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WHO shake-up approved after Ebola debacle

Source: Agence France-Presse

The World Health Organization has been given the go-ahead for a sweeping shake-up, including a $US100 million ($A127.8 million) war chest to battle future emergencies following the Ebola fiasco.

Delegates from 180 countries at the annual World Health Assembly, which ended on Tuesday, approved plans for a contingency fund to tackle future emergencies, which will be reviewed after two years.

The pilot project will be financed by flexible voluntary contributions, according to WHO chief Margaret Chan.

The WHO has drawn biting criticism for its delayed response to the Ebola crisis and its failure to identify the outbreak that has killed 11,132 people so far, almost all of them in west Africa.

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Read more: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/world/africa/2015/05/27/who-shake-up-approved-after-ebola-debacle.html

Patient being tested for Ebola at Yonkers hospital

Source: LoHud

The patient went to the hospital with fever-like symptoms after returning from abroad

A patient at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Yonkers is being tested for Ebola, officials said.

The patient, who is from a country on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's watch list for the virus that has devastated West Africa, arrived at the hospital, at 127 South Broadway, Tuesday afternoon with fever-like symptoms and is currently isolated there, said Dean Civitello, a hospital spokesman.

The state Department of Health is running tests to determine what the patient may be stricken with, including testing for Ebola, Civitello said.

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The Westchester County Department of Health "is working with the hospital and treating physician to evaluate a patient with fever who recently traveled to an Ebola-affected country," county Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler said in a statement. "All appropriate infection control measures are in place, including isolation and personal protective equipment for healthcare providers. The most common diagnosis in travelers with fever who have recently returned from Ebola-affected countries has been malaria."

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Read more: http://www.lohud.com/story/news/health/2015/05/26/patient-tested-ebola-saint-joseph-hospital-yonkers/27978197/

USAF Gives SpaceX Certification

Source: NASA Watch

USAF Space and Missiles System Center Certifies SpaceX for National Security Space Missions

"Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space, has announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation's (SpaceX) Falcon 9 Launch System for national security space missions. SpaceX is now eligible for award of qualified national security space launch missions as one of two currently certified launch providers. The first upcoming opportunity for SpaceX to compete to provide launch services is projected to be in June when the Air Force releases a Request for Proposal (RFP) for GPS III launch services."


Read more: http://nasawatch.com/archives/2015/05/usaf-gives-spac.html

A Nuclear Weapons Ban Emerging?

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/26/a-nuclear-weapons-ban-emerging/

A Nuclear Weapons Ban Emerging?
by ROBERT F. DODGE
May 26, 2015

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Fortunately there is one powerful and positive response coming out of the NPT Review Conference. The Non-Nuclear Weapons States, representing a majority of people living on the planet, frustrated and threatened by the nuclear nations, have come together and demanded a legal ban on nuclear weapons like the ban on every other weapon of mass destruction from chemical to biologic and landmines. Their voices are rising up. Following a pledge by Austria in December 2014 to fill the legal gap necessary to ban these weapons, 107 nations have joined them at the U.N. this month. That commitment means finding a legal instrument that would prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. Such a ban will make these weapons illegal and will stigmatize any nation that continues to have these weapons as being outside of international law.

Costa Rica’s closing NPT remarks noted, ”Democracy has not come to the NPT but Democracy has come to nuclear weapons disarmament.” The nuclear weapons states have failed to demonstrate any leadership toward total disarmament and in fact have no intention of doing so. They must now step aside and allow the majority of the nations to come together and work collectively for their future and the future of humanity. John Loretz of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said, “The nuclear-armed states are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality, and the wrong side of the future. The ban treaty is coming, and then they will be indisputably on the wrong side of the law. And they have no one to blame but themselves.”

“History honors only the brave,” declared Costa Rica. “Now is the time to work for what is to come, the world we want and deserve.”

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French bill seeks to boost renewable energy, cut nuclear use

Source: Associated Press

France's lower house of parliament is to vote on a bill aimed at boosting renewable energy and reducing the country's reliance on nuclear power, among other environment-friendly measures.

The French government wants to be exemplary this year in environmental matters, since Paris is hosting a U.N.-backed conference in December where 196 countries aim to limit greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming.

The bill pushed by Ecology Minister Segolene Royal is likely to be approved later Tuesday by the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament. It will then go to the Senate for further discussions. At the end of the process —probably over summer— the assembly will have the final say.

Among the more significant changes are the following measures:

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Read more: http://tbo.com/ap/world/french-bill-seeks-to-boost-renewable-energy-cut-nuclear-use-ap_worlde3a75cdf81b844c4a5b02131bb0f9bdf

T.K. Jones, 82, Dies; Arms Official Saw Nuclear War as Survivable

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/24/us/thomas-k-jones-us-arms-negotiator-dies-at-82.html?_r=0

T.K. Jones, 82, Dies; Arms Official Saw Nuclear War as Survivable
By SAM ROBERTSMAY 23, 2015

Thomas K. Jones, an American defense official and arms negotiator who turned Nikita Khrushchev’s defiant “We will bury you” threat on its head when he declared in 1982 that Americans could survive a Soviet nuclear attack by digging shelters — “If there are enough shovels to go around,” he said, “everybody’s going to make it” — died on May 15 in Bellevue, Wash. He was 82.

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His “enough shovels” assurance was largely derided, but his faith in the efficacy of civil defense, his certitude that the Soviets were better prepared to rebound from a nuclear strike and his fears that the United States was lagging in weapons development undergirded the Reagan administration’s aggressive missile defense strategy and its resolve during arms limitation talks to maintain America’s bomber superiority.

Mr. Jones, the deputy under secretary of defense for strategic and theater nuclear forces and a technical adviser to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, was an acolyte of Paul Nitze, an architect of Cold War arms policy. Mr. Nitze, a deputy defense secretary under President Lyndon B. Johnson, co-founded Team B, the think tank whose assessment of America’s vulnerability to Soviet weapons — it later appeared to have been overstated — prompted an arms race that began in the waning days of Jimmy Carter’s administration and accelerated under Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Jones operated mostly below the radar until 1982 when, in an interview with Robert Scheer of The Los Angeles Times, he delivered his “enough shovels” civil defense prescription.

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New documents show cost of Russian floating nuclear power plant skyrockets

Source: Bellona

The new cost of building Russia’s floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) the Akademik Lomonosov, has spiked from an original estimate of 9 billion rubles ($140 million) in 2006 to a current 37 billion rubles ($ 740 million) official Russian sources report, citing government documents.

The documents, published on the government’s appropriations and regulations portal (in Russian) show the government will now be co-financing the project, which was initially headed up by Rosenergoatom, Russia’s nuclear utility. The documents indicate the utility is running short on funds, and so will be receiving taxpayer support, the Russian government’s official print mouthpiece Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported (in Russian).

The FNPP, called the Akademic Lomonosov, is a long-standing prize project of state nuclear corporation Rosatom, which says the barge and its two nuclear 35-megawatt reactors will be a revolution in delivering power to Russia’s far flung regions. Independent sources say 15 countries world-wide are interested in leasing Russian floating nuclear power plants, most significantly China.

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“This is clearly a project without any cost control, and I suspect the price will grow even more if they manage to get this FNPP to float sometime in the distant future,” he said. “I also fear that the cost of operating the plants and dismantling them have also been largely underestimated, which will only add to the final cost.”

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Read more: http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2015-05-new-documents-show-cost-russian-nuclear-power-plant-skyrockets

FDA ticks off first drug to treat radiation sickness after nuclear disasters

Source: Gizmag



A drug long-used to counter the negative effects of chemotherapy has won US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in treating the nasty effects of exposure to radiation following a nuclear disaster. Known commercially as Neupogen, the drug has been shown to work by shielding the body's white blood cells to heighten a patient's chances of survival.

Neupogen, or filgrastim as it is otherwise known, is a synthetic protein that boosts the growth of infection-fighting white blood cells. Where the production of these cells is hampered in cancer patients by chemotherapy and radiation therapy, Neupogen can be used to stimulate the growth, maturation and release of white cells from the bone marrow. This better equips the sufferer to ward off infections and bleeding problems that can result from the therapy.

Neupogen was first approved for helping to treat those undergoing chemotherapy in 1991, and has since been one of a number of multi-purpose drugs investigated for potential use in the aftermath of nuclear disasters. But research conducted at the University of Maryland has now uncovered evidence worthy of the FDA's nod, making Neupogen the first drug to be approved as a countermeasure for Hematopoietic Acute Radiation Syndrome (H-ARS).

The scientists carried out their study in a non-human clinical model of high-dose radiation, with the FDA saying that, in the absence of ethical human studies, these animal studies were adequate and well enough controlled to suggest Neupogen is reasonably likely to be of benefit to humans suffering from H-ARS. This condition pertains to injuries to the bone marrow that slow the production of blood cells as a result of radiation exposure, and carries the risk of death from infection and haemorrhaging. But the FDA says that Neupogen can effectively minimize the severity and recovery time of such conditions.

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Read more: http://www.gizmag.com/fda-drug-radiation-nuclear/37671/

Japan Inc not as keen as Abe government on nuclear power -Reuters poll

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/24/japan-companies-nuclear-idUSL3N0YB2PR20150524

Japan Inc not as keen as Abe government on nuclear power -Reuters poll
Sun May 24, 2015 6:00pm EDT

* Most firms see nuclear power having lesser role than govt target

* All Japan reactors are offline in wake of Fukushima disaster

* Govt aims for nuclear to be 20-22 pct of energy mix by 2030

* Expectations for nuclear energy prospects vary greatly

By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Yuka Obayashi

TOKYO, May 25 (Reuters) - Two-thirds of Japanese companies want and expect a lesser role for nuclear power than the government is targeting, a Reuters survey showed, reflecting persistent concerns about safety four years after the Fukushima disaster.

All of the country's 43 operable reactors are offline - the result of a tougher safety regime introduced after an earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima plant, causing meltdowns, explosions and plumes of radioactivity.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government last month proposed bringing nuclear energy back to account for 20-22 percent of the nation's electricity mix by 2030, seeking to reduce Japan's huge reliance on imported fossil fuels and lift the economy out of two decades of anaemic growth.

But slightly more than two-thirds of firms in the Reuters Corporate Survey, conducted May 7-19, saw levels of less than 20 percent as appropriate and realistically achievable given strong public opposition.

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China warned over 'insane' plans for new nuclear power plants

Source: The Guardian

China’s plans for a rapid expansion of nuclear power plants are “insane” because the country is not investing enough in safety controls, a leading Chinese scientist has warned.

Proposals to build plants inland, as China ends a moratorium on new generators imposed after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, are particularly risky, the physicist He Zuoxiu said, because if there was an accident it could contaminate rivers that hundreds of millions of people rely on for water and taint groundwater supplies to vast swathes of important farmlands.

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He spoke of risks including “corruption, poor management abilities and decision-making capabilities”. He said: “They want to build 58 (gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity) by 2020 and eventually 120 to 200. This is insane.”

He’s challenge to the nuclear plans is particularly powerful because of his scientific credentials and a long history of taking a pro-government stance on controversial issues, from the 1950s destruction of Beijing’s city walls to the crackdown in the 1990s on the religious group Falun Gong.

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“There were internal discussions on upgrading standards in the past four years, but doing so would require a lot more investment which would affect the competitiveness and profitability of nuclear power,” He said. “Nuclear energy costs are cheap because we lower our standards.”

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Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/25/china-nuclear-power-plants-expansion-he-zuoxiu
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