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Democrats Praise Bush, Want More Small-Business War Profiteers

that’s what being a progressive Democrat means in 2023: backing the imperial war machine to the hilt

Caitlin Johnstone, 25 Feb 23,

Well it’s another big day for Democrats doing Democraty things.

At a Friday event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) hosted by the George W Bush Institute, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke glowingly of the president who instituted the program in 2003 at the same time he was preparing to launch an invasion which would inflict unfathomable horrors upon our world which continue to unfold to this day.

“I’ll just say this honestly, that the Bush family, it’s because of their humanity, their faith, their generosity of spirit, their compassion,” said Pelosi. “Once again, it’s an honor to be associated with President Bush in this.” 

Pelosi then pointed to the former president, who was also joined by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and oligarch Bill Gates, with video appearances by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Bono of U2 fame.

Also on Friday we witnessed what Glenn Greenwald described as the “most Elizabeth Warren tweet ever,” in which the Massachusetts senator took a bold stand against Big War Profiteering to advocate on behalf of the little guy (by which I mean Small War Profiteering).

“In the 1990s, America had 51 major contractors bidding for defense work,” tweeted Warren from her government account. “Today, there are only five massive companies remaining. Defense contracting should be reworked to break up the massive contracts awarded to the big guys and create opportunities for firms of all sizes.”

Yeah that’s the real problem, Liz. It’s not that the war industry reaps huge profits from global militarism and nonstop warmongering, it’s that the war industry doesn’t include enough plucky small businesses. Won’t somebody please think of the mom and pop war profiteers? They’ve been forced to close their small community military-industrial complex shops by Walmartian “big guys” like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman!

This is almost as embarrassing as Warren’s 2019 push to convert the US war machine to clean energy, saying “We don’t have to choose between a green military and an effective one” on the campaign trail during her run for president. 

Because that’s what being a progressive Democrat means in 2023: backing the imperial war machine to the hilt and gushing about how wonderful and compassionate the Bush family is while calling for sustainably powered aircraft carriers and more small businesses in the military-industrial complex. A Ukrainian flag on an electric car. This is as far left as you’re allowed to go in the political landscape of the most powerful nation on earth without being branded a treasonous Kremlin operative.

This is the Democratic Party’s true face. This is the Democrats telling you who they really are. Their whole function is to divert all meaningful leftward movement away from inconvenient areas like demilitarization and economic justice and toward convenient areas like whether there should be solar panels on Abrams tanks. And toward that end they have been very, very successful.

The sooner Americans stop falling for the fake two-party puppet show and begin pushing for real change, the sooner our world can move toward health. These people do not care about you.


February 25, 2023 Posted by | politics, weapons and war | 1 Comment

China calls for Russia to not go down the ‘nuclear weapons route’

DFAT Australia China Council Scholar Andrew Phelan says that China has called for Russia to ‘leave nuclear power plants’ and not pursue the ‘nuclear weapons route’ in a 12-point peace plan released this afternoon.

“There are a couple of good things about it,” Mr Phelan told Sky News host Caleb Bond.

February 25, 2023 Posted by | China, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Linda Pentz Gunter on the Nuclear Corruption Cases 24 Feb 23,

But he wants another $2 billion from us to help pay for his Natrium small reactor. That speaks volumes. We are supposed to help poor Bill Gates pay for his expensive toy, which has absolutely no utility whatsoever for anything, other than making proliferation risks greater. And the reactors are intended for export.”

In Ohio, Larry Householder, the former Speaker of the House, is facing trial in federal court in Cincinnati on charges of directing $61 million to pass and defend a billion dollar nuclear bailout bill.

In July 2021, FirstEnergy entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, paid a $230 million penalty and acknowledged that it paid the money to Householder and others through a non profit to get the bailout bill passed.

In South Carolina, in October 2021, Kevin B. Marsh, 66, former SCANA CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors, was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Federal officials alleged that Marsh intentionally defrauded ratepayers while overseeing and managing SCANA’s operations – including the construction of two reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station – so the company could obtain and retain rate increases imposed on its rate-paying customers and qualify for up to $2.2 billion in tax credits.  

In late 2016, confronted with information that the project was delayed and that the tax credits were at risk, Marsh and others withheld that information from regulators in an effort to keep the project going.  

Marsh’s false and misleading statements, as well as other false and materially misleading statements made by his co-conspirators, allowed SCANA to obtain and retain rate increases imposed on SCANA’s rate-paying customers.

And in Illinois, in March 2022, a federal grand jury indicted the powerful Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, on racketeering and bribery charges for allegedly using his official position to corruptly solicit and receive personal financial rewards for himself and his associates. 

Two years earlier, Commonwealth Edison Company, the largest electric utility in Illinois, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, paid $200 million to resolve bribery allegations related to the Madigan case. Madigan’s House carried water for ComEd and its corporate parent, Exelon, allowing it to charge Illinois ratepayers as much as $2.3 billion to keep afloat Exelon’s two  struggling nuclear plants.

Linda Pentz Gunter of Beyond Nuclear has been tracking the corruption in the nuclear power industry. 

Do you see this as a positive story – that the Justice Department is bringing these prosecutions against major corporations and politicians, that they are focusing their fire on serious corporate corruption?

“Absolutely,” Gunter told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “When we watched the Householder press conference unfold and we listened to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney and the way they spoke about this, they were furious that they had to expend this kind of time on politicians that should be just doing their jobs. The U.S. Attorney in particular talks about the fentanyl crisis and all of the other things they were trying to deal with, and instead they had to spend this extraordinary amount of time on corrupt politicians, politicians who ought to know better. They represent us. You don’t expect them to be lawbreakers.”

It was so surprising to us. We think of the FBI as an organization that investigates citizen activist groups. To see the FBI actually taking the time to thoroughly investigate this case – was quite encouraging. It’s not surprising to see a leading Democrat in Illinois be so easily bought and so corrupt, as it is by no means restricted along party lines. If you look at the history of political corruption, it’s not restricted to one party or another. But finally you are seeing some justice.”

“Nuclear power is so uneconomical now,” Gunter said. “Nuclear power is almost completely dependent on the government for not only its continued existence, but also for new reactor construction. It’s almost completely dependent on federal bailouts, which is our money. They cannot stand on their own two feet financially.

To see the industry exposed for the kinds of skullduggery and corruption that is going on at our expense is very satisfying.”

The West Virginia legislature last year repealed its ban on nuclear power facilities. And earlier this year the Associated Press reported that Bill Gates is considering West Virginia as a location for his nuclear power efforts. Here is the opening of that story: 

Bill Gates is looking to West Virginia as he plans for the next phase of his effort to reboot U.S. nuclear energy technology: powering the east coast.”

“Microsoft co-founder Gates, who visited a closed down coal-fired plant in Glasgow, West Virginia on Monday, said he needs to see how his Natrium nuclear reactor demonstration in Wyoming performs before making any announcements about new sites.” 

The Kemmerer, Wyoming sodium-cooled nuclear reactor is taking over the site of a current coal-powered plant and was scheduled to be online by 2028, but is facing delays because its only source of fuel was uranium from Russia, now at war with Ukraine.”

However, during a visit to the American Electric Power plant, which closed in 2015, Gates called the West Virginia’s Legislature’s decision last year to repeal the state’s ban on nuclear power facilities ‘quite impressive’ and said he’s looking for sites to expand his efforts to the east coast.”

So, Bill Gates wants to bring his nuclear power plants to the East Coast. And there is the West Virginia legislature upending its ban a year before he arrives on the scene to scope out locations.

No ground has been broken yet on any of these so-called new advanced reactors. But are there still any new plants under construction in the United States?

In Georgia, you have the only two new nuclear power plants still under construction,” Gunter said. “These are the Vogtle 3 & 4 reactors – also Westinghouse AP1000 – also paid by Georgia ratepayers in advance through this construction work in progress law. That means you get a surcharge in your rates while they are building them, also heavily subsidized, originally pushed through by President Obama with federal subsidies, massively over budget. We are looking at costs as high as $34 billion for these two reactors if and when they are completed. They are constantly delayed. They were supposed to be online years ago. Now they are supposed to be online this year. Now it’s maybe next year. And it keeps getting pushed back.

The Georgia case exemplifies many of the problems with nuclear power, front and center being the fact that nuclear power is too slow and too expensive to be useful in any form for addressing the climate crisis.”  

There are other arguments against it – waste and security and safety. But just too slow and too expensive knock it out as a contender. And yet at same time as you just mentioned, you have people like Bill Gates trying to get his Natrium small reactor started. And Bill Gates, effectively an American oligarch, a billionaire, has to still come cap in hand to the federal government. His TerraPower nuclear energy company is putting in $2 billion.”

But he wants another $2 billion from us to help pay for his Natrium small reactor. That speaks volumes. We are supposed to help poor Bill Gates pay for his expensive toy, which has absolutely no utility whatsoever for anything, other than making proliferation risks greater. And the reactors are intended for export.”

These so-called new small reactors are based on old designs that have safety issues and that produce plutonium and raise proliferation concerns. They are eyeing the export market, not necessarily for here in the United States. But they have to build them somewhere first. The fact that he is eyeing West Virginia is interesting.”

Give us the lay of the land. How many nuclear power plants are operating in the United States? How many new ones? And what is the prognosis for nuclear power in the USA?

“There are the two traditional full-sized nuclear power reactors being built in Georgia. And then there are the 92 reactors still operating in the United States. There are quite a few closing. We are seeing a flurry of shutdowns – Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim, Oyster Creek, Indian Point – having reached the end of their affordable life. The tune then changed a bit. They started asking for bailouts. The Palisades reactor in Michigan closed, but the new owner, Holtec, in charge of decommissioning it, is trying to grab some of the federal funding in the Inflation Reduction Act to reopen the reactor. That presents all sorts of complications as Holtec is not a reactor operator and has never operated a nuclear power plant.” 

The owner of Palisades is Holtec, a decommissioning and waste company. It has never operated a reactor. There is a level of desperation in the industry. It is inevitably declining because it is inflexible, unaffordable, the costs due to the immense risks involved are killing them too. They are aging and degrading. They are not economical to run anymore.” 

What percentage of electricity are we getting from nuclear power?

“It’s under 20 percent in the United States. Globally, it dropped to below ten percent for the first time. In this country, it would be on a downward trajectory, but we need to see what’s going to happen with these license renewals and these requests for federal dollars to keep reactors open that otherwise would be unaffordable to run.”

If we shut them all down, how do we replace the 20 percent?

Nothing gets shut down overnight obviously. But the renewable energy sector is the fastest growing sector in this country. HB 6 in Ohio not only delivered these massive subsidies to FirstEnergy to keep its failing nuclear reactors open, it also eliminated mandates for wind and solar altogether.” 

The nuclear energy industry says we need all kinds of energy, including nuclear. But actually nuclear energy, because of the federal subsidies needed to keep it open, effectively shuts out renewables. In fact, we need to shut down the nuclear energy plants in order to fully fund and support renewal energy measures. Every dollar you invest in energy efficiency reduces more carbon faster than that same dollar invested in nuclear power. It’s more expensive to keep a nuclear power plant open than it is to initiate the same amount of energy from new renewables. You can bring renewables on in a couple of years. These reactors that they are building have taken a decade or more and are still not complete.”

They predicted that even the new small reactors would be operational by 2016. Here we are in 2023, and only one company just got a design certification permit. That tells you how slow that progress is.” 

“We have the tools in place. We have energy efficiency, solar and wind. We could do weatherization programs with that money that would reduce use dramatically. But instead, the immense lobbying power of the energy companies has successfully maintained an outdated, dangerous and damaging status quo that should have been replaced decades ago.”

Then you have all of these non profit leaders pushing nuclear power.

Yes, you even have people like Oliver Stone who has made a pro-nuclear film, based on one book. You have Bill Gates, who we have talked about. Richard Branson, a UK billionaire. There are a number of them. You wish that all of these people with more money than God would use their money on something useful. It baffles my mind that Bill Gates wants to knock out malaria on one hand but on the other hand wants to pockmark the planet with nuclear reactors that release harmful radiation routinely, nevermind the devastation if a major accident were to occur. The press loves the person who changed their minds – people like Stuart Brand of the Whole Earth Catalog.”l

[For the complete q/a format Interview with Linda Pentz Gunter, see 37 Corporate Crime Reporter 8(11), February 13, 2023, print edition only.] 

February 25, 2023 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties | 1 Comment

Courting disaster —Missiles have been passing too close to Ukraine’s reactors

Courting disaster — Beyond Nuclear International Embroiled in a year-long war, Ukraine’s reactors face new threats
By Linda Pentz Gunter
A year ago, we warned of the significant and unacceptable risks to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors, should they become caught up in a war zone as a consequence of an invasion by Russia. A year later, as we outlined in a Beyond Nuclear press release, those risks have become a reality. And in recent days, the scares and close calls have ramped up again.

Just last week, cruise missiles flew dangerously low over the South Ukraine nuclear power plant in the country’s western region. Then alarms were raised as observers noticed an alarming drop in the water level of the Kakhovka Reservoir, on which the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant depends for its essential cooling water supply.

A missile strike or loss of cooling water are just two of the many scenarios that could lead to a nuclear power plant disaster in Ukraine. Others include loss of electricity supply, human error or sabotage. The conditions of war just make any and all of these outcomes far more likely.

Indeed, these latest close calls and others prompted a recent statement by the head of Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Inge Paulini, who warned that an incident at one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants would have, “far-reaching consequences as long as the war continues.” And yet, she pointed out, “this danger already seems to be receding into the background of public awareness.”

Indeed, it has been a consistent pattern in the press not to take nuclear power risks seriously. Instead, the media publishes story after story, planted there by a well-orchestrated worldwide nuclear industry campaign, about the benefits of expanding nuclear power.

The Ukrainian energy ministry would seem to agree. Even in the midst of this devastating war, it has just made a deal with the American company, Westinghouse, to purchase two new AP1000 reactors. It is of course unrealistic to envisage these actually being built during a war and, if ever operational, they would simply become additional lethal targets.

In Ukraine, we have seen Russia routinely attack the electric grid, leading to periodic loss of offsite power at all four of Ukraine’s nuclear power plant sites. Zaporizhzhia, in the contested southeastern part of the country, has experienced multiple disconnections from the grid. So far, the diesel generators have functioned until offsite power was restored. But they are reliant on a steady replenishment of fuel, which could be impeded were the plant to come under siege.

A ready supply of cooling water is also essential so the drain down of the Kakhovka Reservoir is a serious concern. Why this is happening is unclear, but it is thought to be a possible Russian military tactic to flood strategic areas, making them impassable to advancing Ukrainian troops.

The unimaginable stress that continues to be experienced by the depleted workforce at Zaporizhzhia adds to the possibility of a fatal human error. Human error was at the root of both the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident in the United States and the 1986 Chornobyl Unit 4 explosion in Ukraine, without the contributing stress factor of war conditions.

The proximity of cruise missiles to nuclear plants is a nightmarish disaster waiting to happen, even if they are on their way to other targets, for now. But whether deliberate or accidental, a serious assault would release potentially enormous amounts of dangerous radioactive isotopes into the environment.

The reason damage from a nuclear power plant disaster is so serious is in part due to the longevity of the radioactive isotopes released and also because the fallout deposits these into the food chain by contaminating water, soil, crops and livestock.

Some of the enduring health outcomes include thyroid cancer, birth defects, still births, neonatal deaths, leukemias — especially among children — cancers and cardiovascular disorders. However, it should be noted that studies have also found elevated rates of leukemia in children living close to routinely operating nuclear power plants.

The international response so far has come mainly from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has called for safe zones around Ukraine’s nuclear power plants but so far has been unsuccessful in instituting these. And safe zones, while an essential first step, only prevent disaster resulting from a direct hit but are ineffective against loss of grid access or human error. Indeed, the IAEA has been struggling for more than two weeks simply to get a shift change of its observers at Zaporizhzhia accomplished. So far, conditions have remained too dangerous to allow this. “The Agency is doing everything it can to conduct the safe rotation of our staff there as soon as possible,” IAEA director, Rafael Grossi said.

Apart from being pre-deployed radiological weapons, nuclear power plants must, for safety reasons, be shut down when embroiled in a war. In Ukraine, where 50% of the country’s electricity is supplied by nuclear power, this means plunging an already terrified population into greater misery in the midst of winter. The lesson learned is that nuclear power, due to its inherent dangers, cannot serve as a reliable energy source. We must reject it as we do nuclear weapons and turn to other, more benign and renewable ways of supplying electricity.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and curates Beyond Nuclear International.

Headline photo of Rocket in Kupiansk city (Kharkiv region of Ukraine) after Russian shelling. February 2023 by Олексій Мазепа / АрміяInform/Wikimedia Commons.

February 25, 2023 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Scott Ritter: Anyone Who Doesn’t Get How Serious New START Suspension is ‘Doesn’t Appreciate Life’ Ilya Tsukanov.

We’re not allowing Russian inspectors to come and inspect us while demanding that we go inspect Russia.

Unfortunately, we have people today in Washington, D.C., that believe in American nuclear superiority or American nuclear supremacy, and they don’t believe in arms control. And we need to replace them. We need to get rid of them. We need to bring in people who recognize that arms control is the only way to save the human race.”

Leaving aside the “theater of the absurd” and “bluster” of Joe Biden’s rhetoric during his trips to Ukraine and Poland this week, the consequences of the US effort to strategically weaken and destroy Russia are far more serious than anyone in Washington seems to realize, ex-UN weapons inspector and retired US Marine major Scott Ritter fear

“There’s nothing covert about this. It was theater. Theater of the absurd,” Ritter said of Biden’s visit to Kiev on Monday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking to Sputnik’s Wilmer Leon and Garland Nixon on The Critical Hour radio show.

“So absurd that while Biden was there, Zelensky arranged to have air raid sirens sound to make it look as if Biden was under attack….Then Biden goes to Poland, where he issues a speech. I was in the middle of a webinar earlier, so I don’t know the totality of the speech. I saw the beginning of it, but it just seems to be a regurgitation of more of the same – ‘unity against Russia, support for Ukraine’, etc., etc. Bluster, bluster, bluster,” Ritter added.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with the US, citing Washington’s efforts to “inflict a strategic defeat” on Russia and help Ukraine launch drone attacks against Russia’s strategic deterrent while “absurdly” calling for more nuclear inspections.

“Meanwhile, the consequences of the American-led effort to attack Russia, to weaken Russia, to destroy Russia, to be honest, are playing out. Putin’s suspending Russian participation in the last remaining arms control treaty between our two nations. And anybody who doesn’t understand how serious this is probably doesn’t appreciate life. Without arms control agreements, there will be a nuclear arms race at a time when technology far outpaces that of the last arms race, which was the unfettered arms race in the late 1960s or early 1970s,” Ritter said.

Ritter knows a thing or two about arms control, serving as an inspector implementing the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty – a late Cold War agreement which eliminated an entire class of US and Soviet ground-based nuclear missile systems in the 500-5,500 km range. Today, he fears, radical advances in technology make effective arms control all the more crucial to saving the world from nuclear Armageddon.

“Today, we’re talking about missiles with greater speed, greater accuracy, hypersonic maneuvering warheads that can’t be shot down by missile defense. So, so deadly, so accurate, so fast that any error, any mistake, any miscalculation has to be assumed that it’s going to have dire consequences. So you must respond. In the past, we dodged a bullet because we had time enough for people to say [to the other side] ‘this launch of American missiles against Russia was, in fact, not a launch. It was a mistake.’

Today, if they detect a launch, they have to respond because they don’t have time. They don’t have the luxury of time to say, wait a minute, let’s just wait to get more data. 

. With this treaty going away, an arms race will occur and there will be nothing that is capable of putting that genie back in the bottle. And this could be fatal, probably will be fatal to everybody here. So we need to pray that the United States gets over its Ukraine fixation and gets into how do we stop the world from dying in a nuclear holocaust to which we will be singularly responsible for initiating,” Ritter urged.

President Putin and other Russian officials have addressed the lack of response time issue repeatedly in recent years, going back to when Washington decided to deploy Tomahawk-capable anti-missile defense systems in Poland and Romania, and threatened to incorporate Ukraine into NATO and station nuclear-capable missiles there.

“I have already said – they’ll put missile systems in Ukraine, 4-5 minutes’ flight time to Moscow. Where can we move? They have simply driven us into such a state that we have to tell them: stop,” Putin said in December 2021, after Moscow handed Washington and NATO a pair of comprehensive security proposals meant to dramatically reduce tensions between Russia and the Western bloc.

The West rejected the draft treaties in January 2022, reiterating that NATO’s eastward expansion was nonnegotiable. A month later, escalated attacks on the Donbass by Kiev sparked a Russian military operation in Ukraine.

“The problem is the concept of meaningful arms control was developed during the time of the Cold War, when the United States actually respected and feared its opponent, the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States no longer respected or feared Russia. And we used arms control as a means of furthering our strategic advantage,” Ritter explained. “And then when we found arms control treaties to be inconvenient, such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, we withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, which I played a major role in. We withdrew from Open Skies, and now we’re cheating on the last remaining treaty, New START. We’re not allowing Russian inspectors to come and inspect us while demanding that we go inspect Russia. And so the Russians have suspended this. This is all a power play by the United States to further what we believe to be our strategic advantage over Russia.”

Today, the former weapons inspector warned, “Russia is no longer a defeated, compliant state. The Russians have nuclear superiority over us today. Their missiles are better than anything we have. We don’t have a missile defense system worthy of the name. And so if there was a nuclear conflict, we would be annihilated. Now the good chance is we would annihilate them, too. Which brings us back to the situation that we existed in the 1960s, where we suddenly realized that this concept of mutually assured destruction wasn’t a bad concept because it sort of put the brakes on nuclear conflict.

Unfortunately, we have people today in Washington, D.C., that believe in American nuclear superiority or American nuclear supremacy, and they don’t believe in arms control. And we need to replace them. We need to get rid of them. We need to bring in people who recognize that arms control is the only way to save the human race.”

February 25, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden team has ‘deeply rooted hatred for Russia’ – US congressman

I know that Donald Trump is awful. And so is his Republican support team. Nevertheless, sometimes they say something sensible – something that needs to be said

Senior State Department officials Victoria Nuland and Antony Blinken are “dangerous fools,” Paul Gosar declared

Senior officials at the US State Department are attempting to get the country “involved in another world war” with Russia, Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar tweeted on Friday. Gosar, Twitter CEO Elon Musk, and former president Donald Trump, have all named Victoria Nuland as the most dangerous among this group in recent days.

Responding to an RT article on Musk accusing Nuland of “pushing this war” in Ukraine, Gosar declared that the billionaire “is correct.”

“Both Nuland and Blinken have a deeply rooted irrational hatred of Russia, and they seek to get the US involved in another world war,” he continued. “These are dangerous fools who can get us all killed.”

In a follow-up tweet, Gosar wrote that “as a non-soldier, Nuland is quite willing to endorse violence and war.” The Republican lawmaker then quoted the article, which stated that Nuland had “endorsed regime change in Russia, celebrated the US’ destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines, and called for the indefinite flow of arms into Ukraine.”

As assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs in 2014, Nuland helped to orchestrate the pro-Western coup that unseated democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovich. Nuland traveled to Kiev and promised military aid to the rioters, and was recorded plotting to install a successor to Yanukovich.

As Biden’s secretary of state, Blinken has promised to keep weapons flowing into Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” and advised Kiev in December not to seek the kind of negotiated settlement that would liken to a “phony peace.”

Gosar has been a persistent critic of the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy since Russia’s military operation began a year ago on Friday. However, although the Republican Party now controls the House of Representatives, there is little the Arizona congressman can do to change the administration’s course. A significant bipartisan majority supports continued military aid to Ukraine, with only 11 Republicans, Gosar included, sponsoring legislation that would cut funding for Kiev. 

These Republicans are all allies of former president Donald Trump. In a campaign video released on Tuesday, Trump blamed the situation in Ukraine on Nuland and “others like her” in the Biden administration. Nuland, he said, was “obsessed with pushing Ukraine towards NATO,” adding that the conflict would have “never happened if I was your president.”

February 25, 2023 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, politics international, psychology and culture | Leave a comment

‘No miracles needed’: Prof. Mark Jacobson on how much wind, sun and water can power the world

by Damian Carrington, Environmental Editor, The Guardian, January 23 2023

“Combustion is the problem – when you’re continuing to burn something, that’s not solving the problem,” says Prof Mark Jacobson.

The Stanford University academic has a compelling pitch: the world can rapidly get 100% of its energy from renewable sources with, as the title of his new book says, “no miracles needed”.

Wind, water and solar can provide plentiful and cheap power, he argues, ending the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis, slashing deadly air pollution and ensuring energy security. Carbon capture and storage, biofuels, new nuclear and other technologies are expensive wastes of time, he argues.

“Bill Gates said we have to put a lot of money into miracle technologies,” Jacobson says. “But we don’t – we have the technologies that we need. We have wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, electric cars. We have batteries, heat pumps, energy efficiency. We have 95% of the technologies right now that we need to solve the problem.” The missing 5% is for long-distance aircraft and ships, he says, for which hydrogen-powered fuel cells can be developed.

Jacobson’s claim is a big one. He is not just talking about a shift to 100% renewable electricity, but all energy – and fossil fuels still provide about 80% of that today. Jacobson has scores of academic papers to his name and his work has been influential in policies passed by cities, states and countries around the world targeting 100% green power. He is also controversial, not least for pursuing a $10m lawsuit against researchers who claimed his work was flawed, which he later dropped.

The evidence that proves he is right is collected in the new book, Jacobson says. Not only is a 100% renewables-powered world possible, it also promises much lower energy bills, he says. The first reason for that is that electrified vehicles, heating and industrial processes are far more efficient than those powered by fossil fuels, where much of the energy is wasted as heat.

Add in better-insulated buildings and ending the drilling and mining for the fossil fuels that consume about 11% of all energy, and you get 56% less energy use on average from 2035 to 2050, Jacobson says. Wind and solar energy are cheaper too, so average bills will fall 63%, he says.

Jacobson divides approaches to the energy transition into two camps: “One says we should just try everything – they’re the ‘all-of-the-above camp’ – and keep investing huge amounts of money in technologies that may or may not be available to work in 10 years. But 10 years is too late.” Carbon emissions must fall by 45% by 2030, scientists agree, to keep on track for no more than 1.5C of global heating.

His camp takes a different approach, Jacobson says: “Let’s focus on what we have and deploy as fast as possible. And we will improve those technologies just by deploying, bringing better solar panels, batteries, electric vehicles and so on. Some people just don’t realise the speed that we need to solve these problems, especially air pollution – 7 million people die every year. We can’t wait.”

However, there are major barriers to a rapid rollout of a 100% renewable energy system, he says: “The No 1 barrier is that most people are not aware that it’s possible. My job is trying to educate the public about it. If people are actually comfortable that it’s possible to do, then they might actually do it.”

He adds: “The policy of all-of-the-above is also a big barrier to a transition. In the US, for example, in the recent [climate legislation], a lot of money was spent on carbon capture, small modular nuclear reactors, biofuels, blue hydrogen. These are all what I consider almost useless, or very low-use, technologies in terms of solving the problems. And yet, a lot of money is spent on them. Why? Because there are big lobby groups.” Another barrier is funding the upfront costs of renewable energy in poorer countries – rich countries need to help, he says.

Jacobson believes progress towards a 100% renewable energy system can be fast: “The goal is 80% by 2030, and 100% by 2050. But, ideally, if we can get 80% by 2030, we should get 100% by 2035 to 2040.”

Solving the stability problem

A big concern about a world overwhelmingly reliant on electricity is maintaining the stability of grids powered by renewables. Where there are large amounts of hydropower from dams this is relatively easy – at least 10 countries already have 100% renewable grids. But in other places reliance on intermittent wind and solar is more challenging. The answer, says Jacobson, is energy storage, managing the demand, and connecting up renewables over wider areas to enable greater continuity of supply.

Storage can be batteries, pumped hydro, flywheels, compressed air and lowering and raising heavy weights. Jacobson thinks batteries will win, but says others could contribute if they can compete on cost. New research indicates that electric vehicle batteries alone could provide the short-term storage needed by global grids as early as 2030.

Jacobson also advocates heat storage for some buildings: “Storing heat in boreholes, aquifers or water pits is dirt cheap, excuse the pun. It’s less than $1 a kilowatt hour of storage.” Managing demand, by varying electricity prices with demand, is already growing fast, he says. When the renewables supply exceeds the demand, the electricity should be used to produce green hydrogen, he says, to power the fuel cells needed by energy-intensive users.

“Managing the grid is just an optimisation problem, not a rocket science problem,” he says. “I don’t want to say there’s zero problems, but usually these challenges are ironed out over time just by experience.”

Another criticism of a major renewables rollout is the mining required for the metals used. But Jacobson says such a rollout would in fact hugely reduce extraction from the earth by ending fossil fuel exploitation: “The total amount of mining that’s going to be needed for wind, water, solar, compared to [the] fossil fuel system, is much less than 1% in terms of the mass of materials.”

Jacobson is scathing about many nascent technologies being promoted as climate solutions. “Carbon capture and storage is solely designed to keep the fossil fuel industry in business,” he says. Only some of the CO2 is captured and buried, he says, and deadly air pollution continues unabated. Blue hydrogen, produced from fossil gas with some CO2 then captured and buried, is far inferior to green hydrogen produced directly from renewable electricity, Jacobson says: “Blue hydrogen is just really convoluted.”

New nuclear plants are too slow to build and too expensive compared with wind and solar, in Jacobson’s view: “You end up waiting 15 to 20 years longer, for a seven to eight times higher electricity price – it just makes no sense. Even if they improve [build times], say to 12 years, that’s still way too long. We have cheaper, faster, safer technologies. Why waste time?”

Biofuels are also dismissed by Jacobson: “The biofuels push was really not helpful. They hold constant, or increase, air pollution and they use a huge amount of land.”

He is a little more measured when it comes to direct air capture (DAC): technologies that can suck CO2 from the air for burial. It has no role today, he says, with spending on renewables far more cost effective in cutting emissions. But even when fossil fuel burning ends, many scientists have concluded that CO2 will have to be drawn from the air to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis. At that point, Jacobson says, the costs of DAC should be compared with other ways to sequester carbon and limit global heating, such as reforestation and cutting emissions of other more powerful greenhouse gases, including methane from livestock and nitrous oxide from fertilisers.

Supporters and critics

Jacobson’s book has attracted support from some experts. Prof Michael Mann, at the University of Pennsylvania, says the book “presents a comprehensive and detailed blueprint for the options we have right now to address the climate crisis”. Mann has said those insisting we lack the tools to decarbonise the economy today are wrong.

Prof Claudia Kemfert, at the German Institute for Economic Research, who has advised the German government and European Commission, says: “[The book] shows impressively that numerous crises can be killed with one stone, without us having to wait for miracles.”

But others are critical of a focus on only wind, water and solar. Prof Ken Caldeira, at the Carnegie Institution for Science in the US, says: “Having a broader set [of technologies] in the toolbox only makes it easier to solve problems. We will only use the tools that it makes sense to use in any particular circumstance, but maintaining and expanding our options is a good thing.

“The key question is not what is physically possible in an ideal world, but what is practically possible in the world as we know it,” he says.

Prof Rob Gross, the director of the UK Energy Research Centre, is somewhere in the middle of the debate: “I broadly agree that we can largely use existing technologies, but we will need to put those to new applications, such as using bulk stores of hydrogen in order to provide interseasonal storage.”

“Moonshot efforts to invent entirely new things are almost certainly a distraction,” he adds. “Jacobson is right that the principal need is to deploy what we have. He is wrong to the extent he makes this sound easy.”

Asked about the controversy around his work, Jacobson says: “Usually, the people against us don’t like the fact that we don’t include their technologies.” On the lawsuit over a critical paper, he says: “That was not a question of a scientific disagreement.” He claims it was an attempt to protect his reputation. He dropped the case in 2018.

Jacobson remains optimistic: “There is a technical and economic solution to the climate, air pollution and energy security problems we face. But we do have major challenges in trying to implement that solution. The challenges are getting the political willpower to focus on a narrow set of solutions that we can implement quickly. The vested interests are very much a problem because they are pushing this ‘all of the above’ approach.”

  • No Miracles Needed: How Today’s Technology Can Save Our Climate and Clean Our Air by Mark Z Jacobson is published by Cambridge University Press on 2 February 2023.

February 25, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

Stop or START? — Shouldn’t we ban, rather than limit, nuclear weapons?

Shouldn’t we ban, rather than limit, nuclear weapons?

Stop or START? — Beyond Nuclear International

Does an arms reduction treaty matter when zero nuclear weapons is the only safe number?

By Linda Pentz Gunter

After writing an initial quick reaction piece about Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to suspend his country’s participation in the New START Treaty, there has been time for some logic to set in. In other words, I have thought more about this and something doesn’t add up.

What doesn’t make sense is the inherent contradiction of, on the one hand, condemning Putin’s decision to step back from the last treaty that limits the US and Russia’s nuclear weapons arsenals, but on the other, espousing a conviction that there can never be few enough nuclear weapons unless that number is zero.

Why does it matter, then, whether the two nuclear super powers agree to cap their arsenals at “only” 3,000 or so lethal nuclear missiles and warheads each? Given the utter destruction of planet Earth that these would cause if used, an escalation (or even a decrease) seems irrelevant.

Dr. Ira Helfand of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War put this case all too clearly in a February 22 appearance on Democracy Now! when he told host, Amy Goodman: “The New START treaty, while somewhat useful, is a very limited document and a very inadequate treaty. It still allows the United States and Russia to maintain — and they do — 3,100 strategic nuclear weapons, ranging in size from 100 kilotons to 800 kilotons. That is six to 50 times more powerful than the bombs which destroyed Hiroshima.”

It’s a treaty, Helfand said, that “allows both the United States and Russia to maintain arsenals which are capable of destroying modern civilization six times over.”

So is there any point to START, “New” or otherwise? Surely we need to stop the manufacture, possession, siting (including in other people’s countries), and especially the use of nuclear weapons and get rid of them altogether? And the only instrument equipped to do that is the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons……………………………….


February 25, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea test-fires four missiles to show ability to launch nuclear attack

Guardian, 24 Feb 23,

Strategic cruise missiles hit a target after travelling 2,000km, says state media, to demonstrate ‘war posture’ of nuclear force.

North Korea test-fired four strategic cruise missiles during a drill designed to demonstrate its ability to conduct a nuclear counterattack against hostile forces, its state media said.

The exercise on Thursday involved an apparently operational strategic cruise missile unit of the Korean people’s army, which fired the four Hwasal-2 missiles in the area of Kim Chaek city, North Hamgyong province, towards the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, the news agency KCNA said. Other units conducted firepower training at hardened sites without live firing.

The four strategic cruise missiles hit a preset target after travelling the “2,000km-long [1,243-mile] elliptical and eight-shaped flight orbits for 10,208 seconds to 10,224 seconds”, the English-language report said.

The drill demonstrated “the war posture of the DPRK nuclear combat force bolstering up in every way its deadly nuclear counterattack capability against the hostile forces”, KCNA said…………………………. more

February 25, 2023 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Canada launches $30 million small modular reactor funding program

Kevin Clark, 2.23.2023, Power Engineering

Canada is launching a new funding program to help promote the commercial deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs). The announcement was made Feb. 23 at the Canadian Nuclear Association’s annual conference.

The program would provide $29.6 million over four years to develop supply chains for SMR manufacturing and fuel supply and security. Funding would also be used for research on safe SMR waste management solutions.

Eligible applicants could include private companies, utilities, provinces and territories, universities and Indigenous groups………………………………….

A few months prior to the contract signing, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) committed C$970 million ($708 million) in debt financing toward the Darlington SMR. This is the bank’s largest investment in clean [?] power to date.

The CIB-financed phase 1 work covers all preparation prior to nuclear construction, including project design, site preparation, procurement of long lead-time equipment, utility connections, digital strategy and other project management costs.

February 25, 2023 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

U.S. to deliver 500 more HIMARS launchers to Poland

Polish RadioFebruary 23, 2023 US Congress OKs sale of 500 HIMARS launchers to Poland: defence minister The US Congress has cleared the sale of nearly 500 HIMARS artillery rocket systems to Poland, the Polish defence minister has announced. “The tacit approval procedure for the US Congress’ notification of a contract for nearly 500 HIMARS launchers […]

U.S. to deliver 500 more HIMARS launchers to Poland — Anti-bellum

February 25, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Belarus’ second nuclear reactor is far behind schedule, while Unit 1 reactor remains unstable.

The Unit 2 reactor at the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant — built to
showcase Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s AES-2006 reactor
design in a foreign setting — has not yet been put into operation and
work on it is far behind schedule. The Unit 1 reactor at the station is
unstable and has been idle for almost half the time since its grand opening
in November of 2020. Against this backdrop, President Alexander Lukashenko
and his Ministry of Energy have declared their intention to build a second
nuclear plant amid Western sanctions and the Belarusian regime’s support
for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

 Bellona 23rd Feb 2023

February 25, 2023 Posted by | Belarus, technology | Leave a comment

Poland delivers first Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Sweden to follow — Anti-bellum

Breaking DefenseFebruary 24, 2023 Polish Leopard 2 tanks arrive in Ukraine as Sweden announces more to come On the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Poland has officially delivered its first tranche of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine – just as the Swedish government announced plants to supply up to 10 of the same […]

Poland delivers first Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Sweden to follow — Anti-bellum

February 25, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear-capable U.S. B-52s join allied warplanes over Estonia

U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces AfricaFebruary 23, 2023 B-52 Stratofortresses to flyby part of Estonia Independence Day celebration events Two B-52 aircraft assigned to 5th Bomb Wing from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota are, scheduled to conduct a low approach flyby to help celebrate Estonia’s Independence Day February 24. “…We remain steadfastly committed […]

Nuclear-capable U.S. B-52s join allied warplanes over Estonia — Anti-bellum

February 25, 2023 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment