Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why Can't We Say Sorry?

In Senate Resolution 330, the U.S. Senate has designated January 27, 2012 as "a national day of remembrance for Americans who, during the Cold War, worked and lived downwind from nuclear testing sites and were adversely affected by the radiation exposure generated by the above ground nuclear weapons testing."

The first nuclear test explosion at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles from Las Vegas, was conducted on January 27, 1951. The United States proceeded to conduct over 1,000 nuclear explosions at the Nevada Test Site over the next 40 years.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nuclear Power? No Way!

It has been about five months since I left the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation team to return to Savannah, Georgia to finish my degree in political science. Since the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, I have been paying close attention to the post-disaster living conditions in the surrounding area; especially since one of NAPF’s former interns, Olivia, traveled to Japan for a study abroad. This past summer I specifically remember her researching the conditions in Japan and reassuring the NAPF staff that she would not be at risk for radiation exposure of any kind. We all felt a sigh of relief; if only it was that simple.

A recent article in the Economist revealed that living conditions following the Fukushima disaster were not as they seemed. A privately funded foundation, headed by Yoichi Funabashi, has been working on an investigation using the testimony of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) whistle-blowers. To make matters worse, sources note that the amount of radioactive materials released from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has actually increased since December. 48 out of the 54 nuclear reactors in Japan remain out of service due to safety concerns. If these facts do not make us question our own nuclear energy issues, I don’t know what will.

Within the United States, the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County, New York has been a major source of controversy, and for good reason. Not only has New York Governor Cuomo advocated closing the plant for years, but also the Huffington Post recently disclosed that the plant’s location on a fault line makes it extremely susceptible to an earthquake or natural disaster. In the words of philosopher and poet, George Santayana, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

For more information on the dangers of nuclear power, check out NAPF’s “Nuclear Energy Issues” segment on Nuclear

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

War Corrupts

This guest blog post was written by Robert Laney.

Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta may protest until they are blue in the face that the videotape showing four Marines desecrating Afghani corpses does not reflect the values of the American people or their Armed Forces.  Unfortunately this videotape is merely the latest addition to a body of evidence which shows that inhumane and barbaric attitudes persist in the U.S. Armed Forces.  In my opinion the important questions presented by this videotape are (1) how widespread and virulent are these tendencies today, (2) how many similar instances of inhumane conduct by the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have never been videotaped and publicized, and (3) how may the life experiences of these four Marines, both prior to and during their military service, help explain their conduct in this instance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Accidents Happen?

"Accidents happen. That's what they say."
-- Grover

My two year-old daughter is in full potty training mode, and right now her favorite video is Sesame Street's "Elmo's Potty Time." Unfortunately this means that the soundtrack plays over and over in my head. One of the catchiest songs is "Accidents Happen" (quoted above). The conclusion of the song is that accidents happen, and that's ok.

The other world in which I reside, where I work every day for the abolition of nuclear weapons, is full of examples where accidents are not ok. One such example is the Palomares accident, which happened on this day in 1966.

On this day in the middle of the Cold War, a U.S. B-52 bomber carrying four nuclear weapons collided in mid-air with a KC-135 refueling tanker plane, causing both planes to crash. One of the B-52's nuclear weapons was recovered on the ground and another was found after a months-long search in the sea. The other two nuclear weapons have never been found.
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