GCR News Summary August/September 2016

EU Parliament in Strasbourg image courtesy of  David Iliff under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 license

By Matthijs Maas

In the early hours of September 9, North Korea carried out its fifth nuclear test, its biggest ever at an estimated 10 kilotons. The test, which was first detected as a magnitude 5.3-earthquake, was condemned by the UN Security Council, as well as leaders from across the world. In a statement, North Korea said it had tested a “nuclear warhead… standardized to be able to be mounted on strategic ballistic rockets”. …

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GCR News Summary June/July 2016

B-61 nuclear bomb, the same model as stored at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey; Image courtesy of Phil Schmitten / United States Department of Defense

by Matthijs Maas

A failed coup attempt against the Turkish government raised fears over the safety of the US nuclear stockpile stored at Incirlik Air Base after authorities temporarily locked down the base and arrested the base commander for supporting the mutineers’ air operations. Under NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement, Incirlik Air Base plays host to an estimated 50 US B61 hydrogen bombs–over a …

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GCR News Summary May 2016

President Obama and Prime Minister Abe at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial image courtesy of Pete Souza/The White House

President Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, just a little more than one month after Secretary of State John Kerry became the highest ranking US official to visit the city where the US detonated a nuclear weapon at the end of World War II. Obama laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, but did not apologize for the use of nuclear weapons against Japan. …

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GCR News Summary April 2016

Alpha Centauri and Southern Cross image courtesy of Claus Madsen/ESO, CC BY 4.0

John Kerry became the first US Secretary of State to visit the site of the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima. Kerry wrote in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial guest book that the site was “a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself.” William J. Broad and David E. Sanger wrote in The New York Times …

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GCR News Summary March 2016

Go game image courtesy of Jaro Larnnos under a Creative Commons license

Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo computer program beat 9-dan professional go player Lee Se-dol 4-1 in a five-game match. Lee has won 18 international titles and is widely regarded as one of the best Go players in the world. AlphaGo made a number of decisive moves that the human players found completely surprising and “beautiful”. The South Korean Go Association granted AlphaGo an honorary 9-dan ranking for its “sincere efforts” to master the game at a level approaching …

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GCR News Summary February 2016

Stop Trident demonstration in London image courtesy of David Holt under a Creative Commons license

Tens of thousands of people gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear submarine program. It was the largest anti-nuclear demonstration in England since 1983, when several hundred thousand people demonstrated against the deployment of cruise missiles at Greenham Common. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the protesters they should not forget that a nuclear war would mean “absolute destruction on both sides” and said that he …

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GCR News Summary January 2016

Aedes aegypti mosquito image courtesy of James Gathany/US Centers for Disease Control

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Zika is a virus primarily transmitted by mosquitos that was first identified in rhesus monkeys in Uganda in 1947. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis, although in rare cases it may cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can leave patients completely paralyzed. …

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GCR News Summary December 2015

March on the Paris climate talks image courtesy of John Englart under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license (the image has been cropped)

Nearly 200 countries agreed in Paris to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep the average global temperature “well below” 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement was intended to reduce human carbon emissions below the amount that can be absorbed by natural carbon sinks by the second half of the century. National targets under the agreement are not enough to keep the temperature increase below 2°C, …

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GCR News Summary November 2015

Chinese power plant image courtesy of Tobias Brox under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license (the image has been cropped)

Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber near the border between Turkey and Syria. Some reports indicate that the Russian plane’s pilots were shot and possibly killed as they parachuted from their damaged plane. It was the first time a NATO member shot down a Russian military plane since the end of the Cold War. Turkey claimed the Russian plane violated its airspace for five minutes and …

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GCR News Summary October 2015

Banjarbaru wildfire image courtesy of Amirin

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists published former US airman John Bordne’s first-hand account of his commanding officer’s refusal to launch nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis. On October 28, 1962, Bordne says the secret US missile site in Okinawa where he served received orders to launch missiles at four targets. Bordne said that even though the launch orders were initially confirmed the officer in charge suspected the orders were a mistake both because the US forces were not at DEFCON1 …

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