Friday, August 5, 2011

Musicians United for Safe Energy concert, Mountain View, California THIS Sunday!

August 5th, 2011

Dear Readers,

In 1979 the first Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) concerts were held, a few months after Three Mile Island.  A sold-out series of concerts showed the world (and the nuclear industry) how strong and vocal the opposition really was, how well organized they could be, and how well they knew the facts.

Not one new nuclear power plant has been started in America since Three Mile Island and perhaps the MUSE concerts are part of why.

Now, let's hope the MUSE 2 concerts help put a stop to nuclear power once and for all:  Shutdown before meltdown.

I will be tabling the west coast MUSE 2 concert this Sunday (August 7th, 2011) in Mountain View, California, along with other SoCal activists calling for the immediate and permanent shut-down of San Onofre.

If you're attending, I hope you'll stop by the booth and introduce yourself!  Look for the Ionizing Radiation poster, or a Shut San Onofre banner which I understand someone in the group is bringing.  Our table will be representing three groups:  CREED, ROSE, and SCG.

If you're not attending the concert, you can view it on the Internet for a small donation -- it should be a lot of fun!

Yesterday I ran across my ticket stub from the original MUSE concert series in 1979, and have posted a photo of it at my Picasa web site and Facebook page.  Here's the URL for the Picasa image (shortened):

http://goo.gl/P734j


No Nukes!

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

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Begin forwarded message:

From: wasserman harvey <solartopia@me.com>
Date: August 3, 2011 11:21:04 PM EDT
Subject: Green Music Again Confronts Atomic Power by Harvey Wasserman

Harvey Wasserman

Green Music Again Confronts Atomic Power
August 3, 2011

Amidst a life-and-death struggle to finally shut the nuclear energy industry, the power of green music flows again this Sunday.

It's also pouring over the Internet, as the historic all-day MUSE2 gathering is staged at the Shoreline Amphitheatre south of San Francisco, re-uniting Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Crosby-Stills-Nash, the Doobie Brothers, John Hall, Sweet Honey in the Rock and many more who'll sing to benefit victims of the Fukushima disaster and promote a green-powered Earth.

The concert runs from 3pm through the evening Pacific Time and comes as the nuclear power industry desperately seeks federal funding to build new reactors while fighting a tsunami of citizen opposition demanding the shut-down of aging radioactive power stations.

Music has been a unifying, empowering force for social movements for decades. The labor union movement used it during strikes and solidarity marches. It was at the heart of the most powerful campaigns for civil rights. A whole generation's demand for peace in Vietnam got electrified with rock and roll.

And yet another round of citizen activism against nuclear power has been put to music from the grassroots and the sound stage, including that of Musicians United for Safe Energy.

The first MUSE was formed after the 1979 melt-down at Three Mile Island. For five nights Raitt, Browne, CSN, Hall, the Doobies, Sweet Honey were part of an astonishing galaxy of stars that lit up Madison Square Garden. The shows were accompanied by a massive rally at Battery Park City that drew 200,000 people and featured the likes of Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Peter Tosh and many more. (Battery Park City is now the site of one of the nation's largest solarized urban developments).

A three-record album followed that went platinum, along with a Warner Brothers feature film called "No Nukes."

In the wake of Three Mile Island, MUSE and a huge upwelling of grassroots citizen opposition, the corporate push to build atomic reactors shriveled and died. For three decades the industry went moribund, with virtually no US construction of new reactors.

Thanks to citizen action, the thousand nuclear reactors Richard Nixon promised for the US by the year 2000 became just 104.

But those decaying, radioactive death traps are under increasing citizen pressure to finally shut. Many are near major earthquake faults. Some two dozen are virtual clones of Fukushima Unit One, now spewing radiation in the air and sea around Japan.

The lead shut-down fight now is in Vermont, where the state legislature has voted to deny Entergy the ability to run the Yankee reactor after March, 2012. The vote stems from a contract signed by Entergy with the state giving it the power to shut the reactor if it chooses.

But Entergy is now in court trying to overturn the deal it made, arousing fury throughout New England, even among mainstream commentators. Entergy has gone so far as to order more than $60 million in fuel rods meant to keep the reactor operating after the 2012 deadline, intensifying the anger of the region.

Meanwhile, fueled by wads of radioactive cash, the nuclear lobby has come back to Congress demanding taxpayer subsidies. Omitted from the recent budget deal, it's widely expected the industry will try to insert into a Continuing Resolution or some other legislative vehicle a loan guarantee program forcing taxpayers to underwrite new reactor construction.

Along with aid for the people of Japan, opposition to that and other nuclear subsidies are at the core of MUSE2. Grassroots nuclear opponents from all over the country will be tabling at Sunday's concert, which will also feature an eco-village organized by long-time benefit promoter Tom Campbell. The Shoreline Amphitheatre is the nation's largest green-certified concert venue.

In person or on line, we'll see you there on Sunday!

--
Harvey Wasserman edits http://www.nukefree.org and helped coin the phrase "No Nukes" in 1973. He is author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth, which available at http://www.solartopia.org .

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

NASA hopes you won't get too curious about Curiosity, their newest, nuttiest, nuke-powered Mars rover. But you should!

August 3rd, 2011

Dear Readers,

3, 2, 1 ... poof! Dusted!

Houston, you caused a problem!

Even as people in Japan experience "black rain" because of Fukushima, NASA is threatening a plutonium-laden "black rain" for Christmas.

Some time between November 25th and December 15th, 2011, NASA plans to launch a plutonium 238-laden rocket carrying a robotic rover named Curiosity, aimed for Mars.

Curiosity will be NASA' 27th nuclear space launch. Three have already failed, and failures are hardly a thing of the past, nor can they be, because of the debris field, and because everything we build, and do, is imperfect.

One of the three failed nuclear launches resulted in the INTENTIONAL (as in: "this is what WILL happen in an accident, and of course, there will be accidents") release of several POUNDS of plutonium (in 1964).

There were several other failures and countless near-misses, all in just 26 flights. We can't get lucky all the time, but luck is what NASA relies on to succeed. Dumb luck.

NASA hopes you won't get too curious about Curiosity. The robotic mission is extremely risky (as in: "will probably not achieve objectives due to critical failure at some point") and should be abandoned.

NASA's use of plutonium-238 (in dioxide form) for this mission follows a pattern of partial fixes to insurmountable problems with nuclear fuels.

After getting the idea for radioisotope-powered thermoelectric generators (RTGs) for space (and undersea) missions from the Russians, NASA's original "containers" for the plutonium were designed to simply vaporize their contents in most accident scenarios: In other words, there was virtually no containment whatsoever. The "theory" was that they would be extra-careful for those flights carrying plutonium, and wouldn't have accidents that way. It didn't work out. The other part of the "theory" was that by having the thermocouples right next to the plutonium, you could get more useful heat out of the unit -- and thus it was more efficient. More electricity could be generated from a given quantity of plutonium.

The theory "snapped" when a mission blew up during late launch, destroying the Transit Satellite and its SNAP-9A nuclear power unit, scattering its deadly contents, and causing a global, measurable increase in plutonium levels and -- according to eminent nuclear physicist and medical doctor John Gofman -- causing as many as one million additional lung cancers globally.

A single pound of plutonium could cause lung cancer in every person on earth if we each inhaled a little portion of it. And then it could do it again, and again. NASA is threatening to vaporize 10.6 pounds of plutonium into our fragile environment. We should stop them.

Admittedly, the "modern" containers for the plutonium are somewhat better than the old system. The new containers are designed to safely hold the plutonium in many potential accident scenarios -- but by no means ALL accident scenarios. In fact, during EVERY phase of flight while within earth's gravitational pull, plutonium can be released which will descend back upon us. In some phases of the flight, a complete release of the entire contents is practically guaranteed if an accident occurs!

The containers (there are dozens of individual plutonium-packages inside the single RTG on Curiosity) are designed to reduce the CHANCES of SOME TYPES of releases in FAVOR of increased QUANTITIES of released plutonium in case of other types of failure, especially late in the launch, or during a full-stack powered impact into the earth (something they have self-destruct mechanisms to avoid, but even self-destruct mechanisms have been known to fail at critical times).

There are many pathways to failure in this mission. For example, the additional weight of this new rover over previous, solar-powered units demanded a new method of landing on Mars -- the old one ("Bouncy Bouncy") was unreliable anyway. The new method -- a tethered descent -- is very difficult and is sure to be unreliable, too. If we were risking only money, I guess it wouldn't matter, although a few billion dollars could build a lot of schools and pay a lot of teachers' salaries for a while.

Instead, all that money might be wasted, and all that plutonium might be launched for naught -- hundreds of billions of lethal doses' worth of one of the world's most deadly poisons.

(Plutonium-238 is about 275 times more toxic than normal "weapons grade" plutonium (Pu-239), often cited as the world's deadliest substance. Pu 238's half-life, about 87.75 years, is correspondingly about 275 times shorter than Pu-239's 24,100 year half-life. A significant portion (about 10%) of the Pu is Pu-239 with its 24,100 year half-life.)

Thousands of people have already protested these dangerous nuclear launches. But to no avail. NASA's arrogant continued use of plutonium-238 for "civilian" space purposes appears to be directly related to the U.S. government's stated desire to launch plutonium and uranium-powered military rocketry for "domination" of outer space near earth. So there are some very good reasons to oppose THIS launch, besides that it's a waste of money.

The amount of space debris already in orbit guarantees that if nuclear payloads are launched, there will be catastrophic accidents, possibly over highly-populated areas. This launch could fail over a major city, causing massive evacuations and widespread contamination! It could start a war.

Hundreds of studies with animals (and a few that were done on humans) have indicated reliably that plutonium follows a "Linear, No Threshold" health effects pattern. So, if there's an accident, no matter where or how it comes down, it's bound to poison a lot of people before all the plutonium decays, and decays again, and again, finally into something stable.

This launch is anything but an engineering marvel. It is a potential engineering disaster. Anyone truly curious about it will surely be aghast, but forcing this risk on billions of unsuspecting humans (who are now breathing Fukushima's effluent as well) is especially cruel.

There is simply no sane reason for NASA to do this.

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The author's prior comments on Cassini were published in Space News, The Washington Post and elsewhere. He is a computer programmer and co-author of Statistics Explained, a computer program which teaches first-year statistics for scientists. He is also the author of All About Pumps and the Animated Periodic Table of the Elements, and a co-author of The Heart: The Engine of Life, all computer programs. He has also authored a book about nuclear power called The Code Killers (2008).

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** Ace Hoffman, Owner & Chief Programmer, The Animated Software Co.
** POB 1936, Carlsbad CA 92018
** U.S. & Canada (800) 551-2726; elsewhere: (760) 720-7261
** home page: www.animatedsoftware.com
** email: rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
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