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Utah Taxpayers Association is very wary of Small Nuclear Reactors

Imagine you picked up a gallon of milk that was labeled at $4, but by the time you made it to the cash register the price had gone up. Worse still, there was an automatic agreement that forced you to buy with no guarantee that the lid would ever open or that the price wouldn’t increase again by the time you had to pay. That’s essentially the situation in which UAMPS is putting municipalities.

Imagine you picked up a gallon of milk that was labeled at $4, but by the time you made it to the cash register the price had gone up. Worse still, there was an automatic agreement that forced you to buy with no guarantee that the lid would ever open or that the price wouldn’t increase again by the time you had to pay. That’s essentially the situation in which UAMPS is putting municipalities.

Utah cities shouldn’t gamble on nuclear power  https://www.deseret.com/opinion/2021/8/11/22620772/utah-cities-shouldnt-gamble-with-taxpayer-funds-on-modular-nuclear-power-plant

An Idaho project is a financial risk that is best borne by the private sector. By Rusty Cannon  Aug 11, 2021, ”…………..  one of our critical missions is to protect taxpayers when it comes to the use of public funds, and we believe strongly that the taxpayers and communities of Utah should not act as venture capitalists for risky bets.

The bet that’s on the table now for Utah municipalities is nuclear. Specifically, it’s a type of nuclear called “small modular,” and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) is recruiting towns and communities around the West to pay for it. The project, if it happens, would be located in Idaho.

Last fall, seven Utah cities from Logan to Lehi wisely withdrew their support for the UAMPS nuclear project due to financial risks that their residents should not be asked to accept. But many municipalities, such as Brigham City, Hyrum, Hurricane, and Washington City, are still gambling with their taxpayers’ dollars.

If modular nuclear power is ready for market, let the private sector show it by putting up its money. Governments ought to stay out of it, particularly when risking public funds.

The participation commitments UAMPS has been getting from Utah communities to buy the power come with required upfront payments from residents for a product that is full of uncertainty. The developer — Oregon-based NuScale — hasn’t built a plant like this before, its design keeps changing, and it’s nearly a decade away from even being potentially operational.

While we still believe the project is risky and that municipalities should withdraw, any investment of public dollars must be done in the open with public scrutiny. Sadly, the information exchange between UAMPS and its potential payers has been opaque. The public receives only a trickle of information, and it’s vague at best.

When we do see information, it’s troubling. For example, the project’s budget has ballooned from an initial $3.1 billion to a more recent estimate of $6.1 billion. It was only recently uncovered that the company that was going to operate the plant, Energy Northwest, backed out in March.

The financial sand is shifting in other ways, as well. In late June, UAMPS suddenly decided to reduce the number of modules at the power plant by half because they’ve struggled to get more communities to commit. That led to a hike in the power price that UAMPS had been promising, putting still-participating municipalities in a bind.

Imagine you picked up a gallon of milk that was labeled at $4, but by the time you made it to the cash register the price had gone up. Worse still, there was an automatic agreement that forced you to buy with no guarantee that the lid would ever open or that the price wouldn’t increase again by the time you had to pay. That’s essentially the situation in which UAMPS is putting municipalities.

Plenty of Utah city council members have listened to their constituents and said “thanks but no thanks.” Bountiful, Kaysville, Murray, Lehi and Heber were some of the largest subscribers to the modular nuclear proposal, but have since bowed out.

However, other communities remain officially interested in this particular power project, and are keeping it in their shopping cart so far. If you reside in these communities, pay attention and watch your wallet. There may still be time to withdraw from the project.

Utah municipalities should remain conservative watchdogs of tax dollars. Say yes to prudent and transparent use of public money. Say no to unproven technology and murky promises that keep shifting. At this point modular nuclear power is a venture, not a product. So let private venture capital come in and pay for it, not Utah taxpayers.

Rusty Cannon is President of the Utah Taxpayers Association

August 12, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Why Are We Still Building Nuclear Weapons? Follow the Money

Why Are We Still Building Nuclear Weapons? Follow the Money, Forbes, William Hartung, 11 Aug 21,

The FY 2022 Pentagon budget proposal includes billions of dollars for new nuclear delivery vehicles, with a handful of prime contractors as the primary beneficiaries. For example, Northrop Grumman’s NOC+0.9% twelve largest subcontractors for its new ICBM include some of the nation’s largest defense companies, including Lockheed Martin LMT+0.3%, General Dynamics GD+0.8%, L3Harris, Aerojet Rocketdyne AJRD+0.2%, Honeywell, Bechtel, and the Collins Aerospace division of Raytheon RTX+1.1% Technologies.  Other beneficiaries of the funding of new nuclear delivery vehicles include Raytheon (a nuclear-armed cruise missile), General Dynamics (ballistic missile submarines), Lockheed Martin (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), and Northrop Grumman – again – for the new nuclear-armed bombers.

This month marks the 76th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, events that resulted in the immediate deaths of well over 100,000 people and underscored the devastating consequences of building, deploying, and using nuclear weapons.  Those attacks should have served as a wake-up call on the need to control and eliminate these potential world-ending weapons, but determined efforts by scientists, political leaders, policy advocates, and grassroots advocates around the world have yet to abolish them……………
 the international community, under the leadership of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), has created and brought into force the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which has been signed by 86 nations and ratified by 55 of them. This is an historic accomplishment, but the real culprits – the major nuclear weapons states that possess the vast bulk of the world’s nuclear weapons – have yet to sign onto the measure.

The United States maintains an active nuclear stockpile of roughly 4,000 nuclear weapons, including over 1,500 deployed warheads. Russia’s stockpile is comparable, at roughly 4,400, while China follows with roughly 300 strategic nuclear warheads. Despite its considerably smaller arsenal, recent revelations regarding China’s construction of new silos for long-range nuclear missiles are cause for real concern as they raise the risk of accelerating the nuclear arms race at great risk to the future of the planet. These developments demand dialogue to roll back the production of new nuclear weapons systems, leading to reductions in the size of global arsenals and the ultimate elimination of this existential threat.

The continued development and deployment of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) is of particular concern. As former Secretary of Defense William Perry has noted, ICBMs are “some of the most dangerous weapons in the world” because a president would have only a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them upon warning of a nuclear attack, increasing the possibility of an accidental nuclear war based on a false alarm. 
Given all of the above, why is the United States still building nuclear weapons, more than seven decades after the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The U.S. is not alone in building a new generation of nuclear weapons – Russia and China are doing so as well. But the Pentagon’s 30-year plan to build new nuclear-armed bombers, missiles, and submarines – along with new nuclear warheads to go with them at a cost of up to $2 trillion – is the height of folly and an unnecessary, grave risk to the lives of current and future generations. A major reason for this misguided policy can be summed up in a phrase – there is money to be made in perpetuating the nuclear arms race.

The FY 2022 Pentagon budget proposal includes billions of dollars for new nuclear delivery vehicles, with a handful of prime contractors as the primary beneficiaries. For example, Northrop Grumman’s NOC+0.9% twelve largest subcontractors for its new ICBM include some of the nation’s largest defense companies, including Lockheed Martin LMT+0.3%, General Dynamics GD+0.8%, L3Harris, Aerojet Rocketdyne AJRD+0.2%, Honeywell, Bechtel, and the Collins Aerospace division of Raytheon RTX+1.1% Technologies.  Other beneficiaries of the funding of new nuclear delivery vehicles include Raytheon (a nuclear-armed cruise missile), General Dynamics (ballistic missile submarines), Lockheed Martin (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), and Northrop Grumman – again – for the new nuclear-armed bomber.

Additional recipients of nuclear weapons-related funding are the firms that run the nuclear warhead complex. Major contractors include Honeywell and Bechtel, which run key facilities for the development and production of nuclear warheads.

 Nuclear weapons contractors spend millions of dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying efforts every year in their efforts to shape nuclear weapons policy and spending. While not all of this spending is devoted to lobbying on nuclear weapons programs, these expenditures are indicative of the political clout they can bring to bear on Congress as needed to sustain and expand the budgets for their nuclear-related programs. 

The major nuclear weapons contractors made a total of over $119 million in campaign contributions from 2012 to 2020, including over $31 million in 2020 alone. The companies spent $57.9 million on lobbying in 2020 and employed 380 lobbyists among them.

The only way to be truly safe from nuclear weapons is to eliminate them altogether, as called for in the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As noted above, the major nuclear powers have yet to sign onto the treaty but pressing them to do so should be a central component of efforts to rein in nuclear dangers. 

It’s time that we stopped allowing special interest lobbying and corporate profits to stand in the way of a more sensible nuclear policy. The future of humanity depends on it.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamhartung/2021/08/10/why-are-we-still-building-nuclear-weapons—-follow-the-money/?sh=442b7ad15888

August 12, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger champions inclusion of nuclear power incentive in U.S. Infrastructure Bill.

  • Kinzinger-backed Nuclear Power Incentive Included in Senate Infrastructure Bill,   

https://www.wspynews.com/news/local/kinzinger-backed-nuclear-power-incentive-included-in-senate-infrastructure-bill/article_0a55ca40-fab2-11eb-be75-df7f38f45c28.html 11 Aug 21,

A financial credit program for nuclear power plants has been included in the Senate’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which was approved in the Senate on Tuesday. The program has been championed by Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who has proposed the program in separate legislation in the past.

Kinzinger says he wants some federal help to available to keep nuclear power plants online as two in the 16th Congressional District are slated to close near the end of this year. Exelon, the company who runs the two plants, has said they are seeing a revenue shortfall at power plants in Morris and Byron.

State lawmakers have been trying to negotiate an energy deal that would keep the plants open, but have had some snags. Area lawmakers have said that an agreement is in place for the nuclear portion of the bill.

August 12, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

New ”Natrium” nuclear reactors – a very risky gamble.

A July 2021 Foreign Affairs article reports that in the past sixty years eight countries have spent $100 billion to produce sodium cooled fast reactors such as the one proposed for Wyoming. All have failed. The money’s spent and the lights are out.

While the Natrium design posits less risk of a meltdown, the sodium coolant is under high pressure and is explosive in the event of any breach in the containment area. And while Natrium plants produce less radioactive waste than traditional nuclear plants, there’s still the necessity to safely and permanently store this waste. How much will it cost? World Nuclear Industry Status Report’s editor Mycle Schneider says, “No one knows…because there is no functioning permanent storage facility.” Nowhere.

How much power are we talking about anyway? Writing for Canary Media, Eric Wesoff reported that in 2020, 2.4 gigawatts of new nuclear power plants were installed worldwide while there were 100 gigawatts of new solar and 60 gigawatts of new wind power generators. Meanwhile, old nuclear plants close—Indian Power in New York, Diablo Canyon in California, Exelon’s Byron and Dresden plants in Illinois. What do we do with decommissioned nuclear plants? A cooling tower in Germany has become a climbing wall.

Romtvedt: Proposal for nuclear power calls for caution  https://trib.com/opinion/columns/romtvedt-proposal-for-nuclear-power-calls-for-caution/article_ecb135f0-1378-5728-9992-abd11b681ba4.html, David Romtvedt, Aug 10, 2021

In conjunction with PacifiCorp, Rocky Mountain Power’s parent company, owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc; and TerraPower, a nuclear reactor design company founded by Bill Gates, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon has announced his support for the construction of a nuclear reactor demonstration plant in Wyoming. According to Berkshire Hathaway, the project is intended to “validate the design, construction and operational features” of TerraPower’s Natrium nuclear plant design which uses liquid sodium as a coolant rather than water.

Governor Gordon believes that Natrium offers a safe, reliable solution to Wyoming’s economic woes, saying, “I am thrilled to see Wyoming selected for this demonstration pilot project as our great state is the perfect place for this type of innovative utility facility and our experienced workforce is looking forward to the jobs this project will provide.”

So the benefits of the nuclear plant are said to be increased economic security and diminished environmental risk than with other forms of nuclear power plants. But it’s not so clear. Both in construction and operation, Natrium nuclear plants require uniquely skilled workers employing specialized materials and building techniques. Other economic issues include the temporary nature of construction work, long lead times for safety and licensing reviews (Natrium is not licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission), and diminished severance tax revenues as a result of the shift from coal to nuclear.

There’s also the fuel—Natrium uses high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). Power Magazine reports that there is no current supply of HALEU and that it will take at least seven years with sufficient demand to develop a fuel cycle infrastructure. Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientist cautions that Russia is currently the only source of suitable fuel. In whatever quantity, the fuel is not likely to come from Wyoming uranium mines.

