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Media to blame for focussing on Trump trivia, minimising climate change

Climate change is the story you missed in 2017. And the media is to blame https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/07/climate-change-media-coverage-media-matters   Lisa Hymas

Some of Trump’s tweets generate more national coverage than devastating disasters. As the weather gets worse, we need journalism to get better, 

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December 7, 2017 Posted by | climate change, media, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear arms industry controls public discussion on weapons – funding “think tanks”

The Sway of the Nuclear Arms Industry Over Donald Trump and Congress Is Terrifying  “The devastation is very important to me.”  Mother Jones his story originally appeared on TomDispatch.com. “……..Another way the nuclear weapons industry (and the rest of the military-industrial complex) tries to control and focus public debate is by funding hawkish think tanks. The advantage to weapons makers is that those institutions and their “experts” can serve as front groups while posing as objective policy analysts. Think of it as intellectual money laundering.

One of the most effective industry-funded think tanks in terms of promoting costly, ill-advised policies has undoubtedly been Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy. In 1983, when President Ronald Reagan first announced his Strategic Defense Initiative (a.k.a. “Star Wars”), the high-tech space weapons system that was either meant to defend the country against a future Soviet first strike or—depending on how you looked at it—free the country to use its nuclear weapons without fear of retaliation, Gaffney was its biggest booster. More recently, he has become a prominent purveyor of Islamophobia, but the impact of his promotional work for Star Wars continues to be felt in weapons contracts to this day.

Just as George W. Bush was entering the White House, another industry-backed think tank, the National Institute for Public Policy, released a report on nuclear weapons policy that would be adopted almost wholesale for the new administration’s first key nuclear posture review. It advocated such things as increasing the number of countries targeted by US nukes and building a new, more “usable” bunker-busting nuclear weapon. At that time, NIPP had an executive from Boeing on its board. Its director was Keith Payne, who would become infamous in the annals of nuclear policy for co-authoring a 1980 article at Foreign Policy entitled “Victory Is Possible,” suggesting that the United States could actually win a nuclear war, losing “only” 30 million to 40 million people. This is the kind of expert the nuclear weapons complex funded to promulgate its views.

Then there’s the Lexington Institute, a think tank that never met a weapons system it didn’t like. Lexington front man Loren Thompson is frequently quoted in news stories on defense issues, but it is rarely disclosed that he is funded by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and other nuclear weapons contractors.

Just as George W. Bush was entering the White House, another industry-backed think tank, the National Institute for Public Policy, released a report on nuclear weapons policy that would be adopted almost wholesale for the new administration’s first key nuclear posture review. It advocated such things as increasing the number of countries targeted by US nukes and building a new, more “usable” bunker-busting nuclear weapon. At that time, NIPP had an executive from Boeing on its board. Its director was Keith Payne, who would become infamous in the annals of nuclear policy for co-authoring a 1980 article at Foreign Policy entitled “Victory Is Possible,” suggesting that the United States could actually win a nuclear war, losing “only” 30 million to 40 million people. This is the kind of expert the nuclear weapons complex funded to promulgate its views.

Then there’s the Lexington Institute, a think tank that never met a weapons system it didn’t like. Lexington front man Loren Thompson is frequently quoted in news stories on defense issues, but it is rarely disclosed that he is funded by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and other nuclear weapons contractors.

Examples include Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a former board member at General Dynamics; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who worked for a number of defense firms and was an adviser to DynCorp, a private security firm that has done everything from (poorly) training the Iraqi police to contracting with the Department of Homeland Security; former Boeing executive and now Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan; former Lockheed Martin executive John Rood, nominated as undersecretary of defense for policy; former Raytheon Vice President Mark Esper, newly confirmed as secretary of the Army; Heather Wilson, a former consultant to Lockheed Martin, who is now secretary of the Air Force; Ellen Lord, a former CEO for the aerospace company Textron, who is undersecretary of defense for acquisition; and National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg, a former employee of the major defense and intelligence contractor CACI, where he dealt with “ground combat systems” among other things.

Keep in mind that these high-profile industry figures are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the corporate revolving door that has been installed in the Pentagon for decades, as journalist Lee Fang has documented in the Intercept.

Given the composition of his national security team and Trump’s love of all things nuclear, what can we expect from his administration on this front? In addition to the $1.7 trillion nuclear build-up, Trump’s impending nuclear posture review seems to include proposals for dangerous new weapons like a “low-yield,” purportedly more usable nuclear warhead. He’s spoken privately with his team about expanding the arsenal in a staggering fashion—the equivalent of a 10-fold increase. He’s wholeheartedly embraced missile defense spending, pledging to put billions of dollars more into that overfunded, under-producing set of programs. And of course, he is assiduously trying to undermine the Iran nuclear deal, one of the most effective arms control agreements of recent times, and so threatening to open the door to a new nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

 Unless the nuclear spending spree being pushed by President Trump as the best thing since the invention of golf is stopped thanks to public opposition, the rise of an antinuclear movement, or congressional action, we’re in trouble. The nuclear weapons lobby will again have won the day—just as it did almost 60 years ago, despite the opposition of a popular president and decorated war hero.

And Donald Trump, “bone spurs” and all, is no Dwight D. Eisenhower.

This article was adapted from the author’s essay “Nuclear Politics” in the collection Sleepwalking to Armageddon: The Threat of Nuclear Annihilation, edited by Helen Caldicott. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/11/devastation-very-important-nuclear-weapons-industry-donald-trump-1/

November 19, 2017 Posted by | media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster, USA | 1 Comment

Britain’s BBC again fails to address false and misleading information; this time about Moorside nuclear

Radiation Free Lakeland 2nd Nov 2017, There is so much wrong with the BBC’s File on 4 programme that it is
difficult to know where to begin.

The narrrator takes us to “Moorside” which is described a a “barren agricultural land”. What nonsense! –  this
land, ancient hedgerows, river, floodplain and what would be affected coast line/sea has several special designations (including international ones) Marine Conservation Zone, RAMSAR, SSSI, Habitats Directive, All of no
consequence apparently when it comes to nuclear who can override such piffling considerations with ‘Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest’.

According to the nuclear industry spokesman Moorside would produce 20% of the UKs electricity – WHAT!!! This went unchallenged by the BBC.

Moorside would produce a mere 7% of the UKs electricity and that is a stretch. The only downside of new build according to the BBC is the finance – what utter nonsense – the profligate finance is the least of it …what about the fact that it is killing us with not only routine releases from reactors but now accelerating “decommissioning” projects which are finding ever more novel ways to dump radioactive waste into the environment.
https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/bbc-on-nuclear-decommissioning-dumping-what-a-clever-piece-of-misdirection/

November 3, 2017 Posted by | media, UK | Leave a comment

BBC finally apologises for its uncritical interview with climate denialist Lord Lawson

BBC apologises over interview with climate sceptic Lord Lawson https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/24/bbc-apologises-over-interview-climate-sceptic-lord-nigel-lawson Lawson’s claim that global temperatures are not rising went unchallenged, breaching guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, Guardian, Damian Carrington, 25 Oct 17, The BBC has apologised for an interview with the climate sceptic Lord Lawson after admitting it had breached its own editorial guidelines for allowing him to claim that global temperatures have not risen in the past decade.

BBC Radio 4’s flagship news programme Today ran the item in August in which Lawson, interviewed by presenter Justin Webb, made the claim. The last three years have in fact seen successive global heat records broken.

The Today programme rejected initial complaints from listeners, arguing that Lawson’s stance was “reflected by the current US administration” and that offering space to “dissenting voices” was an important aspect of impartiality.

However, some listeners escalated their complaint and, in a letter seen by the Guardian, the BBC’s executive complaints unit now accepts the interview breached its guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.

The complaint centred on two statements by Lawson: that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “has confirmed that there has been no increase in extreme weather events” and “according to the official figures, during this past 10 years, if anything, mean global temperature, average world temperature, has slightly declined”.

 The BBC complaints unit accepted that these statements “were, at the least, contestable and should have been challenged”. In fact the Global Warming Policy Forum itself, the campaign group chaired by Lawson, acknowledged on 13 August that the temperature data he was referring to was “erroneous” and not official. Senior scientists also declared that Lawson’s statement about extreme weather was wrong.

It is not the first time the Today programme has been censured by the BBC complaints unit for an interview with Lawson. A broadcast in February 2014 was judged to have “given undue weight to Lord Lawson’s views, and had conveyed a misleading impression of the scientific evidence on the matter”.

“I really thought the climate change debate had finished and that these voices of the very rich and well connected had lost relevance in the whole argument,” said Dr Tim Thornton, a recently retired GP from Yorkshire who made one of the complaints. “It’s fine that they don’t like the idea of climate change but they are on a par with flat-earthers.”

Thornton highlighted the claim that global temperatures had not risen: “Even a sixth-former would be able to tell you that wasn’t so. So the BBCinterviewer, if they are talking about climate change, should have done a little bit of homework.”

In his letter to Thornton, Colin Tregear, BBC complaints director, said: “I hope you’ll accept my apologies, on behalf of the BBC, for the breach of editorial standards you identified.”

Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, welcomed the upholding of the complaint but said: “There needs to be a shift in BBC policy so that these news programmes value due accuracy as much as due impartiality.

“As well as taking account of the rights of marginal voices like Lord Lawson to be heard, the BBC should also take account of the harm that its audiences can experience from the broadcast of inaccurate information,” said Ward. “His inaccurate assertion that there has been no change in extreme weather was harmful to the programme’s listeners because they may have been misled into believing that they do not need to take precautions against the increasing risk of heatwaves and flooding from heavy rainfall in the UK.”

Lawson did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.

Neither the Global Warming Policy Forum or its charitable arm, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, disclose the source of their funding. On their websites, the groups state: “In order to make clear its complete independence, it does not accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company.”

The programme in August featuring the interview with Lawson also included an interview with Al Gore, the former US vice president and climate campaigner, who discussed his new film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, and another interview with the director Fisher Stevens, who made Before the Flood, also about climate change, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The BBC complaints team told Thornton that “the BBC accepts there is broad scientific agreement on climate change” and that “the global climate is changing and the change is predominantly manmade”. The complaints unit said a 2011 review by the BBC Trust had made clear “the requirement to avoid the impression a minority view stands on the same footing as the views of climate scientists”.

Simon Bullock, at Friends of the Earth, said: “It was a real choke-on-cornflakes interview, with Lord Lawson’s misleading climate-denial views given undue weight, and passing unchallenged. After this ruling hopefully the BBC will now move the climate debate on to how to stop our planet warming, not denying that it is happening.”

October 25, 2017 Posted by | climate change, media, UK | 1 Comment

Why does the media blindly regurgitate the untruth that “Iran has a nuclear weapons program” ?

Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Why do media keep saying it does? https://www.salon.com/2017/10/20/iran-does-not-have-a-nuclear-weapons-program-why-do-media-keep-saying-it-does/

Iran has a civilian nuclear energy program, but not one designed to build weapons ADAM H. JOHNSONFAIR.ORG, 10.20.2017 

 When it comes to Iran, do basic facts matter? Evidently not, since dozens and dozens of journalists keep casually reporting that Iran has a “nuclear weapons program” when it does not—a problem FAIR has reported on over the years (e.g., 9/9/15). Let’s take a look at some of the outlets spreading this falsehood in just the past five days:
  • Business Insider (10/13/17): The deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aims to incentivize Iran to curb its nuclear weapons program by lifting crippling international economic sanctions.”
  • New Yorker (10/16/17): “One afternoon in late September, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called a meeting of the six countries that came together in 2015 to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
  • Washington Post (10/16/17): “The administration is also considering changing or scrapping an international agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
  • CNN (10/17/17): “In reopening the nuclear agreement, [Trump] risks having Iran advance its nuclear weapons program at a time when he confronts a far worse nuclear challenge from North Korea that he can’t resolve.”

The problem with all of these excerpts: Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. It has a civilian nuclear energy program, but not one designed to build weapons. Over 30 countries have civilian nuclear programs; only a handful—including, of course, the U.S. and Israel—have nuclear weapons programs. One is used to power cities, one is used to level them.

October 21, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | Leave a comment

No – nuclear industry is NOT “emissions free”

Beware nuclear industry’s fake news on being emissions free
 David Lowry on nuclear not being zero-carbon technology Guardian, 18 Sept 17  
Your incisive editorial makes many strong points, not least highlighting the exigencies of potential security compromises and terrorism vulnerabilities of the planned new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point. But there is a fatal flaw in the argument you set out. The editorial asserts: “Nuclear power has a trump card: it is a zero-carbon technology which delivers a continuous, uninterrupted supply.”

This is demonstrably untrue. On the latter point, you only have to consult the published operating record of reactors to see this is an unsustainable claim. All reactors have lengthy planned outages (shutdowns) for operational reasons; some have significant unplanned outages due to operational failures; and in the extreme case of post-accident safety prudence, such as in Japan, their 54 reactors were all closed for years after the 2011 Fukushima disaster – and became hugely expensive “stranded assets”.

On alleged zero-carbon status of nuclear plants, you repeat a similarly erroneous assertion made in your editorial of 1 October 2005 (Pre-empting debate), where you wrote: “The big advantage of nuclear generation is that it does not produce environmentally degrading emissions in the way that fossil fuel generation does.”

You printed my response to this assertion (There is nothing green about Blair’s nuclear dream, 20 October 2005) in which I set out the various ways the carbon footprint of nuclear power is substantial, if the whole “cradle-to-grave” nuclear fuel chain (uranium mining, milling, enrichment, fuel production, in-reactor fuel irradiation, storage and final long-term management) is properly calculated. I pointed out that the nuclear industry’s proponents, such as those gathered at last week’s World Nuclear Association jamboree in London, are fond of spreading fake news such as describing nuclear energy as “non-carbon emitting”. It is about time this dangerous falsehood was confined to the dustbin of history.
Dr David Lowry
Senior research fellow, Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/17/beware-nuclear-industrys-fake-news-on-being-emissions-free

September 18, 2017 Posted by | media, UK | Leave a comment

Media are letting us down, coverage of climate change gets poorer, as climate change gets worse

Climate change is getting worse, and so is media’s coverage of it, Salon.com. Media are failing to inform audiences about pressing impacts on human migration patterns, women, and the economy, Broadcast networks are decreasing their climate coverage at a time when the case for reporting on the issue is become more and more compelling. By ignoring this serious matter, media are failing to inform audiences about pressing impacts on human migration patterns, women, and the economy.

In 2016, media had no shortage of compelling reasons to cover climate change — from the revelation that it was the third consecutive hottest year on record to the United States’ election of a climate denier to its highest office. Yet broadcast news outlets’ coverage of climate change dropped a whopping 66 percent from 2015 to 2016, making it the third consecutive year of declining coverage.

When media turn a blind eye to climate change, they ignore an issue that will have devastating impacts and multiply existing threats across the globe. According to The New York Times, unmitigated climate change could displace between 50 million and 200 million people by 2050. But the effects of climate change are already visible. In the U.S. last year, the federal government allocated $48 million in grants to resettle residents of Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana, which represents “the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change.”

 Climate change poses a particular threat to women. A whole host of studies have concluded that women will bear the brunt of climate change-induced natural disasters and severe weather events. According to a United Nations analysis, “Women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men — primarily as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change.” The analysis also stated, “When coupled with unequal access to resources and to decision-making processes, limited mobility places women in rural areas in a position where they are disproportionately affected by climate change.”
The prospect of a warming planet also presents a huge risk to the global economy. ……http://www.salon.com/2017/09/11/climate-change-is-getting-worse-and-so-is-medias-coverage-of-it_partner/

September 14, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, media | Leave a comment

CNN the only Sunday morning political show to mention climate change when discussing Irma

Sunday shows largely fail to mention climate change in Hurricane Irma coverage https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/09/10/sunday-shows-largely-fail-mention-climate-change-hurricane-irma-coverage/217895

CNN’s State of the Union was the only Sunday morning political show to mention climate change when discussing Irma

DINA RADTKEThree out of four* major Sunday morning political programs neglected to discuss climate change during their coverage of Hurricane Irma, the second category four hurricane to hit the United States in a matter of weeks.

As Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean and approached Florida, Sunday morning political news programs reported on the storm’s remarkable strength and size and the potential damage it could cause, but three major Sunday shows — Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, CBS’ Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week — failed to mention the effects of climate change during their coverage of the storm, even though expertshave linked extreme weather events, including Irma, to global warming.

The only Sunday morning political show to discuss climate change was CNN’s State of the Union. During an interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), host Jake Tapper said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, the fact that many experts say that the storm is more intense because of climate change” and asked why many Republicans “act as if it’s not real, even though the overwhelming scientific consensus is that it’s real, and it’s man-made”:

Television news programs have repeatedly avoided discussing climate change in their coverage of devastating natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey. The reluctance to discuss climate change on this week’s Sunday news shows follows a pattern that seems to be getting even worse.

Methodology

Media Matters searched SnapStream for discussions of climate change and global warming using the search terms “climate change” or “global warming” on Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, CBS’ Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week, and CNN’s State of the Union. Segments were counted if climate change or global warming was discussed in reporting on Hurricane Irma.

*NBC’s Meet the Press was not included because the show was preempted for Hurricane Irma coverage.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | climate change, media, USA | 1 Comment

Women seen as powerful advocates for the nuclear lobby

American Women Step Up as Nuclear Energy Advocates VOA August 25, 2017  Michelle Quinn

Women seen as powerful advocates, 

Industry experts say that women who work in nuclear power can be powerful advocates for nuclear. They can help change attitudes of other women who tend to be more skeptical than men about nuclear energy’s benefits.

At the recent U.S. Women in Nuclear conference in San Francisco, women working in the industry talked about how more should be done to make nuclear power’s case to the public, and how they may be the best suited to do it.

“As mothers, I think we also have an important role to play in letting the public know that we support nuclear for the future, for our children,” said Matteson. “And we don’t know other mothers supporting nuclear power in a vocal way. We thought there was a gap to fill.”

Young women say they look at careers in this industry because they are socially minded.

‘Do something good for the world’

“I went into this wanting to do something good for the world,” Lenka Kollar, business strategy director at NuScale, a firm in Oregon that designs and markets small modular reactors. “Wanting to bring power to people. There are still more than a billion people in the world who don’t have electricity.”

Critics of nuclear energy say it doesn’t matter who is promoting it.

“Using mothers’ voices to argue for a technology that is fundamentally dangerous and that has been demonstrated by disasters like Fukushima to be not safe for the communities that surround the power plants or even cities that are hundreds of miles away is disingenuous,” said Kendra Klein, a staff scientist with Friends of the Earth, an environmental group…….https://www.voanews.com/a/american-women-step-up-as-nuclear-energy-advocates/4000185.html

August 26, 2017 Posted by | media, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Inaccurate translations in media increase tensions between Iran and USA

Shoddy translation in the Western media is increasing nuclear tensions–again, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Ariane Tabatabai, 25 Aug 17,  “…….Inaccurate translations, imprecise analyses, and poor reporting have long plagued discussion of Iranian nuclear affairs in Western, English-language media. Now, though, this kind of irresponsibility is particularly alarming, because the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 between Iran and six world powers is in a fragile state. The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, curbs Iranian nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, and is critical to advancing the US objective of keeping Tehran away from the Bomb without resorting to military force. US President Donald Trump has gone from pledging to dismantle the deal to trying to kill it by a thousand cuts. Meanwhile, various American interest groups are jumping in to advocate for their own preferred Iran policy options, including leaving the JCPOA and pursuing regime change. All this makes it even more critical than before for journalists and experts to get the facts right.

In foreign policy reporting, especially during periods of heightened tension and escalation, translations are a particularly challenging part of the journalist’s job. Mistranslations and inaccurate reporting can be consequential, as even the slightest mistakes can change meaning and generate crises……
the bottom line of all statements coming out of Tehran about the nuclear deal is that the country is committed to preserving it. This is currently the consensus within the regime; whether everyone likes it or not, the JCPOA is the law of the land. Yet given US threats to renege on the deal, Rouhani also has to hedge. So he is laying out his country’s options and the possible outcomes should America withdraw from the process. It is in this area that many reporters have translated his statements inaccurately.
For example, on August 15, Reuters inaccurately reported that Rouhani said his country “could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers ‘within hours’ if the United States imposes any more sanctions.” The article went on to misquote Rouhani as saying: “If America wants to go back to the experience (of imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time—not a week or a month but within hours—to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations.” In fact, what Rouhani said was: “New US officials should know that the failed experience of sanctions and coercion brought their previous governments to the negotiating table. And if they want to return to that experience, surely, in a short amount of time, not in a period of weeks and months, but hours and days, we will return to a much more advanced situation than that of the beginning of the talks.” In other words, Rouhani wasn’t threatening to leave the JCPOA if the United States imposed more sanctions on it—as the article’s title suggested and its content indicated—but to resume elements of its program if Washingtondecided to leave the JCPOA. At the same time, Rouhani reiterated that his country’s preferred course of action was to preserve the deal—but he wanted the United States to know that Iran, too, had options……
These inaccuracies would be problematic under normal circumstances, but they are particularly irresponsible at a time of heightened tensions, during which misperceptions could quickly torpedo the nuclear deal and put the United States and Iran on a collision course. Right now, the Trump administration is reviewing its policy on the JCPOA, Iranian support for the deal is diminishing, and hawks on both sides see this fragile state of affairs as an opportune moment to kill it off completely. If journalists are to hold those in power accountable, they must be held accountable themselves. http://thebulletin.org/shoddy-translation-western-media-increasing-nuclear-tensions-again11046?platform=hootsuite

August 26, 2017 Posted by | Iran, media, USA | Leave a comment

Trump’s dangerous use of Twitter – prompts a move to buy Twitter, and ban Trump’s tweets

TRUMP’S TWEETS COULD LEAD TO NUCLEAR WAR, SAYS FORMER CIA AGENT WHO WANTS TO BUY TWITTER, BAN PRESIDENT, NewsWeek, BY JASON LE MIERE ON 8/24/17 President Donald Trump’s tweets could lead the United States to “stumble into a nuclear conflict with North Korea,” according to a former CIA agent who has begun a crowdfunding campaign to buy Twitter and ban the president from using it.

The former agent, Valerie Plame Wilson, worked on nuclear issues at the CIA and now works with Global Zero, a nonprofit that works to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons. Last week, in conjunction with Global Zero, she launched a campaign on GoFundMe that aims to raise $1 billion in order to buy a controlling interest in Twitter.

Wilson said she has been bothered by many aspects of Trump’s Twitter use, including his penchant for personal attacks, but it was his recent escalation of rhetoric with North Korea that truly concerned her.

“People who understand how crises escalate…[know] it is absolutely alarming that the president uses this global platform…[and] perhaps we would stumble into a nuclear conflict with North Korea,” she told Newsweek Thursday. “And that is unacceptable.”….

“His head is chaotic, to say the least,” Wilson said. “He’s got one finger on Twitter, one finger on the nuclear weapon. I think most Americans walk around in the ignorant but secure belief that somehow there’s a considered way to launch a nuclear weapon. And that’s not the case. He has immediate access to this awesome destructive power and he loves to emote reckless bravado, and it makes this scenario that much more likely.”…..

Twitter, Wilson contends, is also failing to protect against violent speech. There have been previous calls for Twitter to suspend Trump from the platform, but it has thus far rejected those appeals.

“The actual Twitter rules say they forbid hate speech and inciting violence and I think it’s fair to say that nuclear war would be inciting violence,” she said.

Wilson added that the campaign was a way of “holding Twitter executives’ feet to the fire.”

While a majority stake in Twitter would currently cost around $6 billion, a $1 billion stake would make Wilson the largest shareholder and give her a powerful voice.

With the current amount raised standing at just over $44,000, Wilson accepts that her goal is ambitious, but she says that if the target is not reached, all the money will go to Global Zero to help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. And, if nothing else, she added, it will raise awareness of what she considers should be a major concern to all Americans, regardless of their political leanings.

“My real hope in launching this campaign is to shine a spotlight on how dangerous Donald Trump’s use of Twitter really is,” she said. “We don’t have to sit by while he uses this huge global platform to undermine our national security.” http://www.newsweek.com/trump-nuclear-war-twitter-president-654883

August 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | Leave a comment

BBC lets Nigel Lawson get away with anti science on climate change

Independent 10th Aug 2017, The BBC has been criticised for inviting a climate change denier to come on
air and voice his belief that global warming isn’t happening. Science
broadcasters including Brian Cox and Jim al-Khalili criticised the decision
to bring on famous denialist Nigel Lawson, apparently to make sure that
there was a balanced debate.

Both pointed out that there is very little debate about global warming – an established fact on which almost every
mainstream scientist is agreed. Lord Lawson was able to make a number of
claims, which went mostly unchallenged. He said, for instance, that the
world had actually become colder over the last 10 years – despite the fact
that 2014, 2015 and 2016 have been the hottest years on record.

Environmental experts including Carbon Brief fact-checked each of the
claims and found that none of them were true. But apparently because Lord
Lawson had been invited on as an opposing voice in a debate – to follow an
interview with Al Gore about his latest climate change film – he was mostly
asked to disagree with the science on global warming and his opinions were
little picked up on.
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/today-programme-nigel-lawson-al-gore-climate-change-denier-global-warming-bbc-radio-4-inconvenient-a7886426.html

August 12, 2017 Posted by | climate change, media, UK | Leave a comment

BBC gives platform for climate sceptic to spout anti science

Carbon Brief 10th Aug 2017, Factcheck: Lord Lawson’s inaccurate claims about climate change on BBC
Radio 4. The Today programme, BBC Radio 4’s flagship current affairs
breakfast show, featured a prominent five-minute interview this morning
with the climate sceptic Conservative peer Lord Lawson.

Lawson was asked by the presenter Justin Webb to respond to Webb’s earlier interview with Al
Gore. The former US vice president is in the UK promoting his new
documentary, The Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, a follow-up to his
Oscar-winning film released a decade ago.

Lawson, who has a history ofcontroversial appearances on the Today programme, made a number of
inaccurate claims throughout his interview. It has already attracted
widespread criticism from scientists. Carbon Brief has transcribed and
annotated the interview to highlight and contextualise the errors.  https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-lord-lawson-inaccurate-claims-about-climate-change-bbc-radio-four

August 12, 2017 Posted by | media, UK | Leave a comment

How the US military co-opted a famous journalist to make the nuclear industry look good

In 2004, the progressive journalists Amy and David Goodman called for the prize to be revoked, charging that Laurence had knowingly covered up the effects of radiation sickness on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors by “parroting the government line” that such reports were Japanese propaganda.

Laurence’s role within the Manhattan Project was a clear conflict of interest

We will probably never know the true extent to which William Laurence was co-opted, compromised, or corrupted by his military and governmental connections and involvements.

Atomic Bill’ and the Birth of the Bomb  A star New York Times reporter was hired by the Manhattan Project to be its chronicler and cheerleader. The ethical debate continues to this day. Undark,  08.09.2017 / BY 

T 5:51 A.M. on Monday, May 21, 1956, the famed New York Times science correspondent William Leonard “Atomic Bill” Laurence watched a new universe burst into existence……Called Cherokee, it was a hydrogen bomb that moments before had been dropped about four miles off target from a B-52 bomber flying 10 miles over the northern Pacific, near the island of Namu in the Bikini Atoll

“….Laurence was also, at least in his own era, one of the most important science writers in America, one whose influence, if not his lyrical and vivid prose style, persists to this day. The Princeton historian Michael D. Gordin, author of “Five Days in August” and “Red Cloud at Dawn,” notes Laurence’s seminal impact on popular perceptions of the Bomb: “[His] science-driven utopianism, stressing some of the potential positive outcomes of nuclear power and minimizing the threat to Americans … [was] strongly influential in those early years, and shaped some of the discourse even of those opposed to the positions he articulated.” Much of Laurence’s writing, Gordin goes on, “became just part of the way people talked about nuclear weapons for decades.”

For Laurence, science represented humanity’s salvation, whether through medical advances or the power of the atom. If he believed that science was “the religion of the future,” as Spencer Weart wrote in his book “Nuclear Fear,” then Laurence definitely saw himself as an evangelist…….

OR YEARS, Laurence had wavered, torn between his firsthand knowledge of the annihilating power of nuclear weapons and his hope that the civilian and military atom would bring about a fabled new age of wonder for humankind. The great dangers and the great promise were two separate paths, and it was up to us to choose the right one.

But now those two sides of the atom, the dark and the light, nuclear oblivion and nuclear plenty, finally reconciled themselves in Laurence’s mind. He knew he had been wrong. They weren’t separate. They were one and the same. In the face of the awesome power of hydrogen fusion, no distinctions were necessary, or even possible. Beyond the dark cloud of nuclear destruction lay the super-bright sun of nuclear promise. And he would be the one who, through his words, would help the world see that light……..

In recent years, rising concerns over journalistic ethics, embedded reporters, and conflicts of interest have led critics to view Laurence’s role in the Manhattan Project as a classic example of the latter. Here was a reporter for America’s newspaper of record, tapped to serve not the interests of objective journalism but those of the military. …..

Laurence won his second Pulitzer Prize in 1946 for his Manhattan Project reporting, specifically his eyewitness account of the Nagasaki bombing mission. In 2004, the progressive journalists Amy and David Goodman called for the prize to be revoked, charging that Laurence had knowingly covered up the effects of radiation sickness on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors by “parroting the government line” that such reports were Japanese propaganda. That same year, Beverly Ann Deepe Keever, a University of Hawaii journalism professor, took The Times itself to task, claiming in her book “News Zero: The New York Times and the Bomb” that beginning with Laurence and continuing throughout the Atomic Age, the paper had “omitted or obscured the defining — and harmful — effect” of radiation and radioactivity and had “aided the U.S. government at critical moments in implementing an information policy that covered up or minimized the scope and impacts of radiation and radioactivity.”

However, there’s an important perspective that such accusations overlook. Laurence’s role within the Manhattan Project was a clear conflict of interest by today’s standards……

While I was away with the atomic project for four months, I was off the Times payroll,” he explained in his Columbia oral history interview. “My salary came from the Army. … All the facts, all the news I got, I got from the Army and not from my connection with the Times.” ….

Despite Laurence’s claims, the question of just who was paying him while he was lost in “Atomland-on-Mars,” as he called it, remains unclear. His temporary boss, Gen. Leslie Groves — the military head of the Manhattan Project and the man who plucked Laurence away from the Times after personally selecting him for his atomic job — later wrote in his own memoir that “it seemed desirable for security reasons, as well as easier for the employer [i.e., The Times], to have Laurence continue on the payroll of the New York Times, but with his expenses to be covered by the MED” — the Manhattan Engineering District, i.e. Manhattan Project……..

His glowing paeans to the limitless future of atomic energy and the relative “safety” of the supposedly “clean” hydrogen weapons then under development — along with a thinly veiled disdain toward the growing grassroots campaign to ban atomic testing — only helped to enhance his image as a journalist who not only accepted but actively supported the Bomb as a part of 20th-century civilization. …

There’s no doubt that Groves and the military were consciously attempting to downplay the dangers of radiation….

We will probably never know the true extent to which William Laurence was co-opted, compromised, or corrupted by his military and governmental connections and involvements. It appears that in many ways, he was never really certain himself, and allowed himself to fall into a rabbit hole of murky motivations, ethical conflicts, and questionable alliances for the sake of what he viewed as his journalistic duty and dedication to the truth. What is clear, however, is that he allowed his awe, his sense of wonder, to overwhelm his consciousness, numbing his original visceral dread of atomic weapons and his detailed knowledge of their power. After struggling for decades with the insoluble conflict between the atom’s potential for both unparalleled good and unspeakable evil, he resolved the struggle in his own soul by surrendering to a comforting anodyne, a conviction that nuclear weapons were ultimately a “world-covering, protective umbrella” to shield humanity until the dawn of a golden era of peace.

Blinded by the fireball light of Cherokee that shone so brilliantly and then faded, Laurence anesthetized the dread he had felt and warned of long before any of his colleagues by simply fooling himself. Those of us who are his inheritors must guard against falling into the same trap.   https://undark.org/article/atomic-bill-laurence-manhattan-project/

August 12, 2017 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear danger as Trump government guts science, removes Department of Energy’s skilled personnel

The department trains every international atomic-energy inspector; if nuclear power plants around the world are not producing weapons-grade material on the sly by reprocessing spent fuel rods and recovering plutonium, it’s because of these people

Since Perry was confirmed, his role has been ceremonial and bizarre. He pops up in distant lands and tweets in praise of this or that D.O.E. program while his masters inside the White House create budgets to eliminate those very programs.

Trump’s budget …  cuts funding to the national labs in a way that implies the laying off of 6,000 of their people. It eliminates all research on climate change. It halves the funding for work to secure the electrical grid from attack or natural disaster

WHY THE SCARIEST NUCLEAR THREAT MAY BE COMING FROM INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE Donald Trump’s secretary of energy, Rick Perry, once campaigned to abolish the $30 billion agency that he now runs, which oversees everything from our nuclear arsenal to the electrical grid. The department’s budget is now on the chopping block. But does anyone in the White House really understand what the Department of Energy actually does? And what a horrible risk it would be to ignore its extraordinary, life-or-death responsibilities? BY MICHAEL LEWIS SEPTEMBER 2017 “………..Two weeks after the election the Obama people inside the D.O.E. read in the newspapers that Trump had created a small “Landing Team.” According to several D.O.E. employees, this was led by, and mostly consisted of, a man named Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, which, upon inspection, proved to be a Washington, D.C., propaganda machine funded with millions of dollars from ExxonMobil and Koch Industries. Pyle himself had served as a Koch Industries lobbyist and ran a side business writing editorials attacking the D.O.E.’s attempts to reduce the dependence of the American economy on carbon……….

…..There was a reason Obama had appointed nuclear physicists to run the place: it, like the problems it grappled with, was technical and complicated……..

Pyle, according to D.O.E. officials, eventually sent over a list of 74 questions he wanted answers to. His list addressed some of the subjects covered in the briefing materials, but also a few not:

“Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings?

Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in the last five years?”

That, in a nutshell, was the spirit of the Trump enterprise. “It reminded me of McCarthyism,” says Sherwood-Randall……..

The one concrete action the Trump administration took before Inauguration Day was to clear the D.O.E. building of anyone appointed by Obama…….

Roughly half of the D.O.E.’s annual budget is spent on maintaining and guarding our nuclear arsenal, for instance. Two billion of that goes to hunting down weapons-grade plutonium and uranium at loose in the world so that it doesn’t fall into the hands of terrorists. In just the past eight years the D.O.E.’s National Nuclear Security Administration has collected enough material to make 160 nuclear bombs. The department trains every international atomic-energy inspector; if nuclear power plants around the world are not producing weapons-grade material on the sly by reprocessing spent fuel rods and recovering plutonium, it’s because of these people. The D.O.E. also supplies radiation-detection equipment to enable other countries to detect bomb material making its way across national borders. To maintain the nuclear arsenal, it conducts endless, wildly expensive experiments on tiny amounts of nuclear material to try to understand what is actually happening to plutonium when it fissions, which, amazingly, no one really does. To study the process, it is funding what promises to be the next generation of supercomputers, which will in turn lead God knows where.
The Trump people didn’t seem to grasp, according to a former D.O.E. employee, how much more than just energy the Department of Energy was about……..Trump had nominated three people and installed just one, former Texas governor Rick Perry……..With the nuclear physicist who understood the D.O.E. perhaps better than anyone else on earth, according to one person familiar with the meeting, Perry had spent minutes, not hours. “He has no personal interest in understanding what we do and effecting change,” a D.O.E. staffer told me in June. “He’s never been briefed on a program—not a single one, which to me is shocking.”

Since Perry was confirmed, his role has been ceremonial and bizarre. He pops up in distant lands and tweets in praise of this or that D.O.E. program while his masters inside the White House create budgets to eliminate those very programs. His sporadic public communications have had in them something of the shell-shocked grandmother trying to preside over a pleasant family Thanksgiving dinner while pretending that her blind-drunk husband isn’t standing naked on the dining-room table waving the carving knife over his head.

Meanwhile, inside the D.O.E. building, people claiming to be from the Trump administration appear willy-nilly, unannounced, and unintroduced to the career people. “There’s a mysterious kind of chain from the Trump loyalists who have shown up inside D.O.E. to the White House,” says a career civil servant. “That’s how decisions, like the budget, seem to get made. Not by Perry.”…….

Because of that lack of communication, nothing is being done. All policy questions remain unanswered.”……..

Another permanent employee, in another wing of the D.O.E., says, “The biggest change is the grinding to a halt of any proactive work. There’s very little work happening. There’s a lot of confusion about what our mission was going to be. For a majority of the workforce it’s been demoralizing.”

Over and over again, I was asked by people who worked inside the D.O.E. not to use their names, or identify them in any way, for fear of reprisal…..

…….The D.O.E. ran the 17 national labs—Brookhaven, the Fermi National Accelerator Lab, Oak Ridge, the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, and so on. “The office of science in D.O.E. is not the office of science for D.O.E.,” said MacWilliams. “It’s the office of science for all science in America. I realized pretty quickly that it was the place where you could work on the two biggest risks to human existence, nuclear weapons and climate change.”…….

Indeed, if you are seeking to preserve a certain worldview, it actually helps to gut science. Trump’s budget, like the social forces behind it, is powered by a perverse desire—to remain ignorant. Trump didn’t invent this desire. He is just its ultimate expression. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/07/department-of-energy-risks-michael-lewis

July 28, 2017 Posted by | investigative journalism, politics, safety, USA | Leave a comment