If You Love This Planet, Dr. Helen Caldicott

Archive for April, 2009

Joseph Cirincione on the historic window for U.S./Russian nuclear disarmament, and how to vanquish the bomb lovers

Monday, April 27th, 2009


Russian President Medvedev and U.S. President Obama at their April 1 meeting

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama

Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund, joins
Dr. Caldicott for a lively discussion about the world’s current nuclear environment, and proliferation concerns. Cirincione is author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons (published by Columbia University Press), and an expert advisor to the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. Ploughshares Fund is the largest grantmaking foundation in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to security and peace funding.

Cirincione and Dr. Caldicott start and end their discussion by focusing on the recent meeting between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who issued a remarkable and historic document calling for a world free of nuclear weapons, and committing to steps to achieve total disarmament, including affirming the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (which has awaited ratification by the U.S. Senate for 10 years). This window to achieve disarmament is tremendously important, Dr. Caldicott and Cirincione agree, and the public must urge Obama to stay the course and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Cirincione talks about the new organization Global Zero, dedicated to increasing the present momentum to disarm nuclear weapons, and whose signatories include many major political and military figures.

Joseph Cirincione

Joseph Cirincione

This episode also examines the forces in government and industry who want to maintain the nuclear status quo, and continue to build nuclear weapons. Read the May 8 article The News on Nukes about U.S. plans regarding arms control and weapons building.
Dr. Caldicott has Cirincione elucidate exactly why
the nuclear superpowers still retain their weapons
20 years after the Cold War officially ended. Despite major reductions in their arsenals, both nations
still hold 96% of the world’s nuclear weapons, and could destroy the earth many times over in an accidental or deliberate nuclear holocaust. As mentioned previously, the Emmy-Award-winning 2007 documentary film White Light Black Rain powerfully illustrates the effects of nuclear weapons, and buying, watching and sharing the DVD is strongly recommended.

Today’s program covers the numbers of U.S. and Russian weapons and which ones are on alert and ready to fire, what countries the two nations target, and the shocking redundancy of weapons targeted on major cities. See the World Nuclear Stockpile Report (2009). Cirincione mentions how the many human and ecological effects of nuclear detonations, such as firestorms and fire damage, are seldom considered by war planners. In her lectures,
Dr. Caldicott has presented the findings of Lynn Eden, who wrote the report Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation. Dr. Caldicott refers to an article she wrote with former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Still on Catastrophe’s Edge.

Dr. Caldicott asks Cirincione if the U.S. policy of first-strike winnable nuclear war is still in place, and Cirincione talks about the policy of first use of nuclear weapons which was implemented in the George W. Bush administration. In their discussion of nuclear war, Dr. Caldicott mentions the “Dead Hand” which is described in the article The Return of the Doomsday Machine. Bruce Blair, Ph.D., President of the World Security Institute and a former Minuteman ICBM launch control officer, talks about the hair-trigger alert status of the U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, the few-minute decision time presidents face about whether to launch missiles, and how easily nuclear war could occur in his article A Rebuttal of the U.S. Statement on the Alert Status of U.S. Nuclear Forces. The World Security Institute started the Global Zero project.

The effects of electromagnetic pulse are described, and Dr. Caldicott and Cirincione concur it is a definite threat from nuclear warfare. However, Cirincione says the logic Newt Gingrich uses to support building a missile defense shield in his article EMP From One Nuke Could Destroy America is flawed. Cirincione says any missile defense concept is completely unworkable, and there is no effective protection which can block nuclear bombs once launched.

This program also addresses nuclear power. Dr. Caldicott and Cirincione illuminate how the U.S. selling nuclear power technology around the world means more and more countries could potentially build nuclear weapons. As mentioned on earlier programs, a nuclear power plant is itself a weapon that could kill hundreds of thousands of people, if it is bombed or sabotaged by terrorists and melts down. And contrary to propaganda by the nuclear power industry, atomic energy does not reduce global warming, as Dr. Caldicott describes.

To rid the world of nuclear weapons, Cirincione and Caldicott agree that every nuclear weapons state must eliminate all of their nuclear weapons, and the U.S. cannot enforce a policy of non-proliferation if it keeps any of its arsenal. Cirincione refers to the article The Logic of Zero: Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons. Dr. Caldicott analogizes that in medicine, removing all cancer from a sick patient is necessary to prevent the cancer from spreading or recurring, and on the planet, eliminating all nuclear weapons is the only way to arrest the dangers nuclear weapons pose. This is another vital episode you won’t want to miss!

William Hartung on how weapons makers continue to rob Americans blind with little protest

Monday, April 20th, 2009


William Hartung

William Hartung

In this episode of If You Love This Planet,
William Hartung, Director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, discusses nuclear weapons, conventional arms sales, national security strategy and the economics of military spending. Hartung has been a featured expert on NBC News, the BBC, and Fox News. He co-edited the forthcoming book Lessons From Iraq – Avoiding the Next War (available May 1).

Hartung and Dr. Caldicott cover perhaps the most important issue facing Americans, whether they know it or not – that most of their tax dollars are spent on weapons and war, not on education, health care, job training, poverty, housing, infrastructure repairs, mass transit and averting global warming. Read more about Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes. Hartung says that the military programs taxpayers fund are in almost every case unnecessary for security, while Dr. Caldicott says the true business of weapons makers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon is mass murder and global annihilation, not “defense.” Read Iraq Air Raids Hit Mostly Women and Children. Hartung says that of every eighty-eight dollars going to the military, only one dollar is spent addressing climate change, which he calls an “unbelievable outrage.” Read Arctic meltdown is a threat to humanity.

As a result of the George W. Bush administration’s buildup, Hartung says, the U.S. is spending more on the military than at any time since World War II – over $1 trillion a year when all “defense” programs are included such as Homeland Security and the now military-focused NASA. See more on NASA below.

During the program, Dr. Caldicott and Hartung analyze many critical issues around military spending, including whether the present financial crisis can wake up Americans to stop funding the Pentagon war machine; how lobbyists from weapons firms hold Congress hostage; and what kind of “smoke and mirrors” arms makers use to convince politicians to fund their programs in nearly every state and Congressional district. Several chapters and an appendix in Dr. Caldicott’s 2004 book The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military Industrial Complex reveal how weapons companies shape U.S. foreign policy and government spending priorities.

U.S. Predator unmanned aerial vehicle

U.S. Predator unmanned aerial vehicle

Hartung and
Dr. Caldicott also explore the new unarmed aerial vehicles (UAVs) also known as drones, that the U.S. is using to kill people by remote control in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Dr. Caldicott describes how the bombing missions could be conducted overseas by personnel in Florida, via computer. To learn more about UAVs, read Remote Control Death, Thousands Flee Bomb Attacks by US Drones, and The Drone War: A Closer Look.

This episode also investigates how all of NASA’s projects in the future will have a military component, mostly aimed at putting U.S. weapons in space. Dr. Caldicott quotes from an article, The Space Arms Race and the NASA Scam.

Dr. Caldicott ponders if President Obama can stand up to the behemoth of the military-industrial complex and withdraw funding for nuclear and space weapons; and she and Hartung question if achieving worldwide nuclear disarmament is possible without stemming the influence of arms makers and war planners. Read how Barack Obama Goes Ahead With Missile Defense Shield Despite Disarmament Pledge. Representative Barney Frank has proposed cutting the military budget by 25%.

Hartung and Dr. Caldicott discuss the fact that 95% of worldwide nuclear weapons are in the U.S. and Russian stockpiles. Each country has about 13,000 nuclear warheads. Hartung says he believes detonating as few as 250 nuclear weapons could induce nuclear winter. Dr. Caldicott and Hartung consider whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be a force for nuclear disarmament. As a presidential candidate, she received more donations from arms makers than all other candidates combined.

Now, Hartung says, there is a major opportunity for the Obama administration and Congress to cut the military budget and to stop building nuclear weapons, but only if citizens take a much more active role in their government, and really put the pressure on. Hartung’s organization is writing a report on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex which want to expand and build many new bombs, which would certainly pose a roadblock to any arms control and disarmament treaties that Obama might sign. Read New Promise of a Nuclear-Free World. And be sure to hear this program!

Jacqueline Cabasso on the still-overwhelming nuclear capabilities of the United States and the prospects for disarmament under Obama

Monday, April 13th, 2009


U.S. Navy Trident II D5 missile submarine launch (Lockheed Martin)

U.S. Navy Trident II D5 missile submarine launch (Lockheed Martin). One Trident submarine has enough nuclear firepower to destroy every major city in the northern hemisphere. The U.S. has 14 Trident ballistic missile submarines on patrol at all times.

The U.S. is now spending more money on nuclear weapons than at the height of the Cold War, and the threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia persists, but the
U.S. public is now mostly disassociated from the nuclear weapons issue. Today’s conversation cuts through the pacifying complexity mainstream media and politicians use when talking about nuclear bombs.
Seldom discussed is the
danger the U.S. poses as a preeminent and highly aggressive nuclear weapons power, with its military endorsing the concept of
“full-spectrum dominance” of the Earth and the heavens.

Activist Jacqueline Cabasso has been promoting nuclear weapons abolition for decades. She is the Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF), a non-profit, public interest organization founded in 1982, which monitors and analyzes U.S. nuclear weapons programs and policies and related high-technology energy and weapons programs - with a focus on the national nuclear weapons laboratories. Cabasso co-founded the disarmament group Abolition 2000 in 1995 and is also active in the organization United for Peace and Justice. She won the MacBride Peace Prize last year. Read her acceptance speech. Cabasso is one of the authors of the 2007 report Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security? U.S. Weapons of Terror, the Global Proliferation Crisis, and Paths to Peace.

Jacqueline Cabasso

Jacqueline Cabasso
(Credit: Steven Starr)

On today’s program, Dr. Caldicott and Cabasso discuss the present state of U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles, nuclear weapons laboratories, disarmament treaties, and America’s first-strike nuclear-war-fighting policy. Cabasso says this is a time of great danger in the nuclear weapons arena, in the wake of the disastrous pro-nuclear George W. Bush administration and the tremendously disappointing legacy left by President Bill Clinton, but also a moment of opportunity. Dr. Caldicott places responsibility for the present destabilized nuclear weapons situation between the U.S. and Russia squarely on Clinton’s shoulders. She asks Cabasso for her perception of President Obama, who has stated that while he wants to lead world toward nuclear disarmament, as long as nuclear weapons exist, the U.S. will maintain a strong deterrent.

Cabasso and Dr. Caldicott cover the history of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, particularly the enormous buildup since 1963. The benign-sounding Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program of today, Dr. Caldicott and Cabasso emphasize, is about maintaining an enormous U.S. nuclear arsenal to threaten other nations. The true work of the weapons labs, Dr. Caldicott says, is mass murder and global annihilation. Cabasso explains the rationale the labs now use to justify their nuclear weapons work.

Cabasso and Dr. Caldicott analyze the psychotic thinking around nuclear weapons that permeates how the U.S. government justifies its nuclear-warmongering policies in the media. As an example of such “rubbish,” as
Dr. Caldicott calls it, the 2008 article Pre-emptive Nuclear Strike a Key Option, NATO Told says senior NATO officers believe the West should use nuclear weapons preemptively, to prevent nuclear war!

Why the disarmament movement lost steam, and turned away from the nuclear issue at the ostensible end of the Cold War, is a critical part of today’s discussion. Dr. Caldicott says that the public, including organized religion, must become re-educated about the dangers of nuclear weapons, and become active in demanding disarmament, if the Earth is to survive.
She emphasizes how little most politicians and the general public understand about the destructive power of the atom. Highly recommended viewing to understand the effects of nuclear weapons: Steven Okazaki’s Emmy Award-winning 2007 documentary, White Light Black Rain, available on DVD. Watch a four-minute interview with Okazaki about his film.

Dr. Paul Offit and Professor Robert Booy on the importance of vaccines

Monday, April 6th, 2009


In this episode, Dr. Caldicott addresses the growing anti-vaccine movement in the United States and across the world, and the claim that vaccines used to immunize children against infectious diseases can lead to autism - a claim she and her two guests contend has been proven fraudulent.

Paul Offit, M.D.

Paul Offit, M.D. (Ryan Collerd,
The New York Times)

First, Caldicott speaks with pediatrician Paul Offit, M.D., a national expert on vaccines who has written a book in response to the anti-vaccine movement titled Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search for a Cure, published by Columbia University Press in 2008.
Dr. Offit, a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, co invented a rotavirus vaccine. Dr. Caldicott and Dr. Offit dissect the theories espoused by the anti-vaccine movement, whose activists claim that thimerosal (mercury) in vaccines produces autism, a notion propounded
by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in his article Deadly Immunity and in television interviews. Read the Newsweek article on Dr. Offit and the vaccine controversy, Stomping Through a Medical Minefield.

Over the course of their conversation, Dr. Offit and Dr. Caldicott cover how the immune system functions, the overuse of antibiotics, the history of vaccines, how Dr. Offitt’s rotavirus vaccine is helping prevent many deaths in the Third World, the concept of herd immunity, and other aspects of the vaccine issue in layman’s terms. In describing his perspective on the real causes of autism, Dr. Offit mentions an article by James Sutcliffe, Ph.D., Insights into the Pathogenesis of Autism.

Dr. Caldicott says she is deeply disturbed that more and more mothers are not immunizing their children, and points to the many terrible diseases that were eradicated because of vaccines. She says that most people now don’t realize what life was like before these immunizations were available.

Professor Robert Booy

Professor Robert Booy

In the second half of the show, Dr. Caldicott delves deeper into the actual role of vaccines and the immune system with Australian expert Robert Booy, Professor of Pediatrics and Children’s Health, National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance, Children’s Hospital Westmead at the University of Sydney in Australia. Professor Booy explains the role of T cells in the human body, then proceeds to answer a series of basic questions about childhood vaccines that concerned parents – particularly women of childbearing age – want answered, such as: Are all vaccines necessary? Are the viruses in vaccines alive? What is the difference between the virus in the vaccine and the virus in the disease? and How do we know vaccines might not cause cancer years later? Dr. Booy, in concert with Dr. Caldicott, makes a convincing case that the generally good health the affluent First World takes for granted is in large part due to vaccines which prevent epidemics of disease. He describes recent instances where communities stopped immunizing their children, and outbreaks of formerly contained diseases suddenly reappeared.

Don’t miss this fascinating program!