If You Love This Planet, Dr. Helen Caldicott

Archive for March, 2009

Journalist Robert Scheer on trillion-dollar military spending, U.S. imperialism, and nuclear war

Monday, March 30th, 2009


Robert Scheer is a respected journalist and author, and is currently the editor-in-chief of Truthdig.com, an award-winning political blog. In this interview with Dr. Caldicott, he discusses the political climate in the U.S. against the backdrop of economic crisis and a new White House administration. Scheer also talks about the military-industrial complex, which he has covered over the course of his career, and describes his latest book, The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America published by Twelve in 2008. Scheer is also the co-author of The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq .

One of Scheer’s earlier books was With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush and Nuclear War (1983) which Dr. Caldicott used in her antinuclear lectures in the Reagan era, when hard-right conservatives were declaring that nuclear war is winnable and anyone could build their own fallout shelter to survive an atomic bombing. Read a chapter, It’s the Dirt That Does It, from that book.

Scheer and Dr. Caldicott refer to the documentary film The Fog of War, and explore whether U.S. war planners have any remorse for their deeds.
Dr. Caldicott asks Scheer about the pathology of neoconservative ideologue Richard Perle, aka “The Prince of Darkness,” who derailed the historic nuclear disarmament summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, and was a leading architect of the current Iraq War. Perle has taken $20 million from weapons maker Boeing. Perle cofounded the Project for the New American Century (also mentioned in last week’s program) whose 2000 document Rebuilding America’s Defenses calls for U.S. world domination and constant preemptive wars to achieve that domination.

Scheer recommends the writings of Graham Greene, including his book The Quiet American, to understand the imperial mindset which has dictated U.S. foreign policy for many years. Scheer says President George Washington warned against the dangers of empire and military aggression, and he recommends people read Washington’s farewell address wherein he said to always “use gentle means” and “avoid foreign machinations.”

Scheer says the U.S. military-industrial complex is now stronger than ever, cleverly working to ensure bloated defense budgets by touting how many jobs they provide in a troubled economy. Dr. Caldicott asks Scheer if President Obama will cut the military budget. In responding to that question, Scheer notes that without cutting weapons spending, none of Obama’s social programs will be funded.

Dr. Caldicott and Scheer analyze how weapons makers invent threats to justify trillions of dollars in recent U.S. military spending, which annually steals more than half of U.S. taxpayers’ money, and show off their weaponry at football games. Scheer refers to a recent article by Jeffrey Smith in the Washington Post about wasteful defense expenditures. Highly recommended: Dr. Caldicott’s 2004 book The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military-Industrial Complex, which has several chapters and appendices about major weapons makers and how they control the U.S. government.

Later in the program, Dr. Caldicott underscores how the threat of nuclear war persists. She ponders if the world has a future if America continues its addiction to weapons and killing. And Scheer describes how the weakened economy could destabilize world security.

Jeff Cohen on the U.S. media’s role in orchestrating vs. opposing war

Monday, March 23rd, 2009


Jeff CohenJeff Cohen is a media critic and founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College in New York. The Park Center has recently established a new award for journalists, this year presented to radio host Amy Goodman and blogger Glenn Greenwald.

Cohen has been a TV commentator on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, and was senior producer of Phil Donahue’s primetime show until it was terminated three weeks before the Iraq invasion - for political reasons. Cohen founded the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

In this riveting and highly educational interview with Dr. Caldicott, Cohen describes the highly controlled, pro-war and pro-Bush media environment that existed in 2002 and 2003 leading up to and during the current Iraq conflict. Cohen and Dr. Caldicott explore why the mainstream U.S. media, including the highly influential New York Times, is so censored when it comes to war and peace issues, and who controls the voices that are heard.

Dr. Caldicott relates her experience as a guest on the Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey shows in 2002 and early 2003, when she wanted to warn the public about the casualties that a second Iraq War would produce, and the possibility the U.S. would use nuclear weapons. Oprah’s program featured two pro-Iraq-war male guests in the studio for the full hour, with Dr. Caldicott’s pre-recorded 30-minute interview cut down to a three-minute sound bite that together with a few other anti-war sound bites was denounced and derided by Oprah’s guests.

Cohen and Dr. Caldicott cover how the U.S. media fully orchestrated the Iraq war and subsequent occupation, and the influence of neoconservatives at the Project for The New American Century, which lasted from 1997 to 2006. The Project’s 2000 document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” a blueprint for the George W. Bush administration, calls for U.S. world domination and “full-spectrum dominance.” The report says a “new Pearl Harbor” or “gateway event” would create the perfect impetus for continuous U.S. wars of aggression. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle were members or signatories of the Project. Neocons are now regrouping under the guise of a new organization.

Cohen says he “never drank the Obama Kool-Aid” and is skeptical of President Obama’s appointments, whom he says largely replicate the ideology of the George W. Bush administration. He recommends an article by Jeremy Scahill, “Obama’s Kettle of Hawks.” This interview also addresses the fate of American newspapers. Read about the 10 major daily newspapers that are most in jeopardy.

Cohen explains how independent journalists and internet bloggers have become major players in today’s multimedia landscape. Blogs, Cohen says, are the leading edge now of investigative journalism, and were able to report the false premises for the invasion of Iraq while mainstream media continued to perpetuate lies and propaganda. Read about the present influence of the Huffington Post. Cohen talks about a new non-profit business model that might help daily newspapers remain objective and financially sound. Read about the success of the non-profit Mother Jones magazine and Web site.

This episode concludes with a look at the influence and phenomenon of Rush Limbaugh, and why his ability to persuade gullible listeners and dictate right-wing policies may be in jeopardy.

Mary Olson on nuclear-power radiation’s enormous threat to public health

Monday, March 16th, 2009


On this week’s program, Mary Olson, Southeast Regional Coordinator for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) joins
Dr. Caldicott to talk about the nuclear “renaissance” in the United States, including the push for the flawed Generation IV reactors. Energy companies have recently submitted applications to build 23 new nuclear power plants in the South alone (including Texas).

For 30 years, NIRS has been the national information and networking center for citizens concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues. Olson has spoken at the United Nations on nuclear power and climate three times.

In this interview, she explains how she continues to educate people about the risks of nuclear power, and recounts her own experience with radiation poisoning. Dr. Caldicott’s book Nuclear Madness: What You Can Do, Olson says, guided her to understand the nature of radiation and find resources for her own recovery.

Olson and Dr. Caldicott discuss many vitally important aspects of nuclear power in this episode. Ninety-five percent of the radioactivity that is a danger to the planet comes from making electricity, Olson reports, with nuclear power plants putting off the equivalent of six atomic bombs’ worth of heat a day, around the clock. Globally, the dispersal of radioactive elements means these elements continue to increase their concentrations in all the seeds that form the chain of life, including crops for food. Olson points to the late Dr. John Gofman’s contention that 3 to 5 million fatal cancers may result from the Chernobyl accident.

Olson speaks about the nuclear industry’s deception or “nukespeak” about various types of reactors, including their present advocacy of supposedly safer breeder reactors cooled by liquid sodium, which if built would in fact create even more dangerous radiation (and potential for cancer) than existing reactors cooled by water. She refers to John G. Fuller’s book We Almost Lost Detroit about the partial-fuel meltdown of the Fermi 1 reactor, a liquid-metal fast-breeder reactor 30 miles from Detroit. Olson also recounts the recent discovery of a shockingly high cancer incidence near the Summer reactor in South Carolina.

Believing that nuclear power is a solution to global warming, Olson analogizes, is like an addict taking an “oil-addiction IV” out of one elbow and sticking a “nuclear-power-fantasy IV” into another elbow.

Renewable energy technologies like solar and wind are far more cost-efficient and must be pursued to save the planet, Olson says. Like Dr. Caldicott, she strongly recommends everyone read Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy (whose author Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D. has twice appeared on this program) which can be downloaded for free on-line.

For more information, read Olson’s article Confronting a False Myth of Nuclear Power: Nuclear Power Expansion is Not a Remedy for Climate Change. Also read the NIRS reports Nuclear Power: No Solution to Climate Change and Out of Control - On Purpose: DOE’s Dispersal of Radioactive Waste into Landfills and Consumer Products. But hearing today’s program is a must!

Oliver Fein, M.D. on the Need for Single-Payer National Health Insurance in the U.S.

Monday, March 9th, 2009


Dr. Oliver Fein

Dr. Oliver Fein

Can the United States ever have national health insurance for all citizens when private insurance companies have so much power? Today’s guest is Oliver Fein, M.D., a general internist with experience in health policy and a commitment to access to care for vulnerable populations, health system reform and global health education.
Dr. Fein is currently Professor of Clinical Medicine and Clinical Public Health and Associate Dean at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

In this interview, Dr. Fein talks about his role as President of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), and outlines their proposal for a “one-payer” system for health care in the United States. Dr. Caldicott contrasts the state of health care in the U.S. with the successful national health care program offered by the Australian government.

Read Dr. Fein’s report on his attendance at the March 5 White House Health Care Summit, where President Obama spoke, and on House Resolution (H.R.) 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act, here. H.R. 676 has over 90 sponsors in the House. A group supporting the measure, The Citizens Alliance for National Health Insurance, has more information on their Web site.

Update on Obama’s energy and climate plan; Australian wildfires and global warming

Monday, March 2nd, 2009


Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D.

Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D.

In the first part of this episode,
Dr. Caldicott speaks with Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., who provides an
update about President Obama’s energy and climate program, and the funding for renewable energy in the recently passed economic stimulus package. Dr. Makhijani is the President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER). His publication Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy has been downloaded
from the www.ieer.org website a million times, and is having an impact on state governments and politicians around the country.

Dr. Makhijani explores the possibilities for greater energy efficiency offered by smart meters and other intelligent approaches to saving and storing electricity, President Obama’s plan to reduce carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by the middle of the century, and the dangerous pitfalls of “cap-and-trade” programs that do virtually nothing to stop global warming. IEER is now studying how a state such as Utah can move to 100% renewable electricity, and writing model legislation for how other states can follow this path. More information about IEER’s trendsetting work can be found at www.ieer.org and www.carbonfreenuclearfree.org.

Paul Collins

Paul Collins

In part two of the program, Dr. Caldicott chats with Paul Collins, an Australian historian, writer and broadcaster whose book Burn: The Epic Story of Wildfire in Australia (2006) gives a popular history of bushfire in Australia. In the wake of the devastating fires that swept through the southern Australian state of Victoria in February 2009, he explains the behavior of fire and the new conditions we now face due to the consequences of global warming and climate change. He provides some historical background about how British settlers began to upset the equilibrium in the country by intensely destroying natural vegetation. Moving to the present, the February fires have just added millions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. Dr. Caldicott and Collins agree that politicians almost never make connections between the stronger wildfires and extreme weather the world is seeing now, and global warming, because of their limited knowledge of science. Collins mentions the work of American geologian, Thomas Berry, and the need for people to become reconnected to the earth if we are to survive. In an earlier program from 2008, Dr. Caldicott interviewed Collins about religion’s role in saving the planet.