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Chernobyl: History of a Nuclear Catastrophe

 

Guardian 9th May 2018 , Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy review – Europe nearly became uninhabitable. A compelling history of the 1986 disaster and its
aftermath presents Chernobyl as a terrifying emblem of the terminal decline
of the Soviet system. The turbine test that went catastrophically wrong was
not, he argues, a freak occurrence but a disaster waiting to happen. It had
deep roots in the party’s reckless obsession with production targets and
in the pliant nuclear industry’s alarming record of cutting corners to
cut costs.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/09/chernobyl-history-tragedy-serhii-plokhy-review-disaster-europe-soviet-system

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May 12, 2018 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy review –

 

 

 

Guardian 9th May 2018 Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy review – Europe nearly
became uninhabitable. A compelling history of the 1986 disaster and its
aftermath presents Chernobyl as a terrifying emblem of the terminal decline
of the Soviet system. The turbine test that went catastrophically wrong was
not, he argues, a freak occurrence but a disaster waiting to happen. It had
deep roots in the party’s reckless obsession with production targets and
in the pliant nuclear industry’s alarming record of cutting corners to
cut costs.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/09/chernobyl-history-tragedy-serhii-plokhy-review-disaster-europe-soviet-system

May 11, 2018 Posted by | politics, resources - print, Russia, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Review of John Scales Avery’s book  ‘Nuclear Weapons: an Absolute Evil’

Nuclear Weapons: an Absolute Evil, The Citizen, ANNE BARING | 16 FEBRUARY, 2018   Review of John Scales Avery’s book  “……. Most of the planet’s inhabitants, even those who are highly educated and working in governments and organizations like the United Nations have very little awareness of what an exchange of nuclear weapons would be like or what its immediate and long-term effects would be in terms of the massive numbers of civilian deaths and the rapid deterioration of the planetary environment. This is the lacuna that Professor Avery’s book sets out to fill in an admirably clear and comprehensive way, enriching it with photographs and quotations from men who have, from the outset, expressed their opposition to nuclear weapons.

The book is an education in itself on the many facets of this complex subject including how these weapons first came into being in first five, then nine nuclear nations. It addresses both the amorality and the illegality of nuclear weapons. Many people like myself who are appalled by the existence of nuclear weapons but insufficiently informed of their history and the threat they pose to the planetary biosphere, could benefit by reading its highly informative chapters.

The first chapter, “The Threat of Nuclear War”, explores the important subject of how existing ethical principles about avoiding the bombing of civilians were eroded during the Second World War with the carpet bombing of cities by German and British air forces, culminating in the incendiary raids on Coventry, Hamburg and Dresden that destroyed those and other German cities and many thousands of their helpless inhabitants.

Not long after these, in August 1945, came the horrific obliteration of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the first atom bombs, together with most of their civilian inhabitants. It is noteworthy that the First and Second World Wars cost the lives of 26 million soldiers but 64 million civilians. We live, Professor Avery comments, in an age of space-age science but stone-age politics.

Instead of drawing back in horror from the evil it had unleashed, America and then the Soviet Union embarked on an arms race that has led, step by step, to the current existence of nine nuclear nations and some 17,000 nuclear weapons, with the greater part of these situated in the United States and Russia.

Thousands of these are kept on permanent “hair-trigger” alert. 200 of these nuclear bombs are situated in Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, as well as Turkey, available for use by NATO and placed there by the United States principally to deter a Russian attack. The danger of the launch of one of these weapons in error is a constant possibility and would precipitate a genocidal catastrophe.

His first chapter also addresses the important concept of nuclear deterrence and shows how, according to the historic 1996 decision by the International Court of Justice in the Hague, this was declared to be not only unacceptable from the standpoint of ethics but also contrary to International Law as well as the principles of democracy. The latter have been reflected in the pattern of voting at the United Nations (originally founded to abolish the Institution of War) which has consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of the world’s people wish to be rid of nuclear weapons.

The basic premise of this chapter and indeed, the entire book, is that nuclear weapons are an absolute evil and that no defence can be offered for them, particularly the defence that they act as a deterrent. He brings evidence to show that the effects of even a small nuclear war would be global and all the nations of the world would suffer. Because of its devastating effects on global agriculture, even a small nuclear war could result in a ‘nuclear winter’ and in an estimated billion deaths from famine.

A large-scale nuclear war would completely destroy all agriculture for a period of ten years. Large areas of the world would be rendered permanently uninhabitable because of the ‘nuclear winter’ and the radioactive contamination affecting plants, animals and humans.

Summarising at the end of this chapter Professor Avery writes: “In the world as it is, the nuclear weapons now stockpiled are sufficient to kill everyone on earth several times over. Nuclear technology is spreading, and many politically unstable countries have recently acquired nuclear weapons or may acquire them soon. Even terrorist groups or organized criminals may acquire such weapons, and there is an increasing danger that they will be used.”

To believe that deterrence is a preventive to their being used is to live in a fool’s paradise. It only needs one inadvertent mistake, one mis-reading of a computer, one terrorist nuclear bomb to unleash unimaginable horror on the world. There have already been several near disasters. Governments claim to protect their populations by holding these weapons. Instead, they offer them as hostages to the greed and will to power of the giant corporations, of arms manufacturers such as BAE and the Military-Industrial Complex in general. Professor Avery refers to the greed for power that drives each of these as “The Devil’s Dynamo”.

As an example of this will to power, concealed beneath the mask of deterrence, there is the existence of a Trident submarine which is on patrol at all times, armed with an estimated eight missiles, each of which can carry up to five warheads. In total, that makes 40 warheads, each with an explosive power of up to 100 kilotons of conventional high explosive—eight times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 which killed an estimated 240,000 people from blast and radiation. One nuclear submarine can incinerate more than 40 million human beings. This capacity for mass murder is presented as essential for our defence but it begs the question: ‘How many people are we prepared to exterminate in order to ensure our security?’ We would have no protection against a reciprocally fired nuclear missile directed at us. The concept of deterrence puts us at risk of instant annihilation.

Many people are not aware that the illegality of war was established in 1946 when the United Nations General Assembly unanimously affirmed “The principles of international law recognized by the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the judgment of the Tribunal.” These set out the crimes that henceforth were punishable under international law. It is obvious that the nine nuclear nations, in developing and holding their weapons, have ignored and violated these principles.

Professor Avery draws attention to the significant fact that NATO’s nuclear weapons policy violates both the spirit and the text of the NPT. An estimated one hundred and eighty US nuclear weapons, all of them B-61 hydrogen bombs, are still on European soil with the air forces of the nations in which they are based regularly trained to deliver the US weapons.

These nations are Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands as well as the United Kingdom with its Trident submarines. Turkey, one of the 29 nations that have joined NATO holds about 50 hydrogen bombs at a US base at Incirlik. The aim of all these weapons is to intimidate Russia. This “nuclear sharing” as he points out, “violates Articles 1 and 11 of the NPT, which forbid the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear-weapon states.”

In another most important chapter “Against Nuclear Proliferation” Professor Avery draws attention to the danger of nuclear reactors, a danger that is very rarely reflected on by the governments who have committed vast sums to building them and is virtually unknown to the general public. ……….

Summing up the effects on the world of a nuclear war, Professor Avery writes:

The danger of a catastrophic nuclear war casts a dark shadow over the future of our species. It also casts a very black shadow over the future of the global environment. The environmental consequences of a massive exchange of nuclear weapons have been treated in a number of studies by meteorologists and other experts from both East and West. They predict that a large-scale use of nuclear weapons would result in fire storms with very high winds and high temperatures [similar to what happened in Hamburg and Dresden]… The resulting smoke and dust would block out sunlight for a period of many months, at first only in the northern hemisphere but later also in the southern hemisphere. Temperatures in many places would fall far below freezing, and much of the earth’s plant life would be killed. Animals and humans would then die of starvation.

I cannot recommend this book too highly. It has given me what I wanted to know and what I had no immediate access to: the complete picture of how we have lost our humanity and how we could regain it by ridding the Earth of these demonic weapons. ………

(Professor Avery is Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Copenhagen.

Nuclear Weapons: an Absolute Evil can be purchased at http://www.lulu.com/home or downloaded from http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/library/nuclear.pdf

Anne Baring is an author and a Jungian Analyst: www.annebaring.comhttps://youtu.be/TOsuJuHUgv4 on nuclear weapons) http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/9/13044/Nuclear-Weapons-an-Absolute-Evil

February 17, 2018 Posted by | resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The alarming state of France’s nuclear reactors

DD 3rd Feb 2018, Nuclear: the book that undermines the safety of French power plants. The JDD publishes preview extracts of Nuclear, immediate danger , a survey book that challenges the dogma of the safety and profitability of French power stations.

At the forefront of concerns: the alarming state of several tanks, which contain the heart of the reactors. “That’s it, we are there atthe age of 40. By 2028, 48 reactors [out of 58 in service in France] – those of the level of 900 MW and a part of the reactors of 1,300 MW – will reach this canonical age.

Since the mid-2000s, because of its financial difficulties that prevent it from investing in new means of production, EDF is asking for, calling for, even imposing, that all of its nuclear power stations be allowed to operate at the same time. beyond the age of forty, and prolonged by twenty years. […]

[Among the elements that will] determine the extension or the stop of the vats: do they have defects, of
origin or appeared with the time, which compromise the safety?

This is one of the biggest secrets of the nuclear industry in France. […] According to EDF, 10 tanks in operation have cracks that date from their manufacture. […] Tricastin, with its reactor 1, is the worst central of the country.

This reactor combines all the problems: defects under coating, no margin at break, and exceeding the fragility forecast at forty years! Not to mention the risk of catastrophic flooding in the event of an earthquake, as noted in September 2017 by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), which has automatically stopped the operation of the four reactors of the plant while waiting for EDF finally, work to reinforce the dike of the Donzère-Mondragon canal. The plant is below the canal, 6 m below the water.

Pierre-Franck Chevet, the president of the ASN, told us’ that in the event of a strong earthquake we could go to a situation, with four simultaneous reactors merging, which potentially looks like a Fukushima type accident. EDF has found the immediate stoppage of the plant to carry out this unjustified work, I find it justified. ” http://www.lejdd.fr/societe/nucleaire-le-livre-qui-met-a-mal-la-surete-des-centrales-francaises-3564173

February 7, 2018 Posted by | France, resources - print, safety | Leave a comment

the world’s nuclear build-up is a “chronicle of human madness” – DanielEllsberg

Doomsday Machine: US top-secret nuclear war plans exposed, NZ Herald, 7 Jan, 2018 , news.com.au, By: James Law A legendary whistleblower has exposed the US’s top-secret nuclear war plans that could bring humankind to extinction in an explosive new book.

In The Doomsday Machine, former White House nuclear war adviser Daniel Ellsberg argues that the world’s nuclear powers have had the ability to wipe all human beings off the planet since the 1960s — and current policies mean the risk of global annihilation are higher than ever today, reports news.com.au.

Mr Ellsberg became a whistleblowing legend in the ’70s when he leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and other newspapers. The trove of photocopied classified documents exposed that the US government had lied to the public and the Congress about its involvement in the Vietnam War. Mr Ellsberg’s leaking of the documents has been dramatised in the upcoming Steven Spielberg movie The Post, out on January 11.

But Mr Ellsberg’s photocopying of top-secret government files didn’t stop with the Pentagon Papers.

 In his new book, he reveals for the first time that he copied an additional 8000 pages of top-secret material from his work for the White House and the RAND Corporation, a military research and development business that advises the US armed forces.

Much of his work at the RAND Corporation involved drawing up a secret plan, under president Dwight Eisenhower, for a nuclear war.

Mr Ellsberg asserts that much of what he learnt of the dire threats US nuclear strategy posed in the late ’50s and early ’60s is still true today.

Mr Ellsberg became a whistleblowing legend in the ’70s when he leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and other newspapers. The trove of photocopied classified documents exposed that the US government had lied to the public and the Congress about its involvement in the Vietnam War. Mr Ellsberg’s leaking of the documents has been dramatised in the upcoming Steven Spielberg movie The Post, out on January 11.

But Mr Ellsberg’s photocopying of top-secret government files didn’t stop with the Pentagon Papers.

 In his new book, he reveals for the first time that he copied an additional 8000 pages of top-secret material from his work for the White House and the RAND Corporation, a military research and development business that advises the US armed forces.

Much of his work at the RAND Corporation involved drawing up a secret plan, under president Dwight Eisenhower, for a nuclear war.

Mr Ellsberg asserts that much of what he learnt of the dire threats US nuclear strategy posed in the late ’50s and early ’60s is still true today.

Mr Ellsberg writes that US nuclear plans have always been drawn up with the aim of striking first under all circumstances.

Successive presidents, Donald Trump included, have declined to change US military policy to “no first use”, which is a pledge not to use nuclear weapons unless first attacked by an enemy using its own nukes.

Mr Ellsberg argues that this creates an implied threat of nuclear attack on every state that might come into conflict with the US, such as North Korea, and only serves to encourage nuclear weapons proliferation.

“Indeed, it has encouraged proliferation in states hoping either to counter these American threats or to imitate them,” he writes.

“Of course, our insistence on maintaining an arsenal of thousands of weapons, many on alert, a quarter century into the post-Cold War era, nullifies our advice to most other states in the world that they ‘have no need’ or justification for producing a single nuclear weapon.”

One of the more alarming parts of the book is the revelation of what Mr Ellsberg calls “one of our highest national secrets” — that a number of people in the US have the delegated authority to pull the trigger on nuclear weapons.
“With respect to deliberate, authorised US strategic attacks, the system has always been designed to be triggered by a far wider range of events than the public has ever imagined,” Mr Ellsberg writes.

“Moreover, the hand authorised to pull the trigger on US nuclear forces has never been exclusively that of the president, nor even his highest military officials.”…….

Mr Ellsberg sums up by saying the world’s nuclear build-up is a “chronicle of human madness”.

“Most aspects of the US nuclear planning system and force readiness that became known to me half a century ago still exist today, as prone to catastrophe as ever but on a scale, as now known to environmental scientists, looming vastly larger than was understood then,” he writes.

“The present risks of the current nuclear era go far beyond the dangers of proliferation and non-state terrorism that have been the almost exclusive focus of public concern for the past generation and the past decade in particular.

“The hidden reality I aim to expose is that for over 50 years, all-out thermonuclear war — an irreversible, unprecedented and almost unimaginable calamity for civilisation and most life on Earth — has been … a catastrophe waiting to happen. And that is still true today.”   http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/books-magazines/books/chronicle-of-human-madness-doomsday-machine-exposed/news-story/d751e70985b7013c226128d03d4c8d3a

January 8, 2018 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

‘All out-nuclear war:’ a warning from Daniel Ellsberg

‘All out-nuclear war:’ The man who leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed government lies during the Vietnam War warns that the US is close to a nuclear Armageddon. 

Daniel Ellsberg revealed in new book that US is close to nuclear Armageddon 
Ellsberg, 86, leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1969 exposing government lies 
In his new book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Ellsberg details how easy nuclear bombs can be triggered on a false alarm
He also revealed that Donald Trump isn’t the only one who can order the use of nuclear weapons, but lower-level military commanders can too  

By Dailymail.com Reporter, 18 December 2017   The man who leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed government lies in 1969 has now revealed how close America is to a nuclear Armageddon.

Daniel Ellsberg’s 7,000-page report was the WikiLeaks disclosure of its time, a sensational breach of government confidentiality that shook Richard Nixon’s presidency and prompted a Supreme Court fight that advanced press freedom.

Now Ellsberg, 86, is back to warn America that a nuclear Armageddon may be on the horizon in his new book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

‘All out-nuclear war — an irreversible, unprecedented and almost unimaginable calamity for civilization and most life on earth — has been, like the disasters of Chernobyl, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, Fukushima Daiichi, and before these, World War I, a catastrophe waiting to happen, on a scale infinitely greater than any of these,’ writes Ellsberg in his new book. 

North Korea is trying to build a nuclear arsenal capable of attacking the US. This has heightened fears about Armageddon. The North has also released maps of its targets, as exemplified by the infamous photo, published in March 2013, that shows Kim Jong-un with a target map corresponding to cities and bases in the US mainland.

Last month, President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that allows the US to impose more sanctions and risks inflaming tension over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

North Korea then denounced Trump’s decision to relist it as a state sponsor of terrorism, calling the move a ‘serious provocation and violent infringement’.

In November, a report by the think-tank European Commission of Foreign Relations revealed a list of 15 North Korean targets.Manhattan, Guam, Kyoto and Tokyo are all earmarked by the North.

However, the report claims the nuclear threat carried by North Korea is a preemptive one, meaning Kim Jong-un would only launch nuclear war if he thought his nation was in danger.

But Ellsberg believes nuclear bombs can be triggered on a false alarm.

Nuclear bombs ‘are susceptible to being triggered on a false alarm, a terrorist action, unauthorized launch or a desperate decision to escalate,’ Ellsberg wrote.

‘They would kill billions of humans, perhaps ending complex life on earth. This is true even though the Cold War that rationalized their existence and hair-trigger status — and their supposed necessity to national security — ended 30 years ago.’

Many US citizens believe that only Trump can order the use of nuclear weapons. But Trump isn’t the only military commander authorized to launch nuclear weapons, according to the New York Post.Lower-level military commanders can act on their own if the US comes under attack and the president can’t respond in time.

‘There has to be delegation of authority and capability to launch retaliatory strikes, not only to officials outside the Oval Office but outside Washington too,’ Ellsberg wrote.

According to Ellsberg, the US nuclear plans at the time provided for all-out war.

For example, if the Soviet Union launched nuclear bombs against the US, American military officials would strike both the Soviet Union and China, because of an assumption the two countries were allies who would fight together.

A Marine general briefed on the plan at a government meeting in 1960 said it was immoral to kill 300 million Chinese in a war they did not start, according to the Post. But the plan stood.

‘It was my passion to change it,’ Ellsberg writes.

And Ellsberg did help write a new plan that allowed for the possibility of a more limited nuclear war during the Kennedy administration.

The US also adopted ‘fail-safe’ systems that allow the president to recall nuclear bombers in the event the White House wants to cancel a strike order.

But a president could mistakenly launch as many as 800 weapons in less than 10 minutes, according to the Arms Control Association.

And those warheads on missiles can not be called back.

Trump has added to the fear in the past few months with his rhetoric on Twitter and during press conferences. ………‘The risk that one city will be destroyed by a single (perhaps terrorist) weapon in the next year or the next decade cannot, unfortunately, be reduced to zero,’ Ellsberg writes.

‘But the danger of near-extinction of humanity — a continuous possibility for the past 65 years — can be reduced to zero by dismantlement of most existing weapons in both the United States and Russia.’The Pentagon Papers were prepared near the end of Lyndon Johnson’s term by the Defense Department and private foreign policy analysts, and was leaked primarily by Ellsberg, in a brash act of defiance that stands as one of the most dramatic episodes of whistleblowing in US history.

At the time, Ellsberg, who is a former Marine, gave secret government documents about the Vietnam War to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Those documents showed that the Johnson, Kennedy and prior administrations had been escalating the conflict in Vietnam while misleading Congress, the public and allies.

His leak to the newspapers also serves as the plot of the upcoming movie, The Post, which stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks………http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5188253/Daniel-Ellsberg-claims-close-nuclear-Armageddon.html

December 18, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Book: Righteous Anger: One Woman’s Action For Peace 1983-1993

 

 

North Somerset Times 3rd Dec 2017, A Yatton woman’s life at Greenham Common and opposing nuclear weapons has
been revealed in a new book. Righteous Anger: One Woman’s Action For
Peace 1983-1993 sheds light on Juley Howard’s life and she believes
fighting for just causes has never been more applicable with the world
‘facing an uncertain future’.
http://www.northsomersettimes.co.uk/news/life-of-juley-howard-at-greenham-common-to-be-revealed-in-book-1-5304283

December 4, 2017 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

The “apocalyptic twins” – nuclear and climate: new book – Climate Swerve

A Star Psychiatrist Swerves From Nuclear Armageddon To Climate Change, Robert Jay Lifton studied Nazi doctors and the threat of nuclear annihilation. But global warming changed everything. Huffington Post , Alexander C. KaufmanBusiness & Environment Reporter, HuffPost  27/11/2017 NEW YORK ― Robert Jay Lifton has spent his life trying to understand some of the most unfathomable milestones of the 20th century.
The famed psychiatrist and author started his career in the mid-1950s studying Chinese government-sponsored brainwashing, or “thought reform.” In the ’60s, he began interviewing survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, becoming obsessed with how the human mind copes with the possibility of nuclear annihilation. By the late ’70s, he turned his focus to the doctors responsible for the Nazi regime’s human experiments, men who occupy a uniquely revolting niche in popular culture.

At 91 years old, he has arrived at his most daunting subject yet: climate change. In his latest bookThe Climate Swerve, Lifton examines humanity’s struggle to understand what’s happening, how to deal with it, and why powerful people and institutions sabotage attempts to avoid destruction of the planet.

 “The climate threat is the most all-encompassing threat that we human beings face,” Lifton said in an interview last month. He walks hunched with a cane now, but sports a mop of long, wavy white hair. He peered through dark, thick-rimmed glasses out the window of a book-stacked office in his modest Upper West Side apartment, located just blocks from Trump Tower. “The nuclear threat is parallel to it in many ways … but the climate threat includes everything.”
In other parts of the world, little doubt exists over the similarities between nuclear weapons and climate change, which Lifton calls the “apocalyptic twins.” The Marshall Islands served as a U.S. testing site for atomic weapons throughout the 20th century. The Pacific archipelago nation bears the scars of that experience today, with entire islands vaporized in hydrogen bomb blasts and high rates of cancer linked to radioactive contamination. Now the country struggles with rapidly rising sea levels, which swallow large habitable areas, make storms more destructive, and salinate freshwater supplies necessary to farm breadfruit, a staple crop.

The phrase “climate swerve” gives name to the increasingly ubiquitous sense of awareness that global warming is happening, and humans have something to do with it……..

“I consider the climate serve a movement toward the recognition of climate danger and what I call species awareness ― awareness of ourselves as a single species in deep trouble,” Lifton said. “The swerve is toward that recognition, that consciousness.”………

I came upon the idea of malignant normality in studying Nazi doctors. If a Nazi doctor was assigned to Auschwitz, it was normal, it was expected of him that he would do the selections of Jews for the gas chamber. Take a leading role in the killing process in a reversal of healing.

With climate change and nuclear weapons, there is also a malignant normality. With nuclear weapons, it’s that the weapons should be stockpiled, maybe even used if necessary because that’s the way you carry through deterrence. Deterrence always carries a willingness to use them in certain conditions. So therefore we should be ready with our duck-and-cover drills to carry out a nuclear war, survive it, win it and carry on with life. These are absurdities that became part of nuclear normality…….

With climate, climate normality was in the everyday practice. We were born into climate normality. This is the world which we entered and in which we live now and which continues. If we allow it to continue as it is now, it will result in the end of human civilization within the present century. I came to the idea of malignant normality that has to be exposed for its malignancy. Intellectuals and professionals have a particular role, what I call witnessing professionals, bear witness to the malignancy, the danger, of what’s being put forward to us as normal and as the only way to behave. That’s happening more but we need a lot of additional expression of resistance on the part of intellectuals in protest and activism.

Bearing active witness against malignant normality in climate, nuclear threat or anything else, requires protest and activism. I believe in the combination of scholarship and activism and have tried to live by that in my own work…….http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/robert-lifton-climate_us_5a186457e4b0649480742c6b

November 27, 2017 Posted by | resources - print, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

An important new book “Sleepwalking to Armageddon”

To understand what drives America’s frighteningly militaristic stance and warmongering, follow the money. After the Cold War ended, US negotiators promised Mikhail Gorbachev that America would not enlarge NATO, and the world enjoyed a period of relative peace. But the United States reneged on its promise a few short years later: “No war” was bad for business! In 1997 Norman Augustine, the head of Lockheed Martin, traveled to Romania, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the other newly liberated Eastern European countries and asked: Do you want to join NATO and be a democracy? (Joining NATO doesn’t make you a democracy.) But in order to join NATO, these small countries had to spend billions of dollars to buy weapons.

That’s the dynamic that instigated NATO’s expansion from the end of the Cold War to the present time — right up to the border of Russia.

There Is a New Urgency to the Threat of Nuclear Annihilation  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/42458-there-is-a-new-urgency-to-the-threat-of-nuclear-annihilation?key=0   Thursday, November 02, 2017 By Helen CaldicottThe New Press | Book Excerpt In the following excerpt from her introduction to Sleepwalking to Armageddon, pioneering anti-nuclear activist Dr. Helen Caldicott explains why nuclear catastrophe is still a very real and pressing danger to humanity.

Despite Donald Trump’s vows to seal the US border and eradicate ISIS, the real terrorists of the world today are the United States and Russia. They possess 94 percent of the nuclear weapons on the planet, and they hold the rest of the world hostage to their provocative and self-serving foreign policies and misadventures. As a result, we are closer to nuclear war now, at the start of the twenty-first century, than we’ve ever been before, even during the height of the Cold War.

While we must be concerned about global warming — the other existential threat to the planet — it is imperative that we do not take our eyes off the nuclear threat. To do so is to risk sleepwalking to Armageddon.  Continue reading

November 3, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Nuclear History of Port Hope – Book “Blind Faith”

Blind Faith: The Nuclear History of Port Hope, Ontario http://www.mintpressnews.com/MyMPN/blind-faith-nuclear-history-port-hope-ontario/  by Dennis Riches  @DennisRiches Port Hope and Public Charity for a Corporate Citizen

Since the 1940s, nuclear weapons tests, power plant failures and uranium mining have left radioactive contamination at hundreds of sites around the world. Whether the contamination is from weapons tests, accidents, or just reckless routine operations, the story of the affected people unfolds in much the same way, as if it were a formulaic plot for a generic television soap opera. Communities that have been chemically contaminated follow much the same script, but radiation adds some distinctive elements to the situation.

Radiation is invisible, and it has always been imbued with a diverse range of magical powers in science fiction. Ironically, in a very real sense, radiation does make people invisible (the phenomenon is fully explained by Robert Jacobs in “Radiation Makes People Invisible”) [1]. Once groups of people have become victims of a radiological contamination, they are, in addition to being poisoned (or being traumatized by the possibility that they have been poisoned), marginalized and forgotten. Their traditions and communities are fragmented, and they are shamed into concealing their trauma. When contamination occurs, there is a strong impulse even among many victims to not admit that they have been harmed, for they know the fate that awaits them if they do.

The victims are helped in this denial by those who inflicted the damage on them because nuclear technology, both for weapons and electricity production, has always been treated as two sides of a single national security problem that requires secrecy and the occasional sacrifice. Its workings must be hidden from enemies, terrorists and citizens themselves. Thus governments have never been interested in helping their citizens investigate nuclear accidents and environmental damage left in the wake of nuclear development.

As secretive programs of nation states, nuclear complexes operate free of any governing body that could provide checks and balances. In this sense, they are a more intractable problem than the corporate villains that are occasionally held in check by government supervision. The American tobacco industry was eventually forced into retreat by government, and it had to pay enormous damages to state governments for health care costs, but the nuclear weapons and energy complexes still operate free of any higher power that could restrain or abolish them.

Thus it is that hibakusha (the Japanese word for radiation victims) become invisible. When a new group of people become victims, such as in Fukushima in 2011, they feel that they have experienced a unique new kind of horror. For them, for their generation, it is new, but for those who know the historical record, it is a familiar replay of an old story. The people of Fukushima should know by now that they are bit players who have been handed down a tattered script from the past.

A case in point is “Blind Faith,” the superb 1981 book by journalist Penny Sanger, about the small irradiated Canadian town of Port Hope on the shores of Lake Ontario. (See the timeline at the end of this article) [2] In the 1970s it faced (and more often failed to face) the toxic legacy of processing first radium, then uranium for nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.

In a saner world this book would not be out of print and forgotten. It would be a classic text known by everyone who has ever had to share his town with a dangerous corporate citizen. Then there would be no surprises when a nuclear reactor explodes or a cancer cluster appears somewhere new. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the victims themselves fall over each other in a rush to excuse their abuser, beg for a continuation of jobs and tax revenue, and threaten the minority who try to break the conspiracy of silence.

On the back cover of the 1981 paperback edition of “Blind Faith” there was an endorsement by the late great Canadian writer Farley Mowat, who passed away in the spring of 2014:

Penny Sanger has written a fascinating and fearsome account of the emotional turmoil that engulfs a small town when it discovers that its major industry is a threat to the health of its citizens. This is a classic account of how economic power enables industry to ride roughshod over those who must depend on it for their daily bread.

Although I wrote above that “Blind Faith” illustrates universal truths about what happens to communities contaminated with radiation, there are always unique aspects of the situation that come into play. In this case, we see the extreme complacency and obliviousness of Canadian society to the role that the country played in the development of nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

The uranium refinery in Port Hope was a key element in the Manhattan Project. It was the main facility for refining uranium ores from the Congo and northern Canada. However, as a subordinate nation in the American-led war, Canada just had to go along in complete secrecy. As was the case even in the US, there was never any debate in public or in elected legislatures. Canada was just taking orders and didn’t have to feel responsible. Canadians are still largely ignorant about their complicity in making the bombs that fell on Japan, as they are about being one of the sources of the uranium that was in the reactors of Fukushima Daiichi.

Another factor in our sense of irresponsibility is the comfortable delusion that all bad things are done by the evil empire south of the border. We’re the good guys, with universal health care and multiculturalism……..

The Port Hope refinery began operations in the 1930s to produce radium from uranium ore. The ore came from the recently discovered rich deposits in the Port Radium mine on the shore of Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories (previous post on this topic here). This mine would later become one of the primary sources of uranium for the first atomic weapons, but in the 1930s radium was the only product that had value for its use in making luminescent paint and medical applications.

By the 1930s it was well understood that radium and uranium mines were extremely dangerous. The high lung cancer rates of miners in Czechoslovakia had been noted for a long time, but there were others who failed to acknowledge any connection. Marie Curie died in 1934 from aplastic anemia, and she never acknowledged that her numerous health problems had been related to the vials of radium that she carried around in her pocket or perhaps to the unshielded x-ray machines she worked with. [3] Today her diaries and papers still have to be stored in a lead box.

Because there was no consensus on the dangers of radium by the early pioneers (DNA wasn’t even understood until the 1950s), there were few safety controls in place when radium became an industrial product. Radium paint workers got sick and died for mysterious reasons, as did workers in processing plants like the Eldorado Mining and Refining facility in Port Hope. Almost nothing was done to protect workers or properly dispose of the waste product. The wastes were isolated in a dump, but when that became problem, the dirt was sold as fill to unsuspecting (or unscrupulous) buyers and used at construction sites all over town.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that a few citizens of Port Hope started to notice radioactive wastes turning up in various locations. This new awareness was the beginning of bitter social divides that would be familiar to anyone who has followed what has happened in Fukushima prefecture since 2011. The enormous implications of the necessary cleanup forced political and economic powers to downplay or ignore the dangers, and ostracize anyone who dared to threaten real estate values and tarnish the image of the community. The mayor even boasted of what a great role the town had played in the Cold War by refining uranium so that America could beat back the Soviet threat, as if the contamination had been worth it.

There was a minimal recognition of the need to do something about the worst hot spots, to placate critics and relocate residents in the worst danger. Everyone agreed, for example, that something had to be done to clean up a contaminated school, but for the most part the problem was denied in favor of keeping the town’s biggest tax payer and employer satisfied. At the same time, the federal government was not motivated to do anything that would set back the expansion of the nation’s nuclear energy program. The Darlington and Pickering nuclear plants were built nearby in this era on the shores of Lake Ontario.

By this time, Eldorado was no longer selling uranium for American nuclear weapons, but it had become a major player in the uranium fuel market. It would provide the fuel for the large fleet of CANDU reactors that Ontario was building, and by the 1980s Eldorado was privatized, turned into Cameco, and was then selling about 80% of its output to the US where the uranium was enriched for use in light water reactors.

Thus a full acknowledgment of the extent of the problem—the cost of cleanup and the health impacts—would have jeopardized the refinery’s role as a major supplier in a growing nuclear energy industry. Eldorado might have seemed like a wealthy giant to outsiders, but the uranium business was perilous and changing rapidly. Just as the public was becoming aware of the extent of the pollution, Eldorado was stuck in long-term contracts that were a bargain for its customers but disastrous in a time of soaring costs.

The situation presented especially difficult obstacles for opponents because Eldorado was a crown (publicly owned) corporation. One obstacle was secrecy. Since 1942, the operations of Eldorado have been state secrets, and much remains locked up in archives that are yet to be opened to historians. [4]

The other problem was in the fact that the government had no interest in investigating its own corporation, and because Eldorado was a federal crown corporation, the province of Ontario had no authority to investigate it for environmental crimes. Thus complaints from citizens ran into this dead end.

Similar situations in the United States, such as at the Rocky Flats plutonium pit factory, involved the Department of Energy hiring large defense contractors like Rockwell to manage the plant. This meant there was a possibility the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations could act if enough public pressure were applied and evidence of crimes became apparent. As much as the American nuclear weapons complex was a monstrous crime against nature, there is at least something redeeming in the fact that the American system of government consisted of various institutions that could sometimes keep the others in check. In the dying days of operations at Rocky Flats in 1989, the EPA and the FBI raided the facility which was then operated by Rockwell under contract for the Department of Energy. The US government essentially raided and prosecuted itself. [5]

Unfortunately, no such checks and balances existed in Canada’s nuclear industry. The federal government and its crown corporation had a monolithic grip on the historical records and on decisions about environmental safety and health related to radiation. There was no outside force that had legal authority to prosecute them and force them to divulge information.

There are some further details in “Blind Faith” that stand out in my memory. Some are unique to the Port Hope story, while others are typical of stories of other irradiated and poisoned communities.

At one point, a doctor in a nearby town grew alarmed at the number cancer cases that appeared in his patients from Port Hope. He tried to bring the issue to the attention of health authorities, but was slandered and opposed by city officials to a degree that he found alarming. He had foolishly thought that his efforts to speak up for public health would be appreciated.

Instead, city officials made a pathetic attempt to sue him for defaming Port Hope, and when that immediately failed, they complained to the provincial medical association. They had thought that this would succeed in getting him stripped of his license to practice, but they were quickly rebuffed by the medical association that found no fault in a doctor expressing his opinion about a serious public health concern. Such was the sophistication of the strategies of the town fathers as they floundered for ways to preserve the tax base.

Eldorado and the federal government, and even the Workmen’s Compensation Board were equally combative in the lawsuits that former workers eventually managed to bring to court. Lung cancer was the only health issue that was admitted for consideration in the lawsuits, and once it became a legal battle, all ethical considerations went by the wayside. It became a matter of winning at all costs, of admitting to absolutely no wrongdoing no matter how absurd the defendants had to appear. The government lawyers played hardball, abandoning any thought that the government corporation owed anything to the citizens who had lost their health working on a project so essential for national security. The government side was not too ashamed to engage in extreme forms of legalistic hair-splitting.

For example, the victims were forced to prove their exposure, but everyone involved knew that the only party that had the information were the defendants, and Eldorado did its best to conceal it. One victim was denied compensation because the records showed his cumulative exposure was 10.8 working level months. Expert witnesses were brought in to say that the threshold of danger to health was 12 working level months.

Another segment of the book that stands out is that in which Penny Sanger was able to discover that at one time, before the contamination was known by townspeople, the Canadian military had used Port Hope as a training ground for operating in the aftermath of nuclear warfare. The military knew what the citizens of the town didn’t know at the time: there were sizzling hot spots of various sizes all over town, so it made for an ideal training ground for soldiers who would have to map radiation levels and move through contaminated terrain after a nuclear attack. After the training exercise, they might have bothered to tell the locals about what they were living with, but the contamination remained a secret until residents started to figure it out for themselves.

As the years of legal struggles and activism dragged on, there were signs that the government was tacitly admitting to the scale of the problem, even if it refused to accept legal responsibility for health damages. The management of Eldorado was routed, and it would eventually be privatized and turned into Cameco. The refinery became the object of pork barrel politics when the federal Liberals came back to power in 1980. They announced that the more dangerous uranium trioxide operation would be relocated to Blind River, a town in the north that had voted Liberal. Eldorado wanted the refinery kept in place close to markets. (I wonder if anyone saw the ironic symbolism of progress in the names; going from hope to blind—a fiction writer couldn’t have come up with anything better).

One stand-out account is that of a widow whose husband, a long-time Eldorado worker, had died of lung cancer at age 50. He had worked at Eldorado for over twenty years, during the era when workplace monitoring and standards were non-existent. Her husband was no longer there to say whether he too was “philosophical” about it and “couldn’t be bitter about it” like his wife and his daughter claimed. The widow said that in spite of her husband’s shortened life, they were grateful for the good jobs and university education that the children were able to get. Thanks to Eldorado, they had come up in the world.

Penny Sanger passed no judgment on this thinking, but I find it to be a rather disturbinging example of working man’s Stockholm Syndrome. The victim has internalized the values of the captor, and lost self-esteem and critical thinking skills in the process. The bereaved family shrugs that they “can’t be bitter about it.” They’ve internalized the value that children have to go to university to live worthwhile lives, and it’s alright if parents have to kill themselves to accomplish this goal.

It seemed to never occur to any of the Port Hope boosters that there were dozens of similar towns in rural Ontario that had found ways to survive without hosting toxic industries. I know a family of Polish immigrants who landed in Port Hope in the 1960s, and they managed to get by without working for Cameco. The children had the sense to leave town after high school when they saw their friends going straight to grim lives working with the yellowcake down at the plant. One of them managed somehow to get a couple of university degrees after he left town.

This lack of imagination among the terminally hopeful applies more widely. Not only do company towns fail to imagine less toxic ways to live, but large nations also fail to imagine new paradigms for energy and economic systems.

Port Hope’s troubles with its radioactive legacy didn’t end with the privatization of the refinery and other varied forms of resolution that came about in the 1980s. A cleanup was done in the 1980s, but twenty years later hot spots were still turning up, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission finally admitted the extent of the problem and committed taxpayer funds to a billion-dollar decontamination project which is presently underway—an amount that is, ironically, about the same as the budget for the new Chernobyl sarcophagus under construction now. [6][7]

There is further irony in the fact that while the Fukushima and Chernobyl exclusion zones have become the famous global icons of radiation-affected communities, the Port Hope disaster has no place in Canada’s national consciousness. [8] There is little public awareness of the history, and the present billion-dollar decontamination project has received scant media attention and no public alarm over the high cost.

Opposition parties in Ontario have focused in recent years on stoking citizen outrage over cancelled plans to build gas-powered electric generating stations. That loss was comparatively little, amounting to “only” a few hundred million dollars. The same can be said of the province’s plan to spend $20 billion or more to refurbish nuclear power plants to operate them beyond their originally planned expiry dates. This issue receives little attention, as none of the major political parties wish to use it to stoke debate with rivals. Nuclear energy has vanished from political discourse.

Meanwhile, Cameco has continued to practice its philosophy of good corporate citizenship by funneling all its uranium sales through Switzerland in order to avoid Canadian taxes. The company is in an ongoing legal battle with Canada Revenue Agency, while it has warned stockholders it may owe as much as $850 million in back taxes[9]. Note that this amount falls a bit short of the cost of the decontamination project in Port Hope, but it would provide a big chunk of it.

 

“Blind Faith” is available on a website dedicated to the history of Port Hope. Since it is out of print and over thirty years old, I asked the author if she would allow its free distribution as a pdf file. She gave her permission, but of course the common sense rules apply. If you want to sell the book, ask the author for permission. If you redistribute it free, in whole or in part, do so with proper citation.Read it in a web browser:
http://www.porthopehistory.com/blindfaith/blindfaith.htmFree download (permitted by author):
Penny Sanger, Blind Faith” (pdf) (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1981), 135 pages.http://www.mintpressnews.com/MyMPN/blind-faith-nuclear-history-port-hope-ontario/

October 9, 2017 Posted by | Canada, environment, Reference, resources - print | Leave a comment

A radioactive ‘Plutocene’ – more dangerous than the Anthropocene?

We may survive the Anthropocene, but need to avoid a radioactive ‘Plutocene’ The Conversation, On January 27, 2017, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the arms of its doomsday clock to 2.5 minutes to midnight – the closest it has been since 1953. Meanwhile, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels now hover above 400 parts per million.

Why are these two facts related? Because they illustrate the two factors that could transport us beyond the Anthropocene – the geological epoch marked by humankind’s fingerprint on the planet – and into yet another new, even more hostile era of our own making.

My new book, titled The Plutocene: Blueprints for a post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth, describes the future world we are on course to inhabit, now that it has become clear that we are still busy building nuclear weapons rather than working together to defend our planet.

I have coined the term Plutocene to describe a post-Anthropocene period marked by a plutonium-rich sedimentary layer in the oceans. The Anthropocene is very short, having begun (depending on your definition) either with the Industrial Revolution in about 1750, or with the onset of nuclear weapons and sharply rising greenhouse emissions in the mid-20th century. The future length of the Plutocene would depend on two factors: the half-life of radioactive plutonium-239 of 24,100 years, and how long our CO₂ will stay in the atmosphere – potentially up to 20,000 years.

During the Plutocene, temperatures would be much higher than today. Perhaps they would be similar to those during the Pliocene (2.6 million to 5.3 million years ago), when average temperatures were about 2℃ above those of pre-industrial times, or the Miocene (roughly 5.3 million to 23 million years ago), when average temperatures were another 2℃ warmer than that, and sea levels were 20–40m higher than today.

Under these conditions, population and farming centres in low coastal zones and river valleys would be inundated, and humans would be forced to seek higher latitudes and altitudes to survive – as well as potentially having to contend with the fallout of nuclear conflict. The most extreme scenario is that evolution takes a new turn – one that favours animals best equipped to withstand heat and radiation……….

If global warming were to reach 4℃, as suggested by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate advisor to the German government, the resulting amplification effects on the climate would pose an existential threat both to nature and human civilisation.

Barring effective sequestration of carbon gases, and given amplifying feedback effects from the melting of ice sheets, warming of oceans, and drying out of land surfaces, Earth is bound to reach an average of 4℃ above pre-industrial levels within a time frame to which numerous species, including humans, may hardly be able to adapt. The increase in evaporation from the oceans and thereby water vapour contents of the atmosphere leads to mega-cyclones, mega-floods and super-tropical terrestrial environments. Arid and semi-arid regions would become overheated, severely affecting flora and fauna habitats.

The transition to such conditions is unlikely to be smooth and gradual, but may instead feature sharp transient cool intervals called “stadials”. Increasingly, signs of a possible stadial are being seen south of Greenland………..

Mounting our defence

Defending ourselves from global warming and nuclear disaster requires us to do two things: stop fighting destructive wars, and start fighting to save our planet. There is a range of tactics we can use to help achieve the second goal, including large-scale seagrass cultivationextensive biochar development, and restoring huge swathes of the world’s forests.

Space exploration is wonderful, but we still only know of one planet that supports life (bacteria possibly excepted). This is our home, and there is currently little prospect of realising science fiction’s visions of an escape from a scorched Earth to some other world.

Yet still we waver. Many media outlets operate in apparent denial of the connection between global warming and extreme weather. Meanwhile, despite diplomatic progress on nuclear weapons, the Sword of Damoclescontinues to hang over our heads, as 14,900 nuclear warheads sit aimed at one another, waiting for accidental or deliberate release.

If the clock does strike nuclear midnight, and if we don’t take urgent action to defend our planet, life as we know it will not be able to continue. Humans will survive in relatively cold high latitudes and altitudes. A new cycle would begin. https://theconversation.com/we-may-survive-the-anthropocene-but-need-to-avoid-a-radioactive-plutocene-84763

September 30, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017 now available

A status report on a troubled nuclear industry http://thebulletin.org/status-report-troubled-nuclear-industry11130, By John Mecklin, 21 Sept 17

This year’s version of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) is out, and its message is not a happy one for nuclear power proponents. As former Tennessee Valley Authority chairman S. David Freeman notes in a foreword, “The report makes clear, in telling detail, that the debate is over. Nuclear power has been eclipsed by the sun and the wind. These renewable, free-fuel sources are no longer a dream or a projection—they are a reality [and] are replacing nuclear as the preferred choice for new power plants worldwide.”

As in previous years, the report—coordinated by Paris-based independent nuclear consultant Mycle Schneider—provides an almost-daunting array of data on almost every aspect of nuclear power plant construction and operation. This year’s report also includes an assessment of what it calls “the financial crisis of the nuclear sector,” a status update on the Fukushima nuclear situation, and a chapter that compares investments in, capacity of, and generation from nuclear, solar, and wind energy installations on a worldwide basis.

Doubtless, nuclear power supporters will argue against some (and perhaps many) of the conclusions that Schneider and co-author Antony Froggatt express in the report. But the data the report presents—data underlying the Global Nuclear Power Database, an interactive visualization that the WNISR developed for the Bulletin—are truly comprehensive. Anyone interested in nuclear power will likely find the report worth at least a first look, and probably a second and third.

September 23, 2017 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

Books about the big issues of today – in the Trump era

Worth reading in the Trump era: Nuclear nightmares, authoritarianism and climate change, The Conversation, MV Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia August 25, 2017 Editor’s note: The Conversation Canada asked our academic authors to share some recommended reading. In this instalment, MV Ramana, a nuclear physicist and disarmament expert who wrote about small nuclear reactors, looks at a mix of new and recent books on nuclear disaster, weapons, authoritarianism and climate change.

My Nuclear Nightmare  Leading Japan Through the Fukushima Disaster to a Nuclear-Free FutureBy Naoto Kan. Translated from Japanese by Jeffrey S. Irish. (Non-fiction. Hardcover, 2017. Cornell University Press.)………..Naoto Kan was the prime minister of Japan during this critical period [of the Fukushima nuclear disaster] and this book, published in Japanese in 2012 and newly available in English, offers his inside perspective of how events unfolded at the highest levels.

Kan reveals how little even powerful individuals and institutions like him and the government can do in the face of a major nuclear accident. If a society like Japan that is so well-prepared for natural disasters like earthquakes is unable to deal with a severe nuclear accident like Fukushima, there is little doubt that no country would have been able to do much better.

Kan’s account is testimony of the prevalence of the safety myth: the comforting but illusionary idea that technology can prevent nuclear accidents. Sadly, that myth continues to prevail not just in Japan but in most countries that are operating or constructing nuclear power plants.

Command and Control     Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of SafetyBy Eric Schlosser (Non-fiction. Paperback, 2014. Penguin.) ……..The Sept. 18, 1980, incident was just one of the many close calls involving nuclear weapons that the world has experienced. Going through these experiences, it’s hard to attribute the fact that there have been no accidental nuclear explosions to anything but blind luck.

Eric Schlosser, an award-winning American journalist and author, has produced a very readable account of accidents and near-misses, as well as the decades-long history of trying to control these risks through technological and institutional fixes.

Command and Control reminds us of the extraordinary danger posed by the large nuclear arsenals possessed by many countries around the world — most importantly, the United States and Russia…..

Unmaking the Bomb  A Fissile Material Approach to Nuclear Disarmament and NonproliferationBy Harold A. Feiveson, Alexander Glaser, Zia Mian, Frank N. von Hippel (Non-fiction. Hardcover, 2014. MIT Press.)…….. In contrast to proposals for nuclear disarmament that focus on diplomacy and international relations, this book by four physicists at Princeton University (my former colleagues) offers a more technical road map for nuclear disarmament: Namely, through the control and elimination of highly enriched uranium and plutonium — the fissile materials that are the essential ingredients of all nuclear weapons.

The connection is laid out in the introduction of the book: “If we are to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons, we must deal with the dangers posed by the production, stockpiling, and use of fissile materials. Unmaking the bomb requires eliminating the fissile materials that make nuclear weapons possible.”…….

The Rise of Hindu Authoritarianism  Secular Claims, Communal Realities  By Achin Vanaik (Non-fiction. Hardcover, 2017. Verso Books.)

The last few years have seen victories by right wing, authoritarian political parties and leaders in multiple countries. The same phenomenon in India, the “world’s largest democracy,” should be — and is — cause for worry…….. The Rise of Hindu Authoritarianism not only explores in great detail the growing communalization of the political arena and civil society, it also delineates what an oppositional and transformative project might look like.

The Great Derangement Climate Change and the Unthinkable  By Amitav Ghosh (Non-fiction. Cloth, 2016. University of Chicago Press.)…… climate change has appeared only sparingly in the world of fiction and literature…..Reading this book makes it clear, at least to me, that climate change is not a problem that can be dealt with through some clever technological inventions or some neat-looking financial instrument, but will require us to fundamentally reshape our economic, political and international structures.https://theconversation.com/worth-reading-in-the-trump-era-nuclear-nightmares-authoritarianism-and-climate-change-83024

August 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, resources - print | Leave a comment

Haunting photographs of 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki

If you’re against war, get this book: The photos will haunt you http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201708100035.html By SONOKO MIYAZAKI/ Staff Writer August 10, 2017 A boy standing at rigid attention with the dead body of his infant brother strapped to his back at a crematorium in Nagasaki is one of searing images of the city’s destruction after the U.S. atomic bombing in 1945.

In a book published Aug. 9, Kimiko Sakai, the widow of Joe O’Donnell, the photographer who snapped the image, tells the story of her husband’s life work through photographs he shot in Japan in the immediate aftermath of the war.

Aug. 9 marked the 72nd anniversary of the bombing as well as the 10th anniversary of O’Donnell’s death at the age of 85.

The 192-page book, titled “Kamisama no Finder: Moto-Beijugun Cameraman no Isan” (God’s finder: the legacy of a former war photographer), was published by the Tokyo-based Word of Life Press Ministries.

After Japan’s surrender, O’Donnell, who was attached to the U.S. Marine Corps, traveled to Hiroshima, Nagasaki and other Japanese cities to document the wartime devastation. He stayed in Japan from September 1945 to March 1946.

He took 300 or so photographs for his private use.

He believed it was wrong to drop the atomic bombs after witnessing the sufferings of the victims.

But O’Donnell didn’t exhibit these pictures for decades because of prevailing U.S. sentiment that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki hastened the end of World War and saved many American lives.

O’Donnell later decided to exhibit the photographs in the hope they would help advance the anti-war movement.

The catalyst for this was when he gazed on a sculpture evoking Jesus on the cross and engulfed by flames at a church in Kentucky in 1989. The life-size work, titled “Once,” was created for the repose of the tens of thousands of people killed in that atomic bombings, with photos of victims pasted all over the body. O’Donnell was stunned.

After that, O’Donnell until his death held exhibitions of his photos in the United States and Japan to convey the horrors of nuclear war.

The image of the boy at the crematorium stayed with him. O’Donnell recalled that the boy stared motionless as bodies were being burned and he awaited his turn. He also noticed that the boy’s lips were caked with blood because he was biting them so hard, although no blood spilled.

Sakai agreed to a proposal to publish the book after she was contacted by the publisher two years or so ago. Sakai, who lives in Tennessee, said she accepted out of respect for her husband’s commitment to the anti-war cause.

“My husband photographed his subjects as fellow human beings, not as an occupier,” she said in a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun.

Asked if she had a message for those working to rid the world of nuclear arsenals, she said, “Just ‘not to forget,’ which is important.”

August 11, 2017 Posted by | history, Japan, Reference, resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Review of book on Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

Review: Crisis without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, Helen Caldicott et al.http://www.sanfranciscoreviewofbooks.com/2017/05/book-review-crisis-without-end-medical.html 4.0 out of 5 stars Vital Detailed Truth, Lacks Compelling Visualization, July 9, 2015 This review was written by Robert David Steele and has been reposted with permission. The original page can be found here.   This book stems from a conference and is a very nicely presented double-spaced precis of the world-class contributions from the conference.

Highlights:
HELEN CALDICOTT QUOTE (3): The Fukushima disaster is not over and will not end for many millenia. The radioactive fallout, which has covered vast swaths of Japan, will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years.”
NAOTO KAN QUOTE (19): Considering the risk of losing half our land and evacuating half our population, my conclusion is that not having nuclear power plants is the safest energy policy.
DAVID LOCHBAUM: Fukushima was result of multiple foreseen but dismissed hazards. The cost of the recommended safety measures would have been a tiny fraction of the final cost of the total disaster that will be adding costs for a century into the future.
HISAKO SAKIYAMA: Virtually all hospitals included in today’s nuclear reaction plans are themselves so close as to be rendered victims themselves in the event of any real nuclear disaster.
STEVEN STARR: 13% of the Japanese mainland has been contaminated with cesium-137 while the Pacific Ocean and its seafood have been widely contaminated.
AKIO MATSUMURA: Fukushima could explode again and double-down on threat to humanity. Meanwhile, US stands silent, Japanese government is covering everything up, and no reporters, scientists, or other governments are demanding any form of transparency.
TIMOTHY MOUSSEAU: Roughly a third of wildlife disappears from radiated areas — but the studies are not being done or if done not published because no government, no university, no foundtion, wants to pay for bad news.
ALEXEY YABLOKOV: WHO, IAEA, ICRC have falsified just about everything about Fukushima specifically and nuclear risks generally.
ARNOLD GUNDERSEN: Fukushima was made in USA, with GE knowingly repressing risk information, cutting corners, and failing to provide all of the safety features known to be needed (including provision for a 46 foot tsunami correctly forecast).
ROBERT ALVAREZ: Because US has dithered on a “permanent” nuclear waste solution, the “temporary” pools are now holding five times their planned capacity. A standard US nuclear storage pool fire would be sixty times worse than Chernobyl.
KEVIN CAMPS: CIA helped fund the post-war politicians in Japan, and part of CIA’s mandate was to ensure they all bought into nuclear power.
CINDY FOLKERS: US manipulating radiation standards in post-Fukishima era to allow twelve times more radiation poisoning of children than now allowed in Japan, and to explicitly cover-up the radiation in agricultural and seafood products that would otherwise sharply constrain those markets.
DAVID FREEMAN: Risks aside, nuclear power is unaffordable. QUOTE (217): Even with the latest improvements, the cost overrun is abvout one or two billion dollars.” Nuclear power is now an “existential threat” but the public is completely ignorant of the fact that they have 30 years of nuclear waste piled up in their backyard waiting to be set on fire.
HELEN CALDICOTT: Absent public education, we appear bent on self-destruction.
The book could have been improved with a bibliography and some visualization, but I certainly found it very informative and troubling. In combination, public ignorance, government and corporation corruption, and complacency among academics, media, and think tanks, have allowed the creation of an aging nuclear industry certain to explode in our face again.

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, resources - print | Leave a comment