Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Later, Los Alamos confirmed the allegation:
The anti-nuclear watchdog group Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, however, said the fire appeared to be about 3 1/2 miles from a dumpsite where as many as 30,000 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste were stored in fabric tents above ground. The group said the drums were awaiting transport to a low-level radiation dump site in southern New Mexico.
Lab spokesman Steve Sandoval declined to confirm that there were any such drums currently on the property.
Lab officials at first declined to confirm that such drums were on the property, but in a statement early Tuesday, lab spokeswoman Lisa Rosendorf said such drums are stored in a section of the complex known as Area G. She said the drums contain cleanup from Cold War-era waste that the lab sends away in weekly shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.The Los Alamos Study Group alleges that the waste is not all from the Cold War, because the facility is cranking out more nuclear weapons than ever.
She said the drums were on a paved area with few trees nearby and would be safe even if a fire reached the storage area. Officials have said it is miles from the flames.
The lab has called in a special team to test plutonium and uranium levels in the air as a "precaution".
One area within the Los Alamos complex already suffered a temporary fire, which was doused. As Reuters reports:
A small offshoot of the blaze jumped State Highway 4 onto the lab grounds on Monday, burning about an acre (0.4 hectare) of property before it was extinguished about two hours later.The Wall Street Journal notes that the surrounding canyons also contain radioactivity from past bomb tests:
Authorities also are worried about potential radiation releases from nearby canyons. Radioactive material from nuclear tests was deposited in the canyons decades ago, and if trees in those canyons go up in flames, they could release radiation into the air, said Rita Bates, an air-quality official with the New Mexico Environment Department. That could raise the "potential for that smoke to affect people's health," she added.And see this.
Reuters | LOS ALAMOS, N.M., June 28 (Reuters) - New Mexico fire managers scrambled on Tuesday to reinforce crews battling a third day against an out-of-control blaze at the edge of one of the top U.S. nuclear weapons production centers.
The fire's leading edge burned to within a few miles of a dump site where some 20,000 barrels of plutonium-contaminated waste, including clothing and equipment, is stored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, fire officials said.
Officials for the government-run lab said the stored waste is considered low-level radioactive material and remains a safe distance from the fire in an area cleared of trees and other vegetation.
Carl Beard, director of operations for the lab, said there has been no release of radioactive or hazardous materials into the environment and there was no immediate threat to public safety, "even in these extreme conditions."
Established during World War Two as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb, the lab remains one of the leading nuclear arms manufacturing facilities in the United States.
Authorities have suspended routine removal of the waste drums for shipment to a permanent underground disposal site in southern New Mexico, said Los Alamos County Fire Chief Douglas Tucker.
"Because of the fire, they are not moving any of that. It is safer where it is," he said.
The fire, believed to have been ignited on Sunday by a fallen power line, has consumed nearly 61,000 acres (25,000 hectares) of thick pine woodlands in the Santa Fe National Forest, which surrounds the lab complex and adjacent town of Los Alamos on three sides.
Tucker said he feared the so-called Las Conchas Fire, whipped by high, rapidly shifting winds, could soon double or triple in size. The blaze remained listed as at zero percent containment and burning largely unchecked in its third day.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
NYTimes | Pictures of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant north of Omaha, Neb., show it encircled by the swollen waters of the Missouri River, which reached a height of nearly 1,007 feet above sea level at the plant yesterday.The plant's defenses include new steel gates and other hard barriers protecting an auxiliary building with vital reactor controls, and a water-filled berm 8 feet tall that encircles other parts of the plant. Both systems are designed to hold back floodwaters reaching 1,014 feet above sea level. Additional concrete barriers and permanent berms, more sandbags and another power line into the plant have been added. The plant was shut down in April for refueling and will remain so until the flood threat is passed."Today the plant is well positioned to ride out the current extreme Missouri River flooding while keeping the public safe," Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Victor Dricks said on an agency blog this week.But a year ago, those new defenses were not in place, and the plant's hard barriers could have failed against a 1,010-foot flood, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission contends in a yearlong inspection and enforcement action against the plant's operator, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD)."This is the first test of the revised flood preparations for Fort Calhoun," OPPD spokesman Michael Jones said.NRC inspectors concluded that at flooding levels above 1,008 feet, the plant "would experience a loss of offsite power and loss of intake structure" and water pumps providing essential cooling water to the plant. In that case, "the plant would be incapable of reaching cold shutdown" with normal operations -- a fundamental safety requirement imposed by the NRC. The commission's Region IV office in Arlington, Texas, issued a notice of violation against the plant on Oct. 6 last year, finding that the issues were of "substantial importance" to the plant's safety.OPPD challenged the NRC's inspectors' conclusions in a series of conferences before bowing to the commission staff's demands and agreeing to install the additional defenses this year. The AquaDam water berm was installed beginning June 4.
Monday, June 27, 2011
NaturalNews | Four decades of the so-called "War on Drugs" has led only to the suffering of millions of innocents, the crowding of our prisons with non-violent citizens, the utter waste of billions of dollars on law enforcement and the (in)justice system, and the enriching of underground drug gangs who thrive on violence. The outlawing of marijuana in America has been a disastrous political policy and an insane medical policy. It has labeled biochemical addicts "criminals" and thrown them in prisons to be treated like dogs.
The War on Drugs, through interdicting street supplies of drugs, has only made the drug gangs wealthier by driving up the value of the drugs that remain readily available. And it is now admitted that the ATF actually placed tens of thousands of weapons directly into the hands of Mexican drug gangs, giving rise to the very gang violence the agency claims to be preventing (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011...).
The U.S. government, it turns out, is actually contributing to the drug war violence!
Ron Paul, Barney Frank join forces to end the insanity
In an effort to end the insanity, Rep. Ron Paul has joined forces with Rep. Barney Frank to introduce legislation legalizing marijuana in America. President Obama, you may recall, promised voters on the campaign trail that he would do this, too, but it seems he's been too busy bombing Libya and using the U.S. Constitution as a floor mat to bother keeping any actual promises. (GITMO is still open for business, too, in case you haven't noticed...)
Of course, the War on Drugs is a very effective tool of tyranny to be used against the American people. It empowers the DEA and the federal government to conduct surprise searches of any home or business for any reason whatsoever (even without a warrant), it keeps the prison industry overflowing with endless cheap human labor, and it grants the big drug companies a monopoly over all those recreational drugs that are now sold as pharmaceuticals.
"Speed," for example, is now sold as an ADHD treatment for children. Big Pharma is also going after THC chemicals in marijuana and hopes to sell them as prescription drugs. By keeping the War on Drugs in place, Big Pharma is assured a monopoly that even the drug lords haven't been able to accomplish.
An issue that crosses political boundaries
One thing that's especially interesting about the so-called War on Drugs is how the best-informed people on both the left and the right now see it all as a complete fraud. Perhaps that's why Rep. Ron Paul (Republican) and Rep. Barney Frank (Democrat) are the perfect sponsors of this bill. Each has staked out positions on the opposite ends of the political spectrum for some issues, yet they both agree that it's time to end the failed Nixon-era policies that have only brought this nation suffering and injustice.
Ending the failed War on Drugs is not a conservative idea nor a liberal idea; it's a principle of liberty whose time has come in America.
Because in observing the War on Drugs, the prison crowding, the drug underground economy and all the other unintended consequence of marijuana prohibition, we must ask the question: Is society served in any way by criminalizing marijuana smokers? How does taking a medical addict and throwing them behind bars accomplish anything at all?
The prohibition against marijuana accomplishes nothing for society.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a number of hacker groups brazenly attacked some major institutions. That wave was largely squelched after a crackdown in which well-known hackers, including Kevin Mitnick, were caught and given heavy punishments, Ms. Coleman said.
After that, hackers began working more quietly, and many joined the security industry, where there was a safer place to employ their skills. Meanwhile, organized crime began moving online, following the money that was flowing through Web-based commerce and banking systems.
The return of more public hacking has been inspired by WikiLeaks, whose disclosure of reams of United States government documents showed hackers and the computer adept that they could use their skills to participate in a new way in the public sphere, Ms. Coleman said.
That notion was fed by Anonymous, a large collective of online hackers that opposed the Church of Scientology, championed freedom on the Internet and came to the defense of WikiLeaks by attacking the Web sites of companies like MasterCard and PayPal, which had refused to process donations to WikiLeaks after it disclosed confidential diplomatic cables.
More recently, Anonymous has gotten behind an array of international political causes, from the democratic uprisings in the Middle East to anticorruption protests in India.
LulzSec began as a splinter group from Anonymous, and LulzSec’s members now seem to be focusing on operating through that larger network.
To judge from purported discussions between LulzSec members that were posted online by a rival hacker known as the Jester, the internal operations of LulzSec seem as chaotic as the anarchistic behavior online. The messages show continual infighting among group members as pressure from law enforcement agencies has increased, and some members have reportedly quit.
OSNews | The hack of the Arizona law enforcement is a pretty big one, since the documents the hacking group leaked are incredibly detailed and contain all sorts of interesting stuff. For instance, Arizona law enforcement agencies are terrified of iPhones (and smartphones in general), because it allows people to easily record and share whatever the police might be doing or saying - and it allows people to remotely track and wipe their iPhones.
An internal memo details the worries Arizona law enforcement has about iPhones. "The ease of restoring the iPhone to it's last backup condition may encourage users who's phones have been temporarily seized by law enforcement to wipe all data to prevent law enforcement from gaining access to it," the memo reads. The horrid spelling isn't my doing - it's really in there. The memo instructs law enforcement officers to shield confiscated iPhones from wireless signals.
Several applications also worry the Arizona police, such as Cop Recorder, which allows iPhones to record whatever is being said, and can be activated while still in someone's pocket. I would consider the ability to record how an officer of the law treats you as your right as a citizen (in case they go too far), and that any worries about such an application can be negated by not abusing your authority as a cop - but then again, I've never been in trouble with the law, and I'm sure the police sometimes needs to walk on the edge in order to get things done - and random people recording everything you do could easily lead to a skewed image.
LulzSec hacked the Arizona law enforcement because of Arizona's strict illegal immigration policies, which have already ruffled some major feather all across the United States - and beyond.
"We are targeting AZDPS specifically because we are against SB1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona," LulzSec stated, "Every week we plan on releasing more classified documents and embarassing personal details of military and law enforcement in an effort not just to reveal their racist and corrupt nature but to purposefully sabotage their efforts to terrorize communities fighting an unjust 'war on drugs'."
Well, this plan to release more information every week may have been cut short, since yesterday late last night, the group announced they were calling it quits after 50 days. It is not entirely unwarranted to assume that law enforcement may be closing in on them, and that as such, they simply have to disappear for a while.
"We hope, wish, even beg, that the movement manifests itself into a revolution that can continue on without us. The support we've gathered for it in such a short space of time is truly overwhelming, and not to mention humbling," the statement reads, "Please don't stop. Together, united, we can stomp down our common oppressors and imbue ourselves with the power and freedom we deserve."
In vengeful response to his conviction and to the refusal of Governor Jackson to grant clemency or to commute his sentence, on 9 September 1927 Stephenson released lists of public officials who were or had been on the Klan payroll. This publicity and the state's crackdown on Klan activity sped up its decline by the end of the 1920s.
The aftermath was shocking, indictments were filed against Governor Ed Jackson, Marion County Republican chairman George V. "Cap" Coffin, and attorney Robert I. Marsh, charging them with conspiring to bribe former Governor Warren McCray. The mayor of Indianapolis,John Duvall, was convicted and sentenced to jail for 30 days (and barred from political service for four years). Some Republican commissioners of Marion County also resigned from their posts on charges of accepting bribes from the Klan and Stephenson .
On 7 January 1941, the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger reported that Democratic Governor Townsend was considering granting an early parole application by Stephenson; if so, this application was rejected.
Stephenson was paroled on 23 March 1950, but violated parole by disappearing on or before 25 September 1950. On 15 December 1950, he was captured in Minneapolis, and directed in 1951 to serve a further 10 years in prison. In 1953, he pleaded for release from prison, denying that he had ever been a leader of the Klan. On 22 December 1956, he was paroled again, on condition that he leave Indiana and never return. In 1961, he was arrested on charges of attempting to sexually assault a sixteen-year-old girl, and released after paying a $300 fine. The charges were later dropped on grounds of insufficient evidence.
Stephenson was infamous for having claimed "I am the law in Indiana."
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Pravda | Last Friday one million Libyans took to the streets of Tripoli to march in favour of their Brother Leader Muammar al-Qathafi and against the criminal precision-terrorism wrought on Libya's population by NATO and the terrorist elements they are protecting. Yet where is this story?
In her interview with Press TV*, the journalist Lizzie Phelan spoke about what she saw on her travels around Libya. What she tells is not propaganda, it is first-hand evidence of the truth inside the country which Muammar al-Qathafi inherited as the poorest nation on Earth, and transformed it into the richest in Africa. Have his enemies done anything of the sort?
In this amazing interview, Lizzie Phelan backs up online reports from Pravda.Ru sources inside Libya that on Friday a mass demonstration in support of Muammar al-Qathafi took place in Tripoli. One million Libyans out of a total population of six million came out into the streets in support of their government and against the counter-revolutionary reactionary Islamist terrorists that NATO is supporting.
This would be the equivalent of a demonstration of ten million people in Britain or France or 50 million people in the USA. Would Cameron, Sarkozy or Obama draw such crowds of supporters? If they got ten times less they'd be letting off fireworks. It shows the measure of these, er...men, beside Colonel Gaddafi.
She referred to the revolt and disgust felt by ordinary Libyans, something communicated to us by our contacts, namely against the sheer evil of Cameron and Sarkozy and underlined the determination received by Pravda.Ru from sources that in future no contracts should be signed with British or French companies after this terrorist outrage.
PressTV | The mass pro-Gaddafi street demonstration of one million Libyans held in the capital Tripoli has gone unreported by Western media as has news of civilians killed for the past three months.
Press TV talks with Lizzie Phelan, journalist and political activist in London who has been to Libya and says that Western media is complicit in war crimes in the North African country through omission of fact and that the vast majority of the population are in support of the Libyan government. Following is a transcript of the interview.
Press TV: NATO have issued an apology for a strike so about this publicized NATO strike that has killed civilians, they have blamed 'technical error'. The conclusion we can draw from that is if that happens it may happen again, which relates to the risk of more civilian casualties. Concerning this air campaign - Do you think it has actually gone too far when it is not saving lives?
Phelan: Yet again we are seeing what the US and Europe shamefully call collateral damage in the form of human lives like we have seen previously in Iraq and Afghanistan and in many other parts of the world.
This apology by NATO is an absolute joke. It's the first apology we've had from them in the three months despite the fact that civilians have been dying at the hands of NATO air strikes everyday in the past three months there have been thousands of strikes on the country so they made the apology yesterday on Sunday. But again at 2am in the morning there was another attack on the city of Sorman, 130km west of Tripoli where a further fifteen civilians were killed and a further three children were killed.
In previous weeks we have seen the bombing of al-Nasr university in Tripoli in the daytime where civilians were killed and so these are the military targets that we're seeing them bomb - we're seeing them bomb universities; we're seeing them bomb Friday market street in Tripoli where there is no military site in the area. Friday market street - I've been there - it begins with a GPO post office and ends with a primary school and they bombed four buildings and killed nine civilians including a toddler of four months old.
So, we are seeing what 'humanitarian intervention' and the 'protection of civilians' al-a-NATO means - it means the killing of children as we are seeing.
The real crime here is the crime of the media. Where has the media been? The media has picked up on this now because NATO has made their apology, but we've been seeing civilians dying every day for the past three months; we have a swarm of western journalists based in Tripoli...
Press TV: The NATO apology concerns it's responsibility for the deaths of 9 civilians and 18 injured in an early morning strike at an apartment building. In terms of what NATO is exercising it does put into question the goals of what NATO has on the ground... and this comes when there are CIA officers and covert operators as has been reported that are on the ground in touch with the revolutionaries.
Phelan: I wouldn't call anybody who is inviting NATO or the CIA or intelligence services into their country revolutionaries, they are in fact counter-revolutionaries.
The purpose is clear and that is to curb the Arab spring, but it goes back further than that since the revolution (military coup) of 1969-70, when Gaddafi kicked out the British and the Americans and closed their military bases and nationalized the oil. The West has had an agenda since then to get back into Libya and take complete control of the oil resources. Yes they've had a period of reproachment with Libya whereby they have been able to make some good deals with Libya, but they haven't had any where near the kind of control that they would like to have - like they have in Saudi Arabia or Qatar or the other Gulf states where these are effectively client regimes.
So the agenda is clear to completely violate international law and assassinate Gaddafi against the will of the Libyan people without actually every asking them what the Libyan people want.
Press TV: Since you have visited Libya, what is the support that Muammar Gaddafi has and what is going on in terms of the tribal allegiance that exists there? Because as we understand there has been a split along traditional tribal lines - animosity has existed; and also based on some research done this has indeed been funded by the West.
Phelan: Exactly. Just on Friday there was a complete blackout in the media except for one CNN report about a march of one million Libyans in a country of six million people in Tripoli towards Green Square in support of the government and also in support of the people of Benghazi and Misrata who are being harassed and persecuted by what I call counter-revolutionaries, which is what others call rebels - in particular black Libyans who because of the really shameful story that al-Jazeera has pumped out about Gaddafi hiring African mercenaries, black Libyans in places like Misrata and Benghazi - I've met refugees from these areas who are victims of these atrocities - black Libyans being lynched publicly and the most unspeakable atrocities are being committed against them by pro-NATO counter revolutionaries.
In terms of the tribes in Libya - from my sources I have information that 90% of the tribes in Libya are supportive of the government including the largest tribe in Libya.
Of course, before the uprising there were frustrations In Libya as there are within every singly country, but the Libyan people are an extremely non-confrontational people that will go to the ends of the earth to resolve in a non-confrontational way.
TPM | If congress does nothing, the deficit will disappear. On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office released its updated long-term budget forecast, which looked surprisingly like the previous version of its long-term budget forecast.
It showed, as one might expect, that if the Bush tax-cuts remain in effect and Medicare and Medicaid spending isn't constrained in some way, the country will topple into a genuine fiscal crisis -- not the fake one the Congress is pretending the country's in right now.
Republicans, of course, seized on that particular projection, and claimed (a bit ridiculously) that it proved the government must adopt their precise policy views: major spending cuts, particularly to entitlement programs.
While all this -- from the findings to the politicization of them -- is perfectly expected, the forecast also presents another opportunity to remind people that the medium-term budget outlook is perfectly fine if Congress adheres to the law as it's currently written. That means no repealing the health care law, for one, but more significantly it means allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, and (unfathomably) allowing Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors to fall to the levels prescribed by the formula Congress wrote almost 15 years ago. In other words, no more "doc fixes."
WaPo | Reporting on the same CBO report, you'd think it was an entirely different document. The national debt will exceed the size of the entire U.S. economy by 2021 — and balloon to nearly 200 percent of GDP within 25 years — without dramatic cuts to federal health and retirement programs or steep tax increases, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday.
The dire outlook from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office comes as the White House and congressional leaders are locked in negotiations aimed at cutting spending and stabilizing future borrowing. The CBO report highlights the enormity of that task and the immense difficulty of paying off the debt, given an aging population and soaring health-care costs.
WaPo Blog | The Congressional Budget Office just released the latest edition of its long-term budget outlook (pdf), and it shows the same thing as always: If Congress lets the Bush tax cuts expire or offsets their extension, implements the Affordable Care Act as scheduled and makes or offset the Medicare cuts prescribed by the 1997 Balanced Budget Act — which CBO calls the “extended baseline scenario” — the national debt will be totally manageable. If Congress passes laws extending the Bush tax cuts without offsetting the cost, repealing the Affordable Care Act and its cost controls and protecting doctors from Medicare cuts without making up the savings elsewhere — the “alternative fiscal scenario” — the national debt will be totally out of control:This is a good time to remind everyone that when you hear politicians telling you that their plan cuts taxes or balances the budget, you always need to ask what baseline they’re using. Almost all the plans on the table, for instance, do less to balance the budget than simply doing nothing. But since they use a version of the “alternative fiscal scenario” as their baseline, they don’t have to admit that before they make the deficit somewhat better, they’re first planning to make it much, much worse. Fist tap Rembom.
Hundreds of merchants accept Bitcoins for things like books, computers, and professional services. The currency trades on a handful of Bitcoin exchanges, where the price of a Bitcoin fluctuates based on demand. Not long ago a single Bitcoin sold for less than a dollar, but in recent months the price climbed to $8, then to $20, then above $30, before falling back to $18, the current level.
What exactly are you buying? A Bitcoin is basically just a little bit of encrypted code that can be zipped over the Internet and stored in a digital wallet. The concept was proposed by a mysterious hacker named Satoshi Nakamoto (no one knows who he is, and the name is believed to be a pseudonym), who published a white paper describing a way in which computers connected over the Internet could be used to create an unregulated “cryptocurrency.”
New York Sen. Charles Schumer recently called Bitcoin “an online form of money laundering,” after learning about an online warehouse called Silk Road where sellers advertise an astounding array of illegal wares—marijuana, hashish, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin—and where the only currency accepted is the Bitcoin. (Silk Road is currently shut down, though its anonymous manager claims he intends to start back up soon.)
Right now there are about 6.5 million Bitcoins in circulation. The money supply is controlled by software algorithms and the total supply will max out at 21 million coins. You can crank out Bitcoins on a PC, but it’s an incredibly computer-intensive task, and it will keep getting harder as the number of Bitcoins in existence increases. Some people have pooled together hundreds of machines to “mine” Bitcoins. Most folks, however, just buy them on an exchange.
Some already are hoarding Bitcoins, expecting a Bitcoin bubble will drive the value up to hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars per coin. The biggest holder, whose identity is not known, is sitting on about 300,000 coins, currently worth about $6 million, says Donald Norman, who runs the London-based Bitcoin Consultancy, which advises companies that want to get in on the action.
Norman says the power of Bitcoins is that they can free people from the tyranny of middlemen: banks; credit-card companies; and money shippers like Western Union, which charge exorbitant fees for performing a rather simple task.
But for a lot of people the appeal lies in the chance to get rich quick by getting in early on the next Internet craze. Still, investing in Bitcoins is extremely risky. You don’t know who’s running the exchanges, and you can’t be sure these guys won’t just take your money and run.
Adding to the risk, authorities might take action. But even if Bitcoin goes away, others like it will spring up. “Now that we have the technology to create decentralized currencies,” Norman says, “they are definitely here to stay.”
State legislators have passed a bill that requires the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to draw up rules for driver-less vehicles.
Assembly Bill No 511 paves the way for Google's automated Toyota Priuses and Audi TT to be operated legally in the Silver State.
The hybrid vehicles use laser range finders and video cameras to detect traffic, and detailed maps to find their way from point to point.
'Drivers' simply set their destination and the car calculates the route and drives itself there.
The first amendment, which was passed last week, relates to an electric-vehicle bill providing for the licensing and testing of autonomous vehicles.
The second amendment, which has yet to be passed, is for an exemption that would permit sending a text message while 'behind the wheel'.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Indypendent | Noam Chomsky is one of the major intellectuals of our time. The eighty-two-year-old American linguist, philosopher and activist is a severe critic of US foreign and economic policy. Ceyda Nurtsch talked to him about the Arabic spring in its global context
Many people claim that the Arab world is incompatible with democracy. Would you say that the recent developments falsify this thesis?
Noam Chomsky: The thesis never had any basis whatsoever. The Arab-Islamic world has a long history of democracy. It’s regularly crushed by western force. In 1953 Iran had a parliamentary system, the US and Britain overthrew it. There was a revolution in Iraq in 1958, we don’t know where it would have gone, but it could have been democratic. The US basically organized a coup.
Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadegh during a visit in the US in 1951, two years before the CIA’s coup d’état that ousted him In internal discussions in 1958, which have since been declassified, President Eisenhower spoke about a campaign of hatred against us in the Arab world. Not from the governments, but from the people. The National Security Council’s top planning body produced a memorandum – you can pick it up on the web now – in which they explained it. They said that the perception in the Arab world is that the United States blocks democracy and development and supports harsh dictators and we do it to get control over their oil. The memorandum said, this perception is more or less accurate and that’s basically what we ought to be doing.
That means that western democracies prevented the emergence of democracies in the Arab world?
I won’t run through the details, but yes, it continues that way to the present. There are constant democratic uprisings. They are crushed by the dictators we – mainly the US, Britain, and France – support. So sure, there is no democracy because you crush it all. You could have said the same about Latin America: a long series of dictators, brutal murderers. As long as the US controls the hemisphere, or Europe before it, there is no democracy, because it gets crushed.
So you were not surprised at all by the Arab Spring?
MediaLens | Remarkably, then, we found nothing in any article in any national UK newspaper reporting the freely-available facts revealed by WikiLeaks on Western oil interests in Libya. And nothing linking these facts to the current war.
By contrast, in his June 11 article for the Washington Post, Steven Mufson focused intensely on WikiLeaks exposés in regard to Libyan oil. In November 2007, a leaked State Department cable reported 'growing evidence of Libyan resource nationalism'. In his 2006 speech marking the founding of his regime, Gaddafi had said:
'Oil companies are controlled by foreigners who have made millions from them. Now, Libyans must take their place to profit from this money.'
Gaddafi's son made similar comments in 2007. As (honest) students of history will know, these are exactly the kind of words that make US generals sit up and listen. The stakes for the West were, and are, high: companies such as ConocoPhillips and Marathon have each invested about $700 million over the past six years.
Even more seriously, in late February 2008, a US State Department cable described how Gaddafi had 'threatened to dramatically reduce Libya's oil production and/or expel... U.S. oil and gas companies'. The Post explained how, in early 2008, US Senator Frank R. Lautenberg had enraged the Libyan leader by adding an amendment to a bill that made it easier for families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing to 'go after Libya's commercial assets'.
The Libyan equivalent of the deputy foreign minister told US officials that the Lautenberg amendment was 'destroying everything the two sides have built since 2003,' according to a State Department cable. In 2008, Libyan oil minister Shokri Ghanem warned an Exxon Mobil executive that Libya might 'significantly curtail' its oil production to 'penalize the US,' according to another cable.
The Post concluded: 'even before armed conflict drove the U.S. companies out of Libya this year, their relations with Gaddafi had soured. The Libyan leader demanded tough contract terms. He sought big bonus payments up front. Moreover, upset that he was not getting more U.S. government respect and recognition for his earlier concessions, he pressured the oil companies to influence U.S. policies'.
Similarly, compare the chasm in rational analysis separating the mainstream UK media and the dissident Real News Network, hosted by Paul Jay. Last month, Jay interviewed Kevin G. Hall, the national economics correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers. Jay concluded with a summary of their conversation discussing oil shenanigans in Libya:
'So you've got the Italian oil companies already at odds with the US over Iran. The Italian oil company is going to, through its deals with Gazprom, allow the Russians to take a big stake in Libyan oil. And then you have the French. As we head towards the Libyan war, the French Total have a small piece of the Libyan oil game, but I suppose they would like a bigger piece of it. And then you wind up having a French-American push to overthrow Gaddafi and essentially shove Gazprom out. I mean, I guess we're not saying one and one necessarily equals two, but it sure - it makes one think about it.'
'Yeah, it's not necessarily causation, but there's - you might suggest there's correlation. And clearly this shows the degree to which oil is kind of the back story to so much that happens. As a matter of fact, we went through 251,000 [leaked] documents - or we have 250,000 documents that we've been pouring through. Of those, a full 10 percent of them, a full 10 percent of those documents, reference in some way, shape, or form oil. And I think that tells you how much part of, you know, the global security question, stability, prosperity - you know, take your choice, oil is fundamental.' (Our emphasis)
Jay replied with a wry smile:
'And we'll do more of this. But those who had said it's not all about oil, they ain't reading WikiLeaks.'
Hall replied: 'It is all about oil.'
Fort Calhoun had a foot-deep pool next to the reactor for spent fuel rods. The pool was so full in 2009 that they were sealing the fuel rods up in dry casks and sticking them in an on-site ‘mausoleum’.
This, of course, is why there is a no-fly zone around the plant — someone might realize that wherever the fuel casks and underground fuel pools are, they are NOT inside the condom.
Hat tip and a bow to Arthur Hu for finding the dry-storage bunker, half-submerged OUTSIDE the condom. It’s the smaller brown building adjacent to the white tank.
No one really knows what their condition is – or even if the spent fuel is still on-site. No one in the major media is asking the question, and the operators aren’t saying.
So who made the dry storage cask containers at Fort Calhoun?
That would be Transnuclear, Inc.
And who owns Transnuclear? Areva.
And what else is Aveva doing?
Selling water purification tanks and systems to TEPCO for Fukushima.
What else does Areva do? Anything it wants, since it’s a giant multinational behemoth.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Today, the world we live in might be thought of as one big telegraph system composed of computer chips, telephone lines, fiber optics, cellphone towers, satellites, undersea cables and an electrical grid that supplies energy to the terrestrial parts of that system. An event as severe as the 1859 solar storm--called the Carrington Event after the respected British astronomer Richard Carrington who detected it as it developed--could cripple vast areas of the world, shutting down entire national grids not just for days, but possibly for months or years.
The simple fact is that most electrical systems and equipment including computers are not shielded to protect against such an event. One critical link, electrical transformers, would quickly be knocked out and would have to be replaced. Since few spare transformers are available, and it can take 12 months to build one, the world might have to wait years to fully recover--and that's assuming it would still be possible to produce new transformers which, after all, take electricity to manufacture. There is also the problem of what state modern civilization might be in if it faced months or years without electricity. Critical systems that pump and purify water and treat sewage, for example, would no longer function.
A fictional version of what all this might look like in our communities comes to us in a book by William Forstchen entitled One Second After. (For a brief nonfiction version of such an event, see this 2009 piece from New Scientist.) One Second After is set in the not-so-fictional town of Black Mountain, North Carolina where the author not-so-coincidently lives. It turns out to be a good choice of settings since Forstchen can give us an intimate portrait of a town and region he knows well while treating us to detailed but unobtrusive illustrations coming from his meticulous research into the effects of a total and prolonged blackout. To be clear, the cause of the blackout in the novel is the explosion of a nuclear weapon high above the Earth's surface over the continental United States, an explosion designed specifically to produce a crippling electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The effects of an EMP are in most ways similar to those that would result from another Carrington Event, and so the novel gives us a portrait of how such a disaster caused by either might unfold.
Perhaps the first thing a sensitive urbanite residing in the northern part of the United States will notice about One Second After is the number of guns produced by the novel's characters. But having lived in both the northern and southern parts of the United States, I can assure you that this would hardly raise an eyebrow south of the Mason-Dixon line where armory and home are very often one and the same. What is clear in the aftermath of the blackout is that order has broken down. Guns offer some protection and ultimately provide the force behind the small group of town leaders trying to guide Black Mountain through the worst disaster it will ever experience. The leaders succeed to a certain extent, but at a terrible cost as they are forced to put the mere survival of the community above all other values.
benzinga | Gary Samore, a top Obama administration national security official, warned of new sanctions if North Korea conducted a third round of nuclear tests on Monday, as reports surfaced that North Korea has miniaturized its nuclear warheads so they can be delivered by ballistic missile.
North Korea's last round of tests, conducted in May 2009, appear to have included a “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting enough gamma rays to disable the electric power grid across most of the lower 48 states, says Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a former CIA nuclear weapons analyst and president of EMPact America, a citizens lobbying group.
Samore, who handles arms control and non-proliferation issues, warned that “additional strong sanctions will be imposed on the North with the support of Russia and China.”
North Korea's nuclear tests have been dismissed as failures by some analysts because of their low explosive yield. But Dr. Pry believes they bore the “signature” of the Russian-designed “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting more gamma radiation than a 25-megaton nuclear weapon.
Pry believes the U.S. intelligence community was expecting North Korea to test a first generation implosion device with an explosive yield of 10 to 20 kilotons, similar to the bomb the U.S. exploded over Nagasaki in 1945. He said, “So when they saw one that put off just three kilotons, they said it failed. That is so implausible.”
The technology for producing a first generation implosion weapon has been around since 1945, and is thoroughly described in open source literature.
South Korean defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin, told his country's parliament on Monday that North Korea had succeeded in miniaturizing its nuclear weapons design, allowing them to place a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.
His analysis coincided with Congressional testimony in March by Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who stated that North Korea “may now have several plutonium-based warheads that it can deliver by ballistic missiles.”
The Soviet Union conducted an atmospheric test of an EMP weapon in 1962 over Kazakhstan whose pulse wave set on fire a power station 300 kilometers away and destroyed it within 10 seconds.
Such a weapon — equal to a massive solar flare such as the “solar maxima” predicted by NASA to occur in 2012 — poses “substantial risk to equipment and operation of the nation's power grid and under extreme conditions could result in major long term electrical outages,” said Joseph McClelland of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Senate testimony last month.
Pry said that a group of Russian nuclear weapons scientists approached him in 2004 when he served as staff director of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, to warn the United States that the technology to make that weapon “had leaked” to North Korea, and possibly to Iran.
“They told us that Russian scientists had gone to North Korea to work on building the super-EMP weapon,” Pry told Newsmax. “The North Koreans appear to have tested it in 2006 and again in 2009.”
North Korea's main partner in its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs is Iran. Dr. William Graham, chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, warned Congress three years ago that Iran had conducted missile launches in an EMP mode, detonating them high in the atmosphere.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
AmericanThinker | The Missouri River basin encompasses a vast region in the central and west-central portion of our country. This river, our nation's longest, collects the melt from Rocky Mountain snowpack and the runoff from our continents' upper plains before joining the Mississippi river above St. Louis some 2,300 miles later. It is a mighty river, and dangerous.
Some sixty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began the process of taming the Missouri by constructing a series of six dams. The idea was simple: massive dams at the top moderating flow to the smaller dams below, generating electricity while providing desperately needed control of the river's devastating floods.
The stable flow of water allowed for the construction of the concrete and earthen levees that protect more than 10 million people who reside and work within the river's reach. It allowed millions of acres of floodplain to become useful for farming and development. In fact, these uses were encouraged by our government, which took credit for the resulting economic boom. By nearly all measures, the project was a great success.
But after about thirty years of operation, as the environmentalist movement gained strength throughout the seventies and eighties, the Corps received a great deal of pressure to include some specific environmental concerns into their MWCM (Master Water Control Manual, the "bible" for the operation of the dam system). Preservation of habitat for at-risk bird and fish populations soon became a hot issue among the burgeoning environmental lobby. The pressure to satisfy the demands of these groups grew exponentially as politicians eagerly traded their common sense for "green" political support.
The raid happened at 1:15 a.m. at a hosting facility in Reston, Va., used by DigitalOne, which is based in Switzerland, the company said. The F.B.I. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the raid.
In an e-mail to one of its clients on Tuesday afternoon, DigitalOne’s chief executive, Sergej Ostroumow, said: “This problem is caused by the F.B.I., not our company. In the night F.B.I. has taken 3 enclosures with equipment plugged into them, possibly including your server — we cannot check it.”
Mr. Ostroumow said that the F.B.I. was only interested in one of the company’s clients but had taken servers used by “tens of clients.”
He wrote: “After F.B.I.’s unprofessional ‘work’ we can not restart our own servers, that’s why our Web site is offline and support doesn’t work.” The company’s staff had been working to solve the problem for the previous 15 hours, he said.
Mr. Ostroumow said in response to e-mailed questions that it was not clear if the issues would be resolved by Wednesday.
A government official who declined to be named said earlier in the day that the F.B.I. was actively investigating the Lulz Security group and any affiliated hackers. The official said the F.B.I. had teamed up with other agencies in this effort, including the Central Intelligence Agency and cybercrime bureaus in Europe.
Mr. Ostroumow declined to name the company targeted by the F.B.I. and said that he did not know why it had drawn their interest. It was also unclear why the agents took more servers with them than they sought, he said.