Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Excellent News! Supreme Court Backs State Ban on Uranium Mining


This is great news for citizens who don't want their water supplies contaminated by uranium:
Liptak, A. (2019, June 18). Supreme Court Upholds Virginia’s Ban on Uranium Mining. The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/17/us/politics/supreme-court-virginia-uranium-mining.html

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Virginia may ban uranium mining in the state.

The case, Virginia Uranium v. Warren, No. 16-1275, was decided by fractured vote, with two three-justice blocs agreeing on the bottom line but differing in their reasoning. A third group of three justices dissented.

The case started with the discovery of the largest known deposit of uranium in the United States in the 1970s in Pittsylvania County, Va. After a private company began leasing the mineral rights, state lawmakers imposed an indefinite moratorium on uranium mining.

The question for the justices was whether a federal law, the Atomic Energy Act, barred the state moratorium. That law regulates what can be done with uranium and the radioactive waste it generates after it is extracted from the earth. If the federal law applied, it would have displaced the moratorium and allowed mining to proceed.

This decision is extremely important because the next big mining/refining fury is going to be in rare earths because China is threatening to limit exports (controlling 90% of market).

Already there are efforts to expand mining of rare earths in the US. Rare earth mining and refining, like uranium extraction, produces lots of toxic and radioactive waste.

We must develop supply chains that are not dependent on HIGHLY TOXIC raw resources!


Monday, June 17, 2019

Who Decides What Counts as "Medical Disinformation"?


Crisis thinking and communication tends to erode civil liberties as authoritarian governance and censorship are legitimized by the exigencies of crisis. I have demonstrated this argument that was outlined in political theory by Schmidt and Agamben (among others) in my book Crisis Communication, Liberal Democracy & Sustainability.

I have seen that the "social media crisis" produced by the participative web 2.0 environment is producing a backlash of demands for censorship.

We see this trend illustrated in the JAMA (a journal of american medicine) where authors demand cybersecurity techniques be deployed against medical "misinformation":
Eric Perakslis & Robert M. Califf, (2019, June). Employ Cybersecurity Techniques Against the Threat of Medical Misinformation. JAMA. Published online June 14, 2019. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.6857.

...Although it is clear that technology companies must increase their efforts to improve the rate at which truthful information is disseminated and revisit product strategies and algorithms that actively amplify misinformation, technology companies cannot solve this problem alone. Indeed, the misinformation driving current measles outbreaks in New York has not been spread primarily via the internet, but by the relatively low-tech means of paper flyers and telephone hotlines.
...Given the urgency of the threat to US and global health, it is time that the medical, scientific, regulatory, and law enforcement establishments weigh the merits of an active cyber response to the problem of medical misinformation.
So, now some experts are calling on policing medical information in the name of securing public health.

I am a scholar whose research has examined the social and environmental contributions to disease so I know that there is often no single and exhaustively "correct" information about disease, particularly multi-syndrome conditions, such as autism (see Nadesan, 2015 Constructing Autism). 

I am very concerned by, and opposed to, efforts to police medical information given the ethical and political complexities.

I fear that all those complexities and ethical commitments to free speech will be sacrificed on the alter of public health.

While transparency of sourcing needs improvement and audiences need to be educated to be more sophisticated readers and producers of knowledge, BRUTE CENSORSHIP is extraordinarily dangerous for the future of free speech.



Friday, June 14, 2019

Could Iran be Correct about "False Flag"?


This entire story is suspect in the sense that what is true is highly contested.

What can be agreed upon is this: Japanese PM Abe visits Iran and during his visitation a Japanese tanker is attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.

The Associated Press is reporting that the attack was achieved through projectiles, described by observers as "flying objects." (see here).

Abe is taking the high road in urging de-escalation of confrontation.

But the background drums of war are hard to ignore, especially given they are emanating most loudly from my (US) government.

AXIS OF EVIL - Yes the axis of evil is back in vogue after its temporary hiatus.

Allegations that Iran attacked the tanker coincide with protests in Hong Kong framed by the western press as "pro-democracy," although the issue driving the protests has to do with criminal extraditions to China, with implications for Hong Kong's financial oligarchs.

In the collective American memory, the extradition demonstrations are being symbolically linked with the 1989 Tianamen Square demonstrations which recently dominated headlines as an erased atrocity (see the search results below from a Google news search):
Timeline: What Led to the Tiananmen Square MassacreFRONTLINE-Jun 5, 2019
April 17, 1989 Tens of thousands of university students begin gathering spontaneously in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, the nation's symbolic ...
World marks 30 years since Tiananmen massacre as China censors ...CNN-Jun 4, 2019
Tiananmen Square, 30 years laterCBS News-Jun 2, 2019
Pompeo slammed China for covering up the Tiananmen Square ...In-Depth-Vox-Jun 4, 2019
Reporting from Tiananmen Square in 1989: 'I saw a lot I will never forget'Blog-Aljazeera.com (blog)-Jun 3, 2019
Memories of Tiananmen SquareThe New Yorker-Jun 4, 2019

I'd like to clarify that I am NO FAN of the types of authoritarian governance found in Iran, China and Russia.

My concern here is this:
The flow of events and representations of those events feels "managed" and "staged" in ways that serve sectional and non-transparent ends with CONFLICT as the ultimate means
The drumbeats of war are getting louder. What can be done to stop this seemingly well-orchestrated escalation of global tensions?










Nuclear Power Plants are a BAD Risk Decision


Japan's nuclear regulator has ordered that the nuclear operator in Kyushu halt operations at Sendai's unit 1 reactor until anti-terror upgrades are enacted:
Onaya, Yasuyuki (2019, June 14).Sendai reactor to stop due to delay in anti-terror upgrade work. The Asahi Shimbun,  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201906140067.html
Kyushu Electric Power Co. will halt operations of the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture next March due to a delay in upgrades to protect it from terror attacks, sources said June 13.
I cannot help but remember in 2016 when more than 1,000 earthquakes rattled the island of Kyushu (http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/04/more-than-1000-quakes-in-kyushu-since.html).

One has to wonder about the wisdom of building and operating nuclear power plants on an island that had over 1,000 earthquakes in a roughly one month period

Nuclear terrorists are terrifying but the force of the earth is even more formidable.

Nuclear power plants are a BAD RISK DECISION.

We need energy systems that work with geological forces, rather than presupposing an artificial quiescence.




Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Nuclear News


National and state level efforts to prop up an ailing nuclear industry are described as "Chernobyl Socialism" by Wasserman:
Wasserman, Harvey (2019, June). Ohio's "Chernobyl Socialism" Would Hand $20 Million to Seven Utility Scammers. Reader Supported News, https://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/57020-rsn-ohios-qchernobyl-socialismq-would-hand-20-million-to-seven-utility-scammers

Wasserman's points are especially well-taken when one considers the risks posed by aging nuclear reactors in the midwest now facing near-record rising levels:
Smith, Mitch (2019, June 10) Paralysis on America's Rivers: There's too much water. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/10/us/flooding-river-shipping.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_190611?campaign_id=2&instance_id=10068&segment_id=14168&user_id=96df00a4a9c822b03be11b8b3c7df254&regi_id=329620000611

The huge amounts of water that have rushed through the system in recent months have sent rivers bursting from their banks and made them hazardous for travel.  As the climate changes, scientists warn that the Midwest and South will experience more periods of intense rain, which can contribute to floods. May was the second-wettest month on record in the 48 contiguous states, federal officials said.

The risks of overwhelmed rivers have already been seen. Two barges broke loose in Oklahoma last month and careened down the flooded Arkansas River, raising fears that they would smash into a dam and cause it to fail, with devastating consequences downstream. The barges did eventually strike a dam, but it was only slightly damaged. A few days earlier in St. Louis, water levels were so high that a towboat struck a bridge.

Despite the hazards of rising rivers for nuclear facilities, there is little-to-no news, at least according to a Google "news" search I conducted on midwest flooding and nuclear power plants: