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  • Originally published 04/02/2014

    Your Doctors Are Worried

    No, they’re not necessarily your own personal physicians, but, rather, medical doctors around the world, represented by groups like International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

  • Originally published 01/19/2014

    The Endless Arms Race

    Despite Great Power promises, more nuclear weapons are on the way.

  • Originally published 08/19/2013

    Clinging to Mass Violence

    Resorting to violence is a long-term, deeply-ingrained habit in human history, and is not easily discarded.

  • Originally published 08/06/2013

    U.S. professor connects global nuclear victims, raises awareness

    HIROSHIMA--An American professor living in Hiroshima is getting the young descendants of hydrogen and atomic bomb survivors to tell their stories, as well as linking victims of nuclear weapons and accidents around the world, to prevent future tragedies.Robert Jacobs, 53, an associate professor of the history of nuclear weapons and scientific technology at Hiroshima City University, settled near the city’s Mitakidera temple seven years ago. The old temple is well known for offering water of the falls on its grounds to the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony, held on Aug. 6 to commemorate victims of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima.Jacobs has interviewed a number of people at nuclear testing sites and in areas affected by nuclear accidents all over the world....

  • Originally published 07/29/2013

    USS Indianapolis sinking: 'You could see sharks circling'

    When USS Indianapolis was hit by Japanese torpedoes in the final weeks of WWII, hundreds of crewmen jumped into the water to escape the burning ship. Surrounded by sharks, they waited for a response to their SOS. But no one had been sent to look for them.In late July 1945, USS Indianapolis had been on a special secret mission, delivering parts of the first atomic bomb to the Pacific Island of Tinian where American B-29 bombers were based. Its job done, the warship, with 1,197 men on board, was sailing west towards Leyte in the Philippines when it was attacked.The first torpedo struck, without warning, just after midnight on 30 July 1945. A 19-year-old seaman, Loel Dean Cox, was on duty on the bridge. Now 87, he recalls the moment when the torpedo hit."Whoom. Up in the air I went. There was water, debris, fire, everything just coming up and we were 81ft (25m) from the water line. It was a tremendous explosion. Then, about the time I got to my knees, another one hit. Whoom."...

  • Originally published 07/06/2013

    Still Preparing for Nuclear War

    Unless there is a substantial public mobilization to end the American government’s reliance on nuclear war, it seems likely that U.S. officials will continue to prepare for it.

  • Originally published 07/01/2013

    Manhattan Project park clears hurdle

    The campaign to create a national park dedicated to the once-top-secret Manhattan Project is moving through Congress, but supporters aren’t ready to declare victory just yet.“It is by no means a fait accompli,” says Nancy Tinker, senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.Still it’s the closest the park has come yet to being a done deal.The U.S. House approved in June the $552.1 billion defense authorization bill, which included funds to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which would include sites in Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, N.M., and Hanford, Wash....

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Norman Birnbaum: JFK’s Presidential Courage—June 10, 1963

    Norman Birnbaum is professor emeritus at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was on the founding editorial board of New Left Review and is a member of the editorial board of The Nation. His most recent book is After Progress: American Social Reform and European Socialism in the Twentieth Century (Oxford).The Cold War did not end with the opening of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. By the time of these events, it had already lost much of its earlier intensity. A skein of international agreements, some formal and explicit, others tacit and even denied, averted the dangers of unintended confrontations. More importantly, the populations on both sides of the Iron Curtain were disinclined to think that the risk of nuclear obliteration was worth incurring.

  • Originally published 06/06/2013

    Brent Budowsky: JFK Then, Obama Now

    Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.On June 10, 1963, at American University, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech about the world that changed the world. On Nov. 22, 1963, America lost a historic man of presidential greatness in the first of three murders within five years that did incalculable damage to the world, the nation and the progressive ideal.In 1963 a world leader, for the first time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, offered a vision and charted a course to save the world from nuclear extermination. Kennedy did not count the number of missiles or drones he would launch. He issued a call to action to the world on behalf of the water we all drink, the air we all breathe and the children we all love who will live or die because of what grown-ups do.

  • Originally published 06/04/2013

    Trinity test site still has radiation traces

    The sun was rising as a teenage boy swung a metal wand back and forth, back and forth. The Geiger counter hanging at his waist clicked, testifying to the radiation streaming from the ground and through his body.The White Sands Missile Range in the New Mexico desert is home to Trinity, the place where the nuclear age began on July 16, 1945. Twice a year, in April and October, the site has opened to the public. Each time, thousands of people arrive by Winnebago, motorcycle and tour bus, making a pilgrimage to check out the slight crater left by history’s first atom bomb test. Measuring just 340 feet across, the depression is underwhelming, a slight dent in the ground. A stone obelisk marks ground zero, where the bomb was detonated atop a 100-foot steel tower.The Trinity weapon, a version of which destroyed Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, used plutonium. That fuel was more far more efficient than the uranium in the bomb dropped over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, but it was thought to be less certain to work....

  • Originally published 05/30/2013

    Ward Wilson: The Bomb Didn't Beat Japan... Stalin Did

    Ward Wilson is a senior fellow at the British American Security Information Council and the author of Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons, from which this article was adapted.The U.S. use of nuclear weapons against Japan during World War II has long been a subject of emotional debate. Initially, few questioned President Truman's decision to drop two atomic bombs, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, in 1965, historian Gar Alperovitz argued that, although the bombs did force an immediate end to the war, Japan's leaders had wanted to surrender anyway and likely would have done so before the American invasion planned for November 1. Their use was, therefore, unnecessary. Obviously, if the bombings weren't necessary to win the war, then bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong. In the 48 years since, many others have joined the fray: some echoing Alperovitz and denouncing the bombings, others rejoining hotly that the bombings were moral, necessary, and life-saving.

  • Originally published 05/13/2013

    Nuclear Terror in the Middle East

    Credit: Wiki Commons.In those first minutes, they’ll be stunned. Eyes fixed in a thousand-yard stare, nerve endings numbed. They’ll just stand there. Soon, you’ll notice that they are holding their arms out at a 45-degree angle. Your eyes will be drawn to their hands and you’ll think you mind is playing tricks. But it won’t be. Their fingers will start to resemble stalactites, seeming to melt toward the ground. And it won’t be long until the screaming begins. Shrieking. Moaning. Tens of thousands of victims at once. They’ll be standing amid a sea of shattered concrete and glass, a wasteland punctuated by the shells of buildings, orphaned walls, stairways leading nowhere.This could be Tehran, or what’s left of it, just after an Israeli nuclear strike.

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Frank Bures: A Travelogue through Cold War Nuclear Installations

    Frank Bures is a writer based in Minneapolis. In the early 1980s, when I was a fifth-grader at Jefferson Elementary School, in a small town in Minnesota, our teacher, Mr. Odegaard, asked us if we wanted to see something. We did. So he took us down a little-used stairway, through a door and into a tunnel beneath our school. He flicked on the lights. The sound of our shuffling feet echoed down a long, dark corridor.¶ “The walls down here are solid concrete,” I remember him telling us, “and you need three feet to stop gamma rays. When the Russians launch their missiles, this is where I’m coming!” ¶ Mr. Odegaard was an unusual teacher and one of my favorites. He felt that we should know about the real world, in addition to multiplication and division, geography and grammar. He also explained — in great detail — the finer points of the nuclear winter.“Beta rays,” he told us, “those are dangerous, but they can’t go very far. Gamma rays. Those are the ones you have to worry about. Gamma rays can go right through anything.”

  • Originally published 03/19/2013

    America stopped worrying, loves the Bomb

    Nuclear war is unthinkable. At least, that’s what we like to tell ourselves. Given the mass death and devastation from an atomic strike, surely only a desperate despot would even consider such a strike.Slim Pickens joyfully rides a nuclear bomb onto a Russian target in the classic satire, “Dr. Strangelove.”Well, think again. A new study finds that, among the American public, the taboo against the use of nukes is far weaker than you might imagine.“When people are faced with scenarios they consider high-stakes, they end up supporting—or even preferring—actions that initially seem hard to imagine,” said Daryl Press, an associate professor at the Dartmouth College Department of Government....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Manhattan Project agent Safferstein dies

    NEW YORK — Nathan Safferstein, a counterintelligence agent on the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb during World War II, has died after a long illness. He was 92.He died Tuesday night at his home in the Bronx, his family said.The genial native of Bridgeport, Conn., was barely 21 when circumstances suddenly propelled him from his job as a supermarket manager into the stealth world of a special agent.Wartime security of the atomic bomb project being paramount, he eavesdropped on phone calls of scientists and engineers in Los Alamos, N.M., to make sure no secrets were leaked, and delivered bomb-making uranium and top-secret messages. He also scrawled his signature on the first A-bomb, called "Little Boy," that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    A Modest Proposal to House Republicans: Cut the Nuclear Weapons Budget

    Nuclear explosion from Operation Dominic -- Shot Questa on May 4, 1962. Credit: U.S. Government.Dear House Republicans:In the heated debates over the federal deficit, you have said repeatedly that you want to cut it without raising taxes and, therefore, that you must reduce government spending.If that is the case, I have a suggestion for you: Why not start by cutting the nuclear weapons budget?

  • Originally published 02/06/2013

    Fracking Could Release Radiation from Old Nuclear Tests

    Storax Sedan nuclear test, 1962, a part of Project Plowshare.“Nuclear explosives” versus “nuclear power.” The former raises images of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, or the atomic tests held in the Pacific Ocean or at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). The latter is suggestive of civilian applications of the atom, specifically, atomic power plants that generate electricity. Yet the idea of using nuclear devices to find a way to meet Americans’ demand for energy received serious consideration during the Cold War. Indeed, tests conducted decades ago to stimulate natural gas production are once again making news.

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Is the Obama Administration Abandoning Its Commitment to a Nuclear-Free World?

    In a major address in Prague on April 5, 2009, the newly-elected U.S. president, Barack Obama, proclaimed "clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." On January 24, 2013, however, Senator John Kerry, speaking at Senate confirmation hearings on his nomination to become U.S. secretary of state, declared that a nuclear weapons-free world was no more than “an aspiration,” adding that “we’ll be lucky if we get there in however many centuries.” Has there been a change in Obama administration policy over the past four years?

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Donald Hornig, Last to See First A-Bomb, Dies at 92

    In a small shed at the top of a 100-foot-tall steel tower deep in the New Mexico desert, Donald Hornig sat next to the world’s first atomic bomb in the late evening of July 15, 1945, reading a book of humorous essays. A storm raged, and he shuddered at each lightning flash.It was his second trip to the tower that day as part of the Manhattan Project, the secret American effort to build an atomic bomb. He had earlier armed the device, code-named Trinity, connecting switches he had designed to the detonators.But J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the project, had grown nervous about leaving the bomb alone. He told Dr. Hornig to return to the tower and baby-sit the bomb....

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    Rare photo of A-bomb cloud found in Hiroshima

    A long lost image from the Hiroshima atomic bombing has been discovered at a Japanese elementary school.The black-and-white photograph shows the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima split into two distinctly separated parts, one on top of the other.The rare image was found at the Honkawa Elementary School in Hiroshima city, in a collection of about 1,000 articles on the WWII atomic bombing. The material was donated by a late survivor, Yosaburo Yamasaki, in or after 1953.According to the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, a memo on the back of the photo says it was shot near the town of Kaitaichi, some six miles east of ground zero, two minutes after the bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945....

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    Lawrence M. Krauss: Deafness at Doomsday

    Lawrence M. Krauss, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University, is the author, most recently, of “A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing.”TO our great peril, the scientific community has had little success in recent years influencing policy on global security. Perhaps this is because the best scientists today are not directly responsible for the very weapons that threaten our safety, and are therefore no longer the high priests of destruction, to be consulted as oracles as they were after World War II.The problems scientists confront today are actually much harder than they were at the dawn of the nuclear age, and their successes more heartily earned. This is why it is so distressing that even Stephen Hawking, perhaps the world’s most famous living scientist, gets more attention for his views on space aliens than his views on nuclear weapons.Scientists’ voices are crucial in the debates over the global challenges of climate change, nuclear proliferation and the potential creation of new and deadly pathogens. But unlike in the past, their voices aren’t being heard....

  • Originally published 01/15/2013

    Eight Things I Miss About the Cold War

    Credit: Wiki Commons.At a book festival in Los Angeles recently, some writers (myself included) were making the usual arguments about the problems with American politics in the 1950s -- until one panelist shocked the audience by declaring, “God, I miss the Cold War.” His grandmother, he said, had come to California from Oklahoma with a grade-school education, but found a job in an aerospace factory in L.A. during World War II, joined the union, got healthcare and retirement benefits, and prospered in the Cold War years. She ended up owning a house in the suburbs and sending her kids to UCLA.Several older people in the audience leaped to their feet shouting, “What about McCarthyism?”  “The bomb?” “Vietnam?” “Nixon?”

  • Originally published 07/18/2014

    Why a bill against medical experimentation on minors is necessary

    Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) explained the motivation behind H.R. 4989, known as Justina's Law. "Sixteen months ago, Justina was a [competitive] figure skater. Today, she cannot stand, sit or walk on her own." The bipartisan legislation aims to chop federal funds to "research in which a ward of the State is subjected to greater than minimal risk to the individual's health with no or minimal prospect of direct benefit."  The proximate cause is the tragic saga of now-16-year-old Justina Pelletier. Both officials in Massachusetts and medical staff at Boston Children's Hospital (BCH) are accused of sanctioning and conducting experimental research on Justina after removing her from parental custody. Justina's ordeal occurred over the vigorous objections of both parents.

  • Originally published 01/27/2014

    A King for the oppressed—Not a King for the oppressors

    As Americans and humanity celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy of justice, equality and freedom, there are millions around the world who continue to suffer discrimination and oppression of the kind the African American pastor and leader struggled against.