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Trump re-elected would mean unsafe climate for the world, democracy’s end in USA

Four more years of Trump would leave democracy, and hope for a safe climate, in tatters

From the perspective of the human species as a whole, the arc of its life on this planet, it may be the most important election ever.

A second Trump term would mean severe and irreversible changes in the climate No joke: It would be disastrous on the scale of millennia. VOX, By David Roberts@drvoxdavid@vox.com  Aug 27, 2020,  I f Donald Trump is reelected president, the likely result will be irreversible changes to the climate that will degrade the quality of life of every subsequent generation of human beings, with millions of lives harmed or foreshortened. That’s in addition to the hundreds of thousands of lives at present that will be hurt or prematurely end.

This sounds like exaggeration, some of the “alarmism” green types are always accused of. But it is not particularly controversial among those who have followed Trump’s record on energy and climate change……..

………..a Trump victory would make any reasonable definition of “success” on climate change impossible….

More Trump will ensure the continued escalation of global temperatures

We know from the latest IPCC report that the climate target agreed to by nations — no more than a 2° Celsius rise in global average temperatures — is not a “safe” threshold at all. Going from 1.5° to 2° means many more heat waves, wildfires, crop failures, migrations, and premature deaths. We know that every fraction of a degree beyond 2° means more still, along with the increasing risk of tipping points that make further warming unstoppable. Continue reading

August 29, 2020 Posted by | climate change, election USA 2020 | 1 Comment

Sentencing date for Kings Bay Plowshares moved to October 15 and 16

The six remaining Kings Bay Plowshares defendants have had their sentencing dates moved from September to October 15 and 16. They had requested a continuance because they want to appear in open court in Georgia and the virus situation there is still too out of control to safely allow it.

Steve Kelly has now served almost 29 months in county jails since the action in April, 2018 so has already met the guidelines for his likely sentence. The court may not want to grant him further extensions. (You can send a postcard to Steve to let him know you’re thinking of him. Directions on writing here.)

The other defendants are not sure if they would prefer to seek more continuances or choose virtual appearances for sentencing in solidarity with Steve on those dates in October if it appears unsafe to travel to Georgia at that time. Check the website for updates.

September 9 will be the 40thanniversary of the first plowshares action in King of Prussia, PA. Eight activists, known as the Plowshares Eight, entered the GE plant where nosecones for nuclear missile warheads were manufactured. They hammered on several and poured blood on the nosecones and documents.

There will be a virtual Commemoration of the Plowshares 8 on September 9 at 7 pm ET sponsored by Stop Banking on the Bomb and other Pittsburgh based organizations. Molly Rush, Dean Hammer and John Schuchardt (three of the four living members of the group) will participate in a discussion and reflect on the action which sparked 100 similar acts of disarmament over the years. A summary of the history can be found here: https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/plowshares-history

Email Joyce Rothermel at <rothermeljoyce@gmail.com> to get the Zoom link for Sept 9.

Emile de Antonio’s 1983 film, In the King of Prussia, is about the trial of the Plowshares Eight. The judge is played by Martin Sheen and the defendants are played by themselves. It’s available for viewing on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUph8GWFupE

Continue reading

August 29, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear colonialism. ICAN says that France must clean up its nucleat test wastelands in Algeria

France must clean up Algerian nuclear test sites: group,  https://www.france24.com/en/20200826-france-must-clean-up-algerian-nuclear-test-sites-group  28 Aug 20, France must clean up nuclear test sites in Algeria where radioactive waste remains from testing in the former colony during the 1960s, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning group said Wednesday.

France carried out 17 nuclear explosions in the Algerian part of the Sahara Desert between 1960 and 1966.

Eleven of the tests came after the 1962 Evian Accords ended the six-year war of independence and 132 years of colonial rule.
“France must give the Algerian authorities the full list of where the contaminated toxic waste was buried,” the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) said in a new 60-page report.

“The ‘nuclear past’ must no longer remain deeply buried under the sand,” ICAN said, citing the concerned areas as the western Reggane region and a zone close to the In Ekker village.

The campaign group identified contaminated, radioactive elements that have either been buried, or are easily accessible.

“The majority of the waste is in the open air, without any security, and accessible by the population, creating a high level of sanitary and environmental insecurity,” ICAN said.The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize laureate group added that almost nothing has been done to clean the sites, inform the populations and evaluate the risks.

Exposure to radioactive material can cause cancer.

“This case study shows once more an asymmetry of power and an injustice that we find all through nuclear history,” Giorgio Franceschini, director of the Heinrich Boll Foundation which published the report, said in his forward.

“It is not a coincidence that France tested its first nuclear weapon in Algeria, that was still a French colony in 1960,” he added.

France refused to sign up the UN’s 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, whereas Algeria signed and is in the process of ratifying the legally binding agreement.

Since Algeria’s independence, Franco-Algerian relations have been tumultuous.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in July called on France to fully apologise for its colonial past.

An apology could “make it possible to cool tensions and create a calmer atmosphere for economic and cultural relations”, especially for the more than six million Algerians who live in France, he said.

August 29, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, France, indigenous issues, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Super Swarm” drones- weaponry as destructive as nuclear weapons

US, China Developing “Super Swarm” Drones With Destruction Power Equivalent To Nuclear Weapons, https://eurasiantimes.com/us-china-developing-super-swarm-drones-with-destruction-power-equivalent-to-nuclear-weapons/   August 28, 2020, EurAsian Times Global Desk

With the US and China leading the development of swarming drone capabilities, they are now looking at not just swarming techniques but also counter swarming tactics. Experts have argued that some drones that are under development are capable of sufficient destructive power to count as Weapons of Mass Destruction.

According to Isaac Kaminer, an engineering professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School who is an expert in the subject of swarming and counter swarming tactics, large-scale adversarial swarms are already an imminent threat. He suggested that stopping a swarm is not simply a matter of driving enough missiles or bullets at it; instead, the swarm has to be outsmarted.

“A swarm with 10,000 or more drones must have extremely high levels of autonomy,” said consultant Zak Kallenborn talking to the Forbes. “No human being could handle the amount of information necessary to make decisions.“

 

Kaminer defines a ‘Super Swarm’ with large numbers and multiple modes like air, surface, and subsurface threats. The US Navy has already performed offensive swarm operations with its LOCUST drone swarm developed by Raytheon.

According to the developer of LOCUST drone swarm, dozens of small unmanned aircraft systems fly together, filling the sky. Some are collecting information. Some are identifying ground targets. Others might attack the same targets.

“They fly together like a flock of birds, tracking their positions and maintaining their relative positions in the air. Human operators are not needed for every flying drone; instead, they direct the flock as one.”

 

Currently, the drones are controlled remotely by humans which limits the capabilities both due to the demand for personnel and bandwidth restrictions. Only a few numbers can be used. However, if swarming algorithms are developed it would allow the drones to control itself and hence much larger number can be used increasing its lethality.

It works similar to a swarm of birds or insects. Every member adheres to the same rules to follow cohesion without colliding with each other. This will allow it to work without any central control.

David Hambling, who is also the author of ‘Swarm Troopers: How small drones will conquer the world’, wrote that such a swarm can be defeated by taking advantage of its internal rules – if these can be figured out.

“For example, an entire swarm whose members all have a collision-avoidance rule can be ‘herded’ by a few outsider drones or may be fooled into running into each other. If the members of the swarm are all programmed to attack what they see as the highest-value target in range, then they can all be decoyed into attacking the same dummy.”

The biggest challenge for the US comes from China who is also developing swarming capability as a means of asymmetric warfare, to counterpoise the US advantage in aircraft carriers. Last year, satellite images posted on the Chinese internet displayed a lineup of several drones including the Sharp Sword stealth drone and the Wing Loong Reaper.

Considering the fast pace of development of such technologies it is important to have international laws in place. “The opportunity to develop global norms and treaties around drone swarms and other autonomous weapons is now, “ says Kallenborn. “Collective limits on the number of armed drones in a swarm would reduce the risk to civilians and national security.”

August 29, 2020 Posted by | China, Reference, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost considers legal action over corruption tainted nuclear bailout law

Ohio Attorney General Considering Legal Action To Stall Nuclear Bailout Rate Hikes https://www.wvxu.org/post/ohio-attorney-general-considering-legal-action-stall-nuclear-bailout-rate-hikes#stream/0, By ANDY CHOW August 28, 2020 

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says he’s considering taking legal action to stall the billion-dollar nuclear power plant bailout as legislators consider a possible repeal to the law that created the subsidies.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio have approved the mechanism to be used to increase nearly every ratepayer’s electric bills next year. The increase is part of HB6, a law that creates $150 million in annual subsides to two nuclear power plants.

Yost’s discussion of a possible injunction is the latest action from leaders, advocates and interest groups fighting to repeal HB6, which is said to be the catalyst for a $60 million racketeering scheme.

Michael Hartley with the Coalition to Restore Public Trust says legislators must toss out the law.

“Every single word of it is corrupt, and every single word of it is tainted. That is why, to restore the public trust in Ohio’s government and political system, that’s why the legislature needs to repeal HB6 in its entirety,” Hartley says. “The citizens of Ohio feel duped. They feel that their government duped them on this bill. And therefore, they’re mad, they’re very mad. And they want this repealed.”

Federal investigators say a utility company believed to be FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries funneled millions of dollars to personally and politically benefit former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) in exchange for the bailout.

HB6 allowed an increase of $0.85 for everyone’s monthly electric bills. That increase would generate $170 million in annual subsidies, $150 million for nuclear power plants, and $20 million for solar farms.

The bill also created an increase of up to $1.50 a month on electric bills to subsidize two coal plants, Kyger Creek in Gallia County and Clifty Creek in Madison, Indiana.

Several measures in HB6 were priorities for FirstEnergy and its former subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions, now called Energy Harbor. FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones has said he believes the company acted properly in the matter and intends to fully cooperate with investigators.

August 29, 2020 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Water shortage, drought, necessitate shutdown of France’s Chooz Nuclear Plant

Nuclear reactor in France shut down over drought, Chooz Nuclear Plant on Belgian border turned off after dry summer evaporates water needed to cool reactors, AA, Cindi Cook   |25.08.2020   A nuclear power plant in northern France has been temporarily shuttered due to a drought in the area, said the company that runs the plant Tuesday.

The second reactor of the Chooz Nuclear Power Plant, in Ardennes, on the Belgian border, was shut down late Monday night, after the first reactor ceased operations Friday evening.

The actions were taken due to low water levels in the Meuse River, the main artery that runs through the area used to cool the two reactors.

The plant is named after Chooz, the commune where it is located in the Ardennes. The region is on level three of four drought alert levels…….

Water is a crucial ingredient for nuclear plant safety to cool the reactor core. ……

Water restrictions have been imposed this summer in 79 out of the 96 mainland departments in France due to drought conditions.   https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/nuclear-reactor-in-france-shut-down-over-drought/1952943

 

August 29, 2020 Posted by | climate change, France | Leave a comment

A series of safety problems bring EDF’s decision on early shut down of Scotland’s Hunterston nuclear station

Scottish nuclear power station to shut down early after reactor problems
EDF Energy to close Hunterston next year after spending £200m on repairs, 
Guardian,  Severin Carrell and Jillian Ambrose, Fri 28 Aug 2020 Hunterston nuclear power station, one of the UK’s oldest remaining nuclear plants, is to close down next year, earlier than expected, after encountering a series of safety-critical problems in its reactors.

Industry sources told the Guardian that EDF Energy, the state-owned French operator of Hunterston, decided at a board meeting on Thursday afternoon that the plant would stop generating electricity in late 2021, at least two years earlier than planned.

The energy company had hoped to keep generating electricity from the 44-year-old nuclear plant on the Firth of Clyde until 2023, after ploughing more than £200m into repairing the reactor.

Hunterston, which first began generating electricity in 1976, has been offline since 2018 after inspectors discovered 350 microscopic cracks in the reactor’s graphite core.

In October last year the Ferret, an investigative website, reported that at least 58 fragments and pieces of debris had fallen off the graphite blocks as the cracks worsened. It quoted the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) as saying this had created “significant uncertainty” about the risks of debris blocking channels for cooling the reactor and causing fuel cladding to melt.

After a two-year investigation, the ONR said on Thursday that reactor 3 at Hunterston would be allowed to restart as planned, but it would only be allowed to generate electricity for approximately six months.

EDF then plans to apply next spring to extend its life for one final six-month run. EDF said it would begin the process of decommissioning Hunterston no later than the first week of 2022…….

Richard Dixon, the director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “In terms of energy security, clearly there’s no problem. Its reactors haven’t been running and the lights haven’t gone out. What’s more urgent now is to build up renewables and energy efficiency, to make sure the gap left by Hunterston is filled by zero-carbon electricity or energy saving.” ……… https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/aug/27/hunterston-scottish-nuclear-power-station-to-shut-down-early-after-reactor-problems

August 29, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Kazakhstan’s moves toward a world free of nuclear weapons

Leading the way to a world free of nuclear weapons, Today more than ever, the world needs leadership in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Kazakhstan keeps providing this leadership, writes Jonathan Granoff.   https://www.euractiv.com/section/central-asia/opinion/leading-the-way-to-a-world-free-of-nuclear-weapons/  28 Aug 20, Jonathan Granoff is the president of the Global Security Institute.In 1949, the first of over 450 nuclear explosive tests, surprised the residents in towns and villages in the northeast corner of Kazakhstan. The sky lit up with a blinding flash of light followed by an enormous mushroom cloud. In houses books falling from shelves and the crashing of dishes could be heard. They had not been forewarned.

For the next forty years, silently, in the bodies of at least one and half million citizens the consequence of the radioactive fall-out of those hundreds of explosions inflicted numerous diseases such as cancer and horrible birth defects. Not only did the explosions cause cracks in houses and roads.

It caused the crack of tragedy in the hearts of millions. The people of Kazakhstan, because of those nuclear tests in the windswept steppe test site at Semipalatinsk, know all too well the reality of nuclear weapons

Millions of activists worldwide in the late 1980s protested nuclear testing, prominent amongst those protests was the Nevada-Semipalatinsk Movement, bringing together the voices of citizens of the USA and the then Soviet Union.

The protesters in Kazakhstan demonstrated enormous courage for they were still living in a system where political repression posed serious dangers.

But times changed and that became very clear when Kazakhstan’s First President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, came into office. He did not ignore or avoid addressing these dreadful devices and their national and global impact.

He set out to bring his sense of responsibility as a witness to the reality of nuclear weapons into meaningful action, not only for his nation but also for the world.

First and foremost, he supported the brave activists who protested the testing in Kazakhstan and he signed the historic Decree shutting down the Semipalatinsk test site on 29 August 1991.

It should be noted Kazakhstan was then still part of the Soviet Union. In his speeches, Nazarbayev has always emphasized that the closure expressed the will of the people.

This bold gesture helped stimulate a moratorium on testing which has to this day restrained the five permanent members of the Security Council and holders of more than 97% of the world’s nuclear arsenals (the P5) – United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France from further testing.

It also gave momentum to the global movement to create a treaty to end all nuclear testing, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). 29 August is now the International Day against Nuclear Tests. It was established on December 2, 2009 at the 64th session of the United Nations General

Soon after the Soviet Union collapsed, Kazakhstan, under the leadership of Nazarbayev, set a precedent in world history by abandoning the world’s 4th largest nuclear arsenal and the status of a de facto nuclear power.

This decision was crucial not only for the formation and further development of Kazakhstan but also had far-reaching global consequences. Kazakhstan had inherited more than 100 stationary-based missiles with about 1,400 nuclear warheads.

In addition, 40 strategic Tu-95 MS bombers with 240 cruise nuclear missiles were deployed in Kazakhstan. Giving up this powerful arsenal gained the nation enormous international good will and recognition, and the moral credibility to demand progress on legal duties of all nuclear weapons states to negotiate the universal elimination of nuclear weapons.

Nazarbayev’s strategic decision was instrumental in stimulating confidence in the maturity of independent Kazakhstan. It remains an action of national pride and international respect.

Kazakhstan also set out to address the nuclear non-proliferation problem. In 2017, under the leadership of Nazarbayev, it created the world’s first bank for low enriched uranium under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This unique mechanism provides countries around the world with the opportunity to develop peaceful nuclear energy without the need to create their own uranium enrichment programs, which represents a proliferation danger.

Kazakhstan has also become an active participant in absolutely all basic international treaties and institutions in the field of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and a strong contributor to stability in the world.

For example, under Nazarbayev’s leadership, it was a leading contributor in the creation of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ) signed into force by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on 8 September 2006.

Current President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is continuing the country’s nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament commitments. The world needs leadership today in this field more than ever.

The Nursultan Nazarbayev Foundation has established the “Nazarbayev Prize for Nuclear Weapon Free World and Global Security”, which is awarded every 2 years on 29 August for outstanding contributions to non-proliferation and disarmament.

It was first presented in 2017 to King of Jordan Abdullah II. In 2019, the laureates were the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, Lassina Zerbo and former IAEA Director-General Yukio Amano (posthumously).

In 2012, Nazarbayev announced the launch of the ATOM Project (Abolish Testing – Our Mission). ATOM is an online petition to world governments to forever abandon nuclear testing and to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force as soon as possible.

Speaking at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2015, Kazakhstan’s First President called for making the construction of a world without nuclear weapons the main goal of mankind in the 21st century and the adoption of the UN Universal Declaration on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World.

In 2016, in his Manifesto: The World, The 21st Century”, Nazarbayev sets forth a comprehensive vision to move toward a world without reliance on militarism and war, but based on a cooperative human-centred approach to security. Now, a recognized official UN document, it contains realistic policy proposals worthy of serious debate today.

The solution of many problems in the field of global security, conflict prevention and resolution, and especially nuclear disarmament depend on the availability of environments and platforms for honest debate and dialogue.

President Nazarbayev thus established the Astana Club – a forum where annually more than 50 world renown politicians and experts discuss current security issues in Eurasia and beyond.

In November 2019, as part of the fifth meeting of the Club, Nazarbayev initiated the creation of an authoritative political platform, the Global Alliance of Leaders for a Nuclear-Free World.

GAL is an alliance of leaders that will allow for an open dialogue with members of the “nuclear club” and make a feasible contribution to strengthening global security.

Kazakhstan, within the framework of the GAL, will act as a neutral dialogue platform for both nuclear and non-nuclear states.

Those who have already supported the project and expressed their readiness to contribute to the implementation of this initiative include former heads of state, heads of international organizations and famous experts: Heinz Fischer (Austrian Federal President 2004-2016), Mohammed El-Baradei, IAEA Director General 1997-2009, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Lassina Zerbo (CTBTO Executive Secretary), and others of similar stature.

Nazarbayev, stimulated by perestroika and President Mikhail Gorbachev’s new thinking, developed a vision of a peace loving, open minded, dynamic nation respectful of the rule of law that could be a responsible actor in world affairs.

A bold perspective given the turbulence of these times, it requires diligent and courageous perseverance and a people of enormous dynamism to help advance it, including finding a path to ensuring that the ethnic and religious diversity of their nation can remain harmonious and not lead to conflict as it has been the case so many times in other places. Again, Kazakhstan is providing a good example.

August 29, 2020 Posted by | Kazakhstan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Air Force pursues ‘dual-use’ conventional nuclear weapons. “conventional nuclear”???

Air Force pursues ‘dual-use’ conventional nuclear weapons   This contradiction forms the conceptual basis for the Pentagon’s current nuclear-weapons strategy, Fox News, By Kris Osborn | Warrior Maven 28 Aug 20,   It might seem like a paradox: be ready to fight a limited “tactical” nuclear war and maintain an ability to ensure catastrophic annihilation of an enemy with nuclear weapons to keep the peace.

This contradiction forms the conceptual basis for the Pentagon’s current nuclear-weapons strategy, which not only calls for a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), but also directs the development and deployment of several low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons options.

This includes nuclear-armed cruise missiles, submarine-launched nuclear weapons with low-yield warheads, scalable air-launched nuclear missiles and glide bombs………..

Some have raised a concern that developing nuclear and conventional variants of the same weapon might lead an adversary to mistake a conventional attack for a nuclear one, therefore causing major unwanted escalation and starting a nuclear exchange.

Others also maintain that there should not, in any fashion, be room for the concept of a “tactical” or “limited” nuclear war. Any use of nuclear weapons, the thinking goes, should result in the complete and total nuclear destruction of the attacker…….. https://www.foxnews.com/tech/air-force-pursues-dual-use-conventional-nuclear-weapons

August 29, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

EDF’s Hunterston ageing nuclear power station kept going in effort to prolong all EDF’s old reactors

The Ferret 27th Aug 2020, The energy company, EDF, is planning to operate a cracked and ageing
nuclear power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire for another year before closing it down for good. The company is hoping to restart the two 44-year-old reactors at the site for two last six-month periods and then
begin decommissioning them “no later than 7 January 2022”.
The reactors were previously scheduled to be shut down in March 2023. The UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has given permission for reactor three at Hunterston to restart and run for six months. But it has yet to allow reactor four to run for another six months, or either reactor a second six months of operation.
Local authorities and campaigners have condemned the moves to restart Hunterston, warning that public health is
being put at risk. They are calling for the plant to be permanently closed down now. The 50-strong group of Nuclear-Free Local Authorities in the UK demanded that both reactors never re-open. “The safest thing to do is to
close Hunterston B and start accelerated decommissioning of its  reactors,” said the group’s Scottish convener, Glasgow SNP councillor Feargal Dalton. “We totally disagree with EDF that decommissioning should start in 2022. It should happen now for the sake of public safety.” He added: “The fact it has taken two years and much resource from EDF to provide sufficient information to the ONR to allow a restart to take place is indicative of the level of risk over the structural integrity of these reactors.”
The Edinburgh-based nuclear critic and consultant, PeterRoche, argued it was “crazy” to restart the reactors. A nuclear reactor in England had been closed because of a surplus of electricity during the coronavirus pandemic, he said. “They people of Ayrshire are clearly being used as guinea pigs by EDF so they can keep their other six ageing reactors across the UK limping along as long as possible because the company has
been in such a financial pickle long before the virus hit,” he added.https://theferret.scot/hunterston-cracked-nuclear-reactors-another-year/

August 29, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

You can have four more years of Trump, or you can have a habitable planet. But you can’t have both.

Climate Apocalypse Now, Maybe it’s just a failure of human imagination to understand what is coming, Rolling Stone, By JEFF GOODELL   28 Aug 20

I’m not a religious person, or someone who sees messages written in clouds, but if I were, I might believe that Mother Nature is trying to tell President Donald Trump something right now. California is burning, a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph just blasted into the Louisiana coast, and nearly 180,000 are reported dead from a viral outbreak that is just a harbinger of what one scientist calls “a new pandemic era” driven in part by our changing climate and wanton destruction of ecosystems. But on the eve of Trump’s big speech to accept the Republican nomination, if Mother Nature had a voice, I imagine she would say something like this: Pay attention to me, asshole, or you — and every generation of humans to come — will regret it.
Despite what Mike Pence says, there are no miracles in America, or anywhere else. We humans are on our own. If we fuck this up, it’s on us.

And, of course, we are fucking it up. We are heating up the planet so fast that large parts of it will be uninhabitable by the end of the century. We are amping up storms like Hurricane Laura — it is the strongest storm to hit the Louisiana coast since 1856 — and turning the Gulf Coast into a shooting gallery — which city is going to get hit next? New Orleans? Houston? Tampa? Miami? They are all living on borrowed time. And it’s not just the hurricanes: As Greenland melts and Antarctica falls into the Southern Ocean, they will be swamped by rising seas, as will virtually every other low-lying city in the world. The rich will huddle behind sea walls; the poor will flee or drown.

We are mowing down rainforests, destroying the lungs of the planet, and pushing animals — and the viruses they carry — into new places, increasing the risks of spillover into humans. You think Covid-19, with a fatality rate of about one percent (depending on risk group), is bad? Wait until a Nipah virus, with a fatality rate of 50 percent or higher, morphs in a way that allows asymptomatic transmission. ………..

Maybe it’s a failure of human imagination to understand what is coming. Maybe it’s a failure of democracy and the media (including writers like myself). After all, at this vital turning point in the climate crisis, at a moment when most scientists agree is the last chance to save a stable climate, America elected a president who sees science as a church for losers, and who believes the climate crisis is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese. ……

Maybe the real message that Mother Nature is sending with these storms and fires in the midst of the Republican National Convention is not to Trump, but to us. And it says this: You can have four more years of Trump, or you can have a habitable planet. But you can’t have both. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/hurricane-laura-california-wildfire-climate-crisis-jeff-goodell-1050746/

August 29, 2020 Posted by | climate change, election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Trump administration sends mixed signals on nuclear weapons budgeting

Trump administration sends mixed signals on nuclear weapons budgeting, Defense News, By: Joe Gould and Aaron Mehta  28 Aug 20, WASHINGTON ― Defense hawks in Congress are pushing a contentious plan to give the Pentagon a stronger hand in crafting nuclear weapons budgets, but the Trump administration has been sending mixed messaging over recent weeks about whether the change is needed.

The Senate-passed version of the annual defense policy bill would give the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council a say in the budget development of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy that’s responsible for the stockpile’s safety, security, and effectiveness.

However, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Capabilities Vic Mercado told reporters that change is unneeded; the status quo between the Defense Department’s nuclear modernization efforts and NNSA is appropriate.

“I think right now we have it about right,” Mercado said in an interview this month. Nuclear deterrence falls under Mercado’s portfolio as an adviser to the defense secretary and undersecretary for policy.

The remarks could be read as neutral as the House and Senate debate competing proposals as part of their deliberations on the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act…….. https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2020/08/25/trump-administration-sends-mixed-signals-on-nuclear-weapons-budgeting/

August 29, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK’s Dounreay nuclear power site, opened in 1955, closed 1994, cleaned up in 2333, if they’re lucky

Nuclear power facility in Scotland will not be safe for other uses until the year 2333, report finds

Dounreay on Scottish north coast has been site of considerable radioactive leaks https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nuclear-power-dounreay-scotland-thurso-decommissioning-radiation-a9680611.html  Harry Cockburn, Thursday 20 August 2020 In 313 years’ time, 378 years after it first opened in 1955, and 339 years after it ceased operations in 1994, the 178-acre nuclear power facility site at Dounreay will be safe for other uses, a new report has stated.

Though the site on the north coast of Scotland was only home to functioning nuclear reactors for 39 years, the clean-up will take roughly ten times as long, with efforts already underway to clean up hazardous radioactive material.

The facility, near Thurso, was used by the government for research and testing of various types of nuclear reactors, including a “fast reactor” and those intended for use on nuclear submarines.

The first reactor at the site to provide power to the National Grid was the Dounreay Fast Reactor, which provided power between 1962 and 1977.  A second reactor also pumped power into the grid between 1975 and 1994.

draft report from the government’s nuclear decommissioning authority states the site will only be ready for other uses after the year 2333.

Over the next two years, Dounreay Site Restoration Limited has said it will undertake assessments of “installations, current and future disposals, areas of land contamination, sub-surface structures and other discrete site conditions” to determine “credible options for the site end state”.

But the report’s “Roadmap for Mission Delivery”, charts an endpoint of 2333 for Scottish sites.

A process of demolition of buildings and waste removal is already underway at the site, which has previously been used to store dangerous radioactive material.

Part of the demolition process has involved the use of a remote controlled robot nicknamed the “Reactosaurus”, a 75-tonne device with radiation-proof cameras, and robotic arms which are able to reach 12 metres into the reactors where they can operate an array of size-reduction and handling tools, including diamond wire and disks and hydraulic shears.

One of the areas targeted for waste removal is a highly contaminated area called the Shaft.

In 1977, a catastrophic leak allowed seawater to flood a 65-metre-deep shaft which was packed full of radioactive waste as well as more than 2kg or sodium and potassium.

The water reacted violently with the sodium and potassium, throwing off the massive steel and concrete lids of the shaft, and littered the area with radioactive particles.

All radioactive waste is due to be removed from the Shaft by 2029, the report states.
The site also leaked radioactive fuel fragments into the sea in the local area for decades, between 1963 and 1984.

The dangerous pollution affected local beaches, the coastline and the seabed. Fishing has been banned within a two-kilometre radius of the plant since 1997.

Milled shards from the processing of irradiated plutonium and uranium, are roughly the size of grains of grains of sand. The most radioactive of the particles are believed to be potentially lethal if ingested. These small fragments are known to contain caesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years, but they can also incorporate traces of plutonium-239, which has a half-life of over 24,000 years.

The Independent has contacted the NDA and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for comment.

August 29, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, Reference, UK | Leave a comment

FirstEnergy heavily involved in the corruption-filled Ohio nuclear stations bailout

FirstEnergy had big stake in tainted nuclear plant bailout, Chattanooga Times Free Press, August 28th, 2020 | by MARK GILLISPIE and JOHN SEEWER / The Associated Press  CLEVELAND (AP) — FirstEnergy Corp. was once blamed for its part in triggering North America’s largest blackout nearly 20 years ago. Now, the multistate power company is again facing intense scrutiny — this time for its role in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme that has ensnared one of Ohio’s most powerful politicians.While FirstEnergy and its executives have denied wrongdoing and have not been criminally charged, federal investigators say the company secretly funneled millions to secure a $1 billion legislative bailout for two unprofitable Ohio nuclear plants then operated by an independently controlled subsidiary called FirstEnergy Solutions.

Officials from the Akron-based corporation, including CEO Chuck Jones, have long insisted FirstEnergy Corp. had no financial stake in rescuing the plants because they were operated by FirstEnergy Solutions. Yet nearly all of the money used to fund the scheme, authorities said, came from the corporation itself.

Critics say the bailout bill, known as HB6, helped smooth the way for FirstEnergy to officially shift ownership of the nuclear plants and two coal-burning power plants to its creditors in federal bankruptcy court in February. Shedding the plants allowed the corporation to focus on its profitable business of powering 6 million customers in Ohio and other states.

Ashley Brown, executive director of the Harvard Electricity Policy Group at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a member of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio from 1983 to 1993, said the bailout legislation clearly benefited FirstEnergy Corp.

“I think there’s no question that FirstEnergy was acting in its own self-interest,” Brown said. “Ordinarily, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. But HB6 skewed everything.”

‘Company A’

After its bailout-driven success, FirstEnergy’s fortunes took an unwelcome turn July 21.

That’s when federal authorities released a criminal complaint detailing how “Company A” — a clear reference to FirstEnergy — spent $60 million to get a well-known Republican named Larry Householder selected as Ohio’s House speaker, finance his bailout passage efforts and prevent Ohioans from having their say about the legislation at the polls.

FirstEnergy’s stock price plummeted nearly 35% within two days and has yet to rebound. Independent board members have called for an internal investigation and shareholders have filed at least four potential class-action lawsuits alleging FirstEnergy’s executives committed fraud and concealed an “illicit campaign” to secure the bailout.

“The company’s most senior executives, including its CEO defendant Jones, were directly involved in and oversaw these efforts, placing the company and its shareholders at extreme risk of legal, reputational and financial harm,” one lawsuit said………

The corporation funneled $38 million to a dark money group to finance a dirty tricks campaign that prevented bailout opponents from gathering enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot, federal authorities alleged.

FirstEnergy also benefited from a last-minute change to the bailout legislation that essentially allowed the utility to charge retail customers more for lost revenue, a sweetener that Jones said made roughly one-third of the company’s business “recession proof.”

While the utility said the add-on would stabilize rates for customers, an analysis released by the Ohio Manufacturers Association estimated FirstEnergy could reap $355 million in unearned revenue through 2024.

Federal investigators said the add-on “likely came as a result of the successful influence campaign” waged by Householder and his four associates, all of whom were indicted on federal racketeering charges last month. The associates have pleaded not guilty, while Householder has been given more time to find a new attorney. ………

with state and federal officials reluctant to help, the FirstEnergy Solutions subsidiary announced in March 2018 that it would close the plants in 2021. The subsidiary filed for bankruptcy three days later, saying it had $7.2 billion in assets and $3.1 billion in debt as of Dec. 31, 2016.

By that time, according to federal authorities, the bribery scheme had already been set in motion.

Two months after Householder flew on a company plane to President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, FirstEnergy wired $250,000 into the bank account of Generation Now — a dark money group created to promote “social welfare” under a provision of federal tax law that shields its funding sources or spending. Authorities say Householder controlled Generation Now as part of the alleged scheme.

Of the $60 million eventually funneled by FirstEnergy to Generation Now through the end of 2019, $42 million came from an entity called FirstEnergy Services that is overseen by Jones and his corporate team, the criminal complaint said.

 

……….Jonathan Entin, a law professor emeritus at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said there is no way for FirstEnergy “to spin this.”

“They cannot credibly say they’re completely innocent bystanders even if they did not break the law,” Entin said. “It’s really hard to believe they were completely ignorant of what was happening.”

……….The bailout legislation became law last October, the day after the anti-bailout referendum effort failed. By February of this year, FirstEnergy appeared to have gotten what it wanted: FirstEnergy Solutions had emerged from bankruptcy as a new privately held company called Energy Harbor. FirstEnergy Corp. was out of the power generation business and was now a regulated electric transmission company, feeding power to 6 million customers in six states.

And it was good, at least initially, for FirstEnergy’s bottom line, its shareholders, and the FirstEnergy leadership team.

The company, in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing early this year, said Jones’ total compensation in 2019 was nearly $21 million, including a $1.6 million performance-based salary bonus for that year and $18 million in performance-based stock units for a three-year period ending in 2019.

Now, 17 summers after a tree branch touched a high-voltage line and a computer malfunction at FirstEnergy unraveled into a massive blackout in the U.S. northeast and Canada, the company again finds itself on the defensive.

“If it turns out what FirstEnergy went over the line, the question is who will be held responsible,” Entin said. “Will it be individuals? Or will it be the company?” https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2020/aug/28/firstenergy-stake-tainted-nuclear-plant-bailout/530974/

August 29, 2020 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Kenya cannot afford the costs of nuclear electricity, and the attendant human cost

Kenya’s nuclear energy plan is a very bad idea, Standard Media, By MWAKIO TOLE | August 26th 2020  It appears that Kenya is determined to build a nuclear power plant despite reservations expressed against this project over the years by many concerned Kenyans.

The building of the nuclear electric power plant appears to be driven by factors other than the national interest. A cursory examination of economic, environmental and safety issues militates against the nuclear electricity option.

Kenya plans to build a 1,000 MWe nuclear power plant at a cost of US$5 billion. The National Environment Management Authority has requested for comments on a Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment Report for the Nuclear Power Programme for Kenya.

An expenditure of $5 billion for a 1,000 MWe power plant is a poor economic investment. Solar energy power plants can be built at much lower costs. For example, the Sweihan Power plant in Abu Dhabi, the UAE with an installed capacity of 1,177 MWe cost US$870 million; the Kurnool Solar Park plant in India delivers 1,000 MWe at a cost of US$1 billion. Right from the outset, the cost of constructing a solar power plant has an economic head start over a nuclear power plant. The planned expenditure of $5 billion by Kenya could get us more than 5,000 MWe from solar power plants, instead of 1,000 MWe.

Operational costs for solar plants will be cheaper in terms of fuel, personnel and plant maintenance costs.

The amount of money spent so far in budgetary allocations to the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board, and its successor, the Nuclear Power Energy Agency for salaries, training, and operations, is money that could have been used to build solar or wind energy plants in Kenya, or to further develop the abundant geothermal resources in the country.

Aside from economic arguments, there are numerous environmental and safety concerns. Radioactive waste that is generated at a nuclear power plant will be around for more than 300,000 years, and some of the radionuclides will be around for millions of years. The problem of radioactive waste disposal has not been conclusively resolved anywhere in the world. …….

Many countries around the world are shutting down their nuclear power plants. It is not inconceivable that Kenya will be sold second hand components of the power plants being dismantled around the world.

Kenya cannot afford the costs of nuclear electricity, and the attendant human cost…….. https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/the-standard-insider/article/2001383951/kenyas-nuclear-energy-plan-is-a-very-bad-idea

August 29, 2020 Posted by | Kenya, politics | Leave a comment