The War Economy: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Warns About Job Loss If US Stops Arming Saudi Arabia http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-09/war-economy-cnns-wolf-blitzer-warns-about-job-loss-if-us-stops-arming-saudi-arabia by Tyler Dur Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg,
Ladies and gentlemen, it appears the long anticipated moment of peak mainstream media stupidity may have finally arrived.
This is what passes for journalism in America today.
The Intercept reports:
Sen. Rand Paul’s expression of opposition to a $1.1 billion U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia — which has been brutally bombing civilian targets in Yemen using U.S.-made weapons for more than a year now — alarmed CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday afternoon.
Blitzer’s concern: That stopping the sale could result in fewer jobs for arms manufacturers.
“So for you this is a moral issue,” he told Paul during the Kentucky Republican’s appearance on CNN. “Because you know, there’s a lot of jobs at stake. Certainly if a lot of these defense contractors stop selling war planes, other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia, there’s gonna be a significant loss of jobs, of revenue here in the United States. That’s secondary from your standpoint?”
Paul stayed on message. “Well not only is it a moral question, its a Constitutional question,” Paul said. “Our founding fathers very directly and specifically did not give the president the power to go to war. They gave it to Congress. So Congress needs to step up and this is what I’m doing.”
Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen in March 2015, and has since been responsible for the majority of the 10,000 deaths in the war so far. The U.S.-backed bombing coalition has been accused of intentionally targeting civilians, hospitals, factories, markets, schools, and homes. The situation is so bad that the Red Cross has started donating morgue units to Yemeni hospitals.
The Obama administration has sold more weapons to the Saudis than any other administration, pledging more than $115 billion worth of small arms, tanks, helicopters, missiles, and aircraft.
But hey, the Saudis aren’t really that bad, right. No, they’re just one of the most barbaric, inhumane terrorist supporting states on planet earth.
Need some proof?
Here you go:
And yes, I could go on — and on and on and on.
Finally, let’s end with the clip referenced in the article at the top. [on original]
Media Trumpet Another Phony “Secret Nuclear Deal” Story , 08 September 2016 By Gareth Porter, Truthout | News Analysis Two major media outlets — Reuters and The Washington Post — pushed another Iran “secret side deal” story last week, ignoring obvious facts that revealed it as clever political deception aimed at sabotaging the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Stories in both of those outlets suggested that a leading think tank had revealed a secret deal that allowed Iran to exceed various qualitative and quantitative limits placed on it under the nuclear agreement reached last year — the main current theme of political opponents of the agreement. The stories were based on claims in a report co-authored by David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, who has long been treated by corporate media as the leading “independent” expert on Iran’s nuclear program.
In fact, as Truthout revealed in 2014, Albright had abandoned any independence he had maintained on Iran as early as 2008 and had aligned his position on nuclear negotiations with Iran with those of the Bush administration and Israel…….
Albright’s attack on the Obama administration and the Joint Commission was only the latest installment in the current campaign by pro-Israeli media and political opponents of the JCPOA to claim existence of “secret side deals” between the Obama administration and Iran. Just six weeks ago, the Associated Press correspondent in Vienna, George Jahn, published a story that falsely portrayed Iran’s report to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] on its plan for implementation of the agreement as such a “secret side deal.” The agreement reached between Iran and the IAEA on the issue of alleged past Iranian nuclear work, which included arrangements for taking environmental samples at Iran’s Parchin military facility, was also treated by JCPOA opponents as a “secret side deal.” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37527-media-trumpet-another-phony-secret-nuclear-deal-story
The Saudi Cables. Cables and other documents from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/buying-silence
A total of 122619 published so far
Buying Silence: How the Saudi Foreign Ministry controls Arab media
On Monday, Saudi Arabia celebrated the beheading of its 100th prisoner this year. The story was nowhere to be seen on Arab media despite the story’s circulation on wire services. Even international media was relatively mute about this milestone compared to what it might have been if it had concerned a different country. How does a story like this go unnoticed?
Today’s release of the WikiLeaks “Saudi Cables” from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs show how it’s done.
The oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its ruling family take a systematic approach to maintaining the country’s positive image on the international stage. Most world governments engage in PR campaigns to fend off criticism and build relations in influential places. Saudi Arabia controls its image by monitoring media and buying loyalties from Australia to Canada and everywhere in between.
Documents reveal the extensive efforts to monitor and co-opt Arab media, making sure to correct any deviations in regional coverage of Saudi Arabia and Saudi-related matters. Saudi Arabia’s strategy for co-opting Arab media takes two forms, corresponding to the “carrot and stick” approach, referred to in the documents as “neutralisation” and “containment”. The approach is customised depending on the market and the media in question.
“Contain” and “Neutralise”
The initial reaction to any negative coverage in the regional media is to “neutralise” it. The term is used frequently in the cables and it pertains to individual journalists and media institutions whose silence and co-operation has been bought. “Neutralised” journalists and media institutions are not expected to praise and defend the Kingdom, only to refrain from publishing news that reflects negatively on the Kingdom, or any criticism of its policies. The “containment” approach is used when a more active propaganda effort is required. Journalists and media institutions relied upon for “containment” are expected not only to sing the Kingdom’s praises, but to lead attacks on any party that dares to air criticisms of the powerful Gulf state.
One of the ways “neutralisation” and “containment” are ensured is by purchasing hundreds or thousands of subscriptions in targeted publications. These publications are then expected to return the favour by becoming an “asset” in the Kingdom’s propaganda strategy. A document listing the subscriptions that needed renewal by 1 January 2010 details a series of contributory sums meant for two dozen publications in Damascus, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Kuwait, Amman and Nouakchott. The sums range from $500 to 9,750 Kuwaiti Dinars ($33,000). The Kingdom effectively buys reverse “shares” in the media outlets, where the cash “dividends” flow the opposite way, from the shareholder to the media outlet. In return Saudi Arabia gets political “dividends” – an obliging press.
An example of these co-optive practices in action can be seen in an exchange between the Saudi Foreign Ministry and its Embassy in Cairo. On 24 November 2011 Egypt’s Arabic-language broadcast station ONTV hosted the Saudi opposition figure Saad al-Faqih, which prompted the Foreign Ministry to task the embassy with inquiring into the channel. The Ministry asked the embassy to find out how “to co-opt it or else we must consider it standing in the line opposed to the Kingdom’s policies“.
The document reports that the billionaire owner of the station, Naguib Sawiris, did not want to be “opposed to the Kingdom’s policies” and that he scolded the channel director, asking him “never to host al-Faqih again”. He also asked the Ambassador if he’d like to be “a guest on the show”.
The Saudi Cables are rife with similar examples, some detailing the figures and the methods of payment. These range from small but vital sums of around $2000/year to developing country media outlets – a figure the Guinean News Agency “urgently needs” as “it would solve many problems that the agency is facing” – to millions of dollars, as in the case of Lebanese right-wing television station MTV.
The “neutralisation” and “containment” approaches are not the only techniques the Saudi Ministry is willing to employ. In cases where “containment” fails to produce the desired effect, the Kingdom moves on to confrontation. In one example, the Foreign Minister was following a Royal Decree dated 20 January 2010 to remove Iran’s new Arabic-language news network, Al-Alam, from the main Riyadh-based regional communications satellite operator, Arabsat. After the plan failed, Saud Al Faisal sought to “weaken its broadcast signal“.
The documents show concerns within the Saudi administration over the social upheavals of 2011, which became known in the international media as the “Arab Spring”. The cables note with concern that after the fall of Mubarak, coverage of the upheavals in Egyptian media was “being driven by public opinion instead of driving public opinion”. The Ministry resolved “to give financial support to influential media institutions in Tunisia“, the birthplace of the “Arab Spring”.
The cables reveal that the government employs a different approach for its own domestic media. There, a wave of the Royal hand is all that is required to adjust the output of state-controlled media. A complaint from former Lebanese Prime Minister and Saudi citizen Saad Hariri concerning articles critical of him in the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat newspapers prompted a directive to “stop these type of articles” from the Foreign Ministry.
This is a general overview of the Saudi Foreign Ministry’s strategy in dealing with the media. WikiLeaks’ Saudi Cables contain numerous other examples that form an indictment of both the Kingdom and the state of the media globally.
The Danger of Excessive Trump Bashing http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/38405-the-danger-of-excessive-trump-bashing , Consortium News 04 August 16
The prospect of Donald Trump in the White House alarms many people but bashing him over his contrarian views on NATO and U.S.-Russian relations could set the stage for disasters under President Hillary Clinton, writes Robert Parry. Widespread disdain for Donald Trump and the fear of what his presidency might mean have led to an abandonment of any sense of objectivity by many Trump opponents and, most notably, the mainstream U.S. news media. If Trump is for something, it must be bad and must be transformed into one more club to use for hobbling his candidacy.
While that attitude may be understandable given Trump’s frequently feckless and often offensive behavior – he seems not to know basic facts and insults large swaths of the world’s population – this Trump bashing also has dangerous implications because some of his ideas deserve serious debate rather than blanket dismissal.
Amid his incoherence and insults, Trump has raised valid points on several important questions, such as the risks involved in the voracious expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders and the wisdom of demonizing Russia and its internally popular President Vladimir Putin.
Over the past several years, Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment has pushed a stunning policy of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia in pursuit of a “regime change” in Moscow. This existentially risky strategy has taken shape with minimal substantive debate behind a “group think” driven by anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda. (All we hear is what’s wrong with Putin and Russia: He doesn’t wear a shirt! He’s the new Hitler! Putin and Trump have a bro-mance! Russian aggression! Their athletes cheat!)
Much as happened in the run-up to the disastrous Iraq War in 2002-2003, the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies bully from the public square anyone who doesn’t share these views. Any effort to put Russia’s behavior in context makes you a “Putin apologist,” just like questioning the Iraq-WMD certainty of last decade made you a “Saddam apologist.”
But this new mindlessness – now justified in part to block Trump’s path to the White House – could very well set the stage for a catastrophic escalation of big-power tensions under a Hillary Clinton presidency. Former Secretary of State Clinton has already surrounded herself with neocons and liberal hawks who favor expanding the war against Syria’s government, want to ratchet up tensions with Iran, and favor shipping arms to the right-wing and virulently anti-Russian regime in Ukraine, which came to power in a 2014 coup supported by U.S. policymakers and money.
By lumping Trump’s few reasonable points together with his nonsensical comments – and making anti-Russian propaganda the only basis for any public debate – Democrats and the anti-Trump press are pushing the United States toward a conflict with Russia.
And, for a U.S. press corps that prides itself on its “objectivity,” this blatantly biased approach toward a nominee of a major political party is remarkably unprofessional. But the principle of objectivity has been long since abandoned as the mainstream U.S. media transformed itself into little more than an outlet for U.S. government foreign-policy narratives, no matter how dishonest or implausible.
To conform with the neocon-driven narratives, much recent history has been lost. For instance, few Americans realize that some of President Barack Obama’s most notable foreign policy achievements resulted from cooperation with Putin and Russia, arguably more so than any other “friendly” leader or “allied” nation.
For instance, in summer 2013, Obama was under intense neocon/liberal-hawk pressure to bomb the Syrian military supposedly for crossing his “red line” against the use of chemical weapons after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2103.
Yet, hearing doubts from the U.S. intelligence community about the Assad regime’s guilt, Obama balked at a military strike that – we now know – would have played into the hands of Syrian jihadists who some intelligence analysts believe were the ones behind the false-flag sarin attack to trick the United States into directly intervening in the civil war on their side.
But Obama still needed a path out of the corner that he had painted himself into and it was provided by Putin and Russia pressuring Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons, a clear victory for Obama regardless of who was behind the sarin attack.
Putin and Russia helped Obama again in convincing Iran to accept tight restraints on its nuclear program, an agreement that may mark Obama’s most significant foreign policy success. Those negotiations came to life in 2013 (not coincidentally after Secretary of State Clinton, who allied herself more with the bomb-bomb-bomb Iran faction led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had resigned and was replaced by John Kerry).
As the negotiating process evolved, Russia played a key role in bringing Iran along, offering ways for Iran to rid itself of its processed nuclear stockpiles and get the medical research materials it needed. Without the assistance of Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the landmark Iranian nuclear deal might never have happened.
Obama recognized the value of this Russian help but he also understood the political price that he would pay if he were closely associated with Putin, who was already undergoing a thorough demonization in the U.S. and European mainstream media. So, Obama mostly worked with Putin under the table while joining in the ostracism of Putin above the table.
But Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment – and its allied mainstream media – check-mated Obama’s double-talking game in 2013 by aggressively supporting a regime-change strategy in Ukraine where pro-Russian elected President Viktor Yanukovych was under mounting pressure from western Ukrainians who wanted closer ties to Europe and who hated Russia.
Leading neocon thinkers unveiled their new Ukraine strategy shortly after Putin helped scuttle their dreams for a major bombing campaign against Assad’s regime in Syria. Since the 1990s, the neocons had targeted the Assad dynasty – along with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq and the Shiite-controlled government in Iran – for “regime change.” The neocons got their way in Iraq in 2003 but their program stalled because of the disastrous Iraq War.
However, in 2013, the neocons saw their path forward open again in Syria, especially after the sarin attack, which killed hundreds of civilians and was blamed on Assad in a media-driven rush to judgment. Obama’s hesitancy to strike and then Putin’s assistance in giving Obama a way out left the neocons furious. They began to recognize the need to remove Putin if they were to proceed with their Mideast “regime change” dreams.
In late September 2013 – a month after Obama ditched the plans to bomb Syria – neocon National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman wrote in The Washington Post that Ukraine was now “the biggest prize” but also was a steppingstone toward the even bigger “regime change” prize in Moscow. Gershman, whose NED is funded by Congress, wrote:
“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
By late 2013 and early 2014, with Gershman’s NED financing Ukraine’s anti-government activists and journalists and with the open encouragement of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, the prospects for “regime change” in Ukraine were brightening. With neo-Nazi and other Ukrainian ultra-nationalists firebombing police, the political crisis in Kiev deepened.
Meanwhile, Putin was focused on the Sochi Winter Olympics and the threat that the games could be disrupted by terrorism. So, with the Kremlin distracted, Ukraine’s Yanukovych tried to fend off his political crisis while limiting the violence.
However, on Feb. 20, 2014, snipers fired on both police and protesters in the Maidan square and the Western media jumped to the conclusion that Yanukovych was responsible (even though later investigations have indicated that the sniper attack was more likely carried out by neo-Nazi groups to provoke the chaos that followed).
A Successful Coup
On Feb. 21, a shaken Yanukovych agreed to a European-brokered deal in which he surrendered some of his powers and agreed to early elections. He also succumbed to Western pressure that he pull back his police. However, on Feb. 22, the neo-Nazis and other militants seized on that opening to take over government buildings and force Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives.
The U.S. State Department and its Western allies quickly recognized the coup regime as the “legitimate” government of Ukraine. But the coup provoked resistance from the ethnic Russian populations in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, political uprisings that the new Kiev regime denounced as “terrorist” and countered with an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” or ATO.
When Russian troops – already in Crimea as part of the Sevastopol naval basing agreement – protected the people on the peninsula from attacks by the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, the intervention was denounced in the West as a “Russian invasion.” Crimean authorities also organized a referendum in which more than 80 percent of the voters participated and favored leaving Ukraine and rejoining Russia by a 96 percent margin. When Moscow agreed, that became “Russian aggression.”
Although the Kremlin refused appeals from eastern Ukraine for a similar arrangement, Russia provided some assistance to the rebels resisting the new authorities in Ukraine. Those rebels then declared their own autonomous republics.
Although this historical reality – if understood by the American people – would put the Ukrainian crisis in a very different context, it has been effectively blacked out of what the American public is allowed to hear. All the mainstream media talks about is “Russian aggression” and how Putin provoked the Ukraine crisis as part of some Hitlerian plan to conquer Europe.
Trump, in his bumbling way, tries to reference the real history to explain his contrarian views regarding Russia, Ukraine and NATO, but he is confronted by a solid wall of “group think” asserting only one acceptable way to see this complex crisis. Rather than allow a serious debate on these very serious issues, the mainstream U.S. media simply laughs at Trump’s supposed ignorance.
The grave danger from this media behavior is that it will empower the neocons and liberal hawks already nesting inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign to prepare for a new series of geopolitical provocations once Clinton takes office. By opportunistically buying into this neocon pro-war narrative now, Democrats may find themselves with buyer’s remorse as they become the war party of 2017.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
People really do pay attention to climate change — when Leonardo DiCaprio talks about it https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/08/05/the-leo-effect-when-dicaprio-talked-climate-change-at-the-oscars-people-suddenly-cared/?utm_term=.8c0872bcf47e By Chris Mooney August 5 Do celebrities matter? The answer — modern, big data approaches are showing — is pretty clearly “yes.”
Earlier this year, a team of researchers documented that when Charlie Sheen told the world that he had HIV, media attention to the virus — which had been in long decline — spiked massively.
And now, many of the same researchers are back with another demonstration. They find that when Leonardo DiCaprio used his Oscar speech earlier this year to exhort action on climate change, tweets and Google searches about the topic were enormous and, at least in the case of tweets, appear to have set a new record based on analyses between 2011 and the present.
“A single speech, at a very opportunistic time, at the Oscar ceremony, resulted in the largest increase in public engagement with climate change ever,” says John Ayers of San Diego State University, who completed the work with colleagues from the University of California San Diego, the Santa Fe Institute, and other institutions. Their study was just publishedin the open access journal PLOS One.
DiCaprio, winning the Oscar for best actor for “The Revenant” on Feb. 28, said this:
Making “The Revenant” was about man’s relationship to the natural world — a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous peoples of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this, for our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.
When DiCaprio said this, 34.5 million people were watching.
Ayers and his colleagues used a combination of media coverage searches using the Bloomberg Terminal, Twitter content searches and Google trends search data to examine the consequences. They also closely examined how the public response to this moment compared with past attention to climate change at key times, including during the Paris climate negotiations and the 2015 Earth Day.
They also used a modeling approach to estimate what typical media coverage and social media engagement with the subject of climate change would have been if DiCaprio had not spoken out — what a more “normal” level of attention would be.
The result was that while there was virtually no news media response to DiCaprio (most journalists don’t take their marching orders from celebrities speaking out), the social media and search response was enormous.
you’d never know any of this big picture once-in-a-century transformation from reading the New York Times, which just continues to write article after article that misses the forest for the trees.
the clean energy revolution means other low-carbon or zero-carbon technologies that haven’t reached the point of exponential growth — and that are not experiencing learning curve improvements in cost and performance — are very likely to fall further and further behind. That is where nuclear power finds itself. As do hydrogen fuel cell cars.
It also means that the electric grid in particular will go through some growing pains as it starts to integrate renewables at a faster pace than anybody thought possible just a few years ago. The Times, bizarrely, has chosen to publish article after article over-emphasizing and indeed exaggerating those growing pains, while projecting a future for nuclear power that currently doesn’t exist
Nuclear Power Advocates Claim Cheap Renewable Energy Is A Bad Thing, Climate Progress BY JOE ROMM JUL 28, 2016 Nuclear power advocates are trying a new line of attack on solar and wind energy — it’s too darn cheap!
In the real world, however, the unexpectedly rapid drop in the price of cleantech, especially renewable power and batteries, is a doubly miraculous game-changer that is already cutting greenhouse gas emissions globally and dramatically increasing the chances we can avoid catastrophic climate change.
As I detailed on Monday, the New York Times in particular keeps running slanted articles talking up nuclear and talking down renewables — articles that totally miss the forest for the trees. That culminated in a truly absurd piece last week, “How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course,” which is the exact opposite of reality, as Goldman Sachs has detailed in its recent reports on “The Low Carbon Economy.”
This post will focus primarily on the big picture, the forest. I will deal in later posts with a few of the more interesting trees, such as whether, the U.S. should consider give existing nukes some sort of short-term carbon credit so they are not shut down prematurely and replaced by natural gas.
The big picture reality of the clean energy revolution
The big picture reality is this: The world is finally starting to take some serious action to avoid catastrophic climate change, which means first the electric grid will decarbonize, and then the transportation system. That means global coal use peaks or plateaus first — and then oil does. Continue reading
Nuclear Power Advocates Claim Cheap Renewable Energy Is A Bad Thing, Climate Progress BY JOE ROMM JUL 28, 2016
“…………..For instance, in their “How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course” story, the Times asserts:
I have kept both of the hyperlinks from the Times piece so you can see for yourself what game they are playing. It is quite rare that a newspaper story links to two articles that so thoroughly debunk the points the story is trying to make.
The first hyperlink is apparently meant to cover the assertion, “In Germany, where renewables have mostly replaced nuclear power.” But as you can see, the link goes to a December 2015 “Clean Energy Wire” story with this lead chart: [on original]
This chart does not, however, show “renewables have mostly replaced nuclear power” (orange). Quite the reverse. The chart explicitly shows that, for example, from 2013 to 2015, renewable generation rose 42 billion kilowatt-hours (bkwh) — while natural gas dropped 11 bkwh, hard coal dropped 9 bkwh, lignite dropped 6 bkwh, and nuclear dropped 5 bkwh. In short, renewables up 42 bkwh, fossil fuels down 26 bkwh, and nuclear down 5 bkwh (while overall, generation was up). Oops!
Since renewables have been mostly replacing fossil fuels, as the chart shows, you can probably guess that carbon emissions haven’t actually been rising. The second hyperlink goes to a March 2016 story that contains this chart: [on original].
As you can plainly see, this chart does not show that “carbon emissions are rising.” Quite the reverse. German emissions have generally been falling.
So how does the Times get to its claim that German will “carbon emissions are rising” when the most one can objectively say is in recent years they have been flat? Well the links do note that CO2 emissions rose a whopping 1 percent in 2015. Or, as the first article put it, “Germany’s CO2 emissions have inched up in 2015 despite a rapidly increasing share of renewables in electricity production.”
Why did emissions inch up? The first link immediately goes on to explain, “The main cause for the year-on-year rise were cooler temperatures compared to 2014.” Not exactly a compelling argument for “How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course.”
Yes, German electrical rates are high. The Times could have written an interesting story on why. It is actually a gift the Germans gave the world in its fight against global warming. The Germans decided to rapidly deploy solar power during a time when it was quite expensive to do so. Indeed, it was over five times more expensive to deploy in Germany back then than it is to deploy in the U.S. Southwest now!
That massive German investment helped solar power come down the learning curve faster than people expected, and today, as I’ve reported, utilities in this country and around the world are signing contracts for solar power at the unheard-of price of four cents a kilowatt hour or less — which is roughly one third of the average residential rate in this country.
Rather than trashing the Germans the way the New York Times does, we should all be thanking them! But the Times is not in the thanking business. They are in the slanting business.
The bottom line is that nothing that has happened in Germany supports the ridiculous thesis: “How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course.” The truth, as the second link the Times itself provides explains, is that “a 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power within a decade, lent impetus by Japan’s Fukushima disaster, has seen dirty coal maintain a significant share of the energy mix.”
It was Germany’s decision to speed up the shutdown of its nuclear reactors that caused the drop in CO2 emissions to (temporarily) stall. Personally, I wouldn’t have made that decision, since the short-term consequences were almost inevitable. But for reasons only known to itself, the Times seems to be trying to make one of the biggest heroes of the climate action story in Germany — renewable power — into a villain.
The Times piece tries to do the same thing in its discussion of the competition between renewables and nuclear power (and natural gas) in this country. I’ll deal with that in my next piece. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/07/28/3802326/nuclear-power-renewables-cheap/
How Close Are We to Nuclear War? By William Boardman Global Research, July 28, 2016 “I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War – and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face.” – William J. Perry, U.S. Defense Secretary (1994-1997), January 2016
Former Bill Clinton cabinet member Perry perceives a danger that none of this year’s presidential wannabes have paid much if any attention to. The most recent candidate to make nuclear arms a central issue was Congressman Dennis Kucinich in 2008. President Obama has played both sides of the nuclear dilemma: rounding up and securing nuclear materials around the world, but also modernizing and miniaturizing American nuclear weapons to make them more “usable.” These days, no one in leadership – or aspiring to leadership – seems committed to actually making the world any safer from nuclear catastrophe. With rare exceptions like Kucinich, this unquestioned reliance on nuclear weapons is mainstream American military group-think, endlessly echoed in mainstream media, and that’s the way it’s been for decades
In November 2015, William J. Perry published “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink” with Stanford University Press, a short book (234 pages) with a global warning that goes unheeded and almost unmentioned in out denial-drenched culture. A quick Google search turns up no reviews of the book – none – in mainstream media. Pro forma book trade reviews by outfits like Kirkus or Publishers Weekly or Amazon make Perry’s book sound pretty bland and boring, but then so does the publisher’s own blurb. It’s as if these people are saying: yes, we know there’s a pack of wolves in the woods, and that’s not necessarily such a good thing, but we don’t want to be accused of crying wolf, and besides we’ve got our own wolves at home, and they’re trim and well fed, and they haven’t attacked anybody since 1945, so why is anyone worried?
That’s Perry’s point, of course, that nobody’s worried – worse: “our people are blissfully unaware.” He doesn’t go on to argue that our people are deliberately kept unaware by a government and media pyramid that manages public consciousness for its own ends. Listen, Perry was free to publish his book, people are free not to read it, what more can one ask? That’s the nature of repressive tolerance.
“A Stark Nuclear Warning”
California governor Jerry Brown reviewed Perry’s book in the New York Review of Books for July 14, 2016, under the headline: “A Stark Nuclear Warning.” William J. Perry spent an adult lifetime working in the world of nuclear weapons. Perry has long expressed his concern that the detonation of just one nuclear weapon could produce a “nuclear catastrophe … that could destroy our way of life.” Perry has been a manager of nuclear weapons “deterrence,” which he now considers “old thinking.” The fact that deterrence hasn’t failed for more than 70 years is not evidence that the policy is successful. In Perry’s view, nuclear weapons do not provide security for anyone, and the more nuclear weapons there are in more and more and more hands, the more they endanger us all.
In his review, Brown tried to break through the complacent collective quiet in response to the bipartisan American nuclear risk-taking that Perry objects to:
… as a defense insider and keeper of nuclear secrets, he is clearly calling American leaders to account for what he believes are very bad decisions, such as the precipitous expansion of NATO, right up to the Russian border, and President George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, originally signed by President Nixon.
Twenty years of American stealth aggression against Russia, particularly in Ukraine and Georgia, is only the most obvious flashpoint, though perhaps not the most dangerous one……..
How many nuclear detonations would create a global wasteland?………http://www.globalresearch.ca/how-close-are-we-to-nuclear-war/5538453
Why is New York Times shilling for the clearly failing technology of nuclear power, while dismissing renewables?
New York Times Shills For Moribund Nuclear Power, Disses Renewables Revolution, Climate Progress BY JOE ROMM JUL 25, 2016 Why does The New York Times keep pushing nuclear power, whose prices keep rising even as demand has collapsed in every market economy? And why do they keep dissing renewables, whose prices have dropped precipitously while demand has grown beyond expectation here and around the world?
This month alone, the Times managed to publish two pieces whining that the poor, neglected nuclear power industry is having trouble competing with renewables because solar and wind have become … so darn cheap.
Utterly lost on the Times is the irony that nuclear power was originally touted as a key part of a future where electricity was “too cheap to meter.” Now it’s just another inflexible but powerful dinosaur industry being crushed in the marketplace by a superior product — kind of like mainframe computers or the horse and buggy or … print newspapers.
The fact is that on a purely economic basis, nuclear power has to a great extent priced itself out of the market for new power, even for new carbon-free power. Heck, even the French can’t build an affordable, on-schedule next generation nuclear plant in their own nuclear-friendly country!!
But rather than report accurately on the renewable energy miracle, as, say, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) have, the Times manages to publish articles in its business section headlined, “How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course.” Seriously.
I will be debunking this wildly misleading piece — which is by Eduardo Porter, an economics correspondent (!) — point by point in my next post, but for now, let me just post some actual numbers (and quantified projections). In its latest report on the subject, “The Low Carbon Economy: Our Thesis In 60 CHARTS,” Goldman Sachs has several charts on “Emissions: How low carbon technologies begin to bend the curve.” Here’s just one: [on original]
Goldman Sachs concludes, “On our wind and solar numbers, emissions in IEA scenarios could peak as early as c.2020, rather than 2030.” So, yeah, “Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course” — off course from failure to possible success.
The Times piece is the kind of nonsense you would expect to see on an ultra-conservative website with the headline “There Are Serious Problems With Wind And Solar.” Still, it’s probably just a coincidence that the ultra-conservative Daily Caller website repackaged the Times piece with that headline, and this lead: “Wind and solar power have been expensive boondoggles that won’t develop fast enough to affect global warming, according to a New York Times (NYT) article published Wednesday.”
It’s probably just a coincidence that the Times has a history of inflating nukes and deflating renewables….
It’s probably just a coincidence that one of the leading energy reporters for the Times, 30+ year veteran Matt Wald, after leaving the paper joined the Nuclear Energy Institute to become senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning last year.
It’s probably just a coincidence that the Times has been running this sponsored post from a pro-nuke group: http://paidpost.nytimes.com/nuclear-matters/nuclear-energy-in-the-us.html#. Don’t worry, that’s all made clear in small type to readers who can breathe easy that “The news and editorial staffs of The New York Times had no role in this post’s preparation.”
OK, on closer inspection, it does not appear to be a coincidence that, for a long time now, ridiculous stories dissing renewables and favoring nukes have been the norm (see, for instance, my 2009 post “NYT’s Matt Wald blows the ‘Alternative and Renewable Energy’ story, quotes only industry sources, ignores efficiency and huge cost of inaction” and my 2011 post, “The New York Times Abandons the Story of the Century and Joins the Energy and Climate Ignorati”). I will examine a number of more recent pieces below………
Let’s look at some pieces in just the last year that reveal the Times’ apparent ongoing slant……
For decades, the entire conservative political establishment and right-wing media have devoted themselves to blocking all climate action, to spreading disinformation on climate action, and, sometimes, even opposing the use of the word “climate change.” They have also generally devoted themselves to spreading misinformation on clean energy and opposing policies that promote it. For decades, the liberal Democratic “establishment” has supported nuclear power and enacted pro-nuclear policies in national energy bill after national energy bill — including tax incentives andloan guarantees for new plants. And let’s not forget the repeated renewal of the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industry Indemnity Act, which puts the taxpayer on the hook for the cost of a truly major disaster and is probably a $100 billion-dollar subsidy by itself.
In any case, even with all those subsidies, new nuclear power has priced itself out of the marketplace, something this article [from New York Times] never mentions — and so it is perfectly rational for someone who is concerned about climate change to understand that new nuclear power is at best a relatively modest piece of the solution (as the IEA and Nuclear Energy Agency concluded last year), and at worst a very expensive distraction……
And you don’t have to take my word — or the Times’ word. “Ever since the completion of the first wave of nuclear reactors in 1970, and continuing with the ongoing construction of new reactors in Europe, nuclear power seems to be doomed with the curse of cost escalation,” read one 2015 journal article, “Revisiting the Cost Escalation Curse of Nuclear Power.”
Then there’s the Financial Times reporting last October on France’s newest Normandy plant, which originally was projected to cost €3bn ($3.3 billion) and start producing power in 2012. Instead, it “will not start until 2018 at a cost of €10.5bn [$11.3 billion].” Yes, even the French can’t build an affordable, on-schedule next-generation nuclear plant in their own nuclear-friendly country. Does that make them anti-science, too?…..
The key question is why does the Times have a pattern in which it overhypes nuclear power well beyond what the facts warrant — while at the same time generally underselling and minimizing the solar and wind well beyond what the facts warrant? Perhaps, just for the sake of appearance, they should stop running paid pro-nuke ads (that are virtually indistinguishable from their own unbalanced pro-nuke pieces) until they can answer this question. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/07/25/3800630/nuclear-power-renewables-times/
The BBC’s detailed plans for nuclear war, BBC News 23 July 2016 For the first time, the BBC has given detailed access to the plans it drew up in the Cold War for a Wartime Broadcasting System to operate in the event of nuclear war. Paul Reynolds, a former BBC diplomatic and foreign correspondent, has been studying the secrets of what was known as the “War Book”.
The War Book reveals a world of meticulous BBC planning. The Wartime Broadcasting System (WTBS) – referred to in the book as “Deferred Facilities” – would have operated from 11 protected bunkers spread across the UK.
Known as “Regional Seats of Government”, these would also have sheltered government ministers and staff from government departments during what is termed a “nuclear exchange”. The BBC had a studio in each, usually with five staff drawn mostly from nearby local radio stations.
The BBC’s headquarters would have been a bunker at the Engineering Training Department at Wood Norton in Worcestershire, where 90 BBC staff would have been assembled, including engineers, announcers, 12 news editors and sub-editors and ominously “two nominations from Religious Broadcasting”. Output would have been controlled by the government…….http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36865345
increasing government pressure, exacerbated by the entry into force in the past year of a law on state secrets, including nuclear related matters. A law with vague outlines threatens journalists with imprisonment for disclosing “secret” information. A sign of the times is that three television journalists known for their independence announced their resignation at the beginning of the year. Among them is Furutachi Ichiro, presenter of “Hodo Station,” which, according to Honma Ryu, was targeted by Dentsu for several years because of his critical views on nuclear power and the Abe administration.
No doubt Dentsu, [huge advertising agency] privileged ambassador of the largest industrial groups, will continue to play its role in the great media lockdown ongoing in Japan.
Fukushima and Nuclear Power: Does the Advertising Giant Dentsu Pull the Strings of Japan’s Media? By Mathieu Gaulène 1 June 2016
“……The 2016 comeback of nuclear advertisements and resignations of TV journalists
For Honma Ryu, this is a sign of a resumption of promotion activities of nuclear power. “Hakuhodo has actually been a member of the JAIF for two years,” he explained, after the Fukushima accident. Obviously, having been sidelined for several decades from this gold mine of nuclear advertisements, the rival agency wants to restore its share in the promotion of nuclear power in the post-Fukushima era. …..
although plant restarts have been hindered by dozens of lawsuits, some victorious as in Takahama, and the general population has generally been reluctant to see resumption of reactors, promoting nuclear power has again become intense.
After restarting one plant in 2015, 2016 is the year of a discreet comeback for nuclear advertisements. These appear in the press and on local television of the prefectures with power stations. Honma Ryu reports that since February 2016, full-page advertisements have been published inFukui Shimbun by the Kansai Electric Power Company, where the Takahama plant was closed a month after its restart due to a lawsuit filed by citizens. Tepco advertisements for restarting Kashiwazaki-Kariwa have also appeared in the Niigata Nippo and on local television in a particular context: the current governor is firmly anti-nuclear and opposes any restart, but elections will be held by the end of this year when his term ends. This resurgence of Tepco nuclear advertising, however, has raised the ire of Niigata citizens, especially refugees from Fukushima who have launched a petition to stop them.
The message of all of these advertisements is identical, revealing the hand of Dentsu behind the scenes. Electric companies promise to make every effort to ensure the safety of power plants, while photographs highlight the plight of nuclear workers who are often poor and sometimes dependent on jobs in the nuclear industry. According to Honma Ryu, these advertisements are certainly only the tip of the iceberg. They are part of a campaign to closely monitor all information published on nuclear power, as well as the quasi-guarantee that local newspapers will limit the voice of opponents.
In a report on press freedom released in April 2016, Reporters Without Borders ranked Japan 72nd, behind Hungary and Tanzania. Six years ago, it ranked 11th. Visiting Tokyo, a United Nations rapporteur alerted the country to the growing pressures on Japanese journalists who work for private media or NHK.
This is because of increasing government pressure, exacerbated by the entry into force in the past year of a law on state secrets, including nuclear related matters. A law with vague outlines threatens journalists with imprisonment for disclosing “secret” information. A sign of the times is that three television journalists known for their independence announced their resignation at the beginning of the year. Among them is Furutachi Ichiro, presenter of “Hodo Station,” which, according to Honma Ryu, was targeted by Dentsu for several years because of his critical views on nuclear power and the Abe administration. No doubt Dentsu, privileged ambassador of the largest industrial groups, will continue to play its role in the great media lockdown ongoing in Japan.
Source: Asia-Pacific Journal
Fukushima and Nuclear Power: Does the Advertising Giant Dentsu Pull the Strings of Japan’s Media? By Mathieu Gaulène
1 June 2016French journalist Mathieu Gaulène describes the business practices of Dentsu and its competitor Hakuhodo, the biggest and the second biggest advertising companies of Japan respectively. Specifically, it examines how their close relations to the media and the nuclear industry play out in the wake of the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Focusing Dentsu, Gaulène discusses how the marketing and public relations (PR) giant has dominated major media which large advertising contracts from the nuclear industry. The article is particularly timely as Dentsu unveils its deep ties to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid and the Panama Papers. Regrettably, however, with rare exceptions, there is little media coverage of the influence of Dentsu in mainstream Japanese newspapers and magazines.
According to the author, a partial translation of the French original was made by Kazparis (username), and quickly received more than 70,000 views on Twitter. Then, Uchida Tatsuru, a specialist in French literature, and HACK & SOCIETAS published two other Japanese translations. Soon after, Tokyo Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun published long articles about Dentsu. SN
Dentsu, the fifth largest communication group in the world, holds a large share of the Japanese advertising market, which impacts media freedom in Japan. This is particularly true in relation to the nuclear power industry.
– Dentsu and information on nuclear power–Indirect pressures on press journalists
– The 2016 comeback of nuclear advertisements and the resignations of TV journalists
The moment remains famous. On the eve of Japan’s Upper House elections, former actor Yamamoto Taro, an anti-nuclear power candidate supported by no party, campaigned on Twitter to win an upper house seat in the Diet. Censored by the media, the young candidate, famous for his verve, had mainly campaigned against nuclear power, but he also called out the big media, accusing it of being in the pay of sponsors and thus of electric companies and of systematically censoring critical information on nuclear power.
A television channel granted him an interview at the end of a program, but only after presenting a journalist to defend his profession. On screen, the young senator was given only one minute to respond. “I will take a simple example. Food can now hold up to 100 becquerels per kilogram; that means even just via eating we are irradiated. It is never said on television… ” Yamamoto had to stop. The ending jingle started, and the presenter at the studio announced, bantering, that the show was over, before launching an advertising page.
The video, which was available online for 3 years, was removed on May 16, 2016 shortly after the publication of this article…….
Source: Asia-Pacific Journal
Fukushima and Nuclear Power: Does the Advertising Giant Dentsu Pull the Strings of Japan’s Media? By Mathieu Gaulène
1 June 2016 “………Advertisements in Japan are literally everywhere: a veritable hell of posters or screens in trains and stations, giant posters on buildings, bearers of advertising placards or lorries with huge posters and loud PA systems in the streets: even advertising displays mounted atop urinals in some restaurants. In this advertising empire, the media are no exception. In the press, naturally, as in France, major companies pay for full page advertisements. But, above all in television. An entertainment show generally starts with the announcement of sponsors, and is interrupted every five minutes by numerous short advertising spots, where we often find the same sponsors. There is virtually no time for thinking, most TV channels offer programs close to the world of pachinko: garish colors, constant noise, and frat humor even of the most vulgar kind.
In this immense television arena, advertising is orchestrated by one of the global giants, Dentsu, the 5th communication group in the world and the number one ad agency. With its rival Hakuhodo, 2nd in the archipelago, the two agencies nicknamed “Denpaku,” combine advertising, public relations, media monitoring, crisis management for the largest Japanese and foreign companies, the local authorities, political parties or the government. Together they hold nearly 70% of the market. A true empire that some accuse of ruling the roost in the Japanese media.
Dentsu and information on nuclear power…..
In a book published in 2012, Honma Ryu looked into some of Dentsu’s backstage, and its tight control over the media, especially on behalf of one of its major clients: Tokyo Electric Power Company, Tepco. ……
n 2012, his book Dentsu and Nuclear Coverage became a bestseller within a few months, despite almost universal media blackout.
Honma meticulously described the mechanisms by which Dentsu, the inevitable intermediary, implicitly imposes on media what can or cannot be written on nuclear power, and under what conditions. “Dentsu occupies a special position since the agency holds 80% of the market for nuclear advertising in Japan,” he reminded us during an interview in a coffee shop at Ueno Station. In 2010, in this huge advertising market, Tepco, a regional firm, indeed ranked 10th in terms of advertising expenses, next to power plant manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. That year, on the eve of the Fukushima accident, Tepco had spent more than 2 million euros on advertising. The overall advertising expenses of the 10 regional electrical power companies amounted to 7 million euros.
For decades, especially since the 1990s when public opinion began to become critical of nuclear power following several accidents, Tepco and other power companies stepped up commercials and advertorials in the press.
On television, the advertisements can be enough in themselves to overwhelm criticism. Big groups often sponsor TV programs, talk shows or series for an entire season. Sometimes, entire documentaries are produced by Denjiren, [the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC)], a key player in the nuclear lobby, to promote the industry. Any dissenting voice is unwelcome for fear of losing sponsors.
After Fukushima, Yamamoto Taro paid the price; appearing regularly on TV as a tarento [talent] until then when he suddenly became persona non grata on TV and even in cinema for having expressed opposition to nuclear power. This is hardly new since the great figures of the anti-nuclear movement, best-selling authors such as Hirose Takashi or Koide Hiroaki are almost never invited to appear on TV, especially after the Fukushima accident.
This “control by media” denounced by Honma Ryu obviously is not limited to the nuclear power industry.
Amid all these private media groups, only NHK escapes this advertising empire and can claim to be independent, receiving its funding directly from viewers. Alas, the situation at NHK is even more disastrous, its president Momii Katsuto having said without embarrassment on several occasions that the chain had to be the spokesman for the Abe government. In a recent statement before 200 retired NHK employees, he even seemingly acknowledged having ordered NHK journalists to confine broadcasts to reassuring communiqués from the authorities about Kyushu earthquakes and potential risks they pose to nuclear plants and instructing them not to interview independent experts.
Indirect pressures on the press
What about the press? Dentsu has long had a special relationship with the two news agencies Kyodo News and Jiji Press: the three entities formed a single information group before the war. If information in the press is more difficult to control, Dentsu not only advertises, but provides after-sales customer service — media monitoring, advice on crisis management, and indirect pressure on newspapers.
Whereas in France, the acquisition of media companies by large industrial groups is the prelude to direct pressure, in Japan pressure comes via advertising agencies that act as true ambassadors for the groups. ……..
Advertisements of nuclear power are mainly distributed in weekly and daily newspapers. Since the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant, they stopped; but for Dentsu, a profitable new business emerged: promoting agricultural products from Fukushima. Since 2011, with the participation of star singers, Fukushima Prefecture has never skimped on promoting its peaches, rice, or tomatoes, with slogans like “Fukushima Pride” or “Fukushima is well!”…….
Dentsu thus occupies a very special position in the promotion of nuclear power, beside Tepco but also the powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), both clients of the advertising company. Under these conditions, can Dentsu not be considered to actively underwrite the “nuclear village”?…….
Dentsu is a member of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), the main organization of nuclear lobbying, along with Japanese electric utility companies and EDF [Electricity of France, Électricité de France],…….
Source: Asia-Pacific Journal
Climate scientists are now grading climate journalism Climate Feedback provides a venue for climate scientists to evaluate the accuracy of climate news stories, Guardian, Daniel Nethery and Emmanuel Vincent, 26 Apr 16 “…..despite the scientific consensus that global warming is real and primarily due to human activity, studies show that only about half the population in some countries with among the highest CO2 emissions per capita understand that human beings are the driving force of our changing climate. Even fewer people are aware of the scientific consensus on this question. We live in an information age, but the information isn’t getting through. How can this be?
While the internet puts information at our fingertips, it has also allowed misinformation to sow doubt and confusion in the minds of many of those whose opinions and votes will determine the future of the planet. And up to now scientists have been on the back foot in countering the spread of this misinformation and pointing the public to trustworthy sources of information on climate change.
Climate Feedback intends to change that. It brings together a global network of scientists who use a new web-annotation platform to provide feedback on climate change reporting. Their comments, which bring context and insights from the latest research, and point out factual and logical errors where they exist, remain layered over the target article in the public domain. You can read them for yourself, right in your browser. The scientists also provide a score on a five-point scale to let you know whether the article is consistent with the science. For the first time, Climate Feedback allows you to check whether you can trust the latest breaking story on climate change.
Last year the scientists looked at some influential content. Take the Pope’s encyclical, for instance. The scientists gave those parts of the encyclical relating to climate science a stamp of approval. Other “feedbacks,” as we call them, have made a lasting impact. When the scientists found that an article in The Telegraphmisrepresented recent research by claiming that the world faced an impending ice age, the newspaper issued a public correction and substantially modified the online text.
But there’s more work to be done. Toward the end of the year the scientists carried out a series of evaluations of some of Forbes magazine’s reporting on climate change. The results give an idea of the scale of the problem we’re tackling. Two of the magazine’s most popular articles for 2015, one of which attracted almost one million hits, turned out to be profoundly inaccurate and misleading. Both articles, reviewed by nine and twelve scientists, unanimously received the lowest possible scientific credibility rating. This rarely occurs, and just in case you’re wondering, yes, the scientists do score articles independently: ratings are only revealed once all scientists have completed their review……http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/apr/26/climate-scientists-are-now-grading-climate-journalism
Tribeca: Michael Douglas Calls for Presidential Candidates to Talk Nuclear Weapons http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tribeca-2016-michael-douglas-nuclear-887171 The actor is working on a doc about a San Fernando Valley family who grew up near a Boeing plant which had a nuclear accident in the 1950s. “[It] basically poisoned the whole neighborhood. The whole family has thyroid cancer,” says Douglas. 4/23/2016 by Ashley Lee
At a 2016 Tribeca Film Festival discussion before the immersive closing-night film the bomb, Douglas said the world is “on the advent of a new Cold War advancement in nuclear weapons — the U.S. is talking about a trillion dollars to spend, the Russians have their new missiles out,” he explained. “It’s just very difficult to believe. … Maybe, just maybe, we can look at a new generation to look at what I think is the most serious issue that we have on the planet right now.”
Even more so, “we’ve got elections coming up this year. Once we get through these primaries and once more attention is brought to just how this arms race is continuing now, there should be a huge discussion coming this fall,” said the actor and longtime advocate of nuclear non-proliferation. “It looks like it’s gonna be [Donald] Trump and Hillary Clinton, with diametrically different opinions on this important issue — one who wants to nuke ‘em, and somebody else.”
Command & Control director Robert Kenner added, “If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, I think there will be more discussion on nuclear weapons because he is the best argument for abolition that we can make.”
As seen in action flicks like Pacific Rim and Independence Day, Hollywood tends to portray nuclear weapons onscreen as the ultimate and necessary arsenal, and Douglas said that won’t change anytime soon. “Not in Hollywood — we’re based on a business of balances, commerce with filmmaking. Commerce has to win out,” said the actor. “Any movie where the message gets ahead of the drama … unless you’re doing documentaries, you can’t get ahead of yourself. They’re not interested.”
Still, Douglas said he’s working on a documentary “about a young man living in the San Fernando Valley who grew up near a Boeing plant which had a nuclear accident in the 1950s and basically poisoned the whole neighborhood. The whole family has thyroid cancer.”
The panel — also featuring Command & Control author Eric Schlosser, Emma Belcher of the MacArthur Foundation and the bomb filmmaker Smriti Keshari — discussed that nuclear weapons and climate change are the two most important global issues, and because of the visual proof of climate change that’s emerged, the world has begun responding with urgency.
“The terrifying thing about the nuclear issue is … you’re really gonna have to wait for a dirty bomb. It’s gonna make 9/11, Paris, Brussels, everything a miniscule amount before the amount of people who are going to be killed [by a nuclear bomb],” said Douglas. “The only optimism I see, is of these two major issues, the two most important in the world, we can eliminate nuclear weapons. It’s really easy. … We as humans can do something about it — we actually can, it’s within our grasp.”
Douglas began his activism against nuclear weapons after making The China Syndrome, James Bridges’ 1979 film co-starring Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon about a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant. To prepare for its finale, the shoot included consultations with General Electric quality assurance experts who “gave us a breakdown of the most logical accident that might happen at a power plant,” the actor and producer recalled. “That power plant was the ultimate villain — it’s a horror picture.
“Thirteen days after the movie came out, Three Mile Island happened in Pennsylvania,” said Douglas, as news outlets ran split-screen footage of the real-life tragedy and the film. “It was an epiphany for me, the closest thing to a religious experience I might have ever had.”
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