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Unlimited money to Ukraine is now allowed, through USA’s “Debt Sealing” arrangement.

Debt Ceiling Deal Puts No Limits on Ukraine Aid

Emergency spending that has been used to arm Ukraine is exempt and it could also be used to arm Taiwan

June 2, 2023, By Dave DeCamp /

The debt ceiling agreement reached between the White House and House Republicans places no constraints on spending on the war in Ukraine, a White House official told Bloomberg.

The $113 billion that has been authorized to spend on the war in Ukraine so far was passed as supplemental emergency funds, which is exempt from the spending caps that are part of the debt ceiling deal.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, funding “designated as an emergency requirement or for overseas contingency operations would not be constrained, and certain other funding would not be subject to the caps.” The deal suspends the nation’s debt limit through January 1, 2025.

Hawks in Congress are looking to use emergency spending to increase the $886 billion military budget that was agreed to as part of the deal. The emergency funds could go beyond Ukraine and might be used to send weapons to Taiwan or for other spending that hawks favor as part of their strategy against China.

“We are almost certainly going to need a supplemental for Ukraine, which is, in my view, one of the most pressing defense challenges we have right now,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), according to Roll Call. “And the other obligations flow from China and Taiwan on one hand and Russia and Ukraine on the other.”

Other senators said they favor using the emergency funding to raise military spending altogether. The $886 billion budget is what President Biden asked for 2024, but Republican hawks have blasted the request as “inadequate.”

“Clearly our support for Ukraine will be outside the budget, as it has been in the past, but I’d like to see additional support for our own military in emergency supplementals as well,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).

The Senate passed the agreement, known as the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, on Thursday night in a vote of 63-36, sending the bill to President Biden’s desk. The legislation was passed through the House on Wednesday in a vote of 314-117.


June 4, 2023 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Warren Report Reveals Vast Pentagon-to-Defense Contractor Lobbying Pipeline

In 2021, there were at least 672 former government officials working for top defense contractors like Lockheed Martin. By Sharon Zhang , TRUTHOUT April 27, 2023

Hundreds of former government officials, including former Pentagon officials, have been funneled through the infamous public-to-private revolving door to take their insider government knowledge to lobby for top defense contractors, a new report from the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) reveals.

According to the report released Wednesday, as of 2021, there were at least 672 former officials who were working for the top 20 defense contractors, with the vast majority — 91 percent — in positions lobbying the very government they formerly worked for. Officials who weren’t lobbyists were in top positions as board members or senior executives. The officials include former members of Congress, senior staffers and military officers.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the companies that employed the most former government officials are also the companies who receive the most from the government in contracts. In 2021 and 2022, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Pfizer were the top 5 federal defense contractors in the U.S. — and in 2021 also employed among the highest numbers of “revolving door hires” out of the top 20 contractors, the report found, each with dozens of former government employees.

Hiring former government employees is extremely lucrative for the private sector. This is especially true for lobbying firms, who can benefit greatly from the knowledge and connections brought by former government employees, but is also true for many industries; for instance, there is a well-established revolving door between jobs at the Treasury Department and other tax-related agencies and top accounting firms, an issue Warren has previously raised.

Defense contractors are especially able to take advantage of such lobbying, as Congress and the president regularly approve huge sums of money for defense each year —– more than half of that money typically goes straight to contractors, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Over the years, this leads to trillions of dollars in profits for defense contractors.

Warren highlighted the dangers of the revolving door in a hearing in the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Wednesday.

“Why is it they want to hire former Pentagon employees to work for them as lobbyists?” Warren asked Lawrence B. Wilkerson, chief of staff to George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, Colin Powell. “Why is it better to have someone who, for instance, they could hire people whose profession is lobbying, someone who’s lobbied in another field, say for the last 10 years. But they don’t want that — they’ll take somebody who’s never lobbied before, but who’s been employed at the Pentagon. Why is that?”

Wilkerson responded that the former Pentagon official “knows how to work those contacts” within the government and knows what “lies” to tell to sell the company’s services.

“If it’s specific program like the F-35, for example, which I’m somewhat familiar, then you get people who are very familiar with that on the inside, know all about the lies that you’ve been telling the federal government with regard to the program, and will come out and reinforce those lies, deceit, if you will, from their position with your business,” Wilkerson said. “It’s a very insidious, pernicious thing.”

These issues are compounded by the fact that defense spending is rife with fraud and abuse, as those who support reducing the Pentagon budget point out. Despite receiving the vast majority of federal discretionary spending year over year, the Pentagon is the only federal agency to never have passed an audit.

June 4, 2023 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US cuts data sharing with Russia under New START nuclear deal

US says withholding information is retaliatory measure for Moscow’s suspension of New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty).

The United States will stop providing Russia with some notifications required under the New START nuclear arms control treaty, including updates on missile and launcher locations, in what Washington describes as a retaliatory “countermeasure” due to Moscow’s “violations” of the accord.

The US state department said on Thursday that it had ceased providing the status and locations of its nuclear missiles and launchers but would continue to provide notification of the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Russian inspection activities on US territory have ceased and visas issued and pending for Russian New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) inspectors and their aircrews – as well as diplomatic clearance for Russian inspection aircraft – have been revoked, according to a state department fact sheet released on Thursday.

The US will also not provide telemetric information to Russia on the launch of US intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Such data involves information that originates during a missile’s test flights and under the treaty, both Moscow and Washington were to exchange such information annually…………………………..

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not formally withdrawn from the New START treaty, but he announced in February that Moscow would suspend its participation in what is a key pillar of US-Russian nuclear arms control.

Putin said Moscow could not accept US inspections of its nuclear sites under the agreement when Washington and its NATO allies had openly declared Moscow’s defeat in Ukraine as a primary goal.

In March, Moscow emphasised that it had not withdrawn from the START pact altogether and would continue to respect the caps on nuclear weapons the treaty sets. Russia’s foreign ministry had also said that Moscow would continue to notify the US of planned test launches of its ballistic missiles – a key element of the agreement.

Notices on ballistic launches are an essential element of nuclear strategic stability for decades, allowing Russia and the US to correctly interpret each other’s moves and make sure neither country mistakes a test launch for a preemptive nuclear missile attack.

Moscow and Washington collectively control nearly 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads – enough to destroy the planet several times over.

The New START limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads countries deploy. Signed in 2010 and due to expire in 2026, the New START treaty caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the US and Russia can deploy to no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads and 700 land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them…………………………………………………….

June 4, 2023 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Biden wants to engage Russia on nuclear arms control

By Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed, Canberra Times, June 2 2023

The United States will offer to abide by the nuclear weapons limits set in the New START treaty until its 2026 expiration to bolster global security if Russia does the same, two senior administration officials say.

US national security advisor Jake Sullivan will make the offer in a speech to the Arms Control Association, the oldest US arms control advocacy group, the officials said on Thursday on condition of anonymity.

Sullivan will say President Joe Biden’s administration is open to resuming unconditional talks with Moscow on managing nuclear dangers, including replacing New START with a new pact, the sources said…………………………………

Signed in 2010 and due to expire in February 2026, New START capped the number of strategic nuclear warheads the sides can deploy at 1550.

It also limits the number of land and submarine-based missiles and bombers that can deliver the warheads to 700.

Sullivan, the officials said, will offer US adherence to those limits through the treaty’s expiration if Russia does as well…………

June 4, 2023 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Panellists discuss nuclear documentary ‘Atomic Bamboozle’ and warn against return of nuclear power .

Activists show, discuss nuclear documentary ‘Atomic Bamboozle’ at Kiggins in Vancouver, Film, panelists warn against return of nuclear power,

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian staff writer, June 2, 2023,

Get used to the phrase “small modular nuclear reactor” and its abbreviation, SMR. A global debate about this old-made-new energy idea is already heating up, with big implications for the people and environs of the Pacific Northwest.

SMRs are either the cleaner, safer, cheaper future of nuclear power or the return of the same old bundle of hazards, dressed up in newly attractive camouflage.

“They’re going to make nuclear energy cool again,” said former Trump administration energy secretary Rick Perry (consistently mispronouncing the word “nuclear”) in a news clip featured in the new documentary film “Atomic Bamboozle.”

“Atomic Bamboozle” is the latest in a series of timely, social-issue documentaries directed by Jan Haaken, a retired Portland State University psychology professor. Last year, Haaken produced a film about the courtroom victories of local oil-train protesters called “Necessity: Climate Justice and the Thin Green Line,” which screened, along with a panel discussion, at Vancouver’s Kiggins Theatre.

The same will happen at a Wednesday screening of “Atomic Bamboozle” at Kiggins. Environmental activists featured in the film will discuss the potential resurgence of nuclear power in the Pacific Northwest through supposedly safe, small, factory-built nuclear plants.

Panelists are Cathryn Chudy and Lloyd Marbet of the Oregon Conservancy Foundation; Desiree Hellegers, English professor and director of the Collective for Social and Environmental Justice at Washington State University Vancouver; public interest attorney Dan Meek; Dr. Patricia Kullberg, former medical director of the Multnomah County Health Department; “Atomic Days” author Joshua Frank; and film director Haaken.

(Frank’s book about the decommissioned Hanford nuclear site in Eastern Washington, “Atomic Days: The Most Toxic Place in America,” is the Fort Vancouver Regional Library system’s “Revolutionary Reads” book for this year. Free copies of the book are available to all at library branches.)

Climate wedge

Although small modular nuclear reactors are still more blueprint than reality, they’ve become a wedge issue among some environmentalists who are desperate to beat climate change, said Chudy, who lives in Vancouver.

“SMRs sound pretty cool but there are very big problems that they don’t want to talk about,” Chudy said during a phone interview with The Columbian.

“Atomic Bamboozle” reviews the troubled history of Oregon’s only commercial nuclear power plant, Trojan, which operated from 1976 through 1992 near Rainier, just across the Columbia River from Kalama. Trojan’s cooling tower dominated the skyline until it was demolished in 2006, but problems plagued the plant throughout its short life, including construction flaws, unexpected cracks, steam leaks and discovery of previously unknown earthquake fault lines nearby.

“We had assurances the plant was safe. The public relations around Trojan were amazing,” said Chudy, a pediatric mental health therapist at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

Chudy said today’s youth are struggling as never before with existential worry about a world that grown-ups have failed to steward. Proposed SMRs represent an opportunity to choose wisely and safely now rather than punting complicated problems into an unknown future, she said.

“Kids don’t trust adults to make good decisions,” Chudy said. “We are all putting our lives in the hands of people we elect … but I don’t think we can rely on them to steer the ship in the right direction without all of us being involved.”

Unsolved problems

Both Oregon and Washington have adopted clean energy policies for the future, Chudy said, but both include a loophole for nuclear power because nuclear plants do not emit carbon pollution.

She argues that nuclear power is actually a big cause of carbon pollution and a driver of global warming from many sources other than operating the plants themselves, including uranium mining as well as construction, decommissioning and materials transportation.

Necessary economies of scale are another serious question about nuclear power, Chudy added.

SMR boosters like them because they’re small. But what they contain is standard, old-school nuclear technology that’s simply operating on a tiny scale, M.V. Ramana, professor of physics, public policy and global affairs at the University of British Columbia, said in the film.

Early experiments with nuclear power started small too, Ramana said, but grew huge in pursuit of financial efficiency. Nothing has changed about that, he argues in the film, and new forecasts show the productions costs of nuclear power climbing.

“All nuclear reactors used to be small. The only way the nuclear industry could figure out to reduce cost was to go to larger reactors,” Ramana said. “There’s no way small modular reactors are going to be economically competitive.”

Soaring projected costs have led some members to drop out of a consortium of Western cities now pursuing an SMR on the Snake River in Idaho, according to Reuters.

The risk of nuclear accidents always remains, Ramana said in the movie. But siting decisions are made by politicians and investors in state and national capitals, far removed from the action.

June 3, 2023 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

US announces $46 million in funds to eight nuclear fusion companies

By Timothy Gardner, WASHINGTON, May 31 (Reuters) – Eight U.S. companies developing nuclear fusion energy will receive $46 million in taxpayer funding to pursue pilot plants attempting to generate power from the process that fuels the sun and stars, the Department of Energy said on Wednesday.

Generating more energy from a fusion reaction than goes into the fusion plant to heat fuel to temperatures of more than 100 million Celsius has eluded scientists for decades.

…………..”The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to partnering with innovative researchers and companies across the country to take fusion energy past the lab and toward the grid,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a release.

The awardees are:

-Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS)

-Focused Energy Inc

-Princeton Stellarators Inc

-Realta Fusion Inc

-Tokamak Energy Inc

-Type One Energy Group

-Xcimer Energy Inc

-Zap Energy Inc

The funding, which comes from the Energy Act of 2020, is for the first 18 months. Projects may last up to five years, with future funding totaling $415 million contingent on congressional approval and engineering and scientific milestones.

“Participating companies only get paid if they deliver results and the public program verifies the science is sound,” said Bob Mumgaard, the CEO and founder of CFS.

Looking to develop fusion plants that use lasers or magnets, private companies and government labs spent $500 million on their supply chains last year, according to a Fusion Industry Association (FIA) survey.

They plan to spend about $7 billion by the time their first plants come online, and potentially trillions of dollars mainly on high-grade steel, concrete and superconducting wire in a mature industry, estimated to be sometime between 2035 and 2050.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis and Diane Craft

June 3, 2023 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Call on ratepayers to fund a study for small nuclear reactors in Clark County

Nuclear power may again be on horizon for Clark County , By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer, June 2, 2023

Clark Public Utilities delays decision on helping fund study

“…………………..Energy Northwest invited Clark Public Utilities to participate in a feasibility study on its proposed small nuclear reactor development in Richland. The agency is considering creating four to 12 modular reactors, projected to generate 320 to 960 megawatts of power — less than its existing Columbia Generating Station, which has a capacity of 1,200 megawatts.

During a Clark Public Utilities Board of Commissioners meeting in May, Energy Northwest representatives sought $200,000 of ratepayer funds for the study, which is projected to cost $4 million. The body did not approve the request, as its three-member vote was split.

Commissioners Nancy Barnes and Jane Van Dyke both requested more time to consider Energy Northwest’s request and speak with other utilities, saying further clarity was needed.

Commissioner Jim Malinowski, who sits on Energy Northwest’s board of directors, advocated for Clark Public Utilities’ involvement. By providing funding, the utility would be “keeping the effort live” and showing there’s regional support for nuclear energy, he said.

Following the May meeting, skeptics said that discussions surrounding Energy Northwest’s project haven’t been substantive or transparent to the public, given the agency’s initial request for ratepayer funds.

“It seems this proposed financial investment is on a fast track with no obvious reason for the rush and shortchanges the public’s opportunity to ask questions and weigh meaningfully,” Cathryn Chudy of Vancouver wrote to the Clark Public Utilities commission.

Commissioners are expected to revisit Energy Northwest’s small modular reactor developments at their June 6 meeting.

Energy Northwest is meeting with Washington’s 28 public utility districts and municipalities for investments to its feasibility study, as well as reaching out to utilities in Oregon and Idaho. Eight utilities in Washington have contributed to date.

June 3, 2023 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

$528 Billion nuclear clean-up at Hanford Site in jeopardy

The government now appears to be seriously considering whether it will be necessary to leave thousands of gallons of leftover waste buried forever in Hanford’s shallow underground tanks, according to some of those familiar with the negotiations, and protect some of the waste not in impenetrable glass, but in a concrete grout casing that would almost certainly decay thousands of years before the toxic materials that it is designed to hold at bay.

At site after site, the solution has come down to a choice between an expensive, decades-long cleanup or quicker action that leaves a large amount of waste in place.

A Poisonous Cold War Legacy That Defies a Solution

NYT, By Ralph Vartabedian, Reporting from Richland, Wash., May 31, 2023

From 1950 to 1990, the U.S. Energy Department produced an average of four nuclear bombs every day, turning them out of hastily built factories with few environmental safeguards that left behind a vast legacy of toxic radioactive waste.

Nowhere were the problems greater than at the Hanford Site in Washington State, where engineers sent to clean up the mess after the Cold War discovered 54 million gallons of highly radioactive sludge left from producing the plutonium in America’s atomic bombs, including the one dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki in 1945.

Cleaning out the underground tanks that were leaching poisonous waste toward the Columbia River just six miles away and somehow stabilizing it for permanent disposal presented one of the most complex chemical problems ever encountered. Engineers thought they had solved it years ago with an elaborate plan to pump out the sludge, embed it in glass and deposit it deep in the mountains of the Nevada desert.

But construction of a five-story, 137,000 square-foot chemical treatment plant for the task was halted in 2012 — after an expenditure of $4 billion — when it was found to be riddled with safety defects. The naked superstructure of the plant has stood in mothballs for 11 years, a potent symbol of the nation’s failure, nearly 80 years after the Second World War, to deal decisively with the atomic era’s deadliest legacy.

The cleanup at Hanford is now at an inflection point. The Energy Department has been in closed-door negotiations with state officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, trying to revamp the plan. But many fear the most likely compromises, which could be announced in the coming months, will put the speed and quality of the cleanup at risk.

The government now appears to be seriously considering whether it will be necessary to leave thousands of gallons of leftover waste buried forever in Hanford’s shallow underground tanks, according to some of those familiar with the negotiations, and protect some of the waste not in impenetrable glass, but in a concrete grout casing that would almost certainly decay thousands of years before the toxic materials that it is designed to hold at bay.

“The Energy Department is coming to a big crossroads,” said Thomas Grumbly, a former assistant secretary at the department who oversaw the early days of the project during the Clinton administration.

Successive energy secretaries over the last 30 years, he said, “have slammed their heads against the wall” to come up with a technology and budget that would make the problem go away not only at Hanford, but also at other nuclear weapons sites around the country.

Plants in South Carolina, Washington, Ohio and Idaho that helped produce more than 60,000 atomic bombs have tons of radioactive debris that will be radioactive for thousands of years. And unlike nuclear power plants, whose waste consists of dry uranium pellets locked away in metal tubes, the weapons facilities are dealing with millions of gallons of a peanut butter-like sludge stored in aging underground tanks.

Two million pounds of mercury remain in the soils and waters of eastern Tennessee. Radioactive plumes are contaminating the Great Miami aquifer near Cincinnati.

At site after site, the solution has come down to a choice between an expensive, decades-long cleanup or quicker action that leaves a large amount of waste in place.

Hanford, some 580 square miles of shrub-steppe desert in south-central Washington State, is the largest and most contaminated of all the weapons production sites — too polluted to ever be returned to public use. But the problem is urgent, given the risk of radionuclides contaminating the Columbia River, a vital lifeline for cities, farms, tribes and wildlife in two states……………………………………………………………………………………………………

“The closer you get to the bottom of those tanks, the more radioactive, toxic and dangerous waste is,” said Geoffrey Fettus, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has sued the government over the Hanford cleanup………………………………………………………………. more

June 2, 2023 Posted by | USA, wastes | 1 Comment

Julian Assange: the plot thickens

The FBI has reopened its case against Wikileaks founder and Australian journalist Julian Assange, the SMH  reports, after agents tried to interview his ghostwriter, Andrew O’Hagan, in London.

O’Hagan refused to talk to them because he would never give a statement against “a fellow journalist being pursued for telling the truth”. Badass, particularly as O’Hagan isn’t exactly fond of Assange as a person, as he famously wrote in the London Review of Books.

Anyway, Assange’s lawyer, Stephen Kenny, was taken by surprise by the news — he says it’s been years since the indictment was issued, and he didn’t realise there was an investigation under way. What if they’re gathering evidence to clear Assange’s name, considering there are growing rumours the Albanese government is working on it, as The New Daily’s reporting indicates? It’s not impossible, Kenny says, but it would be “very unusual” if the FBI was trying to help him.

June 2, 2023 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

USA urged not to use bomb-grade uranium in nuclear power experiment

By Timothy Gardner May 31, 2023

 (Reuters) – Former U.S. State Department and nuclear regulatory officials on Tuesday urged the U.S. Energy Department to reconsider a plan to use bomb-grade uranium in a nuclear power experiment, saying that its use could encourage such tests in other countries.

The Energy Department and two companies aim to share costs on the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) at the Idaho National Laboratory and use more than 1,322 pounds (600 kg) of fuel containing 93% enriched uranium.

Bill Gates-backed company TerraPower LLC, the utility Southern Co (SO.N) and the department hope the six-month experiment will lead to breakthroughs in reactors……….

But a group of former Nuclear Regulatory Commission members, including former Chairman Allison Macfarlane, and U.S. assistant secretaries of state responsible for nonproliferation, said MCRE could give other countries an excuse to enrich uranium to bomb-grade level in pursuit of new reactors.

“The damage to national security could exceed any potential benefit from this highly speculative energy technology,” the experts said in a letter to Energy Department officials. They fear an increase in such experiments boosts risks that militants looking to create a nuclear weapon could get hold of the uranium.

June 2, 2023 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Disconnecting War from Its Consequences, (cut welfare spending, increase weapons)

Common Wonders, By Robert C. Koehler, 31 May 23

Twenty-two years ago, Congress put sanity up for a vote. Sanity lost in the House, 420-1. It lost in the Senate, 98-0.

Barbara Lee’s lone vote for sanity — that is to say, her vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force resolution, allowing the president to make war against . . . uh, evil . . . without congressional approval — remains a tiny light of courageous hope flickering in a chaotic world, which is on the brink of self-annihilation.

Militarism keeps expanding, at least here in the USA. If there’s a problem out there, option one is to kill it quickly. Problem solved! This simplistic (and utterly false) mindset, which is always present — the companion of fear — may have a grip on American politics like never before, as demonstrated in the recent debt-ceiling standoff, in which President Biden came to an agreement with the Republicans that social spending will be slashed but “defense” spending must continue to expand.

You know. It’s the only thing that’s truly crucial. Poverty? Collapsing infrastructure? Underfunded schools? Climate disaster? We can worry about that stuff later, but as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy explained to reporters recently:

“Look, we’re always looking where we could find savings . . . but we live in a very dangerous world. I think the Pentagon has to actually have more resources.”

In other words, the USA is not a country with the maturity to discuss and analyze complex issues, such as the future of the world. Hey, it’s dangerous out there! It’s full of terrorists and dictators. That’s all you need to know. “Weak on defense” is the equivalent of “wants to defund the police” — a politician’s death sentence by advertising. No matter how much hell war creates — no matter how many families it displaces, no matter how many children it kills — we’ve got to be ready wage it, you know, whenever we feel like it. And the mainstream media, in its basic coverage, doesn’t question this or delve into a complex analysis of the world.

But we are still a country that is slowly and complexly evolving — no matter that the powers that be, for the most part, don’t know it. Let’s return to that AUMF vote, passed in the wake of the 9/11 devastation. Barbara Lee, whose father was in the Army, serving in both World War II and the Korean War, knew about the human costs of war. After 9/11 she was deeply uncertain what the nation’s immediate response should be. She attended the memorial service at the capital, held the day of the vote (and attended by four former presidents plus the sitting president, GWB).

There, as she told Politico, the Rev, Nathan Baxter, as he led the attendees in prayer, called on the nation’s leaders, as they considered how to respond, to “not become the evil we deplore.”…………………………………………………………… more

June 1, 2023 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A Mothers Day protest: Activists blockaded the entrance to the US 2 Navy’s west-coast nuclear submarine base

No survivors. Protestors bring their annual message for peace to the gates of hell

By Leonard Eiger  by beyondnuclearinternational

Activists blockaded the entrance to the US Navy’s west-coast nuclear submarine base, which is home to the largest operational concentration of deployed nuclear weapons, in a nonviolent direct action the day before Mother’s Day.

Eight peace activists from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, holding banners reading “The Earth is Our Mother Treat Her With Respect”  and “Nuclear Weapons are Immoral to Use, Immoral to Have, Immoral to Make,” briefly blocked all incoming traffic at the Main Gate at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington as part of a May 13th Mothers Day observance. 

Traffic was diverted as the 15 member Seattle Peace Chorus Action Ensemble, facing the Navy’s security detail, sang “The Lucky Ones”, an original composition by their director, Doug Balcom of Seattle, to the assembled guards and Navy personnel. 

The song describes the different stages of personal, regional and global destruction that a nuclear war would inflict on humanity and the earth’s biosphere, and posits whether survivors to later stages of the devastation would wish they’d perished earlier; it ends with a call to save us from this fate by eliminating all nuclear weapons.  …………………………………

Tom Rogers, a retired Navy captain and former nuclear submarine commanding officer, stated: “The destructive power of the nuclear weapons deployed here on board Trident submarines is beyond human imagination. The simple fact is, that a nuclear exchange between the great powers would end civilization on our planet. I understand this. If I fail to protest the existence of these evil weapons, then I am complicit.”

The civil disobedience was part of Ground Zero’s annual observance of Mothers Day, first suggested in the United States in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe as a day dedicated to peace.  Howe saw the effects on both sides of the Civil War and realized destruction from warfare goes beyond the killing of soldiers in battle. …………………………………….

The Navy is currently in the process of building a new generation of ballistic missile submarines — called the Columbia-class — to replace the current OHIO-class “Trident” fleet. The Columbia-class submarines are part of a massive “modernization” of all three legs of the nuclear triad that also include the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, which will replace the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the new B-21 stealth bomber. 

The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

Leonard Eiger is with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

May 31, 2023 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. planning test reactor to run on weapons-grade uranium.

Use of highly enriched fuel in civilian reactor would contravene decades-old nonproliferation policy


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is planning a small test reactor that would burn a large amount of weapons-grade uranium, according to the project’s draft environmental assessment. The experiment, to be built in a cost-sharing arrangement, would provide data for a new type of power reactor being developed by TerraPower and Southern Company Services. But the use of highly enriched uranium, first reported by Physics Today, would contravene the U.S. policy of removing HEU from civilian reactors around the world to keep it from being made into bombs.

The decision is “discouraging,” says Edwin Lyman, a physicist and director for nuclear safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “When the U.S. preaches the nonproliferation gospel, it should practice what it preaches.” Alan Kuperman, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, says, “There was not by any means adequate public disclosure by the department that they were planning to contradict
5 decades of U.S. nonproliferation policy.”

Neither DOE nor Idaho National Laboratory (INL), where the test reactor will be built, would comment on the issue

The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) would differ dramatically from conventional power reactors. They consume uranium fuel enriched to roughly 4% uranium-235, the fissile isotope, and encased in metal rods. Some uranium atoms split or fission to release energy and neutrons, which then split other uranium atoms in a chain reaction. Pressurized water flows around the rods both to slow the neutrons so that they split atoms more effectively and to carry heat to steam generators that ultimately drive turbines to generate electricity.

The MCRE would instead be cooled by molten salt, into which the uranium would be dissolved. In theory, a molten salt reactor could burn used fuel from conventional reactors and generate less long-lived radioactive waste, Kuperman says. Because the salt would not slow the neutrons, the reactor would need fuel with higher enrichment, which would generate more neutrons.

TerraPower’s commercial reactor would use fuel enriched to as much as 19% uranium-235, so-called high-assay, low-enriched fuel. But the MCRE will run on HEU enriched to greater than 90%—630 kilograms of it. That’s hundreds of times more than some research reactors use and enough to make dozens of bombs, Kuperman estimates. The uranium is leftover from another research reactor that ran at INL from 1969 to 1990, he says.

Running on HEU should enable the MCRE to produce the data needed to design and license the molten-salt power reactor while remaining relatively small and inexpensive, Lyman says. DOE would cover $90 million of the MCRE’s $113 million cost, and the reactor would start up in a few years. But its thrifty design would cost the United States credibility, says John Tierney, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “This is going to be seen as hypocritical by many, many people.”

In the 1950s and ’60s, the U.S. helped build research reactors around the world, providing HEU for many of them. In the 1970s, it changed course and led efforts to remove HEU from those reactors and repatriate it. Of the 171 research reactors that ran on HEU, 71 have switched to low-enriched fuel and
28 have shut down, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency—although five U.S. research reactors still use HEU.

The issue highlights a tension between DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, which is eager to develop new reactors, and its National Nuclear Security Administration, which controls nuclear weapons and works for nonproliferation, Kuperman says. He and others have drafted a letter to DOE and President Joe Biden’s administration to encourage them to reconsider the plan. “If they make the wrong decision, I think they’re going to undermine much more of the nonproliferation regime than they realize.”

May 30, 2023 Posted by | Uranium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Sea level rise will “disappear” California’s famed beaches

 California is known for golden sands and endless waves, but much of the
state’s famous shoreline could vanish in the future. That’s according
to a new study, which found that between 25% and 70% of California beaches
might be washed away by the end of the century, leaving only cliffs or
coastal infrastructure in their wake.

 Guardian 27th May 2023

May 30, 2023 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Insurance giant halts sale of new home policies in California due to wildfires

 The insurance giant State Farm, America’s biggest car and home insurer
by premium volume, will halt the sale of new home insurance policies in
California, citing wildfire risk and inflation of construction costs.
Starting on Saturday, the company will not accept insurance applications
for business and personal lines property and casualty insurance. The
company will still accept auto insurance applicants.

 Guardian 27th May 2023

May 30, 2023 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment