The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

America DID use depleted uranium weapons in Syria

depleted-uraniumUnited States confirms that it has fired depleted uranium in Syria International Coalition to Ban Nuclear Weapons  US admits that it fired DU on two occasions in November 2015, contrary to earlier claims; military justification for use unclear after target analysis; ICBUW and PAX call for full disclosure to facilitate harm reduction measures; Russia takes advantage of news to distract from its own conduct in the conflict. 21 October 2016 – ICBUW

The US has finally confirmed that it has fired DU ammunition Syria, after it had earlier stated that the weapons would not be used. US Central Command (CENTCOM) has acknowledged that DU was fired on two dates – the 18 and 23 November 2015. Between the strikes on the two dates, 5,100 rounds of 30mm DU ammunition were used by A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. This equates to 1,524kg of DU. CENTCOM said that the ammunition was selected because of the “nature of the targets”.

The news comes as governments are debating a UN General Assemblyresolution on DU weapons in New York. And, although DU use has only been admitted on two dates, ICBUW and PAX are concerned that this disclosure could be the sign that DU has, or will, be used more widely in the conflict.

In March 2015, and following the deployment of A-10s to the conflict, the US hadconfirmed to journalists that the aircraft would not be armed with DU, stating:“U.S. and Coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.” Justifying the decision, CENTCOM public affairs explained that:  “The ammunition is developed to destroy tanks on a conventional battlefield; Daesh does not possess large numbers of tanks.”

CENTCOM confirms DU use     IRIN news finally extracted the confirmation that DU had been used from CENTCOM on October 20, and after weeks of denials. The revelations first came to light after an aide to Congresswoman Martha McSally (Rep, AZ) – herself a former A-10 combat pilot – responded to a question from DU activist, and constituent, Jack Cohen-Joppa. However a number of CENTCOM sources initially denied that the information was accurate. Confirming that the data were indeed accurate, a spokesperson for CENTCOM said earlier denials were due to “an error in reporting down range.”

“Without the chance disclosure from McSally’s office, and the dogged pursuit of CENTCOM by IRIN, the US would not have volunteered this data,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “Sadly this is typical of the poor transparency we have seen from the US and we urge CENTCOM and the Coalition to clarify their policy on DU use in Syria and explain how its use fits with its public claims that the ammunition is solely for use against armoured targets.

Unclear why DU was used  The US regularly states that DU ammunition is specifically used only for engaging armoured targets, in accordance with its own legal guidelines, although evidence from a number of conflicts has shown that these guidelines are commonly ignored……..

October 24, 2016 Posted by | depleted uranium, Syria, USA | Leave a comment

Court hears case of US sailors affected by Fukushima nuclear radiation

justiceFlag-USASailors exposed to Fukushima radiation one step closer to justice, Beyond Nuclear, 23 Oct 16  Lawyers for U.S. sailors suffering illnesses associated with radiation exposure from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe presented oral arguments before the 9th circuit court in Pasadena, CA in September. This follows two victories before the district federal court in San Diego, CA and two legal appeals by TEPCO who is being sued for compensation in this first-of-its-kind case. Determination in this case is expected within 60 days.


According to Nuclear Hotseat, present at the arguments, the sailors are experiencing a number of health impacts including, leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removal, brain cancers and tumors, testicular cancers, thyroid illnesses, stomach complaints, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, and still births and birth defects among their children. A number of these maladies are rare for the sailors’ age and condition, and were not present before the relief operation Tomadachi, undertaken by the U.S. in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Japan. According to statements at a press conference, filmed here by Ecological Options Network, seven people have already died including a child who was riddled with tumors. The number of sailors in the lawsuit is currently 400 and additional plantiffs continue coming forward.

Radiation diseases are so complex, the Veterans Administration cannot figure out how to treat many of the ill. As a result, they are often diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which is a catchall meaning they don’t know what the malady is. This type of unclear diagnosis also occurred after the atomic bomb explosions (bura-bura disease) and after the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown(vegetative distonia).

Lawyers for the sailors say any delay in the case is a delay of justice and proper health resources for these radiation-affected people. It’s been about 4 years already since the suit began and only judicial and legal wrangling has been undertaken in court. Specifics of the catastrophe, exposure scenarios and health information has not been allowed as of yet. According to plantiffs’ lawyers, this is a ploy by TEPCO to keep case from being heard………

October 24, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Prison for documentary film-makers for taping oil pipeline protests?

civil-liberty-2smDocumentary film-makers face decades in prison for taping oil pipeline protests

Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel face felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press, Guardian,  , 23 Oct 16,  Two documentary film-makers are facing decades in prison for recording US oil pipeline protests, with serious felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press.

The controversial prosecutions of Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel are moving forward after a judge in North Dakota rejected “riot” charges filed againstDemocracy Now! host Amy Goodman for her high-profile reporting at the Dakota Access pipeline protests.

But authorities in other parts of North Dakota and in Washington state have continued to target other film-makers over their recent reporting on similar demonstrations, raising concerns that the lesser-known journalists are not getting the same kind of public support and national attention.

Schlosberg, a New York-based film-maker, is facing three felony conspiracy charges for filming protesters on 11 October at a TransCanada Keystone Pipeline site in Pembina County in North Dakota, with prosecutors alleging that she was “recruited to record the criminal activity”.

The 36-year-old – who produced a documentary called How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change – could face 45 years in prison. US whistleblower Edward Snowden recently tweeted his support of Schlosberg, writing: “This reporter is being prosecuted for covering the North Dakota oil protests. For reference, I face a mere 30 years.”

Grayzel, an independent film-maker from Portland, Oregon, was also arrested and jailed on 11 October while filming at a separate pipeline protest in Skagit County, Washington. She and her cinematographer, Carl Davis, had their footage and equipment seized and were kept behind bars for a day.

The two were filming activist Ken Ward attempting to shut down the Trans Mountain pipeline, and they now face 30 years in prison for a felony burglary charge, a felony “criminal sabotage” charge and a misdemeanor trespass offense. There were a series of pipeline protests across the US on 11 October.

“Everyone needs to be afraid when our first amendment rights are in jeopardy,” Grayzel, 41, told the Guardian on Thursday before her criminal arraignment. “This is not just about me. This is not just about Carl. This is not about Amy Goodman … This is about the public’s right to know what is going on in this country.”

Free-speech advocates said that both cases are unusual and troubling given that prosecutors have admitted that the defendants were acting as film-makers and are still pursuing aggressive felony cases.

While it’s not uncommon for journalists to face arrest and misdemeanor charges for trespassing or disorderly conduct while reporting at controversial protests, conspiracy, burglary and sabotage offenses are rare for members of the media.

“It’s outrageous. It’s an assault on the first amendment,” said Neil Fox, one of Grayzel’s attorneys. “It’s shocking, but it is the kind of climate that we’re living in right now.”

Fox cast blame on the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who has made vicious attacks on the media a cornerstone of his campaign. “This is certainly the result of the toxic language that Trump brings to the election.”

Although Ward, a climate activist, had gained access to a fenced enclosure owned by the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the Skagit County sheriff’s report noted that Grayzel and her cinematographer were “just outside the enclosure … taking photographs and video”. The report said they confiscated the film-makers’ phone and “assorted camera equipment”, actions that have raised further concerns about press intimidation and free speech violations.

Washington prosecutors are relying on laws that were passed in the early 20th century to target labor rights’ protesters, Fox added. “There’s been a revival in the state of Washington of the use of these statutes against labor activists and against environmental activists.”

In Goodman’s case, a judge forced prosecutors to drop a serious “riot” charge, which was centered on Goodman’s viral coverage of the intense Native American-led protests. But prosecutors and sheriff’s officials said they may continue to pursue other charges against the critically acclaimed journalist.

In Schlosberg’s charges, North Dakota prosecutors have alleged that she was part of a conspiracy, claiming she traveled with protesters “with the objective of diverting the flow of oil”.

“I was surprised at the conspiracy charges. I never thought that would ever happen,” her attorney Robert Woods told the Guardian. “All she was doing was her job of being a journalist and covering the story.”

Prosecutors in both cases declined to comment.

October 24, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

A “nonsense” paper accepted for International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics

The International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics will be held on 17-18 November in Atlanta, Georgia,

nukefools-dayNonsense paper written by iOS autocomplete accepted for conference New Zealand professor asked to present his work at US event on nuclear physics despite it containing gibberish all through the copy, Guardian, , 22 Oct 16 A nonsensical academic paper on nuclear physics written only by iOS autocomplete has been accepted for a scientific conference.

Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor at the Human Interface Technology laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, received an email inviting him to submit a paper to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics in the US in November.

“Since I have practically no knowledge of nuclear physics I resorted to iOS autocomplete function to help me writing the paper,” he wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “I started a sentence with ‘atomic’ or ‘nuclear’ and then randomly hit the autocomplete suggestions.

“The text really does not make any sense.”

“The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place for a great time to enjoy the day you are a wonderful person to your great time to take the fun and take a great time and enjoy the great day you will be a wonderful time for your parents and kids,” is a sample sentence from the abstract.

It concludes: “Power is not a great place for a good time.”

Bartneck illustrated the paper – titled, again through autocorrect, “Atomic Energy will have been made available to a single source” – with the first graphic on the Wikipedia entry for nuclear physics.

He submitted it under a fake identity: associate professor Iris Pear of the US, whose experience in atomic and nuclear physics was outlined in a biography using contradictory gender pronouns.

The nonsensical paper was accepted only three hours later, in an email asking Bartneck to confirm his slot for the “oral presentation” at the international conference.

“I know that iOS is a pretty good software, but reaching tenure has never been this close,” Bartneck commented in the blog post. He did not have to pay money to submit the paper, but the acceptance letter referred him to register for the conference at a cost of US$1099 (also able to be paid in euros or pounds) as an academic speaker.

The International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics will be held on 17-18 November in Atlanta, Georgia, and is organised by ConferenceSeries: “an amalgamation of Open Access Publications and worldwide international science conferences and events”, established in 2007……..

October 24, 2016 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Risk of a military conflict between Moscow and Washington has been overstated

Why a military conflict between Russia and the US is unlikely, Russia Direct, Oct 21, 2016, 
The risk of a military conflict between Moscow and Washington has been overstated. However, both sides should think about prevention mechanisms to minimize the risk of accidents that could lead to an open conflict. The expert community has been crying wolf for a long time now: “War is at the doorstep!” The gloomy predictions indicate that Russia and the United States are at the brink of direct military clashes, as if they were trying to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis in some perverse way. However, any conflict, if it happens, will most probably be accidental  the parties are not yet ready for full-scale military confrontation.

In the last few years, Russia has been modernizing its armed forces to replace the outdated Soviet-era materiel and structure. Numerous exercises, trillions of rubles spent, new equipment and combat vehicles emerging out of the blue, and a charismatic defense minister who changed the entire image of the Russian Army and brought back its popularity with society  all these steps provided for the fast (and real) growth of national military might.

However, it remains rather limited in comparison with the overall total potential of theNATO states. Some would say that the alliance is reluctant to take any serious decisions and is nothing more than a paper tiger. Nonetheless, the brainwashing of the last two years has significantly improved the decision-making capacity of NATO and the chances for achieving consensus over the “Russian threat.”

The ability to mobilize quickly strong conventional forces is still low, as NATO generals admit themselves. However, active recent revival of the nuclear sharing arrangements and the consolidation of U.S. troops in various countries of Central and Eastern Europe present enough deterrence against any light-minded action. It is clear that the war will not happen in Europe (and not even in Ukraine with its unpredictable leadership). However, wherever it occurs, NATO forces can eventually be mobilized to help their allies.

Moreover, Moscow has largely been pursuing a defensive policy over the past 16 years. Even now, when “the Russians are (seemingly) coming,” an independent observer would probably notice that the lion’s share of the activities of Moscow are reactive rather than proactive. …….

Two factors raise the probability of an armed clash between Russia and the U.S. One of them is rhetoric. There have been more words than action so far and there is a clear trend nobody is responsible for their words any longer. Any of the statements of the last few months would mean immediate war in the 19th or even in the 20th century. Nowadays, politicians throw thousands of words against each other and the struggle is with the minds and hearts and not with bodies. However, such belligerent rhetoric creates the climate of antagonism and public anticipation of a conflict. As a result, such atmosphere may facilitate prompt steps “in response” to another accident.

The second factor is, paradoxically, the low importance of the regional conflicts. Syria is so far away from Moscow and Washington that the parties do not really care about its future, its population and even its militants. Both Russia and the United States can afford there much more than they could in Ukraine, for instance (where actually none of them cared about the fate of Ukraine, but the proximity of Europe made it more difficult to fight). And such lack of significance may lead to a dangerous neglect of dramatic consequences of any armed clash and make the decision-making process easier to go to war.

Nowadays, Russia and the United States demonstrate wisdom and restraint. Given the current leadership in both countries, the expectations of war will hopefully stay just that expectations. However, the situation may change next year and it would be better for the parties to think about some minimal confidence-building measures and provide for the prevention of accidents, any of which may become fatal, just like an accidental missile launch during the Cold War era.

October 22, 2016 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Can we afford to just laugh off the absurdities of Trumpism in this age of the Anthropocene?

The  fervent Trump supporter has told his viewers that the both US president, Barack Obama, and the Democrat nominee, Hilary Clinton, were “literal demons” who smelt of sulphur. I kid you not.

In Australia, we have a senator who similarly sees climate change as a thing made up by the UN. Our top-rating radio host, Alan Jones (no relation), has said climate science is “witchcraft”.

There’s now a whole media ecosystem that climate science denialism can exist inside, where there’s little scrutiny of the views of deniers. US-based sites like the Drudge Report, Infowars, Breitbart and Daily Caller are part of that ecosystem.

For a while, maybe the Trumpocene and the Anthropocene can coexist.

But even though they exist on separate plains, can we really afford to dismiss the impact of either of them?

Republican hawk (Trump)We are approaching the Trumpocene, a new epoch where climateBook Anthropocene
change is just a big scary conspiracy  Graham Readfearn

Websites pushing climate science denial are growing their audience in an era where populist rhetoric and the rejection of expertise is gaining traction For years now geologists have been politely but forcefully arguing over the existence or otherwise of a new epoch – one that might have started decades ago.

Some of the world’s most respected geologists and scientists reckon humans have had such a profound impact on the Earth that we’ve now moved out of the Holocene and into the Anthropocene.

It’s not official. But it’s close.

Dropping nuclear bombs and burning billions of tonnes of fossil fuels will do that to a planet, as will clearing swaths of forests to make way for food production and supermarket car parks and the like.

That’s all in the real world though, and sometimes you might get the horrible, chilling idea that when it comes to the production of our thoughts and ideas, that’s not the place a lot of us live anymore.

So I’d like to also propose the idea of an impending new epoch – the Trumpocene – that in the spirit of the era itself is based solely on a few thoughts held loosely together with hyperlinks and a general feeling of malaise.

In the Trumpocene, the epoch-defining impacts of climate change are nothing more than a conspiracy. Even if these impacts are real, then they’re probably good for us.

The era is named, of course, for the phenomenon that is Donald Trump, the Republican pick for US president whose candidacy has been defined by a loose grasp of facts, jingoistic posturing, populist rhetoric, his amazing hair and his treatment of women.

So what are the things that might define the Trumpocene?

Is it the point at which large numbers of people started to reject the views of large groups of actual experts – people with university qualifications and things – in exchange for the views of anyone who agrees with them? (Brexit, anyone?) Continue reading

October 22, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, USA elections 2016 | 1 Comment

Over $8.25 billion to extend the life of B61-12 atomic bomb

bomb B61-12Updated B61 Nuclear Bomb to Cost $8.25 Billion, Defense News,  By: Aaron Mehta, October 19, 2016 WASHINGTON – The life-extension program for the B61-12 atomic bomb will cost just over $8.25 billion, according to a new estimate from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

The new cost estimate was completed over the summer as the agency prepared to enter the production-engineering phase of the program. The baseline cost of the program is $7.605 billion, with an additional $648 million in “funds leveraged from other NNSA programs for technology and manufacturing readiness,” according to an agency statement – money that has common applications across multiple weapon systems.

That cost does not include the estimated $1.3 billion that the Department of Defense plans to spend on developing and procuring tailkits for the weapons. With that included, the total cost for the program sits at roughly $9.5 billion.

The NNSA is a semi-autonomous department within the Department of Energy. While the Defense Department manages the delivery systems of the nuclear force — ships, planes and missiles — NNSA has oversight over the development, maintenance and disposal of nuclear warheads.

The agency is perusing a modernization plan known as the “3+2 Strategy,” under which the NNSA is consolidating the American arsenal of warheads into five variants. The five ballistic-missile warheads now in service are being consolidated into three new interoperable warheads known as the IW-1, IW-2, and IW-3, while the five bomb and cruise-missile warhead types are being consolidated into two replacement warhead designs, the W80-4 and the B61-12. …….

October 22, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Dairyland Power gets major compensation for radioactive trash from its nuclear reactor that closed in 1987

Feds to pay Dairyland $73.5 million in nuclear settlement , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  October 21, 2016  Dairyland Power has reached a major settlement with the U.S. Department of Energy over nuclear waste stored from its former nuclear reactor located at the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor in Genoa.

October 22, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Energy Institute is lobbying for new tax credits

Tax - payersNuclear power industry seeks new tax credits, Union
The nuclear industry has faced a host of issues in the past decade that have shrunk its profits. 
By JEREMY DILLON of CQ-Roll Call , 20 Oct 16 WASHINGTON — Beset by low natural gas prices and tax advantages for its competitors, the nuclear power industry is seeking new tax credits to help it find its footing in an increasingly challenging marketplace.

The Nuclear Energy Institute’s newly tapped president and CEO Maria Korsnick said last week the trade association is exploring a proposal for new production or investment tax credits to help “even the playing field” against other power sources.

Korsnick currently serves as NEI’s chief operating officer and will take over as president and CEO at the start of 2017, the association announced earlier this month.

She said the credits could be temporary, helping to sustain the industry until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the market for electricity shared by utilities across the electric grid, enacts changes she said would more accurately reflect nuclear’s value as a reliable, low-carbon energy source. Korsnick could not predict when FERC would act.

“The long-term fix will go through FERC policy,” Korsnick said on nuclear market fixes.  Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the Finance Committee’s top Democrat, told CQ Roll Call recently he sees growing momentum for a tax overhaul in the 115th Congress. Such an overhaul could include nuclear power credits…..

October 22, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Plant Vogtle Nuclear Company is now rewarded for bungling and delays

taxpayer bailoutProposed Agreement Would Reward Southern Company for Bungled, Massively Over Budget and 45-Month Delayed Plant Vogtle Reactors

Jennifer Rennicks, SACE, 865.235.1448 Atlanta, Ga.   Late Thursday the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) Staff issued a proposed Stipulation Agreement that fails to protect Georgia Power customers for increased costs associated with the now 45-month delayed, over budget nuclear reactors under construction at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro along the Savannah River. The estimated capital cost forecast has increased $1.262 billion for Georgia Power’s share of the project to $5.680 billion from the original $4.418 billion. The PSC press statement identified what appear to be only phantom savings to utility ratepayers while granting the Company guarantee of collection of billions of dollars in increased project costs.

Key items in the proposed Stipulation include:

  • A defacto extension of the construction schedule from the current 39-month delay to 45 months with acknowledgement that it could be even further delayed, with nominal penalty for the Company.
  • Capital costs up to $5.680 billion are considered reasonable and prudent thus no review in the future; despite the fact that $3.68 billion has been spent in capital costs as of the 15th Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) report. This appears to represent approval of $2 billion in advance of those capital costs even being spent.
  • The phantom cost savings to customers over the next four years appears to be due to merely slowing down the collection of financing costs versus actually denying the Company collection of these costs.

Below is a statement from Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s High Risk Energy Choices Program Director Sara Barczak, an intervening party in the Vogtle Supplemental Information Review process, which the clean energy organization has criticized as an expedited, quasi-prudency review:

Halloween came early in Georgia given the clear treats offered to Southern Company (parent Company of Georgia Power) and the tricks doled out to utility customers. The proposed Stipulation is a major disappointment to consumers for many reasons.

Not one penny of construction costs associated with the construction delay was disallowed, including the $700 million in additional financing costs caused by the delay. Georgia Power will collect 100% of its financing costs. Most of the $325 million in phantom cost reduction to customers is only a delay in collecting financing charges. Georgia Power shareholders may see a tiny drop in their earnings but remain largely protected.

While Georgia Power has spent $3.68 billion on the Project to date, the Stipulation certifies $5.680 billion in construction costs as “prudent” and “reasonable” – essentially an advance approval of $2 billion dollars.

Finally, there is no public record to evaluate whether the PSC Staff negotiated a fair deal or rolled over to the utility company demands.

The proposed Stipulation clearly rewards Southern Company for their and their Contractors’ bungling of the troubled Vogtle nuclear construction project, which has been plagued with a plethora of serious design, engineering and construction problems from Day One that were identified by PSC Staff over years of testimony.

Georgia Power customers will realize little benefit should the Georgia Public Service Commissioners approve this proposal. It’s really sad to see yet another big power company receiving essentially a free pass for their mistakes that will cost families and businesses money.

Additional information: Originally Vogtle reactor Unit 3 was scheduled to come online April 1, 2016 and Unit 4 one year later. As of the 15th VCM report, schedule estimates were June 2019 and June 2020 respectively, a 39-month delay, with a cost estimate of $7.862 billion. The current certified cost for Georgia Power’s share of the project is approximately $6.113 billion. Customers are already paying an additional 9.4% on their monthly bills for the Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery (NCCR) costs due to anti-consumer state legislation passed in 2009 to incentivize building new reactors. Over $1.8 billion in pre-collected financing costs have been charged to ratepayers and the financing costs represent the largest share of the project’s cost overruns. The original approximately $14.1 billion Vogtle project is now estimated to cost well over $20 billion. Georgia Power is 45.7% owner in the project (remaining utility partners are Oglethorpe Power (30%), MEAG (22.7%) and the City of Dalton (1.6%)).

Find more information about Plant Vogtle’s expansion here.

October 22, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

America’s Congressional hawks rev up their anti Russia rhetoric

US Hawks Continue Hysteria Over All Things Russia

Amid Rising Tensions, Old Allegations Spark New Panic

by Jason Ditz, October 19, 2016 In 2008, Russia carried out a test of a cruise missile which US officials argued might conceivably violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). This was first brought up by US officials in 2014,  during the anti-Russia hysteria surrounding the East Ukraine civil war.

Two and a half years later, tensions with Russia are on the rise again, so officials appear to have decided that the exact same 2008 test is suddenly a huge thing again, with a number of Congressional hawks issuing a letter claiming the Russian test was an “egregious” violation, and demanding that the Obama Administration “impose penalties” on Russia over it.

Russia had threatened to withdraw from the INF over NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe, saying it changed the balance of power in the region. They were also riled by the Bush Administration’s threats to install missile defense along the Russian frontier.

The missiles in question are a multi-stage system Russia designed which are aimed to technically comply with the letter of the treaty, while expanding intermediate range capabilities in ways that the treaty was meant to forbid. The US has made similar developments over the years since 1987.

With US officials riled at Russia over Aleppo, and presenting the fighting in the city as a “holocaust,” they have also brought up several other grievances they have with Russia, accusing them of everything from treaty violations to supporting Donald Trump.

It’s interesting to note, however, that most of the grievances aren’t particularly new, and didn’t have a lot of meat to them the last time they brought them up. The effort seems to be to just keep Russia’s name out there, and always in a negative light.

October 22, 2016 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA wants meeting with Russia Over Missile Treaty Dispute

U.S. Calls For Meeting With Russia Over Missile Treaty Dispute , Radio Free Europe,  20 Oct 16 WASHINGTON — The United States has called for a special meeting with Russia over alleged violations of a landmark Cold War-era arms-control treaty, a policy reversal that echoes deepening U.S. fears about Moscow’s intentions.

The planned meeting of the Special Verification Commission, scheduled in the near future, focuses new attention on concerns about the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF).

The treaty, which bans testing, producing, and possessing ground-launched cruise missiles with ranges between 500 to 5,500 kilometers, eliminated an entire class of missiles from Europe, and set up an extensive system of verification and compliance. The agreement was considered crucial in the thaw between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Two years ago, the United States first asserted that Russia was in violation of the treaty, by developing a missile system that fell within the INF prohibitions. Moscow denied the allegations, and later charged that U.S.-led efforts to install elements of a missile-defense system in Europe were in fact prohibited by the INF.

Since then, U.S. officials have pressed Russia on the alleged violations; at one point, President Barack Obama raised the issue directly with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin……..

October 22, 2016 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What happens if you stand up to the fossil fuel industry: the Amy Goodman saga

Amy Goodman showed us the perils of standing up to the fossil fuel industry
May Boeve

The rights of activists and journalists are under threat wherever communities challenge Big Oil – in North Dakota and beyond. For far too long, the world had been ignoring the North Dakota anti-pipelines protests. Then the Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman captured private security forces (employed by a fossil fuel company)sicking dogs on Native Americans during a peaceful demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which encroaches on their sacred lands and waters. For that, she nearly went to jail.

The video made Goodman a target of North Dakota authorities, who brought charges of trespassing and rioting against her and the native leaders on the ground during the dog attack. Yes, a journalist was threatened with punishment for reporting on the horrific attack on indigenous people.

Authorities said Goodman didn’t deserve press protections because her opinions made her an “activist” instead of a journalist. Are we to punish every journalist who calls out state violence as he or she sees it? How could you not have an opinion in the face of such brutality? Should Walter Cronkite have gone to prison for his words about Vietnam?

Clearly not. Organizations defending freedom of the press decried the charges against Goodman. Activists like ourselves rallied behind her cause online because we understand the importance of a free press to social change. And on Monday, a North Dakota judge dropped the charges due to lack of probable cause.

It’s a win for freedom of the press, but intimidation by the fossil fuel industry and its government allies is far from over. Native leaders at the Standing Rock camps know this all too well, as they continue to face arrests by North Dakota police and pressure by Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline.

There’s no question that Goodman’s fearless reporting helped make this act of brutality a turning point in the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Soon after her broadcast, the Obama administration stepped in and paused the project until there could be “further consultation” of indigenous peoples. Suddenly, TV news and the mainstream media took up the story in a serious way for the first time. Thousands of more people headed out to the camp.

The trampling of our rights as activists, or as journalists, isn’t just a problem in North Dakota. It’s also a fight that’s playing out around the world wherever communities stand up to the fossil fuel industry and other corporate interests destroying our communities and climate.

We see it in the murder of activists like Berta Cáceres in Honduras. We see it in the Philippines, where anti-mining activists are being murdered by paramilitary groups. According to a report by Global Witness, 185 environmental activists in 16 countries were killed last year and the number is just going up.

Despite this violence, the movement to challenge the fossil fuel industry has continued to grow more powerful, and we’re not backing down. As the work to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline continues, I’m honored to stand in solidarity with the incredible Native American leaders at Standing Rock who are putting their bodies on the line to shut this destructive project down. The photos and videos of their brave actions have become lightning rods, channeling tremendous new energy into this movement. This is a historic fight unfolding in real time.

The images of resistance at Standing Rock are a call to action. We cannot let the rights of indigenous peoples be sidelined by the fossil fuel industry, and we can’t afford another pipeline if we want to maintain a livable planet.

We also must fiercely defend the rights of activists and journalists alike to tell stories like these, stories that often unfold in sacrifice zones far from the “halls of power”, and to tell them fairly and honestly. This won’t be the last fight against a pipeline and Amy Goodman won’t be the last journalist brought to court for reporting about the fossil fuel industry. The struggle continues, together.

October 22, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, USA | 1 Comment

America moves to silence Wikileaks

Washington moves to silence WikiLeaks, WSW,  19 October 2016

The cutting off of Internet access for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is one more ugly episode in a US presidential election campaign that has plumbed the depths of political degradation.

Effectively imprisoned in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over four years, Assange now is faced with a further limitation on his contact with the outside world.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry of Ecuador confirmed WikiLeaks’ charge that Ecuador itself had ordered the severing of Assange’s Internet connection under pressure from the US government. In a statement, the ministry said that WikiLeaks had “published a wealth of documents impacting on the US election campaign,” adding that the government of Ecuador “respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states” and “does not interfere in external electoral processes.” On that grounds, the statement claimed, the Ecuadorian government decided to “restrict access” to the communications network at its London embassy……

WikiLeaks cited reports that Secretary of State John Kerry had demanded that the government of Ecuador carry out the action “on the sidelines of the negotiations” surrounding the abortive Colombian peace accord last month in Bogota. The US government intervened to prevent any further exposures that could damage the campaign of Clinton, who has emerged as the clear favorite of the US military and intelligence complex as well as the Wall Street banks.

Whether the State Department was the only entity placing pressure on Ecuador on behalf of the Clinton campaign, or whether Wall Street also intervened directly, is unclear. The timing of the Internet cutoff, in the immediate aftermath of the release of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches, may be more than coincidental…….

October 22, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, USA, Wikileaks | Leave a comment

Final presidential debate reveals sobering facts on how fast nuclear war could happen

apocalypseClues to the end of the world shared during final 2016 presidential debate, Mondoweiss,  on October 20, 2016 “……Four minutes is what it takes between the president’s decision to fire nuclear missiles, Clinton claimed during the debate, and their launch………..Here is the most illuminating exchange on nuclear weapons, according to a transcript published by the Washington Post. Clinton gave a clinical description of how fast nuclear weapons can be fired away at a president’s command. That information was perhaps a subtle way of warning Russian president Vladimir Putin that we remain the fastest guns in the West.

CLINTON: “I — I find it ironic that he’s raising nuclear weapons. This is a person who has been very cavalier, even casual about the use of nuclear weapons. He’s advocated more countries getting them, Japan, Korea, even Saudi Arabia. He said, well, if we have them, why don’t we use them, which I think is terrifying.

But here’s the deal. The bottom line on nuclear weapons is that when the president gives the order, it must be followed. There’s about four minutes between the order being given and the people responsible for launching nuclear weapons to do so. And that’s why 10 people who have had that awesome responsibility have come out and, in an unprecedented way, said they would not trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes or to have his finger on the nuclear button……..

What Trump doesn’t seem to understand that defending Saudi Arabia, Germany, Japan and South Korea means defending major trading partners and, in the case of Saudi Arabia, a sand seared ocean of oil. But if the American nuclear umbrella suddenly closed, all of those countries could have nuclear weapons ready within weeks or months. The details are unimportant. What’s nauseatingly disturbing is that we are discussing the possibility of nuclear war at all. After all, this is 2016, right? If the arc of history bends towards justice, a nuclear holocaust is the thing that would blow that arc to smithereens. The real end of history

Clinton, for her part, recommitted herself to a no-fly zone in Syria, a provocation to Russian air forces the U.S. blames for bombing civilians and Western-friendly rebels. She also said that the occupation of Iraq would “not be in our interest,” while not mentioning that the Iraqis also have their objections to American military occupation. Classic Clinton.

This is all happening while thousands of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia stand waiting to incinerate you and your family, if necessary………

October 21, 2016 Posted by | Russia, USA, USA elections 2016, weapons and war | 1 Comment