Nagasaki, The Second Bomb

Don’t miss the New Yorker’s horrifyingly informative article about Nagasaki, the bomb, and the planning that went into it.

Years after the bombing, General Leslie Groves, the micromanaging head of the Manhattan Project, admitted that he had never been able to figure out exactly when or why Nagasaki “was brought into the picture.” It was included on an initial list of seventeen potential targets, in late April of 1945, but by early May it had been weeded out. Although the city manufactured engines and torpedoes and was an important port, it was also home to an Allied prisoner-of-war camp, which made it less attractive.

And just imagine!

Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, and Kokura


And why was Yokohama taken off the list?  Surely a major military/naval port?

Yokohama was removed from the list; the U.S. military preferred targets that had not already been damaged by conventional munitions, which would make it hard to see the effects of the new weapon amid the old rubble.

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I am not one of those who think the dropping of the atomic bombs shows something peculiarly evil in the American war leadership.  I agree with both sides of the argument. Dropping the bombs was a terrible evil.  Not dropping the bombs and expecting 100,000 to die in a land invasion would have been a terrible evil.  Trying to create a taxonomy of evil in a war that killed some 60 million — the 140, ooo dead from the Hiroshima bomb is .23% of that number– is like disputing the rankings of orders of infinity. The use of the bombs followed the logic of war.  Had others developed the bomb it would almost surely have been used. Once war is begun and the amygdala of fear is joined to the planning powers of the fore-brain, war in the modern age will continue until exhaustion or capitulation.

The only utility in assessing blame and opportunities missed in the past is to be able to apply that knowledge to what is being done today. What opportunities are being dismissed, what short-shortsightedness is not seeing down the road, what personal instabilities are pushing policies likely to lead to more very imaginable horrors?


August 6, 70 Years Ago and Work to do Today

Hiroshima FCNL

August 6, every year should be a day of distress and contemplation around the world.  1 bomb, 70,000 dead, in one day; 140,000 dead as radiation worked its way through the bones ad organs of the living.

In Hiroshima itself silence is offered for 1 minute, lighted lanterns are floated in the river, white doves are released.

It seems so little.

“Eighteen-year-old Shizuko Abe was staggering out of the city, the whole right side of her body burned, her skin hanging off. Now 88, she still bears the terrible imprint of the bomb on her face and hands.

[She] remembers hearing the cries for help from beneath the debris as the flames swept forward.

“They were such sad voices calling out for help. Even 70 years later, I can still hear them calling out for help,” she says.” (BBC news)

So what I will do today is to take a long walk, and with every pace say, “Hiroshima.  Help us.”

There is more.  Despite North Korea, despite France, despite India, Pakistan, Israel, all possessors of nuclear weapons, despite the fear that Iran might build them, the two biggest nuclear dangers to the world are The United States and Russia.

“There are almost 16,000 nuclear weapons still in the world today, and the U.S. and Russia possess 94 percent of them. Worse, 1,800 of these Russian and American weapons sit atop missiles on hair-trigger alert, ready to launch on a few minutes notice.” [Al Jazeera]

Every effort to prevent nuclear proliferation should acknowledge this and include the roll back of the already proliferated.

Loud voices in the US today, are speaking against the agreement reached with Iran.  The fountain of wisdom from which they drink seems to be that military action is better than engagement, agreement, verification and ramp down of suspicion and secrecy.  Had the parties to WW II been so engaged, with serious conversations and serious interruption of war-making abilities would that war have grown to be what it became?

60 million died.  140,000 in Hiroshima was the ugly end of a monstrous era, barely more than .2% of the total dead.

Make sure diplomacy and international engagement remain the lights by which decisions are made not the lights of phosphorous bombs or nuclear flame.

Protect the Iran deal. Let your representatives and senators know.  Here is the latest “whip count” of Yes, Maybe, Aren’t Sure and  NO.  Look especially near the end for the Unknown/Unclear with 7 Democrats.


Super Typhoon Approaches Japan

Updates:  Neoguri was downgraded to a tropical storm thought with winds gusting up to 120 mph

TOKYO: Typhoon Neoguri slammed into the Japanese mainland on Thursday bringing widespread flooding, ripping trees from their roots and leaving houses half-buried under mud, as tens of thousands were urged to seek shelter.

The storm, which has left several people dead and a string of damage in its wake, caused havoc in many small communities as residents struggled to keep waves of dirty water from destroying their homes.

More than 500 houses in several prefectures were flooded due to the typhoon and heavy rain, according to the disaster management agency, with about 490,000 households urged to seek shelter.

Typhoon Neoguri Advancing on Japan

Typhoon Neoguri Advancing on Japan

Typhoon Neoguri reached sustained winds of over 150 miles per hour Sunday, making it a ‘super typhoon,’ as it continued to gain force and approach Japan’s southern and western islands. It is likely to cause heavy rains and strong winds across much of Japan, and threaten at least two nuclear power plants in its path.

Heavy rains from another storm have already been setting records in Kyushu, Japan’s southern and southwestern-most major island, where Neoguri is likely to make first landfall. Kyushu is home to two nuclear plants, which have been shut down for safety in advance of the storm’s arrival. A nuclear plant on nearby Shikoku island has been shut down for safety, as well. After making landfall, the storm is expected to move north through virtually all of Japan, losing strength as it travels up the island.

Climate Progress

Fukushima Cattle as Enduring Testimony

Fukushima cattle farmer, Masami Yoshizawa, has come up with a seldom used means of protest, a reverse strike as it were. Instead if shutting something down he is keeping alive animals the government wants killed

“These cows are living testimony to the human folly here in Fukushima,” said Mr. Yoshizawa, 59, a gruff but eloquent man with a history of protest against his government. “The government wants to kill them because it wants to erase what happened here, and lure Japan back to its pre-accident nuclear status quo. I am not going to let them.”

Typhoon Spreads Cesium Particles

“An unusually active and fierce typhoon season in Japan has brought a fresh flood of hazardous cesium particles from the country’s Fukushima nuclear disaster zone to areas downstream, researchers say.

A joint study by France’s Climate and Environmental Science Laboratory and Japan’s Tsukuba University finds that people who escaped the initial fallout from reactor meltdowns in March 2011 could now find their food and water contaminated by the radioactive particles as typhoon runoff penetrates agricultural land and coastal plains.

The five typhoons that struck Japan during October alone were the most ever recorded during the month. Two other named storms struck the archipelago during September.


And Business Insider agrees…

Nuclear Waste Disposal Leaks in North Carolina

Couldn’t help but notice an article in the NY Times National section on Friday the day after Thanksgiving about nuclear waste clean up.  Seems South Carolina’s Savannah River Site which was created during the cold war to enrich and process uranium and plutonium (just what the US and others want to keep Iran from doing) is not being cleaned up on schedule and the state wants to fine the feds for being behind.

Energy officials now say the work will not be done until well into the 2040s, when the aging underground tanks that hold the bomb waste in the South Carolina lowlands will be 90 years old.

“I don’t know what the tanks’ design life was intended to be, but it’s not for infinity,” the state’s chief environmental official, Catherine B. Templeton, said in an interview.

A couple of thoughts:

When the state was happy to eminent domain the land and see the labor force jump during the construction in the ’50s did anyone think to build in shut-down costs?

Since 1,400 workers were furloughed during the recent government shut-down, and advisory board meetings cancelled,  have any of the state politicians or the citizens who elected them questioned the wisdom of the GOP in forcing it to happen?

Since the slowness in clean up is said by the Energy Department to be partially due to the shut-down, as well as budget slashing, have these same pols re-thought their activities in congress?

Does anyone wonder, given the similar problems in Savannah and Fukishima, that resistance to nuclear power remains so high?  Claims that it is a CO2 free energy source are counterbalanced by the waste that is still not cleanable by any swift, sure methods.

Six empty stainless steel canisters are stored in the Defense Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site. NYT

Six empty stainless steel canisters are stored in the Defense Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site. NYT

Mixing liquid bomb waste with molten glass and pouring it into stainless steel containers does not seem easy, cheap or fool proof.

…the state’s chief environmental official, Catherine B. Templeton, … said the tanks, which are near the Savannah River, already have leaks and are buried in soil below the water table, meaning that underground water flows around them.

“We have to get that waste out of the tanks so it’s not Fukushima, so you don’t have the groundwater interacting with the waste and running off,” she said, referring to the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, where natural flows of subterranean water pick up contamination from the reactors and flow into the sea.


US Nuclear Teams Leaking Competence, Morale

In April of 2013 some 17 officers out of 150 at the North Dakota nuclear missile site were removed from their normal duties for a range of behavioral and attitudinal problems.  The Colonel in charge in a memo he wrote complained about ‘rot in the crew force.

On Friday a RAND study, commissioned by the Air Force, was released after repeated requests by news organizations.  It confirms what was reported at the time of the April suspensions.

Trouble inside the Air Force’s nuclear missile force are significantly worse than officials have let on.

An unpublished study for the Air Force cites “burnout” among launch officers with their fingers on the triggers of 450 weapons of mass destruction. Also uncovered, evidence of broader behavioral issues across the intercontinental ballistic missile force, including sexual assaults and domestic violence.

The study says that court-martial rates in the nuclear missile force in 2011 and 2012 were more than twice as high as in the overall Air Force. Administrative punishments, such as written reprimands for rules violations and other misbehavior, also were higher in those years.

This is the same base, and presumably the same problem, implicated in the August 2007 flight of a B-52  armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from Minot in North Dakota to Barksdale in Louisiana.
These are Nuclear Weapons!  You remember the dropped socket wrench that pierced the skin on a rocket’s first stage fuel tank — which began to leak.
Time to take these puppies to Zero.  Give the bored troops something to focus on, do right, and get our thanks for a job well done.
Global Zero

Iran and US Talking?

Wouldn’t this be amazing?

“Signaling a possible thaw in long-frozen relations, the Obama administration and the new leadership in Iran are communicating about Syria and are moving behind the scenes toward direct talks that both governments hope can ease the escalating confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear program.

“President Barack Obama reportedly reached out to Iran’s relatively moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, through an exchange of letters in recent weeks. The pragmatist cleric is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 24, and after years of the United States cold-shouldering his ultraconservative predecessor, U.S. officials say it’s possible they will meet with Rouhani on the sidelines.

“Beyond that, U.S. and Iranian officials are tentatively laying the groundwork for potential face-to-face talks between the two governments, the first in the rancorous 34 years since radical students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and founded the Islamic theocracy. Diplomatic relations have been broken ever since. …

Read more here:

August 9, 68 Years Later

A "mushroom" cloud rises over the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, following the detonation of "Fat Man." The second atomic weapon used against Japan, this single bomb resulted in the deaths of 80,000 Japanese citizens.

A “mushroom” cloud rises over the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, following the detonation of “Fat Man.” The second atomic weapon used against Japan, this single bomb resulted in the deaths of 80,000 Japanese citizens.

More at BBC and The Guardian

68 Years Ago, Hiroshima Incinerated


Today is the 68th year after the US bombing of Hiroshima. Memorials took place in the city and around the world. Here is one in Princeton, NJ, Seattle, WA and a lie-in at Livermore Labs, California, with Dan Ellsberg, among others, being arrested.