Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Summer to Remember

Anise swallowtail -- one of our northern California beauties.

Last Friday I went to the Cancer Center here in Berkeley for my scheduled chemotherapy infusion. My oncologist said, "I've been reviewing your scans; I think it's time to move off this chemotherapy course -- from here on, we'll just be giving you periodic maintenance infusions."

That was an unexpected piece of good news. Within minutes we were in the car, headed home, and a friend texted another piece of news: "ICAN was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize!"

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It's taken me a few days to adjust to the new reality. Since my lymphoma diagnosis on June 17, I've spent more and more time dealing with the effects of chemotherapy, and less and less time writing. I've been trying to keep up with events, but in recent weeks it became a bit of a blur. Now it seems the first order of business is to get a clear picture of what has developed in the past 3+ months . . . .


I was still spending time on my computer every day as of July 7, when 100+ countries at the UN agreed on a global nuclear weapons ban treaty text.

When the UN General Assembly re-convened on September 20, formal signing of the treaty began. More than 50 countries have signed so far.

Ratification by 50 countries is required for the treaty to enter into force. In late August, I wrote about how the ongoing process of signing and ratification lifts the nuclear ban treaty into the forefront of the global political discourse. Now, with progress on the signings and ratification, and the Nobel Peace Prize award to ICAN, it's a good time to update that estimate!

US restrictions on presidential first use of nuclear weapons

When my cancer diagnosis came in June, there were 37 co-sponsors on HR669 "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017." As of today there are 57 co-sponsors.

During the last few months, a conference has been organized to take place in Cambridge on November 4 to address the question, "Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons:  Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional? Is it Just?"  (This all-day conference has a fabulous lineup, and is free and open to the public. See the link for more info and registration info.)

Trump and Nuclear Diplomacy by Tweet

On August 12, I wrote, "Now along comes Donald Trump, who has sole authority to order a nuclear first strike and is tossing out threats left and right against North Korea. People are waking up. Nuclear war is not an abstraction. It is a real possibility, and it is in the hands (right now) of a single person," and events since then have only served to lend weight to that assertion.

The situation becomes even more urgent as Trump prepares to visit Asia in early November. One thing I'll be doing in the next few days is reviewing and recapping developments over the last several months. I'll be sharing a chronology on this blog.

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The summer of 2017 had a great deal about it that must be remembered. Some of my memories of this time will, of course, be very personal to me. But I think everyone will remember it as a time when the global conversation on nuclear weapons underwent a fundamental shift -- one that promises a move away from the unilateral domination of a few nuclear weapons states and toward a truly peace-oriented global community.

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