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World powers want new nuclear talks with Iran quickly

Source: Reuters

Six world powers agreed on Wednesday to seek renewed talks with Iran as fast as possible, reflecting a heightened sense of urgency to resolve a long rift over Tehran's disputed nuclear activity and avert the threat of war.

Their call coincided with growing evidence of Iran expanding nuclear capacity in an underground bunker virtually impervious to attack and follows the November 6 re-election of President Barack Obama, which has cleared the way for new contacts.

Senior diplomats from the six countries - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - met in Brussels on Wednesday to consider new negotiating tactics despite abiding skepticism that a deal with Tehran can be reached.

It was not clear after the meeting what options, if any, were agreed. But the six said "necessary contact" with the Iranians would be made "in the coming days".


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/21/us-iran-nuclear-statement-idUSBRE8AK0W420121121

The MIT report "The Future of Nuclear Power" stated:

To preserve the nuclear option for the future requires overcoming the four
challenges described above—costs, safety, proliferation, and wastes. These
challenges will escalate
if a significant number of new nuclear generating
plants are built in a growing number of countries. The effort to overcome
these challenges, however, is justified only if nuclear power can potentially
contribute significantly to reducing global warming, which entails major
expansion of nuclear power. In effect, preserving the nuclear option for the
future means planning for growth, as well as for a future in which nuclear
energy is a competitive, safer, and more secure source of power.

None of those four "challenges" have been overcome, and they probably never will.

That report was written in 2003, we now know it underestimated each of those four "challenges".

We've seen each of those challenges escalate over the past nine years, and they're going to continue to escalate, as we see in this news story.

Nuclear isn't needed at all to solve the climate crisis - as Al Gore has pointed out, we have enough resources to solve several climate crises, and we only need to solve one.

So there's no justification to "preserve the nuclear option for the future".

Iran should join France, Japan, Germany, and other countries which are reducing or eliminating nuclear energy, and stop wasting money on this dirty, dangerous, expensive technology.

Pakistan’s hot nuclear greenhouse


November 5, 2012
Pakistan’s hot nuclear greenhouse
Praveen Swami

The world’s fastest growing arsenal is being produced not just because of the fear of India but a strategic paranoia exacerbated by existential anxieties


In 1972, his nation torn apart by the force of Indian arms, now Prime Minister Bhutto decided no cost was too high to pay. His concerns were focussed, though, on something far larger than India — his nation’s civilisational destiny. From the death row cell to which he was eventually despatched, Bhutto wrote: “the Christian, Jewish and Hindu civilisations have this capability. The Communist powers also possess it. Only the Islamic civilisation is without it.”

The programme Dr. Khan seeded has grown into an extraordinary nuclear weapons greenhouse: Pakistan now has the fastest-growing arsenal in the world, with 90-110 warheads, up from 65-80 in 2008 and ahead of India’s 60-100. It has refused to sign the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, which seeks to cap global weapons stockpiles.


NATO, whose Cold War tactical nuclear programme appears to provide a template for the current Pakistani thinking, eventually pulled back because of not-dissimilar concerns. However, as analyst Shashank Joshi has noted in a thoughtful commentary, NATO’s rollback was facilitated by its technology-driven conventional warfare superiority over the Warsaw Pact. In the India-Pakistan case, though, the gap is increasing, meaning “its reliance on nuclear weapons will grow”.

This proposition tallies with what Pakistanis themselves have been saying. In December 2011, the Director of Arms Control at Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division, Air Commodore Khalid Banuri, stated that the precise number of nuclear weapons Pakistan needed “could not be quantified.” And in a 2010 letter to The Daily Telegraph, Pakistani diplomat Wajid Shamsul Hassan linked his country’s programme to India’s “potential to produce 280 nuclear weapons annually.”


Pakistani & Indian scientists speak out on nuclear race issue


Pakistani & Indian scientists speak out on nuclear race issue

Schezee Zaidi
Monday, November 19, 2012
From Print Edition

While the civilised world tussles with the theories of war and peace and people of this region worry about an impending nuclear war, a new book arrives on the bookshelf that brings forth the nuclear race issue in a vibrant and dynamic way as expressed by Pakistani and Indian scientists in their essays.

Edited by Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy and published by the Oxford University Press Pakistan, the book titled ‘Confronting the Bomb: Pakistani & Indian Scientists Speak Out’, is a compilation of essays on the issue of nuclear race in South Asia by eminent Pakistani and Indian scientists.

Authored by scientists from both sides of the Pakistan-India divide, ‘Confronting the Bomb’ fearlessly explores tabooed, but urgent nuclear issues. The book offers a rich range of complexities surrounding the issue in both political and semi-technical approach to the concerned citizens, policy-makers, and nuclear experts.


The somewhat more technical articles in the book deal with early warning issues; the battlefield use of nuclear weapons; problems related to the fissile materials treaty; and the likely effects of a limited nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India. Two essays deal with nuclear electricity generation, making the point that this may not be the promised panacea for the subcontinent’s energy problem. Rejecting nuclear nationalism, this is a unique work by Pakistanis and Indians working together to warn of nuclear dangers.


Another View: Nuclear treaties need Grassley's help


Another View: Nuclear treaties need Grassley's help

Nov 17, 2012
Written by Greg Thielmann

As the Congress gathers in Washington for its final session of the year, bipartisan cooperation is going to be needed more than ever to address the urgent issues facing the nation. One of its critical priorities should be approving two treaties that help construct barriers to nuclear terrorism.


For too long, two anti-terrorism treaties have been waiting for congressional approval. These treaties, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, and the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, are common sense measures that enhance the world’s ability to prevent incidents of nuclear terrorism and punish those responsible.


After strong backing for the treaties from the president and his predecessor, the House of Representatives finally passed compromise legislation earlier this year with broad bipartisan support. However, rather than facilitating swift Senate action on the treaties, Senator Grassley slowed the process by seeking amendments on issues his Republican colleagues in the House had already set aside.

The Grassley amendments are peripheral to the goal of spurring international action against nuclear terrorism. His insistence on imposing the death sentence for terrorism cases is quixotic and counterproductive given its absence in most of the world’s democracies and especially odd from a senator whose own state eliminated capital punishment from its laws in 1965.


About the author:

Greg Thielmann served as a top intelligence official at the U.S. State Department until resigning shortly before the war with Iraq and charging the George W. Bush administration with cooking its intelligence.

A graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, worked for U.S. Congressman John Culver before entering the United States Foreign Service where he has served for more than 25 years, working in arms control and security issues. He was acting director of the Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs Office in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department at the time of his retirement.

At the State Department, Thielmann was assigned the task of giving John R. Bolton his daily intelligence briefing. Thielmann has since accused Bolton of cooking the intelligence and refusing to hear intelligence that contradicted his pre-established opinions.

He is now a senior fellow of the Arms Control Association.


The Ku Klux Klan once again controls Indiana

I thought this was particularly interesting because it's written by the legal editor of Pravda.
Apparently he's written a number of articles about Indiana.

Opinion » Columnists
The Ku Klux Klan once again controls Indiana

At first glance, the results of America's 2012 election appear to be a triumph for social, racial, and economic justice and progress in the United States: California voters passed a proposition requiring the rich to shoulder their fair share of the tax burden; Two states, Colorado and Washington, legalized the recreational use of marijuana, while Massachusetts approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes; Washington and two other states, Maine and Maryland, legalized same-sex marriages (the first states to do so by popular vote), and Minnesota voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned such marriages.


But these pundits failed to look at Indiana, where election results have potentially turned the clock back to the 1920s-an era of racism and repression when D.C. Stephenson and his Ku Klux Klan controlled Indiana's Republican party apparatus and its governor, Edward L. Jackson.

As I noted in a previous Pravda.Ru article, Boycott Indiana (January 11, 2012), Indiana has always had a sordid reputation when it comes to race relations: "Sometimes referred to as the 'northernmost southern state,' Indiana's Constitution of 1851 banned African-Americans from coming into or settling in the state. During the 1920s . . . up to one-third of all white males in the state were members of [the Ku Klux Klan], and in 1930, in the City of Marion, two African-American men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, were the victims of a highly publicized lynching."


In another Pravda.Ru article, May God Damn Wall Street, the Republican Party, and the Supreme Court (February 14, 2012), I further explained why the Republican party's war on workers in Indiana has been particularly effective: "Political corruption flourishes in Indiana, because, unlike Wisconsin, it has no recall process, so venal politicians cannot be removed from office until the next scheduled election, which, in turn, gives them ample time to gorge themselves on the corporate trough. And there is no mandated referendum process, so these same politicians can easily ram through legislation that benefits their corporate masters, even when it hurts their constituents."


David R. Hoffman
Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru

Dogs and cats escape Sandy, land in San Diego



Written by Paul Sisson
12:01 a.m., Nov. 18, 2012

SAN DIEGO — It was a different kind of roar than usual when Southwest Airlines chief pilot Bert Seither eased the throttle forward and took off from Newark, N.J., Saturday with a unique group of passengers — 30 dogs and 30 cats displaced by Superstorm Sandy.

“It sounded like you were in a dog kennel. They were unsure, and they started yelping when we took off, but once we started leveling off, they calmed down,” Seither said, standing happily on the tarmac at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field more than five hours after leaving the East Coast.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe approached Southwest, SeaWorld and BP Global to make the cross-country flight happen. Flight attendants, pilots and other airline personnel donated their time, SeaWorld provided expert animal handlers to ride with the pets and BP footed the gas bill.

Woodward spokeswoman Jessica Gercke said the dogs and cats were in animal shelters in New York and New Jersey when Sandy arrived and were facing euthanasia because their shelters were without power. The Woodward Center hopes to get the animals vaccinated and spayed or neutered before offering them for adoption as early as Wednesday.

“These animals were going to be put down if they weren’t moved,” Seither said. “This is the only chance these animals had.”

The Helen Woodward Animal Center website is http://www.animalcenter.org/

Brian Bilbray Concedes In 52nd Congressional Race


Brian Bilbray Concedes In 52nd Congressional Race

Friday, November 16, 2012
By Susan Murphy and City News Service

Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, conceded defeat today to Democratic San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Peters in the close race for the 52nd Congressional District.

Peters led by about 3,875 votes as of Thursday afternoon out of about 269,000 tallied in the Nov. 6 election. About 120,000 mail-in or provisional ballots still need to be counted, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

"With the majority of votes counted, I would like to congratulate Scott Peters in his bid to serve the citizens of the 52nd Congressional District and the people of San Diego,'' Bilbray said, adding that he called Peters to congratulate him.


"I endeavored to open my colleagues' eyes to the promise of renewable fuels that will one day curb our dependence on foreign oil. And finally, something very close to me, reforming the bureaucracy to get cures to patients faster and increasing medical research funding to one day turn cancer into a manageable disease,'' Bilbray said.



Rep. Bilbray concedes defeat to Peters in 52nd District race

By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
November 17, 2012

SAN DIEGO — Ten days after the last vote was cast, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Carlsbad) conceded defeat Friday to Democratic challenger Scott Peters in the high-spending, mudslinging contest in the 52nd District.


Peters, 54, an environmental lawyer and former San Diego City Council member, held a 50.92%-to-49.08% edge over Bilbray, 61, who has served six terms in Congress.

The race was the final congressional contest to be decided in California. Bilbray joins Mary Bono Mack of Palm Springs and Dan Lungren of suburban Sacramento as congressional Republicans from California defeated by the cumulative impact of redistricting, demographic change and a strong turnout among Democrats.

The state's congressional delegation stands at 38 Democrats and 15 Republicans.


Private Moon Landing in the works: "Golden Spike"

From a messageboard (which is not associated with NASA despite it's name):

Private Moon Landing in the works?

« on: 11/15/2012 08:08 PM »

From Chris' latest article:


source information acquired by L2 this week revealed plans for a “game-changing” announcement as early as December that a new commercial space company intends to send commercial astronauts to the moon by 2020.

According to the information, the effort is led by a group of high profile individuals from the aerospace industry and backed by some big money and foreign investors. The company intends to use “existing or soon to be existing launch vehicles, spacecraft, upper stages, and technologies” to start their commercial manned lunar campaign.

The details point to the specific use of US vehicles, with a basic architecture to utilize multiple launches to assemble spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The details make direct reference to the potential use of propellant depots and fuel transfer technology.

Additional notes include a plan to park elements in lunar orbit, staging a small lunar lander that would transport two commercial astronauts to the surface for short stays.


some tweets from nasawatch (also not affiliated with NASA):

Company named "Golden Spike" composed of Shuttle, Apollo & planetary science veterans apparently working on a commercial human Moon mission


"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company includes Wayne Hale, Jerry Griffin, Alan Stern


"Golden Spike" commercial lunar exploration company has @HomerHickam on its board of advisors

Exelon Open to Closing Oyster Creek Reactor Pre-2019


Exelon Open to Closing Oyster Creek Reactor Pre-2019
By Julie Johnsson - 2012-11-14T01:31:32Z

Exelon Corp. (EXC), the largest U.S. nuclear plant operator, would consider closing its Oyster Creek station before the plant’s planned 2019 decommissioning, Chief Executive Officer Christopher Crane said.

Exelon would accelerate plans to close Oyster Creek in Forked River, New Jersey, if it faced unexpected new capital costs at a time when depressed power prices and cheap renewable energy are squeezing nuclear generation margins, Crane said in an interview yesterday.

Exelon already has deferred plans to boost capacity at its LaSalle nuclear station in northern Illinois and Limerick plant in Pennsylvania, saving $1.2 billion in the near-term, the chief executive said.

The Chicago-based company also plans to refuel its Clinton nuclear plant annually instead of every two years in a bid to boost profitability at the hardest-hit plant in Exelon’s 17- reactor system, he said.


Wind power: video reveals Tory MP's contradictory views

Source: Guardian

Undercover footage shows Chris Heaton-Harris admitting to having seen no research to support his anti-wind criticisms

Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris suffered fresh embarrassment on Thursday as undercover footage revealed stark differences between his public and private criticisms of wind power.

Heaton-Harris, who in February organised a letter signed by 101 Tory MPs calling on David Cameron to end onshore wind subsidies, states in a public video that turbines harm birds, despite having admitted in private to seeing no research on this.

Heaton-Harris was the campaign manager for the Conservative candidate in the Corby by election but the Guardian and Greenpeace exposed him on Wednesday as apparently backing a rival, anti-wind candidate. The MP will meet the party's whips next week for a dressing down over his "professionalism".


In the newly released film, Heaton-Harris told the undercover reporter, who posed as a campaigner from a fictitious anti-windfarm group called Windefensible: "The 'bird blending' phrase really hurts (the RSPB). How true or not, I've got no idea because I've not seen any half-decent research about this." But when talking in an anti-wind video that would be shown to the public, Heaton-Harris said: "Certainly [wind turbines] have a very bad interaction with bats and a number of species of birds … there really is the evidence out there and there are now international studies pointing at this." He also described as "crap" the windfarm policy of the RSPB, a group with 1 million members.


Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/15/wind-power-video-tory-mp

How to tell someone is a conservative shill: they use the phrase "bird blender" when talking about wind farms.

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