Kevin Page, Canada’s parliamentary budget officer, has reported that the price tag for the F-35 stealth fighters could end up close to $30 billion, about $9 billion higher than the Department of National Defence’s most pessimistic estimates.
The aircraft purchase has been controversial, not just because of the potential for cost overruns but because of their unsuitability for their stated purpose for Canadian air defence. The Rideau Institute notes, “The plane’s stealth and ground-attack capabilities make it ill suited for patrolling the Arctic. The F-35 is made for ‘shock and awe’ bombing missions abroad, but Canada has only dropped bombs from its aircraft once since the Second World War (in Kosovo). And the air force never sent its current fleet of CF-18 fighter-bombers to Afghanistan during a decade of war.”
An online petition against the purchase of the F-35 is at http://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=7492.
Canadian peace activist and former disarmament ambassador, Hon. Douglas Roche, has been nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
In its nomination letter, the International Peace Bureau told the Nobel Committee that “we believe he is eminently eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize on account of the multiple outstanding roles he has played, both in the ‘official’ arenas and as a leader in a variety of civil society endeavours…as founder or co-founder of Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), Middle Powers Initiative (MPI), and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND)—all of which have played very significant high-level roles in the global disarmament movement. Aside from existing Nobel laureates, it is hard to think of a single individual who has worked as hard for disarmament as he, and with such persistence and determination, at the top levels of world politics.”
Sources: ipb.org, Canadian Pugwash Group
Russia’s Parliament has ratified, with caveats, the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. The US is now the only one of the five recognized nuclear powers not to have ratified. So far, 28 African states have voted to ratify the treaty, which entered into force in July 2009, while another 24 have signed.
Source: Sergei Plekhanov, via Good News Service
Reports of missing radioactive materials are dropping dramatically in Canada, easing concerns that extremists might attempt to detonate crude, low-level radioactive “dirty bombs” to sow panic.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) reports that five radioactive sources, typically found in measuring and analytical equipment, were lost or stolen last year and five more in 2009. That compares with a 2005-2008 annual average of 15, with a record 21 missing devices in 2007.
Six sources remain missing from 2009-2910, but all are rated at low or very low risk for potential harm to human health. Very high risk sources have never been reported missing in Canada.
Source: Robin Collins, via Good News Service
Veteran peace researcher Dietrich Fischer is now director of the World Peace Academy, a peace studies institute based in Basel.
The institute offers a full-time, one-year Master of Advanced Studies program in peace conflict transformation, with degrees granted through the University of Basel. The program is aimed at NGO activists, diplomats, national government officials, international civil servants, teachers, journalists, and others. A first degree or comparable professional experience is required.
For more details: http://www.world-peace-academy.ch.
Co-sponsored by the International Peace Bureau and the Institute for Policy Studies, the Global Day of Action on Military Spending aims to “make the figure of global military spending as visible as possible in as many parts of the world as possible.” Social media are playing a big role in the campaign, with Facebook and Twitter, and a website with photo wall, a meet-up page, and other networking resources (see http://www.demilitarize.org).
In Toronto, Science for Peace will hold a public meeting in Room 179, University College, University of Toronto, at 7 pm. Speakers include Sergei Plekhanov on trends in global military spending, and Bill Robinson and John Siebert of Project Ploughshares on Canadian military spending.
Sources: scienceforpeace.ca; http://www.demilitarize.org.