Security Guards at U.S. Nuclear Weapons Base Used LSD

Nuclear weapons are an existential threat to humanity, as even one of the strong ones going off could cause a dangerous nuclear winter. Also, while it’s not necessarily a problem that people are experimenting with hallucinogens, it should clearly not be at a nuclear weapons facility. The Doomsday Clock — measuring the risk of widespread human catastrophe by nuclear weapons — is already at its most dire reading in over half a century.

There are a lot of safe and responsible places people have found over the years to ingest hallucinogens in order to experience their pleasures  and explore the challenges their potent properties can present, but it’s a judgement statement to declare that a U.S. military base which houses some of the world’s most powerful atomic weapons would qualify as such a place.

Nevertheless, the Associated Press reports Thursday that U.S. service members charged with guarding U.S. nuclear weapons at a “highly secure” military facility in Wyoming “bought, distributed and used the hallucinogen LSD and other mind-altering illegal drugs as part of a ring that operated undetected for months.”

Those accused of involvement in the drug ring were “from the 90th Missile Wing, which operates one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand ‘on alert’ 24/7 in underground silos scattered across the northern Great Plains.”

When military investigators broke up the ring, one airmen reportedly fled the country. “Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn’t,” said Capt. Charles Grimsley, the lead prosecutor of one of several courts martial the resulted from the case.

The AP story is based on internal military documents the news agency obtained and is just the latest example of frightening cracks in the way the U.S. military manages and protects its vast nuclear arsenal.

While the reporting notes that none of those court martialed were charged with being under the influence while “on duty,” the transcripts from the files show one soldier admitting he “felt paranoia, panic” for hours after dropping acid and at one point said he “didn’t know if I was going to die that night or not.” Another soldier confessed, “I absolutely just loved altering my mind.”

As the story hit the AP wire, this was a common sentiment on social media: “Nuclear weapons and LSD seem a bad combination, but that’s just my opinion.”

Sudden Loss of Net Worth Among Older People Associated With Significantly Worse Death Rates

This study makes it all the more important to handle economic crashes effectively. The crash of 2008 — which a lot of people still haven’t recovered from financially — is especially gruesome because the after effects of it didn’t have to be anywhere near as terrible. In Europe, the response was ineffective, unsettling austerity for many and in the United States the stimulus was inadequate to help the vast majority of people recover. The stimulus needed to be much larger to compensate for the few hundred billion dollars lost in annual economic demand, and instead of bailing out the banks, the public generally could have been assisted in recouping their financial losses.

A sudden loss of net worth in middle or older age is associated with a significantly higher risk of death, reports a new Northwestern Medicine and University of Michigan study.

When people lose 75 percent or more of their total wealth during a two-year period, they are 50 percent more likely to die in the next 20 years, the study found.

“We found losing your life-savings has a profound effect on person’s long-term health,” said lead author Lindsay Pool, a research assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s a very pervasive issue. It wasn’t just a few individuals but more than 25 percent of Americans had a wealth shock over the 20 years of the study.”

Though the rate of savings loss spiked during the Great Recession, middle- and older-age Americans consistently lost savings across the 20-year period, regardless of the larger economic climate.

The study, which will be published April 3 in JAMA, is the first to look at the long-term effects of a large financial loss.

“Our findings offer new evidence for a potentially important social determinant of health that so far has not been recognized: sudden loss of wealth in late middle or older age,” said senior author Carlos Mendes de Leon, professor of epidemiology and global public health at University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

The study also examined a group of low-income people who didn’t have any wealth accumulated and who are considered socially vulnerable in terms of their health. Their increased risk of mortality over 20 years was 67 percent.

“The most surprising finding was that having wealth and losing it is almost as bad for your life expectancy as never having wealth,” Pool said.

The likely cause of the increased death risk may be twofold. “These people suffer a mental health toll because of the financial loss as well as pulling back from medical care because they can’t afford it,” Pool said.

The new study builds on prior research in the wake of the Great Recession from 2007 to the early 2010s. Those studies examined short-term health effects such as depression, blood pressure and other markers of stress that changed as peoples’ financial circumstances took a nosedive.

Recent Nuclear Posture Review Increases Risk of Widespread Nuclear Annihilation

Nuclear weapons are more dangerous in this era than at quite arguably any other point in human history, but many people still remain unaware of this. There’s a lot that can and should be done to prevent nuclear disaster, including passing the Nuclear Sanity Act in the U.S., which would legally forbid a U.S. president from launching nuclear weapons without the approval of at least a few other cabinet officials.

When the Pentagon on Friday released its new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) (pdf), as Common Dreams reported, peace and disarmament groups in the U.S. and around the world expressed immediate alarm at the document and its implications.

“Who in their right mind thinks we should expand the list of scenarios in which we might launch nuclear weapons?” asked Peace Action in a statement. “Who let Dr. Strangelove write the Nuclear Posture Review?”

In a column for CNN—titled “Give Trump more nuclear weapons and more ways to use them? Not a good idea“—Tom Collina, policy director of the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund, noted a recent poll showing that 60 percent of Americans do not trust Trump with nuclear weapons and argued:

The public is right to distrust Trump with nuclear weapons, and we all need to speak up and oppose these new, dangerous policies. People don’t tend to think of nuclear war as a policy choice, but it is, just like health care or immigration.

The Trump administration’s policies are increasing the risk of nuclear war. Sure, you could build a bomb shelter and hide, but that does not lower the risk of war, and it is highly unlikely to save you. Instead, we need to prevent nuclear war in the first place by changing government policy.

Statement from Peace Action:

In response to the release of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review scheduled for today, Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs at Peace Action, released the following statement:

“Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review runs diametrically counter to the longstanding international and bipartisan consensus that nuclear-armed nations should work to reduce and eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

“Who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea to make nuclear weapons ‘more usable’? Who in their right mind thinks we should expand the list of scenarios in which we might launch nuclear weapons? Who let Dr. Strangelove write the Nuclear Posture Review?

“On top of increasing the likelihood of nuclear weapons use, the expansion of our nuclear arsenal called for in the Nuclear Posture Review would cost the American taxpayers an estimated $1.7 trillion adjusted for inflation over the next three decades. With the Doomsday Clock now at 2 minutes to midnight, we’re essentially being asked to pay for our own increasingly likely destruction.”

Another news report statement, as the issue of nuclear weapons is tremendously important enough to warrant posting it:

The Trump administration has unveiled its new nuclear weapons strategy, which involves spending at least $1.2 trillion to upgrade the United States’ nuclear arsenal, including developing a new nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile. The Nuclear Posture Review calls for developing low-yield warheads, which critics say blur the lines between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons, meaning they are more likely to be used. It also reportedly seeks to expand the number of scenarios under which the United States might consider the use of nuclear weapons, including in response to a major cyberattack. Trump’s nuclear policy has alarmed arms control experts around the globe and been openly criticized by Iran, Russia and China.