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Jobs Are No Excuse for Arming a Murderous Regime

 Portside,   LOBE LOG Regardless of what ultimately happened to Khashoggi, continuing U.S. arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia under current circumstances is immoral. Jobs should not be an excuse to arm a murderous regime. If indeed the Saudi government is indeed behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi there should be consequences—political, military, economic, and reputational.

Unfortunately, President Trump begs to differ. His reaction to questions about whether the United States would cut off arms sales to Saudi Arabia if Riyadh is proven to be behind the killing of Khashoggi has been to say that he does not want to jeopardize the alleged $110 billion in arms deals his administration has struck with the Saudi regime, and the U.S. jobs that come with them.

In his recent interview with CBS 60 Minutes, Trump specifically cites the needs of U.S. weapons manufacturers as reasons to keep U.S. arms flowing to the Saudi regime, even if it ends up being responsible for the murder of Khashoggi:

They are ordering military equipment. Everybody in the world wanted that order. Russia wanted it, China wanted it, we wanted it…I tell you what I don’t wanna do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these [companies]…I don’t wanna hurt jobs. I don’t wanna lose an order like that.

Trump tells CBS’s Leslie Stahl that “there are other ways of punishing” Saudi Arabia without cutting of U.S. arms sales, but he fails to specify what those might be.

Regardless of what ultimately happened to Khashoggi, continuing U.S. arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia under current circumstances is immoral. Jobs should not be an excuse to arm a murderous regime that not only may be behind the assassination of a U.S. resident and respected commentator but is responsible for thousands of civilian casualties in its three-and-one-half-year military intervention in Yemen—the majority killed with U.S-supplied bombs and combat aircraft and U.S. refueling and targeting assistance.

The Khashoggi case merely underscores the approach of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power behind the throne in Riyadh who is the most ruthless and reckless leader in Saudi history……,

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Religion and ethics, Saudi Arabia, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Trump’s financial benefit from Saudi Arabia – shaping USA’s foreign policy

Saudi Arabia is putting money in Trump’s pocket. Is that shaping U.S. policy?, By Paul Waldman,October 16

As hard as it is to resist writing about the fact that on Tuesday the president of the United States called the adult film actress to whom he paid hush money “Horseface,” I want to focus on a different aspect of this presidency that we’re seeing play out right now.

.As the apparent murder of Saudi journalist and Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi complicates our relations with Saudi Arabia, we have to ask what the implications are of having a fully transactional presidency, one not just built on “deals” but where policy is determined by what is financially beneficial to the president.

We should begin by reminding ourselves that as awful as Khashoggi’s apparent murder is, it’s only the latest in a long list of Saudi abuses that administrations both Democratic and Republican have chosen to overlook for decades. The country is a cruel dictatorship that embodies none of the values we as a nation hold dear, such as democracy, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. But we decided long ago that since the Saudis have a great deal of oil and they provide us with a strategic ally in the Middle East, we’ll overlook all that.

There is something unsettling about the fact that Saudi intervention in Yemen’s civil war, in which they have reportedly killed thousands of civilians, has received steady U.S. support, while the murder of a single journalist threatens to upend the relationship between the two countries.

Or so you might think. But here’s the reality: This will blow over, not only because of the complex relationship between the two countries, but also because everything in foreign policy is personal with President Trump, and he likes the Saudis.

And why does he like them so much? Because they pay him.

This is not something Trump has been shy about saying. “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million,” he said at a rally in Alabama in 2015. “Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

Trump says so many shocking things that it’s sometimes easy to slide right past the most appalling ones, but read that again. Here you have a candidate for president of the United States saying that he is favorably disposed toward a foreign country because they have given him millions of dollars, and all but promising to shape American foreign policy in their favor for that very reason.

Am I supposed to dislike them?” he asks. How could I possibly dislike them when they pay me?

We should note that it’s more than just apartments. Trump has sold many properties to Saudis, and Saudis have invested in Trump projects. And as David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell report:

Business from Saudi-connected customers continued to be important after Trump won the presidency. Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 last year to reserve rooms at Trump’s hotel in Washington. Just this year, Trump’s hotels in New York and Chicago reported significant upticks in bookings from Saudi visitors.

This is precisely the reason the framers of the Constitution added a provision saying that neither the president nor other officials could “accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” If a foreign country is putting money in the president’s pocket on an ongoing basis, how in the world can we trust that the decisions he makes will be based on the best interests of the United States and not on his bank account?

This is of more concern with Trump than with any other president in American history. His entire life has been devoted to the accumulation of wealth, as though there were no other goal anyone should consider seeking (“My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy. I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy,” he has said). He made sure that upon assuming office his businesses would continue to operate and continue to provide avenues for those wishing to further enrich him to do so. And he refuses to release his tax returns, so we have no idea exactly how much money he’s getting and from whom.

But Tuesday, Trump tweeted this:

For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!

This is the same claim Trump has made with regard to Russia, and it’s the same dodge. The point isn’t whether Trump has interests in Saudi Arabia, it’s whether Saudi Arabia has interests in him. And just as is the case with Russia, they do.

If you’re the Saudis, the nice thing about Trump is that he lacks any subtlety whatsoever, so you don’t have to wonder how to approach him. He has said explicitly that the way to win his favor is to give him money. He has established means for you to do so — buying Trump properties and staying in Trump hotels. And with his combination of narcissism and insecurity, if you invite him to your country and give him a gold medal, he’ll forever be your friend.

Every president has to balance the desire to honor U.S. values with more crass interests such as whether a country will buy weapons from us, which Trump also cited as a reason we shouldn’t punish Saudi Arabia for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder (even though they aren’t actually buying what Trump claims). But only Trump apparently gets direct and significant payoffs from other countries, and only Trump is so clear that if you pay him he’ll do what you want. That may not have changed the American stance toward Saudi Arabia too much yet, but we have no idea what’s to come.

October 18, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | 1 Comment

Gender and radiation impact project

“For too long, girls and women have been invisible in the construction of radiation standards to protect heath. We are ready to expand the research base and collective will to change this – starting right now.”

— Mary Olson, Founder


It is widely known that ionizing radiation – radioactivity powerful enough to strip electrons from atoms, break chemical bonds of molecules, and even break chromosomes – can be extremely harmful to humans. Even at low levels, ionizing radiation has the potential to cause DNA damage resulting in an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells, or what is commonly known as cancer.  

While this public health threat impacts us all, the risk is dramatically greater for women and girls.

For every two men who develop cancer through exposure to ionizing radiation, three women will get the disease.Further, while children as a whole are more harmed by radiation than adults, infant and young girls, when exposed, run the highest risk of cancer across their lifetime, and teenage girls will suffer almost double rates of cancer compared to boys in the same juvenile group and the same level of exposure.

The information above, derived from data contained in the 2006 National Academy of Sciences Report Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII, or BEIR VII, clearly shows that gender is a major factor in determining who suffers harm from exposure to ionizing radiation, yet this fact has not been widely reported and is not reflected in regulations or practice.

Yet, there is reason to hope. With the participation of 135 nations, the preamble of the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was written to include the following stanza:

Cognizant that the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons cannot be adequately addressed, transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and the health of current and future generations, and have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, including as a result of ionizing radiation (emphasis added)

The fact this treaty was crafted to include language referring to impact on girls and women demonstrates we have a window to examine why this is the case, which will lead to better and healthier solutions for everyone.

It is time to ask the right questions and educate the public about the policy and lifestyle choices related to ionizing radiation.

October 18, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Women | 1 Comment

SNC-Lavalin shares fall to lowest since 2016 on news foreign bribery case will go to court  

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Canada | 1 Comment

Japan will flush unsafe water from Fukushima nuclear plant into sea, Julian Ryall, October 17 2018 Water the Japanese government is planning to release into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant contains radioactive material well above legally permitted levels, according to the plant’s operator.

The government is running out of space to store contaminated water that has come into contact with fuel that escaped from three nuclear reactors after the plant was destroyed in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck north-east Japan.

Its plan to release the approximately 1.09m tons of water stored in 900 tanks into the Pacific has triggered a fierce backlash from local residents and environmental organisations, as well as groups in South Korea and Taiwan fearful that radioactivity from the second-worst nuclear disaster in history might wash up on their shores.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which runs the plant, has until recently claimed the only significant contaminant in the water is safe levels of tritium, which can be found in small amounts in drinking water, but is dangerous in large amounts.

The government has promised that all other radioactive material is being reduced to “non-detect” levels by the sophisticated advanced liquid processing system (ALPS) operated by Hitachi Ltd.

Documents provided to ‘The Daily Telegraph’ by a source in the Japanese government suggest, however, that the ALPS has consistently failed to eliminate a cocktail of other radioactive elements, including iodine, ruthenium, rhodium, antimony, tellurium, cobalt and strontium.

Hitachi declined to comment on the reports on the performance of its equipment. The Japanese government did not reply to multiple requests for comment.

A restricted document also passed to ‘The Telegraph’ from the Japanese government arm responsible for responding to the Fukushima collapse indicates that the authorities were aware that the ALPS facility was not eliminating radionuclides to “non-detect” levels.

That adds to reports of a study by the regional ‘Kahoko Shinpo’ newspaper which said confirmed that levels of iodine 129 and ruthenium 106 exceeded acceptable levels in 45 samples out of 84 in 2017.

Iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years and can cause cancer of the thyroid; ruthenium 106 is produced by nuclear fission and high doses can be toxic and carcinogenic when ingested.

In late September, Tepco was forced to admit that around 80pc of the water stored at Fukushima still contains radioactive substances above legal levels after the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry held public hearings in Tokyo and Fukushima at which local residents and fishermen protested against the plans.

Tepco has now admitted that levels of strontium 90, for example, are more than 100 times above legally permitted levels in 65,000 tons of water that has been through the ALPS cleansing system and are 20,000 times above levels set by the government in several storage tanks at the site.

Dr Ken Buesseler, a marine chemistry scientist with the US Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said it was vital to confirm precisely what radionuclides are present in each of the tanks and their amounts.

“Until we know what is in each tank for the different radionuclides, it is hard to evaluate any plan for the release of the water and expected impacts on the ocean”, he told the ‘Telegraph’.

Experts agree the danger posed by any release depends on the concentrations of radionuclides and subsequent contamination of fishery products.

The presence of strontium in the bones of small fish that might be consumed by humans could be a major concern. If ingested by humans, strontium 90 builds up in teeth and bones and can cause bone cancer or leukaemia.

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 2 Comments

Trump and Kushner – naive, ill-informed and craven as they obsess over Saudi money

Trump and Kushner Put Saudi’s Money First

Jamal Khashoggi’s death has exposed the White House and two of its most powerful figures as naive, ill-informed and craven. What comes next?,  By October 17, 2018, The Trump team is standing by Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the investigation and controversy surrounding the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi deepens.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Riyadh for a photo op with the prince. In a press release, he praised the Saudi leadership for “supporting a thorough, transparent and timely” investigation into the Khashoggi affair, a full two weeks after the dissident first went missing.

Pompeo also said that Saudi leaders denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, something his boss, President Donald Trump, let the world know on Twitter as well.

By Tuesday evening, that line became more complex to defend after the New York Times reported that at least four suspects in Khashoggi’s disappearance had ties to the crown prince. A fifth was “of such stature that he could be directed only by a high-ranking Saudi authority,” the newspaper said.

Complexity has never deterred the president, however. In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, he blamed critics of Saudi Arabia for holding it “guilty until proven innocent.” Lest anyone doubt his motives, Trump took to Twitter to talk about his finances:

“For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!”

That statement would be easier to digest if Trump hadn’t bragged publicly in the past about how much Saudis have spent buying his condominiums – and if he wasn’t the steward of the most financially conflicted presidency of the post World War II era.

Trump is playing word games, of course. He says he has no investments in Saudi Arabia or Russia. But that doesn’t mean money from those countries hasn’t flowed into his coffers. In Saudi Arabia’s case, that has meant very different things over the years.

In the early 1990s, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bought Trump’s prized yacht on the cheap from the property developer’s creditors when he was on the cusp of personal bankruptcy. A few years later, one of Trump’s lenders forced him to sell the Plaza Hotel, a New York City landmark also mired in debt, to Alwaleed. As David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell noted in the Washington Post recently, this was a period when Trump was trying to dig himself out of $3.4 billion of debt, about $900 million of which he had guaranteed personally. But Alwaleed was a bargain-hunter at the time, not someone trying to ensnare a failed developer on the unlikely chance that he might someday become president.

Still, Alwaleed, who once described Trump on Twitter as a “disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America,” kept those early deals in mind. When Trump made fun of him on Twitter two years ago, Alwaleed responded by tweeting, “I bailed you out twice; a 3rd time, maybe?”

As Trump climbed out of his debt hole in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he courted Saudi condo buyers. The Saudi Arabian government bought the entire 45th floor of the Trump World Tower in 2001, and, before running for president, Trump was apparently contemplating doing business in Saudi Arabia – he incorporated eight limited-liability companies with names suggesting he planned to do business there (they were later dissolved).

After becoming president, Trump flouted tradition by declining to authentically separate himself from the Trump Organization and its hotel and golf properties. The Trump International Hotel in Washington has been a favorite venue for Saudi diplomats who have spent lavishly there, as well as at other Trump hotels.

The president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also decided to make Saudi Arabia a linchpin of their policy in the Middle East. Kushner, lacking full security clearance and any diplomatic experience, lobbied the crown prince directly in early 2017 to secure what was fancifully and inaccurately touted as a $110 billion arms sale – most of which had been agreed a year earlier, and the bulk of which still hasn’t been completed.

Shortly after that transaction was arranged, Trump visited Saudi Arabia. And soon after that, the Saudis announced they would invest $20 billion in an infrastructure fund managed by Blackstone Group LP. The New York-based firm had financed several of the Kushner family’s deals and its chairman, Stephen Schwarzman, sat on the president’s business-advisory council. The private equity firm told Bloomberg News that the Saudi investment had been contemplated long before Trump was even the Republican nominee.

Kushner’s forays alarmed members of the intelligence and national security communities, as Bob Woodward outlined in his book, “Fear.” At the very moment Kushner was throwing himself into these diplomatic adventures, he was coming under scrutiny for his own financial conflicts – in particular, his efforts to secure funding for 666 Fifth Avenue, a troubled Manhattan skyscraper his family owned.

Although the family has since sold off the property, Kushner had tried unsuccessfully to secure funding for it from a Chinese investor. His intersection with a prominent banker and diplomats from Moscow during the Trump campaign’s transition into the White House raised questions about whether he was courting Russian investors (which he denied). Inevitably, the Kushner family also courted a prominent Saudi investor to bail them out of 666 Fifth, as detailed by my Bloomberg News colleagues David Kocieniewski and Caleb Melby.

Late last year, Kushner made another secretive trip alone to Riyadh. He later described the visit as an effort to “brainstorm” Middle East strategies with Mohammed bin Salman. Not long afterward, the crown prince placed dozens of prominent businessmen and political rivals under house arrest in what was described as an anti-corruption drive. Among them was Alwaleed, the man who once snatched the Plaza Hotel and yacht from Kushner’s father-in-law.

Earlier this year, leaked intelligence reports revealed that diplomats in Mexico, Israel, China and the United Arab Emirates had decided to target Kushner because they believed he could be easily manipulated due to “his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.”

For his part, Kushner just plowed ahead, continuing to rest the White House’s plans for the Middle East on the shoulders of an equally young and untested man, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. The disappearance of a single journalist, a one-time ally of the royal family turned critic, may ultimately cause Kushner’s plans to unravel – and expose his machinations in Saudi Arabia to more revealing and unwanted scrutiny.

If it doesn’t, it may well be because the president – putting the lie to his dissembling about his family’s financial ties to Saudi Arabia – will openly and stubbornly put money ahead of the moral and diplomatic issues at play in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

As he told Fox News in an interview on Tuesday night: “I don’t want to give up a $100 billion order or whatever it is.”

October 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | 1 Comment

USA ditches the plan to prop up the coal and nuclear industries

White House shelves rescue plan for coal, nuclear: report   The White House has shelved a proposed effort to prop up coal and nuclear power plants at risk of closure, Politico reported.

Some of President Trump’s advisers in the White House National Security Council and National Economic Council oppose Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan, due largely to the likelihood that it would raise energy prices, Politico said, citing four people familiar with the matter.

The rescue plan was a key piece of the Trump administration’s energy agenda, and Trump’s promise to save the coal industry. Perry first pursued the policy last year, asking that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) write a rule to require higher electricity payments to coal and nuclear plants, in a bid to preserve the “resiliency” of the electric grid.

But FERC, an independent agency, rejected the proposal unanimously.

Earlier this year, Trump formally asked his administration to find a way to save uneconomic coal and nuclear plants from closing.

A White House memo leaked in May showed that officials were considering using legal authorities to force coal and nuclear plants to stay open for two years. During that time, the National Security Council would study the issue from a security perspective and determine if other interventions could be used.

The Energy Department and the White House didn’t return requests for comment.

October 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | 1 Comment

New “low yield” nuclear weapon increases the likelihood of war

New proposal makes
nuclear war more likely
Jo Ann Frisch, Pleasanton, 17 Oct 18Donald Trump said he doesn’t understand why we have nuclear weapons if we can’t use them.

The administration’s fiscal 2019 budget took a step in that direction by proposing to create a warhead more likely to be used in war: a low-yield nuclear variant to sit atop Trident D5 missiles. Trump says it will make a U.S. strike more “credible.” The smaller-yield weapon will not be distinguishable from high-yield ones thus lowering the threshold for nuclear use and making nuclear war more likely.

A bill introduced by Reps. Smith, Lieu, Garamendi and Blumenauer called Hold the LYNE (Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive) Act, HR 6840 would prohibit funds for research, development, production or deployment of this warhead…..For more information, go to

October 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons join the other cruel killing methods now pitched as games – entertainment

The Nukes of ‘Fallout 76’ Are Where Power Fantasies Hit a Breaking Point, Waypoint, 16 Oct 18  Postscript is Cameron Kunzelman’s weekly column about endings, apocalypses, deaths, bosses, and all sorts of other finalities.The nuclear blast has cast a long shadow over the 20th century. When the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, annihilating somewhere in the range 200,000 human beings in the blast and the aftermath, the new era was inaugurated. That era was defined by the fact that a single bomb dropped from a plane or delivered via an intercontinental ballistic missile could destroy an entire city, poison the land, and assure that target of the nuclear attack was harmed on a fundamental level. They were a way of projecting that a nuclear power like the United States or the Soviet Union would be able to wound an enemy so profoundly that the enemy could never recover. They were the ultimate existential threat.

I say “were” because I am talking historically, but they remain a viable political option. This is perhaps why the recently-deleted tweet from Gamespot was so strange and troubling. It said this: “This is what a nuke looks like going off in Fallout 76, and it’s pretty @#%$^@ epic!”…….

I am not surprised that nuclear devastation is being pitched as a gameplay feature in a video game. I don’t see it as being substantially different from all of the other horrors that we have made fun through the interactive power of video games. Our main mode of engaging with beings in video games remains killing them with blades, guns, and the protagonist’s own hands. I am not morally outraged by this. Instead, the frivolity of it, its “epic” implementation, just makes me feel so tired.

When the detonation of a nuclear weapon is made into a game mechanic and declared “pretty @#%$^@ epic,” I see this simply as a symptom of how insulated games are from the world at large. While films have all the same ways of depicting violence that games have, I have a hard time thinking of a non-satirical film that revels in the absolute annihilation of nuclear war. Dr. Strangelove points out how inept the leaders of the Cold War were, but it obviously does not see the detonation of a nuclear weapon as a fun or optimal output.

Our biggest video games have made executions, stabbings, headshots, and eviscerations completely ordinary. A year without any of those things would be a shocking anomaly, a true blow to the entertainment economy, and it would mean that most of our most profitable game franchises did not release an entry. And now nuclear weapons have been absorbed into this system that sees everything as a potential mechanic and a way of entertaining and maintaining players. In Fallout 76, detonating a nuclear device is just a way to generate more gameplay. From what we’ve seen of the game so far, it is robbed of any significance beyond its mechanical function. ……..

All of our blockbuster games tend toward making the player feel powerful. They want to be fun, to embrace the player, to allow them to feel like they have agency in relation to the world around them. As far as I can tell, there is nothing than will not be sacrificed or compromised in the drive to accomplish that goal. Our biggest games, like the Fallout games, are simply after their players feeling strong. Anything that keeps players from feeling strong must be minimized……..

No matter who you are, no matter how powerful you think you are, the reality is that nuclear war will either destroy you or make your life unlivable in its current shape. This reality is fundamentally at odds with how the design of blockbuster video games work. That means that taking nuclear weapons seriously in a blockbuster game is impossible……..

The problem with video games and nuclear weapons doesn’t have anything to do with nuclear weapons themselves. They are simply a human evil, the ultimate symbol of what kind of nightmare we are willing to bring to bear on one another in our quest for dominance and violence. The problem in the relationship between video games and nuclear weapons is video games.

Unlike our friends over at Motherboard, there is not a part of me that finds joy in the adoption of nuclear weapons as yet another thing that is horribly violent and played for laughs in a game. It is impossible for me to think about nuclear weapons without thinking about the shadows blasted into stone at Hiroshima. I think about the rotting flesh of The Day After. I think about the unfathomable human cost of nuclear weapons, which includes the cancers grown under the aegis of environmental drift of radioactive particles………

October 18, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, Education | Leave a comment

U.S. Military Leaders silent on Saudin Arabia political situation

US Military Leaders Keep Quiet on Saudi Arabia Amid Khashoggi Outrage, Defense One 16 Oct 18  Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford this week have declined to say much on Saudi Arabia. Both leaders, in previously scheduled meetings with reporters, were asked about the kingdom and what effect the killing of Khashoggi may have on U.S.-Saudi relations. Both men deferred to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and said they were waiting for him to return to the U.S. with more “facts.” And they both implied that any related changes to Trump administration foreign policy would be given to them, not made by them. …….

Speaking to reporters traveling with him in Brussels, Pompeo said: “I do think it’s important that everyone keep in their mind that we have lots of important relationships – financial relationships between U.S. and Saudi companies, governmental relationships, things we work on together all across the world – efforts to reduce the risk to the United States of America from the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, Iran. The Saudis have been great partners in working alongside us on those issues. I could go on about places where the Saudis and the Americans are working together. Those are important elements of the U.S. national policy that are for – are in Americans’ best interests. We just need to make sure that we are mindful of that as we approach decisions that the United States Government will take when we learn all of the facts associated with whatever may have taken place.”

President Trump, meanwhile, has been giving the Saudis as much cover as humanly possible, Over the weekend, he floated the idea that “rogue killers” dispatched Khashoggi, and on Tuesday, he told the Associated Press, “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”………

Is the Saudi partnership still a matter of necessity? Should it be? That’s not likely the question Mattis and Dunford are asking for the near term. For them, the answer is yes. But for the long term, it’s a question for them, Pompeo,and Trump. It’s a question of whether “Saudi interests” under bin Salman still align with American interests, or just with American military and intelligence interests.

This week, national security press has been inundated with commentaries asking if the U.S.-Saudi relationship has been worth the cost. At the Pentagon, no matter the outcome of the Pompeo fact-finding trip or the Khashoggi investigation, the answer is most likely going to be a resounding yes.

October 18, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A false reference: “acceptable” radiation risks set as they affect adult men, not women, not children

It’s Time to Retire Reference Man Olson, 17 Oct 18   Our species split atoms on purpose in 1942. Since then, few have looked back.

Weapons of Mass Destruction, energy that was supposed to be too cheap to meter which has produced more than 100,000 metric tons of waste with the potential to poison all the waters on the Blue Planet Earth, and may, in the end cost more than the electricity it made. We did all that before anyone noticed that radiation is more harmful to women, compared to men, and way more harmful to little girls than boys, and compared to men there is a whole order of magnitude greater harm to girls than to the men that regulators chose as the baseline for all regulations and risk-assessments.

Now analysts have noticed that gender, or more specifically, biological sex is a factor in harm from radiation. This discovery was made when examining the data-set used by the world to establish radiation standards—the Life Span Study data from people who survived the US nuclear attacks on Japan in 1945.

It is unconscionable that the first nuclear weapons were used, on cities full of people. And the fact that happened, and the aggressors decided to study the radiation impact, resulted in the creation of a data-set of more than 100,000 people, that includes people of both sexes and who were all ages (birth to 80) at the time of the bomb.

I sometimes say, in the atomic ashes of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki was hidden a very important message for us all…that a mistake was made: someone thought that only military males would be exposed to fission products. No one ever stopped to evaluate that assumption when hundreds of nuclear power reactors, nuclear fuel factories, nuclear weapons factories, uranium processing factories and hundreds of thousands of uranium mines were opened, and the standards made for the adult man were extended to the general population.

The mistake was not only that regulations based on men were used for the entire human lifecycle—it is that the very decisions to make nuclear weapons and generate nuclear electricity were made without the decision-makers understanding that the risk-assessments are off by a factor of ten, or more.So, we looked at the data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and we found a pattern that has been ignored:

  • Boys exposed in childhood cancers over lifetime
  • Girls exposed in childhood 2x more cancers over lifetime than boys
  • Men exposed in young adulthood à cancer / fatal cancer
  • Women exposed in young adulthood à 1.5x more fatal cancer than men
  • AND when women who were exposed as girls are compared to men: 10 times more cancers over their lifetime

Regulators say that girls are a “sub-population” – but that is a false construct that comes from not being trained in life-science. Girls are a part of the human lifecycle!

But all of the regulations governing nuclear operations, medical and dental exposures, assumptions about high-altitude air travel and levels of radon in homes are based on the “Reference Man.” How do we change that?

Today, there are three papers, and several presentations that tell this story about gender and radiation.

That is not enough. In order to change medical practices, policy recommendations and decisions, the first thing that is needed is a body of published literature telling the story. In order for top researchers working on radiation today to add questions on gender and radiation, they need additional capacity. Funding for post-docs and graduate and medical students will enable them to tackle these new questions.

Gender and Radiation Impact Project is dedicated to functioning as a catalyst, or a fairy god-mother, to fund initial study of why and how biological sex and life-cycle stage impact outcome of radiation exposure.

We believe that by providing a spark, the fire will build, and that mainstream funders will see the merit in this work, and that the work will grow to provide a solid basis for a policy review.

In addition, we will be raising a much-needed new generation of experts.

I hope you are as ready as I am.

October 18, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation | Leave a comment

Trump’s ever riskier bet on Saudi Arabia

October 18, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

The very bad decisions of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Trump Enables a Saudi Lie The case of Jamal Khashoggi is part of a larger and more disturbing pattern. Bloomberg, By  Eli Lake October 17, 2018, The Saudi narrative about the disappearance and likely murder of Jamal Khashoggi is shifting. Last week it was a blanket denial. Now there are hints of the O.J. Simpson defense: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is determined to find the real killers. He’s launched an investigation. Perhaps, as President Donald Trump said, this is the work of “rogue killers.”

Needless to say, this smells like the prelude to a big lie.

In the words of Senator Lindsey Graham, who has defended the U.S.-Saudi relationship for years: “Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it.” MBS, as the crown prince is known, was assuring Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he would investigate even as his government was sending a cleaning crew to its consulate in Istanbul, which Turkish authorities say is a crime scene………

The stakes are high in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is an important ally against Iran, and the Trump administration is planning next month to implement sanctions on Iranian oil exports. Embarrassing the crown prince now could upend that strategy and undermine the U.S.-Saudi alliance. So it’s tempting to encourage the Saudis to find a scapegoat and go along with the cover story……….

It won’t work, though. Not only is the rogue killer theory implausible, it fails to address a far more serious impediment to the U.S.-Saudi relationship: the crown prince himself. There is “a whole litany of things where he appears to have taken very bad decisions,” notes Simon Henderson, a Saudi specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In the last year, Crown Prince Mohammed has had the Canadian ambassador expelled over criticism of the arrest of women’s rights activists. He had the Lebanese prime minister detained and forced him to resign his post.

These are not the decisions of a steady-handed leader. Before Crown Prince Mohammed consolidated power and purged his rivals, there were restraints against his impulses. No longer. For all intents and purposes, MBS is now the Saudi state. And that is a problem a convenient story about rogue killers will not fix.


October 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

A plan to get Nuclear-Weapons Treaties happening again

October 18, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Shikoku Electric Power Company submits plans for dismantling nuclear reactor

Shikoku outlines plans for decommissioning Ikata 2, WNN, 17 October 2018

According to the plan, decommissioning of Ikata 2 will take about 40 years and will be carried out in four stages. The first stage, lasting about ten years, will involve preparing the reactor for dismantling (including the removal of all fuel and surveying radioactive contamination), while the second, lasting 15 years, will be to dismantle peripheral equipment from the reactor and other major equipment. The third stage, taking about eight years, will involve the demolition of the reactor itself, while the fourth stage, taking about seven years, will see the demolition of all remaining buildings and the release of land for other uses.

During the first stage, all fuel is to be removed from the unit. This includes 316 used fuel assemblies that will be sent for reprocessing and 102 fresh fuel assemblies that will be returned to the fuel fabricator.

Ikata 2 became the ninth operable Japanese reactor to be declared for decommissioning since the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

In mid-March 2015, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy revised the accounting provisions in the Electricity Business Act, whereby electric power companies can now calculate decommissioning costs in instalments of up to ten years, instead of one-time as previously. This enhanced cost recovery provision was to encourage the decommissioning of older and smaller units.

Shikoku decided in March 2016 to decommission unit 1 of the Ikata plant, also a 538 MWe PWR, which began commercial operation in September 1977. That unit had been taken offline in September 2011 for periodic inspections. Upgrades costing more than JPY170 billion (USD1.5 billion) would have been needed at the unit in order for it to operate beyond 40 years.

The NRA approved Shikoku’s decommissioning plan for Ikata 1 in June 2017. That plan also sees the unit being decommissioned in four stages over a 40-year period.

Unit 3 at the Ikata plant was given approval by the NRA to resume operation in April 2016, having been idle since being taken offline for a periodic inspection in April 2011. Shikoku declared the 846 MWe pressurised water reactor back in commercial operation on 7 September 2016. However, in December 2017, a Japanese high court ordered the suspension of the unit’s operation. The injunction was effective until the end of last month. The Hiroshima High Court in late September accepted Shikoku’s appeal and cancelled the injunction, allowing the utility to begin the process of restarting the reactor.

October 18, 2018 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment