19 September 2018   Leave a comment

The Polish President Andrzej Duda met with US President Trump yesterday and the meeting was cordial since Poland and the US agree on a number of issues.  Indeed, Poland has been asking the US to set up a US military base in Poland in order to bolster the US commitment to NATO in eastern Europe for a number of years, and President Duda suggested that, if the base was indeed set up, it should be named Fort Trump.   However, the meeting ended on a very sour note for the Poles as the agreements between the US and Poland were signed.  The US published a photograph of President Trump seated in the Oval Office signing the agreement while President Duda was standing, hunched over the desk, signing it at the same time.  The Polish press excoriated the diplomatic snub

It is likely that most readers of this blog have never heard of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.  This agency is tasked with the responsibility of making sure that the nuclear sites necessary for peaceful nuclear power as well as nuclear weapons are operating safely.  Its activities are generally below the radar, but assuring that these sites are not a hazard to the public or the workers who operate the site is absolutely critical.  Thus, it comes as a surprise that the Trump Administration is seeking to limit the capabilities and the regulatory power of the agency, particularly since the Administration is seeking to expand the number of nuclear weapons in the US arsenal. 

According to Scientific American:

The administration’s new rules eliminate the board’s authority to oversee workplace protections for roughly 39,000 nuclear workers and also block its unfettered access to nearly three-quarters of the nuclear weapons-related sites that it can now inspect.

In a separate move, the board’s new acting Republican chairman has proposed to put more inspectors in the field but to cut its overall staff by nearly a third, including letting some of its supporting technical experts in Washington go. The board already has one of the smallest oversight staffs of any federal agency.

The twin assaults on the operations and authority of the safety board come just as the Energy Department, acting at President Trump’s direction, is embarking on the most aggressive era of nuclear weapons production since the Cold War. Trump has called for one new nuclear bomb to be produced immediately, and for the production of another new bomb to be studied.

Safety in nuclear reactors ought to be the last place where one should try to economize. 

US Nuclear Sites

In three weeks Brazil will hold a national election which is both hotly contested and consistent with elections all over the world.  There is a right-wing and a left-wing candidate, but apparently little support for the center.  The right-wing candidate is Jair Bolsonaro who survived an assassination attempt on 6 September.  The left-wing candidate is Fernando Haddad who is essentially running as a surrogate for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who is widely popular, but ineligible to run for office because of a corruption conviction for actions which occurred when he was President from 2003-2011.  Reuters quotes Monica de Bolle, director of Latin American studies program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies about Bolsonaro’s stance:

That is mainly because Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly praised Brazil’s military regime, and his running mate, Hamilton Mourão, a retired Army general, have openly talked “about constraining civil liberties and rewriting the Constitution in a authoritarian way,” de Bolle said.

Mourão has said the armed forces should carry out a coup if the country’s judiciary cannot end political corruption.

“They are not shying away from saying these things openly and they are not being criticized for saying them,” she added.

The election will be a real test of Brazil’s democracy and another test of the strength of democratic sentiment in the world as a whole. 

Posted September 19, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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