Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Road to Freedom, The Road to Peace

Upon reaching Birmingham, Alabama, we were greeted by warm sunshine and a haunting stillness in the heart of the vibrant city. With a group of five other students, we entered our history of discrimination and segregation at Kelly Ingram Park. While our trip was focused specifically on racial issues and reconciliation the parallels to peace in the nuclear age were very real.

It’s hard to imagine that at one point in time, this beautiful place was all but beautiful. Smoke filled the sky, people ran amuck, as police dogs and billy-clubs met innocent marchers at Kelly Ingram Park. These people knew the risks of their participation in nonviolent protests. They knew they could die and lose it all. However, they also knew that morally they could wait no longer for justice. A placard with the words of Anne Frank reads, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nuclear Accident Strikes Close to Home

Three Mile Island
Until recently I did not realize that San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are designed to withstand even less seismic stress than the designs of the Japanese nuclear plants.  I see the situation at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon as especially dangerous because we know that a major seismic event is due along these fault lines and could strike either of these facilities at any time.  San Onofre, situated adjacent the beach at Camp Pendleton, would appear vulnerable to tsunamis as well as earthquake.  (I am not aware of the tsunami vulnerability of Diablo Canyon).  In any case I agree that the tragedy in Japan should be a wake-up call at least for us in California and that ordinary prudence requires an immediate and thorough review of these two facilities for earthquake and tsunami vulnerability.  Either site would appear to be a disaster waiting to happen.

The events in Japan and the implications for nuclear power in the U.S. strike especially close to home for me, inasmuch as my father (now deceased) was intimately involved with the nuclear power industry from its inception. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

That's not cool

A few days ago I heard reports from some California-based missile watchers that there was an unidentified missile launch off the coast of San Diego. Well, ends up it was a test launch of a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that was not announced publicly beforehand.

There's not a whole lot new here - the US conducts many tests of its nuclear missiles on land (from Vandenberg Air Force Base) and from the sea. What really struck me about this story was a quote in a news report a few days after the launch.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Four Horsemen Stumble Again

In today's Wall Street Journal, the "Four Horsemen" (Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn) appear to address some of the problems with nuclear deterrence. But what are they really saying?

The four former high-ranking US government officials lay out five somewhat contradictory "practical steps toward deterrence that do not rely primarily on nuclear weapons or nuclear threats to maintain international peace and security."

The first step is to develop a strategy to deal with the many other issues that threaten the survival of a country (chemical/biological weapons, cyber warfare, terrorism, climate change, health crisis).
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