JOHN LAFORGE – When it comes to double-standards, sheer hypocrisy, and laughable duplicity, Germany takes the cake this week — for nuclear weapons two-facedness.
JOHN LAFORGE – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has confirmed that it is investigating allegations that counterfeit, substandard parts are currently being used in scores of nuclear reactors across the United States, and further that emergency responders in New Hampshire’s National Guard and the Massachusetts State Police have been gagged by orders not to reveal that it is impossible to conduct a safe evacuation of the Seabrook reactor during an emergency.
JOHN LAFORGE – Joe Biden has his own Douglas MacArthur moment, and should replace the head of US Strategic Command, Adm. Charles A. Richard, just as Harry Truman fired the insubordinate commander of the US war in Korea.
JOHN LAFORGE – In a fashion reminiscent of lawless dictatorships the world over, the Trump White House has written to countries that have adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons urging them to withdraw their ratifications.
JOHN LAFORGE – “Here’s the issue: Nuclear power right now is six percent of energy of the world. There are only 400 nuclear power plants. These are old nuclear power plants. But our scientists tell us [that] to have a minimum impact on climate change — which is the whole rationale for bringing this technology back — nuclear would have to be 20 percent of the energy mix to have the minimum, minimum impact on climate change — not six percent of the mix. An impossible goal. For one thing, the issue of water.
JOHN LAFORGE – It gets harder to commemorate World War I, because of time and the public’s embrace of, or indifference to, a permanent war economy.
JOHN LAFORGE – he World Nuclear Association says its goal is “to increase global support for nuclear energy” and it repeatedly claims on its website: “There have only been three major accidents across 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of operation in 32 countries.” The WNA and other nuclear power supporters acknowledge Three Mile Island in 1979 (US), Chernobyl in 1986 (USSR), and Fukushima in 2011 (Japan) as “major” disasters. Claiming that these radiation gushers were the worst ignores the frightening series of large-scale disasters that have been caused by uranium mining, reactors, nuclear weapons, and radioactive waste. Some of the world’s other major accidental radiation releases indicate that the Big Three are just the tip of the iceberg.
JOHN LAFORGE – The list of old age reactors shut down or closing soon keeps growing, and new reactor construction is being thwarted by exorbitant costs.
JOHN LAFORGE – You have to hand it to the nuclear industry for socializing costs and privatizing profits. Last year, lobbyists for operators of dirty, deadbeat old reactors won massive public subsidies — bailouts — in New York and Illinois that will keep decrepit, retirement-age reactors from shutting down. Instead of turning off the rattle traps — and investing public funds in renewables – state-sponsored electric ratepayer handouts in the two states will total $10 billion over 12 years. Remember Reagan’s mythical “welfare queens”? These utilities are welfare gods, propping up decrepit reactors by buying entire state legislatures that in turn legalize monthly electric bill increases.
JOHN LAFORGE – The Electoral College is based on state law, so when enough additional states pass the National Popular Vote bill — enough to add up to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House — then the “electors” would be legally bound to vote for the popular vote winner and never again steal an election from the top vote getter.
JOHN LAFORGE – North Korea’s May 7 declaration that it would not be first to use nuclear weapons was met with official derision instead of relief and applause. Not one report of the announcement I could find noted that the United States has never made such a no-first-use pledge. None of three dozen news accounts even mentioned that North Korea hasn’t got one usable nuclear warhead. The New York Times did admit, “US and South Korean officials doubted that North Korea has developed a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile that would deliver a nuclear payload to the continental United States.”
JOHN LAFORGE – In 2010, three high-ranking military officials including Air Force Colonel B. Chance Saltzman, Chief of the US Air Force’s Strategic Plans and Policy Division who had worked directly for the Secretary of the Air Force, published a major policy paper suggesting that the US should unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal by more than 90 percent.
JOHN LAFORGE – What is the government waiting for? Is a self-inflicted nuclear weapon disaster the only way to force the military to turn the nuclear pistols away from our heads and put the safety on?
JOHN LAFORGE – A full accounting and criminal investigation of the torture regime must be made, including disclosure of videotapes of CIA interrogations under Bush and of force-feeding under Obama. There is no other way to demonstrate that law binds U.S. presidents, to ensure that such crimes are not repeated, to recover the right to condemn torture by other states, and to reduce the chances that captured U.S. soldiers will not be tortured using the same sickening rationale that Cheney still spews on Sunday talk shows.
JOHN LAFORGE – “We should be carefully monitoring the oceans after what is certainly the largest accidental release of radioactive contaminants to the oceans in history,” marine chemist Ken Buesseler said last spring. Instead, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency halted its emergency radiation monitoring of Fukushima’s radioactive plume in May 2011, three months after the disaster began. Japan isn’t even monitoring seawater near Fukushima, according to a Sept. 28 story in “The Ecologist.”
JOHN LAFORGE – Finally, after three years of legal wrangling and 24 months in jail and prison, a successful appeal decision has hinted at what a kangaroo Kabuki dance the trial was. Last May, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, voting two-to-one, threw out the “sabotage” convictions, declaring, “No rational jury could find that the defendants had that intent [sabotage] when they cut the fences… Nor could a rational jury find that the defendants had that intent when they engaged in the protest activities outside.” U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge, writing for the majority said, “It takes more than bad publicity to injure the national defense.” The Appeals Court decision could have been challenged by the Justice Department with an appeal to all 23 judges of the 6th Circuit, but on June 22 the government threw in the towel.
JOHN LAFORGE – Chinese authorities seized more than 881 pounds of baby milk formula that had been imported from Japan because it had been produced in areas known to be heavily contaminated with radioactive material emitted by three damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi complex. China’s Xinhua news agency reported that quarantine officials said that no excessive radioactive material was found in the formula, but the baby food was sent back to Japan because China has had a ban on any imports from the areas around Fukushima.
JOHN LAFORGE – An Appeals Court has vacated the sabotage convictions of peace activists Greg-Boertje-Obed, of Duluth, Min., and his co-defendants Michael Walli of Washington, DC, and Sr. Megan Rice of New York City. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that federal prosecutors failed to prove — and that “no rational jury could find” — that the three had intended to damage “national defense.”
JOHN LAFORGE – Here at the United Nations, talk is focused on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (N-P.T.). At about 11 a.m. Apr. 28, I was handcuffed with 21 other nuclear realists after blocking an entrance to the US Mission. I say “realists” because US media won’t pay much attention to US violations of nuclear weapons treaties unless somebody is taken off to jail. Barrels of ink are used detailing Iran’s non-existent nuclear arsenal. The US has about 2,000 nuclear weapons ready to launch and used as ticking time bombs every day by presidents — the way gunslingers can get the dough without ever pulling the trigger. Deterrence it is not.
JOHN LAFORGE – On December 29, the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor was shut down for good, cancelled 18 years before its license expired. The shutdown comes after thousands of protest actions; widespread uncontrolled leaks of radioactive tritium; the shocking collapse of a cooling tower; operator mismanagement; lying and cover-ups; and the state legislature’s 2010 passage of a “shut-down by 2012” law, a statute later voided by a federal court. Entergy Corp.’s surrender announcement mentioned only “economic concerns.”
JOHN LAFORGE – Weakening radiation standards, a cap on accident liability, reactor propaganda vs improvements, old units running past expiration dates, revving the engines beyond design specs …. You’d think we were itching for a meltdown. The Environmental Protection Agency has recommended increased radiation exposure limits following major releases. It would save the industry a bundle to permit large human exposures, rather than shut down rickety reactors.
JOHN LAFORGE – Any courtroom in China or Iran could have been the scene: An 84-year-old Catholic nun in prison garb, chained hand-and-foot and surrounded by heavy Marshals, is shuffled jangling into court. Her attorney asks if she might be allowed one free hand in order to take notes. The nun has been convicted of high crimes trumped up after her bold political protest embarrassed the state. A high-ranking judge lectures her about law and order and then imposes a three-year prison term.
JOHN LAFORGE – After so much blood and destruction in Afghanistan, a lot of people dream of Secretary of State John Kerry reviving his monumental 1971 question, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
JOHN LAFORGE – Four more innocents were released from America’s Robben Island this month. Our offshore penal colony at Guantanamo Bay still holds 158 prisoners, 84 of whom have been cleared for release. The men sent home were never charged with a crime and were cleared four years ago.
JOHN LAFORGE – Beginning Nov. 1, food stamp cutbacks mean $36 per month less for a family of four. Public ‘servants’ like Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan and Democratic former President Bill Clinton point to the failure of poverty programs to end poverty, and then slash those program budgets or abolish them altogether. Meanwhile, the chronic test failure of anti-missile rockets never results in budget cuts, but is called reason enough for more funding.
JOHN LAFORGE – The U.S. Army School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia is a notorious training operation for Latin American officers and soldiers. It’s associated with some of the worst dictatorships and human rights violators in the hemisphere. Over the past 20 years, the grassroots School of Americas Watch (SOA Watch) has grown into one of the most dynamic, multi-generational, cross-continental movements against militarism in the Americas (SOAW.org/November).
JOHN LAFORGE – On August 11, more than 750 people converged at Buchel Air Force Base — the largest joint U.S./German Luftwaffe air base — to condemn the retention of 20 U.S. nuclear weapons, in open violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In a show of popular rebellion 150 hearty war resisters blockaded all nine base entrances for 24 hours.
JOHN LAFORGE – Federal and state officials said in February six giant underground tanks holding an explosive and toxic brew of highly radioactive liquid wastes are leaking at the 570-square-mile Hanford Reservation, on the Columbia River in South Central Washington State.
JOHN LAFORGE – Even the deregulation-happy Wall St. Journal sounded shocked: “The Department of Energy is proposing to allow the sale of tons of scrap metal from government nuclear sites — an attempt to reduce waste that critics say could lead to radiation-tainted belt buckles, surgical implants and other consumer products.”
JOHN LA FORGE – With its October decision to end the Kewaunee nuclear power experiment on Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shore, Dominion Resources has shown the over-hyped “nuclear renaissance” to be a “reactor reassessment.” Calling its decision final, Dominion said it will close the pressurized water reactor permanently next spring, store tons of ferociously radioactive waste onsite indefinitely, and send its workforce of 655 to unemployment lines in “phased layoffs.”
JOHN LAFORGE – James Holmes was in court Mon., July 30, in Aurora, Colorado, charged with 142 counts of murder, etc. The whole world knows of this initial hearing for the alleged murderer/terrorist because every detail of Holmes’ life is now regularly put at the top of TV and radio news shows and above the fold in every newspaper. Someone kills a lot of people and the media swarms.Not so if your action was a peaceful attempt to prevent massacres.
JOHN LAFORGE – U.S. attacks on Pakistan using missiles fired from remote-controlled “drone” warplanes have been increasing under President Obama. These covert bombings often kill civilians in violation of the law of war. Even when the missiles somehow blow up targeted individuals, they kill mere suspects. The U.S. denies that its Green Berets, Navy Seals and CIA assassination squads are waging war in Pakistan from bases in neighboring Afghanistan, but the Pentagon has long wanted to expand its regional war there to attack suspected militants — much like President Richard Nixon secretly bombed and then sent thousands of soldiers into Cambodia.
JOHN LAFORGE — The press made a big deal of it. The president even starred in an Oval Office TV show about the “end to U.S. combat” in Iraq, which was announced on August 31. Mr. Obama said he’d fulfilled a promise to end the war. Obama’s bit of theater cost less than George Bush’s May 1, 2003 shameless declaration of “mission accomplished,” his circus-act-in-military-flight-suit-to-the-flight-deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Yet the president’s speech was just as dishonest.