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What could Biden’s nuclear policy look like?

January 14, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As pandemic cripples America, Donald Trump orders funding for military Small Nuclear Reactors in space

January 14, 2021 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, space travel, USA | 1 Comment

USA will be bound by nuclear weapons ban treaty, and should join it.

U.S. should join nuclear weapons ban treaty–  Michaela Czerkies Jan 13, 2021

On Jan. 22, the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will enter into force. This treaty is a historic achievement in the global movement to abolish nuclear weapons, making it illegal under international law for participating nations to “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” The treaty also acknowledges the suffering that nuclear weapons testing and use have inflicted around the world, and includes provisions for environmental remediation and assistance to people affected.

It is fitting that the TPNW enters into force just after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. King clearly stated that nuclear disarmament was deeply linked to racial justice and essential to our survival. He called for a ban on nuclear weapons, understanding that, “a full-scale nuclear war would be utterly catastrophic.”

It is unconscionable that neither the United States nor any of the other eight nuclear-armed countries have signed the TPNW and are therefore not bound by it. The national Back from the Brink campaign outlines five common-sense steps that the U.S. should take to reform its nuclear policy, the final step being to pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals — i.e., the TPNW. Organizations, faith communities, and elected officials can endorse and amplify the Back from the Brink campaign’s call to action and move us closer to a world free of the nuclear threat. Contact the Syracuse Peace Council at to get involved.

January 14, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Scientists must tell the truth on our consumerist, ecology-killing Ponzi culture

Scientists must not sugarcoat the overwhelming challenges ahead. Instead, they should tell it like it is. Anything else is at best misleading, and at worst potentially lethal for the human enterprise. 

Worried about Earth’s future? Well, the outlook is worse than even scientists can grasp , The Conversation, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Matthew Flinders Professor of Global Ecology and Models Theme Leader for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Flinders University.  Daniel T. Blumstein, Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, Paul Ehrlich, President, Center for Conservation Biology, Bing Professor of Population Studies, January 13, 2021 

Anyone with even a passing interest in the global environment knows all is not well. But just how bad is the situation? Our new paper shows the outlook for life on Earth is more dire than is generally understood.

The research published today reviews more than 150 studies to produce a stark summary of the state of the natural world. We outline the likely future trends in biodiversity decline, mass extinction, climate disruption and planetary toxification. We clarify the gravity of the human predicament and provide a timely snapshot of the crises that must be addressed now.

The problems, all tied to human consumption and population growth, will almost certainly worsen over coming decades. The damage will be felt for centuries and threatens the survival of all species, including our own………

academics tend to specialise in one discipline, which means they’re in many cases unfamiliar with the complex system in which planetary-scale problems — and their potential solutions — exist.

What’s more, positive change can be impeded by governments rejecting or ignoring scientific advice, and ignorance of human behaviour by both technical experts and policymakers.

More broadly, the human optimism bias – thinking bad things are more likely to befall others than yourself – means many people underestimate the environmental crisis.

Numbers don’t lie

Our research also reviewed the current state of the global environment. While the problems are too numerous to cover in full here, they include:…………

A bad situation only getting worse

The human population has reached 7.8 billion – double what it was in 1970 – and is set to reach about 10 billion by 2050. More people equals more food insecurity, soil degradation, plastic pollution and biodiversity loss.

High population densities make pandemics more likely. They also drive overcrowding, unemployment, housing shortages and deteriorating infrastructure, and can spark conflicts leading to insurrections, terrorism, and war.

Essentially, humans have created an ecological Ponzi scheme. Consumption, as a percentage of Earth’s capacity to regenerate itself, has grown from 73% in 1960 to more than 170% today.

High-consuming countries like Australia, Canada and the US use multiple units of fossil-fuel energy to produce one energy unit of food. Energy consumption will therefore increase in the near future, especially as the global middle class grows.

Then there’s climate change.  Humanity has already exceeded global warming of 1°C this century, and will almost assuredly exceed 1.5 °C between 2030 and 2052. Even if all nations party to the Paris Agreement ratify their commitments, warming would still reach between 2.6°C and 3.1°C by 2100.

The danger of political impotence

Our paper found global policymaking falls far short of addressing these existential threats. Securing Earth’s future requires prudent, long-term decisions. However this is impeded by short-term interests, and an economic system that concentrates wealth among a few individuals.

Right-wing populist leaders with anti-environment agendas are on the rise, and in many countries, environmental protest groups have been labelled “terrorists”. Environmentalism has become weaponised as a political ideology, rather than properly viewed as a universal mode of self-preservation.

Financed disinformation campaigns against climate action and forest protection, for example, protect short-term profits and claim meaningful environmental action is too costly – while ignoring the broader cost of not acting. By and large, it appears unlikely business investments will shift at sufficient scale to avoid environmental catastrophe.

Changing course

Fundamental change is required to avoid this ghastly future. Specifically, we and many others suggest:

  • abolishing the goal of perpetual economic growth………..

Don’t look away………

Scientists must not sugarcoat the overwhelming challenges ahead. Instead, they should tell it like it is. Anything else is at best misleading, and at worst potentially lethal for the human enterprise.

January 14, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, culture and arts, environment | Leave a comment

Joe Biden under pressure from nuclear lobby, despite the failing state of their industry

Nuclear power backers hopeful Biden’s climate focus will boost industry, By Nina Chestney, Timothy Gardner, Reuters, 13 Jan 20,  – Backers of nuclear power hope U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s focus on curbing climate change will boost the industry which is currently plagued with shutdowns, executives told a Reuters Next conference on Monday.
This is a great opportunity for our country to get our groove back after a number of years of challenges,” said Dan Poneman, the president and chief executive officer of Centrus Energy Corp, a maker of fuel for advanced nuclear reactors that are expected to become commercial in coming years.
Biden, who takes over on Jan. 20, wants to make curbing climate change one of the pillars of his administration and has supported research and development for advanced nuclear technologies……..

The United States has about 94 traditional reactors, out of the 440 worldwide, but rising costs have forced many plants to shut with five more expected to close this year in Illinois and New York.

Nuclear power faces competition from electricity stations that burn cheap, plentiful natural gas and from renewable power, including wind and solar.

In addition, around the world, nuclear plants face rising maintenance and safety costs, including protection against attacks by militants or regulatory responses to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan…….
It is not clear how Biden’s administration will prevent more of the current reactors from shutting. Rick Perry, President Donald Trump’s former energy secretary, tried to set up subsidies for nuclear power, but the idea was rejected by energy regulators.
In addition, non-proliferation experts have concerns about the supply chains of advanced nuclear, which could involve small plants in more remote locations, and that the waste that they generate could be even more concentrated than spent nuclear fuel from traditional plants……..

January 14, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

As Britain’s plan for Wyfla nuclear project founders, it’s time to start a green revolution

PAWB 11th Jan 2021, On the last day of troubled 2020, the Westminster Government has deferred a decision on a Development Consent Order for a nuclear power station at Wylfa until the end of April 2021.

This is the fourth time this has happened, and the second time in a row for Duncan Hawthorne, chief executive Horizon, to ask for a deferral.

On January 10 the Times revealed that Hitachi is winding Horizon up completely by March 31, 2021. This is the logical conclusion of the process that started exactly two years ago when Hitachi suspended Horizon’s operations at Wylfa. Then in September 2020, they announced that they were ditching their plans to build two huge reactors at Wylfa completely.

The attempt to build Wylfa B has been shambolic from the start. It’s high time to abandon the foolish dream that has paralyzed Anglesey’s development since 2006. As we approach the 10th
anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, the latest to be mentioned as ‘saviours’ of the radioactive poisoning project that would threaten the health of everyone on the island and beyond are three US companies.

Here they are: Bechtel Corporation, Westinghouse and Southern Company. Here are
some of the trio’s transgressions: Bechtel – recently fined nearly $58million for financial fraud with another company over a 10-year periodat Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the most radioactively contaminated site in the United States. This followed a fine of $125million for low quality work on the same site in 2016. Much more could be said about Bechtel. Westinghouse and Southern Company – Westinghouse went bankrupt while trying to build Vogtle Power Station in the state of Georgia.

The two AP1000 reactors of the type destined for Wylfa are five years behind Schedule, have doubled in cost to $25billion, and there is no guarantee that thepower station will ever be completed. Another of their projects was the V C Summer nuclear plant in South Carolina. It was abandoned unfinished in 2017, and is still being paid for by taxpayers.

However, with this latest information, it looks very unlikely that these three American companies are prepared to pay through their noses for two white elephant sites at Wylfa and Oldbury.

This is the end of Horizon’s journey. And the end once and for all of the nuclear industry’s plans to destroy an especially beautiful part of northern Ynys Môn. It is high time that politicians on Ynys Môn andGwynedd Councils, the Senedd in Cardiff, and at Westminster to recognise
this fact and to turn their attention towards cleaner, cheaper and more sustainable ways of producing electricity. The renewable technologies are available. This is the time to start a real green revolution.

January 14, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Amid ongoing lawsuits about nuclear corruption, Ohio regulators will stall the nuclear bailout law

January 14, 2021 Posted by | legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Quakers welcome nuclear weapons ban treaty 

January 14, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Could Trump start a nuclear war?- a satchel, a biscuit and a football

A satchel, a biscuit and a football,   , Could Trump start a nuclear war?  By Linda Pentz Gunter, 10 Jan 21, 

All that’s involved is a satchel, a biscuit, and a football.

It sounds so benign, doesn’t it? Like schoolboy games. It’s anything but. If the President of the United States opens that satchel with his biscuit to access the football, that simple action could propel us into Armageddon.

The satchel, which goes everywhere the president does, contains the nuclear “football.” Only the president can open the satchel, using an ID card known as the “biscuit”.

As Time magazine explained it — the first time alarm bells rang around the possibility that an unhinged Donald Trump might “press the nuclear button” — the “biscuit enables him to identify himself to officials at the Pentagon with unique codes letting them know he is authorizing a nuclear strike. He would also need to specify the type of attack he wanted to carry out; the different options are delineated in the nuclear football.

“Once Trump has successfully conveyed his orders, Strategic Command, which has operational control over U.S. nuclear forces, would implement them.”

So while there is no actual nuclear button — Trump’s boasts to North Korea about his big one notwithstanding — it would be all too easy for a petulant madman to start a nuclear war. And we have one in the White House.

No one here needs to be reminded of the eye-stretching scenes of mob violence that unfolded at the Capitol on January 6, egged on by Trump on the day itself, and fueled by the reckless rhetoric and actions of the White House and its Republican lackeys over the past four years.

The events of January 6 in part prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to speak to the “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.

“The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy,” Politico reported Pelosi as saying on Friday.

In a statement issued on January 7, Physicians for Social Responsibility wrote that the scenes of mayhem at the Capitol, brought on by Trump’s “increasingly irresponsible and reckless behavior” should finally “put to rest any doubt about the danger posed by giving any president sole authority for the decision to launch a nuclear weapon. While the incident yesterday did not directly involve that power, President Trump’s alarming conduct demonstrated incontrovertibly why providing a president with the sole authority to launch a nuclear weapon needs to be changed—right now.”

How easy would it be for Trump to launch a nuclear strike? Global Zero explains it, chillingly, in this video, which suggests that starting a nuclear war would be “as easy as ordering a pizza.”

In a January 24, 2018 article in The Straits Times, Mark Fitzpatrick, a nuclear non-proliferation expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington, was quoted in an interview he gave to the BBC.

“There are no checks and balances on the president’s authority to launch a nuclear strike,” he said. “But between the time he authorizes one and the time it’s carried out there are other people involved.”

We’ve been saved more than once from nuclear disaster, most notably by Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces who, on the night of September 26, 1983 just happened to be in charge of monitoring his country’s satellite system that watched for a potential launch of nuclear weapons by the United States. In the early hours, such a launch appeared to have happened.

Petrov had only minutes to decide if the launch was genuine. He was supposed to report the alert up the chain of command. Doing so would almost certainly have led to a counterstrike, triggering a full-on nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the U.S. Instead, Petrov decided to check if there was a computer malfunction, later discovered to have been the case. Petrov became known as “the man who saved the world.”

But back at the White House, with only conspiracy-theory believing acolytes left around a man who doesn’t in any case listen to anyone’s advice, we cannot count on there being any Petrovs to save us this time.

Of course, as the PSR statement concluded: “the best way to protect ourselves and the rest of the world from the danger posed by the dysfunctional leadership of a nuclear-armed nation is to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether.

“The incoming Biden administration should embrace the principles of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and lead negotiations that move us toward a nuclear-weapons free world.”

That Treaty will become international law on January 22. Not a moment too soon.

