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The tangled web – well-being of communities has become dependent on the nuclear weapons industry

 

Nuclear disarmers can’t forget the communities that rely on military spending  https://thebulletin.org/2020/10/nuclear-disarmers-cant-forget-the-communities-that-rely-on-military-spending/By Tricia WhiteMatt Korda | October 28, 2020  If Russia were to launch a nuclear attack against the United States, what would the targets be? You might guess the most likely targets would be major cities like Washington D.C. or New York City, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But would you have also guessed Great Falls, Montana (population: 58,505) and Cheyenne, Wyoming (population: 65,165)? These small communities are part of the United States’ “nuclear sponge”—areas in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming that house the US arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and that are supposed to “soak up” hundreds of incoming nuclear warheads. Should an attack on the United States ever occur, these Midwestern states would be the first to go. And, somewhat counterintuitively, the majority of residents in these communities want to keep it that way.

It is difficult to overstate the degree to which ICBM-hosting communities rely on retaining their missiles. Missile bases like Minot in North Dakota, F. E. Warren in Wyoming, and Malmstrom in Montana are directly responsible for between eight and thirteen percent of their respective local labor forces. Additionally, the indirect economic benefits—a by-product of everyday activities like grocery shopping or school registration—certainly boost those numbers even further.

Recognizing that ICBMs could function as an economic insurance policy for local communities, politicians jockeyed to bring nuclear missiles to their states during the early stages of deployment in the 1960s.

In one particularly infamous case, Missouri Sen. Stuart Symington wrote to General Thomas Power, head of Strategic Air Command to ask, “Dear Tommy, why can’t we have one of the missile bases in Missouri?” Symington, previously the first Secretary of the Air Force, was heavily tied to weapons contractors, and his then-unique position at the intersection of business, politics, and the military prompted President Eisenhower to issue his prescient warning about the dangers of the “military-industrial complex.”

Today, this type of politicking has organized itself into the Congressional ICBM Coalition—a bipartisan collective of lawmakers from the three ICBM host states plus Utah, where ICBM sustainment and replacement activities are headquartered at Hill Air Force Base. The coalition’s members are extremely well-funded by contractors like Northrop Grumman, which spent more than $162 million on lobbying from 2008 to 2018. In a fantastic return on investment, Northrop Grumman was recently awarded a $13.3 billion contract to manufacture a replacement for the aging Minuteman III, the only land-based, nuclear-armed missile in the US arsenal. 

These weapons contractors are not just funding politicians, however. They also work in concert with local community leaders to sustain and modernize the ICBM force ad infinitum. In response to potential base closures throughout the 1990s, many ICBM communities formed coalitions via their Chambers of Commerce to advocate for their neighboring bases to stay open. Today, community-led organizations like Task Force 21 (Minot), the Montana Defense Alliance (Malmstrom), and the Wyoming Wranglers Committee (F. E. Warren) meet with Pentagon officials, weapons contractors, and their Congressional representatives to advocate on behalf of their respective bases.

It’s especially notable just how integrated these groups are with their local communities: they offer career opportunities in schools, allow weapons contractors to host community events when new project bids are occurring, and guide local businesses through the ins-and-outs of subcontracting for Northrop Grumman, Boeing, or Lockheed Martin. Since many of the organizations’ activities are in turn sponsored by these corporations, it’s effectively a win-win for everyone involved.

However, these intimate relationships between local communities, corporations, and politicians come with serious ramifications. In a cruel twist of irony, it means that in order to protect their livelihoods, community leaders are encouraged to ensure that their respective cities remain—now and forever—ground zero for a future nuclear attack.

These communities are also expected to lobby on behalf of an ICBM replacement program that is dangerous, unnecessary, and very expensive. Not only do ICBMs serve little strategic purpose in a post-Cold War environment, but they are also the only weapons in the US nuclear arsenal that force the president to make potentially catastrophic decisions within mere minutes. For these reasons, as well as their astounding $264 billion estimated life-cycle costs, several nuclear experts—and a majority of both Democrats and Republicans—agree that the Pentagon should hit pause on the ICBM replacement program while officials examine cheaper life-extension options for the current arsenal. Many even argue the United States should eliminate the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad altogether. 

Additionally, as Gretchen Heefner, a professor at Northeastern University, articulates in her book The Missile Next Door, “By insisting that new missions be found for old bases, that more money be spent to upgrade facilities and fortify defenses, Americans [have] long stopped resisting militarism and instead embraced it as an economic necessity.” And who could blame them? If the Minuteman ICBMs were to be phased out, the futures of Minot, Malmstrom, and F. E. Warren Air Force Bases—and the communities that serve them—would be thrown into jeopardy. Heefner quotes one ICBM community’s Chamber of Commerce president on the indirect impacts of such closures: “A lot of people probably won’t realize the impact until their soccer coach is gone and their Bible teacher is not here or their teacher’s aide is gone.” “Nothing so aptly demonstrates the dependency of American municipalities on the military,” Heefner concludes, “as the threat of its abandonment.” To that end, organizing to keep their nuclear ICBMs is a form of community self-defense, albeit one with far-reaching consequences.

This presents a challenging conundrum for the nuclear expert community. It is easy to advocate for the phaseout of the ICBM force by only examining the costs and benefits on paper. In fact, such a phaseout is a realistic and worthwhile security goal, but it may come at the cost of American jobs and rural towns.

If disarmament advocates really want to push for the retirement of the US ICBM force, we need to come prepared with answers to the economic problems it would have on these “nuclear sponge” communities. Is Congress willing to offer a guaranteed income to the constituents who will lose their jobs? Will there be an equivalent of the Paycheck Protection Program? How does a community that loses its predominant industry rebuild its economy, especially in the aftermath of a devastating pandemic? Without answers to these questions, disarmament could be the very thing that destroys them—long before a nuclear missile ever strikes American soil.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, health, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

 Tritium is what makes nuclear reactors so dangerous, not only in Fukushima but also in S. Korea

 Tritium is what makes nuclear reactors so dangerous, not only in Fukushima but also in S. Korea,  http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/967441.html     By Kim Eun-hyoung, editorial writer, Oct.27,2020
Tritium, or hydrogen-3, is identified by the scientific symbol 3H or T. As an isotype of hydrogen, the lightest of all elements, tritium contains two neutrons, whereas ordinary hydrogen (known as protium, identified by the symbol H) contains none. That makes tritium unstable and, as a result, radioactive.

Tritium exists in the natural world, but only in negligible amounts. It’s typically produced during the fission process inside nuclear reactors. Tritium is part of the coolant that lowers the temperature in the reactor core, which is heated by fission.

The contaminated water at the Fukushima reactor that the Japanese government seeks to release into the ocean contains tritium at levels that are 10 times higher than levels permitted by the South Korean government. That has terrified people not only in Japan but also in Korea.

The Japanese government says that the contaminated water doesn’t present a problem because it will be decontaminated through Tokyo Electric Power Company’s advanced liquid processing system (ALPS), before release. But the tricky part about releasing the contaminated water is tritium, which can’t be removed by ALPS because of the strong chemical bond it forms with water.

But Fukushima isn’t the only place affected by the risk of tritium. Heavy-water reactors are cooled with heavy water (deuterium oxide, 2H2O) instead of ordinary drinking water, producing a greater amount of tritium. There are four heavy-water reactors at Korea’s Wolsong plant, including Wolsong-1, which has been in the news recently after government auditors questioned a report about its economic viability, the justification given for shutting the reactor down earlier than planned.

Tritium is regarded as a low-risk radioactive substance, causing less harm than other types of radiation. For one thing, the radiation emitted by tritium is so weak that it can’t penetrate the outer layer of the skin. And even when it is absorbed by the body, its biological half-life — the time required for half the substance to leave the body — is only 12 days.

Even now, Wolsong-2, Wolsong-3, and Wolsong-4 account for 40% of the tritium released by all of Korea’s nuclear stations. Rates of thyroid cancer among women who live near the Wolsong nuclear plant are 2.5 times higher than in other areas, which some think is linked to tritium contamination. The question of nuclear power safety affects Korea in the same way as it affects Japan. It would be foolish and contradictory to view Japanese nuclear plants through the lens of safety and Korean nuclear plants through the lens of economic viability.

But such safety observations only apply to a single dose of radiation, such as an X-ray, and the actual risk depends on the intensity of exposure. That has led various countries to develop strict safety standards for the substance. The European Committee on Radiation Risk warns that internal radiation exposure can cause mutations that could lead to cancer.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | radiation, South Korea | Leave a comment

Suspected COVID-19 outbreak declared at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in Chalk River, Ontario.

Suspected COVID-19 outbreak declared at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in Chalk River, Ont.    CTV News, Ted RaymondDigital Multi-Skilled Journalist@TedFriendlyGuy Contact Andrew Pinsent580 CFRA News Reporter  , 28 Oct 20, CHALK RIVER, ONT. — A suspected outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) in Chalk River after two employees tested positive for the virus.

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) said it’s working closely with CNL to identify close contacts of the employees, who have been told to self-isolate at home and to get tested.

It also reminded those deemed high-risk contacts must self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days even if they’ve had a negative test, as it says COVID-19 could be incubating at the time of testing and that residents should not return to work, school or any public places during this time. …..

Three buildings at the Chalk River campus have been closed down for a thorough cleaning and 80 employees were sent home as a precaution. McGirl said, of those 80, two people have been told to self-isolate in addition to the two employees who tested positive. The names of all employees have been given to the RCDHU for contact tracing. …. https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/suspected-covid-19-outbreak-declared-at-canadian-nuclear-laboratories-in-chalk-river-ont-1.5164185

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Canada, health | Leave a comment

Using a robot to map the highly radioactive area of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Unilad 27th Oct 2020, The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was visited by engineers from the
University of Bristol and Spot on October 22, and the team intended to use
the robot to create a three-dimensional map of the distribution of nuclear
radiation.
The area is extremely dangerous because of the fallout of the
1986 nuclear accident and, as a result, the robot adds new surveying
capabilities to the teams involved. Other robots were also implemented to
inspect and survey the area.

https://www.unilad.co.uk/technology/boston-dynamics-sent-spot-into-chernobyl-nuclear-plant/

October 29, 2020 Posted by | radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

The cruel and lonely death of an American nuclear weapons scientist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 24, 2020 Posted by | health, psychology and culture, Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Study finds that bees are harmed by quite low levels of ionising radiation

Current Chernobyl-level radiation harmful to bees: study    https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/current-chernobyl-level-radiation-harmful-to-bees-study/article32908484.eceAFP
PARIS, FRANCE, OCTOBER 21, 2020 

Researchers exposed bee colonies in a laboratory setting to a range of radiation levels found in areas of the exclusion zone around the ruined Chernobyl site

Bumblebees exposed to levels of radiation found within the Chernobyl exclusion zone suffered a “significant” drop in reproduction, in new research published Wednesday that scientists say should prompt a rethink of international calculations of nuclear environmental risk.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, set out to discover how ionising radiation affects insects, which are often thought to be more resilient than other species.

“We found that at radiation levels detectable in Chernobyl, the number of new queen bees produced from the colony was significantly reduced and colony growth was delayed — meaning colonies reached their peak weight at a week later,” said the paper’s lead author Katherine Raines.

The lecturer in environmental pollution at the University of Stirling told AFP by email that researchers “anticipate that this may have an effect on pollination/ecosystem services in contaminated areas”.

The authors said they chose bumblebees both because of a lack of lab-based research into bees and because of their crucial role in pollination.

Ionising radiation can occur either from nuclear sites or medical procedures, although the levels tested were higher than those that would likely be found in the environment from normal releases, Raines said.

But she added that the researchers were “very surprised that we could detect effects as low as we did”.

“Our research suggests insects living in the most contaminated areas at Chernobyl may suffer adverse effects, with subsequent consequences for ecosystem services such as pollination,” she added.

The authors said if their findings could be generalised “they suggest insects suffer significant negative consequences at dose rates previously thought safe” and called revisions to the international framework for radiological protection of the environment.

People are not allowed to live near the Chernobyl power station and the abandoned settlements within the exclusion zone are surrounded by forests hosting birds, wolves, elks and lynxes. A giant protective dome was put in place over the destroyed fourth reactor in 2016.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

USA spends taxpayers’ money on weapons, endless wars, not health – coronavirus chaos is the result

October 19, 2020 Posted by | health, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

35 crew on secretive HMS Vigilant £3billion nuclear submarine tested positive for Covid

Quarter of crew on £3billion nuclear submarine dubbed ‘HMS sex and cocaine’ test positive for coronavirus after defying orders and going drinking at bars and strip clubs near US naval base

  • 35 crew on secretive HMS Vigilant tested positive for Covid, source revealed
  • Among those who tested positive were a doctor and an executive officer
  • Nuclear weapons codes are known by that executive officer and 1 other person
  • Sailors defied orders while docked at the Kings Bay US Navy base in Georgia

Daily Mail By JEMMA CARR FOR MAILONLINE 14 October 2020   A £3billion nuclear submarine dubbed ‘HMS Sex and Cocaine’ has seen a coronavirus outbreak among its rule-breaking crew.

Highly-secretive HMS Vigilant saw more than 35 crew members test positive after several left the Kings Bay US Navy base in Georgia, a source has revealed.

Among those who tested positive – a quarter of the vessels team – was a doctor and an executive officer.

The codes to deploy the nuclear weapons stored on the submarine are known only by that executive officer and one other person, reports suggest.

Sailors defied orders to go to strip clubs, bars and restaurants in Georgia – which has seen 318,000 coronavirus cases and 7,282 deaths.

One trip saw them travel 200 miles away to a beach in Florida, an insider said…….. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8837335/Quarter-crew-3billion-nuclear-submarine-dubbed-test-positive-coronavirus.html

October 15, 2020 Posted by | health, UK | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s erratic behaviour revives the debate on the President’s unchecked nuclear authority

Trump’s Virus Treatment Revives Questions About Unchecked Nuclear Authority
Even before the president was given mood-altering drugs, there was a movement to end the commander in chief’s sole authority to launch nuclear weapons. NYT, 12 Oct 20,  By David E. Sanger and William J. Broad,

President Trump’s long rants and seemingly erratic behavior last week — which some doctors believe might have been fueled by his use of dexamethasone, a steroid, to treat Covid-19 — renewed a long-simmering debate among national security experts about whether it is time to retire one of the early inventions of the Cold War: the unchecked authority of the president to launch nuclear weapons.

Mr. Trump has publicly threatened the use of those weapons only once in his presidency, during his first collision with North Korea in 2017. But it was his decision not to invoke the 25th Amendment and turn control over to Vice President Mike Pence last week that has prompted concern inside and outside the government.

Among those who have long argued for the need to rethink presidents’ “sole authority” powers are former Defense Secretary William J. Perry, considered the dean of American nuclear strategists, who has cited the fragility of a nuclear-weapons control chain and the fear that it can be subject to errors of judgment or failure to ask the right questions under the pressure of a warning of an incoming attack.

Mr. Trump’s critics have long questioned whether his unpredictable statements and contradictions pose a nuclear danger. But the concerns raised last week were somewhat different: whether a president taking mood-altering drugs could determine whether a nuclear alert was a false alarm.

That question is a new one. The military’s Strategic Command often conducts drills that simulate actual but inconclusive evidence that the United States may be under nuclear attack. Such simulations drive home the reality that even a president asking all the right questions could make a mistake. But they rarely simulate what would happen if the president’s judgment was impaired.

“A nuclear crisis can happen at any time,” Tom Z. Collina, the policy director at the Ploughshares Fund, a private group that seeks to defuse nuclear threats, noted last week in an opinion piece. “If such a crisis takes place when a president’s thinking is compromised for any reason,” he added, “the results could be catastrophic.”

Traditionally, presidents have temporarily conveyed authority — including nuclear launch authority — to the vice president when they anticipated being under anesthesia. Ronald Reagan took that step in 1985, and George W. Bush did so in 2002 and 2007. There was no indication that Mr. Trump was unconscious, but there was reason to be concerned that the cocktail of drugs he was given could impair his judgment to make the most critical decisions entrusted to a president.

Last week in telephone interviews with Fox News and Fox Business Network, Mr. Trump said he was no longer taking experimental medications but was still on dexamethasone, which doctors say can produce euphoria, bursts of energy and even a sense of invulnerability. On Friday, he told Fox News he was off the drug, which he appears to have taken for less than a week.

But during that week, his prolific Twitter activity and rambling interviews led many to question whether the drugs had accentuated his erratic tendencies. His doctors’ refusal to describe with any specificity his condition or treatment only played up the concern.

“The history of obfuscating the medical condition of presidents is as old as the Republic,” said Vipin Narang, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied the nuclear command-and-control chain. “The issue here is that the dex” — shorthand for dexamethasone — “can make you paranoid and delusional.”

“We don’t know how much he was given,” Mr. Narang said. “And if he gives an order in the middle of the night, and no one is there to stop him, we are dependent on his military aide not to transmit the order or the duty officer at the national military command center to stop it.”………….

The “sole authority” tradition is unusual among the world’s nine nuclear powers; even Russia requires two out of three designated officials to sign off on a nuclear launch. While the Constitution says that only Congress can declare war, the speed of bombers and missiles made clear during the Cold War that there would be no time to convene Congress or mount a defense. As a result, Congress began delegating to the president all powers to use nuclear weapons during Harry S. Truman’s administration. He is the only president who has ordered a nuclear strike……..

“The last finger I would want on the nuclear button,” said Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington, “is that of a president on drugs.”……… https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/us/politics/trump-nuclear-weapons-coronavirus.html

October 13, 2020 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, psychology - mental health, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump’s COVID infection shows why it’s time to retire the nuclear football

Trump’s COVID infection shows why it’s time to retire the nuclear football, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , By Tom Z. Collina, October 6, 2020   President John Kennedy took powerful pain medications. President Richard Nixon was a heavy drinker. President Ronald Reagan had dementia. And now President Donald Trump has the coronavirus. These conditions can significantly impair one’s ability to think clearly. And yet, as president, each had—or, in Trump’s case, still has–the unilateral authority to launch US nuclear weapons within minutes.

President Trump is followed 24/7 by a military aide that carries the “football,” the briefcase that holds all he would need to order the immediate launch of up to 1,000 nuclear weapons, more than enough megatonnage to blow the world back into the stone age. He does not need the approval of Congress or the secretary of defense. Shockingly, there are no checks and balances on this ultimate executive power.

President Trump took the nuclear football with him to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he received treatment for COVID-19. According to Trump’s doctor, the president’s blood oxygen levels had dipped. And this, according to independent health experts, can impair decision-making ability. He is taking dexamethasone, which can cause mood swings and “frank psychotic manifestations.” Yet as far as we know, at no point did the president transfer his powers to the vice president, as allowed under the 25th Amendment.

To state the obvious, we should not entrust nuclear launch authority to someone who is not fully lucid. (Reagan transferred authority temporarily before planned surgery, as did President George W. Bush before a medical procedure that required his sedation.) A nuclear crisis can happen at any time, including at the worst possible time. If such a crisis takes place when a president’s thinking is compromised for any reason, the results could be catastrophic. ……..

If the president or his advisors have reason to believe that Trump’s thinking may be compromised, nuclear launch authority should be transferred to the vice president, Mike Pence. If Pence also gets COVID, the football could then be passed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Chuck Grassley, and the secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense, in that order.

But kicking the football down the line does not solve the problem—and in fact shows why the system is broken. Does anyone really believe that the president pro tem of the Senate or the Treasury Secretary has spent much time preparing for nuclear war? And even if they had prepared, the central dilemma remains: All humans are imperfect, and we should not trust the fate of the world to any one person.

The whole concept of giving the president unilateral nuclear authority is built on the false assumption that Russia might launch a surprise first strike. In fact, Russia has never seriously considered a first strike against the United States for a simple reason: It would be national suicide. Both sides have to assume that an attack would provoke an unacceptable nuclear retaliation. Both nations, and much of the rest of the globe, would be obliterated. Starting such a war would be insanity………

It is time to retire the nuclear football. The only thing standing between us and nuclear holocaust is one man with COVID on heavy meds. That is the plan? Ending sole authority is better than entrusting it to any individual. In a vibrant democracy, no one person should have the unchecked power to destroy the world. https://thebulletin.org/2020/10/trumps-covid-infection-shows-why-its-time-to-retire-the-nuclear-football/

 

October 8, 2020 Posted by | health, politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Pressure on U.S. Congress to reinstate research on links between nuclear stations and cancer

Activists push Congress to revive probe into links between nuclear plants and cancer

Nuclear Regulatory Commission killed study in 2015 after spending five years and $1.5 million on the effort,   Orange County Register,  By TERI SFORZA | tsforza@scng.com |  October 5, 2020 Scientists and activists were stunned back in 2015 when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission pulled the plug on what was designed to be the best study of cancer near nuclear power plants ever done.

The pilot study’s price tag was $8 million — a pittance in the NRC’s $1 billion budget — and five years of work had already gone into it. But it was killed because officials were convinced it would be too costly and couldn’t link reactors to disease, a Southern California News Group investigation found.

Last week, a petition with some 1,200 signatures demanding that the study resume went to members of Congress representing Southern and Central California.

“This is a scientific endeavor which will improve our understanding of cancer, the leading cause of death in California,” the petition states. “It is especially important for women, children, and the human fetus who are much more vulnerable to the biological effects of harmful ionizing radiation.”

No one knows threat

The retired San Onofre and Diablo nuclear power plants, both shut down in 2013, have been discharging low-level radioactivity into the ocean and atmosphere for decades, the petition continues, and no one knows for sure whether that poses a threat to nearby residents………

More modern studies in Europe have found that children living within 3 miles of nuclear power plants had double the risk of developing acute leukemia as those living farther away, with the peak impact on children ages 2-4.

Bart Ziegler, president of the Samuel Lawrence Foundation, said the inquiry is long overdue and must begin right away. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/10/05/activists-push-congress-to-revive-probe-into-links-between-nuclear-plants-and-cancer/

October 8, 2020 Posted by | health, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Ionising radiation – the tragedy of the ”radium girls”

They weren’t just making paints, they were doing the painting, too. According to NPR, US Radium hired scores of girls and young women — as young as just 11-years-old — to paint watch dials with the glow-in-the-dark, radium-based paint. As if just working with the paint wasn’t bad enough, they were also encouraged to put the brush between their lips and twirl it into a point. It was the best way to get truly precise numbers and brush strokes, but with each lick of the brush, they were swallowing radium.

the human body isn’t great at telling the difference between radium and calcium. Radium gets absorbed into the bones just like calcium does, and when that happens, the rot starts.

Writer and historian Kate Moore documented the cases of the Radium Girls (via The Spectator) and found that there were a whole host of symptoms. Some started suffering from chronic exhaustion. For many, it started with their teeth — one by one, those teeth would start to decay and rot. When they were removed, their gums wouldn’t heal. In some cases, the jaw would just simply disintegrate at the dentist’s touch. Bad breath was common. Skin became so delicate that the slightest touch would tear open wounds. Ulcers formed for some, and those that were pregnant bore stillborn babies.

THE RADIUM GIRLS HAD TO BE BURIED IN LEAD-LINED COFFINS
The Radium Girls weren’t just sick, they were very literally radioactive. Mollie Maggia was exhumed in 1927, in the hopes that her bones would give still-living Radium Girls the evidence they needed to win in court. According to Popular Science, her coffin was lifted out of the ground, and her body? It glowed. That wasn’t entirely surprising, considering her bones were found to be highly radioactive — and considering radium’s half-life is 1,600 years, they’re not going to stop glowing any time soon.

Eventually, 16 separate sites around Ottawa would be classified as Superfund sites. 

NPR Illinois says that many have been cleaned up, but as of 2018, there was at least one site — a 17-acre plot of land on the Fox River — that still remained a highly radioactive and terrifying legacy of the Radium Girls.

THE MESSED UP TRUTH ABOUT THE RADIUM GIRLS  https://www.grunge.com/181092/the-messed-up-truth-about-the-radium-girls/   BY DEBRA KELLY/DEC. JULY 14, 2020 
History is filled with episodes that prove mankind is just sort of making everything up as it goes. There’s no shortage of things that can kill us or do horrible, terrible things to our soft and squishy bodies, and every time we think we know about them all, it turns out there’s something else lurking around the corner.

And sometimes, it’s disguised as something awesome. Need proof? Look no further than the Radium Girls.

Yes, that radium. Today, the Royal Society of Chemistry says there’s really only one use for radium — targeted cancer treatments, because it’s so good at killing cells. It was first discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie, after they extracted a single milligram from ten tons of a uranium ore called pitchblende. And it was pretty darn cool. It glowed, and seriously, how exciting is that? Unfortunately, it was also deadly — as the so-called Radium Girls would find out.

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October 3, 2020 Posted by | history, radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

From 38 million English-language articles, study shows Trump as world’s biggest driver of coronavirus misinformation

Donald Trump has been the world’s biggest driver of coronavirus misinformation, study finds,  SBS News 1 Oct 20,  The study from Cornell University looked some 38 million English language articles in traditional media outlets around the world in the first half of this year.

US President Donald Trump has been the world’s biggest driver of COVID-19 misinformation during the pandemic, a study from Cornell University said Thursday.

A team from the Cornell Alliance for Science evaluated 38 million articles published by English-language, traditional media worldwide between 1 January and 26 May of this year.

The database they used aggregates coverage from countries such as the United States, Britain, India, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other African and Asian nations.

The authors found that comments by Mr Trump drove major spikes in the “miracle cures” topic, led by his 24 April press briefing where he mused on the possibility of using disinfectants inside the body to cure the coronavirus.

Similar spikes were seen when he promoted unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine.

“We conclude therefore that the president of the United States was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation ‘infodemic’,” the team wrote.

Sarah Evanega, who led the study and is director of the Cornell Alliance for Science, said: “If people are misled by unscientific and unsubstantiated claims about the disease, they may be less likely to observe official guidance and thus risk spreading the virus……..   They identified 522,472 news articles that reproduced or amplified misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic, or what the World Health Organization has called the “infodemic.”….. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/donald-trump-has-been-the-world-s-biggest-driver-of-coronavirus-misinformation-study-finds

 

October 3, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Congenital abnormalities. Thorium and uranium, in infants and children living near an active U.S. military base in Iraq

October 1, 2020 Posted by | children, Iraq | Leave a comment

On the moon ”normal” humans (i.e males) will get 200 Times the Radiation Experienced on Earth, (what about females?)

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

 

It is amazing that in all this propaganda for putting a woman on the moon, – no mention is ever made, of the fact that women are much more susceptible to the effects of ionising radiation, meaning that their risk of developing cancer and other illnesses is greater than it is for men. Apparently the space enthusiasts are still buying into that traditional view that the ”normal” human being is male.

Moonwalking Humans Get Blasted With 200 Times the Radiation Experienced on Earth, Smithsonian Magazine ,

By Alex Fox, SMITHSONIANMAG.COM, SEPTEMBER 29, 2020
The new findings will inform how much shielding future astronauts will need to safely explore the moon,  The 12 human beings who have walked on the moon were all bombarded by radiation roughly 200 times what we experience here on Earth, reports Adam Mann for Science. That’s two to three times what astronauts experience aboard the International Space Station, explains Marcia Dunn for the Associated Press (AP), suggesting that any long term human presence on the moon will require shelters with thick walls capable of blocking the radiation.

The 12 human beings who have walked on the moon were all bombarded by radiation roughly 200 times what we experience here on Earth, reports Adam Mann for Science. That’s two to three times what astronauts experience aboard the International Space Station, explains Marcia Dunn for the Associated Press (AP), suggesting that any long term human presence on the moon will require shelters with thick walls capable of blocking the radiation.

Despite the fact that the measurements, which come courtesy of China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander, are quite high compared to what we experience on Earth, the data is quite useful for protecting future moonwalkers. According to Science, the levels of radiation at the lunar surface wouldn’t be expected to increase the risk of NASA astronauts developing cancer by more than 3 percent—a risk threshold the agency is legally required to keep its astronauts’ activities safely below.

Despite the fact that the measurements, which come courtesy of China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander, are quite high compared to what we experience on Earth, the data is quite useful for protecting future moonwalkers. According to Science, the levels of radiation at the lunar surface wouldn’t be expected to increase the risk of NASA astronauts developing cancer by more than 3 percent—a risk threshold the agency is legally required to keep its astronauts’ activities safely below……

Some forms of radiation, which is electromagnetic energy emitted in forms like heat, visible light, X-rays and radio waves, can mess with the cells inside the human body by breaking up the atoms and molecules they’re made of. On Earth, most people are familiar with ultraviolet radiation’s harmful effects on our skin, but in space, astronauts are also subjected to galactic cosmic rays, accelerated solar particles, neutrons and gamma rays, according to the research published this week in the journal Science Advances. This material can damage our DNA and lead to increased incidences of cancer or contribute to other health problems such as cataracts and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system or other organ systems.

Humanity measured the radiation astronauts on the Apollo missions experienced on their journeys to the moon, but those measurements were cumulative for each astronaut’s entire journey, per Science. To figure out the daily dose of radiation exclusively on the surface of the moon, the robotic Chang’e-4 lander used a stack of ten silicon solid-state detectors.

The renewed interest in collecting such measurements is partly because NASA has plans to send more people to the moon. The Artemis moon mission, scheduled for 2024, will feature the first woman ever to walk on the moon as well as a week-long expedition to the lunar surface and a minimum of two moonwalks, reports Katie Hunt for CNN.

Berger tells the AP that these new findings suggest the shelters needed to protect Artemis’ astronauts during such a long stay on the moon should have walls made of moon dirt that are some two and a half feet thick. Science notes that the shelter would also need an even more heavily shielded inner sanctum to protect astronauts in the event of a solar storm. Adequate shielding for this inner chamber would be roughly 30 feet of water, and would also need to be reachable within 30 minutes—the current limit of satellites’ abilities to provide astronauts with advanced warning of such hazards.

The findings aren’t exactly suprising: they are in line with calculations made using existing measurements. But they’re a crucial step towards putting people on the surface of the moon for extended periods of time. According to Science, the results confirm that with proper shielding astronauts could spend as long as six months on the moon.  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/moonwalking-humans-get-blasted-200-times-radiation-experienced-earth-180975926/

October 1, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment