Another Nun, Another Hero

She’s 82 years old and she knows how to operate a bolt cutter.

Sister Megan Rice, 82, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and two male accomplices have carried out what nuclear experts call the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex, making their way to the inner sanctum of the site where the United States keeps crucial nuclear bomb parts and fuel.

“Deadly force is authorized,” signs there read. “Halt!” Images of skulls emphasize the lethal danger.

With flashlights and bolt cutters, the three pacifists defied barbed wire as well as armed guards, video cameras and motion sensors at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee early on July 28, a Saturday. They splashed blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility — a new windowless, half-billion-dollar plant encircled by enormous guard towers — and hung banners outside its walls.

Swords into plowshares,” read one, quoting the Book of Isaiah. “Spears into pruning hooks.” The plant holds the nation’s main supply of highly enriched uranium, enough for thousands of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Summer: Remembered in Song

Every August, the four days of the 6th through the 9th ring like a mournful bell in the memories of many.  The first atomic bomb in history was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at 8:15 in the morning, Monday, August 6, 1945.

The radius of total destruction was about one mile (1.6 km), with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles (11 km2).[67]Americans estimated that 4.7 square miles (12 km2) of the city were destroyed. Japanese officials determined that 69% of Hiroshima’s buildings were destroyed and another 6–7% damaged.[68]

Some 70,000–80,000 people, or some 30% of the population of Hiroshima were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm,[69] and another 70,000 injured.[70] Over 90% of the doctors and 93% of the nurses in Hiroshima were killed or injured—most had been in the downtown area which received the greatest damage.[71] [wikipedia]

The second, and last atomic bomb ever dropped in a war, exploded over Nagasaki, a back-up target because of clouds over the primary target, Kokura, at 11:01, Thursday, August 9.

The resulting explosion had a blast yield equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT (88 TJ).[94] The explosion generated heat estimated at 3,900 °C (7,050 °F) and winds that were estimated at 1,005 km/h (624 mph).

Casualty estimates for immediate deaths range from 40,000 to 75,000.[95][96][97] Total deaths by the end of 1945 may have reached 80,000.[1] … The radius of total destruction was about 1 mile (1.6 km), followed by fires across the northern portion of the city to 2 miles (3.2 km) south of the bomb.  [wikipedia]

There is little public remembrance of these two events in the United States these days.  But the wonderful KPFA listener supported radio station, on its Across the Great Divide, Sunday show, had a song compilation that surprised me in its extent.

You can both listen and see the play list here.  And drop ’em a dime, fer pete’s sake.  No one does stuff like this on other radio stations.

These are just a few:

Pete Seeger Never Again The A Bomb We Shall Overcome Columbia
Malvina Reynolds What Have They Done To The Rain Ear To The Ground smithsonian folkways
Stringband New Talking Atom Blues The Indispensable Nick

Cross Posted at All In One Boat

Nuclear Warning in Japan

From the NY Times:

In an unusually stark warning, Japan’s prime minister during last year’s nuclear crisis, Naoto Kan,  told a parliamentary inquiry on Monday that the country should discard nuclear power as too dangerous, saying the Fukushima accident had pushed Japan to the brink of “national collapse.”

…Mr. Kan said that Japan’s plant safety was inadequate because energy policy had been hijacked by the “nuclear village” — a term for the power companies and pronuclear regulators and researchers that worked closely together to promote the industry. He said the only way to break their grip was to form a new regulatory agency staffed with true outsiders, like American and European experts.

“Gorbachev said in his memoirs that the Chernobyl accident exposed the sicknesses of the Soviet system,” Mr. Kan said, referring to the 1986 explosion of a reactor in Ukraine, which spewed radiation across a wide swath of Europe. “The Fukushima accident did the same for Japan.”