British government covered up nuclear weapons failure


This video from England says about itself:

Trident is obsolete and too expensive. We are completely against the weapons of mass destruction

16 March 2016

Momentum at the National Demo in London.

From the Sunday Mirror in Britain:

Failed Trident missile test ‘covered up’ by government before MPs’ decision on nuclear weapons

A Trident II D5 missile may have veered off in the wrong direction off the coast of Florida after it was launched from HMS Vengeance in June last year, according to reports

By Dan Bloom and Courtney Greatrex

23:22, 21 JAN 2017. Updated 08:37, 22 JAN 2017

A failed Trident missile test was allegedly covered up by Downing Street just weeks before MPs were due to vote on its nuclear weapons programme.

A Trident II D5 missile may have veered off in the wrong direction off the coast of Florida after it was launched from HMS Vengeance in June last year, according to reports.

It is believed that the test was intended to be fired 5,600 miles to a sea target off the west coast of Africa.

But the missile suffered an in-flight malfunction after launching out of the water, which is believed to be the reason for it veering off course towards America.

News of the failure prompted a news blackout by Downing Street until this weekend, the Sunday Times reported.

A source told the newspaper: “There was major panic at the highest level of government and the military”.

The House of Commons backed the renewal of the Trident missile system in July 2016 – just a month after the test was covered up.

MPs approved the manufacture of four replacement submarines at an estimated cost of £31bn, with another £10bn for potential overspending.

The decision was slammed by anti-nuclear activists, who said the lifetime cost of the project would be over £100bn and help the deadly weapons proliferate across the world.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has long campaigned against nuclear weapons and Labour was split three ways, with 140 MPs voting for renewing Trident – the official party policy [a leftover from the Tony Blair days] – 47 voting against and 41 abstaining or not turning up.

In all 322 Tory MPs voted for renewing Trident and just one, Crispin Blunt, voted against. Four abstained.

When questioned by the BBC, Mrs [Theresa] May repeatedly refused to say if she knew about the misfire ahead of the vote: here.

British nuclear submarine crew have faced sex, drink and drug allegations. Alleged offences were carried out while serving on nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed subs, including four Vanguards, which carry the Trident missile system: here.

Donald Trump, after the inauguration


This video says about itself:

Women’s March descends on D.C. a day after Trump’s inauguration

21 January 2017

Hundreds of thousands rally in Washington ahead of Saturday afternoon’s march, CBC’s Lyndsay Duncombe reports

To read more: here.

Trump’s inaugural address combined nationalistic chest-thumping against foreign countries with bullying demands for patriotism and conformity at home: here.

Only hours after Donald Trump delivered his fascistic inaugural address, Senate Democrats overwhelmingly voted with their Republican counterparts to confirm recently retired Marine generals James “Mad Dog” Mattis and John Kelly to head the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, respectively: here.

More than 200 arrested in Washington DC. Dozens of protests against Trump’s inauguration across the US: here.

Donald Trump Already Redecorated The Oval Office, And Of Course The Curtains Are Gold. The president does love gold. Gold, gold, gold, gold: here.

Anti-Trump demonstrations in Britain


This video is about the Women’s March in London, England today.

More Women’s March news, mainly from the USA: here.

Photos of women’s marches worldwide are here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Rallies across Britain call for ‘bridges, not walls’

Saturday 21st January 2017

BRITS joined worldwide protests yesterday calling for “bridges not walls” as Donald Trump was sworn in as US president.

Taking shot at the billionaire’s pledge to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, protesters took a stand against Mr Trump’s hate-fuelled politics.

Among the actions was an overnight vigil outside Menwith Hill, the high-tech US spy base in North Yorkshire.

The base, a frequent site for peace protests, is home to more than 1,000 US military and civilian staff, who gather military, political and economic information fed from satellites circling the earth.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) demonstrated outside the US embassy in London while banners were dropped from bridges in Bristol, York and Tower Bridge.

Protests also took place in other major cities including Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Manchester.

More demonstrations are planned for today, including a women’s march through London, US capital Washington and other cities around the globe.

Anti-Trump demonstration, Antarctic, 21 January


Women's March Antarctica

Tomorrow, 21 January 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the USA, there will be the Women’s March on Washington against his policies.

There will be at least 616 ‘sister marches’ to that event all over the world. Like in London, England. And in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. And in The Hague, the Netherlands (march from the Malieveld to the US embassy). And in Aruba in the Caribbean.

And, like there was a demonstration in Antarctica in 2003 on the same day millions of others demonstrated all over the world against George W Bush’s plans to invade Iraq, there will be a demonstration against Donald Trump in the Antarctic tomorrow.

From the Women’s March site:

Women’s March – Antarctic Peninsula

Start: January 21, 2017•10:00 AM

Off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula• Neko Harbor, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Host Contact Info: Linda790@yahoo.com

We are an international group of eco-minded visitors on an expedition ship to Antarctica.

We will be “marching” on our ship, off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula on January 21, location still unknown. Unfortunately due to this constraint, we can’t invite the public, but welcome all ship-board guests and staff to join us.

We welcome signs and hats. Ideas:

Penguins for Peace

Cormorants for Climate

Seals for Science

Women for Earth”

Due to the environmental sensitivity of the area, we can’t leave any marks, trampled messages, etc.

More on the march in the Antarctic is here.

Anti-Trump demonstration Amsterdam tomorrow, Dam to Museumplein


This video says about itself:

14 January 2017

A week of protests ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president kicks off with a civil rights march in Washington by activists angry over the Republican’s comments on minority groups including Muslims and Mexicans. Nathan Frandino reports.

Tomorrow, 20 January 2017, will be the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the USA. There will be many protests against this, in the USA and elsewhere.

Also in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Contrary to an earlier post on this blog, not all of the 20 January demonstration there will be at the United States consulate, Museumplein. The demonstration will start at 7pm at the Dam Square.

From the site Stop de haat in the Netherlands:

STOP THE HATE! TOGETHER AGAINST TRUMP AND WILDERS!

Protest

Friday evening, 20th January

7pm, Dam Square
8.30pm, American Consulate (Museumplein 19)

We call on everyone who is concerned about the current political climate to join in this protest during the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States. After decades of austerity policies he succeeded in winning the election with a campaign of racism and sexism. Trump will not improve the world, he will only serve the interests of the elite. His policies pose a direct threat to the climate and the position of women, immigrants, working people and the LGBT community. Together we speak out against this!

The demonstration is also against European politicians with similarities to Trump, like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France. The slogans are:

Stop the cuts, people before profit!
Sexism and racism: less, less, less of it!

An allusion to the xenophobic saying by Geert Wilders that there should be ‘less, less, less’ Moroccans in the Netherlands

Stop warmongering!
Refugees are welcome, save lives!
Make the climate great again!

This is the video promoting the 20 January 2017 Amsterdam demonstration.

USA: Sister Marches are solidarity events inspired by the Women’s March on Washington, and organized by volunteers around the world. If you can’t make it to Washington, D.C. on January 21, join or host a Sister March near you”: here.

Nuclear war danger


This video from the USA says about itself:

Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race: Carl Sagan Interview (1991)

3 September 2013

Nuclear winter (also known as atomic winter) is a hypothetical climatic effect of countervalue nuclear war.

Models suggest that detonating dozens or more nuclear weapons on cities prone to firestorm, comparable to the Hiroshima of 1945, could have a profound and severe effect on the climate causing cold weather and reduced sunlight for a period of months or even years by the emission of large amounts of the firestorms smoke and soot into the Earth’s stratosphere.

Similar climatic effects can be caused by comets or an asteroid impact, also sometimes termed an impact winter, or by a supervolcano eruption, known as a volcanic winter.

By Bryan Dyne in the USA:

Nuclear winter—the long-suppressed reality of nuclear war

An interview with scientist and anti-nuclear activist Steven Starr

19 January 2017

For more than three decades, the United States political and media establishment has conducted a coordinated campaign to whitewash the dangers of nuclear war. Using discredited science from the 1980s, US officials have adopted the policy that a nuclear first-strike against Russia could be “successful” and that the environmental dangers posed by multiple atomic or thermonuclear detonations—so-called nuclear winter—have been “disproven.”

Such attitudes toward the use of nuclear weapons take on a new and ominous light when one considers the neo-McCarthyite rhetoric being used by congressional Republicans and top Democratic officials against Russia … . As significant sections of the United States government are preparing for war with nuclear-armed Russia, they simultaneously reject 34 years of peer-reviewed scientific research showing that a nuclear exchange threatens humanity’s extinction.

This perspective is reflected in the media. In 1987, the [far-right] National Review described nuclear winter as a “fraud.” In 1990, the New York Times referred to the science as “discounted.” … Since then, the danger of nuclear winter has largely been ignored and the scientists doing the research marginalized.

One of the scientists who has worked to expose the consequences of nuclear war to a mass audience is Steven Starr, an expert on the environmental dangers of nuclear weapons who has been published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies. He has been involved in the research surrounding the climatic effects of nuclear detonations since 2001.

Steven Starr is the director of the University of Missouri’s Clinical Laboratory Science Program, as well as a senior scientist at the Physicians for Social Responsibility. His most recent publication is on the web site of the Federation of American Scientists, titled “Turning a Blind Eye Towards Armageddon – U.S. Leaders Reject Nuclear Winter Studies.”

We recently spoke to Starr about some of the history, science and politics underlying the concept of nuclear winter and the fallacy that any country could somehow “win” a nuclear war.

Bryan Dyne: First, could you tell me something about your background and how you became so involved in exposing the full consequences of nuclear war?

Steven Starr: I’ve been fixated on nuclear war ever since experiencing the Cuban Missile Crisis in third grade. I remember the teachers huddled around a little black and white TV set and telling us to not look at the flash and to sit against the interior of the walls. All the duck-and-cover drills left an imprint on me.

Later on, I came across Carl Sagan’s book A Path Where No Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race which was published in 1990. In it, Sagan talks about the atmospheric research that was done in the 1980s that shows the climatic and environmental consequences that would be caused by a nuclear war. Sagan and four other NASA scientists looked at the data collected on the global dust storms on Mars and specifically were looking at the difference of the Martian surface temperature when there was a dust storm and when there wasn’t. Then they asked, “What could cause something similar on Earth?” The answers they came up with are volcanic eruptions or nuclear war.

This made me realize just how dangerous the nuclear arsenals of the US and Russia really were. Even with the simple atmospheric models of the 1980s, it was clear that the massive firestorms created by a nuclear war would produce enough smoke and black carbon soot to block the majority of sunlight from reaching the surface of Earth. The original nuclear winter research predicted that a war fought with the nuclear arsenals of the 1980s would create temperatures colder than those experienced at the height of the last Ice Age 18,000 years ago. This would leave the Earth virtually uninhabitable. The recent research found that the original studies actually underestimated the consequences of nuclear war.

These peer-reviewed studies done in 2007 predict that even a war fought between India and Pakistan, in which a total of 100 atomic bombs were detonated in their cities, would produce enough soot and smoke to create the coldest temperatures experienced in the last 1,000 years. This would significantly decrease production of rice, corn and grain crops for several years, and the latest estimates from medical experts predict that as many as 2 billion people would starve as a result.

This modern research also shows how the hot smoke in the stratosphere would produce ozone losses of 20 to 50 percent over populated areas in the Northern hemisphere. A fair-skinned individual outside in June during mid-day could get a painful sunburn in as little as six minutes. And a war fought with existing US and Russian nuclear arsenals is predicted to make agriculture impossible for a decade or longer, dooming most people to die from a nuclear famine.

Beginning in the late 1990s, I began to wonder why more research wasn’t being done on this topic, especially since the nuclear arsenals had changed significantly and because climate models had come a long way since the first study was done in 1983. Vastly improved computers allowed us to study the impact of nuclear war, not just the effects of a single weapon. What I learned was that there had been an active attempt to suppress this research and it had been done in a variety of ways.

First was a study published by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in 1986 by Starley Thompson and Stephen Schneider, which claimed that the original nuclear winter studies overestimated the amount of soot that would be tossed into the upper atmosphere. Starley and Schneider used a primitive model (with a 20-day run) to incorrectly claim that only 50 percent of the smoke generated from the nuclear explosions would make it into the stratosphere and that the rest would be rained out. The phrase “nuclear autumn” was derived from this non-peer reviewed study and was used to belittle the previous work.

The “nuclear autumn” story was published by Foreign Affairs and was then spread to a variety of news outlets including National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine and the New York Times. …

After the success of the smear campaign against nuclear winter, most people eventually accepted this narrative and funding for new research dried up. This had a big impact on the public, who got the impression that the nuclear winter theory had been disproven. As a result, this issue is hardly ever talked about now in the mainstream media.

BD: Do you think there were political pressures involved in turning “nuclear winter” into nuclear autumn?

SS: There was definitely a lot of backlash from various industrial and military interests against the first nuclear winter research. The scientists were called “frauds” and the research labeled “bad science.” One of the reasons for this is that over the years, trillions of dollars have been spent on nuclear weapons. If the conclusions of the nuclear winter research—that nuclear war is suicide for all peoples and nations—had gained widespread acceptance and understanding, it is likely that the whole nuclear weapons industry would have been shut down.

The scientists were pressured into stopping nuclear winter-related research because the funding for such research was cut. They should have gotten the highest award for making people aware of these dangers but instead they were persecuted. Taking away funding is a very effective way to silence the scientific community.

It didn’t work perfectly. Sagan, for example, continued to give talks and reports about this topic, and many scientists remained interested and concerned. My first attempts in 2001 to help find funding for new nuclear winter research projects were unsuccessful in large part because most people I contacted, including anti-nuclear weapon activists, believed that nuclear winter had been scientifically discredited. When Brian Toon, Alan Robock, Mike Mills and other scientists finally managed to get the newest research done (beginning in 2007), it was mostly self-funded using the resources of their labs. They’ve tried to get funding from the National Academy of Sciences for more detailed follow-up work on the many catastrophic effects of nuclear winter, but they haven’t been successful.

Even so, the science in their recent studies has been peer-reviewed and has survived all criticism of the global scientific community—it is considered to be top-notch science. What’s more, the scientists were essentially quite conservative in their estimates and predictions. For example, their findings indicated that 7 million tons of smoke would rise into the stratosphere after the India-Pakistan 100-atomic-bomb war, but the scientists used 5 million tons for their estimates on effects. Likewise, for their two models of a US-Russian nuclear war, the largest weapon they used in their calculations was a 100-kiloton bomb, when in reality most Russian weapons are 800 kilotons, and many US weapons are 300 and 475 kilotons. Using these more conservative figures acted to reduce the likely thermal effects and corresponding amounts of smoke released by their hypothetical wars.

BD: So what do politicians and generals think will happen if there is a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia? Do they realize the environmental dangers of nuclear war?

SS: It’s hard to get an answer from any ranking elected official. They always have a cadre of assistants surrounding them that make it hard for you to give them something to read. However, my friend Greg Mello, the secretary and executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, was once able to pose the question of nuclear winter to the US Nuclear Weapons Council. This group includes the head of the US Strategic Command and is what makes US policy on nuclear weapons. Their attitude was essentially, “We don’t believe in nuclear winter.” Their focus is instead stopping “nuclear terrorism” and other scenarios that only involve a single nuclear weapon.

This makes no sense. The United States and Russia each have about 1,000 of what I call “launch-ready” nuclear weapons. In the US, this means that the solid-fuel engines of the intercontinental ballistic missiles are powered up 24 hours a day, awaiting the order to launch. It only takes minutes for the president to open the nuclear briefcase, which accompanies him at all times, and give the order to fire these weapons. A similar briefcase also follows President Putin.

These launch-ready weapons are inherently dangerous. They are supposed to act as a deterrent, but think about what deterrence actually means. It’s based on the idea of being capable of inflicting unacceptable retaliation on somebody. If you attack us, we’ll destroy you. But classical deterrence doesn’t say you have to launch your weapons in 15 minutes or less, it just says you have to at some point be able to launch them. The short time frame came in when the military decided it needed to launch their weapons upon warning of attack, before the attack arrived.

In other words, launch-ready nuclear weapons are essentially preemptive weapons. If the US early warning systems detect a missile launch, the President can order a launch of retaliatory nuclear strike before incoming nuclear warheads take out communication systems and weapons. Of course, if this is a false warning of attack, then the “retaliatory” strike becomes a first-strike and a nuclear war has started.

Moreover, if somebody has launched a nuclear strike against the silos in which your nuclear weapons are housed in, you don’t retaliate by targeting their empty silos. You target their cities. Russia only has about 230 cities with a population greater than 100,000 and the US has 312. So it’s not that hard to wipe out a couple hundred cities in an initial salvo.

For many years, the entire global dialogue about nuclear weapons has focused primarily on the possible use of a single nuclear weapon by terrorists. This fits the official narrative on terrorism, but it ignores the existential danger posed by a nuclear war fought with existing US and Russian nuclear arsenals.

There is another problem with focusing only on a single nuclear weapon. Let’s say NATO or Polish forces attack Kaliningrad, an important but isolated enclave for the Russian navy. Russia doesn’t have the conventional forces to stop such an attack; would it use nuclear weapons to prevent the loss of Kaliningrad? Once a US/NATO-Russian war begins, how does it stop—which side will admit defeat? Once nuclear weapons are used, what prevents more from being used?

The strategists often say, “Oh, well, Russia will back down.” What if they don’t? And why would they back down on their own border? Any US/NATO-Russian direct military conflict will very likely lead to a full-scale nuclear war.

BD: You mention in one of your articles that the US is “sleepwalking towards nuclear war.” Is this sleepwalking or a deliberate policy?

SS: That’s a legitimate question. I agree with you. “Sleepwalking” was the most polite way I could say it.

To give an example, Foreign Affairs published an article in 2006 written by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press called “The Rise of Nuclear Primacy.” It was very disquieting, basically claiming that the weapon systems in the US had gotten to the point where it could undertake a first strike against Russia and Russia would lose any ability to retaliate. Nuclear primacy conveyed the idea that the US could “win” a nuclear war against Russia should the US attack first—except that Lieber and Press took no account of the environmental consequences of such a first strike. Robock and Toon tell us that the resulting nuclear famine from such a nuclear first strike would kill the inhabitants of the side that “won” the war.

Russia also fears that the US/NATO Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) that has been deployed at sea and on land surrounding Russia could be used as part of a US first-strike. This is because Russia considers BMD to have offensive capabilities, that it could be used as a “mop up” system to take out any surviving Russian missiles not destroyed in a nuclear first strike.

This has led to Russia targeting the US/NATO Ballistic Missile Defense sites that the US has set up in Eastern Europe, including the operational system in Romania and the one being built in Poland. Russia also sees a special threat from these facilities because they can also be used to launch nuclear-armed cruise missiles. This fact has been widely discussed on Russian mass media and the Russian people are demanding that Putin take some action against these sites.

BD: Given how dangerous nuclear war is, what do you think of the increasingly hysterical denunciations of Russia and the Russian government in the US media and by the Democrats and Republicans?

SS: It’s very disconcerting to see the leadership of both the Democrats and Republicans to come out with this type of thinking. These anti-Putin and anti-Russian stories keep coming up on thousands of different media sources simultaneously, including the New York Times and Washington Post, which are supposed to be the newspapers of record, and it acts like a smear campaign. Almost all such stories are based on no information or false information and they have created a narrative that is pushing us toward war with Russia. There are no two ways about it.

A war with China wouldn’t be any better. China happens to be a strategic partner of Russia. They also have 20-30 ICBMs that carry three-megaton warheads; each warhead could set 600 square miles on fire. China also has submarine-launched ballistic missiles that can be armed with nuclear warheads.

Yet there is no discussion of the existential threat of nuclear war in the US. This has to be the starting place for any discussion on nuclear weapons. If we have the best scientists in the world telling us that a nuclear war would wipe out most of the human race, that should be our primary concern. Why should these arsenals even be allowed to exist?