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Jesuit priest sentenced for peacful civil disbedience in protest against nuclear weapons

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October 24, 2020 Posted by | Legal, Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The cruel and lonely death of an American nuclear weapons scientist

  The lost tale of a nuclear scientist’s death in a secret San Francisco hospital room, Katie Dowd, SFGATE, Oct. 23, 2020 Before San Francisco became a metropolis, there was the Presidio. Since its creation as a military base in 1776, it has stood alone in a windswept corner, gathering legends.It has seen executions, tragic accidents and countless hospital patients.

And if you’re a believer that violent ends produce restless spirits, the Presidio is full up with phantoms as a result.
The most haunted place is said to be Letterman Army Hospital, once the base’s largest medical facility

In looking for Presidio ghost stories, though, we stumbled across a far stranger tale than any haunting: the real-life demise of a nuclear scientist — a chapter of the Cold War, as far as we can tell, untold since 1953.

Twitchell was a genius. Born in Minnesota in 1917, he got his undergraduate degree from Rollins College in Florida and a masters in chemistry at UC Berkeley. At 23, he was promoted to project engineer in charge of the equipment department of the University of California radiation lab.
This was no ordinary lab. Among Twitchell’s colleagues were Glenn Seaborg, Ernest O. Lawrence and J. Robert Oppenheimer — all of whom would later contribute to the Manhattan Project — and together the team was working on the discovery of atomic particles. Once World War II broke out, their mission shifted. The lab’s work was now crucial to the creation of nuclear weapons for the U.S. military……….
 In 1952 then just 35 years old. That year, doctors diagnosed him with a malignant brain tumor and told him he likely did not have long to live.
As Twitchell and his wife Marie processed the terrible news, the U.S. government sprung into action. Although he likely would have wanted his palliative care to take place at his home at 2319 Glen Ave., in Berkeley, he was told that wouldn’t be possible. He needed to be moved as soon as possible to a secure location.

The brain tumor presented a particular problem for the Atomic Energy Commission: It had the potential to cause erratic behavior and uncontrolled verbal outbursts. They were fearful that as he lost control of his mental faculties, Twitchell would begin spilling nuclear secrets. He knew “as much about atomic energy as any one man,” an anonymous source in the commission would later tell the Oakland Tribune.

So they built a secret ward just for Twitchell. At the cost of $100,000 — nearly $1 million today — construction began at the Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco’s Presidio for the unusual patient. Once finished, all doctors and nurses who might interact with Twitchell were given rigorous screenings for any national security issues. In the end, only one male nurse was trusted to primarily care for Twitchell. A guard stood watch outside the room at all times.

Unbeknownst to the other military patients at the hospital, a civilian lay dying in his own wing. “He was the hospital’s hush-hush case,” the San Francisco Examiner reported.

On March 23, 1953, five months after his diagnosis, Twitchell died. Two days later, news broke nationally. “A macabre tale of the atomic age was revealed yesterday,” the Examiner proclaimed. The Atomic Energy Commission was forced to admit Twitchell’s room wasn’t the only one they’d covertly constructed. Around the nation, there were similar isolation wards for individuals dealing in nuclear secrets.

An anonymous source told the Tribune this was standard protocol to keep scientists from blabbing while “unbalanced, anesthetized or under the influence of dentists’ ‘laughing gas.'” Although expensive, it was the only way to maintain national security.

But all this drama meant little to the Twitchells, who were left to bury their loved one…… https://www.sfgate.com/sfhistory/article/letterman-army-hospital-presidio-ghost-uc-berkeley-15668131.php

October 24, 2020 Posted by | health, psychology and culture, Reference, Religion and ethics, USA | 2 Comments

How the iconic domes of San Onofre nuclear station will be dismantled

October 24, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Russian hacking group Energetic Bear have hacked nuclear stations, now threaten USA election

Russians Who Pose Election Threat Have Hacked Nuclear Plants and Power Grid .    The hacking group, Energetic Bear, is among Russia’s stealthiest. It appears to be casting a wide net to find useful targets ahead of the election, experts said.  NYT, By Nicole Perlroth, Oct. 23, 2020

Cybersecurity officials watched with growing alarm in September as Russian state hackers started prowling around dozens of American state and local government computer systems just two months before the election.

The act itself did not worry them so much — officials anticipated that the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election would be back — but the actor did. The group, known to researchers as “Dragonfly” or “Energetic Bear” for its hackings of the energy sector, was not involved in 2016 election hacking. But it has in the past five years breached the power grid, water treatment facilities and even nuclear power plants, including one in Kansas………

Energetic Bear typically casts a wide net, then zeros in on a few high-value targets. In Germany and the United States, the group has infected websites popular in the energy sector, downloading malware onto the machines of anyone who visited the sites, then searching for employees with access to industrial systems.

In other attacks, it has hijacked the software updates for computers attached to industrial control systems. It has also blasted targets with phishing emails in search of employees, or co-workers, who might have access to critical systems at water, power and nuclear plants.

And it has done so with remarkable success. A disturbing screenshot in a 2018 Department of Homeland Security advisory showed the groups’ hackers with their fingers on the switches of the computers that controlled the industrial systems at a power plant.

The group has thus far stopped short of sabotage, but appears to be preparing for some future attack. The hackings so unnerved officials that starting in 2018, the United States Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that conducts offensive cyberattacks, hit back with retaliatory strikes on the Russian grid…………… https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/23/us/politics/energetic-bear-russian-hackers.html

October 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Miyagi Prefectural Assembly approves nuclear reactor restart, despite very strong public opposition

October 24, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics | 1 Comment