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America’s lack of morality – expressed in Donald Trump’s nuclear threats

Trump’s apocalyptic threats demand a moral case for disarmament,Guardian, Daniel José Camacho, 14 Aug 16,    It’s easy to understand why Trump is potentially one of the worst people to be in charge of our nation’s nuclear codes. Yet, the problem runs much deeper. 

Martin Luther King Jr once said: “When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.” Now, it appears Donald Trump might be the man who makes us pay for our country’s moral gap.

Trump has rekindled fears of war and nuclear strikes by threatening North Korea, saying: “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” True to form, Trump’s words flew out of his mouth without much thought or preparation. In turn, the North Korean government has threatened to fire missiles near the US territory of Guam.

It’s easy to understand why Trump is potentially one of the worst people to be in charge of our nation’s nuclear codes. Yet the problem runs much deeper. Trump’s apocalyptic threat is a reminder that we need to revive the moral argument for disarmament and against militarism.

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then the road to this moment has been paved with the consensus of the foreign policy establishment. Both neocons and hawkish Democrats have pushed for an aggressive posture that has US special operations forces operating in 137 countries. US defense spending consistentlydwarfs the rest of the world.

King also said: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Based on our record, it looks like this nation has been beyond spiritually dead for some time.

 Before Trump, the Obama administration brokered more weapons sales than any other administration since the second world war. Although Hillary Clinton campaigned on strong gun control, the state department under her leadership exhibited little restraint when it came to selling arms……

King was someone who acutely understood the danger of American militarism and nuclear weapons. In his 1967 Christmas Sermon on Peace, he said: “If somebody doesn’t bring an end to this suicidal thrust that we see in the world today, none of us are going to be around, because somebody’s going to make the mistake through our senseless blundering of dropping a nuclear bomb somewhere.”

Recovering King’s political vision can help us today…….

As long as war remains a business profiting a few, peace will remain a low priority. The problem is not simply Trump or the preceding presidential administrations, but an entire system that profits from violent conflicts and war.

The former president Dwight D Eisenhower understood this when he described the grave implications of the “military-industrial complex” in his 1961 farewell address. According to him: “The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – [of an immense military establishment and arms industry] is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government.”…..

 

Far from being idealistic, it is King’s framework which has regained relevance in the Trump era. As he wrote towards the very end of his life: “We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/11/trump-apocalyptic-threats-moral-case-disarmament

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Argentinia’s Catholic Bishops announce opposition to construction of nuclear power station

Catholic Culture 11th Aug 2017, The bishops of Patagonia, the southernmost region of Argentina, have
announced their opposition to the construction of a Beijing-financed
nuclear power plant at an unannounced location in Rio Negro Province. A
nuclear power plant “produces dangerous refuse which remains radioactive
for a long period of time and implicates a very high cost,” the bishops
stated.   http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=32338

August 14, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Religion and ethics, SOUTH AMERICA | Leave a comment

Dispelling the myths about U.S. President Harry Truman’s decision to nuclear bomb Japanese cities

The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime worse than any that Japanese generals were executed for in Tokyo and Manila. If Harry Truman was not a war criminal, then no one ever was. 

Mises Institute 10 Aug 17  [Excerpted from “Harry S. Truman: Advancing the Revolution,” in Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom, John Denson, ed.]

The most spectacular episode of Harry Truman’s presidency will never be forgotten but will be forever linked to his name: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later. Probably around two hundred thousand persons were killed in the attacks and through radiation poisoning; the vast majority were civilians, including several thousand Korean workers. Twelve US Navy fliers incarcerated in a Hiroshima jail were also among the dead.1

Great controversy has always surrounded the bombings. …….

the rationale for the atomic bombings has come to rest on a single colossal fabrication, which has gained surprising currency — that they were necessary in order to save a half-million or more American lives. These, supposedly, are the lives that would have been lost in the planned invasion of Kyushu in December, then in the all-out invasion of Honshu the next year, if that had been needed. But the worst-case scenario for a full-scale invasion of the Japanese home islands was forty-six thousand American lives lost.7 The ridiculously inflated figure of a half-million for the potential death toll — nearly twice the total of US dead in all theaters in the Second World War — is now routinely repeated in high-school and college textbooks and bandied about by ignorant commentators. Unsurprisingly the prize for sheer fatuousness on this score goes to President George H.W. Bush, who claimed in 1991 that dropping the bomb “spared millions of American lives.”8

“The rationale for the atomic bombings has come to rest on a single colossal fabrication — that they were necessary in order to save a half-million or more American lives.”

Still, Truman’s multiple deceptions and self-deceptions are understandable, considering the horror he unleashed. It is equally understandable that the US occupation authorities censored reports from the shattered cities and did not permit films and photographs of the thousands of corpses and the frightfully mutilated survivors to reach the public.9 Otherwise, Americans — and the rest of the world — might have drawn disturbing comparisons to scenes then coming to light from the Nazi concentration camps.

The bombings were condemned as barbaric and unnecessary by high American military officers, including Eisenhower and MacArthur.10 The view of Admiral William D. Leahy, Truman’s own chief of staff, was typical:

the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make wars in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.11

The political elite implicated in the atomic bombings feared a backlash that would aid and abet the rebirth of horrid prewar “isolationism.” Apologias were rushed into print, lest public disgust at the sickening war crime result in erosion of enthusiasm for the globalist project.12 No need to worry. A sea change had taken place in the attitudes of the American people. Then and ever after, all surveys have shown that the great majority supported Truman, believing that the bombs were required to end the war and save hundreds of thousands of American lives, or, more likely, not really caring one way or the other.

Those who may still be troubled by such a grisly exercise in cost-benefit analysis — innocent Japanese lives balanced against the lives of Allied servicemen — might reflect on the judgment of the Catholic philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe, who insisted on the supremacy of moral rules.13 When, in June 1956, Truman was awarded an honorary degree by her university, Oxford, Anscombe protested.14 Truman was a war criminal, she contended, for what is the difference between the US government massacring civilians from the air, as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Nazis wiping out the inhabitants of some Czech or Polish village?……

While the mass media parroted the government line in praising the atomic incinerations, prominent conservatives denounced them as unspeakable war crimes. Felix Morley, constitutional scholar and one of the founders of Human Events, drew attention to the horror of Hiroshima, including the “thousands of children trapped in the thirty-three schools that were destroyed.” He called on his compatriots to atone for what had been done in their name, and proposed that groups of Americans be sent to Hiroshima, as Germans were sent to witness what had been done in the Nazi camps.

The Paulist priest, Father James Gillis, editor of The Catholic World and another stalwart of the Old Right, castigated the bombings as “the most powerful blow ever delivered against Christian civilization and the moral law.” David Lawrence, conservative owner of US News and World Report, continued to denounce them for years.21 The distinguished conservative philosopher Richard Weaver was revolted by

the spectacle of young boys fresh out of Kansas and Texas turning nonmilitary Dresden into a holocaust … pulverizing ancient shrines like Monte Cassino and Nuremberg, and bringing atomic annihilation to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Weaver considered such atrocities as deeply “inimical to the foundations on which civilization is built.”22

Today, self-styled conservatives slander as “anti-American” anyone who is in the least troubled by Truman’s massacre of so many tens of thousands of Japanese innocents from the air. This shows as well as anything the difference between today’s “conservatives” and those who once deserved the name.

Leo Szilard was the world-renowned physicist who drafted the original letter to Roosevelt that Einstein signed, instigating the Manhattan Project. In 1960, shortly before his death, Szilard stated another obvious truth:

If the Germans had dropped atomic bombs on cities instead of us, we would have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them.23

The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime worse than any that Japanese generals were executed for in Tokyo and Manila. If Harry Truman was not a war criminal, then no one ever was. https://mises.org/blog/harry-truman-and-atomic-bomb

August 11, 2017 Posted by | history, Reference, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fossil fuel industries funded climate denial as a religious belief

Conservative groups, funded by fossil fuel magnates, spend approximately one billion dollars every year interfering with public understanding of what is actually happening to our world.

“Throughout the history of the church, people have always found ways to use God and scripture to justify empire, to justify oppression and exploitation,” Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, an organizer with a pro-environmental Christian group called Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA), told me. “It’s a convenient theology to hold, especially when we are called to drastic, difficult action.”

How Fossil Fuel Money Made Climate Change Denial the Word of God Brendan O’Connor, Splinter , 8 Aug 17  In 2005, at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the National Association of Evangelicals was on the verge of doing something novel: affirming science. Specifically, the 30-million-member group, which represents 51 Christian denominations, was debating how to advance a new platform called “For the Health of a Nation.” The position paper—written the year before An Inconvenient Truth kick-started sense of public urgency around climate change—included a call for evangelicals to protect God’s creation, and to embrace the government’s help in doing so. The NAE’s board had already adopted it unanimously before presenting it to the membership for debate.

At the time, many in the evangelical movement were uncomfortable with its close ties to the Republican anti-environmental regulation agenda. That year, a group called the Evangelical Alliance of Scientists and Ethicists protested the GOP-led effort to rewrite the Endangered Species Act, and the NAE’s vice president of governmental affairs Richard Cizik pushed for the organization to endorse John McCain and Joe Lieberman’s cap-and-trade bill. “For the Health of a Nation,” which Cizik also pushed, was an opportunity to draw a bright line between their support of right-wing social positions on abortion and civil rights and a growing sentiment that God’s creation needed protection from industry……..

At the behest of a group called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, the board buckled, releasing a statement in February 2006 “recognizing the ongoing debate” on global warming and “the lack of consensus among the evangelical community on the issue.” Just days later, an outside group of 86 evangelical leaders, under the aegis of the Evangelical Climate Initiative, issued a “Call to Action” declaring that climate change was real and that “millions of people could die from it in this century.”

For his trouble, Cizik was targeted by a collection of hard right Christians, who petitioned the NAE board to muzzle him or force him to resign. “Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children,” their letter read. It also implied that Cizik, who had worked for the NAE for nearly three decades, supported abortion, giving condoms to children, and infanticide…….

The NAE did eventually endorse climate action in 2015. But it was too late. By that time, a corps of right-wing Christians, funded by fossil-fuel interests, had hijacked the public and political machinery of the evangelical movement. They are now in the White House, where the anti-environmental agenda is dominated by Christian fundamentalists like EPA Commissioner Scott Pruitt while the more moderate views of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson are ignored. This is the story of how they did it.

At a town hall in Michigan last May, Republican Rep. Tim Walberg assured his constituents that, while the climate may be changing, they don’t need to be concerned. “As a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us,” he told them. “And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, He can take care of it.”

 This idea—that whatever happens in God’s creation happens with His blessing—has deep roots in the American evangelical community, especially among the elite fundamentalists who walk the halls of power in Washington, D.C. For years, an evangelical minister named Ralph Drollinger has held weekly Bible studies for members of Congress, preaching that social welfare programs are un-Christian and agitating for military action against Iran. (In December 2015, he expressed his desire to shape Donald Trump into a benevolent, Christian dictator.) Drollinger also teaches that climate change caused by humans is impossible in light of God’s covenant with Noah after the Flood: “To think that man can alter the earth’s ecosystem—when God remains omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent in the current affairs of mankind—is to more than subtly espouse an ultra-hubristic, secular worldview relative to the supremacy and importance of man,” he wrote recently.

Conservative groups, funded by fossil fuel magnates, spend approximately one billion dollars every year interfering with public understanding of what is actually happening to our world. Most of that money—most of the fraction of it that can be tracked, anyway—goes to think tanks that produce policy papers and legislative proposals favorable to donors’ interests, super PACs that support politicians friendly to industry or oppose those who are not, or mercenary lobbyists and consultants, in some instances employing the same people who fought to suppress the science on smoking. In terms of impact, however, few investments can rival the return that the conservative donor class has gotten from the small cohort of evangelical theologians and scholars whose work has provided scriptural justifications for apocalyptic geopoliticsand economic rapaciousness.

“Throughout the history of the church, people have always found ways to use God and scripture to justify empire, to justify oppression and exploitation,” Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, an organizer with a pro-environmental Christian group called Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA), told me. “It’s a convenient theology to hold, especially when we are called to drastic, difficult action.”

 Many of these soothsayers are gathered together in an organization called the Cornwall Alliance—formerly known as the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, the same group that mobilized against Cizik’s environmental proposal—a network with ties to politicians and secular think tanks across the conservative landscape. In 2013, Cornwall published an anti-environmentalist manifesto called Resisting the Green Dragon. “False prophets promise salvation if only we will destroy the means of maintaining our civilization. No more carbon, they say, or the world will end and blessings will cease,” it warns. “Pagans of all stripes now offer their rival views of salvation, all of which lead to death.” Members of the Cornwall Alliance and their ilk are not simply theoreticians but enforcers, stifling dissent in the wider American evangelical community, smothering environmentalist tendencies before they gain a following………

For almost 20 years, Beisner and members of the Cornwall Alliance have worked with establishment conservatives to bolster opposition to climate change: The Heartland Institute identifies him as a policy advisor on its web site, and he speaks regularly at the institute’s annual conference on climate change (though in an interview he curiously denied ever actually giving any policy advice to Heartland). The Heritage Foundation hosted the 2015 premierof Where the Grass is Greener, a documentary produced by the Cornwall Alliance. In May, Beisner and senior executives from Heartland, Heritage, and a slew of other billionaire-funded political entities like Americans for Prosperity and the Competitive Enterprise Institute sent a letter to Donald Trump urging him to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and asking him to stop funding United Nations global warming programs.

 Together, Cornwall, Heartland, and Heritage have been able to set the terms of the conservative conversation—evangelical or otherwise—about the climate. They determine what science is acceptable, which proposed solutions can be considered, and what the consequences of inaction might look like. “There’s a very strong connection between those institutions and the evangelical Right,” Rev. Hescox told me. “Their denial of the science—and really portraying this as a big government issue—is why there was so much pushback among evangelicals.”

The Cornwall Alliance, joined by scientists associated with organizations partly funded by ExxonMobil, continued hammering away at Christian groups that supported action on climate change. In 2008, it launched the bizarrely named “We Get It!” campaign, which targeted the Evangelical Climate Initiative and was endorsed by a slew of conservative organizations, including the Family Research Council and David Barton’s WallBuilders…..

Given that it is a relatively small operation with relatively low overhead, the money that the Cornwall Alliance receives is a vanishingly small fraction of the hundreds of millions spent by the Koch, the Mercer, or the DeVos families. (The Kochs are oil, coal, and gas scions; Robert Mercer is a hedge fund manager who, with his daughter Rebekah, fueled Trump’s rise; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her husband Dick are long-time Republican donors).

Their money flows through a multitude of nonprofits, front groups, and donor-advised funds. (A donor-advised fund is a kind of money-laundering service for philanthropists who don’t want anyone to know where their money is going: They make a contribution to the fund, and then tell the fund where to send the money; as a nonprofit, the fund has to disclose all of the grants that it makes, but it does not need to disclose its own donors, nor what direction those donors attached to their money.) Donors Trust, the “dark money ATM” of the conservative movement, contributed $1,001,500 to the James Partnership between 2009 and 2015; in most years, this constituted around half of the Partnership’s total revenue………

…….billions are paying off. Not only have the people who funded Cornwall successfully stopped the government from pursuing policies that might make the lives of people who are living with the consequences of climate change a little bit better, but under the Trump administration their lackeys are actively working to dismantle what little progress has been made. When Drollinger teaches that God’s covenant with Noah means that the consequences of climate change not only will not but in fact cannot be as devastating as scientists believe, he echoes a lengthy essay published by the Cornwall Alliance in 2009 that lays out the same argument. Typical of the organization’s style, it appears to the casual observer like any policy paper drawn up at one of D.C.’s many think tanks and nonprofits; in reality, the document blends quotations from scripture with pseudo-scientific data—citing, for example, the Mercer-funded Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. During Pruitt’s confirmation hearing, Republican Sen. John Barrasso favorably cited Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance’s support for the Oklahoma attorney general……http://splinternews.com/how-fossil-fuel-money-made-climate-denial-the-word-of-g-1797466298

August 11, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Religion and ethics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Catholic Church organising to support UN nuclear weapons ban

Vatican conference aims to build momentum for nuclear disarmament, Catholic News Agency, By Andrea Gagliarducci, 25 July 17,  Nuclear disarmament will be the focus of a Vatican conference this Nov. 10-11, following recent progress toward international bans on nuclear weapons.

Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi told CNA that “the Holy See is working to create a public opinion convinced that the world is safer without nuclear weapons, rather than with them.”

The archbishop is delegate secretary to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, which is working to organize the disarmament conference.

The Holy See has invited Antonio Gutierres, Secretary General of the United Nations, to address the conference. It is not reported whether he has accepted the invitation.

Archbishop Tomasi said that the conference is conceived as a follow-up to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, passed July 7 at the United Nations.

Until the treaty, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not explicitly banned by any international document.

The treaty passed with 122 votes in favor and one abstention, Singapore. However, 69 countries, namely all nuclear weapons states and all NATO members excepting the Netherlands, did not take part in the vote.

The U.N. decided to start negotiations for the treaty after a series of three conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. The first conference took place in Oslo, Norway in March 2013. The second was held in Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014.

The third conference, held in Vienna, Austria, Dec. 8-9, 2014, was the first meeting on nuclear weapons attended by some nuclear weapons states.

At the end of the Vienna conference, 127 states formally endorsed a humanitarian pledge, with 23 more voting to approve a resolution in its favor. The endorsing states said they were aware that the risk of nuclear weapons use and their “unacceptable consequences” are avoidable only “when all nuclear weapons have been eliminated.”

The pledge called on all nuclear powers to take concrete measures to reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons and remove them from deployment. It called on nuclear powers to diminish nuclear weapons’ role in their military doctrines and to make “rapid reductions of all types of nuclear weapons.”

Archbishop Tomasi, who attended the Vienna conference in his former position of Holy See Permanent Observer to the U.N. in Geneva, told CNA that the Vienna conference is “particularly important, because it underscores that just being in possession of nuclear weapons is already not ethical.”

The November 2017 conference at the Vatican aims to be another step on the path towards nuclear disarmament.

It would build on the conference to negotiate the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, which took place in New York in March 2017……..http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-conference-aims-to-build-momentum-for-nuclear-disarmament-69412/

July 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Geoffrey Robertson puts the legal and moral case for phasing out Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent

Using Trident would be illegal, so let’s phase it out https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/15/trident-illegal-nuclear-britain-arsenal?CMP=share_btn_fb, Geoffrey Robertson   Nuclear doom is nearer than most of us believe, experts warn. Britain must set a moral lead by becoming the first of the ‘big five’ powers to reduce its arsenal. The most portentous decision for every new prime minister is what to write in the secret “letter of last resort” to Trident submarine commanders telling them what to do with their nuclear missiles if the British government is wiped out. In Monday’s debate on the renewal of Trident, Theresa May should tell parliament what life-or-death decision she has made in her letters of last resort.

It is said that Margaret Thatcher ordered our nukes, trained on Moscow, to be fired so as to cause maximum destruction to the enemy – ie to its civilians. That order, even for a nuclear “second strike”, would today be illegal.

It is ironic that although Chilcot produced so much condemnation of Blair for joining an unlawful war, MPs are now being asked to vote for a weapons system that cannot be used without committing a crime against humanity. This was defined in 1998 by the Rome Statute, which set up the international criminal court, as “a systematic attack directed against a civilian population, resulting in extermination or torture, or an inhumane act intentionally causing great suffering”.

The same statute additionally makes it a war crime to intentionally launch an attack in the knowledge that it would cause incidental loss of civilian life or severe damage to the natural environment, out of proportion to military advantage.

Trident’s 200 thermonuclear bombs, each 10 times more powerful than those that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are illegal because they cannot discriminate between military targets and hospitals, churches and schools; because of their capacity to cause untold human suffering for generations to come; and because their consequences (eg ionising radiation, which tortures victims and lingers for half a century) are beyond the control or knowledge of the attacker, who cannot judge the proportionality of their use.

As the international court of justice put it, back in 1996: “The destructive power of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in space or time. They have the potential to destroy all civilisation and the entire ecosystem of the planet.”

So why is our law-abiding government spending tens of billions on a weapons system that cannot lawfully be used?

First, because its advisers wrongly think that nuclear weapons are legal in certain circumstances. Back in that 1996 case, the UK argued that it could lawfully drop “a low-yield nuclear weapon against warships on the high seas or troops in sparsely populated areas”.

This scenario has now been shown up as fantastical: “first use” in these circumstances by the UK would trigger a nuclear reprisal with inevitable damage to the atmosphere, the oceans and the “sparsely populated” area (which would henceforth be entirely unpopulated). In any event, Trident’s weapon-bays will not carry “low-yield” bombs, and if they did the result would be better achieved by conventional weapons, making nuclear deployment unnecessary and disproportionate.

The world court ruled that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would “generally” be contrary to war law but might be lawful “in extreme circumstances of self-defence, in which the very survival of a state would be at stake”. This was a time-warped view of war law in 1996 that is not tenable today. The court, to be fair, predicted as much, saying that it expected international law to “develop” towards a total ban on the use of the bomb. It soon did, with the Rome Statute and subsequent development of the principle that a state has no right to preserve itself at the expense of damage to other states and to the rights to life of millions of citizens.

It is absurd to suggest that it would have been lawful for Hitler, his back to the bunker wall, to start a nuclear Götterdämmerung to save the Nazi state (Nuremberg decided it was not lawful for him even to fire doodlebugs). Given what we now know about the uncontrollable and devastating propensities of modern nuclear weapons, it is unlawful to fire them at all.

There is a further legal reason for allowing Trident to wear out. It is Article VI of the nuclear proliferation treaty (NPT), by which parties undertake to proceed in good faith to “general and complete” nuclear disarmament.

The world court’s 1996 ruling decided that this imposed not a “mere” obligation but a binding legal obligation on existing nuclear states to reduce the number of their bombs gradually, to zero. It is contrary to the spirit of article VI to upgrade rather than downgrade the fleet.

A decision to phase out Trident would help Britain recover some of the clout it has lost through Brexit. It would show moral leadership, and shame other nuclear powers that have failed to live up to their NPT obligations (especially the US; President Obama’s Nobel prize was prematurely awarded in part for envisaging “a world without nuclear weapons”).

Moral leadership from a nuclear-weapons state is urgently needed. The latest US defence budget allocates $1tn for future modernisation of its nukes and it has acquired new sites for them, in Poland and Romania. President Putin has promised in return a new generation of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. The American most knowledgeable on the subject – Bill Clinton’s defence secretary William J Perry – has just published a book warning that “nuclear doom” is closer today than it ever was during the cold war.

Although possession of nuclear weapons is not per se unlawful, the UK is under a duty to reduce its arsenal: the vice of refurbishing Trident is that it encourages other states to do the same, and remains a constant stimulus for countries – particularly in the Middle East and Asia – to acquire arsenals of their own.

When negotiating to buy Polaris (Trident’s predecessor), back in 1962, Harold Macmillan confided in his diary that “the whole thing is ridiculous”, but consoled himself with the thought that “countries which have played a great role in history must retain their dignity”.

A half-century later, the best way for Britain to regain its dignity post-Brexit is not to throw vast sums of money away on a weapon that cannot lawfully be used, but rather to appear as the first of the “big five” powers to shoulder its legal obligation to disarm under article VI of the NPT. It will be many years before the mushroom cloud becomes a hallucination, but at least Britain would be able to boast that it had led the way.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Legal, politics international, Religion and ethics, UK | Leave a comment

The scandalously unethical 1946 testing of atomic bombs on Bikini Atoll

The Crazy Story of the 1946 Bikini Atoll Nuclear Tests http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/crazy-story-1946-bikini-atoll-nuclear-tests-180963833/ They were the first time that a nuclear weapon had been deployed since the 1945 attacks on Japan By Kat Eschner, smithsonian.com
June 30, 2017 Operation Crossroads, which had its first big event–the dropping of a nuclear bomb–on July 1, 1946, was just the beginning of the nuclear testing that Bikini Atoll would be subjected to. When the first bomb of the tests dropped, it was the first time since the 1945 attacks on Japan that a nuclear weapon had been deployed. Here are three things you might not know about the infamous test.

The test subjects were ghost ships full of animals

The goal of the tests was to see what happened to naval warships when a nuclear weapon went off, writes the Atomic Heritage Foundation. More than 42,000 people–including a crew of Smithsonian Institution scientists, as well as reporters and United Nations representatives, according to Alex Wellerstein for The New Yorker–were involved in observing the nuclear tests, but the humans were, of course, not the test subjects.

Instead, “some of the ships were loaded with live animals, such as pigs and rats, to study the effects of the nuclear blast and radioactive fallout on animals,” writes the foundation. In total, more than 90 vessels, not all carrying live cargo, were placed in the target area of the bomb, which was named Gilda–after Rita Hayworth’s character in the eponymous film.

The gathered scientists included fish scientist Leonard P. Schultz, who was then the curator of ichthyology for the National Museum of Natural History. Although he was given safety goggles, writes the museum, “he was doubtful whether the goggles would protect him.” So, in true scientific fashion, “he covered one eye and observed the explosion with the other.” His eyes were fine, and the effects that he felt included “a slight warmth” on his face and hearing a boom about two minutes after the flash.

Schultz and his colleagues were there to collect species and document the Atoll before and after the tests. They collected numerous specimens including sea and land creatures, writes the museum, which remain in the museum’s collections today. “The Smithsonian’s collections document the extent to which the diversity of marine life was affected by the atomic blasts,” writes the museum, “providing researchers who continue to ­study the health of the ecosystem with a means to compare species extant today with those collected before the tests.”

The first bomb missed its target

That reduced the damage done to the ghost ships. “The weapon exploded almost directly above the Navy’s data-gathering equipment, sinking one of its instrument ships, and a signal that was meant to trigger dozens of cameras was sent ten seconds too late,” Wellerstein writes.

 It started a tradition of nuclear testing in this vulnerable place

“The nuclear arms race between the US and Soviet Union displaced 167 Marshallese as refugees in their own country,” writes Sarah Emerson for Motherboard. After the first 1946 tests, the U.S. government continued to use the area around Bikini Atoll and the Marshall Islands for nuclear testing, writes Erin Blakemore for Smithsonian.com, conducting 67 nuclear tests in total. 23 of those tests were conducted at Bikini Atoll specifically, including one 1954 test of the largest nuclear device the U.S. ever exploded.

The Marshallese displaced by the testing have not been able to go back to their poisoned homes. Today, it’s hard to know when the Atoll will ever be safe to return to, writes Blakemore, although the Marshall Islands overall are becoming less radioactive.

And it all started in 1946.

July 1, 2017 Posted by | history, OCEANIA, Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

MERKEL: POPE URGED HER TO FIGHT FOR PARIS CLIMATE DEAL

VATICAN CITY (AP), 20 June 17 — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Pope Francis encouraged her to work to preserve the Paris climate accord despite the U.S. withdrawal and shared her aim to “bring down walls,” and not build them.

Merkel and Francis met for about 40 minutes Saturday in the Apostolic Palace, focusing on the Group of 20 summit that Germany is hosting in Hamburg on July 7-8……http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_REL_VATICAN_GERMANY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

June 21, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Nuclear power in South Korea is forcefully opposed by Catholics

South Korean Catholics rally against use of nuclear power, .- South Korean Catholics are opposing both the country’s reliance on nuclear power and the U.S. missile defense system recently established to pressure the North out of future weapon tests.

A major leader of the anti-nuclear movement, Father Moon Paul Kyu-Hyn, said “getting rid of nuclear power is the only way to survive, to save ourselves, and save the world,” according to Public Radio International.

A missile defense system has caused tensions between the U.S. and China as well as between China and South Korea. The country’s new president, Moon Jae-in, has emphasized his goal to solve the issues in the Korean Peninsula.

Father Moon expressed his disappointed in the new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD, which became operational on May 2 in the Korean Peninsula. An agreement to install the system was established between the United States and South Korea’s former president, recently incarcerated for political corruption.

“THAAD is a weapon of war. You can’t be for peace if you’re preparing for war,” said Father Moon, an activist who spent three years in jail for illegally crossing over into North Korea in 1989.

He is now leading the charge on the anti-nuclear demonstrations participated by the clergy and lay people, who are opposed the expansion of nuclear power in all of Korea and the rest of the world. The group recently gathered in downtown Seoul to collect a million signatures for support against nuclear energy.

Nearly a third of the country’s electrical consumption relies on nuclear power from over 20 nuclear reactors. Moon Jae-in, who was confirmed president this week, promised to halt expansion of nuclear power and focus on clean energy during a campaign speech in April.

The push to remove nuclear power has increased in South Korea since three plants in Fukushima had a meltdown in 2011 caused by a Tsunami along the shores of Japan. The meltdown forced over 100,000 people to be evacuated from their homes, and the government is still cautious to allow everyone to return due to fears of radiation poison.

In an interview with Public Radio International, Father Cho Hyun-chul, a theology professor at Sogang University in Seoul, said if there is a similar accident revolving South Korea’s power plants then there would be “no room for us to live here. There is no more safe land.”

He continued to say that the destruction nuclear power can cause is “directly against God’s intention,” and the movement is stressing the need to care for the environment – a need heavily emphasized by Pope Francis especially in his encyclical Laudato Si.

The Pope recognized the “tremendous power” nuclear energy has gifted to humanity, but he also spoke against its dangers to the environment and the risk of being used improperly. He said a global consensus to focus on clean and renewable energy is essential for sustaining the earth.

“Such a consensus could lead, for example, to planning a sustainable and diversified agriculture, developing renewable and less polluting forms of energy,” Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si.

According to Reuters, President Moon promised to ease away from nuclear energy in a campaign speech in April. The head for the president’s team on energy policy said South Korea “should move away from coal and nuclear power, and shift to clean or renewable energy-based platforms,” and that he would stop the plans to construct two new reactors in the south of the country.

May 17, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Religion and ethics, South Korea | 1 Comment

Catholics lead in South Korean movement against nuclear power


South Korean Catholics take the lead in protesting against nuclear power, PRI, May 11, 2017, By Matthew Bell Standing up to his own government is nothing new for Moon Kyu-hyun. The 70-year-old Jesuit priest from South Korea made international news back in 1989, when he crossed the border into North Korea illegally.

The Catholic priest’s unsanctioned trip was a political act of defiance against South Korea’s strict National Security Law, which prohibited people in the South from almost any contact with North Korea.

The Rev. Moon was promptly arrested when he returned to the South. And he ended up spending three and a half years in prison.

“Peace and hope is what life is all about,” Moon says, reflecting on lessons learned during his time in jail.

In that same spirit, Moon — whose Christian name is Paul — is part of a group of Catholic clergy taking the lead in a growing anti-nuclear movement in South Korea.  Moon says he is opposed to nuclear weapons, including the North Korean nuclear program that’s been a big part of rising tensions in northeast Asia. But he’s also against recent US actions on the Korean peninsula.

“THAAD is a weapon of war. You can’t be for peace if you’re preparing for war,” Moon says, referring to the anti-missile system recently deployed by the US military in South Korea.

Beyond the nuclear security issue though, Moon and other Catholic leaders are pressuring the South Korean government to rethink the country’s dependence on nuclear power. That is no small order, as this is a country that relies on more than two dozen nuclear power plants for about a third of its electricity.

“Getting rid of nuclear power is the only way to survive, to save ourselves, and save the world,” Moon says during a recent anti-nuclear demonstration in downtown Seoul, where Catholic priests and nuns announced an effort to collect a million signatures in support of their campaign…….

“It’s directly against God’s intention,” Cho says. All Christians, he adds, “believe that God created the universe, and there is the divine order.” Cho says the threat posed by nuclear energy goes against that divine order……..

Catholics here have also forged a somewhat surprising alliance. Japan and Korea have a long and troubled history, to put it mildly. But every year since 2012, Kim Hyun-joo has been part of a group of Korean Catholics who meet up with Japanese Catholics to work together on anti-nuclear protest activities. Kim is an anti-nuclear activist with the Society of Jesus in Seoul……..

Catholic leaders in Korea are following the example of Pope Francis. They say the environment is now a top priority, although they acknowledge the campaign against nuclear power is a going to be a long, uphill struggle……..

the best news for Catholic anti-nuclear activists came when Moon, during the campaign, pledged to cut back drastically on the government’s plans to expand the nuclear power industry. https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-05-11/south-korean-catholics-take-lead-protesting-against-nuclear-power

May 12, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Religion and ethics, South Korea | Leave a comment

Pope Francis – shocked at use of the word “mother” to label US’ biggest non-nuclear bomb

Pope Francis slams use of ‘mother’ to label US’ biggest non-nuclear explosive, http://www.smh.com.au/world/pope-francis-slams-use-of-mother-to-label-us-biggest-nonnuclear-explosive-20170506-gvznqa.html Milan: Pope Francis has criticised naming the US military’s biggest non-nuclear explosive the “mother of all bombs”, saying the word “mother” should not be used in reference to a deadly weapon.

The US Air Force dropped such a bomb, officially designated the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) on suspected Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan last month.

The nickname was widely used in briefings and reporting on the attack.

“I was ashamed when I heard the name,” Pope Francis told an audience of students on Saturday. “A mother gives life and this one gives death, and we call this device a mother. What is happening?”

Pope Francis is set to meet US President Donald Trump on May 24 in a potentially awkward encounter, given their opposing positions on immigration, refugees and climate change.

May 8, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Vatican says nuclear weapons “provide a false sense of security”

Vatican: Nuclear weapons give “false sense of security”, Crux, Charles Collins, May 3, 2017  Monsignor Janusz Stanisław Urbańczyk, says the efforts of the international community to utilize the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons to make the world safer “have not been sufficient.” The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is preparing for the review conference on the treaty, which happens every five years.

The Vatican representative to the world’s nuclear body on Tuesday said nuclear weapons “provide a false sense of security” and added he is “concerned” about the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Monsignor Janusz S. Urbańczyk, the Vatican representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was speaking at the first meeting preparing for the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) taking place in Vienna.

The treaty, considered the main international nonproliferation tool, went into effect in 1970, and a review process is conducted every 5 years.

Urbańczyk said the Vatican, which signed the NPT in 1971, was taking part in the preparatory meeting “to lend its moral authority” to the process.

“The Holy See cannot but lament the fact that the potential devastation caused by the use of nuclear weapons so clearly identified over 40 years ago has not been relegated to history,” the diplomat said. “In other words, the efforts of the international community to utilize the NPT to make the world safer have not been sufficient.”

He said the preparatory meetings and the 2020 review conference itself should “make concrete and consensus-based progress” to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and work towards “the ultimate goal of abolishing all nuclear weapons……

  • In March, the United Nations General Assembly hosted a conference in New York to work towards a treaty banning nuclear weapons, which was boycotted by all the nuclear powers.Francis wrote a personal letter to that conference, offering his support, and calling for a “collective and concerted multilateral effort to eliminate nuclear weapons,” adding that international peace and stability “cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.”

    Urbańczyk on Tuesday acknowledged nations have “a right and an obligation” to protect their own security, but said this is “strongly linked” to the promotion of collective security, the common good, and peace…….https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/05/03/vatican-nuclear-weapons-give-false-sense-security/

May 5, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pope Francis suggests Norway as mediator, urges a diplomatic solution to North korean nuclear crisis

North Korea: Pope Francis pushes for diplomatic solution to US dispute with reclusive regime http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-30/pope-pushes-for-diplomatic-solution-to-avert-north-korea-war/8483662 Pope Francis says a third country, such as Norway, should try to mediate the dispute between North Korea and Washington to cool a situation that has become “too hot” and poses the risk of nuclear devastation.

Pope Francis said he believed “a good part of humanity” would be destroyed in any widespread war.

Speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him back from Cairo, Pope Francis also said he was ready to meet US President Donald Trump when he is in Europe next month but that he was not aware that Washington had made a request for a meeting.

In answer to a question about the tensions between the US and North Korea, Pope Francis said the United Nations should re-assert its leadership in world diplomacy because it had become “too watered down”.

“I call on, and will call on, all leaders, as I have called on leaders of various places, to work to seek a solution to problems through the path of diplomacy,” he said about the North Korea crisis.

He spoke after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile shortly after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that failure to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes could lead to “catastrophic consequences”.

“There are so many facilitators in the world, there are mediators who offer themselves, such as Norway for example,” Pope Francis said.

“It [Norway] is always ready to help. That is just one but there are many. But the path is the path of negotiations, of a diplomatic solution.” Norway secretly negotiated an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians known as the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s.

Pope Francis expressed his deep concern over the crisis, saying: “This question of missiles in [North] Korea has been brewing for more than a year but now it seems the situation has become has become too hot.

“We are talking about the future of humanity. Today, a widespread war would destroy — I would not say half of humanity — but a good part of humanity, and of culture, everything, everything.

“It would be terrible. I don’t think that humanity today would be able to withstand it.”

Mr Trump is due in Sicily late May for a meeting of the heads of the world’s richest nations.

The White House has not yet said if he would be stopping in Rome to meet the pope, which would be an unusual omission for a visiting head of state. Asked if he would be meeting Mr Trump, the pope said he had not yet been informed if a request had been made, but added: “I receive every head of state who asks for an audience.”

May 1, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Anglican Archbishop warns South Africans about the pro nuclear determination of the Zuma government

Ndungane warns that the government will not give up after nuclear deal ruling, Business Day, 28 APRIL 2017 Anglican archbishop emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane expressed his “profound relief” at Wednesday’s High Court ruling on the nuclear deal, but warned that he expected Eskom and the government to “fight tooth and nail” to have it overturned.

Ndungane commended Earthlife Africa, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei), and other civil society organisations that have been in the forefront of opposing the deal for several years.

“This is a salutary lesson. Civil society in SA has doggedly persevered in doing what it believes is right in respect of the nuclear deal.

“That they have been vindicated by the high court is a triumph of David against mighty Goliath. Government and Eskom should know that we do not intend to be brow beaten into submission,” the archbishop said.

However, he said he fully expected the government and Eskom to appeal against the ruling, since the small cabal of people led by the President in whose interests the nuclear deal appeared to have been negotiated, were unlikely to simply give up.

In addition, the various departments and state-owned enterprises involved would not want to see their expenditure to date being written off as “fruitless and wasteful expenditure”.

Ndungane expressed his deep concern that the South African government, which had been elected by the people to act for the people, was failing in its duty to protect the interests of the poorest people…….

He asked South Africans, when next they are called to exercise their ballot, to vote for a government that will act in the full interests of all the people of the land, and not just a select few.

“I have said previously that this nuclear deal will cripple the country’s economy. Our current debt stands at R1.89-trillion. When we borrow money to pay for the nuclear deal, our country will owe R3-trillion. Anyone with the most basic ability to balance a budget can see that increasing one’s debt by more than half is financial suicide,” the archbishop said. He asked South Africans, when next they are called to exercise their ballot, to vote for a government that will act in the full interests of all the people of the land, and not just a select few.

“I have said previously that this nuclear deal will cripple the country’s economy. Our current debt stands at R1.89-trillion. When we borrow money to pay for the nuclear deal, our country will owe R3-trillion. Anyone with the most basic ability to balance a budget can see that increasing one’s debt by more than half is financial suicide,” the archbishop said. https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-04-28-ndungane-warns-that-the-government-will-not-give-up-after-nuclear-deal-ruling/

April 29, 2017 Posted by | Religion and ethics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Pope Francis backs nuclear weapons ban treaty

Pope backs nuclear weapons ban treaty, rrrstar.com, Mar 29, 2017 By Josephine McKenna Religion News Service VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis says nuclear weapons offer a “false sense of security” and are an ineffective deterrent to 21st-century threats like terrorism, conflict and cybersecurity.

The pontiff spoke as talks on a proposed global nuclear arms ban at the United Nations seem doomed to fail with the U.S., France, Britain and South Korea among nearly 40 countries boycotting the talks.

In a message addressed to the conference in New York, the pope called for “total elimination” of nuclear weapons. He said there were many doubts about the effectiveness of deterrence and warned of “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences” if nuclear weapons were ever used again.

“How sustainable is a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust?” Francis asked. “International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.”

The pope said the elimination of nuclear weapons was a “moral and humanitarian imperative” and stressed it was possible to achieve.

“Although this is a significantly complex and long-term goal, it is not beyond our reach,” he said.

Francis said money currently spent on nuclear weapons could be used for “the promotion of peace and integral human development, as well as the fight against poverty.”

“An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction — and possibly the destruction of all mankind — are contradictory to the very spirit of the United Nations,” he said.

“We must therefore commit ourselves to a world without nuclear weapons, by fully implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, both in letter and spirit.”……http://www.rrstar.com/news/20170329/pope-backs-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty

March 31, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment