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The world’s nuclear powers need to come to the table to try and change the course of history

JOHN POLANYI, GLOBE AND MAIL, JUNE 18, 2022   John Polanyi is a Nobel laureate at the University of Toronto who has written widely on the dangers of nuclear war.

The UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons is law for 61 states, and it awaits ratification in 28 more, totalling almost half the countries in the world. The first meeting of these states is scheduled to take place in Vienna later this week.

Missing, however, will be every country with a nuclear weapon. Canada, a member of NATO, will also be among those not present.

This is inconsistent with our history. Was it merely by chance that Canada opposed stationing any nuclear weapons on its soil? Was it also by chance that, after a countrywide debate in 2005, we rejected the protection of U.S. national missile defence?

It seems far likelier that Canadians take a longer view of our security, believing that the better path lies in international restraint, given the devastating power of nuclear weapons. Our first priority should be to support the United Nations when it calls for the prohibition of the most destructive weapons the world has ever known.

So why, then, have we failed to support the TPNW? Is it because of conventional thinking in a transformed world?

In a single century, the nuclear age has already passed through three phases: It began with a U.S. nuclear monopoly, which was then transformed into bilateral U.S.-Soviet deterrence, and now stands at the brink of an era of multiple superpowers.

 . But it all began with science……………………………..

Today, the bipolar standoff is an even more fraught multipolar one. Satellite observation shows China approaching nuclear parity with the U.S. and Russia, and so we must prepare for a world in which one superpower tries to deter two. Can three gunmen – two of them dictators, all with a strong incentive to shoot first – survive this Wild West shootout? The stakes have never been so high, since soot from nuclear war can bring nuclear winter.

The nuclear powers have responded by speaking of “modernization,” introducing a lexicon of AI, hypersonics and cyber. But the fact is, our future depends instead on the visionaries of the new treaty, blocking the path to war with clearly criminal weapons. The Vienna meeting gives us the opportunity to change course. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-worlds-nuclear-powers-need-to-come-to-the-table-to-try-and-change/

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Canada, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Revolting’: Senate Panel Adds Another $45 Billion to Biden’s Military Budget

Time and again, Congress funnels billions in additional funds to costly weapons programs, war, and defense contractors, while claiming that human needs would ‘cost too much,'” said Weissman. “Most Americans oppose efforts to rocket-launch military spending towards a trillion dollars per year. Lawmakers should reject this and champion human-centered spending instead.”

 https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/06/17/revolting-senate-panel-adds-another-45-billion-bidens-military-budget “The Pentagon’s ever-growing budget is quite simply a theft from American people enriching some of the wealthiest corporations in this country,” said one critic. “It’s disgraceful.”

KENNY STANCIL June 17, 2022    Progressives responded with disgust after the Senate Armed Services Committee voted Thursday to tack an additional $45 billion on top of President Joe Biden’s already massive military spending request, bringing the total proposed budget for the coming fiscal year to a staggering $857.6 billion.

The Biden administration’s March request for $813 billion in military spending for Fiscal Year 2023 represented a $31 billion increase over the current level of $782 billion, which is already unprecedented.

During its closed-door markup of the National Defense Authorization Act this week, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a bill with a topline budget of $847 billion—$817 billion of which is earmarked for the Pentagon. An additional $10.6 billion in national military spending falls outside the Senate panel’s jurisdiction. The House is expected to make its own push to further boost military spending for the next fiscal year.

William Hartung, a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, called the Senate panel’s decision “misguided.”

“The administration’s proposal is already higher than spending at the peaks of the Korean and Vietnam Wars and over $100 billion more than at the height of the Cold War,” Hartung said in a statement. “Throwing more money at the Pentagon will not make us safer—it will just divert funds from addressing other urgent challenges like pandemics and climate change that put millions of Americans at risk.”

Monica Montgomery, a research analyst at the Council for a Livable World, pointed out that the Senate committee’s proposed $45 billion increase in military spending is equivalent to Biden’s entire budget request for climate programs, demonstrating how “Congress will value militarism and defense contractors over a livable future.”

If Congress truly wants to keep people safe, they must start by rejecting this increase and investing taxpayer dollars in human wellbeing, instead,” Tori Bateman, policy advocacy coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee, said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)—co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus—introduced the People Over Pentagon Act of 2022, which proposes cutting Pentagon spending for the next fiscal year by $100 billion and reallocating those funds toward threats facing the nation that “are not military in nature,” such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, and worsening inequality.

Although a majority of U.S. voters are opposed to military spending in excess of $800 billion, earlier efforts to slash the Pentagon’s budget have failed to gain enough support to pass the House or Senate thanks in part to lawmakers who receive significant amounts of campaign cash from the weapons industry, which benefits from constantly ballooning expenditures.

Roughly 55% of all Pentagon spending went to private sector military contractors from FY 2002 to FY 2021, according to Stephen Semler of the Security Policy Reform Institute. “If this privatization of funds rate over the last 20 years holds,” Semler wrote in December, arms dealers will gobble up an estimated $407 billion in public money in FY 2022.

n the words of Win Without War president Stephen Miles, “The Pentagon’s ever-growing budget is quite simply a theft from American people enriching some of the wealthiest corporations in this country.”

Julia Gledhill, an analyst at the Project on Government Oversight’s Center for Defense Information, concurred.

“Increasing the Pentagon budget beyond President Biden’s request isn’t just irresponsible—it’s a slap in the face to American taxpayers,” said Gledhill. “Year after year the Department of Defense demonstrates its lack of fiscal discipline, failing financial audits and sinking money into weapon programs that do little more than enrich defense contractors.”

“This $45 billion increase isn’t about national security or the American people,” she added. “It’s about funneling money into the military-industrial complex.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Thursday that inflation was “the first consideration” in increasing the topline. He also cited the need to support Ukraine, replenish weapons sent to aid the country’s fight against Russia, and fund military priorities not included in Biden’s Pentagon request, Politico reported.

The committee’s ranking Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma hailed the proposed spending hike as “everything I hoped for.”

Experts, meanwhile, have documented how military spending has never moved in tandem with inflation. They have also warned that the nearly $60 billion worth of weaponry that Ukraine has already received from the U.S. is more likely to intensify the war than to advance peace, with arms manufacturers among the only beneficiaries of such prolonged suffering.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s move to increase U.S. military spending comes despite the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan following 20 years of war.

The more we spend on war & military, the less we have to invest in urgent human needs. This is a policy choice.

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen—a progressive advocacy group that is pushing the U.S. to ramp up vaccine manufacturing and inoculate the world against Covid-19 with an investment of just $25 billion, or roughly 3% of the nation’s annual military budget—said that “the Senate Armed Services Committee’s choice to defy both the president and public opinion and flood the Pentagon with more money is outrageous.”

“Time and again, Congress funnels billions in additional funds to costly weapons programs, war, and defense contractors, while claiming that human needs would ‘cost too much,'” said Weissman. “Most Americans oppose efforts to rocket-launch military spending towards a trillion dollars per year. Lawmakers should reject this and champion human-centered spending instead.”

June 20, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Could the Orca Autonomous Submarine Forever Change Nuclear War?

An Orca submarine hitting the waters in Huntington Beach, California in April 2022 has likely caused a ripple effect already across the world.

National Interest, by Akash Shah, 19 June 22,  The U.S. Navy has conducted the first in-water test of its Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV) “Orca,” marking a big step toward the future of naval warfare. The idea of an unmanned undersea vehicle in itself is not ground-breaking per se, but the sheer size, payload capacity, and artificial intelligence-driven autonomy are what make Orca-class a game-changer. The eighty-five-foot-long autonomous underwater system is purpose-built to carry out missions such as underwater surveillance and mine laying operations. The U.S Navy intends to enhance the role and capabilities of Orca-class submarines in the future which includes anti-surface, anti-submarine, and electronic warfare missions. An Orca submarine, capable of operating autonomously underwater for thirty days, hitting the waters in Huntington Beach, California in April 2022 has likely caused a ripple effect already across the world.

Although still in the early phase of operation, the possibilities platforms like Orca offer to militaries are likely to impact and reconfigure maritime warfare……………..It might be tempting for some countries to arm underwater platforms like Orca with nuclear warheads in the future………….   some psychological and technical constraints might not let the idea of autonomous unmanned nuclear submarines turn into a reality.

Just the idea of an AI-based robot submarine having the discretion to decide when to launch is absurd, to say nothing of all the things that could go wrong. I asked a high-ranking, retired Pakistani military official, who was closely associated with Pakistan’s nuclear program during his service, whether he sees any underwater autonomous platforms to be used in nuclear conflicts down the road. He instantly replied, “No! Nukes are too serious a business and would never be left at the whim of an AI platform, irrespective of whatever new technology emerges.”

Furthermore, AI systems are trained on huge caches of real-life data pertinent to the domain they are being trained for and actual data of a nuclear conflict is practically non-existent. The only nuclear raids at the end of World War II were not a conflict between two nuclear states and hence serve no purpose regarding second strikes. Based on these premises, it could be said with a higher degree of certainty that no rational international actor would combine a completely autonomous platform with the nuclear warheads. 

One of the crucial elements of a secure second-strike capability is an early warning of incoming nuclear missiles and launch platforms being communicated to strike back. However, communication with a submerged vessel is one of the most challenging aspects of underwater warfare. The stealth feature of a submarine is only viable if it is underwater as the probability of detection and interception increases when it is closer to the surface. This conundrum of communication while maintaining stealthiness is somewhat addressed by using the extremely low frequency of 3 Hz to 30 Hz.

However, in the case of autonomous unmanned submarines carrying nukes, one can never be sure if the transmitted message is conceived in time and in the manner it was intended. When compared with the potential for autonomous underwater platforms to enhance a country’s deterrence capabilities, the risk and cost, if things go wrong, are simply too high.   https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/could-orca-autonomous-submarine-forever-change-nuclear-war-203085

June 20, 2022 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

In the Middle East Biden walks in Trump’s footsteps and will repeat his failure

Committing American lives to defend these Arab dictatorships is far more scandalous than an embarrassing presidential handshake with the Saudi crown prince. Biden will in one swoop break his promises of bringing troops home from the Middle East, making Saudi Arabia pay a price and ending the war in Yemen.

Committing American lives to defend dictatorships is far more scandalous than engaging with MBS.

June 18, 2022, By Trita Parsi, MSNBC Opinion Columnist

All the latest headlines about President Joe Biden’s July trip to Saudi Arabia focus on a deal to push down gas prices. In reality, he is making a much more sinister and dangerous calculation than most realize: He is reportedly planning to offer the dictators in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — where all but two of the 9/11 terrorists came from — a defense pact that commits American lives to defend their regimes. What could go right?

When Biden ran for the White House, he pledged to break with then-President Donald Trump’s Middle East policy: bring U.S. troops home from the Middle East, renew the Iran nuclear deal, end the war in Yemen, and “make the Saudis the pariah that they are.” But after refusing to take necessary steps to return to the Iran deal, and with rumors abounding that he is about to offer the UAE and Saudi Arabia a defense pact, Biden’s policy is increasingly looking like a continuation of Trump’s Middle East strategy.

Biden isn’t just forgiving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his direct role in the beheading of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in return for a Saudi promise to pump more oil. As Biden admitted last week, this Middle East trip is about regional security — and that of Israel in particular. “The commitments from the Saudis don’t relate to anything having to do with energy,” Biden told reporters June 12. “It happens to be a larger meeting taking place in Saudi Arabia. That’s the reason I’m going. And it has to do with national security for them — for Israelis.”

Rumors have been circulating in Washington for months that Biden is seeking to expand Trump’s signature foreign policy initiative — the Abraham Accords — which normalized diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain and the UAE; Biden wants to bring Saudi Arabia into a similar kind of arrangement with Israel. Details are beginning to leak of how he will try to get Saudi Arabia to take critical steps toward recognizing Israel. And the most alarming one is that the United States is offering a major security pact to the autocratic regimes in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

According to a source close to the ruler of the Emirates, this would be a “binding strategic defense cooperation pact” that goes beyond anything the U.S. has agreed to in the region before. A former Biden adviser, David Shapiro, confirmed to Newsweek magazine that Saudi Arabia was looking for assurances that the U.S. will “retain significant military presence in the region to help Saudi Arabia address the threats it faces from Iran,” as well as to take Saudi Arabia’s side in its gruesome war in Yemen.

Committing American lives to defend these Arab dictatorships is far more scandalous than an embarrassing presidential handshake with the Saudi crown prince. Biden will in one swoop break his promises of bringing troops home from the Middle East, making Saudi Arabia pay a price and ending the war in Yemen.  https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/biden-s-saudia-arabia-trip-looks-it-ll-be-terrible-n1296410?mc_cid=7ac227cbe0&mc_eid=310a2c4b2c

June 20, 2022 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Georgia cooperatives move to freeze nuclear costs at $8.1B

 Seattle Times, June 18, 2022  By JEFF AMY. The Associated Press, ATLANTA (AP) — One of the owners of a nuclear power plant being expanded in Georgia says it’s shifting overruns to Georgia Power Co. in exchange for giving up a sliver of its ownership.

Oglethorpe Power Corp. which provides power to 38 electric cooperatives, said Saturday that it has exercised a contractual option to freeze its costs for Plant Vogtle at $8.1 billion.

Oglethorpe Power said it would save members at least $400 million. In exchange, Oglethorpe’s ownership share of the two new reactors being built at the plant east of Augusta would fall from 30% to 28%. That would bump Georgia Power’s share of ownership from 45.7% to 47.7%.

Associated Press calculations show the plant will cost at least $30.34 billion.

If costs rise further, Oglethorpe would save more, but give up a larger share of its ownership.

Georgia Power officials have said they don’t expect regulators with the Georgia Public Service Commission to approve customers paying further costs. That means shareholders of Georgia Power’s parent — Atlanta-based Southern Co. — would pay.

Oglethorpe, Georgia Power and Vogtle’s two other owners — the Municipal Electrical Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton — have been arguing over Georgia Power’s obligations to start absorbing more costs.

It was supposed to begin after more than $2.1 billion in overruns had occurred following a 2018 agreement. Oglethorpe says costs have risen by $3.4 billion since then. But Georgia Power has said COVID-19 was an act of God that drove up costs and delayed work, and it shouldn’t have to pay for that slowdown.

Southern Co. has acknowledged it will have to pay at least $440 million more to cover what would have been other owners’ costs, and has said another $460 million is in dispute……………………

The 2018 escape hatch was written when Oglethorpe threatened to withdraw from the project, which could have led to its cancellation. Georgia Power first agreed to pay increasing shares of Vogtle’s cost beyond a certain point, costing Georgia Power $180 million without affecting others’ ownership shares. Then the co-owners can freeze costs in exchange for owning less of the generating capacity.

…………….   Some of Oglethorpe Power’s cooperatives have already been charging their members for Vogtle’s construction costs. Oglethorpe President and CEO Michael Smith said the cooperatives remain “deeply invested in the success of these nuclear units” but said 4.4 million member owners had to be protected. Unlike Georgia Power, cooperatives don’t have shareholders to fall back on.

………….  Vogtle’s $30.34 billion cost doesn’t include $3.68 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid to the owners after going bankrupt, which brings total spending to more than $34 billion.

Vogtle is the only nuclear plant under construction in the United States, and its costs could deter other utilities from building such plants………….

The municipal utility in Jacksonville, Florida, as well as some other municipal utilities and cooperatives in Florida and Alabama are obligated to buy power from the plant……………….   https://www.seattletimes.com/business/georgia-cooperatives-move-to-freeze-nuclear-costs-at-8-1b/

June 20, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

New Mexico, work for peace and well-being, not nuclear weapons

Let’s try to imagine what $9.4 billion could do for New Mexicans in one year: Hire hundreds of new teachers, help protect us against increasing wildfire threats, secure precious water resources, provide medical care for the poor and clean up contamination from past nuclear weapons production. Instead, it is going to nuclear weapons forever, even as the chances of potential nuclear war are increasing and we already have global overkill many times over.

New Mexico, work for peace and well-being, not nuclear weapons,  https://www.abqjournal.com/2509231/new-mexico-work-for-peace-and-wellbeing-not-nuclear-weapons.html

BY THE MOST REVEREND JOHN C. WESTER / ARCHBISHOP OF SANTA FE
SUNDAY, JUNE 19TH, 2022 
 My Archdiocese is named Santa Fe for the “Holy Faith” of St. Francis, patron saint of the environment and tireless promoter of peace. Pope Francis took his papal name from that revered saint and has explicitly called for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Yet ironically, two of the nation’s three nuclear weapons labs – Los Alamos and Sandia – are located within the Archdiocese. That is why 40% of the DOE’s national nuclear weapons budget of $16.5 billion will be spent in New Mexico alone, double that of any other state. In addition, New Mexico has the largest repository of nuclear warheads in the United States, with up to 2,500 warheads held in reserve at the Kirtland AFB just south of the Albuquerque Sunport.

The New Mexico congressional delegation has always historically supported the nuclear weapons industry in the name of jobs, jobs, jobs. This needs to be critically examined and questioned, both morally and practically. Why is it that New Mexico consistently ranks near the bottom of all 50 states in key socio-economic indicators? Does the nuclear weapons industry really benefit New Mexicans as a whole? The facts indicate no.

For example, during the nearly 80 years the nuclear weapons industry has been in the Land of Enchantment, Census Bureau data show that New Mexico slipped in per capita income from 37th in 1959 to 49th in 2019. Last year U.S. News and World Report gave New Mexico a best-state-to-live-in ranking of third from the bottom and dead last in education. According to the N.M. Human Services Department, we have the highest percentage of seniors living in poverty and the second-highest rate of overall poverty, suicide and food insecurity among children. The Land of Enchantment was recently ranked 49th among all states in overall child well-being. Not coincidentally, New Mexico’s population is 63% people of color who disproportionately bear the negative impacts of poverty.

Let’s try to imagine what $9.4 billion could do for New Mexicans in one year: Hire hundreds of new teachers, help protect us against increasing wildfire threats, secure precious water resources, provide medical care for the poor and clean up contamination from past nuclear weapons production. Instead, it is going to nuclear weapons forever, even as the chances of potential nuclear war are increasing and we already have global overkill many times over.

The Vatican itself has evolved from conditionally accepting nuclear weapons as necessary for “deterrence” to now declaring even their possession as immoral. This is because nuclear weapons indiscriminately kill everybody, and the nuclear powers have made zero progress toward the disarmament they promised to pursue in the 1970 NonProliferation Treaty. In fact, they are going backward with Russia’s current nuclear saber-rattling and the U.S.’ $1.7 trillion nuclear weapons “modernization” program. But in truth, neither country ever had just “deterrence.” Instead, they spent enormous sums on nuclear warfighting capabilities, which is why we have thousands of nuclear weapons instead of just the few hundred needed for only deterrence.

Given today’s increased dangers, I quote President Reagan, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then, would it not be better to do away with them entirely?” Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said of the Cuban Missile Crisis, “Rationality will not save us. … It was luck that prevented nuclear war.”

Let’s not count on our luck holding out – let’s abolish nuclear weapons as both President Reagan and Pope Francis have directed us toward. In turn, New Mexicans should direct their congressional representatives to lead us toward that promised land while encouraging life-affirming jobs instead.

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The UK’s Decision to Extradite Assange Shows Why The US/UK’s Freedom Lectures Are a Farce

Glenn Greenwald, 18 June 22, The Assange persecution is the greatest threat to Western press freedoms in years. It is also a shining monument to the fraud of American and British self-depictions.

The eleven-year persecution of Julian Assange was extended and escalated on Friday morning. The British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, approved the U.S.’s extradition request to send Julian Assange to Virginia to stand trial on eighteen felony charges under the 1917 Espionage Act and other statutes in connection with the 2010 publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents showing widespread corruption, deceit, and war crimes by American and British authorities along with their close dictatorial allies in the Middle East.

This decision is unsurprising — it has been obvious for years that the U.S. and UK are determined to destroy Assange as punishment for his journalism exposing their crimes — yet it nonetheless further highlights the utter sham of American and British sermons about freedom, democracy and a free press.

Having reported on the Assange case for years, on countless occasions I’ve laid out the detailed background that led Assange and the U.S. to this point. There is thus no need to recount all of that again; those interested can read the granular trajectory of this persecution here or here.

Suffice to say, Assange — without having been convicted of any crime other than bail jumping, for which he long ago served out his fifty-week sentence — has been in effective imprisonment for more than a decade…………………….

The Home Secretary’s decision this morning — characteristically subservient and obedient of the British when it comes to the demands of the U.S. — does not mean that Assange’s presence on U.S. soil is imminent. Under British law, Assange has the right to pursue a series of appeals contesting the Home Secretary’s decision, and will likely do so. Given that the British judiciary has more or less announced in advance their determination to follow the orders of their American masters, it is difficult to see how these further proceedings will have any effect other than to delay the inevitable………………….

What makes this law so insidious is that, by design, it is almost impossible for the government to lose. As I detailed in Washington Post op-ed when the indictment was first revealed — arguing why it poses the greatest threat to press freedoms in the West in years — this 1917 law is written as a “strict liability” statute, meaning that the defendant is not only guilty as soon as there is proof that they disclosed classified information without authorization, but they are also barred from raising a “justification” defense — meaning they cannot argue to the jury of their peers that it was not only permissible but morally necessary to disclose that information because of the serious wrongdoing and criminality it revealed on the part of the nation’s most powerful political officials. That 1917 law, in other words, is written to offer only show trials but not fair trials.

………………. “free press” guarantees in the U.S. and UK exist only on a piece of parchment and in theory. Citizens are free to do “journalism” as long as it does not disturb or anger or impede real power centers. Employees of The Washington Post and CNN are “free” to say what they want as long as what they are saying is approved and directed by the CIA or the content of their “reporting” advances the interests of the Pentagon’s sprawling war machine……………  https://greenwald.substack.com/p/the-uks-decision-to-extradite-assange

June 20, 2022 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, USA | Leave a comment

No decision yet on choosing USA or UK nuclear submarines, but a USA Bill to train Australian submariners!

