California Could Suffer a Fukushima-Style Meltdown

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Posted on 2nd November 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Scientists warned that an earthquake could take out Fukushima. The Japanese ignored the warning.

(The Fukushima reactors were damaged by the earthquake before the tsunami hit, because the design of the reactors was defective.)

But that couldn’t happen in the U.S. … right?

Well, the engineers who built the Fukushima reactors also built a nuclear reactor at Shoreham, New York … which is highly vulnerable to an earthquake:

The plant was riddled with problems that, no way on earth, could stand an earthquake. The team of engineers sent in to inspect found that most of these components could “completely and utterly fail” during an earthquake.

Indeed:

(1) the company fraudulently changed the seismic report to pretend the plant was earthquake-safe;

and

 

(2) the exact same thing was done at Fukushima.

And the same company that designed the failed Fukushima plants and the vulnerable Shoreham facility is:

the designated builder for every one of the four new nuclear plants that the Obama Administration has approved for billions in federal studies.

But surely the U.S. government agencies regulating nuclear plants are protecting us from earthquake danger?

Well, no …

U.S. regulators haven’t implemented any of the emergency measures which their staff urgently recommended in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, and have actually weakened safety standards for U.S. nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster.

Indeed, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a pro-industry group which is largely funded by the nuclear companies. (This is true of all nuclear agencies).

The NRC is using obviously-faulty models to pretend that the ancient, crumbling reactors are safe.

David Lochbaum – Director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists, who worked as a nuclear engineer for nearly two decades, and has written numerous articles and reports on various aspects of nuclear safety and published two books – says that 27 U.S. nuclear plants aren’t protected against earthquake risks. (He also says that half of all American reactors don’t meet the NRC’s fire protection regulations, a third aren’t protected against flooding if an upstream dam fails).

Indeed, NRC whistleblowers say that the risk of a nuclear meltdown is even higher in the U.S. than it was at Fukushima.

The former head of the NRC says:

  • The current fleet of operating plants in the US should be phased out because regulators can’t guarantee against an accident causing widespread land contamination.
  • The biggest problem with the NRC continues to be the heavy influence that the industry has in selecting the members of the commission. It is a very political process. There are few commissioners who ever get onto the commission who are not endorsed by the industry.

Moreover, regulators allow earthquake-causing fracking to be conducted within 500 feet of nuclear plants.

The NRC has repeatedly covered up for the nuclear industry.  For example, NBC News reports:

In the tense days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan on March 11, 2011, staff at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission made a concerted effort to play down the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis to America’s aging nuclear plants ….

 

The emails, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, show that the campaign to reassure the public about America’s nuclear industry came as the agency’s own experts were questioning U.S. safety standards and scrambling to determine whether new rules were needed to ensure that the meltdown occurring at the Japanese plant could not occur here.

 

***

 

There are numerous examples in the emails of apparent misdirection or concealment in the initial weeks after the Japanese plant was devastated … :

  • Trying to distance the U.S. agency from the Japanese crisis, an NRC manager told staff to hide from reporters the presence of Japanese engineers in the NRC’s operations center in Maryland.
  • If asked whether the Diablo Canyon Power Plant on the California coast could withstand the same size tsunami that had hit Japan, spokespeople were told not to reveal that NRC scientists were still studying that question. As for whether Diablo could survive an earthquake of the same magnitude, “We’re not so sure about, but again we are not talking about that,” said one email.
  • When skeptical news articles appeared, the NRC dissuaded news organizations from using the NRC’s own data on earthquake risks at U.S. nuclear plants, including the Indian Point Energy Center near New York City.

Similarly, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen and others pointed out in a roundtable discussion:

  • The NRC purposely delayed starting its earthquake study for Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York until after relicensing was complete in 2013, because the NRC didn’t consider a big earthquake “a serious risk”
  • Congressman Markey has said there is a cover up. Specifically, Markey alleges that the head of the NRC told everyone not to write down risks they find from an earthquake greater than 6.0 (the plant was only built to survive a 6.0 earthquake)

California: At Risk

But surely California – that environmental haven – has better nuclear safety standards?

Nope …

In 2011, the California Energy Commission held hearings concerning the state’s nuclear safety. During those hearings, the Chairman of the Commission asked government experts whether or not they felt the state’s nuclear facilities could withstand the maximum credible quake. The response was that they didn’t know.

The same year, KCET public television reported:

PG&E Acknowledges Seismic Uncertainty at Diablo Canyon at Public Hearing, Maintains They Have No Concern.

 

***

 

On Tuesday, The San Luis Obispo Tribune featured an article describing Diablo’s back-up cooling systems that are designed to function during an emergency similar to one experienced at Fukushima.

 

***

 

Controversy relating to the Diablo plant was also featured in the Huffington Post where it was pointed out that PG&E was not required to include earthquake procedure in its emergency response plan.

 

California State Senator Sam Blakeslee (R, San Luis Obispo, 15th District) is a geophysicist with a PhD in earthquake studies and is a member of the California State Senate Select Committee on Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness. During this week’s hearing, he repeatedly asked PG&E to withdraw its license renewal application and perform a new seismic study of the [Diablo Canyon nuclear site]. The known presence of the Hosgri earthquake fault, two and a half miles away, and the newly detected fault that runs within a mile of the plant should be thoroughly charted and studied before PG&E applies for a license renewal.

In August, CBS reported:

A senior federal nuclear expert is urging regulators to shut down California’s last operating nuclear plant until they can determine whether the facility’s twin reactors can withstand powerful shaking from any one of several nearby earthquake faults.

 

Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon’s lead on-site inspector, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant’s operation.

 

***

 

What’s striking about Peck’s analysis is that it comes from within the NRC itself ….

 

The conflict between Peck and his superiors stems from the 2008 discovery of the Shoreline fault, which snakes offshore about 650 yards from the reactors. A larger crack, the Hosgri fault, had been discovered in the 1970s about 3 miles away, after the plant’s construction permits had been issued and work was underway. Surveys have mapped a network of other faults north and south of the reactors.

 

According to Peck’s filing, PG&E research in 2011 determined that any of three nearby faults – the Shoreline, Los Osos and San Luis Bay – is capable of producing significantly more ground motion during an earthquake than was accounted for in the design of important plant equipment. In the case of San Luis Bay, it is as much as 75 percent more.

 

Those findings involve estimates of what’s called peak ground acceleration, a measurement of how hard the earth could shake in a given location. The analysis says PG&E failed to demonstrate that the equipment would remain operable if exposed to the stronger shaking, violating its operating license.

 

***

 

Peck, who holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering and is now a senior instructor at the NRC’s Technical Training Center in Tennessee, declined to comment on the filing.

The Ecologist writes:

An earthquake on nearby geological faults could trigger a Fukushima-scale accident causing 10,000 early fatalities. The owner’s response? Apply to extend the site’s operation for another 20 years.

 

***

 

It’s apparent to any visitor to the stretch of California where the two Diablo Canyon plants are sited that it is geologically hot. A major tourist feature of the area: hot spas.

 

“Welcome to the Avila Hot Springs”, declares the website of one, noting how “historic Avila Hot Springs” was “discovered in 1907 by at the time unlucky oil drillers and established” as a “popular visitor-serving natural artesian mineral hot springs.”

 

Nevertheless, Pacific Gas & Electric had no problem in 1965 picking the area along the California coast, north of Avila Beach, as a location for two nuclear plants.

 

***

 

It was known that the San Andreas Fault was inland 45 miles away. But in 1971, with construction already under way, oil company geologists discovered another earthquake fault – the Hosgri Fault, just three miles out in the Pacific from the plant site and linked to the San Andreas Fault.

 

In 2008 yet another fault was discovered, the Shoreline Fault - just 650 yards from the Diablo Canyon plants.

 

***

 

Michael Mariotte, president of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, commented Monday that in “plain English” what Peck’s report acknowledges is:

 

The NRC does not know whether Diablo Canyon could survive an earthquake, within the realm of the possible, at any of the faults around Diablo Canyon. And the reactors should shut down until the NRC does know one way or the other.

And Friends of the Earth noted in October:

On September 10, PG&E released a long-awaited seismic study, the Central Coastal California Seismic Imaging Project, which revealed that earthquake faults surrounding Diablo Canyon are both larger and interconnected and therefore capable of far greater ground motion than had been known before. Nonetheless, PG&E claimed that the reactors could “withstand the ground motions that would be produced by potential earthquakes” from these nearby faults.

FOE has filed suit to shut down Diablo Canyon:

In a petition filed with the California Public Utilities Commission in late September, Friends of the Earth called for a ratemaking investigation into whether or not the expensive and aging Diablo Canyon power plant should be closed and replaced by cheaper, renewable energy and efficiency measure. In a statement, former TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority] head David Freeman called for an end to the “benefits of a sweetheart deal that forces consumers to pay whatever the [PG&E] spends plus a guaranteed return on investment.” [Indeed, nuclear power is a form of crony capitalism, where taxpayers fund an industry which would not even exist in a free market.]

 

***

 

Prompted by the seismic report, which found that the Shoreline Fault was twice as long as previously thought, Friends of the Earth filed a petition to the NRC on October 10, intervening in the process to allow the Diablo Canyon reactors to run another 20 years.

 

***

 

On October 28, Friends of the Earth petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn the NRC’s secret, illegal decision to alter the Diablo Canyon plant’s license, a move revealed one month earlier in the agency’s rejection of Dr. Peck’s DPO. The change, made without public notice in September 2013, altered the way the NRC assesses earthquake risks at the plant without following the agency’s own rules or the federal law

Like Fukushima, Diablo Canyon holds thousands of radioactive fuel rods in pools. If power is cut off, the fuel rods would release their radioactivity within a couple of days.

Brilliant …

If Americans Knew What Was Happening In Israel …

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Posted on 27th July 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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George Washington's picture

If my fellow Americans understood the history of Israel and Palestine, their views would change overnight … and they would demand that Israel no longer be given unconditional support and blank checks to do whatever they want:

Postscript: Former Israeli Minister: Calling people who criticize Israeli policy “anti-semitic. It’s a trick … we always use it”.

As We Reported 6 Years Ago: The Pentagon Is Using AI Programs To Predict How People – e.g. Americans – Will React To Propaganda

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Posted on 11th July 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Via Washington’s Blog

 

The Guardian reports (h/t Tyler Durden):

The activities of users of Twitter and other social media services were recorded and analysed as part of a major project funded by the US military, in a program that covers ground similar to Facebook’s controversial experiment into how to control emotions by manipulating news feeds.

 

Research funded directly or indirectly by the US Department of Defense’s military research department, known as Darpa, has involved users of some of the internet’s largest destinations, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Kickstarter, for studies of social connections and how messages spread.

 

***

 

Several of the DoD-funded studies went further than merely monitoring what users were communicating on their own, instead messaging unwitting participants in order to track and study how they responded.

 

***

 

The project list includes a study of how activists with the Occupy movement used Twitter as well as a range of research on tracking internet memes and some about understanding how influence behaviour (liking, following, retweeting) happens on a range of popular social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Kickstarter, Digg and Reddit.

 

***

 

Unveiled in 2011, the SMISC [Social Media in Strategic Communication] program was regarded as a bid by the US military to become better at both detecting and conducting propaganda campaigns on social media.

 

“Through the program, Darpa seeks to develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information.” [“Truthful” as in government-approved? ]

 

***

 

Studies which received military funding channeled through IBM included one called “Modeling User Attitude toward Controversial Topics in Online Social Media”, which analysed Twitter users’ opinions on fracking.

 

***

 

“As another example, when anti-government messages are spread in social media, government would want to spread counter messages to balance that effort and hence identify people who are more likely to spread such counter messages based on their opinions.”

 

***

 

A study at Georgia Tech … concluded: “Breaking news stories and world events – for example, the Arab Spring – are heavily represented in social media, making them susceptible topics for influence attempts via deception.” [We can’t tell if the researchers were pro or anti-deception; but given that the U.S. and Britain have used Twitter to intentionally spread falsehoods in other countries, we can take a wild guess.]

 

***

 

One of multiple studies looking into how to spread messages on the networks, titled “Who Will Retweet This? Automatically Identifying and Engaging Strangers on Twitter to Spread Information” did just this.

 

The researchers explained: “Since everyone is potentially an influencer on social media and is capable of spreading information, our work aims to identify and engage the right people at the right time on social media to help propagate information when needed.”

This story can only really be understood with a little context:

  • We noted 6 years ago that the Pentagon is using artificial intelligence programs to try to predict how people will react to propaganda

Postscript:   We explained one aspect of this story – the importance of controlling which stories “go viral” – in February:

The government spends a great deal of manpower and money to monitor which stories, memes and social movements are developing the momentum to actually pose a threat to the status quo.  For example, the Federal Reserve, Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies all monitor social media for stories critical of their agencies … or the government in general.   Other governments – and private corporations – do the same thing.

 

Why?

 

Because a story gaining momentum ranks high on social media sites.  So it has a high probability of bursting into popular awareness, destroying the secrecy which allows corruption, and becoming a real challenge to the powers-that-be.

 

“Social proof” is a related concept.  Social proof is the well-known principle stating that people will believe something if most other people believe it. And see this.  In other words, most people have a herd instinct, so if a story ranks highly, more people are likely to believe it and be influenced by it.

 

That is why vested interests go to great lengths – using computer power and human resources – to monitor social media momentum.   If a story critical of one of these powerful entities is gaining momentum, they will go to great lengths to kill its momentum, and destroy the social proof which comes with alot of upvotes, likes or recommendations in social media.

 

They may choose to flood social media with comments supporting the entities, using armies of sock puppets, i.e. fake social media identities. See this, this, this, this and this.

Governments from Around the World – Including Western, Islamic, Asian and African Nations – ADMIT They Carry Out False Flag Terror

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Posted on 8th July 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Painting by Anthony Freda

Governments from Around the World Admit They Carry Out False Flag Terror

Governments from around the world admit they carry out false flag terror:

  • A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland. Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson
  • Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev admitted in writing that the Soviet Union’s Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila in 1939, and declared that the fire originated from Finland as a basis launching the Winter War four days later
  • Israel admits that an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind “evidence” implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this)
  • The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister
  • The British Prime Minister admitted to his defense secretary that he and American president Dwight Eisenhower approved a plan in 1957 to carry out false flag attacks in Syria and blame it on the Syrian government as a way to effect regime change
  • As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in the 1960′s, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.
  • 2 years before, American Senator George Smathers had suggested that the U.S. make “a false attack made on Guantanamo Bay which would give us the excuse of actually fomenting a fight which would then give us the excuse to go in and [overthrow Castro]“.
  • And Official State Department documents show that – only nine months before the Joint Chiefs of Staff plan was proposed – the head of the Joint Chiefs and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country. The 3 plans were not carried out, but they were all discussed as serious proposals
  • A U.S. Congressional committee admitted that – as part of its “Cointelpro” campaign – the FBI had used many provocateurs in the 1950s through 1970s to carry out violent acts and falsely blame them on political activists
  • The South African Truth and Reconciliation Council found that, in 1989, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (a covert branch of the South African Defense Force) approached an explosives expert and asked him “to participate in an operation aimed at discrediting the ANC [the African National Congress] by bombing the police vehicle of the investigating officer into the murder incident”, thus framing the ANC for the bombing
  • An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author)
  • Senior Russian Senior military and intelligence officers admit that the KGB blew up Russian apartment buildings and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya (and see this report and this discussion)
  • According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.
  • The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings
  • As reported by BBC, the New York Times, and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the “war on terror”.
  • Similarly, the U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war.  Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime, that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties.   Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction  (despite previous “lone wolf” claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers)
  • Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having “our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications.”
  • United Press International reported in June 2005:

U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

  • Undercover Israeli soldiers admitted in 2005 to throwing stones at other Israeli soldiers so they could blame it on Palestinians, as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians
  • Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers (and see this)
  • At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence
  • A Colombian army colonel has admitted that his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat
  • U.S. soldiers have admitted that if they kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then “drop” automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants
  • The highly-respected writer for the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that the head of Saudi intelligence – Prince Bandar – recently admitted that the Saudi government controls “Chechen” terrorists
  • High-level American sources admitted that the Turkish government – a fellow Nato country – carried out the chemical weapons attacks blamed on the Syrian government; and high-ranking Turkish government admitted on tape plans to carry out false flag attacks and blame it on the Syrian government

So Common … There’s a Name for It

This tactic is so common that it was given a name for hundreds of years ago.

“False flag terrorism” is defined as a government attacking its own people, then blaming others in order to justify going to war against the people it blames. Or as Wikipedia defines it:

False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one’s own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy’s strategy of tension.

The term comes from the old days of wooden ships, when one ship would hang the flag of its enemy before attacking another ship in its own navy. Because the enemy’s flag, instead of the flag of the real country of the attacking ship, was hung, it was called a “false flag” attack.

Indeed, this concept is so well-accepted that rules of engagement for naval, air and land warfare all prohibit false flag attacks.

Leaders Throughout History Have Acknowledged False Flags

Leaders throughout history have acknowledged the danger of false flags:

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.”
– Plato

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
– U.S. President James Madison

“A history of false flag attacks used to manipulate the minds of the people! “In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death”.
– Adolph Hitler

“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
– Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.

“The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened”.
– Josef Stalin

People Are Waking Up to False Flags

People are slowly waking up to this whole con job by governments who want to justify war.

More people are talking about the phrase “false flag” than ever before.

TAKING IT TO THE STREETS

12 comments

Posted on 31st January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Guest post George Washington’s Blog

The Powers-That-Be Are Secretly Terrified of the People’s Power … And Only PRETEND They’re Firmly In Control

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Our Actions Are More Powerful Than We Realize

David Swanson writes:

Almost every [history of past activism] includes belated discoveries of the extent to which government officials were influenced by activist groups even while pretending to ignore popular pressure.

 

These revelations can be found in the memoirs of the government officials as well, such as in George W. Bush’s recollection of how seriously the Republican Senate Majority Leader was taking public pressure against the war on Iraq in 2006.

 

Of course, activism that appears ineffectual at the time can succeed in a great many ways, including by influencing others, even young children, who go on to become effective activists — or by influencing firm opponents who begin to change their minds and eventually switch sides.

 

The beautiful thing about nonviolent activism is that, while risking no harm, it has the potential to do good in ways small and large that ripple out from it in directions we cannot track or measure.

 

Wittner participated in his first political demonstration in 1961. The USSR was withdrawing from a moratorium on nuclear testing. A protest at the White House urged President Kennedy not to follow suit:

“Picking up what I considered a very clever sign (‘Kennedy, Don’t Mimic the Russians!’), I joined the others (supplemented by a second busload of students from a Quaker college in the Midwest) circling around a couple of trees outside the White House. Mike and I — as new and zealous recruits — circled all day without taking a lunch or a dinner break.

 

“For decades I looked back on this venture as a trifle ridiculous. After all, we and other small bands of protesters couldn’t have had any impact on U.S. policy, could we? Then in the mid-1990s, while doing research at the Kennedy Library on the history of the world nuclear disarmament movement, I stumbled onto an oral history interview with Adrian Fisher, deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He was explaining why Kennedy delayed resuming atmospheric nuclear tests until April 1962. Kennedy personally wanted to resume such tests, Fisher recalled, ‘but he also recognized that there were a lot of people that were going to be deeply offended by the United States resuming atmospheric testing. We had people picketing the White House, and there was a lot of excitement about it — just because the Russians do it, why do we have to do it?'”

Yes, Kennedy delayed a horrible action. He didn’t, at that time, block it permanently. But if the picketers in 1961 had had the slightest notion that Kennedy was being influenced by them, their numbers would have multiplied 10-fold, as would the delay have correspondingly lengthened.

 

Yes, our government was more responsive to public opinion in the 1960s than now, but part of the reason is that more people were active then. And another reason is that government officials are doing a better job now of hiding any responsiveness to public sentiment, which helps convince the public it has no impact, which reduces activism further. We also focus far too much on the most difficult individuals to move, such as presidents.

 

In 1973-1974, Wittner visited GI coffee houses in Japan including in Yokusaka, where the Midway aircraft carrier was in port. The Japanese were protesting the ship’s carrying of nuclear weapons, which was illegal in Japan, and which the U.S. military, of course, lied about. But U.S. soldiers with whom Wittner and other activists had talked, brought them onto the ship and showed them the nukes. The following summer, when Wittner read in a newspaper that,

“a substantial number of American GIs had refused to board the Midway for a mission to South Korea, then swept by popular protest against the U.S.-backed dictatorship, it occurred to me that I might have played some small role in inspiring their mutiny.”

Soldiers can still be reached much more easily than presidents, more easily in many cases in fact than the average citizen. War lies are harder to sell to the people who have been fighting the wars.

 

In the late 1990s, Wittner was researching the anti-nuclear movement of decades past. He interviewed Robert “Bud” McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan’s former national security advisor:

“Other administration officials had claimed that they had barely noticed the nuclear freeze movement. But when I asked McFarlane about it, he lit up and began outlining a massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze — one that he had directed. . . . A month later, I interviewed Edwin Meese, a top White House staffer and U.S. attorney general during the Reagan administration. When I asked him about the administration’s response to the freeze campaign, he followed the usual line by saying that there was little official notice taken of it. In response, I recounted what McFarlane had revealed. A sheepish grin now spread across this former government official’s face, and I knew that I had caught him. ‘If Bud says that,’ he remarked tactfully, ‘it must be true.'”

When someone tells you to stop imagining that you’re having an impact, ask them to please redirect their energy into getting 10 friends to join you in doing what needs to be done. If it has no impact, you’ll have gone down trying. If it has an impact, nobody will tell you for many years.

Mr. Swanson is right. I noted in 2009:

As MSNBC news correspondent Jonathan Capehart tells Dylan Ratigan, the main problem is that people aren’t making enough noise. Capehart says that the people not only have to “burn up the phone lines to Congress”, but also to hit the streets and protest in D.C.

 

Even though most politicians are totally corrupt, if many millions of Americans poured into the streets of D.C., a critical mass would be reached, and the politicians would start changing things in a hurry.

 

As [liberal] PhD economist Dean Baker points out:

The elites hate to acknowledge it, but when large numbers of ordinary people are moved to action, it changes the narrow political world where the elites call the shots. Inside accounts reveal the extent to which Johnson and Nixon’s conduct of the Vietnam War was constrained by the huge anti-war movement. It was the civil rights movement, not compelling arguments, that convinced members of Congress to end legal racial discrimination. More recently, the townhall meetings, dominated by people opposed to health care reform, have been a serious roadblock for those pushing reform….

 

A big turnout … can make a real difference.

Baker is right about Vietnam.

 

Specifically – according to Daniel Ellsberg and many others – Richard Nixon actually planned on dropping a nuclear bomb on Vietnam. Nixon also said he didn’t care what the American people thought. He said that — no matter what the public did or said — he was going to escalate the war in Vietnam.

 

However, a well-known biographer says that Nixon backed off when hundreds of thousands of people turned out in Washington, D.C. to protest an escalation of the war.

And Pulitzer prize winning reporter Chris Hedges pointed out recently:

I was in Leipzig on November 9, 1989 with leaders of East German opposition and they told me that – perhaps within a year – there would be free passes back and forth across the Berlin wall.

 

Within a few hours, the Berlin Wall, at least as far as an impediment to human traffic, did not exist.

 

Week after week, month after month, these clergy in Leipzig held these candlelit vigils. And it was slow at first … people forget. Just like the Egyptian revolution has been percolating for many many months, and even years.

 

And suddenly, it began to grow.

 

And Honecker – who had been in ruling East Germany since the time of the dinosaurs – sent down a paratroop division to Leipzig .. . and they won’t attack the demonstrators.

Part of the reason that our actions are more powerful than we think is that courage is contagious. So is the ability to think.

As we’ve previously noted:

[Studies show ] that even one dissenting voice can give people permission to think for themselves. Specifically:

Solomon Asch, with experiments originally carried out in the 1950s and well-replicated since, highlighted a phenomenon now known as “conformity”. In the classic experiment, a subject sees a puzzle like the one in the nearby diagram: Which of the lines A, B, and C is the same size as the line X? Take a moment to determine your own answer…The gotcha is that the subject is seated alongside a number of other people looking at the diagram – seemingly other subjects, actually confederates of the experimenter. The other “subjects” in the experiment, one after the other, say that line C seems to be the same size as X. The real subject is seated next-to-last. How many people, placed in this situation, would say “C” – giving an obviously incorrect answer that agrees with the unanimous answer of the other subjects? What do you think the percentage would be?

 

Three-quarters of the subjects in Asch’s experiment gave a “conforming” answer at least once. A third of the subjects conformed more than half the time.

Get it so far? People tend to defer to what the herd thinks.

 

But here’s the good news:

Adding a single dissenter – just one other person who gives the correct answer, or even an incorrect answer that’s different from the group’s incorrect answer – reduces conformity very sharply, down to 5-10%.

Why is this important? Well, it means that one person who publicly speaks the truth can sway a group of people away from group-think.

 

If a group of people is leaning towards believing the government’s version of events, a single person who speaks the truth can help snap the group out of its trance.

 

There is an important point here regarding the web, as well. The above-cited article states that:

When subjects can respond in a way that will not be seen by the group, conformity also drops.What does that mean? Well, on the web, many people post anonymously. The anonymity gives people permission to “respond in a way that will not be seen by the group”. But most Americans still don’t get their news from the web, or only go to mainstream corporate news sites.

 

Away from the keyboard, we are not very anonymous. So that is where the conformity dynamic — and the need for courageous dissent — is vital. It is doubly important that we apply the same hard-hitting truthtelling we do on the Internet in our face-to-face interactions; because it is there that dissent is urgently needed.

 

Bottom line: Each person‘s voice has the power to snap entire groups out of their coma of irrational group-think. So go forth and be a light of rationality and truth among the sleeping masses.

And a recent study shows that when only 10% of a population have strongly-held beliefs, their belief will often be adopted by the majority of the society.

True, governments worldwide are cracking down on liberty with the iron fist of repression.

But some argue that this is actually a sign that we are winning.

As Truthout’s Matt Renner writes:

Recently I sat down with two of the young adults who organized and led the Egyptian resistance movement that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. The media narrative said it took 18 days, when in fact, they had been organizing for over five years.

 

According to these young men, the moment they knew they had won was the day Mubarak’s government shut off the Internet and blocked cellphone communications. When people could no longer get updates about what was happening in Tahrir Square, they had to come out of their homes and see for themselves, tripling the size of the protests in one fell swoop.

 

The global plutocracy is terrified of dissent. In some places, the war on dissent is being fought with bullets. In others, the war on dissent targets social media and mobile communications, while repressing and deceiving communities of struggle. It’s already happening.

Indeed, the use of heavy-handed tactics – taking the velvet glove off of the iron fist – could backfire, as it will show the “emperor’s ruthlessness” for all to see.

The powers-that-be are terrified of political awakening and dissent. For example, Zbigniew Brzezinski – National Security Adviser to President Carter, creator of America’s strategy to lure Russia into Afghanistan, creator of America’s plans for Eurasia in general, and Obama’s former foreign affairs adviser – said:

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. There are only a few pockets of humanity left in the remotest corners of the world that are not politically alert and engaged with the political turmoil and stirrings that are so widespread today around the world.

 

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America needs to face squarely a centrally important new global reality: that the world’s population is experiencing a political awakening unprecedented in scope and intensity, with the result that the politics of populism are transforming the politics of power.

 

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[T]he central challenge of our time is posed not by global terrorism, but rather by the intensifying turbulence caused by the phenomenon of global political awakening. That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing.

It is no overstatement to assert that now in the 21st century the population of much of the developing world is politically stirring and in many places seething with unrest. It is a population acutely conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree, and often resentful of its perceived lack of political dignity.

 

***

 

These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches.

***

 

The misdiagnosis [of foreign policy] pertains to a relatively vague, excessively abstract, highly emotional, semi-theological definition of the chief menace that we face today in the world, and the consequent slighting of what I view as the unprecedented global challenge arising out of the unique phenomenon of a truly massive global political awakening of mankind. We live in an age in which mankind writ large is becoming politically conscious and politically activated to an unprecedented degree, and it is this condition which is producing a great deal of international turmoil.

 

That turmoil is the product of the political awakening, the fact that today vast masses of the world are not politically neutered, as they have been throughout history. They have political consciousness.

 

***

The other major change in international affairs is that for the first time, in all of human history, mankind has been politically awakened. That is a total new reality – total new reality. It has not been so for most of human history until the last one hundred years. And in the course of the last one hundred years, the whole world has become politically awakened. And no matter where you go, politics is a matter of social engagement, and most people know what is generally going on –generally going on – in the world, and are consciously aware of global inequities, inequalities, lack of respect, exploitation. Mankind is now politically awakened and stirring.

And a reader notes:

We do not understand our own power. Look around you. Almost everything you see was not only made, but created by people like yourselves. Most of the horrors existing on earth were engendered by the elites, WITH OUR CO-OPERATION. Without our consent, most of the terrifying situations existing in our world will cease to exist. Resist. It certainly may be difficult initially, but it grows easier moment by moment.

Some historical quotes may be helpful in illustrating the importance of struggling to make things better …

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
– Robert F . Kennedy

We must never despair; our situation has been compromising before; and it changed for the better; so I trust it will again. If difficulties arise; we must put forth new exertion and proportion our efforts to the exigencies of the times.
– George Washington

We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.
-Sonia Johnson

Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
– Margaret Mead

Hope has never trickled down. It has always sprung up.
– Studs Terkel

At certain points in history, the energy level of people, the indignation level of people rises. And at that point it becomes possible for people to organize and to agitate and to educate one another, and to create an atmosphere in which the government must do something.
– Howard Zinn, historian

There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress.
– Howard Zinn

Cynicism Is Not Realistic

Millions of Americans think that hope is for the foolish, and that the smart people are cynics.

But if all of the people who think of themselves as cynics or skeptics made noise, things would instantly change for the better. In other words, the millions of cynics/skeptics/self-described “realists” aren’t raising a ruckus against the fraud being committed by the giant banks, the corruption of our political system, or the lawlessness and imperial arrogance of our intelligence-military-industrial complex because they think things can’t change.

But by staying silent, they are actually creating the conditions in which nothing can change. As Edmund Burke points out:

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

If the millions of cynics woke up to the fact that they are a huge group – especially when combined with the people who are already actively working for the restoration of a liberty, justice and the rule of law – they would suddenly realize that collectively we can change things in a heart beat.

Don’t Want to Go First?

Most people don’t want to go first …

Most people want to see others succeeding before they give it a shot.

But the truth – as pointed out by Zbigniew Brzezinski above – is that people are waking up worldwide … and things are changing quickly.

A few short years ago, Americans wouldn’t have believed that the White House would lie us into a major war, that our government would choose Wall Street over the little guy, or that the NSA spied on every American citizen.  Now, this is all common knowledge.

A few years ago, most Americans trusted government and corporate leaders.  Now, polls show that trust has collapsed, as people realize that our core institutions are rotten with corruption.

You will not be taking the first step.  More people than you realize are already working to challenge the corrupt people in positions of power.

When you act to make things better, you’re actually joining a large group of people doing the same thing.

And as Hellen Keller pointed out:

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

Postscript: In any event, hiding our head in the sand doesn’t work.