The risk of a military conflict between Moscow and Washington has been overstated. However, both sides should think about prevention mechanisms to minimize the risk of accidents that could lead to an open conflict. The expert community has been crying wolf for a long time now: “War is at the doorstep!” The gloomy predictions indicate that Russia and the United States are at the brink of direct military clashes, as if they were trying to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis in some perverse way. However, any conflict, if it happens, will most probably be accidental – the parties are not yet ready for full-scale military confrontation.
In the last few years, Russia has been modernizing its armed forces to replace the outdated Soviet-era materiel and structure. Numerous exercises, trillions of rubles spent, new equipment and combat vehicles emerging out of the blue, and a charismatic defense minister who changed the entire image of the Russian Army and brought back its popularity with society – all these steps provided for the fast (and real) growth of national military might.
However, it remains rather limited in comparison with the overall total potential of theNATO states. Some would say that the alliance is reluctant to take any serious decisions and is nothing more than a paper tiger. Nonetheless, the brainwashing of the last two years has significantly improved the decision-making capacity of NATO and the chances for achieving consensus over the “Russian threat.”
The ability to mobilize quickly strong conventional forces is still low, as NATO generals admit themselves. However, active recent revival of the nuclear sharing arrangements and the consolidation of U.S. troops in various countries of Central and Eastern Europe present enough deterrence against any light-minded action. It is clear that the war will not happen in Europe (and not even in Ukraine with its unpredictable leadership). However, wherever it occurs, NATO forces can eventually be mobilized to help their allies.
Moreover, Moscow has largely been pursuing a defensive policy over the past 16 years. Even now, when “the Russians are (seemingly) coming,” an independent observer would probably notice that the lion’s share of the activities of Moscow are reactive rather than proactive. …….
Two factors raise the probability of an armed clash between Russia and the U.S. One of them is rhetoric. There have been more words than action so far and there is a clear trend– nobody is responsible for their words any longer. Any of the statements of the last few months would mean immediate war in the 19th or even in the 20th century. Nowadays, politicians throw thousands of words against each other and the struggle is with the minds and hearts and not with bodies. However, such belligerent rhetoric creates the climate of antagonism and public anticipation of a conflict. As a result, such atmosphere may facilitate prompt steps “in response” to another accident.
The second factor is, paradoxically, the low importance of the regional conflicts. Syria is so far away from Moscow and Washington that the parties do not really care about its future, its population and even its militants. Both Russia and the United States can afford there much more than they could in Ukraine, for instance (where actually none of them cared about the fate of Ukraine, but the proximity of Europe made it more difficult to fight). And such lack of significance may lead to a dangerous neglect of dramatic consequences of any armed clash and make the decision-making process easier to go to war.
Nowadays, Russia and the United States demonstrate wisdom and restraint. Given the current leadership in both countries, the expectations of war will hopefully stay just that– expectations. However, the situation may change next year and it would be better for the parties to think about some minimal confidence-building measures and provide for the prevention of accidents, any of which may become fatal, just like an accidental missile launch during the Cold War era. http://www.russia-direct.org/opinion/why-military-conflict-between-russia-and-us-unlikely
The fervent Trump supporter has told his viewers that the both US president, Barack Obama, and the Democrat nominee, Hilary Clinton, were “literal demons” who smelt of sulphur. I kid you not.
In Australia, we have a senator who similarly sees climate change as a thing made up by the UN. Our top-rating radio host, Alan Jones (no relation), has said climate science is “witchcraft”.
There’s now a whole media ecosystem that climate science denialism can exist inside, where there’s little scrutiny of the views of deniers. US-based sites like the Drudge Report, Infowars, Breitbart and Daily Caller are part of that ecosystem.
For a while, maybe the Trumpocene and the Anthropocene can coexist.
But even though they exist on separate plains, can we really afford to dismiss the impact of either of them?
We are approaching the Trumpocene, a new epoch where climate
change is just a big scary conspiracy https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2016/oct/21/we-are-approaching-the-trumpocene-a-new-epoch-where-climate-change-is-just-a-big-scary-conspiracy Graham Readfearn
Websites pushing climate science denial are growing their audience in an era where populist rhetoric and the rejection of expertise is gaining traction For years now geologists have been politely but forcefully arguing over the existence or otherwise of a new epoch – one that might have started decades ago.
Some of the world’s most respected geologists and scientists reckon humans have had such a profound impact on the Earth that we’ve now moved out of the Holocene and into the Anthropocene.
It’s not official. But it’s close.
Dropping nuclear bombs and burning billions of tonnes of fossil fuels will do that to a planet, as will clearing swaths of forests to make way for food production and supermarket car parks and the like.
That’s all in the real world though, and sometimes you might get the horrible, chilling idea that when it comes to the production of our thoughts and ideas, that’s not the place a lot of us live anymore.
So I’d like to also propose the idea of an impending new epoch – the Trumpocene – that in the spirit of the era itself is based solely on a few thoughts held loosely together with hyperlinks and a general feeling of malaise.
In the Trumpocene, the epoch-defining impacts of climate change are nothing more than a conspiracy. Even if these impacts are real, then they’re probably good for us.
The era is named, of course, for the phenomenon that is Donald Trump, the Republican pick for US president whose candidacy has been defined by a loose grasp of facts, jingoistic posturing, populist rhetoric, his amazing hair and his treatment of women.
So what are the things that might define the Trumpocene?
Is it the point at which large numbers of people started to reject the views of large groups of actual experts – people with university qualifications and things – in exchange for the views of anyone who agrees with them? (Brexit, anyone?) Continue reading
World’s leaders’ love affair with nuclear weapons will eliminate us all, if we don’t eliminate those weapons
Eliminate nuclear weapons – or they’ll eliminate us http://www.citizen-times.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/10/21/guest-columnist-eliminate-nuclear-weapons-eliminate-us/92510602/Will you help end our terrible love affair with nuclear weapons that threatens us all?
Yet the second trend—the combination of mass migration and racist backlash—could push even more polities toward authoritarianism. Migration is also harder to predict than inequality: Wars and exoduses are not as easy to model as flood damage and agricultural yields.
Climate mitigation is a worthy goal in itself. It is all the more important when understood as one more type of long-term anti-fascism.
Donald Trump Is the First Demagogue of the Anthropocene He won’t be the last. The Atlantic, ROBINSON MEYER OCT 19, 2016
“………I want to propose a new way of understanding Donald Trump. He not only represents a white racial backlash, and he has not only opened the way for an American extension of the European far right. Insofar as his supporters are drawn to him by a sense of global calamity, and insofar as his rhetoric singles out the refugee as yet another black and brown intruder trying to violate the nation’s cherished borders, Trump is the first demagogue of the Anthropocene.
We should take Trump at his word when he calls Syrian refugees “one of the great Trojan horses,” or when his son bizarrely describes them as Skittles that “will kill you.” In Europe, Trump’s far-right kin have long blurred the differences between legal immigration, Islamist terrorism, and the refugees fleeting the Syrian War. After the Paris attacks last year, one leader of the French far-right National Front said, “Today, we can see that immigration has become favorable terrain for the development of Islamism.”
This xenophobia is grounded in real-life trends. I will focus on two in particular: moribund economic growth and the mass migration of non-white people. Both will likely intensify as the planet warms. (A third vital trend—the political and cultural upheaval of the U.S. racial hierarchy—will not vary with climate change.)
First, climate change could easily worsen the inequality that has already hollowed out the Western middle class. A recent analysis in Nature projected that the effects of climate change will reduce the average person’s income by 23 percentby the end of the century. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency predicts that unmitigated global warming could cost the American economy $200 billion this century. (Some climate researchers think the EPA undercounts these estimates.)
Future consumers will not register these costs so cleanly, though—there will not be a single climate-change debit exacted on everyone’s budgets at year’s end. Instead, the costs will seep in through many sources: storm damage, higher power rates, real-estate depreciation, unreliable and expensive food. Climate change could get laundered, in other words, becoming just one more symptom of a stagnant and unequal economy. As quality of life declines, and insurance premiums rise, people could feel that they’re being robbed by an aloof elite.
They won’t even be wrong. It’s just that due to the chemistry of climate change, many members of that elite will have died 30 or 50 years prior. Continue reading
Updated B61 Nuclear Bomb to Cost $8.25 Billion, Defense News, By: Aaron Mehta, October 19, 2016 WASHINGTON – The life-extension program for the B61-12 atomic bomb will cost just over $8.25 billion, according to a new estimate from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
The new cost estimate was completed over the summer as the agency prepared to enter the production-engineering phase of the program. The baseline cost of the program is $7.605 billion, with an additional $648 million in “funds leveraged from other NNSA programs for technology and manufacturing readiness,” according to an agency statement – money that has common applications across multiple weapon systems.
That cost does not include the estimated $1.3 billion that the Department of Defense plans to spend on developing and procuring tailkits for the weapons. With that included, the total cost for the program sits at roughly $9.5 billion.
The agency is perusing a modernization plan known as the “3+2 Strategy,” under which the NNSA is consolidating the American arsenal of warheads into five variants. The five ballistic-missile warheads now in service are being consolidated into three new interoperable warheads known as the IW-1, IW-2, and IW-3, while the five bomb and cruise-missile warhead types are being consolidated into two replacement warhead designs, the W80-4 and the B61-12. …….http://www.defensenews.com/articles/updated-b61-nuclear-bomb-to-cost-825-billion
Germany approves landmark nuclear waste deal with utilities: source http://www.businessinsider.com/r-germany-approves-landmark-nuclear-waste-deal-with-utilities-source-2016-10/?r=AU&IR=T BERLIN (Reuters) – The German cabinet approved a deal on Wednesday for its top utilities to start paying into a 23.6-billion-euro ($25.9 billion) fund next year in return for shifting liability for nuclear waste storage to the government, a source said.
The utilities will remain responsible for dismantling the country’s nuclear plants, the last of which will be shut down in 2022 as part of Germany’s abandonment of the technology, a decision triggered by Japan’s Fukushima disaster five years ago.
(Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Joseph Nasr)
Read the original article on Reuters.
Ukraine to stop paying Russia for nuclear waste disposal Rt.com : 21 Oct, 2016 From next year Ukraine is not going to pay Russia $200 million annually to remove spent nuclear fuel from the country, according to Ukrainian Energy Minister IgorNasalik.
The country will build its own spent nuclear fuel storage facility, the minister announced.
The storage site chosen is in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power, but it is not designed to store nuclear waste for a long time.
The exclusion zone is a 30-kilometer radius from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant established by the USSR soon after the 1986 accident.
Construction of the new central used fuel storage facility is expected to start in March 2017, according to a director of a subsidiary of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom.
European nuclear industry experts are concerned the Ukrainian project does not meet standards for nuclear safety and creates a risk of a radioactive accident.
In August, the former director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant Mikhail Umanets warned of the rising number of emergency situations in Ukraine’s nuclear energy sector, stressing the country would face a “collapse” in the sector within seven years……https://www.rt.com/business/363655-ukraine-nuclear-waste-russia/
Why the silence on climate in the US presidential debates? The Conversation, scientists become more gloomy about keeping global warming below the allegedly “safe” limit of 2℃, the issue is disappearing from the US presidential debates. There was a brief mention in the second debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debate, with climate change treated as an “afterthought”.October 20, 2016 As
Even former Vice President Al Gore joining Clinton on at a campaign rally in Florida didn’t particularly help.
So why has climate change gone AWOL?
It’s an odd phenomenon, because awareness of the threat of climate change goes back more than half a century, well before its sudden arrival on public policy agendas in 1988…….
A combination of growing scientific alarm about the growth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a long hot summer in 1988 made climate change an election issue. On the campaign trail, then-Vice President George H. W. Bush announced in his presidential compaign:
Those who think we’re powerless to do anything about the “greenhouse effect” are forgetting about the “White House effect”. As President, I intend to do something about it… In my first year in office, I will convene a global conference on the environment at the White House… We will talk about global warming… And we will act.
They didn’t get on with it, of course……… It was 2000 before presidential candidates debated the issue. George W. Bush (2000-09) said:
I think it’s an issue that we need to take very seriously. But I don’t think we know the solution to global warming yet. ……
The peak year for climate concern was 2008, with climate rating a mention in all three presidential debates.
Obama framed climate change as an energy independence issue, arguing that:
…we’ve got to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to energy independence, because this is probably going to be just as vital for our economy and the pain that people are feeling at the pump – and you know, winter’s coming and home heating oil – as it is our national security and the issue of climate change that’s so important.
Despite a petition with 160,000 signatures, the debate moderators for the 2012 debate did not put the issue on the agenda……
What happened? In two words: Tea Party. The emergence of the hyper-conservative Tea Party Republican faction was the culmination of a longer-term trend of what two American academics call “anti-reflexivity”.
For example, Marco Rubio, from Florida – a state that is already being hit by climate impacts – cannot take a position on it.
The second reason is more gloomy, because it is more intractable. Those who have denied climate change for so very long will find it very costly – both politically and psychologically – to reverse their position and admit that they have been wrong. Climate change denial has become a cultural position, as academics like Andrew Hoffman have noted.
Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide accumulates, and the impacts pile up. https://theconversation.com/why-the-silence-on-climate-in-the-us-presidential-debates-67152
Poll finds support for nuclear phaseout, SwissInfo Ch By Urs Geiser , 21 Oct 16
A proposal to decommission Switzerland’s nuclear power plants by 2029 has the backing of a majority of citizens, according to a survey conducted seven weeks ahead of a nationwide vote. Despite this, pollsters believe the initiative is likely to be defeated on November 27.
Supporters of the Green Party proposal had a 21% lead over opponents seven weeks before polling day, while 7% of respondents were undecided, results published on Friday showed.
“The political left, women and citizens in the French-speaking part of the country are in favour,” said Claude Longchamp of the leading GfS Bern research and polling institute.
Supporters face a strong alliance of opponents, including centre-right parties, parliament, the government and the business community.
Longchamp said the grassroots of the centrist Christian Democrats are likely to play a key role……..http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/november-27-vote_poll-finds-support-for-nuclear-phase-out/42529278
Dairyland Power gets major compensation for radioactive trash from its nuclear reactor that closed in 1987
Feds to pay Dairyland $73.5 million in nuclear settlementDairyland Power has reached a major settlement with the U.S. Department of Energy over nuclear waste stored from its former nuclear reactor located at the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor in Genoa.
Is Washington “False Flagging” The New Russia-Iran-Syria-China “Axis of Evil”, Into Nuclear War?….By Peter Koenig Global Research, October 21, 2016 “………...Intensified through four decades of Cold War, the US has grown increasingly dependent on the military – security industry for its economic advances. Creating weapons to exploit and destroy in foreign lands what later needs reconstruction is an easy way to making huge profits, sustaining an otherwise outsourced production economy and an ever poorer local population that lives off imported junk………
Nuclear power industry seeks new tax credits, Union Bulletin.com
The nuclear industry has faced a host of issues in the past decade that have shrunk its profits. By JEREMY DILLON of CQ-Roll Call , 20 Oct 16 WASHINGTON — Beset by low natural gas prices and tax advantages for its competitors, the nuclear power industry is seeking new tax credits to help it find its footing in an increasingly challenging marketplace.
Green Party calls on Ontario Premier to say no to nuclear Ontario Power Generation raising electricity costs
Ontario Power Generation has applied for permission to increase the price for nuclear power by 180 per cent over the next decade http://www.nugget.ca/2016/10/21/ontario-power-generation-has-applied-for-permission-to-increase-the-price-for-nuclear-power-by-180-per-cent-over-the-next-decade The following letter is addressed to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Many people in Ontario are struggling to pay their electricity bills.
You need to act now to protect us from further price increases.
Ontario Power Generation wants to raise the price for nuclear power in order to operate its nuclear power plant in Pickering and rebuild the one in Darlington.
It has applied for permission to increase the price for nuclear power by 180 per cent over the next decade. And I expect the price will go even higher – as I’m sure you know, no nuclear project in Ontario’s history has delivered on time or on budget. This is unacceptable.
The people of Ontario simply cannot afford to pay for your plans to spend billions of our tax dollars to rebuild outdated nuclear plants. Studies indicate that Ontario can save $600 million to $1.2 billion per year – or $12 to 24 billion over 20 years – by cancelling the rebuild of the Darlington nuclear plant.
Fortunately, we can cancel the Darlington rebuild and still keep Ontario powered up. There is a cleaner, more affordable alternative: We can get the power we need by importing Quebec’s excess clean water power.
This week you are meeting with top cabinet ministers from Quebec. This gives you a great opportunity to sign a deal for a cheaper and cleaner source of electricity.
To make this work, we would have to upgrade transmission lines at an estimated cost of only about $500 million. All told, Ontario would benefit from a return on investment in just a few months. There are few deals in today’s world with such a short ROI.
Moving forward, the province would enjoy $600 million to $1.2 billion in annual savings. We could use this to fund energy efficiency programs that would help people save money by saving energy.
Premier, I know the nuclear lobby is powerful in Ontario. It spends millions on advertising alone. But I implore you to put the people of Ontario first.
In spite of their criticism, neither opposition party with seats at Queen’s Park has a plan to reduce electricity rate increases. Your government has an historic opportunity to change the conversation on electricity rates in Ontario. The question is whether you have the courage to say no to the nuclear lobby and yes to lower cost water power from Quebec.
Premier, I ask you to put the people of Ontario first by signing a power deal with Quebec for low-cost water power.
Leader, Green Party of Ontario
India Dissatisfied With Costs of Nuclear Power Project With France / sandeepachetan
BUSINESS 19:11 21.10.2016 India sent a strong message to France that it will not go ahead with the project unless the costs of production for the Jaitapur nuclear power project would be affordable.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — India’s Atomic Energy Commission has made it clear that Western nuclear reactors will be welcomed only if it generates power at affordable rates.
Israel in secret deal with Germany to buy 3 nuclear subs, Big News Network.com, Saturday 22nd October, 2016, TEL AVIV, Israel – A deal negotiated in secret will see the Israel Navy take delivery of 3 nuclear-enabled submarines over the next decade.
Germany is to provide the Dolphin-class submarines as a result of secret negotiations which have spanned the last few months.
Israel will pay a substantially discounted price of $1.3 billion for the three submarines.
The deal is expected to be finalised in early November.
According to The Jerusalem Post, quoting foreign reports, the Israel Navy’s Dolphins ‘provide Israel with nuclear second-strike capabilities, as they can travel far from Israel’s territorial waters and are reportedly able to carry long-range cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.’
Israel, which orchestrated the drive against Iran becoming a nuclear power, and has bombed emerging nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria, has itself been developing nuclear weapons since the 1950s. The Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev desert had its origins in 1954, just six years after the birth of Israel. The late Shimon Peres as Director General of the Israeli Defense Ministry was responsible for the development of the facility. A pact with France was secretly negotiated and hundreds of French scientists were brought in to develop the facility, in absolute secrecy.
To offset the concerns of satellite surveilance, the Jewish state publicly touted the facility as a business park or textile factory. When U.S. President John Kennedy aroused suspicions in 1963, Israel maintained its denials. Kennedy applied so much pressure, David Ben-Gurion resigned as prime minister of Israel just months before Kennedy was assassinated. Some researchers implicate the Israeli inteligence agency Mossad among those considered responsible for the assassination.
Peres himself was asked point blank by Kennedy if Israel was building a nuclear facility. Summoned to the Oval Room in the White House on a 1963 visit to Washington, the young Peres was asked in his words, ’30 rapid-fire questions,’ before Kennedy asked: “Are you building a nuclear option?” Peres said he changed the subject.
To this day Israel has neither confirmed or denied publicly it has a nuclear facility. The only official statement on Dimona was made on December 21 1960 when Ben-Gurion, in response to an aricle in Time magazine which spawned a flurry of media coverage, announced to the Knesset his government was building “a 24 megawatt reactor which will serve the needs of industry, agriculture, health, and science,” and that it “is designed exclusively for peaceful purposes.”
The Israel Navy until last year had a fleet of four Dolphin-class submarines operating out of its naval base at Haifa. A fifth submarine ariived in late December last year after which it was expected to be fitted with Iraeli-built systems which took several months. It is believed it is operational now…….http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/248758981/israel-in-secret-deal-with-germany-to-buy-3-nuclear-subs
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