January 11, 2021 Posted by | politics, Trump - personality, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

According to experts, the U.S. military cannot legally prevent Trump’s accessto nuclear codes

January 11, 2021 Posted by | legal, politics, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Donald Trump the Worst President in the History of the United States

Anna Thurlow, 9 Jan 21,   Donald Trump Has Been the Worst President in the History of the United StatesBy Eve ottenburg and Karl Grossman

“For those who concluded from the Covid-19 debacle that Trump simply wasn’t up to the job, it looks unlikely, to say the least, that his China legacy will be anything other than catastrophic. U.S. and Chinese economies are intertwined and, as we’ve already seen, decoupling hurts lots of Americans, starting with farmers. Trump’s executive order on December 28, prohibiting investments in firms reportedly controlled by the Chinese military does little besides ratchet up tensions. Hostilities between the two navies in the South China Sea could explode into regional war at any time. And how that war would be prevented from becoming nuclear is a very well-kept secret. But the geniuses in the Pentagon aren’t concerned. They believe in their new generation of small, “smart” nuclear weapons and “winnable” nuclear wars, as does Trump, the president who arguably has done more to promote nuclear war than perhaps any predecessor since mankind first split the atom.
Donald Trump has been the worst president in the history of the United States.”

Eve ottenburg

The attack by his supporters on the Capitol was a capstone of his presidency — lawless, an attack on democracy, a U.S. counterpart of the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s.

It was a horror representative of his tenure.

Thank heavens and thanks to successful and hard political work, he will in days be out of office. And there must be criminal prosecutions on the state and local levels as well the federal level, which he’ll likely try to wrangle out of with a pardon.

There must be consequences to his horrendous term in office.

“An American Tragedy” was the title of a piece by David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker magazine, right after Election Day 2016. “The election of Donald Trump,” Remnick wrote, “is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism.” There would be “miseries to come”– and there have been.

Remnick warned against an “attempt to normalize” the election of Trump. “Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader”, “a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right…a flim-flam man” with “disdain for democratic norms.”

The attack on the Capitol by the Trumpsters was an attempt at a coup to undo a presidential election in which a record number of voters came out to dump Trump and elect Joe Biden.

It was an act of insurrection incited by Trump.

As he tweeted to followers on December 20th — “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Yes, and indeed it was wild.

And then, in a speech in front of The White House on Wednesday, addressing his backers who had arrived, said: “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue…and we’re going to the Capitol.” He added: “You have to be strong.”

His call was preceded by his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, proclaiming “let’s have trial by combat.”

Giuliani, who took an oath to be an attorney and adhere to rule of law, represented Trump in many courts in challenges to his election defeat with claims that judges found totally untrue–but Giuliani opted instead, in violation of that oath, for “trial by combat.”

Remnick warned about an “attempt to normalize” Trump, but so much of media have engaged in “both sides-ing” the situation, as Julie Hollar of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has written.

When a person tells an out-and-out lie, there is no journalistic obligation to “balance” a story with a falsehood

And Trump, The Washington Post report has recorded, has uttered more than 20,000 falsehoods in his term in office.

And then there have been the Trump disinformation machines led by Fox -about which Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels would smile.

But this is far more than a media problem.

Trump tapped into a vein of racism and other poisons in the United States.

He soon will be out of The White House but Trumpism, so horribly, will still be here.

“You have to summon an act of will, a certain energy and imagination, to replace truth with the authority of a con man like Trump,” George Packer wrote in the current issue of The Atlantic.

Trump’s “barrage of falsehoods — as many as 50 daily in the last fevered months of the 2020 campaign — complemented his unconcealed brutality,” writes Packer.

“Two events in Trump’s last year in office broke the spell of his sinister perversion of the truth,” he says: COVID-19 and a free election.

“The beginning of the end of Trump’s presidency arrived on March 11, 2020, when he addressed the nation for the first time on the subject of the pandemic and showed himself to be completely out of his depth. The virus was a fact that Trump couldn’t lie into oblivion or forge into a political weapon — it was too personal and frightening, too real. As hundreds of Americans died and the administration flailed between fantasy, partisan incitement, and criminal negligence, a crucial number of Americans realized that Trump’s lies could get someone they love killed,” says Packer.

He continues: “The second event came on November 3”– the election.

And that is what Trump and his followers who attacked the Capitol sought to undo. And, on the same day, Trump enablers in Congress were trying to undo it by having the votes of the Electoral College denied.

“The election didn’t end his lies — nothing will…But we learned that we still want democracy. This, too, is the legacy of Donald Trump,” Packer concluded.

Yes, most Americans still want democracy, but the history of authoritarian takeovers shows that a relatively small group of fanatics can beat the majority.

And we still are left with those toxic issues that Trump capitalized on.

Another component here is the enabling of Trump by all those Republicans.

Margaret Sullivan wrote a piece earlier this week in The Washington Post, headed “We must stop calling Trump’s enablers ‘conservative.’ They are the radical right.”
She wrote: “These days the true radicals are the enablers of President Trump’s ongoing attempted coup: the media bloviators on Fox News, One America and Newsmax who parrot his lies about election fraud; and the members of Congress who plan to object on Wednesday to what should be a pro forma step of approving the electoral college results, so that President-elect Joe Biden can take office peacefully on Jan. 20.

“But instead of being called what they are, these media and political figures get a mild label: conservative. Instead of calling out the truth, it normalizes; it softens the dangerous edges,” she continued. “It makes it seem, well, not so bad. Conservative, after all, describes politics devoted to free enterprise and traditional ideas. But that’s simply false. Sean Hannity is not conservative. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama are not conservative. Nor are the other 10 (at last count) Senators who plan to object” to the Electoral College vote.

She notes Tim Alberta wrote on Politico that “‘There is nothing conservative about subverting democracy.’ He suggests ‘far right’ as an alternative descriptor. Not bad. But I’d take it a step further, because it’s important to be precise. I’d call them members of the radical right.

“Members of the radical right won’t like this, of course. They soak in the word ‘conservative” like a warm bath.”

“On Jan. 20, we can still presume Trump will be gone from the White House,” she writes. “But his enablers and the movement that fostered him, and that he built up, will remain. That’s troubling. We should take one small but symbolic step toward repairing the damage by using the right words to describe it. It would be a start.”

Journalist Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, says Trump “will be in our history books as a dark, dark stain unlike any president of the United States.” And he investigated Nixon.



January 11, 2021 Posted by | media, politics, politics international, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Nancy Pelosi urged Pentagon on safeguards against Donald Trump launching nuclear war

Pelosi Pressed Pentagon on Safeguards to Prevent Trump From Ordering Military Action
But short of the cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment or impeaching and convicting the president, it would be unconstitutional to defy legal orders from the commander in chief, experts note.
NYT,  By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, Jan. 8, 2021

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Friday took the unprecedented step of asking the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about “available precautions” to prevent President Trump from initiating military action abroad or using his sole authority to launch nuclear weapons in the last days of his term.

In a phone call to the chairman, Gen. Mark A. Milley, Ms. Pelosi appeared to be seeking to have the Pentagon leadership essentially remove Mr. Trump from his authorities as the commander in chief. That could be accomplished by ignoring the president’s orders or slowing them by questioning whether they were issued legally.

But General Milley appears to have made no commitments. Short of the cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment or removing Mr. Trump through impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate, it is unconstitutional to defy legal orders from the commander in chief.

Ms. Pelosi’s request, which she announced to the Democratic caucus as an effort to prevent “an unhinged president” from using the nuclear codes, was wrapped in the politics of seeking a second impeachment of Mr. Trump.

Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for General Milley, confirmed that the phone call with the speaker had taken place but described it as informational. “He answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority,” he said.  …….

This was not the first time the issue has come up in American history, or in regard to Mr. Trump.

In the last days of Richard M. Nixon’s presidency, the defense secretary, James R. Schlesinger, quietly issued a set of orders that if Mr. Nixon sought to move or use nuclear weapons, commanders should route the request to him or Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. Mr. Schlesinger, describing his actions only after Mr. Nixon left office, said he was concerned that the president was drinking, or that he might lash out.

Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, said Mr. Schlesinger had told him a number of years ago that “he was worried about Mr. Nixon’s physical and emotional state and wanted to make sure there was no danger the nuclear arsenal would be abused.”……

In the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton also raised the issue of Mr. Trump’s suitability to command the nuclear arsenal. “Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis,” she said in her address at the Democratic National Convention. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

……….legally the military cannot deny the president access to the codes unless the 25th Amendment has been activated……..


January 11, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Military strategy relying on nuclear weapons – a dangerous myth

January 10, 2021 Posted by | India, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Former US defence secretary urges Biden to give up sole power to launch nuclear weapons

January 10, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un signals plans to develop new nuclear weapons

Kim Jong Un signals plans to develop new nuclear weapons.  North Korea raises tensions with incoming US administration of Joe Biden.      Edward White in Seoul JANUARY 9 2021  Kim Jong Un has signalled plans to develop new nuclear weapons and described the US as North Korea’s “biggest enemy”, moves that threaten to raise tensions with US president-elect Joe Biden. The North Korean leader’s comments, made at a rare gathering of top political officials in Pyongyang, marked the dictator’s strongest broadside against Washington since Mr Biden won the presidency in November’s election.

“Our external political activities going forward should be focused on suppressing and subduing the US, the basic obstacle, biggest enemy against our revolutionary development,” Mr Kim said,  according to a translation by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.  ……….

January 10, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment