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No Nukes/No Empire: The Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Requires the End of the U.S. Empire
By Robert Jensen
[A version of this essay was delivered to the “Think outside the Bomb” event in Austin, TX, on June 14, 2010.]
If we are serious about the abolition of nuclear weapons, we have to place the abolition of the U.S. empire at the center of our politics.
That means working toward a world free of nuclear weapons demands we not only critique the reactionary wing of the U.S. power structure, the Bushes and Cheneys and Rumsfelds -- call them the reckless hawks. A serious commitment to a future free of nuclear weapons demands critique of moderate wing, the Obamas and Bidens and Clintons -- call them the reasonable hawks. The former group is psychotic, while the latter is merely cynical. After eight years of reckless reactionary psychotics, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by reasonable moderate cynics. But we should remember that a hawk is a hawk.
The next step is asking whose interests are advanced by the hawks. Even though in the post-World War II era the hawks have sometimes differed on strategy and tactics, they have defended the same economic system: a predatory corporate capitalism. Let’s call those folks the vultures. Different groupings of hawks might be associated with different groupings of vultures, giving the appearance of serious political conflict within the elite, but what they have in common is much more important than their differences. The political empire of the contemporary United States serves the corporate empires that dominate not only the domestic but the global economy, and it all depends on U.S. military power, of which the nuclear arsenal is one component.
George W. Bush was the smirking frat-boy face of the U.S. empire. Barack Obama is the smiling smart-guy face of the U.S. empire. Whoever is at the helm, the U.S. political/economic/military empire remains in place, shaky at the moment, but still the single greatest threat to justice and peace on the planet. Any serious project to rid the world of the particular threat of nuclear weapons has to come to terms with the more general threat of the empire.
Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites
By Hugh Tomlinson | Times Online
Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.
In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.
To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.
“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”
Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.
The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete. Read more.
Over a period of time highly radioactive waste from the Dimona Nuclear Facility has been dumped primarily at two locations. One being close to Hebron and the other in central Gaza. When one adds to this the dumping of human waste, domestic waste, industrial waste and hazardous waste we are looking at a very lethal cocktail of underground contamination. One can also add to this hospital waste which can be extremely dangerous to humans....Approximately 4.3 million cubic meters of wastewater are generated per year from Jewish settlements in the West Bank. A large amount is dumped, untreated, on Palestinian land, creating a health hazard for many communities....Finally we have to add to this the fact that nuclear waste from Dimona was dumped in the Palestinian Hebron area and also in the Gaza Strip east of the Al Bareij refugee camp and the town of Deir El Balah. Another crisis also looms in the future with the fact that the Dimona Reactor is living on borrowed time.
We have seen the decades of suffering by the Palestinian people at the hands of the apartheid government of Israel and yet little has been said about another unseen problem that lies buried beneath the ground.
Over a long period of time the Israeli Government has secretly been dumping highly radioactive waste from their Dimona Nuclear Facility on Palestinian land. What is ironic is the basis as to why they have dumped their waste at such locations. Read more.
Iranian state television showed a video Monday of a man it identified as a missing nuclear scientist, who said he had been abducted and taken to the United States.
The scientist, Shahram Amiri, disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009. U.S. media reports in March said he defected to the U.S. and is assisting the CIA in efforts to undermine Iran's nuclear program. Iran has repeatedly said Amiri was abducted by the U.S.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately responded to a request for comment Monday.
The man in the video was wearing headphones and appeared to be speaking through a webcam on the Internet. The television showed the video next to a photograph of Amiri and the man bore a close resemblance. He said the video was recorded on April 5 in Tucson, Arizona.
He claimed Saudi intelligence cooperated with U.S. intelligence in his abduction. He said Saudi intelligence officers abducted him in the city of Medina on June 3, 2009, and took him to an unknown location and injected him with a tranquilizer.
"When I became conscious, I found myself in a plane on the way to the U.S.," he said. "Since I was abducted and brought to the U.S., I was heavily tortured and pressured by U.S. intelligence," he said. Read more.
Fuel Swap Shakes Sanctions Draft, Prods U.S. on New Iran Talks
Analysis by Gareth Porter | IPS
Although the Barack Obama administration continued to dismiss the May 17 Iranian fuel swap agreement Friday, there are indications that Iran's move has shaken the agreement among U.N. Security Council members on sanctions, and is bringing Russian diplomatic pressure on the United States to participate in new talks with Iran on the swap arrangement - something the administration clearly wished to avoid.
In a hastily arranged conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, three "senior administration officials" assailed the new swap agreement, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, for failing to address what was described as Iran's decision to continue enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, the increase in Iran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) stocks since last October, or U.N. Security resolutions demanding a suspension of all enrichment.
In a telltale sign that the Iranian move has shaken the previous unity among the permanent Security Council members on sanctions, however, one of the officials sidestepped a question about the present stance of Russia and China on sanctions.
Far from expressing confidence that the agreement still held, the official would only say, "We've been working with the full Council to resolve any outstanding issues." Read more.
Will an "Emergency" Military Vote Tomorrow Fund More Nukes?
By Harvey Wasserman
As oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, a shocking vote tomorrow (Thursday, May 27) may rush $9 billion worth of taxpayer guarantees into building three new nuclear power plants---two of them on that already tortured Gulf of Mexico.
Environmental groups (NIRS.org, PSR.org) are posting alerts and circulating at least one letter asking House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) to stop the handout. The public is being urged to contact Obey and other Representatives on the committee and in the House (202-225-3121). Shrouded in murky haste, the vote is currently scheduled for 5pm.
The bailout may be attached to an emergency appropriations bill meant to provide funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How that "emergency" relates to building new nuclear power plants remains a mystery.
US/Israel Challenged on Iran
By Ray McGovern
The times may be a-changin’ – at least a bit – with the United States and Israel no longer able to dictate to the rest of the world how crises in the Middle East must be handled, though the new reality has been slow to dawn on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her neocon friends in Congress and the U.S. media.
They may think they are still in control, still the smart ones looking down at upstarts like the leaders of Turkey and Brazil who had the audacity to ignore U.S. warnings and press ahead with diplomacy to head off a possible new war, this one over Iran.
On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced success in persuading Iran to send roughly 50 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for higher-enriched uranium that would be put to peaceful medical uses.
The tripartite agreement parallels one broached to Iran by Western countries on Oct. 1, 2009, which gained Iranian approval in principle but then fell apart.
That Monday’s joint announcement took U.S. officials by surprise betokens a genteel, ivory-tower-type attitude toward a world that is rapidly changing around them, like old British imperialists befuddled by a surge of anti-colonialism in the Raj or some other domain of the Empire.
Tellingly, U.S. officials and their acolytes in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) could not bring themselves to believe that Brazil and Turkey would dare pursue an agreement with Iran after Clinton and President Barack Obama said not to.
However, the signs were there that these rising regional powers were no longer willing to behave like obedient children while the United States and Israel sought to take the world for another ride into a Middle East confrontation.
Perhaps I still have a bit too much of that "hopey-changey" Kool-Aid in my system, but I read the White House statement in response to the Iran-Turkey-Brazil announcement as saying to Iran: "We acknowledge that you moved. We're still ready to deal, and we'll see you in Geneva."
The White House statement is here:
I think it's fair to assume that a good deal of thought went into crafting this statement. Robert Gibbs did not come up with these words on his own. The folks in the Obama Administration who run nuclear diplomacy chose these words.
So what words did they choose, and what should we infer from them?
1. "We acknowledge the efforts that have been made by Turkey and Brazil."
This is positive. Regardless of what the Obama Administration said before the President of Brazil went to Iran, what the Obama Administration is saying now is: "Mazl Tov! Parabens! Tebrikler!" This is good. If you want a deal, the role of Brazil and Turkey is positive, not negative. Clearly, the involvement of Brazil and Turkey is raising the comfort level of the Iranians with the fuel swap deal. That's a good thing that should be encouraged. If you want a deal, you want the other side to be comfortable with the deal. Plus, now Brazil and Turkey have skin in the game. If Iran reneges, it's going to make Brazil and Turkey look bad. That's good. We are now in a situation where it's not "P5+1" on one side of the table and Iran on the other, but P5+1 on one side of the table and Iran +2 on the other. If your goal is to isolate Iran, that's bad. But if your goal it's to get a deal, that's good. The more signatures there are on the paper, the stronger the deal is.
2. "The proposal announced in Tehran must now be conveyed clearly and authoritatively to the IAEA before it can be considered by the international community." Read more.
"Gooaal!" for Lula Against Western Push for Iran Sanctions
By Robert Naiman | Truthout | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Sao Paulo, Brazil - If I were in Washington, I would run down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to Congress with a big Brazilian flag, as the young Brazilians run down the Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo during the futebol match, shouting, "Gooaal!"
Because with the news that Iran has agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey that could "deflate a US-led push" for new sanctions against Iran, the president of Brazil has scored a goal against the neocons in the West who want to gin up confrontation with Iran toward a future military conflict.
AP reported: Iran agreed Monday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal that could ease the international standoff over the country's disputed nuclear program and deflate a US-led push for tougher sanctions.
The deal was reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey, elevating a new group of mediators for the first time in the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities. The agreement was nearly identical to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept in order to deprive Iran - at least temporarily - of enough stocks of enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.
If the deal is "nearly identical" to the plan that the US has been pressing, then we should all be celebrating, right? Read more.
BP's nuke-powered liability cap
By Harvey Wasserman | Solartopia | May 17, 2010
As BP destroys our priceless planet, its lawyers gear up to save the company from paying for the damage. The same will happen---only worse---with the next atomic reactor disaster.
By law, BP may be liable for only $75 million of the harm done by the Deepwater Horizon.
Ask yourself why the federal government would adopt legislation that limits the liability of an oil driller for the damage it does to us all.
Ask the same question---on another order of magnitude---about nuclear power plants.
Some lawmakers have tried to raise this cap so BP could be made to pay for the wounds they have not yet stopped inflicting.
By any calculation, BP did more than $75 million in harm during the first hour of this undersea gusher. That sum won't begin to cover even the legal fees, let alone the tangible damage to our only home.
But "free market" Republicans have resisted raising the limit. So BP will walk away virtually scot free. All this will be tax deductible. So will the millions they'll spend changing the name of the company, and dumping all those pathetic "Beyond Petroleum" pamphlets.
Now imagine a melt-down alongside the blow-out. See the Deepwater Horizon as a nuclear power plant. Think of the rickety Grand Gulf, a bit to the north, or the two decaying reactors at South Texas, a ways to the west.
Imagine that apocalyptic plume of oil ravaging our seas as an airborne radioactive cloud.
Iran to resume uranium enrichment despite Turkey deal
By the CNN Wire Staff | CNN
Iran appeared to make a concession in its long-running dispute with the international community Monday, only to throw a potential spoiler into the mix soon after.
Tehran said it had agreed to send thousands of pounds of low-enriched uranium, which was produced in Iran, to Turkey in exchange for highly-enriched uranium.
But then Iran said it intended to continue enriching uranium to the level that can sustain nuclear reactions, a move the United States and its allies do not want Tehran to make.
"We are not planning on stopping our legal right to enrich uranium," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told CNN by telephone.
The deal between Iran and Turkey had been designed to answer international concerns that Iran was secretly trying to build nuclear weapons -- a charge it has long denied.
Mehmanparast said the United States and its allies should accept the proposal. Read more.
Not long after the administration finalized an arms reduction treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, President Obama is now seeking $80 billion in funding for nuclear weapons.
According to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the money would be spent to “rebuild and sustain America’s aging nuclear stockpile.”
The US has one of the two largest arsenals on the planet, some 5,113 warheads, a holdover from the Cold War arms race with the former Soviet Union.
Despite very public efforts to declare himself an advocate of total nuclear disarmament, President Obama has made no secret of his ambitions for an updated nuclear stockpile, ostensibly for “safety” reasons.
But in reality, an arsenal capable of wiping out much of the life on the planet is never really safe, and questions about the military’s handling of the arsenal are nothing new. Likewise it is difficult to argue, in a post Cold War world, that the US truly needs such an enormous arsenal merely for “deterrence.” Read more.
...The report reveals why the 2010 Non-Proliferation Review Conference at the UN – like the GAO – isn’t really capable of challenging the true drivers of Middle East nuclear proliferation. “Nuclear Diversion in the U.S.? 13 Years of Contradiction and Confusion” is a report so unique and noble in intent that there will probably never be another like it. While it leaves unexplored the ongoing presence, influence, and effect of Israel’s lobbyists working at the center of U.S. presidential administrations, for concerned Americans the GAO provides a snapshot of a moment in time before their Congress, aspiring politicians, and mid-level management of government agencies all “got the memo.”
In 2010 that unwritten memo reads something like this: Crimes committed in the name of Israel – no matter how audacious – will never be properly investigated, let alone prosecuted… so don’t waste your time.
...But the 11-year gap “obviously hampered” the effort. The GAO revealed that the DOE’s nuclear materials safeguards, which before 1967 tracked the monetary value rather than the precise mass of the uranium, were seriously flawed. NUMEC claimed key records covering a period of heavy uranium loss were destroyed during a “labor dispute” in 1964. NUMEC paid a $1.1 million fine for 206 pounds of missing uranium in 1966, which closed the DOE case. NUMEC also hired away one of the DOE’s chief on-site investigators to enhance the appearance of serious materials control and accountability. The GAO found that even by 1978 the FBI had not contacted key individuals in the affair. An FBI agent-in-charge told the GAO it did not investigate the source of funds to pay NUMEC’s DOE fine anticipating “legal difficulties.” So the GAO investigated the matter, placing its own telephone calls to Mellon Bank.
The GAO report is highly critical of the CIA: “From interviews with a former CIA official and with former and current officials and staff of DOE and the FBI we concluded that the CIA did not fully cooperate with DOE or the FBI in attempting to resolve the NUMEC matter.” The report is inconclusive about exactly what happened at NUMEC, but not about the agencies involved in the investigation through 1978. “We believe a timely, concerted effort on the part of these three agencies would have greatly aided and possibly solved the NUMEC diversion questions, if they desired to do so.” Read more.
Super Surprising Facts About 'Our Enemy' Iran Remind Us That We Don't Know Squat | Alternet
26 basic questions about Iran with answers that might surprise you.
It cannot be argued that Iran is an aggressive state that is dangerous to its neighbors, as facts do not support this claim. It cannot be relevant that Iran adheres to Islamic fundamentalism, has a flawed democracy and denies women full western-style civil rights, as Saudi Arabia is more fundamentalist, far less democratic and more oppressive of women, yet it is a U.S. ally. It cannot be relevant that Iran has, over the years, had a nuclear research program, and is most likely pursuing the capacity to develop nuclear weapons, as Pakistan, India, Israel and other states are nuclear powers yet remain U.S. allies—indeed, Israel deceived the U.S. while developing its nuclear program.
The answer to the above-posed question is fairly obvious: Iran must be punished for leaving the orbit of U.S. control. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when the Shah was removed, Iran, unlike, say, Saudi Arabia, acts independently and thus compromises U.S. power in two ways: i) Defiance of U.S. dictates affects the U.S.'s attainment of goals linked to Iran; and, ii) Defiance of U.S. dictates establishes a “bad” example for other countries that may wish to pursue an independent course. The Shah could commit any number of abuses—widespread torture, for example—yet his loyalty to the U.S. exempted him from American condemnation—yet not from the condemnation of the bulk of Iranians who brought him down.
The following quiz is an attempt to introduce more balance into the mainstream discussion of Iran. Read more.
Michael Munk commented about the NY Times editorial below:
In the final paragragh of its pompous editorial on what's wrong with the NPT is this dismissal of world wide efforts to focus on Israel's nuclear arsenal rather than Iran's non-existent one.
Indeed, the Times declares, those that do are "playing games by pressing for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East that seeks to force Israel to give up its nuclear arsenal. That is not going to happen any time soon."
Th Times' reporting team of Broad and Sanger does its best to assure that.
The world has a chance this month to send a powerful message about its determination to curb the spread of nuclear weapons. To do that, 189 nations, whose diplomats have gathered in New York, must strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
At a frightening time — when Iran and North Korea are defying the Security Council and pressing ahead with their nuclear programs, and terrorists are actively trying to buy or steal their own weapon — there has to be a law to make clear that proliferation will not be tolerated. The treaty is that law. But it is badly fraying.
Iran, which is a “non-weapons” state, managed for years to hide its nuclear activities. North Korea secretly diverted fuel and built weapons, then suddenly withdrew from the treaty and tested a weapon.
Ideally, the treaty would be strengthened with legally binding amendments. But that requires a consensus, and even then could take years of votes. A strong political document from the conference could make the world safer. That should include: Read more.
By Peter Weiss, President, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
On May 5, three high level US officials gave to a large crowd in Conference Room 4 a report on various aspects of US nuclear policy.
The event was moderated by Ambassador Susan Burk, the President’s Special Representative for Nonproliferation (but not disarmament?) The first speaker was Ellen Tauscher, the former Congresswoman from California and current Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, who had a big hand in negotiating New START. She said that the new treaty’s reduction from 2200 to 1550 nuclear warheads each for the US and Russia signified a transition from Mutual Assured Destruction to Mutual Assured Security.
Fortress Guam: Resistance to US Military Mega-Buildup
LisaLinda Natividad and Gwyn Kirk | Japan Today
Barely mentioned in the shadows of these fine words with their emphasis on sustainability, are the real reasons for Obama’s visit: to rally community and official support for the Department of Defense plan to relocate 8,600 Marines from Okinawa (Japan) to Guam, provide additional live-fire training sites, expand Andersen Air Force Base, create berthing for a nuclear aircraft carrier, and erect a missile defense system on the island.
United States presidents rarely visit the U.S. territory of Guam (or Guåhan in the Chamorro language), but President Obama may visit in June 2010. This will be a significant stop for residents of this small island, 30 miles long and eight miles wide, dubbed, “Where America’s day begins.” Guam is the southern-most island in the Northern Mariana chain that also includes Rota, Tinian, and Saipan. It is the homeland of indigenous Chamorro people whose ancestors first came to the islands nearly 4,000 years ago. Formed from two volcanoes, Guam’s rocky core now constitutes an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” for the United States military in the words of Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Owens, a former commanding officer of Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base.1
The reason given for Obama’s unprecedented visit to the island in a White House Conference call by Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, is this:
While there he’ll not only visit with commanders but also with local Guam authorities. And he’s going to make sure that we have a very realistic and sustainable and well thought out approach to Guam. He has a vision which we refer to here as “one Guam, green Guam,” which is apropos of many of the questions heretofore, designed to make sure that we’re investing in capabilities on Guam that are sustainable over the course of time, that are clean energy focused, that do take very concrete steps to reduce the high price of energy on the island, and obviously will lead to an end state that’s politically, operationally, and environmentally sustainable.
So the President, while there, will also take a hard look at the project and infrastructure needs on Guam. We’ll obviously be looking at base-related construction that must take into accounts(sic) the needs of not only of an increased troop presence or Marine presence, but also the needs of the people of Guam, the impact on the environment, and the important role that the United States plays within the region... I’d rather just make clear that we have a commitment to the people of Guam, and that as part of our ongoing plan for our presence in the region, are going to make very common-sense and important investments in the infrastructure there.2 Read more.
Mothers: ending war is the source of Mother’s Day. War is illegal. Mothers: demand justice, peace
By Carl Herman | LA County Nonpartisan Examiner | Hat Tip to Joe Azar
Ending unlawful US wars is similar to the work of the Civil Rights Movement: both are functions of transformative civic education inside and outside of classrooms, transformative media communication, and transformative political education and policy. Both are founded upon honor and enforcement of historical legislative victories. For Civil Rights, the 1868 14th Amendment to the US Constitution promised equal protection under the law and was willfully ignored.
Ending war is founded upon the 1945 legislative victory of the United Nations Charter (UN). War is illegal, except under a narrow legal definition of self-defense from another nation’s armed attack until the UN Security Council (UNSC) can act. I cite expert testimony to explain the "emperor has no clothes," and cite the law compared with the evidence for everyone to understand here. Obviously, the US is in violation.
The UNSC issued two Resolutions requiring international cooperation under the law to discover, arrest, and bring to full justice the criminals who executed the terrorist act of 9/11. The US refused Afghanistan’s request for evidence of Osama bin Laden’s complicity before extradition could begin, and initiated war upon Afghanistan.
The US violated a standing UNSC Resolution of ceasefire in Iraq that only the UNSC has authority to lift, and initiated war upon Iraq. For those concerned with UN authority, know that the UN Charter is legally binding in one area only: Wars of Aggression, are unlawful. For detailed explanation of this legislative victory of World War 2, read the above two links.
By David Swanson
Tad Daley writes, in his new book, "Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World," that he would like his book to have the impact of "Common Sense," "Uncle Tom's Cabin," or "The Jungle." Yeah, buddy, what author wouldn't? But Daley has a unique argument for the moral necessity of sharing his goal and promoting either his book or others like it: our only alternative is the annihilation of all life on earth.
By the time you've read this book, you will in fact be persuaded that if others do not grasp its central points, not just tyranny or slavery or unsafe workplaces will continue, but all trace of humanity and every other life form in the world will be eliminated.
The Triple Curse of the Corporate Climate Bill
By Harvey Wasserman
Legend says curses come in threes. Let's pray that doesn't happen with the unholy trinity of the Corporate Climate Bill.
It demands drilling for oil, digging for coal and big money for new nukes. How such a devil's brew could help save the Earth conjures a corporate cynicism beyond the scope of the human mind and soul.
It all now bears a special curse. It was meant for Earth Day. Then it slipped to the April 26 Chernobyl anniversary. But co-sponsor Lindsay Graham (R-SC) pitched a fit over immigration and pulled his support.
As did Earth herself. Just prior, more than two dozen hill country miners were killed in a veritable Three Mile Island of black carbon. This entirely avoidable accident was built on years of sloppy denial by King Coal and the tacit assent of pliant regulators. With mountains of offal being pitched into rivers and streams, and underground hell holes filled with gas and soot, coal has been slaughtering people and eco-systems here for more than a century. Now, as at TMI, the death has become visible.
Meanwhile, the undersea gusher destroying the Gulf of Mexico may soon pour up the east coast. Like Chernobyl, it defies comprehension.
Geoff Millard, Chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War, National Board Of Directors wrote:
From the 26th of March until the 9th of April I was lucky to be a part of a veterans delegation to Vietnam in order to do research in preparation for an upcoming push for legislation to alleviate the suffering of the people of Vietnam that has plagued them since we first started using agent orange in 1961.
Vietnam may seem an odd place for an Iraq vet whose parents had not even met when the last US forces retreated in defeat hanging from helicopters, but somehow I was the perfect piece to complete a very complicated puzzle. You see there are many connections to be made between the two wars but I was there because both were toxic battlefields that left veteran and civilian alike scared for many generations.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s it was not conservative veterans groups who were talking about the effects of agent orange (more specifically dioxin but for common understanding I will simply use AO as my reference), it was VVAW and CCI. As much as revisionists would love to write antiwar veterans from history or minimize them as a small force (as they are trying today with IVAW) the reality is that while the VFW would not allow Vietnam veterans to join their ranks antiwar vets were creating a new generation of leaders. These brave souls were the ones to first paint the words agent orange kills our soldiers on banners.
One of these young leaders would leave to form VVA but his roots are undeniably with VVAW. It is from the work of antiwar veterans that any compensation for AO has been granted. Thus it must again be antiwar vets that take up their banners and fight for compensation for the now three generations of survivors who have lived 35 years in a toxic battlefield that Americans have long since forgotten.
Chernobyl demands a REAL climate bill
By Harvey Wasserman | April 26, 2010
This week 24 years ago, untold quantities of lethal radiation began pouring into the atmosphere from the catastrophic explosion at Chernobyl Unit 4. Nearly a million people have died because of it.
And on this horrific anniversary we have now seen the stumble of a very bad climate bill. The events are directly related.
Chernobyl's death toll has been bitterly debated.
But after nearly a quarter-century of industry denial, the New York Academy of Sciences has published, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, the definitive catalog and analysis. Drawing on some 5,000 studies, three Russian scientists have placed the ultimate death toll at 985,000.
The authors include Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the president of Russia; Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist in Belarus; and Dr.Vassili Nesterenko, a physicist who was, at the time of the accident, director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. The book has been edited by Dr. Janette Sherman, a toxicologist expert in the health impacts of radioactivity.
As Karl Grossman has shown, Chernobyl's death toll stretches worldwide. Its apocalyptic cloud blanketed Europe and blew across the northern tier of the United States. Sheep in Scotland and milk in New England were heavily contaminated, along with countless square miles of land and sea.
Ohio's Davis-Besse may have come within a fraction of an inch of such a disaster, and has again been found with potentially apocalyptic structural flaws. Michigan's Fermi I and the infamous Three Mile Island Unit 2 did melt.
Now the brand new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 design has been deemed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as unable to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, and has turned up with a critical generic flaw that could cause it to explode.
Which is where the climate bill comes in.
U.S. Nuclear Option on Iran Linked to Israeli Attack Threat
By Gareth Porter | IPS
The Barack Obama administration's declaration in its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that it is reserving the right to use nuclear weapons against Iran represents a new element in a strategy of persuading Tehran that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites is a serious possibility if Iran does not bow to the demand that it cease uranium enrichment.
Although administration officials have carefully refrained from drawing any direct connection between the new nuclear option and the Israeli threat, the NPR broadens the range of contingencies in which nuclear weapons might play a role so as to include an Iranian military response to an Israeli attack.
A war involving Iran that begins with an Israeli attack is the only plausible scenario that would fit the category of contingencies in the document.
The NPR describes the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in those contingencies as a "deterrent". A strategy of exploiting the Israeli threat to attack Iran would seek to deter an Iranian response to such an attack and thus make it more plausible. Read more.
Nuclear Weapons And Interceptor Missiles: Twin Pillars Of U.S.-NATO Military Strategy In Europe
Rick Rozoff Stop NATO | Blog site | April 23, 2010
The two-day NATO foreign ministers meeting in the Estonian capital of Tallinn on April 22-23 focused on the completion of the military alliance's first 21st century Strategic Concept and on the war in Afghanistan, the near-complete absorption of the Balkans into the bloc, and the expansion of operations at the Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence established by NATO two years ago in the same city.
The most important deliberations, however, were on the integrally related questions of U.S. nuclear weapons stored on air bases in five NATO member states and the expansion of the Pentagon's interceptor missile program to all of Europe west of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Discussions on the role of nuclear arms in Europe a generation after the end of the Cold War are in line with the Nuclear Posture Review released last month by the U.S. Department of Defense. NATO has never been known to deviate from American precedents and expectations. Its role is to accommodate and complement Pentagon initiatives. A nation like the Netherlands or Poland proposes, Washington disposes.
While speaking at a press conference in the ministerial meeting's host city, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen directly tied together the retention of U.S. nuclear arms in Europe and NATO's cooperation with its dominant member on a continent-wide interceptor missile system:
"NATO’s core business, its raison-d’etre, is to protect our territory and our populations....And in a world where nuclear weapons actually exist, NATO needs a credible, effective, and safely managed deterrent.
For many years, Israel's open secret is that it's one of eight known nuclear powers, including America and Russia with about 97% of the world's arsenal according to Helen Caldicott in her book "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer." The others are Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel - North Korea a declared but unverified one.
In her January 20, 2009 Canadian Medical Association Journal article titled, "Obama and the opportunity to eliminate nuclear weapons" Caldicott wrote:
"The Cold War is over, but the threat of nuclear war is not. Little progress has been made since 1989 when the Berlin Wall collapsed. In fact, the threat of nuclear annihilation has escalated. In 1972, when 5 nuclear nations....signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, they agreed to rapidly disarm. They have done the opposite," resulting in a greater than ever threat, the Pentagon's new Nuclear Posture Review and US-Russia deal doing nothing to reverse it.
Pentagon Claims Iran ‘Continues’ Nuclear Weapons Program
Admits No Evidence They Have Even Decided to Make Them
By Jason Ditz | AntiWar
Accusing Iran of working on a nuclear weapon is something done with very little ceremony, its almost a matter of course for most US officials when discussing the nation. So much so, it seems, that they don’t even proof their own reports to make sure they’re internally consistent in that regard.
So it seems a bit strange when the Pentagon made the usual accusations and simultaneously insisted that they haven’t even determined if Iran has decided to make such a weapon.
Iran has been working to expand their civilian nuclear program for quite some time, and it is this program which is being cited exclusively in the claims about Iran’s non-existent “nuclear weapons” ambitions. Yet the IAEA continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear materials from this program, and none of this uranium is being enriched beyond 20 percent, with most only being enriched to 3.5 percent. Nuclear weapons, to compare, would require 90+ percent enriched uranium. Read more.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in April of 1949 by a country not on the European continent, the United States, and eleven subordinates which had fought on both sides of the World War that had ended four years earlier: Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal. Greece and Turkey were added in 1952 after their service in the Korean War and West Germany joined in 1955.
Five days after the inclusion of the Federal Republic of Germany on May 9, in contravention of the 1945 Potsdam Agreement between Britain, the U.S. and the Soviet Union which explicitly demanded and meticulously detailed plans for the demilitarization of Germany, the Soviet Union established the Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact) in response. Fellow members were Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland and Romania. Albania formally withdrew in 1968, though it had not been a participating member since the early 1960s, and Romania had been a member in name only for at least twenty years before the pact's formal disbandment.
With the accession of Spain into the "military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America" in 1982 the U.S.-led military bloc grew from its original 12 to 16 members. By that time the Warsaw Pact had shrunk from eight to seven members and some of the remaining ones were only selectively involved.
NATO had regularly conducted large-scale military exercises in alleged defense of Norway, Denmark and other members, but never deployed forces or conducted operations outside member states' territories, counting on the thousands of American nuclear warheads in European NATO states to respond to the Warsaw Pact's conventional military superiority in the event of armed confrontation. 
Military forces from the Warsaw Pact intervened in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and in the early 1980s it appeared they might do so again in Poland, and the Soviet Union sent troops to Hungary in 1956 after Prime Minister Imre Nagy withdrew his nation from the Warsaw Pact.
The Soviet Union's justification for those actions was that nations in Eastern Europe gravitating toward the West could be transformed into sites from which NATO, and especially its dominant member the U.S., would present a military threat on or near its borders.
"People like Richard and the Ploughshares and others are some of the most principled people I've ever been fortunate enough to meet and I believe they have a right to peaceful, non-violent, prayerful demonstration against weapons of massive destruction and genocide," Boyle said. "The future of humanity is at stake here and Richard and those like Richard out there are trying to do something."...
"It was a very thoughtful, prayerful act at an Indian reservation, I do that myself at church. I don't understand why praying on a silo is a threat to anyone it's simply mindboggling" Boyle said. "It's criminal what those missiles represent. Praying is the most effective tool we have right now to fight these Nazi-type weapons of genocide."
The man arrested Thursday at a Minuteman III launch site near Parshall will face federal charges.
James Richard Sauder, 55, of San Antonio, Texas, was arrested after allegedly scaling the fence of the H-8 missile silo southwest of Parshall to conduct a peaceful protest against nuclear weapons. He was initially charged with criminal trespass, a Class C felony, and spent the night in the Mountrail County jail in Stanley.
Special Agent E.K. Wilson of the FBI said Sauder has been charged with one count of federal criminal trespass and was taken into federal custody Friday afternoon. Wilson said a criminal complaint filed Friday morning was pending, but would not speculate on any additional charges. Read more.