Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Friday, March 06, 2015

Notes from Nuclear Confab in NYC

Speaking at Helen Caldicott's Symposium: The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction last weekend in New York City

I took some notes at the nuclear war event in NYC last weekend.  I'm not going to put them in any particular order but they are all interesting.

  • Russia's early warning system is fragile and thus they keep their nuclear retaliatory forces on launch on warning status.  Unlike the US Moscow has no space-based early warning system. They can't see over the horizon and have to make a guess if they are being hit in a first-strike. Chance of accidental nuclear war is higher now than during most of the Cold War. Russia is very aware that the Pentagon has plans for decapitation strikes on Russia.  (Ted Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology & National Security Policy, MIT)
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies are advancing and increasingly given control of nuclear launch decision making.  (Max Tegmark, Professor of Physics, MIT)
  •  Eight workers at Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear laboratory at Los Alamos, N.M. were contaminated from plutonium-238 last December.  Was not reported in any of the local newspapers.  The development of the atomic bomb by the US was about control of the former Soviet Union in the post-WW II era.  The DoE today is in crisis because of incompetence and collapsing management.  (Greg Mello, Los Alamos Study Group)
  • Since going to work for Associated Press and Newsweek he has never seen the Washington propaganda machine working at this rate.  One way to get the American people worked up is to demonize a leader of a particular country.  Some analysts at CIA told him that the Malaysian plane was not shot down by eastern Ukrainian 'rebels'.  Perception management - how do we bring the American people back to reality?  (Robert Parry, Investigative Journalist, Consortium News)
  • The US is spending money on the military rather than dealing with climate change at a rate of $24 million (military) to $1 million (climate change).  In China the ratio is $1 million (military) to $1 million (climate change).  It would cost up to $1 trillion a year globally to deal with the current reality of climate change.  The US currently spends $500 billion per year giving subsidies to the oil corporations.  (John Feffer, Institute for Policy Studies)
  • Bikini actually means the skin of the coconut but Madison Avenue came up with the idea to name women's bathing suits the 'bikini' at the very time the Pentagon was doing above ground nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.  Medical claims by the Marshallese people who suffer from radiation sickness are going unfunded since the US does not appropriate ample funds to cover these compensation claims.  (Holly Barker, Dept of Anthropology, Univ. of Washington)
  • Read this book The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. The deep state has conquered America and we have a rump Congress.  Wall Street is the ultimate owner of the deep state - along with the CIA and military industrial complex.  Ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over their government.  The oligarchy maintains the outward appearance of a functioning democracy. Most people are assimilated by the institutions they work for into 'group think'.  We'll never get a handle on nuclear weapons until we cure the pathology of the deep state.  (Mike Lofgren, Former Republican congressional staffer, author)
  • 411 financial institutions from 31 countries invest $402 billion in 28 companies that produce nuclear weapons. (Susi Snyder, PAX, The Netherlands)
  • A really good way to help people understand the power and effects of a nuclear war is to get them to take at look at this spectacular web site called Nuclear Secrecy.  You can calculate the damage to your own community just by clicking a few buttons.  If there was a nuclear exchange with Russia and they blasted Bath Iron Works here in Maine we'd have 10,530 immediate deaths and then 19,650 estimated injuries.  The total population of Bath is about 10,000 people. (Alex Wellerstein, Asst Professor of Anthropology and & Int'l Affairs, Stevens Institute of Technology)
  • Consumerism is the main definition of freedom. (Robert Scheer, author, former LA Times columnist, Editor Truthdig)
  • You can listen to any or all of the conference speakers by clicking here and then clicking again on the left side of the screen where speakers names are listed in blue.

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