Beyond Nuclear International

Rebels with a very big cause

Part street theatre and all desperate passion, the Extinction Rebellion is blossoming everywhere

Actions are flourishing around the world as climate protesters mobilize. Below, we offer a taste of some of the actions by the Extinction Rebellion as Rebels describe their Day Two experiences in an on-going global action. 

Republished with kind permission of the Extinction Rebellion.

News from XR

The seeds have been sewn. Compassion; awareness; courage.

They landed in cities, suburbs and farmland; in hearts and in minds, taking no account of age or occupation or background.

And now we’re growing: taking root.

In some cities we’re established on the roads and growing stronger by the day. Tents are assembled, flags are dangled, kitchens put together. In other places we’re meeting, painting, blocking: making our mark in other ways.

Taking root

Rebel campers make it through the first night of Rebellion. (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

But the deeper growth is not a thing which can be touched. It comes in the form of newly-made communities coming together to dance, sing, laugh and cry. In creativity, diligence and generosity combining into miraculous works of art.

In love. And in a rebellion – strong enough to fight and win against an ecocidal status quo.

The forces of ‘law and order’ will oppose us in the coming days. Their representatives will hassle us and threaten us and maybe even hurt us. The media establishment will slander, ignore and misconstrue us.

These things won’t stop us; won’t even slow us. If we won’t be heard, we’ll shout and sing our message louder. If disruption doesn’t stop the system, we’ll simply have to do it bigger and do it better.

We’re putting down roots – and no government can take them out.

London’s blooming rebellion

8 OCT | Westminster

After Monday’s exhilaration, rebels have been putting down roots and getting used to life in the capital. As we found in April, there comes a point at which it seems almost natural that we would be here in the roads.

Natural, but also nicer:instead of car engines — choirs and samba bands; instead of throngs of busy strangers — free food and open dialogue (not least from incorrigible truth-teller Jonathan Pie!)

Westminster trees

Many trees were planted at Westminster. (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

Not everyone seems to agree with the improvement. The arrest count continues to climb — already at a staggering 550 — and it’s partly due to police pressure that several of our sites have merged together for greater cohesion.

Red Brigade

The “Red Brigade.” (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

Despite all this, the police response has yet to really follow through on the earlier tough talk. The seriously questionable tactic of disrupting our infrastructure hasn’t yet managed to stop a gradual blossoming of gazebos (largely just in time for this afternoon’s biblical downpour!), kitchens and tents in various sites.

Calme avant la tempête in Paris?

8 OCT | Place de Chatelet

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The occupation at the Place de Chatelet continues and thrives.

To the surprise of French rebels, no arrests or police force has yet been used to clear the crucial intersection of the capital.

Among strategic and logistical questions, general assemblies at the site guess at why this might be: to avoid a repeat of the backlash to their last repression? To split the environmental movement from the Yellow Vests? Nobody knows.

France 2

At nightfall, the site holds a giant General Assembly to organise logistics. (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

In the meantime, the party is more alive than ever and rebels enjoy this calme avant la tempête to organise, hang a banner as high as the statue of the place de Chatelet can go, hold free classes on climate change by experts, and hold debates on solutions to combat our climate and ecological crisis.

And, of course, Parisians gather to dance.

France 3

Heavy rain during the day did not stop the dancing! (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

But perhaps the most ‘Parisian’ exploit of the rebels is the splendid Gazette d’Extinction Rebellion which appears almost four centuries after the first newspaper, the Gazette de France, was founded there in 1631.

Of course, the XR Gazette transforms the original royalist paper into a revolutionary call for love, fraternity, and consideration for nature. Its horoscope and its tone — satirical and light-hearted — revives rebels’ spirits and conversations at the end of the day, and the beautifully designed paper is enthusiastically distributed and shared around campsite.

For a condensed English version of yesterday’s Gazette, click here ; for those of you lucky enough to understand the tongue of Molière, you can find the original first issue here.

Berlin celebrates 40 hours of Rebellion

8 OCT | Berlin, Germany

Berlin

Berlin mock funeral. (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

With the start of Rebellion, XR Germany successfully blocked two key parts of Berlin – the Big Star roundabout by the Siegessäule and a major junction at Potsdamer Platz.

At Potsdamer Platz, the police began clearing out rebels at dawn and, with the help of the fire brigade, even the lock-ons didn’t last long. The rebels split up and began a series of smaller actions across the city, including a blockade at the headquarters of the CDU political party and a funeral march with a symbolic burial of Mother Earth.

Rebels at the Big Star roundabout were still going strong with the help of space blankets and thermos flasks. By late morning, giant tarps had been erected to protect them from the rain.

The roundabout was suddenly a tented village, and the first lock-ons were in place by noon.

Police in the area started to multiply, and with nearly one police officer for every two protestors, the order soon came to clear out.

Some rebels were carried away and left in puddles, while others had pain compliance techniques used against them. But the lock-ons remained in place, and while some single-lane traffic was able to flow again, the police could only partially clear the junction.

The blockade lived on, the police withdrew, and not a single rebel had been arrested! By sunset, XR Germany was celebrating 40 hours of continuous, peaceful protest for this greatest of all causes.

Irish Rebels Have Had Enough

7 & 8 Oct | Dublin, Ireland

The last few days have been a difficult time for XR Ireland. In response to the Irish government pushing ahead with plans to build a U.S. fracked gas terminal in Shannon, rebels decided to add a demand for Rebellion Week: Stop the Shannon LNG Terminal plus any new fossil fuel infrastructure!

Rebels kicked off the week with a symbolic funeral of the Earth, a samba parade with a pink ‘Tell the Truth’ boat, a planting of seeds, and some passionate speeches.

The civil guards (police) allowed rebels to camp in one of the city’s central parks and the first day passed in a peaceful, family-friendly atmosphere.

Dail sit-in

The sit-in at the Jail. (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

There was a spontaneous sit-in at the gates of the Dáil (Ireland’s Parliament) that meant some politicians were locked in. XR Ireland decided to deliver their message to their political representatives: “We have had enough”. The rebels refused to move and chanted “We do it for your children’s future too”. The civil guards removed rebels, but made no arrests, and even thanked the protestors for their peaceful presence.

Quebec – Scaling the heights for climate justice!

8 OCT | Jacques Cartier Bridge, Montreal

Quebec

Scaling the bridge in Quebec. (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

Three Quebecois rebels closed all five lanes of traffic on the busiest bridge in Montreal for over an hour. At rush hour.

Two women and a man scaled the huge metal structure in the middle of the night, forcing police to close the bridge to traffic. Sadly, the brave rebels were stopped before they could drop their 20m wide banner and were arrested once back on the ground.

A video of one rebel explaining the action has gone viral:

‘We are not the farfelus (crazy ones). Those who believe we can keep growing forever in a finite world are the ones who live in a fantasy land.’

New York

NYC

XR NYC debut their ocean-themed boat . (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

A group of over 40 rebels joined Brother Fulfillment from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village in a meditative action calling on the government to Act Now. They blocked the entrance to City Hall by staging a seated meditation, a peaceful act of resistance rooted in historic acts of civil disobedience.

The mascot boat ‘Vaquita’ traveled through New York City, spreading the news of the Rebellion. Featuring images of the nearly extinct porpoise for which she is named and large Extinction symbol flags, her crew handed out flyers about the rebellion and talked to passersby stopped in traffic.

They declared their voyage a success and look forward to getting her back out in the city soon.

R.E.M. joins Roman rebels

8 OCT | Rome, Italy

15 rebels started a hunger strike in front of Parliament in Rome to raise awareness of the threat to food insecurity caused by the crisis.

Stipe

R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe joins Rome Rebels. (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

Michael Stipe, of alt rock band R.E.M. fame, boosted morale in XR Rome by adding his voice to the chorus of rebels:

“I want my voice to be part of this change of consciousness. I believe we can start the change needed to improve our wonderful planet, our position and our place on earth!”

This came the day after a heartfelt performance in Piazza Venezia in front of the famous landmark “colonna Traiana”, titled the blood of our children. Rebels held hands as red “blood” was poured onto their exposed skin and was then wiped clean gently.

Don’t Frack With Greece

7 OCT | Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece

Greece

Greek rebels joined other climate emergency protestors to stage a die-in against fracking on the steps of Parliament. (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

Earlier this month, the Greek government voted to allow the oil companies Total, ExxonMobil, Edison, Energean and Hellenic Petroleum, to extract oil and gas in sea beds around the country.

Greek Rebels demanded that their government repeal these concessions to the oil companies and tell the truth about the disastrous effects of oil exploitation on ecosystems, biodiversity, the local economy and public health.

XR Sri Lanka Is Born

6 OCT | Columbo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

XR Sri Lanka (Photo: Extinction Rebellion)

XR Sri Lanka writes…

Sunday was our first rebellion. The Climate Emergency is ignored and not acted upon in our country, but there is a fast-growing movement of people who are beginning to join forces and bring about societal change.

Our original plan was to have an official Declaration of Climate Emergency, followed by a die-in, yoga training for “spiritual warriors”, music gathering with unplugged instruments, and putting up posters with QR codes that link to websites proposing solutions for change.

However, the weather decided otherwise. Torrential rain poured down throughout the day and we’re so proud of all the rebels who showed up regardless.

Despite an initial pledge to not use disruption, the group decided to walk through the rain and partially obstruct traffic in order to be more visible. The action got decent media coverage, and we all felt empowered with a hope that we will indeed make a change!

Sri Lankan rebels are now planning to assist local environmental causes while striking and spreading awareness at the same time! Our next action on Saturday will be an official Declaration and a mass die-in followed by a beach clean-up.

See more actions from the Extinction Rebellion from around the world. And if you’d like to help, please check out the XR guide and learn more about XRTo connect to rebels in your local area, get in touch with your nearest XR group. If there’s no active group near you, you can start your own!  If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.

Headline photo courtesy of the Extinction Rebellion.

Nuclear fallout and the downwinders’ dilemma

A stalled effort to redress harms of the nuclear testing era speaks to politics’ uneasy relationship with scientific uncertainty.

By Aria Alamalhodaei


VIEWPOINTS: Partner content, op-eds, and Undark editorials.


The atomic bomb was born in the desert. In the early hours of July 16, 1945, after a spate of bad weather, a 20-kiloton plutonium-based nuke referred to as “the gadget” detonated near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Firsthand testimonies of the test, codenamed Trinity, converge on the uncanny axis of awe and dread. The Manhattan Project’s Chief of Field Operations, General Thomas Farrell, wrote that “the strong, sustained, awesome roar … warned of doomsday and made us feel that we puny things were blasphemous.”

The bomb produced a massive cloud column that drifted in several directions, dusting large swaths of the surrounding region with radioactive snow – fallout that settled on buildings, plants, and animals, and that continued to permeate the air as invisible particulate in the weeks and months that followed. Five years later, the Nevada Test Site was established to continue the work that Trinity set alight.

Although the mushroom cloud became the icon of American nuclear activity in the 20th century, the harms of these bombs did not fade with their dimming fireballs. No group in the U.S. understands this better than the downwinders, communities throughout the American Southwest and beyond who were exposed to the fallout of the military’s domestic nuclear test program.

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“TRINITY PHOTOGRAPH – Alamogordo, NM – Trinity test, July 16, 1945 – “JUMBO,” a 120-ton steel vessel, was designed to contain the explosion of the bomb’s high explosive and permit recovery of the active material in case on nuclear failure.” (was not used for this purpose during test). (Photo: Federal government)

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The worst nuclear disaster you’ve never heard of

A radioactive explosion in 1957 in the Ural Mountains was the true original

By Charles Digges

In the history of nuclear disasters, it’s easy to forget that a radioactive explosion back in 1957 near an obscure village with an unpronounceable name in the Ural Mountains was the true original.

And while engineering heroics have finally been brought to bear on the smoldering sarcophagus at Chernobyl, and robots troll the wreckage of Fukushima, this catastrophe by many accounts continues to churn radioactivity into the environment and to sicken a hostage population.

None of us were ever supposed to know anything about it, and if not for a series of untimely revelations, we probably still wouldn’t.

It’s called the Kyshtym disaster and before the mid 1980s the town’s official location wasn’t even designated on a map. Only the diseased winds blowing north in the aftermath gave any indication it was there.

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Mayak as seen from across the Techa River, which it has contaminated for decades. (Courtesy of Alisa Nikulina/Ecodefense)

In the early morning hours of September 29, 62 years ago, a tank containing nuclear weapons waste exploded on the grounds of the Mayak Chemical Combine, Russia’s primary spent nuclear fuel reprocessing center, which is still in operation.

The fallout coated more than 200 towns and villages and exposed 272,000 people — a small portion of which were quietly evacuated over the subsequent two years — to radiation.

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Healing Hózhó in the Nukescape: Hózhó Naasháa Doo

Dismissal of Navajo suffering is a historic trend

By Mahal Miles and Linda Marie Richards

On the eve of the 70thanniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, August 5, 2015, three million gallons of thick-looking mustard yellow water ran through Navajo land, emptying into the San Juan River, then winding to the Utah-Arizona border. EPA mine clean-up workers accidentally breached an abandoned gold debris dam during a remediation of other contaminating mines. By Nagasaki Day 2015, photos of the San Juan River still showed the sickly dense yellow color of the rushing waters.

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The Animas River between Silverton and Durango in Colorado, USA, within 24 hours of the 2015 Gold King Mine waste water spill. (Photo: riverhugger/Wikimedia Commons)

The yellow waters of the San Juan triggered memories for Perry H. Charley of the 1979 Church Rock uranium mill and mine tailings break, the largest release of radiation in US history, occurring on the anniversary of the first nuclear weapons use, Trinity Day, July 16, 1945. As reported by Beyond Nuclear International in a July 16, 2018 story, “Ninety million gallons of liquid radioactive waste, and eleven hundred tons of solid mill wastes, burst through a broken dam wall at the Church Rock uranium mill facility, creating a flood of deadly effluents that permanently contaminated the Puerco River.”

Occurring just months after the Three Mile Island partial meltdown in Pennsylvania, the Church Rock disaster, which washed radioactive sludge “into gullies, contaminated fields and the animals that grazed there, and made drinking water deadly,” for the largely Navajo population there, rarely rates a mention.

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Africa is also burning

Climate change, economic issues, poverty and survival are the contributing factors to the thousands of fires that are suffocating central Africa

By Angelo Ferrari

The rain forest of the “dark continent” is the second green lung of the planet and is equally at risk. Climate change is only part of the problem. Without the modernization of agriculture, the practice of “cut and burn” cannot be stopped.

Climate change, economic issues, poverty and survival are the contributing factors to the thousands of fires that are suffocating central Africa. Maybe even more numerous than those that are putting the Amazon at risk. Here in Congo and Angola, the savannas are burning, but also part of the rain forest, the second green lung of the planet.

The practice of burning the savannas, known as “cut and burn,” is not new on the African continent. It is found in most African countries, particularly in the less developed ones. It is a practical measure adopted by peasants and shepherds, widespread and with deep roots. An ancestral land management system, as it were. The Ivory Coast is one example. All of the central, forested area, has been destroyed precisely by this practice in order to create cultivatable lands.

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NASA’s NPP Suomi satellite shows thousands of fires in Central Africa on July 11, 2016. The fires are represented by the multitude of red dots.

However, climate change has made this practice even more widespread, precisely because of the loss of cultivatable or fertile lands, or of those usable as pasture. This has unleashed and continues to trigger conflicts in the Sahel over the exploitation of what little land remains.

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Anche l’Africa brucia

Cambiamenti climatici, questioni economiche, povertà e sopravvivenza sono le concause delle migliaia di incendi che stanno soffocando l’Africa centrale

Di Angelo Ferrari

La foresta pluviale del continente nero è il secondo polmone verde del pianeta ed è altrettanto a rischio. Il cambiamento climatico è solo parte del problema. Senza una modernizzazione dell’agricoltura la pratica del “taglia e brucia” non potrà essere fermata.

Cambiamenti climatici, questioni economiche, povertà e sopravvivenza sono le concause delle migliaia di incendi che stanno soffocando l’Africa centrale. Forse più numerosi di quelli che stanno mettendo a rischio l’Amazzonia. Qui, in Congo e Angola, stando andando a fuoco le savane, ma anche parte della foresta pluviale, il secondo polmone verde del pianeta.

La pratica dell’incendio delle savane, detta “taglia e brucia”, non è nuova per il continente africano. È diffusa nella maggior parte degli stati africani, in particolare in quelli meno sviluppati. Per contadini e pastori è un mezzo pratico, diffuso e che ha radici lontane. Per così dire, un sistema ancestrale di gestione della terra. La Costa d’Avorio ne è un esempio. Tutta la parte centrale, boschiva, è stata distrutta proprio da questa pratica per avere terre coltivabili.

1024px-Central_Africa_Appears_to_Be_Completely_On_Fire_(27993210770)

Il satellite NPP Suomi della NASA ha rilevato migliaia di incendi nell’Africa centrale l’11 luglio 2016. Gli incendi sono rappresentati da una moltitudine di punti rossi.

I cambiamenti climatici, tuttavia, hanno reso questa pratica ancora più diffusa, proprio per il venir meno delle terre coltivabili e fertili, o utilizzabili per i pascoli. Fattore, questo, che nel Sahel ha scatenato e scatena conflitti per lo sfruttamento della poca terra che rimane.

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