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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Glaciers in New Zealand – extreme melting due to global heating

August 4, 2020 Posted by | climate change, New Zealand | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands leaders hope for better help over radioactively polluted weapons tests sites

Nuclear-affected atolls in Marshalls see promise in US talks, RNZ 31 July 2020 , Giff Johnson, Editor, Marshall Islands Journal / RNZ Pacific correspondent,  Momentum is developing behind efforts for renewed attention to lingering problems related to the US nuclear weapons testing programme in the Marshall Islands.

This week leaders of four nuclear test-affected atolls spoke of the building movement movement to issues surrounding the actions of the US from 1946 to 1958.

Elected leaders from Bikini and Enewetak, the ground zeroes for 67 nuclear weapons tests, and Rongelap and Utrok, two atolls heavily contaminated with radioactive fallout from the 1954 Bravo hydrogen bomb test, described separate meetings in the past few days with US Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Roxanne Cabral, and Marshall Islands President, David Kabua, as “productive and positive.”

The push for action on compensation, health care and cleanups of radioactive islands comes against the backdrop of negotiations between the Marshall Islands and US governments to extend expiring grant funding in a Compact of Free Association.

Island leaders said nuclear test legacy issues had languished for years and they wanted the Marshall Islands to pursue them during the upcoming talks.

It was preferred that a solution was found that benefitted both the Marshall Islands and the United States…….

US-provided compensation fell far short of funds needed to meet compensation awards for this nuclear test-affected nation……

Utrok Mayor Tobin Kaiko said he personally, as well as other nuclear test-affected islanders, continued living with health problems caused by exposure to radioactive fallout.

He said their suffering had been exacerbated by US authorities consistently downplaying the hazards of radiation and the potential for health problems among affected islanders………. https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/422407/nuclear-affected-atolls-in-marshalls-see-promise-in-us-talks

August 1, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard refutes the claim that Marshall Islands nuclear waste site is safe

July 30, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, safety | Leave a comment

Scepticism over USA Dept Energy report that the Runit nuclear waste dome is “safe”

Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program.
The waste site, known alternatively as the Tomb, holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet — or 35 Olympic-size swimming pools — of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium.

The new report does not include a plan to repair the dome, which was required by Congress.

In 1981, the U.S. government declared in a report that the island should be quarantined indefinitely and that the “possibility would always exist that high levels of plutonium-contaminated subsurface soil could be exposed by wave or storm action.”

U.S. says leaking nuclear waste dome is safe; Marshall Islands leaders don’t believe it,   https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2020-07-01/us-says-nuclear-waste-safe-marshall-islands-runit-dome   By SUSANNE RUSTSTAFF WRITER , JULY 1, 2020

In response to a directive from Congress, the Department of Energy released a report this week assessing the risks of a 50-year-old cracking and crumbling concrete nuclear waste repository in the Marshall Islands, but the findings did little to ease the concerns of Marshallese leaders in the Central Pacific.

The DOE report found that Runit Dome, a repository for atomic waste the United States produced during Cold War weapons testing, is sound and that radioactive leakage into the nearby lagoon is not significant.

After Congress grew concerned last year about the leaking dome, it ordered the DOE to produce a report on the dome’s structural integrity amid climate change and rising sea levels.

The report noted that while sea level rise could increase storm surge, swells, and “lead to wave-induced over-wash of lower sections of the dome,” there is not enough definitive data to determine “how these events might impact on the environment.”

One Marshallese leader was disappointed the DOE again downplayed the risks and declined to take responsibility for Runit Dome and its leaking contents.

We don’t expect the Enewetak community to feel any safer based on this report as it doesn’t contain any new information from what they’ve seen…and don’t trust,” said Rhea Christian-Moss, the chairperson of the Marshall Islands’ National Nuclear Commission, a government-operated nuclear waste and radiation oversight panel.

“The report offers nothing new and is more or less what we expected to see,” she said, lamenting the Senate’s redaction of a critical line in the House’s mandate, which stipulated that the Department of Energy provide a plan detailing the removal of the radioactive waste into a “safer and more stable location.”

The Department of Energy report is signed by Dan Brouillette, the agency’s secretary. Terry Hamilton, the department’s lead contractor on the project, was not available for comment.

In November last year, The Times published an investigation of the lingering radiation legacy in the Marshall Islands, and the refusal of U.S. authorities to take ownership for the hazards posed by Runit Dome

In December, Congress signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020, which required the DOE to provide a plan to repair the dome, evaluate the environmental effects of the dome on the lagoon over the next 20 years, and assess its structure and the potential risk to the people who live near it.

The department was also required to assess how rising sea levels could affect the dome.

Christian-Moss noted data gaps in the report, as well, including the level of radiation in groundwater leaking from the dome into the lagoon.

In 2019, at a presentation delivered in the Marshall Islands to Marshallese and U.S. officials, the DOE’s contractor, Hamilton, mentioned elevated levels of radioactivity in giant clams living near the dome.

The new report does not mention the clams but states that not enough information is available to understand how leakage from the dome is affecting marine life. However, according to the energy department, studies of people living nearby show normal levels of radiation — suggesting they are not being adversely affected.

“The absence of data to show any risk does not mean that there is no risk.” she said. “So my main takeaway from the report is that many risks are still ‘unknown.’”

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear weapons on, in and above the Marshall Islands. Forty-four of those bombs were detonated in Enewetak Atoll, where Runit Dome is located.

Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program.

The waste site, known alternatively as the Tomb, holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet — or 35 Olympic-size swimming pools — of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium.

The radioactive material was collected, moved and contained by U.S. soldiers during the late 1970s. Many of those veterans say they were unaware of the contents and did not wear protective equipment.

The new report does not include a plan to repair the dome, which was required by Congress. Instead, the report’s authors state that “no further maintenance of the dome is required at this time” beyond conducting occasional maintenance to the dome’s cracking exterior, including the removal of vegetation. The report claims the visible cracking and spalling do not provide a hazard.

“All in all the message seems to be that we should be concerned but not alarmed,” said Michael Gerrard, a legal scholar at Columbia University’s law school. “It is as if Runit is like a radioactive sore in the middle of the Pacific, but one that can get by with band-aids for the foreseeable future unless they find more bleeding.”

The DOE authors also maintain that the lagoon’s sediments are so contaminated with radioactive elements that any additional spillage from the dome would be undetectable.

“It remains to be seen whether the Marshallese will accept this report by the Americans, given how poorly the U.S. has treated the Marshallese in so many ways since 1945,” said Gerrard.

The report also notes that in May 2019, Marshallese officials requested that the Department of Energy build a fence around the island where the dome is located, to keep people off.

In July 2019, DOE officials responded claiming they didn’t have the funding to build a fence and installation of a perimeter would be logistically too complex.

In 1981, the U.S. government declared in a report that the island should be quarantined indefinitely and that the “possibility would always exist that high levels of plutonium-contaminated subsurface soil could be exposed by wave or storm action.”

July 2, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Okinawa Governor says NO to hosting prohibited U.S. nuclear missiles

Okinawa Governor Refuses to Host Prohibited U.S. Nuclear Missiles, In Depth News,  By Jaya Ramachandran, 29 June 20, GENEVA (IDN) – Governor Denny Tamaki of Okinawa district has rejected the U.S. plans to base on the island missiles capable of threatening China – apparently as part of President Donald Trump’s move to challenge Beijing and upgrade the importance of Taiwan, 500 kilometres away from the island. If a plan for Okinawa to host such missiles were to develop, Tamaki said: “I can easily imagine fierce opposition from Okinawa residents.”Okinawa comprises more than 150 islands in the East China Sea between Taiwan and Japan’s mainland. It’s known for its tropical climate, broad beaches and coral reefs, as well as World War II sites.

Okinawa has been a critical strategic location for the United States Armed Forces since the end of World War II. The island hosts around 26,000 U.S. military personnel, about half of the total complement of the United States Forces Japan, spread among 32 bases and 48 training sites.

The largest island (Okinawa) hosts the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, commemorating a massive 1945 Allied invasion, and Churaumi Aquarium, home to whale sharks and manta rays.

Missiles the U.S. plans to base on Okinawa are prohibited by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union which, after dissolution, reconstituted into the Russian Federation in 1991.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the then Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.

It was the first arms-control treaty to abolish an entire category of weapons systems. Besides, two protocols to the agreement established unprecedented procedures for observers from both nations to verify first-hand the other countries destruction of its missiles.

The INF Treaty led to the elimination of 2,692 U.S. and Soviet nuclear and conventional, ground-launched ballistic and cruise missile. The U.S. President Donald Trump formally withdrew from the treaty August 2, 2019, citing Russian noncompliance with the accord. The Pentagon tested two previously prohibited missiles in August and December 2019.

Since the United States withdrew from the Treaty, AustraliaJapan, the Philippines, and South Korea have publicly said that they were not asked to nor are they considering serving as hosts for new U.S. ground-launched missiles. Secretary of Defence Mark Esper has previously suggested that he would like to see the deployment of such missiles in Europe and particularly Asia to counter China.

A senior Defence Department official told the Los Angeles Times that the Pentagon is “very attentive to our allies’ concerns, and we recognized their political challenges”. However, the official continued, “everything that’s said in the media is not necessarily what’s said behind closed doors”.

As the Washington-based Arms Control Association reported on June 26, Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg said on June 17 after a NATO Defence Ministerial that the alliance has “no intention to deploy new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe”.

China is firmly opposed to any deployment of such missiles in the Asia-Pacific. “If the U.S. insists on the deployment, it will be a provocation at China’s doorstep,” said Chinese Defence Ministry Spokesperson Senior Colonel Wu Qian on June 24. “China will never sit idle and will take all necessary countermeasures,” he warned…….. https://www.indepthnews.net/index.php/armaments/nuclear-weapons/3648-okinawa-governor-refuses-to-host-prohibited-u-s-nuclear-missiles

June 29, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, opposition to nuclear, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Zealand stood up to the nuclear bullies- the Rainbow Warrior story

NZ gained ‘international creds’ as nuclear-free nation with Rainbow Warrior bombing, says author, Asia Pacific Report

By PMC Editor -June 29, 2020   From RNZ Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

New Zealand established its credentials as an independent small nation after the fatal bombing of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in 1985, says an author and academic who spent weeks on the vessel shortly before it was attacked.

On 10 July 1985, the Rainbow Warrior was sunk at an Auckland wharf by two bombs planted on the hull of the ship by French secret agents.

The event is often referred to as the first act of terrorism in New Zealand.

LISTEN: The Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan Crime NZ interview with David Robie
WATCH: Eyes of Fire archival videos
READ: The Eyes of Fire book

Two French agents planted two explosives on the ship while it was berthed at Marsden wharf, the second explosion killing Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira.

Dr David Robie, who is an AUT professor of journalism and communication studies, as well as the director of the university’s Pacific Media Centre, had spent more than 10 weeks on the ship as a journalist covering its nuclear rescue mission in the Pacific.

He wrote about his experience in Eyes of Firea book about the last voyage of the first Rainbow Warrior – two other Rainbow Warrior ships have followed.

In 1985, Rongelap atoll villagers in the Marshall Islands asked Greenpeace to help them relocate to a new home at Mejato atoll. Their island had been contaminated by radioactive fallout from US atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific.

Environmental journalism
“At the time I was very involved in environmental issues around the Pacific and in those days Greenpeace was very small, a fledgling organisation,” he tells Jesse Mulligan.

“They had a little office in downtown Auckland and Elaine Shaw was the coordinator and she was quite worried that this was going to be a threshold voyage.

“It was probably the first campaign by Greenpeace that was humanitarian, it wasn’t just environmental – to rescue basically the people who had been suffering from nuclear radiation.” ……….

Moruroa protest planned
The US had carried out 67 nuclear tests at the Marshall Islands. France was also carrying out 193 tests in the Pacific and Greenpeace had planned on confronting that situation at Moruroa Atoll after its Marshall Islands rescue effort.

New Zealand had already voiced disapproval of the testing in the region, with then Prime Minister David Lange in 1984 rebuking the French for “arrogantly” continuing the programme in the country’s backyard.

Dr Robie left the ship when it docked in Auckland after the Marshall Islands stage of the mission. Three days after the ship had docked, a birthday celebration was held for  Greenpeace campaign organiser Steve Sawyer onboard. The attack happened after the party.

Just before midnight on the evening of 10 July 1985, two explosions ripped through the hull as the ship.

Portuguese crew member Fernando Pereira was killed after returning on board after the first explosion……..

Thirteen foreign agents were involved, operating in three teams. The first team brought in the explosives, the second team would plant these and the third was on stand-by in case anything went wrong with the first two teams.

“A commanding officer kept an overview of the whole operation. I think there was an element of arrogance, the same arrogance as with the testing itself. There was a huge amount of arrogance about taking on an operation like this in a peaceful country – we were allies of France at the time – and it is extraordinary that they assumed they could get away with this outrageous act.”

Two of the spies were caught. Two General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) officers, Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart, were arrested on July 24. Both were charged with murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Repression of independence movements
“You have to see it within the context of the period of the time,” Dr Robie says.

He says that the French policy of repression against independence movements in New Caledonia and Tahiti, with assassinations of Kanak leaders like Eloi Machoro, needed to be understood to put the Rainbow Warrior attack in perspective. France was bitterly defending its nuclear force de frappe.

“New Zealand was unpopular with the major nuclear powers and there was certainly no sympathy for New Zealand’s position about nuclear testing. So, there wasn’t really any co-operation, even from our closest neighbour, Australia……..

The case was a source of considerable embarrassment to the French government.

“They did pay compensation after arbitration that went on with the New Zealand government and Greenpeace. But justice was never really served… the 10 years were never served, both Prieur and Mafart were part of the negotiations with French government.

NZ was held ‘over a barrel’
“Basically, France had New Zealand over a barrel over trade and the European Union, so compromises were reached and Prieur and Mafart were handed over to France for three years. Essentially house arrest at Hao atoll, the rear base of the French nuclear operations in Polynesia.”

Dr Robie said the rear base was widely regarded as a military “Club Med”.

He says they didn’t even spend three years there, but left for France within the time period.

While the attack was on an international organisation rather than New Zealand itself, most New Zealanders saw it as an attack on the sovereignty of the nation

Dr Robie says it left a long-lasting impression on New Zealanders.

“It was a baptism of fire. It was a loss of innocence when that happened. And in that context, we had stood up as a small nation on being nuclear-free. Something we should have been absolutely proud of, which we were, with all those who campaigned for that at the time. I think that really established our independence, if you like, as a small nation.

“I think we have a lot to contribute to the world in terms of peace-making and we shouldn’t lose track of that. The courage that was shown by this country, standing up to a major nuclear power. We should follow through on that kind of independence of thought.” https://asiapacificreport.nz/2020/06/29/nz-gained-international-creds-as-nuclear-free-nation-with-rainbow-warrior-bombing-says-author/

June 29, 2020 Posted by | incidents, New Zealand, politics | Leave a comment

Pacific leaders fear climate change campaign will ‘lose momentum’ amid COVID-19 pandemic

Pacific leaders fear climate change campaign will ‘lose momentum’ amid COVID-19 pandemic, ABC, By foreign affairs reporter Melissa Clarke   19 June 20

Pacific leaders have said action on climate change “cannot and should not” take a back seat during the COVID-19 pandemic and have appealed for Australia to help rally global support for more emissions cuts.

Key points:

  • Pacific leaders do not want the coronavirus pandemic to distract from work on climate change
  • Nations in the Pacific are concerned environmental impacts of climate change will ruin their tourism industry
  • Leaders are calling on Australia to not forget about emissions reduction commitments

Senior political leaders from both the Fijian and Samoan governments have raised concerns that climate change is being overlooked while global leaders and the media focus on the coronavirus.

The Fijian Government, which has been a strong critic of Australia for not doing more to reduce carbon emissions, has said the urgency for addressing climate change has not abated.

“It may appear that climate change has taken a back seat, but it cannot and should not,” Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap.Taking part in an online forum hosted by the Australian National University (ANU) on Thursday, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the impacts of climate change were being felt every day by Fijians.

“Climate change is a reality and we cannot lift our foot off the pedal,” he said.

Pacific nations regard climate change as an existential threat, with changing weather systems affecting sea levels, fish stocks, water quality and the frequency of severe weather events.

Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, speaking on the same forum, said it is important attention isn’t diverted from climate change.

“We’re talking about a pandemic, but… climate change impacts us in all aspects of our lives, including health as well.”……..

Pacific Island nations have been trying to get all countries to agree to register more ambitious emissions reductions targets under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Ms Mata’afa is concerned their campaign could “lose momentum” during the pandemic and appealed for Australia’s help.

“I think it is very important for Australia, as a member of the Pacific [Islands] Forum, that it comes in strongly as one of our larger members, with the Pacific and the message: to ensure that the 1.5 [degree] objective that we’ve been advocating for and that we raise the global ambition in regards to [cutting] emissions.”

Pacific nations have previously expressed their disappointment that Australia has not fully embraced their calls for more global action……… https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-18/pacific-leaders-fear-coronavirus-distraction-climate-change/12371182

June 20, 2020 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

The most effective leader in the world – Jacinda Adern

New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet.  Uri Friedman 19 April 20  The Atlantic Amid the Trump administration’s calamitous response to the Covid-19 pandemic, media have been looking to other countries for inspiration in responsible leadership during a period of crisis. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has been one popular pick, having capably managed to limit the damage to only 1,504 infections and 22 deaths, as of June 5.

A widely shared article in the Conversation (4/5/20) described Ardern as putting on a “masterclass in crisis leadership.” The Washington Post (4/7/20) characterized her government’s response as a “triumph of science and leadership.” Elsewhere, she has been praised as “the most effective leader on the planet” (Atlantic4/19/20) who “should be teaching the rest of the world” (Guardian4/10/20). The Financial Times (4/19/20) unironically anointed her “Saint Jacinda.”

Despite its obvious geographical and economic advantages, New Zealand certainly deserves praise. But less deserving have been the European countries corporate media consistently highlight as outstanding performers. With over 185,000 cases and 8,763 deaths, Germany has one of the highest per capita fatality rates in the world. Yet Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn effusive praise as somebody who “embraces science” (Atlantic4/19/20Guardian4/16/20Financial Times4/3/20). CNN (5/7/20) proclaimed her a “global leader on coronavirus”; Vox (5/21/20) said she’d been “praised for her clear and effective communication with her country — and the world.”

In its editorial on crisis leadership, the New York Times editorial board (4/30/20) also praised Merkel (while attacking China for supposedly covering up the outbreak). They highlighted and applauded the leadership of several other countries, including Denmark, Norway and Finland. Amazingly, the editorial also singled out and commended Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose inept response has led to Italy having the third-highest number of deaths in the world at the time of its publication.

There was far less praise for leaders in the Global South. Indeed, the only one mentioned by name was Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen, and this was primarily because she “sent millions of face masks to the United States and Europe”—although with 443 total cases and only seven deaths, Taiwan has had a far more enviable record on Covid-19 than most of the countries featured in the editorial. True Asian leadership, according to the Times editorial board, is helping white people, apparently.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | New Zealand, politics | 1 Comment

High rate of cancers among Mururoa nuclear veterans’ families

June 6, 2020 Posted by | health, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

France goes back to its restrictive nuclear compensation law affecting Polynesian nuclear test survivors

French legislature resets tighter nuclear compensation law,  https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/418189/french-legislature-resets-tighter-nuclear-compensation-law    The French legislature has again tightened the law for those seeking compensation for ill health because of the nuclear weapons tests in French Polynesia.

The new law reintroduces the need for every claimant to prove a minimum exposure to radiation for a compensation claim to be accepted.

It was approved by a joint commission of the National Assembly and the Senate which met after last week’s rejection of the text in the Senate.

The National Assembly had earlier voted for the law, and in a first reading, the Senate had initially also approved it but then acceded to amendments.

The French Polynesian members of the legislature have not been in Paris since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and couldn’t take part in the discussion of the proposed law.

The compensation law clause defining the minimum exposure had been removed in 2017 because almost all compensation claims kept being rejected.

However, in 2018 the government changed its mind and reintroduced the restrictions as part of a finance act to complement a health act.

This was challenged and in February, the supreme court ruled that compensation claims lodged before the 2018 law change were not subject to the new terms.

With the new law, however, all outstanding claims have to meet the same requirements.

Between 1966 to 1996, France carried out 193 nuclear weapons tests in French Polynesia and until a decade ago, France claimed its tests were clean caused no harm to humans.

The test sites of Moruroa and Fangataufa remain excised from French Polynesia and are French no-go zones.

June 4, 2020 Posted by | France, Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Fiji ratifies the TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

Prohibition of Nuclear weapons treaty ratified   https://www.fbcnews.com.fj/news/parliament/prohibition-of-nuclear-weapons-treaty-ratified/

Koroi Tadulala, Multimedia Journalistktadulala@fbc.com.fj | @Koroi, FBCNews 29 May 20

May 30, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

During pandemic, U.S. military runs the largest maritime war games in the world

COVID-19: US Military Pursues War Games Amid Contagion, Consortium News, May 26, 2020  A robust schedule of military maneuvers and exercises is either underway or planned for Europe and the Pacific this year, with more in store for 2021, Ann Wright reports.   During the pandemic the U.S. military is running the largest maritime military maneuvers in the world, with Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) coming to the waters off Hawaii Aug. 17-31, bringing 26 nations, 25,000 military personnel, up to 50 ships and submarines and hundreds of aircraft.Hawaii hasstringent measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, with a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all persons arriving in the state; returning residents as well as visitors. This quarantine is required until at least June 30, 2020.

The U.S. Army is also pursuing a 6,000-person war game in Poland, June 5-19, with a Polish airborne operation and a U.S.-Polish division-size river crossing.

If these weren’t too many military operations during an epidemic in which personnel on 40 U.S. Navy ships have come down with the hyper-contagious virus and during which military personnel and their families have been told not to travel, plans are also underway  for a U.S. Army division-sized exercise in the Indo-Pacific region  in less than a year.  Known as Defender 2021, the U.S. Army has requested $364 million to conduct the war exercises throughout Asian and Pacific countries.

The pivot to the Pacific, begun under the Obama administration, and maintained by the Trump administration, is reflected in a U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS) that sees the world as “a great power competition rather than counterterrorism and has formulated its strategy to confront China as a long-term, strategic competitor.”

Earlier in May, the U.S. Navy sent at least seven submarines, including all four Guam-based attack submarines, several Hawaii-based ships and the San Diego-based USS Alexandria to the western Pacific in what the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force announced as simultaneous “contingency response operations” for all of its forward-deployed subs. This was all in support of the Pentagon’s “free and open Indo-Pacific ” policy — aimed at countering China’s expansionism in the South China Sea — and as a show of force to counter ideas that the capabilities of U.S. Navy forces have been reduced by Covid-19…….

In May, 2020, the Australian government announced that a delayed six-month rotation of 2,500 U.S. Marines to a military base in Australia’s northern city of Darwin will go ahead based on strict adherence to Covid-19 measures including a 14-day quarantine. The Marines had been scheduled to arrive in April but their arrival was postponed in March because of the pandemic.

The remote Northern Territory, which had recorded just 30 Covid-19 cases, closed its borders to international and interstate visitors in March, and any arrivals must now undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days.  U.S. Marine deployments to Australia began in 2012 with 250 personnel and have grown to 2,500.    The Joint U.S. Defense facility Pine Gap— the U.S. Department of Defense, Five Eyes and CIA surveillance facility that pinpoints airstrikes around the world and targets nuclear weapons, among other military and intelligence tasks — was also adapting its policy and procedures to comply with Australian government COVID restrictions.

As the U.S. military expands its presence in Asia and the Pacific, one place it will NOT be returning to is Wuhan, China.  In October 2019, the Pentagon sent 17 teams with more than 280 athletes and other staff members to the Military World Games in Wuhan. Over 100 nations sent a total of 10,000 military personnel to the games in Wuhan last October.

The presence of a large U.S. military contingent in Wuhan just months before the outbreak of the Covid-19 in Wuhan in December 2019, fueled a theory by some Chinese officials that the U.S. military was somehow involved in the outbreak, which now has been used by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress and the media that the Chinese deliberately used the virus to infect the world and adding justification for the U.S. military build-up in the Pacific region.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel.   She was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned from the U.S. government in March 2003 in opposition to President George W. Bush’s war on Iraq. She is co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”  https://consortiumnews.com/2020/05/26/covid-19-military-pursues-war-exercises-amid-contagion/

May 28, 2020 Posted by | health, OCEANIA, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power policy now a low priority for Philippines govt

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Philippines, politics | Leave a comment

A moment of reckoning – when coronavirus meets climate change

May 19, 2020 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

French government tries to downgrade radiation risk, avoid compensating Polynesian victims of nuclear testing

Outrage in Tahiti over French nuclear law moves,  https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/416865/outrage-in-tahiti-over-french-nuclear-law-moves  There has been an outcry in French Polynesia over moves by the French National Assembly to slip a clause about compensation over nuclear weapons testing into Covid-19 legislation.

A French Polynesian member of the French Assembly Moetai Brotherson said it was a scandal that this was added into deliberations when French Polynesia’s members were away from Paris because of the pandemic.

The nuclear test veterans organisations, Moruroa e tatou and Association 193, also expressed outrage.

The French government wants to re-introduce the concept of neglible risk of the tests in compensation cases after a court ruling had done away with it.

Over a 30-year period of France’s weapons tests in the South Pacific some of the atmospheric blasts irradiated most islands.

Mr Brotherson said he had only just heard about the National Assembly move and wondered what the French Polynesian people had ever done to be so detested by the French state.

Hiro Tefaarere of Moruroa e tatou said he was outraged but not surprised about the way France was going about it.

He said all presidents, from de Gaulle to Macron, couldn’t care less about Polynesians, and although France was responsible for public health in Tahiti it failed to keep a register to see how many people died because of fallout from the weapons tests.

Auguste Uebe Carlson, who heads Association 193, said France kept refusing to recognise the impact of the tests, using instead propaganda to say they were clean or a thing of the past.

He said nothing was recognised, with health problems now being attributed to poor diet and life-style choices.

ast year, French Polynesia’s social security agency calculated that it had so far spent $US770 million on health care costs for people deemed to have radiation-induced illnesses.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | France, OCEANIA, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment