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Governments manipulate social media – Twitter executive is a British army psychological operations officer

governments have a long history of trying to manipulate the media,” and are steadily moving into the realm of social media.
Facebook’s gigantic user base and its design make it an enormously influential media organization, one that can make or break politicians’ chances.
there is one rule for the powerful and quite another for the rest of us, and how the big social media platforms are increasingly acting like arms of Western governments, adopting their perspectives on what are and are not acceptable political viewpoints.

Media Ignore Unmasking of Twitter Exec as British Psyops Officer  https://fair.org/home/media-ignore-unmasking-of-twitter-exec-as-british-psyops-officer/comment-page-1/#comment-3169114  

Government penetration and control over media of little interest to those who are subject to it, ALAN MACLEOD, 24 Oct 19, A recent investigation from independent news outlet Middle East Eye (9/30/19) uncovered that a senior Twitter executive is, in fact, an officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to psychological operations (psyops), propaganda and online warfare.

Gordon MacMillan, who joined the social media company in 2013, is its head of editorial for the Middle East and North Africa. While both Twitter and the British Army attempted to distance themselves from the implications of the report, it is unclear why MacMillan would have this role if not to manipulate and propagandize the public. (The British Ministry of Defense describes psyops as a way of getting “the enemy, or other target audience, to think and act in a way which will be to our advantage”—BBC6/20/08.)

For media so committed to covering news of foreign interference with US public opinion online (see FAIR.org, 8/24/16, 12/13/17, 7/27/18), the response was distinctly muted.The story did not appear at all in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News or virtually any other mainstream national outlet. In fact, the only corporate US outlet of any note covering the news that a person deciding what you see in your Twitter feed is a foreign psyops officer was Newsweek, which published a detailed analysis from Tareq Haddad (10/1/19). When asked by FAIR why he believed this was, Haddad agreed it was major news, but downplayed the idea of media malevolence, suggesting that because it was a small British outlet breaking news involving a British officer, US media may have overlooked it.

Yet the bombshell was also largely downplayed in the UK press as well, with only the Independent, (9/30/19), the London Times (10/2/19) and the Financial Times (9/30/19) producing reports on the news, bland and even-toned as they were. There was no other reporting of it in the national press, including in the BBC or the Guardian, the latter having already “gotten rid of everyone who seemed to cover the security services and military in an adversarial way,” according to one current employee.
Furthermore, the news was the focus of alarmed reports in alternative media (Moon of Alabama9/30/19Consortium News10/2/19), as well as from foreign government-owned outlets that have been labeled propaganda mills, and have been demoted or deleted from social media platforms like TwitterYouTube and Facebook. Turkey’s TRT World (10/1/19), Venezuela’s TeleSur English (10/1/19), Iran’s Press TV (9/30/19), and Russia’s Sputnik (9/30/19) and RT (9/30/19) all immediately covered the scandal, suggesting the lack of Western coverage was a political rather than a journalistic choice.

Deep State and Fourth Estate

Haddad also noted that “governments have a long history of trying to manipulate the media,” and are steadily moving into the realm of social media. Regular FAIR readers will already know this. Last year Facebook announced that, in its fight against “fake news,” it had started working with the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, two organizations involved in covertly assisting the overthrow of foreign governments through propaganda campaigns, among other methods (FAIR.org9/25/18). It also began partnering with the Atlantic Council (FAIR.org5/21/18), a NATO-funded think tank, whose board of directors is a who’s who of ex-CIA chiefs, army generals and Bush-era neocon politicians. That the likes of Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice and David Petraeus are deciding what Facebook’s 2.4 billion worldwide users see in their news feed is tantamount to state censorship on a global scale (FAIR.org8/22/18).
Facebook’s gigantic user base and its design make it an enormously influential media organization, one that can make or break politicians’ chances. Media (e.g., New York Times11/1/17Buzzfeed News4/18/19USA Today4/22/19) have consistently implied that a relatively small Russian ad campaign on the platform swung the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump. Less well known is that an American advertising team met with far-right party Alternative für Deutschland at Facebook headquarters in Berlin to devise a campaign of micro-targeting ads on the platform that led to a massive increase in their vote, the strongest fascist showing in Germany since the 1940s (FAIR.org6/19/19).

A Fact-Free Zone

Facebook has rules against accepting advertisements containing “deceptive, false or misleading content.” Yet earlier this month, it announced it was rescinding these rules for political ads, allowing politicians who pay them to lie to its users. Referencing the long run-up to the 2020 election, where it is sure to cash in on both sides, a spokesperson justified the decision on the grounds of free speech: “We don’t believe that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates.” It did note, however, that it would continue to ban ads by non-politicians that “include claims debunked by third-party factcheckers, or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise.”

Yet factchecking organizations are not neutral arbiters of truth, but part of an increasingly elite class of people with their own biases and preconceptions. In practice, they have tended to espouse a “centrist” ideology—a word with its own problems (FAIR.org, 3/23/19)—and are hostile to anyone challenging the status quo from either right or left. Factcheckers have been carrying out something of a war against Bernie Sanders’ campaign, constantly rating the Vermont Senator’s statements as misleading or untrue without due reason.

Furthermore, the choice of who gets to decide what is true and what is false is an important one. Facebook has already partnered with conservative magazine the Weekly Standard, a publication that was crucial in pushing arguably the greatest fake news stories of the 21st century: those of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s links to 9/11 (Extra!9/09). “There is no debate about the facts” that “the Iraqi threat” to the US is “enormous” and that Saddam’s henchmen helped Osama Bin Laden, it wrote in 2002 (1/21/02). Yet Facebook picked this organization to help it gauge the veracity of viral stories across its platform.

Silencing Dissent Online

In September, Twitter suspended multiple accounts belonging to Cuban state media. And along with Facebook and YouTube, it also suspended hundreds of Chinese accounts it claimed were attempting to “sow political discord in Hong Kong” by “undermining the legitimacy” of the protest movement. These social media giants have already deleted thousands of Venezuelan, Russian and Iranian accounts and pages that were, in their own words, “in line with” those governments’ positions. The message is clear: Sharing opinions that do not fall in line with official US doctrine will not be tolerated online.

In contrast, Western politicians can continually flout Twitter’s terms of service with no consequences. Sen. Marco Rubio threatened Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with torture and execution, sharing a video of Moammar Gadhafi being tortured and killed in a not-so-subtle message that broke multiple Twitter rules. Meanwhile, Donald Trump announced that we would “totally destroy” North Korea with “fire and fury,” and promised he would bring about the “official end” of Iran if it angered him again. Twitter has continually refused to delete tweets like that on the grounds that this would “hamper necessary discussion,” although it later saw fit to delete those from Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Decisions like these highlight how there is one rule for the powerful and quite another for the rest of us, and how the big social media platforms are increasingly acting like arms of Western governments, adopting their perspectives on what are and are not acceptable political viewpoints.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Press freedom in Europe is on the decline


Q&A: How Europe has Moved Away from Being a Sanctuary for Journalists 
 http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/10/qa-europe-moved-away-sanctuary-journalists/?utm_source=English+-+IPS+Weekly&utm_campaign=2391e81e36-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_24_01_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_eab01a56ae-2391e81e36-5466689 

By Ed Holt   IPS Correspondent Ed Holt speaks to Pauline Ades-Mevel, Head of European Union and Balkan desk at Reporters Without Borders, warns that press freedom in Europe is declining. Courtesy: Reporters Without BordersRising populism, anti-media rhetoric from politicians, cyber-harassment of journalists and physical attacks are among the reasons why press freedom in Europe is on the decline, according to the global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

As it released its annual Press Freedom Index earlier this year, the group warned that Europe was “no longer a sanctuary for journalists”, pointing to the murders of three journalists in MaltaSlovakia and Bulgaria in the space of a few months  and warning that “hatred of journalists has degenerated into violence, contributing to an increase in fear… the decline in press freedom in Europe… has gone hand in hand with an erosion of the region’s institutions by increasingly authoritarian governments”.

IPS spoke to Pauline Ades-Mevel, Head of European Union & Balkan desk at RSF about why press freedom was deteriorating across the continent and how, while threats to press freedom in Central and Eastern Europe often make headlines, the situation is far from trouble free in Western Europe. Excerpts of the interview follow.

Inter Press Service (IPS): RSF’s most recent surveys and reports suggest that media freedom is on the decline generally in Europe. Is this decline specific for Europe or part of a global trend?

Pauline Ades-Meve (PAM): When working on our most recent Global Press Freedom Index, we looked to see if there was a trend of deterioration of press freedom just in Europe or elsewhere. We found that it was actually a global trend, that we could see that trend in many regions. We looked at why this was the case and, while there are some different reasons in different countries, what we saw in general was that there was a climate of fear in which many journalists were working in. This is why there is this general deteriorating trend. Fear has been causing the most problems for journalists.

In Europe specifically a number of countries have fallen down the Index. This is for a number of reasons and comes with rising populism, anti-media rhetoric from politicians, cyber-harassment of journalists, physical attacks.

IPS: Threats to media freedom in central and eastern Europe and the Balkans have made a lot of headlines in recent years, perhaps understandably due to the nature of those threats, but RSF has made clear that media freedom in western Europe is also declining. What kind of threats are media facing in western Europe today?

PAM: We have seen threats to journalists emerge in recent years in Western Europe. For instance, in Spain, during the Catalan independence protests, leaders of the movement delivered rhetoric which undermined trust in journalists. They did not think journalists were covering the situation properly, or at least not in the way they wanted, and they viewed journalists who were not supporting their cause as people who were working against it and trying to prevent independence.

We recently published a report on the pressures faced by journalists in Spain and people don’t realise that, at the moment, Spain is no longer a heaven to be a journalist when you cover politics.

And then another example is Italy where there are 20 journalists who have around the clock police protection because they are facing threats from criminal networks.

Journalists in Europe are facing cyber-harassment – journalists covering protests in Spain and in France have been attacked online.

There is also a trend we are seeing in Western Europe of journalists being attacked when covering protests themselves. This is because part of the population no longer trusts the media anymore – protest leaders have portrayed them negatively, as untrustworthy, because they are not happy with the coverage. Journalists sometimes face violence and terrible threats from protestors. We have had cases of female journalists being threatened with rape. And sometimes, when they cover demonstrations, journalists are sometimes targeted by both the protestors and the police, which makes their mission even harder. 

IPS: Are these threats growing or changing in nature?

PAM: They are growing and new threats are emerging. One of these is growing legal harassment of journalists. Governments and businessmen are chasing journalists legally, through lawyers and courts, trying to stop them reporting and doing their jobs. This is extremely worrying.


IPS: How do they differ, if at all, from the threats faced by media in central and eastern Europe and the Balkans?

PAM: In some ways the threats are the same. There is a lot of legal harassment of journalists in central and eastern Europe and the Balkans. There is also physical intimidation of journalists and cyber-harassment too, while in some countries the independence of public media is under threat as well with governments trying to interfere in editorial independence, to influence them. We tend not to see this in Western Europe.

IPS: Physical intimidation of journalists is not a new phenomenon, especially in some countries in Europe, e.g. Russia or Ukraine. Is it becoming more common in western Europe, though, and if so, who is doing the intimidation?

PAM: Western Europe is certainly not free of this. Journalists in Western European states do face physical intimidation. Places like France, Spain, Italy, fascist groups in Greece. And it is only a few months ago that a journalist, Lyra McKee, was killed in Northern Ireland. Western Europe is not without this problem, even today.

IPS: There have been cases of journalists being attacked by protestors, and sometimes police, at demonstrations in parts of Western Europe in recent years e.g. in France. While this is not a problem specific to just western Europe, or Europe as a whole, in the past press were generally seen as neutral observers at such events and as such, left alone. Is that changing, are journalists now being seen as ‘fair game’ by certain groups?

PAM: One thing we have noticed in recent years is that due to social media and some ‘media’ which frankly should not be labelled as media, people are losing trust in media in general and this has galvanised certain people in certain movements and groups to attack journalists. As an example, when asked many of the Gilets Jaunes protestors in France said that their favourite TV station for news was the Russian state-sponsored channel RT, or people’s Facebook pages where they could read stories. We could then see at protests that protestors were attacking journalists with rocks because they were not happy with them, they did not trust them, did not think they were portraying the protests the way they wanted them to. So they just attacked them and destroyed their things, like cameras.

IPS: Online hatred towards journalists, including incitement to violence against them, appears to have become more of a problem in recent years. Is this the case in Europe and if so, what do you think is driving this rise?

PAM: This is a problem across Europe, but not just Europe. It is worldwide. Being online means that the attacked can remain anonymous and that anonymity emboldens them, makes them feel stronger. Their hatred also makes them feel powerful. Cyber-harassment is one of the major problems facing journalists in a lot of countries in Europe, both in Western Europe and the rest of the continent.

Much has been reported about authoritarian governments in parts of central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans trying to crack down on critical media so they can cement their power e.g. Hungary, Poland, Serbia. Do you think public perception of western Europe with its historical traditions of democracy and freedoms, particularly freedom of speech, means that people can sometimes mistakenly assume that this could never happen in western Europe?

I am often reminded of conversations between journalists in France who remind themselves of how they work in an environment where they are protected by legislation, by institutions, and have the freedom to do their jobs. But while the West is seen as having traditionally good, strong democracies to protect journalists, the situation with press freedom is not as good as it has been. Populist movements have spread across Europe, including Western Europe. We have seen problems with, for example, independence of public media in Spain

IPS: Would you say there are greater legal or constitutional safeguards against an erosion of media freedom in western European states than in other parts of Europe?

PAM: I think that Western European states may have a greater sense of European values and respecting those values. This includes respecting the freedom of the media and some governments in Western Europe have moved to specifically protect journalists, even giving them a special status – in Portugal, there is a legal statute protecting journalists so that if someone attacks a journalists it is actually more serious a charge than attacking a normal member of the public.

Overall the situation in Western Europe with regard for respect of the institution of press freedom is better than in other parts of the Europe. This is why we have seen an erosion of press freedom in places such as Hungary, or Bulgaria, because in those countries there is not the same tradition, or sense of, European values.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

340,000 to evacuate Fukushima, landslide fears(- and what about the nuclear waste bags?)

Why doesn’t the news media explore the question of what is happening to Fukushima’s bags of radioactive nuclear debris?

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, wastes | 1 Comment

The failure of nuclear reprocessing and the “Plutonium Economy”

Paul Richards The Plutonium Economy failed.  nuclear fuel cycle watch australia, 25 Oct 19

No one on the planet has been able to run unspent nuclear fuel through twice, and make it economically viable, let alone the countless times needed to make it ecologically viable.

It costs more to run unspent fuel through once more than to

• mine uranium,
• process for shipping
• process into yellowcake
• make into rods
• ship rods onsite to reactors

There is little to NO CHANCE of doing that again, and again.

Business history shows this wasn’t possible when;

• uranium was at its peak in price in 1980

2019, about to enter the third decade of the 21C, where commodities exchanges show nuclear fuel it is;

• LOWEST PRICE than in all of economic history,

and yet it still can’t compete with any other energy sources.

Nuclear apologists are a joke, delusional.

The nuclear sales executives of the nuclear estate have been busy rebranding, white and greenwashing their product is ever since Ronald Reagan announced The Plutonium Economy failed.

In point of fact, carbon fuel, gas spinning a turbine, has been producing cheaper energy fully levelized for three decades than any nuclear reactor.

Large scale

• solar PV and
• on-offshore wind turbines
• reached PARITY with
• carbon fuel NATURAL GAS

late last decade on an LCOE basis.

For this whole decade these;

• renewable systems
• fully lifecycle factored
• are cheaper than even carbon fuels
• NATURAL GAS

October 26, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, 2 WORLD, reprocessing | Leave a comment

For the climate’s sake, the $multibillion nuclear industry bailouts must stop

October 26, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Problems for Elizabeth Warren’s policy of No First Use of nuclear weapons

October 26, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

USA’s nuclear wastes can’t stay in above-ground canisters forever

Who will be the ultimate bearer of the nation’s nuclear waste? Mashable
by Mark Kaufman, Editors Nandita Raghuram and Brittany Levine Beckman  Illustrations Vicky Leta, 25 Oct 19,  In Mashable’s series Wasted, we dig into the myriad ways we’re trashing our planet. Because it’s time to sober up.When future tourists journey through a desolate, sun-baked patch of the southeastern New Mexico desert, some 20 miles outside of the 21st-century oil boomtown of Carlsbad, they’ll spot dozens of giant pillars on the flat terrain, somewhat like the great stone heads looming on the treeless hills of Easter Island. If the intrigued desert visitors wander close enough to the 25-foot high granite monuments, erected by the United States Department of Energy, they’ll see inscriptions written in seven different, perhaps archaic, languages.

And if they dare wander past the perimeter of the grandiose columns, the travelers will find an open-air structure made of 15-foot high walls, emblazoned with frightening pictographs and symbols. Taken together, the U.S. agency hopes to convey a clear message to anyone who enters.Keep out. Leave. Don’t dig. Something bad lurks beneath the ground. “This ‘stay out’ sign warns future generations of the danger of intrusion,” the Department of Energy wrote in its blueprint of this imposing message.

In 1990, the agency convened a group of linguists, writers, anthropologists, and an assortment of other scientists to think about how, in centuries or thousands of years (perhaps long after the fall of the U.S. empire), they might discourage people from revealing what lay 2,000 feet below the rocky soil and dashing roadrunners: hundreds of thousands of containers filled with radioactive sludge, soil, mops, brooms, and gloves from the U.S. government’s nuclear weapons program. The sealed casks would be a danger for at least 10 millennia.

Today, the edifices in this corner of southeastern New Mexico are profoundly less romantic than the government’s designs for foreboding temple-like grounds. Here lies the fenced compound of the beige, block buildings of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, where the federal government has trucked in radioactive waste for 20 years and counting, and where the waste will stay, forever.
Of course, most of the radioactive waste in the U.S. today isn’t stored in New Mexico [illustration by Vicky Leta, Mashable). Rather, much of the nuclear rummage is the spent radioactive fuel from power plants  ……..the waste is scattered around the country at the very nuclear power plants where it was used, because the U.S. hasn’t decided on a place to permanently deposit the deadly dross. But the concrete and metal storage casks, often stockpiled directly on the surface in places like the idyllic California coast, age, crack, and decay over time. The waste can’t stay there forever.
Today, nobody knows where America’s commercial nuclear waste will ultimately find its radioactive grave. ……

It’s got to go somewhere,” said Allison Macfarlane, the former chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and professor of science and technology policy at George Washington University.

“The worst option is leaving it above ground indefinitely,” stressed Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist and expert in nuclear weapons policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy group…..  there’s no good place to store the forever waste. “There’s no best option. There’s only the least bad option,”………

One day, WIPP might be joined by another nuclear waste site — but this one exposed on New Mexico’s desert surface.

Between the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs, about 70 miles apart, lies 1,000 acres of rough desert scrub. Holtec International, a company that sells sturdy containers for storing nuclear waste, has a scheme for these 1,000 acres that would make them a lot of money. The company wants to transform this forsaken desert into a concrete field holding 10,000 containers of spent fuel from all the nation’s nuclear power plants, collectively called the HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Story Facility. “Interim” is a somewhat deceiving word here. Taxpayers would essentially rent these thick casks until our underperforming Congress finds a truly permanent place to store the spent fuel from nuclear plants. The waste could stay there for 40 years. Or, if the casks are continually restored, much longer……..

For now, Holtec’s waste depository is not close to becoming a reality. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is in the initial stages of “scoping” the project. And even if the agency approved it, Holtec would have to contend with a regulatory fortress vigilantly guarded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the state of New Mexico, and not least the ruthless watch of Hancock, who’s well known in nuclear policy circles. “We’re not going to let [Holtec] happen,” he scoffed. “That’s just absurd.”  ……..
NEVER NEVADA The U.S. has nuked the hell out of Nevada………

The waste must eventually go deep, deep underground, said Lyman, the nuclear expert. The irradiated can can’t be punted down the road all century. Nuclear plants are brimming with this stuff. “The Department of Energy is on the hook to produce some type of a solution as the reactor facilities are filling up,” emphasized Notre Dame’s Burns.

There’s only one way that can happen: not forcing, not dictating, but collaborating with a community, somewhere, to allow a geologic depository, stressed Macfarlane. The site would need to be heavily guarded in perpetuity. “The question is can they be compensated enough and their concerns be mitigated enough that they’re willing to accept it,” said Lyman.

There’s only one way that can happen: not forcing, not dictating, but collaborating with a community, somewhere, to allow a geologic depository, stressed Macfarlane. The site would need to be heavily guarded in perpetuity. “The question is can they be compensated enough and their concerns be mitigated enough that they’re willing to accept it,” said Lyman……..

while the waste can’t just sit exposed on the surface forever, it could be some 50 years before the casks become an imminent threat.

Indeed, nuclear waste is “out of sight out of mind,” noted Lyman. This is in stark contrast to an environmental threat like relentlessly rising global temperatures, wherein the well-predicted consequences of a warmer globe are conspicuously unfolding today: wildfires torching more land, the melting of the great ice sheets, unprecedented deluges, overheated infrastructure, an incessantly warming ocean, and beyond……..

If New Mexico’s nuclear heritage is somehow ever lost, perhaps by the passage of millennia and ravages of time, tall monuments will stand in the windswept desert for thousands of years, hopefully warding off any curious pilgrims, explorers, or future industrialists from the decaying consequences of war, weaponry, and defense. Whatever symbols the Department of Energy ultimately etches into the walls of the roofless, sunlit temple where WIPP once stood, they better be damn scary.https://mashable.com/feature/most-radioactive-state-in-us-nuclear-waste-new-mexico-nevada/?fbclid=IwAR3hb7-ZZjWxaF863zuHqueEHeA8VjhLwrWVm2sA849Kvcb5D6OAQ00SmdI

October 26, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

20 sovereign nations in New Mexico and Texas oppose nuclear facility near Carlsbad

Native American Pueblo leaders oppose nuclear facility near Carlsbad, Hobbs,   https://www.oilandgas360.com/native-american-pueblo-leaders-oppose-nuclear-facility-near-carlsbad-hobbs-2/  in Press   by— 360 Feed Wire

Native American Pueblo leaders oppose nuclear facility near Carlsbad, Hobbs

Oct. 24– Oct. 24–A group of Native American leaders opposed a plan to temporarily store nuclear waste at proposed facilities in southeast New Mexico and West Texas before a permanent repository is available.

The All Pueblo Council of Governors, which represents 20 sovereign nations in New Mexico and Texas held a meeting on Thursday where members affirmed their opposition to the projects, read a Monday news release from the group.

Concerns with the transportation of spent nuclear fuel rods drove the group’s opposition to two proposed consolidated interim storage (CIS) sites, one near the border of Eddy and Lea counties in New Mexico and another in Andrews, Texas. Continue reading

October 26, 2019 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear power and nuclear weapons always inextricably bound together

RICHARD BELL: Nuclear power heightens peril of nuclear weapons, RICHARD BELL https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/local-perspectives/richard-bell-nuclear-power-heightens-peril-of-nuclear-weapons-367646/In his Oct. 12 column, “Four parties’ climate change platforms blowing smoke; nuclear power offers way forward,” Bill Black says he wants to “have an honest conversation about climate change after the election.”

We could start by having an honest conversation about nuclear power.

I don’t disagree for a second that climate change poses an existential threat to the survival of the human species. But in his enumeration of a few of the problems with nuclear power, Black leaves out the biggest one: nuclear weapons. They are an existential threat to the survival of the human species right now.

Nuclear weapons and nuclear power have been inextricably bound together from the dawn of the atomic age. In the 1950s, the United States pushed a program called “Atoms for Peace,” acting as if it were possible to disentangle the peaceful uses of nuclear technology from the manufacture of weapons.

The problem here is that the atoms don’t know the difference between war and peace. When you train nuclear physicists, there’s not one textbook on atoms for peace and a different textbook on atoms for war. Giving people the knowledge and technology to build and operate nuclear power plants gives them almost all the knowledge they need to make at least crude nuclear weapons.

Once you know the physics, the only real limitation is getting your hands on enough fissile material to make a weapon. The world has been very fortunate thus far that making large enough quantities of fissile material is extremely expensive, something that only nation states have managed to finance, so far.

If you want to see how peaceful nuclear power leads directly to nuclear weapons, you have only to look at Canada’s role in India’s nuclear weapons program. India exploded its first nuclear weapon on May 18, 1974, using plutonium from a 40-megawatt CIRUS research reactor that Canada had donated under a plan to promote development. A condition of the donation was that it be used for peaceful purposes only — a condition that the Indians claimed to have met by declaring the blast a “peaceful nuclear explosive.”

The last thing we should be doing is spreading nuclear technology more broadly, since, in the end, such a policy will only increase the number of nations with nuclear weapons and make the threat of a nuclear war even more serious.

Black could also spend some time reading the history of attempts to rein in the dangers of nuclear proliferation caused by the spread of nuclear power plants.

He mentions, for example, that we could reduce the risk of proliferation by “providing a safe facility for other countries’ handling of spent fuel.” (Countries bent on going nuclear can extract plutonium from spent fuel.) There have been efforts to internationalize the control of nuclear materials, like having spent fuel handled in one place, since the United States floated the Baruch Plan at the United Nations in 1946. Every effort to establish such a “safe facility” has failed. There is nothing on the horizon to suggest that a new effort would succeed.

Nuclear power is a technology that has never matured. Each plant is a one-off, with construction cost overruns soaring into the billions in some of the most recent reactors, like the French one at Flamanville that was originally priced at $5.5 billion, and a few days ago reached $20.8 billion.

From the 1950s onward, nuclear power proponents have insisted that the “next generation” of nuclear power plants would finally solve all the problems that had bedevilled the industry thus far. But with each passing decade, the “next generation” has failed to deliver. Nuclear power turns out to be a fiendishly demanding and difficult way to boil water.

There is also plenty of evidence that the rapid drop in the price of renewable electricity from wind and solar is already competitive, if not cheaper, than new nuclear. As noted energy analyst Amory Lovins concluded in a 2017 paper published in The Electricity Journal, “Subsidizing distressed nuclear plants typically saves less carbon than closing them and reinvesting their saved operating cost into several fold-cheaper efficiency.”

Richard Bell lives in Musquodoboit Harbour. He is editor of the monthly newspaper, the Eastern Shore Cooperator. He is also co-author of the Sierra Club Book, Nukespeak: Nuclear Language, Myths, and Mindset, originally issued in 1982. Sierra Club Books commissioned an electronic update of the book on its 30th anniversary.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Sweden’s wind power to surpass nuclear this year

Sweden’s wind power to surpass nuclear this year: lobby, Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, STOCKHOLM (Reuters) 35 Oct 19, – Sweden is set to have more wind power capability

Hydropower is Sweden’s top source of electricity, but for decades nuclear has held second place.

“Sweden has a unique opportunity to take the leadership role in the fight against climate change through the wind power expansion,” Svensk Vindenergi CEO Charlotte Unger Larson said in a statement.

The association makes quarterly forecasts based on data it collects from turbine manufacturers and project developers.

Its latest forecast for 2 GW growth was down from 2.2 GW previously.

Investment decisions corresponding to 686 MW of new wind power were made in the third quarter, it said, up from 114 MW in the second quarter.  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sweden-wind/swedens-wind-power-to-surpass-nuclear-this-year-lobby-idUSKBN1X3145Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; editing by Jason Neely

October 26, 2019 Posted by | renewable, Sweden | Leave a comment

Ohio’s Nuclear and Coal Bailout Bill Survives Court Challenge.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Too small for the monstrosity’: Anti-nuclear campaigners to take Sizewell C opposition to public meeting

October 26, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Desertification and Drought – Sahara

October 26, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, climate change | 1 Comment

October 25 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Nuclear Industry’s $23 Billion Bailout Request Shows Why It Should Have ‘No Role To Play’ In Solving Climate Crisis: Study” • A proposed bailout of the US nuclear power industry that could cost $23 billion over ten years shows clearly why the climate crisis needs solutions that focus on renewable resources, Friends of […]

via October 25 Energy News — geoharvey

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment