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October 24, 2016

Suga, 2 other ministers admit filling out blank receipts received for payments

October 7, 2016

POLITICS OCT. 07, 2016 – 06:40AM JST ( 12 )

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and two other cabinet ministers admitted Thursday to having their staff write amounts on blank receipts received for attending fellow lawmakers’ fundraising parties.

Suga, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi denied the practice constitutes a violation of the Political Funds Control Law, under which political fund reports containing such receipts had been filed.

The issue was raised in a House of Councillors Budget Committee session by Japanese Communist Party secretariat head Akira Koike. Koike presented the copies of receipts included in the fund reports for each lawmaker that he said were filled out in identical handwriting.

According to Koike, a total of 270 receipts submitted with Suga’s reports from 2012 through 2014 were filled out in the same handwriting, covering around 18.8 million yen, while 260 receipts submitted with Inada’s reports shared the same handwriting, covering about 5.2 million yen.

In Takaichi’s case, some 340 receipts submitted during the same period had been filled out in the handwritings of three people, totaling about 9.9 million yen, according to the JCP lawmaker.

Koike claimed the practice is against the spirit of the funds control law and could potentially be used to collect funds off the books.

While acknowledging that they had arranged for amounts and dates of payments for attending fundraising parties to be written onto blank receipts, the three Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers said the practice poses no legal problem because the receipts were filled out with the understanding of party hosts.

They also said the practice was to avoid congestion that could arise at the reception area if receipts had to be properly filled out on the spot at a large fundraising party where many people attend.

Suga told the parliamentary session that his office has never padded amounts written on such receipts.

Takaichi, whose ministry manages the issue, told the same session that the funds control law has no provision on how issuers of receipts should create them, and that receipts filled out by payers pose no legal problem as long as they are filled out with the understanding of party hosts.

Submission of income and expenditure reports is legally mandated for politicians, and receipts for attending fundraising parties of fellow lawmakers must also be attached to the reports.

Suga said at a press conference after the session that he wants to think of a way to manage receipts so as not to receive such attention in the future.


Why We Need a Universal Basic Income

October 6, 2016

Robert Reich. (photo: AP)
Robert Reich. (photo: AP) go to original article

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog
06 October 16

magine a little gadget called an i-Everything. You can’t get it yet, but if technology keeps moving as fast as it is now, the i-Everything will be with us before you know it.

A combination of intelligent computing, 3-D manufacturing, big data crunching, and advanced bio-technology, this little machine will be able to do everything you want and give you everything you need.

There’s only one hitch. As the economy is now organized, no one will be able to buy it, because there won’t be any paying jobs left. You see, the i-Everything will do … everything.

We’re heading toward the i-Everything far quicker than most people realize. Even now, we’re producing more and more with fewer and fewer people.

Internet sales are on the way to replacing millions of retail workers. Diagnostic apps will be replacing hundreds of thousands of health-care workers. Self-driving cars and trucks will replace 5 million drivers.

Researchers estimate that almost half of all U.S. jobs are at risk of being automated in the next two decades.

This isn’t necessarily bad. The economy we’re heading toward could offer millions of people more free time to do what they want to do instead of what they have to do to earn a living.

But to make this work, we’ll have to figure out some way to recirculate the money from the handful of people who design and own i-Everythings, to the rest of us who will want to buy i-Everythings.

One answer: A universal basic income – possibly financed out of the profits going to such labor replacing innovations, or perhaps even a revenue stream off of the underlying intellectual property.

The idea of a universal basic income historically isn’t as radical as it may sound. It’s had support from people on both the left and the right. In the 1970s, President Nixon proposed a similar concept for the United States, and it even passed the House of Representatives.

The idea is getting some traction again, partly because of the speed of technological change. I keep running into executives of high-tech companies who tell me a universal basic income is inevitable, eventually.

Some conservatives believe it’s superior or other kinds of public assistance because a universal basic income doesn’t tell people what to spend the assistance on, and doesn’t stigmatize recipients because everyone qualifies.

In recent years, evidence has shown that giving people cash as a way to address poverty actually works. In study after study, people don’t stop working and they don’t drink it away.

Interest in a basic income is surging, with governments debating it from Finland to Canada to Switzerland to Namibia. The charity “Give Directly” is about to launch a basic income pilot in Kenya, providing an income for more than 10 years to some of the poorest and most vulnerable families on the planet. And then rigorously evaluate the results.

As new technologies replace work, the question for the future is how best to provide economic security for all.

A universal basic income will almost certainly be part of the answer.

WIPP nuclear waste accident will cost US taxpayers $2 billion

September 26, 2016

Dr Jim Green

20th September 2016

The clean-up after the February 2014 explosion at the world’s only deep underground repository for nuclear waste in New Mexico, USA, is massively over budget, writes Jim Green – and full operations won’t resume until at least 2021. The fundamental cause of the problems: high level radioactive waste, poor regulation, rigid deadlines and corporate profit make a dangerous mix.

The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state. It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now it will have to operate dirty. Nobody at the Energy Department wants to consider the potential that it isn’t fixable.

An analysis by theLos Angeles Timesfinds that costs associated with the February 2014 explosion at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) could total US$2 billion.

The direct cost of the clean-up is now estimated at US$640 million, based on a contract modification made in July with contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership.

The cost-plus contract leaves open the possibility of even higher costs as the clean-up continues and, as the LA Times notes, it does not include the complete replacement of the contaminated ventilation system (which failed after the 2014 explosion) or any future costs of operating the repository longer than originally planned.

The lengthy closure following the explosion could result in waste disposal operations extending for an additional seven years, at an additional cost of US$200 million per year or US$1.4 billion (€1.25b) in total. Thus direct (clean-up) costs and indirect costs could exceed US$2 billion.

And further costs are being incurred storing waste at other nuclear sites pending the re-opening of WIPP. Federal officials hope to resume limited operations at WIPP by the end of this year, but full operations cannot resume until a new ventilation system is completed in about 2021.

As expensive as the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster

The US$2 billion figure is similar to the costs associated with the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster. The clean-up of Three Mile Island was estimated to cost US$1 billion by 1993, or US$1.7 billion adjusted for inflation today.

Yet another cost for the federal government was a US$74 million (€66m) settlement paidto the state of New Mexico in January 2016. The negotiated agreement relates to the 14 February 2014 explosion and a truck fire that took place nine days earlier.

It sets out corrective actions that Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL – the source of the waste drum that exploded) and WIPP must take to resolve permit violations. The US$74 million settlement is in lieu of fines imposed on the federal government by the state of New Mexico for the two incidents.

Given that the February 2014 fire and explosion exposed multiple levels of mismanagement and slack regulation, it was no surprise that the immediate response to the incidents was problematic. As discussed previously in The Ecologist, everything that was supposed to happen, didn’t – and everything that wasn’t supposed to happen, did.

And in light of the systemic problems with management and regulation, it is no surprise that clean-up operations over the past 2.5 years have been problematic.

GAO identifies a host of problems

An August 2016 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the federal Department of Energy (DOE) did not meet its initial cost and schedule estimates for restarting nuclear waste disposal operations at WIPP, resulting in a cost increase of about US$64 million (€57m) and a delay of nine months.

Worse still, mismanagement of the clean-up has involved poor safety practices. Last year, the DOE’s Independent Office of Enterprise Assessments released a report that found that WIPP clean-up operations were being rushed to meet the scheduled reopening date and that this pressure was contributing to poor safety practices.

The report states: “The EA analysis considered operational events and reviews conducted during May 2014 through May 2015 and identified a significant negative trend in performance of work. During this period, strong and unrealistic schedule pressures on the workforce contributed to poor safety performance and incidents during that time are indicators of the potential for a future serious safety incident.”

The report points to “serious issues in conduct of operations, job hazard analysis, and safety basis.” Specific problems identified in the report include:

The Office of Enterprise Assessments’ report concludes: “The issues discussed above could be leading indicators of a potentially serious incident in the future. Many more issues involving conduct of operations, maintenance, and inadequate controls also raise concerns about the possibility of a serious incident.”

Earlier this year, clean-up work in two underground areas was suspended for one month due to poor air quality. Work was stopped on February 22 after equipment detected elevated levels of carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds.

Radioactive contamination of the underground remains a problem, albeit the case that the size of the restricted area has been significantly reduced. “The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state,” said Don Hancock from the Southwest Research and Information Center.

“It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now it will have to operate dirty. Nobody at the Energy Department wants to consider the potential that it isn’t fixable.”

Los Alamos National Laboratory at fault as well

While a number of reports have exposed problems at WIPP, others have exposed serious problems at LANL. An April 2015 report by DOE’s Accident Investigation Board (AIB) concluded that a culture of lax oversight and inadequate safety protocols and training at LANL led to the February 2014 explosion at WIPP.

“If LANL had adequately developed and implemented repackaging and treatment procedures that incorporated suitable hazard controls and included a rigorous review and approval process, the [February 2014] release would have been preventable”, the AIB report states.

“The ineffectiveness and weaknesses in the oversight activities were at all levels,” said Ted Wyka, the DOE safety expert who led the investigation.

The AIB report points to the failure of LANL to effectively review and control waste packaging, train contractors and identify weaknesses in waste handling. The board also found that LANL, contractor EnergySolutions and the National Nuclear Security Administration office at LANL failed to ensure that a strong safety culture existed at the lab.

The AIB found that workers did not feel comfortable raising safety issues and felt pressured to “get it done at all costs.” LANL employees also raised concerns that workers were brought in with little or no experience and rushed through an inadequate training program.

“As a result,” the AIB report states, “there was a failure to adequately resolve employee concerns which could have identified the generation of non compliant waste prior to shipment” to WIPP.

‘Lessons were not learned’

The immediate cause of the 14 February 2014 explosion ‒ mixing nitrate wastes with an organic absorbent (kitty litter) ‒ was recognised as a potential problem in 2012, if not earlier. One worker told the AIB that when concerns were raised over the use of organic kitty litter as an absorbent, the employee was told to “focus on their area of expertise and not to worry about the other areas of the procedure.”

Workers noticed foaming chemicals and orange smoke rising from containers of nuclear waste at LANL, but supervisors told them to “simply wait out the reaction and return to work once the foaming ceased and the smoke subsided,” the AIB report states. “Lessons were not learned.”

No doubt some lessons have been learned as a result of the underground explosion at WIPP. But Greg Mello from the Los Alamos Study Group points to a problem that is likely to recur. LANL receives bonuses from the DOE for meeting goals such as removing nuclear waste by a certain deadline.

That deadline pressure was very much in evidence at LANL in the lead-up to the WIPP accident and it will likely weaken safety practices in future. “You can’t just say everyone has to try harder,” Mello said. “Mixing profit, deadlines and dangerous radioactive waste is incompatible.”

A February 2016 report from the DOE’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was equally scathing of LANL. “Overall, we found LANL’s corrective action program did not always adequately address issues, did not effectively prevent their recurrence, and did not consistently identify systemic problems,” the report said.

Systemic problems

LANL managers said they agreed with the OIG findings and were working to resolve problems. “The Laboratory is working closely with National Nuclear Safety Administration to address the findings of the audit report”, LANL said in a statement.

But the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) – a semi-autonomous agency within the DOE – is itself a big part of the problem of systemic mismanagement of nuclear sites. A June 2015 Government Accountability Office report strongly criticised NNSA oversight of contractors who manage the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities.

The report points to a litany of ongoing failures to properly oversee private contractors at eight nuclear sites, including those managing LANL. The report found that the NNSA lacked enough qualified staff members to oversee contractors, and it lacked guidelines for evaluating its contractors.

Greg Mello from the Los Alamos Study Group was blunt in his criticism of the NNSA: “An agency that is more than 90 percent privatized, with barely enough federal employees to sign the checks and answer the phones, is never going to be able to properly oversee billion-dollar nuclear facilities of vast complexity and danger.”



Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the newsletter, where a version of this article was originally published.

Nuclear Monitor, published 20 times a year, has been publishing deeply researched, often critical articles on all aspects of the nuclear cycle since 1978. A must-read for all those who work on this issue!



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Costa Rica Has Been Running on 100 Percent Renewable Energy for Months

September 10, 2016
Published on

Costa Rica’s electrical grid has relied solely on renewable energy sources for 76 days straight, aiming for an all-renewable future

Costa Rica

While Costa Rica transitions to renewable energy sources, the U.S. is still relying on coal and natural gas to supply most of its electricity. (Photo: Arturo Sotillo/flickr/cc)

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ENENews: Alert: Typhoons cause failure of ‘ice wall’ around Fukushima reactors

September 9, 2016


Alert: Typhoons cause failure of ‘ice wall’ around Fukushima reactors — Highly radioactive water flowing into ocean — Structure “critically affected” — Fears over multiple sections of barrier that have thawed — Expert: “The plan to block groundwater is failing” (VIDEO)

Posted: 06 Sep 2016 09:51 AM PDT

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U.S. Denies Entry to former British Ambassador Craig Murray

September 6, 2016

David Swanson via

U.S. Denies Entry to former British Ambassador Craig Murray

The U.S. government, for no stated reason, and after having approved his entry in the past, has denied Craig Murray the usual approval to enter the United States without a visa that is given to UK citizens. Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004.

Murray was forced out of the British public service after he exposed the use of torture by Britain’s Uzbek allies. Murray is scheduled to chair the presentation of this year’s Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence to CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou, and to speak about diplomacy as an alternative to war at a World Beyond War conference planned for September 23-25 in Washington, D.C.

Please sign this petition to the State Department.

In 2006 Murray was himself awarded the Sam Adams Award, and the citation included the following: “Mr. Murray learned that the intelligence authorities of the UK and the US were receiving and using information extracted by the most sadistic methods of torture by Uzbek authorities. He protested strongly to London, to no avail. He was forced out of the British Foreign Office, but has no regrets. There are more important things than career…Mr. Murray’s light has pierced a thick cloud of denial and deception. He has set a courageous example for those officials of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ who have first-hand knowledge of the inhuman practices involved in the so-called ‘war on terror’ but who have not yet been able to find their voice.”

Shocked by the denial of approval to enter the United States without a visa, Murray stated: “I shall apply for a visa via the State Department as suggested but I must be on a list to be refused under the ESTA system, and in any event it is most unlikely to be completed before the conference.”

“It is worth noting,” Murray added,” that despite the highly critical things I have published about Putin, about civil liberties in Russia and the annexation of the Crimea, I have never been refused entry to Russia. The only two countries that have ever refused me entry clearance are Uzbekistan and the USA. What does that tell you?

“I have no criminal record, no connection to drugs or terrorism, have a return ticket, hotel booking and sufficient funds. I have a passport from a visa waiver country and have visited the USA frequently before during 38 years and never overstayed. The only possible grounds for this refusal of entry clearance are things I have written against neo-liberalism, attacks on civil liberties and neo-conservative foreign policy. People at the conference in Washington will now not be able to hear me speak. Plainly ideas can be dangerous. So much for the land of the free!”

The following joint statement has been signed by members of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence listed below:

News that former British Ambassador Craig Murray has been denied entry to the United States under the regular visa waiver program is both shocking and appalling. We Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) had invited Craig to be Master of Ceremonies at our award ceremony honoring John Kiriakou, the CIA torture whistleblower (more details ), this September as part of the ‘No War 2016’ conference.

Now we’re wondering which agency’s long arms have reached out to disrupt our ceremony and to try to silence Craig.

Whatever they intend, it will be bound to backfire, since it only makes the US government look like some sort of monolithic repressive apparatus out to mimic the world’s worst despotic regimes. Ambassador Murray notes in his blog that Uzbekistan — whose government apparatchiks are notorious for torturing its citizens — is the only other country to have barred his entry. Even Russia – which Ambassador Murray criticizes freely – allows him to travel there trouble-free. What are the implications for US democratic values?

We strongly urge the State Department to reverse its decision and allow Ambassador Murray freedom of travel and freedom of expression without hindrance in the United States of America.

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA
Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Matthew Hoh,
former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan
Larry Johnson, CIA and State Dept. (ret.)
John Brady Kiesling, former US diplomat
John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer
Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.)
David MacMichael Ph.D., CIA, US Marine Corps captain (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East, CIA (ret.)
Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, JA, USA (ret.)
Diane Roark, former staff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (ret.)
Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel
Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.)
J. Kirk Wiebe, Senior Analyst, NSA (ret.)

World Beyond War has created a petition appealing to the State Department

World Beyond War, the organization behind the No War 2016 conference at which Murray is scheduled to speak, has created an online petition to the State Department.

David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War, said “This attempt to prevent a truth-teller from speaking in support of nonviolence is absolutely shameful. This is not a policy created to represent any view of the U.S. public, and we are not going to stand for it.”

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Hiroshima: the Crime That Keeps on Paying, But Beware the Reckoning

August 8, 2016

On his visit to Hiroshima last May, Obama did not, as some had vainly hoped he might, apologize for the August 6, 1945 atomic bombing of the city. Instead he gave a high-sounding speech against war. He did this as he was waging ongoing drone war against defenseless enemies in faraway countries and approving plans to spend a trillion dollarsupgrading the US nuclear arsenal.

An apology would have been as useless as his speech. Empty words don’t change anything. But here was one thing that Obama could have said that would have had a real impact: he could have told the truth.

He could have said:

“The atom bombs were not dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ‘to save lives by ending the war’. That was an official lie. The bombs were dropped to see how they worked and to show the world that the United States possessed unlimited destructive power.”

There was no chance that Obama would say that. Officially, the bombing “saved lives” and therefore, it was worth it. Like the Vietnamese villages we destroyed in order to save them, like the countless Iraqi children who died as a result of US sanctions, the hundreds of thousands of agonizing women and children in two Japanese cities remain on the debit side of the United States accounts with humanity, unpaid and unpunished.

“It Was Worth It”

The decision to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a political not a military decision. The targets were not military, the effects were notmilitary. The attacks were carried out against the wishes of all major military leaders. Admiral William Leahy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in his memoirs that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender…” General Eisenhower, General MacArthur, even General Hap Arnold, commander of the Air Force, were opposed. Japan was already devastated by fire bombing, facing mass hunger from the US naval blockade, demoralized by the surrender of its German ally, and fearful of an imminent Russian attack. In reality, the war was over. All top U.S. leaders knew that Japan was defeated and was seeking to surrender.

The decision to use the atom bombs was a purely political decision taken almost solely by two politicians alone: the poker-playing novice President and his mentor, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes.[1]

President Harry S. Truman was meeting with Churchill and Stalin in the Berlin suburbJohnstone-Queen-Cover-ak800--291x450 of Potsdam when secret news came that the New Mexico test of the atomic bomb was a success. Observers recall that Truman was “a changed man”, euphoric with the possession of such power. While more profound men shuddered at the implications of this destructive force, to Truman and his “conniving” Secretary of State, James Byrnes, the message was: “Now we can get away with everything.”

They proceeded to act on that assumption – first of all in their relations with Moscow.

In response to months of U.S. urging, Stalin promised to enter the Asian war three months after the defeat of Nazi Germany, which occurred in early May 1945. It was well known that the Japanese occupation forces in China and Manchuria could not resist the Red Army. It was understood that two things could bring about Japan’s immediate surrender: Russia’s entrance into the war and U.S. assurance that the royal family would not be treated as war criminals.

Both these things happened in the days right after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But they were overshadowed by the atom bomb.

And that was the point.

That way, the U.S. atom bombs got full credit for ending the war.

But that is not all.

The demonstrated possession of such a weapon gave Truman and Byrnes such a sense of power that they could abandon previous promises to the Russians and attempt to bully Moscow in Europe. In that sense, the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki not only gratuitously killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. They also started the Cold War.

Hiroshima and the Cold War

A most significant observation on the effects of the atomic bomb is attributed to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. As his son recounted, he was deeply depressed on learning at the last minute of plans to use the bomb. Shortly after Hiroshima, Eisenhower is reported to have said privately:

“Before the bomb was used, I would have said yes, I was sure we could keep the peace with Russia. Now, I don’t know. Until now I would have said that we three, Britain with her mighty fleet, America with the strongest air force, and Russia with the strongest land force on the continent, we three could have guaranteed the peace of the world for a long, long time to come. But now, I don’t know. People are frightened and disturbed all over. Everyone feels insecure again.”[2]

As supreme allied commander in Europe, Eisenhower had learned that it was possible to work with the Russians. US and USSR domestic economic and political systems were totally different, but on the world stage they could cooperate. As allies, the differences between them were mostly a matter of mistrust, matters that could be patched up.

The victorious Soviet Union was devastated from the war: cities in ruins, some twenty million dead. The Russians wanted help to rebuild. Previously, under Roosevelt, it had been agreed that the Soviet Union would get reparations from Germany, as well as credits from the United States. Suddenly, this was off the agenda. As news came in of the successful New Mexico test, Truman exclaimed: “This will keep the Russians straight.” Because they suddenly felt all-powerful, Truman and Byrnes decided to get tough with the Russians.

Stalin was told that Russia could take reparations only from the largely agricultural eastern part of Germany under Red Army occupation. This was the first step in the division of Germany, which Moscow actually opposed.

Since several of the Eastern European countries had been allied to Nazi Germany, and contained strong anti-Russian elements, Stalin’s only condition for those countries (then occupied by the Red Army) was that their governments should not be actively hostile to the USSR. For that, Moscow favored the formula “People’s Democracies” meaning coalitions excluding extreme right parties.

Feeling all-powerful, the United States sharpened its demands for “free elections” in hope of installing anti-communist governments. This backfired. Instead of giving in to the implicit atomic threat, the Soviet Union dug in its heels. Instead of loosening political control of Eastern Europe, Moscow imposed Communist Party regimes – and accelerated its own atomic bomb program. The nuclear arms race was on.

“Have Our Cake and Eat It”

John J. McCloy, labeled by his biographer Kai Bird as the informal “chairman of the U.S. establishment”, told Secretary of War Henry Stimson at the time that: “I’ve been taking the position that we ought to have our cake and eat it too; that we ought to be free to operate under this regional arrangement in South America, at the same time intervene promptly in Europe; that we oughtn’t to give away either asset…”[3] Stimson replied, “I think so, decidedly.”

In short, the United States was to retain its sphere of influence in the Western Hemisphere, claimed by the Monroe Doctrine, while depriving Russia of its own buffer zone.

It is necessary to recognize the sharp distinction between domestic policy and foreign policy. The nature of the Soviet internal regime may have been as bad as it is portrayed, but when it came to foreign policy, Stalin scrupulously respected deals made with the Western allies – abandoning, for instance, the Greek Communists as they were crushed by the Anglo-Americans after the war. It was the United States that reneged on the deals made at Yalta, which were then stigmatized as sellouts to “communist aggression”. Stalin had absolutely no desire to promote communist revolution in Western Europe, much less to invade those countries. In fact his failure to promote world revolution was precisely the basis of the campaign against “Stalinism” by Trotskyists – including Trotskyists whose devotion to world revolution has now shifted to promotion of US “regime change” wars.

There is a prevailing Western doctrine that dictatorships make war, and democracies make peace. There is no proof of that whatsoever. Dictatorships (think of Franco Spain) may be conservative and inward-looking. The major imperialist powers, Britain and France, were democracies. Democratic America is far from peaceful.

As the Soviet Union developed its own nuclear arsenal, the United States was unable to interfere effectively in Eastern Europe and fell back on lesser enemies, overthrowing governments in Iran and Guatemala, getting bogged down in Vietnam, on the theory that these were surrogates for the Soviet communist enemy. But now that the Soviet Union has collapsed, abandoning Russia’s buffer zone in Eastern Europe, there appears to be a resurge of the sort of confidence that overcame Truman: a euphoria of limitless power. Why else would the Pentagon undertake a trillion dollar program to renew America’s nuclear arsenal, while stationing troops and aggressive military equipment as close as possible to the Russian border?

In his 1974 book about his relations with his brother Dwight, The President Is Calling, Milton Eisenhower wrote: “Our employment of this new force at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a supreme provocation to other nations, especially the Soviet Union.” And he added, “Certainly what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki will forever be on the conscience of the American people.”

Alas, the evidence so far is all to the contrary. Concerned critics have been marginalized. Systematic official lies about the “necessity to save American lives” have left the collective American conscience perfectly clear, while the power of the Bomb has created a lasting sense of self-righteous “exceptionalism” in the nation’s leaders. We Americans alone can do what others cannot, because we are “free” and “democratic” and they – if we so decide – are not. Other countries, not being “democracies”, can be destroyed in order to liberate them. Or simply destroyed. This is the bottom line of the “exceptionalism” that substitutes in Washington for the “conscience of the American people” which was not aroused by Hiroshima, but asphyxiated.

The Moral Sleep

As a guest in Hiroshima, Obama pontificated skillfully:

“The wars of the modern age teach us this truth. Hiroshima teaches this truth. Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well.”

Well yes, but no such moral revolution has taken place.

“…the memory of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change.”

“Change” is an Obama specialty. But he did nothing to change our nuclear arms policy, except to beef it up. No sign of a “moral imagination” imagining the devastation that this policy is leading us toward. No imaginative ideas to bring about nuclear disarmament. Just promises not to let the bad guys get ahold of them. They belong to us.

“And since that fateful day,” Obama continued, “we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan have forged not only an alliance but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war.”

This is sinister. As a matter of fact, it was precisely through war that the U.S. forged this alliance and this friendship – which the United States is now trying to militarize in its “Asian pivot”. It means that we can wipe out two of a country’s cities with nuclear weapons and end up with “not only an alliance but a friendship”. So why stop now? Why not make more such “friends” in the same way, for instance in Iran, which Hillary Clinton has expressed willingness to “obliterate” if the circumstances are right.

“That is a future we can choose,” said Obama, “a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

But so far, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are very far from marking the “start of our own moral awakening”. On the contrary. The illusion of possessing limitless power removed any need for critical self-examination, any need to make a real effort to understand others who are not like us and don’t want to be like us, but could share the planet peacefully if we would leave them alone.

Since we are all-powerful, we must be a force for good. In reality, we are neither. But we seem incapable of recognizing the limits of our “exceptionalism”.

The bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki plunged the United States leadership into a moral sleep from which it has yet to awaken.


[1] All of that is known to experts. The documentary proofs were all laid out by Gar Alperovitz in the 800 pages of his 1995 book, The Decision to Use the Atom Bomb. However, official lies outlive documented refutation.

[2] Alperovitz pp 352-3.

[3] Ibid p.254.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at

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50 Years Ago: The Start of America’s Mass School Shooting Epidemic

August 8, 2016

And the Story of the “Clock Tower Sniper”

It is a fact that 90% of America’s school shooters were on prescription brain-altering psychiatric drugs – drugs that are well known to cause inebriation, intoxication, loss of impulse control, rage, aggression, homicidal ideation, suicidal ideation, and temporary drug-induced mania and/or psychosis.

But the well-documented psychiatric drug connections to school shootings and a host of other widely-publicized episodes of “senseless violence” has been treated as a taboo subject by Big Media, Big Pharma and the medical profession. (For much more on the connections between psych drugs and “irrational” behaviors of many types.)

The first cover-up started rather innocently after August 1, 1966, when a likely drug-intoxicated (and/or drug-withdrawing) ex-Marine sharp-shooter named Charles Whitman earned his infamous title as the “Clock Tower Sniper” at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin.

Whitman was likely drug-intoxicated because of his prescribed amphetamine (Dexedrine) and barbiturate drugs, for he had been a patient of a campus physician during his second try at being a college student. (He had flunked out after his first matriculation and re-joined the Marines for a second “tour of duty”. However, he was court-martialed by the Marine Corps and re- enrolled in college.)

From Whitman’s homicide/suicide note, one only has hints of the psychological and spiritual traumas that he suffered during his child-rearing years. His biological parents had divorced, and dysfunctional families always cover up family violence so there is not much family history to research.

But Whitman wasn’t an outcast in his childhood. He had been an Eagle Scout before he went into the Marines, and seemed to have been generally well-liked, at times being described as an “all-American boy.” After the shooting spree, Whitman’s father-in-law said that he was “just as normal as anybody I ever knew, and he worked awfully hard at his grades. There was nothing wrong with him that I knew of.”

Whitman took his prescribed Dexedrine and barbiturates, and, not surprisingly when one knows amphetamines and what withdrawal symptoms can come from the highly addictive barbiturates, he had chronic headaches. (Although a benign brain tumor was found at autopsy.) He hated his stern father, a self-made man whom Whitman was never able to please.

After stabbing his mother to death hours before the shootings, Whitman wrote the following explanatory note: “The intense hatred I feel for my father is beyond description. My mother gave that man the 25 best years of her life,” He explained that he had killed his mother to ease her suffering. “[My father] has chosen to treat her like a slut that you would bed down with, accept her favors and then throw a pittance in return.” Any child who experiences seriously dysfunctional parents, especially if there is a lot of punishment involved, feels intense humiliation and shame, which, in the case of American boys, often motivates aggressive violence. In the case of American girls, it motivates self-blame and depression.

In the case of Whitman, one would also like to know if he had suffered humiliations, hazing or other forms of psychological or physical violence during his Marine Corps basic training or during his 18 month tour at Guantanamo Bay, which can be a miserable tour. The records that might have identified the reasons for his court-martial from the Marines have probably been “lost”. Whitman was never deployed to Vietnam.

One also would like to know what the symptoms were that made him seek psychiatric “treatment”. What information was he given about the dangers of the two prescribed brain-altering drugs together before he took them? Why was he given a combination of two powerful psych drugs that had never been tested for safety even in the rat labs? What were the doses of the drugs? What was the frequency with which he took them, and what adverse effects did he experience?

But the 50 year-old trail is cold, and the journalists who write for the corporate-controlled media, whose editors and publishers are beholden to advertising dollars from Big Pharma and Big Medicine, are not inclined to truly investigate and report on such issues as prescription drug-induced violence, drug-induced suicides, drug-induced dementia, vaccine-induced autoimmune diseases, vaccine-induced developmental disorders, etc, etc. Iatrogenic disorders that expose Big Medicine and Big Pharma are taboo subjects.

Harry Chapin and “Sniper”

But in 1972, singer-songwriter Harry Chapin wrote a brilliantly insightful song about Whitman, which he titled “Sniper”. The song contains verses about parental abuse and neglect, social isolation, rejection and subsequent homicidal rage that have, since 1966, became common denominators in America’s unique epidemic of young white male school shooters. What Chapin couldn’t have known about was the brain-altering, violence-inducing and suicidal effects of Whitman’s highly addicting psych drugs — amphetamines and barbiturates — that he had been prescribed by his unaware and probably well-meaning campus psychiatrist.

After his second tour of duty with the Marines ended in disgrace, Whitman tried again to make it as a student by re-enrolling at UT Austin. During the summer months before the shooting rampage, he became a patient of a psychiatrist and was on, or was withdrawing from, the two drugs. While under the influence of the drugs (or while experiencing crazy-making withdrawal symptoms after stopping or cutting down on them) he killed 14 and wounded 31 during a five-hour shooting spree from the top of the Austin campus clock tower. Whitman had already stabbed to death his mother and his wife – probably experiencing the now well-understood reality of psychiatric drug-induced remorselessness and rage.

As referred to above, Whitman had been a victim of parental conflict that led to his parent’s divorce. He had likely suffered physical abuse, not just emotional abuse, from his strict father, and he had suffered the humiliation of his court martial and failure at college. Extracting some revenge, even at the expense of innocent scapegoats like his mother and wife, may have seemed logical to his drug-altered brain.

And then, at the last moment of his tragic life, like the ex-military veteran and PTSD-afflicted “madman” and drug-intoxicated Adolf Hitler two decades earlier, he avoided having to face the humiliation of a trial by jury or the hangman by committing “suicide by cop”. Whitman didn’t actually kill himself, but rather orchestrated the inevitable suicide when his position on the observation deck of the tower was stormed by city police officers.

Going out in a “Blaze of Glory”

Whitman may have gained some psychological satisfaction by not killing his despised father. Leaving him alive would make him pay for his sins for the rest of his life. He may have gained some satisfaction via his “control” over the scapegoated victims on the mall below him. He knew that he would finally be getting recognition – albeit negative – via the intense media attention and that he would get to go out in a “blaze of glory” rather than living in humiliating obscurity. At least he would be famous for something rather than being a “nothing” who failed both in his military and academic careers. Whitman had become an unloved, invisible, inconsequential failure that, except for the temporary power over others that his guns gave him, would otherwise never have been remembered for anything.

Angry, sociopathic men, who threaten to shoot or actually shoot their estranged ex-lovers or wives are often motivated by similar feelings of humiliation when they act out violently. And it is more likely to happen when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether the drugs are prescribed or illicit. Guns and drugs don’t mix.

The Similarities Between the Austin, Columbine and Aurora Shooters

Unlike the Littleton, Colorado shooter Eric Harris (who realized that he could ratchet up his hostility, hatred and rage by altering the dose of his Prozac-like drug Luvox), Whitman had no way of knowing that his “senseless” behavior was intimately connected to his psychiatric drugs, just like the Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes, who also didn’t realize that he was under the brain-altering influence of neurotoxic and psychotoxic synthetic prescription drugs Zoloft (Pfizer) and Klonopin (Roche) when he was making his irrational online purchases of assault gear, assault weapons and ammunition.

It is common knowledge that virtually all American psychiatrists reflexively “treat” with psychotropic drugs over 95 – 98% of their out-patients (and 100% of their in-patients) in various combinations of neurotoxic and psychotoxic, brain-altering synthetic chemicals like Holmes’s Zoloft {Pfizer}, which has an amphetamine base molecular structure and is known to adversely affect impulse control and to cause homicidal impulses, suicidal impulses, agitation, aggression, mania, psychosis, etc). Neither of the shooters, Whitman or Holmes, were aware that the barbiturates or the benzodiazepine (Klonopin) act on brain synapses like long-acting alcohol, which are crazy-making whether one is taking those drug or withdrawing from them.

Harry Chapin immortalized Whitman and his tragic (possibly even preventable) story in the powerful, haunting, and psychologically accurate song “Sniper.” Here are the lyrics:

It is an early Monday morning.
The sun is becoming bright on the land.
No one is watching as he comes a-walking.
Two bulky suitcases hang from his hands.

He heads towards the tower that stands in the campus.
He goes through the door, he starts up the stairs.
The sound of his footsteps, the sound of his breathing,
The sound of the silence when no one was there.

I didn’t really know him.
He was kind of strange.
Always sort of sat there,
He never seemed to change.

He reached the catwalk. He put down his burden.
The four sided clock began to chime.
Seven AM, the day is beginning.
So much to do and so little time.

He looks at the city where no one had known him.
He looks at the sky where no one looks down.
He looks at his life and what it has shown him.
He looks for his shadow it cannot be found.

He was such a moody child, very hard to touch.
Even as a baby he never smiled too much. No, no. No, no.

You bug me, she said.
You’re ugly, she said.
Please hug me, I said.
But she just sat there
With the same flat stare
That she saves for me alone
When I’m home.
When I’m home.
Take me home.

He laid out the rifles, he loaded the shotgun.
He stacked up the cartridges along the wall.
He knew he would need them for his conversation.
If it went as he planned, then he might use them all.

He said Listen you people I’ve got a question
You won’t pay attention but I’ll ask anyhow.
I found a way that will get me an answer.
Been waiting to ask you ’til now.
Right now!

Am I?
I am a lover who’s never been kissed.
Am I?
I am a fighter who’s not made a fist.
Am I?
If I’m alive then there’s so much I’ve missed.
How do I know I exist?
Are you listening to me?
Are you listening to me?
Am I?

The first words he spoke took the town by surprise.
One got Mrs. Gibbons above her right eye.
It blew her through the window wedged her against the door.
Reality poured from her face, staining the floor.

He was kind of creepy.
Sort of a dunce.
I met him at the corner bar.
I only dated the poor boy once.
That’s all. Just once, that was all.

Bill Whedon was questioned as he stepped from his car.
Tom Scott ran across the street but he never got that far.
The police were there in minutes, they set up barricades.
He spoke right on over them in a half-mile circle.
In a dumb struck city his pointed questions were sprayed.

He knocked over Danny Tyson as he ran towards the noise.
Just about then the answers started coming. Sweet, sweet joy.
Thudding in the clock face, whining off the walls.
Reaching up to where he sat, their answering calls.

Thirty-seven people got his message so far.
Yes, he was reaching them right where they are.

They set up an assault team. They asked for volunteers.
They had to go and get him; that much was clear.
And the word spread about him on the radios and TV’s.
In appropriately sober tone they asked “Who can it be?”

He was a very dull boy, very taciturn.
Not much of a joiner, he did not want to learn.
No, no. No, no.

They’re coming to get me, they don’t want to let me
Stay in the bright light too long.
It’s getting on noon now, it’s going to be soon now.
But oh, what a wonderful sound!

Mama, won’t you nurse me?
Rain me down the sweet milk of your kindness.
Mama, it’s getting worse for me.
Won’t you please make me warm and mindless?

Mama, yes you have cursed me.
I never will forgive you for your blindness.
I hate you!

The wires are all humming for me.
And I can hear them coming for me.
Soon they’ll be here, but there’s nothing to fear.
Not any more though they’ve blasted the door.

As the copter dropped the gas he shouted “Who cares?”.
They could hear him laughing as they started up the stairs.
As they stormed out on the catwalk, blinking at the sun,
With their final fusillade his answer had come.

Am I?
There is no way that you can hide me.
Am I?
Though you have put your fire inside me.
Am I?
You’ve given me my answer can’t you see?
I was!
I am!
and now I will be,
I will be,
I will be,
I will be,
I will be,

Dr Gary G. Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN. Dr Kohls has been actively involved in peace, justice and nonviolence issues for much of his adult life and, since he retirement, has written a weekly column for the Duluth Reader. His Duty to Warn columns mostly deal with the dangers of American fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism and other movements that threaten American democracy. He can be reached Read other articles by Gary.

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All along Canada’s Pacific coast, mussels are dying

July 8, 2016


“Like the plot of a summer horror flick”: All along Canada’s Pacific coast, mussels are dying… Bodies are swollen by cancerous tumors — Unprecedented mutations allowing cancer to spread from one species to another like a virus — Scientists: “It’s beyond surprising” (VIDEO)

Posted: 07 Jul 2016 11:13 AM PDT

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