Local Stories, Events
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Health Care & Environment
06.19 Engineers boost output of solar desalination system by 50% [Trump fires scientist. It would be far better to enable their good work.]
06.19 We’ll Never Solve Immigration If We Don’t Solve Climate Change [Why is our President so willfully stupid?]
06.18 The Worst Patients in the World [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Navy Contaminates Local Groundwater and Sewer System in Maryland [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.17 Hopes for climate progress falter with coal still king across Asia [Governments must subsidize very rapid installation of renewable energy to displace all fossil energy—aka DEATH ENERGY—power plants that must be made illegal ASAP]
06.17 Oil companies double down on plastics as public outcry grows [Obscene!]
06.15 So much plastic is being made that "recycling has no impact" [Non-recyclable plastic must be made illegal to manufacture, use]
06.15 We must transform our lives and values to save this burning planet [Increased ice melt in polar latitudes has been disguising reality in the middle latitudes. This effect will soon be replaced by record heat as ice volume and seasonal melting increasingly declines.]
06.15 This all-male council in Texas just voted to ban abortion [1:59 video; Bad assumptions foment ignorant actions...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
06.19 America has never gone this long without hiking the federal minimum wage [The poor would spend every penny and help the economy and decrease health costs. Only dummies don't understand the costly effects of penury.]
06.19 When migrants arrived in droves, this poor New Mexico city opened its arms [A good example for us all: This is the way we must respond to human suffering]
06.18 It's A Horrible Idea To Privatize The Tennessee Valley Authority And Other Public Energy Assets [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Tobacco's 'Special Friend': What Internal Documents Say About Mitch McConnell [His immorality is in complete control]
06.17 Climate change leadership would create a new 'American century' [We must incentivize the strategic good, again, before it's too late.]
06.17 Drug Cop Worth $400 Million After Bets on Brooklyn Real Estate [A better role-model than Trump or Kushner!]
06.15 White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science [When your President is a quack he naturally surrounds himself with sycophants]
06.18 As promised, Trump slashes aid to Central America over migrants [Is THIS the cruelest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 ‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war [If you act psychopathic you are psychopathic; 3:40 Video: Where have all the flowers (and morals and young men) gone, long time passing, sung by Marlene Dietreich]
06.17 'Blatant Theft': Netanyahu Unveils Illegal Settlement Named 'Trump Heights' in Occupied Syrian Territory [Great deal: the U.S. gives Israel $Billions every year, and they name an illegal settlement—to be built on Palestinian land—after Trump]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
06.15 'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion [More equality or bring back the guillotines!]
International & Futurism
06.19 Trump Enabled an ‘Act of Organized Crime’ in Guatemala [Trump and other mafia-dons cause refugees and migrants as much as global warming]
06.19 Madrid’s new rightwing council suspends low-emissions zone [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
06.19 Donald Trump’s reckless Iran policy casts doubt on the US as global leader [America's reputation has plummeted more speedily since Trump's dubious election, with professionals willfully replaced with less competent appointees or left unfilled in many federal government agencies]
06.18 'If This Is True, They Are Even Bigger Lunatics Than We Realized': UN Officials Reportedly Believe Trump Planning 'Massive' Bombing Campaign in Iran [Never underestimate the stupidity of the Trump Administration]
06.18 Iran will not wage war against any nation, says Hassan Rouhani [Economic sanctions are cruel punishment to innocent civilians causing hate for generations. We will reap what Trump sows.]
06.17 Saudi Arabia May Execute Teenager for His Protests — Including When He Was 10 [America's “best ally” is psychopathically insane]
06.17 Why Venezuela Is the Vietnam of Our Time [Powerful, clear writing!]
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Past & Present
Thanks to a lingering belief that national security ultimately lies in military strength, nations have resisted honoring their full obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The opening this May of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference at the United Nations seems likely to feature a conflict that has simmered for decades between nuclear nations and non-nuclear nations.
By the mid-1960s, five nations had developed a nuclear weapons capability: the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and, most recently, China. But numerous other nations were giving serious consideration to joining the nuclear club. They included Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, and West Germany. Millions of people and many governments feared that the nuclear arms race—already dangerous enough—was on the verge of spiraling totally out of control.
In this context, the U.S. and Soviet governments suddenly found something upon which they could both agree. Having amassed vast nuclear arsenals for their Cold War confrontation with one another, both decided that it would be a good idea if other nations refrained from developing nuclear weapons. Thus, in the fall of 1965, the two governments submitted nonproliferation treaties to the U.N. General Assembly. “Both superpowers really got behind the Nonproliferation Treaty,” recalled U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, “because we and the Soviets basically were on the same wavelength.”
But the non-nuclear powers sharply objected to the U.S. and Soviet proposals, which they pointed out—correctly—would establish a two-tier system. Alva Myrdal, Sweden’s disarmament minister and a leading proponent of nuclear disarmament, declared that “the non-aligned nations . . . strongly believe that disarmament measures should be a matter of mutual renunciation.” They did not want a treaty that “would leave the present five nuclear-weapon parties free to continue to build up their arsenals.”
The governments of numerous NATO nations raised the same objection. Willy Brandt, West Germany’s foreign minister, maintained that a nonproliferation treaty was justified “only if the nuclear states regard it as a step toward restrictions of their own armaments and toward disarmament.” In short, non-nuclear nations were unwilling to forgo the nuclear option in the absence of a similar commitment by the nuclear nations.
As a result, the NPT was reshaped to provide for mutual obligations on the part of non-nuclear and nuclear nations. Under its terms, each non-nuclear signatory pledged “not to make or acquire nuclear weapons,” as well as to accept a safeguard system, administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency, to prevent diversion of nuclear material from nuclear reactors to nuclear weapons development. Furthermore, Article VI of the final version provided that nuclear signatories would “pursue negotiations in good faith at an early date on effective measures regarding cessation of the nuclear arms race and disarmament.”
On June 12, 1968, this revised NPT, now incorporating provisions for both nonproliferation and disarmament, swept through the U.N. General Assembly by a vote of 95 to 4, with 21 abstentions. Although, ominously, a number of nations with nuclear ambitions refused to ratify the treaty, the NPT did provide an important milestone in global efforts to avert nuclear catastrophe.
In some ways, the NPT was a success. After it went into force in 1970, almost all nations capable of building nuclear weapons rejected this option. Furthermore, through disarmament treaties and individual action, the nuclear nations divested themselves of a significant number of their nuclear weapons.
Today, 42 years after the signing of the NPT, more than 23,000 nuclear weapons remain in existence and the number of nuclear powers has grown from five to nine.
Even so, thanks to a lingering belief that national security ultimately lies in military strength, nations have resisted honoring their full obligations under the NPT. The nuclear powers delayed implementing their rhetorical commitment to full-scale nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile, some non-nuclear nations, charging the nuclear powers with hypocrisy, began to develop nuclear weapons themselves. Today, 42 years after the signing of the NPT, more than 23,000 nuclear weapons remain in existence and the number of nuclear powers has grown from five to nine.
Thus, the NPT review conference this May could simply continue the old game of duplicity and delay. Nuclear nations could avoid making plans to eliminate their very substantial nuclear arsenals, while demanding that other countries remain non-nuclear. Non-nuclear nations could point to the failure of the nuclear nations to disarm and use that as their justification for joining the nuclear club.
But there is an alternative. The world public might decide that enough is enough—that it’s time to move beyond the cautious, half-way measures of the past and bring an end to the terrible danger of nuclear annihilation. That would require a massive outpouring of public sentiment, this May and in the following months, demanding nothing less than the abolition of nuclear weapons. Such an outpouring would provide a solid basis on which reluctant government officials might finally do what they should long ago have done: take effective action to build a nuclear weapons-free world.
Dr. Wittner is Professor of History at the State University of New York/Albany. His latest book is Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (Stanford University Press).
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This story was published on April 27, 2010.