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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Washington Post awash with articles by weapons lobbyists

Washington Post Keeps Running Op-Eds by Lobbyists Pushing Their Clients’ Weapons http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/washington_post_running_op-eds_lobbyists_pushing_weapons_20170527    By Adam Johnson / AlterNet For the third time in two months, The Washington Post has published, without disclosure, an op-ed by a lobbyist for weapons makers pushing for weapons their client makes.

Twice this has been done by staff columnist and BGR Group lobbyist Ed Rogers on behalf of Raytheon, the third time was by Podesta Group lobbyist Stephen Rademaker on behalf of Lockheed Martin.

In early April, after President Trump capriciously decided to bomb a Syrian air force base using Raytheon missiles, Raytheon lobbyist Ed Rogers took to the opinion section of Washington Post–where he, unaccountably, has a recurring column–to lavish praise on the President for doing so.

Rogers’ lobbying firm BGR received $120,000 in 2016 for lobbying on “defense and communications procurement; Defense appropriations and authorizations,” for Raytheon, Media Matters reported at the time.

Rogers boosted Trump again on behalf of his client six weeks later–this time both Saudi Arabia and Raytheon–in his post “The upcoming international trip is an opportunity for Trump and his staff”. The column, while not directly addressing weapons system. painted a glowing picture of a courageous Mr. Trump heading to the middle east to make peace and forge relationships.

Ed Rogers’ firm BGR was paid $500,000 by Saudi Arabia in 2015 to lobby on behalf of the Middle East dictatorship. In addition, the weapons deal finalized by the Trump administration on the trip greatly benefited Rogers’ other client, Raytheon, which has paid BGR $270,000 in the past two and a half years.

Raytheon is also the primary sponsor of Washington Post’s corporate puff interview series “Post Live: Securing Tomorrow” hosted by NatSec-friendly David Ignatius.

A third, and more egregious instance, of the lobbyist-as-pundit practice was from Podesta Group pitchman Stephen Rademaker in a post last week on North Korea’s missile program, “The North Korean nuclear threat is very real. Time to start treating it that way.

Not only did Rademaker generally push a war his client was helping arm-–as Mr. Rogers did–he expressly lobbied the US to procure two specific weapons systems made by his client, Lockheed Martin:

It’s time to take North Korea’s words and actions at face value: North Korea is a nuclear-armed state and is determined to remain one. The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile defense system to South Korea is a welcome first step to contain the threat, allowing us to shoot down short- and intermediate-range missiles fired from North Korea.

As North Korean missile capabilities grow, THAAD needs to be augmented with more robust missile defense systems, including the ship-borne Aegis system, the Aegis Ashore system now being deployed in Romania, expanded interceptor capabilities in Alaska and the corresponding sensors necessary to maximize the effectiveness of all these systems.

Both the THAAD missile system and the Aegis Ashore system are made by Lockheed Martin, one of Podesta Group’s major clients. Lockheed Martin paid Podesta Group $130,000 in the first quarter of 2017 alone and $1.8 million since 2014. According to Podesta Group’s own internal marketing collateral, one of their aims is to “Win key government Projects” for Lockheed Martin.

“At a time when the federal government was seeking to reduce its spending dramatically, Lockheed Martin asked the Podesta Group to ensure one of its flagship programs continued to receive full funding,” their promotional material reads. Presumably writing op-eds pushing Lockheed products in the most influential newspapers in Washington fits neatly into this marketing effort.

The Washington Post mentions Rademaker is a principal at Podesta Group but does not mention Podesta Group is a lobbying firm nor do they mention they’re a lobbying firm on behalf of the makers of THAAD and Aegis Ashore weapons systems being expressly hawked in the post.

In April, liberal watchdog Media Matters documented twelve separate times Post Columnist Ed Rogers didn’t disclose his conflicts of interest, ranging from Dodd-Frank to the Keystone Pipeline to Climate Change legislation. Podesta Group’s Rademaker previously pushed then-President Obama to not reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal in 2014 without disclosing a $200,000-a-year client of his at the time, Huntington Ingalls Industries, built nuclear weapons systems.

The practice of allowing lobbyists to write “opinion” pieces that act as little more marketing pushes for their clients shiny new war products is an even more vulgar extension of the media’s habit of allowing defense industry-funded think tanks to push for increased military spending and saber-rattling, all without even the pretense of academic research or analysis.

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May 31, 2017 Posted by | media, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s attack on the planet – ignored by mainstream media

The media is failing to challenge Trump’s attack on the planet, Grist  It may seem like a distant memory now, given President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, but the top political news at the beginning of this week was the administration’s unexpected dismissal of nine government scientists from the 18-member Environmental Protection Agency board that oversees the department’s scientific research. The EPA reportedly plans to replace some of those board members with representatives from the polluting industries the agency is supposed to regulate.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

South African research institutions paid hush money to shut up about nuclear power

Eskom funding may be muffling dissenting voices on nuclear amaBhungane  Centre for Investigative Journalism, 28 Apr 17,  The lure of millions in Eskom funding appears to have gagged two research institutions previously critical of the utility’s nuclear procurement plans. The lure of millions in Eskom funding appears to have muzzled two research institutions previously highly critical of the state-owned utility’s plans to procure a fleet of nuclear power stations.

In the case of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) amaBhungane understands that the CSIR’s Energy Centre has been effectively gagged since a secrecy-shrouded meeting in March this year between acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko and his counterpart at the CSIR, Dr Thulani Dlamini.

In the other case, the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at Stellenbosch University withdrew comments it had submitted for publication that were highly critical of Eskom’s nuclear plans.

In an email seen by amaBhungane, CRSES director Wikus van Niekerk said: “We receive significant funding from Eskom, some from a programme where Matshela is personally involved in, and I need to be careful how I react in public not to put this at risk.”……..

Case 1: CSIR Energy Centre

Several industry insiders, who asked not to be named, raised the alarm after the CSIR Energy Centre’s head, Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, suddenly pulled out of an event on South Africa’s future energy supply in early April.

They told amaBhungane that a strong rumour had emerged that at Koko’s March meeting with the CSIR chief executive, Eskom had pledged a significant sum – R100 million was mentioned – for CSIR research on technology related to nuclear energy.
AmaBhungane was unable to independently verify the claim.

While there is no evidence of any untoward quid-pro-quo, the same sources noted that the Energy Centre has withdrawn from other public engagements on renewable energy and South Africa’s future energy mix.

Adding to suspicions is the reluctance of both Eskom and the CSIR to disclose any detail of the meeting between Koko and Dr Dlamini.

Both institutions declined to answer questions about who attended the meeting, what was discussed and whether Koko offered the CSIR additional funding, as rumoured……..

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said Eskom had R30.8 million worth of “multi-year collaborative projects” underway with CSIR and another R17.5 million worth were “actively under consideration”.

The CSIR insisted the organisation “did NOT receive any payments from Eskom in order to stop any research that we are conducting,” but ignored questions about Bischof-Niemz’s non-attendance at the April event where he was scheduled to give a presentation on renewable energy.

Up to now the Energy Centre has been vocal about its research on South Africa’s optimal energy mix, which suggested that the price of renewables had dropped to the point where government’s plan to procure 9,600 MW of nuclear power did not make financial sense.

…….

Case No 2: CRSES Stellenbosch

The CSIR is not the only research institution that Eskom channels money to. The Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at Stellenbosch University is another, and it too seems wary of upsetting Eskom.

Email correspondence seen by amaBhungane suggests that the independent research institute is willing to self-censor for fear of offending its funder.

The correspondence between CRSES director Wikus van Niekerk and the staff of Energize magazine – an energy sector trade publication – concerns a submission written by Van Niekerk that is strongly critical of Eskom’s nuclear plans.

After submitting the draft to the editors, Van Niekerk then refused to have it published as a standalone piece. In the correspondence Van Niekerk writes that “We [CRSES] receive significant funding from Eskom, some from a programme where Matshela [Koko] is personally involved in, and I need to be careful how I react in public not to put this at risk.”

According to Eskom, CRSES received R2.6 million in 2016 from Eskom’s Power Plant Engineering Institute, with planned funding for this year projected at around R4 million. CRSES receives additional funding from Eskom’s Research, Testing and Development business unit for R2.5 million photovoltaic penetration study……..

Joemat-Pettersson had previously ordered Eskom to sign the outstanding agreements by 11 April. However, under Mmamoloko Kubayi, who replaced Joemat-Pettersson after Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle, the deadline passed without agreements being signed.

Talk of the nuclear deal has revved up since Zuma’s highly controversial reshuffle, which many see as an attempt by the president to remove ministers – particularly at Treasury and the Department of Energy – seen as obstacles to a future deal.

The DoE under Kubayi asked that signing of power purchase agreements be delayed until she could meet with public enterprises minister Lynne Brown on the matter.

Meanwhile the investments of 37 independent power producers, worth approximately R58 billion, remain plagued by uncertainty.http://amabhungane.co.za/article/2017-04-28-exclusive-eskom-funding-may-be-muffling-dissenting-voices-on-nuclear

April 29, 2017 Posted by | investigative journalism, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | 1 Comment

Stop focusing on celebrities and shares – inform people on climate change – David Suzuki

“As long as we’re focused on celebrity and economics, we’re not going to see the world in a way that
allows us to live and thrive,” he said.

“Why don’t you at least give us an indicator of what we’re doing to the planet?” he asked. “We don’t do that. Our priorities are indicated by things like the Dow Jones average and all that crap.

Suzuki wants journalists to forget the Dow Jones, report on climate every day, National Observer   April 13th 2017 David Suzuki cuts straight to the chase. The state of Canada’s climate action is “disgusting,” he says, and the federal government should be ashamed.

April 17, 2017 Posted by | Canada, media | Leave a comment

Great Barrier Reef bleaching? No, according to Breitbart, that is fake news

Breitbart’s James Delingpole says reef bleaching is ‘fake news’, hits peak denial.more https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2017/mar/24/breitbarts-james-delingpole-says-reef-bleaching-is-fake-news-hits-peak-denial Graham Readfearn  A claim like this takes lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at   24 March 2017 


I
t takes a very special person to label the photographed, documented, filmed and studied phenomenon of mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef“fake news”. You need lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Donald Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at.

It also helps if you can hide inside the bubble of the hyper-partisan Breitbart media outlet, whose former boss is the US president’s chief strategist.

So our special person is the British journalist James Delingpole who, when he’s not denying the impacts of coral bleaching, is denying the science of human-caused climate change, which he says is “the biggest scam in the history of the world”.

Delingpole was offended this week by an editorial in the Washington Post that read: “Humans are killing the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and there’s nothing Australians on their own can do about it. We are all responsible.”

Delingpole wrote:

Like the thriving polar bear, like the recovering ice caps, like the doing-just-fine Pacific islands, the Great Barrier Reef has become a totem for the liberal-left not because it’s in any kind of danger but because it’s big and famous and photogenic and lots and lots of people would be really sad if it disappeared. But it’s not going to disappear. That’s just a #fakenews lie designed to promote the climate alarmist agenda.

Now before we go on, let’s deal with some language here.

When we talk about the reef dying, what we are talking about are the corals that form the reef’s structure – the things that when in a good state of health can be splendorous enough to support about 69,000 jobs in Queensland and add about $6bn to Australia’s economy every year.

The Great Barrier Reef has suffered mass coral bleaching three times – in 1998, 2002 and 2016 – with a fourth episode now unfolding. The cause is increasing ocean temperatures.

CORAL BLEACHING

“Is the Great Barrier Reef dying due to climate change caused by man’s selfishness and greed?” asks Delingpole, before giving a long list of people and groups who he thinks will answer yes, including “the Guardian” and “any marine biologist”.

“Have they been out there personally – as I have – to check. No of course not,” says Delingpole.

Yes. James Delingpole has been out there “personally” to check, but all those other people haven’t. He doesn’t say when he went but he has written about one trip before. It was back in late April 2012. Everything was fine, he said, based on that one visit. I can’t find any times when he has mentioned another trip since.

So here’s the rhetorical question – one that I can barely believe I’m asking, even rhetorically.

Why should there not be equivalence between Delingpole’s single trip to the reef (apparently taken 10 years after a previous severe case of bleaching and four years before the one that followed) at one spot on a reef system that spans the size of Italy [takes breath] and the observations of scientists from multiple institutions diving at 150 different locations to verify observations taken by even more scientists in low-flying aircraft traversing the entire length of the reef?

I mean, come on? Why can those two things – Delingpole making a boat trip with mates and a coordinated and exhaustive scientific monitoring and data-gathering exercise – not be the same?

So it seems we are now at a stage where absolutely nothing is real unless you have seen it for yourself, so you can dismiss all of the photographs and video footage of bleached and dead coral, the testimony of countless marine biologists (who, we apparently also have to point out, have been to the reef ) and the observations made by the government agency that manages the reef.

Senator Pauline Hanson and her One Nation climate science-denying colleagues tried to pull a similar stunt last year by taking a dive on a part of the reef that had escaped bleaching and then claiming this as proof that everything was OK everywhere else…….

Government ministers at federal and state levels, of both political stripes, claim they want to protect the reef.

They are running this protection racket, somehow, by continuing to support plans for a coalmine that will be the biggest in the country’s history.

That’s some more hubris right there.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, USA | 1 Comment

Trump plays the media with tweets, while the Republican anti-people agenda quietly carried out, under the media radar

Donald Trump’s tweets a distraction from decisions being made at the White House, Sydney Morning Herald, Paul McGeough, 24 Mar 17 Washington: “……… it wasn’t till this week that The Wall Street Journal, the very conservative and very sensible, Murdoch-owned WSJ, snapped – its Wednesday editorial tears into Trump for his false and lying tweets.

Likening the teetotaller commander-in-chief to a desperate alcoholic, it thunders on Trump’s widely-debunked claim that former US president Barack Obama had ordered wire taps on Trump Tower: “The President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims.”

The Journal often is accused of covering Trump with kid gloves. But throwing into reverse, the editorial’s author drives over the President again – damning his “seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods”. And then it guns the engine before making another run: “If he doesn’t show more respect for the truth, most Americans may conclude he’s a fake president.”Theories abound on Trump’s obsessive, reckless tweeting – it’s a fight to defend the legitimacy of his presidency; it’s innate – he was groomed since childhood to wage total war on any threat, real or perceived; or it’s all a distraction – creating a crisis to divert attention from other crises and/or from the dire impact of his legislative and executive decisions.

George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist at the University of California at Berkeley, sees a deliberate strategy at work. Analysing Trump’s March 4 wire-tapping tweets, Lakoff lays out four elements on his blog:

Pre-emptive framing: He frames first. He creates a new presidential scandal – Obama’s wire tapping – an accusation without evidence, and with all evidence against it.

  • Deflection: He puts the onus on his squeaky-clean predecessor.
  • Diversion: The press bit and the diversion worked. It generated headlines questioning whether Obama, rather than Trump, had committed wrongdoing. The diversion worked, at least temporarily.
  • Trial balloon: Will the public accept it, or listen to a discussion of it long enough to distract the press and the public from the treason issue? Bruce Miller, a political science professor at the University of Albany, doesn’t buy this theory of calculated distraction. “That’s rarely the case,” he tells Fairfax Media. “All the tweeting is an unavoidable part of his personality … so provocative and unchecked that it has a perverse impact … leaving a sense of a frenzied, chaotic start to this presidency.”
  • But calculated or otherwise, the distraction is profound. Stories that might run for days get bumped from the headlines as an army of political journalists changes gears, going after the latest Twitter feed. Not getting the attention they would ordinarily deserve are a litany of White House decisions or, as in the case of his proposed budget, Trump’s wish list for federal spending cuts that often target the very people he promised to watch out for, those of whom he said in his inauguration speech in January: “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer”.These include his proposal to undo what is called the Fiduciary Rule…….
  • Trump has put medical research on the chopping block; along with a series of economic revitalisation programs………
  • The new president’s determination to undo a swathe of Obama’s “stupid” climate policies is hugely consequential – but this too gets short shrift in the Twitter wars. Climate change research and prevention programs would be eliminated along with a series of vehicle and power plant pollution control efforts that were deemed necessary to counter planet warming.They were part of Washington’s commitment to reduce greenhouse pollution by 26 per cent by 2025 under the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change – which Trump says he’ll junk. And Trump wants to weaken rules that protect hundreds of rivers from pollution.”As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: we’re not spending money on that anymore,” Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney said while briefing reporters on budget proposals.Trump is arguing against laws that prohibit US companies paying bribes to get overseas contracts. And having paid $US25 million to settle class actions against his own university, work is underway to relax rules that make it difficult for other private colleges to scam their students.

    And just in case Trump doesn’t go the whole hog, Republicans have introduced these bills in congress:

 

 

March 25, 2017 Posted by | media, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Some hope for mainstream media: New York Times and Washington Post now to cover climate change news

In response to the Trump administration’s intense politicization of the issue, The Washington Post now dedicates more resources to covering climate policy

“there are really big stories about climate refugees and cities that are threatened and desperately trying to adapt to climate change,

Climate Journalism: The Coverage Heats Up InsideClimate News and Climate Central have dominated U.S. climate journalism, but The New York Times and Washington Post now are trying to catch up. UnDark, 03.23.2017    For about a decade, niche websites have dominated U.S. journalism coverage of climate change and policy responses to it. General news publications and broadcasters, as well as media outlets dedicated to science, have failed to consistently match the volume, quality, and depth of coverage published by outlets such as Climate Central and InsideClimate News, both of which are nonprofit, non-partisan organizations. InsideClimate reporters David Hasemyer, Elizabeth McGowan, and Lisa Song even won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for their coverage of a Michigan oil spill.

But after some shifting commitments on climate change and environmental coverage, The New York Times has devoted significant resources to this beat in the past few months. And The Washington Post is moving in a similar direction.

The Times’ approach involves a team of journalists dedicated to the climate and environment beat. Hannah Fairfield, who began her career as a graphics editor at the newspaper in 2000, started in February as the Times’ climate editor, a newly created position. Her experience also includes a two-year stint as graphics director at The Washington Post.

Fairfield’s team of reporters and editors includes John M. Broder, Coral Davenport, Henry Fountain, Justin Gillis, Nadja Popovich, John Schwartz, and Tatiana Schlossberg. Fairfield’s mission, she says, includes developing explanatory stories as well as stories with a visual component, such as video, photography and graphics.

At The Washington Post, a major Times competitor, climate change coverage is distributed across several desks and journalists, says Laura Helmuth, editor of the paper’s health, science, and environment team. Her writers include Darryl Fears and Brady Dennis, who cover climate change as part of their beat. Meteorologists Jason Samenow and Angela Fritz, along with financial reporters Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson also contribute. Suzanne Goldenberg, recently hired as an editor on the financial team, will work with Mooney and Mufson on an energy and environment blog. Rounding out the effort are several other political reporters who frequently cover climate policy and politics, including Juliet Eilperin, who focuses on the White House, and Lisa Rein, who deals with Congress.

In response to the Trump administration’s intense politicization of the issue, The Post now dedicates more resources to covering climate policy, says Helmuth. “We’re still greatly outnumbered by The New York Times’ dedicated climate staff,” she notes, “but that is the case for most departments.”

The Times’ Fairfield also notes a Trump factor, but in her case it involves the challenge of finding the right coverage balance between breaking climate policy news out of Washington, D.C., and stories about the global effects of climate change. “We have so much to cover in Washington right now, but there are really big stories about climate refugees and cities that are threatened and desperately trying to adapt to climate change,” she says.

The Times plans to make additional hires to its climate team. …..https://undark.org/2017/03/23/climate-coverage-journalism-competition/

March 25, 2017 Posted by | climate change, media, USA | Leave a comment

Mainstream media barely mentioned climate change, during USA election year

SAD!  Major TV networks spent just 50 minutes on climate
change — combined — last year. Grist, 23 Mar 17 

That’s a dramatic, 66-percent drop in coverage from 2015 across evening and Sunday news programs airing on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, according to a new study from Media Matters. ABC, for one, spent just six minutes on climate issues in 2016.

The networks can’t claim there was a shortage of important climate stories to cover. Hurricane Matthew, the Great Barrier Reef’s continued slow deathrecord-shattering heat, and the official beginning of the Paris climate deal all took place last year…..

Other insights from the study:

  • Together, the networks aired five segments of climate science denial from Trump and his team — without rebuttal.
  • No network covered climate change’s impact on national security or the economy.
  • And none of them aired a single segment on the effect a Trump or Clinton presidency would have on the climate — until after the election.

Great to know that TV news is taking the defining issue of our time so seriously. http://grist.org/briefly/major-tv-networks-spent-just-50-minutes-on-climate-change-combined-last-year/

March 25, 2017 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Youtube – newly available images of nuclear bomb tests

*Declassified* Nuclear Test Films Unbelievable Video !!  Kenny-Boo Hurt

Terrifying images revealed in declassified nuclear test videos uploaded to YouTube, The Age, Ben Guarino, 20 Mar 17, 

On Monday, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, located in California, uploaded to YouTube more than 60 films taken during US nuclear weapons tests between 1945 and 1962. During this time, experimental nukes were dropped from bombers or propelled by rockets to altitudes as high as space.

Their offbeat names, such as Operation Hardtack 1, Operation Plumbbob and Operation Teapot, belied the massive destruction on display. More than 200 nuclear test weapons would go off until 1963, when the Partial Test Ban Treaty required further testing to take place underground. In each instance, scientists trained multiple cameras on the explosion.

For decades afterward, thousands of these films languished in secure vaults – until Greg Spriggs, 65, a weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, decided to dust them off. Some of the films had already degraded beyond the point of restoration. “You can smell vinegar when you open the cans, which is one of the byproducts of the decomposition process of these films,” Spriggs said in a news release. “We know that these films are on the brink of decomposing to the point where they’ll become useless.”

He recruited expert archivists, including Zapruder film preservationist Jim Moye, to help digitise the footage.

“The data that we’re collecting now must be preserved in a digital form because no matter how well you treat the films, no matter how well you preserve or store them, they will decompose,” Spriggs said. “They’re made out of organic material, and organic material decomposes. So this is it. We got to this project just in time to save the data.”

Scientists are still able to wring new information from old detonations. Modern analytical techniques applied to digitised footage revealed inaccuracies in past estimates of fireball and shockwave size, which in many instances had been derived by hand.

“We were finding that some of these answers were off by 20, maybe 30, per cent,” Spriggs said. “We’ve also discovered new things about these detonations that have never been seen before.”………

Spriggs and the team of restorers have found about 6500 out of 10,000 reels from the era of above-ground nuclear tests, according to the news release. The researchers have scanned two-thirds of these films, and the Department of Energy has declassified just 750.

Why the government has only allowed the public to see the footage now was not an issue of secrecy – information about the operations had already been made public – but a matter of red tape…….http://www.theage.com.au/world/terrifying-images-revealed-in-declassified-nuclear-test-videos-uploaded-to-youtube-20170319-gv1ak3.html

March 20, 2017 Posted by | media, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tillerson rejects negotiation with North Korea, and keeps journalists out

In Asia, on his first major trip overseas as secretary of state, Mr. Tillerson has been heavily scripted in his few public comments, and he has gone out of his way to make sure he is not subject to questions beyond highly controlled news conferences, at which his staff chooses the questioners. In a breach of past practice, he traveled without the usual State Department press corps, which has flown on the secretary’s plane for roughly half a century.

Rex Tillerson Rejects Talks With North Korea on Nuclear Program, NYT,  MARCH 17, 2017 SEOUL, South Korea — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson ruled out on Friday opening any negotiation with North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programs and said for the first time that the Trump administration might be forced to take pre-emptive action “if they elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | media, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Singapore readers of Straits Times – NOT fans of nuclear power

Netizens up in arms against Straits Times opinion piece about embracing nuclear power in Singapore, THE ONLINE CITIZEN,   ON MARCH 16, 2017 Lim Soon Heng, managing director of Floating Solutions LLP, suggested a floating nuclear power plant for Singapore. He wrote his thoughts on the subject as an opinion in The Straits Times on 15 March……“The way I see it, there is only one option to future-proof our economy: Go nuclear,” he declared.

“I am convinced that floating assets unrelated to oil and gas are the new horizon and a new area to develop. In particular, floating nuclear power plants are a disruptive technology worthy of the challenge.” He said at the end of his writing.

However, a lot of Singaporeans do not agree with him, as shown by most of the more than 170 comments on the news on The Straits Times Facebook post when this article is made.

Some comments were considerable detailed in comparison to what you would normally see in a Facebook comment thread.

One such comments come from a netizen, Teow Loo Shuin who asked fellow commenters to consider some points on the article.

1. What is the author’s source when he commented that Singapore is a significant polluter on a per capital basis?
2. Natural gas is the least pollutive among all other fossil fuels.
3. Regasification and tanks are only needed for LNG, most of imported gas from neighbouring countries are compressed natural gas.
4. Yes, based on some scientific studies, genetic mutation, which give rise to genetic diversity maybe due to natural radiation. However we don’t need anymore of it than necessary.
5. The commonly used unit is millisievert (mSv) instead of microsievert. Yes the recommended annual safe dose is 100 mSv or 100,000 microsievert. In comparison a single CT scan give 10 to 16 mSv. By stating such a large figure of 100,000 may give the impression that one need receive a large radiation dosage without harm.
6. Max radiation level record at Fukushima is 400 mSv per hour. And Tokyo is more than 100km away from Fukushima. I doubt that Singapore can place a nuclear reactor 100+km away from the main island.
7. Current reactor design with passive cooling (so called Gen 3+ reactor design), are still under construction, and haven’t been proven yet in operations. The first such reactor is expected to start operation this year in China.
8. Small modular reactors, reactors running on thorium, or Gen 4 reactors designs are still years away from being reality.
9. Although reactors have long lifespan, but current reactors need to refuel about every 2 years in operations. The uranium fuel rods have to be removed, store in a cooling pool before shipping it out for reprocessing. Do we have space to store these rods on-site especially when these rods are highly radioactive?
10. The idea of floating nuclear plant is interesting, but security? If it blows, where can it go? To Indonesia’s or Malaysia’s water? Also Singapore’s surrounding sea may be contaminated, which will affect our desalinated water supply.

Another commenter questioned the writer’s apparent vested interest, Hong Qixian wrote, “The writer Lim Soon Heng is the managing director of Floating Solutions LLP and obviously has vested interests in projects which involve floating plants or structures…..

A few other of the comments are quoted below….. https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2017/03/16/netizens-up-in-arms-against-straits-times-opinion-piece-about-embracing-nuclear-power-in-singapore/

 

March 17, 2017 Posted by | ASIA, media, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch to gain by Trump firing attorney Preet Bharara

The Big Winner in Donald Trump’s Decision to Fire Preet Bharara Might Be Rupert Murdoch, My Mag, By , 12 Mar 17, Throughout his six-decade career working on three continents, Rupert Murdoch has used his media properties to advance the prospects of politicians whose policies help his business interests. Whether it was Margaret Thatcher’s union-busting in the 1980s or Rudy Giuliani’s campaign to put Fox News on Time Warner’s cable system in the 1990s, Murdoch went all-out for leaders who allowed him to protect and expand his corporate empire.

Since Election Day, Murdoch, now the executive chairman of Fox News, has personally nudged the network in a more pro-Trump direction, sources tell me. That effort included anointing Trump-friendly Tucker Carlson as the successor to Megyn Kelly as host in the 9 p.m. slot. Fox News staffers are also grumbling that segments now have to fit a “pro-Trump narrative,” one insider told me. Trump seems to be returning the goodwill: He asked Murdoch to submit names for FCC commissioner and tweeted praise for Fox News. He’s even taken policy ideas from the network. Now Murdoch may be poised to reap a much bigger win from a Trump administration action.

That’s because on Saturday Trump oversaw the firing of Preet Bharara,  the U.S attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan, whose office is in the middle of a high-profile federal investigation of Fox News. The probe, according to sources, is looking at a number of potential crimes, including whether Fox News executives broke laws by allegedly obtaining journalists’ phone records or committed mail and wire fraud by hiding financial settlements paid to women who accused Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. …….

Given that Fox News is Murdoch’s most profitable division, the prospect of indictments is a serious problem. …..

for Murdoch, it must be a relief that Bharara’s replacement could be an ally. According to the Times, Trump’s short list to replace Bharara includes Marc Mukasey — who just happens to be former Fox News chief Roger Ailes’s personal lawyer….. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/03/winner-in-trumps-decision-to-fire-bharara-might-be-murdoch.html

March 15, 2017 Posted by | media, politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA govt and media ignore huge indigenous rally

Silence:Largest march for native rights in DC ignored by the White House and mainstream media http://americanindiansandfriends.com/main-feed-news/silence [Excellent photos]  – See more at: http://americanindiansandfriends.com/main-feed-news/silence#sthash.inDWHgGX.dpuf The White House didn’t comment nor answer to the tribe’s request. There were a few mainstream Media sources that relayed the event, but the most important information was from social media sites, Twitter and Facebook.

Native American tribes and their supporters headed to the US capital for four days of demonstrations against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline and to raise awareness of other issues affecting Native Americans.

Activists from indigenous tribes from across America had set up a teepee encampment next to the Washington Monument, before marching on Trump Tower and the White House

The protests follow a year-long battle by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmentalists against the construction of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline and the desecration of tribal lands.

The Washington DC protests, organised by Standing Rock along with the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Native Organisers Alliance, have asked the Government to require tribal consent when considering major infrastructure projects crossing through their lands.

But there was silence

-Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network,said: “Our plan here is to really be a central hub for a lot of information of ongoing issues going on across quote-on-quote Indian country.
– See more at: http://americanindiansandfriends.com/main-feed-news/silence#sthash.inDWHgGX.dpuf
”This is also a space for a lot of tribal representatives, frontline grassroots leaders to do some workshops, presentations about issues that are affecting their land, their homelands, their peoples and just to be a hub to really organise and celebrate.”

The White House did not comment.
– See more at: http://americanindiansandfriends.com/main-feed-news/silence#sthash.inDWHgGX.dpuf

March 15, 2017 Posted by | indigenous issues, media, USA | Leave a comment

Trump administration locks out the media, retreats into secrecy

Locked-Out Media Watch While Trump Administration Retreats Into Secrecy MEDIA MATTERS, Blog ››› March 9, 2017  ERIC BOEHLERT“We want to ensure at all times, if confirmed, that the secretary of state and the State Department is fully transparent with the public.” – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his January 11, 2017, confirmation hearing.

On Tuesday, bureau chiefs for major news organizations held a conference call to discuss the fact that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not going to allow the press to travel with him on his plane during an upcoming trip to Asia. According to Poynter.org, which reported on the call, not allowing reporters on Tillerson’s government plane would be would be “very unusual, if not unprecedented, certainly in recent annals, with substantial access given by recent Secretaries of State, including John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.”

As Poynter explained, “[T]he logistics of keeping up with [Tillerson] by assembling stringers or hopscotching about on commercials flights makes coverage exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.” According to CNN, a senior official “told reporters Tuesday Tillerson prefers to travel on a smaller plane and ‘carries a much smaller footprint.'” Tillerson’s plan to exclude the press from traveling with him overseas represents a stunning State Department policy reversal, while further cementing his image as a secretive cabinet figure who has had virtually no contact with journalists since being sworn in. “The secretary of state has given only a handful of prepared statements to the press and has not taken any questions,” CNN noted.

That veil of secrecy has quickly emerged as the hallmark for this shadowy administration.

It’s important to note that while President Trump’s ongoing war on the press has received most of the attention this year as he threatens journalists and restricts their access, there are plenty of indications that the rampant secrecy and disdain for transparency is widespread. “The retreat from the press has taken place administration-wide,” Politico noted.

There seems to be a collective closing of the gates now underway in terms of the federal government separating itself from journalists.

Just look at what unfolded on Monday:

  • Tillerson, along with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, held an event with journalists to announce the administration’s latest attempt to restrict travel to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries. But none of the men responded to press questions about the controversial initiative.
  • Unlike how the administration treated the original travel ban signing, Trump signed the revised travel ban executive order without photographers or reporters present to record the event.
  • When the White House held a background conference call with reporters to discuss the updated travel ban it did not identify officials on the call, which prompted a New York Times reporter to tweet:

Been on dozens of background conference calls: DOJ/DOS/DHS call was first time I’ve been on 1 where officials didn’t give their names.

The next day, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell was escorted from a photo-op with Tillerson and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin after trying to ask several questions. The questions were “met with silence.”

All of that constitutes an historic effort by the Trump administration to lock out the press from the government’s official duties and business.

This, of course, comes after the White House’s radical move to banish several major news outlets from a press “gaggle,” likely because the administration was unhappy with what the organizations were reporting. What followed was a highly unusual, weeklong blackout in terms of televised press briefings from White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

That drawing of the curtain is part of a larger administration effort to march back transparency. For instance, in recent weeks there’s been a paucity of senior administration officials available for on-the-record interviews. Traditionally, senior officials, including cabinet members, have been made available for in-depth interviews, especially on the Sunday morning shows. But not the Trump team.

The White House seems to have specifically singled out CNN, repeatedly, and refused to provide officials for interviews there……..https://mediamatters.org/blog/2017/03/09/locked-out-media-watch-while-trump-administration-retreats-secrecy/215610

March 11, 2017 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Media sucks – especially on nuclear issues – theme for March 2017

On 6   March 2017, The Daily Source, Global Social Justice News,  published Current Problems in the Media, and discussed these under a number of headings. Many of those headings can be adopted for a critique of how the media fails in covering climate, and especially, nuclear news:

High levels of inaccuracies…. Sensationalism……Poor coverage of important issues: Information on Fukushima is often so inadequate that  it amounts inaccuracy, minimising the severity of the problem. At the same time, some of the more sensational anti-nuclear stories are also inaccurate.

The media’s short attention span…..“the issue attention cycle”..”news media suddenly notice a serious problem, such as Fukushima, declare it a crisis: next they realize the problem will not be easily fixed and will be costly,….finally, they ignore the problem.

The media does not cover itself ….”journalism in America has become more slipshod and reckless, at times promiscuous…. Every journalist surely also knows that the old-time standards…have been weakened if not discarded. [This surely applies to coverage of health effects of nuclear industry]  Most of us in the business, however, stand by as mere observers….If this were happening in any other profession or power center in American life, the media would be all over the story, holding the offending institution up to a probing light. …”Sydney Schanberg

media-sucks

Focus on profit margins, not serving public………. “As a loyal American, trained as a journalist some 45 years ago, I am convinced that journalists in the U.S. feel increasingly trapped between their professional values and the marketing/profits mentality so evident now everywhere in the news industry. The old professional values urge them to dig, investigate and bring to the light of day the relevant facts and issues, while the market/profit mentality asks, ‘Is it worth it? Do enough people care?’

It seems clear enough that the market/profit mentality has won out, especially in electronic news, and to a considerable extent in the print media. ..” Margaret T. Gordon, a professor of news media and public policy at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington

[As to nuclear issues, it must be far easier for news media to accept the sophisticated handouts prepared by the nuclear lobby, than to pay investigative journalists to do thorough research. This applies especially to covreage of new nuclear technologies]

A  ray of light.  Nonprofit media organizations rate far higher on educating the public than for-profit entities [Readers of this site must have noticed  how much more informative on nuclear issues are many not- for- profit groups, than much of the mainstream media]

March 6, 2017 Posted by | Christina's themes, media | Leave a comment