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Trump-Kim nuclear summit ended abruptly, with no agreement made

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un cut short their nuclear summit,

The nuclear summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un has collapsed after the two sides failed to reach a deal due to a stand-off over US sanctions on the reclusive nation — a stunning end to high-stakes meetings meant to disarm a global threat.

Key points:

  • Donald Trump says the talks were “productive” despite the lack of an agreement
  • The two nations reached a stalemate over the US removing all sanctions on North Korea
  • North Korea refused to eliminate its entire nuclear arsenal, but will stop testing nuclear weapons

In a news conference after the abrupt end to the talks, Mr Trump said the breakdown occurred over North Korea’s insistence that all punishing sanctions the US had imposed be lifted without Pyongyang committing to eliminate its entire nuclear arsenal…….

Both leaders’ motorcades roared away from the downtown Hanoi summit site within minutes of each other after both a lunch and the signing ceremony were scuttled…….–  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-28/donald-trump-and-kim-jong-un-cut-short-their-nuclear-summit/10859310

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February 28, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Trump administration accepting the greedy “radiation is good for you” group

These assertions stand scientific consensus on its head. Most experts say to the contrary that even low doses of radiation cause cell damage that years later can promote uncontrolled cell growth and replication, and that children and fetuses are particularly susceptible to harm. That seven-decade-old view was reaffirmed as recently as last April in a study by a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement.

The study, overseen by a dozen experts from the government, academia, and industry, and funded by the NRC, considered 29 contemporary scientific studies of the effects of low-dose radiation in reaffirming that even low-level radiation should be avoided to the extent possible.

RADIATION IS GOOD FOR YOU? THE FRINGE VIEWPOINT GAINS GROUND IN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, https://publicintegrity.org/national-security/radiation-is-good-for-you-the-heretical-view-gains-ground-under-trump/The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is actively considering claims that low-dose radiation protections should be lifted because exposures make you healthier, a potential boon to radiation-related industries. 

Since World War II, virtually every American business where radiation is present – hospital emergency rooms and cancer wards, uranium mines, nuclear power plants, and others – has operated under rules generally requiring that exposures be kept as low as possible. The rules are based on a widely-accepted scientific dicta that even small amounts of extra radiation can be harmful to human health.

Following those rules, though, is costly and often cumbersome, and so the requirement for low-dose radiation protections – known as the ALARA standard for “as low as reasonably achievable” – has long been annoying to a large swath of American industry. Estimates of the costs associated with these protections run into the billions of dollars.

Until the Trump era, opponents of the rules have gotten little traction in trying to upend low-dose radiation protections – such as isolation units, elaborate shielding, specialized air cleaners, and elaborate worker training — in federal regulations. But proposed relaxations have been percolating in recent months, courtesy of a little-known advocacy group called Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information, or SARI.

Members of the group, which claims its ideas have been wrongly dismissed and belittled by mainstream scientists, subscribe to a minority theory known as “hormesis.” It defies conventional wisdom by holding that damaging things that are dangerous in high doses might actually be beneficial to human health in small doses.

Despite swimming against the tide in the past, one of the group’s members has just been appointed to head a Radiation Advisory Panel at the Environmental Protection Agency, which helps set federal standards for radiation doses received by the public and by workers. And several of its recommendations to ease radiation protections are presently under active consideration by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

SARI’s members typically have more day-to-day connections to radiation than others, and potentially more influence: They have held jobs connected to radiation protection at the EPA, the Department of Labor, the Energy Department and its sub-agency responsible for building nuclear weapons at nine factories across the country. Practitioners of nuclear medicine, people employed in the nuclear industry, and professors who teach nuclear medicine or industrial hygiene also populate SARI.

The NRC’s consideration of the SARI views got started when three members of the group petitioned it in 2015 to abandon its current approach and accept that radiation in low doses is not only benign, but improves health. That was two years after SARI’s founding by industry officials trying to tamp down public concerns about the radiation that spilled from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The NRC took the petitions seriously. Its staff created a working group to study the issue, and insiders now say that work is done. According to Scott Burnell, an NRC spokesman, the five members of the commission as a result will take up the issue this spring. Continue reading

February 28, 2019 Posted by | politics, radiation, Reference, spinbuster | 1 Comment

‘Ionising radiation’ not so bad’ – subtle cover-up of the dangers, by Japan’s Centre for Environmental Creation

Teaching about radiation after Fukushima, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Maxime Polleri, February 26, 2019 ……..In the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdowns, which triggered a released of radioactive pollutants, the Japanese state initially decided to increase the mandatory evacuation trigger from 1 millisievert of radiation exposure per year to 20 millisieverts per year. In other words, the public was forced to accept a new threshold of safety. While this policy caused much scientific and public controversy, 20 millisieverts per year remains the benchmark for what is considered safe in Fukushima. Places like the Centre for Environmental Creation downplay the controversy of a raised threshold of exposure.

Situated in the town of Miharu and opened in July 2016, the center was established by the prefecture of Fukushima, with the financial support of the Japanese government, to conduct research and provide education on radioactive contamination. The center is one of several government-sponsored revitalization projects aimed at rebuilding the trust of people living in Fukushima. Mostly visited by young families, it represents a new approach to risk communication. As a technical advisor explained to me, this approach aims to “deepen the understanding of children about radiation” by allowing visitors to experience information firsthand through interactive games, fun activities, and cute presentations.

Our Friend the Atom (Tomorrow Land) – Walt Disney Treasures

Past efforts to present nuclear science in appealing ways have often blended education with propaganda. The 1957 Disney TV episode Our Friend the Atomis a perfect example of this. What are the dangers of resorting to such forms of explanations in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster? In 2015 and 2017, I spent a total of 14 months in Japan examining the public’s interactive experience at state-sponsored centers and public activities that explain radiation. I found that while the information on radiation is easy to understand, many aspects of its hazards are carefully concealed. In particular, the government’s educational approach shifts the post-Fukushima Japanese public’s attention away from manmade danger and toward a vision of naturalness, technological amusement, and scientific amazement. In doing so, this approach downplays the risk inherent to residual radioactivity in Fukushima.

The naturalness of radiation. One way to neutralize the perceived harmfulness of radiation is to make the phenomenon appear as natural as possible, by emphasizing the radioactivity coming from natural sources. At the Centre for Environmental Creation, one of the most popular attractions is an enormous spherical theater, where visitors are bombarded with sounds and images in a 360-degree multisensory experience that describes radiation as a natural part of daily life. “It can be found everywhere! From the sun’s ray to the mineral in the earth,” claims the theater’s narrator. “Without radiation, no life would exist on Earth!” After these explanations, an enormous Boeing passes above theatergoers’ heads in the cinematic sky, and the amount of radiation exposure received during an intercontinental flight is said to be higher than the level of radiation found in Fukushima. Their necks strained upward, visitors mumble words of apparent relief.

What the theater fails to explain, however, is that there is nothing natural about the radioactive isotopes released during the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and that background radiation has little to do with the hazards of breathing or swallowing fission products—which are not rays, but dust-like particles. For instance, strontium 90, if inhaled or ingested, mimics calcium to enter an individual’s bone marrow and cause lifelong radiation exposure. This exposure can cause mutations in living cells—a permanent alteration that can lead to cancers, genetic problems, or immune disorders.

It’s all fun and games. Information about radiation is often promoted through an enjoyable experience that conceals disturbing aspects of the phenomenon. In front of a giant interactive screen, for example, children can move their bodies to “block” radiation. By selecting the proper material, they can block either radioactive alpha particles, beta particles, or gamma rays. They pretend that their bodies are thick metal plates used to hamper harmful external exposure. By doing so, they collect points, and at the end of the game, the child with the highest score wins.

By transforming radiation protection into a game that focuses on blocking external radiation, children do not learn of the risk of internal contamination from radioactive particles such as cesium 137, which was released in significant amounts by the Fukushima disaster. If internalized, cesium 137 gets distributed throughout the body, irradiating soft tissues such as muscles and ovaries. And because the children’s game blocks radiation in “real time,” there is no mention of any delayed health effects of radiation exposure, such as potential harmful genetic changes.

At the Decontamination Info Plaza, the government promotes similar activities. Situated in the city of Fukushima, the Plaza was established in January 2012 as a joint program between the prefecture of Fukushima and Japan’s Ministry of the Environment. The Plaza’s purpose is to provide information about radiation in general, as well as explanations about monitoring methods, workshops on decontamination, and advice on contaminated sites. Basic information about radiation is presented to the public in a very accessible, visual, and interactive form…….

Radiation is our friend! A third way to downplay the perception of radiation danger is to link radiation with the wonders of science and technology. This was particularly apparent during an April 2016 open house organized by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Japan’s leading radiological institute, which is situated in Chiba, east of Tokyo. Titled “I Want to Know More! What Can You Do with Radiation?” the public fair was a popular event at which visitors could see the institute’s research facilities, the latest PET scan technology for medical imaging, and the cyclotrons used in nuclear medicine to produce radioisotopes. A special elevator led down to the Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator, situated in an impressive subterranean facility.

……..At this institute, manmade radiation was effectively linked to technologies that sustain life. For instance, the open house showed how the radiation-related devices at the institute produce particle therapies to treat cancer.

While there was nothing inaccurate about the center’s explanations of radiation as a medical treatment, the information presented was unrelated to the dangers faced during a nuclear disaster. If visitors wanted to hear more about such risks, they had to visit the station called “Impact of Fukushima.” The small station was, however, much less appealing than the other venues. It consisted of four small posters that focused on the decontamination process without explaining the adverse health effects of exposure to manmade radioisotopes.

… Radiation was emphasized as a useful agent that could penetrate the body and kill harmful tumors, as was demonstrated on medical dummies during the event. In the end, by heavily framing radiation information around a beacon of technological wonder, the public opening day glossed over the danger of radioactive contamination and selectively amplified the beneficial aspects of radiation.

Education vs. propaganda. In interviews that I conducted with officials and technical advisors employed at the aforementioned places, I was told that Fukushima is afflicted by “harmful rumors” surrounding the real extent of radiation harm and that this misunderstanding stems from public ignorance of radiological science. It is in this context that government-sanctioned approaches aim to provide “basic information” that will help citizens fear radiation in an “appropriate way,” thereby creating an environment in which people feel they can safely return to Fukushima. While this is a worthy endeavor, the government’s approach emphasizes specific understandings of radioactivity that overshadow the particular risks introduced by manmade radioactive pollutants resulting from a nuclear accident……….. https://thebulletin.org/2019/02/teaching-about-radiation-after-fukushima/

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Education, Japan | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s mountains of radioactive soil – community opposition to recycling it

Fierce opposition to recycling radioactive soil from Fukushima http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201902260058.html, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, February 26, 2019 How to dispose of mountains of soil contaminated by radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster poses a massive headache for the central government.

Officials had long insisted that contaminated surface soil removed after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant would eventually be stored outside of Fukushima Prefecture.

According to one estimate, the total volume of such soil will reach 14 million cubic meters by fiscal 2021. Local entities outside of Fukushima are understandably hesitant about serving as host to such vast quantities of possibly hazardous dirt.

Officials in Tokyo are now hoping to sway local governments to act as hosts by proposing reuse of the contaminated soil for public works projects under certain conditions.

One requirement would be that soil radiation levels below 8,000 becquerels per kilogram, the standard used by the government in classifying whether the waste material requires special treatment, could be used for various construction projects.

This poses a dilemma for Fukushima Prefecture, which fears local residents will be stuck with the problem despite repeated pledges by the government to move all contaminated soil from the prefecture.

Work got under way four years ago to move contaminated soil to intermediate storage facilities in Fukushima Prefecture. As of Feb. 19, the volume of soil transported to those facilities totaled 2.35 million cubic meters.

Initially, the government set a target date of March 2045 for moving all of the contaminated soil outside of Fukushima to a permanent storage facility.

However, discussions have yet to begin on where to build the structure.

Koji Yamada, an Environment Ministry official who has been involved in the issue, conceded it will not be easy to find a candidate municipality for the facility.

“We are now at the stage of trying to obtain understanding from a national perspective,” he said.

Ministry officials say that reusing contaminated soil to reduce the volume that eventually will have to be moved to the final storage facility could win favor from some municipalities.

A panel of experts set up by the Environment Ministry agreed in June 2016 that moving the entire volume of contaminated soil to a final storage facility is unrealistic.

The panel suggested that reducing the volume of contaminated soil by reusing portions deemed safe under radiation standards now in place seemed to offer the best option in finding a candidate site for the final storage facility.

It also proposed ways in which the soil could be reused; for example, in public works projects where the commissioning authority was clearly a responsible body.

The panel also proposed using the soil for the foundations of roads and embankments. It said sufficient quantities were available to ensure stable maintenance over many years.

When the panel met again last December, the members were briefed on the best-case scenario for the development of technology to reduce radiation levels in the soil. The most optimistic forecast was that as much as 99 percent of the debris could eventually be reused.

Under that scenario, only 30,000 cubic meters, or about 0.2 percent of the total volume, would have to be moved to the final storage facility to be buried there.

While Environment Ministry officials say that reusable treated soil would be considered for locations both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture, the only specific proposals made to date have been limited to three municipalities in Fukushima.

Local residents in two of those municipalities, one of which is Nihonmatsu, have mounted petition drives and other activities to block the reuse of contaminated soil in their areas. They contend that allowing such plans to go ahead would be at odds with government promises to store the soil outside of the prefecture.

The fact remains that the bulk of the contaminated soil is stored in Fukushima Prefecture. However, seven other prefectures also have a combined 330,000 cubic meters stored at various locations, such as parks and farmland.

Since August 2018, the Environment Ministry has been trying to determine whether using contaminated soil for land reclamation projects would prove detrimental to the health of local residents.

It has conducted field trials in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, and on the grounds of a facility operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture.

But Nasu resident Masato Tashiro, who has been following the issue, was highly critical of the six-month period authorized to confirm the safety of such soil.

“That is way too short to make such a judgment, considering the fact the soil will be buried for such a long time,” Tashiro said. “Residents fear their health may be impaired over the long-term.”

(This article was written by Teru Okumura and Shintaro Egawa.)

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Japanese Govt Olympic Games campaign to “showcase” Fukushima’s recovery is not really working

Reconstruction Olympics’ theme said not to have gathered momentum https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/02/27/national/reconstruction-olympics-theme-said-not-gathered-momentum/#.XHcN_IkzbGg KYODO   Half of 42 municipalities in northeastern Japan hit by a massive earthquake in 2011 said the public is not fully aware of the government’s efforts to showcase the region’s recovery from the disaster through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a Kyodo News survey showed Wednesday.

The heads of 21 local governments in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures said in the survey that the “reconstruction Olympics” theme has yet to fully catch on among the public.

Asked whether the slogan has gained public attention, two mayors said “it has not” while 19 mayors said “it mostly has not.” Eighteen said “it has a little” and two said “it has.” The remaining municipality — the Fukushima city of Soma — did not answer.

“The phrase ‘reconstruction Olympics’ was thought up but no substantial progress has been made and the affected areas feel left behind,” said an official of the town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture. “We have limited manpower and cannot spare personnel for Olympic events.”

“The sporting event will be held under the banner of the ‘reconstruction Olympics’ but venues are centered on Tokyo,” said an official of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture.

The Tokyo Organising Committee has promoted projects involving the disaster-stricken areas, such as holding baseball and softball games in Fukushima and starting the Japan leg of the Olympic torch relay in the prefecture, which was hit by a nuclear crisis in the wake of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Before the relay, the flame will be displayed in the three northeastern prefectures. The Fukushima city of Iwaki expressed appreciation over the move to highlight the recovery of the affected areas in the Summer Olympics. “Fukushima will be hosting some games and the torch relay will start here. We have been given certain roles to play,” a city official said.

Asked what they expect from the Tokyo Games in a multiple-choice question, the biggest group, of 36 mayors, picked “promoting our progress toward recovery,” while 20 mayors, mainly from Fukushima, chose “overcoming reputational damage.”

“We want to use the Olympics as a chance to regain sales channels for our farm products,” said an official of the Fukushima town of Namie.

Hisashi Sanada, a professor of the anthropology of sport and Olympic history at the University of Tsukuba, said efforts by the central government and the organizing committee to promote reconstruction through the sporting event were “not enough.”

“The state needs to explain in detail to municipalities what kind of support it can offer, and the local governments should also rack their brains about how to link (the Olympics) to regional development,” Sanada said.

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Oxygen in oceans declining – climate change brings this threat to marine life

The Ocean Is Running Out of Breath, Scientists Warn
Widespread and sometimes drastic marine oxygen declines are stressing sensitive species—a trend that will continue with climate change, Scientific American , By Laura Poppick on February 25, 2019
Escaping predators, digestion and other animal activities—including those of humans—require oxygen. But that essential ingredient is no longer so easy for marine life to obtain, several new studies reveal.

In the past decade ocean oxygen levels have taken a dive—an alarming trend that is linked to climate change, says Andreas Oschlies, an oceanographer at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany, whose team tracks ocean oxygen levels worldwide. “We were surprised by the intensity of the changes we saw, how rapidly oxygen is going down in the ocean and how large the effects on marine ecosystems are,” he says.

It is no surprise to scientists that warming oceans are losing oxygen, but the scale of the dip calls for urgent attention, Oschlies says. Oxygen levels in some tropical regions have dropped by a startling 40 percent in the last 50 years, some recent studies reveal. Levels have dropped more subtly elsewhere, with an average loss of 2 percent globally.

Ocean animals large and small, however, respond to even slight changes in oxygen by seeking refuge in higher oxygen zones or by adjusting behavior, Oschlies and others in his field have found. These adjustments can expose animals to new predators or force them into food-scarce regions. Climate change already poses serious problems for marine life, such as ocean acidification, but deoxygenation is the most  pressing issue facing sea animals today, Oschlies says. After all, he says, “they all have to breathe.”

A warming ocean loses oxygen for two reasons: First, the warmer a liquid becomes, the less gas it can hold. …… https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-ocean-is-running-out-of-breath-scientists-warn/

February 28, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Arctic ice – summers without it could happen sooner than predicted

Ice-free Arctic summers could happen on earlier side of predictions
A new study in AGU’s journal Geophysical Research Letters predicts the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in summer by mid-century.EurekAlert, AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 27 Feb 19

WASHINGTON — The Arctic Ocean could become ice-free in the summer in the next 20 years due to a natural, long-term warming phase in the tropical Pacific that adds to human-caused warming, according to a new study.

Computer models predict climate change will cause the Arctic to be nearly free of sea ice during the summer by the middle of this century, unless human greenhouse gas emissions are greatly reduced.

But a closer examination of long-term temperature cycles in the tropical Pacific points towards an ice-free Arctic in September, the month with the least sea ice, on the earlier side of forecasts, according to a new study in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“The trajectory is towards becoming ice-free in the summer but there is uncertainty as to when that’s going to occur,” said James Screen, an associate professor in climate science at the University of Exeter in the U.K. and the lead author of the new study………https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/agu-ias022719.php

February 28, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

A new moral low – Trump Selling Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia

Trump Selling Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia Is a New Moral Low,  Inderjeet Parmar, The Wire, 27 Feb 19

In doing so, he has declared the return of great power global rivalries, with China and Russia as the biggest threats to US power.

The Trump administration’s plan to sell nuclear technologies to the Saudi Arabian regime is a case study in the decay of American imperial power, the essential corruption of the Trump White House and the self-serving and reckless character of the military-industrial complex. After two years of this administration, it is shocking, if unsurprising, that President Trump shows flagrant disregard for the law, is hypocritical with regard to his claimed desire to ‘drain the swamp’ of big money lobbying and is enabling the intensified militarisation of great power geopolitical rivalries.

In so doing, Trump has accelerated longer-term trends begun under successive previous presidents since the end of Second World War. He has declared the return of great power global rivalries, with China and Russia as the biggest threats to US power.

But Trump is not alone in this drive to further destabilisation: the Saudis have also shortlisted Russia, China, France and South Korea to bid for nuclear contracts. Russia has already signed nuclear power agreements or understandings with Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. And China’s Belt and Road Initiative features plans to build nuclear plants in dozens of countries on the Silk Road; China has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Armenia and the UK.

There have been reports that Russian and Chinese firms would cooperate with other states’ nuclear plans in West Asia, including Trump’s, but that Obama-era US sanctions on Russia stood in the way. If taken seriously by the numerous investigating bodies focused on the Trump White House, this may well prove to be a key driver of Trump’s relatively non-hostile rhetoric towards President Putin.

But this ramped up cooperative competition for markets and contracts, and other pending arms deals, may also explain the immediate reasons why the Republican president ignored CIA intelligence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered and directed the killing and dismemberment of regime critic and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The gruesome killing of the journalist – a member of Trump’s “enemy of the people” fake media, as opposed to his supporters at Fox News – could hardly be expected to hold up the brutal jockeying for advantage in the world’s most volatile – and tragic – region.

An interim report by the Democrat Elijah Cummings-chaired House Committee on Oversight and Reform, based largely on credible whistleblower accounts – including emails and other documents from within the White House itself – suggests that Trump and his trusted lieutenants, in particular, Jared Kushner, regardless of legal advice to the contrary, are finalising plans that may violate the Atomic Energy Act 1954, which provides powers to Congress to oversee the sale and use of nuclear technologies……..

Conflicts of interest abound in this matter. Trump acolytes are looking to make billions of dollars by winning fees, commissions and contracts in Saudi Arabia. What is sold as an attempt to make Saudi Arabia less reliant on fossil fuels for revenues, and more secure against regional powers like Iran and Syria, appears to be a rather unsubtle money grab. At the centre of the controversy is IP3 International, a firm whose leadership reads like the membership list of the morally and intellectually bankrupt military-industrial complex. Its name, according to its website, is an abbreviation for ‘international peace, power and prosperity’.  

Before digging a little deeper into IP3 International, it’s worth looking at where within the Trump camp this scheme originated and developed. Retired General Michael Flynn’s name is all over this plan. His Flynn Intel Group consultancy is closely linked with IP3 International’s plan to build dozens of nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia and across the Gulf states. Flynn pushed the Saudi plan before and after the 2016 election, once he was named national security adviser and even after he had been dismissed for lying about his discussions with the Russian ambassador about US sanctions; he’s currently awaiting sentencing for lying to the FBI, among other things.

Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, troubleshooter and West Asia peace envoy, has been praising and protecting the Saudi crown prince as some sort of Kemal Ataturk-like visionary set to drag the kingdom and the region into the 21st century. Kushner has links with Westinghouse Electric Company – a nuclear services breakaway from the original Westinghouse Electric Corporation – and its current major shareholder, Brook Asset Management, which is closely linked with IP3 International.

Trump’s inauguration lead and close confidant, Tom Barrack, was reported by the New York Times as having raised investments topping $7 billion since Trump’s nomination, with a quarter of that deriving from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Barrack justified his and the Trump administration’s business dealings with Saudi Arabia by praising the economic vision of the kingdom’s “young, brilliant new leader”. He justified the killing of Khashoggi thus: “Whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal or worse than the atrocities in Saudi Arabia.” Skullduggery, falsehood and self-interest justified by a self-serving admission of truth, while Trump’s brutal anti-immigrant policies and defence of police killings continue apace.

IP3 International and Flynn Intel Group are core drivers of the programme, as are ACU Strategic Partners – a nuclear power consultancy led by Alex Copson, who was advised by Michael Flynn; and Colony NorthStar, Tom Barrack’s real estate investment firm.

IP3 International’s leadership team is almost a case study of the military-industrial complex. Of its leadership team of 21, there are five retired US generals and four retired US Navy admirals. Among its three co-founders are General John ‘Jack’ Keane and Robert ‘Bud’ McFarlane. An architect of Reagan’s Star Wars nuclear programme, McFarlane is a convicted felon from the Iran-Contra scandal – found guilty of illegally selling arms to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war to illegally fund the Contras fighting the revolutionary-democratic Sandinista administration in Nicaragua. Congress had banned US aid to the Contras at the time. McFarlane spends some of his time promoting US wars via the Committee on the Present Danger. He is a non-executive director of the British military corporation Aegis Defence Services, which has ‘offices’ across West Asia.

General Keane retired from the military in 2003, became an analyst with Fox News and advised on the US occupation of Iraq. He was an architect, along with Fred Kagan, of the murderous 2007 “surge” in Iraq. Keane is a director of General Dynamics, consultant-advisor for the Erik Prince-founded private military company Blackwater, now called Academi, and executive chair of the Humvee manufacturer AM General.

Finally, ambassador Denis Ross is on IP3 International’s advisory board. Ross, a Democrat, has faithfully served American imperial power for decades – under both Republican and Democratic presidents. IP3 International opens its coffers and serves both parties. Ross is an arch-Zionist, indeed named as such in Walt and Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby as a key supporter of AIPAC. He advised Hillary Clinton on West Asian affairs, and considers the Saudi crown prince a true “revolutionary”……….

Kushner heads off to West Asia in the final days of this month to continue discussions on the nuclear programmes. President Trump is reported to have attended a meeting on February 12 at the White House with private nuclear corporations including Westinghouse, General Electric, and AECOM, “led by General Keane… ,” according to the congressional report.

The military-industrial complex has made the US government and geopolitical interests inseparable from their own personal and corporate interests. A remarkable March 4, 2017 email from McFarlane to the National Security Council’s Derek Harvey, titled “We’re Very Close to Losing Our Position in the Middle East” and reproduced in the House committee’s interim report, makes this all too clear……..https://thewire.in/world/trump-selling-nuclear-technology-to-saudi-arabia-is-a-new-moral-low

February 28, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Northern Japan likely to experience a magnitude 7 or 8 earthquake in the next 30 years.

Japan earthquake risk: MAGNITUDE 8 earthquake predicted to strike RING OF FIRE near Japan

A MAGNITUDE 8 or 7 earthquake will likely hit Japan along the so-called Ring of Fire in the next 30 years, Japanese geologists have warned. By SEBASTIAN KETTLEY, Express UK , Wed, Feb 27, 2019 A Japanese Government panel said on Tuesday, February 26, the risk of a major earthquake in the near future is high. A magnitude 7 or 8 quake is expected to strike the Japan Trench just off the northeast coast of Japan. The oceanic trench forms part of the Pacific Ring of Fire – a hotspot of volcanic activity and earthquakes along the basin of the Pacific Ocean. Japan’s Earthquake Research Committee said there is at least a 50 percent chance of magnitude 7 to 7.5 earthquake in the Fukushima Prefecture……..

Chances of another earthquake in the region are now up by 10 percent on the last Earthquake forecast released in March 2011.  ……

What is the Ring of Fire?The Ring of Fire is a major hotbed of seismic and volcanic activity stretching along the horseshoe-like basin of the Pacific Ocean.

Approximately 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes strike along the Ring of Fire.

And about 75 percent of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes are found in this part of the world.

The incredible activity in Ring of Fire is the result of tectonic plate movements deep beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean.https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1093212/Japan-earthquake-magnitude-8-earthquake-ring-of-fire-japan-trench

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Subtle “education” in Japan, to downplay the risks of ionising radiation

Disney Educational Video Our Friend, the Atom (1957)

Teaching about radiation after FukushimaBulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Maxime Polleri, February 26, 2019 “…………..Ultimately, I have doubts about these education programs – [ Centre for Environmental Creation, Japan] . They are selective in their nature, making only certain aspects of radiation tangible through their public activities, while rarely explaining in detail the dangers of adverse health effects linked with residual radioactivity. From my viewpoint, their purpose seems to be dual: While they aim to shed light on the phenomenon of radiation, they are also covertly looking to defuse the threat of widespread societal unrest, to reclaim political control and economic stability, and to pacify a fearful public—and in ways that are perhaps more beneficial to the state than to affected individuals.

In a community where dangerous residual radioactivity has become a public everyday concern, coming to grips with serious contamination requires more education than ever before. The important word here is education. Not state propaganda disguised as education. There is a fine line between these two, but it is a line that needs to be clearly drawn. While Japanese state approaches are innovative in their interactivity and freedom from jargon, they are less so in their content.

I strongly agree that the existence of state-sponsored educational programs is better than to simply ignore radioactive risk. But mobilizing specific explanations that downplay the real risk faced by citizens is not sustainable. Doing so will reproduce the ignorance, secrecy, and values that led to this disaster. Public well-being, democracy, and science cannot thrive in such context. An unbiased effort to educate people about the specific hazards of radioactive contamination, and correct misunderstandings about the risk of radiation exposure, does not have to be delivered in a dry and clinical manner. It can be as fun and engaging as anything the Japanese centers, exhibits, and public days are already doing.

There is one scene from my time in Japan that I cannot forget: the unadulterated smile of the happy child who had won the contest of blocking radiation. While the kid had learned much about radiation, he had learned little about the complexity of radiation hazards. I could not help thinking of Major Kong straddling the bomb in the film Dr. Strangelove, enjoying the nuclear ride without thinking about it too much, shouting “Yee Haw!” at the top of his lungs. https://thebulletin.org/2019/02/teaching-about-radiation-after-fukushima/

February 27, 2019 Posted by | Education, Japan | Leave a comment

How quickly we ‘normalise’ rising temperatures

 

Just by the way- Scientists found that frogs DO jump out of the water as it gets hot. They are smarter than we are.

 

 

AS THE CLIMATE CHANGES, ARE WE ALL BOILING FROGS?

New research finds that we normalize rising temperatures remarkably quickly. https://psmag.com/environment/as-the-climate-changes-are-we-all-boiling-frogs,TOM JACOBS, FEB 26, 2019 

How about this weird weather we’ve been having? It’s a common query around the Pacific Standard office, and for good reason: Abnormalities such as the recent cold and snow in Southern California capture pretty much everyone’s attention.

Climate change is significantly increasing the chances of more unsettling weather in the years to come, including longer and more severe heat waves. But if you’re hoping the strange conditions will inspire people to realize that something profoundly dangerous is occurring—and will prod politicians into acting—new researchsuggests you’re likely to be disappointed.

An analysis of more than two million Twitter posts finds that people do indeed take note of abnormal temperatures. But it also reports that our definition of “normal” is based on recent history—roughly, the past two to eight years.

These findings suggest that, in less than a decade, climate change-induced conditions cease to seem all that unusual. That lack of historical perspective may make it hard to grasp the enormity of the changes that are already underway, and which promise to accelerate. Continue reading

February 27, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, social effects | Leave a comment

Banned from covering Trump-Kim dinner are reporters from the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, the Los Angeles Times and Reuters

White House bans four journalists from covering Trump-Kim dinner, SMH, By Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey
February 28, 2019 Hanoi, The White House abruptly banned four US journalists from covering President Donald Trump’s dinner on Wednesday with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un after some of them shouted questions at the leaders during their earlier meetings.Reporters from the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, the Los Angeles Times and Reuters were excluded from covering the dinner because of what White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said were “sensitivities over shouted questions in the previous sprays”. Among the questions asked of Trump was one about the congressional testimony of his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

The White House’s move to restrict press access was an extraordinary act of retaliation by the US government, which historically has upheld the rights of journalists while a president travels overseas. It was especially remarkable because it came during Trump’s meeting with the leader of a totalitarian state that does not have a free press.

Trump’s exchanges with Kim were being covered by the standard 13-member travelling White House press pool, but ahead of the dinner Sanders sought to exclude all reporters from the pool and permit only the photographers and television crew, citing “sensitivities over shouted questions in the previous sprays”.

After loud pushback, including from photojournalists who protested, Sanders allowed a single reporter in the pool for the dinner: Vivian Salama of the Wall Street Journal, who was serving as the print pooler and did not ask a question at the dinner. In addition, at least two members of the North Korean media contingent, a photographer and cameraman, were seen covering the dinner.

Reporters for the three wire services, as well as a second print pooler, were excluded. They included two journalists who had asked Trump questions in the earlier appearances: Jonathan Lemire of the AP and Jeff Mason of Reuters. Also excluded were Justin Sink of Bloomberg and Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times………..

Lauren Easton, a spokeswoman for the AP, said in a statement: “The Associated Press decries such efforts by the White House to restrict access to the president. It is critically important that any president uphold American press freedom standards, not only at home but especially while abroad.” .

…… Trump has long complained about reporters asking him questions at photo opportunities, especially when he is in the presence of foreign leaders, which aides have said he views as disrespectful and lacking in decorum. The White House occasionally has punished reporters for their questioning, including CNN’s Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins……https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/white-house-bans-four-journalists-from-covering-trump-kim-dinner-20190228-p510qg.html

February 27, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

To 27 February – Climate and Nuclear News


I’ve tried to find good news – we need it. But, good news, by its nature, is not news. Most people try to behave decently, reasonable. When they don’t – that’s actually unusual , remarkable – and therefore is news. Anyway – here’s a good bit.:

Changing climate change“2040” paints an optimistic picture of the future of the environment, Youtube 2040 teaser http://www.whatsyour2040.com/

Meanwhile  – New report warns of climate Armageddon in less than 150 years.  New research indicates that world efforts towards climate change targets are likely to be too slow to take effectClimate change bringing crises, population displacement, wars to Middle East countries.  Climate change taking its toll on the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz2pmSw4aWU

Another good bit?  South Korea offers hope that the Trump-Kim nuclear summit could bring an end to the Korean War.

Meanwhile –  We are closer to a nuclear war than we would like to believe – new smaller bombs make this more likely. Indian and Pakistan relations have again reached a dangerous level.

What the planet needs from men .  New York Times – it’s time to panic about climate change. Sudden rises in methane levels – scientists warn on need for urgent action on climate change.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urges the United States and Russia to save nuclear arms safeguards.

Future is not looking good for thorium nuclear reactors.  The nuclear lobby’s dream of small modular nuclear reactors is not likely to come true

INDIA. India. With escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, could India consider a pre-emptive nuclear strike?  Union ministry of mines protects beaches from mining for thorium.

PAKISTAN.  Tensions in Kashmir: Pakistan readies for war.

RUSSIA. Russia flexes nuclear muscles , warns on its ability to strike nuclear targets in USA.  Call for Solidarity with the Russian Environmental Organization Ecodefense.

BELARUS. If USA US deploys nuclear weapons in Europe RUSSIA and Belarus will consider a joint military response.

JAPAN. Okuma, the host town of crippled nuke plant to lift evacuation order.  Japan and Tepco again ordered to pay damages to Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees.  Tokyo governor won’t speculate on Olympic bribery scandal.  Robot claw grasped bits of molten nuclear fuel in Fukushima reactor.  Probe shows challenges posed by melted nuclear fuel at Fukushima plant.

NORTH KOREA.   North Korea sees nuclear weapons as key to its survival.   North Korea blasts Japan, claiming that Japan in “nuclear weaponizing”.

FRANCE. France’s nuclear corporation, EDF, faces the first of many mammoth nuclear plant burials.

FINLAND. Safety problem at Areva’s Olkiluoto nuclear reactor in Finland.

BELGIUM.  Three Green MP’s arrested after anti-nuclear protest at Belgian military base.

USA.

UK. Britain’s energy policy in a right mess, as new nuclear power stations are shelved.  A hard Brexit is going to be really hard for UK’s nuclear industry.   Packed church in East Suffolk hears residents’ opposition to Sizewell C nuclear project. Church of England backs further action on climate change. Offshore wind could replace UK’s failed plans for new nuclear power.

CHINA. Wind and solar power in China – fast outstripping nuclear power

IRAN. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accuses USA of hypocrisy over planned nuclear technology sales to Saudi Arabia.    International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran is sticking to the terms of the nuclear deal.  Iran’s nuclear power station struggling financially.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa inquiry hears how former president Jacob Zuma pressed for ‘astronomically expensive’ nuclear deal.

 

February 27, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

South Korea offers hope that the Trump-Kim nuclear summit could bring an end to the Korean War

Korean War could be declared over at Trump-Kim summit, says South Korea   There’s an upbeat tone that a formal declaration ending the Korean War could be made at the Hanoi summit this week. SBS News 25 Feb 19,    Hopes that US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will formally declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War at the Hanoi summit rose Monday, after South Korea said the two leaders could reach an agreement.

The devastating conflict between communist North Korea, backed by China, and the capitalist South, aided by the United States, ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving Pyongyang and Washington still technically at war.

“I believe that the possibility is there,” the South’s presidential Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters about a formal declaration.

“There is no way of knowing what kind of declaration it might be, but I believe the US and North Korea may reach an agreement.”

President Moon Jae-in said in October “it was only a matter of time” before Washington and Pyongyang declared an end to the war.

The US has also struck an upbeat tone. Stephen Biegun, the US special envoy for North Korea, said earlier this month that Trump was “ready to end this war”, fuelling speculation that the formal end of the conflict may be near.

Kim, the leader of North Korea, is due to meet the US president in the Vietnamese capital on Wednesday and Thursday, where it is hoped the pair will make progress in talks on denuclearisation, and a possible peace treaty……..

President Trump says he would be happy as long as North Korea maintains its pause on weapons testing, and he is in no rush to strike a nuclear deal with Kim Jong-un. …..https://www.sbs.com.au/news/korean-war-could-be-declared-over-at-trump-kim-summit-says-south-korea

February 25, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tensions in Kashmir: Pakistan readies for war

Pakistan readies military, hospitals for war with its nuclear rival India after Pulwama terror attack, Business Insider

February 25, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment