Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Now this is simply getting weird

First Hawaii received a false alarm about incoming ballistic missiles, then Japan when a NHK broadcaster inadvertently issued a similar false alarm:
Anna Fitfield (2018, January 16). First Hawaii, now Japan sends a false alarm about incoming North Korean missile. The Washington Post,

SEOUL — Japanese public broadcaster NHK mistakenly sent an alert Tuesday warning that North Korea had fired a missile, just days after a similar mistake caused panic in Hawaii.

Unlike in the Hawaii case, however, this error took only five minutes to correct.

“NHK news alert. North Korea appears to have launched a missile,” NHK said in a notification sent through its app to mobile-phone users at 6:55 p.m. Tokyo time. “The government J-alert urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”
It seems very, very strange for this error to be repeated in such a short time frame. I read comments at news reports covering these false missile alerts and most of the commentators either thought the alerts were tests of the population's reaction or were evidence of a propaganda strategy aimed at heightening fear in the general population.

Of course, I have no idea what is true. I do know that the Arizona Department of Emergency Management's public affairs official visited my crisis communications class last semester and I strongly doubt that department would make the same sort of error given their level of professionalism and their daily communications with other public affairs emergency management personnel across the nation.

The official explanations for the false reports are, in my opinion, suspect or, alternatively, reveal profound incompetence in crisis communications.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Last Moments are a WAKE UP CALL PEOPLE!

I cannot get the experience of the people in Hawaii out of my head. I cannot imagine what it would be like to receive emergency broadcasts announcing incoming ballistic missiles.

There would be no place to escape or hide. No time to reach family members at work or school.

What would go through your head? What would your thoughts be?

I cannot imagine the experience of thinking you and your loved ones are going to die imminently because some insane psychopaths are intent on destroying the world.

Wake up people. Its time to take to the streets for de-nuclearization! For peace! For survival!

Saturday, January 13, 2018


38 MINUTES for some people to get the error message! "Ballistic missile threat inbound"

'This is not a drill': Hawaiians get false alert of missile attack due to worker's pushing 'wrong button' (January 13, 2018). Yahoo. Available,
"this is not a drill, take an immediate shelter"

Friday, January 12, 2018

Climate Change and Nuclear Armageddon

I've had a busy week, ending with a workshop on climate change.
I never had the opportunity at the workshop to share my thought on the "climate change" paradigm:

Although I think climate change is an important and pressing issue, I find it an inappropriate trope for encapsulating the human made apocalypse that seems to be right around the corner, and that apocalypse looks most likely to be nuclear.

And, of course, I find it quite interesting that climate change and atmospheric testing are never spoken in the same sentence, although it was the Cold War scientists who studied fallout that produced so much of what we know about the world's atmospheric activities (a.k.a., "climate").

Climate anonymizes and disassociates the destruction wrought by deliberate human exploitation and destruction.

Not a whole lot of interest in tales of nuclear Armageddon I'm afraid. Too controversial, which may be why the academic literature that does exist on nuclear tends to be very high quality.

Climate is palatable. Nuclear a lot less so. Perhaps most significant of all is the fact that climate change gives us time. We have the illusion of the possibility of control. Not so with nuclear anymore I'm afraid.

A commentator at this blog left a link to a story addressing escalating concerns about an inadvertent nuclear war, launched either by malicious hackers or malicious presidents. The first link is to a Chatham House report documenting the risks of a nuclear cyber-attack while the second link is to the news coverage of an outright rebellion by former nuclear launch officers:
Beyza Unal and Patricia Lewis (January 2018). Cybersecurity of Nuclear Weapons Systems Threats, Vulnerabilities and Consequences. Chatham House,

Craw, Victoria (Jan 12, 2018). Nuclear launch officers write open letter about President Trump, amid claims cyberhacks could lead to ‘unintended’ nuclear launch. Available,

SEVENTEEN former nuclear launch officers have signed an open letter calling for President Trump’s access to the “proverbial red button” be restricted amid fears his “petulant mood swings” could lead to a nuclear strike.

It follows a similar letter calling for restrictions on the nuclear chain of command written while Trump was on the campaign trail. One year into the presidency, the nuclear officers say “the reality of this presidency is worse than we feared.”

...“We and our nation cannot abide being hostages to the mood swings of a petulant and foolish commander-in-chief. No individual, especially Donald Trump, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations. That is a clear lesson of this presidency and one that we, as former stewards of the launch keys, embrace with full conviction,” the group said.
No entity, including a president, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations.

However, Emergency Powers are used by too many politicians and juridical types to afford individuals with the power to destroy nations. I discussed this in a post here on the emergency powers acts

Yet, this fundamental contradiction in our western democracies posed by emergency powers is largely unknown to citizens.  Just as the relationship between atmospheric testing and climate has been dis-associated, so also has the rise of executive power been dis-associated with tyranny.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dr. Strangelove Indeed: Trump Promotes Offensive Use of Nuclear Weapons

President Trump promotes "flexible use of nuclear weapons":
In shift from Obama policy, Trump plans flexible use of nuclear weapons, including low-yield arms. (2018, January 8). Kyodo.

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration will adopt a policy allowing the flexible use of nuclear weapons through the new Nuclear Posture Review to be unveiled as early as February, according to congressional and diplomatic sources.... The Trump administration will consider developing new low-yield, small nuclear weapons intended to ensure military dominance over rival powers like China, Russia and North Korea, the sources said, quoting an outline of the review.... A reflection of Trump’s wish to preserve “peace through strength,” the Republican administration will not limit the role of nuclear weapons to deterrence and counterattacks against a nuclear attack, they said.
To repeat: The US will not limit the role of nuclear weapons to deterrence and counter-attacks. Nuclear weapons are now being coded as "offensive."

While Trump talks nuclear button size, "flexible use of nuclear weapons," and Newspeak such as "peace through strength," North and South Korea agree to de-escalation:
Christine Kim, Hyonhee Shin (2018). North, South Korea agree to resolve issues through dialogue. Reuters,

SEOUL (Reuters) - North and South Korea on Tuesday agreed on negotiations to resolve problems and military talks aimed at averting accidental conflict, after their first official dialogue in more than two years, as Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program fuels tension.
It is hard to decode South Korea's role in all of this. In addition to pushing for a detente in North-South relations, South Korea is backing down from Japan by agreeing to honor the 2015 legal agreement developed between the two countries regarding reparations for the "comfort women":
Daisuke Kikuchi and Tomohiro Osaki (2018, January 9). South Korea will not seek renegotiation of ‘comfort women’ deal with Japan. The Japan Times,
South Korea announced Tuesday it will not seek to renegotiate the 2015 landmark deal with Japan on the “comfort women” issue but at the same time indirectly urged Japan to extend a fresh “voluntary, heart-felt apology” for the victims forced to work at Japanese military brothels before and during World War II. The announcement immediately drew strong protests from Tokyo. Under the 2015 deal, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already expressed “his most sincere apologies and remorse” to all the former comfort women and Japan provided ¥1 billion to South Korean fund for victims, although Tokyo has denied any legal responsibility for compensation.

South Korea has compromised, but Japan will not commit to its share of the compromise, an additional and sincere apology.

In Japan, opinion on the pursuit of peace and war is divided. The LDP forwards constitutional revisions that allow greater flexibility of interpretation in the arena of defense, widening its scope to include military support of allies abroad and infrastructure through high technology weapons development:
Abe: LDP to submit draft constitutional revisions in 2018. (January 4, 2018). The Asahi Shimbun. Available,
Meanwhile in Japan, the opposition party has raised the issue of de-nuclearization:
Akira Minami (2018, Jan 3). Opposition CDP bringing nuclear energy debate back to the Diet. The Asahi Shimbun,

Who can say where the power alignments will fall as competing domestic and international forces vie to control decisions and policies. The people [domestic politics] typically want peace, unless war fervor is deliberately inculcated and propagated.

However, peace is not profitable for the most powerful military-industrial organizations. Peace doesn't maintain hegemony unless the imperial subjects are content. Its quite clear that there is a lot of discontent in the world with the legacy of the twentieth century.

For the Trump administration, neoliberal cosmopolitanism is dead. This is the era of brute sovereignty.  President Trump's rhetoric is entirely overt: war is peace. The gloves are off. Totalitarianism is no longer inverted.

Its important to remember that although Obama pledged not to deploy nuclear weapons in an offensive manner, he was content to "modernize" the US nuclear arsenal and to support development of experimental nuclear reactors:
Aging U.S. nuclear arsenal slated for costly and long-delayed modernization. By Dana Priest Sep 15, 2012. The Washington Post
There is no official price tag for the effort to upgrade and maintain the 5,113 warheads in the inventory, to replace old delivery systems and to renovate the aging facilities where nuclear work is performed. A study this summer by the nonpartisan Stimson Center, a Washington think tank, estimated costs would be at least $352 billion over the coming decade to operate and modernize the current arsenal. Others say the figure could be far higher, particularly if the work is delayed even longer.

At the heart of the overhaul are the weapons themselves. Renovating nuclear bombs and missiles to keep them safe and ready for use will cost tens of billions of dollars. Upgrading just one of the seven types of weapons in the stockpile, the B61 bomb, is likely to cost $10 billion over five years, according to the Pentagon. The next two types of bombs in line for modification are estimated to cost a total of at least $5 billion ...

Finally, there are the buildings and laboratories where the refurbishment of weapons and development of new technologies take place. Modernizing those facilities is expected to cost at least $88 billion over 10 years, according to the NNSA, which is part of the Department of Energy...

Some 640 people are designing the new uranium processing plant at Y-12. It will use 10 experimental technologies still being invented. There will be elaborate air filtration systems, duplicative electrical and fire control systems, redundant security barriers, earthquake-proof concrete floors and impenetrable vaults — all required to maintain and work with highly radioactive material...
William Broad and David Sanger. As U.S. Modernizes Nuclear Weapons, ‘Smaller’ Leaves Some Uneasy. The New York Times, January 11, 2016,

As North Korea dug tunnels at its nuclear test site last fall, watched by American spy satellites, the Obama administration was preparing a test of its own in the Nevada desert....

Mr. Obama has long advocated a “nuclear-free world.” His lieutenants argue that modernizing existing weapons can produce a smaller and more reliable arsenal while making their use less likely because of the threat they can pose. The changes, they say, are improvements rather than wholesale redesigns, fulfilling the president’s pledge to make no new nuclear arms.

But critics, including a number of former Obama administration officials, look at the same set of facts and see a very different future. The explosive innards of the revitalized weapons may not be entirely new, they argue, but the smaller yields and better targeting can make the arms more tempting to use — even to use first, rather than in retaliation.

Gen. James E. Cartwright, a retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was among Mr. Obama’s most influential nuclear strategists, said he backed the upgrades because precise targeting allowed the United States to hold fewer weapons. But “what going smaller does,” he acknowledged, “is to make the weapon more thinkable.”
Henry Fountain, “U.S. Acts to Spur Development of High-Tech Reactors” The New York Times, January 19, 2016,
A nuclear reactor under construction in 2014 in Georgia. The government is encouraging the development of new reactor designs, and is giving two companies grants of up to $40 million each. Credit John Bazemore/Associated Press

The Obama administration is providing seed money for two advanced nuclear reactor designs, part of its effort to keep nuclear power in the nation’s energy mix over the next several decades. The Energy Department said it would provide up to $40 million each to two companies, X-energy and Southern Company, over about five years to help develop the alternative reactor designs. As a start, the department, which announced the investments last Friday, is giving each company $6 million this year.
The Cold-War military-industrial state has simply shed its passive disguise. Sovereignty was always there beneath the veil, strengthening its cause.

On the other hand, that passive disguise may be the critical veil that prevents the psychotic madness from overtaking us in all-out nuclear war.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Fukushima Daiichi Looks Steamy in the Rain

I'm still watching the Fukushima webcams. I've not seen anything unusual recently and visible atmospheric emissions have been lower than average.

Today they are up a bit with the rainy weather. In particular, the area above the common spent fuel pool is steamy. Look above the building with the closely coupled red lights, especially on the left side of the screen.

Additionally, the webcams look extra pixillated with pinkness today as well: