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March 16, 2011

Bulletin #106: Obama toadies up to NM labs in special NM TV interview; Dr. Helen Caldicott soon here; more

Dear friends –

It’s been a very busy three months since Bulletin #105 for us.  Our lawsuit to halt investment in the proposed Los Alamos plutonium production complex has been all-consuming at times (we have a hearing before Judge Herrera on our motion to enjoin further project expenditures in late April); I (Greg) went to Washington, DC for two weeks of meetings with various weapons complex officials, activists, congressional staff, and others; and much else.

We would like to share what we have been learning and doing with you, but emails are not the way to do it.  Knowledge that is too abstracted from any useful context is not something we can spend much time providing.  Our organization's income is too limited and our other opportunities are too great.  However, if you provide some of the social or political or educational context, we will come and tell (almost) all!

We have work to do, together.  We are deeply interested in working with many of you, and if you want to work with us, please write me.

1.  Obama Discusses Sandia Labs, LANL With KOAT; President Sits Down For One-On-One With Action 7 News
Today I spoke regarding the lack of transparency in the nuclear industry (very briefly) on "Hardball" with Chris Matthews at MSNBC, in the context of the Japanese nuclear crisis.  When I returned from the studio (KNME), I found the above shocking news item waiting.

Why, you might ask, would the President of the United States sit down with Royale Dá to talk about how important it is for Congress to increase funding for the New Mexico nuclear weapons laboratories?

Anchor Shelly Ribando asked that question, and here was the reply (at 3:20 into the clip): "KOAT reaches a very specific Southwest audience and it appears, Shelly, that that is an audience the President has an interest in speaking directly to."

What, do you suppose, is that "very specific Southwest audience," and why does President Obama want to speak to it?

Primarily because "it" has huge coffers of cash, and because Obama fears its opposition -- and that of the newspapers and other news media around here, which largely act as propaganda outlets for the labs and related corporate interests.  For these reasons, the President fawns to our labs, i.e. to Lockheed Martin and Los Alamos National Security (Bechtel, URS, B&W, and the University of California).

The entire conversation was a string of logical nonsequitors and nuclear lab advocacy, as you can see and hear for yourself at the above link.  Obama and Dá were both just puppets on a string, happily acting their parts for their respective audiences.

KOAT expressed specific concern about House Republicans possibly cutting back on nuclear weapons spending (which was conflated by all parties with "safety," nuclear power, the Japanese crisis -- whatever was handy), even though the cuts on the table are partial cuts to proposed huge increases, the largest since the Manhattan Project -- 26% in one year in the Los Alamos weapons program, and 20% in Sandia's.

What to do?

The answer is not obvious.  It used to be that one could write or call the station to complain, or make a suggestion.  I doubt that will make any difference, but if you feel like doing so, be my guest.  Fawning to power -- including and especially authoritarian, nuclear-military power -- is a huge problem with virtually the entire New Mexico news community.  In our opinion it is far now weaker, thinner, and less truthful than what is necessary to minimally support a democracy.  This raises a complex of questions we cannot answer here.

For a more effective response, please consider what I have written in red above.

Individual petitions to powerful corporations, made without any political organization and power, are to politics something less than what placebos are to medicine.

We may instead contemplate what Frederick Douglass said in Canandaigua in 1857.

"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters."
"This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others."

2.  Dr. Helen Caldicott – physician, author, lecturer, founder of prominent environmental, peace, and women’s organizations – to speak in Albuquerque and Santa Fe

(From our press release)

The Los Alamos Study Group is pleased to host two public talks by Dr. Helen Caldicott, in Albuquerque (March 20) and Santa Fe (March 21).  Times and locations are below.
For the last four decades Dr. Caldicott has played a uniquely important role in the politics of nuclear weapons and nuclear power worldwide.  Her seven books, thousands of public talks, and countless interviews have been hugely influential in the global movement for nuclear disarmament.  In the 1980s the movement she helped inspire was a significant international force, specifically affecting the nuclear policies of Mikhail Gorbachev.  That movement, and Dr. Caldicott, helped lead the way to the nuclear rapprochement that marked the end of the Cold War.
Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1938, Dr. Caldicott received her medical degree from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1961. She founded the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the Adelaide Children's Hospital in 1975 and subsequently was an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and on the staff of the Children's Hospital Medical Center, Boston, Mass., until 1980 when she resigned to work full time on the prevention of nuclear war.

Dr. Caldicott has received many prizes and awards for her work, including the Lannan Foundation 2003 Cultural Freedom Prize and 21 honorary doctorates.  She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Linus Pauling.  In April of this year she will receive the Nuclear Free Future Award for Lifetime Achievement, in Berlin.
Dr. Caldicott is a co-founder of the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the umbrella group International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), composed of PSR and similar organizations in other countries.  She founded the U.S.-based Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI), which evolved into Beyond Nuclear.  She also founded Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND), now Women’s Action for New Directions.
The Smithsonian Institute named Dr. Caldicott one of the most influential women of the 20th Century.  Further background on Dr. Caldicott can be found at
Tickets are a $10 and can be purchased at the door.  Attendance is limited to the first 150 persons Albuquerque) and 180 persons (Santa Fe).  Helen's books will be on sale before and after both events.

Sunday, March 20th, 6-8 pm: "If You Love This Planet: A Plan to Save the Earth," presentation at The Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale SE, Albuquerque, 2 blocks south of Central Avenue.

Monday, March 21st, 6:30-8:30 pm: "If You Love This Planet: A Plan to Save the Earth," presentation at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Santa Fe, 107 W. Barcelona Road, Santa Fe, one block north of Cordova Rd between Galisteo Street and Barcelona Road.

“Helen’s message and personal example of hope, warning, and compassionate engagement is especially important and inspiring as we face the converging crises before us.  We are very pleased to have her here,” said Study Group Director Greg Mello.  “Helen has a unique ability to help people get beyond barriers to personal engagement and the fulfillment that can come from it.
“The nuclear weapons establishment believes it owns New Mexico.  Its leaders, many of whom I know, hope our complaisant population and weak institutions will make it easy to build new factories and churn out a new generation of nuclear warheads with which to threaten the planet.
“A $7 billion plutonium complex to design and build nuclear components for those warheads is now planned for Los Alamos National Laboratory.  If built, it would be by far the most expensive infrastructure project ever conceived in New Mexico, except our two interstate highways.  It would turn Los Alamos into a full-scale plutonium maquiladora and put a dangerous and growing nuclear borderland in the State's very heart.  In constant dollars, this project greatly exceeds the original Manhattan Project in New Mexico in cost.  Once begun, you can kiss the promise of significant "green jobs" goodbye.
“This proposed giant complex is a “small” but pivotal part of a $200 to $300 billion policy developed by President Obama to completely renew and expand the U.S. nuclear warhead production complex and its laboratories and build a new generation of bombers, submarines, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and advanced reentry vehicles.
“Our deepening economic decline will prevent the completion of most of this, but this misguided and pathological effort will in the meantime be a potent means for taking tax dollars from human and environmental needs and putting into the pockets of a relatively few people.  It is also a highly-potent means for concentrating political power in a few specialized corporations and their bought-and-paid-for political representatives.
“These nuclear policies comprise an in-your-face class issue; they have severe direct and indirect environmental impacts; they involve fraud, deception of Congress, and other corruption; and they involve the attempted re-colonization of an entire state – ours, where almost half of all warhead spending occurs.  The Obama nuclear renaissance would be an essentially permanent dark age for New Mexico.  We can’t let that happen.”

3.  A little more

If you want to work with us, we would welcome that.  The nuclear weapons industry is rightly scared and is in many ways in disarray despite its dominant position vis-a-vis the Obama Administration.  It is stumbling and it will fall.  However it is not at all clear what shape this will take or what its failures will cost.

So there are really great opportunities now, a great deal of "ripe fruit" on the tree.  If you like your activism easy, now is the time -- but nothing interesting is very easy.

You can find a few useful updates on our home page, our page for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF), and our CMRR litigation.  There are some new (since last writing) local resolutions asking for a new environmental impact statement for CMRR-NF.  (All the voting in these important resolutions was unanimous, by the way.  Opposition is not an obstacle to education and dialogue, it's passivity that's fatal).

Our hard-working legal team (Tom Hnasko, Lindsay Lovejoy, Dulcinea Hanuschak, and Diane Albert) all deserve our thanks.

We are hesitant to say more tonight.  We have other nascent programs we have not mentioned.  We are not one-trick ponies.
4.  Finally, and if you are able, please take just a moment and make a donation on-line or, better, send a check to the office.  Or you can write Trish, or call her at 505-265-1200, to arrange a gift of stock or other donations.

Best wishes to all,

Greg, Trish, and gang

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2901 Summit Place NE Albuquerque, NM 87106, Phone: 505-265-1200

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