Ed. note: But Australian nuclear zealot Jonathon Mead (left) and nuclear enthusiast Peter Dutton are on the job, in lockstep with the Americans.

Booster For AUKUS: US Could Train Australian Navy On Its Nuclear Subs While Canberra Decides Between US, UK Submarines

Eurasian Times, By Sakshi Tiwari, June 18, 2022 The Australian nuclear submarine project, assisted by the US and the UK under the AUKUS agreement, has faced several controversies. Recently, the former Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton made startling revelations about his government’s plan to buy American Virginia-class nuclear submarines.

Even though the claims enthused observers about a possible purchase by Australia, the officials have maintained that the decision has not been reached. Canberra is expected to choose between the US Virginia-class submarine or British Astute-class submarines.

In an all-new development, the US lawmakers have introduced a bill called ‘Australia-US Submarine Officer Pipeline Act’ to train Royal Australian Navy officers in the operation of nuclear submarines. The bill was moved into Congress even as doubts remain over the Virginia-class submarine purchase.

The ‘Australia-United States Submarine Officer Pipeline Act’ would allow Australian naval officers to begin training in the United States to operate and maintain nuclear-powered submarines before eventually commanding the future boats.

“The new bipartisan bill will establish a joint training pipeline between the US Navy and the Royal Australian Navy and enable the start of US-based training of Commanding Officers for Australia’s future fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS alliance,” the AUKUS working group said in a news release.

The bill requires the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy to begin a training exchange in 2023 and continue it in subsequent years. It is the result of Congress’ AUKUS working group, formed in April to help develop the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia’s new cooperation.

In November 2021, Australia inked a nuclear submarine technology-sharing deal with the United States and the United Kingdom as part of the AUKUS defense agreement. Australia is only the second country after the United Kingdom to secure a transfer of nuclear propulsion technology from the US.

Currently, the AUKUS partners are pursuing an 18-month study period to assess the requirements of Canberra’s nuclear submarine project, as previously reported by EurAsian Times. In September 2021, it abandoned a deal with the Naval Group of France for diesel-electric submarines and signed the AUKUS pact in favor of nuclear submarines.

Training Before Manufacturing

Nuclear-powered submarines are more expensive, but they are quieter and harder to detect, and they can stay submerged longer since they don’t need to surface to refuel.

With Australia, the US plans to begin training a cadre of young officers now to be ready to command the country’s submarines when the time comes, noted Defense News.

“The AUKUS alliance is the most important national security partnership that America has entered into in decades,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., said in a news release. “While [design] work is ongoing, it makes sense to open the US Navy’s nuclear training programs to Australia’s naval officers to acquire proficiency in the operation of nuclear submarines.”

The Chief of the Royal Australian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine task force, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead, previously told The Strategist that Australians co-crewing with American and British submarines are likely to be part of an interim submarine capability.

“To train personnel,” Mead said, “We could embed sailors and officers in a US or UK boat to the point where we may have a 50% UK or US crew and a 50% Australian crew.”

When the first submarine is launched in South Australia, the goal is to have the crew trained, the industrial base ready to maintain it, and the regulatory system set up. “We have exchange officers on board our submarines and ships all the time.”

Mead also toured training schools in the United Kingdom and the United States to assess their systems. Many crew members receive reactor training and study nuclear physics concepts, but they are not nuclear physicists.

“‘They’ve been given a six-month course, and then they go to sea and become competent and current on their tradecraft at sea in a submarine,’ he explained.

“So we need to set up a system supported by the US and UK to provide our people with reactor training. If you’re an engineer, you may be a nuclear physicist. If you’re working at the front end of the boat, you require some knowledge of the reactor in case there’s an emergency, but not to the same level.”

The sentiment in Australia, [i.e in Jonathon Mead] thus, seems to align with American plans to start training Australian sailors and Naval officers. However, the exact nature and specifics of the training module are not yet known……………………….

Australia does not have sufficient nuclear infrastructure or advanced industrial capacity to build nuclear submarines. The shortcomings in nuclear infrastructure have had many experts suggest purchasing subs from the two AUKUS partners or building Australian submarines overseas.

Building nuclear-powered submarines would cost Australia billions of dollars and years of infrastructure construction. However, for the project to become a reality and for Australia’s crew to operate nuclear subs perfectly, training is one of the top priorities for AUKUS.

Even though Australia sells some nuclear fuel and has a single nuclear reactor for scientific study, the country does not have a substantial civil or military nuclear program. To get a head start, Australia could first start training on American or British nuclear submarines or lease older retired American submarines until they can deploy their indigenous designs, according to a National Interest report.

The Urgency For AUKUS

Australia’s nuclear submarines are expected to be operational no sooner than the end of the next decade. Consequently, the former Defense Minister Dutton had indicated that his government wanted to purchase two US submarines “this decade” to avoid a gap in replacing the country’s outdated Collins-class submarine fleet, with another eight US submarines under development in South Australia as part of the project.

This plan, he claims, would have eliminated the need to wait until 2038 for the first submarines designed in the United States to be built in Australia. The Royal Australian Navy currently operates six diesel-electric guided-missile submarines.

……………… While a decision regarding purchasing a nuke sub from the UK or the US hangs in the balance, training to use a nuclear submarine could be an easier way forward……..  https://eurasiantimes.com/booster-for-aukus-us-to-train-australian-navy-on-its-nuclear-subs/

June 20, 2022 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden Proposes Changes to Help Rescue California Nuclear Plant

Biden Proposes Changes to Help Rescue California Nuclear Plant  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-06-18/biden-proposes-changes-to-help-rescue-california-nuclear-plant#xj4y7vzkg

By Mark Chediak, 18 June 2022, The US Department of Energy is proposing changes requested by California Governor Gavin Newsom that will allow the state’s last nuclear power plant to qualify for federal financial assistance. 

The Energy Department proposed removing a requirement that would have prevented PG&E Corp.’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant from getting a portion of $6 billion in funds the Biden Administration is making available to rescue reactors at risk of closing early because they are losing money. The Energy Department posted the suggested amendment on its website and asked for public comments by June 27. 

Newsom is reconsidering a state plan to retire Diablo Canyon in 2025 because of projected electricity shortages that could lead to blackouts in the state.    The effort to keep Diablo Canyon open would gain momentum if the plant can qualify for federal financial aid. California’s potential reversal of its anti-nuclear power stance underscores the crisis the state is facing as it seeks to decarbonize its grid. 

Last month, Newsom asked the Energy Department to amend its nuclear funding criteria so Diablo Canyon would be eligible. The federal program was originally designed to help nuclear plants that were financially struggling in competitive wholesale power markets, which wasn’t the case with Diablo Canyon. 

The Energy Department suggested that it would eliminate a requirement that a nuclear reactor applying for funds not recover more than 50% of its costs from regulated rates or contracts. The costs of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon plant are recovered through bill charges to its customers. 

June 20, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

US squanders $80,000 every minute on nuclear weapons

These think tanks are routinely quoted in the press, who treat the proclamation of these corrupt representatives of the arms dealers as the gospel truth.

WSWS, Andre Damon @Andre__Damon 17 June 22, The United States spends over $80,000 every single minute on nuclear weapons, more than every single country in the world combined, according to a new report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

The massive annual spending on these weapons of mass destruction is more than the  federal government spends on primary and secondary education programs. 

Despite rising inflation and a raging pandemic, the United States is massively expanding its nuclear arsenal, with spending on nuclear weapons surging 14 percent between 2020 and 2021. 

While the US spent $44.2 billion on nuclear weapons in 2021,  China spent $11.7 billion, and Russia spent $8.6 billion.

………………. The report found that major corporations providing nuclear weapons contracts to the US and its allies had their nuclear arms contracts double in 2021. “Companies in France, the United Kingdom and the United States were awarded $30 billion in new contracts (some spanning decades into the future), twice as much as they received in 2020.”

The report noted that in 2021, the Department of Defense requested $28.9 billion for “Nuclear Modernization,” including the “Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, B-21 Bomber, Long-Range Stand Off Weapon, Columbia class submarine, missile warning” and “$7 billion for Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications.”

[Ed. note.    This article goe s on to detail USA weapons expenditure.]

……………………………. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons report further reviews the corrupt nexus between major corporations, lobbyists and leading think tanks, which function as paid-for agents of the arms manufacturers. The report notes: 

At least twelve major think tanks that research and write about nuclear weapons in India, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States collectively received between $5.5 million and $10 million from companies that produce nuclear weapons. The CEOs and board members of companies that produce nuclear weapons sit on some of their advisory boards, serve as trustees and are listed as “partners” on their websites. 

The Atlantic Council, according to the report, “received between $590,000 – $1,284,992 from eight companies that produce nuclear weapons: Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, MBDA, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies, Safran and Textron. Additionally, the Atlantic Council received between $50,000 – $99,999 from a national laboratory working on nuclear weapons, Los Alamos National Laboratory.”

The Brookings institution think tank, for its part, “received between $575,000 and $1,149,997 from three companies that produce nuclear weapons: Leonardo, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. This represents an inflation-adjusted increase of between $287,075 and $574,149 from past year funding. The Brookings Institution reported a new funder, Leonardo, and constant funding from Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.”

These think tanks are routinely quoted in the press, who treat the proclamation of these corrupt representatives of the arms dealers as the gospel truth.

Ultimately, however, the damage caused by the colossal squandering of social resources on nuclear weapons pales in comparison to the damage that would be caused if these weapons were used.

With the United States massively escalating its war against Russia, the prospect of the weapons of mass destruction that the United States uses to cajole and bully the whole world being put to use is an increasingly dangerous reality. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/06/17/glvd-j17.html

June 18, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

When the secretaries of Defense and State said publicly the U.S. wants Ukraine to win and weaken Russia, Biden said tone it down

U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that the trajectory of the war in Ukraine is untenable and are quietly discussing whether President Volodymyr Zelenskyy should temper his hard-line public position that no territory will ever be ceded to Russia as part of an agreement to end the war, according to seven current U.S. officials, former U.S. officials and European officials.

“He was not happy with the rhetoric,” said one official familiar with President Biden’s conference call with Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin.   NBC News June 16, 2022, NBC News, By Carol E. Lee, Courtney KubeKen Dilanian and Abigail Williams

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had taken off on separate flights from southeastern Poland after their risky, high-stakes visit to Kyiv when they were conferenced into a phone call from President Joe Biden

During their whirlwind April trip, Austin appeared to expand the U.S. goals in Ukraine, saying publicly that the administration wanted the Ukrainians to win the war against Russia, not just defend themselves, and that the U.S. hoped to weaken Russia to the extent that it could not launch another unprovoked invasion. Blinken had publicly aligned himself with the remarks. Now Biden wanted to discuss the mounting headlines that resulted.

Biden thought the secretaries had gone too far, according to multiple administration officials familiar with the call. On the previously unreported conference call, as Austin flew to Germany and Blinken to Washington, the president expressed concern that the comments could set unrealistic expectations and increase the risk of the U.S. getting into a direct conflict with Russia. He told them to tone it down, said the officials.

“Biden was not happy when Blinken and Austin talked about winning in Ukraine,” one of them said. “He was not happy with the rhetoric.”

The secretaries explained that Austin’s comments had been misconstrued, another senior administration official said. But the displeasure Biden initially conveyed during that phone call, the officials said, reflected his administration’s belief that despite Ukrainian forces’ unexpected successes early on, the war would ultimately head in the direction it is now in two months later: a protracted conflict in which Russia continues to make small and steady advances.

U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that the trajectory of the war in Ukraine is untenable and are quietly discussing whether President Volodymyr Zelenskyy should temper his hard-line public position that no territory will ever be ceded to Russia as part of an agreement to end the war, according to seven current U.S. officials, former U.S. officials and European officials.

Some officials want Zelenskyy to “dial it back a little bit,” as one of them put it, when it comes to telegraphing his red lines on ending the war. But the issue is fraught given that Biden is adamant about the U.S. not pressuring the Ukrainians to take steps one way or another. His administration’s position has been that any decision about how and on what terms to end the war is for Ukraine to decide.

“We are not pressuring them to make concessions, as some Europeans are. We would never ask them to cede territory,” one U.S. official said. “We are planning for a long war. We intend to prepare the American people for that, and we are prepared to ask Congress for more money.”

Biden announced a new $1 billion military aid package for Ukraine on Wednesday after speaking with Zelenskyy. Congress last month authorized an additional $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, which is expected to last until October. 

The National Security Council and the State Department declined to comment.

The Pentagon and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The future of the war in Ukraine, including how it might end, is expected to be a key topic when world leaders gather in Europe next week for the NATO and G-7 summits.

European officials are more openly discussing their preference that Zelenskyy enter into negotiations with Russia and consider relinquishing some territory Russia has gained in its latest invasion. Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014 and annexed Crimea.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said Zelenskyy must negotiate with Russia…………

many experts, as well as U.S. and European officials, believe Russian President Vladimir Putin will claim Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region as Russian territory once conquered in the coming months and declare victory, and Zelenskyy will have to negotiate.

Biden was asked on June 3 if he believes Ukraine will have to cede territory to achieve peace and he left open the possibility, saying he won’t tell the Ukrainians what to do………………

In April, Biden administration officials sounded more optimistic about Ukraine’s position in the war than they currently do…………………….

While White House officials are loath to be seen as pressuring Ukraine to agree to a deal with Russia that gives up some territory, there is growing concern that Zelenskyy’s public posture that there can be no deal unless all Russian troops leave Ukraine is unsustainable. Even if the Europeans lean more heavily into the notion of such a deal with Russia, which could get more pronounced as winter approaches, given Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, administration officials said they intend to hold their ground on letting Ukraine decide its future………..https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/secretaries-defense-state-said-publicly-us-wanted-ukraine-win-biden-sa-rcna33826

June 18, 2022 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What I Know About Human Life as a Nuclear Downwinder

A government that knowingly harms its own citizens must be held accountable. Our lives are worth more than civilization-ending weapons.  https://www.commondreams.org/views/2022/06/17/what-i-know-about-human-life-nuclear-downwinder MARY DICKSON, June 17, 2022

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, we unbelievably find ourselves on the brink of a new Cold War, ironically as casualties of the last Cold War are running out of time to seek the compensation and justice they deserve.

President Biden recently signed into law a stopgap bill to extend for another two years the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which pays partial restitution to select victims of atmospheric nuclear testing on American soil.  While a welcome first step, it fails to address thousands more Americans who have been excluded from compensation despite the devastating harms they have suffered from radiation exposure. Time is running out as many are literally dying as they wait for justice.


I am a casualty of the Cold War, a survivor of nuclear weapons testing. Growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah during the Cold War I was repeatedly exposed to dangerous levels of radioactive fallout from hundreds of detonations at the Nevada Test Site just 65 miles west of Las Vegas.

Our government detonated 100 bombs above ground in Nevada between 1951 and 1962 and 828 more bombs underground through 1992, many of which broke through the earth’s surface and spewed radioactive fallout into the atmosphere as well. The jet stream carried fallout far beyond the test site where it made its way into the environment and the bodies of unsuspecting Americans, while a government we trusted repeatedly assured us “there is no danger.”

In the spring before my 30th birthday, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Children, especially those under the age of five at the time of radiation exposure, as I was, were most at risk.

I have been sliced, radiated and scooped out. I have buried and mourned the dead, comforted and advocated for the living, and worried with each pain, ache and lump that I am getting sick again. I survived thyroid cancer as well as subsequent health complications that left me unable to have children. My sister and others I grew up with were not so fortunate. They lost their lives to various cancers and other radiation-related illnesses.  Before she died, my sister and I counted 54 people in a five-block area of our childhood neighborhood who developed cancer, autoimmune disorders, and other diseases that ravaged them and their families.

The government’s ambitious program of nuclear testing had tragic consequences for countless unsuspecting, patriotic Americans living downwind. “We are veterans of the Cold War, only we never enlisted and no one will fold a flag over our coffins,” a late friend of mine was fond of saying.     

The U.S. government finally acknowledged its responsibility in 1990 when it passed the bipartisan Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which paid partial restitution to some fallout victims in select rural counties of Utah, Arizona and Nevada. The bill never went far enough. We now know that the harm wreaked by fallout extends far beyond these counties.  We also know that people are still getting sick. The suffering has not ended.

As part of a coalition of impacted community groups working with allied advocates nationwide, we have worked hard for the speedy expansion and extension of RECA through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2021. This bipartisan bill would add downwinders from all of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico and Guam, as well as uranium miners who worked in the industry beyond 1971. It also would increase compensation from $50,000 to $150,00 for all claimants and extend the program for 19 years.

The House bill currently has 68 co-sponsors, the Senate bill 18, Republicans and Democrats from across the country. What we now need are their colleagues in both parties to join them.

As we reach out to Senators and Representatives asking them to support the bills, we are sometimes confronted with questions about cost. What, I ask in return, is a human life worth? Over the last 32 years, RECA has paid out $2.5 billion to 39,000 Americans. To put that into perspective, each year this country spends $50 billion just to maintain our nuclear arsenal.  Are our lives not worth 0.5% of the cost of weapons that harmed us?

What is paramount is rectifying the mistakes of the past. As Rep. Diane Titus of Nevada said, “These people are Cold Warriors and we do not leave our warriors on the field.”

A government that knowingly harms its own citizens must be held accountable. Our lives are worth more than civilization-ending weapons. It’s a simple matter of priorities and justice.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Indigenous groups challenge New Brunswick’s costly radioactive waste legacy

Difficulty, cost of managing radioactive waste underlined by hearings,  https://nbmediacoop.org/2022/06/08/indigenous-groups-challenge-new-brunswicks-costly-radioactive-waste-legacy/ by Kim Reeder and Susan O’DonnellJune 8, 2022

The recent re-licencing hearing for New Brunswick’s Point Lepreau nuclear reactor highlighted the difficulty and cost of managing the province’s long-lived legacy of radioactive waste.

Most of the radioactive materials generated by the Lepreau nuclear facility were never found in nature before the discovery of nuclear fission 83 years ago.

The Point Lepreau facility, however, has produced – and will continue to produce – thousands of tons of these toxic radioactive materials in the form of high, intermediate and low-level radioactive waste which must be kept isolated from all living things for a period of time that dwarfs the span of recorded human history.

When the Point Lepreau reactor was first built, the materials used in the core area – the metal, the concrete, even the heavy water that fills the vessel – were ordinary, non-radioactive materials. However, these items have all been transformed into extremely radioactive material during the normal operation of the reactor.

In fact, because these materials are so toxic, once the plant is shut down, NB Power has a plan to let the facility sit for approximately three decades before dismantling it, a strategy referred to as ‘deferred decommissioning’. During this time, referred to as the ‘dormancy’ period, the radioactivity will decrease significantly. However, the radioactivity will still be sufficiently high as to require handling by robotic equipment and careful packaging so as not to deliver a lethal dose of radiation to an unshielded worker or the environment.

The second consideration is that currently, no waste disposal site exists for the Point Lepreau facility itself, which will become thousands of tons of radioactive rubble, classified as intermediate and low-level waste. By deferring decommissioning, NB Power avoids the need to store and monitor the wastes until a disposal facility becomes available. As well, they avoid potential double-handling of wastes to meet unknown future disposal facility requirements.

NB Media Co-op’s Harrison Dressler described in a previous article that during the re-licencing hearing for Point Lepreau, a main focus of the Peskotomuhkati Nation’s intervention reflected their concerns about the lack of adequate planning for the toxic decommissioning waste. The Nation is and always has been opposed to producing and storing radioactive waste on its territory, which includes Point Lepreau.

The Nation does not want the regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), to ‘approve’ NB Power’s inadequate plan and financial guarantee for decommissioning Point Lepreau.

The Nation’s expert on the topic, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility president Gordon Edwards, compared NB Power’s financial guarantee with an OECD study of dozens of reactors that have already been dismantled. In his report, Edwards notes that NB Power’s financial guarantee is less than 40 percent of what is needed according to the OECD study. Indeed, the total amount NB Power plans to set aside is more than a billion dollars less than what the OECD estimates is likely required.

NB Power’s current decommissioning plan assumes much of the decommissioning waste will be sent off-site to a licensed facility for permanent disposal. Currently no such facilities exist, which is recognized as an industry challenge.

Edwards also found that NB Power has so far made no effort to locate a repository to receive the decommissioning waste, which is solely the responsibility of NB Power and the provincial government. Without a storage site, and without adequate funding, where will it all go?

During the re-licencing hearings in May, both the CNSC and NB Power were questioned by the regulator about the unrealistic nature of their plan, considering the plan assumes there will be a permanent home for this waste – and that no plans are being made for such a facility.

CNSC staff explained that the current plan is all that is required under Canadian law, and NB Power said that because of the deferred decommissioning strategy, they have a long time to figure out a solution to the problem. Experience shows, however, that NB Power and the New Brunswick government are already late in starting the effort, if they indeed do intend to have a site approved in the 2050s. Lepreau is scheduled to be shut down around 2040.

At the CNSC hearing, the Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., and Kopit Lodge – representing Elsipogtog First Nation – also raised similar concerns about radioactive waste. The Wolastoq Nations did not participate in the hearing. However, in March 2021, the traditional Wolastoq Grand Council issued a declaration against producing more radioactive waste at Point Lepreau. No Indigenous community in Canada – or elsewhere – has so far declared itself in favour of storing radioactive waste on its traditional territory.

Without a dramatic increase in the financial guarantee that NB Power must accumulate while the reactor is still earning money by selling electricity, and without a concerted effort to develop a concrete long-term strategy for New Brunswick’s radioactive waste legacy, both the Peskotomuhkati Nation and the New Brunswick population will be left with a permanent dump for radioactive waste right on the shore of North America’s Natural Wonder: the Bay of Fundy.

Kim Reeder, a senior policy analyst with the RAVEN project at the University of New Brunswick, coordinated the CNSC intervention for the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group. Susan O’Donnell, the lead researcher for RAVEN, also participated at the CNSC hearing.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, wastes | 1 Comment

Putting People First in Low-Dose Radiation Research

Putting People First in Low-Dose Radiation Research, Bemnet Alemayehu  Natural Resources Defense Council. 7 June 22.It is urgent and feasible to improve our understanding of low-dose and low-dose-rate ionizing radiation health effects according to a new report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). At the request of the U.S. Congress, the NAS formed a committee of experts to conduct the study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The report’s primary goal was to recommend a research program to increase the certainty of how exposure to low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation affects human health.  

NRDC agrees that this is the right time to reconsider low-dose interdisciplinary radiation research in the United States and explore opportunities that advances in radiation health physics and information technology are providing. A large fraction of the U.S. population is exposed to low-dose, and low-dose-rate radiation and this number is increasing. Low-dose radiation research is most relevant to impacted communities due to disproportionate level of radiation exposure these communities have experienced compared to the general U.S. population due to activities carried out as part of the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Going forward, the study should give an opportunity for stakeholders and impacted communities to have deep and meaningful engagement at all stages of the research program by identifying priorities of research that concern them. The study should also prioritize trust building and make use of local community expertise.

How are we exposed to low-dose radiation?

People are exposed to ionizing radiation from a variety of sources. Most of this exposure comes from background radiation sources and from medical procedures.

Ionizing radiation is radiation that carries with it enough energy to remove an electron from an atom. This process can initiate a chain of events leading to health problems. When considering the health effects of radiation, understanding the amount of radiation dose absorbed by a person or an organ is critical.

Low-dose and low-dose-rate (low-dose accumulated over several years) are defined to mean a dose below 100 milligray and 5 milligray per hour, respectively. Gray is a unit used to measure the amount of radiation absorbed by an object or person, reflecting the amount of energy that radioactive sources deposit in materials through which they pass. Low-dose radiation exposure includes exposure to natural radiation, medical applications, and occupational exposures. According to the NAS report, low doses of radiation delivered over long periods do not cause prompt tissue or organ damage but may cause cellular damage that increases an individual’s long-term risk of cancer and hereditary disorders in a stochastic (or probabilistic) fashion.

The NAS report identified the following seven low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation exposure sources to be relevant for the study:

  • exposure from natural radiation sources
  • exposure to patients from medical applications
  • occupational exposures
  • exposure of workers that results from nuclear power routine operations and accidents
  • exposure from nuclear or radiological incidents
  • exposures from the nuclear weapons program, and
  • exposure from nuclear waste.

Key recommendations from the report

Research agenda

Ionizing radiation occurs in a wide range of settings and the number of exposed individuals is increasing. However, the relationship between exposure to radiation and cancer risk at the very low doses is not well established. Currently, there is also no dedicated low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation research program or coordinated research strategy in the United States.

The report recommended research programs that leverage advances in modern science to obtain direct information on low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation health effects. These are:

  • advances in epidemiological study design and analysis
  • advances in radiobiological research
  • advances in biotechnology and research infrastructure

For the research to achieve its goals, integration and interaction between these research programs is critical.

Program funding

The report found that a significant investment over a sustained period spanning several decades is necessary to accomplish the research goals. The report estimated that $100 million annually is needed during the first 10 to 15 years with periodic assessments. The report cautioned that inadequate funding for the program would lead to the possible inadequate protection of patients, workers, and members of the public from the adverse effects of radiation.

Leadership for low-dose research in the United States

The report proposed joint Department of Energy and National Institute of Health leadership for low-dose radiation research that involves division of tasks based on capabilities. The report also recommended that the Department of Energy take strong and transparent steps to mitigate the issues of distrust toward research that it manages.

Engagement with impacted communities

Success of the low-dose radiation program would depend not only on its scientific integrity but also on its ability to meaningfully engage and communicate with the stakeholders, which includes impacted communities.

Impacted communities, according to the report, include indigenous communities; atomic veterans; nuclear workers; uranium miners, transporters, and their families; and individuals or communities impacted by radioactive contamination or nuclear fallout due to nuclear weapons testing, offsite radiation releases from nuclear weapons production sites, and nuclear waste cleanup activities. 

Impacted communities have strongly objected to the Department of Energy’s management of the low-dose radiation program due to the Department’s responsibility for management and cleanup of nuclear sites conflicting with its role as a manager of studies on low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation health effects.

For the success of the low-dose radiation program, the program needs to:

  • develop a transparent process for stakeholder identification, engagement, and communication
  • include members of the impacted communities in the independent advisory committee so that they may participate in various aspects of research planning and implementation, and
  • set up additional advisory subcommittees with substantial stakeholder participation to advise on specific projects that involve human populations exposed to low-dose radiation.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

ELON MUSK IS NOT A RENEGADE OUTSIDER – HE’S A MASSIVE PENTAGON CONTRACTOR

while the 50-year-old businessman presents himself as a maverick science genius – an act that has garnered him legions of fans around the world – a closer inspection of his career shows he earned his fortune in a much more orthodox manner. First by being born rich, then by striking it big as a dot-com billionaire, and finally, like so many others, by feeding from the enormous government trough.

Perhaps more seriously though, SpaceX’s close proximity to both the military and the national security state marks it out as a key cog in the machine of U.S. empire, allowing Washington to spy, bomb or coup whoever it wants.

ALAN MACLEOD, Mint Press News, MAY 31ST, 2022 ”………………………………………….. Musk has deliberately cultivated this image of himself: a real life Tony Stark figure who thinks for himself and is not part of the established order. But behind this carefully constructed façade, Musk is intimately connected to the U.S. national security state, serving as one of its most important business partners. Elon, in short, is no threat to the powerful, entrenched elite: he is one of them.

TO UKRAINE, WITH LOVE

Musk, whose estimated $230 billion fortune is more than twice the gross domestic product of Ukraine, has garnered a great deal of positive publicity for donating thousands of Starlink terminals to the country, helping its people come back online after fighting downed the internet in much of the country. Starlink is an internet service allowing those with terminals to connect to one of over 2,400 small satellites in low Earth orbit. Many of these satellites were launched by Musk’s SpaceX technologies company.

However, it soon transpired that there is far more than meets the eye with Musk’s extraordinary “donation.” In fact, the U.S. government quietly paid SpaceX top dollar to send their inventory to the warzone. USAID – a government anti-insurgency agency that has regularly functioned as a regime-change organization – is known to have put up the cash to purchase and deliver at least 1,330 of the terminals.

Starlink is not a mass-market solution. Each terminal – which is, in effect, a tiny, portable satellite dish – has a markedly limited range, and is useful only in hyper-local situations. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, estimated that the 10,000 Starlink terminals were allowing around 150,000 people to stay online.

Such a small number of people using the devices raises eyebrows. Who is important enough to be given such a device? Surely only high-value individuals such as spies or military operatives. That the Starlinks are serving a military purpose is now beyond clear. Indeed, in a matter of weeks, Starlink has become a cornerstone of the Ukrainian military, allowing it to continue to target Russian forces via drones and other high-tech machinery dependent on an internet connection. One official told The Times of London that he “must” use Starlink to target enemy forces via thermal imaging.

Starlink is what changed the war in Ukraine’s favor. Russia went out of its way to blow up all our comms. Now they can’t. Starlink works under Katyusha fire, under artillery fire. It even works in Mariupol,” one Ukrainian soldier told journalist David Patrikarakos.