After construction there’s generation. World Nuclear Industry Status Report has recorded the changing costs of electric generation per kilowatt hour (in US cents) between 2009 and 2020. They are: solar—35.9 to 3.7, down 90%; wind—13.5 to 4.0, down 70%; gas—8.3 to 5.9, down 29%; coal—11.1 to 11.2, up 1%; and nuclear 12.3 to 16.3, up 33%. Nuclear is the most expensive way to generate electricity.

And time—the Wyoming proposal projects seven years to completion. Since no new nuclear power plant with a license application submitted since 1975 has yet begun operation, we may question the Wyoming timeline. More time equals more cost. Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear plants are years behind schedule with costs having risen from $14 billion to over $25 billion. But it may not matter as Georgia Power can charge cost overruns to its customers—the more the project is over budget, the more the company profits. In Florida, Duke Power, after seeing a cost increase from $5 billion to $22 billion, abandoned a Natrium nuclear project after passing $800 million dollars in excess costs to ratepayers.

A July 2021 Foreign Affairs article reports that in the past sixty years eight countries have spent $100 billion to produce sodium cooled fast reactors such as the one proposed for Wyoming. All have failed. The money’s spent and the lights are out.

While the Natrium design posits less risk of a meltdown, the sodium coolant is under high pressure and is explosive in the event of any breach in the containment area. And while Natrium plants produce less radioactive waste than traditional nuclear plants, there’s still the necessity to safely and permanently store this waste. How much will it cost? World Nuclear Industry Status Report’s editor Mycle Schneider says, “No one knows…because there is no functioning permanent storage facility.” Nowhere.

I’m guessing that Governor Gordon’s decision was driven in part by his hope to protect the lives and livelihoods of Wyoming workers. But generating radioactive waste without a procedure for safe permanent storage of that waste will protect no one—not unemployed coal miners, not me, not the governor.

How much power are we talking about anyway? Writing for Canary Media, Eric Wesoff reported that in 2020, 2.4 gigawatts of new nuclear power plants were installed worldwide while there were 100 gigawatts of new solar and 60 gigawatts of new wind power generators. Meanwhile, old nuclear plants close—Indian Power in New York, Diablo Canyon in California, Exelon’s Byron and Dresden plants in Illinois. What do we do with decommissioned nuclear plants? A cooling tower in Germany has become a climbing wall.

The questions loom. If I were a betting man, given initial costs, cost overruns, lost tax revenue, the increasing viability of renewables, the history of nuclear failure, and the health and safety hazards surrounding nuclear waste, I’d pause before I put my money on nuclear power. Not being a betting man, I wouldn’t consider it.

David Romtvedt is a writer and musician from Buffalo, Wyoming. A former activist with the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, he serves as a board member for the Powder River Basin Resource Council.

August 12, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Bill gives $50 billion to bail out the nuclear industry


Nuclear Power Bailout In The Infrastructure Bill  
https://www.wortfm.org/nuclear-power-bailout-in-the-infrastructure-bill/

AUGUST 11, 2021 BY 8 O’CLOCK BUZZ  The bi-partisan infrastructure bill just passed by the U.S. Senate has allotted $50 billion over the next 10 years to bolster the dying nuclear power industry, according to Hannah Smay, Digital Organizer of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. And the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill promises even more, fails to create jobs, reduce carbon, and the Band-Aid approach interferes with the transition to clean energy.

August 12, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

The Case for a New North Korean Nuclear Deal


T
he Case for a New North Korean Nuclear Deal
Mutual distrust has doomed past efforts to settle a deal between the U.S. and North Korea
., The Diplomat 
By Iordanka Alexandrova, August 11, 2021
  President Joe Biden is planning a full review of U.S. policy toward North Korea. However, unless his team abandons bilateralism and the insistence on “inspections first, negotiations later,” his new approach is unlikely to break the nuclear stalemate with Pyongyang.

The diplomatic impasse continues because the two sides cannot find a way to trust each other. 

Negotiating a nuclear deal between North Korea and the United States is challenging since both sides face strong incentives to cheat. When negotiating, Washington hopes to see Pyongyang cooperate by disarming, at which point it will be tempted to make new demands. Pyongyang prefers to reap the benefits of cooperation with Washington, while making sure its deterrent stays in place as insurance. As a result, neither can credibly commit to uphold the terms of any agreement………………

The only hope to restrain North Korea’s nuclear development is through a reversal of American policy. Biden would have to revive multilateral talks, ease sanctions, and commit to concessions to negotiate a mutually acceptable deal…………

There are two main reasons why the timing is perfect for crafting a new functional deal.

First, Pyongyang appears more willing to cooperate. The country is in deep economic trouble. Kim’s unprecedented recognition that North Korea has failed to fulfill its latest economic plan speaks of the gravity of the current situation. The coronavirus pandemic has also taken its toll on the country. Kim desperately needs a moment of stability, making him more likely to agree to meaningful concessions as long as they do not threaten the security of his regime.

Second, this time it may be possible to help North Korea trust U.S. security guarantees. Regional powers today are better equipped to assume more active roles in underwriting the deal between Washington and Pyongyang. China and possibly Russia have grown both their interest and capabilities to act as guarantors of an arms control agreement. There is a role for South Korea, albeit different from the course of direct inter-Korean cooperation pursued by the current administration. Seoul can offer its own guarantee, such as a promise to advocate on behalf of Pyongyang before Washington to increase mutual trust and understanding. Japan would be an important part of this effort as well.

Ultimately, the success of a deal will depend on the ability of North Korea and the United States to overcome their mutual distrust. If they use the present opportune moment to set in motion a virtuous circle of trust-building, a solution of the nuclear issue might soon come in sight. https://thediplomat.com/2021/08/the-case-for-a-new-north-korean-nuclear-deal/

August 12, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran’s research reactors prove the nuclear deal is still working

How Iran’s research reactors prove the nuclear deal is still working, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists By Samuel M. Hickey | August 11, 2021  An underexamined success story from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiations is the effective blocking of Tehran’s ability to collect plutonium for a nuclear bomb. Not only has the nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), been effective in constraining Iran’s program, but it could, suitably adapted, provide a standard of guidance for research reactor construction that would lower proliferation risks worldwide.

There are two pathways to get the fissile material to fuel a nuclear bomb. The first is to enrich uranium, and the second is to recover plutonium from the spent fuel of a reactor. The JCPOA blocked both pathways. Now, Iran’s advancing enrichment program is the key obstacle for diplomats trying to revive the deal, and those talks have dragged on for months as the program marches forward.

Many nuclear weapons, including that used on Hiroshima, are uranium-based. However, every country that has a nuclear weapon has produced and separated plutonium for weapons. Iran has not reopened this path despite efforts by its conservative-dominated parliament to pressure the United States to lift sanctions in return for nuclear deal compliance. In December 2020, Iran passed a nuclear law requiring a return to a threatening research reactor design. So far, Iran has not adhered to that law because the modifications made to the original design under the JCPOA made the reactor even more efficient. This suggests that even in its weakened state, the JCPOA continues to provide permanent solutions to potential proliferation concerns. Its revival can further cement these gains as a “longer and stronger” deal is sought.

The inherent problem with nuclear reactors. Here’s the conundrum for nuclear negotiators both with Iran now and potentially with other countries in the future: Given enough time, all civilian research reactors will produce enough plutonium for a nuclear weapon that could be reprocessed—or separated from irradiated uranium—in their spent fuel. Some, like Iran’s Arak heavy water research reactor, as originally designed, are particularly well suited for plutonium production but also have civilian purposes such as medical radioisotope production and the testing of nuclear fuel and materials. Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, Sweden, and Taiwan have considered acquiring reprocessing plants but eventually demurred, given international reaction to the potential for proliferation. There is no public evidence that Iran has a reprocessing facility.

Since the Trump administration pulled out of the JCPOA, Iran has introduced advanced centrifuges and stockpiled uranium. This means that the amount of time for Iran to pursue a nuclear weapon via the enriched uranium path has been significantly decreased. However, the spent fuel pathway has not been reactivated as Iran has not done any work to reconstruct the Arak heavy water research reactor to its original design nor has it engaged in any reprocessing activities. Iran’s hedging strategy, ostensibly to accumulate leverage in negotiations to revive the JCPOA, suggests that nuclear brinksmanship with uranium enrichment grants a certain flexibility that plutonium does not……………………….. https://thebulletin.org/2021/08/how-irans-research-reactors-prove-the-nuclear-deal-is-still-working/

August 12, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

UK’s Radioactive Waste Management employs ”behavioural science” group to monitor online talk about nuclear waste dump plan

We have been sent a leaked document indicating that Radioactive Waste Management, the government body tasked with “Delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility” have employed a company involved in “behavioural science” to monitor independent conversations of those talking online about the deep nuclear dump plan.

The Cumbrian nuclear safety group have sent this leaked report to Lincolnshire County Council and East Lindsey District Council urging them to follow the example of the most nuclear sympathetic County in the UK, Cumbria, and exclude themselves from the RWM agenda which is to implement one or more geological disposal facilities.


The nuclear safety group argue that the science of deep disposal of nuclear wastes is in its infancy and that instead of spending billions of pounds on behavioural scientists in order to deliver a dangerous deep nuclear dump, all effort should be made on containment at the Sellafield site.

 Radiation Free Lakeland 9th Aug 2021

https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/radioactive-waste-management-employ-behavioural-scientists-to-keep-a-friendly-eye-on-what-people-are-saying-really/

August 12, 2021 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Four ways in which political leaders can violate human values in the cause of war

War, Herbicides and Moral Disengagement  By Robert C. Koehler,  Common Wonders, 11 Aug 21

And the least secret agent of all . . . Agent Orange!

On August 10, 1961, the United States, several years before it actually sent troops, started poisoning the forests and crops of Vietnam with herbicides. The purpose: to deprive our declared enemy, the commies of Ho Chi Minh, of food and ground cover that allowed them to trek from North to South. It was called, innocuously, Operation Ranch Hand.

”’…………….war is insane — and growing ever more so. The military establishment isn’t just brutal and cruel. It is so advanced in the technology of lethality that its capable of destroying the world. Hasn’t the time come to defund war — completely! — and rethink how we deal with conflict?

…….. Here’s a starting place, thanks to psychologist Albert Bandura, as quoted by Russell P. Johnson in an essay published by the University of Chicago Divinity School. In essence, Bandura has sought an answer to the Question. What gives political leaders the wherewithal to violate basic human values — established moral standards — and perpetrate the inhumanity of war?

He calls the phenomenon of doing so “moral disengagement” and posits four forms that this behavior takes:


1. Euphemistic labeling: We may drop bombs and kill dozens or hundreds or thousands of civilians, including children, but the action is described by the lapdog media as, simply, an “airstrike.” We may torture Iraqi detainees but it’s not such a big deal when we call it “enhanced interrogation.” We may poison the jungles of Southeast Asia, but what the heck, there’s Jed Clampett leading the way in “Operation Ranch Hand.” The list of military euphemisms goes on and on and on.

2. Advantageous comparison. If the enemy you’re fighting is evil — and he always is — the actions you take to defeat him, whatever they are, are ipso facto justified. The alternative is doing nothing, a la Neville Chamberlain, appeasing Hitler. Violent response to evil — carpet-bombing Hamburg or Tokyo, nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki — is not simply justifiable but the essence of morally necessity.

3. Displaced responsibility. I was just following orders, cries the Buchenwald guard. I did what I was told. As Johnson writes: “Decisions are made and justified without anyone ever having the sense of a moral threshold being crossed.” Indeed, “an entire society can rely on displacement of responsibility to shield themselves from moral scrutiny.” A pernicious side effect of this is known as “moral injury.” Once a soldier is out of the military, the justification for killing someone may completely vanish; the result is a high suicide rate among vets.

4. Attribution of blame. They made us do it! “One’s actions are treated as mere reactions, caused not by one’s own decisions but by the actions of the enemy,” Johnson writes. “. . . If our actions are excessive or barbaric, it is the other side’s fault for driving us to such extremes.” When both sides in the conflict resort to this, which is almost always the case, Bandura calls the result “reciprocal escalation.” The war gets increasingly bloody.

Agent Orange Awareness Day, as I noted, was Aug. 10. I think we should spend the rest of the year honoring War and Dehumanization Awareness Day.   http://commonwonders.com/war-herbicides-and-moral-disengagement/

August 12, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Jailing of a British Blogger Should Worry Journalists on Both Sides of the Atlantic

AUGUST 10, 2021Jailing of a British Blogger Should Worry Journalists on Both Sides of the Atlantic, FAIR. ARI PAUL   IN A Conversation with C-SPAN‘s Brian Lamb (11/7/83) in 1983, then-Nation columnist Christopher Hitchens explained the United Kingdom’s Official Secrets Act, which, he said, says that “anything the government defines as a secret is a secret…. You can define something that is well-known by everybody as a secret under that law.” It gives the government a legal mallet to employ against investigative journalists probing national security.Lamb asked Hitchens, a British expatriate living in Washington, DC, if American journalists were freer than the ones in his home country. “Infinitely,” Hitchens replied, noting that Americans “have a constitution” that protects the freedom of the press.

Americans are accustomed to thinking that Britain is the European nation most like the United States, and with its robust market of salacious tabloid newspapers and saucy pop culture, Americans think of it as a free society. But Hitchens, like many British journalists, constantly challenged this myth. And the current imprisonment of blogger Craig Murray is a reminder of that gap.

‘Chilling effect on reporting’

Murray is a Scottish former diplomat who is vocal about his support for Scottish independence. He is also an outspoken advocate for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (New York Times1/4/21). According to the Scotsman (8/1/21), however, Murray “was judged to have been in contempt of court over blogs he wrote during the trial of former First Minister Alex Salmond”

Murray’s] posts contained details which, if pieced together, could lead readers to identify women who made allegations against Mr. Salmond, who was acquitted of all 13 charges, including sexual assault and attempted rape in March last year.An official at Reporters Without Borders said that a “prison sentence on charges related to his blogging is disproportionate and highly concerning,” adding that “journalistic activity should not lead to prison sentences anywhere,” because “imprisonment in connection with any journalistic activity should only ever be a measure of absolute last resort—if at all.”

Scottish PEN (Twitter7/30/21) said that Murray “is the first person to be imprisoned in Scotland for media contempt for over 70 years,” and the organization feared the “ruling will have a chilling effect on reporting and free expression.”But the New York Times hasn’t reported on Murray’s jailing, nor has AP. A search for his case at NPR and the Wall Street Journal yielded no results.

Why is this not big news? Belarus arresting a journalist who was flying outside the country (NPR5/25/21) was major news in the US press. The New York Times (12/28/20) made a big deal about the Chinese government clamping down on citizen journalists who challenged the government’s narrative about Covid-19. And NPR (2/4/21) reported on a Russian journalist who was briefly imprisoned for publicizing an anti-government protest on Twitter. It should be at least as alarming to American media that a key US ally would use jail as a weapon against any journalist…………..

History gives anyone concerned about the free press a right to be worried, as there are other examples of how the British press is censored to protect the powerful. The voice of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was once banned from BBC broadcasts (BBC4/5/05). The BBC cited “legal reasons” for not naming one of the soldiers on trial for the Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland (BBC7/14/21). The Guardian (8/20/13) was forced to destroy leaked documents from Edward Snowden because of “a threat of legal action by the [British] government that could have stopped reporting on the extent of American and British government surveillance revealed by the documents.”………….

An attack on all journalists

Laura Poitras, co-founder of the Intercept and one of the principal journalists involved in the Snowden leaks, said in the New York Times (12/21/20) that the prosecution of Assange is an attack on all journalists, and that use of the Espionage Act, which forbids the leaking of classified materials, could be used against the journalists who receive that information. She said: 

I have experienced the chilling effect of the Espionage Act. When I was in contact with Mr. Snowden, then an anonymous whistleblower, I spoke to one of the best First Amendment lawyers in the country. His response was unnerving. He read the Espionage Act out loud, and said it had never been used against a journalist, but there is always a first time. He added that I would be a good candidate, because I am a documentary filmmaker without the backing of a news organization.

As a British blogger, Murray is simply not protected by the First Amendment, and at first glance it would seem improbable that he would face this predicament if he was working in the United States. But given the aforementioned instances of the state going after leakers, the censorious trends in the Anglophone media are reasons for concern. US media should pay more attention. https://fair.org/home/jailing-of-a-british-blogger-should-worry-journalists-on-both-sides-of-the-atlantic/

August 12, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Urgency of the IPCC climate report makes it clear that new nuclear is not the answer

The urgency of the IPCC report highlights the need to prioritise renewables and decentralised energy, and move away from new nuclear, says NFLA

Like many organisations, the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) reads the new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with a sense of alarm, but also new motivation to highlight the urgency to reduce carbon emissions across the board.

The IPCC report published yesterday says there are no scenarios where a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in temperature in the world will now not be avoided, meaning some of the negative challenges of climate change will take place. This is now largely and almost entirely due to the actions of humanity in neglecting to reduce carbon emissions over previous decades, and not moving away from fossil fuels sooner.

In its analysis of the IPCC report, BBC Environment Correspondent Matt McGrath notes (1):

  • Climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying due to human actions (and inaction in preventing it).
  • Extreme heat events, like that taking place presently across southern Europe, North America and northern Russia, will become more frequent.
  • The 1.5C global temperature increase limit is now on ‘life support’. Keeping temperatures under this level was a key 2050 target, but the IPCC suggests the world will hit it possibly as early as 2030. The IPCC has previously said there are great advantages of staying under the 1.5C limit compared to a 2C temperature increase. To do that, it argued carbon emissions would need to be cut in half by 2030 and net zero emissions reached by 2050. Otherwise, the limit would be reached between 2030 and 2052.
  • Under all likely scenarios, global sea levels will rise. The IPCC report shows that under current scenarios, the seas could rise above the likely range, going up to 2m by the end of this century and up to 5m by 2150. While these are unlikely figures, they cannot be ruled out under a very high greenhouse gas emissions scenario.
  • There will be an increase in extreme rainfall, creating the types of serious flooding recently seen in the likes of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The core message of the IPCC report is the huge urgency in getting carbon emissions down as quickly as possible. For example, it notes the need to reduce methane emissions from oil, gas, agriculture and rice cultivation should be a core priority for all governments……………

For NFLA as well, the urgency of this report should now preclude the obsession from the UK Government to deliver new nuclear. It is in this decade when large carbon reduction is required, whilst any new nuclear development will be unlikely to be making any great impression until the 2030s at the very earliest. The billions being suggested to either bail out Hinkley Point C or back Sizewell C, or fund Rolls Royce’s ‘small’ modular nuclear reactor programme, would now be far better directed towards the cheaper, cleaner and more easily realisable renewable and energy efficiency programmes.

The IPCC report tells all of us to get real. NFLA agree. Our reports on best practice in delivering local decentralised energy solutions in carbon reduction show a positive way forward. (2) Our reports showing the heavy costs and technical challenges of new nuclear, as well as of the huge decommissioning and radioactive waste management costs of our existing nuclear legacy, emphasise as well that nuclear is not part of the solution to deliver a net zero response by 2050. (3) It is high time for radical change, and most Councils are ready for it – now it needs central government to respond to this highly alarming IPCC report………..

It is also clear to me and the NFLA that new nuclear is not the answer to this urgent emergency – it takes too long, costs too much and the existing nuclear legacy needs to be dealt with, not creating more radioactive waste that we still do not know what to do with. ,,,,NFLA UK & Ireland Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn ………… https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/news/urgency-ipcc-report-highlights-need-prioritise-renewables-and-decentralised-energy-move-away-from-new-nuclear/

August 12, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Sink or swim: Can island states survive the climate crisis? — Observ@tório de Relações Internacionais – UFOP

© UNICEF/Vlad SokhinWith most of its land only a few feet above sea level, Kiribati is seeing growing damage from storms and flooding. Small island nations across the world are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, and their problems have been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely affected their economies, and their […]

Sink or swim: Can island states survive the climate crisis? — Observ@tório de Relações Internacionais – UFOP

August 12, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

August 11 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Frightening New Climate Report Also Holds The Seeds Of Hope” • The latest report that just arrived from the IPCC isn’t pretty. But in a year defined by searing heat waves, torrential floods, and raging fires, it is encouraging that the same report that is so frightening also suggests a strategy to alleviate […]

August 11 Energy News — geoharvey

August 12, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Setsuko Thurlow Rose honors the legacy of a Hiroshima survivor and abolition campaigner — IPPNW peace and health blog

The Setsuko Thurlow rose In the year that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons enters in force, a new variety of rose will be planted in Spain. The Setsuko Thurlow Rose, a rose of hope, will be planted on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, September 26, 2021, in […]

Setsuko Thurlow Rose honors the legacy of a Hiroshima survivor and abolition campaigner — IPPNW peace and health blog

August 12, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment