea-us

 

August 20, 2018 Posted by | Japan, politics international | Leave a comment

Japan’s failed Monju reprocessing reactor- at last the shutdown begins

Final fuel-removal exercise starts for problem-plagued Monju reactor https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/19/national/final-fuel-removal-exercise-starts-problem-plagued-monju-reactor/#.W3ndHCQzbGg, AUG 19, 2018

The JAEA will launch actual fuel removal operations this month if it finds the work can be conducted safely. It was initially planned to begin late last month but was postponed after problems plagued the equipment test.

In the final exercise, control rods instead of real fuel assemblies will be removed from a container filled with sodium coolant by using the aforementioned equipment. The rods will be then packed in cans after the sodium is rinsed off and transported to a water-filled pool.

It has not been decided when the exercise will end, the agency said.

The decommissioning process for the glitch-riddled Monju is slated to take 30 years.

In the first phase, 530 assemblies in the reactor and a storage container outside the reactor will be moved to the water pool by December 2022. The JAEA has so far transferred only two fuel assemblies to the pool — one in 2008 and the other in 2009.

August 20, 2018 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

South Korean government steadfast in its goal of phasing out nuclear power

S. Korean gov’t committed to nuclear phase-out policy goal, 2018/08/18   SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) — The South Korean government is firmly committed to reducing the country’s dependence on nuclear power and will expand the use of renewable power sources…..

President Moon Jae-in is currently seeking to scrap the building of new reactors and phase out those already in operation.

During a meeting with ruling and opposition parties on Thursday, Moon was quoted by the Democratic Party as saying that the government is carrying out the phase-out drive “step by step,” expressing confidence that the present energy policy will not weigh down the national economy.

……. Seoul has emphasized that the course to denuclearize can lead to new business opportunities as there can be a lucrative market for safety dismantling nuclear reactors. It, moreover, said that the government will continue to support efforts by South Korean companies to win nuclear plant construction orders abroad.

August 20, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

Death of courageous direct action anti nuclear campaigner Sarah Hipperson

Walthamstow Guardian 18th Aug 2018, A prominent anti-nuclear campaigner has died, aged 90. Sarah Hipperson of
Wanstead rose to national attention in 1983 after she joined a protest at
Greenham Common. She passed away on Wednesday (August 15).

The mother-of-five was best known for her role at a women’s camp at the Royal
Air Force station in Berkshire to prevent cruise missiles from being stored
at the site. She was involved in direct action, such as cutting fences and
obstructing vehicles. She served 22 prison sentences, the longest being 28
days, for criminal damage but would proudly boast that she “never paid a
fine.”

August 20, 2018 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, UK | Leave a comment

Sinkhole discovered at Hanford Tank Farm

  https://komonews.com/news/local/sinkhole-discovered-at-hanford-tank-farm  by Thomas Yazwinski, August 18th 2018 , RICHLAND, Wash. — A sinkhole with an opening approximately 2 feet in diameter was discovered Thursday morning inside the SX Tank Farm at Hanford.

It was observed while soil compaction work was underway near Tank SX-108.

We’re told the depth of the cavity has not been determined.

Washington River Protection Solutions officials tell Action News they plan to use a special camera to inspect the hole and inside the nearby tank.

Work inside the farm was stopped and personnel left the farm according to procedure.

Radiological surveys conducted in the farm yesterday found no contamination and no significant increase in radiation readings.

August 20, 2018 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Monitoring personal radiation exposure – a quicker method

NEW RADIATION BADGES DETECT EXPOSURE QUICKER http://www.wlfi.com/content/news/New-Radiation-badges-detect-exposure-quicker-491159671.html  Thanks to Purdue University and Dr. Ziaie, there is a cost-efficient tool to measure radiation exposure. Aug. 17, 2018 WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Thanks to Purdue University and Dr. Ziaie, there is a cost-efficient tool to measure radiation exposure.

It’s light-weight. It’s effective. It could save lives. “The size of the patch is about an inch by an inch,” said the professor of electrical and computer engineering, Dr. Ziaie. The bio-hybrid radiation patch is made up of aluminum foil, freezer paper, sugar and yeast.This combination with the yeast makes Purdue’s badge unique compared to others on the market.

“When you wear badges, the badges are sent back after a month or two and then they are going to tell you the radiation you received is okay,” said Ziaie. “In this case we can have them know that or do that immediately. It’s low cost and you can do it in the same day. Meanwhile since its yeast you can have some indication of biological damage.”

The biological damage this badge can measure includes changes in DNA and protein.

So how does the patch work?

“When the radiation goes through some of the yeast gets damaged,” said Ziaie. “So if you have a lot of radiation, a lot of yeast gets damaged, so we can measure how many of them are alive, the yeasts, so it is an indication of how much radiation you are receiving. So add a little bit of water. The water goes in and starts activating the yeast. The yeasts starts creating alcohol and carbon dioxide and you can measure the change in the electrical property of the sensor through two contacts.”

That’s why these patches are commonly referred to as “microbreweries.” The yeast is the man power behind the invention.

“We’ve done a lot of testing, but it’s still when you want to sell these things on a larger scale, to the public you need to go through probably thousands of these,” said Ziaie. “Make sure there’s a repeatable measurement or repeatable manufacturing.”

The patch is patent pending and Dr. Ziaie says the next step is to license it and receive a research grant.

The wearable microbrewery patch cost is so low, that all it takes to manufacture is a couple of pennies.

August 20, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation | Leave a comment