Nuclear Weapons: The Nagasaki-Livermore National Lab Connection

Outing California’s Doomsday Factory – ‘The Smartest Place on Earth”

Kissinger, Perry, Schultz, Chomsky, Castro, Caldicott,and Ellsberg all agree –nuclear weapons are obsolete, sooo 20th century, and have got to go.

By James Heddle, EON

It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing….
Dwight D. Eisenhower

General LeMay: The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb.
Reporter: You mean that, sir? Without the Russians and the atomic bomb?
General LeMay: The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war.

Major General Curtis E LeMay, U.S. Army Air Forces
Sept. 20, 1945, press conference

The Way It Really Happened
Contrary to widespread popular belief and official U.S. propaganda, there was no military need to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Neither densely populated city was an important center for the Japanese, and Nagasaki was chosen from the B-list of targets because the A-class target-for-the-day was clouded over and the plane was running out of fuel.

But, in the minds of two key decision-makers, President Harry S. Truman and his close friend and advisor, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, there was a geostrategic & political consideration that, for them, overrode any all others – including moral, legal and humanitarian ones.

The Japanese were already making overtures for a face-saving surrender that would protect the Emperor, who they considered divine. The US was demanding an unconditional surrender.

The Russian army, fresh from its victory over the Nazis in Europe, was scheduled to shortly invade Japanese-occupied Manchuria and so ensure Japan’s speedy defeat.

A scheduled Big Three conference of Stalin, Churchill and Truman – to carve up war-torn Europe and the defeated Third Reich – had already been postponed by Truman.

He was waiting for something.

The historic Potsdam Conference finally did go ahead, with US negotiators feeling more than a bit vulnerable before the victorious Soviets. Truman and his team were not looking forward to going up against the formidable Joseph Stalin.

Then, with the Conference already in full swing, word came from the Manhattan Project that its atomic bomb test at Alamogordo, New Mexico, code-named ‘Trinity,’ had been a success. Witnesses reported that Truman was suddenly ‘like a changed man.’

That was because Truman and Byrnes had realized that now –as they put it, with the bomb in their pocket – they could really get tough with Uncle Joe in carving up the spoils.

The Die is Set: GeoPolitics Trumps Ethics
The Potsdam Conference was held from July 16th, 1945 to August 2nd 1945. Though they had once urged Stalin to commit to invade Manchuria and finally defeat Japan, now, in order to increase their post-war clout, Byrnes and Truman wanted to beat him to the knock-out punch.

That was why, less than a week after Potsdam had ended, against the advice of many of his top diplomatic and military officials, Truman, with Byrnes’ urging, gave the order for Nagasaki and Hiroshima to be obliterated. Not from military necessity, or to ‘save American lives’ – as the official story went – but to demonstrate and establish America’s hegemonic power in the post-war world.

There was also a secondary purpose. The Hiroshima bomb used a uranium-based detonator. The Nagasaki bomb’s detonator used plutonium. The destruction of the two cities and the mass murder of their populations was a test to compare the effectiveness of detonation methods.

Marchers call for an end to nuclear weapons and war. EON photo.

The complex facts of this story are laid out in the definitive book on the subject, celebrated historian Gar Alperovitz’ meticulously documented 1995 opus The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb. In it Alperovitz also examines the question of, as he puts it, “how the American people came to believe what most still believe about the bombing…: ’To save perhaps a million lives by making an invasion unnecessary.’”

“It is an awful responsibility that has come to us,” Truman read somewhat awkwardly to a contemporary newsreel camera.

“We thank God that it has come to us instead of to our enemies, and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes.” [‘Truman thanks God for the atomic bomb’ ]

“In Hiroshima,” writes Felicity Arbuthnot, “a millisecond after 8.16 a.m., on 6th August 1945, the temperature at the core of the hundreds of feet wide fireball reached 50,000,000 degrees. Flesh burned two miles distant from it’s outer parameters. 80,000 people were killed or mortally injured instantly.”
http://www.globalresearch.ca/hiroshima-a-criminal-enterprise-from-which-nothing-has-been-learned/5540173

According to Wikipedia,

“The atomic bombings killed 90,000–146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki

Truman and Byrnes were not evil men, but they embodied what Hannah Arendt was later to term – in relation to Nuremburg war criminals – “the banality of evil.” In their own minds, like many deluded decision-makers then and now, they believed they were acting in the best interests of their country. But their misguided decisions unleashed a curse upon the world that humanity will be dealing with far into the deep future – if there is one.

Unintended consequences were immediate and far-reaching. As former Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was later to regretfully observe, dropping the bombs destroyed the relative parity, trust and cooperation that had developed between the three allies and their leaders in the course of the war.

With the partitioning of Europe in response to Washington’s new-found aggressiveness , the Soviet ‘Iron Curtain’ went up, and soon the Cold War and the first nuclear arms race began, with its attendant atmospheric nuclear tests by all three former allies, poisoning the lands and lives of indigenous peoples from the deserts, to the tundra, to the Pacific Islands.

After the massive carnage and horrific suffering caused by the dropping of the atomic bomb, it was an amazing triumph of America’s public relations and propaganda machine, when it went on to persuade the recently bombed Japanese into embracing nuclear power, and then made them into a market for American nuclear technology – including the GE Mark I reactors, known to be faulty, that melted down and blew up at Fukushima.

Internationally celebrated activist-artist Mayumi Oda came from her home in Hawaii to join the protest and share how the atomic bombing of Japan changed her life. EON photo.

The 21st Century’s New Nuclear Arms Race
Fast forward to today when – despite his famous Apr 5, 2009 Prague claim that America ‘as the first nation to use the atomic bomb’ would lead the way to ‘a world free of nuclear weapons’ – 2-term President Obama has committed to a $1 trillion ‘life extension program’ for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

That pricy upgrade will include the production and deployment of the new B61-12 guided nuclear missile. Termed a ‘Long Distance Stand-off Weapon,’ the B61-12 can be air-launched from a plane flying far from its target, has maneuverable fins, can burrow deep into the earth, and sports 4 different dial-able megaton ‘yields’ – all of which, in the minds of American war planners, makes it ‘more usable’ in a tactical first strike scenario. [see: Andrei Akulov’s ‘B61: US Nuclear Weapon Nobody Needs’]

Recently, in an apparent bid to slightly burnish the out-going President’s ‘legacy,’ the Obama administration floated a test balloon about adopting a ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons policy. The idea was hailed by abolitionists. Even the New York Times editorialized in support.

The Times even went so far as advocating elimination of one leg of the ‘nuclear triad,’ land-based missiles.

Phasing out land-based missiles and shifting to a reliance on submarines and bombers would save about $100 billion over the next three decades. The elimination of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons would save billions more.

President Obama could begin the phaseout of land-based missiles before he left office by instructing the Department of Defense to remove 550 weapons from the operationally deployed category and transfer them to long-term storage, thereby reducing the operationally deployed inventory to about 1,000 strategic warheads. These missiles are surplus weapons no longer needed for deterrence.

A no-first-use policy would also reduce the risks of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. By scrapping the vulnerable land-based missile force, any need for launching on warning disappears. Strategic bombers can be sent aloft on warning of an apparent incoming attack, which may or may not be a false alarm, and stay up until the situation clarifies.

Strategic submarines are extremely survivable and exert no pressure on decision-makers to fire them quickly. They can patrol for months waiting for instructions. Both bombers and submarines are also less vulnerable to cyberwarfare than the strategic missiles on land.

Finally, no-first-use would help ensure that democratically elected officials maintained control over nuclear weapons.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/opinion/end-the-first-use-policy-for-nuclear-weapons.html?_r=1

But the suggestion caused panic in ‘defense’ circles and among some allies taking delusional shelter under America’s ‘nuclear umbrella.’ Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz all opposed the adoption of a no first use policy, according to the Wall Street Journal. [‘No First Use’ Nuclear Policy Proposal Assailed by U.S. Cabinet Officials, Allies’ http://www.wsj.com/articles/no-first-use-nuclear-policyproposal-assailed-by-u-s-cabinet-officials-allies-1471042014 ]

Keeping ‘everything on the table’ in the nuclear weapons department is vital for the
careers and profits for those whose business is war, and Washington’s aggressive posturing toward both Russia and China has triggered predictions of a booming weapons market… and a looming WW III.

Celebrated Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg came to talk about Trump and U.S. nuclear policy and get arrested. EON photo.

Strange Bedfellows
This is the atmosphere in which a New Nuclear Arms race is developing. No less an authority than former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry says,

“Today we still have over 20 thousand real world nuclear weapons. Enough to blow up everybody on the planet several times over.

Those weapons pose the immediate problem of a danger of terrorism, the immediate problem of the possibility of nuclear war.

“The antagonism between Russia and the United States has reached a point now where I believe we are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race. It breaks my heart.

“Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war. Let me say that again…” http://www.planetarianperspectives.net/?p=2741

Bill Perry has teamed up with other senior statesmen of similar stature, Sam Nunn, George Schultz, and Henry Kissinger to mount a public nuclear consciousness-raising campaign aimed especially at the generation that will have to deal with the legacy of the Atomic Age.

Its impossible to miss the irony in the fact that these ‘elder statesmen’ are now finally in agreement with Noam Chomsky, Fidel Castro and long-time international nuclear abolition advocate Dr. Helen Caldicott, who has been trying unsuccessfully to get their attention for decades.

Chomsky:

As we are all surely aware [sic], we now face the most ominous decisions in human history. There are many problems that must be addressed, but two are overwhelming in their significance: environmental destruction and nuclear war. For the first time in history, we face the possibility of destroying the prospects for decent existence – and not in the distant future. Who Rules the World? P.181.

The 90 year-old Castro, who threw capitalism out of Cuba – and, as a result, has so far survived 630 documented assassination attempts by the CIA and other nefarious U.S. agencies – puts it this way: “Humankind today faces the greatest risk of its history.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/16/the-birthday/

“It could happen tonight,” said Caldicott in a recent talk in Berkeley, CA.

“It could happen right now. We are closer now to nuclear annihilation than ever, even closer than we were during the Cold War. North Korea and Iran cannot end the world. But the sociopaths in charge of our nuclear weapons can. For instance, Clinton has never seen a war that she doesn’t like.”

She pointed out that every single city in America is targeted by the Russians right now.
“Twelve H-bombs are targeted on New York City alone. Every city in America is targeted with at least one nuclear missile. And Russian cities are targeted the same way by America. And all this insanity is at the mercy of human fallibility too.”
Helen Caldecott: “America Still Thinks It Can Win a Nuclear War”

A solar-powered nuclear bomb factory? Billing itself as ‘The Smartest Place on Earth.’ the Livermore National Lab – a key hub in the U.S. nuclear weapons comples – has extensive PV arrays within in its mile-square compond. The wind farms of Altamont pass are in the background. EON photo

Protesting ‘The Smartest Place on Earth”
All this was in the minds of the over 200 people who assembled at 9am, on August 9 at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.

The one-mile square facility in Livermore, CA – which bills itself on its website as “the smartest square mile on Earth” – is a key hub in the new nuclear arms race. Though it claims to have worked for 60 years ‘to make the world a safer place,’ the Lab is California’s bomb factory. https://www.llnl.gov/about

The two main sponsors of the yearly protest event are Tri-Valley CAREs, led by Marylia Kelly and the Western States Legal Foundation headed by Jacqueline Cabasso, have labored for years to keep the issue of nuclear weapons and Livermore’s part in it clearly in the public eye.

It’s a hard sell, despite the clear and present danger, in an information environment beset by delusions, distractions, disinformation and news of multiple looming disasters.

The theme of this year’s event, was “Disarm Now: We Stand With Nuclear Survivors for Global Justice.”

A banner across the back of the stage read “Failure to Disarm: Holding Our Government Accountable.” A second banner hanging from stage front, by the celebrated artist Mayumi Oda, portrayed the ‘Two-Headed Dragon” of nuclear weapons and power, which have remained inextricably connected from the birth of the Atomic Age into the present day.

Participants stage a die-in at the Livermore Lab gate. Their bodies are outlined in chalk to symbolize the radiation ‘shadows’ of Nagasaki civilians vaporized by the atomic bomb. EON photo.

The well-organized event, with a dynamic line-up of speakers including Daniel Ellsberg, went like clockwork. Here are the event’s speakers and its dramatic conclusion (including a moving interview with celebrated artist/activist Mayumi Oda) in eight viewable video segments.

Pt. 1 – Welcome & Purpose Statement – Patricia St. Onge & Wilson Riles, Jr.
Two long-time Bay Area activists set the context and purpose of a rally, march and non-violent civil disobedience action at Livermore Lab, California’s bomb factory. Patricia St. Onge is Founder of Seven Generations Consulting. Wilson Riles, Jr. is a Former Oakland City Council Member. Together they founded the Nafsi ya Jamii Retreat Center.

Pt. 2 – Nagasaki Remembered – Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka
Nagasaki A-bomb survivor and retired United Methodist Church minister Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka talks about the personal and spiritual aspects of his experiences and why humankind must evolve beyond nuclear weapons and war.

Pt. 3 – Making the Connections – Chizu Hamada
Chizu Hamada, Coordinator of No Nukes Action Committee, traces the links between the human suffering caused by the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the current situation in post-Fukushima Japan, and the nuclear policies of the Obama Administration – in which Livermore Lab plays a key role.

Pt. 4 – The Livermore Connections – Tara Dorabji
Young mother Tara Dorabji, Board Member and former Outreach Director of Tri-Valley CAREs, talks about the local human and environmental impacts of California’s bomb factory on the surrounding community and region.

Pt. 5 – Challenge to Disarm: The Marshall Island Lawsuits – John Burroughs
John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, gives the context and update of the historic lawsuits he is currently arguing before the International Court of Justice and a the U.S. Federal District Court on behalf of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the still genetically devastated site of 67 U.S. nuclear tests in the 1940s and ’50s. He is part of a team of attorneys representing the tiny Pacific Island nation’s landmark lawsuits against the nine nuclear-armed nations for failing to comply with their obligations under international law to pursue negotiations for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons.

For more info: Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy http://lcnp.org/
and Nuclear Zero http://www.nuclearzero.org/

Pt. 6 – The Growing Dangers of Nuclear Wars – Jackie Cabasso
Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation, lays out the Growing Dangers of Wars Among Nuclear-Armed States.
For more info: http://www.wslfweb.org/

Pt. 7 – Daniel Ellsberg – Politics, Trump & U.S. Nuclear Policy
Celebrated Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg compares official American nuclear weapons policy with the campaign statements of Donald Trump.

Pt. 8 – March, Die-In & Arrests – The Nagasaki-Livermore Connection
Nuclear disarmament supporters march and risk arrest at the gate of Livermore Lab, California’s nuclear bomb factory, in solidarity with Nagasaki and Hiroshima victims and survivors – featuring a moving interview with celebrated international artist and activist Mayumi Oda.

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James Heddle co-directs EON, The Ecological Options Network. http://eon3.net/ with Mary Beth Brangan. They are currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection. http://www.shutdowndoc.tv/

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A Devil of a Gamble: Playing Chess with Diablo – Updated

“If its accidents do not end nuclear power, its economics will.” Ralph Nader 1992

Death and Antonius Block choose sides for the chess game; Death gets the black pieces. Still from Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal’ 1957

Nine More Years
On June 28, 2016, the California State Lands Commission (SLC) voted unanimously to extend a lease agreement that will allow PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear generating station to run for nine more years until its operating license runs out in 2025.

Both celebrated and condemned by groups on virtually all sides of the nuclear energy issue, the decision essentially gives the go-ahead to a Joint Proposal drafted by a group of parties including PG&E, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environment California, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, and the Alliance For Nuclear Responsibility.

CEQA Si, CEQA No?
The issue before the SLC was essentially whether or not continued operation of the aging plant – seriously impacting sealife and located over 13 earthquake faults – by a company currently under Federal indictment for safety violations, should require an environmental assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In saying ‘no,’the Commission, which includes Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and state Comptroller Betty Yee, chose not to exercise its prerogatives under public trust doctrine and the CEQA law. Some groups are reportedly planing to sue the Commission on those issues, claiming that its decision will allow PG&E to run out the remainder of Diablo’s license virtually without oversight and regulation, while enjoying ‘full cost recovery.’

Seen from afar, the shutdown plan can be seen as confirmation that nuclear energy is not cost effective and will eventually be phased out – a blow to nuclear proponents. But for local and regional stakeholders, who will be living with the existential risks posed by the two aging reactors for the next decade, the slow motion shutdown plan seems like playing nuclear roulette with their lives, livelihoods and property. A recent study shows links between radiation spikes in Bakersfield and refueling shutdowns and restarts at Diablo.

Events at Diablo Canyon do closely fit with the beta radiation spikes. The start of the spikes begins as they power up unit 2 from a refueling outage. The other spikes match power up or power down events including the known feedwater pre-heater leak. Radiation releases are known to increase during refueling outages. Purges of decay tank gasses or areas of the reactor building during shutdown and startup activities have the potential to release radioactive contamination to the air. Leaking equipment such as a feedwater pre-heater (what leaked at Diablo Canyon #1) could potentially lead to leaks to the environment. Diablo Canyon May Have Leaked Significant Radioactivity In Recent Years

Seems like this finding alone should trigger a CEQA review.

Some say now that the shutdown has been agreed to in principle, it can and should be sped up with a more rapid transition to renewables – to which Diablo’s continued operation is a serious barrier.

In the interest of casting some light on the complex issues involved, EON offers the following video clips about this important decision making process.
[For more on this issue see: Anatomy of a nuke closure: How PG&E decided to shutter Diablo Canyon In a policy environment that prizes renewables, PG&E saw no cost-effective route to keeping the giant nuclear plant open

PG&E deal to close Diablo Canyon benefits residential consumers the most

The Solutions Project

Deep Decarbonization Project ]

Mothers for Peace Rally for an Enviro Review of Diablo Canyon
San Luis Obispo, CA – June 28, 2016 – Mothers for Peace holds a rally calling for a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of Diablo Canyon’s environmental impacts.

The rally was held ahead of a California State Lands Commission meeting on a Joint Proposal by PG&E and environmental and labor groups to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant running until its licenses run out nine years from now.

Mothers for Peace Spokeswomen Linda Seeley and Jane Swanson make the case for a CEQA environmental impact review, given the plant’s aging components, seismic risks and PG&E’s Federally indicted safety record. They are joined by Dr. Jerry Brown and Rinaldo Brutoco from the Santa Barbara-based World Business Academy.


For more info:
MothersForPeace.org
WorldBusiness.org

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PG&E’s Geisha J. Williams on Diablo Shutdown Proposal 6-28-2016
California State Lands Commission – June 28,2016 – PG&E President, Electric, Geisha J. Williams describes a Shutdown Proposal for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant which the company arrived at in negotiation with a small group of environmental and labor organizations.

The Joint Proposal – provisions of which must still be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) – plans for the nuclear facility to be shut down at the end if its operating license, nine years from now.


Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.
The full California Lands Commission meeting for Jun 28, 2016 is available on-line at http://www.cal-span.org/media.php?folder[]=CSLC
=======================

PG&E’s Geisha J. Williams – Q&A on Diablo Shutdown Proposal
July 28, 2016 – PG&E President, Electric, Geisha J. Williams responds to State Land Commission questions on the shut down Proposal for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which the company arrived at in negotiation with a small group of environmental and labor organizations.


Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.

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John Geesman & Rochelle Becker on Diablo Shutdown Proposal 6-28-2016
Attorney John Geesman and Executive Director Rochelle Becker of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility (A4NR.org) speak at the July 28, 2016 State Lands Commission meeting about the Joint Proposal to shut down Diablo Canyon at the end of nine years. The Alliance is one of the Parties in the Joint Proposal with PG&E.
Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.


Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.

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Betty Yee on the Diablo Shutdown Proposal – 6-28-2016
At the June 28, 2016 meeting of the California State Lands Commission, Chairwoman Betty Yee had this to say before she voted in favor of extending PG&E’s lease on Diablo Canyon land controlled by the Commission.


Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.

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Gavin Newsom on the Diablo Shutdown Proposal – 6-28-2016
At the June 28, 2016 meeting of the California State Lands Commission, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom had this to say before he voted in favor of extending PG&E’s lease on Diablo Canyon land controlled by the Commission.


Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.

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NEXIT: WHY NATO NEEDS TO EXIT – Cecile Pineda

NEXIT: WHY NATO NEEDS TO EXIT

Guest Blog by Cecile Pineda

[ Author of Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World, available from Wingspress.com

"An urgent re-framing of current ecological thinking, Apology To A Whale addresses what the intersection of relative linguistics and archeology reveals about the present world’s power relations, and what the extraordinary communication of plants and animals can teach us." ]

The North Atlantic Treat Organization (that’s NATO to you) is scheduled to hold a three-day summit in Warsaw, Poland starting July 8. U.S. Peace organizations have been contacted to join the international protest.

Why we urgently need to get involved:
The U.S. through its NATO surrogates, has established bases fronting Russia’s western borders, furnishing them with troops, and equipping them with long range missiles targeting Moscow and other Russian Cities, sharply increasing the very real risk of all-out nuclear war.

Polish and all other International Organizers are calling for:

•No troops or maneuvers at Russia’s Western border
•No further armament of NATO member states, especially at the expense of health, education and welfare
•No new nuclear weapons and no modernization of existing arsenals worldwide
•No missile defense system in Eastern Europe
•No NATO operations against refugees

Sign the request for endorsement

The SF-BAY AREA SAYS ‘NO’ TO NATO.

In solidarity with European protesters, and in coalition with other peace and anti-nuclear organizations, Code Pink will focus its monthly Bridge Walk for Peace to protest NATO’s increasingly threatening maneuvers on the West’s border with Russia. All Bay Area peace organizations are invited to join the events and to help spread the world.

When: Sunday, July 10. Rally and March at Noon (gather at 11:45 AM)
Where: Golden Gate Bridge. Gather at South End plaza for a rally; followed by a bridge walk.
Parking (carpooling highly recommended): arrive by 11:15 to grab a parking spot in either lot to the east or west side south bridge lots. OR park at Crissy Field and climb the stairs to the South End Plaza. The Plaza is also accessible by Muni bus route #28. To co-sponsor this event and for more information or: Toby Blome, email me

BAITING THE BEAR,POKING THE PANDA: NATO at 67 years old

It’s time to retire NATO, which has been kicking around since 1949, 67 years of making sure the world is ready-or-not for democracy – U.S. style. Even dwarves start small. The original Western European Defense Organization of 5 countries prompted the U.S. to step in and enter into diplomatic/military talks resulting in the North Atlantic Treaty. Newly constituted, NATO, added 7 more countries, the U.S., Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. The 12-nation NATO’s goals articulated by Lord Ismay were “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, and the organization became the NATO 14. When the USSR proposed joining the organization only to be rejected, the snub resulted in the Warsaw pact, signed in 1955, which aligned the non-NATO countries including the USSR, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and East Germany in a defense pact of their own.

Balkanization: Divide…

The geopolitical power struggle seems to have had no choice but to escalate. In response, NATO added more arrows to its quiver. Shortly thereafter West Germany was included., and, following the formation of the apparently chummy NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland were invited to join, and parlaying the breakup of the Czech and Soviet Republics, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania joined to become the NATO-25.

…and Conquer

Starting in 2004, as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing program, jet fighters were deployed in countries bordering the former USSR, including Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, culminating in the 2006 Riga Summit, the first NATO summit to be held in a former part of the Soviet Union. Another such summit, in 2008 held in Bucharest, expanded NATO-now-26 to include Albania and Croatia, and both the Ukraine and Georgia were told they eventually could become members (but, ah, ah, ah, not before the Ukrainian coup!) and provided for an anti-ballistic missile system to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, provoking harsh criticism from Russia.

World War/Nuclear war

The 1954 North Atlantic Council document, MC 48, emphasized that NATO would have to use atomic weapons from the outset of any war with the then-USSR whether or not the Soviets chose to use them first, i.e. a First-Strike policy. So far, NATO has intervened by declaring no-fly zones and with bombings in the 1992 Bosnian War in 1999 in Kosovo, and in 2001, invoking Article 5, it responded with several official actions, culminating in its 2003 agreement to take command of the International Security Assistance Force including troops from 42 countries, eventually expanding its control of military operations throughout Afghanistan.

During the Iraq war, NATO provided trainers to assist the Iraqi security forces. It provided warships protecting maritime traffic from incursions by Somali “pirates,” whose aims were to prevent illegal fishing in their own Somali waters; and it was alert and ready to intervene in Libya by enforcing a no-fly zone, and supporting an arms embargo, going so far as to interdict any vessel suspected of carrying either illegal arms or mercenaries.

Running out of bullying energy?

But in June of 2011, then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates noticed that some member nations were sloughing off. He accused Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Turkey and Germany of not pulling their weight. Subsequently Norway scaled down, Danish fighters were (horrors!) running out of bombs., and the UK Royal Navy opined the Libya conflict was “unsustainable.”

NEXIT?

Is it time for NATO to EXIT? Some speculations are in order:

1) Could the incursions of the NATO-28 amount to World War III under a rosier name?
2) Although NATO presents itself as a peace-keeping operation, its various commissions and subsidiaries all qualify as military operations; no peace commissions form any part of it.
3) Its pattern of expansion suggests conquest by a game of “Baby Steps” as in mother-may-I swallow up the Balkanized states of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union one by one in a slow dance toward total domination.
4) The not-entirely-surprising BREXIT vote seems to indicate popular opinion senses that bloated geopolitical amalgamations such as the European Union may have outlived their usefulness. Can BREXIT signal the eventual collapse an imperial enterprises such as NATO?

CALL FOR NATO ACTIONSTIMED TO WARSAW MEETINGS:

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Killing Democracy by a Thousand Cuts

A national flag flown upside down is an internationally recognized signal of distress.

How are our votes being stolen?
Let us count the ways…

By James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan

Electoral Proctology
As the fateful June 7 primary election day approached in 6 states, including California, a stellar group of election protection luminaries gathered on Memorial Day weekend in a private home in Santa Monica with about 100 of their closest friends. Their purpose, as that great American philosopher W.C. Fields once advised, was ‘to seize the bull by the tail and stare the situation squarely in the face.’
[ See videos of the meeting at the end of this article, or here: Don’t Let Them Steal Your Vote - Part 1
Part 2 ]

Not a Pretty Picture
Chaired by movie star and long-time political activist Mimi Kennedy, a panel including Harvey Wasserman, Bob Fitrakis, Greg Palast, Bev Harris and John Blakey compared notes on the myriad methods their investigations have uncovered that are destroying the validity of U.S. elections. Facing these facts is the first step in the daunting task of restoring election integrity in America’s very broken electoral system.

In this year’s primary season alone we have seen:
• Massive disenfranchisement caused by arbitrarily changing voters’ assigned precincts and then giving incorrect information on the changes.
• Chaos caused in predominately minority districts by reducing the number of precincts – and the number of machines per precinct – causing long lines and hours-long waits which turned away many voters with jobs or other time commitments.
• Arcane regulations which instructed poll workers to give unprecedented numbers of voters ‘provisional ballots,’ which are rarely counted.
• For example, in California, voters who registered ‘NPP’ for No Party Preference and were mailed a ballot, were not permitted to vote in the Democratic primary unless they took both the ballot and its envelope to a polling place and said the magic words, “I surrender this ballot and request a cross-over ballot.” Without those exact words, poll workers were instructed not to supply a ‘cross-over’ ballot AND not to inform the voter of the rule.
• Media outlets prematurely calling elections before all ballots are counted – or, in some cases, even cast.
• As of this writing, 2.6 million ballots yet to be counted for the California primary

But it gets worse.

Strip & Flip
The theme of the Santa Monica panel was set by a hot-off-the-press book just published by Fitrakis and Wasserman titled ‘The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: The Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft.’ [ Get it here: http://freepress.org/store.php ] This is the latest in a string of books the team has written in the last decade. They have had a ringside seat to both observe – and also fight against – the increasing corruption of the U.S. electoral system, based, as they are in Columbus, Ohio, capitol of a key swing state. In 2012, Fitrakis’s threatened lawsuit in Ohio state court prevented the planned electronic theft of the election and saved Obama’s election victory.
[See “Swing State: How the Fix Was Nixed in Ohio 2012” ]

Election Theft, as American as Apple Pie
Intentional disenfranchisement of potential voters in order to favor selected demographic sectors is simple in concept, if complex in means. It has been a part of the American electoral landscape from the git-go. Eliminating legitimate voters from the voter rolls by various tactics – that’s the ‘strip’ part. Skewing the ballot count in order to produce desired outcome percentages – that’s the ‘flip’ part – also achieved by multiple mechanisms, as we shall see.

“Not every conspiracy is a theory.”
The ad slogan for the current thriller ‘Money Monsters’ actually gets it right. Though poo-pooed as ‘conspiracy theory’ by pundits and vote fraud denialists across the political spectrum, Bob & Harvey’s work – in combination with the work of many other investigator/activists including co-panel members Bev Harris, Greg Palast,, Mimi Kennedy and John Blakey – has incontrovertibly revealed the plethora of means by which America’s electoral system has now been stripped of the last vestiges of whatever trustworthiness it may have ever actually possessed.

A short run down follows – to be expanded upon below – of issues discussed by the panel.

But, keep in mind that, for brevity, the list does not include additional key related issues, such as: unlimited campaign spending by anonymous persons and non-voting corporate entities and their surrogates – even from foreign states or agents; mainstream media’s biased reporting; manipulations by party officials; ‘super delegate’ and ‘contested convention’ schemes; the counter-democracy Electoral College; or the ‘gerrymandering-on-steroids’ REDMAP redistricting process carried out by Republicans following the 2010 election, which left them in control of the House of Representatives and many key state legislatures until at least 2020, when the next census-based re-districting is scheduled. The latter major ploy is well documented in David Daley’s recent book “Rat F**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy.”)

Here’s the short list from the Santa Monica panel presentations:
• Massive electronic purging of legitimate voters from voter rolls across the country
• Massive vote suppression and disenfranchisement by myriad means on a national scale
• Virtually decisive control of voter rolls without detection; vote counting and reporting by privately owned, secret, electronic devices and computer programs specifically designed to steal elections through cyber chicanery.

The Five Jim Crows
It all started with the constitution, Wasserman explained, a document drafted in secret, behind closed doors by a tiny elite of propertied white men, and rammed through to ratification by the states through electoral manipulation. It denied voting rights to women and to males without property, but contained the “3/5ths clause” that gave slave owners congressional representation for their slaves despite the fact that the slaves themselves couldn’t vote.

The so-called Three-Fifths Compromise is in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

The effect, according to Wikipedia, “was to give the southern states a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes than if slaves had been ignored, but fewer than if slaves and free persons had been counted equally, allowing the slaveholder interests to largely dominate the government of the United States until 1861.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-Fifths_Compromise

It was also a divide-and-conquer strategy to make sure black and white laborers would never again unite in revolting as they did in Virginia in 1675 in what’s called Bacon’s Rebellion.

Fitrakis and Wasserman call that ‘the First Jim Crow.’ After the Civil War and emancipation, they explain, Supreme Court rulings, KuKluxKlan terror, black lynchings, literacy tests and other apartheid strategies established the ‘Second Jim Crow,’ that “again guaranteed that blacks in the South (and parts of the North) would not be allowed to vote, and that they would be carefully divided from whites by caste as well as class.”

The Third Jim Crow was/is the ‘War on Drugs’ initiated by Richard Nixon to combat the liberalization of the southern Democratic Party, the anti-war movement and the rise of the Black Power movement. As Nixon administration official John Erlichman recently explained to Harper’s interviewer Dan Blum,

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” https://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/

Young, left-leaning Latinos were also caught up in the Drug War dragnet. Now, 45 years later, 41 million (mostly people of color) have been jailed for pot and other controlled substances, making private corporate prisons a growth industry, and giving the U.S. the highest prison population in the world. Though having no significant impact on drug use, the Drug War has disenfranchised millions of potential voters, and continues to do so today. Michelle Alexander’s recent book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness shows how one system of race-based disenfranchisement has been replaced by another.

The Fourth Jim Crow, explain the authors, was born of America’s push to establish what they call “a race-based global empire” with a long series of foreign interventions – also continuing today – which “involved the white-ruled US interfering with the political systems of non-white nations.”

The impact of these interventions on our own political system, say Wasserman and Fitrakis, has been catastrophic. “They’ve established the US as a corporate-ruled race-based empire, fueling the growth of a military whose intrinsic power overshadows our entire electoral process…and set the stage for…the Fifth Jim Crow – the electronic flipping of our elections.”

Engineering Vote Fraud Abroad Comes Home to Roost
Manipulation of election outcomes in other countries has been developed into a high art by such US agencies as the CIA, USAID and other so-called ‘democracy promotion’ projects fielded abroad by both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Note the authors, “Overseas, the CIA began to apply advanced electronics to the art and science of election theft. By the 1970’s, in front of the Church Committee, the Agency admitted to already having manipulated countless Third World elections to protect America’s corporate and ‘national security’ interests.” They trace the subsequent development of electronic voting technology techniques, corporations and institutions up to the present day, when up to 80% of US votes in the coming presidential election will be electronically mediated. In line with the adage that ‘what goes around, comes around,’ American expertise in foreign nations’ electronic vote rigging has now come home to compromise the integrity and validity of our own system, big time.

The New Jim Crow – “Interstate Crosscheck”
Panel member investigative journalist Greg Palast has been researching and reporting on this process for going on two decades for such outlets abroad as the BBC and the Guardian news paper. Still, like the proverbial ‘prophet without honor in his own country,’ Palast states with deep frustration that he still has a hell of a time getting American so-called ‘mainstream’ media to pay any attention to his explosive exposes.

Now reporting for Rolling Stone, he is also using crowd funding to produce a forth-coming documentary titled, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits

In his presentation in Santa Monica Palast debunked claims by Donald Trump and others that ‘millions of people’ are committing ‘voter fraud’ by ‘voting more than once.’ Describing what he calls ‘the next, or Sixth Jim Crow,’ he reported that 29 state election officials across the country have announced the creation of what they call ‘The Interstate Crosscheck.’ Touted as a defense against mythical individual ‘voter fraud’ the system purports to identify people who are voting more than once, sometimes in multiple states, and purge them from polling lists.

In actuality, in violation of the Voting Rights Act, says Palast, the program uses census data to identify African American voters – tagged ‘BLA’ for black– with similar common names and fraudulently remove them from voter lists.

In the history of the South, when slaves were finally freed, they were often registered by their masters’ surnames. As a result, to this day, many black persons carry the same or similar names, thus facilitating the “Interstate Crosscheck” scam.

Based on his findings, Palast says, “We expect 1 million voters – almost all of them voters of color – to lose their right to vote in 29 Republican-controlled states before the November election.”

But, he is quick to point out, it isn’t just Republicans who regularly mess with elections. As questionable outcomes in this primary suggest, “the Democrats are dirty,” Palast says, pointing out that Democrats invented Jim Crow, which Nixon just adopted for his so-called ‘southern strategy.’

Palast admits to being tired of being a ‘reporter in exile,’ and hopes that, now that he is reporting for Rolling Stone, he can finally come home and report his investigative findings to his own countrymen “who need to know this stuff!”

“Fraction Magic” – A Digital Thumb on the Scale: Fractionalization & Decimalization of Votes
Harking back to the infamous “3/5ths clause” described above, what if you were hired to write a vote-counting program that could assign various arbitrary decimal or fractional values to each and all of the votes counted and come up with desired percentages for every candidate and contest?

To use a simple-minded butcher’s scale analogy: What if your program assigned a vote for Hillary the arbitrary ‘weight’ of 2 pounds, and assigned a Bernie vote just a weight of 1 pound?

Then, in a given race, Bernie got 200 votes and Hillary got 150 votes.

If you just added up the total votes for each candidate, you would call the election for Bernie with a 50-vote lead.

But, if your private, proprietary, secret counting program totaled their votes by the artificial ‘weights’ it arbitrarily assigned to them, you would announce Hillary the winner with a 300 to 200-vote lead.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the intentionally programed ‘glitch’ that BlackBoxVoting.org founder Bev Harris and her colleague, IT expert Bennie Smith have discovered in a significant number of America’s vote counting systems. It is achieved via ‘fractionalization’ or ‘decimalization.’

They explain that it works like this: “Instead of “1” the vote is allowed to be 1/2, or 1+7/8, or any other value that is not a whole number.”

That allows ‘weighting’ of selected electoral contests. “Weighting a race removes the principle of ‘one person-one vote’ to allow some votes to be counted as less than one or more than one. Regardless of what the real votes are, candidates can receive a set percentage of votes. Results can be controlled. For example, Candidate A can be assigned 44% of the votes, Candidate B 51%, and Candidate C the rest.”

On her excellent webite BlackBoxVoting.org, Harris and Smith report,
…the results of our review of the GEMS election management system, which counts approximately 25 percent of all votes in the United States. The results of this study demonstrate that a fractional vote feature is embedded in each GEMS application which can be used to invisibly, yet radically, alter election outcomes by pre-setting desired vote percentages to redistribute votes. This tampering is not visible to election observers, even if they are standing in the room and watching the computer. Use of the decimalized vote feature is unlikely to be detected by auditing or canvass procedures, and can be applied across large jurisdictions in less than 60 seconds.

BlackBoxVoting.org

“GEMS vote-counting systems are and have been operated under five trade names: Global Election Systems, Diebold Election Systems, Premier Election Systems, Dominion Voting Systems, and Election Systems & Software, in addition to a number of private regional subcontractors. At the time of this writing, this system is used statewide in Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont, and for counties in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. It is also used in Canada.”
Read more: http://blackboxvoting.org/fraction-magic-1/

Adjusted Exit Polls
Around the world, so-called exit polls – which ask a sampling of exiting voters how they voted – are viewed as the Gold Standard for checking the accuracy of the ballot count. In most countries, if the ballot count and the exit poll numbers don’t match, there is either a recount or the election is declared ‘not free and fair.’
Not so in America. Here, as Jonathan Simon documents in his book Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and The New American Century, the exit poll numbers are instead adjusted to match the official vote count.
In the US, the exit pollster of record has been Edison/Mitofsky http://www.edisonresearch.com/election-polling/ working for a consortium of news organizations that comprise the National Election Pool (NEP): ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press. As Wasserman relates, when election researcher and statistician Dr. Steve Freeman called the late Warren Mitofsky personally to request the raw data from the 2004 exit polls, the response was “Go f**k yourself.”

[ See also: Analysis of the 2004 Presidential Election Exit Poll Discrepancies ]

Maybe that’s why respected international election observer Former President Jimmy Carter can say the USA “is not a functioning democracy.” Maybe that’s why, as Fitrakis and Wasserman point out:

In March 2015, the Harvard Electoral Integrity Project reported that over fourteen hundred international election experts gathered data the year before and pronounced the United States was 45th in election integrity among the world’s long-standing democracies. The Project reported that on a 100-point scale, the U.S. received an integrity rating of 69.3% – one notch ahead of the narco-drug state Columbia….

What this means in practice is revealed in a recent study of three decades of data by liberal mainstream political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton, and Benjamin Page of Northwestern. Their analysis confirmed that the U.S. political system has become “an oligarchy” – as Carter himself has said – where wealthy elites and their corporations “rule,” regardless of which party is in Congress and the White House.

“The central point that emerges from our research,” Gilens and Page wrote, “is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

As Gilens explained in an interview, “ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States.”

Citizen Exit Polls
Edison Research was scheduled to do exit polling for the NEP media consortium in the California primary. But when Ohio election protection attorney Cliff Arnebeck gave notice that he intended to sue for the raw data, the California exit poll was canceled.

Into the breach jumped California activist/funder Lori Grace and her Institute for American Democracy and Election Integrity (www.trustvote.org), engaging professional pollsters to sample selected districts in Northern and Southern California. The results will be forthcoming at TrustVote.org

Already the site reports:

In other eleven states besides California, there has been noted a significant difference between the Edison Research exit polls and the electronic vote totals presented on the morning after the primaries. These totals do not include anything from California. These differences show votes appear to be shifted from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton. The chances of this kind of shift happening are considered to be statistically impossible between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in these eleven states….

…In addition, some people may have concerns that [private election system or voting machine] companies like Scytl/SOE and ES&S which managed the votes in Kentucky, New York and Arizona, have directors who are also on the boards of other companies involved in wire-tapping, the defense industry and military interrogations.

A System Designed for Cheating
Corroborating the findings of the other Santa Monica presenters with his own recent experience, John Blakey of Audit Arizona reported that, in this very primary, in Maricopa County, domain of infamous Sherrif Joe Arpaio, 150,000 voters appear to have been ‘suppressed.’ Possibly that’s because 85% of Arizona voters use vote-by-mail ballots, which, extensive evidence shows, rarely get counted.
Blakey is suing the State of Arizona for access to records. “We have the right language for it now,” Blakey says, thanks to the work of the other panel members. “It’s not ‘voter fraud,’ it’s vote fraud. It is a system designed for cheating.”

STD – Software Transmitted Disease
Well-known actor Mimi Kennedy is a fierce, long-term election protection activist in private life. In this election she received poll worker training that has taken her into the heart of California’s election system. She says her friend Bev Harris’ ‘fraction magic’ findings show how deeply what she calls “STD, Software Transmitted Disease” has infected our electoral system. She explains, “There are seven thousand small voting jurisdictions all over America. State law controls elections. Seven thousand jurisdictions within and among those states can have some say in process, procedure, choice of private contractors, common servicer software and hardware. Outside IT ‘experts’ are hired who may or may not be honest or bright. That means that fraud capacity is there. People ask me ‘Who are the ‘them’ that may be stealing our votes?’ I tell them, ‘someone in any of those jurisdictions who can.’”

The Ohio Plan, ‘How to Nix the Fix’

Wasserman and Fitrakis admit that, “as we approach the 2016 election, the prospects for a truly democratic outcome are grim.”

However, lest we despair in the face of all these discouraging revelations, they insist that the fixes in our badly compromised electoral system CAN be nixed.

“The only cure,” they conclude, “is a bottom-up revolution in human consciousness and action.” They hope their work “will help inform and motivate an energized grassroots uprising” based on what they call The Ohio Plan.

The Ohio Plan:
1. Universal, automatic, same-day voter registration.
2. A four-day national voting holiday.
3. Votes counted by students & elders, paid the minimum wage.
4. Universal use of hand-counted paper ballots.
5. A universal automatic recount.

May it be so.

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Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle co-direct EON, The Ecological Options Network. Since 2004, they have produced many video reports in cooperation with FreePress.org and the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism which can be viewed on the EON’s YouTube channel Election Protection & Deep Democracy playlist They are currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection.

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Nixing the Fix – Lessons from U.S. Elections Past

The video co-production that heads this blog edition is a fast-paced cautionary report on how investigative reporting, the Green Party, the Election Protection movement, pre-emptive litigation and just plain angry voters saved the Dems from Karl Rove in a key 2012 battleground state – Ohio – which is also a key swing state in the upcoming 2016 election.

Investigative reporters Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, election protection attorney Cliff Arnebeck and Columbus community activists tell how election theft was – and CAN BE – prevented.

Is Democracy Possible in America? Just maybe.
A recent study of three decades of data by liberal mainstream political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton, and Benjamin Page of Northwestern, found that the U.S. political system has become “an oligarchy,” where wealthy elites and their corporations “rule,” regardless of which party is in Congress and the White House.

“The central point that emerges from our research, Gilens and Page wrote, “is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

As Gilens explained in an interview, “ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, famous for his work assessing election systems around the world, agrees. “We’ve become now an oligarchy instead of a democracy,”
Says Carter, who ought to know whereof he speakes.

Vote Rigging – American as The Flag, Motherhood, and Apple IPads
Since the beginning of the Republic, vote rigging has been as integral a part of American elections as flag-waving, dirty tricks and un=kept campaign promises. But, never before has it reached the level of dysfunction which has increasingly infected the entire electoral system now for over a decade. The advent of ‘Citizens United,’ manipulatable social Media, electronic voter roles, privately owned electronic ‘black box’ voting machines and tabulation systems with ‘man-in-the-middle’ cyber fraud impenetrable to citizen oversight, and a whole host of means for disenfranchising entire demographic blocks of voters makes the reported outcomes of America’s elections dubious at best, if not totally fraudulent.

When ‘Healthy Skepticism’ Becomes Dysfunctional Denial
More sobering for those of us who have studied the workings of this system in depth, is the level of denial on this most fundamental of all issues common to otherwise well-informed people across the political spectrum. “EEUUU! Conspiracy theory!” is the almost universal response to the mention of this thousand pound gorilla in the corner of our election system. Widespread denial of human-caused climate chaos, and denial of the existential risks of nuclear energy, weapons and waste, are matched by denial of a broken election system. And, without the integrity of electoral choice, how can the policies that cause climate change and nuclear brinksmanship ever be changed?

Curing Electoral Dysfunction and Preventing Unwanted Presidencies
Given this state of affairs, how can we hope to cure electoral dysfunction and prevent unwanted presidencies?

The first of several video offered in this Election Protection blog edition tells one of the few recent success stories from the growing election protection movement.

Since 2004, EON has been honored to collaborate with the FreePress.org team of investigative reporters and election protection litigators on a series of video reports on the election protection movement – over 50, in fact, on our YouTube Election Protection playlist. We offer some highlights below.

The Ohio Plan for Election Protection
This election season, FreePress.org investigative reporters Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are working hard to forewarn voters and election protection advocates of the ‘Strip & Flip’ dirty tricks already in play and provide what they call ‘The Ohio Plan’ to defend against them.

As they explain, the Ohio Plan is this:

1. Voter registration must be universal and automatic for all citizens as they turn 18;
2. Electronic poll books are banned, with all voter registration records maintained manually;
3. All elections happen over a 4-day weekend—-Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday—-which together comprise a national holiday, preferably around Veterans Day in November.
4. All voting happens on paper ballots, using recycled or hemp paper;
5. All vote counting is done manually, with ballots preserved at least two years;
6. Polls are run and ballots counted by the nation’s high school and college students, who will get the days off and be paid a “scholarship” for their work at $15/hour. Read more

See also:
Will the GOP Strip & Flip the 2016 Election?
By Mimi Kennedy, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

Why Can’t The Nation & the Left Deal With Election Theft?
By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

Highlights of EON’s Election Protection Series

Code Red – No More Stolen Elections
Harvey Wasserman & Jonathan Simon
Our election system is rigged. Here’s how it got that way,… and how to fix it.

For more info: CodeRed.com facebook.com/electronicelectionfraud

The Price of Liberty – America’s Election Protection Movement 2008
58-minute DVD documentary produced in cooperation with the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism & FreePress.org.
This fast-moving 58-minute documentary by award-wining filmmakers James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan explores the issues and strategies embodied in America’s growing grassroots, people-powered ‘Election Protection’ movement.
Scientists, journalists, activists, attorneys and whistleblowers reveal how, why and by whom the last two presidential elections were stolen, even as they fight to keep it from happening again.

The Price of Liberty – America’s Election Protection Movement 2008 from Ecological Options Network on Vimeo.

Help America Vote…On Paper
- A citizen call for election integrity 18 mins.
An empowering, fast-moving 18-minute briefing on the dangers to democracy posed by privately owned electronic voting machines, what patriotic citizens, activists and officials of all parties are doing about it – and how you can help.

Got Democracy?
Leading researchers, journalists and activists from around the country present massive evidence of the unacknowledged electoral crisis in the United States… and what we can do about it.

A Little Light’ll Do Ya
Blacked out or dismissed as ‘conspiracy theories’ by corporate news outlets, reports of massive vote fraud in the 2004 presidential election circulated on the internet and independent media.
As the Jan. 6th, 2005 deadline for a challenge to the Electoral College vote drew near, a tiny village on the California coast raised funds to send a delegation of its citizens and an award-winning documentary team to Ohio and Washington, D.C. to get the facts.
They found overwhelming evidence of a stolen election – and a small, diverse group of committed people from the street and the elite who were defending democracy against overwhelming odds.
This is their report – a precursor of the subsequent Election Protection movement that is still growing today and that is making a difference in upholding our right to accurate vote counts.
This film was translated into Urdu and broadcast in Pakistan during the 2007 election in which Benizir Bhuto was assassinated.

Cheated – The Comic
Wake up and save your country…

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12 Nuclear Realities Whose Names Must Not Be Spoken

President Obama speaks at the recent White House Nuclear Security Summit.

Beyond Obama’s ‘Nuclear Security’ Hokus POTUS

By James Heddle

[ First published on Counterpunch.org ]

‘Nuclear Security’ – The Quintessential Oxymoron?

It ended, with no apparent sense of irony, on April Fools’ Day. Obama’s much-heralded ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ came to a close on April 1st in Washington, D.C., having drawn representatives from about 50 countries…minus Russia, which declined to attend citing a “shortage of mutual cooperation” and the exclusion of some of its allies from the invitation list.

Compared to the lofty vision outlined in Obama’s famous 2009 Prague speech of a ‘world without nuclear weapons,’ the POTUS conference marked a sad measure of how far short of his stated intentions his actual accomplishments have fallen.

To be fair, by no means all of that failure can be said to be Obama’s fault. There are many counter-forces.

There’s a global system that profits handsomely from the combined nuclear energy-weapons-waste economy.

There’s a worldwide elite whose members derive much power and privilege from it.

There’s the domestic ‘deep state’ system of the ‘defense and security’ industry with its revolving door to government, which is heavily invested in the permanent war economy.

Then there are the people the President has chosen to surround himself with, some of whom disagree with him and work to undermine his stated policies.

http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/03/obama-disappointing-nuclear-weapons-legacy/127068/

It remains to be seen if the controversial ‘Iran Deal’ will stand as a signature accomplishment of Obama’s tenure. But the facts remain that, despite his boasts that he has ‘reduced’ the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the actual cuts amount to a mere 5% – from 4,950 operational nuclear warheads to 4,700, according to the Federation of American Scientists. As former Defense Secretary William Perry points out, that’s more than enough to destroy the world many times over.

http://www.planetarianperspectives.net/?p=2741

https://www.edcast.com/wjperryproject

And, as Perry and other former U.S. officials disapprovingly observe, Obama’s plan to spend over $1 trillion to ‘upgrade’ America’s stockpile of nuclear bombs and their delivery systems not only makes their use more likely, but has also triggered a New Arms Race.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/warnings-of-global-arms-race-ahead-of-nuclear-security-summit/5517478

Finally, the President’s ‘all of the above’ energy policy treats nuclear energy generation as ‘clean,’ ignoring the massive carbon footprint of the atomic fuel chain that makes uranium essentially a fossil fuel. It also gives massive funding and support to developing a new generation of nuclear reactors, as well as marketing existing U.S. designs world-wide to such clients as warring Arab oil states. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2015-05-25/nuclear-power-people

12 Unspeakable Realities

Those who advocate for nuclear energy as a response to climate change, or for new nuclear weapons in pursuit of ‘national security,’ must ignore or deny an overwhelming burden of facts from the history and legacy of these nuclear technologies so far.

Here are just a few:

The Ultimate ‘Kill Switch:’ Power Grid Black Out

Celebrated former anchorman Ted Koppel’s recent book LIGHTS OUT extensively documents the extent to which our country’s aging power grid is subject to being knocked out in whole, or in serious part, by cyber attack, physical attack or an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) – either from solar eruption or nuclear air-burst.

But the book is strangely silent about the fact that nuclear power plants’ attendant used fuel cooling pools are dependent on off-site power from the grid. Back-up generators and battery arrays would be unlikely to outlast an extended grid collapse. Lethally radioactive ‘spent fuel’ storage pool explosions would be at high risk of happening with devastating effects on surrounding communities and environments.

[See Patrea Patrick’s documentary BLACK START ]

Power Reactors as WMDs-in-Place

Want to take out Wall Street and the whole New York metropolitan area? A cyber hack or physical attack on the rickety Indian Point nuclear plant just 30 miles up the Hudson could do the trick. Imagine Wall Street and 5th Avenue as empty and deserted as the abandoned radioactive ghost towns in Japan’s devastated Fukushima prefecture. Imagine Connecticut being uninhabitable for generations.

Recent cyber attacks on nuclear reactors in Ukraine and the discovery that the alleged perpetrators of the Brussels explosions were casing a nuclear power plant as a possible target have sharpened public awareness that all operating reactors world-wide are potential weapons-in-place for would-be terrorists. Karl Grossman calls them ‘pre-deployed weapons of mass destruction.’

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/28/nuclear-power-plants-pre-deployed-wmds/

Genocidal Impacts on Indigenous Peoples

· Uranium mining and the deadly radioactive wastes left behind continue to have devastating effects on Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians. In the U.S., thousands of abandoned open pit uranium mines contaminate drinking and irrigation water and the air breathed by tribes across the Great Planes and the Four Corners Area. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsZ70OEzsr4

· Nuclear weapons testing has done lasting genetic and environmental damage to Pacific Islanders in the Marshall Islands and Polynesia. http://www.nuclearzero.org/

Nuclear Disasters

The Guardian lists and ranks 33 serious incidents and accidents at nuclear power stations since the first one was recorded in 1952. Of those, six happened in the US, five in Japan and three apiece in the UK and Russia. That’s an average of nearly 5 per decade.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/mar/14/nuclear-power-plant-accidents-list-rank#data

But a report by Cornell University researchers Spencer Wheatley, Benjamin Sovacool, Didier Sornette entitled Of Disasters and Dragon Kings: A Statistical Analysis of Nuclear Power Incidents & Accidents has a database of 174 major atomic accidents worldwide since 1946 – each with over $1 million in damages and at least one death.

“In fact, the damage of the largest event (Fukushima; March, 2011) is equal to 60 percent of the total damage of all 174 accidents in our database since 1946. In dollar losses we compute a 50% chance that (i) a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs in the next 50 years, (ii) a Chernobyl event (or larger) occurs in the next 27 years and (iii) a TMI event (or larger) occurs in the next 10 years.”

See also: ‘10 Devastating Radiation Accidents They Never Tell You About’

http://listverse.com/2016/03/26/10-devastating-radiation-accidents-they-never-tell-you-about/#.Vvhw73VeUc4.twitter

Nuclear energy accidents – US meltdowns

There have been 8 nuclear meltdowns so far in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, the meltdown at Three Mile Island was not the worst. That dubious honor goes to the little-reported July 12, 1959 meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory located a couple of miles from the city of Simi Valley and only about 30 miles north of Los Angeles. The radioactive contamination of the surrounding communities and environment from that event have yet to be fully acknowledged or dealt with.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20975-remembering-rocketdyne-discussing-americas-worst-nuclear-meltdown-not-three-mile-island-with-erin-brockovich

Nuclear weapons incidents

As part of his research for his book on the nuclear arms race, Command and Control – Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, Eric Schlosser used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that at least 700 “significant” accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone. The Business Insider has a useful interactive site based on Rudolph Herzog’s A Short History of Nuclear Folly on which you can track 32 nuclear weapons accidents since 1950.

http://www.businessinsider.com/list-of-broken-arrow-nuclear-accidents-2013-5

In its Status of World Nuclear Forces, the Federation of American Scientists reports the existence of

Approximately 15,350 warheads as of early-2016. Of these, more than 10,000 are in the military stockpiles (the rest are awaiting dismantlement), of which almost 4,200 warheads are deployed with operational forces, of which nearly 1,800 US, Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice.

Approximately 93 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States who each have roughly 4,500-4,700 warheads in their military stockpiles.

Former U.S. Sec. of Defense, William J. Perry says the situation is even worse:

“Today we still have over 20 thousand real world nuclear weapons. Enough to blow up everybody on the planet several times over. Those weapons pose the immediate problem of a danger of terrorism, the immediate problem of the possibility of nuclear war.

“The antagonism between Russia and the United States has reached a point now where I believe we are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race. It breaks my heart.

“Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war. Let me say that again…”

http://www.planetarianperspectives.net/?p=2741

Nuclear Brinksmanship – A ‘Nuclear Winter’ in South Asia?

Perry and his colleagues are not only worried about a nuclear WWIII triggered by a U.S.-Russian, or Israel-Iran confrontation. There are other potential atomic flashpoints as well between nuclear-armed states – the Korean Peninsula is one top candidate.

Even more worrisome at the moment are recent developments on the India-Pakistan border. Pre-armed tactical nuclear weapons line the Pakistani side under the command of individual local commanders. India’s strategic nuclear arsenal is targeted at Pakistani population centers. As tensions heighten, the ‘threat level’ of a mutually suicidal nuclear exchange between the two neighboring countries goes up. The result could be a global ‘nuclear winter’ caused by the smoke and ash from the conflagration. [See: ‘Dilip Hiro, Flashpoint for the Planet’ http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176123/tomgram%3A_dilip_hiro%2C_flashpoint_for_the_planet/#more ]

Again, the take-home message is clear: Individual local nuclear weapons, reactor and waste sites each pose a potential risk to the entire planet.

Human death toll from Chernobyl

In 2013, the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment was published by the New York Academy of Sciences. Its lead author was the celebrated Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the Russian president.

Based on some 5,000 health data, radiological surveys and scientific reports in several languages, concludes that based on records now available, some 985,000 people died, mainly of cancer, as a result of the Chernobyl accident between when the accident occurred in 1986 and 2004. It projects that more deaths will continue follow.

It blows away the specious claim by the International Atomic Energy Agency that the expected death toll from the Chernobyl accident will be 4,000. The book shows that the IAEA is seriously under-estimating, in the extreme, the casualties of Chernobyl – good reason to doubt its pronouncements on Fukushima.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/new-book-concludes-chernobyl-death-toll-985-000-mostly-from-cancer/20908

Nuclear worker health impacts

Irradiated, a December, 2015 McClatchy investigative report by Bob Hotakainen, Lindsay Wise, Frank Matt and Samantha Ehlinger, reveals that 70 years of U.S. atomic weaponry production has so far left at least 33,480 Americans dead, with more to come.

Additionally, a recent study by an international team of nine researchers looked at 308,297 workers in the nuclear industry from France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Of 66,632 known deaths by the end of the study, 17,957 were due to solid cancers. The authors report, “The risk per unit of radiation dose for cancer among radiation workers was similar to estimates derived from studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors.” They conclude that their results “suggest a linear increase in the rate of cancer with increasing radiation exposure.” Translation: There is no ‘safe’ dose of nuclear radiation. http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h5359

Environmental/Biological impacts

Evolutionary biologist Dr. Tim Mousseau shares his alarming findings from his unique research on the biological effects of radiation exposure to wildlife, plants, trees, birds and insects from the nuclear disasters at Chernobyl & Fukushima. He is finding similar catastrophic effects in both disaster areas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xnj5QYBzLs

Genetic Damage from DU Weapons

U.S. use of so-called ‘depleted uranium munitions’ in its wars in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan have left a devastating trail of monster fetuses, grotesquely deformed babies and a permanently damaged gene pool in the affected populations, as well as in the thousands of U.S. and NATO military personnel and their family members sequentially contaminated by exposure to these toxins.
https://www.rt.com/news/iraq-depleted-uranium-health-394/

http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/dod/du_factsheet_4aug98.htm

Waste storage build-up, storage incidents

Then there’s the energy-weapons-waste connection, the real ‘nuclear triad.’ Not only are nuclear energy and weapons production joined at the hip from birth, but they share a dysfunctional excretory system. After more than 70 years of trying, no reliable method has been found to keep tons of still- accumulating radioactive waste isolated from the environment for longer into the future than human civilization has yet existed has been found.

An Australian study estimates there are 390,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in the world, and nearly 10 million cubic meters of intermediate-level waste — all of it produced from nuclear power generation. That amount is growing by approximately 10,000 tons annually. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-15/sa-nuclear-waste-dump-to-meet-’global-need’-recommended/7167412

It is produced at every stage of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining and enrichment, to reactor operation and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

Despite over seven decades of trying, no proven location or method of keeping the waste isolated from the environment has yet been found.

According to the Nuclear energy institute, by the middle of 2015, 30 countries worldwide were operating 438 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 67 new nuclear plants were under construction in 15 countries. http://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Statistics/World-Statistics

The inevitable decommissioning of the aging world reactor fleet will create huge amounts of radioactive wastes. Once they are closed down, most of the world’s nuclear sites will require monitoring and protection for centuries. Wherever and however it is eventually stored, most of the waste will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years – longer than civilization has yet existed.

For a look at how radwaste management is playing out at California’s recently shut down San Onofre , see Donna Gilmore’s excellent site: SanOnofreSafety.org

Popular Push Back

The rise of the global nuclear establishment has been paralleled by waves of massive and often effective public resistance. In the days of the first nuclear arms race and during the Cold War people around the world – joined by American civil rights leaders like W.E.B. DuBois, Bayard Rustin, Martin and Coretta Scott King – organized and demonstrated against nuclear energy and for abolition of nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Freeze Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and massive campaigns in Europe mobilized millions.

Without their work, and the roll-backs and treaties it generated, the current nuclear energy-weapons-waste challenges we face would have been even greater.

We owe it to their legacy to continue the work in our generation. As the 5th anniversary of the still-ongoing Fukushima disaster’s beginning occurred on March 11, 2016, solidarity is growing between those working for abolition to nuclear energy and power in Japan, the U.S. and around the world. What might be called ‘nuclear consciousness’ is on the rise again in spite of, or because of, renewed propaganda efforts by the nuclear establishment.

That ‘resistance is fertile’ is shown by the fact that – even in Japan’s current repressive climate – because of massive public pressure and legal efforts, three executives of TEPCO, the nuclear power utility responsible for Fukushima, have been brought to trial.

As the President himself seems, on some level to understand, the abolition – not just reduction – of nuclear weapons is a human survival issue. So are the phase-out of nuclear power reactors and the responsible containment and sequestering of nuclear waste.

Hokus POTUS or a Basis for Future Progress?

This year’s POTUS Nuclear Security Summit is the last of seven meetings held in various venues during Obama’s two terms. As he closed the Conference – which had focused not on the new nuclear arms race, but narrowly on keeping civilian commercial nuclear materials ‘out of the hands of terrorists,’ the President harked back to his 2009 Prague speech. He pointed out that he had stated at the time that the goals he was calling for might not be achieved in his lifetime. Perhaps it was his way of acknowledging the shortfall of his initiatives.

He cited the progress in reducing the availability of nuclear materials and in strengthening treaties and the mechanisms of international institutions. In response to a question, he defended his nuclear weapons ‘modernization’ program as a careful balance between keeping nuclear readiness as a deterrent , while staying open to the possibilities of future arsenal reductions.

With the exception of ‘nuclear terrorism’ dangers, it is sadly unlikely that the POTUS Nuclear Security Summit’s outcomes will even acknowledge, much less seriously address the inconvenient nuclear truths listed above. Still, Mr. Obama deserves some credit for at least trying to keep discussion of nuclear policy going. Perhaps, once out of office, he will feel freer to join other former high-level U.S. officials in pushing for more substantive change.

Elsewhere in the news, “Four senior US statesmen with deep national security credentials – former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and former Senator Sam Nunn – joined together in 2007 to form the Nuclear Security Project (NSP) working for a world without nuclear weapons. “ Check it out: http://www.nti.org/about/projects/nuclear-security-project/

============

James Heddle co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network. He blogs at PlanetarianPerspectives.net. and NoNukesCA.net He is currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection

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NeoNuclearism as a Cargo Cult – Revised & Updated

Waiting…waiting…someday it will come… a cargo cult from the 1962 film Mondo Cane

Forgetting Fukushima, Denying Dai-ichi

By James Heddle

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts.” – Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynahan

Fallout as Blowback
As the 5-year anniversary has rolled around it’s clear to all who care to notice that the Fukushima triple meltdown nuclear disaster is still not ‘under control’ – as Prime Minister Abe claimed to the Olympic Committee in his successful bid to host the coming 2020 Games – but is still on-going, and will be far into the future.

That is to say, radioactive pollution will continue to pour from Dai-ichi into the oceanic, hemispheric and planetary environment with predictably negative, but unknown, effects on the health and DNA of all life forms in the biosphere.

There’s karmic irony here. The U.S. dropped the first devastating atomic bombs on Japan, then used its political influence and propaganda prowess to sell the country nuclear power. Its corporations supplied the faulty reactors that melted down at Fukushima. Now, the U.S. West Coast is on the front line of receiving the radioactive fallout in the form of ongoing oceanic and atmospheric pollution carried eastward by winds and currents.

Faith-Based Nuclear Policy
According to a recent Cornell University study, there have been nuclear reactor 174 accidents worldwide since 1946. The researchers rate the accidents in 2013 dollars and define an accident as “an unintentional incident or event at a nuclear energy facility that led to either one death (or more) or at least $50,000 in property damage.”

Based on their extensive data, they predict
• a 50% chance that a Fukushima event (or larger) will occur in the next 50 years
• a Chernobyl event (or larger) will occur in the next 27 years
• a TMI event (or larger) will occur in the next 10 years.

According to a Guardian study, a major nuclear accident has happened on average every 5 years since 1952.

Recently, alarmed at the failure of their repeated attempts to go through ‘proper channels,’ seven engineers at America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – which then Senator Obama dubbed in 2007 ‘a moribund agency’ – filed a petition as private citizens.

They stated that they have identified a long-undiscovered electrical design flaw common to virtually all U.S. nuclear plants that could prevent cooling and allow meltdowns to occur. Their petition asks that the NRC mandate that plant operators either fix the problem or shut down the reactors.

Not to mention that twenty-three U.S. reactors share the same design flaws as those that melted down at Fukushima.

The obvious take-home lesson: because of the dependence of their cooling systems on off-site power supplies, every nuclear facility, wherever its geographic location, is vulnerable to grid blackouts from cyber attacks and extreme weather events, and constitutes both a potential terrorist weapon-in-place and danger to the entire planet, and should be treated as such by the ‘international community.’ Yet, a New Nuclear Weapons race and a New Nuclear Power race are both currently in progress.

Joined at the Hip
Nuclear weapons and energy have been joined at the hip from the birth of the Atomic Age. They both rely on the same essential core technology. That’s what the ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’ is all about. That’s why Japan’s current militaristic Abe government being in possession of an estimated 47.8 tons of stock-piled plutonium, with which it could produce 6,000 nuclear weapons, is worrying neighboring countries like China & Japan.

Barak Obama began his presidency with the celebrated April 5, 2009 Prague Speech in which he stated “…clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons….” In practice Obama has
not only re-invigorated nuclear weapons development, but embraced an ‘all of the above’ energy policy including heavy investments in new nuclear reactor construction and design development.

The recipient of an apparently aspirational Nobel Peace Prize, Obama has also committed a projected $1 trillion dollars over the coming decades to upgrading America’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

The program is aimed at smaller (and therefore potentially more usable) weapons, and includes new nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, a new manned bomber for nuclear weapons delivery, and a fleet of new nuclear missile-launching submarines. Termed – with no apparent sense of irony –‘the life-extension program,’ the plans clearly violate U.S. obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

According to respected U.S. officials like former Defense Secretary William Perry, ex-Secretary of State George Schultz and even Henry Kissinger, this is triggering a new nuclear arms race. All four are now advocating nuclear weapons abolition. Perry puts it bluntly, “Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war.”

In the domain of nuclear weaponry’s Siamese twin nuclear energy, there are those opinion-maker neo-nuclear luminaries like James Hansen, James Lovelock, Stewart Brand, Bill Gates and George Monbiot who advocate for nuclear energy as a ‘carbon-free solution to climate change.’ Never mind that – as Stanford scientist Mark Jacobson and his associates, as well as others, have conclusively shown – the entire nuclear fuel chain from mine to waste dump is more carbon intensive than wind and solar put together. Their work shows a transition to renewables is totally possible…without nuclear energy. http://thesolutionsproject.org/

Brand and Jacobson debate the issue here.


The Atomic Church of the Last Gasp

New Nuclearists avoid coming to terms with the risks and failures of the existing world fleet of aging, ill-designed reactors. Some even advocate re-licensing embrittled reactors from the 1960s to extend their operation decades beyond their 40-year design life.)

NeoNuclearists believe – without operational proof-of-concept – in a pie-in-the-sky, perpetually not-yet-but-soon-to-be-born generation of ‘new, small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).’ They will consume and eliminate existing nuclear waste and be so ‘inherently safe’ you can bury them in your back yard. Any day now.

The Obama Administration agrees. According to Forbes, at last November’s White House Nuclear Summit, the Administration announced actions to help sustain and finance nuclear energy, including:
- $900 million in the Department of Energy’s 2016 budget to support commercial nuclear energy
- Supplement DOE’s existing $12.5 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear energy projects
- Launch the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), coordinated by the Idaho National Laboratory, to provide outside researchers access to nuclear energy-related capabilities and expertise within the DOE complex. This is needed to bring advanced nuclear reactor designs to commercialization, at the same time ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet https://gain.inl.gov/SitePages/Home.aspx
- Make $2 million available in the form of vouchers to small businesses entrepreneur-led start-ups for assistance in obtaining nuclear know-how from our National Lab system
- Provide support to small modular reactor licensing, simulation and control room development for light-water reactors

The blind faith with which latter-day nuclear advocates approach the issues of human, ecological and economic risk associated with nuclear technologies, reminds one of the Melanesian millenarian movement called ‘cargo cults,’ in which indigenous tribes, following charismatic figures, built wooden aircraft replicas on mountain tops in the vain hopes – despite repeated failures – to lure down the western cargo planes loaded with commodities they saw flying overhead as portrayed in the 1962 film Mondo Cane.

Or, if the definition of ‘insanity’ is: ‘persisting in behavior which consistently fails,’ neo-nuclearism is clearly a form of collective insanity – atomic psychosis.

Recovering from Nuclear Delusion
The facts of the failure of the nuclear dream are there, for any who are not blinded by ideology or self-interest to see: in addition to its history of totalitarianism, incompetence and global disasters, nuclear energy deployment is plagued by public opposition, investor disinterest, consistently mounting cost and schedule over-runs and dependence on contiminating dwindling water supplies. Energy consultant Amory Lovins sees nuclear energy “dying a slow death from an overdose of market forces.” Futurist Jeremy Rifkin agrees, “From a business perspective, its dead.” Expert witness and nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education puts it succinctly,“nuclear energy is just too expensive and too slow to have an impact on climate change.”

Then there’s the energy-weapons-waste connection, the real ‘nuclear triad.’ Not only are nuclear energy and weapons production joined at the hip from birth, but they share a dysfunctional excretory system.

Waste Storage From Here to Eternity
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, by the middle of 2015, 30 countries worldwide were operating 438 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 67 new nuclear plants were under construction in 15 countries. http://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Statistics/World-Statistics

An Australian study estimates there are 390,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in the world, and nearly 10 million cubic meters of intermediate-level waste — all of it produced from nuclear power generation. That amount is growing by approximately 10,000 tons annually.

Tons of waste are produced at every stage of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining and enrichment, to reactor operation and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

Despite over seven decades of trying, no proven location or method of keeping the waste isolated from the environment has yet been found.

In addition to thousands of tons of lethal irradiated fuel rods, the inevitable decommissioning of the aging world reactor sites will mean trying to dispose of huge amounts of radioactive metal pipes, concrete and buildings. Thus intense radioactive waste made in production of electricity for 70 years will require monitoring and protection wherever and however it is eventually stored, for hundreds of thousands of years – longer than civilization has yet existed.
The 20th century ‘nuclear dream’ of global full-spectrum dominance and energy too cheap to meter has become a 21st century nightmare. It is time to wake up. As retired top U.S. energy administrator S. David Freeman puts it, “We have to kill nuclear power before it kills us.”

NeoNuclearists are entitled to their own opinions…but not to their own facts.

======

James Heddle co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network.
He blogs at PlanetarianPerspectives.net. http://www.planetarianperspectives.net/ and NoNukesCA.net
He is currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection

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Neo-Nuclearism as a Cargo Cult

Forgetting Fukushima, Denying Dai-ichi

By James Heddle

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts.” – Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynahan

Fallout as Blowback
As the 5-year anniversary rolls around it’s clear to all who care to notice that the Fukushima triple meltdown nuclear disaster is still not ‘under control’ – as Prime Minister Abe claimed to the Olympic Committee in his successful bid to host the coming 2020 Games – but is still on-going, and will be far into the future.

That is to say, radioactive pollution will continue to pour into the oceanic, hemispheric and planetary environment with predictably negative, but unknown, effects on the health and DNA of all life forms in the biosphere.

There’s karmic irony here. The U.S. dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan, then used its political influence and propaganda prowess to sell the country nuclear power. Its corporations supplied the faulty reactors that melted down at Fukushima. Now, it is on the front line of receiving the fallout in the form of ongoing oceanic and atmospheric pollution carried eastward by winds and currents.

Faith-Based Nuclear Policy
Despite the obvious take-home lesson – i.e., that every nuclear facility, wherever its geographic location, constitutes a danger to the entire planet, and should be treated as such by the ‘international community’ – a New Nuclear Weapons race and a New Nuclear Power race are both currently in progress.

He began his presidency with the celebrated April 5, 2009 Prague Speech in which he stated “…clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons….” In practice Obama has embraced an ‘all of the above’ energy policy including heavy investments in new reactor construction and design development.

The recipient of an apparently aspirational Nobel Peace Prize has also committed a projected $1 trillion dollars over the coming decades to upgrading America’s nuclear weapons arsenal. https://www.revealnews.org/article/new-mexico-thrives-on-nuclear-bomb-despite-us-pledge-to-reduce-arsenal/

The program includes new ballistic missiles, a new manned bomber and a fleet of new missile-launching submarines. Termed – with no apparent sense of irony –‘the life-extension program,’ the plans clearly violate U.S. obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In the domain of nuclear weaponry’s Siamese twin nuclear energy, there are those opinion-maker luminaries like James Hansen, James Lovelock, Stewart Brand, Bill Gates and George Monbiot who advocate for nuclear energy as a ‘carbon-free solution to climate change.’ Never mind that – as Stanford scientist Mark Jacobsen and his associates, as well as others, have conclusively shown – the entire nuclear fuel chain from mine to waste dump is more carbon intensive than wind and solar put together. Their work shows a transition to renewables is totally possible…without nuclear energy. http://thesolutionsproject.org/

The Atomic Church of the Last Gasp
Last week, alarmed at the failure of their repeated attempts to go through ‘proper channels,’ seven engineers at America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – which President Obama himself has dubbed in 2007 ‘a moribund agency’ – filed a petition as private citizens. They stated that they have identified a long-undiscovered electrical flaw common to virtually all U.S. nuclear plants that could prevent cooling and allow a meltdown to occur. Their petition asks that the NRC mandate that plant operators either fix the problem or shut down the reactors. http://commondreams.org/views/2016/03/10/7-top-nrc-experts-break-ranks-warn-critical-danger-aging-nuke-plants

But the New Nuclearists avoid coming to terms with the risks and failures of the existing world fleet of aging, ill-designed reactors. They believe – without operational proof-of-concept – in a pie-in-the-sky, perpetually not-yet-but-soon-to-be-born generation of ‘new, small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).’ They will consume and eliminate existing nuclear waste and be so ‘inherently safe’ you can bury them in your back yard. Any day now.

The blind faith with which latter-day nuclear advocates approach the issues of human, ecological and economic risk associated with nuclear technologies, reminds one of the Melanesian millenarian movement called ‘cargo cults,’ in which indigenous tribes, following charismatic figures, built wooden aircraft replicas on mountain tops in the vain hopes – despite repeated failures – to lure down the western cargo planes loaded with commodities they saw flying overhead.

Or, if the definition of ‘insanity’ is: ‘persisting in behavior which consistently fails,’ neo-nuclearism is clearly a form of collective insanity – atomic psychosis.

Recovering from Nuclear Delusion
The 20th century ‘nuclear dream’ of global full-spectrum dominance and energy too cheap to meter has become a 21st century nightmare. It is time to wake up. As retired top U.S. energy administrator S. David Freeman puts it in a recent interview, “We have to kill nuclear power before it kills us.” [Video interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1R4jc2wlGs

The facts of the failure of the nuclear dream are there, for any who are not blinded by ideology or self-interest to see: in addition to its history of totalitarianism, incompetence and global disasters, nuclear energy deployment is plagued by public opposition, investor disinterest, consistently mounting cost and schedule over-runs and dependence on dwindling water supplies. Energy consultant Amory Lovins sees nuclear energy “dying a slow death from an overdose of market forces.” Futurist Jeremy Rifkin agrees, “From a business perspective, its dead.”

Then there’s the energy-weapons-waste connection, the real ‘nuclear triad.’ Not only are nuclear energy and weapons production joined at the hip from birth, but they share a dysfunctional excretory system – of which more below.

Nine Realities of which Nuclear Millenarians Dare Not Speak
Those who advocate for nuclear energy as a response to climate change, or for new nuclear weapons in pursuit of ‘national security,’ must ignore or deny an overwhelming burden of facts from the history and legacy of these nuclear technologies so far.

Here are just a few:

Genocidal Impacts on Indigenous Peoples

• Uranium mining and the deadly radioactive wastes left behind continue to have devastating effects on Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians. In the U.S., thousands of abandoned open pit uranium mines contaminate drinking and irrigation water and the air breathed by tribes across the Great Planes and the Four Corners Area.
• Nuclear weapons testing has done lasting genetic and environmental damage to Pacific Islanders in the Marshall Islands and Polynesia.

Nuclear Disasters
The Guardian lists and ranks 33 serious incidents and accidents at nuclear power stations since the first one was recorded in 1952. Of those, six happened in the US, five in Japan and three apiece in the UK and Russia. That’s an average of nearly 5 per decade. http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/mar/14/nuclear-power-plant-accidents-list-rank#data

But a report by Cornell University researchers Spencer Wheatley, Benjamin Sovacool, Didier Sornette entitled Of Disasters and Dragon Kings: A Statistical Analysis of Nuclear Power Incidents & Accidents has a database of 174 accidents worldwide since 1946.

They rate the accidents in 2013 dollars and define an accident as “an unintentional incident or event at a nuclear energy facility that led to either one death (or more) or at least $50,000 in property damage.”

They conclude

In fact, the damage of the largest event (Fukushima; March, 2011) is equal to 60 percent of the total damage of all 174 accidents in our database since 1946. In dollar losses we compute a 50% chance that (i) a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs in the next 50 years, (ii) a Chernobyl event (or larger) occurs in the next 27 years and (iii) a TMI event (or larger) occurs in the next 10 years. [emphasis added]
http://arxiv.org/abs/1504.02380
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/536886/the-chances-of-another-chernobyl-before-2050-50-say-safety-specialists/

 

US Nuclear Meltdowns
There have been 8 nuclear meltdowns so far in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, the meltdown at Three Mile Island was not the worst. That dubious honor goes to the little-reported July 12, 1959 meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory located a couple of miles from the city of Simi Valley and only about 30 miles north of Los Angeles. The radioactive contamination of the surrounding communities and environment from that event have yet to be fully acknowledged or dealt with. One of the companies involved was Southern California Edison, the major owner of San Onofre.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20975-remembering-rocketdyne-discussing-americas-worst-nuclear-meltdown-not-three-mile-island-with-erin-brockovich

Nuclear Weapons Incidents
As part of his research for his book on the nuclear arms race, Command and Control – Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, Eric Schlosser used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that at least 700 “significant” accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone. The Business Insider has a useful interactive site based on Rudolph Herzog’s A Short History of Nuclear Folly on which you can track 32 nuclear weapons accidents since 1950. http://www.businessinsider.com/list-of-broken-arrow-nuclear-accidents-2013-5

In its Status of World Nuclear Forces, the Federation of American Scientists reports the existence of

approximately 15,350 warheads as of early-2016. Of these, more than 10,000 are in the military stockpiles (the rest are awaiting dismantlement), of which almost 4,200 warheads are deployed with operational forces, of which nearly 1,800 US, Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice.
Approximately 93 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States who each have roughly 4,500-4,700 warheads in their military stockpiles. http://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/

Former U.S. Sec. of Defense, William J. Perry says the situation is even worse:

“Today we still have over 20 thousand real world nuclear weapons. Enough to blow up everybody on the planet several times over. Those weapons pose the immediate problem of a danger of terrorism, the immediate problem of the possibility of nuclear war.
“The antagonism between Russia and the United States has reached a point now where I believe we are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race. It breaks my heart.
“Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war. Let me say that again…”
http://www.planetarianperspectives.net/?p=2741

The Documented Human Death Toll From Chernobyl
In 2013, the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment was published by the New York Academy of Sciences. Its lead author was the celebrated Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the Russian president.

Based on some 5,000 health data, radiological surveys and scientific reports in several languages, it concludes based on records now available, 985,000 people died, mainly of cancer, as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl accident between when the accident occurred and 2004. It projects that more deaths will continue follow.

It blows away the specious claim by the International Atomic Energy Agency – whose mission is to promote nuclear energy – that the expected death toll from the Chernobyl accident will be 4,000. The book shows that the IAEA is seriously under-estimating, in the extreme, the casualties of Chernobyl – good reason to doubt its pronouncements on Fukushima. http://www.globalresearch.ca/new-book-concludes-chernobyl-death-toll-985-000-mostly-from-cancer/20908

Health Impacts on U.S. Nuclear Workers
Irradiated, a December, 2015 McClatchy investigative report by Bob Hotakainen, Lindsay Wise, Frank Matt and Samantha Ehlinger, reveals that 70 years of U.S. atomic weaponry production has so far left at least 33,480 Americans dead, with more to come. http://media.mcclatchydc.com/static/features/irradiated/

A recent study by an international team of nine researchers looked at 308,297 workers in the nuclear industry from France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Of 66,632 known deaths by the end of the study, 17,957 were due to solid cancers. The authors report “the risk per unit of radiation dose for cancer among radiation workers was similar to estimates derived from studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors.” They conclude that their results “suggest a linear increase in the rate of cancer with increasing radiation exposure.” Translation: There is no ‘safe’ dose of nuclear radiation. http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h5359

Environmental & Biological Impacts of Nuclear Disasters
For years, evolutionary biologist Dr. Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina, has been studying the impacts of both the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters on animals and plants in the contaminated regions.

Studies published by Mousseau and Anders Møller of the Université Paris-Sud, and their collaborators detail the effects of ionizing radiation on pine trees and birds and small animals in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. “When you look for these effects, you find them,” says Mousseau.

He adds that, mirroring Chernobyl results, “A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,” Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-08-biological-effects-fukushima-insects-animals.html#jCp

http://phys.org/news/2013-08-viewing-fukushima-cold-chernobyl.html#jCp
http://phys.org/news/2013-08-viewing-fukushima-cold-chernobyl.html#nRlv
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xnj5QYBzLs

DNA and Genetic Damage from DU weapons
U.S. wars in Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and perhaps in other places as well, have seen the extensive use of so-called ‘depleted uranium’ ammunition -uranium armor penetrators. The super hard metal projectiles, fired from tanks and aircraft, can pierce the armor of tanks and combat vehicles, volatizing into deadly toxic particles that enter the bodies of all combatants and members of the surrounding populations. U.S. and NATO soldiers returning from the wars sicken and contaminate their loved ones. The populations forced to live in permanently contaminated former battle zones suffer chronic health problems and wide-spread genetic deformities that will be passed down through the generations.
http://www.bollyn.com/depleted-uranium/
https://stgvisie.home.xs4all.nl/PentagonPoison.html

Waste Storage From Here to Eternity
An Australian study estimates there are 390,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in the world, and nearly 10 million cubic meters of intermediate-level waste — all of it produced from nuclear power generation. That amount is growing by approximately 10,000 tons annually. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-15/sa-nuclear-waste-dump-to-meet-’global-need’-recommended/7167412

It is produced at every stage of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining and enrichment, to reactor operation and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.
Despite over seven decades of trying, no proven location or method of keeping the waste isolated from the environment has yet been found.

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, by the middle of 2015, 30 countries worldwide were operating 438 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 67 new nuclear plants were under construction in 15 countries. http://www.nei.org/Knowledge-Center/Nuclear-Statistics/World-Statistics

The inevitable decommissioning of the aging world reactor fleet will create huge amounts of radioactive wastes. Once they are closed down, most of the world’s nuclear sites will require monitoring and protection for centuries. Wherever and however it is eventually stored, most of the waste will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years – longer than civilization has yet existed.

I rest my case.

Neo-Nuclearists are entitled to their own opinions…but not to their own facts.

=============

James Heddle Co-Directs EON – the Ecological Options Network. He is currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN – The California-Fukushima Connection

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STAND WITH THE MARSHALL ISLANDS – ROUND 2


Guest Blog by Jackie Cabasso from Europe

The first round of oral arguments in the Marshall Islands lawsuits against the nuclear-armed states in the International Court of Justice are coming to a close today. Friday, 11 March (the 5th anniversary of the start of the Fukushima disaster), from 3 – 6 pm in The Hague, Netherlands, the Marshall Islands will rebut the arguments made by the United Kingdom on Wednesday, 9 March.

The Marshall Islands contends that the nuclear-armed nations are in violation of their obligation to disarm under Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and customary international law. In April 2014 the Marshall Islands filed lawsuits against all nine nuclear-armed states. Regrettably, the United States, Russia, China, France, Israel and North Korea do not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ and are ignoring the cases brought against them.

Preliminary procedural arguments began on Monday 7 March in the International Court of Justice, with the Marshall Islands presenting oral arguments in its case against India. On Tuesday 8 March, the Marshall Islands presented its case against Pakistan. Unfortunately, just a few days before the scheduled hearing, Pakistan made it known to the Court that it would not participate in the oral proceedings.

On Wednesday, 9 March, the United Kingdom presented its defense against the Marshall Islands case. And on Thursday, 10 March, India responded to the Marshall Islands claims.

On Friday, 11 March the Marshall Islands will respond to the UK.

To get a feel for the hearings watch this short video from the BBC: The Marshall Islands takes three world nuclear powers to court

The second round of arguments will begin on Monday 14 March, when the Marshall Islands will respond to India, and the UK will respond to the Marshall Islands. On Wednesday 16 March India will respond to the Marshall Islands and the Marshall Islands will respond to the UK.

The International Court of Justice is the judicial branch of the United Nations. It is the highest, most authoritative court in the world on questions of international law. While these hearings concern preliminary issues as to whether the cases are suitable for adjudication on the merits, the substance of the cases is coming up in various ways.

I am in The Hague, working with Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation to support the Marshall Islands by doing media outreach and social media. Here’s how you can learn about and follow the hearings from wherever you are.

· Sign up to receive our daily updates: https://www.wagingpeace.org/sign-up-to-get-daily-email-updates-from-the-hague/

· Read our daily updates from the hearings at http://www.pressenza.com/

· Follow me on and Rick Wayman on Twitter @JackieCabasso and @RickWayman, and retweet. We are live tweeting, using the hashtag #NuclearZero

· Like and share our Facebook posts at https://www.facebook.com/WesternStatesLegalFoundation/

https://www.facebook.com/wagingpeace

· Watch the hearings for yourself. Video webcasts are being broadcast live at http://www.icj-cij.org/homepage/index.php and posted on the International Court of Justice website at: www.icj-cij.org/multimedia

· Read the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s March 2 press release at https://www.wagingpeace.org/oral-hearings-on-the-marshall-islands-nuclear-disarmament-cases-to-begin-at-the-international-court-of-justice.

· For more information about the cases see www.nuclearzero.org.

If you’re in nearby Europe, please consider coming to The Hague to support the Marshall Islands by your presence in the courtroom. Three press releases issued by the ICJ (one for each of the cases) provide the hearing schedule and admission procedures to the court. There is no advance registration procedure.

· Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/160/18888.pdf

· Marshall Islands v. India http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/158/18884.pdf

· Marshall Islands v. Pakistan http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/159/18886.pdf


SPECIAL EVENT: Saturday 12 March, 4:00 pm: Humanity House, The Hague
Nuclear Weapons at the International Court of Justice
Please join us for this free public event about the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits. At this event, members of the legal team representing the Marshall Islands at the International Court of Justice will discuss the importance of the lawsuits.
Speakers include:
o Tony de Brum (co-agent of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and former RMI Foreign Minister);
o Phon van den Biesen (co-agent of the Republic of the Marshall Islands);
o John Burroughs (Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy); and
o Laurie Ashton (Keller Rohrback LLP).
The event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Soka Gakkai International, PAX, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, and Humanity House.
For more information click here

Jacqueline Cabasso
Executive Director
Western States Legal Foundation
Working for Peace & Justice in a Nuclear Free World
www.wslfweb.org
www.disarmamentactivist.org
www.facebook.com/WesternStatesLegalFoundation
Twitter@JackieCabasso

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Why California’s Current Nuclear Showdown Should Matter to You

San Onofre nuclear reactors between San Diego and L.A. were shuttered in 2013. Now the question is: What to do with 3,600,000 pounds of accumulated nuclear waste being stored on-site in a tsunami zone? Photo: EON

Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You

By James Heddle
EON – the Ecological Options Network

Sunset for Nuclear Power?
Does the dream of nuclear power still ‘look bright’ as one enthusiastic investment advisor gushed less than a year ago, or is it the “the dream that failed,” as the Economist asserted as far back as March of 2012?

Approaching 5 years this March 11 after the still on-going Fukushima nuclear disaster, the debate goes on, enveloped in a miasma of mis-, dis-, and conflicting information generated by industry ‘merchants of doubt,’ but rarely leavened by rational analysis of What’s Really What.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015 by Mycle Schneider, Antony Froggatt et al went a long way toward settling the issue with just that – a data-based rational analysis. http://www.worldnuclearreport.org/-2015-.html

Its conclusion: Worldwide, despite a few troubled construction starts over budget and behind schedule, “The nuclear industry remains in decline.”

You’d never know it from the pro-nuclear happytalk and proposed subsidy and bailout bills being floated in Congress, but all around the world the global nuclear power industry is fighting for its life.

Nuclear Showdown in California

Nowhere is that battle closer to being decisively lost by the industry than in California, where the Sunshine State’s ‘last nuke standing’ – PG&E’s Diablo Canyon – faces a very uncertain future. A showdown between those who want to shut it down, and those who want to keep it going.

It is a microcosmic drama with all the elements of a movie thriller:
• A corrupt California Public Utilities Commission racked in scandals.
• A compromised Nuclear Regulatory Commission captured by nuclear interests.
• A resurgent peoples’ movement determined to shut Diablo down and responsibly manage the state’s thousands of tons of lethal radioactive waste.
• The growing vision of a nuclear-energy-free West Coast and a solartopian transition.
• A handful of atomic denialists clamoring clamoring to ‘save Diablo.’
• All this in the context of deepening climate change and the battle for decentralized, clean, renewable power.

A Diablo shutdown in California would be a shot heard in nuclear boardrooms around the world, and would continue this bellwether state’s reputation as being ‘no country for old nukes.’

A quick look at the history of California’s Nuclear Free Movement tells the tale.

Back last century, then-President Nixon predicted 1000 nuclear reactors in the US by the year 2000.

In the 60’s, PG&E announced plans to build 63 reactors every 25 miles up and down the California coast.

Thanks to informed popular resistance interventions in the courts, in the legislatures, and in the streets, that didn’t happen.

Only 10 of those planned power reactors ever got built: 1 at Humboldt Bay, 1 at Pleasanton, 1 at Santa Susana, 2 at Rancho Secco, 3 at San Onofre, and 2 at Diablo Canyon.

Today, only 2 are still in operation, those at Diablo Canyon.

From a planned 63 nuclear power plants in the 1960’s, down to 1 in 2015.

Not a bad track record for the effectiveness of informed non-violent, popular resistance…and a demonstration of the non-viability of nuclear energy – vulnerable as it is to public opposition, industry incompetence, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and what renowned energy expert Amory Lovins long ago called ‘a terminal overdose of market forces.’

The shutdown of San Onofre in 2013 was hailed as ‘a seismic event’ for the nuclear industry.

The man who said that was in a position to know whereof he spoke, because he had once been an executive in that very industry AND had played an important part as a consultant to Friends of the Earth in helping to get San Onofre shut down.

That would be Arnie Gundersen. His partner Maggie Gundersen, founded and is president of Fairewinds Energy Education, for which Arnie serves as Chief Nuclear Engineer. http://www.fairewinds.org/

The Fairewinds organization has emerged as a major player in informing the public about the risks of nuclear power and the real potential of what lifelong No Nukes campaigner Harvey Wasserman calls a solartopian transition to a renewable energy economy. http://solartopia.org/ http://www.nukefree.org/

Since the San Onofre shutdown, and with a renewed sense of risk triggered by being on the frontline of Fukushima fallout, a resurgent Nuclear Free California movement has turned its attention to Diablo Canyon. There, two aging, embrittled reactors sited over 13 (count em) intersecting earthquake faults, in a seismically active state, in a tsunami zone (just like Fukushima), are being operated by a company under state investigation and federal indictment for safety negligence.

Back in 1981, history’s most massive non-violent blockade to that date, with thousands participating, occurred at Diablo in a valiant-but-futile attempt to prevent the plant’s start-up.

Today, the operating licenses for the plant’s two remaining reactors are set to expire in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Now, with its age, precarious location, serious environmental impacts, massive killing of marine life, public safety risks, PG&E negligence, seismic and tsunami vulnerabilities, lax regulatory oversight, economic viability and energy contribution all being called into question, pressure is building for shutdown of the plant’s two remaining reactors.

2015 began with a regional conference organized by a state-wide coalition and hosted by Mothers for Peace in the plant’s home county, San Luis Obispo, aimed at mobilizing public awareness and local, regional and national pressure for closure.

Gundersens and Wasserman both closed the year with well-attended speaking tours designed to encourage informed opposition to the plant’s continued operation.

PG&E officials themselves are on record as being unsure whether or not the beleaguered utility – ‘with a lot on its plate right now’ – will seek extension of the licenses.

However, John Geesman of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility reports that information obtained through legal discovery by his organization indicates that PG&E spent $9 million in 2015 and intends to spend $15 million in 2016 working toward relicensing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix-peILdAzY&feature=youtu.be

California’s Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom – a former San Francisco mayor who chairs the state’s Land Commission, and is already running for Governor in 2018 – recently opined that “I just don’t see that this plant is going to survive beyond 2024, 2025. I just don’t see that.… And there is a compelling argument as to why it shouldn’t.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKeXy0O_Sjg

Nuclear Denialists Panic

That may be why, in what looks like the plant’s eleventh hour, self-styled ‘environmentalist’ and hyper-technophile Michael Shallenberger has founded the SaveDiabloCoallition http://www.savediablocanyon.org/ and launched a campaign claiming that (not even a Colbert could make this up) a Diablo shutdown would lead to an ‘environmental disaster.’

Charging that public fears of nuclear risks – based on incontrovertible evidence and undeniable past experience – are ‘overblown’ and ‘irrational,’ Shallenberger, with surprising media attention, has become a new mouthpiece for the view that, because of its ‘low’ carbon emissions, nuclear power is a ‘clean’ source of energy and therefore a major solution to climate change.

That was a view promoted at the recent CoP21 Paris climate talks by such luminaries as James Hansen. With no great result it turns out. The Ecologist reports: http://www.worldnuclearreport.org/The-Ecologist-UK-Nuclear-renaissance-Failing-industry-is-running-flat-out-to.html

The nuclear power industry’s malaise was all too evident at the COP21 UN climate change conference in Paris in December. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd noted:
“It was entirely predictable that the nuclear industry achieved precisely nothing at the recent Paris COP21 talks and in the subsequent international agreement. …
“Analysis of the submissions of the 196 governments that signed up to the Paris agreement, demonstrating their own individual schemes on how to reduce national carbon emissions, show that nearly all of them exclude nuclear power.
“The future is likely to repeat the experience of 2015 when 10 new reactors came into operation worldwide but 8 shut down. So as things stand, the industry is essentially running to stand still.”

In any case, Hansen & friends are in error. See: “Mark Jacobson to James Hansen: Nukes Are Not Needed to Solve World’s Climate Crisis” http://ecowatch.com/2016/01/04/mark-jacobson-james-hansen/
And “The World Can Transition to
100% Clean, Renewable Energy” http://thesolutionsproject.org/

Comparisons are Odious…and Misleading

The contention that nuclear energy is ‘carbon free’ is a piece of dis-information. Yes, relative to those of coal, oil, and gas, the total carbon emissions from the nuclear fuel chain is lowER. But, by no stretch of the data, are they zero.

When you add together all the fossil fuel-dependent earth-moving machines, transportation, milling and processing operations, security and grappling with transporting and storing tons of radioactive waste lethal for thousands of years, it becomes clear how big the actual carbon footprint of the nuclear energy industry really is.

But, not only does the nuclear fuel chain emit carbon at every stage, it also emits DNA and public health destroying radioactive pollution.

Every day, ‘routine emissions’ from every nuclear reactor in the world contaminate the surrounding environment and population with radiological pollution. It’s all about our genetic heritage, you see.

Pro-Nuclear HennyPennys

Like denialist counterparts in the asbestos, tobacco, oil and GMO industries, Shallenberger and his coalition colleagues poopoo the risks of their product. But they think the sky will fall if Diablo is shutdown.

“Last week,“reports Mother Jones’ Tim McDonnell http://m.motherjones.com/environment/2016/02/diablo-canyon-nuclear-plant-climate-change
“in an effort to ensure that Diablo Canyon isn’t shut down in the near future, this new coalition sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown (D); the CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility that owns the plant; and five state regulatory officials. The letter warned that “closing Diablo Canyon would make it far harder to meet the state’s climate goals.” The 61 signatories include Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, climate scientists James Hansen of Columbia University and Kerry Emanuel of MIT, and the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker.

According to Shellenberger’s research, the MJ story goes on, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2703039-Diablo-v11.html

Diablo Canyon currently produces twice as much power as all the state’s solar panels (California is the nation’s No. 1 solar state). Closing it, he said, would not only shave off one-fifth of the state’s zero-carbon energy, but potentially increase the state’s emissions by an amount equivalent to putting 2 million cars on the road per year. That’s because the power gap left by the plant’s closure would likely be filled by new natural gas plants—which is what happened when San Onofre was shuttered.

“What’s powerful about Diablo is the sheer size of it,” he said. “If you flip it [off], carbon emissions go up so much.”

That’s where the Porter Ranch gas leak and a little investigative background history come in.

Methane, Radon and a Missed Opportunity

You may have noticed that utilities are not all that happy about the advent of what futurist and international business consultant Jeremy Rifkin describes as ‘a new energy regime’ which is ‘decentralized, distributive and collaborative’ (and democratically managed in the public interest), because it threatens their investor-owned, centralized business model.

That’s why utilities around the country are fighting so hard to make rooftop solar and net-metering prohibitively expensive.

The California Energy Commission’s own data have shown for years that the state has a 40% surplus energy capacity. The piddling amount supplied by Diablo – Shallenberger says 8%%, others calculate 6% – could easily be made up by conservation, efficiency and the state’s huge untapped solar and geothermal energy potential in Imperial County, which the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has identified as one of the richest sources in the nation.

But when San Onofre shut down, where did the decision-makers turn for making up the difference? Not conservation, efficiency and renewables, but gas.

That’s where the Porter Ranch gas leak comes in.

Termed by famed whistleblower Erin Brockovith ‘The worst environmental disaster since the Gulf Oil Spill,” the world knows by now that the still-ongoing leak emits hundreds of tons of the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere every day – according to the California Air Resources Board, the equivalent of “more than 1,411,851 cars.”

According to an on-going investigation by San Diego-based attorneys Mike Aguirre and Mia Severson, the post-San Onofre decision to switch to gas and therefore reliance on use and expansion of the Porter Ranch gas storage facility rather than available renewable sources was made behind the scenes in secret meetings by government officials.

According to a letter sent Feb. 8, 2016 by the attorneys to Mike Gatto, Chairperson of the State Utilities and Commerce Committee, the trail of responsibility for the decision leading to the Porter Ranch disaster leads all the way to Governor Jerry Brown. http://www.planetarianperspectives.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Letter-to-Chairperson-Gatto-2-8-16-signed.pdf

That’s where the post-San Onofre uptick in carbon emissions came from that Shallenberger and company are so worried about.

But here’s the kicker: according to recent reports, the leak not only contains the greenhouse gas methane and many other toxic compounds that have made hundreds sick and forced the evacuation of thousands. It also contains the radioactive gas radon. http://nuclearhotseat.com/2016/01/13/nuclear-hotseat-238-special-porter-ranchradon-radiation-risk-kevin-kamps-cindy-folkers-richard-mathews-terry-lodge/

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Dependent on off-site power sources for its over-crowded waste storage pools, crammed with more accumulated waste in dry storage canisters (despite 7 decades of trying, there is still no federal radwaste repository on the horizon) every nuclear power plant is a time bomb in place awaiting a desperate, ruthless, tech- savvy terrorist. And, as Chernobyl and Fukushima amply demonstrate, every local nuclear disaster is a global nuclear catastrophe as well.

So, since we are all downwinders now, and the ‘save Diablo’ denialists’ hysteria to the contrary notwithstanding…Why Decommission Diablo? Let us count the whys:

Diablo’s Dirty Baker’s Dozen

• It has two aging reactors in a tsunami zone, just like Fukushima
• It’s located over a network of 13 active earthquake faults
• It’s out of compliance with fire regulations
• It’s out of compliance with seismic regulations
• It’s out of compliance with California’s Once-Through Cooling law
• It destroys sea life
• It releases toxic emissions in daily operation
• It’s a proven health risk to the surrounding population
• It has no emergency evacuation plan for the surrounding population
• A senior NRC inspector recently said ‘shut it down’ until seismic safety is assessed and was overruled
• It’s totally vulnerable to physical and cybernetic terrorist attacks
• Its energy output is not needed
• It is run by a company that punishes whistleblowers and is under indictment and investigation for safety abuses and corrupt practices.

Once a powerful citizens’ movement opposed Diablo’s start-up.

Now a resurgent movement of citizens is saying ‘Shut It Down’ and calling for a nuclear energy free West Coast.

A Nation of Downwinders

Fallout from Chernobyl registered throughout the northern hemisphere. Fallout from the still-on-going Fukushima nuclear disaster was detected across the United States and into eastern Europe. Radioactive contamination of the Pacific continues inching toward our shores.

Prevailing winds off the Pacific blow inland – south and southwest. Simulations of fallout from a Diablo disaster show Santa Barbara and L.A. both being in the potential path. Drifting east, fallout from a nuclear disaster in CA would first take out the central valley, a major food source for the world, then continue on cross-country in unpredictable swirls and pockets. We would literally become a country of downwinders.

The Real Implications of a Diablo Shutdown

On the other hand, a Diablo shutdown and the demise of nuclear power in California:

Would represent a double win for democratic choice and enlightened energy policy

Would be a victory and vindication for a non-violent movement that has persisted for over half a century

Would be one more stake in the heart of an international dinosaur industry thrashing about in its death throes and taking desperate measures to survive.

Would free up resources for, and stimulate a policy shift toward helping California again lead the way in a solartopian transition to a renewable energy future.

Because of CA’s image as an early adaptor bellwether state, policy-makers, legislators and investors around the country and the world take notice.

And, with more and more shutdowns of aging reactors around the country being announced each month, it would help speed the day – listen for the approaching hoofbeats – of decommissioning coming soon to a reactor near you.

Worldwide, as Dr. Jim Green observes in the recent Ecologist article, “…with over 200 reactor shut-downs due by 2040, the industry will have to run very hard indeed just to stay put.”

James Heddle is currently at work on a documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection. http://www.shutdowndoc.tv/
He co-directs EON – The Ecological Options Network with his partner Mary Beth Brangan. EON3.net. http://eon3.net/ EON’s YouTube Channel is here : https://www.youtube.com/user/eon3/videos He can be reached at mailto:Jim@eon3.net .

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