“This Reckless Path”

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a “public meeting” today on what it titled “Development of Guidance Documents To Support License Renewal For 100 Years Of Plant Operation.”

Comments from the “public” were strongly opposed to the NRC’s desire for it to let nuclear power plants run for a century.

“I request you pause and consider before you go ahead on this reckless path,” testified Michel Lee, chairman of the New York-based Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy.

“Our position and that of our constituents is a resounding no,” declared Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project at the national organization Beyond Nuclear.

“It’s time to stop this whole nuke con job,” said Erica Gray, nuclear issues chair of the Virginia Sierra Club. There is “no solution” to dealing with nuclear waste, she said. It is “unethical to continue to make the most toxic waste known to mankind.” And, “renewable energy” with solar and wind “can power the world.”

Jan Boudart, a board member of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service, spoke, too, of the lack of consideration of nuclear waste.

Cited was the higher likelihood of accidents with plants permitted to run for 100 years.

Whether the NRC—often called the Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission—listens is highly unlikely considering its record of rubberstamping whatever has been sought by other nuclear promoters in government and the nuclear industry.

Nuclear power plants when they began being built were not seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. So operating licenses were limited to 40 years.

But with the major decline of nuclear power—the U.S. is down to 94 plants from a high of 129 and only two are now under construction—the nuclear promoters in the U.S. government and nuclear industry are pushing to let nuclear power plants run for 100 years to somehow keep nuclear power going.

Among federal officials speaking at the all-day “public meeting” was Thomas M. Rosseel of the Materials Research Pathway of DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy and a senior program manager in the Nuclear Structural Materials Group at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. He showed PowerPoint slides including one with the heading “Sound Nuclear Materials Research Approach.” It listed in this process an “expert panel approach from the nuclear community led by the U.S. NRC and including industry, universities and international experts.”

In further discussing the “Life Beyond Eighty” scheme for nuclear power plants, Rosseel showed a U.S. Energy Information Administration slide projecting the amount of energy nuclear power would contribute to the U.S. energy supply in decline from 19% in 2019 to 12% in 2050 while renewable energy sources would jump from the current 19% to 38%.

For the DOE, which inherited the role of promoting nuclear power from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, abolished by Congress in 1974 for being in conflict of interest for having a dual role of both promoting and regulating nuclear power, this decline is of great concern.

At the start of the “public meeting”—held online as a teleconference—Allen L. Hiser, Jr., senior technical advisor for the Division of New and Renewed Licenses of the NRC, said the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 gave authority to the U.S. government to license nuclear power plants for 40 years. “But nothing in the AEA [Atomic Energy Act] prohibits a number of license renewals,” said Hiser.

Using this lack of prohibition in the Atomic Energy Act, the NRC is now pushing ahead on the scheme to let nuclear power plants run for 100 years.

The NRC—which was supposed to only get the regulatory function from the eliminated U.S. Atomic Energy Commission—has also, with DOE, been a promoter of nuclear power.

Earlier, it began extending the operating licenses of nuclear power plants to run for 60 years—and most of the plants in the U.S. now are being allowed to run for 60 years. And in recent years it has given the go-ahead for nuclear plants to run for 80 years, and several have been licensed for that length.

In granting the license extensions to 60 and 80 years, the NRC has also been allowing the plants to be “uprated” to generate more electricity—to run hotter and harder—further asking for disaster.

Gunter testified about an NRC cover-up involving the extending of nuclear power plant licenses. Using PowerPoint to reinforce his points, Gunter displayed a 2017 report commissioned by the NRC made by the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The “very critical report,” said Gunter, looked at conducting research on the impacts of extending nuclear power plant operating licenses. It is titled “Criteria and Planning Guidance for Ex-Plant Harvesting to Support Subsequent License Renewal.” http://www.beyondnuclear.org/storage/aging/slr/autopsy_PNNL-27120_harvesting_Dec2017.pdf

The report listed many significant issues considering the “harsh” degradation of nuclear power plant components over the years, he said. It pointed to “a host of critical technical gaps.”

After he “raised questions about” issues in the report at a meeting on operating license
extensions held in 2018 at the NRC’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, the report was “taken down from government websites,” said Gunter. However, Beyond Nuclear saved a copy of the report. He spoke of an email that Beyond Nuclear obtained, after two years of trying under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, from an NRC employee saying: “Big picture, I think the entire report needs to be scrubbed.” A “sanitized” version of the report, said Gunter, was “republished” in 2019. Gunter spoke of “public safety” being threatened.

Gunter, also at the “public meeting” this week, said among the issues not being considered in the NRC’s drive to extend the licenses of nuclear power plants to 100 years is the management of the radioactive waste generated by the plants and “the advent of reliable, competitive and abundant renewable energy.”

The oldest nuclear power plant in the U.S. was Oyster Creek in Toms River, New Jersey which opened in 1969 and was shut down 49 years later in 2018.

What President Joe Biden does about nuclear power—he has said he is for “advanced” nuclear power—and the pro-nuclear NRC remains to be seen. The president appoints the five members of the NRC, and its current chairperson, a nuclear engineer and Trump appointee, is resigning.

Biden could move to have done to the NRC what was done to its predecessor agency, the AEC, to have it abolished. And to push to end nuclear power in the U.S.

Most U.S. nuclear power plants, according to a PowerPoint slide shown by the NRC’s Hiser, have already operated more than 40 years—the numbers of years they were seen as running safely when they began operating.

Donald Trump Has Been the Worst President in the History of the United States

Donald Trump has been the worst president in the history of the United States.

The attack by his supporters on the Capitol was a capstone of his presidency—lawless, an attack on democracy, a U.S. counterpart of the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s.

It was a horror representative of his tenure.

Thank heavens and thanks to successful and hard political work, he will in days be out of office. And there must be criminal prosecutions on the state and local levels as well as the federal level which he’ll likely try to wrangle out of with a pardon. There must be consequences to his horrendous term in office.

“An American Tragedy” was the title of a piece by David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker magazine, right after Election Day 2016. “The election of Donald Trump,” Remnick wrote, “is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism.”

There would be “miseries to come”—and there have been.

Remnick warned against an “attempt to normalize” the election of Trump. “Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader…a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right…a flim-flam man” with “disdain for democratic norms.”

The attack on the Capitol by the Trumpsters was an attempt at a coup to undo a presidential election in which a record number of voters came out to dump Trump and elect Joe Biden.

It was an act of insurrection incited by Trump.

As he tweeted to followers on December 20th—“Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Yes, and indeed it was wild.

And then, in a speech in front of The White House on Wednesday, addressing his backers who had arrived, said: “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue…and we’re going to the Capitol.” He added: “You have to be strong.”

His call was preceded by his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, proclaiming “let’s have trial by combat.”

Giuliani, who took an oath to be an attorney and adhere to rule of law, represented Trump in many courts in challenges to his election defeat with claims which judges found totally untrue—but Giuliani opted instead, in violation of that oath, for “trial by combat.”

Remnick warned about an “attempt to normalize” Trump, but so much of media have engaged in “both sides-ing” the situation, as Julie Hollar of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has written.

When a person tells an out-and-out lie, there is no journalistic obligation to “balance” a story with a falsehood. And Trump, The Washington Post report, has recorded, has uttered more than 20,000 falsehoods in his term in office.

And then there have been the Trump disinformation machines led by Fox —about which Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels would smile.

But this is far more than a media problem.

Trump tapped into a vein of racism and other poisons in the United States.

He soon will be out of The White House but Trumpism, so horribly, is will still be here.

“You have to summon an act of will, a certain energy and imagination, to replace truth with the authority of a con man like Trump,” George Packer wrote in the current issue of The Atlantic.

Trump’s “barrage of falsehoods—as many as 50 daily in the last fevered months of the 2020 campaign—complemented his unconcealed brutality,” writes Packer.

“Two events in Trump’s last year in office broke the spell of his sinister perversion of the truth,” he says: Covid-19 and a free election.

“The beginning of the end of Trump’s presidency arrived on March 11, 2020, when he addressed the nation for the first time on the subject of the pandemic and showed himself to be completely out of his depth. The virus was a fact that Trump couldn’t lie into oblivion or forge into a political weapon—it was too personal and frightening, too real. As hundreds of Americans died…and the administration flailed between fantasy, partisan incitement, and criminal negligence, a crucial number of Americans realized that Trump’s lies could get someone they love killed,” says Packer.

He continues: “The second event came on November 3”—the election.

And that is what Trump and his followers who attacked the Capitol sought to undo. And, on the same day, Trump enablers in Congress were trying to undo it by having the votes of the Electoral College denied.

“The election didn’t end his lies—nothing will….But we learned that we still want democracy. This, too, is the legacy of Donald Trump,” Packer concluded.

Yes, most Americans still want democracy, but the history of authoritarian takeovers shows that a relatively small group of fanatics can beat the majority.

And we still are left with those toxic issues which Trump capitalized on.

Another component here is the enabling of Trump by all those Republicans.

Margaret Sullivan wrote a piece earlier this week in The Washington Post, headed “We must stop calling Trump’s enablers ‘conservative.’ They are the radical right.”

She wrote: “These days the true radicals are the enablers of President Trump’s ongoing attempted coup: the media bloviators on Fox News, One America and Newsmax who parrot his lies about election fraud; and the members of Congress who plan to object on Wednesday to what should be a pro forma step of approving the electoral college results, so that President-elect Joe Biden can take office peacefully on Jan. 20.”

“But instead of being called what they are, these media and political figures get a mild label: conservative. Instead of calling out the truth, it normalizes; it softens the dangerous edges,” she continued. “It makes it seem, well, not so bad. Conservative, after all, describes politics devoted to free enterprise and traditional ideas. But that’s simply false. Sean Hannity is not conservative. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama are not conservative. Nor are the other 10 (at last count) Senators who plan to object” to the Electoral College vote.

She notes Tim Alberta wrote on Politico that “’There is nothing conservative about subverting democracy.’ He suggests ‘far right’ as an alternative descriptor. Not bad. But I’d take it a step further, because it’s important to be precise. I’d call them members of the radical right.”

Members of the radical right won’t like this, of course. They soak in the word ‘conservative” like a warm bath.”

“On Jan. 20, we can still presume Trump will be gone from the White House,” she writes. “But his enablers and the movement that fostered him, and that he built up, will remain. That’s troubling. We should take one small but symbolic step toward repairing the damage by using the right words to describe it. It would be a start.”

Journalist Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, says Trump “will be in our history books as a dark, dark stain unlike any president of the United States.” And he investigated Nixon.







Asking for Nuclear Disaster — NRC Considering Extending Nuclear Plant Operating Licenses to 100 Years

Nuclear power plants when they began being constructed were not seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. So operating licenses were limited to 40 years. But in recent decades, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended the operating licenses of nuclear power plants from 40 years to 60 years and then 80 years, and is now considering 100 years.

“It is crazy,” declares Robert Alvarez, a former senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy and a U.S. Senate senior investigator and now senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is an author of the book Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation.

“No reactor in history has lasted that long,” comments Alvarez. The oldest nuclear power plant in the U.S. was Oyster Creek, five miles south of Toms River, New Jersey, which opened in 1969 and was shut down 49 years later in 2018.

The move is “an act of desperation in response to the collapse of the nuclear program in this country and the rest of the world,” he declares.

The nuclear industry and nuclear power advocates in government are “desperately trying to hold on,” says Alvarez. With hardly any new nuclear power plants being constructed in the U.S. and the total number down to 94, they seek to have the operating licenses of existing nuclear power plants extended, he says, to keep the nuclear industry alive.

It’s a sign of “the end of the messy romance with nuclear power.”

The NRC will be holding a webinar on January 21, 2021 to consider the extending of nuclear plant operating licenses to 100 years. As its announcement is headed: “PUBLIC MEETING ON DEVELOPMENT OF GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS TO SUPPORT LICENSE RENEWAL FOR 100 YEARS OF PLANT OPERATION.”

Nuclear power plant construction has been in a deep depression for some time. Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in Georgia are “the first new nuclear units built in the United States in the last three decades,” notes on its website Georgia Power, one of the companies involved in that project. https://www.georgiapower.com/company/plant-vogtle.html The cost projection in 2008 to build the two nuclear plants was $14.3 billion. “Now, updated estimates put the total project cost at roughly $28 billion,” states Taxpayers for Common Sense, and construction is more than five years behind schedule. https://www.taxpayer.net/energy-natural-resources/doe-loan-guarantee-program-vogtle-reactors-3-4-2/

It’s not just the gargantuan price of nuclear power, and the preferability economically today of green, renewable energy led by solar and wind. Nuclear plant construction in the U.S. and much of the world has been in the doldrums because of the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophes. People not only don’t want to waste their money—they don’t want to lose their lives to nuclear power.

“There is no empirical evidence” to support the notion that nuclear plants can have a century-long life span, says Alvarez. There “is no penciling away the problems of age” of nuclear power plants which operate under high-pressure, high-heat conditions and are subject to radiation fatigue. “The reality of wear-and-tear can’t be wished away.”

“Who would want to ride in a 100 year-old car?” he asks.

Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project of the organization Beyond Nuclear, says: “The new construction of nuclear power plants is proving to be more expensive and more dubious than ever before. So, the nuclear industry and the NRC are in the process of developing a plan to get these existing aging and inherently dangerous machines to run for 100 years.”

“This raises all kinds of problems that have never been addressed,” says Gunter.
And the NRC and the U.S. Department of Energy don’t want to address them.
Gunter points to what happened to a report which the NRC commissioned the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to make. “The federal laboratory was contracted by the NRC to develop the criteria and guidance document to address and close numerous ‘knowledge gaps’ in the license renewal safety review process to provide the ‘reasonable assurance’ that the reactors could be operated reliably and safely into the license extension period,” relates Gunter. The 2017 report raised many significant issues regarding extending the operating licenses of nuclear plants.

The report is titled “Criteria and Planning Guidance for Ex-Plant Harvesting to Support Subsequent License Renewal.”

It “was publicly posted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to its website in December 2017,” relates Gunter, “as well as to the websites of the Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information and the International Atomic Energy Commission’s International Nuclear Information System.”

But then Gunter attended a public meeting at the NRC’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland on September 26, 2018 on operating license extensions “and I started asking questions citing the report” of the year before. The NRC officials there “were quite surprised.”

And the NRC “wiped all three websites of the report.”

The NRC was to repost the report, but it was then “scrubbed clean of dozens of references to safety-critical knowledge ‘gaps’ pertaining to many known age-related degradation mechanisms described in the original published report,” says Gunter. “The NRC revision also scrubbed Pacific Northwest National Laboratory findings and recommendations to ‘require’ the harvesting of realistic and representative aged materials from decommissioning nuclear power stations—base metals, weld materials, electric cables, insulation and jacketing, reactor internals and safety-related concrete structures like the containment and spent fuel pool—for laboratory analyses of age degradation. The laboratory analyses are intended to provide ‘reasonable assurance’ of the license extension safety review process for the projected extension period.”
However, Beyond Nuclear had downloaded and saved a copy of the original report which you can view at: http://www.beyondnuclear.org/storage/aging/slr/autopsy_PNNL-27120_harvesting_Dec2017.pdf

And you can view what Gunter terms the “sanitized version” of the report which has the same title but is dated March 2019. It’s at http://www.beyondnuclear.org/storage/aging/slr/pnnl-27120_rev1_March2019.pdf

The omissions start with what is headed “Abstract” in the 2017 report. The “Abstract” states: “As U.S. nuclear power plants look to subsequent license renewal (SLR) to operate for a 20-year period beyond 60 years, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the industry will be addressing technical issues around the capability of long-lived passive components to meet their functionality objectives. A key challenge will be to better understand likely materials degradation mechanisms in these components and their impacts on component functionality and safety margins. Research addressing many of the remaining technical gaps in these areas for SLR may greatly benefit from materials sampled from plants (decommissioned or operating). Because of the cost and inefficiency of piecemeal sampling, there is a need for a strategic and systematic approach to sampling materials from structures, systems and components in both operating and decommissioned plants.”

But in the 2019 version of the report, this “Abstract,” among other material, is gone.
Meanwhile, says Gunter, it is the practice of the nuclear industry as part of decommissioning nuclear power plants “to knock these plants down and bury them as quickly as they can” and “ignore having critical post-mortem autopsies.” Components of the plants are not studied to determine the extent of wear including “how radiation affects concrete and impacts on what had been inaccessible areas of the plants.” Not being done are analyses of the impacts of embrittlement of metals notably on the reactor pressure vessel caused by radiation exposure, as well as “extreme temperatures and vibration.” The industry resistance, he said, is based on the cost of such examinations. Further, there “are 600 miles of electrical cable in a typical nuclear power plant” which energize control monitors and other components. Cabling and its “insulation and jacketing” are also not being inspected but “buried with the plant.” Overall, the “real world effects of aging” are not being gauged, says Gunter. And the original Pacific Northwest National Laboratory report, he emphasizes, would “require” this be done.

The first nuclear power plants given permission by the NRC to operate for 60 years were, in 1999, the two Calvert Cliffs plants located on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay near Lusby, Maryland 45 miles southeast of Washington D.C. Most U.S. nuclear power plants are now licensed to operate for 60 years.

The first U.S. nuclear power plants to have their operating licenses extended to 80 years were, in 2019, Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point Units 3 and 4 near Homestead, Florida, 25 miles south of Miami.

The Associated Press conducted “a yearlong investigation of aging issues at the nation’s nuclear power plants” and, in an article in June 2011 by Jeff Donn, reported: “Regulators contend that the 40-year limit was chosen for economic reasons and to satisfy safety concerns, not for safety issues. They contend that a nuclear plant has no technical limit on its life. But an AP review of historical records, along with interview with engineer who helped develop nuclear power, shows just the opposite: Reactors were made to last only 40 years. Period.” https://newsadvance.com/business/aging-nukes-nrc-and-industry-rewrite-nuke-history/article_6e828374-6a3d-5f55-8f9d-a725105cc848.html

Further, the piece—”Aging Nukes: NRC and industry rewrite nuke history”—said “the AP found that the relicensing process often lacks fully independent safety reviews. Records show that paperwork of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission sometimes matches word-for-word the language used in a plant operator’s application.”
Getting operating license extensions “is a lucrative deal for operators,” said AP.

Priscilla Star, director of the Coalition Against Nukes, said of extending the operating licenses of nuclear power plants to 100 years: “There is no sane argument to perpetuate the lifespan of our already decrepit nuclear reactors other than the NRC seeking to perpetuate the endless profits to its licensees.”

“All kinds of technical foul-ups occur in the daily operations of a nuclear power plant,” she continued. “It’s a crap shoot running any of them safely on any given day because human error plays such a big part of operational safety. More frequent cyber hacking will also put hs at greater risk if this form of energy production is not abolished in favor of renewables. It’s time for a presidential administration to curb the noblesse oblige appetite of the NRC and once and for all consider it unsafe and unsound as a regulatory agency putting profit before public safety.”

What the NRC has also done in extending nuclear power plant licenses to 60 and then 80 years is to allow the plants to be “uprated” to generate more electricity—to run hotter and harder increasing the chance of accidents.

It is asking for nuclear disaster.

The late Alvin M. Weinberg, long-time director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a major promoter of nuclear technology, in 2004 published an essay in the journal Technology in Society titled: “On ‘immortal’ nuclear power plants.” https://coek.info/pdf-on-immortal-nuclear-power-plants-.html He wrote about that a nuclear power plant could operate “100 years or more.” Earlier Weinberg coined the term “nuclear priesthood” for scientists being in a leading role in what he called the “Faustian bargain” of using nuclear power. https://coek.info/pdf-on-immortal-nuclear-power-plants-.html

The link to the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. NRC webinar on January 21 is on its announcement which states that the “NRC is seeking public dialogue.” The meeting’s agenda on the announcement lists several time segments for “Open Discussion…Including General Public.” The announcement is at: http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/356082/28385513/1608569688410/100yrlicense_20210121-pubmtg_announcement_ML20353A137.pdf?token=qiD9WyQITqUGJLMO7%2BL0pDCAUQA%

Nuclear-Free Earth

A presentation I gave at the Long Island Earth Day 2020 Program on September 21, 2020.

Nuclear-Free Earth

The two gargantuan threats—the climate crisis and nuclear weapons/nuclear power.

At the start of 2020, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday clock 100 seconds to midnight –the closest to midnight, doomsday, since the clock’s start in 1947.

The only realistic way to secure a future for the world without nuclear war is for the entire planet to become a nuclear-free zone¬. No nuclear weapons, no nuclear power.

A nuclear-free Earth.

How did India get an atomic bomb in 1974? Canada supplied a reactor and the US Atomic Energy Commission provided heavy water for it under the U.S so-called “Atoms for Peace” program.

From the reactor, India got the plutonium for its first nuclear weapon.
Any nation with a nuclear facility can use the plutonium produced in it to construct nuclear arms.

Nuclear technology continues to spread around the world. A recent headline: “Trump Administration Spearheads International Push for Nuclear Power.” Russia, despite Chernobyl, is pushing hard at selling nuclear plants.

Can the atomic genie be put back in the bottle?

Anything people have done other people can undo. And the prospect of massive loss of life from nuclear destruction is the best of reasons.

There’s a precedent: the outlawing of poison gas after World War I when its terrible impacts were tragically demonstrated, killing 90,000.

The Geneva Protocol of 1925 and the Chemicals Weapons Convention of 1933 outlawed chemical warfare and to a large degree the prohibition has held.

There are major regions of the Earth—all of Africa and South America, the South Pacific and others—that are Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones based on the UN provision for such zones.

But if we are truly to have a world free of the horrific threat of nuclear arms, the goal needs to be more.

A world free of the other side of the nuclear coin—nuclear power—is also necessary.

Radical? Yes, but consider the even more radical alternative: A world where many nations will be able to have nuclear weapons because they have nuclear technology. And the world continuing to try using carrots and sticks to try to stop nuclear proliferation, juggling on the road to nuclear catastrophe.

As for the connection between purportedly “peaceful” atomic energy and nuclear weapons, physicist Amory Lovins and attorney Hunter Lovins spell it out well in their book Energy/War: Breaking the Nuclear Link. They write: “All nuclear fission technologies both use and produce fissionable materials…Unavoidably latent in those technologies, therefore, is a potential for nuclear violence…Little strategic material is needed to make a weapon of mass destruction. A Nagasaki-yield bomb can be made from a few kilograms of plutonium, a piece the size of a tennis ball” and a nuclear plant “annually produces hundreds of kilograms of plutonium.”

There must be, they say, “civil denuclearization.”

As to claim the energy generated by nuclear power plants is necessary, that’s false. Safe, clean, green, renewable energy led—by solar and wind technologies—is available to provide all the power the world needs.

Of the assertion that nuclear power is carbon-free, that’s untrue. The nuclear fuel cycle—mining, milling, enrichment is carbon-intensive—and nuclear plants themselves emit radioactive Carbon-14.

It took decades of struggle to make Long Island nuclear-free. The Shoreham nuclear plant was stopped, and the six to ten more nuclear power plants the Long Island Lighting Company wanted to build prevented. The two reactors at Brookhaven National Laboratory leaking radioactive tritium into our underground water table have been shut down.

On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, let us strive for the goals of defeating global warming and having all the Earth nuclear-free.

Scenes From An Epidemic

My column in Long Island newspapers and on LI news websites this week. This version in The Southampton Press and The East Hampton Press, April 6, 2020.

Among the most moving words about the novel coronavirus outbreak were those of Governor Andrew Cuomo to National Guard troops involved in converting the Javits Center into a hospital for coronavirus patients.

“You are living a moment in history,” said Mr. Cuomo. “This is a moment that is going to change this nation. This is a moment that forges character, forges people, changes people — makes them stronger, makes them weaker.

“Ten years from now, you will be talking about today to your children, and your children and you will shed a tear, because you will remember the lives lost … and you’ll remember how hard we worked, and that we still lost loved ones.”

But “you will also be proud. You’ll be proud of what you did. You’ll be proud that you showed up … When other people played it safe, you had the courage to show up, and you had the courage and professionalism to make a difference and save lives.”

James Larocca, a former state commissioner of energy and commissioner of transportation, and now a Sag Harbor Village trustee, penned an op-ed about Mr. Cuomo which ran in Newsday. “If extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and they do, then this is the time for the Democratic Party to nominate Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for president,” he wrote.

Mr. Larocca said Mr. Cuomo is “the only elected official in the United States today who has fully demonstrated the leadership, toughness, management skill and humanity that meeting the coronavirus pandemic demands.”

He said that “if a nominee is not chosen on a first ballot at the convention,” it can “open up to other candidates.”

Whether Mr. Cuomo might become the Democratic candidate for president because of his leadership in this crisis may or may not happen — he emphasized last week, “I am not running for president” — but certainly he has been catapulted into great political prominence.

Among the many TV pieces involving the gigantic number of people homebound to prevent the spread of the virus was a report by David Pogue, technology and science reporter on “CBS News Sunday Morning.”

“Welcome to lockdown!” he said into a camera he set up himself at his home. “How to live and work at home without losing your mind. First of all: curse the virus, but bless high-speed internet! The internet is our lifeline through this thing. It’s how we socialize, it’s our entertainment, it’s how business gets done. This is the internet’s big moment.

“It’s incredible what’s going on over video chat these days,” he continued. “Meetings, of course, but also exercise classes, concerts, church services, game nights, even weddings!

“Life goes on — you just have to go at it a little differently,” Mr. Pogue concluded.

Quite differently.

A rub regarding computers and the internet is that not everyone has the hardware. This is explored in a piece in the current issue of Time magazine, titled “The Online Learning Divide.” It focuses on online teaching caused by schools being closed, but it applies generally. It quotes a New York City English teacher saying: “I am concerned that, in 2020, all of our students don’t have access to technology or internet at home.”

The Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue reached out to “all our Socially Distanced Friends” in an email saying: “Hello … We finally have a day to reflect on this whirlwind of a week. Like you, there were moments we all felt overwhelmed, emotional, anxious, exhausted.”

The inn is limited to offering takeout meals, of course. It referenced a quote from former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson: “Let us all remember that ‘The manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured.’ … Stay well!”

For Suffolk County, an issue has been raised about folks from New York City seeking refuge here. An article in the New York Post was headlined: “‘We should blow up the bridges’ — coronavirus leads to class warfare in Hamptons.”

High up is a quote: “‘There’s not a vegetable to be found in this town right now,’ says one resident of Springs, a working-class pocket of East Hampton. ‘It’s these elitist people who think they don’t have to follow the rules.’”

Phil Keith, a columnist colleague here, posted on Facebook: “Where’s our community spirit? I’ve seen so many posts and articles complaining about ‘city people’ coming out here and hogging our groceries and toilet paper. What — we only like their money in the summer? They have kids, and fears, and parents and grandparents, just like the rest of us. Why not just extend an elbow and say, ‘Hey, neighbor — how can I help?’ I’d like to think they’d do the same for us if, for example, a hurricane devastated the East End. C’mon, everyone, lend a hand — and a smile.”

In the obituaries are the names of more and more people — heading for 200 in Suffolk County as of this writing — who have died in this terrible epidemic. All that can be done to reduce the death toll, here and everywhere, must be done.

Why Does Journalism Matter?

Here’s an article by me just out in “The Journalism Issue” of The Waldo Tribune, “The Children’s Newspaper…that’s Read by Parents and Grandparents, too!” which has just started on its 30th year of publication.

By Karl Grossman

Journalism has been defined as the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines and news websites and preparing or communicating news for broadcast on radio and on television and, now, on the Internet, too.

But it is more than that.

Journalism serves as a watchdog—a monitor—of government and business. It is a necessary part—a vital part—of the democratic process.

Journalism begins with the invention of the printing press in 1440. The printing press allowed writing to be communicated by mechanical means. Given credit for inventing the printing press is Johann Gutenberg.

But newspapers were slow to emerge.

Indeed, the first newspapers sprung up—in the early 1600s—in countries where the rulers were tolerant, such as Holland, Belgium and Switzerland, or where there was no strong central government. Why? Because from the beginning of the printing press, most kings and queens and other rulers feared it.

They were afraid that through the press, information could be communicated that would challenge them.

For example, in England, King Henry VIII started—in 1529—the control of the press with a list of prohibited books. And he required printers to have royal permission before setting up shop. Moreover, the powers of the Privy Council in England were expanded to control the press.

These days in the United States, President Donald Trump regularly describes the press as “the enemy of the people.” This dislike of the press by Trump goes back centuries among many rulers.

A big breakthrough in achieving freedom of the press happened in what became the United States when it was a colony of England.

John Peter Zenger’s New York Weekly Journal criticized the colonial governor of New York, William Cosby. Zenger published articles telling of how Zenger was corrupt.

So Cosby had Zenger jailed on a charge of that his newspaper’s articles were “false, scandalous, malicious and seditious.”  Zenger, after nine months in jail, went on trial in Manhattan in 1734.

Zenger’s lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, in his summation to the jury said that “men who injure and oppress the people under their administration provoke them to cry out.” Zenger’s trial, he said, involved “the best cause. It is the cause of liberty….Every man who prefers freedom to a life of slavery will bless and honor you as men who have battled the attempt of tyranny, and by an impartial, and incorrupt verdict have laid a noble foundation for securing to ourselves, our posterity and our neighbors, that to which nature and the laws of our country have given us, a right to liberty of both of exposing and opposing arbitrary power, by speaking and writing truth.”

The jury found Zenger not guilty.

As The New York Times editorialized on the 250th anniversary of the Zenger trial, it “turned common law on its head and established the freedom of our press.”

“The Zenger case,” said the The Times, “planted the seeds that flowered a half-century later in the First Amendment.”

The First Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights declares that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.”

The founders of this great democratic experiment called the United States of America established a system of checks and balances with the three branches of government—legislative, executive and judicial—checking upon and balancing each other. And the vision was that there would be a free press checking all of government.

Some 100 years later, when big corporations arose in the United States, our system was flexible enough to have the press not only be a watchdog of government but also of the huge businesses that formed, many of them monopolies. This period between 1900 and 1914 is known as the “Muckraking Era.” It was an early application of the investigative reporting of recent decades that has included the revelations by The Washington Post of the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. This courageous journalism brought down the Nixon administration and caused President Richard Nixon—like Trump also a bitter opponent of a free press—to resign.

Still, around the world, the press in most other nations is not free. Rulers just won’t let it be a watchdog because they fear being challenged.

And today in the United States, the press is under attack.

A free press is a wonderful and delicate thing—and every generation must work to preserve it.




My New TV Program Is Out: “Trump Space Force: Turning the Heavens Into a War Zone”


Trump Space Force: Turning the Heavens Into a War Zone

            Unless it’s stopped, Donald Trump will have opened space to war. Trump’s establishment of a U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of U.S. armed forces has come despite the landmark Outer Space Treaty that designates space as a global commons to be used for peaceful purposes. Trump and the U.S. military claim a Space Force is needed because China and Russia have been moving into space militarily. But, in fact, China and Russia—along with U.S. neighbor Canada—have for decades been seeking to expand the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits weapons of mass destruction in space, to banning all weapons in space. The U.S. has repeatedly voted against this, the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, or PAROS treaty, essentially vetoing it at the UN. And despite their efforts to expand the Outer Space Treaty, China and Russia—with the U.S. moving ahead to achieve what Trump calls “American dominance in space”—will meet the U.S. in kind. They’d be followed by other nations. And the heavens will be turned into a war zone. The program features Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

“Don’t Militarize the Heavens”

My op-ed piece today in Newsday which circulates on Long Island and in New York City.


January 5, 2020

Don’t Militarize the Heavens


President Donald Trump has signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 that establishes the creation of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces — despite the landmark The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which designated space as a global commons to be used for peaceful purposes.

The treaty was put together by the United States, the former Soviet Union and Britain, and since been signed by most nations on Earth. Craig Eisendrath, as a U.S. State Department officer involved in its creation, has said that “we sought to de-weaponize space before it got weaponized…to keep war out of space.”

It prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space. Although the Trump administration and U.S. military have said a Space Force is necessary because of Russia and China moving into space militarily, Russia, China and Canada have lead for decades in pushing for an expansion of the treaty. They’ve advocated for the UN’s Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space resolution, which would affirm a ban on placing weapons in space. The United States has opposed the PAROS treaty and has effectively vetoed it at the UN.

At the defense authorization act signing Dec. 20, Trump said forming a Space Force marked “a big moment.” He said: “Space. Going to be a lot of things happening in space. Because space is the world’s newest warfighting domain.”

Trump’s advocacy of a Space Force “started as a joke,” as National Public Radio has reported. NPR’s Claudia Grisales related that in March 2018 “Trump riffed on an idea he called ‘Space Force’ before a crowd of Marines in San Diego. It drew laughs.” Subsequently, Trump noted: “I said maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the Space Force. And I was not really serious. Then I said, ‘What a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.’”

I’ve investigated the possibility of space becoming an arena of war since President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” scheme of the 1980s.

This has included writing a book, “Weapons in Space,” and writing and narrating three TV documentaries. I’ve been to Russia several times, and I’ve been to China. What these nations want is the PAROS initiative and not to waste their national treasuries on weapons in space.

I recall sitting with Chinese diplomats after I spoke at a UN a conference on the threat of weaponization of space. They stressed how they need to feed, educate, house and provide health care to their people. My speech was followed by the Chinese UN ambassador speaking about how his nation sought to keep space for peace.

But if the United States moves ahead with a Space Force, China and Russia, and then other countries, will respond in kind. China and Russia won’t accept “American dominance” of space, and there would be an arms race in space.

The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space held a protest against space weaponization in Florida at which Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell participated. He said, “any war in space would be the one and only.”

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Maine-based Global Network, said Mitchell warned at the protest that in the event of war “activity on Earth below would immediately shut down — cell phones, ATM machines, cable TV, traffic lights, weather prediction and more — all hooked up to satellites, would be lost. Modern society would go dark.”

China has said that a U.S. Space Force would be a “direct threat” to peace. Its foreign ministry recently said the world should “adopt a cautious and responsible attitude to prevent outer space from beginning a new battlefield and work together to maintain lasting peace and tranquility in outer space.”

War in space would be calamitous.

Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the SUNY College at Old Westbury. He is author of “Weapons in Space” and writer and narrator of the TV documentary “Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens.”

The Heavens Becoming A War Zone

If Donald Trump gets his way on formation of a Space Force, the heavens would become a war zone. Inevitably, there would be military conflict in space.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which designates space as the global commons to be used for peaceful purposes—and of which Russia and China, as well as the United States, are parties—and the years of work facilitating the treaty since would be wasted.

If the U.S. goes up into space with weapons, Russia and China, and then India and Pakistan and other countries, will follow.

Moreover space weaponry, as I have detailed through the years in my writings and TV programs, would be nuclear-powered—as Reagan’s Star Wars scheme was to be with nuclear reactors and plutonium systems on orbiting battle platforms providing the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.

This is what would be above our heads.

Amid the many horrible things being done by the Trump administration, this would be the most terribly destructive.

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council this week.

“Very importantly, I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon,” he went on Monday, “to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces; that is a big statement. We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal, it is going to be something.”

The notion of the U.S. moving into space with weaponry isn’t new.

It goes back to the post-World War II years when the U.S. government brought former Nazi rocket scientists from Germany to the U.S.—mainly to the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama—to use “their technological expertise to help create the U.S. space and weapons program,” writes Jack Manno, who retired last year as a professor at the State University of New York/Environmental Science and Forestry College, in his book Arming the Heavens: The Hidden Military Agenda for Space, 1945-1995.

“Many of the early space war schemes were dreamt up by scientists working for the German military, scientists who brought their rockets and their ideas to America after the war,” he relates. “It was like a professional sports draft.”

Nearly 1,000 of these scientists were brought to the U.S., “many of whom later rose to positions of power in the U.S. military, NASA, and the aerospace industry.” Among them were “Wernher von Braun and his V-2 colleagues” who began “working on rockets for the U.S. Army,” and at the Redstone Arsenal “were given the task of producing an intermediate range ballistic range missile to carry battlefield atomic weapons up to 200 miles. The Germans produced a modified V-2 renamed the Redstone….Huntsville became a major center of U.S. space military activities.”

Manno writes about former German Major General Walter Dornberger, who had been in charge of the entire Nazi rocket program who, “in 1947, as a consultant to the U.S Air Force and adviser to the Department of Defense…wrote a planning paper for his new employers. He proposed a system of hundreds of nuclear-armed satellites all orbiting at different altitudes and angles, each capable or reentering the atmosphere on command from Earth to proceed to its target. The Air Force began early work on Dornberger’s idea under the acronym NABS (Nuclear Armed Bombardment Satellites).”

For my 2001 book, Weapons in Space, Manno told me that “control over the Earth” was what those who have wanted to weaponize space seek. He said the Nazi scientists are an important “historical and technical link, and also an ideological link….The aim is to…have the capacity to carry out global warfare, including weapons systems that reside in space.”

But then came the Outer Space Treaty put together by the U.S., Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. In the 2001 TV documentary I wrote and narrate, “Star Wars Returns,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bdMzE3N5iw

Craig Eisendrath, who had been a U.S. State Department officer involved in its creation, notes that the Soviet Union launched the first space satellite, Sputnik, in 1957 and “we sought to de-weaponize space before it got weaponized…to keep war out of space.”

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966, it entered into force in 1967. It has been ratified or signed by 123 nations.

It provides that nations “undertake not to place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in space in any other manner.”

Atomic physicist Edward Teller, the main figure in developing the hydrogen bomb and instrumental in founding Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, pitched to Ronald Reagan, when he was governor of California visiting the lab, a plan of orbiting hydrogen bombs which became the initial basis for Reagan’s “Star Wars.” The bombs were to energize X-ray lasers. “As the bomb at the core of an X-ray battle station exploded, multiple beams would flash out to strike multiple targets before the entire station consumed itself in in a ball of nuclear fire,” explained New York Times journalist William Broad in his 1986 book Star Warriors.

Subsequently there was a shift in “Star Wars” to orbiting battle platforms with nuclear reactors or “super” plutonium-fueled radioisotope thermoelectric generators on board that would provide the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.

The rapid boil of “Star Wars” under Reagan picked up again under the administrations George H. W. Bush and son George W. Bush. And all along the U.S. military has been gung-ho on space warfare.

A U.S. Space Command was formed in 1982.

“US Space Command—dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into war-fighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict,” it trumpeted in its 1998 report Vision for 2020. It laid out these words to resemble the crawl at the start of the Star Wars movies. The U.S. Space Command was set up by the Pentagon to “help institutionalize the use of space.” Or, as the motto of one of its units declares, to be “Master of Space.”

Vision for 2020 states, “Historically, military forces have evolved to protect national interests and investments-both military and economic.” Nations built navies “to protect and enhance their commercial interests” and during “the westward expansion of the United States, military outposts and the cavalry emerged to protect our wagon trains, settlements and railroads. The emergence of space power follows both of these models. During the early portion of the 2lst Century, space power will also evolve into a separate and equal medium of warfare.”

“It’s politically sensitive, but it’s going to happen,” remarked U.S. Space Command Commander-in-Chief Joseph W. Ashy in Aviation Week and Space Technology (8/9/96):  “Some people don’t want to hear this, and it sure isn’t in vogue, but—absolutely—we’re going to fight in space. We’re going to fight from space and we’re going to fight into space…. We will engage terrestrial targets someday—ships, airplanes, land targets—from space.”

Or as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Keith R. Hall told the National Space Club in 1997: “With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it and we’re going to keep it.”

The basic concept of the Pentagon’s approach to space is contained in The Future of War: Power, Technology & American World Dominance in the 2lst Century. Written by “arms experts” George and Meredith Friedman, the 1996 book concludes: “Just as by the year 1500 it was apparent that the European experience of power would be its domination of the global seas, it does not take much to see that the American experience of power will rest on the domination of space. Just as Europe expanded war and its power to the global oceans, the United States is expanding war and its power into space and to the planets. Just as Europe shaped the world for a half a millennium [by dominating the oceans with fleets], so too the United States will shape the world for at least that length of time.”

Or as a 2001 report of the U.S. Space Commission led by then U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asserted: “In the coming period the U.S. will conduct operations to, from, in and through space in support of its national interests both on the earth and in space.”

Nuclear power and space weaponry are intimately linked.

“In the next two decades, new technologies will allow the fielding of space-based weapons of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy and mass as force projection in tactical and strategic conflict,” stated New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 21st Century, a 1996 US Air Force board report. “These advances will enable lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many kills.” However, “power limitations impose restrictions” on such space weaponry making them “relatively unfeasible,” but “a natural technology to enable high power is nuclear power in space.” Says the report: “Setting the emotional issues of nuclear power aside, this technology offers a viable alternative for large amounts of power in space.”

Or as General James Abrahamson, director of the Strategic Defense Initiative, put it at a Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion, “without reactors in orbit [there is] going to be a long, long light [extension] cord that goes down to the surface of the Earth” to power space weaponry.

Thus nuclear power would be needed for weapons in space.

Since 1985 there have been attempts at the UN to expand the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 to prohibit not only nuclear weapons but all weapons from space. This is called the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) treaty and leading in urging its passage have been Canada, Russia and China. There has been virtually universal backing from nations around the world for it. But by balking, U.S. administration after administration has prevented its passage.

Although waging war in space was hotly promoted by the Reagan and Bush administrations and ostensibly discouraged by the Obama administration and Clinton administration, all U.S. administrations have refused to sign on to the PAROS treaty.

In my book Weapons in Space, I relate a presentation I gave at a conference at the UN in Geneva in 1999 on the eve of a vote the next day on PAROS. I spoke about the “military use of space being planned by the U.S.” being “in total contradiction of the principles of peaceful international cooperation that the U.S. likes to espouse” and “pushes us—all of us—to war in the heavens.”

I was followed by Wang Xiaoyu, first secretary of the Delegation of China, who declared: “Outer space is he common heritage of human beings. It should be used for peaceful purposes…It must not be weaponized and become another arena of the arms race.”

The next day, on my way to observe the vote, I saw a U.S. diplomat who had been at my presentation. We approached each other and he said he would like to talk to me, anonymously. He said, on the street in front of the UN buildings, that the U.S has trouble with its citizenry in fielding a large number of troops on the ground. But the U.S military believes “we can project power from space” and that was why the military was moving in this direction. I questioned him on whether, if the U.S. moved ahead with weapons in space, other nations would meet the U.S. in kind, igniting an arms race in space. He replied that the U.S. military had done analyses and determined that China was “30 years behind” in competing with the U.S. militarily in space and Russia “doesn’t have the money.”

Then he went to vote and I watched as again there was overwhelming international support for the PAROS treaty—but the U.S. balked. And because a consensus was needed for the passage of the treaty, it was blocked once more.
And this was during the Clinton administration.

With the Trump administration, there is more than non-support of the PAROS treaty but now a drive by the U.S. to weaponize space.

It could be seen—and read about—coming.

“Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look,” was the headline of an article in 2016 in Washington-based Roll Call. It said “Trump’s thinking on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect’s other defense proposals….But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade.”

Intense support for the plan was anticipated from the GOP-dominated Congress. Roll Callb mentioned that Representative Trent Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and an Arizona Republican, “said the GOP’s newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing weapons that can be deployed in space.”

In a speech in March at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station near San Diego, Trump declared: “My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea. We may even have a Space Force—develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force; we’ll have the Space Force.”

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, notes that Trump cannot establish a Space Force on his own—that Congressional authorization and approval is needed. And last year, Gagnon points out, an attempt to establish what was called a Space Corps within the Air Force passed in the House but “stalled in the Senate.”

“Thus at this point it is only a suggestion,” said Gagnon of the Maine-based Global Network. www.space4peace.org

“I think though,” Gagnon went on, “his proposal indicates that the aerospace industry has taken full control of the White House and we can be sure that Trump will use all his ‘Twitter powers’ to push this hard in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, relates Gagnon, there is the “steadily mounting” U.S. “fiscal crisis…Some years ago one aerospace industry publication editorialized that they needed a ‘dedicated funding source’ to pay for space plans and indicated that it had come up with it—the entitlement programs. That means the industry is now working to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what little is left of the welfare program. You want to help stop Star Wars and Trump’s new Space Force. Fight for Social Security and social progress in America. Trump and the aerospace industry can’t have it both ways—it’s going to be social progress or war in space.”

As Robert Anderson of New Mexico, a board member of the Global Network, puts it: “There is no money for water in Flint, Michigan or a power grid in Puerto Rico, but there is money to wage ware in space.”

Or as another Global Network director, J. Narayana Rao of India, comments: “President Donald Trump has formally inaugurated weaponization of space in announcing that the U.S. should establish a Space Force which will lead to an arms race in outer space.”

Russian officials are protesting the Trump Space Force plan, “Militarization of space is a way to disaster,” Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, told the RIA news agency the day after the announcement. This Space Force would be operating in “forbidden skies.” He said Moscow is ready to “strongly retaliate” if the US violates the Outer Space Treaty by putting weapons of mass destruction in space. https://www.rt.com/news/430238-us-space-weapons-disaster-russia/

And opposition among legislators in Washington has begun. “Thankfully the president cannot do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart,” tweeted Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. http://thehill.com/policy/defense/392825-dem-trump-space-force-would-rip-the-air-force-apart

“Space as a warfighting domain is the latest obscenity in a long list of vile actions by a vile administration,” writes Linda Pentz Gunter, who specializes in international nuclear issues for the organization Beyond Nuclear, this week. “Space is for wonder. It’s where we live. We are a small dot in the midst of enormity, floating in a dark vastness about which we know a surprising amount, and yet with so much more still mysteriously unknown.”

“A Space Force is not an aspiration unique to the Trump administration, of course,” she continued on the Beyond Nuclear International website of the Takoma Park, Maryland group, “but it feels worse in his reckless hands.” https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/06/20/is-space-for-wonder-or-for-war/

“A Crusading Career”

The East Hampton Press, January 31, 2018

By Karl Grossman

I was thrilled to be informed recently that I’ve been honored as “Environmentalist of the Year” by the Long Island Sierra Club. As a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury, for decades I’ve taught Environmental Journalism and spend several classes in presentations about John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club.

Muir is especially known for crusading for the creation of Yosemite National Park with his one-on-one three-day camping trip there in 1903 with President Theodore Roosevelt having a great influence on Roosevelt, a conservation-minded Long Islander, not too incidentally. It’s been called the “camping trip that changed the nation.”

Saving wilderness was Muir’s mission. “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness,” he wrote. He and the Sierra Club were instrumental in the preservation of many great natural places.

Important for the Environmental Journalism class is that Muir emphasized the use of the published word to raise public awareness. He wrote 12 books and 300 articles—his first article, “Yosemite Glaciers,” was published in 1871 in The New York Tribune.

Thus, I tell my students, Muir and other early writers on nature—Thoreau, Emerson and Long Island’s own Walt Whitman—provided a base. And then came, in 1962, Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” her expose on the dangers of pesticides, which laid the foundation for the contemporary practice of what became to be called environmental journalism.

It was 1962 when I got my first job as a reporter, on Long Island, at the Babylon Town Leader, with my first major assignment being to look into the plan of public works czar Robert Moses, a Babylon resident, to build a four-lane highway the length of Fire Island.

I began combining what’s now called investigative reporting with environmental journalism in many articles challenging the Moses scheme and pointing to preservation with a Fire Island National Seashore, which was created in 1964.

I went on that year to the Long Island Press and, after a few years of daily cops-and-courts reporting, was back with a focus on mixing investigative reporting and environmental journalism. John Hohenberg, professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, was to update what had been a standard journalism textbook that he wrote, “The Professional Journalist,” adding: “It has not taken the nation’s newspapers very long to demonstrate their effectiveness as crusaders to protect the environment. Through their accomplishments, they have gone far toward making up for the long years during which they neglected the issue. It has seemed to make no difference whether a paper is large or small; if it has a public-spirited publisher, a determined editor, and a talented and devoted staff, it can—and does—obtain results.”

I was elated that he then mentioned my work and that of three other journalists.

I’ve continued to combine investigative reporting with environmental journalism now for more than 50 years, in books, on TV (hosting the TV program “Enviro-Close-Up” for 27 years; visit envirovideo.com) and on radio, in magazines and newspapers—including with the column you are reading in this newspaper—and, in recent years, the internet.

A lot of my work has been done nationally and some internationally, and this has included breaking the story of how the next mission of the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle involved it lofting a space probe fueled with deadly plutonium. This sparked one of my books, “The Wrong Stuff,” and a TV documentary, “Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens.” I detail accidents that have happened in the use of nuclear power in space by the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia.

I was invited to speak in Russia and made a series of presentations through the 1990s and into the middle 2000s, including at the Russian Academy of Sciences. I would not accept an invite now, with Vladimir Putin imposing totalitarianism, and journalists—and environmentalists—in enormous peril.

But my home is, and the subjects of much of my journalism have been, on Long Island—which is why the honor from the Long Island Sierra Club is so gratifying. The club has 6,000 members in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

As I’ve continued the combination of investigative reporting and environmental journalism I started with the Fire Island stories, for 25 years I challenged the plan to build seven to 11 nuclear power plants on Long Island. Today, after the strong activism of folks at the grassroots and stand-up opposition by governmental leaders, Long Island is nuclear-free.

Long Island is a wonderful environment—it includes exquisite waters embraced by beautiful beaches and wetlands, and rich farmland providing for a still vibrant agricultural industry—but there are many environmental threats still.

Applying to the island’s green environment the remarks of journalist, inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin, at the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and the founding of our republic: We have it if we can “keep it.”