General Electric Hitachi announced August 19 that it plans to sell its Canadian nuclear operations, including its uranium processing plant on Lansdowne Avenue in Toronto, to Virginia’s BWX Technologies.
BWX Technologies is the prime contractor in charge of the US Department of Energy’s 13,000-hectare nuclear weapons testing laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Among the “recent accomplishments” listed on the company’s website: the manufacturing of the grapefruit-size plutonium cores used in the W88 thermonuclear warhead designed for the Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
The GE Hitachi plant at in a residential Toronto neighborhood, processes 53 per cent of all the nuclear fuel used in Canada’s nuclear reactors. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), the nuclear industry’s regulatory agency, permits the plant to release up to 9,000 kilograms of uranium waste into the sewer system and 760 grams into the air annually.
General Electric, which man manufactures drones for the US military, has its own history with nuclear weapons; it manufactured them in the US until 1993 but got out of the business after a consumer boycott launched in 1986 successfully pressured major retail stores, including Safeway and Target, to stop stocking their light bulbs.
Candyce Paul of the Committee for Future Generations, says there are many overlaps between the commercial and military uses of nuclear power. “They always say the uranium is used for peaceful [commercial] purposes,” Paul says. “So if some part of it has become radioactive waste and it is reprocessed to make plutonium, it is not their problem.”
“Toronto is a nuclear-weapons-free zone,” says Angela Bischoff of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance. “We created a Peace Garden at Nathan Phillips Square, and we signed the Mayors For Peace declaration. By welcoming this company into the middle of our city we are actually contravening the declaration.”
By Zach Ruiter, whose earlier version of this article appeared in NOW Magazine.
The widespread use of psychoactive drugs by conscripts and officers in the Second World War has been well known in Germany for many years. A new book suggests that stimulant abuse was in fact a central part of German military planning.
In The Total Rush, author Norman Ohler describes how Wehrmacht doctors received a “stimulant decree” in the buildup to the 1940 Ardennes campaign. This recommended the amount of Pervitin—a methamphetamine—to be issued to each soldier, together with the times when they were to be taken. This would allow soldiers to stay awake for up to 72 hours—long enough for victory in the close conditions of the Western front. The Pervitin tactic was to prove useless when the war was extended to the Soviet Union, but as the war reached its end, medical officers continued to test even more powerful drugs for military use, rejecting them only when the test subjects became psychotic.
Adolf Hitler’s personal drug use also escalated as the war went on, writes Ohler. His personal physician began administering vitamin injections, then animal hormones, and finally a new “designer drug” named Eukodal, now known as oxycodone, which the dictator often combined with cocaine.
An English-language edition of Ohler’s book, titled Blitzed, is due to be published in October.
Sources: The Guardian _and _National Post.
The Russian economy is reeling. Trade embargoes and low oil prices have led to cuts in public spending. Unemployment is rising. The free float of the rouble led to a devaluation of the currency and to inflation—7 percent in August alone. Russians have good reasons for wanting to change their government, yet on September 18, they returned United Russia to control of the lower house of their parliament, the Duma, with 54 percent of the votes.
Although thirteen parties were eligible to appear on the ballot, most of them supported Putin. Only Yabloko and PARNAS were real opposition parties and they won only 2 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively—below the limit for seats in the Duma.
For the first time, Crimeans participated in the elections. To be sure, the turnout was low everywhere: officially less than 50 percent and, by statistical calculations, probably only 39 percent. Adjusting for that low turnout, only 26 percent of eligible Russians voted to Putin’s party.
Still, Putin remains immune to criticism. Russians do not blame him for their problems. According to Levada’s September surveys, public support for Putin has stayed at 82 percent for three months in a row. (His highest support was 89 percent in June 2016.) In the same Levada poll, 50 percent said that Russia was developing in the right direction.
Sources: RT.com; Jana Bakunina, in _The New Statesman, Sept. 27, 2016.