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"Forget the Rest" blog

Action Alert #75 (12/23/06)

Key nuclear warhead decisions pending, more

In this alert: 

1.      Introduction: break the silence
2.      Annual funding request
3.      What you can do: connect!
4.      Tools you can use
5.      Hoodwinked again? The buzz over “Complex 2030”
6.      Internship announcement
7.      New working paper: “Does Los Alamos National Lab help or hurt the New Mexico economy?”
8.      Status of the CMRR project
9.      James Carroll on U.S. nuclear weapons and Iran

Next time: arguments for pit production debunked  

            Subscription information can be found at the end of this Alert.
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Dear colleagues and friends – 

1. Break the silence

An odd thing is happening.  In late 2007 the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) hopes to start a new nuclear warhead production run, the first in 18 years.  The goal is to make about 70 W88 warheads over a three- to four-year period for deployment on submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

If built, each new warhead will have 475,000 tons of explosive yield.  So this single production run will create more than ten times the explosive power used in World War II (which was about 3 megatons). Said differently, these new warheads would have the explosive energy of 2,217 Hiroshimas.  They would provide more nuclear yield than the entire British arsenal. 

The U.S. has nearly 10,000 warheads overall.  They have a combined yield of a little more than 1,000 World War IIs.  These include at least 3,400 submarine-launched warheads – the role of the proposed additional warheads – of two kinds, W76s (at 100 kilotons) and W88s (at 475 kt). 

There are hundreds more W76s available than deployed, more than the Navy and NNSA want to maintain.  In fact, it seems clear that more than 1,000 W76s will be dismantled in the precise time frame when these new warheads for the same missile are to be built.  All parties seem to agree that there is a surplus of submarine-launched warheads –just not, NNSA says, of W88s. 

W88 production waits on new plutonium “pits,” each one a warhead’s fissile core.  For the foreseeable future, these can only be made at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). LANL’s plutonium facility has been working multiple shifts lately to get ready for production and to “demonstrate” to skeptics that it can do this job despite long-standing safety-related deficiencies and aging buildings. 

What can we do?  Break the silence.  

2. Annual funding request  

We have a simple request; that you will either join our work, help fund it, or both.  Without you we can do very little.  Not too put too fine a point on it, I think we all know we have reached a point where “business as usual” will be fatal to millions.  (Don’t believe this?  Try reading the first chapters of the Stern Review of what is known about climate change.)  We have the freedom to prevent catastrophe, if we accept it.  

3. What you can do  

“What you can do” obviously depends on who you are, what your circumstances, skills, and inclinations are, and on how much of yourself you want to invest – what you want to do.  And all these change.  We at the Study Group have no great faith in cookie-cutter “democracy” or “grassroots” Astroturf campaigns in which citizens are asked to drop a postcard in the mail to their congressperson. 

We have nonetheless carefully assembled a few suggestions as to what you can do, but really these are in the nature of expert hints.  Some (not all) are primarily applicable to New Mexicans. You know more about “what you can do” than we do.  

Still, if you haven’t met with your congressperson's or senator's staff about nuclear disarmament and especially about pit production and the CMRR, now’s the time.  New Mexicans will find up-to-date contact information for their congressional delegation here

4. Tools you can use

  • A longer version of “Break the silence” (item 1 above) may be published tomorrow (Christmas eve) in the Albuquerque Journal (Northern edition).  It is available here in the meantime.  Print or forward to others.
  •   An easy-to-read overview of plutonium “pit” production issues can found in the November issue of the Sun Monthly, a New Mexico magazine. 
  • Some background on LANL’s proposed new plutonium buildings, called by the misleading moniker the “Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Facility,” can be found here in the form of a letter to key members of Congress. 
  •   Some general background and history of pit production can be found here.  (More on pit production will come in the next alert, hopefully by New Year’s Day.)
  • The growing network of organizations and local jurisdictions in New Mexico opposing nuclear weapons can be seen here.  If you have not already done so, we hope you will join forces with us.  Your organization or business can endorse the Call for Nuclear Disarmamenthere.  This registry of resistance, by far the largest on nuclear issues in New Mexico , is very important and is used as a barometer of concern by elected officials. 
  • The previous Action Alert #74 (“Two ‘stealth’ NNSA projects aim to preempt U.S. nuclear warhead decisions,” 11/9/06 ) is still current and useful.

5. Hoodwinked again?  The buzz over “Complex 2030”

At the recent Complex 2030 hearings in New Mexico , we handed out a small flyer with this text: 

You’ve come to NNSA’s “Complex 2030” NEPA scoping hearing.  Great! Speak up – but be careful!

Why?  Because long before this “supplemental programmatic environmental impact statement” (SPEIS) ever sees the light of day in 2008, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will already be implementing the single most controversial element of this plan by other means. 

            NNSA has already made a decision to invest $1 billion (B) in new plutonium infrastructure at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  About another $1 B will also be necessary to renew existing facilities. 

            Powerful members of Congress are fighting this semi-secret agenda. They need our New Mexico representatives to help them.  But so far our delegation is silent on the key issues – except for Senator Domenici, who favors it.  We must help them focus on the here and now and not on Complex 2030, which won’t be implemented for many years if ever!  It is a distraction!

            Further, this hearing has nothing whatsoever to do with stopping plutonium bomb core (“pit”) production at LANL, which is the only place pits can be made for the next 16 or more years.  This hearing deals only with the scope of a document purporting to analyze environmental impacts of, among other things, various pit production options after 2022

            NNSA doesn’t want you to notice what’s going on right now.  They don’t want you to organize effectively to stop it.  A strong letter from either New Mexico senator, or intervention from Congressman Udall, could stop this. 

            The U.S. hasn’t made nuclear warheads in 17 years. Pit production at LANL is essential for it to start up again.  It hasn’t happened yet and there are a lot of reasons why it shouldn’t.  There’s just no good reason to make pits any time in the next four decades, if not longer -- even if you want to keep all the warheads in the U.S. arsenal.  [Which even Dick Cheney does not.]

OK, that last sentence wasn’t on the flyer.

In Santa Fe, I (Greg) said (twice) that the more of its limited attention the public puts into commenting in the “Complex 2030” scoping process, the more likely it is that pit production will begin and a new pit production factory, the centerpiece of Complex 2030, will actually get built, at LANL.  

There is a pernicious tendency in many quarters to gloss over these two developments – the advent of warhead production, or a new pit factory – as if they weren’t happening, or as if they were behind us.  In comparison to these, Complex 2030 is a distant development.  No federal commitment can be made to it until a Record of Decision (ROD) is issued under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  That ROD is now tentatively scheduled for fall, 2008.

Thus citizens are led into focusing on what is far away, nebulous, and in many eyes unlikely, and their attention is distracted from the real issues of today. 

Veteran Albuquerque Journal reporter John Fleck heard me (Greg) speak about this in Albuquerque and wrote about these matters in his blog

6. Internships available  

We are starting a new internship program, available for serious activists, young adults, and scholars of all ages.  Details are here

7. New working paper: “Does Los Alamos National Lab help or hurt the New Mexico economy?”  

A new working paper (504 kb pdf) outlining some of the issues underlying this question has been posted on our web site.  We invite your thoughtful review and your own contributions. Please feel free to share this paper with elected officials and others who might be interested in the economic impact of LANL.  A lot remains to be added to this paper but we felt it was worthwhile to share even in this readable draft. 

8. Status of the CMRR project 

The sales pitch for LANL’s big CMRR project is changing.  Although all three phases of the project (a light radiological laboratory with utility core, gloveboxes and other equipment, and heavy plutonium facility) are proceeding in parallel to some extent, NNSA must find a way to respond to the House Appropriations committee, which has recommended zero, and nearly zero funding for this project for two years running.  Although the details of NNSA’s new sales plan won’t be available until next month, the general drift is that NNSA will likely ask for the first phase of the project to continue for now (which is mostly what they are doing anyway), leaving the subsequent phases for later.  No doubt they want to continue spending at least some money on them, however, to keep the contractors happy and the momentum going.  

The fact is that LANL already has dozens of nuclear facilities and dozens of lighter radiological facilities as well.  Many are poorly utilized.  For example the existing 550,000 square foot CMR facility, the largest building at LANL, could be a safe radiological laboratory, although it cannot forever keep operating as heavy nuclear facility.  Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to upgrade and renew it.  NNSA and LANL keep trying to say that the CMR is unsafe and a new facility must be built, but if the facility to be built is only a light radiological facility it will not be able to take over the missions that make the CMR unsafe.  The hidden resolution of this contradiction is that the CMRR project doesn’t make much sense if it does not include a heavier nuclear facility.  There is an element of deception here.

The primary reason LANL wants this particular new radiological facility, in this particular location, is that it will make plutonium analyses and tests easier and more convenient, enabling faster pit production.  It is surely pit certification and pit production which will be the biggest “customer” of the new lab.  Further, the CMRR radiological laboratory, conveniently located as it would be, would likely allow the “off-loading” of analytical work now taking place in PF-4, the main plutonium facility, enabling the reconfiguration of gloveboxes and production equipment for faster, more efficient pit production, which is the point of the whole project.

Citizens and lawmakers alike should not be hoodwinked by these elastic arguments.  The CMRR is not needed unless LANL is to have an expanding plutonium mission.  NNSA’s view is that “if we built it they –pits -- will come.”  Senator Domenici’s view is that “if we build it they – dollars – will come.” It is likely that LANL dollars are going to decline with or without the CMRR.  The CMRR will stamp LANL as a production facility.  

9. James Carroll on U.S. nuclear weapons and Iran

Many of you will have seen this excellent and interesting editorial by James Carroll of the Boston Globe.  Thousands of (mostly useless) articles have been written about Iranian situation this year; this one is interesting and different.  (Carroll omits to mention Israeli nuclear weapons, however, which cannot be omitted in this context.)  Carroll’s semi-new book House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power is likewise unusually insightful and fresh on the issue of nuclear weapons, not to mention being a very fine book on the rise of American militarism in general. 

Thanks for your attention and best wishes to everybody for the New Year,

Sincerely,
Greg Mello, for the Study Group

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To subscribe to our national listserve (if you received this message, you are already), send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To unsubscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net or lasg-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net as appropriate.

--
Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group * www.lasg.org
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque , NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice * 505-577-8563 cell * 505-265-1207 fax

1362A-2 Trinity Drive , Los Alamos , NM 87544
505-661-9677 (voice and fax)

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email
to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To subscribe to our national
listserve, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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*********************

Action Alert #74 (11/09/06)

Two “stealth” NNSA projects aim to preempt U.S. nuclear warhead decisions


A new and fairly easy-to-read overview of one of these issues – plutonium “pit” production – can found in this month’s Sun Monthly, a
New Mexico magazine.  Background on the other – LANL’s proposed new plutonium buildings – can be found here.  More general background, which you might have seen already, can be found here and elsewhere at www.lasg.org

 

The slowly-growing network of organizations and local jurisdictions in New Mexico opposing nuclear weapons can be seen here.  If you have not already done so – and many organizations still have not – we hope you will join forces with us.  Your organization or business can endorse the Call for Nuclear Disarmament here


Subscription information can be found at the end of this Alert.  Contributions are welcome and needed; you can use this secure portal.


Dear friends and colleagues –
 

This fall and winter, two of the most important policy choices facing Congress regarding U.S. nuclear weapons are these:

·           Whether or not to continue the design/build process for a new plutonium warhead core (“pit”) manufacturing annex at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  This project, which would preempt much public and congressional discussion about the future of the warhead complex (see “Complex 2030,” below), is called the “Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement” (CMRR) facility.  It involves two new nuclear facilities at LANL which together are expected to cost about $1 billion, not counting related necessary investments.  Although the “design/build” of the first phase of the project has nominally begun, the CMRR remains very controversial for good reasons.

·          Whether or not to re-start U.S. warhead production after an 18-year halt, beginning with re-starting stockpile pit production at LANL after what would be a 58-year gap.  Pit production is the pivotal, necessary step in resuming warhead manufacturing overall.  Should it occur it would also be the rate-determining step in warhead production overall.

Among U.S. NGOs, there is a strong temptation to overlook these critical, far-reaching decisions.   In part because of this, many members of Congress (including the two Democrats in the New Mexico congressional delegation, Mr. Udall and Mr. Bingaman) are tempted to remain passive concerning these decisions.  For New Mexicans, it is critical that we find ways to awaken these two gentlemen.  For NGOs and activists nationally, it is important to grasp the full extent of the opportunities implicit in these decisions and to take effective, undistracted action.

1. The proposed new plutonium buildings at LANL

As regards the first of these decisions, the proposed plutonium pit production annex at LANL, the House recommended zero funding (last year) and an 89% cut from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) request this year.  This year’s Senate Appropriations markup recommended full funding (as it did last year, when its view prevailed over the House).  This year’s Senate markup has not been passed by the whole Senate.  And as of last week no conference committee meetings between the two houses had even been scheduled.  With both houses poised to change leadership in January, the work they do for the remainder of this year is likely to be limited.  This may lead to a continuing budget resolution for the whole warhead complex, possibly one based on current-year funding levels.  This arrangement, should it come to pass, might remain in place all this fiscal year. 

Regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, additional funding for the CMRR likely will remain a point of contention next year.  Both houses know that these two expensive new nuclear buildings, one with a large vault for plutonium and highly-enriched uranium, comprise de facto long-range infrastructure and program commitments to LANL.  They are also commitments to the huge Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program, the making of new pits for which is the CMRR’s primary purpose.  RRW production has not been approved by Congress; even the Pentagon has offered only tepid endorsement of the project so far. 

More about why the CMRR project should not be funded can be found in this letter to Senator Harry Reid, soon to be Chair of the Senate Energy and Water Development Subcommittee.


2. The resumption of
U.S. nuclear warhead production

The second decision, to resume pit and warhead manufacturing, seems already made and not a real decision at all.  But in fact: 

·          There is no stockpile pit production is occurring today and no final decision has been made to begin real (as opposed to test) production; and

·          New information has recently become available which suggests pit production is even more unnecessary, unwise, expensive, and unsafe than we thought even a few months ago. 

 

Regarding the latter and in the briefest terms, pit production is more unnecessary than ever because NNSA now knows that pits last a very long time, in effect removing doubt about pit longevity as a motive for manufacturing new pits or even laying the groundwork to do so in the current time frame.  (An unclassified summary of NNSA’s long-awaited study is reportedly nearing release.)  Further, the known long lifetime of pits means that surplus pits, of which the U.S. retains about 13,000, are more valuable as a “hedge” to NNSA managers.  Finally, the decision to make pits was made long before the appearance of an official stockpile plan which would dismantle some 4,000 warheads, providing 4,000 additional surplus pits (i.e. 17,000 in all).
   

Resuming pit production now appears more unwise even than before because U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy, based on a “do as I say but not as I do” theory, is now visibly in tatters in the important cases of Iran and North Korea.  Better compliance with our own Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, a minimum necessity for any rule-of-law approach to nonproliferation, could be said to begin with not making more warheads.   


Pit production now appears more expensive than ever before because it is now apparent that even more LANL infrastructure investments is needed than previously thought in order to manufacture pits.  Meanwhile nobody has yet figured out what has become of the $2.5+ billion already invested in this project.   


Finally, we are learning that pit production is even more dangerous than we thought because of LANL’s poor (and apparently declining) nuclear safety performance, extensively documented by the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board (DNFSB).  LANL nuclear operations consistently do not meet important NNSA, DOE, and nuclear industry safety standards.  Coming into compliance will take heaps of time, money, and management attention. 


Especially because of all this new information, which is only sketched in the barest way here, there is now no convincing reason whatsoever to re-start
U.S. nuclear warhead production or to begin making new plutonium pits.  Congress should realize that the push to re-start warhead production is causing a variety of serious problems, from preempting complex-wide planning to running plants like LANL and Y-12 on variances from established safety and security standards. 


We in the NGO community should meditate deeply upon the moral and political impact of allowing the re-start of warhead production by our country after 18 years, should that occur.  It is, after all, up to us whether we allow this to happen.  The facts on the ground, morality, law, economics, and plain old common sense are on our side.  The messages are simple, quite conservative, and very easily framed.  Thousands of people marched at Rocky Flats and many other places to stop warhead production in the 1980s.  Shall we allow warhead production to start up all over again? 


3. The “Complex 2030” plan – please don’t get distracted

A few months ago, NNSA – which has long recognized the vulnerability of its pit production plans – launched what amounts to a diversionary sally, called the “Complex 2030” plan.  This is a pie-in-the-sky, long-range strategic plan or vision for the nation’s warhead facilities.  The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for Complex 2030 is slated to begin with a scoping hearing tonight in South Carolina.  There will be 12 such hearings in all, the last one to be held on December 14 in Washington, DC


We NGOs have limited time and resources.  From an organizing perspective, it’s important for all of us not to get too distracted by NEPA processes, which are rather removed from actual policy decisions and from politics in general.  The Complex 2030 process is particularly far removed, dealing as it does with decisions to be made some time in the next administration (i.e. after 2008).  The legal perspective is another matter, so organizations must at least comment. 


There’s a big difference in timing – “Complex 2030” deals with matters far in the future, while the CMRR and pit production decisions will preempt the central core of those same decisions now, this year or next. 


For us in
New Mexico, I would like to stress that if the newly-reelected Congressman Udall or Senator Bingaman were to write a letter questioning the rationale for the CMRR project, that letter could tip the balance.  The CMRR project has few devoted friends in Congress other than Senator Domenici, who has now been deposed from his powerful chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee.  As it happens, the billions to be spent on new construction at LANL, which construction is slated to take up more and more of LANL’s budget over the next three or so years, will mean fewer jobs and require more layoffs.   


Dear
New Mexico friends, we need to stop this project, just as we did its predecessor (the “Special Nuclear Materials R&D Laboratory”) in 1990.  There is no more justification for this project than there was for that one.  Going to NEPA hearings will not get us where we want to go.  Holding our elected officials accountable will.  This will take time, commitment, knowledge, and skills, but what besides these have ever been effective?   


For NGOs nationally, I hope we fully recognize our opportunities here and press our moral, technical, legal, economic, and foreign-policy advantages, both in the new Congress and in our own communities.  And right now I hope we don’t get too excited about reacting to NNSA’s latest dog-and-pony show, which I think has been designed for distraction.   


If you want to help stop these projects, please call or write us.  There are many ways to become involved, or get more involved. 

Greg Mello, for the Study Group

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To subscribe to our national listserve (if you received this message directly, you are subscribed already), send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To unsubscribe send a blank emails to lasg-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net (which carried this message) and/or lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net as appropriate.

--
Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice *
505-265-1207 fax * 505-577-8563 cell
www.lasg.org

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email
to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To subscribe to our national
listserve, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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*********************
Action Alert #73 (10/05/06)

The University of New Mexico (UNM) Board of Regents will conduct its next regular monthly board meeting on

Tuesday,
October 10, 2006
, at 1 p.m. in ballroom B of the Student Union Building on the UNM main campus.

It is really important for everyone to come to this meeting and voice their concerns over the militarization of our University systems.  The panel discussion held at UNM last Friday, September 29th, promoting new nuclear warheads was a wake-up call for many.  For background information, the Study Group's press release about that panel discussion is pasted below.  You may have missed coming and speaking out at the panel discussion for numerous reasons.  Don't let another opportunity pass you by without coming and making your voice heard!!


The following is advice from friends that regularly attend these meetings:

1.       The regents do not make it easy for the public to comment during these meetings and furthermore, may even bully you into thinking that you don't have the right to speak out.  However, there is usually some time for public input during the meeting -- possibly a very short period at the beginning.

2.       Come early and look for the person that is making a list of the people that would like to speak.  They will make you speak to an item on the agenda, so look at the agenda in advance and choose an item to which you can relate your comments -- there are many.

3.       According to the regents website, you might be able to get copy of the agenda from these locations: 

  • University Communication and Marketing ( Welcome Center in the Cornell Parking Structure) at least 24 hours before the meeting.
  • Agendas can also be found at http://www.unm.edu/news/Regents'Agendas.htm
  • Office of Public Affairs and at the Zimmerman Library Reserve Desk at least 24 hours before each meeting.

4.       You can find the minutes from their last meeting here: (these give you an idea of their typical meeting and the names of the regents)

http://www.unm.edu/news/Regents/06-08-08.htm

*********************************************************

For Immediate Release

September 29, 2006

 

NNSA, Lockheed Host “Academic” Panel Discussion at UNM of New Nuclear Warheads and “Responsive” Manufacturing Plants

Entire panel works for, or is otherwise tied to, NNSA, labs – all other voices excluded


“Academic” event hosted by UNM
“office” funded entirely by Lockheed

 

Contact: Greg Mello 505-265-1200

 

Albuquerque – Today, September 29, 2006, from 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm at the Student Union Building (SUB) on the University of New Mexico (UNM) main campus in Albuquerque in Santa Ana rooms A & B, there will be a panel discussion about the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program.  The event is sponsored by the UNM Office for Policy, Security, and Technology (OPST), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Women in International Security (WIIS).  Details can be found at http://www.unm.edu/%7Eopst/events.html.


Greg Mello, Study Group Director:  “The goal of today’s discussion, from the perspective of those paying for it, has nothing whatsoever to do with its technical or policy content.  What is being attempted is to harness the academic thirst for prestige to create a façade of legitimacy for
U.S. weapons of mass destruction programs, which are now in political and financial trouble.” 


The so-called RRW program and its associated construction program designed to create a “responsive infrastructure” of agile nuclear warhead factories that will replace all U.S. nuclear weapons with new-design warheads over the coming 30 or so years. 
U.S. nuclear warheads are highly reliable – far more so than other weapons systems components – and current life-extension programs are in the process of extending their “shelf-life” for decades to come.  Tens of billions of dollars have already been committed.  In the proposed new RRW program, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) wishes to gradually replace existing warheads with untested new warheads.  Neither Congress nor the Pentagon has yet approved RRW except in its earliest stages. 


Greg Mello, Study Group Director:

“The key questions regarding Friday’s panel are not this or that management strategy for U.S. nuclear weapons.  They are not whether nuclear weapons are a problem in some sense – or perhaps a panacea for military insufficiency, as U.S. nuclear doctrine suggests.  These are very important questions but they are not the gravamen of concern today.  The key issues are rather:

  • The false impression being given that this is an “academic” panel, when in fact all but one of the panelists work for NNSA, SNL, or LANL.  Each would be fired in a heartbeat if they said anything that strayed too far from the “party line.”  These people must do the bidding of higher authorities in the nuclear weapons complex or find a new job, quite likely at much lower pay. There is therefore little or no uncoerced deliberative content to the panel.
  • Lockheed-Martin, the world’s largest military contractor, has created its own little Lockheed-funded portion of UNM with a $1.25 million, 5-year grant.  LockMart is using UNM as a public relations front to advance a political agenda that will benefit the corporation’s profit-oriented idea of “national security,” which polls show is not widely shared by the American people in this case as in many others.  The panel is thus not just somewhat interest-conflicted – it is almost totally interest-conflicted.  The RRW program will involve more than $100 billion in contract work over 30 years; much of that work would go to the corporations represented on the panel.  The U.S. nuclear weapons complex is now 96% privatized; the 20-year, no-bid LANL contract alone is worth $37 billion, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).  Most Americans, and most members of the UNM community, have no idea how intellectually corrupt these institutions are, or how coercive are their internal cultures.
  • The U.S. has signed binding treaties and agreements which require complete nuclear disarmament, not nuclear maintenance – and certainly not nuclear rearmament, which the “responsive infrastructure” is meant to provide.  Under what legal basis does the work proceed?
  • The organizers of the panel have taken every pain to assure that the panel appears authoritative and prestigious.  In fact, the effort to produce weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the context of treaties requiring the exact opposite outcome – especially in the context of the aggressive wars now underway (which must invariably bring in their train violations of the Geneva Convention and widespread suffering) – breaks clear international law.
  • It also breaks domestic law, as ratified treaties become binding U.S. domestic law as well.  The speakers’ careers challenge the Nuremberg Principles, which require individuals to act independently of illegal government orders to uphold universal moral and legal principles even when the most serious personal repercussions may result – which is not at all the case here.  Preparing the instruments of mass murder breaks the universal moral norms of humankind and challenges civilization itself.  The purpose of the RRW is to threaten and if necessary annihilate of entire countries and peoples, the very definition of genocide. The supervisors of the individuals who will speak today have openly said the purpose of these weapons is to threaten the annihilation of countries and peoples, and to carry out this threat if necessary, on a number of occasions.
  • The University of New Mexico, the primary institution in this state charged with passing on the precious fruits of human civilization to future generations, is being suborned and perverted in this way.  It is possible that career ambitions and personal gain have been placed above academic and moral judgment, not just within the OPST but also in the political science department and elsewhere in the University.  It is our universal moral duty to speak up against preparations for nuclear holocaust, not to provide “intellectual” peer review for it. 

Mello continues: “Today, the entire world is watching the RRW program and New Mexico, and wondering whether a discussion of new kinds of nuclear weapons can proceed and be reported as a technical and management issue, free from legal, moral, and social friction.  Day and night many of us pray that journalists will be able to challenge this false authority and report the facts, standing on the firm ground of the values which uphold civilization, not the underlying hate, fear, and greed that drive the push for more weapons of mass destruction.”    


Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure… Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct.

From pamphlets written by the “White Rose”student resistance group at the University of Munich, 1942. 

***ENDS***

--
Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice *
505-265-1207 fax * 505-577-8563 cell
www.lasg.org

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email
to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To subscribe to our national
listserve, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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Action Alert #72 (09/30/06)

Bob Anderson's arrest & aftermath of RRW panel "discussion"

Dear colleagues and friends --

Yesterday a panel "discussion" of the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) organized by the University of New Mexico's (
UNM's) Office of Policy, Security, and Technology (OPST), described in detail in yesterday's Action Alert #71, took place.  (All of you getting this message should have gotten Friday's alert about this meeting.  If for some reason you didn't and wish you had, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.)

It was a difficult but productive event -- although not in the way the organizers intended, thanks in no small part to Bob Anderson's arrest (see below) as well as to the many citizens who packed the meeting room. 

Bob's arraignment is TOMORROW morning (
10/1/06) at Metro Court, 4th and Lomas NW in Albuquerque and he could use our support there. 

The event began with what I would say was an obsequious (to Sandia National Labs) and unlearned introduction by Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences Vera Norwood, who disparaged nuclear disarmament along with those who work for it, saying that "nuclear weapons cannot be uninvented" and "cannot be wished away."  Other platitudes followed.  Ms. Norwood apparently wasn't thinking of the many formal ways in which a great majority of the world's states (not just citizens) have testified to the practicality of nuclear disarmament, including permanently constraining their own nuclear activities, in effect staking their security on the practicality of the linked ideals of disarmament and nonproliferation. 

The six presentations which followed this were very one-sided, in my view amounting to little more than a sales pitch for the RRW from 5 out of the 6 speakers.  Even pro-nuclear-weapons, but anti-RRW, views were entirely suppressed, as were of course all perspectives which gave full credence to U.S. nuclear disarmament obligations under law. 

One of the speakers did offer international perspectives which cast doubt on the wisdom of pursuing the RRW, but these were couched as political matters which might be finessed by diplomatic initiatives taken to placate aggrieved allies and others.  There was no mention of the 1996 International Court of Justice opinion, even by this relatively liberal speaker, and Article VI of the NPT (full text here) was somewhat mischaracterized in the typical foreign-policy-establishment manner, with "cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament" rendered as a commitment to "eventually" achieve these ends.  This, to repeat, was the only presentation that did not lie entirely within the NNSA/laboratory complex promotional perspective. 

All Q&A were deferred until the end of the discussion, a good way to marginalize all views other than those of the panel itself. 

From the outset, this was a very difficult event for all concerned.  It was difficult to sit through almost two hours that involved very few facts (and those mostly decontextualized, even from the technical perspective, let alone any other) but did involve a lot of carefully-crafted slogans, followed by a sort of learned "analysis" based on and limited by those slogans and the ideology behind them, with the partial exception of the last speaker. 

Bob Anderson of
Albuquerque's Stop the War Machine (SWM) heard the bullshit barrage and spoke up, saying "You are talking about genocide!" and "Put Greg Mello on that panel, to give some balance!" and more.  Bob was forcibly removed, handcuffed, and dragged away by police to the Bernalillo County Detention Center

Bob spent the night in lock-up, with interim attorney Larry Kronen, his wife Jeanne, and others holding vigil outside all night.  He has been released, not on his own recognizance as we had thought, but after posting $5,000 in bail, which cost $500. 

In Bob's words today:

I was kept in the lock up until 6 am this morning, awake the whole time, no food…  Larry, Jeanne and Maria, Victor and Al did a lot of work on the bond and providing outside assistance in the long hours.  They were out at the inhumane social torture center called Metro Detention Center so far out of town no one can easily support their loved ones in jail.

I am trying to get back to all who called in the last day.  If I miss you please realize a lot has happened and I need to a respond to some of it quickly and will get to you.

I see Luis has posted some photos and I am getting back to the many people who witnessed the arrest and called afterwards.  Thanks to all you wonderful comrades!  This is what we need to build an organization and movement in this era when we are going to not only have to fight the imperial wars aboard but the disappearing laws at home, as was just passed in Congress turning over law to the military agenda.

I have an arraignment tomorrow morning SUNDAY, Oct. 1, at
10 am at the Metro court downtown, corner of Lomas and 4th.  If you want to, come on down and we can talk more there.  But there will be a trial later, which will need more support.  The university cop who took me down, whispering like almost in my ear that charging me with battery would ban me from campus, plus cost me jobs and work too, which is what they want, to silence any voices of opposition to the war industry and the new generation of nuclear weapons UNM and the war profiteers are after.  They don't mind smashing liberty here or anywhere.  

We need to build a large fund too for bail for times like this, I figure if we are effective in our work we will be needing to bail out many more quickly.

What I need at this time is if any one has photos or saw the event to let me know the details.  I need people who saw Andrew and Robb there too also getting pushed around.  Robb, Andrew can you write up what you saw…

Wanted to let everyone know to remember that this was a political act and the university's response was a political act to silence dissent. I just learned that Andrew and Robb were escorted out of the building to prevent them from speaking out at the meeting.  Andrew had held up a cloth banner and Robb had spoken out when they tried to take his banner and arrest him.

I don't know how many more people were denied entry or taken out of the meeting like this.

I do know that Vera Norwood the interim dean of Arts and Sciences came over before the meeting to tell me, I guess to tell everyone else to shut up and get in line, that the university space had been rented to Lockheed Martin and Sandia National Lab for this propaganda event - which was to sell to the public the idea that a new generation of nuclear weapons was what the country was demanding.  If they can keep up this kind of high level, academic certified need for new bombs then they can move faster to using them on places like
Iran. It is this kind of mass action which has prevented the state from already using the mega bombs, this is a new stage of that same campaign only around a trick called the RRW.

Of course LM and SNL and
UNM stand to make billions off a new generation of weapons and millions of people stand the risk of genocide from their use - it is important to remember that the RRW, Reliable Replacement Warhead, as Greg Mello of Los Alamos Study Group has pointed out can also be used as a tactical WMD which means they can use them in low yield mode in more places.
This crosses the threshold of WMDs in the wrong direction, opening up a new arms race and the potential for nukes to be used like cluster bombs, as
Israel did in Lebanon.  That is why we must speak out on these weapons, much as Germans should have done when the Nazis were developing their new advanced technologies and gas ovens for their global empire.  I see the RRW as a form of global gas oven.

What would help us all is if people write letters to the Lobo and the Journal and Tribune (and editorials for KUNM) about all that has happened and what is going on.  Be sure to call for justice at these charges against me which are intended to intimidate students on campus and other activists, and call for more mass actions and demonstrations at
UNM over their war profiteering.

Tribune <letters@abqtrib.com>; Opinion Journal <opinion@abqjournal.com>; Lobo <opinion@dailylobo.com>; KUNM News <news@kunm.org>

Many thanks to all who were there yesterday -- Bob

Trish handed out quite a lot of literature to the 100 or more attendees and at the end many of those present asked cogent questions, mostly without satisfactory answers.  I personally did not hear any positive remarks about the RRW whatsoever.  Some of the speakers expressed a sincere interest in learning more about the international law relating to nuclear weapons.  I don't think anybody left the room thinking the RRW was not very controversial, at a minimum.  Overall, I think we held the line. 

One problem is that in the absence of substantial print media attendance NNSA and SNL may be able to privately spin what happened as an "academic" discussion of the merits of the RRW (a kind of discussion which didn't happen) to unaccountable audiences elsewhere, to people who weren't there yesterday.  Some of these audiences might be in the Pentagon, for example, which has not yet given its support to RRW.

What did happen is that NNSA, Sandia, LANL, and their one invited guest (a former military intelligence officer teaching at
Georgetown who is a Sandia laboratories national security advisor) had a discussion about the RRW using UNM facilities, like a stage play.  An official photographer captured images of the "discussion" for these other uses.  The rest of us watched most of the time and were thrown out and arrested if we protested this format.  For reasons given yesterday, there was no balanced intellectual discussion, let alone a discussion that began with the civilization-upholding premise that we must not and cannot threaten to use weapons of mass destruction and therefore cannot keep them, exactly as the NPT requires. 

The struggle over whether the
U.S. will resume manufacturing nuclear weapons, and build a brand-new nuclear arsenal in the coming decades, has come to us. 

Right now, it would be very helpful to build on yesterday's events in a number of ways, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach to doing so. 

First off, donations for bond are very important.  You can send a donation to
SWM in care of the Peace and Justice Center at 202 Harvard SE, Albuq NM 87106 with the word BOND written in the subject line. 

You an write the
UNM regents and UNM President David Harris about the way this event was planned and conducted (for possible talking points, see yesterday's action alert).  Or about the OPST itself. 

Letter to the editors (see the links above for some places to send them) are very important.

This just begins the list, and the hour is late for us here. Contact us, and contact Stop the War Machine. 

Greg Mello

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--
Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice *
505-265-1207 fax * 505-577-8563 cell
www.lasg.org

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*********************
Action Alert #71 (09/29/06)

For Immediate Release

September 29, 2006

 

NNSA, Lockheed Host “Academic” Panel Discussion at UNM of New Nuclear Warheads and “Responsive” Manufacturing Plants

Entire panel works for, or is otherwise tied to, NNSA, labs – all other voices excluded


“Academic” event hosted by UNM
“office” funded entirely by Lockheed

 

Contact: Greg Mello 505-265-1200

 

Albuquerque – Today, September 29, 2006, from 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm at the Student Union Building (SUB) on the University of New Mexico (UNM) main campus in Albuquerque in Santa Ana rooms A & B, there will be a panel discussion about the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program.  The event is sponsored by the UNM Office for Policy, Security, and Technology (OPST), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Women in International Security (WIIS).  Details can be found at http://www.unm.edu/%7Eopst/events.html.


Greg Mello, Study Group Director:  “The goal of today’s discussion, from the perspective of those paying for it, has nothing whatsoever to do with its technical or policy content.  What is being attempted is to harness the academic thirst for prestige to create a façade of legitimacy for
U.S. weapons of mass destruction programs, which are now in political and financial trouble.” 


The so-called RRW program and its associated construction program designed to create a “responsive infrastructure” of agile nuclear warhead factories that will replace all U.S. nuclear weapons with new-design warheads over the coming 30 or so years. 
U.S. nuclear warheads are highly reliable – far more so than other weapons systems components – and current life-extension programs are in the process of extending their “shelf-life” for decades to come.  Tens of billions of dollars have already been committed.  In the proposed new RRW program, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) wishes to gradually replace existing warheads with untested new warheads.  Neither Congress nor the Pentagon has yet approved RRW except in its earliest stages. 


Greg Mello, Study Group Director:

“The key questions regarding Friday’s panel are not this or that management strategy for U.S. nuclear weapons.  They are not whether nuclear weapons are a problem in some sense – or perhaps a panacea for military insufficiency, as U.S. nuclear doctrine suggests.  These are very important questions but they are not the gravamen of concern today.  The key issues are rather:

  • The false impression being given that this is an “academic” panel, when in fact all but one of the panelists work for NNSA, SNL, or LANL.  Each would be fired in a heartbeat if they said anything that strayed too far from the “party line.”  These people must do the bidding of higher authorities in the nuclear weapons complex or find a new job, quite likely at much lower pay. There is therefore little or no uncoerced deliberative content to the panel.
  • Lockheed-Martin, the world’s largest military contractor, has created its own little Lockheed-funded portion of UNM with a $1.25 million, 5-year grant.  LockMart is using UNM as a public relations front to advance a political agenda that will benefit the corporation’s profit-oriented idea of “national security,” which polls show is not widely shared by the American people in this case as in many others.  The panel is thus not just somewhat interest-conflicted – it is almost totally interest-conflicted.  The RRW program will involve more than $100 billion in contract work over 30 years; much of that work would go to the corporations represented on the panel.  The U.S. nuclear weapons complex is now 96% privatized; the 20-year, no-bid LANL contract alone is worth $37 billion, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).  Most Americans, and most members of the UNM community, have no idea how intellectually corrupt these institutions are, or how coercive are their internal cultures.
  • The U.S. has signed binding treaties and agreements which require complete nuclear disarmament, not nuclear maintenance – and certainly not nuclear rearmament, which the “responsive infrastructure” is meant to provide.  Under what legal basis does the work proceed?
  • The organizers of the panel have taken every pain to assure that the panel appears authoritative and prestigious.  In fact, the effort to produce weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the context of treaties requiring the exact opposite outcome – especially in the context of the aggressive wars now underway (which must invariably bring in their train violations of the Geneva Convention and widespread suffering) – breaks clear international law.
  • It also breaks domestic law, as ratified treaties become binding U.S. domestic law as well.  The speakers’ careers challenge the Nuremberg Principles, which require individuals to act independently of illegal government orders to uphold universal moral and legal principles even when the most serious personal repercussions may result – which is not at all the case here.  Preparing the instruments of mass murder breaks the universal moral norms of humankind and challenges civilization itself.  The purpose of the RRW is to threaten and if necessary annihilate of entire countries and peoples, the very definition of genocide. The supervisors of the individuals who will speak today have openly said the purpose of these weapons is to threaten the annihilation of countries and peoples, and to carry out this threat if necessary, on a number of occasions.
  • The University of New Mexico, the primary institution in this state charged with passing on the precious fruits of human civilization to future generations, is being suborned and perverted in this way.  It is possible that career ambitions and personal gain have been placed above academic and moral judgment, not just within the OPST but also in the political science department and elsewhere in the University.  It is our universal moral duty to speak up against preparations for nuclear holocaust, not to provide “intellectual” peer review for it. 

Mello continues: “Today, the entire world is watching the RRW program and New Mexico, and wondering whether a discussion of new kinds of nuclear weapons can proceed and be reported as a technical and management issue, free from legal, moral, and social friction.  Day and night many of us pray that journalists will be able to challenge this false authority and report the facts, standing on the firm ground of the values which uphold civilization, not the underlying hate, fear, and greed that drive the push for more weapons of mass destruction.”    


Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure… Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct.

From pamphlets written by the “White Rose”student resistance group at the University of Munich, 1942. 

***ENDS***

--
Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice *
505-265-1207 fax * 505-577-8563 cell
www.lasg.org

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email
to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To subscribe to our national
listserve, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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*********************
Action Alert #70 (09/24/06)

Two big opportunities to speak against nuclear genocide, past and planned

1. UNM to discuss huge new U.S. warhead program – come if you can!
2. LANL offers tour at TA-16, more – attend if you can!
3. Guest editorial: Pit production – once begun, hard to control 

 

Next time:

  • Divine Strake mininuke demonstration, coming to New Mexico?  What you can do.
  • Governor’s Orwellian “Peace” conference (again)
  • More

**Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested.** 

Dear friends and colleagues – 

 

1. UNM to discuss huge new U.S. warhead program in a grossly unbalanced forum bought and paid for by Lockheed-Martin. Please come if you can – and speak up.

 

a. The event 

On September 29, 2006, from 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm at the Student Union Building (SUB) on the University of New Mexico (UNM) main campus in Albuquerque in Santa Ana rooms A & B, there will be a panel discussion about the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program.  The event is sponsored by the UNM Office for Policy, Security, and Technology (OPST), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Women in International Security (WIIS); here are the official details.


b. The sponsors 

Those of you familiar with our situation in New Mexico know that UNM is very closely associated with the New Mexico’s two nuclear weapons laboratories and with the military and its contractors.  In a 2001 ranking of universities’military contracts by former Study Group associate Darwin BondGraham, UNM ranked #15 nationally in absolute value of its military contracts. 


For example,
UNM has a $50 million grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the agency sponsoring the proposed 0.6 kiloton Divine Strake explosion meant to help perfect (or far more likely, to demonstrate) a low-yield nuclear earth-penetrating weapon. The head of DTRA at the time of the grant (and of the conception of Divine Strake), was Steve Younger, former head of weapons design at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and now manager of the Nevada Test Site (NTS) for the Northrup-Grumman led consortium running NTS.  I am sure it is no accident that Dr. Younger was able to remember New Mexico and Senator Domenici when he made that huge DTRA grant. (A Sandian and former Reagan Administration official, James Tegnelia, now runs DTRA).  


This ranking of #15 in military funding, high though it is, does not capture the full scope of
UNM’s institutional obeisance to the nuclear-military complex or its role in training new workers for the labs and weapons plants.  I want to go into the context of this panel just a little to illustrate how this is apparently working in this case. 

OPST was created by former SNL senior vice president and weapons manager Roger Hagengruber, who started up OPST in 2003, bringing with him a 5-year grant from SNL to UNM of $250,000 per year to establish OPST.  The current director, Andrew Ross, took over for Hagengruber in 2005.  


Besides SNL and OPST, the other panel co-sponsor is WIIS, headquartered at
Georgetown University.  The funders WIIS mentions are here; its executive board is here


He who pays the piper calls the tune. In this case Lockheed appears to be paying, and there is nobody on the panel without direct ties to SNL or the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) which funds most of SNL.  The one person on the panel who does not work directly for the NNSA or a nuclear lab is Elizabeth Stanley, a member of SNL’s National Security Advisory Board.  Let us hope she is enough of a nuclear abolitionist to balance the four others.  


OPST does many things, including sponsoring a recent CIA speaker on the anniversary of
9/11/01 and sponsoring curriculum development, including a grant for "The Human Settlement of Space: Practical and Political Pitfalls and Possibilities," to Mohamed S. El-Genk, whose main interest is space nuclear power systems. There is nothing to suggest that entire ambit of OPST’s activities falls anywhere but inside the narrative of national security state, or what might be expected in a sort of “Lockheed-Martin University,” if we had one.  Perhaps in a way we do. 


c. The warhead program in question
 

The RRW is a huge program that aims to remake the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with new untested warheads, at a cost that would certainly exceed $100 billion dollars between now and 2030 (a date NNSA is using as a milestone these days). 


The RRW program, in addition to making thousands of new warheads, is conceived as enabling the creation of a new “responsive infrastructure” of nuclear factories and labs, the mere existence of which is supposed to help “deter”
America’s enemies, “dissuade” America’s competitors, yadayada.  The pivotal and rate-determining step in this plan is the manufacture of plutonium warhead cores (“pits”) at LANL, which, contrary to statements you may have read, has not yet begun.  (Practice manufacturing has begun, but no pits for the stockpile yet.) 


Some rather terse background on these developments is provided in item 3 below.  I’ve left out most of the political implications of the RRW to keep it brief.  Those implications are huge, really huge.  The weapons complex is going to be in bad trouble if they can’t push this thing through.


Next time, I will explain some of the issues and why nuclear disarmament is, now more than ever, the message we need to include in all we do and say about nuclear policy, why it is the message which will be powerful, and why it is the only message which unites us all. I will also explain why it is we are moving into a time when we have more power than we did in the recent past, how we can win if we act forthrightly, and how we might do that.


I didn’t use the word “genocide” in the title of this action alert lightly.  There is no use of nuclear weapons that would not involve mass destruction of human beings and the will to do so.  It would not be an unfortunate “accident.”  The terror of this in the heart of the enemy puts the “terr” in nuclear deterrence, as former Sandia President Paul Robinson used to say.  Nobel Laureates and Manhattan Project veterans Enrico Fermi and Isidor Rabi said it somewhat differently in 1949 in their addendum to a report on the question of whether to develop a hydrogen bomb: 


It is clear that the use of such a weapon cannot be justified on any ethical ground which gives a human being a certain individuality and dignity even if he happens to be a resident of an enemy country…It is necessarily an evil thing considered in any light.


This quote and much more useful material can be found in the essay on the cover of the Call for Nuclear Disarmament brochure (pdf).  


2. LANL offers tours at TA-16, more – attend if you can!

It’s not easy to get inside TA-16 at LANL these days, or to visit the building(s) where the bombs dropped on Japan were assembled.  If you act quickly you may be able to do this on Friday, October 6.  


On Oct. 5-7 LANL and the Atomic Heritage Society are having a gala event (and fundraiser) called “The Legacy of the Manhattan Project: Creativity in Science and the Arts.”  That title might make you want to puke, but if so it is only a mark of sanity.  And it is very important for sane people to go to this event – and once there, to speak up. 

Besides, it is likely that some
New Mexico political leaders will be there.  Since our congressional delegation so seldom has time to actually meet with citizens (as opposed to celebrating a legacy of mass murder as a font of creativity in the arts and sciences, in this case), this might be a good time to talk to them.  If nobody goes our elected officials may say things to the press they would not say in a meeting, say, with the Los Alamos Study Group.   


The flier is here, rather perfectly illustrating nuclear weapons as a Faustian dream.  Schedule and ticketing information is here.


3. Pit production once begun, hard to control

(guest editorial, Los Alamos Monitor, 9/14/06)


In late 2007 Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is slated to begin production of plutonium warhead cores (“pits”) for the
U.S. stockpile.  If this occurs I believe it will the first time LANL has made pits for the stockpile since 1949 and it will be the first time the U.S. has produced new stockpile pits since 1989.

Producing pits for the stockpile has a number of serious implications for the lab, the town, and the country.  Before discussing these, I would like to lay out some of what is publicly known about possible future pit production at LANL.

According to National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) budget submittals and the LANL draft site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS), the rate of pit production, now zero, is supposed to reach between 30 and 50 stockpile pits/year by 2012 if not before, or up to 80 pits/year including test pits and rejects.

The first pits to be made are for W88 475-kiloton submarine-launched warheads, to be made at a rate of 10 per year.  Congressional budget submittals indicate that a total of 70 W88s are to be produced between early FY2008 and FY2014.

In addition, by 2012 if not well before (conflicting accounts are given) pits for at least one version of the “Reliable Replacement Warhead” (RRW) are slated to begin production.

According to NNSA chief Linton Brooks, RRWs are supposed to replace all the pits in the stockpile, expected to number about 6,000 in 2012.  The first weapons to be replaced are the two Trident warheads, the W76 and W88.  The W76 is now in the beginning stages of a $2.5 billion upgrade, expected to extend its life for another 30 years.  (This also happens to be the expected life of the RRW.  Go figure.)

What will happen after 2012, the end of the SWEIS analysis period?  That depends on decisions made between now and then.  One of the most crucial decisions is now pending before the Energy and Water Appropriations Conference Committee, namely whether to continue funding for the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) building.  The CMRR is a $1 billion, 400,000 square-foot facility that would provide pit production support at TA-55, among secondary purposes.

The House Appropriations Committee, led in this matter by David Hobson (R-OH), believes the CMRR is “irrational” and “absurd” and has proposed cutting all funding (last year) or nearly all funding (this year) for the project.  Senator Domenici got the CMRR fully funded last year.  This year’s negotiations are still pending and it is unlikely that a decision will take place before the November 2nd elections.

How many pits might LANL make?  Possibly all of them.  Take a look at the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) report on the future of the nuclear weapons complex.  The SEAB, while generally endorsing the concept of a “Consolidated
Nuclear Production Center” (CNPC) that would integrate all major nuclear activities at a single site, also advised that LANL’s main plutonium building (PF-4) could produce 20 times as many pits per year as it now does.  Depending on how one interprets this, PF-4’s alleged potential production appears to be in the range of 200-400 pits/year.

NNSA’s most recent admitted plan for large-scale pit production was the so-called Modern Pit Facility (MPF), a roughly $4 billion project capable of making 125-450 pits/year, originally to come on line circa 2020.  LANL was the preferred site for the MPF from the technical perspective.

NNSA, having failed to sell this plan, now requests no funding for the MPF through at least 2011.  Instead, the “realignment of prior Modern Pit Facility funding starting in FY 2007 will support NNSA planning to increase pit manufacturing capacity at LANL.”

Looking at total pit-manufacturing sunk costs at LANL since 1995, DOE and NNSA have already spent about $2.5 B in 2006 dollars laying the groundwork for pit production at LANL.  A decade from now, NNSA (assuming its requests are funded), will have spent a few more billions of dollars on pit production at LANL (the exact number depending on what you want to count).  So ten years from now, if all goes according to published plans, funds comparable in size and purpose to those anticipated for the MPF will have been spent at LANL, and a production capacity comparable to the MPF will have been achieved.

How? NNSA plans to enable greater pit production capacity at LANL by a number of means.  The first is new and refurbished facilities, centrally the CMRR, which is now in the early stages of design/build and is slated to begin operation in 2014.  In addition to the CMRR there is the “Plutonium Facility Complex Refurbishment Project,” major security and transportation investments, expansion of the nuclear waste disposal area at TA-54, the “Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility Upgrade Project” in TA-50, and a TA-55 radiography facility, to pick only the most obvious.

Second, the Department of Energy (DOE) and NNSA hope to relocate plutonium-238 activities from PF-4 to the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), roughly doubling the floor space available to pit production in PF-4.

Third, the RRW will be designed for automated manufacture, with fewer “hands-on”steps, fewer hazardous materials, looser tolerances in key places, and fewer manufacturing steps and work stations overall.  These design changes, taken together and combined with other “agile” manufacturing innovations would enable, it is thought, much greater production rates.

Finally, reconfiguration of production equipment and relocation of stored material and light laboratory functions may liberate more PF-4 space and enable what is available to be used more efficiently for pit production.

If made, these investments will likely commit LANL to being the sole
U.S. pit production facility. What other billions would be available for another? 


            Next time: the implications of pit production for the lab and the town.

--
Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice * 505-265-1207 fax * 505-577-8563 cell
www.lasg.org

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email
to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To subscribe to our national
listserve, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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*********************
Action Alert #69 (09/05/06)
Urgent: Call Jeff Bingaman TODAY to stop low-yield nuclear simulation explosion, pit production

Dear friends and colleagues --

1. A massive explosion is planned to simulate a
U.S. attack on underground targets with a low-yield nuclear earth-penetrating weapon. The test, dubbed "Divine Strake," is to involve some 700 tons of explosives.  Grassroots activists in Nevada and Utah drove the test out of the Nevada Test Site and the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) is a very likely location for the test.  Arms control lobbyists in Washington, DC believe Senator Bingaman could stop this test by offering a floor amendment TODAY, when the Defense Appropriations Bill is said to be coming to the floor of the Senate for final passage. This seems quite a long shot, but still it is important for the Senator to hear from New Mexicans on this issue.  By far the most thoughtful background on the Divine Strake issue is at DisarmamantActivist.org.

Earlier, I wrote the Senator as follows, using language I thought even some defense hawks could understand:

The Senator could gain many friends by offering and fighting for a floor amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill to cancel this test.  It may be in his state, so his views might well be heeded.  He would thereby also do a big service to U.S. national security, which would be damaged by a surrogate nuclear test simulating low-yield nuclear attack munitions.  I won't belabor the point; it ought to be a "no-brainer."  Many people are asking, is there anyone conscious enough on Capital Hill to stop the terrible erosion in the world's opinion concerning the United States?  In the most conservative terms, since we can't fully stop terrorists by military and technical means, each time we give terrorist constituencies more reasons to hate us we directly damage our own security.  This is not rocket science.

Make the call, but don't hold your breath.  Usually, when we call or write a member of our congressional delegation, we are at risk of merely placating ourselves.  If we are truly serious about our values, truly serious about protecting our children, truly serious about restoring our democracy, make the call and then get busy doing what needs to be done to REALLY make things happen.  The actions we have suggested in past Action Alerts are a good place to start.

2. While you are talking to Bingaman's office, please ask him to speak out against funding the new plutonium warhead core ("pit") production support facility planned for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). This $1+ billion facility is opposed by the House Appropriations Committee, which calls it "irrational" and "absurd."  As far as we know only Senator Domenici is promoting it in the entire Congress.  It is a central part of the plan to build a large-scale pit production facility at LANL over the next 8 years, re-starting nuclear weapons production for the U.S. after what will be a 19-year hiatus and then increasing production rates to 200 pits/year and beyond in order to manufacture thousands of pits and thousands of new nuclear weapons, "revitalizing" the nuclear production infrastructure, stockpiling the new weapons thought to be more appropriate for threatening countries like Iran and North Korea (but by no means limited to these), and crushing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).  Here is some background, but detailed knowledge is not necessary for effective action.  

Bingaman's phone numbers are here: http://bingaman.senate.gov/contact/offices/index.cfm.  His general contact page is here: http://bingaman.senate.gov/contact/.

More actions you can take will follow in Action Alert #70.

Very best to all,

Greg Mello

If you want to take part in nuclear disarmament-related activities relating to
New Mexico or its laboratories, we urge you to send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net
<mailto:lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net>. This will add you to a New Mexico-oriented nuclear disarmament listserve, which receives more information than the one conveying this message. (If you don't want to be on that list-serve, you need take no action. And if you don't want to be on THIS list-serve, just send a blank email to lasg-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net <mailto:lasg-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net>.)

--
Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice * 505-265-1207 fax * 505-577-8563 cell
www.lasg.org

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email
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Action Alert #68 (08/22/06)

There's a good opportunity to demonstrate tomorrow (Wednesday) against the resumption of U.S. nuclear weapons and plutonium pit production

Dear friends and colleagues --

On Wednesday August 23 at 9:30 am, both New Mexico senators plus an assortment of Department of Energy (DOE), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) officials will dedicate a new nanotechnology facility located on the west side of Eubank, just north of the Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) gate.  It’s good to be there at 9:30 am or 10:00 am at the latest. 

The new building has a long, curving Chaco-Canyon-like stone façade, meant to symbolically link the ancient creativity of Native Americans with today’s nuclear-military labs.

(There’s a short Albuquerque Journal article today about the nanotechnology facilities being dedicated at Los Alamos and Albuquerque.) 

Stop the War Machine sent out an alert on this event last night, and we at the Los Alamos Study Group also hope you will join us if at all possible.  The media will be there as well as the senators, so signs protesting plutonium bomb core ("pit") production, the further militarization of the New Mexico economy, and related subjects are very welcome. 

While the nanotechnology center being celebrated Wednesday will have some commercial applications, most near-term applications will be military in nature and remain "inside the fence."  The military potential is huge, at least theoretically, in all spheres of military interest, from earth-penetrating bombs and missiles to swarms of nanobots, quite possibly powered by radioisotope batteries (also being developed in Albuquerque), and on and on.  Some nanotechnologies may enable new tactics in the realm of unattributable, unceasing, unlimited war, or "pure war" as it is sometimes called.  The "transformational" military potential of nanotechnologies is the primary reason why they are being funded and developed by the military agencies of this country, including DOE. 

There are also serious longstanding questions about the wisdom of nanotechnology in general, some of which were famously (re)stated by Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy (his 2000 Wired article is here). 

Meanwhile it has been impossible so far for us to arrange any meeting with either senator regarding their plans to resume plutonium bomb core ("pit") production in New Mexico, which would effectively re-start U.S. nuclear weapons production after a 17-year hiatus.  In fact over the last decade and more it has been quite difficult to arrange any meeting, let alone a meeting I would characterize as substantive, with either New Mexico senator on any subject at any time.  I see no evidence in public policy that any such meeting has occurred in our absence, either.[1] 

Since nuclear weapons are hugely unpopular in the U.S., including New Mexico, and since every single speaker at the recent hearings on LANL’s pit production plans spoke against these plans, even in Los Alamos, the continuation of these plans is evidence of a breakdown of democracy. 

See you tomorrow?

Greg

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[1] Other influences are steadily at work.  The two New Mexico labs are Senator Bingaman's top two campaign contributors, for example.  The staff members working on nuclear issues in their offices are frequently hired from LANL, SNL, or elsewhere in the nuclear industry.  In Senator Domenici's case LANL supplied him with a LANL issues staff member (Pete Lyons) at LANL expense (i.e. UC's expense, paid by DOE, i.e. by us) for many years, in effect making a corporate lobbyist a full-time, long-term senior staff member, quite possibly an unparallelled arrangement even for the Senate.  Pete Lyons is now one of five commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as is former Bingaman lab issues director Ed McGaffigan.  Domenici's powerful protege Alex Flint, a quintessential nuclear industry insider, lobbyist, and committee staff director, was the subject of this critical MSNBC report.  The New Mexico news media operates as if any criticism of these august beings were the crime of lèse majesté, so they get away with practically anything -- including, in Senator Domenici's case, passing off a highly-technical book promoting nuclear power as if he actually understood, let alone wrote, the book.  We need seek no farther than these legal forms of corruption and the pusillanimous response of opinion leaders in New Mexico to grasp why New Mexico's poverty continues unaddressed by government policy.

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Action Alert #67 (08/12/06)
Potluck Sunday 4 pm; plutonium "pit" production hearings create new opportunities

Dear friends and colleagues --

1. Potluck tomorrow!


This Sunday (tomorrow!) from
4 to 9 pm, Trish and I and our visiting interns from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) would like to invite you to come to our home and office for dinner and relaxed palaver.  Bring something to eat if you can, but come with or without food.  Our main office address is 2901 Summit Place NE in Albuquerque, which is one block south of Constitution and one block east of Girard.  If you are on Girard you should turn east on Mountain, go one block, and then go north on Dartmouth one block.  If you are coming on Constitution, turn south on Richmond, go one block, and then turn west on Summit Place for one block.  Our house is on the north side of the street.  It will be great to see friends and we can exchange news, views, and practical information.  Last night Chelsea Collonge from Nevada Desert Experience (NDE) arrived, so we really have a full house (and yard) this week.  Come on over!

2. Plutonium "pit" production hearings creating fresh opportunities

This week's hearings on the draft LANL Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) were interesting and notable.  Many of you took part in them, which helped.  Now it's necessary to reach the decisionmakers who will listen and to whom NNSA will listen.  Some of these are in Congress; some are local elected officials; some are running newspapers. 

Please call us now if you want to join with others to help stop pit production -- this weekend if you can.


If you weren't there and only read about the meetings in the Santa Fe New Mexican, that paper's reporting of these events (which was also the basis of an AP wire story today) didn't capture the unanimity of opposition -- not at all.  It was unanimous in every hearing, including Los Alamos.  It was also trenchant -- especially in Espanola, which meeting drew the most attendance from points north.  The New Mexican, you may have noticed if you have been reading carefully over the past few years, has become more and more strongly biased toward the opinions of those who hold positions of power.  If you feel strongly, would be a very good idea to talk to the senior management of the paper.  LANL and its brownshirt squad do so each time there is criticism of LANL.  In the past LANL has worked very effectively to get reporters and editors fired when it suits them.  There is no balancing complaint from those who have noticed the appalling lack of, and imbalance in, coverage. 

Many or most people attending these hearings recognize that the SWEIS process per se offers little or no political leverage to change public policy.  Still, there will be some who continue to invest in the idea that writing to the Bush Administration for administrative relief will be effective.  It is important that a few people do this, a few, but numbers don't really count for very much at this stage.  One mention of the problem on page XYZ is enough.  The SWEIS forum is now primarily a legal one from this point forward, where expert opinion and legal power count most if they count at all.  In any case, direct public opinion will not be heeded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  They don't care at all what you or I or any member of the public thinks.  I hope nobody is confused on this point.  They do care about how we might be able to hurt their programs.

There are many effective ways to do this.  For most people reading this message, what's most important is to express one's opinion publicly as firmly and as widely as possible, and to take part in strong and effective education of elected officials, winning them over publicly and adding their voices to the fray.  For example, a relatively small number of New Mexico cities who publicly reject plutonium pit production at LANL, as
Santa Fe and Madrid have already done, might be enough to stop it.  In these cities, councilors must be encouraged to reach out to their counterparts elsewhere.  You can look on our web site for more ways to get involved, especially here (pdf). 

Is the apparent opposition to pit production in
New Mexico mostly just hot air?  That's the question NNSA and the big contractors like Bechtel and Lockheed, with tens of billions of dollars riding on the outcome, are asking.  So are members of Congress.  It's an open question.  It's one of those questions for which we are the answer.

Meetings are now being scheduled with elected officials.  Trips to
Washington are in the works.  Research -- not especially on the SWEIS -- is very effective if you have the time.  We are doing a lot more than I care to write in this space, and would do more if we had more help.  If you have time and interest, please call and talk to Trish, I, or the interns with us this week.  In the meantime come over tomorrow if you can. 

If you've got the time we can help you make it effective.  I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if we don't take the time now to stop these plans, we sure won't have very much time for anything at all later.  They eat time -- that is, lives.  The goal of these giant contractors, the greed machines, is to increase their "take" from everyone's paycheck while producing the danger that keeps everybody too frightened and confused to stop them.  If we want to stop the war, we have to stop it here and now.  It's not just the best way, it's really the only way. 

Call us!

greg

If you aren't getting this email directly and want to take part in nuclear disarmament-related activities relating to
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Action Alert #66 (08/04/06)
Important nuclear updates and events

1. Hiroshima remembrance and call to action: August 6, 2006 in Los Alamos
2. Hearings on the resumption and expansion of U.S. plutonium bomb core ("pit") production: August 8, 9, and 10 in Los Alamos, Espanola, and Santa Fe respectively
3. Invitation to join
4. Governor Richardson's fake peace conference
5. Three Excellent Ways to support nuclear disarmament, requisite centerpiece of any green path for NM and the U.S.

Here we go! This is long but I hope you will find it worthwhile! Apologies for any duplicates. Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested.

1. Hiroshima remembrance and call to action: August 6, 2006 in Los Alamos

We urge everyone to go to Los Alamos this Sunday, August 6, for this years Hiroshima remembrance and call to action. This year's events are being organized by Pax Christi, Dragonfly Sanctuary of Madrid, NM, and Santa Fe Veterans for Peace. One can never tell in advance how the speakers and fellowship with other activists may touch our hearts, even to the extent of opening new life possibilities for us involving deeper spiritual fulfillment as well as comradeship. Given the fact that what is happening in Los Alamos in particular and in New Mexico overall as regards nuclear weapons is truly of pivotal, world-historical importance, it is no wonder that some people now want to get more involved.

Events start a little before 1 pm at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos with a sackcloth-and-ashes meditation (supplies provided) and will continue until dark. At sunset (with your help?) 3,000 floating candles will grace Ashley Pond, one for each 100 victims at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This highly moving ceremony will no doubt take on special significance this year as the fires of war continue to consume so many innocents in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Lebanon, in both places largely thanks to U.S. policies.

Then, on August 7, comes the real deal. On that morning as on the next, practically every voice in our society will tell us all to go back to sleep, to ignore the current war in Iraq and proxy war in Lebanon, and to ignore the possible war in Iran (not to mention Syria). But let's not. Let's not wait for the fire next time, the next Hiroshima or the next 9/11. Right now, Bechtel and the other LANL contractors are seizing the future, leaving privation and war as a legacy. Not the distant future, either. We all know their plans aren't very much impeded by a few hundred people in a park for a day, but if do you want to stop these plans and you have the time, it can be done. Call us.

2. Hearings on the resumption and expansion of U.S. plutonium bomb core ("pit") production, August 8, 9, and 10 in Los Alamos, Espanola, and Santa Fe respectively

Over the past year we have been sending out alerts and background information regarding the resumption and proposed expansion of pit production in Los Alamos (see our web site; scroll down and poke around; for example see this recent summary taken from this overview brochure and this February 6, 2006 press release).

There are about to be formal public hearings about this subject, the only public hearings there may ever be, unless the Department of Energy's (DOE's) process (which is to say that of its semi-subsidiary fiefdom the National Nuclear Security Administration, NNSA) breaks down by popular demand.

Dates, times, and the background documents involved in these hearings are here.

Notice I didn't say "request." "Demand," or "respectfully demand" is closer to the right phrase if we want to be effective in this case. Respectfully demand how, by that means? That's the question, and it has many answers. The key thing is for us to act outside the framework set up to capture and consume our energy, or we will end up being used. But if we don't engage at all and instead go off talking about creating a "culture of peace," or some such vagueness, we accomplish nothing.

This is a process being held under the auspices of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in which the goal, as far as DOE is concerned, is to improve a DOCUMENT, namely the Draft Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement [SWEIS] for Continued Operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory [LANL]. The purpose of the testimony we give, as far as DOE is concerned, is to insulate DOE from any citizen concern which could be expressed later via lawsuit. Thus we citizens are to offer peer review regarding the environmental impact of DOE's nuclear weapons programs at LANL, helping DOE protect LANL. This tricky situation has been set up as a kind of "shock absorber" against the hard realities which could be expressed by citizens under less controlled situations. Our comments are likely to be typed and assembled by temporary employees and are unlikely even to be read by any cognizant official.

John Immele, long-time director of the nuclear weapons program at LANL, wrote of this process in Weapons Insider (an internal LANL newsletter, since discontinued) in 1999: “A...lesson from the weapons program of the early and mid 1990s as well as the fissile materials disposition program is the necessity for and (surprising) success of publicly vetting our strategies through environmental impact statements."

Despite these problems, despite the danger of merely legitimating a bad process that has a predetermined outcome, it is very good in all ways for us to be there.

To which hearing should we go? The most powerful voices against resuming and/or expanding pit production may be those in the Los Alamos community. Those voices may be encouraged by our thoughtful and heartfelt presence and words. In many ways it is to them, not to the formal decisionmakers, to whom we will speak. We may say anything whatsoever you wish. We may perform a skit. It is a moment of truth, in which intimacy and truth in action count for much. I would say that Los Alamos is the most important hearing, on August 8.

The second most important is probably Espanola on August 9, because the movement against further investment nuclear weapons is at root related to issues related to poverty, human security, and the growing divide between the haves and have-nots in this country. When these issues coalesce with each other and with related issues into a political platform, the situation will be pregnant with possibility.

Opposition in Santa Fe is predictable (but not as to scale!) and is therefore the least important, but important nonetheless. If you can't go to Los Alamos or Espanola, go to Santa Fe on August 10.

Best of all and most interesting if you have the time: go to all three.

You can read the ~ 2,000 page draft SWEIS at the links above and I encourage you to look it over. It doesn't say much we haven't been saying for the past year or two. The issue will be decided not on the basis of detailed technical analysis, but on the profoundity of citizen opposition, expressed in ways which the DOE cannot counter.

If there are an overwhelming number of people present, this sends a signal that the subject and the situation are very controversial. This is very good.

If, as a result of dignified, firm, nonviolent pressure, the basic structure of the situation falls apart in some way and there is a loss of moral control -- quite the opposite of hooliganism, as must be plain to see -- there will be a very positive effect. Extension of hearings to extra days and extra venues, continuation of the hearings deep into the night -- anything that delays the schedule of the final document production will hurt the programs that make nuclear weapons, since some of them are tied to the current congressional funding cycle. It is especially important to block the $1 billion Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) facility, which is a new pit factory, which the House has killed twice but the Senate has resurrected once so far (guess who is doing that). We citizens killed this project, under another name ("Special Nuclear Materials Research and Development Laboratory") in 1990.

You could write Ms. Elizabeth Withers, who is administering this process for the DOE (though not allowed to make too many decisions) at LANL_SWEIS@doeal.gov, asking for additional hearings. You can send her your written comments if you like. You have until September 5 to submit comments. You might ask why there are not, for example, hearings in Albuquerque or in Taos. But I strongly encourage you to copy the two senators and your congressperson as well, and to write the newspapers, because the DOE is all too ready to ignore your request. Then I suggest you visit the offices of the senators and your congressperson in person.

This is just the beginning of a thousand ways to impede pit production -- which are not "created equal." Effectiveness grows exponentially with our attention, commitment, and time.

The person who is pushing the expansion of pit production at LANL hardest is Senator Domenici. House Appropriators want to kill it (see "Nuclear Spending Comes Under Fire," below.) So this is not a done deal, not at all. We can stop pit production. If you want to help, call. Don't think that large numbers of people are necessary. They aren't. One person can make a big difference -- a determinative difference.

3. Invitation to join

Speaking of making a difference, we could use skilled, committed help now more than ever!

This could mean a lot of things. It could mean noticing that a person you know might be able to work here for a couple of weeks, and suggesting they do so. It could mean recruiting a skilled retiree to work on any of a half-dozen projects here. (We can house visitors for a short time -- indeed we are planning on housing, feeding, and transporting 7 interns for 10 days starting next week!)

I'm not going to make a list of things you could do here. There's a broad base of common tasks, and there's no need to write up the specialized ones here. To pick one job, a person who could "sell" 5 billboards in a day about pit production on medium-to-heavy-use surface streets in, say, Santa Fe would thereafter reach about 20,000 people per day or more than 7,000,000 viewers in a year. The signs are top-quality and designs can be "tweaked" at will; the political effect would be dramatic on a per dollar and per hour basis. You get the idea. There are also more specialized interventions, and if you have steady or regularly-repeating time available, or a one-time, multi-week block, please call!

In this regard, I wish to draw your attention to what I perceive as a deadly, toxic fog of low expectations, an assumption of political paralysis, that has come to permeate the New Mexico activist world, nearly all of it on every issue. Most people these days assume, without even knowing it, that nothing new or worthwhile is possible and they act accordingly. "Oh," a person might respond, "you are telling me I could do something in a day or two that would reach and inspire tens of thousands of people? Oh, sure, buddy. Thanks for the information." None of this is actually said, mind you, or even consciously thought. Everybody just seems drugged, asleep. It's exactly like "Oh, you mean I could save my family, my children, from certain destruction and ruin if I did something? Hey, I'll think about it and catch ya later." Most folks these days seem to have little idea what democracy is. Freedom is something that happens in the supermarket isle, right, as in freedom of consumer choice? They do not "rise to the height of political being" (Rosa Luxemburg), not even in a dream. The Greeks of old Athens would say that such a life is not fully human -- that it's privative, literally idiotic in the root sense of the term. As my teacher Robert Aitken says, we need to take up the radical role of the bodhisattva in society or we will not even be able to die with dignity.

4. Governor Richardson's fake peace conference

The Study Group has been active in attempting to quash the Governor's faux peace conference. We wrote a regional action alert about it, here. And we joined with other organizations in writing some of the invited speakers, urging them not to come, a fairly radical step. That letter is pasted below this message. This conference generated an enormous amount of excellent discussion around the state in peacemaking circles, which is still going on. Watch this space for updates or contact me.

5. Three Excellent Ways to support nuclear disarmament -- the requisite centerpiece of any green path for NM and the U.S.

Way #1: We recently mailed 7,000 letters to our supporters about the proposed new nuclear weapons factory at Los Alamos, with enough information (here's the pit production part) and ways to make a difference to empower everyone who got that envelope, no matter how little time (or money) each person may have. (These are relatively simple things, for the most part. If you have more time, call!) If you set that envelope aside to read later, I urge you to read it over now and think about how you might want to help, and then get active in whatever way you can!

For example, anyone with a front yard can reach hundreds of people very day, inspiring others with a snazzy "yard billboard," letting people know about the new plutonium factory and urging them to call their senators. And just about everybody can write a 150-word letter to newspapers based on the solid information we provided, a letter which would reach thousands of people that day and influence subsequent news coverage a little bit too.

That letter was also a request for funds. If you were thinking of contributing but set the envelope aside, why not contribute a little? You can send a check to us at the address near the bottom of this message, or use our secure portal to contribute by credit card.

We know that many of you are strapped for funds for your household and family. And there are a lot of extremely worthy things to do with what little surplus you may be able to pry loose. Even a tiny donation lets us know you are interested, however, and helps remind larger donors and foundations (too often "missing in action" these days!) of our very broad base in the community, while at the same time paying for those yard signs, one at a time.

Most of us are "downwardly mobile" these days. Still, as a class, it is the poor who consistently donate the greatest income fraction. But what to do? In additional to our own real needs, we know we must retire any dangerous debt; directly assist those poorer than us and the vulnerable as much as we can; build constructive alternatives to our nation's hyperdestructive policies; and support informed, committed resistance to those forces and corporations who are destroying all we are trying to build, not to put too fine a point on it. A tall order? Of course. We have no other mature choice. Whatever the door to justice looks like for us, we had better walk through it briskly while we can or we can expect injustice to prevail -- on us, and on others using us.

Way #2: If that letter (pdf) and associated ways to help are the first way to support nuclear disarmament, the second is just talking to others. Share what you've learned, and tell them about the Study Group and what we are doing. Urge them to get involved in some way! Too many times, people talk about issues like nuclear disarmament in "spectator mode" -- as if that would accomplish anything! Speak with enthusiasm and your spirit, not just your words, will be transmitted! It's not that hard, but it does require breaking through the socially-acceptable (or socially-enforced?) paralysis that grips so many.

This is opposite of having a rather undefined interest in "peace," which is basically worthless. George Bush is for peace, the peace of victory. Even the hope of "advancing the issue of nuclear disarmament" is tricky, since "the issue" is only advanced in specific contexts and through specific people -- like you and me. Give hope a body!

Way #3: Buy a cool Diana Bryer poster from us. Diana Bryer, the well-known northern New Mexico artist, has dedicated a gorgeous new oil painting, entitled "One Earth, One Family," to the Study Group. Diana has generously given us the rights to prints and posters made from it. Look at our home page for a thumbnail sketch and ordering information. The actual prints have rich colors, unlike the thumbnail.

Best wishes to all,

Greg Mello

If you want to take part in nuclear disarmament-related activities relating to New Mexico or its laboratories, we urge you to send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. This will add you to a New Mexico-oriented nuclear disarmament listserve, which receives more information than the one conveying this message. (If you don't want to be on that list-serve, you need take no action. And if you don't want to be on THIS list-serve, just send a blank email to lasg-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.)


Nuclear Spending Comes Under Fire
Congress members question the need to modernize weapons facilities, citing trouble with management.
By Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
July 30, 2006

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — The sprawling nuclear weapons laboratory here is just starting construction of a $1-billion plutonium research center, part of an ambitious plan to modernize its outdated facilities.

But congressional analysts and outside watchdogs are calling it a boondoggle — a facility that will be obsolete less than eight years after it opens. A congressional report this spring called the plan "simply irrational," and House lawmakers are trying to kill the project.

"It is stupid to put money into a limited-life thing like this," said Rep. David L. Hobson (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees energy. "We are resisting spending that money."

It was a tough — but increasingly routine — rebuke for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, a vast enterprise of labs and factories from South Carolina to California that has thrived in the post-Cold War era.

The federal government has spent more than $65 billion on the complex over the last decade, and experts agree the United States has nuclear weapons that are reliable for use in war, safe from accidental detonation and secure from terrorists.

But Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as outside analysts, have grown increasingly concerned about what they see as sloppy management by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Among other things, they cite scientific mistakes and cost overruns on projects at the nation's two nuclear weapons design centers — an X-ray machine at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a laser at Lawrence Livermore in the Bay Area.

"It has been one problem after another," said Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "The current administrator should be fired."

Not surprisingly, that administrator, Linton F. Brooks, who was the chief U.S. arms control negotiator in the early 1990s, sharply disagrees. He calls the program to maintain the reliability of aging bombs "a rousing success."

Bomb scientists say the extra spending on nuclear weapons is necessary because the U.S. stopped underground nuclear testing in 1992. Maintaining the reliability of the weapons — something the industry calls "stockpile stewardship" — requires a massive, and expensive, scientific effort.

And even though the last nuclear weapon rolled off the assembly line in the early 1990s, the complex has until recently received nearly every big-ticket item it has requested. Much of that money has been poured into scientific research, advanced computers and massive physics instruments at the Los Alamos and Livermore labs.

The most successful part of the program has involved advanced computation. Livermore has the world's fastest supercomputer, the Blue Gene L, which can perform 280 trillion mathematical operations per second. The sleek black computer sits in a refrigerated, high-security vault.

Late last year, the lab first simulated the detonation of a nuclear bomb in three dimensions, a long-standing goal critical to maintaining aging weapons.

But other parts of the scientific program have not gone as well, including the construction of a massive X-ray machine at Los Alamos known as the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility.

It was originally designed to photograph a simulated nuclear trigger as it implodes under the tremendous forces of high explosives. But the machine evolved into a much more sophisticated device that could take four time-lapsed photographs within less than a millionth of a second.

When it was finally assembled, though, one of the device's two X-ray arms did not work because of instability in a high-energy electron beam. The defect forced scientists to take the arm apart and modify it at great cost. What began as a $10-million project is now estimated to cost $360 million when it is finally completed.

Meanwhile, Livermore also has had serious problems building the world's most powerful laser, intended to simulate the thermonuclear detonation that occurs in a hydrogen bomb. The laser, called the National Ignition Facility, is intended to ignite fusion in a test chamber by aiming 192 high-powered laser beams at a tiny fuel target.

That proved to be harder than anybody realized, said Thomas D'Agostino, the nuclear weapons chief at the NNSA. The cost grew from below $1 billion to about $3.4 billion.

"We ran into technical problems that we couldn't imagine," D'Agostino said.Lab officials argue that both the X-ray machine and the laser will eventually pay huge dividends for scientific research. The technical setbacks reflect their groundbreaking challenges and constitute the kinds of scientific risk the public must accept for advanced research.

D'Agostino added that many of the problems were rooted in the past and that the NNSA, which is part of the Energy Department, was doing a better job managing its activities, including dismantlement of surplus nuclear weapons and the overhaul of existing ones.

But congressional leaders say the department has hardly solved its problems."We have a lot of frustration," said Hobson, who held a series of tough hearings on the department's failures. "We have frustrations with cost
and we have frustrations with progress. They are on a better track, but they have a long way to go."

The agency's highly technical problems in recent years were accompanied by other basic breakdowns. Audits and investigations by the Government Accountability Office, an arm of Congress, and the Energy Department's inspector general have uncovered management problems, loose financial controls and weak internal security.

In June, it was disclosed that hackers had broken into Energy Department computers and stolen data on 1,500 employees, possibly including sensitive information used in their government clearances. The breach wasn't disclosed to employees, senior department officials or members of Congress for nine months.

Barton was furious, saying Brooks should have personally notified Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. Amid calls for Brooks' resignation, Bodman ordered an investigation by the inspector general.

"If the agency can't protect the Social Security records of its employees, how can it protect large quantities of plutonium?" Barton said.These problems are occurring just as the agency wants to begin an ambitious multibillion-dollar effort to modernize its research and production system in the next 25 years.

The agency wants to restart the production of nuclear weapons, replace existing weapons with new warheads and build new production facilities. Eventually, the U.S. would be able to produce more than 125 nuclear
weapons per year.

It has not offered a price tag for the effort, but an advisory committee put the cost at $10 billion in extra spending over the next 10 years.

Congressional critics point out the agency lacks a cohesive and affordable agenda: It wants to maintain the high-cost stockpile stewardship program and build new facilities to restart weapons production.

"I do not believe we have the proper approach," said Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Energy Department. "It is not my job to maximize spending on this program."

The subcommittee voted this spring to kill the Los Alamos plutonium research facility, and the full House backed the move.

The Senate wants to keep funding the project, though it also has serious problems with plans for the facility, known formally as the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement complex.

The facility, expected to be completed by 2017, is so expensive because it requires sophisticated security to safeguard the plutonium from potential terrorist attacks. But its key role in plutonium research would end by 2024, when all plutonium in the nation is supposed to be put in a centralized facility for better security.

D'Agostino said the $1-billion investment would still be worthwhile because the laboratory would continue research into chemistry and metallurgy after the plutonium is transferred.

But Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group, called the investment "worse than a boondoggle." The program would delay plans to centralize plutonium, leaving a potential target for terrorists, she said.

Some retired nuclear weapons scientists also are dismayed by a culture that puts too high a priority on spending.

"I am a strong believer in maintaining a nuclear deterrent," said Bob Peurifoy, a retired vice president at Sandia National Laboratory who pioneered the security systems that prevent unauthorized use of nuclear
bombs. "But I would like to have some integrity within the labs and management. They'll do anything for a buck."


(INFOBOX BELOW)

Supporting the stockpile

The U.S. nuclear weapons complex, operated by the National Nuclear Security Administration, consists of eight major sites across the nation that support an estimated 6,000 nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile.
They include:

1. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: The nation's second nuclear weapons design lab, specializing in high-energy lasers and computational models of weapons. It is responsible for assuring the reliability of four nuclear weapon models.

2. Nevada Test Site: Location for more than 1,000 underground nuclear tests, which ended in 1992. Since then, the 1,375- square-mile site has been used for experiments to support maintenance of existing weapons.

3. Los Alamos National Laboratory: The first nuclear weapons design center; it built the two bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. The 43-square-mile lab is the only U.S. facility able to produce plutonium triggers for weapons.

4. Sandia National Laboratories: The engineering center for all non-nuclear weapon components, including arming and firing systems. It designs and builds electronic locks that prevent unauthorized weapons use.

5. Pantex plant: Only U.S. nuclear weapons assembly plant; also decommissions old bombs; main storage facility for 10,000 plutonium pits from old bombs.

6. Kansas City plant: The main factory for producing non-nuclear components of weapons, including many electronics and wiring systems.

7. Y-12 National Security Complex: Manufactures and reworks the thermonuclear stages of hydrogen bombs. Y-12 is the center for storing and machining highly enriched uranium.

8. Savannah River Site: Produces tritium gas, a form of hydrogen, used in fission triggers for hydrogen bombs. Tritium is extracted from fuel rods and then packed in welded reservoirs placed in nuclear bombs.


Re: Santa Fe, New Mexico World Peace Conference, September 22-24, 2006: “Giving Peace a New Face”

Dear [speaker]

We understand you have been invited to the “World Peace Conference” in Santa Fe, scheduled for September 22, 23, and 24, 2006. We hope you will learn more about the circumstances surrounding this conference and choose not to attend.

The conference, organized by the New Mexico Department of Tourism, is attracting growing public controversy in New Mexico. Organizational and financial issues concerning the conference and the lack of endorsement by long-time peace and anti-war activists in New Mexico have been themes in recent two copyrighted articles by Polly Summar in the Albuquerque Journal.

In a nutshell, this conference is meant to be a whitewash. In planning meetings it has been made crystal clear by the organizers that none of New Mexico’s most serious issues of peace, war, and justice will be conference topics. Persons and groups advocating for a more substantive conference have either been ignored altogether or “iced out” of the process. Many or even most members of the conference executive committee are complete strangers to the New Mexico peace and justice community.

Based on direct communications with the Department of Tourism as well as news accounts and our collective long experience, many of us believe that no matter what conference speakers and participants say, the overall message of the conference will be that New Mexico is a peace-oriented state and its political leaders, especially Governor Richardson, are committed to and working for “peace.” The truth is otherwise.

The entire New Mexico congressional delegation and its Governor have endorsed construction of a new factory for nuclear weapons components near Carlsbad, NM to replace the defunct Rocky Flats plant. In fact, none of our congressional delegation, Governor, or legislature has worked to stop expanding nuclear weapons research and development in the state. Not one. Most work to enable it.

Fully half of U.S. nuclear warhead spending occurs in New Mexico, and at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque our state harbors more nuclear weapons than any other. In fact, Albuquerque has more nuclear weapons than at any other single place in the world. In addition, We have four military bases, two military nuclear waste disposal sites, the two largest nuclear labs in the world, and a $715 million nuclear weapons administrative and contracting center. Los Alamos, the pivotal site in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, is poised to begin factory-scale production of plutonium warhead cores for a new generation of nuclear weapons.

Not just nuclear weapons, but space weapons too are a specialty in New Mexico, with treaty-challenging weapon systems under development like the Starfire ground-based anti-satellite laser at Kirtland Air Force Base, to mention just one project among many.

In the midst of this nuclear military extravaganza, New Mexico remains among the very poorest of U.S. states, with all the social and health problems that go with it.

Democrats have worked hard with the Republicans to expand the military infrastructure in New Mexico. Gubernatorial candidate Richardson boasted in his first campaign that expanding the war industry where possible would be a key part of his economic development strategy. Governor Richardson, Senator Jeff Bingaman, and Rep. Tom Udall stand with Senator Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson to keep obsolete Cold War era military bases like Cannon Air Force Base open, and to keep the old F-117s flying down at Holloman Air Force Base. Even in Santa Fe, where this conference is to take place, the administration hosting this conference has supported increasing the number of Black Hawk helicopters based west of the City.

Although New Mexico politicians stumble over each other to get to the Pentagon planners to put more killing machines in our state, they can’t agree on programs to decrease poverty, increase health care, or save our educational system, close to the worst in the country. Now comes this tourism-oriented conference (which aspires to be an annual travesty) to give peace “a new face.”

Many long-term progressive activists in New Mexico are finding this new level of official hypocrisy unsupportable, even Orwellian. If successful as designed, this conference risks permanent damage to the language and meaning of peace, undercutting any and all efforts to use the democratic process to change priorities. Change requires building a challenge to the status quo, not “reconciling” with it.

We think any “peace conference” in New Mexico that does not feature, as a primary focus, New Mexico’s lead role as a purveyor of militarism around the globe will do more harm than good, no matter what excellent, good-faith words are offered by the speakers. It will, we believe, promote continued denial and amnesia regarding these realities. It will be very difficult for speakers (and participants) to avoid being used to promote new myths about “The Land of Enchantment” and the political fortunes of those running it. Any attempted dissent or call to action at the conference would just fit into the broader program of “diversity of views” and “tolerance,”enhancing the false message of “peace.”

In our combined decades of work for peace, we have learned that the war-makers need only distract and divide us to win. Just distraction is enough. They say, just work for a “culture of peace,” but don't challenge us. Just mediate, don't challenge us. Listen to inspiring peacemakers, but don't challenge us. Find inner peace, but don't challenge us. Go to conferences, and don't challenge us. Work for “peace,” but don’t challenge us. Albert Einstein said, “Mere praise of peace is easy, but ineffective. What is needed is active participation in the fight against war and everything that leads to it.”

In our view, the primary value of this conference is in the public controversy it is creating now, which has the potential to raise awareness about the very issues this conference would submerge.

We urge you to inquire more deeply about the nature of this conference, its precise agenda, how it came to be, and what good it could possibly accomplish, especially when compared to alternative uses of all our resources. Meanwhile your pointed questions, especially if made public, would do far more for peace before the conference than during it. Please help us build real public awareness, rather than the hollow spectacle and political self-promotion inherent in this faux peace conference, which in our view would be better off cancelled. The substantial funds involved would be better off redirected toward genuine work for disarmament, which requires at a minimum a prior commitment to it.
Please contact any of us if you have any further questions.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
[organizational signers]

__
Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice * 505-265-1207 fax * 505-577-8563 cell
www.lasg.org

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To subscribe to our national listserve, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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Action Alert #65 (06/26/06)
Short article on pit production available --

Dear colleagues --

Some of you may be interested in a short article providing a very brief outline of current issues in plutonium bomb core ("pit") production, together with an even shorter discussion of the nuclear disarmament imperative; both are to be found in a new Study Group brochure available in pdf format here <http://www.lasg.org/campaigns/DisarmBro.pdf>.  (The material has been rearranged somewhat to be suitable for letter-size printing).  These brochures are also available in printed form for volunteers and are beginning to show up in a few cooperating businesses.

Since that article on pit production was written, it has come to our attention that some key decisionmakers apparently expect to ramp up pit production to a relatively high rate (greater than 100 pits per year and possibly twice that number) at Los Alamos in the medium term (say, within about a decade).   Is this well-documented?  No -- or rather, not yet.  These levels overlap with those once proposed for the Modern Pit Facility (MPF).  ("MPF is dead, long live MPF?")  A new Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) is a necessary hurdle for production at this level, and indeed a draft is soon to be made available by NNSA.  We have not seen it yet.

Best to all,

Greg Mello

If you want to take part in nuclear disarmament-related activities relating to New Mexico or its laboratories, send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net  This will add you to a New Mexico-oriented nuclear disarmament listserve, which receives more information than the one conveying this message. (If you don't want to be on that list-serve, you need take no action.  And if you don't want to be on THIS list-serve, just send a blank email to lasg-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.)

--

Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque,
NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice * 505-265-1207
fax *
505-577-8563 cell
www.lasg.org 

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To subscribe to our national

listserve, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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Action Alert #64 (06/26/06)
Fake peace conference planned by Governor

Dear friends --

I am forwarding (below) an important and excellent message from our colleague Bob Anderson at Stop the War Machine here in Albuquerque regarding a planned "peace conference" in Santa Fe in September. I agree wholeheartedly with Bob's message and urge everyone to read and think about it.

Nobody should be deceived by insincere efforts by slick politicians like Bill Richardson to appropriate citizens' longings for peace, offering nothing whatsoever in return. Indeed, Mr. Richardson is, and has always been, one of the staunchest supporters of the nuclear war machine around. He also supports nuclear power, in the specific form of uranium enrichment in New Mexico. He joined with the entire New Mexico congressional delegation in supporting a massive new factory for plutonium bomb cores ("pits") near Carlsbad. (That factory didn't happen. It's  happening in Los Alamos instead, at a gradual ramp-up to full scale so as not to drive away scientists too soon or trigger popular outrage.)

When asked if New Mexico poverty would be a topic at the conference, the answer given in one planning meeting was "No." For those of you who might have thought that peace and justice were somehow connected, the organizers of this conference -- the ones with the purse strings, not the nice folks that have been brought in to lend credibility to the effort -- suggest you think again.

When asked if the nuclear labs -- New Mexico's most famous, and almost its largest, industry -- would be an acceptable topic, the answer was again an emphatic "No."

Some people think that if good folks go to such a conference and ask tough questions, the conference will be improved and the truth will "out" to some extent. Surely it will -- but not in any meaningful way. When the Governor's office controls the agenda, the facilitation, and the news media, rational civil dissent within that framework only serves to strengthen the impression that "all sides have been heard." If the goal is to talk to one's friends at the conference, well and good. If one's goal, however, is to prevent or stop war, there are better uses for one's time. Too many well-intentioned citizens are too easily "seduced by civility," in Benjamin DeMott's excellent phrase, and democracy thereby converted to its opposite by manipulative techniques.

A fact we cannot forget, and which this conference will indeed gloss over, is that the U.S. is at war -- horribly, terribly at war, and more wars are planned. The U.S. is killing people every hour, and breaking international law every minute. Reliable sources tell us that nuclear attacks are being planned, and if current trends continue, nuclear war is inevitable, as Noam Chomsky reminded an audience this spring. Bob's letter below lists quite a few other things we should not forget, and which this conference will help the news media and the campaign donors forget -- which together are the the real audience for the conference.

There is a holocaust underway right at this minute, in Darfur, in sub-Saharan Africa, among the poor everywhere. The rate of needless, preventable death, death created by policies of injustice and greed, is as great as it was in World War II. About one-fourth of New Mexicans are poor, living with structural violence every day of their lives. We cannot forget this either.

Furthermore, we are killing nature. Nature has begun to die. Much of the living world will truly die unless there is a revolution, not just in our thought or in our individual ways of life, but a political revolution that changes the policies of our government to such an extent that the government itself fundamentally changes. Is this possible? Is it practical? Those questions are not really germane. Is the death of millions of innocent people, or much of nature, any /more /practical than the steps we can and must take right now to prevent these outcomes? Which is /more/ practical, waiting for latent catastrophe to ripen or doing something about it?

Leadership is not coming from the Governor's office on any of these issues, and this conference is designed to build support for him while giving us nothing in return. Leadership will not come unless he or his successor feels a great deal more "heat" than they have so far. We will never get anywhere until we give up our docility, abandon the ease with which we are manipulated, and develop our capacity for tough love.

Above all, as Bob says, the movement for genuine sustainability, justice, and against war must focus on developing its own institutions.  Endorsing the expenditure of $400,000+ of state resources on a public relations effort by our pro-war, pro-nuclear Governor is not the way to do this.

Greg Mello

************************************************

Dear anti-war activists in New Mexico,

I want to alert you to a call....to endorse a peace conference <http://www.worldpeaceconference.org> called “Giving Peace a New Face in New Mexico” that is being held in Santa Fe in September 22-24. The conference is on one of the days the United Nations has designated for work toward peace and non-violence and is anything but an attempt to help organize a grassroots movement for peace and anti-war work. I would like to talk with you about what a real peace conference in New Mexico would look like. 

Some good people in the peace movement have managed over the last couple years with lobbying in Santa Fe to establish a Department of Peace. They got the designation and $420,000 was set aside for work toward peace. But that gain was quickly hijacked by the Democrats in the Round House to promote tourism in NM. You will see the call is coming from the state Tourism Department as a need to re-image the state. This serves we feel as a way to hide the large reality of New Mexico’s involvement in the military industrial complex. The face of peace in New Mexico has been working well and growing. The problem is that we as a movement have exposed the ugly reality of the war profiteers and the killing industry so large in our state. 

This is especially important to some as the fall election draws near and the public is tuning into the message we grassroots peace and anti-war groups have been developing for many decades. For many of us in New Mexico war and peace is not an academic discussion or prayerful ideal for the future but a well understood reality with roots in our communities that we can act on here and now. 

For instance, at this point New Mexico has more war bases and war spending per capita than any other state and this has colonized us to the war industry. Our system of higher education has been totally corrupted by war research contracting, for instance. A true conference against militarism and war for us would start off with an analysis of how our state became so involved in building a global war machine that is daily killing kids in places like Iraq and Afghanistan for the oil companies. The more we delay our work the more kids and innocent people will die from the work done here. Check out the conference agenda and imagine what work we in the grassroots could do with $420,000! 

The reason for this propaganda conference is that our state offers bi-partisan support for the war in Iraq (and planned war on Iran). No one but groups like you are opposed to sending our young men and women to kill and be killed. The conference should be helping organize a plan to bring the troops home now. The governor could be taking steps to return our soldiers but he is not. Why is this not clearly on the agenda? 

Many people in the state have made a lot of money by not questioning the development of weapons for war including space warfare. Nuclear and non-nuclear weapons are being researched and developed in the war labs and sub-contractor labs. This has included the horrible e-bomb, the new microwave weapon for crowd control, the predator and global hawk pilotless killing aircraft and the gearing up for new generation of new nuclear weapons. The conference has no plan to organize immediate action against any of this, only some day in the future maybe after another conference. We don’t have the luxury of such dreaming. 

The invitation calling for your endorsement wants to talk of building environmentally sound, sustainable, peace-based economies. This sounds nice except kids and civilians are dying around the world daily from the weapons developed here, this is what we should be talking about. This cannot be emphasized enough given the war rattling for empire coming from the administration, which the Democrats basically support, only in a milder form. 

Not a word is being said of Albuquerque being the home of the largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world and the danger that means for nonproliferation and to the citizens of the city.  Not a word is said that Tom Udall lobbied and voted to fund not only more bio-warfare research but new nuclear weapons production at Los Alamos. Not a word is said of Gov. Richardson, Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall standing shoulder to shoulder with Domenici and Wilson to keep obsolete Cold War era military bases like Clovis open, or to keep the old F-117s flying down in Alamogordo. Democrats and Republicans have all united to bring new war planes like the Osprey and the Air Born Laser to our state. They stumble over each other to get to the Pentagon planners to put more killing machines in our state but can’t agree on jobs or health care or education programs - they are all working against peace and now want to hold a conference to hide all their crimes. The conference calls for a reconciliation with these people rather than building a challenge to what they are doing. 

None of our Congressional delegation nor the governor and legislature have worked to stop expanding nuclear weapons research and development in the state. None. In fact they are all working together to allow high level radioactive waste travel on our roads to the WIPP site. Likely this will be expanded and we will become a national high level waste depository also. They supported spending $300 million for a space port for the rich in Las Cruces (which is part of the infrastructure to put weapons in space, i.e., as when the settlers needed forts to protect the wagon trains). None of this horrible reality is spoken of in the conference call. Why is that? 

Yes, the Democrats have worked hard with the Republicans to expand the war infrastructure of weapons and bases in NM. This has always been part of the Democrat’s basic economic development platform for NM, every since the Great Depression devastated the state. Richardson boasted in his first campaign for governor that EXPANDING the war industry would be a key part of his economic development strategy for NM but he can’t let you realize what that means for us. He will probably be the keynote speaker at the conference as he seeks to build ties with the “peace community” in his move toward the elections. 

This conference is not about peace and non-violence but is a way to hide the ugly daily reality of New Mexico’s involvement with the war industry that Pres. Eisenhower warned us about. The Tourism Department wants our endorsement and support so the war profiteering can go on with less conscious notice. The conference is not saying it plans to call into question what Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, Northup Grumman, etc., the war profiteers all here in NM. This is the military industrial complex in action and we are deep into a bad situation. Will we be like the people of Germany who did not notice the gas ovens going up or the massive war industry being built? The question is will you go along with it and drink the conference kool aid? 

The call wants you to endorse a fake World Peace Conference in September with “talk” of the economics of peace in the future when in fact they could be moving on right now on some serious issues and events taking place here in NM. We have an under-funded state infrastructure of schools, no health care system to speak of for the poor, we have had our water drained for the war contractors like Sandia and Intel, we have no jobs outside the war and oil//gas industry. The call planners want us to believe all the bad things going on are due to Republicans and that the Democrats have no serious role or responsibility for any of this nor there is anything they can do at this time, we have to wait until the next  election and maybe.... You know the lie. 

Why all this now? The governor is up for re-election and he wants to look concerned. But the main reason is that in New Mexico the anti-war and peace groups have managed to build a successful series of events and consciousness raising organizations from the grassroots to challenge power and war. From our collective movement the public has gained a lot of knowledge about things like the massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction in Albuquerque (not Iraq). They are questioning the waste of money on Los Alamos’ expansion, they are asking questions about Lockheed Martin and Kirtland AFB’s new anti-satellite weapon that was put into orbit (jumpstarting a new arms race in space). They are asking questions about the Starfire anti-satellite laser weapon at Kirtland AFB, for instance. Antimilitary recruiting and opposition in the schools is at a high level. The conference ignores all our established gains and wants to spend money on academic discussions and actions of faith. 

To make it worse the conference web site promotes the Albuquerque celebration of 300 years of colonial domination of indigenous peoples who are much opposed to the war industry here past and future. The conference is not truly about peace and non-violence but is softly selling more preparation for wars at home and abroad and hiding the fact that the Democrats along with the the Republicans are into it together.  We are not supposed to connect these dots in an armed madhouse state, as Greg Palast says. Many have but you would not know it from this conference call.

Some in the movement say we should ignore this sham conference, some say go along with it to perhaps get something out of it later. Stop the War Machine says the $420,000 should be a down payment now to directly to support and build up the grassroots groups around the state who have managed on shoestring budgets to take on the the war industry in New Mexico day-in and day-out. The money should not be used for a propaganda conference in Santa Fe. Stop the War Machine says we all must stand united to oppose this hijacking and demand a massive funding of grassroots peace efforts to challenge the war industry in New Mexico.

What do you think?

Bob

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Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice * 505-265-1207
fax *
505-577-8563 cell
www.lasg.org

To subscribe to the Study Group's regional listserve, send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.  To subscribe to our national listserve, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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Action Alert #63 (06/20/06)
News you can use, help wanted, & news bits

Dear friends and colleagues --

Straight off I want to say how grateful I am for the active or silent companionship of all of you working against war and for justice and the preservation of the earth. 

Clearly we are now in a "long emergency" that will last well beyond our lifetimes.  We are going to need to be creative and resolute, with more and more of us identifying ourselves with creative nonviolent struggle to protect living beings.  Even seemingly-small efforts are very important.  The quantitative mind -- Blake's "single vision" and "
Newton's sleep," to Blake a mental disease -- does not apprehend all the pertinent aspects of the world and can function as yet another drug to prevent incisive action.  Gandhi once said said action is the primary path to spiritual maturity in this age. 

1. Facts you can use

We've made a handy new 11 x 17 brochure & manifesto that describes some of the key current nuclear weapons issues facing New Mexico right now.  (This link is to the web version Trish has formatted for letter-sized paper.)  We tried in this publication to put a lot of handy information for citizen activists in one place, from key legal quotes to key economic data about New Mexico.  There's also a carefully-winnowed "What you can do" list as well as the text of the Call for Nuclear Disarmament, now with more than 500 business and organizational endorsers.  It includes a primer on plutonium pit production, Los Alamos's pivotal and dangerous new mission, so crucial to the future of nuclear weaponry. 

Many of you will hopefully be getting the more elegant printed version by mail.  We are sending it out to our entire 7,000 person mailing list, which will make a lot of New Mexicans more aware of the crisis we face regarding nuclear weapons production.  (Meaning it's a very good time for other outreach too!)

2. Gorgeous poster and prints for sale -- help support the Study Group!

Diana Bryer, the well-known northern New Mexico artist, has dedicated a gorgeous new oil painting, entitled "One Earth, One Family," to the Study Group.  Diana has generously given us the rights to prints and posters made from it.  The painting was unveiled at a reception this past Friday evening at Wilder Nightingale Fine Art in Taos.  About 30 people came -- mostly new faces for us -- and a good time was had by all.

Singer/songwriter/activist/artisan/Study Group board member Peter Neils sang a couple of his best songs, including the "New Mexico Nuclear Waltz," a song familiar to peace and justice audiences in Albuquerque but less so in Taos, and Greg spoke a few words about the nuclear situation in New Mexico.  You should all have gotten a separate email about this with details as to prices for limited edition prints (both litho and giclee) as well as posters.  If you think you might be interested please write Trish!

3. Thank you to Linda Durham!

Last Thursday evening Linda Durham Contemporary Art in Santa Fe hosted a reception and fundraiser for the Study Group.  (Thank you Linda, and thanks to all who came as well!)  Like the
Taos event the subsequent evening, we were also graced by Peter Neils' music, this time with Peter performing alongside Study Group board member and well-known Santa Fe gospel, jazz, and blues musician/vocalist Lydia Clark (see Bethleham and Eggs). 

4. Tired of hearing that it was "necessary" to nuke two cities in World War II but not quite sure what to say?

Joe Gerson of AFSC New England has written an excellent short summary of the real reasons the atomic bombs were used in WW II.

5. "They" are waiting to hear from you in
Los Alamos.

If you haven't been to the Los Alamos Disarmament Center (LADC), why not come on up?  We have a pretty good community of volunteers at the Center, and it's time we reached out to the
Los Alamos community more.  We intend to do so even as we also reach out to the communities down the hill as well.  Our interns (Sarah Miller and Justin Remer-Thamert) and later, visiting undergraduate and graduate scholar-activists from California, will be working there along with our regular volunteers.  Email Trish or call her at 505-265-1200 if you want to be more involved!  We need your help!

By the way, we have an excellent little bookstore of nuclear-disarmament-related books, films, and reports at the LADC. Come on up, get what you need for yourself or as a present for your friends! Before making the drive, you had better be sure somebody is there and is not out leafleting!  Call 505-661-9677, or call the
Albuquerque office at 505-265-1200.  Better yet, volunteer!

By the way, the LADC blog could be YOUR
New Mexico disarmament blog space.  Comments, anyone?

6. Volunteers needed

Volunteers are beginning to call the business signers to the Call for Nuclear Disarmament to coordinate new activities for interested business signers.  Want to make a difference?  Call or write Trish to join these teams. 

7. Yard billboards -- why wait?

Do you have your own billboard yet?  Bumper sticker?  Consider this: a $200 two-sided 2 ft by 4 ft billboard on, say,
Agua Fria Road in Santa Fe for a year will reach several million people per year at a cost -- are you ready for this? -- of about 0.003 cents per person.  On Don Gaspar St. in Santa Fe, it's a little more -- 0.01 cents per viewer.  Get the picture?  We are thinking about mass producing yard signs again, but distribution is key.  Want to be more involved?  Call.  We sometimes also need installation help as well.

8. Peak Oil and Gas: off-topic but not by much

Have questions about whether we are approaching "peak oil?"  You might want to check out The Oil Drum, an excellent blog brought to our attention by Andy Lichterman (who also maintains a superior nuclear weapons blog here).  For example, here's a graph and discussion of recent oil production

The Study Group has recently acquired a FEW excellent posters about the world oil situation from the Post-Carbon Institute and we will be happy to sell them to you if you ask at a somewhat discounted price.  They are at the LADC bookstore. 

9. August 6 events in
Los Alamos

On August 6 (Sunday), Pax Christi New Mexico, Dragonfly Sanctuary of Madrid, and Santa Fe Veterans for Peace are organizing a vigil and related activities at Ashley Pond in
Los Alamos.  We hope you will be able to go!  Bring all your friends!  

10. News bits

In closing, you might find these few key news stories interesting --

a. LANL to build safer nuclear warheads (after LANL vs.
Livermore design contest). Nothing like safer WMD to help us all sleep better at night. 

b. Riley Bechtel named "Commander of British Empire"

c. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) personnel data hacked, covered up. Of course the purpose of creating the NNSA was so that it need not communicate with DOE or with anyone else other than the Congress, the contractors (which comprise 96% of NNSA, so the phrase "communicate with" does not quite convey the actual degree of intimacy -- not to say identity), and the military.  

If you received this message directly from "lasgnewmex", you are subscribed to the New Mexico-oriented nuclear disarmament listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group.  To subscribe, send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe, send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.

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Action Alert #62 (06/09/06)
What you can do: lots o' news

Dear friends and colleagues –
We haven't sent an "Action Alert" to the lasgnewmex listserve since mid-April.  It's about time we did. 

I wish we could afford to keep you all updated more regularly, say with a synopsis of news and tools you can use in your own nuclear and anti-war resistance, but lately we've been scrambling more than usual and have been counting on folks to step forward a bit on their own.  Many of you have! 

I suspect that part of the answer is to send information to you more frequently, even though a few people who already get more email than they would like (and who doesn't!) won't like it and will leave the listserve. 

There is in fact quite a bit of news, and there will be more.  First some good news of our own: there are now more than 300 businesses and more than 100 New Mexico organizations endorsing Call for Nuclear Disarmament.  We will be contacting this nascent community in the coming weeks to organize some next steps, some of which are listed below.

Before I get to the news, let me just mention some of the most straightforward ways you can get involved, should you wish to do so. 

A. Here are some of the very best ways to help stop nuclear weapons production, aka nuclear proliferation, right here in
New Mexico. 

    1. Be sure and sign up your business or organization to the Call for Nuclear Disarmament if you have not already done so.
    2. It's often not too difficult to recruit some other businesses & organizations to join the Call. Doing so inspires others and creates momentum.  Ignore the "nos," work around them.
    3. Host a small billboard at your home or business.  Look here for a page (pdf) of designs already prepared and printed.  There are perhaps 100 other designs we think are fairly promising.  Be creative.  Be bold.  It's possible we can help you.  If you have bought advertising lately you will appreciate how cost-effective these signs are.  There are approximately 20 small billboards up or going up now.  We are shooting for 100 as a beginning milestone.  The billboards are weather-resistant professional vinyl prints on medium density fiberboard that will be installed on two metal stakes in your yard.  They are about 4 ft. wide and from 2 to 3 ft. high.  (If you want bigger, no problem, we can do.)  At this size, each one costs us about $100 overall; if you can help pay for them (for yourself or for somebody else) it is greatly appreciated.  The main thing is to get them up.  If you have the spot, I am sure we can find a donor. Ask your friends to get one, too!
    4. Host a Study Group speaker at your church, organization, or at a gathering in your home.
    5. Volunteer as a docent and organizer at the Study Group's Los Alamos Disarmament Center Photo.  (Here's an LADC photo album.)  This is a chance to hone your issue skills and be really subversive.  Also, we really need volunteers as some of our "regulars" have gone for the summer AND
because things are "heating up" in Los Alamos.  (Not all is heavy and serious there however: the Study Group is now the proud sponsor of a girls' softball team in Los Alamos, thanks to a generous donor.  So every team that plays gets to see our billboard at the ball field calling for reinvestment away from weapons and toward children's needs.)  We'll post the billboard on the blog soon.  By the way, this blog -- "disarmlosalamos.blogspot.com" -- can be your disarmament blog space.  Comments, anyone?
    6. Write letters to editors (always good) and recruit your friends to do the same (that much better).  Some excellent suggestions as to how to do this effectively are here.
    7. Be a host for visiting scholars, students, and activists. 
    8. Some of you may have particular skills which would be extremely useful in our context, coupled with a) the time to be involved and b) the motivation to do so.  For us, this would be like winning the lottery.  If you think you might be such a person, don't be shy -- please call!  

Now, if your business or organization has already signed the Call for Nuclear Disarmament and you want to get more involved, please consider these steps:

    1. Take part in press events or in meetings with federal and elected officials.
    2. Sponsor print or radio ads that mention my business.
    3. Help approach local jurisdictions to support disarmament/real security resolutions.  (For an example, see this City of Santa Fe resolution.)
    4. Join in petitions for international intervention and inspections.  Finally, you can (please)
    5. Support the Los Alamos Study Group and these and other programs financially through your business.

If you are interested please call us, at 505-265-1200 in Albuquerque (the main office).

Of course, nuclear disarmament costs money.  So one good way to help is to contribute to the Los Alamos Study Group.  (The Los Alamos Study Group is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax-deductible.)  Needless to say, there are people who can afford more than others.  Given the skewed distribution of wealth in this country, the future of the planet and of the country depends especially on the noblesse oblige of a relatively few people.  Today, Paul Krugman quoted Teddy Roosevelt: "The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the state."  We can rephrase that as "The person of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the planet."  Most of us are too embarrassed to speak this truth when we have the chance.  I think we need to get over it.  The precise issue is less important than the principle.  Justice, environmental protection, succor of the poor and protection of the vulnerable, the prevention of aggressive war -- these are not options and they are not "charities." They are universal obligations associated with human maturity in all places and times. 

B. Nuclear news bits, really small ones that touch lightly on a few issues


    1. The House Appropriations Committee says building a new plutonium pit factory at LANL (the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement building, or CMRR) is "irrational."  This is a big deal.  Rather than try to summarize their views, you can read their markup (in pdf) yourself.  It's less boring than you might think.  Sample:

"CMRR will serve its primary production support function for only eight years before it is made obsolete by the new plutonium facility, thereby making the Category I and II security characteristics of the CMRR unnecessary. The Committee finds this type of planning by the NNSA simply irrational  It appears designed to maximize future budgets and the number of new facilities required, rather than provide an efficient balancing of required capabilities, limited resources, and programmatic risk."

Last year the House tried to kill the CMRR but was defeated by Pete Domenici, the Nukemeister.  We hope to weigh in on this in person in DC later this month. 

    2. The "Divine Strake" weapons effect test (700 ton yield, Nevada Test Site) has been postponed indefinitely.  Most media and NGO sources aren't very helpful on this subject, but this source is impeccable. 

    3.  An ultra-accurate "conventional" Trident warhead (this link is to the New York Times of 5/29/06, requiring a subscription, but you may have a workaround) is closer to deployment.  Here is Reuters' brief take (no subscription).  This article omits key truths: the small throw-weight and size of the W76 reentry vehicle insure that any "conventional" warhead will sooner or later have a nuclear twin, probably more sooner than later.  An ultra-accurate Trident system enables sure destruction of some target classes with mininuke yields, which is what those targeters like, yields which are easily provided in existing warheads by turning off the boost gas system.  These warheads are, independently, ALSO undergoing a $2.5 billion upgrade AND
ALSO they are the ones for which new plutonium pits are to be made at LANL, starting in the 2009 to 2012 timeframe AND ALSO they are essentially the same warheads the U.K. uses in its missiles. Russia has been visibly upset by this development, speaking about it several times. 

    4. The proposed high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactor (HTGR) in Andrews Co., TX is coming along, just across the state line from the proposed National [uranium] Enrichment Facility in New Mexico.  For example, see this article.  Andrews
County is already home to a nuclear dump operated by Waste Control Specialists.  In related news, the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs are joining the DOE-sponsored competition to host a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.

    5. The proposed Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) is also proceeding, soon to be the subject of an in-depth report from the Study Group.  There is quite a bit of media and NGO misunderstanding about this project.  Ian Hoffman's 4/25/06 article provides a quick update, but quotes laboratory misinformation uncritically . Bob Peurifoy, former Sandia VP, hits the nail on head, but there is more than one nail to be hit. 


    6. Various people, belatedly myself, are beginning to see that plutonium and profits are quite toxic to "science" at LANL

    7. The Hans Blix-led WMD Commission released its long-awaited report.  Upon release Hans Blix made it clear that in the Commission's unanimous view, the U.S. was the main obstacle to nuclear disarmament and effective nonproliferation policies.  An excellent short summary op-ed by Blix is here.

    8. The 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster brought with it two important new studies of mortality and morbidity.  This one was done by Greenpeace International and was led by Alexei Yablokov.  This one was funded by the Greens/European Free Alliance in the European Parliament.  Trish received a scholarship from the Nuclear Information and Research Service (NIRS) to attend the anniversary conference in Kiev and so was able to tour the exclusion zone and plant site as well as interview the authors of both reports.  Unbelievable, terrible.  The short op-ed Trish wrote on her return is here. She has pictures and more.

    9. On June 1, a private for-profit company took over management of LANL. There is more to this than meets the eye.  We wrote a source paper (pdf) and press release on this subject.  After publishing this paper we learned more still.  Don't like the contracting practices in Baghdad?  You can find them closer to home.  Keep your eyes open. 

C. Other Study Group news

    1. We almost ran out of money altogether (again); and both Damon and Fatima have amicably gone on to greener pastures.  Ouch.  So we have been short-handed here.  If you have read this far you are likely to be relatively interested in these topics and so I hope you will consider working with our volunteer team, perhaps by volunteering at the LADC or in your own community. 

    2. Please join us for either of these two exciting evenings of music, education, and art, one in Santa Fe and one in Taos!

Thursday, 15 June, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Hosted by Linda Durham Contemporary Art
1101 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe
light refreshments
Music performed by Lydia Clark and Peter Neils
Talk by Los Alamos Study Group Director, Greg Mello
"New Mexico's Nuclear Future -- Not!"
Exhibit of "Red Peyote Works"  a hybridization of form and medium by artist Grant Hayunga

                AND

Friday, 16 June, 5:00 -7:00 pm
Hosted by Wilder-Nightingale Fine Art
119-A Kit Carson Road, Taos
light refreshments
Music performed by Peter Neils
Talk by Los Alamos Study Group Director, Greg Mello
"New Mexico's Nuclear Future -- Not!"
Unveiling of an original painting by New Mexico artist 
Diana Bryer, "One Earth, One Family"
Come meet Diana and purchase a limited edition print, poster, or the original painting!

We wish to thank these two very gracious hosts, as well as the generous Diana Bryer, and also want to thank the volunteers who helped us address so many envelopes by hand! 
 
    3. We have just finished preparing a large bulk mailing, our largest ever, which will disseminate key information (not included here), especially about pit production at LANL.  We'll publish our new brochure there later today, provided all goes well with the printing this morning.

    4. Greg has been doing quite a bit of consulting to Greenpeace UK these days, which has now just about wrapped up.  The British debate on Trident replacement is quite lively and important. 

    5. A wonderful summer intern, Sarah Miller, is on her way to us. Starting on the 19th, she will be working two to three days per week here in the World Headquarters and in Los Alamos as she prepares for her senior undergraduate year.  I am sure you will enjoy meeting her. In addition, we hope that some other outstanding young colleagues will be coming our way soon.  More about this when it is a sure thing.  Keep your fingers crossed. 

    6. Largely thanks to the outstanding leadership of Diane Gledhill in Pilar, nuclear disarmament and related issues are moving forward in the Taos
area.  As an indication of this, look at the substantial number of endorsers to the Call from the Taos area on our web site.  Greg spoke to the County Commission there recently and will be speaking again to a group of local governments in the area soon.  Meanwhile radio spots are running there that help illuminate some of the issues, thanks to a generous donor.  Here they are for your reference:

1. New nuclear weapons

    The United States currently has almost 10,000 nuclear weapons in its stockpile.  Despite this huge arsenal, plus an extra 13,000 plutonium warhead cores or “pits” in storage, Los Alamos National Laboratory is slated to begin manufacturing more plutonium pits next year.
    In this and other ways, the U.S. is refusing to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires complete mutual disarmament.
    Disarmament is not just the law, it's very popular.  Fully 84% of Americans agree that the U.S., along with other countries possessing nuclear weapons, should fulfill their disarmament obligations.  And the U.S. is the primary impediment to progress.
    Building more nuclear weapons will not deter anyone from doing anything.  It just threatens others – that's the idea, after all – and promotes nuclear proliferation.  No one can preach temperance very well from a bar stool.
    Our own country, militarily by far the most powerful in the world, must lead the way toward a nuclear-free world.  As we face the complex problems of human and environmental security in the 21st century, let us be guided by the universal human morality that rejects mass destruction and embraces life.  If we threaten others with annihilation we will never find peace.
    To learn more, visit the Los Alamos Study Group's website at lasg.org or call 505-265-1200.

2: LANL: economic development?

    Nuclear weapons are big business in New Mexico.  But who benefits, and who pays?  Nuclear weapons have cost our society almost $8 trillion [should be: $7.4 trillion; wait 7 months and it will be closer to $8 T in 07 dollars] since 1943.  More than one hundred billion dollars has been spent in New Mexico on nuclear weapons.  Look around – what, exactly, do we have to show for it?  Not much.  That money is here today, for a very few, and gone tomorrow.
    Los Alamos County has the highest household income in the nation. One in five families is a millionaire, not counting home value.  Yet our state remains among the poorest in the nation, with among the worst health care, education, and social statistics of any state.
    The fact is, tax dollars spent on nuclear weapons and the military in general are dollars taken from our children, families, health care, and schools.  The Iraq War, for example, costs roughly $23 million every hour, 24/7.  If federal priorities shifted toward human and family security and away from aggression and war, we'd be way ahead.
    And we're borrowing money to pay for it all.  The federal debt now approaches $9 trillion – about $30,000 for each person.  This can't go on.
    To learn more, visit the Los Alamos Study Group's website at lasg.org or call 505-265-1200.

3: LANL: economic development?

   Military spending now consumes 58% of the federal discretionary budget.  The U.S. now spends at least as much on armed forces as the whole rest of the world combined.
    Military spending, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are partly financed by deficit spending.  Like other loans, the federal debt must some day be paid.
    As the military expands, other programs are cut.  That means less funding for the programs that bring jobs and benefits to New Mexico communities.
    Our families and communities are feeling the strain.  Military spending will reach an average of $7,600 per US household this year and is likely to keep on growing if we don't do something about it.  Let’s face it – military contractors like Bechtel and Lockheed want our tax dollars.  They want the money we'd otherwise use to build schools, transit systems, health clinics, the money we could use to provide scholarships for young people wanting to go to college.  Where's the national security in that?
    To learn more, visit the Los Alamos Study Group's website at lasg.org or call 505-265-1200.

4: New mission at LANL

    In November of 2005 Congress assigned a new mission to Los Alamos National Laboratory: producing plutonium bomb cores or “pits” for a new generation of nuclear warheads.  Pit production is slated to begin in 2007 and is slated to grow for the foreseeable future.  Funds for environmental cleanup have been slashed.
    As a fraction of the total work done, there are very few non-bomb science jobs at Los Alamos.  Given the new plutonium mission, can they last?
    At Los Alamos, this dangerous work is growing, and science is declining.  Can Senator Domenici extract even more money for Los Alamos from a nation already drowning in debt?  Should he?  
    What does the new plutonium factory really mean for northern New Mexico?  That we are just America's nuclear weapons colony after all? Los Alamos already has the largest nuclear dump in the state, and it grows every day.  A plutonium factory today, a radioactive wasteland tomorrow?  Forget “enchantment” – is this the “Land of Entombment?” Will contamination become our heritage, our legacy to our children?
    To learn more, visit the Los Alamos Study Group's website at www.lasg.org or call 505-265-1200.

Thanks to all and solidarity from us in your work for justice and against war,

Greg Mello

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Action Alert #61 (04/18/06)
Yard billboards; study of historic LANL pollution

Dear friends and colleagues –

 

1. Yard signs! 

Many people say, “Gee, I’d like to do something for peace or nuclear disarmament, but I don’t have much time.  What can I do?  The powers-that-be are so entrenched and powerful!”  

Only to the degree we are silent. 

One of the easiest things we can do is to put up a yard sign.  You’d be surprised – a typical location might have 2,000 viewers a day. At the other extreme, a very busy street might have 10 or 20 times that much.  Letters to the editor are great but they are ephemeral.  Signs convey the content and spirit of long-lasting, determined resistance.  

You can use some standard designs such as these. Or if you have an interesting idea perhaps we can help you realize it.  We’ve got quite a few other designs, about 100, we think might be worthy of refinement, but you have to ask.  If you think you might be interested, call Fatima at 505-265-1200.

2. LANL dose reconstruction study

If you like to have some idea of what pollutants may have historically emanated from The Hill, you may wish to peruse this new report from the Center for Disease Control’s Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment (LAHDRA) Project.  There are some real shockers in there but they require persistence to unravel. I have not yet the new report, but the last edition contained charming factoids like: 

  • During the period from 1944 to 1950 plutonium facilities like the D Building and the DP Site were designed and operated with positive building pressures, thus allowing any airborne particles to escape into the surrounding environment.

  • Early attempts by LANL technicians to measure plutonium concentrations were carried out with inadequate instruments such as converted vacuum cleaners called “Filter Queens.”  Nearly all these vacuums were susceptible to clogged filters which reduced their intake of air, and thus lowering the measurements of airborne plutonium rendering them highly inaccurate.

  • Although Los Alamos Lab began operations in 1943, no documents have been found that show that LANL actually measured airborne plutonium releases at all until 1951.  By 1951 plutonium releases at LANL had been drastically reduced from the levels released in the 1940s.

  • Human tissue analysis from non-worker residents of Los Alamos show high levels of plutonium exposure, evidence of emissions from the Lab and not just from the background radiation due to Cold War nuclear testing.
  • During the period from 1943 to 1947 there existed no controls for monitoring and regulating LANL worker exposure to beryllium.

Best to all,

Greg Mello

This email comes to you from the activist listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group.  Past alerts are archived on our home page <http://www.lasg.org/what/letters.htm>.  To subscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net. Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!

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Action Alert #60 (04/12/06)

Small billboard campaign underway - choose from current designs

Dear friends, 

Get ready for the next big thing to hit the streets of New Mexico! 

Our small billboard campaign is under way.  Choose from among the following billboard designs (710KB PDF) that are currently available to install on your property. 

These designs are only the beginning; more are being generated and will be available on our web site.  Let us know your ideas. 

If you need help, look to our Action Alerts and articles at www.lasg.org to learn about what we are facing in terms of plutonium pit production in New Mexico and the manufacturing of a new arsenal of nuclear weapons. 

We will install the billboards at no cost to you.

However, if you'd like to donate to this campaign, go to www.lasg.org and click on the green "Contribute" button.  For more information, call 505-265-1200 or email smiller@lasg.org. 

We look forward to seeing YOUR billboard on the road! 

Very Best, 

Fatima 

This email comes to you from the activist listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group. Past alerts are archived on our home page <http://www.lasg.org/what/letters.htm>. 

To subscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe send a blank email to

lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net. 

Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!

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Action Alert #59 (04/07/06)

The campaign for & against plutonium manufacturing & new weapons is heating up

April 7, 2006

 

Contents:

1. NNSA calls for plutonium bomb core (“pit”) production at LANL for next 16-24 years in congressional testimony.

2. Job training workshop at Santa Fe Community College to feature plutonium pit production: PLEASE COME IF YOU CAN! 

3. Vigils, leafleting begin in Los Alamos: PLEASE INVITE YOUR FRIENDS!

4. Important planning meeting Sunday 3:30 pm in Santa Fe at La Fonda, after the immigration rights march: PLEASE COME IF YOU CAN!

Dear friends –  

 

1. NNSA calls again for plutonium bomb core (“pit”) production at LANL for next 16-24 years in congressional testimony.

 

Yesterday Tom D’Agostino, Deputy Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), provided relatively candid testimony on the future of the nuclear weapons complex.

 

D’Agostino called for a nuclear weapons design and production infrastructure that “would restore us to a level of capability comparable to what we had during the Cold War.”  By this he didn't mean the ability to field 1,000+ new weapons per year, as the U.S. did during the Reagan years, but rather the ability to design, test, and begin full-scale production (125 new nukes/year) within 4 years. 

 

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is to be at the center of this, specifically the plutonium part of it, which is the rate-limiting step. After 2014 LANL would be the only plutonium operation still running.  In 2022, in the fourth presidential term from now, if all goes well for NNSA, a new pit factory is supposed to be up and running.  Presumably this would be in Nevada but as D’Agostino was careful to say, that isn't certain.  That too could be at Los Alamos.  (There are legal as well as political and technical reasons why D’Agostino can't say where that new factory would be.) 

 

In the meantime, plutonium pit production at existing LANL facilities and planned new LANL facilities is to begin next year.  Production of a new weapon type is to begin in 2012.  Efforts to train a new generation of plutonium workers are needed (and are beginning; see item 2).  He didn't say it this way, but the basic idea is that when LANL facilities are worn out and contaminated, manufacturing will be transitioned to more modern (and cleaner) facilities, which will take a long time to plan, build, and start up. 

 

Even if NNSA does succeed in this plan and builds a new factory, plutonium operations at LANL may well be continued indefinitely in order to avoid putting all NNSA's production “eggs” in one basket – assuming, of course, there are no serious accidents or permanent failures in the meantime, prospects which are not at all impossible given the age and design inadequacies of LANL's facilities. 

 

NNSA and DOE first proposed building a new plutonium factory in 1988 and have consistently failed to do so since then, primarily because of citizen protest.  Two attempts were made at LANL prior to the present one, one in 1990 and one in 1997; the first failed and the second has not yet succeeded.  Very frequently, citizen protest leads to the discovery of objective problems.  Nuclear policy is not always made in our nation's capital.  

 

About nine years ago, the director of plutonium technologies at LANL called me up, introduced himself, and said “My strategic planning staff has identified you and people like you as a major determinant of what we can and cannot do at this laboratory.  I would like to have lunch with you to discuss your concerns.”  And so we did.    

 

That manager has long retired.  The plutonium pit factory is not yet operational.  The Los Alamos Study Group is still here, and more than 100 allied New Mexico organizations, 300 businesses, and a growing number of towns and cities are here with us.  (Here's the list.) 

 

The Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board said last year that the LANL plutonium facility is only “5% efficient” (that report is here; see Appendix H, p. 86ff).  We have five percent to go.  It would not take very many more good men and women to close that sucker down.

 

There were a few other interesting elements in Mr. D’Agostino’s testimony.  For example, NNSA is going to hire a “system engineering and integration contractor” to “support…NNSA decision-making on nuclear weapons.”  That is, profit-oriented corporations will be calling more of the shots at NNSA. Contractors are doing more self-policing in other areas at NNSA too, like safety, as we have seen in other venues.  D’Agostino confirms this trend and says that by “being too risk averse, we hurt productivity at our facilities…”  I am sure.

 

D’Agostino says there will be fewer (fewer!) contractors managing nuclear weapons production sites.  The present small group of nuclear weapons contractors could be quite objectively described as crony capitalists.  We'll be publishing a new report soon that details how the companies that have been given the LANL contract, a no-bid contract worth up to about $30 billion, are major Republican political donors.  There will also be a few more goodies. 

 

In a moment of candor, D’Agostino admitted that without a new weapon program (that is, up to now), NNSA hasn't been able to “justify the cost of modernizing production capabilities.”

 

Concerning those new warheads and their precise nature, Mr. D’Agostino was rather vague.  For public relations purposes and to keep Congress as somnolent as possible, the new weapons are generically called the “Reliable Replacement Warhead” (RRW).  “Reliable”is an old chestnut that has been found to be, well, politically reliable. “Replacement” was selected as a suitable word as early as 1996.  (Read minutes from a June, 1996 meeting here, at reference 37).  There is no reason to think that RRW warheads will be more reliable than existing warheads, and it is reasonable to think they will not be, as they will be not fully tested.  (The key to this puzzle is that the NNSA is changing the existing warheads anyway.) There is certainly no reason to think the RRW, if built, would be an exact replacement for existing warheads.   If they were there would be no reason to make them.  Besides, even “existing” warheads are being changed.  Innovation is central to the enterprise. 

 

To keep its options open while explaining as little as possible, NNSA likes to emphasize the term “responsive” in connection with the new weapons and factories. As D’Agostino put it, “[b]y ‘responsive’ we refer to the resilience of the nuclear enterprise to unanticipated events or emerging threats, and the ability to anticipate innovations by an adversary and to counter them before our deterrent is degraded.  Unanticipated threats could include….the need to respond to new and emerging geopolitical threats” (emphasis added).  The weapons of the future, in other words, will be whatever we decide we want and whatever we can make, and we will make them before anybody else does.  “Responsiveness”is a central goal of the Reliable Replacement Warhead program. 

 

The great thing is to get production up and running, and that indeed was the overall theme of Mr. D’Agostino’s testimony.  D’Agostino’s boss, Linton Brooks, recently emphasized that theme in a 3/3/06 speech to the East Tennessee Economic Council, in words which, speaking seriously, we can all take to heart.
 

We can change our declaratory policy in a day. We can make operational and targeting changes in weeks or months.  In a year or so we can improve integration of nuclear and non-nuclear offense.  By contrast, the infrastructure and the stockpile it can support cannot change as quickly.   Full infrastructure changes may take a couple of decades.

 

if everything works as we hope, we might be able to produce 40 pits a year starting early in the next decade.  Greater production…may not be available for at least 15 years.  So, fully implementing the Reliable Replacement Warhead and the Responsive Infrastructure portion of the New Triad will take a while. (emphasis added).

 
This brings us to the central point.  The overriding current goal of U.S. nuclear weapons managers is to be able to put a new nuclear weapon, any new nuclear weapon, into production.  This rings all their bells, enables all their ambitions, and legitimates the whole kit and caboodle. 

 

The implications of this for citizens seeking to inject some sanity into U.S. nuclear policy should be quite clear. 

 

Bear in mind that without legitimacy for its nuclear weapons the American imperial project can hardly be conceived. 

 

If you think as I do that international efforts to control proliferation and achieve disarmament are quite unlikely to succeed in the absence of progress in U.S. domestic nuclear policy, it becomes very important to prevent the functional acquisition of the responsive infrastructure of which Mr. D’Agostino speaks.  NNSA's highest priority is, inversely, ours.  The nuclear enterprise – and more importantly its ideology of mass terror – cannot persist without a way to make its real products. 

 

2. NM Association of Community Colleges to host workforce training forum featuring plutonium pit production – PLEASE COME! 

 

On Monday 4/10/06 at 10 am in the Jemez Room at the Santa Fe Community College, the New Mexico Association of Community Colleges will host a workforce training forum to help prepare New Mexicans “to succeed in 21st century jobs.” 

 

What are these jobs?

 

Plutonium pit production, apparently.  Pit production comprises 2 out of the 5 corporate presentations to be made Monday.  (Another one of the 5 is from Sandia National Laboratories, which after Los Alamos is the world's second best-funded weapons of mass destruction facility.)

 

Many of you know that New Mexico educational institutions are deeply intertwined with support for nuclear weapons, space weapons, and weapons in general.  Monday's forum is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your opposition to nuclear weapons production here and in general, as well as your opposition to the aspirations to global dominance with which these policies are inextricably entwined and the corruption of our state's educational institutions. 

 

Sometimes people ask, “What can I do that will make a difference?”

 

I can almost guarantee you will make a difference if you come to Santa Fe Community College at 10 am at the Jemez room on Monday.

 

3. Vigils and leafleting begin in Los Alamos – PLEASE INVITE YOUR FRIENDS!

 

We are stepping up our campaign in Los Alamos with new outreach efforts to the community, the lab, and to tourists.  We would very much like your help in this and we would like you to help recruit others too. 

 

We are leafleting now every day at the Bradbury “Science” Museum (or “BS Museum” as some in Los Alamos call it), telling tourists every day about the Study Group's Los Alamos Disarmament Center (LADC) located about 100 yards from the Museum.. 

 

We are leafleting lab workers once per week, including the new workers who are “oriented” on Monday mornings at the BS Museum.

 

Now we hope to reach out to the community in downtown L.A. with information about pit production, waste disposal, and more on Saturdays.   

 

There is a great community growing up around the LADC and this effort, but our numbers could be much greater.  Call Fatima on the front lines at 505-795-8025 or whoever is at the Disarmament Center at 505-661-9677 to get involved.  Meet interesting strangers!  Not all of them disagree with us, you know. 

 

On another matter, are you inquisitive?  Do “inquiring minds want to know?”  If so, and if you want to dig up serious dirt on nuclear contractors, on safety and environmental practices and more, please call Damon or myself in the Albuquerque office at 505-265-1200.  

 

4. Important campaign meeting Sunday 3:30 pm in Santa Fe, La Fonda, after the immigration rights march – PLEASE COME IF YOU CAN!

 

After the United For Justice and Equality march on Sunday April 9, at 3:30 pm (it begins at the Guadalupe Church at 1 pm and marches to the Cathedral; wear white) some of us will meet at the nearby La Fonda Hotel lounge (which we think will not be crowded at that time).

(For more information about the march call Somos Un Pueblo Unido at 505-424-7832 or Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish at 505-983-8868).

 

There we will discuss plans and prospects for stopping plutonium manufacturing in New Mexico.  If you want to know what's happening, or learn more, or want to get involved in any way, please consider coming to this meeting.  By the way, we usually invite LANL security to these meetings.

 

In solidarity, 

Greg Mello

 

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Action Alert #58 (03/27/06)

Los Alamos at the crossroads – what can we do?

Dear friends –


You are invited to join me in
Taos on Tuesday (tomorrow) evening for a talk and discussion regarding the pivotal role Los Alamos is playing in the Bush Administration's sweeping plans to build a new generation of nuclear warheads – build them at Los Alamos, that is.  If realized, these plans are likely to greatly impact economic development, environmental protection, and social identity in New Mexico, and especially in northern New Mexico.  Yet these plans are surprisingly vulnerable, if New Mexico citizens dig in and oppose them as they have done in the past.

Needless to say, the agenda for
Los Alamos is inextricably tied to U.S. plans to dominate all possible rivals militarily.  This desperate but highly profitable imperial endgame is currently costing the average U.S. household $7,600 per year, as we'll show you tomorrow.  These military "solutions," and the ideology and profits which drive them, propped up against all reason and reality by a vision of new, more accurate nuclear warheads to be made at Los Alamos and used when all else fails, are preventing our country from responding to the rapidly converging environmental, humanitarian, and energy crises we face.  We can choose life-oriented solutions or death-oriented ones to these problems.  If we are silent, people with a lot of profit at stake will choose for us.  It won't be pretty.

Profit, you say?  The "new and improved"
Los Alamos is now run under a 20-year no-bid contract worth up about $30 billion, and federal overseers have been told to "get out of the way" so that Bechtel and its partners can cash in.  It's Baghdad on the Rio Grande, with plutonium.  Even Halliburton is there -- the contract announced, I am told, the day Dick Cheney came to visit (this is just a coincidence).

Given the proposed new gas-cooled nuclear reactor just across the Texas line to be built with Sandia's help, the nuclear dump in Andrews County just across from Eunice, the proposed National [uranium] Enrichment Facility also there, the state's biggest nuclear dump (in Los Alamos, slated to expand this spring or summer), WIPP, plus Los Alamos and Sandia per se, the Pantex nuclear weapons plant and plutonium storage site a little to the east, and the 2,000 to 3,000 nuclear weapons in Albuquerque, and now the kicker: a proposed spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, also near Eunice -- we are in one whole heck of trouble. 

Amenity-based economic development in northern
New Mexico, sharing the landscape with the replacement for Rocky Flats?  Forget about it!  Health-based tourism?  Forget it! 

Friends, a very clear message must be sent, and the sooner the better. We must learn to speak up with our heart and soul if we want a decent place in which to live.  That's what this discussion will be about. All this is not happening in
Iraq.  It's happening right here. 

The talk and discussion will be from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Kit Carson Electric Coop at 118 Cruz Alta Road in Taos.  (If the main door is locked, you can enter through the open doors to the left of the main building.)   The whole Study Group staff will be there (Greg, Trish, Fatima, and Damon).  Come one, come all!


We look forward to seeing you there! 

 

Greg Mello

 

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Action Alert #57 (03/05/06)
Press Conference 11am Monday, State Capitol:
100+ NM Organizations Call for Nuclear Disarmament

Dear nuclear disarmament friends and colleagues --

Sorry for the late notice! 

If you'd like to come tomorrow (Monday) morning to the State Capitol at
11 am for a press conference, please do!  All are welcome.  In addition, some of you are members of, and can speak for, organizations who have endorsed the Call; the press present may want to talk to you. The press release is attached below.

We try not to ask people to come to any but very important events.  For those few events, we hope you will turn your lives upside down in order to come.  This is not one of those times, so come if you wish and can, but don't drop everything just to come.  That time will come very soon.  

In that regard, if you are interested in speaking directly to the management of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the near future, please send a short note to me at gmello@lasg.org.

Now, some of you may have caught the headline, "US signals apparent abandonment of nuclear disarmament," at http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060304/pl_afp/usnuclearpoliticsdisarmament&pri or in its more benign U.S. media form, "U.S. Plans to Modernize Nuclear Arsenal," at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/03/AR2006030301757.html. This is part of what we will talking about on Monday at the press conference.  We will be revealing some new information there as well.

Again, please write if you would like to be part of a delegation to speak with LANL and NNSA management.  Details will follow.

Very best,

greg

 

Press Advisory 3/3/06
100+ NM Organizations, Others Call for Nuclear Disarmament, Halt to Nuclear Waste Disposal at LANL
Contact: Greg Mello 505-265-1200 or 505-577-8563 (cell)

On Monday, March 6, at 11:00 am, the Los Alamos Study Group will host a press conference in the State Capitol Rotunda on to announce achievement of a new milestone in its Call for Nuclear Disarmament campaign: more than 100 New Mexico organizations have endorsed the Call.  

Displays will be presented and handouts will be available; there will be plenty of time for questions (see box).  

For details of the Call and lists of endorsers, see www.lasg.org.

The Call for Nuclear Disarmament demands: 1) no further production of plutonium bomb cores (“pits;” the U.S. now has about 23,000 of these), 2) that the U.S. achieve mutual nuclear disarmament under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as required, and 3) that the nuclear waste disposal sites at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) be closed.  It also includes a clear rejection of nuclear deterrence as a security doctrine and calls for a different security paradigm, one oriented toward human and environmental security.  

In addition to these
New Mexico organizations, 286 New Mexico businesses and 80 national and international organizations together with the City of Santa Fe have endorsed the Call.   Approximately 2,500 individuals have also endorsed along the way, although the Study Group’s volunteers have emphasized institutional rather than individual endorsement.  

The City of
Taos and the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Northern New Mexico Citizen Advisory Board (NNMCAB) have formally recommended that LANL’s nuclear dump be closed rather than expanded as planned, an important element of the Call.  The Los Alamos County (LAC) Council has likewise expressed its concern about the planned expansion of nuclear waste disposal in Los Alamos.

Prior to this year, approximately 3,840 New Mexicans had petitioned governors Johnson and Richardson to close Area G in the “Can-Paign” to halt nuclear disposal in northern
New Mexico, with most paying $3 to convey their wishes on a can of food with a “nuclear waste” label. These petitions included a formal request for nuclear dump closure under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the controlling law under which LANL once held an interim disposal permit for all of Technical Area (TA-) 54, including Area G and other nearby nuclear and chemical waste disposal areas.   

Study Group Director Mello: “Passing the important milestone of 100 organizations and nonprofits is primarily an achievement of Study Group volunteers.  It’s a testimony to the hard work and initiative of a lot of people and a testimony to their civic engagement and active concern about the future.  Other organizations are now looking at the Call with fresh eyes as the reality of the proposed nuclear weapon renaissance sinks in – along with what it would mean for our economic development, our security, and our environment.”  

“In the process, we’ve learned some things.  One is that it’s harder to get people’s attention in our information- and advertising-choked culture than it is to talk them into strongly condemning nuclear weapons.  The fact that these weapons of mass destruction are one of the state’s largest industries doesn’t hold people back as much as I thought it would.  The really hard part is getting peoples’ attention.
 
“Another thing we’ve learned is that leadership on this issue and a few others doesn’t seem to be coming from some of the places you’d expect.  So fresh leadership is needed.  As our society careens into the converging crises of the 21st century, the field of leadership is very much wide open.”
Fatima Portugal, Study Group Outreach Coordinator, commented: “The Call for Nuclear Disarmament paves a path for active citizen involvement.  We can do so not only as individuals, but as groups working together to create a future where our environment, our homes, our children, and our families do not have to be threatened by the hazards of nuclear waste dumping nor from the possibility of total mass destruction. Our future lies in what we do now.  If we are to live in a civilized world, we must create it by sustaining the values of trust and upholding our promises.  The United States signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT] where

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and of a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. [NPT, Article VI]

If we expect other countries to disarm, then we must do so as well.  We must take the first steps.”

Damon Hill, Study Group research associate, added: “"How is funding a new generation of nuclear weapons really making anybody safer?  It shifts not only the focus but the commitment of funding away from providing for real human needs. 
New Mexico faces persistent problems of poverty and sticking a new pit production facility here is no real remedy.  The jobs may look nice at first but the long term costs are greater.  Closing the dump is a step in the right direction, and a step that is in sync with the stated desire of numerous northern New Mexicans."

***ENDS***

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Action Alert #56 (02/24/06)
Helpful Tips on Spreading the Call for Nuclear Disarmament

Endorsements to the Call for Nuclear Disarmament have been growing! With your help, we’ve been successful in surpassing our short-term goal of 100 New Mexico organizations endorsing the Call! The Call for Nuclear Disarmament campaign is not over, though. It is now more crucial than ever to push for nuclear disarmament. The proposed federal budget funds the replacement of all the weapons in the
U.S. arsenal with new-design weapons. Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is slated to make the new plutonium pits. The Department of Energy (DOE) also plans to expand the Area G nuclear waste disposal site at LANL despite opposition recently voiced by the Northern New Mexico Citizens' Advisory Board (NNMCAB) and Los Alamos County.

Join us in spreading the Call for Nuclear Disarmament by setting up a meeting with all the organizations you belong to, businesses you frequent or individuals you know to discuss the Call in person. Then contact all your friends and ask them contact all the organizations they belong to as well. (The full text of the Call can be found at http://www.lasg.org/campaigns/DisarmamentBrochure.pdf.)

Below are some suggestions to help you in spreading the Call for Nuclear Disarmament:

1) Start by thinking of all the organizations you belong to that would have a great impact in generating support for the Call, such as environmental and religious organizations.

2) Introduce the Call to these organizations by mentioning the seriousness of the situation, emphasizing that the Call is not just a call for nuclear disarmament; it calls for human security and environmental protection as well.

3) Ask for an appointment to learn about their organization and to discuss the Call in more detail at their next board or members meeting. If need be, set up a time for someone from the Study Group to speak at their meeting. (It is always better to talk with someone in person concerning the seriousness of this issue.)

4) Organizations may have concerns about how their endorsement may affect them. It is best to talk with them about this during a face to face meeting. You can point out the following, addressing their specific concerns, to support them in their decision to sign the Call for Nuclear Disarmament:

a) The Call for Nuclear Disarmament simply asks our elected leaders to uphold an existing treaty that the U.S. has already signed. It also calls for stopping nuclear waste disposal at Los Alamos. Thousands of individuals have already endorsed the Call, the NNMCAB has recommended closure of the LANL’s nuclear waste disposal site Area G, and even Los Alamos County has expressed concern over the waste disposal site’s expansion. More information can be found at http://www.lasg.org/ActionAlerts/ActionAlerts2006.htm#AA55

b) Endorsing the Call for Nuclear Disarmament is such a noncontroversial issue that the City of Santa Fe overwhelming passed a nuclear disarmament resolution which is stronger than the points outlined in the Call for Nuclear Disarmament (http://www.lasg.org/SantaFeCityCouncilResolution.htm). Taos Town Council has also passed a resolution that recommends Area G not be expanded.

c) With the support of important organizations like Common Dreams, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the New Mexico Conference of Churches as signatories to the Call, organizations, businesses and individuals should feel part of a growing group that can play a part in influencing nuclear weapons policy. A list of organizations and businesses that have endorsed the Call is available at www.lasg.org.

d) Other organizations and businesses have taken a stand to sign on to the Call despite the divisiveness they feel their endorsement of the Call might cause among their members. It is precisely out of their identity as a peace or environmental group that they have signed on to the Call as well as recognizing that the U.S.
is obliged to disarm under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

e) Endorsing the Call for Nuclear Disarmament will not necessarily affect their organizations’ funding or non-profit status, depending on their specific funding source.

f) Everything we do is political, whether is it having our voices heard publicly or being silent on an issue. Each has its own implications, but isn’t it better to know that we did something to bring about a more secure future for our families and children rather than not doing anything at all?

5) And most importantly, keep all avenues of communication open! Make follow-up phone calls the next day to continue the discussion and to foster an ongoing relationship. Our actions are very timely and have the power to change policy based on the momentum we create. Every moment counts…

If you’d like additional information on how to spread the Call for Nuclear Disarmament or how to talk with people about endorsing the Call, please feel free to contact Fatima at 505-265-1200 or at twm@lasg.org.

Thank you for all your efforts in continuing this important campaign!

Very best,
Fatima

This email comes to you from the activist listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group. Past alerts are archived on our home page.  To subscribe send a blank email lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.  Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!

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Action Alert #55 (02/11/06)
Los Alamos
County is concerned over LANL nuke waste

Dear friends and colleagues --

Below please find a news article concerning a 2/1/06 letter from the Los Alamos County Administrator to local National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) chief Ed Wilmot, expressing concern over  NNSA's proposed expansion of the Area G nuclear waste disposal site.  The article does a good job of illuminating some of the interconnections involved in this concern, which appears to be spreading.

Directly or indirectly, the central common factor behind this concern is YOUR
WORK.  Many of you have really done yeoman work to expose and stigmatize the sordid reality of nuclear dumping in northern New Mexico

Well, everything is connected, as John Muir used to say.  Area G's environmental problems aside, "free" on-site dumping is very important to Los Alamos National Laboratory's (LANL's) plutonium "pit" manufacturing mission.  The purpose of that work is to manufacture key components for a whole new generation of nuclear weapons.  Because of this unique role, LANL has now become absolutely pivotal in the Bush Administration's nuclear agenda -- which in turn is an important part of this Administration's entire posture of global aggression.  Pit production creates a large amount of nuclear waste, among its other problems, and as mentioned in the previous alert (#54), Area G is now operated directly by the pit production folks, no doubt to sidestep any internal LANL environmental critique. 

So if you have been active in recruiting businesses or nonprofits to the Call for Nuclear Disarmament, PLEASE continue your efforts -- they are bearing fruit and we are approaching a critical stage.  If you haven't been able to help yet, please consider doing so.  It's really hard to believe that the good people of
New Mexico will just roll over and let LANL become a pit factory and nuclear dump.  That, however, is NNSA's plan.  Nobody is going to bail us out on this, folks.  We ourselves have to say NO, loud and clear. 

There are many effective ways to do this.  We can write a letter to the editor of the newspaper.  A very powerful way to build support for closing Area G and preventing plutonium pit production is to get organizational and business endorsements to the Call for Nuclear Disarmament Usually, the key to getting endorsements is to meet with people face-to-face.  Many or even most folks support The Call, but getting people's full attention by phone or mail can sometimes be hard. All of us are involved in organizations of various kinds -- are the organizations we know signed on yet?  If not, why not? 

Not everybody has seen Area G up close and personal.  To remedy this, Trish (Williams-Mello) has prepared a couple of annotated photos showing the first and second proposed expansion zones for the dump and their relationship to local wetlands, the adjacent Native American Sacred Area, and so on.  In a few minutes, they will be at http://lasg.org/images/AreaGannotated1.pdf and http://lasg.org/images/AreaGannotated2.pdf. (The web site has a wealth of other relevant Area G information as well.  You may have to root around.) Trish, Claire Long, Peter Neils, and I took these photos on an aerial citizen inspection conducted in November of 2004.  (We invited LANL but they declined to come.)

On another subject, some of you may be interested in a recent analysis Damon Hill and I did in relation to the President's defense budget request.  It's here: http://www.lasg.org/MilitarySpending.htm. Briefly, we conclude that
U.S. military spending in the current fiscal year (FY 2006) is between $850 and $900 billion, significantly more than is usually understood.  If the Administration actually spends its proposed FY 2006 budget authority for Iraq and Afghanistan this year, we believe the actual annual growth in total U.S. military spending from FY 2005 to FY 2006 will be greater than 11%, much more than the "6.9%" usually cited in the news media.  Total military spending last year was about $7,130 per U.S. household and could be $7,600 this year.  Again, if the Administration actually spends its proposed FY 2006 budget authority for Iraq and Afghanistan this year, U.S. military spending will approximately equal, and may exceed, the sum of all other military spending in the world.  In time, we will build on this analysis to look at how these priorities hurt New Mexico.  Please help others wake up to the reality of what is happening to our state!  Don't let them despair -- get them and their organizations to sign the Call!

More soon,
Greg Mello

P.S. Our new
Los Alamos Disarmament Center blog awaits your thoughts at http://disarmlosalamos.blogspot.com/.  See new work there by Astrid Webster, Don Baltz, and others.  We also need your help in staffing the Center and in the outreach conducted from there.

This email comes to you from the activist listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group. Past alerts are archived on our home page.  To subscribe send a blank email lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net. Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!

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URL: http://www.abqjournal.com/north/432770north_news02-11-06.htm
   Saturday, February 11, 2006
    County Is Concerned Over LANL Nuke Waste
    By John Arnold
    Journal Staff Writer

Another local government is expressing concern over Los Alamos National Laboratory's plans to expand its nuclear waste dump, known as Area G. And this one's close to home for the lab.

Los Alamos County Administrator Max Baker recently sent a letter to the National Nuclear Security Administration's Los Alamos site office questioning the expansion plans, which will add about 30 acres of disposal space in Area G.

"As you know, Los Alamos County has been and continues to be impacted by the disposal of waste generated by LANL operations and undoubtedly the waste buried now will someday need to be removed so longer term costs need to be considered," Baker wrote to site office manager Ed Wilmot in a letter dated Feb. 1. "Also the County has a limited area of space, and an increase in size of the waste disposal area greatly concerns our residents."
       
The letter goes on to request information regarding the need for expansion. NNSA officials could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
       
In an interview Friday, Baker said he decided to write the letter after reading recent news accounts about expansion plans. Baker noted that LANL is working to clean up other waste sites around the county, including a landfill near the community's airport and the site of a former plutonium facility, TA-21.
       
"Those other waste sites, it was 50 or 60 years ago they were created," Baker said. "By this project at Area G, are we creating a problem that has to be solved in 50 or 60 years?"
       
Last year, the Santa Fe City Council passed a nuclear disarmament resolution calling on the federal government to halt nuclear waste disposal in
New Mexico, and the Taos Town Council passed a resolution in December discouraging Area G expansion. But this is the first time Los Alamos County has voiced concern, Los Alamos County Councilor Frances Berting said. While the council has not taken up the Area G issue, Berting said members received copies of Baker's letter.
       
"So we are aware it is basically our policy," Berting said by phone Friday. "And so I don't think anybody has problems with (the letter). I haven't heard anything from the council."
       
Berting is a member of the Northern New Mexico Citizens' Advisory Board, a federally funded oversight group that also opposes expansion. Wilmot addressed the board last month, saying that while he personally doesn't like the idea of expansion, there's no way it can be avoided. Workers underestimated the amount of waste from ongoing environmental restoration, Wilmot said. And technical issues and cost made other disposal options— like shipping to out-of-state commercial sites— impractical, he added.
       
Waste is buried in nearly 40 permanent pits in Area G, which has been in continuous operation since 1957. LANL hopes to have a new pit ready to receive low-level radioactive waste this fall.
       
Baker's letter is the second time in recent months that the county has challenged the NNSA, the arm of the U.S. Department of Energy that funds and oversees LANL operations.
       
In December, the county sued NNSA to stop construction of new security checkpoints near the lab. Business and town leaders fear the checkpoints— located on town roadways— will hurt the community's economy. The lawsuit is pending.

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Action Alert #54 (02/04/06)
NM Senate Memorial, more

1. Senate Memorial to withdraw
New Mexico National Guard from Iraq -- come to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe on Wednesday!  (Be sure and check for possible rescheduling.)
2. Study Group weekly meetings are canceled for now -- many volunteers are engaged in projects already!  If interested, please call!
3. disarmlosalamos.blogspot.com

4. Colloquy in a store
5. Who's been put in charge of the Area G nuclear dump?  Guess.

This email comes to you from the activist listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group.  Past alerts are archived on our home page.  To subscribe send a blank email lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.  Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!

1. Senate Memorial to withdraw
New Mexico National Guard from Iraq -- come to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe on Wednesday!
    (It is wise to check for possible rescheduling on Tuesday at http://legis.state.nm.us/lcs/agecalendars.asp and click on Senate committees.  Or call
Sharon in Jerry Ortiz y Pino's office at 505-986-4380)

What:    Senate Memorial 11 to bring the New Mexico National Guard home from Iraq is being heard in the Rules Committee. 
When:   Wednesday, February 8th -
9:30 a.m.
Where:  Roundhouse - Room 321

From Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino: "[I] have introduced SM 11 to bring the NM National Guard home from Iraq.  Your presence will support his effort on behalf of SM 11 to get a Do Pass from the Rules Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 8th.  When the Do Pass comes, SM 11 will go to the Public Affairs Committee and with a Do Pass in Public Affairs, it will go to the Senate Floor for a vote.  YOUR support will help pass SM 11.  If you cannot be at the Rules Committee hearing on Feb 8th, please call your Senator to support SM11.  You can call my secretary, Sharon, at 986-4380 for Senator contact information or any other questions you may have."  Here's the text:

SENATE MEMORIAL 11, 47th legislature - STATE OF
NEW MEXICO - second session, 2006 INTRODUCED BY Gerald P. Ortiz y Pino
 
A MEMORIAL EXPRESSING THE INTENT OF THE SENATE THAT
NEW MEXICO'S ARMY AND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BE IMMEDIATELY WITHDRAWN FROM THE WAR IN IRAQ.    

WHEREAS, there are currently five hundred twenty-nine members of New Mexico's army and air national guard deployed in Iraq; and

WHEREAS, President Bush deployed New Mexico's army and air national guard on the premise that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq; and

WHEREAS, it has been conclusively determined that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and

WHEREAS, President Bush deployed New Mexico's army and air national guard on the premise that Iraq was linked to the attacks on September 11, 2001; and

WHEREAS, it has been conclusively determined that Iraq was not involved in the attacks on September 11, 2001; and

WHEREAS, President Bush deployed New Mexico's army and air national guard on the premise that Iraq was the most serious threat facing the national security of the United States; and

WHEREAS, it has been conclusively determined that Iraq poses no risk to America's national security; and

WHEREAS, according to the latest CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, fifty-five percent of Americans do not view the war in Iraq as being related to the war against terrorism; fifty-two percent believe that invading Iraq     was a mistake; and fifty-five percent do not believe President Bush has a plan that will achieve victory for the United States in Iraq; and

WHEREAS, New Mexico's national guard units should only be deployed when grave matters of national security are at stake; and

WHEREAS, America's allies have already reduced their forces in Iraq by twenty six-thousand troops since the March 2003 invasion; and

WHEREAS, two of America's allies, Bulgaria and Ukraine, withdrew all of their forces from Iraq in December, and a half dozen other allies are debating possible withdrawals; and

WHEREAS, according to a recent ABC News-Time Magazine poll, more than two-thirds of Iraqis disapprove of the presence of United States forces in Iraq; and

WHEREAS, members of New Mexico's army and air national guard are caught in the middle of a civil war with no victory in sight; and

WHEREAS, almost one-half of all American military casualties are caused by roadside bombs, such that American forces have simply become defenseless human targets for pointless slaughter; and

WHEREAS, the lives of the five hundred twenty-nine men and women serving in New Mexico's army and air national guard should not be sacrificed in Iraq;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW
MEXICO that President Bush be hereby called upon to immediately withdraw New Mexico's army and air national guard from the war in Iraq; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this memorial be transmitted to the president of the United States.

It is important to register our disapproval of the illegal, bloody war and occupation of Iraq through our elected representatives.  Militarism is growing in our society, and we all should be think of ways to thoughtfully counter it.  (Of course, opposing nuclear weapons is one of them.)  This is a good occasion to polish one's skills and to meet friends new and old in the halls of the Roundhouse. 

Until business as usual begins to break down a little from the collective pressure of intelligent, compassionate people communicating their strong desire for an end to violence and oppression, it won't happen.  Wear a peace button, make your own Iraq fact sheet and hand it out, but please show up if you can!  We have found that showing up is about half of what it takes to win.  In some ways -- in the most  important ways -- it is all. 

2. Study Group weekly meetings are canceled for now -- many volunteers are engaged in projects already.  If interested, please call!


We've been having weekly Study Group meetings at Irysh Mac's in Albuquerque and at Cloud Cliff in Santa Fe to coordinate volunteer projects.  We want to stop these formal meetings for now because our volunteers are generally engaged and busy with projects and many of us see one another anyway in the course of the week!  Some are doing outreach at the Disarmament
Center in Los Alamos, others are working elsewhere.  A lot of people are providing real leadership now, and it's really terrific. 

If you want to help, whether with research, outreach, the Disarmament
Center, in other ways, call Fatima at 505-265-1200 or 505-795-8025.  We need you, the other volunteers need you.  In fact, the world needs you.  We are meaning-rich even if sometimes money-poor around here.

3. disarmlosalamos.blogspot.com

The
Disarmament Center now has a toehold in the blogosphere.  Express yourself! 

4. Colloquy in a store

Three days ago, in a store, I recognized a very senior manager of the
U.S. nuclear weapons complex and called out to him.  His face turned -- indeed it was he!  We chatted affably for a few moments.  I hadn't seen him in years.  Then he volunteered the following information quite out of the blue and unrelated to anything that had passed between us thus far: "You know, Los Alamos has become the pivotal site in the nuclear weapons complex.  It is very hard to build new facilities, and it will be 15 or 20 years before we can do so....So if we are going to make anything new, we have to do it at Los Alamos.  This, however, will not be easy....And funding is likely to decline."

This person is approximately the highest authority in the nuclear establishment I could quote on this subject.  You will note that, quite unsolicited, this person affirmed one of the central themes in the action alerts I have been sending you this past year.

Friends, we must bear up.  Los Alamos -- not Iran, for God's sake -- is now said to be the "pivotal" location for nuclear weapons production in the U.S., not to mention the largest such site in the world in terms of funding.  It is happening right here in our midst, not in some abstract place named in the news, in
Washington, DC, or halfway around the world.  Yes, a few overarching decisions are made in DC, but most of the key decisions, the ones which really determine whether the Bush Administration's drive to build a new generation of nuclear weapons will be successful, are being made here day by day, as they have always been since 1943. 

Which decisions am I talking about?  I could start with the personal decisions taken by the rank-and-file at
Los Alamos, but the crux of the matter lies closer to home.  I am talking about the decisions each of us makes, the ones we don't even realize we are making.  Will we allow nuclear waste to be buried in an unending succession of unlined shallow pits a few miles from our homes?  A great many communities have put a stop to this practice, a holdover from the regulatory Paleolithic.  There are a kaleidoscope of ways to stop it, once a commitment is made to do so.  Won't you help?  Call us!

We could each ask, will the such-and-such an organization with which I am involved join with the City of
Santa Fe and almost a hundred other organizations in endorsing the Call for Nuclear Disarmament?  Or will we hang back?  Will I start a conversation on these issues in our church or religious group -- not just about war far away (it's so easy to talk about, isn't it), but big-time war right here in (and in many ways on) our own communities?  Will I start a letter-writing group?  Will I put up a yard sign?  Will I put a bumper sticker on my car?

Like many of you, I sometimes feel disempowered and helpless.  But in the final analysis, all the nuanced things we might say to ourselves come down to a simple message: we have to get over it.  The powers that be will use and abuse human beings and the environment until people say "No more!" and mean it.  Why, in our generation, do we persist in thinking that real change will come without struggle and commitment -- something that has never happened in all history? 

The nuclear business in New Mexico, now poised to grow in fateful ways and in a number of
New Mexico places, is permanently polluting our land just as it perverts our politics.  Obscure public notices announce the waste trucks rolling to the pits on the mesa on Tuesday and Friday -- or perhaps this week it will be Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  The dollars keep flowing to our fawning politicians, and most of the state's leading lights genuflect on every possible occasion to the overwhelming prestige of the lying technocrats who run the labs.  The obsequiousness of many New Mexico elites in the face of organized mass violence (built here, applied there at least for now) is a sure sign of a colonial situation in which compradores curry favors with the powerful at the expense of the powerless. 

Do we imagine there will be succor for the poor, help for the vanishing middle class, brave initiatives to save the planet from global warming, truth in the news media, or excellence in education as long as the ideology of world domination and "full spectrum dominance" sits in the place of justice and reason? 
New Mexico certainly didn't fall down to be the poorest or second-poorest state in the union by our own devices alone just as lab spending here grew to new heights.  It was, as somebody said this week, just part of a "Series of Unfortunate Events." 

5. Who's been put in charge of the LANL Area G nuclear dump?  Guess.

All Department of Energy (DOE) low-level dump sites have to follow a procedure (kinda sorta), to get "certified" to receive nuclear waste.  This certification process, which is all internal to DOE and its contractors (no public or regulatory agencies are involved), was described by a LANL insider earlier this year as regards Area G: 

"Indeed the proposed expansion of Area G is worrisome news. It is true that DOE is self-regulated with respect to the low-level radioactive wastes (LLW) buried at Area G, and their justification for keeping the site open (a DOE-issued "Disposal Authorization Statement" or DAS) is based on a Performance Assessment (PA) written in 1997 by -- guess who -- Los Alamos National Laboratory.  The assumptions made in the [Material Disposal Area] MDA G PA are cleverly chosen so that the site would pass the compliance criteria set forth in DOE Order 5820.2A, which has subsequently been replaced with DOE O[rder] 435.1.  These assumptions were not questioned by DOE's review body (the LLW Federal Review Group, or LFRG), which is not particularly surprising.  The LFRG used to perform credible reviews, but now has become rather a rubber stamp for DOE sites such as LANL wishing to dispose locally.  Major natural features, events, and processes were ignored (e.g. wildfire) or dismissed (e.g. cliff erosion) in the PA, and the site was assumed to be under perpetual institutional control (IC) for the next several millennia, which is patently absurd.  Other DOE sites writing PAs do not generally make such outrageous assumptions, but rather stick to the IC period of 100 years as suggested in DOE O[rder] 5820.2A itself.  If the IC assumption is abandoned, the estimated doses to a hypothetical future resident are too high to meet the DOE regulation, as has been shown in subsequent modeling (by practitioners outside of LANL and DOE).  Since the 1997 PA, a great deal more waste has been disposed, and apparently [much] more is expected....Relying on information from DOE alone is asking to be lied to.  MDA G should never have received its DAS based on the flawed 1997 PA.  It should certainly not be allowed to continue operations.  It is interesting to note that the opinion that MDA G should be closed is shared by many people who work at LANL, including a former head of the Environmental Restoration Project, but these people are powerless against the nuclear weapons establishment at the Lab.  The weaponeers are all-powerful, and no amount of impotent environmental regulation, see by them as merely a thorn in the side, will make them change their ways.  The waste engineers are doing their best to put lipstick on the pig, but the real motivation behind keeping MDA G open and providing flimsy justification for doing so, lies within the NNSA weapons complex.  This will not change until the weaponeers are made to answer for their potentially criminal behavior in their disposal of radioactive waste in Los Alamos."

(The "criminal" aspect of disposal is not just a figure of speech, but that's a long story.) 

The expansion referred to here (so-called "Zone 4," about 30 acres) is the first of three such expansion sites already approved under LANL's last sitewide National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis.  When you look at the mesas north of
Bandelier National Monument, you may see a beautiful and evocative landscape filled with ancient ruins, one of the largest concentrations of such ruins in North America.  Increasingly, LANL sees something else: prospective waste dumps, new building sites for the weapons program, cut-and-cover tunnels for diagnostic beams crossing the lab, etc. 

Last fall, quite possibly in response to condemnation of disposal in the Call for Nuclear Disarmament and the prior Study Group "CanPaign," as well as by the DOE's own Citizen Advisory Board, the City of Santa Fe (and later the City of Taos) and by LANL's own internal critics, the University of California and DOE quietly transferred operating authority for the LANL dump to...guess where?  The nuclear weapons directorate!  Ta-dah!  No more messy internal critics!  The person now in charge of the complex environmental evaluation theoretically required to approve continued disposal (i.e. the Performance Assessment) is...the same person who has been put in charge of plutonium pit production for the Reliable Replacement Warhead and related programs! 

It has been typical of LANL to put environmental science under the direction of former weapons bureaucrats with no particular environmental background, but this assignment surely sets a new low.  Both DOE itself as well as LANL's own environmental scientists are now reportedly unable to get access to the draft PA, which we were told last week is being held back (indefinitely?) for "peer review."  I dare say it probably needs review, since the last PA, now almost 9 years old, assumed that DOE, in a kind of "Thousand-Year Reich," would control
Los Alamos for the full duration of the millennial risk evaluation period -- which is not exactly a long time in relation to the longevity of the hazard anyway. 

Please join us; we'd love to work with you,

Greg Mello (with help from Trish Williams-Mello and Damon Hill on this alert) for the Los Alamos Study Group

P.S. We strongly encourage you to recruit at least one new organization to endorse the Call for Nuclear Disarmament.  One signs up here; current signatories can be found at links from our home page, www.lasg.org.  We will help you if you need it; call or write Fatima.   The practical importance of the Call is briefly discussed on our web site here and in some of the recent action alerts archived there.  

P.P.S. Many of you are already Study Group supporters and partners, and to you we extend our heart-felt thanks.  If you aren't, and if you'd like to help support our work, you can do so at our secure portal, www.lasg.org/contribute.htm.  You can also call Trish in our main office at 505-265-1200 to arrange other ways to ways to give, or simply send a check to Trish at the Los Alamos Study Group,
2901 Summit Place NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106. Trish can be reached at twm@lasg.org
--
Greg Mello

This email comes to you from the activist listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group. Past alerts are archived on our home page.  To subscribe send a blank email lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.  Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!

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Action Alert #53 (01/27/06)
Invitation to listserve; dollars welcome; two things you can do for nuclear disarmament

Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!


1. Invitation to subscribe to the Study Group's activist listserve
2. Dollars are welcome, needed to support critical research, writing, and resistance
3. Two simple, highly-leveraged ways you can help stop new nuclear weapons

Dear friends and colleagues,

1. Invitation to subscribe to the Study Group's activist listserve

If you want to be involved in what's going on with respect to the New Mexico nuclear laboratories, you may want to subscribe to the Study Group's activist listserve.

The email you are reading comes to you from the national listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group.  We use this listserve we use very sparingly, perhaps once per month or even less.   

If you are interested in local organizing details and some of the more arcane aspects of national nuclear weapons issues, especially as touching upon the nuclear laboratories, you'll want to subscribe to our activist listserve, if you aren't already subscribed.  How can you tell?  If you received action alerts #51 & #52 last week, you are already subscribed.  If you didn't get them but would like to subscribe, send a blank email to:
lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net
. Past alerts are archived on our home page, so you can see there what you might have been missing and decide.   

If you were forwarded this email and want to subscribe to this more generic, less-frequently-used list, send a blank email to lasg-subscribe@lists.riseup.net.   

To unsubscribe from either list send a blank email to lasg-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net or lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net as appropriate.  

2. Dollars are definitely welcome here to support critical research, writing, and resistance
 

As I'm sure most of you know, almost half of
U.S. nuclear warhead spending takes place in a roughly 60-mile corridor along the Rio Grande in central and north-central New Mexico.  If the Pantex plant in the Texas Panhandle a few hours drive to the east is included, more than half of U.S. warhead spending occurs in this region.  Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is the best-funded nuclear weapons facility in the world; Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) here in Albuquerque, as far as we can tell, is a close second.  

There are also more actual nuclear bombs and warheads here (here, that is, in
Albuquerque) than anywhere else in the world – roughly two or three thousand.  

Our state has historically generated nuclear promoters like Senator Pete Domenici, now one of the most powerful advocates for nuclear weapons and nuclear power anywhere in the world.  The rest of our congressional delegation is usually just a couple of steps behind him.  (Senator Bingaman's two largest campaign contributors are the
University of California, i.e. Los Alamos, and Lockheed Martin, i.e. Sandia, respectively.)  Congressional advocacy is just one promotional mechanism for these laboratories, of course; LANL and SNL play major roles in framing the national and international debate on all things nuclear in many other ways as well.  

For these reasons and others,
New Mexico is more or less the nuclear weapons capital of the world.   

On the environmental side, much could also be said.  To pick just one example: those of you who live in New Mexico probably already know that LANL is home to the largest operating nuclear dump in this region – a series of big shallow pits and shafts in fractured, porous rock a few feet from springs and streams, adjacent to actively-used sacred sites of a Native American tribe and to literally hundreds of other ancient ruins.  This nuclear dump remains, for arcane reasons, unpermitted, unregulated (as far as disposal goes), unlined.  It is also about to be augmented by a new dump altogether, one of four expansion zones already platted by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  

Two days ago some of us heard our local NNSA manager Ed Wilmot say how sorry he was, how really and truly sorry he was, to announce that the NNSA just had to expand that dump over the advice of his own hand-picked advisory board, two local cities, 90 New Mexico nonprofits, 275 local businesses, and 5,000 individual requesters.  We shall see what comes next.  

Going back to the big picture, for more than 13 years the Study Group has been using detailed knowledge and the “power of proximity” (Arundhati Roy) to change national policy.  We led successful efforts to delay plutonium pit production by more than a decade so far.  On more than one occasion we exposed new weapons plans, contributing to their defeat in one case.  We exposed a lab-generated plan to share nuclear secrets with
Russia and other countries, leading to legislation that blocked it.  We stopped a big new mixed-waste dump in Los Alamos, and organized a coalition that prevented expansion of the current dump (until now).  We have won several lawsuits over information, civil liberties, and environmental protection.  We have been the principal public voice for nuclear disarmament in our region.  We work behind the scenes, in the bureaucracy and in Congress, in the press, in the courts, and in the halls of the United Nations, assisting diplomats and NGOs to understand the realities on the ground in the United States.  We are helping train a new generation of scholars and activists.  We have been the primary or secondary source for more than 2,000 newspaper articles and wire stories, and have appeared on thousands of radio broadcasts around the world.  We have consistently brought a respected voice of reason to the public debate about nuclear weapons, and we are a key source of information for leading journalists all over the country.   

Our work has proven itself to be of national and international importance and today it is more crucial than ever.  LANL has been asked by Congress to produce new plutonium cores (pits), both for a current high-yield warhead (the W88 Trident warhead) and for a new design, the so-called “Reliable Replacement Warhead” (RRW), which is slated to begin production at LANL in 2012.  Until this year, neither of these programs was opposed on the national level, and opposition to the RRW remains diffident and diffuse even in the arms control community, even though it has long been clear (and is now admitted) that the RRW program aims to deploy new nuclear designs to replace and upgrade any and all the warheads and bombs in the arsenal, as desired.  It is not a “slippery slope” to new weapons.  The continuous evolution of the arsenal, with concomitant institutional benefits, is the program's central purpose.  

For more detailed information about our programs and their technical and political basis, please write or call Greg Mello.  

Many of you are already Study Group supporters and partners, and to you we extend our heart-felt thanks.  If you aren't, and if you'd like to help support our work, you can do so at our secure portal, www.lasg.org/contribute.htm.  You can also call Trish in our main office at 505-265-1200 to arrange other ways to ways to give, or simply send a check to Trish at the Los Alamos Study Group,
2901 Summit Place NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106.   Trish can be reached at twm@lasg.org.  

You can see some of what we've been up to lately by visiting our web site, www.lasg.org, or by subscribing to our print newsletter (forthcoming).  Send Trish a note if you want to subscribe. 

3. Two simple, highly-leveraged ways individuals can help stop new nuclear weapons
 

If you don't care very much about nonproliferation and disarmament, read no further.  If you do, however, we can recommend these small steps.  

1. Recruit just one organizational endorsement to the Call for Nuclear Disarmament.
 

We strongly encourage you to recruit at least one new organization to endorse the Call for Nuclear Disarmament.  One signs up here; current signatories can be found at links from our home page, www.lasg.org.  We will help you if you need it; call or write Fatima.  

The text of the Call is simple enough:  

The continued possession, further development, and manufacture of nuclear weapons by the United States undermines the ethical basis of our society, breaks treaties our nation has signed, wastes our nation's wealth, and permanently contaminates our environment, while providing no real contribution to U.S. national security.

In fact, implicit and explicit nuclear threats by the
U.S. undermine global efforts to halt proliferation of not just nuclear weapons, but all weapons of mass destruction.  Neither can our nuclear facilities ever be made fully secure from accident, internal sabotage, theft, or attack. 

New Mexico's two nuclear weapons labs lead the world in spending for weapons of mass destruction. But as the labs have grown, our state's relative economic standing has declined and now trails almost all other states.

We therefore call upon our elected leaders to:


Stop the design and manufacture of all nuclear weapons, including plutonium bomb cores (“pits”) at Los Alamos and elsewhere. 
• Dismantle our nuclear arsenal in concert with other nuclear powers, pursuant to Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. As the most powerful nation on earth, the U.S. must take the first steps in this process.
• Halt disposal of nuclear waste at
Los Alamos, as thousands of citizens and dozens of environmental organizations have already requested.

We demand quite different priorities: affordable health care for everyone, better education, renewable energy, and economic opportunity for those who have none. We call for investment in our people and families, in our economy and environment, instead of in preparation for nuclear war. 

The practical importance of the Call is briefly discussed on our web site here and in some of the recent action alerts archived there.  

2. Host a yard sign or small billboard.
 

The second simple thing you can do to stop new nuclear weapons (this one is only for New Mexicans) is to tentatively agree to host a yard sign or small billboard on your property.  

Since 1998, the Study Group has been challenging nuclear weapons policy using billboards along major highways, mostly between the Albuquerque airport and Los Alamos. These billboards, of which there have been 15, have been seen more than 100 million times by hundreds of thousands of people. They have been very cost-effective, but they are suddenly getting much more expensive.  

 

(By the way, that campaign was the subject of a great cover story by Joseph Masco in this past fall's issue (Vol. 17, #3) of Public Culture magazine, not yet posted on their web site.)   

 

We hope to supplement our remaining billboard with many smaller billboards along highways, roads, and streets. These small billboards can be made in a variety of sizes and shapes and can display a variety of messages.  Various production methods are possible.

 

Will you help with this campaign? Above all we need hosts for cool, kick-ass signs. And we want YOUR design and messaging ideas (be forewarned: most ideas end up on the cutting room floor).


If you'd like to talk to us further about this very cost-effective program, please drop a note to Fatima right away!

In solidarity,

Greg Mello for the Los Alamos Study Group

This email comes to you from the activist listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group. Past alerts are archived on our home page.  To subscribe send a blank email lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.  Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!

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Action Alert #52 (01/19/06)
Opportunity to meet Los Alamos manager, request nuke dump closure

Dear friends,

On Wednesday January 25th there will be a very good opportunity to show our collective insistence that the "Area G" nuclear waste disposal site at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) be closed.

Here's how we can do that, beginning with a little background.

Last fall, on September 28, the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Northern New Mexico Citizens Advisory board (NNMCAB) joined 90 New Mexico organizations, 275 New Mexico businesses, the City of Santa Fe, 74 national and international organizations, and about 5,000 New Mexicans to request closure of Area G.  Their excellent recommendation can be found at http://www.nnmcab.org/recommendations/recommendation-2005-10.pdf.  (For more information, see also http://www.lasg.org/PressRelease10-21-05.htm and http://www.lasg.org/waste.htm.)  Subsequently the City of Taos has also joined the call to close the dump.

Next Wednesday the NNMCAB will meet in Jemez Complex of the Santa Fe Community College (at 6401 Richards Avenue).  The Manager of DOE's Los Alamos Site Office (LASO), Mr. Ed Wilmot, will be in attendance and will be answering questions, including the question of why DOE has not responded to at least 30 NNMCAB recommendations, including closure of Area G.

The meeting is slated to run from 1:30 pm to 8:00 pm; Mr. Wilmot will be at the lectern from 4 to 5 pm.  From 5 pm to 6 pm there will be a dinner break and at 6 pm the microphone will be available to the public for some limited period of time (30 minutes?).

The most important time to be there is thus from about 3:30 to about 6:30 pm.

Under the new LANL contract, Mr. Wilmot has sweeping powers, at least on paper.  It is thus important for him to understand the depth of community passion about LANL's new nuclear weapons production mission, which will make copious quantities of nuclear waste, and the dump which is to be its "permanent" home (at least, that is, until human and/or natural processes exhume it). 

As in the case of the NNMCAB's recommendations, Mr. Wilmot's office has failed to answer ANY of our detailed questions over the past few months.  We therefore hope to meet with him soon.

Please come on Wednesday if you can.  Call Fatima Portugal in the main office (505-265-1200) for more details. 

Finally, and whether or not you can come, now is an excellent time to reach out to organizations that have not yet signed the Call.  We would like to have 100 New Mexico organizations by

Wednesday!  (That would be 10 more.)  The environmental organizations have been relatively shy.  Why not call up one of them with which you are involved and get them on board? 

Very best to all, and apologies for two alerts in as many days,

Greg Mello

P.S. Some of you know that Congress has requested a new cost/benefit study of nuclear disposal at Area G.  Also, a new "performance assessment" (PA) for Area G and allied sites is reported to be in final review at LANL.  The last such document "proved" it was hunky-dory to dump a small mountain of nuclear waste for decades to come on a narrow mesa a few feet from streams and springs.  The current PA is nearly done but is being held back by LANL "for peer review."

The default option for DOE is to open a new extension to Area G, one of 4 they have in mind for the future, and to keep on dumping for most of the this century just as they did in the last century.  No lining, no permit, no limit, no transparency, no external regulation, no commitment to ever remove any of it.

This email comes to you from the activist listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group. Past alerts are archived on our home page.  To subscribe send a blank email lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.  Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!

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Action Alert #51 (01/18/06)
Special meeting in Santa Fe Friday

Dear friends,

The meeting usually scheduled each Friday at 2 pm at Cloud Cliff Cafe will be held at 6 pm this Friday, January 20th only. 

This is a very important meeting at which we discuss the rapidly-evolving state of nuclear weapons work in New Mexico and what we can do about it. 

New Mexican citizens are in a position of unique power, a fact usually not adequately appreciated. At the meeting we will talk about the sources of that power and the ways we can express it.  Study Group staff will be presenting new information and we’ll discuss specific ideas as to how citizens can help stop the push for new nuclear weapons. 

This relative position of strength, which Arundhati Roy has called “the power of proximity,” is not confined to U.S. nuclear weapons policy but spills over into related issues.  For example, to the extent we can shine a strong light on the dramatic and treaty-breaking push for new nuclear weapons at Los Alamos we also undercut the political basis for war against Iran over that country’s uranium enrichment project.  

We’ve got our work cut out for us.  The new Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) contractor, called “Los Alamos National Security LLC” (LANS) is a new for-profit company composed of the

University of California (UC) and trio of big-time crony capitalists: 

  • The Bechtel Group, a privately-held company with multi-decade, incestuous ties with the Central Intelligence Agency and lately known for its vicious attacks on the drinking water supply of Cochabamba (Bolivia), its partnership with Enron in India, and its Iraq “reconstruction” contracts;
  • Washington Group International, a heavy Bush campaign contributor which has recently exhibited dramatic corporate growth, largely due to its new contracts in Iraq;
  • BWXT, a nuclear weapons production contractor subsidiary of a Panamanian oil drilling and services company, McDermott International. 

I know this reads like a bad novel or screenplay, but friends, it’s the truth.  These people are now in charge of the largest WMD facility in the world and stand to make tens of billions of dollars in no-bid contracts if they can produce new kinds of nuclear weapons for their federal paymasters.  (For a lot more, see http://www.lasg.org/technical/LANS.htm).

Fortunately, NNSA has admitted that the benign-sounding “Reliable Replacement Warhead”

(RRW) program is meant to be the basis for the continuous evolution of the entire U.S. arsenal for the foreseeable future.  (James Sterngold, “Upgrades planned for U.S. nuclear stockpile: agency leader expects significant warhead redesigns,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 15, 2006).  Mr. Sterngold is among the dozen or so national and international reporters who have been extensively briefed on this program by the Study Group over the past year.  

The new plutonium manufacturing mission at LANL (a feature of the new contract as well as of legislation this fall) is gaining momentum, and LANL’s big new plutonium facility has received initial funding.  This large new factory for weapons of mass destruction, should it proceed, is something which would affect the mission of LANL and the identity of northern New Mexico for decades to come.  

We have stopped this facility before and we can do so again!  Please come on Friday, and let’s talk about just how we can do this.  We have four powerful programs underway to do so, and your input will help refine and grow them to the next stage.  

By the way, we will invite LANL security to this and subsequent planning meetings.  We have no idea whether they will come.  All parties should know, however, that our strategies do not depend upon subterfuge.  The most powerful ones never do.  

We look forward to seeing you on Friday! 

In solidarity and hope,

Greg Mello

This email comes to you from the activist listserve of the Los Alamos Study Group. Past alerts are archived on our home page.  To subscribe send a blank email lasgnewmex-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. To unsubscribe send a blank email to lasgnewmex-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.  Please forward this alert to friends and colleagues you think might be interested!


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