Today’s Independence Rally 463

You can see me speaking 24 minutes in here. Can’t work out how to embed this one. It was literally freezing and the very small crowd was understandable. I think four hour rallies outdoors in Scotland in midwinter are somewhat optimistic. I think we also need to face that the high excitement of the referendum campaign, where you could just put something out on Facebook and 10,000 people would show up, is behind us. What we have now is a period of hard graft towards the general election.

I think what I say in this short speech will give comfort to those in the SNP who blocked me as a candidate, because as usual I am joyfully off message. Shortly after me there is an amazing speech from Tommy Sheridan; his physical voice projection alone is astonishing! It was bouncing back off Salisbury Crags and Holyrood Palace.

This really is under 100 yards from where we live. That view of Salisbury Crags is what I see every time I look out the window. The balcony will be great once it gets a bit warmer.

463 thoughts on “Today’s Independence Rally

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  • Clark

    Wikipedia extracts concerning Hinkley Point C:

    Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is a project to construct a 3,200 MW two reactor nuclear power station in Somerset, England

    The two reactors are called “European Pressurised Reactors”, a fancy new name for Pressurised Water Reactors. The Union of Concerned Scientists say the EPR design “…appears to have the potential to be significantly safer and more secure against attack than today’s reactors”, but:

    “The EPR design, […] doesn’t comply with the independence principle, as there is a very high degree of complex interconnectivity between the control and safety systems.

    Regarding another reactor of the same design:

    the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, had found a number of safety-related design and manufacturing ‘deficiencies’

    And at yet another:

    In April 2008 the French nuclear safety agency […] reported that a quarter of the welds inspected in the secondary containment steel liner are not in accordance with norms, and that cracks have been found in the concrete base.

    Great. Fills you with confidence, doesn’t it. And I’ve always hated PWRs. Weinberg, who invented the design, said it “wasn’t safe enough for civilian use”. So they sacked him.

    But I expect they’re building these things to bridge a gap in the energy supply. They can get them on-line faster than an equivalent capacity of renewable generation. Squonk knows about this; the UK energy supply capacity essentially has no margin.

  • Clark

    Rob, when looking around your blog I noted that you seem to know something of the isotope decay chains, the varying dangers of alpha, beta and gamma emissions, and some of the emission energies. You seem to know more of this than I do. But you also seem to have some misapprehensions such as your reference to U236, and your ideas about the origin of DU suggest that you haven’t looked into the nuclear fuel cycle. Would you post a comment similar to mine of 9 Feb, 11:17 pm filling me in on what you’ve learned and how you came to be interested please?

    Also, please post your opinion about what you think needs to be done most urgently and what the greatest dangers are at present and for the future etc., and why you think what you do.

  • Mary

    Japan TV: Failure at Fukushima — Cement not stopping highly contaminated nuclear waste from flowing out of reactor buildings — IAEA: Radioactive releases from plant into ocean “a challenging issue” — Officials: Don’t know what to do next, or how this will affect whole ‘decommissioning’ project (VIDEO)
    Published: February 11th, 2015

  • RobG

    Ok, let me get onto depleted uranium, which is generally perceived to be the waste from the refining of uranium ore, ‘before’ it goes through the fission process.

    Firstly, I totally agree with you, Clark, that we are talking about heavy metals here, which in themselves are incredibly toxic. My ‘however’ is that with this we are talking about stuff at a chemicle level, and chemicles can be mitigated, either through time or human intervention.

    And you’re quite right to say that often the anti-nuke brigade exaggerate things (I wasn’t exagerrating the pits at Hanford – note the plural), but what the anti-nuke brigade don’t exaggerate is the nature of manmade radionuclides. This goes way beyond any toxic chemicles.

    For example, you and I were born in the former part of the 1960s, when atmospheric nuke bomb testing was at its height. In that sense we both have the sword of Damacles hanging over our heads. I probably have a tiny, microscopic speck of plutonium, or whatever, inside me, and all these decades later it will probably kill me. But here’s the rub (again): when I kick the bucket they might cremate me or bury me. If they cremate me that speck of plutonium is immediately liberated back into the environment. Even if they bury me, sooner or later the speck will be released; and that speck remains lethal for tens of thousands of years; in some cases for millions of years. It will keep killing living things over and over and over again, ad infinitum.

    Whilst the chemicle toxity of this stuff shouldn’t be overlooked, the unstable atom element of it is much worse.

    The kind of depleted uranium used by America and Britain in their Middle Eastern wars remains a matter of debate. From the amount of cancers and genetic defects now found in places like Iraq it seems likely that they used what’s politely called ‘enriched uranium’; ie, crap that had come out of the fission process.

    Here’s a piece by Dr Chris Busby, aired by Russia Today news a few years back (and before anyone starts ranting about RT, maybe you should take a close look at the BBC, et al)…

    Busby: Enriched uranium weapons new battlefield horror

    Due to my computer problems I haven’t been able to watch the above news item, but i am familiar with Busby’s work and feel that I can try to answer any criticisms.

  • Clark

    RobG, RT is propaganda. BBC is propaganda. It seems to me that propaganda mostly works by a combination of selective drawing of attention, and selective omission. Directly lying is used only sparingly as exposure damages credibility.

    OK, Busby says that measurements at Faluja could be consistent with the use of enriched uranium projectiles or blast/charge weapons, or with the use of neutron bombs, or something unknown. He mentions strontium among a list of substances found which he refers to as innocuous, so he’s presumably referring to the non-radioactive, stable isotope(s) of strontium. He makes it clear that his research team could not work out what could have led to their measurements.

    Points following from this:

    1) Enriched uranium is expensive whereas depleted uranium is a waste product; enriched uranium would not likely be used unless there was some point in doing so which justified the additional cost. The only special property of enriched uranium I can think of is that it’s fissile, it’s a nuclear fuel. This would be consistent with the use of neutron bombs, as might some of the unusual injuries discovered.

    2) Busby states that children parented by US service personnel subsequent to the war show a high level of birth defects, yet the parents tested negative for depleted uranium. The DU test would reveal any uranium; depleted, enriched or natural; I’m pretty sure of this. This suggests two possibilities:

    a) It could be a legal manoeuvre, as Busby suggests elsewhere – if the US was asked to supply test results specifically regarding DU, they could have covered up by merely answering honestly,

    b) the birth defects could have been caused by something else – this would be consistent with what Busby said about there being no point in using DU projectiles as there were no tanks in Faluja

    3) If spent fuel had been used for projectiles, Busby’s team would have had no problem finding the radioactive isotopes, and they would have encountered no mystery.

  • Clark

    Rob, you wrote the following:

    “‘enriched uranium’ [is] crap that had come out of the fission process.”

    This is wrong. Enriched uranium is the product of the enrichment process; it is what they do enrichment for, whereas depleted uranium is the inevitable waste product.

    Enrichment is not a nuclear process. It is not a chemical processes, either. Converting uranium to uranium hexafluoride is chemistry, of course, but the main actual enrichment processes are (1) centrifugal and (2) gas diffusion. These are both physical processes (physics) but not nuclear processes – no change in atomic weight occurs, no neutrons are emitted by or directed at the substances, and there’s no radioactivity involved beyond that natural to uranium.

    Rob, would you outline your technical knowledge a bit please? I’m a bit confused about how you know some things but get others wrong.

  • RobG

    Clark, the other side of the coin is that fertility rates are dropping sharply in the developed world; you know, the developed world that has nuclear energy. I wonder why..?

    With regard to Faluja, I think I did link somewhere above to a Democracy Now piece about it.

    With regard to your point 1: please remember that all this stuff is banned by the Geneva Convention.

    With regard to your point 2: you provide no documentary evidence of what you are saying. Links, please (even though I can’t fecking read most of them at the moment).

    Your point 3: you need very high tech equipment to detect manmade isotopes. A bog standard geiger counter can only detect beta and gamma, and only in a very basic way. You need a special piece of kit added to a geiger counter in order to detect alpha. Even then, all a geiger counter will basically tell you is if manmade radiation is present.

    The wonderful thing is that even the Strangeloves have no idea what they are producing. The famous ‘elephant foot’ at Chernobyl (the remains of the melted reactor core) has been intensely studied by scientists, even though, 30 years later, the radiation is so intense that you’ll get blasted in a few seconds.

    They are studying it to try and find new isotopes for weapons.

    That’s how sick the human race are.

  • RobG

    Clark, it’s sematics. ‘Enriched uranium’ is usually taken to be stuff that has come out of the fission process.

  • Clark

    Mary, thanks for the link to As it correctly points out:

    “The IAEA’s own mission [is] to promote atomic power.”

    Yes, this goes back to the Atoms for Peace programme, and it’s why the IAEA has a conflict of interest with the WHO.

    The other major part of the IAEA’a mission is tomonitor fissile material to ensure it is not used for nuclear weapons.

  • Clark

    RobG, it’s not semantics. Enriched uranium is what comes out of an enrichment plant, along with a much larger quantity of DU. What makes you think otherwise? Where are you getting your information? It doesn’t fit with what I think I know about nuclear fuel production, which does make sense.

  • Clark

    RobG, most of “the stuff from the fission process” is called “spent fuel”. I normally put the “spent” in quotes, because it’s the fact that it’s 98.5%or more unspent that makes it radioactive for hundreds of millennia, and why they have to keep it spread out to prevent it starting to react again.

    Plutonium is also produced in the fission process, and also “fission products”. The latter are the lighter radioactive isotopes such as strontium 90 and caesium (137 I think) which are the elements formed when atoms of uranium or plutonium split.

  • Clark

    Rob, my point (2) is directly from Busby, what he said in the interview he linked to. I’ve been trying to get just the audio to post on my site so you can listen to it, but the youtube-dl site is down so I can’t get the piece of software I need. I’ll try another method.

  • Clark


    Because natural uranium begins with such a low percentage of U-235, enrichment produces large quantities of depleted uranium. For example, producing 1 kg of 5% enriched uranium requires 11.8 kg of natural uranium, and leaves about 10.8 kg of depleted uranium with only 0.3% U-235 remaining.

    So producing nuclear fuel also results in the production of about ten times as much DU. It is therefore inevitable that there will be far more DU (which has never been through a nuclear reactor) than there will be spent fuel.

    Depleted Uranium is also produced by recycling ‘spent’ nuclear fuel, in which case it contains traces of Pu and Np and has therefore been called ‘dirty DU’ although the quantities are so small that they are considered to be not of serious radiological significance (even) by ECRR.

    My emphasis. Why? Because of who the ECRR consist of:

    ECRR – European Committee on Radiation Risk

    Alice Stewart was the first Chair of the ECRR. The Chair of the Scientific Committee is Professor Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake. Christopher Busby is Scientific Secretary.

  • Clark

    Rob, sorry, correction to my 11:31 pm comment:

    “Rob, my point (2) is directly from Busby, what he said in the interview you linked to”.

  • Clark

    Rob, correction to point (2) of my 12 Feb 9:52 pm comment; Busby does say that urine tests of gulf war veterans tested negative for uranium, but he’s saying that this could be part of a cover-up and “needs to be revisited”.

    (This is why I prefer written articles; it’s just too easy to miss or misinterpret things in video and audio, which then requires reviewing by fast-forwarding and rewinding.)

    Busby mentions a High Court case in London, which was pending at the time of that interview. You might be able to find records of the court case here:

  • Clark

    I think the case at the link below could be related to the one referred to by Busby:

    Busby’s evidence starts at paragraph 55.

    I’ve also been looking at Mari Takenouchi’s blog about Fukushima. Three years after the disaster, just over one hundred children have been found to have thyroid cancer out of about 300,000, less than 0.04%. Obviously more will be found as time goes on. But these children have been exposed to radioactive isotopes of caesium and strontium which are both far more radioactive than any uranium; depleted, natural or enriched. Longer half-life means lower radioactivity, and thus less frequent decay events and ionising particle emissions, ie. isotopes with longer half-lives are likely to result in chromosomal damage less frequently.

    I haven’t checked the figures, but my impression is that the rate of cancers and birth defects in Fallujah is much higher than this. Can you save me some work and check those figures please? If those figures are higher, it suggests a cause in addition to uranium munitions.

    I think we have to be careful here. It could be that something else that the US used in Fallujah is actually far worse than depleted uranium, in which case we should try to work out what it is.

  • Clark

    Mary, here’s a link to a BBC documentary about the fire and radioactive contamination at Windscale in 1957. I found it informative and very moving. Political pressure on the workforce led to the fire, but in the cover-up that followed the government blamed the workers.

    Something I found ironic is that it was the same post-war Labour governments, that gave us so much that we are losing now including universal health care, that also pushed for rapid development of the British hydrogen bomb that caused the disaster.

  • Clark

    John Goss, do you have any idea who are? Obviously Russian from the .ru domain name. Their Javascript is required before I can view the video at the Hunternews site, which itself is also Russian.

  • RobG

    Clark, I have made some errors in my posts here, and I thank you for pointing them out.

    With regard to the RT News piece I linked to that features Busby, he was saying that the kind of illnesses showing-up in Iraq go way beyond the chemicle toxicity of depleted uranium munitions, and also go way beyond the natural radioactivity of mined uraniunm.

    In particular, genetic defects of the sort now seen in Iraq is a strong indication of man-made radionuclides. This piece from Al Jazeera covers the cancer pandemic in Iraq pretty well…

    I believe the American’s use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam war also caused birth defects, but nothing like what’s now going on in Iraq.

  • RobG

    12 Feb, 2015 – 1:29 am:

    “Also, please post your opinion about what you think needs to be done most urgently and what the greatest dangers are at present and for the future etc., and why you think what you do.”

    When people like you or I come along and bang on about all this stuff it obviously makes many people feel uncomfortable. We’re talking about very unpleasant stuff. We’re making people confront their own mortality. We are also making people confront the nature of homo sapiens.

    From my own experience, most people do understand what’s going on (“It’s the radium, innit”), but they feel powerless to do anything about it. I don’t want to get into the endlessly argued stuff about Jews and the Holocaust, except to say that from personal accounts of the era, many of them knew that they were walking into a gas chamber, that they were going to their death, and most of them succombed without any resistence.

    This has nothing to do with what we call ‘Jews’. It has everything to do with human nature, because we are all basically the same, and you can find many other examples in history.

    The human race now has the technical ability to wipe out all life on Earth, but human nature hasn’t changed from what it was ten thousand years ago, when so-called ‘civilisation’ began. In this sense we are now in the last chance saloon.

    I hate the term ‘sheeple’. People aren’t stupid, although of course they can be heavily swayed by skillful propaganda. Most people just want to have some sort of family and earn enough bucks and live a quiet life. Very few are mad enough to be prepared to storm the barricades, scremaing “Vive la revolution!”

    But they will do it when pushed. The ‘Arab Spring’ started in Tunisia, not because of noble ideals, but because of high food prices. I think both the French and Russian revolutions also had similar, perhaps mundane roots.

    With regard to the ongoing nuclear holocaust, the first thing to do is fill in the gaps in the public’s knowledge about it (to repeat, I think most people are dimly aware of what’s going on). The second thing is to make people feel empowered: you CAN do something about this. The problem there, of course, is that there’s little or no political representation. Even the Green Party or people like Craig never really touch this stuff.

    But it has to be touched, or else us lot, the human race, are a goner.

  • Clark

    Rob, here’s some good news which I found when reading about nuclear technology; the radioisotopes can be destroyed:

    It would take time, and it would have to be done carefully, responsibly. But it can be done with current technology, even 1960s technology. As technology improves it can be done better, more thoroughly, in the future even to nanotechnology cleaning the environment. The bulk of the waste can be reduced to a fraction, and that fraction’s half-life can be reduced to a fraction.

    It’s doable, but that does not mean it will be done.

  • RobG

    Thank you, Clark, and particularly on this Friday the 13th!

    It will take me a while for my feeble computer to struggle completely through your links; but in the meantime, in my earlier rant it struck me that although ‘civilisation’ started 10 to 12 thousand years ago, organised religion has only been around for the last few thousand years.

    It also strikes me that just about all modern politics is absolutely soaked in religion (for example, Obama has prayer meetings in the Whitehouse, just like the little Bush did); and of course we have the Islamic nutters, and the Jewish ones, et al.

    Has organised religion completely skewered civilisation?

    I’m not the least bit religious, and I have no problem with anyone who is.

  • Clark

    Rob, I think what’s happening now with religion was always inevitable. The major religions grew and diversified and became more or less entrenched, but they were largely isolated. There was diffusion between them of course, but the big increases in population and mobility have happened in the last century or two, mixing the cultures and bringing the religious elements serving as power structures into conflict and a state of mutual threat and reactive aggression.

    It’s a critical race, like so many aspects of the modern world.

    No, human nature hasn’t changed, but human understanding of systems and their dynamics has increased greatly and is improving faster than ever before. We have the dynamical understandings to build political and social structures of unprecedented flexibility and durability. Nuclear technology provides some remarkable examples. Only two nuclear weapons have ever been used in combat, and that was seventy years ago! That’s incredible. The Partial Test Ban Treaty has held for fifty years. Never before in human history have the powers been persuaded to place any limit upon a decisive advance in weaponry.

    It’s a shaky, scary situation, but it holds out great hope too. And nuclear power is the technology that could spread industry through the solar system and take explorers to other stars. Human nature remains unchanged and the bold will always want their adventures and challenges, but it is nuclear technology that could again make exploration more attractive than conquest. Which would they rather captain? A nuclear sub full of missiles of contamination and mutually assured destruction… Or a starship?

  • Mary

    Thanks for the info Clark in the foregoing. Would you ever think of creating a blog specifically on this topic.

    I am still waiting for the radioactive iodine ablation. The oncologist won’t refer me for that until the ENT surgeon (who is becoming overwhelmed with new cases of thyroid cancer) operates on my one remaining vocal cord to enlarge my airway and thus counter my breathing difficulties. I am getting stronger and thankfully can eat and drink normally. The stomach tube business was horrible. It fell out on Christmas Eve so that was the end of it. The pain I experienced after it was inserted in August was intense. The first time I have had liquid morphine! Oblivion!

    From time to time my mind wanders to think about the source of my own thyroid cancer. Before we moved to Surrey in the 80s we lived not far from this operation. ?? Probably not.

    A relative knows the widow mentioned here. Her husband died a horrible death. The case went to the Supreme Court and was then going to the European Court. She is determined to get justice for him before she dies.

  • Clark

    Hello Mary, I wish you well with the treatment. Words and wishes always seem so inadequate and hollow with matters like this.

    Your comment raises so many interrelated questions; I suppose I’ll start with the blogsphere. Suhayl commented on an old thread yesterday:

    I miss him here at Craig’s. His was one of the calming, informative voices. I could set up a blog, or I expect Squonk would open suitable threads at his, but we know how it goes; a blog needs visitors and commenters to bring it vibrancy. I don’t have time myself to visit all the important blogs I know of. RobG has some very informative threads at his Burgundy Blog, but with all the time I spend here at Craig’s, I have little left to spend at Rob’s. I wonder how many visitors Mari Takenouchi gets at her blog? Surely not enough.

    I wonder why your ENT surgeon has so many thyroid cases. I suppose it could be Fukushima; are many of the patients young people or children?

    Thyroid cancers are thought to be related to a number of environmental and genetic predisposing factors, but significant uncertainty remains regarding its causes.

    Environmental exposure to ionizing radiation from both natural background sources and artificial sources are suspected to play a significant role, and there are significant increased rates of thyroid cancer rates in those exposed to mantlefield radiation for lymphoma, and those exposed to iodine-131 following the Chernobyl disaster.

    In addition to commercial production, 131I (half life 8 days) is one of the common radioactive fission-products of nuclear fission, and is thus produced inadvertently in very large amounts inside nuclear reactors. Due to its volatility, short half life, and high abundance in fission products, 131I, (along with the short-lived iodine isotope 132I from the longer-lived 132Te with a half life of 3 days) is responsible for the largest part of radioactive contamination during the first week after accidental environmental contamination from the radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant.

    From the moment of fission within a reactor core, the radioactivity will halve every eight days, but this is a bulk assessment. At the scale of chromosomes in a cell, we need to think of each specific atom of I-131, its probability of decaying into Xenon (stable) and ejecting a beta particle in the process, the probability of the beta of causing a mutation that doesn’t kill the cell, and the probability of that mutation being cancerous:

    Due to its mode of beta decay, iodine-131 is notable for causing mutation and death in cells that it penetrates, and other cells up to several millimeters away. For this reason, high doses of the isotope are sometimes less dangerous than low doses, since they tend to kill thyroid tissues that would otherwise become cancerous as a result of the radiation. For example, children treated with moderate dose of I-131 for thyroid adenomas had a detectable increase in thyroid cancer, but children treated with a much higher dose did not. Likewise, most studies of very-high-dose I-131 for treatment of Graves disease have failed to find any increase in thyroid cancer, even though there is linear increase in thyroid cancer risk with I-131 absorption at moderate doses.[2] Thus, iodine-131 is increasingly less employed in small doses in medical use (especially in children), but increasingly is used only in large and maximal treatment doses, as a way of killing targeted tissues. This is known as “therapeutic use.”

    I actually worry about nuclear power production more than nuclear weapons. A nuclear bomb may contain several kilos of nuclear fuel in its core whereas reactors contain thousands of times more, tens or hundreds of tonnes of fuel. Also, producing plutonium for weapons has produced hundreds of times more radioactive “waste” than actual weapons-grade fuel, because fission (of uranium 235 usually) is necessary to produce the neutrons that convert U238 into plutonium.

  • Clark

    Amersham plc, indeed. From Mary’s link:

    The company had its roots from a national centre set up in 1946 for the development and manufacture of radioactive materials for peacetime uses in medicine, scientific research and industry. This centre originated in the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) but in 1971 was split out into The Radiochemical Centre Ltd.

    I don’t see any information about the “national centre set up in 1946”. It was supposedly part of the UKAEA, but that wasn’t even formed until 1954; talk about a shady past! Since privatisation, the outfit has been sold and bought so many times my head goes funny just looking at it.

    Hmm, I see it split into two branches. One was bought by General Electric in 2004, and there it has stayed. GE make nuclear reactors. They made the ones that are now melting down at Fukushima. The other branch seems to belong to Carlyle Group now. Small corporate world, eh?

    I wonder how many “experts” have been associated with or influenced through this outfit. Diagnostic tests are one of their important activities, and “life sciences” in this context might involve animal tests for the results of exposure to radioisotopes. With the corporate links above, it is probably in these companies’ best interests to downplay the link between radioisotopes and cancer, isn’t it?

  • RobG

    Mary, I second Clark in wishing you well; and also to echo Clark, it’s difficult to find the words to say to someone in your position.

    On blogs like this posters tend to dwell on the darker side of humanity (I’ve been banging on about it non-stop in this thread!), but of course we should never forget the bright, light, wonderful things that humans are also capable of. I know, it sounds like a Disney film, but it’s true; and of course, there’s the indomitable human spirit: it’s amazing what people can survive, as I’m sure you can testify.

    Good luck, and if it’s any consolation there’s now an ever growing army of us who are trying to rectify the nuclear madness.

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