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Member since: Tue Nov 9, 2004, 11:55 PM
Number of posts: 27,509

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Ooh la la: French town to deliver daily newspapers by drone


Ooh la la: French town to deliver daily newspapers by drone
Christina Farr, VentureBeat
19 hours ago

Residents of Auvergne, a province in south central France, may soon receive their daily paper by drone.

According to a blog post, local postal service La Poste Groupe has been working for several years to modernize its delivery processes. The plan is to implement paper delivery by drone in early May with the help of local volunteers, and tests are already underway.

The drone is a quadricopter, which can be controlled by iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and Android devices, and costs over $300. It is manufactured by Parrot.com, a French wireless devices maker that announced a partnership with La Poste this morning.

French Internet personalities will draw national attention to the experiment, including Olivier Bernasson, founder and CEO of online store Pecheur.com.


Obama can keep Reagan’s nuclear-free vision alive


Obama can keep Reagan’s nuclear-free vision alive
By Graham Allison
Published: March 29, 2013

President Ronald Reagan stunned fellow citizens and the world 30 years ago this month with a dramatic announcement that the United States would develop and deploy a system capable of intercepting and destroying strategic ballistic missiles. Like President John F. Kennedy’s pledge to send a man to the moon, Reagan’s vision was meant to stretch minds to new realities that most found inconceivable.

As the Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI, developed, this vision encompassed three big ideas. First, technological advances would make it possible to “hit a bullet with a bullet.” Second, when fully deployed, this missile defense system would “render nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.” For Reagan, this was an essential steppingstone to his even grander vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Third, to persuade America’s Cold War adversary to eliminate its superpower nuclear arsenal as well, Reagan proposed to share this SDI technology with Moscow.

All three dimensions of Reagan’s vision drew immediate, fiery criticism at home and abroad. Skeptics argued that killing a missile with a missile was technically impossible. Thirty years and more than $150 billion of investment later, this objection has been largely overcome. Today, the U.S. and its allies have deployed missile defense systems for shorter-range missiles (for example, the Israeli Iron Dome and U.S. Patriot systems) and for longer-range missiles (the sea-based Aegis system and a ground-based system deployed in Alaska). Just this month, in response to North Korea’s threats, the Obama administration announced plans to deploy an additional 14 ground-based interceptors.

Reagan’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons was initially rejected by most of the American establishment as naive and dangerous. In the last decade, however, four of the bluest chips from the American Cold War establishment — George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry and Sam Nunn — have put this back on the American strategic agenda.


Obama's 'nuclear zero' rhetoric is dangerous


Obama’s ‘nuclear zero’ rhetoric is dangerous
By Douglas J. Feith, Frank J. Gaffney, James A. Lyons and R. James Woolsey,
Published: March 29

Douglas J. Feith was undersecretary of defense for policy from 2001 to 2005. Frank J. Gaffney is founder and president of the Center for Security Policy; he was acting assistant secretary of defense for international security policy in 1987. Adm. James A. Lyons was commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from 1985 to 1987. R. James Woolsey was director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1993 to 1995.

Recent threats from North Korea have led the Obama administration to reverse some of its previous decisions and to build up U.S. missile defenses. Welcome as that course correction is, the North’s recent missile developments and underground nuclear test should cause President Obama to rethink his basic approach to nuclear weapons policy. He should acknowledge that he was unrealistic in making it U.S. policy to achieve “a world without nuclear weapons.”

Whatever good and idealistic intentions may have motivated the initial rhetoric about “nuclear zero,” the practical effects of embracing this slogan are harmful. The goal of minimizing the possibility of nuclear war is not served when the U.S. president, in speaking of the subject, appears disconnected from reality.

We are part of a team of 20 professionals with extensive experience in national security and defense policy who recently sent an open letter to the president. In it, we argued that the United States’ triad of land-based, submarine-launched and bomber-delivered nuclear weapons has helped ensure strategic stability and discouraged proliferation of such weapons. We also warned that raising doubts about the reliability, effectiveness and sustainability of our nuclear deterrent may embolden our enemies and encourage our friends to build their own nuclear arsenals.

When Obama administration officials speak of nuclear weapons, they generally focus on audiences gratified by talk of disarmament, especially U.S. disarmament. Hence, the administration’s (1) opposition to developing a reliable, new nuclear warhead; (2) opposition to ever testing our warheads again; (3) support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; (4) support for deep new cuts in nuclear force levels; (5) eagerness for a new treaty with Russia to make such cuts a legal requirement; (6) hints of funding cuts for U.S. nuclear infrastructure (in violation of earlier promises to increase such funding, which were pledged in 2010 to win Senate votes for the “New START” nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia); and (7) endorsement of “nuclear zero.” The president calls it “leadership” when he adopts such policies. He says other countries will more energetically oppose nuclear proliferation in Iran, North Korea and elsewhere if we demonstrate such leadership by constraining our own nuclear capabilities.


The comments are great, there are about 75 of them so far:

Doug Feith? Wow, impressive Hiatt, How do you keep getting guys from the "chickenhawk hall of fame" to write in here?
Has anyone thanked Mr. Feith yet for his help in getting North Korea to finally move forward with its A-bomb program? Thanks for playing along so well with President Bush's "ignore NK, and they'll back off" policy-brilliance. The world really NEEDED more nukes in the hands of nutcases, and nothing you could have done short of attempting and failing, to assassinate Kim Jong-il could have more surely prodded NK down the nuclear path.

Thanks a lot, Mr. Feith.
Thousands of nuclear weapons have NOT prevented N.Korea from developing their weapons. The same is happening in Iran. "Team of professionals"? What about conflict of interest with money, careers. How can thousands of trigger hot nuclear weapons make our children safe? Who holds the triggers in Russia? Do they really believe accidents don't happen? Do they really think that nuclear material and arsenals are safe from robbery, accidents and losses? Just look at Fukushima. Accidents, misunderstandings, human stupidity happen. Just give enough time for complexity to play its hand. Who are these awesome 20 people? Is this the best they can come up with?
A "team of 20 professionals with extensive experience in national security and defense policy" is a euphemism for a clique of militaristic neoconservatives who have a Strangelove-like affection for nukes as long as it is ourselves and our faithful allies that have them and it is just too bad if that makes nuclear disarmament difficult. How to deal with the logical notion that disarmament is best achieved with leadership by the country most responsible for nuclear armament in the first place? Raise fears of unintended consequences -- however improbable that may be coming from a group notorious for disregard of unintended consequences in the past.

As a side note; The neocons are yet again in conflict with the law of the land -- in this case, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- which requires signatory states, including the US, "to achieve the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to undertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament".

China’s solar industry - the birthpangs of a new capitalist industry


27 March 2013, 2.31pm AEST
What’s going on with Chinese solar?

The bankruptcy of Chinese solar energy company Suntech Wuxi is being depicted in the media as a sign of chaos in the solar industry.


What we’re seeing is the birth pangs of a new, capitalist industry. We should be rejoicing that some companies are going bankrupt – it shows that the industry really is competitive, and not subject to arbitrary state control.

There have been comparable episodes at the birth of every major industry. Detroit boasted hundreds of auto companies in the 1910s and 1920s before bankruptcies and consolidation led to the creation of the Big Three – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. Likewise in electronics and computers. Now it is the turn of solar photovoltaics.

China has created an astonishingly successful solar photovoltaic industry, far beyond the imaginings of commentators even ten years ago. A decision was taken at the highest levels that China needed to promote renewable energy industries to complement and offset its rapid escalation of coal-burning and fossil fuel driven industrialisation.


Via http://antinuclear.net/2013/03/30/chinas-solar-industry-the-birthpangs-of-a-new-capitalist-industry/

Philippines wants US payment over reef damage

Source: Aljazeera

The Philippines has welcomed the removal of a US minesweeper that had been stuck on a protected coral reef for 10 weeks, but stressed that compensation must be paid for the environmental damage.

Salvage crews contracted by the US navy on Saturday extracted the last remaining piece of the USS Guardian from the Tubbataha reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site in a remote area of the Sulu Sea.


Tubbataha is a protected marine park under Philippine law, and is off limits to any vessel unless permission is granted by park authorities. Fines can reach up to $585 for every square metre that has been damaged, officials said.

While only a small portion of the marine park has been damaged, the incident has stoked nationalist sentiment and revived debate about a controversial agreement that allows a US military presence in the country.

The United States has repeatedly apologised for the incident, but has not clearly explained why a naval vessel with state-of-the-art equipment ran aground in an area that local officials said was clearly visible in any map.


Read more: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2013/03/20133317173559524.html

Good Friday - Walking the Way of the Cross to Lockheed Martin


Good Friday – Walking the Way of the Cross to Lockheed Martin
Posted on March 30, 2013 by Disarm Now Plowshares

Dear Friends,

A group of the faithful carried the cross together, honoring the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus, on Good Friday.

They gathered – Catholic Workers, nuns, priests and lay people – and walked to the Lockheed Martin facility in Sunnyvale, California where day in and day out people go to work building the Trident II D-5 missiles that are deployed on our nation’s ballistic missile submarines.

Each of those Trident missiles (and each submarine carries 24) is fitted with four (and as many as eight) thermonuclear warheads, each of which is many times more destructive than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. These submarines patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on alert, prepared to launch their horrific weapons, threatening humanity with omnicide.

Such a thing is quite simply an abomination before God.



Some of those present went into the roadway carrying that cross and blocking the entrance to Lockheed Martin in an act of nonviolent resistance to nuclear weapons and war-making. They were arrested by the Sunnyvale Police. This was their sacrifice in the name of Jesus, who sacrificed for us in the name of a loving God who wants us to live together in Peace.

Those arrested for their witness were Steve Kelly, Susan Crane, Larry Purcell, Mary Jane Parrine, Louis Vitale, and Ed Ehmke. Steve was held on a warrant, and Larry didn’t sign the citation. Those released have a court date May 13th. Steve and Larry will be in court Wednesday, April 3rd in the afternoon.



Aldermaston: the UK’s nuclear legacy


Aldermaston: the UK’s nuclear legacy

As the British government looks to cut its spending, little sense exists in developing a new Nuclear weapons program.

Last Modified: 30 Mar 2013 11:48
Kate Hudson

Dr Kate Hudson is general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner.

The village of Aldermaston in Berkshire (United Kingdom) is forever linked, in history and the public imagination, with nuclear weapons – and with protest against them. It has given its name to the Atomic Weapons Establishment, where Britain’s nuclear warheads are produced. And it has given its name to the marches which launched the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament onto the British and world stage in the late 1950s. Those early marches – and CND itself – were inextricably linked to the social radicalisation of the time.

They articulated both widespread popular dissent and the social rebellion of the youth of that era. In many respects it was through the early mobilsations of the anti-nuclear movement that the radical politics of what were to become the new social movements were first expressed. Early sociological studies showed that many of CND’s early supporters had no formal faith or politics, and were more concerned about ‘working for a more humane society than in finding themselves a good job’. In particular, surveys found that there was an immediacy to campaigners’ concerns: ‘They believed that the bomb immediately threatened the future of civilization, that it had to be banned very quickly or Armageddon would come first.’

As anti-nuclear campaigners prepare to return to Aldermaston for a CND protest this Easter Monday, how much have things changed in the intervening 55 years? Two things strike me in particular. Firstly, the extent to which the political context has changed. 1958 was the height of the Cold War and the sense of the immediacy and overwhelming nature of the nuclear threat permeated the consciousness of very many people. The associated dangers and health risks of the many atmospheric nuclear weapons tests taking place at that time, very much contributed to popular fear and were central to the founding of CND in early 1958.

It was that sense of imminent disaster, resurfacing again in the early 1980s in response to the siting of cruise and Pershing missiles in western Europe, that led to the mass expansion of CND and the radicalisation of a whole new generation – myself included.


Hundreds march against Yankee nuclear plant

Source: Rutland Herald

More than 500 people marched down Main Street in Brattleboro on Saturday, carrying banners and pledging to end what they claimed was a year of illegal operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant by Entergy Nuclear.

The exuberant gathering, bolstered by Vermont’s famous Bread and Puppet Theater, chanted “shut it down, Vermont Yankee, shut it down, now” along the length of Main Street.

Several people from the street joined the parade, which occurred in the late afternoon on a sunny early-spring day.

“We’re here to mark one year of Entergy operating illegally,” said organizer Chad Simmons of the SAGE Alliance. “We’re not going to let them operate any longer.”


Read more: http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20130331/NEWS02/703319885/1003

New Doctor Who tonight - Saturday March 30, 2013 - The Bells of Saint John's

Spoilers: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2013/mar/30/doctor-who-bells-of-saint-john

37 Anti-Nuclear Weapons Protesters Arrested At Livermore Lab


37 Anti-Nuclear Weapons Protesters Arrested At Livermore Lab

March 29, 2013 9:16 PM

LIVERMORE (CBS / AP) — Thirty-seven protesters were arrested outside the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory during an annual Good Friday demonstration against the lab’s involvement in developing nuclear weapons.

About 100 demonstrators sat down across the lab’s west gate on Friday morning after a procession outside the Alameda County federal lab. The Ecumenical Peace Institute, which organized Friday’s protest, said between 30 to 50 people opposed to nuclear weapons are arrested each year.

The Bay Area News Group reported deputies ordered the crowd to disperse before the arrests were made.

Lab spokesman Don Johnston said demonstrators were cited for obstructing a public roadway and released.


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