UK nuclear power stations ‘could be forced to close’ after Brexit

Leaving Euratom treaty will shut down nuclear industry if international safety agreements are not made in time, MPs told

Nuclear power stations would be forced to shut down if a new measures are not in place when Britain quits a European atomic power treaty in 2019, an expert has warned.

Rupert Cowen, a senior nuclear energy lawyer at Prospect Law, told MPs on Tuesday that leaving the Euratom treaty as the government has promised could see trade in nuclear fuel grind to a halt.

The UK government has said it will exit Euratom when article 50 is triggered. The treaty promotes cooperation and research into nuclear power, and uniform safety standards.

Unlike other arrangements, if we dont get this right, business stops. There will be no trade. If we cant arrive at safeguards and other principles that allow compliance [with international nuclear standards] to be demonstrated, no nuclear trade will be able to continue.

Asked by the chair of the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy select committee if that would see reactors switching off, he said: Ultimately, when their fuels runs out, yes. Cowen said that in his view there was no legal requirement for the UK to leave Euratom because of Brexit: Its a political issue, not a legal issue.

The UK nuclear industry would be crippled if new nuclear cooperation deals are not agreed within two years, a former government adviser told the committee.

Euratom explainer

There is a plethora of international agreements that would have to be struck that almost mirror those in place with Euratom, before we moved not just material but intellectual property, services, anything in the nuclear sector. We would be crippled without other things in place, said Dame Sue Ion, chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, which was established by the government in 2013.

She said movement of the industrys best intellectual talent was made easier by the UKs membership of Euratom.

The government said it was working on alternative arrangements to Euratom. Describing the notification of withdrawal as a regrettable necessity when article 50 is triggered, energy minister Jesse Norman said that the UK saw clear routes outside of Euratom to address issues such as the trade of nuclear materials.

We take this extremely seriously and are devoting serious resources [to looking at new arrangements], he told the Lords science and technology committee on Tuesday.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said there was a lot to be done to put in place transitional measures replacing Euratom.

What were collectively warning about is the potential for there to be a very hard two-year period during which there are lots of other things the government has to deal with, that could leave it in a position where some of these things arent in place, he said. Greatrex said one possible option was an associate membership of Euratom.

Over the weekend, the GMB union called on ministers to reconsider their foolhardy rush to leave the treaty, claiming it could endanger the UKs entire nuclear future.

But the Office for Nuclear Regulation argued there could even be be some positives to leaving Euratom, such as a reduction in bureaucracy. If we relinquish Euratom there would be reduced burden from not having to comply with directives, said David Senior, an ONR executive.

Norman also promised a decision was due soon on the next stage of a delayed multimillion-pound government competition for mini nuclear reactors, known as small modular reactors. I love the projects and ideas but I want to be shown the value, he told the peers.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/28/british-nuclear-power-stations-could-be-forced-to-close-after-brexit

At 140 a mile, how does Elon Musks moon trip compare with other journeys?

From car to rail, its hard to find a terrestrial journey that matches SpaceXs astronomical cost

It is a stratospheric sum but it does, at least, include the return journey. Elon Musk, the billionaire American transport visionary, has suggested that the first, so far unnamed, passengers on his SpaceX flight round the moon will pay about $70m (56m).

Musk says the journey, tentatively scheduled for 2018 on an untested Falcon Heavy rocket, will cover up to 400,000 miles, although the Apollo 13 crew, on their trip to the moon in 1970, were a record 248,655 miles from Earth, so this figure seems modest if anything. Either way, 400,000 miles (about 16 times the circumference of Earth) for 56m is equal to about 140 a mile, which is easier to fathom. But how does it compare with terrestrial journeys?

Rail: The priciest rail ticket in the UK, the home of extortionate rail travel, is reportedly 501 for the 480-mile anytime return from Shanklin on the Isle of Wight to Buxton in Derbyshire (includes the ferry). Thats a little more than 1 a mile. The most expensive season ticket by distance, from Harlow Town in Essex to London Liverpool Street, is less than 40p a mile for a full-time worker.

Car: A Ferrari F12tdf has the joint worst fuel economy, according to US government figures, with as little as 12 miles a gallon. At current pump prices, that equates to about 45p a mile. Even adding depreciation, insurance and the 340,000 cost of the car its a lot cheaper than space.

Bus: Buses are cheap, right? Not if you take the No 47 from Lewisham Park in south-east London to Lewisham Hospital, 135 metres up the road. At 1.50 that equates to almost 18 a mile.

Air: You would think air travel comes close, but the worst damage you can do on an airliner is a 55,000 return ticket from London to Melbourne (20,000 miles total) in Etihads penthouse suite. But thats only 2.75 a mile.

Tube: The closest you can get to matching the cost of lunar travel is on the London Underground. The shortest Tube journey is the 350 metres, from Covent Garden to Leicester Square. A cash ticket costs 4.90, which equates to almost 23 a mile, about a sixth of the cost of a trip to the moon and back and a lot quicker.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2017/feb/28/140-pound-mile-elon-musk-moon-trip-spacex-compare-terrestrial-journeys

Sessions Warns Of An America With ‘Marijuana Sold At Every Corner Grocery Store’

https://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?c4658754/sessions-continues-crusade-marijuana

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doubling down on his crusade against marijuana legalization.

Sessions, a longtime opponent of marijuana use, warned Tuesday easing access to the drug could lead to local supermarkets selling cannabis.

States can pass whatever laws they choose, Sessions told a crowd of attorneys general at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting. But Im not sure were going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.

Sessions then appeared to criticize a column The Washington Post published Tuesday by Sam Kamin, professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver. In the op-ed, Kamin argues that the opioid crisis is a reason to expand access to marijuana rather than to contract it. A 2016 study fromColumbia Universitys Mailman School of Public Healthfound adverse consequences of opioid use decreased over time in states where marijuana is legalized as individuals substituted marijuana for opioids to treat pain.

But Sessions scoffed at Kamins reasoning.

Give me a break, Sessions said. This is the kind of argument that has been out there. [Its] almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even benefits. I doubt thats true. Maybe science will prove me wrong. … My best view is that we dont need to be legalizing marijuana.

Tom Angell, chairman of drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority, called Sessions opiate commentsridiculous.

Several studies have already shown that states with legal marijuana access see reduced opioid problems, Angell said in a statement Tuesday. If the attorney general really cares about public health and safety, hell stop relying on alternative facts … This administration should respect science and, at the very least, needs to uphold the presidents repeated campaign pledges to respect state cannabis laws.

Nationwide support for marijuana legalization is at a record high.A survey from Quinnipiac University released last week found 71 percent of American voters want the federal government to respect state marijuana laws.

Still, the White House appears to be preparing for a crackdown on recreational cannabis. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said last week that states with legalized marijuana legislation will see greater enforcement of federal laws surrounding the plant a move that could shatter President Donald Trumps 2016 campaign promise to honor state marijuana laws.

On Monday, Sessions decried marijuana legalization to reporters at the Justice Department, claiming real violence can be attributed to the current levels of THC in marijuana.

I dont think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot, Sessions said. I believe its an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and were seeing real violence around that.

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Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-warns-america-marijuana-grocery-store_us_58b58d8de4b0a8a9b7863d93?pstfwcpmfp1ty8ehfr&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Sangeeta Bhatia: the biotech entrepreneur advocating for gender equity in Stem

Those of us women who are out there and who are breaking ground really need to be visible and talk about it, because its a way to pay forward everything weve been given, says the engineer, physician, professor, entrepreneur and MIT director

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/personal-investments/ng-interactive/2017/jan/31/sangeeta-bhatia-stem-engineer-mit-biotech-gender

Republicans brace for Trump’s prime-time message on Obamacare

Washington (CNN)For Republicans eager to dismantle Obamacare, President Donald Trump’s prime-time address to Congress Tuesday night is shaping up as a high-stakes proposition.

More than five weeks after Inauguration Day, Trump is set to deliver a speech that lays out his vision for the country and highlights his most urgent policy priorities. Trump has said that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act is at the top of his agenda — but so far, his public remarks about overhauling the health care system have proved to be a mixed bag for fellow Republicans.

Sanders

On Monday, on the eve of his joint address to Congress, Trump was characteristically blunt. “Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said about health care reform during a meeting with governors. “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
The comments acknowledged the myriad of problems GOP leaders have confronted in their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“It’s complicated. In fact, it’s almost impossible, but we’ll figure it out,” said GOP Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want to see Trump offer more specifics on health care — and publicly back the House GOP plan, sources tell CNN.

Explore Trump’s progress on key campaign promises

During a meeting at the White House on Monday, Ryan was given the impression that the administration is embracing much of the House GOP plan on Obamacare and that the President will make that clear in his speech.
This should help reassure House Republican leaders and their aides, some of whom had been growing increasingly concerned by the President’s unwillingness to embrace — or, many believe, fully understand — the congressional approach to health care.
If Trump doesn’t better articulate his support for their plan, “it is in trouble,” a GOP Hill aide said earlier in the week.
“This is a critical moment for him to get behind this,” another senior Republican congressional aide said.
Top Republicans have been slowed down by numerous intra-party disagreements, including over how much of the health care law to repeal and how fast.
Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus Chairman, told CNN Monday that he would not support a draft of the House GOP leadership’s repeal bill that was leaked last week. Rep. Mark Walker, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, announced his opposition hours later. A widespread defection within the conservative wing of the party could tank the party’s efforts to repeal Obamacare altogether.
Republicans are hoping that Trump will seize Tuesday night’s closely watched speech to send a unifying message on Obamacare.

GOP

“I would expect that this will be a speech that doesn’t have a lot of specifics, but continues to emphasize the President’s agenda,” said Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.
Trump told governors Monday that his speech is going to focus heavily on security and less on the specifics of health care.
“The President said today that his speech is going to be focused on defense, so I obviously take him at his word,” Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said. “What he did tell us today is Secretary Price is going to be coming up with some type of plan in the next few weeks.”

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/28/politics/trump-prime-time-message-obamacare/index.html

Van Jones on Trump: ‘He became President of the United States in that moment, period’

(CNN)Shortly after President Donald Trump addressed a Joint Session of Congress for the first time since taking the oath of office, CNN’s Van Jones called one particularly moving moment from the speech the real estate mogul’s most presidential to date.

Less than an hour after Trump honored the widow of a slain NAVY Seal, the Democratic commentator suggested that the commander in chief had officially begun to look the part.
“He became President of the United States in that moment, period,” said Jones, after the evening’s most emotional point was replayed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“That was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics,” Jones added.
The exchange the group was referring to centered around Trump recognizing Carryn Owens, whose husband Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens was killed in Yemen.
Noting that he still often disagrees with the President, Jones admitted that Trump’s powerful moment shows he may be settling into the role.
“If he finds a way to do that over and over again, he’s going to be there for eight years,” Jones said.
Moments after Jones’ remarks, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke to Cooper, and had this to say: “I find myself in agreement with Van Jones, for the first time in my political life.”

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/01/politics/van-jones-trump-congress-speech-became-the-president-in-that-moment-cnntv/index.html

Recipe found in medieval mystics writings was probably for ‘dragges’

Margery Kempe was known for religious fervour, and a list in the manuscript of her pioneering autobiography has been analysed as a prescribed cure for her fits

It is a case that has intrigued historians, psychiatrists and theologians for the last 80 years, but an academic has found what may be the oldest known attempt to diagnose Margery Kempes erratic religious behaviour. A recipe for medicinal sweets, written 600 years ago in the back of the medieval mystics memoir, has been deciphered by Dr Laura Kalas Williams and the Exeter University-based researcher is convinced that it reveals an attempt to prescribe a cure for Kempes notorious fits of devotion.

Though the recipe, written in the final portfolio of the 1438 manuscript, has long been known to scholars, it had hitherto proved impossible to read. Dr Andrea Clarke, the British Librarys lead curator of medieval and early modern manuscripts, suggested multispectral-imaging technology be used to reveal its secrets. Kalas Williams and two colleagues, Professor Eddie Jones and Professor Daniel Wakelin, were then able to decipher the ingredients and discovered it was a cure for flux, defined in the Medieval English Dictionary as a pathological flowing of blood, excretions or discharges from any part of the body, or dysentery.


Roughly,
The recipe translates as containing: Sugar with aniseed, fennel seed, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger [to make the] confection and to [then] beat them together in a mortar and heat them in the manner of food and drinks and dry first and last eat. Photograph: Board of the British Library, Dr Andrea Clarke and Christina Duffy

Kalas Williams said she was convinced the recipe was a response to the mystics various bouts of illness as well as her copious crying. I dont think [the recipe] has been written there randomly, the academic said. The book tells us that at one point, she suffered a terrible episode of flux (probably dysentery) and was given extreme unction, thinking she was going to die, so the presence of this recipe at the end seems more than a coincidence.

A middle-class mother of 14, Kempe lived in Norfolk from about 1373 to 1440. After the birth of her children, she took a vow of chastity, and for the rest of her life undertook pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela, Italy and Germany.

Described by Kalas Williams as the Marmite of medieval mystics, she was infamous for loud cries and boisterous weeping in church and dramatic displays of religious devotion, which included mystical visions that placed her at the heart of the action during the nativity and crucifixion. They also made her as many enemies during her lifetime as they did followers; she was arrested for heresy and narrowly missed being burned at the stake.

Kalas Williams admitted her thesis was controversial. Scholars have speculated about the significance of the recipe since the manuscript was rediscovered in 1934. Though medieval books often feature arbitrary jottings because parchment was expensive, no other random notes appear in the manuscript, which was dictated by the mystic between 1436 and 1440, initially to her son. There are many other annotations in the book, but all of these directly engage with the words on the page, in dialogue with the content, the academic said. This makes it improbable that the recipe is a random, thoughtless, annotation.

The
The original manuscript of The Book of Margery Kempe. It is thought to have been finished and bound between 1442 and 1450. Photograph: Board of the British Library, Dr Andrea Clarke and Christina Duffy

Initially, the recipe was thought to be for a drink to cure the flux, but the thermal imaging revealed it to be dragges herbal sweets used to refresh the palate and cure a variety of ills. The ingredients sugar, aniseed, fennel seed, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger were luxuries at the time.

The manuscript, which is the only surviving copy of the memoir, thought to be the oldest autobiography by a woman in the English language, has proved controversial since it was rediscovered in the 1930s. Many attempts have been made to explain Kempes profuse weeping, collapsing and roaring while under the influence of her visions. As well as epilepsy, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, it has been posited that the mystic suffered postpartum depression, as her first extreme religious experiences and demonic torment followed her first difficult pregnancy.

Kalas Williams dismissed attempts at diagnosis as anachronistic and preferred to use Kempes memoir to understand the medieval view of womens bodies and health. For me, Kempe is a tenacious figure, determined to be heard in a culture where womens voices were not supposed to be heard, and brave enough to express her emotions publicly and viscerally, added the scholar, who is writing up her findings for academic publication later this year.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/28/recipe-found-in-medieval-mystics-writings-was-probably-for-drugges-margery-kempe