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Bulletin 221: Discussions with Dr. Frank von Hippel in Santa Fe and Albuquerque this week: "New Directions in Disarmament;" other important events

September 27, 2016

Dear friends --

Apologies for the last-minute notice for those of you who are not yet on our local activity lists. (Write Trish if you want to be on one of those lists!)

As mentioned in the last two local letters (9/21/16 and 9/9/16) we have an intensive schedule of local events in Santa Fe and Albuquerque in the coming days.

  • Wednesday 9/28, 1:00 pm, Santa Fe, press conference, "Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Visits New Mexico," State Capitol Rotunda, with special guests by phone. "Secretary of Defense Ash Carter," "Senator Tom Udall," "Senator Martin Heinrich," will be present as pinatas (with tolerable likenesses). This event will be live-streamed to the Study Group Facebook page. Call 505-577-8563 during the press conference if you would like to pose a question to any of these leaders. You will be audible to our audience in the Capitol, and your question (and any response) will be live-streamed. For more on this event, see below.

  • Wednesday 9/28, 6:30 pm, Santa Fe, Center Stage Performance Space, 505 Camino de los Marquez (map), talk and discussion, "New Directions in Disarmament" with Dr. Frank von Hippel, Princeton University.

  • Thursday 9/29, 10:00 am, Albuquerque, 400 Gold Ave. SW (map), a Study Group delegation will meet with members of Rep. Michelle Lujan-Grisham's staff. Call Trish at 505-265-1200 if you want to attend.

  • Thursday 9/29, 6:30 pm, Albuquerque, UNM Student Union Building (SUB) (map), talk and discussion, "New Directions in Disarmament" with Dr. Frank von Hippel. The UNM Peace and Justice Studies Program and Students Organizing Actions for Peace are co-sponsoring this event with us.

  • Saturday 10/1, 10:00 am, Albuquerque, Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB), Gibson and Truman Sts,(map), demonstration to stop U.S. wars (current, future), sponsored by Stop the War Machine, Los Alamos Study Group, and other groups.

  • Saturday 10/1, 3:00 pm, Albuquerque, Los Alamos Study Group, 2901 Summit Place NE, Albuquerque (map), solar barbecue and party (includes vegetarian options) hosted by the Study Group and Sunpower/Positive Energy. Please RSVP to Trish or call 505-265-1200.
After the protest in the morning, come on over to this solar party for free barbecue (vegetarian option available) and beer courtesy Positive Energy! Again, please RSVP to Trish or call 505-265-1200. You can learn more about why household and business solar installations make excellent environmental and financial sense. As you know Positive Energy, as well as our friends at McCune Solar Works, are offering $500 to the Study Group for successful referrals that result in the purchase of a home or business PV system. These are both good companies that serve different parts of the market. Positive Energy is now offering the Study Group $100 up-front for every referral we provide that results in a consultation with a possible customer, with another $400 awarded to us upon completion of a system.

This is the first Bulletin in a long time. It has been truly difficult to keep up this summer. Please visit www.lasg.org for recent talks and pertinent press "clippings" as well as the Study Group blog, Forget the Rest. An essay ("Sustainability Requires Resistance"), written for the forthcoming issue of Solar Times, was published there today. If you are interested in our local work you will see more of it in our local letters; by all means come to one or more of these events.

This Bulletin is going to be light on the issues and heavy on direct, face-to-face participation. If you live in New Mexico, "be there or be square."

For those who are interested, here is today's press release, “Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Visits New Mexico:”

Albuquerque – Tomorrow’s press conference has been scheduled in honor of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's visit to the state – to Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

The timing of this visit concerns us (just before a presidential election, with the leading Democratic Party candidate having expressed far more hawkish views – on Syria for example – than the sitting president), as does its content (rallying the military-industrial-congressional complex here, and yesterday in Minot ND, in favor of a vast program of nuclear weapons modernization).

The two energy laboratories are not DoD facilities; Carter has no managerial role at them.

Modernizing and deploying nuclear weapons is expected to cost one trillion dollars over the next 30 years, barring cost overruns. Cost estimates for replacing Air Force silo-based intercontinental missiles have recently jumped from $62 billion (B) to at least $85 B. (The DoD high-end estimate for these missiles is apparently too large to release even to Congress.) Large cost overruns are expected in other programs, including LANL’s expanding plutonium warhead core factory complex, which has been opposed by this organization with some success.

We are particularly concerned that DoD, or a web of influence centered in and incorporating DoD, has become more powerful than the president at this time and is acting independently, as President Eisenhower warned. Ash Carter embodies and symbolizes this power.[1]

In our experience, U.S. nuclear weapons officials have become progressive more inaccessible in this administration – to meetings and to sweet reason, both. The same is true of New Mexico’s senators, with whom it is virtually impossible to engage at all in person, or to engage substantively via their staff on important issues. On nuclear and laboratory issues, our senators depend on the laboratories for information and views, and politically support their programs almost without question.

Therefore this press conference will be a bit "different," in that the above three individuals will be represented by piñatas or doppelgängers if you prefer. We’ve been trying for more than a month to meet with the senators or their staffs. We have run out of time, on a number of major issues. Therefore at this press conference we will try to respond on their behalf as best we can, carrying both sides of the dialogue.

The press conference will be videotaped and live-streamed, with phone-in questions.

See also: “Defense Secretary Carter visiting state’s national labs this week,” Rebecca Moss, Santa Fe New Mexican, 9/26/16; "Carter: DoD Will Rebuild, Sustain its Nuclear Deterrence Enterprise,” Jim Garamone, DoD News, 9/26/16; “Carter: Nuclear Triad ‘Bedrock of Our Security’”, Aaron Mehta, Defense News, 9/26/16.

Best wishes,

Greg, for the Study Group


[1] The military, we believe, has recently acted independently and against U.S. presidential authority in Syria, in bad-faith attacks against a besieged Syrian army position protecting a large city from ISIS, apparently in direct support of the latter. All available data suggest this attack was intentional. In this regard, a DoD spokesperson (i.e. Ash Carter's spokesperson) had already openly stated DoD’s lack of support for the ceasefire laboriously negotiated between the U.S. and Russia by secretaries Lavrov and Kerry, with Obama’s blessing. Former British diplomat and intelligence official Alistair Crooke appears to be correct: “President Obama’s authority is no more – if it runs against the settled opinion of the Pentagon, the CIA, the New York Times, the Washington Post and of the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate” (“New Cold War Spins Out of Control,” Consortium News, 9/26/16). Russia has openly asked, in an emergency meeting of United Nations Security Council requested by Russia, exactly who is in charge in the United States (video in English), and whether the U.S. government has enough internal coherence to be a negotiating partner.


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