The reference to Mariupol alludes to the infamous Nazi group, the Azov Battalion, who have also reportedly been using Musk’s technology. Even in a subterranean cavern beneath Mariupol’s steelworks, Azov fighters were able to access the internet and communicate with the outside world, even doing video interviews from underground. In 2015, Congress attempted to add a provision to U.S. military aid to Ukraine stipulating that no support could go to Azov owing to their political ideology. That amendment was later removed at the behest of the Pentagon.

Dave Tremper, Director of Electronic Warfare at the Pentagon, sang SpaceX’s praises. “How they did that [keeping Ukrainian forces online] was eye-watering to me,” he said, adding that in the future the U.S. military “needs to be able to have that agility.”

ROCKETMAN

Such a statement is bound to get the attention of SpaceX chiefs, who have long profited from their lucrative relationship with the U.S. military. SpaceX relies largely on government contracts, there being almost no civilian demand for many of its products, especially its rocket launches.

Musk’s company has been awarded billions of dollars in contracts to launch spy satellites for espionage, drone warfare and other military uses. For example, in 2018, SpaceX was chosen to blast a $500 million Lockheed Martin GPS system into orbit. While Air Force spokesmen played up the civilian benefits of the launch, such as increased accuracy for GPS devices, it is clear that these devices play a key role in global surveillance and ongoing drone wars. SpaceX has also won contracts with the Air Force to deliver its command satellite into orbit, with the Space Development Agency to send tracking devices into space, and with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to launch its spy satellites. These satellites are used by all of the “big five” surveillance agencies, including the CIA and the NSA.

Thus, in today’s world, where so much intelligence gathering and target acquisition is done via satellite technology, SpaceX has become every bit as important to the U.S. war machine as more well-known companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Without Musk’s company, the U.S. would not be able to carry out such an invasive program of spying and drone warfare around the world. Indeed, China is growing increasingly wary of this power, and is being advised to develop anti-satellite technologies to counter SpaceX’s all-seeing eye. Yet Musk himself continues to benefit from a general perception that he is not part of the system.

From its origins in 2002, SpaceX has always been extremely close to the national security state, particularly the CIA. Perhaps the most crucial link is Mike Griffin, who, at the time, was the president and COO of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-funded venture capital firm that seeks to nurture and sponsor new companies that will work with the CIA and other security services, equipping them with cutting edge technology. The “Q” in its name is a reference to “Q” from the James Bond series – a creative inventor who supplies the spy with the latest in futuristic tech………………………..

While at NASA, Griffin brought Musk in for meetings and secured SpaceX’s big break. In 2006, NASA awarded the company a $396 million rocket development contract – a remarkable “gamble” in Griffin’s words, especially as it had never launched a rocket before. As National Geographic put it, SpaceX, “never would have gotten to where it is today without NASA.” And Griffin was essential to this development. Still, by 2008, SpaceX was again in dire straits, with Musk unable to make payroll. The company was saved by an unexpected $1.6 billion NASA contract for commercial cargo services. Thus, from its earliest days, SpaceX was nurtured by government agencies that saw the company as a potentially important source of technology.

NUKING MARS & BACKING COUPS

Like Henry Ford, Musk went into the automobile business, purchasing Tesla Motors in 2004. And also like Henry Ford, he has shared some rather controversial opinions. In 2019, for instance, he suggested that vaporizing Mars’ ice caps via a series of nuclear explosions could warm the planet sufficiently to support human life. If this was done, it would arguably not even be his worst crime against space. During a 2018 publicity stunt, he blasted a Tesla into outer space using a SpaceX rocket. However, he did not sterilize the vehicle before doing so, meaning it was covered in earthly bacteria – microorganisms that will likely be fatal to any alien life they encounter. In essence, the car is a biological weapon that could end life on any planet it encounters.

NUKING MARS & BACKING COUPS

Like Henry Ford, Musk went into the automobile business, purchasing Tesla Motors in 2004. And also like Henry Ford, he has shared some rather controversial opinions. In 2019, for instance, he suggested that vaporizing Mars’ ice caps via a series of nuclear explosions could warm the planet sufficiently to support human life. If this was done, it would arguably not even be his worst crime against space. During a 2018 publicity stunt, he blasted a Tesla into outer space using a SpaceX rocket. However, he did not sterilize the vehicle before doing so, meaning it was covered in earthly bacteria – microorganisms that will likely be fatal to any alien life they encounter. In essence, the car is a biological weapon that could end life on any planet it encounters.

Musk also attracted attention when he appeared to admit that he worked with the U.S. government to overthrow Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2019…………………..  The new government quickly invited Musk for talks. When asked on Twitter point blank whether he was involved in Morales’ ouster, Musk responded, “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”………………………..

WORLD’S RICHEST MAN, FUNDED BY TAXPAYERS

In addition to the billions in government contracts Musk’s companies have secured, they also have received similar numbers in public subsidies and incentives. Chief among these is Tesla, which benefits greatly from complex international rules around electric vehicle production. In a push to reduce carbon emissions, governments around the world have introduced a system of credits for green vehicles, whereby a certain percentage of each manufacturer’s output must be zero-emission vehicles. Tesla only produces electric cars, so easily meets the mark.

However, the system also allows Tesla to sell their excess credits to manufacturers who cannot meet these quotas. In a competitive market where each manufacturer needs to hit certain targets, these credits are worth their weight in gold, and net Tesla billions in profit every year. For example, between 2019 and 2021 alone, Stellantis, which owns the Chrysler, Fiat, Citroen and Peugeot brands, forked out nearly $2.5 billion to acquire Tesla U.S. and European green credits.

This bizarre and self-defeating system goes some way to explaining why Tesla is worth more by market cap than Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Volvo put together, despite not being even a top-15 car manufacturer in terms of units sold.

Musk’s company also received significant government backing in its early stages, receiving a $465 million low-interest loan from the Department of Energy in 2010, at a time when Tesla was on the rocks and its future was in doubt.

Like many giant companies, Tesla is able to play states off against each other, each job-hungry location bidding against the others to give the corporation as much free cash and tax incentives as possible. In 2020, for example, Austin gave Tesla more than $60 million in tax breaks to build a truck plant there.

This, however, was small fry in comparison to some of the deals Musk has signed. The State of New York handed Musk over $750 million, including $350 million in cash, in exchange for building a solar plant outside of Buffalo – a plant that Musk was bound to build somewhere in the United States. Meanwhile, Nevada signed an agreement with Tesla to build its Gigafactory near Reno. The included incentives mean that the car manufacturer could rake in nearly $1.3 billion in tax relief and tax credits. Between 2015 and 2018, Musk himself paid less than $70,000 in federal income taxes.

Therefore, while the 50-year-old businessman presents himself as a maverick science genius – an act that has garnered him legions of fans around the world – a closer inspection of his career shows he earned his fortune in a much more orthodox manner. First by being born rich, then by striking it big as a dot-com billionaire, and finally, like so many others, by feeding from the enormous government trough.

Perhaps more seriously though, SpaceX’s close proximity to both the military and the national security state marks it out as a key cog in the machine of U.S. empire, allowing Washington to spy, bomb or coup whoever it wants.

It is for this reason that so much of the hysteria, both positive and negative, over Musk’s ongoing purchase of Twitter is misplaced. Elon Musk is neither going to save nor destroy Twitter because he is not a crusading rebel challenging the establishment: he is an integral part of it.  https://www.mintpressnews.com/elon-musk-not-renegade-outsider-cia-pentagon-contractor/280972/

June 7, 2022 Posted by | Reference, spinbuster, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment