This starts as follows:
Any lingering hope that a worldwide
nuclear power renaissance would contribute to combating climate change
appears to have been dashed by US company Westinghouse, the largest provider of nuclear
technology in the world, filing for bankruptcy, and the severe
financial difficulties of its Japanese parent company, Toshiba.
After months of waiting, Toshiba still
could not get its auditors to agree to its accounts [last] week. But it
went ahead anyway and reported losses of nearly $5 billion for the
eight months from April to December, in order to avoid being de-listed
from the Japanese stock exchange.
The company admitted it too could face
bankruptcy, and is attempting to raise capital by selling viable parts
of its business.
I say, for I did not know this.
Then again, I have also never been a proponent of nuclear
power, and the reason is very simple: All nuclear power for
energy is power
generated by fission
(<-Wikipedia), which in turn generates radioactive rest materials,
that have to be - somehow - taken care of the next tenthousand
years or so. That always seemed to me a completely irresponsible
shift of responsibilities to future generations.
Most of this article seems to be oriented
The other nuclear giant present in
Britain, the French-owned Électricité de France (EDF), is in
serious difficulties of its own. It is already deep in debt and its
flagship project to build a prototype 1,600 megawatt reactor at
Flamanville in northern France is six years behind schedule and three times over
budget at €10.5 billion.
Originally due to open in 2012, its
start date is now officially the end of 2018, but even that is in doubt
because an investigation into poor quality steel in the reactor’s
pressure vessel is yet to be completed.
Despite this, the company and the UK
government are committed to building two more of these giant reactors
in Somerset in southwest England, and have started pouring concrete for
the bases to put them on. These reactors are due to be completed in
2025, but nobody outside the company and the UK government believes
this is likely.
I agree. Here is some more information:
The problem for all these projects,
apart from the vast capital cost and the timescales involved, is that
the energy industry is changing dramatically. Solar and wind power are
now a cheaper form of producing electricity across the world, and are
less capital-intensive and quicker to build.
Despite the fact that there are more
than 430 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide and the industry still
has great economic and political clout, it is beginning to look like a
dinosaur – too big and cumbersome to adapt to new conditions.
Nuclear power now produces about 10% of
the world’s electricity, while 40% is from coal and 23% from
renewables. The rest is mainly from natural gas.
Oddly, the article doesn't mention
the fact that the radioactive remains of fission have to be taken care
of at least five times as long as all of civilization started.
2. What Does an
'America-First' Foreign Policy Actually Mean?
article is by William Astore on AlterNet and originally on TomDispatch:
This starts as follows:
What does an “America-first” foreign
policy look like under President Donald Trump? As a start, forget the
ancient label of “isolationism.” With the end of Trump’s first
100 days approaching, it looks more like a military-first policy aimed
at achieving global hegemony, which means it’s a potential doomsday
Yes indeed: This is both a fair
question and - what I think - is a sensible answer. And here is
also the factual
background for this answer: The majority of the Americans both
watch or read and believe most of the mainstream news they
Most Americans believe the spin that the
U.S. military is all about deterring and preventing attacks on the
homeland, especially those orchestrated by “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Sold as a deterrent, Washington’s national security state has, in
fact, exploded into something that increasingly
resembles a mechanism for permanent war. Ignorant of the most basic military strategy,
impulsive and bombastic, its present commander-in-chief is being
enabled by bellicose advisers and the men he calls “my
generals,” who dream of ever bigger budgets.
Yes indeed. And here is what the USA's
military men do:
Welcome to Trump’s new era of winning. It’s not really about ending
wars, but exerting “global reach/global power” while selling loads of weaponry. It promises
to spread or prolong chaos in Iraq, Yemen, and possibly Iran, among other countries. In the Greater
Middle East, U.S.-led efforts have produced a war-torn Iraq that’s
splitting at the seams. U.S. drone strikes and support for an
ongoing Saudi air campaign have left Yemen lurching toward famine. Syria remains a humanitarian
disaster, torn by war even as additional U.S. troops are deployed
there. (The Pentagon won’t say how many, telling us instead to focus on “capabilities” rather than boots on
the ground.) Further east, the never-ending war in Afghanistan
is, in Pentagon-speak, “stalemated,”
which means that the Taliban is actually gaining ground as a new
Washington surge-to-nowhere looms.
Incidentally, the terms "capabilities" (instead of: boots on
the ground) and "stalemated" (instead of: lost) are propaganda
terms that are only designed to deceive the folks whose taxes
pay for these wars. (And these deceptions work.)
Here is the sum-up of the anwer to the
article's title ("What Does an 'America-First' Foreign Policy
To Trump and his generals, an
“America-first” approach to such problems actually means putting
the military first, second, and third. It helps
that they can’t imagine the actions of that military as
destabilizing. (Possible future headline: Trump destroys Syria in order to save
In fact, it very well may be that they do
see their military actions as destabilizing, but don't care. And as to
the utterly nonsensical headline (equivalent to: We have to
murder you slowly and painfully in order to save you): Once you
have given up on truth,
any amount of totally inconsisent bullshit
becomes the norm, provided it is combined with just one
criterion: it must proudly sing of the faith the USA has in its
troops, and it must depict every American military feat as a win.
Then again, when you have given up on truth, anything whatsoever becomes sensible and allowed.
And in fact there were a few
Americans who saw this, and who saw this long ago as well. Here
is a reference to C. Wright Mills
(<-Wikipedia, whom I like a lot and read most of):
More than half a century ago,
sociologist C. Wright Mills offered answers that still seem as fresh as
this morning's news. In his 1958 essay, “The Structure of Power in American
Society,” he dissected the country’s “triangle of power.” It
consisted, he explained, of corporate leaders, senior military men, and
politicians working in concert, but also in a manner that merged
corporate agendas with military designs. That combination, he
suggested, was degrading the ability of politicians to moderate and
control corporate-military imperatives (assuming the latter even wanted
“The [U.S.] military order,” Mills
wrote, “once a slim establishment [operating] in a context of civilian
distrust, has become the largest and most expensive feature of
government; behind smiling public relations, it has all the grim and
clumsy efficiency of a great and sprawling bureaucracy. The high
military have gained decisive political and economic relevance. The
seemingly permanent military threat places a premium upon them and
virtually all political and economic actions are now judged in terms of
military definitions of reality.”
For him, the danger was plain enough:
the “coincidence of military domain and corporate realm
strengthens both of them and further subordinates the merely political
man. Not the party politician, but the corporation executive, is now
more likely to sit with the military to answer the question: what is to
It is true this more than half a
century old, but the insight - which does seem quite
similar to Eisenhower's later "military-industrial
complex" (<-Wikipedia) - was true then (I think) and is
true now .
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from
While both Mills and Eisenhower warned
of such developments, even they might have been startled by the America
of 2017. By now, the post-draft, “all volunteer” professional military
has become remarkably estranged, if not divorced, from the wider
populace, a separation aggravated by an ongoing cult of
the warrior within its ranks. Not only are
Americans increasingly isolated from “their” warfighter military, but from America’s
wars as well. These continue to be waged without formal congressional declarations and
with next to no congressional oversight. Combine this with the
Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which
translated corporate money directly into political activism, and you
have what is increasingly a 1% governing system in which a billionaire
president presides over the wealthiest cabinet in history in what is now
a war capital, while an ever-expanding corporate-military nexus
embodies the direst of fears of Mills and Eisenhower.
America’s runaway military machine has
little to do these days with deterrence and much to do with the
continuation of a state of permanent war. Put it all together and
you have a formula for disaster.
I completely agree, and this is a
recommended article. Also, as pointed out in note , the warnings
against the military-industrial complex and quite a few of the warnings
and explanations of fascism in the 1930ies have a similar
background that is well caught by the last quotation above.
What Russia-gate Has Wrought
This starts with the following introduction:
The third article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:
five months, there was a daily drumbeat on Russia-gate, the sprawling
conspiracy theory that Russia had somehow put Donald Trump in the White
House, but suddenly the “scandal” disappeared, notes Robert Parry.
Coincidentally, I report that the two
mainstream dailies I consult every day, The Guardian and The New York
Times, indeed today lack any prominent "Russia-story".
This is - of course! - not a proof that Parry is correct, but
he is right to that extent, at least.
And here is more:
Democrats, liberals and some
progressives might be feeling a little perplexed over what has happened
to Russia-gate, the story that pounded Donald Trump every day since his
election last November – until April 4, that is.
On April 4, Trump fully capitulated to
the neoconservative bash-Russia narrative amid dubious
claims about a chemical attack in Syria. On April 6, Trump fired
off 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase; he also restored the
neocon demand for “regime change” in Syria; and he alleged that Russia
was possibly complicit in the supposed chemical attack.
Since Trump took those actions – in
accordance with the neocon desires for more “regime change” in the
Middle East and a costly New Cold War with Russia – Russia-gate has
almost vanished from the news.
I think that may be true (and I am not
living in the USA). Here is some more background information:
Yet, given all the hype and hullabaloo
over Russia-gate, the folks who were led to believe that the vague and
amorphous allegations were “bigger than Watergate” might now be feeling
a little used. It appears they may have been sucked into a conspiracy
frenzy in which the Establishment exploited their enthusiasm over the
“scandal” in a clever maneuver to bludgeon an out-of-step new President
back into line.
If that’s indeed the case, perhaps the
most significant success of the Russia-gate ploy was the ouster of
Trump’s original National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was seen
as a key proponent of a New Détente with Russia, and his replacement by
General H.R. McMaster, a protégé of neocon favorite, retired Gen. David
I agree this is speculative, but the
speculations seem sound (and I do not know, and indeed very
few people know, what really happens in the American military
or political top).
But I add that it seems very
unlikely to me that more than a few of those who
were deceived by "Russia-gate" (that was supposed to
be "bigger than Watergate")
will complain that they were deceived, for these
manner of deceptions
seem to have worked very well since the late 1970ies: They
worked again, and again, and again.
Then there is this summary of what
happened to the "left" in the USA, since November 2016:
Instead of Democratic leaders taking
responsibility for picking a dreadful candidate, ignoring the nation’s
anti-establishment mood, and failing to offer any kind of inspiring
message, the national Democrats could palm off the blame on “Russia!
Thus, rather than looking in the mirror
and trying to figure out how to correct their deep-seated problems, the
national Democrats could instead focus on a quixotic tilting at Trump’s
Many on the Left joined in this fantasy
because they have been so long without a Movement that the huge
post-inaugural “pussy hat” marches were a temptation that they couldn’t
resist. Russia-gate became the fuel to keep the “Movement” bandwagon
I agree, except that I do not
confuse "the Left" with
"the left", and I do not because (i) both my parents and grandparents
were proud (and courageous and sincere) members of the Left (which was
revolutionary, anti-capitalistic, and fact-based), but they never
belonged to "the left" (identified by political
correctness and concerns with the rights of LGBTQ-people) , and (ii) because "the left" in the University of
Amsterdam has criticized me as "a fascist and a terrorist" for
ten years because I said - in a Stalinist/ Marxist university run by a
combination of corrupt communists and corrupt social democrats for 25
years  - that I was not a Marxist. That
also was the reason to deny me the right to take the M.A. in
philosophy, as the only Dutchmen ever to have been
discriminated that way since 1945 (and I was and am ill as well).
Here is a sum-up of Robert Parry (who does
use "left", between quotes, as I do, though I do not know
whether he uses it with my understanding of the term):
Yes indeed - which also shows that (i) much
of "the left" was thoroughly deceived by
they read in the mainstream media, that (ii) much
of "the left" had the warranted totalitarian
model of accusing anyone who disagreed with them as a “Russian propagandist” (indeed as I was called "a fascist
and a terrorist" in the University of Amsterdam because I was not
Russia-gate also taught the American
“left” to learn to love McCarthyism since “proof” of guilt pretty much
amounted to having had contact with a Russian — and anyone who
questioned the dubious factual basis of the “scandal” was dismissed as
a “Russian propagandist” or a “Moscow stooge” or a purveyor of “fake
And I agree the present article is at least plausible, and it
The fourth article is by Sam Husseini on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
Donald Trump won the 2016
Republican nomination and the general election largely because he was
able to pose as a populist and an anti-interventionist, an “America
Firster.” Similarly, Barack Obama won the 2008 election in good
part because he promised “hope and change” and because he had given a
speech years earlier against the then-impending invasion of Iraq.
I basically agree, although I do not
need a "disclosure of diaries or other documents" to conclude with more than sufficient probability
that (i) both Obama and Trump were major liars, deceivers
and propagandists, and that (ii) their lies and deceptions and
propaganda before the elections they won and after the
elections they won are - indeed - quite different, and this
happened very probably quite intentionally.
Short of disclosure of diaries or other
documents from these politicians, we can’t know for certain if they
planned on reversing much of what they promised or if the political
establishment compelled them to change, but they both reversed
themselves on their core messages, committing what you might call a
massive political fraud. Yet, what is perhaps most striking is how
quickly each of them backtracked on their winning messages,
particularly since they were both proclaimed as representing
“movements” seeking to shake up the system.
Here are some of the many lies of Obama:
Thus, rather predictably, the Obama
years saw the expansion of U.S. bombing operations and a dramatic
escalation in the U.S. global assassination program using drones. Obama
intentionally bombed more countries than any other president since
World War II: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and
Obama had talked about a
nuclear-weapons-free world – a
key reason why he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize – but he later
geared up to spend $1 trillion in upgrading the U.S. nuclear weapons
arsenal. At the end of his administration, attempts
at the United Nations to work toward banning nuclear weapons were
sabotaged, efforts that the Trump
And here are more of the very many
lies of Obama, who indeed was a major fraud who - quite
like Bill Clinton - seems to have really mostly cared for
becoming a multi- millionaire through the presidency, and through
serving the very rich bankers:
Politically, Obama and Trump ran against
the Establishment but then, in effect, rebranded it and, by doing so,
further entrenched it. And not just in foreign policy. Though elected
amid public anger over the Wall Street collapse of 2008, Obama
supported the Wall Street bailout and brought in pro-Wall Street
apparatchiks Tim Geithner and others around Robert Rubin, such as Larry
Summers. Some were connected to Goldman Sachs, including Rahm Emanuel,
Gary Gensler and Elena Kagan.
Precisely: It was all one big major
from start to finish. And the same is true of Trump - and also
of Bush Jr., Bill Clinton and Bush Sr.:
Obama and Trump were both salesmen,
albeit with divergent pitches and contrasting personas. Nor were their
deceptions particularly new. George W. Bush campaigned against “nation
building” before launching a war of choice in Iraq supposedly intended
to remake its entire political and economic structure; Bill Clinton
campaigned as the “man from Hope” who felt the pain of the little guy
before parlaying his presidency into a very lucrative business model
for himself, his family and his friends; George H. W. Bush claimed he
was a compassionate conservative but showed little compassion either in
his domestic or foreign policies. All backed corporate power and
finance. All waged aggressive war.
And the lies, deceptions and propaganda of
each of these did make them presidents of the USA. Why? In the end
because the vast majority of the American public believes the lies, deceptions and propaganda
they are told in the mainstream media and on TV.
This article ends as follows:
I agree - but I conclude that "the cycles of promises and betrayal"
that we have seen since Reagan became president are likely to continue.
And this is a recommended article. (For the reasons why, see Jante's Law: Quite interesting.)
To avoid repeats of these political
scams, America needs a citizenry, aided by media, that adroitly and
accessibly pierces through the layers of deception in real
time. Another thing that’s needed is a merging of what we call the
“left” and “right” into a joint effort to pursue polices that undermine
the grip of Wall Street and the Military Industrial Complex on the U.S.
A wiser electorate then must resist the
allure of loving – or hating – certain personalities and must repudiate
the cheap satisfaction of partisan shots. Only when there’s adherence
to real values – and cohesion from real solidarity – can the cycles of
promises and betrayal be broken.
5. Erdoğan Claims Ultimate Power in Turkey
After Nearly Split Vote
The fifth and last article today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
In a very close—and closely
watched—referendum vote, Turks on Sunday handed President Recep Tayyip
Erdoğan what many say is authoritarian rule.
With more than 99 percent of ballots
counted, Erdoğan claimed a win
with 51.36 percent voting in favor of the referendum and 48.64 voting
However, the Guardian reported,
disparities persisted into Sunday
evening, with the opposition saying not all ballots had been counted
and they would contest a third of the votes that had been cast. [Sadi
Guven, the head of Turkey's high electoral board, or YSK] said the YSK
had decided to consider unstamped ballots as valid unless they were
proved to be fraudulent after a high number of complaints —including
one from the ruling AK Party—that its officials had failed to stamp
some ballot papers.
The no campaign said the YSK's
last-minute decision raised questions about the validity of the vote.
I should say immediately that I do not
trust that vote, however much it was "closely
watched", and I don't because (i) I disbelieve
the news of some months ago that Gülen was supposed to have started an
attempted revolution in Turkey; (ii) I dislike the
authoritarian Erdogan; and (iii) both his version of the attempted
revolution in Turkey and his arrests of tenthousands of supposed
followers of Gülen seem one of the classical ways in which
authoritarians try to become dictators.
And this is what seems to have happened in
Turkey. Here is how Turkey will be transformed into an authoritarian
Yes indeed, and this is a recommended
If confirmed, the vote will "transform
Turkey into a presidential republic, in what would be one of the most
significant developments in the nation’s history since its founding
after the collapse of the Ottoman empire," the Guardian reported
The referendum includes a series of
constitutional amendments that would dissolve the role of the prime
minister, centralizing state bureaucracy under the president while also
giving him control of the judiciary. Further, it would allow Erdoğan to
run for two more election terms and essentially "rule by decree," as Common
Dreams previously wrote.