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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty supports existing agreements, and in no way conflicts with them

This will take hard work, creativity and patience as well as political will, but it is a legitimate and universally-pursued goal ever since nuclear weapons, as well as other weapons of mass destruction, came into being. The objective of prohibiting them was already present in the very first resolution of the General Assembly, unanimously adopted in 1946.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Space exploration – to lead to dangerous nuclear-armed totalitarian societies

Professor warns space exploration will give rise to totalitarian societies equipped with nuclear weapons – but some say his forecast is too pessimistic   

  • Daniel Deudney is a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University
  • He recently published a book titled ‘Dark Skies’ that talks about space expansion
  • The text warns that space settlements could become totalitarian societies
  • Populations and resources will need to be controlled for survival
  •  Deudney notes that nuclear weapons will become the gold standard in space
  • He fears that the cosmic battles will eventually make their way to Earth 

By STACY LIBERATORE FOR DAILYMAIL.COM, 28 October 2020    Space agencies across the world are working tirelessly to design the best ships and technologies for the chance to claim a stake of the final frontier for their country.

Although it may seem like an act of national pride, a professor from Johns Hopkins University warns that space expansion may lead to the extinction of humanity, suggesting it should not be attempted at all.

Daniel Deudney recently published a book titled ‘Dark Skies’ that examines space expansionism through geopolitics revealing cosmic habitats could spark totalitarian empires.

The political science professor also notes that if these settlements stretch across the solar system, nuclear weapons will become the gold standard in war, along with using asteroids to destroy enemy planets – but other experts feel these arguments are ‘too pessimistic.’

‘I argue that the consequences of what has actually happened in space are much less positive than space enthusiasts and many others believe,’ reads ‘Dark Skies.’

‘My case for this darker net assessment of actual space activities centers on the role of space activities in making nuclear war more likely.’

‘In sum, this book argues that the large-scale expansion of human activities into space, past and future, should join the lengthening list of catastrophic and existential threats to humanity, and that the ambitious core of space expansionism should be explicitly relinquished.’

The book’s release comes at a time when many countries are muscling up to head into space.

The US announced a new branch of its armed forces called the US Space Force in 2019, which ‘is designed to protect the interests of the United States in space, deter aggression in the final frontier and conduct prompt and sustained space operations.’

Many other countries including France, Canada and Japan have since followed in suit for their chance to take a piece of space.

However, Deudney’s concludes that these countries’ efforts will come with serious consequences.

The professor used geopolitics for this work, which studies ‘the practice of states controlling and competing for territory’ – and in this case, space.

Deudeny also explains that he is not opposed to using space in ways that will benefit Earth and is not on a mission to ‘defund space’ by eliminating the many robots and satellites that currently patrol the area.

He is looked at ‘the political and military potential of a system-spanning human civilization only increases the chances of totalitarianism and the deliberate or accidental extinction of human society,’……..

Along with using objects in space, governments have revealed details over the past years for launching nuclear weapons into the final frontier.

NASA is working on a method that would send a nuclear bomb into space aboard a rocket to destroy an asteroid heading towards Earth.

Earlier this year, the US raised concerns that China or Russia may soon detonate a nuclear weapon in space ‘to fry the electronics’ of spacecraft and ‘indiscriminately’ take out satellite.

Although neither of these are a reality, the technology may be in the works and could be used to wage space war……

October 29, 2020 Posted by | politics international, space travel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Archbishop Tomasi has led the Vatican’s fight against nuclear weapons

October 29, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Britain, and other countries, got nuclear weapons for reasons of status and pride

October 27, 2020 Posted by | culture and arts, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hope for nuclear arms control with Russia? 

October 27, 2020 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

495 local assemblies demand Japan government ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

495 local assemblies demand Japan gov’t ratify nuclear ban treaty in written statement,  October 24, 2020 Mainichi Japan  
HIROSHIMA — Over a quarter of local assemblies across Japan have adopted a written statement demanding that the central government sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), a report by the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) revealed. ……

The nuclear arms prohibition treaty was adopted in July 2017 by 122 countries and regions — over 60% of the United Nation’s membership. The treaty bans the development, test, manufacture, possession or use of atomic weapons, as well as the threat of their use — the basis of nuclear deterrent. Japan did not participate in negotiations nor signed the pact, along with the five nuclear powers of the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China. Tokyo stayed out of the pact for fear of appearing to denounce nuclear deterrence and thereby deepening conflict between nuclear have and have-not nations.

In response, Gensuikyo decided in a global conference held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 2017 that it will approach local assemblies in Japan to adopt written statements asking the national government to sign and ratify the nuclear ban treaty. Atomic bomb survivors have been engaged in these efforts across Japan.

According to Gensuikyo, the prefectural assemblies of Iwate, Nagano, Mie, Tottori, and Okinawa, as well as 490 municipal assemblies — 28% of all local assemblies nationwide — had adopted the written statement as of Oct. 23, 2020. The tally includes assemblies that have adopted the objective of the written statement, as they agree with it but are uncertain of its feasibility. A total of 34 assemblies in Iwate, including the prefectural assembly, adopted the statement. The statement was initially turned down twice in the municipal assembly of Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, but finally gathered a majority in March 2020 after Gensuikyo explained persistently about damage resulting from nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, no local assemblies in the prefectures of Toyama, Fukui, Yamaguchi and Saga have adopted the statement.
A tendency among conservative assembly members to dislike passing written statements that counter central government policy has apparently led to the regional differences. Even in the atomic bomb-stricken areas of Hiroshima and Nagasaki prefectures, the statement’s adoption rate is 67% and 32%, respectively.

Sixteen municipal assemblies in Hiroshima Prefecture, including the Hiroshima city assembly, have adopted the statement, with authorities saying, “Our country, the only nation that has experienced atomic bombing, has a special role and responsibility to strive to abolish nuclear weapons.” However, Hiroshima Prefectural Assembly lawmakers did not even submit a proposal to adopt the statement.

Fumikazu Furuta, secretariat head at Gensuikyo’s Hiroshima branch, explained that a prefectural assembly member belonging to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party rejected his request for cooperation by saying, “We must consider the views of party headquarters.”

There are also local assemblies that reject adopting the statement as it is not legally binding, and by claiming that national defense and security are exclusively under central government jurisdiction. Soji Kanno, deputy secretariat head at Gensuikyo’s Iwate branch, who approached Iwate Prefecture assemblies with the statement, commented, “Abolishing nuclear weapons is not a political request, but the wish of the Japanese public. I’d like for all local assemblies to raise their voices towards the Japanese government.”

(Japanese original by Isamu Gari and Misa Koyama, Hiroshima Bureau)


October 26, 2020 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pacific islands demand truth on the decades of nuclear testing, now that nuclear weapons are becoming illegal

Guardian 25th Oct 2020, Now that nuclear weapons are illegal, the Pacific demands truth on decades of testing. Nuclear weapons will soon be illegal. Just over 75 years since their devastation was first unleashed on the world, the global community has rallied to bring into force a ban through the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Late on Saturday night in New York, the 50th country – the central American nation of Honduras – ratified the treaty. It will become international law in 90 days. For many across the Pacific region, this is a momentous achievement and one that has been long called
for. Over the second half of the 20th century 315 nuclear weapons tests were conducted by so-called “friendly” or colonising forces in the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Australia and Maohi Nui (French Polynesia).

The United States, Britain and France used largely colonised lands to testtheir nuclear weapons, leaving behind not only harmful physical legacies but psychological and political scars as well. Survivors of these tests and their descendants have continued to raise their voices against these weapons. They are vocal resisters and educators, the reluctant but intense knowledge holders of the nuclear reality of our region.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US urges countries to withdraw from UN nuclear ban treaty

US urges countries to withdraw from UN nuke ban treaty,  By EDITH M. LEDERER, October 22, 2020, UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States is urging countries that have ratified a U.N. treaty to ban nuclear weapons to withdraw their support as the pact nears the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, which supporters say could happen this week.The U.S. letter to signatories, obtained by The Associated Press, says the five original nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — and America’s NATO allies “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty……..

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty, told The Associated Press Tuesday that several diplomatic sources confirmed that they and other states that ratified the TPNW had been sent letters by the U.S. requesting their withdrawal.

She said the “increasing nervousness, and maybe straightforward panic, with some of the nuclear-armed states and particularly the Trump administration” shows that they “really seem to understand that this is a reality: Nuclear weapons are going to be banned under international law soon.”

Fihn dismissed the nuclear powers’ claim that the treaty interferes with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as “straightforward lies, to be frank.”

“They have no actual argument to back that up,” she said. “The Nonproliferation Treaty is about preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminating nuclear weapons, and this treaty implements that. There’s no way you can undermine the Nonproliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It’s the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.”

The NPT sought to prevent the spread of nuclear arms beyond the five original weapons powers. It requires non-nuclear signatory nations to not pursue atomic weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five powers to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee non-nuclear states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing energy………

“That the Trump administration is pressuring countries to withdraw from a United Nations-backed disarmament treaty is an unprecedented action in international relations,” Fihn said. “That the U.S. goes so far as insisting countries violate their treaty obligations by not promoting the TPNW to other states shows how fearful they are of the treaty’s impact and growing support.”

The treaty was approved by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on July 7, 2017 by a vote of 122 in favor, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. Among countries voting in favor was Iran. The five nuclear powers and four other countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — boycotted negotiations and the vote on the treaty, along with many of their allies…………

October 26, 2020 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Unwanted nuclear submariness and military operations in the Arctic

Unwanted Nuclear Subs and Military Ops in the Arctic, High North News, 

Increased interest in the Arctic: “The U.S. Army has made a significant pivot”  There is a pivot in the U.S. Army to train and operate more in Alaska to rebuild skills, according to Major General Peter Andrysiak, commander U.S. Army Alaska. He says the U.S. Army soon will release its own Arctic strategy.

HILDE-GUNN BYE    23 Oct 20 As the Arctic region sees increased interest, the Army has made a “significant pivot and investment,” Major General Peter Andrysiak, commanding general of U.S. Army Alaska said during the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) annual convention last week……. HTTPS://WWW.HIGHNORTHNEWS.COM/EN/INCREASED-INTEREST-ARCTIC-US-ARMY-HAS-MADE-SIGNIFICANT-PIVOT

October 26, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Difficulties in the membership of countries in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

October 26, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons reaches the required 50 ratifications to become law

Historic milestone: UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons reaches 50 ratifications needed for entry into force  25 Oct 20, 

On October 24, 2020, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons reached the required 50 states parties for its entry into force, after Honduras ratified just one day after Jamaica and Nauru submitted their ratifications. In 90 days, the treaty will enter into force, cementing a categorical ban on nuclear weapons, 75 years after their first use.

This is a historic milestone for this landmark treaty. Prior to the TPNW’s adoption, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not banned under international law, despite their catastrophic humanitarian consequences. Now, with the treaty’s entry into force, we can call nuclear weapons what they are: prohibited weapons of mass destruction, just like chemical weapons and biological weapons.

ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn welcomed the historic moment. “This is a new chapter for nuclear disarmament. Decades of activism have achieved what many said was impossible: nuclear weapons are banned,” she said.

Setsuko Thurlow, survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, said “I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty.” As a long-time and iconic ICAN activist who has spent decades sharing the story of the horrors she faced to raise awareness on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons this moment held particular significance: “This is the first time in international law that we have been so recognized. We share this recognition with other hibakusha across the world, those who have suffered radioactive harm from nuclear testing, from uranium mining, from secret experimentation.” Survivors of atomic use and testing all over the world have joined Setsuko in celebrating this milestone.

The three latest states to ratify were proud to be part of such a historic moment. All 50 states have shown true leadership to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, all while facing unprecedented levels of pressure from the nuclear armed states not to do so. A recent letter, obtained by AP only days before the ceremony, demonstrates that the Trump administration has been directly pressuring states that have ratified the treaty to withdraw from it and abstain from encouraging others to join it, in direct contradiction to their obligations under the treaty. Beatrice Fihn said: “Real leadership has been shown by the countries that have joined this historical instrument to bring it to full legal effect. Desperate attempts to weaken these leaders’ commitment to nuclear disarmament demonstrate only the fear of nuclear armed states of the change this treaty will bring.”

This is just the beginning. Once the treaty is in force, all states parties will need to implement all of their positive obligations under the treaty and abide by its prohibitions. States that haven’t joined the treaty will feel its power too – we can expect companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in nuclear weapon producing companies.

How do we know? Because we have nearly 600 partner organisations in over 100 countries committed to advancing this treaty and the norm against nuclear weapons. People, companies, universities and governments everywhere will know this weapon has been prohibited and that now is the moment for them to stand on the right side of history.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors – the Big New Way – to get the public to fund the nuclear weapons industry

so-called “small nuclear reactors”

Downing Street told the Financial Times, which it faithfully reported, that it was “considering” £2 billion of taxpayers’ money to support “small nuclear reactors”

They are not small

The first thing to know about these beasts is that they are not small. 440MW? The plant at Wylfa (Anglesey, north Wales) was 460MW (it’s closed now). 440MW is bigger than all the Magnox type reactors except Wylfa and comparable to an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor.

Only if military needs are driving this decision is it explicable.

”Clearly, the military need to maintain both reactor construction and operation skills and access to fissile materials will remain. I can well see the temptation for Defence Ministers to try to transfer this cost to civilian budgets,” 

Any nation’s defence budget in this day and age cannot afford a new generation of nuclear weapons. So it needs to pass the costs onto the energy sector.

How the UK’s secret defence policy is driving energy policy – with the public kept in the dark  BY DAVID THORPE / 13 OCTOBER 2020

 The UK government has for 15 years persistently backed the need for new nuclear power. Given its many problems, most informed observers can’t understand why. The answer lies in its commitment to being a nuclear military force. Continue reading

October 24, 2020 Posted by | politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

European Commission commits to retainng Iran nuclear deal

European Commission reassures Iran of commitment to nuclear deal October 2020  The lifting of economic sanctions against Iran remains an essential part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) and its signatories are committed to expanding the special purpose vehicle that enables European businesses to maintain trade with the country, according to the European Commission’s foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano.

In an interview with the Tehran Times published on 20 October, Stano referred to remarks Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, had made to the European Parliament on 7 October. Borrell said Iran had “legitimate expectations that the nuclear deal would result in more concrete economic benefits”.

The E3 – France, Germany and the UK – triggered the JCPoA’s dispute resolution mechanism in January, following Iran’s further steps away from its commitments. In June, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution calling on Iran to cooperate fully in implementing its NPT Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.

In August, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi held talks with Iranian officials on access for IAEA inspectors to the country’s nuclear sites. His visit to Tehran followed the US Administration’s request to the UN Security Council to initiate the ‘snapback’ mechanism of the Iran nuclear deal. This mechanism allows a party to the agreement to seek the re-imposition against Iran of the multilateral sanctions lifted in 2015 in accordance with resolution 2231. The USA withdrew from the JCPoA in May 2018.

Stano told the Tehran Times that the EU considers the extraterritorial application of unilateral restrictive measures to be contrary to international law.

“The lifting of sanctions is an essential part of the JCPoA agreement,” he said. “In this regard, the EU fulfilled its commitments and lifted all its economic and financial sanctions in connection with the Iranian nuclear programme. Furthermore, the EU member states sitting in the UN Security Council prevented the US efforts to use the so-called ‘snapback’ and re-introduce UN sanctions that were lifted as a result of the JCPoA.”

The EU had taken “a series of concrete actions”, he said, including updating its Blocking Statute in August 2018 and, the following year, setting up INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges). In addition, the European Commission recently launched two online platforms to support European economic operators “to engage in legitimate trade with Iran”.

“This underscores the continued EU commitment to the full and effective implementation of the JCPoA,” Stano said, adding that the first transactions under INSTEX are being processed. “The number of participants of INSTEX is not shrinking; quite to the contrary, there are more European countries joining, with more to follow.”

October 24, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Jesuit priest sentenced for peacful civil disbedience in protest against nuclear weapons

October 24, 2020 Posted by | Legal, Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment