In a rare move, Washington DC’s Federal U.S. Court of Appeals will hear a landmark challenge to their continued operation.
The suit says Diablo’s owners illegally conspired with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to weaken seismic standards. “This is a big victory,” says Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth. “The public has a right to know what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Pacific Gas & Electric won’t admit—hundreds of thousands of people are put at immediate risk by earthquake danger at Diablo Canyon.”
The warning by theoretical physicist Albert Einstein and philosopher Bertrand Russell against nuclear war issued 60 years ago is being ignored by the world’s political leaders today at humanity’s peril, MIT philosopher and Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky says.
Known as the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, it was issued on July 9, 1955, at a London news conference which Russell opened with the words, “I am bringing the warning pronounced by the signatories to the notice of all the powerful Governments of the world in the earnest hope that they may agree to allow their citizens to survive.”
“Surveying the record of astonishingly reckless and irresponsible state actions, repeated and often frightening accidents, and pure luck, one can only conclude that it is remarkable that we have survived the nuclear age thus far,” Chomsky says looking back.
“Internal government documents, oral histories, and other sources yield a chilling account of operative considerations,” he noted. Chomsky said that nuclear war and climate catastrophe are “the two grim shadows” that hover “above all reflections on world affairs and the commitments we must pursue.”
“Unlike the twin looming danger of climate catastrophe, the steps that can be taken to greatly mitigate the (nuclear)threat are reasonably clear, and can be implemented with dedication and political will. It would be criminal to let the opportunity pass,” Chomsky said.
Chomsky will speak on March 1st, the second day of a two-day conference about “The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction” sponsored by the Helen Caldicott Foundation at The New York Academy of Medicine.
Chomsky states, “A survey of the often shocking record also lends strong support to the conclusion that security is simply not a high priority for planners, if by ‘security’ we mean “security of the general population.”
What’s more, Chomsky recalls, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has warned that “Nuclear war is the black swan we can never see, except in that brief moment when it is killing us.”
Dr. Caldicott is an Australian physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate who has founded several associations dedicated to opposing the use of nuclear power, depleted uranium munitions, and nuclear weapons. She has been awarded 21 honorary doctoral degrees and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling. #
Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular “Workplace” column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more…)
Helen Caldicott’s ‘Nuclear-Free Planet’ with Noam Chomsky and Other Great Minds Harvey Wasserman |
The great Dr. Helen Caldicott will present a major symposium on a “Nuclear-Free Planet” in New York City at the New York Academy of Medicine from Feb. 28 – March 1. The gathering will feature some of the world’s most important speakers and thinkers on the issue of nuclear war and how to prevent it.
Dr. Caldicott has been speaking, writing and campaigning against nuclear power and war since she was a teenager living in Australia in the 1950s. A medical doctor and one of the world’s leading organizers for a green-powered Earth, she once met with then-President Ronald Reagan for more than an hour, schooling him on the realities of atomic war….
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President Obama has come a long way from promising to seek “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Unfortunately, it’s a long way in the wrong direction.
President Obama recently announced his FY2016 proposed budget, which includes a nuclear weapons spending spree – upgrades to the U.S. nuclear arsenal that will cost taxpayers $1 trillion over the next three decades. This abysmal proposal comes despite the best efforts of our activists, more than 100 of whom showed up in the President’s backyard this weekend, armed with a 4-story inflated nuclear missile and one clear message: NO $1 TRILLION NUCLEAR ARSENAL. Now it’s important to tell President Obama if he’s doubling down on nukes,we’re doubling down on the fight to eliminate them.
It is more critical than ever that we show President Obama that there is a constituency of voters paying attention and there are activists that will never give up. Though it’s too late to influence his proposed budget, we can hold his feet to the fire and push him to take bold steps in the last two years of his Administration.
I’ll be honest, this is going to be hard. And the President’s proposal makes it even harder. But we will take this fight from the White House to the halls of Congress and beyond in the weeks to come.
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The Jeffrey Sterling trial is a bit disheartening for anyone who’d rather humanity paid a bit of attention to avoiding nuclear apocalypse, even though Sterling exposed the CIA’s crime to Congress, and Sterling or someone else (at least 90 people could have done it) exposed the crime to an author who put it in a book and would have put it in the New York Times if, you know, it weren’t the New York Times (the paper obeyed Condoleezza Rice’s demand for censorship).
The last time a whistleblower defendant faced prosecution in civilian U.S. court for “espionage” it was Dan Ellsberg, and the New York Times was a radically different beast.
Here’s a report from Ray McGovern on Thursday’s appearance by Condoleezza Rice in the Sterling trial:
“It was surreal in court earlier today; stiletto-heeled Rice prancing in within 2 feet of me, as if on the modeling runway, with a Paula Broadwell-type look on her face — and, at the same time, Bill Harlow sitting down next to me after his testimony explaining how hard he had tried to get Jim Risen to listen to reason and not pursue/publish the story about the botched CIA ‘Merlin’ operation…..and how listening to Rice’s request at the White House meeting, NY Times Washington Bureau Chief Jill Abramson felt ‘out of her pay-grade range,’ and how her NYT masters (surprise, surprise) bowed to the White House/CIA hyperbole re the dangers of publishing, and agreed to the urgent demand/request of Rice and her boss. (Pls seemy piece yesterday on pitfalls of letting covert action eager beavers loose on the basis of a false major premise i. e., that Iran was working on a nuclear weapon.)
“(As for Abramson, for being a good girl, she made it to the very top of NYT as Executive Editor, for services performed — she was also Washington Bureau Chief when Judith Miller was plying her wares with the likes of Ahmed Chalabi. But then Jill forgot her place; got too uppity and was unceremoniously dumped by the top men of that ‘all-the-news-that’s-allowed-by-the-White House-to-print’ exclusive club of male chauvinist cowards.)
“Back to the courtroom: All at once I find myself wondering what might be the appropriate reaction when an amateur Goebbels (Harlow) sits down next to you; so I wrote a little note to him. (It did not seem to phase him one bit, so I’m sure he would not mind me sharing it with you):
“‘Newsweek, Feb 2003, quote from Hussein Kamel’s debrief 1995: “I ordered the destruction of all weapons — biological, chemical, missile, nuclear.” Harlow: Newsweek story “incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue.” 4,500 U.S. troops dead. A consequential lie.’“All stand; judge and jury leave; and I’m not sure he has read the note. I give it to him; he reads it, smiles, ‘Good to see you Ray!’
Back to the disheartening nature of what Sterling or someone else let us know about:
Either the CIA went on completely mindless autopilot — as everyone but I seems to believe — or it tried to plant evidence of a nuclear weapons program on Iran. That is to say, it illegally proliferated nuclear weapons technology, presented Iran with an obvious fraud, risked serious hostility with Russia, and had zero chance of fulfilling its stated mission of slowing down an Iranian weapons program, should one have existed, and had zero chance of learning what Iran was doing. Stuffing nuke plans under a door in Vienna doesn’t tell anyone what Iran is doing. Handing Iran nuke plans (or constructed nuke parts, as was contemplated) doesn’t slow down a nonexistent program or even an existing one — not even when obvious flaws are inserted in the plans. The CIA’s Russian-American front man spotted flaws immediately. The CIA’s own “red team” spotted flaws, fixed them, and built a working part from the plans in a matter of months. So, again, either this was just a crazed desire to do something, anything, serving no possible purpose and risking advancing the destruction of the planet, or somebody had in mind that it would be advantageous to plant nuke plans on Iran. After all, the Iranians weren’t going to believe that Russian plans were written in American English. But Americans might conceivably believe that Iran would have nuke plans written in English, as they were asked to believe of Iraq as well. Foreigners speak English in American movies all the time, after all.
Maybe I shouldn’t hunt for scraps of intelligence in “intelligence” operations.
But I can find them elsewhere.
The United States doesn’t just write up Russian plans for nuclear weapons parts and spread them around the globe. It also manufactures U.S. versions of the same parts. It does so in Kansas City. And the good people of Kansas City protest it. And a judge has just declared a protester “not-guilty” of any crime — the first time that’s happened in some 120 protests. May the jury holding Jeffrey Sterling’s fate in its hands take heed:
by Jane StoeverAfter a 90 minute trial on January 16, 2015, at the Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Court, Judge Elena Franco found that the City had failed to prove that Henry Stoever had the “mens rea” (guilty intent, criminal mind) for conviction of trespass. Judge Franco also found that the City witness had failed to prove where the property line was located at the new Honeywell nuclear weapons production, procurement and assembly plant in southern Kansas City, Missouri. This plant makes, procures and assembles 85% of the non-nuclear parts of a nuclear weapon. Early in the trial, Henry had played the video for the judge that showed him and two companions crossing the line.
When Judge Franco declared Henry “not guilty,” the 31 members in the audience burst into applause. Henry shook the hands of Judge Franco, the City Prosecutor, and the complaining witness, and then visited with supporters outside the courtroom, wiping back tears of joy.
In this case, Henry had filed with the Court and with the Prosecutor a 12-page Pre-trial Notice of Defenses, Brief and Motion in Limine, where he set forth a number of “claim of right” points for taking his action on August 22, 2014, to cross the supposed line at the weapons plant. In his closing statement, Henry quoted a dissenting opinion from Supreme Court Justices Douglas, Brennan, and Fortas in 1966, in Adderley vs. Florida: “We do violence to the First Amendment when we permit this ‘petition for redress of grievances’ to be turned into a trespass action.”
Henry was surprised at the not guilty finding, for the Judge said you may feel disappointed by my finding (because it was based on a technicality ” and earlier, Henry had said he didn’t want to quibble over whether the line was a true property line, and that if the line were 20-30 feet farther onto the property, Henry would have gone there). Also, about two years ago, Henry had invited Franco to find him guilty so he could appeal his case to State Court (but that case was dismissed without going to a jury trial). In truth, the Judge today was not convinced Henry committed a crime–bravo! Bravissimo!
The entire Stoever family is celebrating. Many, many thanks to all who’ve risked arrest, to all who’ve supported our now about 120 individual instances of a person crossing the line, to all who’ve sent well-wishes! This is the first in the 120 instances in which a judge saw fit to say, “not guilty!”
David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more…)
Renewables now supply 22 percent of global electricity and nuclear only 11 percent—a share that is gradually falling as old plants close and fewer new ones are commissioned.
New large-scale installations of wind and solar power arrays continue to surge across the world. Countries without full grids and power outages, such as India, increasingly find that wind and solar are quick and easy ways to bring electricity to people who have previously had no supply.
Developed countries, meanwhile, faced with reducing carbon dioxide emissions, find that the cost of both these renewable technologies is coming down substantially. Subsidies for wind and solar are being reduced and, in some cases, will disappear altogether in the next 10 years.
Speed of installation
The other advantage that renewables have is speed of installation. Solar panels, once manufactured, can be installed on a rooftop and be in operation in a single day. Wind turbines can be put up in a week.
Nuclear power, on the other hand, continues to get more expensive. In China and Russia, costs are not transparent, and even in democracies they hard to pin down. But it is clear that they are rising dramatically.
Building of the proposed twin European Pressurised Water reactors, called Hinkley Point C, in Britain’s West Country is due to start in 2015, but the price has risen several times already. Estimated construction costs have now jumped from £16 billion to £24 billion—before the first concrete has even been poured.
The other problem with nuclear is the time frame. Originally, Hinkley Point C was due to be completed by 2018. This has now slipped to 2024, but even this is optimistic judging by the performance of the two prototypes in Finland and France, both of which are late and over budget.
The Finnish plant was due to open in 2009, but is still at least three years from commissioning. The French plant is five years overdue.
In many countries, there are plans on paper for new nuclear stations, and China, South Korea and India are among those that are continuing to build them. Other countries, particularly where private capital is needed to finance them, are putting their plans on hold.
The U.S., which still has the largest number of reactors of any country in the world, is opting instead to extend the life of its plants. Many operators are considering applying for such extensions from 60 to 80 years. Provided they are up to modern safety standards, there seems no barrier to this.
Many other countries, including the UK, are extending the lives of their plants as long as possible, so the industry won’t be disappearing any time soon.
But one of the key problems for the nuclear sector is that reactors have been designed to be at full power all of the time. With renewables taking an increasing share of the market, a combination of nuclear, wind and solar can produce more electricity than required—leaving a problem of what to turn off.
A way round this problem being developed in Britain is large, strategically-based batteries. A five-megawatt battery, the largest in Europe, has just been commissioned in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, in the middle of England.
This is charged up when there is too much power in the grid, and releases its energy when there is a surge in demand.
If, during a two-year trial, this works to smooth the peaks and troughs of demand, and cuts the costs of switching on expensive gas turbines, then a network of batteries will be installed across the country to harvest the intermittent supplies of renewables.
The only bright spot for nuclear at the moment is the development of small nuclear reactors. These are from 30 megawatts upwards and are designed to be built in a factory and assembled on site—a bit like wind turbines are.
These can be installed singly or in a series, depending on the demand. Their two greatest selling points are that they would be good in remote locations far from other power sources, and are said to be much safer than their larger cousins.
However, a drawback is the price tag of around $3 billion dollars. Both the U.S. and UK are supporting private firms in research and development, but commercial operation is a long way off.
Whether a small nuclear power station would be any more welcomed than a wind or solar farm to provide power in a neighbourhood is a question still to be tested.
Nuclear enthusiasts—and there are still many in the political and scientific world—continue to work on fast breeder reactors, fusion and thorium reactors, heavily supported by governments who still believe that one day the technology will be the source of cheap and unlimited power. But, so far, that remains a distant dream.
In the meantime, investors are increasingly sceptical about putting their money into nuclear—whereas renewables promise an increasingly rapid return on investment, and may get a further boost if the governments of the world finally take climate change seriously.
Women from Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire chained and locked the main gate of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on Earth Day in 2011. (photo: The Nuclear Resister)
By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News
29 December 14
itizen activists have made it happen. The number of licensed U.S. commercial reactors is now under 100 where once it was to be 1,000.
Decades of hard grassroots campaigning by dedicated, non-violent nuclear opponents, working for a Solartopian green-powered economy, forced this reactor’s corporate owner to bring it down.
Vermont Yankee is the fifth American reactor forced shut in the last two years.
Entergy says it shut Vermont Yankee because it was losing money. Though fully amortized, it could not compete with the onslaught of renewable energy and fracked-gas. Throughout the world, nukes once sold as generating juice “too cheap to meter” comprise a global financial disaster. Even with their capital costs long-ago stuck to the public, these radioactive junk heaps have no place in today’s economy—except as illegitimate magnets for massive handouts.
So in Illinois and elsewhere around the U.S., their owners demand that their bought and rented state legislators and regulators force the public to eat their losses. Arguing for “base load power” or other nonsensical corporate constructs, atomic corporations are gouging the public to keep these radioactive jalopies sputtering along.
Such might have been the fate of Vermont Yankee had it not been for citizen opposition. Opened in the early 1970s, Vermont Yankee was the northern tip of clean energy’s first “golden triangle.” Down the Connecticut River, grassroots opposition successfully prevented two reactors from being built at Montague, Massachusetts, where the term “No Nukes” was coined. A weather tower was toppled, films were made, books were written, demonstrations staged and an upwelling of well-organized grassroots activism helped nurture a rising global movement.
A bit to the southwest, in the early 1990s, it shut the infamous Yankee Rowe reactor, which had been hit by lightening and could not pass a verifiable test of its dangerously embrittled core.
But Vermont Yankee persisted. Entergy, a “McNuke” operator based in New Orleans, bought Yankee from its original owners about a dozen years ago. It signed a complex series of agreements with the state. Then it trashed them to keep Vermont Yankee spiraling ever-downward.
But hard-core organizers like Deb Katz’s Citizen Awareness Network never let up. Working through a network of natonal, state and local campaigns, the safe energy movement has finally forced Entergy to flip the off switch.
Protestors hold signs during a vigil to support the closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant at the Statehouse Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Protestors support the closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant at the Statehouse in January 2012 in Montpelier, Vermont.
Vermont Yankee is the fifth American reactor forced shut in the last two years. Two at San Onofre, California, were defeated by citizen activism. Wisconsin’s Kewaunee went down for economic reasons. Crystal River in Florida was driven to utter chaos by incompetent ownership.
Five reactors are officially under construction in the U.S. But their fate is also subject to citizen action. Two others targeted for Levy County, Florida, have recently been stopped by ratepayer resistance.
Throughout the U.S. and the world, the demise of atomic energy is accelerating. Some 435 reactors are listed worldwide as allegedly operable. But 48 in Japan remain shut in the wake of Fukushima despite the fierce efforts of a corrupt, dictatorial regime to force them back on line. Germany’s transition to a totally nuke-free green energy economy is exceeding expectations. The fate of dozens proposed and operating in China and India remains unclear.
But the clock on the inevitable next disaster is ticking. Cancer rates and thyroid problems around Fukushima continue to accelerate. Massive reactors like California’s Diablo Canyon and Indian Point, New York, are surrounded by volatile earthquake faults that could reduce them to seething piles of apocalyptic rubble, killing countless thousands downwind, gutting the global economy.
Every reactor shutdown represents an avoided catastrophe of the greatest magnitude. As the takeoff of cheap, clean, safe and reliable Solartopian technology accelerates, greedy reactor owners struggle to squeeze the last few dimes out of increasingly dangerous old nukes for which they ultimately will take no responsibility. Vermont Yankee alone could require 60 years for basic clean-up. Fierce debate rages over what to do with thousands of tons of intensely radioactive spent fuel rods.
It remains unclear where the money will ultimately come from to try to decontaminate these sites, but clearly they are all destined to be dead zones.
As will the planet as a whole were it not for victories like this one in Vermont. This weekend the No Nukes community will celebrate this accursed reactor’s final demise.
Many hundreds more such celebrations must follow—soon!