The Threat of Nuclear War Grows

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In this Kafkaesque age everything is stood on its head–the champion violator of international law and sovereignty and the territorial integrity of states is gung ho for respecting state sovereignty and territorial integrity (of Georgia, but not Pakistan); primary terrorist and ethnic cleansing states (the United States and Israel) invade, bomb, and torture, but wax indignant at retail terrorism that flows largely in response to their wholesale terror; and these same two states, brimming over with nuclear arms and increasingly threatening to use them, are aghast that Iran might want and someday be able to make a nuclear weapon.

These two states are mainly responsible for the steadily rising probability that nuclear weapons will again be used in the not too distant future. Both have a stock of nuclear weapons and up-to-date delivery systems: that of the United States is of course gigantic, but Israel’s is substantial (estimated as between 60 and 200 ready bombs). Israel has developed its nuclear capability outside the authority of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with the collusion of the Western powers, which have been so aggressive in denying any similar rights to Iran (except during the period of the rule of the Western-imposed dictator, the Shah). This weapons accumulation and refusal to accept the NPT has entailed no penalty for Israel–no threats, no sanctions, no refusal to assist its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Israel has threatened to use its nuclear weapons, earlier against the Soviet Union, today against Iran. Its threat of an attack on Iran, which is in itself a violation of the UN Charter, has not been treated at all critically in the West–in contrast with the horror at Ahmadinejad’s fuzzy condemnations of Israel, which have never included any expressed threat to literally attack Israel.

The United States has also steadily violated both the letter and spirit of the NPT. It had agreed in signing on to this treaty in 1968 to work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. Not only has it not done this, it has made them officially a core part of national defense strategy and in recent years has worked steadily to make them more usable in warfare. It has also withdrawn its NPT promise not to use nuclear weapons against any state that signs on to the NPT and promises not to develop nuclear weapons. The United States has also violated the spirit of the NPT by helping and supporting Israel’s development of a nuclear weapons capability, of turning a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear development during years when it was serving as a useful client, and now recently agreeing to assist India’s nuclear program despite that country’s refusal to join the NPT. Pakistan and China of course resent this U.S. support of a nuclear India, clearly based on political expediency and weakening further any control over nuclear weapons proliferation.


Can Indigenous Peoples Teach Us to Survive?

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As I write, I am looking at a web picture of two dark-skinned men with paint on their cheeks and feathered head bands. These “primitive” indigenous members of a South American tribe look curious to me. They are not like us-their lifestyle has been sustainable for thousands of years. Everything they use and need is renewable. Were it not for our excesses, they and their kids could go on living as they always have for millennia to come.

To survive, they need for us to change. The immediate threat is the logging and mining that decimates the jungle forest that has sustained them from the beginnings of their people’s history. But the degradation of the environment that threatens us all, also threatens them, though they have done nothing to contribute to it.

This paradox – that our unsustainable consumption threatens their completely sustainable primitivism – served as inspiration for a group of people to bring together the wisdom of our cultures. The relationship has grown in many directions, but the one that is of most immediate interest is a grass roots movement to motivate people to take action in their daily lives. This is not a political movement to influence the seats of power, but an educational effort to package accurate information, without spin or sensationalism, in a presentation that is interesting and participatory. Through participation in this program, people are offered a new point of view in looking at their world and their lives, and are encouraged to formulate daily practices that reinforce new attitudes about sustainability.

Nuclear Weapons complex changes approved

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The program includes limiting plutonium, highly enriched uranium and production of tritium – a gas that makes warheads perform more efficiently – to just five sites, compared with seven currently.

The government also would close 600 buildings and structures at the facilities and reduce the number of workers involved in weapons programs by 20 to 30 percent. None of the seven primary weapons complex facilities, including three nuclear weapons research labs, will be closed. But activities will be combined, in many cases.

Plutonium stockpiles are to be removed from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in Livermore, Calif., where concerned citizen groups have protested their presence in a facility surrounded by suburban neighborhoods. Highly enriched uranium already has been taken from the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Forest Mountain Voices

Forest Mountain Voices

This is a series of short films produced by Forest Mountain Voices (FMV), an indigenous community media project based in Ratanakiri, Cambodia.

Staffed entirely by youth from the Tampeun, Jarai, and Kreung indigenous peoples, FMV is a grassroots project that aims to challenge the dominant model of information sharing in Cambodia — one where indigenous voices are excluded — by promoting media made by indigenous communities or supporting organizations “for the purpose of community-to-community communication and community voice to outsiders.”

The project is also a way of “overcoming barriers imposed by high levels of illiteracy, difficult travel conditions and widespread poverty (not to mention the inability of mass media to cater for many peoples).”

If you would like to download a HQ version of the film, please visit visit Community Forestry International.

Forest Mountain Voices

    Watch on Google

  • To learn more about FMV, contact Graeme Brown, graemejohnbrown[at]

Radiation sealed under sea

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A radioactive device stuck down an oil bore off the Taranaki coast had to be sealed under 60 metres of concrete to stop radiation leaking out.

The incident, in March, was one of four potentially hazardous situations last year requiring emergency responses by the Health Ministry’s National Radiation Laboratory. Manager Jim Turnbull said none caused harm to humans.

There were two accidents involving nuclear density meters, which use a radioactive isotope source to measure soil density and moisture content.

Nuclear plant gets 20-year extension

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The Shearon Harris nuclear-power plant that supplies Wilson with most of its energy has received a 20-year license extension that allows it to operate through 2046.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the operating-license renewal of the power plant in southern Wake County. The license was set to expire in 2026.

The extension, which was granted earlier this month, could mean future lower electric rates for municipal members of the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency. The agency owns a share of the Harris plant, and the plant provides member cities with 16 percent of their power generation. The plant is also the largest part of the agency’s debt that the 32 member cities are set to pay down until 2026.

Energy Dept. Issues Decisions Today To Build New Nuclear Bomb Plants, Endanger Communities

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LIVERMORE – In Federal Register notices published today, the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) issued two legally-binding authorizations, called Records of Decision (RODs), to revitalize and rebuild the nuclear weapons complex, at Livermore Lab in California and other sites across the country.

The two RODs codify the DOE NNSA’s “preferred alternatives” laid out in the agency’s final Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, issued on October 24, 2008.

One ROD covers all of the agency’s “programmatic” decisions, defined as operations involving plutonium, uranium and assembly/disassembly of nuclear weapons. The other ROD covers 3 of 6 “project-specific” decisions, defined as tritium research and development (R&D), flight test operations, and major environmental test facilities to assess performance of nuclear weapons under varying conditions. The 3 “project-specific” decisions that await a ROD are high explosives R&D, hydrodynamic testing, and weapons support functions at the Sandia, Livermore site.