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Total number of comments: 9 (since 2013-11-28 16:33:09)

Brett Dunbar

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  • Japan on the Anniversary of Fukushima: Anger, Protests and Hope
    • Actually that is incorrect. The worst nuclear reactor accident was Chernobyl in Ukraine, the second worst was Windscale in the UK. Fukushima and Three Mile Island were trivial.

      The epidemiology of Chernobyl was that the radio iodine release caused maybe 2000 cases of treatable childhood thyroid cancer. causing about 50 fatalities, acute radiation sickness killed about 50 of the first responders. No other statistically detectable results. The half life of the iodine is short enough (about 8 days) that essentially all had decayed within three months.

      Using a linear no-threshold model based on the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs seems based on Chernobyl to severely overestimate the effects of low level exposure. Even using this model we have very good reason to believe exaggerates the risk Windscale is estimated to have caused 2-3 additional deaths Fukushima about maybe one and three mile island probably none. If there is, as actually seems likely, a threshold then they may have caused zero deaths.

      Nuclear power has by a sizeable margin the lowest death rate of any form of power generation per unit generated. For rooftop solar the main cause of death is falls during installation.

      Energy Source Death Rate (deaths per TWh)

      Coal – world average 161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
      Coal – China 278
      Coal – USA 15
      Oil 36 (36% of world energy)
      Natural Gas 4 (21% of world energy)
      Biofuel/Biomass 12
      Peat 12
      Solar (rooftop) 0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
      Wind 0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
      Hydro 0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
      Hydro - world including Banqiao) 1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
      Nuclear 0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

  • Obama & Brennan Brought GOP Filibuster on themselves by Extreme Secrecy on Drones
    • In a civil war or rebellion the US government would have the authority to use military force, including drones. Otherwise it would seem not.

  • Top Seven Errors President Obama has made on the Middle East
    • In both Malaya and Kenya we had already decided to leave, the objective was to leave without an immediate bloodbath. This was accomplished. The Churchill quote is highly misleading, by the 1930s Churchill was the only significant figure in Britain opposed to Indian independence in the near future. That might have been true of him but that was not representative of British attitudes.

  • Tutu Slams Tony Blair for Illegal Iraq War, boycotts Leadership Conference
    • It would be rather hard to prosecute Blair in any event. Aggression, the only charge that could realistically be brought against him, is not as yet indictable before the ICC and even when that is ratified it will not be retroactive. Even if it were indictable he has a defence as he had received advice that the war was legal, either way it was marginal.

      The various atrocities were mainly committed by the various groups fighting the occupation forces. You can't rationally prosecute someone for actions committed by their enemies which they are actively trying to prevent.

      It would be rather difficult to establish any direct link between him and the events at Abu Gharib sufficient to make a prosecution have any likelihood of success.

    • That isn't correct. What about Yugoslavia?

    • To be rather pedantic it isn't correct to refer to Lord Goldsmith as Lord Peter Goldsmith, that is the style of the son of a peer who doesn't have a more specific courtesy title. Goldsmith is a life peer in his own right so Lord Goldsmith would be correct as would Peter Goldsmith, Lord Goldsmith or just Goldsmith.

      The thing is if you accept that overthrowing a tyrant for tyranny is sometimes justified then you have to accept that it is possible to honestly disagree whether it is justified on a specific occasion. Even by comparison with other third world dictators Saddam had a horrible human rights record. For Blair at least the real reason for the war was moral, the WMD was more an attempt to garner a little extra support for an action he believed morally justified in itself.

      The sanctions were an attempt to pressure Iraq into complying with the terms of the ceasefire at the end of the Gulf War. The alternatives while Iraq was non-compliant, were either giving, or direct military action. Neither were attractive options.

      ICC charges have been disproportionately brought against Africans as the wars which provide the context in which war crimes occur have disproportionately taken place in Africa. Even in Iraq where there was a western force involved the atrocities were overwhelmingly carried out by the anti-western forces. Where, such as in former Yugoslavia, war crimes have been committed in Europe they have been prosecuted as such.

      I'm not sure that you can really blame Britain for that much in South Africa, the second Boer war ended in 1902, South Africa became a dominion in 1910, direct rule in Transvaal and Orange Free State had lasted just eight years. Britain was understandably disinclined to provoke the Boers further.

  • Assange Demands end of US War on Whistleblowers
    • The specific form of questioning that Sweden wants him for is roughly equivalent to a Committal hearing. It is the point at which formal charges are brought, so really has to be conducted with Assange in Swedish custody. Swedish court procedures occur in a slightly different order than they do in a Common Law jurisdiction. During his court case regarding the extradition request the High Court found that the Swedish process has reached the stage of criminal proceedings, which would be equivalent to having been charged under English process. The Supreme Court upheld this decision.

      The Supreme Court ruling Assange v The Swedish Prosecution Authority (Rev 1) [2012] UKSC 22 (30 May 2012) can be read at link to

      The offences which he is accused include having sex with a women while she was asleep, this is rape under English Law as he did not have consent and did not reasonably believe he had consent. The maximum penalty in the UK for this is life imprisonment (the average is four years, which implies two years imprisonment and two years released on licence). Had he committed these acts in the UK he would be facing a significant prison sentence.

  • Sanity and Insanity in American Politics (Bachmann, Sessions, Romney, and Chicken)
    • It can be done. In 1963 JFK imposed a tax Americans buying foreign stocks from foreigners. Until that point the US had been making substantial profits lending to overseas businesses and other countries. The tax, introduced for populist reasons, effectively cut this off. The result was that London, which since the second world war had been a bit of a backwater, became the centre of the Eurodollar market. Britain had various restrictive regulations however it was possible to work around them to offer loans to foreign customers and this attracted a lot of business to London. It is relatively easy to move business to an established financial centre and as the UK has absolutely no intention of imposing a Tobin Tax it is likely to end up in London. It is a bit harder to set up a new centre but not all that hard.

    • A financial transaction tax is almost certainly revenue negative. Sweden was highly critical of the proposal as they had a similar tax in the past, the result was between 90% and 99% of the market moved to London to escape the tax. The loss of the income tax on dealer's bonuses is likely to substantially exceed the revenue raised by the FTT.

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