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TODAY. USA’s ‘Progressive” Democrats reveal themselves to be cowardly wimps

Wha-aa-aat? 30 USA Democrat Members oof Congress wrote an obsequious sycophantic letter to President Biden – congratulating him with fulsome praise on his management of the Ukraine war – and at the end – a timid paragraph – urging “vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, engage in direct talks with Russia

We – insignificant peasants – thought that, for the slavish mindless party loyalty of American politicians , this letter was a good idea.

But – no. Slavish mindless party loyalty beats good ideas – and within less than 24 hours  Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, said the caucus was withdrawing the letter.

The problem is – the slavish mindless loyalty is really to the military-industrial-corporate- complex. They are America’s winners in all the wars over recent decades, inn the present Ukraine war, and the coming war against China – and further endless US wars if there’s anything left after that one.

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October 26, 2022 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Rising Sea Levels Spell Disaster For America’s Coastal Nuclear Plants

By Haley Zaremba – Oct 25, 2022,

  • The Biden administration is pushing for a revitalization of America’s nuclear industry.
  • Seven of the country’s coastal nuclear plants are at risk as sea levels rise.
  • Mitigation measures are needed to protect America’s aging nuclear infrastructure.

……………………………….. The Turkey Point nuclear power plant, located between the Florida Everglades and Biscayne National Park, has been active for fifty years. While mathematical modeling shows that the aging plant is still safe to operate, many local residents live in fear of what will happen when the next hurricane pummels the southern coast of Florida – and the one after that, and the one after that. After seeing what a natural disaster did to Japan’s Fukushima power plant in 2011, anxiety about storm surges crashing into nuclear plants – and very old ones, at that – are justified. 

……………. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projects that the area where Turkey Point is located will experience a full foot of sea level rise by 2050 and three feet of annual flooding. This would mean that the plant’s cooling systems and access roads would flood as well. What’s more, according to a 2020 study by scientists from Johns Hopkins University, Turkey Point is just one of seven coastal nuclear facilities that are vulnerable to sea level rise.

Serious and swift mitigation plans are clearly needed to make sure that aging nuclear infrastructure can safely stand up to storm surges and extreme weather events, which are a matter of “when,” not “if.”……………………. https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Rising-Sea-Levels-Spell-Disaster-For-Americas-Coastal-Nuclear-Plants.html

October 26, 2022 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Progressives retract Ukraine letter to Biden after uproar

By FARNOUSH AMIRI and SEUNG MIN KIM, 26 Oct 22

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it had retracted a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia after it triggered an uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the strength of the party’s support for Ukraine.

In a statement, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, said the caucus was withdrawing the letter it sent less than 24 hours prior. It was signed by 30 members of the party’s liberal flank.

“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting,” the Washington Democrat wrote in a statement. As chair of the caucus, Jayapal said she took responsibility for this.

The unusual retraction capped a tense 24-hour period for Democrats. Many reacted angrily to the appearance of flagging support for the president’s Ukraine strategy, coming just weeks before a midterm election where their majorities in Congress are at risk.

The back-and-forth spotlighted the fragile nature of Biden’s relationship with the progressive wing of his party, raising stark questions about their ability to work together not only on Ukraine funding — which seems secure, for now — but on more pressing issues that are top priorities for liberals.

The letter had called for Biden to pair the unprecedented economic and military support for Ukraine with a “proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a cease fire.”

“The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks,” the letter read.

Jayapal said the letter was unfairly conflated with recent comments from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who warned that Republicans will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine if they win back the House majority in November.


Progressives retract Ukraine letter to Biden after uproar

By FARNOUSH AMIRI and SEUNG MIN KIMyesterday

FILE - Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the House Progressive Caucus, attends an event at the Capitol in Washington, July 28, 2022. A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it had retracted a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia after it triggered an uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the strength of the party's support for Ukraine. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE – Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the House Progressive Caucus, attends an event at the Capitol in Washington, July 28, 2022. A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it had retracted a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia after it triggered an uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the strength of the party’s support for Ukraine. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it had retracted a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia after it triggered an uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the strength of the party’s support for Ukraine.

In a statement, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, said the caucus was withdrawing the letter it sent less than 24 hours prior. It was signed by 30 members of the party’s liberal flank.

“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting,” the Washington Democrat wrote in a statement. As chair of the caucus, Jayapal said she took responsibility for this.

The unusual retraction capped a tense 24-hour period for Democrats. Many reacted angrily to the appearance of flagging support for the president’s Ukraine strategy, coming just weeks before a midterm election where their majorities in Congress are at risk.

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The back-and-forth spotlighted the fragile nature of Biden’s relationship with the progressive wing of his party, raising stark questions about their ability to work together not only on Ukraine funding — which seems secure, for now — but on more pressing issues that are top priorities for liberals.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR

UN steps up satellite tracking of damage to Ukraine cultureRussia, NATO hold nuclear drills as Ukraine villages poundedLive Updates | Russia-Ukraine-WarPutin monitors practice launches by Russia’s nuclear forces

The letter had called for Biden to pair the unprecedented economic and military support for Ukraine with a “proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a cease fire.”

“The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks,” the letter read.

Jayapal said the letter was unfairly conflated with recent comments from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who warned that Republicans will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine if they win back the House majority in November.

“The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support” for Ukraine, Jayapal said.

Yet Jayapal did not disavow the substance of the letter or the push for Biden to engage in diplomacy. Members of the caucus have been calling for a diplomatic solution since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The text of the letter had been circulating since at least June, but only a handful of lawmakers signed on at the time, according to two Democrats familiar with the matter who were granted anonymity to discuss internal party deliberations.

Some Democrats who signed the letter months ago said they no longer support it………………………

Despite the retraction and messy behind-the-scenes process, some Democratic lawmakers said they still backed the sentiments behind the letter, arguing that it is the prerogative of Congress to debate the issue as it continues to approve billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine…………………….

Since the war began, Congress has approved tens of billions in emergency security and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, while the Biden administration has shipped billions worth of weapons and equipment from military inventories.

Last month, lawmakers approved about $12.3 billion in Ukraine-related aid as part of a bill that finances the federal government through Dec. 16. The money included aid for the Ukrainian military as well as money to help the country’s government provide basic services to its citizens.

That comes on top of more than $50 billion provided in two previous bills………………………………….. more https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-biden-europe-congress-government-and-politics-e474bfd7439a57e7923aa1d1b43c8682

October 26, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

FRANCE DISCOVERS OMINOUS CRACKS IN DOZENS OF NUCLEAR REACTORS

AND THE TIMING COULDN’T BE WORSE.

 https://futurism.com/the-byte/france-cracks-dozens-reactors by MAGGIE HARRISON, 27 Oct 22,

Bad Reaction

Europe’s energy crisis may have just gotten worse.

The Wall Street Journal reports that dozens of France’s nuclear reactors — which, amid Russia’s devastating stranglehold on the continent’s natural gas supply, are essential to the nation’s energy security — remain offline following a series of troubling outages believed to be caused by stress-induced pipe corrosion. Fixes are reportedly taking longer than anticipated, but for a struggling continent on the brink of winter, those fixes can’t come quickly enough.

“It’s important that this work restarts as soon as possible,” Emmanuelle Wargon, head of France’s energy regulator, told the WSJ. “If not, the risk of not having electricity rises.”

High Pressure

The nuclear fleet in question, owned by the energy provider EDF, is comprised of 56 reactors, of which 26 are currently out for the count.

According to the WSJ, the pipe problems trace back to late last year, when a crack was discovered in a high-pressure pipe close to the reactor’s core at the nation’s youngest nuclear plant. Other plants, which then launched their own investigations, discovered their own stress corrosion issues shortly thereafter.

“It is only possible to identify [stress corrosion’s] presence once cracking has begun,” read a note from France’s Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety, the WSJ reports. “Regular inspections of the pipes can only identify the phenomenon once a fault is present.”

Importantly, these aren’t simple fixes. Because the majority of the cracks are so close to the reactor core, radioactivity is a very real threat for technicians, whose exposure has to be limited.

And given how complicated the repairs are, French power experts are reportedly quite pessimistic about the EDF’s ability to get their reactors back online for the winter, especially given that, per the WSJ’s sources, the timelines for several reactor fixes have already been pushed back by at least six weeks.

Beyond the Border

These outages are clearly terrible for France, but they’re just as bad for the rest of Europe, too.

Natural gas prices have skyrocketed as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which sparred a barrage of Western sanctions and Russia’s subsequent retaliation by way of natural gas restriction. Nations are asking a lot of their citizens, and the continent needs any ounce of energy that it can scavenge to at least somewhat comfortably — let alone safely — get through the winter.

READ MORE: France’s Nuclear Reactors Malfunction as Energy Crisis Bites [The Wall Street Journal]

More on Europe’s energy crisis: Europe’s Energy Crisis Is so Bad It May Have to Idle Cern’s Large Hadron Collider

October 26, 2022 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

24 – 30 October UN Disarmament Week – don’t let the world powers normalise “tactical” nuclear weapons – demand abolition of nuclear weapons now!

This Disarmament Week, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Demands Nuclear Abolition Now!

The United Nations is marking its annual Disarmament Week from 24 to 30 October 2022. As the week is used to promote awareness of disarmament issues and initiatives, this year WILPF is focusing on amplifying demands for the abolition of nuclear weapons and urging everyone to get involved to prevent any more harm from these weapons of mass destruction.

WILPF International Secretariat 24 October 2022

…………………… current events have elevated the attention being paid to the risks of nuclear weapons and nuclear power, nuclear dangers have persisted in the shadows for decades. Every day, we all live with the possibility of massive nuclear violence, whether by intention, accident, or miscalculation.

The governments of nuclear-armed states, and many of their mainstream media outlets, do not want people to worry. Spreading misinformation about the allegedly “limited” impacts of “tactical” nuclear weapons, they are trying to normalise the threat and risk of nuclear war in order to prevent mass mobilisation against the bomb, as was seen around the world during the 1980s at the height of the Cold War.

But there is no such thing as a small nuclear weapon, and no such thing as a limited nuclear war. If nuclear weapons are used, the humanitarian and environmental consequences will be devastating. And the risks of escalation could mean a nuclear war that leads to climate catastrophe, global famine, and the end of life on Earth as we know it.

We do not have to accept this. People everywhere in the world have a voice and there are actions we can take. Instead of normalising nuclear war, we must stigmatise nuclear weapons.

Most governments have already rejected nuclear weapons, recognising that they are immoral weapons of insecurity and catastrophic harm. These governments negotiated the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which has inspired many local, national, and international activities for nuclear disarmament, ranging from economic divestment to public protest.

What can you do?

This Disarmament Week, when we once again can clearly see the risks posed by nuclear weapons every single day, is a good time to get engaged in the work to abolish nuclear weapons, wherever you are.

You can start by signing this Open Letter From Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and Citizens of the World Against War and Nuclear Weapons, which WILPF’s Disarmament programme Reaching Critical Will, together with the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), presented to the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs earlier this year.

You can also join the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and its many initiatives working with citiesparliamentariansschools, and financial institutions to end the reign of terror of nuclear weapons.

Also check out WILPF’s resource page on nuclear weapons and current nuclear threats and risks, which includes key messages for talking with media or friends and family; an FAQ for details; links to resources that you can share to spread the word about the dangers of nuclear weapons; and ideas for how you can get engaged in the work to abolish nuclear weapons and prevent nuclear catastrophes.

This Disarmament Week, and beyond, join WILPF and the global antinuclear movement in demanding Nuclear Abolition Now!

October 26, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Rocket Lab: Helping the US wage endless wars from space

 https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2022/10/25/rocket-lab-helping-the-us-wage-endless-wars-from-space/By John Minto, October 25, 2022

It’s clear local mana whenua were misled by Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck when iwi land at Mahia Peninsula was leased to launch satellites into space.

At the time Peter Beck was clear Rocket Lab would be used for civilian purposes only and would not take up military contracts, despite this being a particularly lucrative path to take.

Fast forward a few years and we find Beck has abandoned any principles he may have had and his company is now majority owned by the US military and is launching satellites for US military purposes.

The government has to sign off on each launch to make sure it is in line with what’s acceptable to this country but it’s clearly a rubber stamp process conducted by Stuart Nash.

Any assurances from Peter Beck or Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash, who signs off on the launches for the government, that Rocket Lab’s work is for the betterment of mankind are not credible.

Peter Beck sets up straw man arguments saying claims of Rocket Lab weaponizing space are “misinformation” and the company would “not deal in weapons”. “We’re certainly not going to launch weapons or anything that damages the environment or goes and hurts people,” he told Newshub last year.

What nonsense. These are “straw-man” arguments. No-one has claimed the rockets contain weapons but what is absolutely clear is that the US military launches rockets for military purposes and this is what is happening at Mahia.

The NZ Herald reported last year on the capabilities of “Gunsmoke-J satellites”, which have been launched from Mahia for the US military, saying:

The other is the “Gunsmoke-J” satellite being launched for the US Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command (SMDC).

Gunsmoke-J is a prototype for a possible series of nano-satellites that will collect targeting data “in direct support of Army combat operations” according to a US Army fact sheet and a US Department of Defence budget document.

Green MP and party spokesperson for security and intelligence, Teanau Tuiono, is right to speak out:

“Weaponising space is not in our national interest and goes against our international commitments to ensuring peace in space,”

“The government should put in place clear rules that stop our whenua being used to launch rockets on behalf of foreign militaries”

and

“We should not be a launching pad for satellites for America’s military and intelligence agencies,” Green Party security and intelligence spokesman Teanau Tuiono said.

Rocket Lab is donkey deep with US strategies for “full spectrum dominance of the planet – including space. In doing so Beck and the government have made Mahia a target for conventional or even tactical nuclear weapons if hostilities break out between the US and another world power.

It’s ironic that the government provided start-up funds for Beck to get Rocket Lab off the ground only for Aotearoa New Zealand to find the company has put us to bed with a foreign military and made us target for conventional or nuclear attack.

Mana whenua in Mahia are right to be concerned – and so should the rest of us.

The government is “consulting” at the moment on these issues in their Space Policy Review.

Make a submission for the peaceful use of space here (Deadline 31 October)

October 26, 2022 Posted by | New Zealand, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Worthless House Progressives Retract Mild Peace Advocacy Under Pressure From Warmongers

https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/worthless-house-progressives-retract 26 Oct 22, The Congressional Progressive Caucus has retracted an extremely mild, toothless letter its members had written to President Biden politely asking him to consider adding a little diplomacy into the mix to help end the conflict in Ukraine. The retraction followed a deluge of public outrage against their slight deviation from the official imperial narrative.

If you actually read the original letter signed by House progressives including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman and Ro Khanna, you will quickly see that it’s as innocuous and anodyne as any statement could possibly be while still containing words. It opens with effusive praise for Biden’s interventionism in Ukraine and condemns the Russian government unequivocally throughout, offering only the humble suggestion that he “pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.” Its authors make it abundantly clear that they support making sure such diplomacy is agreeable to Ukraine at every step of the way.

This impotent nothing salad was bizarrely spun by The Washington Post as a call on Biden to “dramatically shift his strategy on the Ukraine war,” despite nothing that could be remotely construed as “dramatic” existing anywhere in the body of the text. The letter received backlash from warmongers in both parties, including from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was personally slammed by Bernie Sanders, the pope of American progressivism. Trolls and warmongers swarmed the social media notifications of every account which posted the letter in an official capacity, mindlessly bleating the words “appeasement” and “Chamberlain” in unison.

In a statement on the retraction of the letter, CPC chair Pramila Jayapal says she accepts responsibility for the publication of the offending act of peacemongering while in the same breath blaming its publication on her staff.

“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting. As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this,” Jayapal said.

“Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory,” the statement reads, ignoring mainstream reports that US officials quietly believe Ukraine stands no chance at outright victory in this war. “The letter sent yesterday, although restating that basic principle, has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time and we withdraw the letter.”

Empire critics were quick to highlight the obsequious nature of this retraction.

“For progressives, I didn’t think it could get more pathetic than voting for a disastrous proxy war that the US provoked and prolonged, handing billions to arms makers in the process. In retracting their tepid call for diplomacy and blaming staffers for it, they somehow surpassed it,” tweeted Aaron Maté.

“Certainly speaks to the insanely hawkish atmosphere in Washington that pressured the progressive caucus to withdrawal a totally reasonable, responsible and necessary call for diplomacy in a conflict that risks escalating to nuclear armageddon,” tweeted Rania Khalek.

“Imagine being elected to Congress based on promises of challenging ‘the establishment’ or whatever, then being so petrified of anger from bipartisan DC establishment mavens that you can’t even wait 24 hours before meekly retracting the only mild dissent you’ve expressed,” tweeted Glenn Greenwald.

I don’t know what pressures were the ultimate deciding factor in the CPC’s decision to retract its feeble advocacy for a bit more diplomacy, or how much of that pressure was brought to bear behind the scenes by bigger political monsters in the Beltway swamp, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. The important take-home from this lesson, once again, is that progressive Democrats are worse than worthless at opposing the mechanisms of oligarchy and empire.

In fact if you look at their actions it’s not even really accurate to describe them as “progressive Democrats” as though they are a faction that has meaningful differences with the rest of that party. Aside from the occasional empty soundbyte about healthcare or debt forgiveness, they’re not doing anything to advance progressive agendas which make American lives better, and they’re certainly doing nothing to impede the expansion of the US war machine.

The progressive Democrat is a myth, like the good billionaire or the righteous American war. “The Squad” is nothing more than the social media-savvy branch of the Democratic establishment. The United States has two warmongering oligarchic parties, and a tremendous amount of narrative management goes into manipulating, cajoling and coercing Americans into staying psychologically plugged in to that fraudulent political paradigm.

This comes at the same time the defense minister of Romania was forced to resign for saying peace talks were necessary to achieve peace in Ukraine. It just reveals so much about where we’re at and where we’re headed that the most incendiary and outrageous thing you can say in our society is that we should probably attempt to diplomatically de-escalate hostilities between nuclear superpowers. The fact that the Overton window of acceptable political discourse has already been dragged that far in the direction of warmongering insanity prevents peace from ever having any space to get a word in edgewise.

October 26, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power – a ‘religion’ in France. now turning out to be a curse.

 Paris dims the lights as blackouts threaten disaster for Macron. Years of
underinvestment in its aging nuclear fleet risk causing chaos in France
this winter. Xavier Barbaro, chief executive of France’s leading
independent renewables producer Neoen, is concerned about the growing risk
of shortages.

“It’s a possibility and no one would have thought that a
few years or even a few months ago,” he says. “Blackouts were something in
the past. and it can happen again. “We have heard literally for decades
that having nuclear was a chance for the country and in the end, it might
actually be a curse.”

France put all of its eggs in the nuclear basket,
but technical problems are now frequently cutting capacity at its aging
plants. While President Emmanuel Macron has ordered new reactors as part of
a nuclear “renaissance”, decades of inaction are coming back to haunt
the country. Like Liz Truss, Macron’s government has staked its
reputation on his country avoiding blackouts that would undoubtedly have
severe political consequences this winter.

However, industry bosses are
less certain than the President. “We’ve been told for ages that nuclear
power is safe, secure and so constant,” says Adrien Jeantet, director of
energy services at Enercoop, a French utility company using only renewable
energy.

“Now we see that it’s not dependable. We really need it now that
we have gas shortages and all of a sudden it’s not there. Half of the
reactors are shut down.” Barbara Pompili, Macron’s minister in charge
of the energy transition for two years, says nuclear power is almost like a
religion in France.

However, she adds that a widespread belief in its
“magic” has caused underinvestment in renewables that will be needed
for the future. “What I’m worried about is the strategic thinking in the
long run,” she says. “Maybe we were too confident on nuclear power and
we underestimated the importance of renewables. The reason is that too many
people considered that investing in renewables was bad for nuclear power.
“It’s totally crazy. We lost so much time thinking in this way… it’s
very difficult to have a serious rational debate in France on the energy
issue.”

 Telegraph 24th Oct 2022

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/10/24/paris-dims-lights-blackouts-threaten-disaster-macron/

October 26, 2022 Posted by | ENERGY, France | Leave a comment

Cocooning the past. Plutonium reactor in Eastern Washington encased in steel to protect the river

The K-East nuclear reactors stands stripped bare and decommissioned near the banks of the Columbia River at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Hanford’s “sister reactors”, the K-East and the K-West Reactors, were built side-by-side in the early 1950’s. K-East was the eighth. The two reactors both ran for more than fifteen years before being shut down in 1970 and 1971. The Hanford Nuclear Reservation was constructed as part of The Manhattan Project.

Beginning in 1943, the site was used to produce plutonium for the “Fat Man” bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan that brought an end to World War II. After a short lull, plutonium production was ramped up in 1947 and continued until 1987 when the last reactor ceased operation. Weapons production processes left solid and liquid radioactive wastes that posed a risk to the local environment including the Columbia River. In 1989, the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Washington State Department of Ecology began clean up of Hanford.

Tri City Herald, BY ANNETTE CARY OCTOBER 26, 2022

A reactor at the Hanford site has been “cocooned” for the first time in a decade. The addition of a new steel enclosure for the 1950s reactor is an “iconic change to the landscape” at the nuclear reservation along the Columbia River and helps protect the river, said John Eschenberg, president of Department of Energy contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Co. Eight of the nine plutonium production reactors that line the Columbia River in Eastern Washington are being put in temporary storage for up to 75 years to allow radiation in their core to decay to lower levels before a permanent solution is attempted.

The newest cocoon, with its straight sides and sloping roof, creates a new look for the Hanford skyline, much different from the other cocooned reactors which retain much of the original shape of the reactors. Completion of the cocoon over the K East Reactor leaves just one more to be cocooned at Hanford.

The K East Reactor was number seven, with its twin, the K West Reactor, not expected to be cocooned until about 2030. The ninth reactor, B Reactor, will remain unsealed and open for tours as part of the Manhattan Project Historical National Park. From World War II through the Cold War Hanford produced about two-thirds of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

Production stopped with the end of the Cold War, and now the nation is spending for than $2.5 billion a year on environmental cleanup work at the 580-square-mile nuclear reservation by Richland.

For the K East Reactor a new form of temporary storage was used that Hanford officials expect to save money and better protect the reactor as it waits for final disposition in the coming decades.

No decision has been made on the final plan for disposing of Hanford’s defunct reactors, but allowing radiation to decay will provide safer conditions for workers then. In Hanford’s traditional cocooning, reactors are torn down to little more than their radioactive core, any openings are sealed up and the roof is replaced. NEW TYPE OF REACTOR COCOON But for the K East Reactor, a new, free-standing structure 123 feet tall and nearly 154 feet wide was built over the reactor for the first time.

The new method of cocooning should better protect the nearly 80-year-old concrete of the reactor from wind, sand and cycles of freezing and thawing that take a toll on Hanford structures, Eschenberg said. It also should reduce the need for roof maintenance.

Although the new steel enclosure was designed to last 75 years, Eschenberg said final disposition of the reactor is not likely to be done that late. No decision has been made on what final disposition will be.

Every five years Hanford workers will enter the reactor to check on its condition. New lighting installed within the reactor and between the steel cocoon and the original reactor walls will help make that easier as workers check the condition of the concrete, look for any rodents or other animals, and make sure there has not been any intrusion of water.

………………………………………………… DECADES OF CLEANUP BEFORE COCOONING The initial work at the K East Reactor to allow cocooning of the reactor, which operated from 1955 to 1971, started decades ago. The water basins at the K West and K East reactors were used to store uranium fuel irradiated at N Reactor but not processed to remove plutonium at the end of the Cold War.

The fuel was removed from the two basins, each holding 1.2 million gallons of water, in a 10-year project completed in 2004.

But the fuel had decayed after decades underwater, leaving a highly radioactive sludge that was not all contained and shipped to dry storage at Hanford’s T Plant until 2019, after first being consolidated at the K West Reactor.

Water next was drained from the K East Reactor basin, which is work not yet done at the K West Reactor. The dry K East Reactor basin was filled with grout that was then cut into pieces and removed, requiring the site to be backfilled.

A village of support structures had to be demolished, including the reactor’s powerhouse and fuel oil storage. In addition, sediment basins used for reactor cooling water had to be cleaned up.

Tens of thousands of tons of contaminated soil and debris, including underground piping and utilities, were removed, with most of it taken to a huge lined landfill in central Hanford for disposal.

Most of the soil contamination was from chromium, which was used as a corrosion inhibitor in reactor cooling water. Groundwater contaminated with chromium is pumped up, cleaned and returned to the ground before it enters the Columbia River, about 300 yards from the K Reactors. …………………………… more https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article267895437.html

October 26, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Tactical Nuclear Fantasists

one category of nuclear weapon has continued to mark a grey area, lending a disturbed, even lunatic’s legitimacy to the battlefield deployment of such weapons. The tactical nuclear weapon is deceptively seductive to military planners.

Australian Independent Media, October 27, 2022 by: Dr Binoy Kampmark

Bogeyman politics tends to be flatly unimaginative. The image of the nuclear-mad Russian President, counting his diminishing options, has caught the imagination of press and propaganda outlets across the West. Will Mad Vlad go the distance and deploy a nuclear weapon in Ukraine?

Certainly, his rhetoric suggests the possibility. Vladimir Putin has promised to “make use of all weapon systems available to us” in the event Russia’s territorial integrity is threatened. ………….

The moment the innocents of Hiroshima were incinerated in August 1945, a weapon of mass lethality became a political option, the means to extract concessions and terrify opponents. Even more disturbingly, it also created an incentive on the part of powers to prevent others from getting it, thereby creating an exclusive club equipped with special amenities and privileges.

During a number of teeth-chattering moments of the Cold War, the use of nuclear weapons was contemplated. Historians note Cuba, Berlin and the Middle East. That they were not actually unleashed was a matter of unalloyed dumb luck and faux theory. Over time, this spawned an accepted, if nonsensical literature about the merits of having such lethal means. Precisely because of their potency, such weapons would never be used. Possessing them would be, to use a modern comparison, much like having unconvertible digital currency of huge value, more a matter of impressing your rivals than drawing direct benefit from them.

Having said that, one category of nuclear weapon has continued to mark a grey area, lending a disturbed, even lunatic’s legitimacy to the battlefield deployment of such weapons. The tactical nuclear weapon is deceptively seductive to military planners. Being of lower yield than their strategic, all-killing counterparts, they are seen as, in the words of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “more militarily useful, and less politically objectionable, and thus more likely to be used.” This does little to dampen the awful reality that such weapons can have yields greater than that of the first atomic weapon ever used.

The nature of such weapons is disturbingly nebulous in the military argot. In 2018, James Mattis, as US Secretary of Defense, opined to the House Armed Services Committee that there was no “such thing as a ‘tactical nuclear weapon’. Any nuclear weapon used at any time is a strategic game changer.”

Tactical nuclear weapons can comprise any number of devices with yields ranging from 1 kiloton to 50 kilotons. Alistair Millar, writing for Arms Control Today, mentions a few, including nuclear landmines, nuclear artillery shells, and missile warheads dropped by air or launched by missiles.

The 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review does away with much of the sentiment of the 2010 NPR in stressing the need to improve capabilities against Russia in various areas, including nonstrategic nuclear options. Moscow is specifically blamed for embracing a “limited first use” policy involving low-yield weapons that might “provide coercive advantage in crises and at lower levels of conflict.”……………………..

Ambiguity when it comes to a prospective use of nuclear weapons is considered one of the great flaws of military and political planning. Each party should know what the other proposes to do in certain circumstances, be it in terms of command structure, control and communications. Who has the authority to launch what weapons and when? What are the safeguards to cope with error? ………………….

Opacity is another factor complicating the whole business of how we cope with nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Numbers regarding the world’s tactical nuclear stockpiles remain sketchy………..

Paradoxically, even as such measures as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons gather greater popularity, the old members of the nuclear club continue to make mischief, modernising and adjusting their arsenals with little intention of ever abolishing them. The sheer allure of such weapons is unlikely to dissipate till their political dividends diminish. In the Ukraine War, such dividends abound. https://theaimn.com/tactical-nuclear-fantasists/

October 26, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kucinich Says Call for Diplomacy to end Ukraine-Russia War Must be Heard; Silencing of Congressional Progressive Caucus Casts Democrats as the “War Party”

 https://worldbeyondwar.org/kucinich-says-call-for-diplomacy-to-end-ukraine-russia-war-must-be-heard-silencing-of-congressional-progressive-caucus-casts-dems-as-the-war-party/By Dennis Kucinich, World BEYOND War, October 26, 2022

CLEVELAND (Oct. 26) Weds – – Dennis J. Kucinich, former Congressman and former Democratic Presidential candidate today called upon Congressional Democrats to “rethink their opposition to diplomacy” as a means to end the war between Russia and Ukraine.

During his eight terms in congress, Kucinich led Democratic members’ efforts against the US-sponsored wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and worked to end the war in the Balkans and to divert war against Iran.

“War is ultimately a failure of political leadership.  Diplomacy is difficult.  It requires intelligence, skill and patience.  The only way wars end is at the negotiating table,” Kucinich said.

Kucinich spoke in response to the recent retraction by the Congressional Progressive Caucus of the letter, signed by 30 Members of Congress, which called upon the Administration to aggressively seek diplomacy to end the most recent conflict which began with Russia’s invasion on February 24 of this year and which has resulted in over 15,000 deaths of Ukrainian civilians, and the deaths of tens of thousands of soldiers from both Ukraine and Russia.

“The Caucus’ letter, far from being sympathetic to Russia, sought to end the suffering of the Ukrainian people, while preserving their independence.  The letter revealed an understanding of the risks of wider war, even a nuclear war, unless diplomacy is pursued,” Kucinich said.

Kucinich reminded Members of Congress that President Jimmy Carter used US diplomacy to achieve the Camp David Accords on September 17, 1978, with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.  US diplomacy brought about the Dayton Accords of November 21, 1995, which ended war in the Balkans.   US Senator George Mitchell of Maine negotiated with multiple parties to bring about the Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 1998, which ended 30 years of deadly conflict in Northern Ireland, known as “The Troubles.”

“Remember the words from John F. Kennedy’s January 20, 1961, Inaugural Address: ‘Let us never negotiate out of fear.  Let us never fear to negotiate.’ It was that type of thinking which produced negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union which averted a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 16, 1962 – October 29, 1962.

Kucinich said that the obvious strong-arming and silencing of Caucus members who want a negotiated settlement in Ukraine casts the Democratic Party as a “Party of War,” he said. “It’s time for the Party to rethink Democratic opposition to diplomacy.”

“Democrats must not make support for the war, and its expansion, a test of party loyalty. We owe it to the people of Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the world to help negotiate a settlement to end this war which has already had severe global consequences, created energy and food scarcity and propelled sharp price increases,” he said.

US aid to Ukraine in 2022 currently stands in excess of $60 billion.

October 26, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Russian delegation at UN calls on USA to join initiative to renounce weapons in space

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s comment on the US initiative in the UN General Assembly First Committee

The other day, the US delegation submitted to the UN General Assembly First Committee an aide-memoire on proposed UN General Assembly resolution on destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing. We analysed the text to discover that our apprehensions concerning this US initiative were valid.

As before, we regard the moratorium on testing the above type of anti-satellite weapon (ASW) announced by the White House in April as a purely declarative move. The UN General Assembly statements and draft resolutions are clearly not enough to prevent an arms race in space (PARIS), all the more so for a country that has had experience – at least since 2008 – destroying space objects with ASW.

The United States remains bashfully silent about the most important thing: are they willing to permanently rule out the combat use of this type of weapon? The resolution says nothing about it. There are no commitments regarding the development and production of such systems, or the prospect of ever destroying the Pentagon’s existing anti-satellite capabilities.

Moreover, the possibility of deploying ASW means on the US reusable unmanned space shuttle X-37B, which is capable of staying in orbit for a long time, performing manoeuvres and carrying a payload, cannot be ruled out. By the way, our multiple requests to the United States to clarify the X-37B platform’s goals and objectives have so far remained unanswered.

Military dominance and superiority in outer space being set as clear goals in US doctrinal documents, their view of space as an arena of confrontation and their plans for achieving these goals are quite telling if one wants to understand Washington’s genuine motives. It is no coincidence that the US delegation at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament is doing its utmost to hinder the start of talks on a multilateral instrument which contains reliable international legal guarantees against deploying weapons of any kind in outer space and the renunciation of the use of force or the threat of force against space objects. The Americans are using every pretext to avoid working on the Russian-Chinese draft treaty designed to fulfill PARIS goals………………….

Washington can prove it has serious intentions if it revises its destructive stance and the US delegation that is participating in the Conference on Disarmament joins the efforts to start talks as soon as possible on a legally binding instrument with guarantees of non-deployment of weapons in space, non-use of force or threat of force against space objects.

Specifically, the approach promoted by Russia involves the following commitments:

– not to use space objects as a means of destroying any targets on Earth, in the air or outer space;

– not to create, test or deploy weapons in space to perform any tasks, including for anti-missile defence, anti-satellite activity, or use against targets on Earth or in the air, and to eliminate such systems that the states already possess;

– not to create, test, deploy or use space weapons for anti-missile defence, anti-satellite activity, or use against targets on Earth or in the air;

– not to destroy, damage, or disrupt the normal functioning and not to change the flight paths of space objects owned by other states;

– not to assist or encourage other states, groups of states, international, intergovernmental, or any non-governmental organisations, including non-governmental legal entities that were established, registered or located on the territory under their jurisdiction and/or control, to participate in the above activities.

In addition, the accession of the United States and its allies to the international initiative/political commitment not to be the first to place weapons of any kind in outer space would be a really important confidence-building measure. We are once again calling on Washington to follow the example of more than 30 UN member states and join this initiative, as well as to support the UNGA draft resolution on that matter.

We are ready to substantively and professionally discuss the US initiative in this context of multilateral efforts to arrive at a comprehensive solution to PARIS issues.  https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1835061/

October 26, 2022 Posted by | politics international, Russia, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US, Japan, S Korea vow response if N Korea tests nuclear bomb

US says full military capabilities will be used, including nuclear, to protect its allies South Korea and Japan.

 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/10/26/us-japan-s-korea-vow-response-if-n-korea-tests-nuclear-bomb 26 Oct 22,

An “unparalleled” scale of response would be warranted if North Korea conducts a seventh test of a nuclear weapon, the United States, Japan and South Korea have warned.

The warning was issued on Wednesday amid concerns by the US and its regional allies that North Korea could be poised to resume nuclear bomb testing for the first time since 2017.

“We agreed that an unparalleled scale of response would be necessary if North Korea pushes ahead with a seventh nuclear test,” South Korean first vice foreign minister Cho Hyun-dong told a news conference in Tokyo.

Cho made his comments alongside Japan’s vice foreign minister Takeo Mori and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

North Korea has been carrying out weapons tests at an unprecedented pace this year, firing more than two dozen short and medium-range ballistic missiles in recent weeks, including a missile that over-flew Japan.

We urge (North Korea) to refrain from further provocations,” Sherman said, calling the North’s actions “reckless” and deeply destabilising for the region.

Sherman also said that the US will use its full military capabilities, “including nuclear, conventional and missile defence”, to protect its allies Japan and South Korea.

North Korea needs to understand that the US commitment to the security of South Korea and Japan is “iron clad”, she said.

“And we will use the full range of US defence capabilities to defend our allies, including nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities,” she said.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that Sherman also reiterated that the US was continuing to “seek serious and sustained dialogue with the DPRK” (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) – the official name for North Korea.

Cho, during his talks with Sherman, raised concern that a new North Korean nuclear weapons policy adopted in September increases the possibility of its arbitrary use of nuclear weapons.

“This is creating serious tension on the Korean peninsula,” Cho said.

In September, the USS Ronald Reagan and accompanying ships conducted joint military exercises with South Korean forces in response to a North Korean ballistic missile test in what was their first joint military training involving a US aircraft carrier since 2017.

Angered by South Korea’s military activities, Pyongyang last week fired hundreds of artillery shells off its coasts in what it called a grave warning to its neighbour to the south.

Sherman met earlier on Tuesday with Japan’s Mori and reaffirmed the further strengthening of the Japan-US alliance and other shared goals, including the complete denuclearisation of North Korea and their joint response to China’s increasingly assertive actions in the region.

Japanese defence minister Yasukazu Hamada recently said that North Korea is believed to have achieved a miniaturisation of nuclear warheads while significantly advancing its missile capabilities by diversifying its launch technologies, making interceptions more difficult.

Japan has joined South Korea in also warning of a possible nuclear test by North Korea in the near future.

October 26, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NATO primes 20 prospective new members for global strike force — Anti-bellum

NATOSupreme Headquarters Allied Powers EuropeOctober 25, 2022 SHAPE’s Partnerships Directorate hosts annual conference with over 20 Partner Nations The Operational Capability Concept Evaluation and Feedback team, (OCCE & F) as part of SHAPE’s Partnerships Directorate, recently hosted its annual conference in Mons, Belgium with over 20 Partner Nations in attendance. *** “This conference and the […]

NATO primes 20 prospective new members for global strike force — Anti-bellum

October 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Atmospheric levels of all three greenhouse gases hit record high

Atmospheric levels of all three greenhouse gases hit record high

Scientists warn world ‘is heading in wrong direction’ amid rise in nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane

October 26, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment