Sunday, February 07, 2016

PNN - Feb 7th 2016 - The DOME SHOW

PNN - 2/7/16

1. HSBC fights to stop money-laundering report going public

HSBC is trying to prevent publication of a report on how it complies with money-laundering rules imposed on it by the US authorities in 2012, when it was fined a record $1.9bn (£1.32bn).

The bank is arguing in US courts that it could be left vulnerable to money laundering if the report is published.

Under the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement with US authorities, made when it was fined for aiding money laundering by Mexican drug cartels, HSBC must be subjected to regular audits about its internal capacity to seek out potentially suspect activity by customers.

A private individual, Hubert Dean Moore, who used to have a mortgage with HSBC, is suing to have the monitor’s first annual report unsealed by the court. He is being resisted not only by the bank but also by the US Department of Justice.

In letters to Judge John Gleeson filed in the eastern district court of New York, both HSBC and the DoJ have argued that the monitor’s report should not be made public.

HSBC told the judge that Moore had not identified a public interest case for publishing the report that would outweigh the negative consequences.

The bank referred to arguments made in June when the DoJ set out reasons not to make the 1,000-page report public.

Citing that submission, which was backed by regulators in four different countries, HSBC said publishing the monitor’s report would “undermine the very purpose of the monitoring by compromising the ability of the monitor and the government to assess HSBC’s progress in improving its anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance programme”.

Publication would “negatively affect the ability of HSBC’s financial regulators to fully discharge their supervisory responsibilities over HSBC”, and would “provide criminals seeking to engage in activities such as money laundering or terrorist financing a road map for exploiting current weakness in the anti-money laundering and sanctions programme at HSBC and potentially other financial institutions”.

 HSBC, too big to jail, is the new poster child for US two-tiered justice system

- Glenn Greenwald


According to documents filed with the court, Moore had a mortgage with HSBC Mortgage Services, which has since been sold to another firm.

The monitor covers more than 60 global affiliates. In its court filing, HSBC said that the deferred prosecution agreement it originally signed had stipulated that the monitor’s report would remain private.


2.UN Set to Announce Decision on Assange's Release on Friday - WikiLeaks
Assange submitted a complaint against Sweden and the United Kingdom to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in September 2014.

The WikiLeaks founder has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over three years, after being granted asylum by the South American country.

He remains holed up in the embassy to avoid possible extradition to Sweden, where he faces an allegation of rape.

Assange was previously accused of sexual assault and unlawful coercion in Sweden. However, in August 2015, Swedish prosecutors dropped the two allegations, as the five-year statute of limitations had expired. The more serious rape allegation expires only after 10 years, meaning it would be dropped in 2020.

From Sweden, the WikiLeaks founder fears he would be extradited to the US for publishing classified US military and diplomat documents in 2010 – a move which amounted to the largest information leak in United States history.

Following the leak, the US launched a criminal case with the intention of prosecuting Assange.
Founded in 2006, WikiLeaks has been at the forefront of publishing information which shed light on various government abuses and overreach, including documents about the US military conduct in Iraq and Afghanistan, portions of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, and documents the CIA director kept on his personal email account.


3, Scientists Successfully Decode Thoughts, Reading Individuals’ Minds in Real-Time

IN BRIEF
Using electrodes implanted in epilepsy patients, scientists have decoded brain signals at nearly the speed of perception with better than 95 percent accuracy.

GETTING INSIDE YOUR HEAD

Mind-reading is often dismissed as nothing more than a charlatan trick, but scientists and researchers are trying to change this ‘decoding of the brain’ from quack-science to hard science.

Indeed, significant advancements have been made in this area already. And now, University of Washington scientists have developed technology that allows a device to effectively read your mind.
With a combination of brain implants and sophisticated software, the team was able to interpret their subjects’ thoughts and extrapolate what their subjects were seeing. Thanks to this study, 

scientists were able to gain insight into how people are able to translate sensory information from an image into something our minds can comprehend.

In their work, which was published in PLOS Computational Biology, the researchers implanted electrodes for a week in seven epilepsy patients. The electrodes were initially implanted to determine where the seizures were originating, but the scientists saw an opportunity to use them to gather data for research (with patients’ permission, of course).

“We were trying to understand, first, how the human brain perceives objects in the temporal lobe, and second, how one could use a computer to extract and predict what someone is seeing in real time?” explained Rajesh Rao, one of the lead authors, in their press release.

With electrodes in their brains, patients were shown a random sequence of images varying from human faces, houses, and empty gray screens in brief 400 millisecond intervals. The patients were instructed to look out for an image of an upside-down house.

Data was gathered during this time period from the electrodes. This data reflected what is called “event related potentials,” the massive inflow of neurons lighting up after seeing the image, and “broadband spectral changes,” lingering signals after the image was seen.

A computer sampled and digitized the incoming data at a rate of 1,000 times per second, which enabled it to figure out the correlation between the images seen by the patients and the electrode location. Using this data, it was able to distinguish which location is more sensitive to an image of a face and that of a house. This data was used to train the software.

Another set of images, both containing houses and faces, that weren’t shown in the earlier sequences was then shown to the patients. The computer was able to interpret the incoming brain signals in the data and determine what image the subject was then viewing with a 96 percent accuracy—despite a lack of prior exposure to these new picture.

It accomplished all that within 20 milliseconds from the arrival of the data, or almost at the speed of perception itself.  What is more interesting is that the software was only able to accomplish this when it analyzed the signals using both event-related potentials and broadband spectral changes, suggesting that impulses across the region (and not only from the neurons in question) is important to how a person perceives an object.

This research is significant, as scientists are currently trying to map our brains. In the end, brain mapping could identify how various neurons, and their locations, relate to how we process our information and ultimately improve our understanding of how neurological diseases affect us.


4. Deniability they don’t need any stinking deniability

Republicans have forced Hillary Clinton release all the emails from her time as Secretary of State in the hopes that somewhere in amongst them might be something they could turn into a scandal and derail her campaign for President. That never materialized, as her emails have been mundane. But it turns out she inherited emails from her predecessor Colin Powell. And that email trail reveals that George W. Bush committed treason.

The secret emails in question date back to 2002. Colin Powell and George W. Bush are shown to have been conspiring to work with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to mislead the American public into believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, as a pretense for tricking the nation into supporting an invasion of Iraq. It’s been long established that there never were any such weapons in Iraq, but to some extent the Bush administration had the deniability of claiming that it had made an error. However this email trail suggests that Bush, Powell and Blair spent an entire year laying the groundwork for deceiving the public. Lying to congress in order to get it to approve a war is considered treason.

Whether or not the email trail is solid enough evidence to get anyone convicted of a crime, it’s certainly enough to lead Americans to conclude that the Iraq war was even more of a sham than previously believed. This email exchange might never have surfaced if not for the fact that the republican party forced Hillary Clinton to turn over everything she had. So while the republicans have failed to do any serious damage to Clinton’s chances, they may have just made it that much harder for any 2016 republican candidate to explain away their party’s culpability in Iraq.


5. Lloyd Blankfein, Chief Executive Cephalopod of Goldman Sachs, issued a warning about the Bernie Sanders campaign this week.
"This has the potential to be a dangerous moment," he said on CNBC's Squawk Box.
The Lloyd was peeved that Sanders, whom he's never met, singled him out in a debate last week. "Another kid from Brooklyn, how about that," he lamented.
He ranted about how frightening it is that a candidate like Sanders, who seems to have no interest in "compromising" with Wall Street, could become so popular.
"Could you imagine," he asked, "if the Jeffersons and Hamiltons came in with a total pledge and commitment to never compromise with the other side?"
The slobbering Squawk Box hosts went on to propose firing all the academics in the country, because clearly it is their fault that so many young people are willing to support a socialist.

"I'm ready," said co-host Joe Kernen, "to send my daughter to Brigham Young or Liberty or something."

Then Kernen, Becky Quick and Blankfein all made jokes about how socialism doesn't work and how all those Berniebots should take a trip to Cuba.
"The best real-time experiment is, I went to Cuba," said Lloyd.
"I haven't been," Kernen said proudly.

"You should go," said Lloyd. "You go there, stop in Miami and you just see the Cuban community and how much wealth they've generated. 
Of course the politics of Sanders is closer to what you'd find in Sweden or Denmark than Cuba, but they were rolling by then. Lloyd added that the current popular discontent with Wall Street was just something that happens randomly, like the weather. "There's a pendulum that happens in markets and it happens in political economy as well," he said.  He added that he didn't want to pick a candidate because "I don't want to help or hurt anybody by giving an endorsement."

For people who so very pleased with themselves for ostensibly being so much smarter than everyone else, people like Blankfein are oddly uncreative when it comes to deflecting criticism.

The people who don't like them are always overemotional communists. All those young people who are flocking to the Sanders campaign? Dupes, misled by dumb professors who've never been to Cuba.

And their anger toward Wall Street? Causeless and random, just a bunch of folks riding an emotional pendulum that brainlessly swings back and forth. Don't take it personally, people are just moody that way.

Bill Clinton apparently agrees. A story about the former president's thoughts on the subject appeared in Stress Test, the vile battle memoir of the financial crisis penned by infamous Wall Street toady and former treasury secretary Tim Geithner. 

In the book, Timmy goes on at length about how sad it made him that the public was so upset about the bailouts and other policies he engineered to make the Blankfeins of the world whole again. Looking for a way to not feel so hated, he went to Clinton to "discuss the politics of populism with the master practitioner." 

It's an important detail. Geithner's instinct for figuring out how to deal with ordinary people was not to go talk to any, but instead to talk to someone who'd had success marketing himself to them.

This squares with accounts I heard after 2008, about the Treasury Department in the Geithner years. In one story I remember, it took a presentation from a major retail company about expected lower holiday spending levels to enlighten Geithner's staff as to the level of economic pain in the population. Until they saw the graphs from executives, they had no clue.
Anyway, according to his book, Geithner got good advice from Clinton. The former president advised him to press for tax hikes on the rich, but to "make sure I didn't look like I was happy about it." Then Clinton added that Timmy shouldn't take the public-anger thing too hard: "You could take Lloyd Blankfein in an alley and slit his throat, and it would satisfy them for about two days," Clinton said. "Then the blood lust would rise again."
Ordinary people aren't just overemotional and dumb, they're also zombies! They don't have grievances, just blood lusts.

The attitude shared by Lloyd and Geithner and Bill Clinton is that the mindless quality of public discontent means that there's no point in worrying about it, or negotiating with it. This is funny because Blankfein is the one complaining that people like Sanders and his followers don't want to compromise with him.
Lloyd apparently thinks politicians should naturally reside in a state of more or less constant accommodation with Wall Street. Thomas Jefferson would have compromised with us, he says!

One can assume that his model of a "compromising" politician is Hillary Clinton, who took $675,000 to give three speeches to his company. "Look, I make speeches to lots of groups," Hillary explained. "I told them what I thought."
Asked by Anderson Cooper if she needed to take $675,000 to tell Goldman what she "thought," Hillary shrugged. "I don't know," she said. "That's what they were offering."

Even more significant than the $675,000 Hillary took from Goldman, or the $30 million in speaking income she and her husband received combined in the last 16 months, is the account of what Hillary apparently told Goldman she "thought" during those speeches.

According to Politico, who spoke to several attendees, Hillary used the opportunity to tell the bankers in attendance that the "banker-bashing so popular within both parties was unproductive and indeed foolish."
She added that the proper attitude should be, "We all got into this mess together, and we're all going to have to work together to get out of it."
This squares with Geithner's account of what Bill Clinton said. The former president told Geithner that slitting Lloyd's throat would only satisfy "them" for about two days. Them was all those pissed-off regular people, and the we or us were politicians like himself and Geithner.
In her speech, Hillary's we included the executives in her audience. Her message was basically that It Takes a Village to create a financial crisis. This was the Robin Williams breakthrough scene in Good Will Hunting, with Hillary putting a hand on the Goldmanites' shoulders, telling them, "It's not your fault. It's not your fault." 
But it was their fault. The crash was caused by a tiny handful of people who spent years hogging fortunes through a bluntly criminal scheme in the home lending markets. The FBI warned back in 2004 of an "epidemic" of mortgage fraud that could have an "impact as big as the S&L crisis," but those warnings were ignored.

What the FBI was talking about back then mainly had to do with smaller local lending operations that were systematically creating risky home loans, falsifying credit applications to get unworthy borrowers into mortgages they couldn't afford.

What they didn't understand back then is that the impetus for that criminal activity was the willingness of massive banking institutions on Wall Street to buy up those bad loans in bulk. They created a market for those fraudulent loans, bought billions' worth of them from local lenders, and then chopped up and resold those bad loans to pension funds, unions and other suckers.
The "village" didn't do this. Lloyd Blankfein and his buddies did this. (Goldman just a few weeks ago reached a deal to pay a $5.1 billion settlement to cover its history of selling bad loans to unsuspecting investors, joining Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase and others).

People aren't pissed just to be pissed. They're mad because a tiny group of crooks on Wall Street built themselves beach houses in the Hamptons through a crude fraud scheme that decimated their retirement funds, caused property values in their neighborhoods to collapse and caused over four million people to be put in foreclosure.

And they're particularly mad that they got asked to pay for this criminal irresponsibility with bailouts funded with their tax dollars.
What the Clintons have done by turning their political careers into a vast moneymaking enterprise, it's not a value-neutral activity. The money isn't just about buying influence. The money also physically moves people, from one side of an imaginary line to another.
You will never catch Bernie Sanders standing in a room as a paid guest of a bank under investigation for ripping billions off pensioners and investors, addressing the audience in the first-person plural. He doesn't spend enough time with that kind of crowd to be so colloquial.

The Clintons meanwhile have by now taken so much money that when they stand in a room full of millionaires and billionaires, they can use the word "we" and not have it sound odd. The money has irrevocably moved them to that side of the ropeline. On that side of the line, public anger isn't legitimate, but something to be managed and waited out, just as Lloyd suggests.
When people like Blankfein tell us they don't take criticism personally, what they're saying is that it's too brainless and irrational to be taken any other way. He means to be insulting. And we should all take it that way.

6. Sueing the Victim
A white Chicago police officer who fatally shot a black 19-year-old college student and accidentally killed a neighbor has filed a lawsuit against the teenager's estate, arguing the shooting left him traumatized.
The highly unusual suit was filed Friday in the middle of the city's effort to grapple with serious questions about the future of its police force. Those questions include the adequacy of its system for investigating police shootings and how to win back public trust after several cases of alleged misconduct. The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a wide-ranging civil rights investigation, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised a major overhaul of the Police Department and steps to heal its fraught relationship with black residents.

The timing and unusual nature of the suit by officer Robert Rialmo, who is seeking $10 million in damages, could complicate the department's efforts to demonstrate more sensitivity toward the community in how police shootings are handled. His attorney, Joel Brodsky, said it was important in the charged atmosphere to send a message that police are "not targets for assaults" and "suffer damage like anybody else."

The teen's father, Antonio LeGrier, filed a wrongful death lawsuit days after the Dec. 26 shooting, saying his son, Quintonio, was not armed with a weapon and was not a threat. His attorney, Basileios Foutris, was incredulous at what he called the officer's "temerity" in suing the grieving family of the person he shot.

"That's a new low even for the Chicago Police Department," he said. "First you shoot them, then you sue them."

The lawsuit provides the officer's first public account of how he says the shooting happened, offering details that differ with the family's version. It says Rialmo, who was responding to a domestic disturbance call with another officer, opened fire after Quintonio LeGrier swung a bat at the officer's head at close range. A downstairs neighbor, 55-year-old Bettie Jones, was standing nearby and was shot and killed by accident. She was not part of the domestic dispute.

"The fact that LeGrier's actions had forced Officer Rialmo to end LeGrier's life and to accidentally take the innocent life of Bettie Jones has caused, and will continue to cause, Officer Rialmo to suffer extreme emotional trauma," the filing says.

When arriving at the scene around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 26, Rialmo rang the doorbell of the two-story apartment building. Jones answered and directed them to the upstairs apartment. As Rialmo stepped through the doorway, he heard someone "charging down the stairway," the suit says.

It describes the teen coming down the stairs with a baseball bat in hand and says LeGrier "cocked" the bat "and took a full swing at Officer Rialmo's head, missing it by inches" when the two were around 4 feet apart.

The officer then backed away with his weapon still holstered, according to the suit, while repeatedly shouting at LeGrier to drop the bat.

But the suit says LeGrier kept advancing and swung the bat again. Only when LeGrier cocked the bat again from 3 or 4 feet away, did the officer pull out his 9 mm handgun and open fire, the filing says.

As he began firing, Rialmo did not see or hear Jones behind LeGrier, the suit says. It says one of the bullets went through LeGrier's body and struck Jones, killing her.

An autopsy determined that LeGrier suffered six bullet wounds.
Lawyers for Antonio LeGrier and for Jones have provided accounts that differ from Rialmo's. They say the evidence indicates the officer was 20 or 30 feet away when he fired, calling into question Rialmo's contention that he feared for his life.

Foutris also questions why the teen would attack the officer since he was the one who called 911. The father of the Northern Illinois University student also made a 911 call.

"If you're calling multiple times for help are you going to charge a police officer and try to hit him with a bat? That's ridiculous," Foutris said.

County prosecutors have asked the FBI to investigate the shooting.
A Police Department spokesman refused to comment on the officer's lawsuit.
Such a lawsuit by an officer is extraordinarily unusual, said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney who is not connected to the case.

He questioned whether a judge would give it any merit and said it appeared intended to intimidate LeGrier's family. He said he had never heard of an officer blaming his shooting victim for causing trauma.
"That is a known part of the job," Turner said of policing's emotional toll.

7. Indian Point Nuclear Plant
CNN, Feb 6, 2016 (emphasis added): A leak at the Indian Point nuclear facility in New York has sent contaminant into the area groundwater, causing radioactivity levels 65,000% higher than normal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday… The groundwater beneath the nuclear plant… flows into the Hudson River at a point about 25 miles north of New York City… [T]heNRC plans to send an expert in health physics and radiation protection to the site
NY Daily News, Feb 6, 2016: Gov. Cuomo said the plant’s operator, Entergy, reported “alarming levels” of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivityincreasing nearly 65,000%… Other state officials also blasted the controversial nuclear facility’s most recent mishap. Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) said she wasconcerned not only for the surrounding community but also for the “impact this radioactive water may have on public health and our environment,” Jaffee added.

News 12 transcript, Feb 6, 2016: “Tonight on News 12 — a radioactive leak at Indian Pointsparking a full investigation by the State over concerns of contamination… Officials discover alarming levels of radioactivity at several monitoring wells… with one’s radioactivity increasing by nearly 65,000%… Officials say… there is no immediate threat to the public.”
AP, Feb 6, 2016: It was unclear how much water spilled, but samples showed the water had a radioactivity level of more than 8 million picocuries per liter… The levels are the highest regulators have seen at Indian Point… Contaminated groundwater would likely slowly make its way to the Hudson River, [an NRC spokesman] said… Tritium [is] a radioactive form of hydrogen that poses the greatest risk of causing cancer when it ends up in drinking water.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Feb 6, 2016: “Yesterday I learned that radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked… The company reported alarming levels of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000 percent.”

8. Fukushima - Unstoppable

Associated Press, Dec 15, 2015 (emphasis added): Fukushima decommission chief [Naohiro Masuda] warns with surprising candor: Nothing can be promised… not even robots have been able to enter the main fuel-debris areas so far… “This is something that has never been experienced. A textbook doesn’t exist for something like this,” Masuda told The Associated Press… “Before, it was a war zone,” Masuda said quietly… [E]ven the most optimistic projections estimate the work will take about half a century. Masuda said without hesitation thatmore delays could be in order. No one knows exactly where the melted nuclear debris is sitting in the reactors, let alone how exactly the debris might be taken out… New science will have to be invented for the plant to be cleaned up… The March 2011 catastrophe is unprecedented[T]he containment, where the morass of fuel lies, has been breached… And as devastating as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was in what is now Ukraine, that involved one reactor, not three. When asked about what he wanted to tell the people worried about contaminated fish, such as on the West Coast of North and South America, Masuda said the radiation leak into the Pacific Ocean has been reduced to a level one-millionth of what it was in 2011… “They don’t need to worry, and, if there is anything to worry about, we will be out with that information,” he said… Masuda also acknowledged that Japan has not done as good a job as it should have on relaying the harsh realities at the plant.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


PNN - Progressive Activists address progress made so far in 2016
News Director Rick Spisak and Associate Producer Brook Hines bring the voices of Activists to thirsty ears;

Our political commentator Brook Hines with be producing a segment here at PNN and bringing us the Racial Justice Committee of Organize Now, they will be discussing their “decriminalization campaign” in Orange County, the Black Lives Matter movement, and how YOU can get involved right now in your community [ www.orgnow.org ] 

We will be joined by Kofi Hunt long time progressive activist who will bring his perspective on the issues of 2016.

Adam Weissman one of the Spokespersons of “TradeJustice New York Metro and Global Justice for Animals and the Environment” will address the ongoing TPP negotiations now as we stand on the dangerous shore of FAST TRACK.

We will also be joined by Dr. Alina Valdez who will address her run for office.

As always we will bring you news stories that are too often missing from any other media. -  TUNE IN LIVE SUNDAYS 7pm (eastern)
or LISTEN - Anytime

LISTEN

PNN -1-31-16 - NEWS STORIES

1. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren issued a stinging broadside against federal prosecutors on Friday, charging U.S. courts with throwing the book at mixed-up teenagers, while letting wealthy corporate executives who commit much larger and sometimes deadly crimes off with essentially no chance of punishment.
In a new report, Sen. Warren’s office makes the case that CEOs and other top executives simply don’t face the same legal consequences as ordinary Americans, releasing a list of what it claims are 20 examples of corporate criminal and civil cases that prosecutors failed to pursue to the full extent of the law last year.
Among the cases: scandals ranging from General Motors’ years’ long cover up of ignition switch problems to currency manipulation by large banks (including Citigroup and J.P. Morgan), to a mine explosion that killed 29 people — the only instance of misconduct which led to a conviction of a corporate executive, according to Warren.
The problem, the senator argues, isn’t the way U.S. laws are written. Rather it’s that, despite repeated promises, the Obama Administration hasn’t made prosecuting corporate bigwigs a priority. She goes so far as to make the case that such selective application of the law undermines the government’s moral authority: “If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie,” Warren charges in the report.
As a moralist, Warren may well have point. But, as politicians tend to do, she is also over-simplifying. Many prosecutors would love nothing more than to cuff a dishonest Wall Street trader or arrogant CEO, for the same reasons as Warren or even simply to burnish their resumes. For proof, just look at the career of former New York governor Elliot Spitzer, who rose to prominence due to his tough-on-finance record, or for that matter, the plot of Showtime’s new drama ‘Billions.’
But white collar prosecutions are notoriously expensive and risky. After all, fat-cat CEOs often come flanked with expensive lawyers and their cases often hinge on mind-numbingly arcane legal principles.
Even the most vigorous prosecutors can fall victims to such difficulties. Starting in 2009, Manhattan U.S. attorney Preet Bharara racked up a string of insider trading convictions against Wall Street executives, at one point winning 85 straight cases. But even Bharara’s run of victories eventually stopped short of what many considered to be their ultimate target, hedge fund magnate Steven A. Cohen. What is more, a number of Bharara’s most significant convictions were eventually overturned when a Federal appeals court unexpectedly re-interpreted the contours of insider trading law, setting defendants free.
It’s not just a problem in the U.S. In fact, earlier this week, U.K. prosecutors, after winning an initial conviction in their quest to prosecute bankers accused of fixing LIBOR — a key benchmark central to financial markets — failed to secure any further wins. While prosecutors had seemed confident in their case, the jury took just two days acquit all six additional defendants. The acquittal led to questions about whether the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office — which had handled the prosecutions — will survive the humiliation.
All this isn’t to say corporate malfeasance isn’t indeed going unpunished, or that Warren is wrong to use her bully pulpit to call attention to it. But the situation won’t be easy to fix.




2. Another Whistle Blower faces Retribution
The Washington DC bar announced recently that it would lodge ethics charges against Thomas Tamm, a Justice Department attorney who blew the whistle against the National Security Agency's illegal warrantless wiretapping program. This is despite the fact that the Justice Department ruled in 2010 that Tamm had not committed a crime.
Tamm came to the Department's attention in 2008 when he revealed that he had been one of the sources for a 2004 New York Times article on the wiretapping program, which President George W. Bush had begun in 2001. Tamm had learned that information gathered from the warrantless wiretaps was making its way into applications that the Justice Department was filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court asking to conduct legal wiretaps. Fruit from the forbidden tree.
Tamm, believing correctly that his superiors were in on the program, elected to go to the press, rather than up the chain of command. This act was prescient. The Times later revealed that Attorney General John Ashcroft had approved of the program from the start.
Tamm has moved on with his life and is now a public defender in Maryland. He faces disbarment if found guilty.
But this whole situation isn't just about Thomas Tamm. It's about all national security whistleblowers. Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower, learned in 2006 that the NSA was conducting dragnet electronic surveillance on American citizens. He did go through the chain of command.
First, he reported the illegality to his superiors. He was told to mind his own business. Then he went to the NSA Inspector General. Again he was told to back off. He went to the NSA General Counsel and was told to drop it. He went to the Pentagon Inspector General, which then illegally destroyed evidencethat Drake had presented. There is now a criminal case pending against employees there. Drake finally went to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, NSA's oversight committee, and reported the illegal surveillance.
His reward? Drake was charged with 10 felonies, including five counts of espionage. The case against him finally collapsed, but not after he lost his job, his pension, his friends, and even his family.
But that's the plan. Even if there's no real legal case against the whistleblower, the Justice Department and other bodies, like bar associations, just keep filing charges to make the whistleblower defend himself, knowing full well that at the same time, the whistleblower is going broke and is being abandoned by his friends and colleagues.
Jesselyn Radack went through the same thing. Radack, a former ethics attorney at the Justice Department, complained up her chain of command that John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban," had been interrogated without having been read his rights and without having had access to an attorney. The information gathered in the interrogation was later used to prosecute him.
After Radack complained up her chain of command, the Lindh file was mysteriously purged. One of Radack's supervisors told her to walk away. Instead, she went to the media. Within months, she was fired from her job at Justice, and then fired from her next job with a private law firm after Justice officials told her new employers that she was likely to be indicted. (She wasn't.) She was placed on the "no-fly list," presumably as a terrorist sympathizer, and ethics charges were filed against her with the DC bar association. That was 14 years ago. Those charges are still pending. And she's still detained and harassed every time she goes through an airport.
Again, the Justice Department never seriously considered charging Radack with a crime. The goal was to ruin her. But they failed. She is now a celebrated whistleblower defense attorney.
NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney, Kirk Weibe, and Ed Loomis; State Department whistleblower Peter van Buren; NSA and CIA contractor Ed Snowden; and I all have similar stories.
The DC bar should be demanding that the Justice Department protect national security whistleblowers, not harass, indict, and prosecute them. It should then work to protect those whistleblowers. If the Justice Department took whistleblower disclosures seriously and investigated accusations of official waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality, there wouldn't need to be leaks to the press. A good start would be for the DC bar to stop being the Justice Department's lap dog.




3. GOV. Snyder, the poisoner of Michigan releases REDACTED EMAILS 
telling us everything we need to know. - EMAIL REVEAL - HIDDEN TRUTH

4. Florida People’s Relay-March for Bernie. 
This one corresponds with the map that Sean put together which, if it is not posted on line already, should be soon. But from this schedule anyone can find where to join the Relay-March at what points along the route and when. 
What we will need to do is assign someone to each 5-mile segment along the route to pass the banner from one person to the next, and then anyone else is welcome to join the march along any point—the more the merrier. For the sign-ups for each 5-mile segment, please email Sean at the cc address listed above.

We will also be revising the events page at the main Bernie for President site to list the march at every zipcode along the route, because right now all events are listed by zipcode only, and it is only posted now under mine, which is 33487 so it is extremely hard to find. Hopefully, that will bring people out of the woodwork for the march. In fact, we could use a volunteer to take care of that posting for us, if anyone would like to volunteer for that task. If so please contact me ASAP.

5. USDA CENSORS SCIENCE
The USDA is supposed to protect our food system, not Big Ag’s profits. But instead, it’s working hard to suppress research that could hurt pesticide giants like Bayer and Syngenta.
Here’s what’s happening: Dr. Jonathan Lundgren, a senior scientist at the USDA, produced research that questioned the safety of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. But the USDA is trying to bury those findings. At Friends of the Earth, we’re working to shine a light on Big Ag’s dealings with the USDA. We’re calling out the USDA on suppressing science and demanding that it stop harassing scientists. But we need your help!




6. Penta-gone… gone… gone… invests in overseas infrastructure
The Washington Post reported this week that "There is a broad recognition in the Pentagon that building an effective Afghan army and police force will take a generation's commitment, including billions of dollars a year in outside funding and constant support from thousands of foreign advisers on the ground." ("The U.S. was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades" by Greg Jaffe and Missy Ryan, January 26).

Defense institution building (DIB) is intended to "increase a partner nation's ability to organize, administer, and oversee its defense institutions to meet its security needs and contribute to regional and international security more effectively," the directive said. It will "enable recipients to conduct or support unilateral, combined, or coalition operations that advance U.S. national security interests."

7. FLORIDA LEGISLATURE PRO-FRACKING AND BEYOND
SO PROFRACKING they won’t let any Florida community second guess them
After rejecting efforts to require the oil and gas industry to disclose carcinogens and monitor the effects of fracking on pregnant women and drinking water, the Florida House on Wednesday passed a bill to open the door to the high-pressure drilling technique.

The measure, HB 191, allows the state to regulate and authorize the pumping of large volumes of water, sand and chemicals into the ground using high pressure to recover oil and gas deposits. It passed by a 73-45 vote with seven Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the measure.

 This April 6, 1999 photo shows an oil pump at Pad 2 in the Raccoon Point Oil Field in Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades.
This April 6, 1999 photo shows an oil pump at Pad 2 in the Raccoon Point Oil Field in Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades. Tim Chapman Herald file photo
The bill bans the practice until state environmental regulators complete a study in 2017 to determine what potential impact the operations will have on the state’s geology and fragile water supply but also prohibits local governments from imposing their own bans or regulations.

The study will then be used to inform regulations by Department of Environmental Protection and the proposed rules must come back for legislative approval.

“I recognize that this bill is in the center of the storm of controversy,” said Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, who has sponsored the bill for the last four years.

He said that he has heard three arguments during that time: that this activity can’t be done safely and it threatens human life, that it is not compatible with the state’s environment and that technology does not exist to allow it to be done without poisoning the state’s water.

But, he said, the state has seen similar controversies — such as whether to allow for alternate current electricity into homes, which was banned in some states, whether to allow for automobiles on the state’s roads, and whether to allow submerged lands to help launch astronauts to put man on the moon.

“The controversies have always been the same,” he said. “Are we going to react with fear ... or with courage?”

Legislators rejected more than 20 amendments offered by Democrats that would have imposed hurdles to the activity sought by the oil and gas industry.

The amendments, by Reps. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach; Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami; Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey; Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, and Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, would have allowed local governments to regulate the activity, impose testing of water quality and water wells, study the effects of the fracking chemicals on human health, and require local voter approval before fracking activities begin.

Proponents of the bill said they won the support of the Florida Association of Counties and the League of Cities with a provision that postpones the prohibition on fracking bans until a study on the impact of the state’s geology is completed in 2017. But the bill is also vigorously opposed by environmental groups and 41 cities and 27 counties — including Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

One amendment by Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, to study the impact of the fracking chemicals on pregnant mothers, unborn babies and other human health, won the support of at least one Republican, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.

“If fracking hurts unborn babies and if it is proven that fracking hurts unborn babies then should we let fracking continue?” Gaetz said.

But Rodrigues said the amendment wasn’t needed because the study will look at the impact on people’s health.

Jenne cited a study from the University of Missouri near a fracking site in Colorado, which found endocrine disruptors in the water. Another study by Princeton, Columbia and MIT found that proximity to a fracking site in Pennsylvania increased the likelihood of low birth weight babies by more than half — from about 5.6 percent to more than 9 percent.

“These aren’t some whacked out environmental groups,” he said. The amendment failed 69-45.

Another amendment required the disclosure of any chemical, such as benzene, used in the fracking operation that is considered a carcinogen.

Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, noted that fracking is already allowed in Florida and this would stop the practice until regulations are in place.

“This good bill recognizes the emergence of a new technology in energy independence,” he said. “We owe it to our constituents to explore where this new technology can be done in Florida and whether it can be done in Florida.”

Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, a physician, said he got involved in the issue because it’s a “data-intense subject filled with emotion” and he has read many of the articles mentioned in the debate.

“My carefully considered conclusion is that there is not a conclusion,” he said. “Wishing for a zero-risk process, with some absolute safety, is not possible.”

Dudley warned that unlike oil wells, fracking wells are “sucked dry after three years,” forcing the industry to seek more wells. “Florida will become more porous than Swiss cheese — which is how I would characterize these regulations,” he said.

The vote marks the third year the House has approved the controversial bill. In the past, the Senate has not taken a floor vote, but this year, SB 318 by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, is moving more swiftly in the Senate.

According to an analysis by the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau, the oil and gas industry contributed at least $443,000 to the political committees of top Republican lawmakers since the last election.

The top contributor, the Barron Collier Companies, which wants a permit to use hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and gas in Naples, steered $178,000 to lawmakers since December 2014, including $115,000 since July. Other members of the petroleum industry have contributed $265,000 this election cycle. 

On Tuesday, the Broward County Commission voted to became the 27th county to vote to ban fracking activities within the county. Kanter Realty has applied to drill an exploratory oil well in the Everglades, just west of Miramar, and the application is under review by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  

On Monday, the House Democrats invited a landowner and former fracking industry worker from Pennsylvania to talk about their state’s experience with fracking. They said that 10,000 wells, located in every county in the state, have been cited for health and safety violations.

“This will destroy the state like you can’t imagine,” said Ray Kemble, a former fracking industry worker from Dimock, Pa., at a press conference.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article56938703.html#storylink=cpy




8. Cops Called On Reporter Who Asked About Climate At Oil & Gas Convention
On October 1, I arrived at the Oklahoma City headquarters of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) — a congressionally-chartered collective of oil and gas producing states — hoping for an interview.
There to ask IOGCC if it believed human activity (and specifically oil and gas drilling) causes climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, my plans that day came to a screeching halt when cops from the Oklahoma City Police Department rolled up and said that they had received a 9-1-1 call reporting me and my activity as “suspicious” (listen to the audio here).
What IOGCC apparently didn’t tell the cops, though, was that I had already told them via email that I would be in the area that day and would like to do an interview.

That initial email requested an opportunity to meet up in-person with IOGCC‘s upper-level personnel, a request coming in the immediate aftermath of its Oklahoma City-based annual meeting, which I attended. After the cops came to the scene and cleared me to leave, I sent a follow up email to IOGCC outlining the questions I would have asked if given the opportunity to do so.
Days later, IOGCC finally responded to those questions and told me its climate change stance. Well, as you’ll see later, they kind of did.

“Closed Business”
I was no stranger to IOGCC to begin with, which exists due to an act of Congress in 1935.
Indeed, the compact had granted me a press pass to attend and cover its industry-funded extravaganza that took place in the days before. I also attended its 2014 annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio and did a41-minute interview with Carol Booth, IOGCC‘s communications manager, while there.
According to the Oklahoma City Police officer who arrived and held me for about seven minutes to ask me questions and do a background check on me, IOGCC had “closed business” that day, though that was neither posted on its front door nor anywhere online. It is also not listed as a state holiday on the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s website and it is not a federal holiday.
Why’d they close business, then? I asked IOGCC.
“Mike and I gave the staff a couple of days of R&R [rest and recovery] after a weekend and late nights associated with our Annual Meeting (and 80th Anniversary),” Gerry Baker, associate executive director ofIOGCC, told DeSmog via email. “We’ll be closed again tomorrow [Friday, October 2], but will work on a response to your questions next week.”
Late Night Parties
Baker’s response makes some sense, at least in so far as late nights go.
The IOGCC meeting agenda featured an opening night reception on the 50th and top floor of the Devon Energy Center, a second night industry-funded reception at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel located two buildings away from Continental Resources’ corporate headquarters and across the street from that of SandRidge Energy, and a third night secretive dinner at Café Do Brasil that went unlisted on the public agenda and I found out about by hanging out on the sidelines of the annual meeting.
IOGCC‘s Oklahoma City meeting also featured industry-funded breakfasts and lunches.
Fleeing the Scene
But Baker’s claim that no one was in the office seems suspect for two reasons, both centering around the two cars parked at IOGCC‘s office when I arrived. Both of those cars, it turns out, were owned by IOGCCstaff members I had emailed before showing up.
One of them was owned by Carl Michael (“Mike”) Smith, IOGCCexecutive director, confirmed to me by the officer who held me temporarily.
“Mike called about you being suspicious out here,” the officer told me. “I don’t have a choice about what people call 9-1-1 about.”
Smith was the assistant secretary of fossil energy for the Bush Administration Department of Energy from 2004-2006, as well as Oklahoma’s former Secretary of Energy. He is also listed as a senior advisor for the lobbying firm Abraham Consulting LLC, owned and run by former Bush Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham.
The other car present was that of Carol Booth, the IOGC Ccommunications manager. When I was held by the police officer, I overheard via his intercom system that it was her car parked in the back of IOGCC‘s office, which someone at the Oklahoma City Police Department’s office confirmed to him by looking up her license plate in a database and reporting it back to him.
While Booth was still seemingly at the office when the officer arrived, Smith had already fled the scene in his car, doing so out of the side-door attached to his office while I stepped away from the building for a second to take a phone call before the cops arrived.
Baker told DeSmog that the cops came on their own volition and not because IOGCC called 9-1-1.
“Due to the location of the IOGCC office, which is adjacent to the Governor’s Mansion property, there are sensitivities about who is in the area,” said Baker. “Oklahoma City police officers often keep track of who’s using the property for obvious reasons.”
But I was told by both the officer and Oklahoma City Police Department staff members that the 9-1-1 call came from theIOGCCoffice address.
*Further, DeSmog has obtained the call log from the incident in question from the Department, which lists IOGCC‘s address as the location the call came from and a call type of “suspicious activity.” And the receipt for the log, which we paid for, lists it as coming from a 9-1-1 call log.
IOGCC and Climate
Smith also wrote us a letter on IOGCC‘s climate change stance, copying the IOGCC chairwoman and co-chairmen on it, explaining that it “does not have a position on climate change” and is “not part of conversations on climate change.”
Image Credit: Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission
Historical records obtained by DeSmog, on the other hand, sing another tune about where IOGCC stands on climate change.
In 1998, IOGCC passed a climate change denial resolution stating that “there is continuing scientific debate as to what the impact of increasing contributions of greenhouse gases would be on the climate,” even issuing a press release after it passed.
Then in 2002, IOGCC invited prominent climate change denier Bjørn Lomborg to speak at its annual meeting and sign autographs of his then-new book “The Skeptical Environmentalist.”
IOGCC 101
But what exactly is IOGCC and why do they — and their stance on climate change — matter anyway?
Officially, IOGCC is a collective body of top-level state-level oil and gas industry regulators and permitters, not to be confused with environmental regulators. Though in the case of some states, such as North Dakota, agencies have a dual mission of permitting oil and gas drilling, as well as protecting the environment.
Chartered by Congress in 1935, IOGCC‘s existence has flown under the radar for 80 years by most.
Meanwhile, its meetings and the organization’s existence serve as ground zero for industry influence-peddling. A case in point: 39-percent of attendees present at its Oklahoma City meeting worked for the industry, according to a roster obtained by DeSmog and the majority of its members at-large work for the industry.
IOGCC, like the more well-known American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), passes model resolutions at its annual meetings. It also brings together regulators, industry executives and lobbyists under one roof to do networking and rub elbows with one another.
At its most recent meeting, IOGCC presented two draft model resolutions, one of which would leave regulating methane emissions ensuing as a result of shale oil and gas drilling to the states as “the proper authority to encourage capture of methane emissions.” That resolution, published here for the first time, does not mention climate change a single time even though methane is a greenhouse gas86-105 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Its other draft resolution introduced in Oklahoma City, which calls for states to have authority over federally-controlled conservation areas in order to do oil and gas drilling, also fits within its broader “States First Initiative” push.
Shadow Lobbying Organ?
IOGCC has a rich history of serving as a key apparatus through which the oil and gas industry flexes its muscles.
It has done such a good job of doing so, in fact, that in 1978 then-U.S.Department of Justice attorney Donald Flexner — now working as a namesake of the powerful firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP — wrote and testified in front of Congress that IOGCC should no longer exist as a compact because it does “essentially lobbying work.”
Three years later in 1981, instead of heeding Flexner’s counsel, Congress decided to stop reauthorizing IOGCC every three years and instead introduced an amendment giving it de facto permanent reauthorization.
For an entity of its clout, the public knows very little about IOGCC‘s inner-workings. And that’s not without reason.
For example, IOGCC has responded to an open records request sent by DeSmog by claiming a wholesale exemption to both state-level and federal-level open records laws because they are an interstate compactand not a government agency, even though its own by-laws claim its records are open to the public.
Interstate compacts, over 200 of which currently exist, can exist due to a clause in the U.S. constitution reading, “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”
Meanwhile IOGCC‘s own website describes it as a “multi-state government agency,” IOGCC staff members use “state.ok.us” email accounts, and its office is located on property given to them by the Oklahoma government and located adjacent to the Governor’s Mansion. Current IOGCC chairwoman Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s Republican Governor, lives in said mansion.
IOGCC tried — and failed — to use the cops as its private security service. It was a maneuver symbolic of the group’s propensity for secrecy when it comes under scrutiny.




9. OOPS REDACTED EMAILS REVEAL....

(NaturalNews) Censored and heavily redacted emails[PDF] from U.S. government scientists and officials reveal that there were major concerns among American policymakers shortly after the devastating Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011 that there would be widespread radiological contamination and spikes in thyroid cancer rates.

"I would like to raise another issue which now merits expeditious, near term action. There is a short time window... during which it will remain possible to... measure any I-131 that members of the public may have ingested," said an email sent to John Holdren, senior adviser to Pres. Obama on science and technology, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, DOE/NRC officials, and others whose names were redacted on March 23, 2011, 12 days after the disaster on March 11, according to a recently released trove of email documents, per a Freedom of Information Act request.

"Collecting this data... would be very valuable," said the email.

Nuclear science experts were clearly concerned that radioactive fallout from the disaster would not merely spread to the U.S. West Coast but cause a spike in thyroid cancer rates there, as well – though none of those concerns were publicized by reports or expressed publicly by the Obama Administration at the time.

Emails revealing, though heavily redacted – why?

"Many cases of thyroid cancer, and other health problems, may end up being attributed to exposures from the Fukushima accident... on the U.S. west coast," said the email.

"It is possible that we will find that some people have received doses of I-131 and other radionuclides that could exceed [emphasis added] the levels... Protective Action Guidelines are designed to prevent. This could provide a basis for immediate action to change PAG's," it added.

"There are very strong reasons to gather data, but it must be done in a way that is broadly viewed as being in the interest of the public and the individuals involved," the email said.

As Natural News reported in late May, an oversight committee looking at the health of people living within the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan near the stricken power facility found that the thyroid cancer rate in young people has leapt by an incredible 6,000 percent throughout the region since the disaster first occurred back in 2011.

Further, reports indicate that, since January of this year, 16 new cases of thyroid cancerhave emerged, bringing the total number of young people diagnosed with the disease to 103. Correspondingly, as many as 127 people have been diagnosed with or are suspected of having thyroid cancer, according to Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

Mainstream media downplaying real cause of thyroid cancer near Fukushima

The mainstream media, however, is downplaying the dramatic increase, pretending as though bumps in thyroid cancer rates, especially among children living in the area, might actually have been caused by something else.

Here is a typical example, from a Japan-centered blog in the online version of The Wall Street Journal August 2014:

A study by researchers in Fukushima prefecture found 57 minors in the prefecture have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer so far and another 46 are showing symptoms that suggest they may also have the disease.

Thyroid cancer can be caused by exposure to radiation, but it's unclear whether the number is linked to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in March 2011 because the rate of thyroid cancer in the general population isn't fully known.
 [emphases added]

Japan is an ultra-modern society, just like America; if the U.S. knows what its overall cancer rates are, you can bet Japan does as well. But seriously – what else, realistically, would have caused the dramatic increase in thyroid cancer rates?

"There is a possibility that early-stage cancer and small tumors were discovered because experienced doctors conducted thorough checkups using the newest machinery," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a news conference at the time, furthering the denial.

We will keep you informed about this evolving story.


10. New Fuke Robat
It’s been almost five years since the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, but the scale of the emergency means Japan is still at the relative beginning of efforts to clean up and contain the radioactive site.
So this week Toshiba unveiled (above) a remote-control robot that’s expected to remove fuel-rod assemblies from the spent fuel pool in the plant’s reactor 3 building, according to a report by Kazuaki Nagata at The Japan Times.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the Japanese utility that maintains the site, has acknowledged that the high level of radiation in the reactor 3 building means it’s impossible for humans to safely remove the fuel-rod assemblies. Because of this, a device like the robotic crane – which you can see in action in the video below – is necessary.
Specially designed by Toshiba – the original supplier of Fukushima’s reactor 3 and reactor 5 decades ago – the machine features robotic arms that can be used to manipulate and dismantle debris, and to retrieve rods from the reactor cooling pool.
It will be lowered into the pool by a crane, and controlled by human operators working at a safe distance. It’s fitted out with numerous cameras that let the robot’s operators see its immediate surroundings.
The work, which is expected to begin next year, is a big endeavour, with 566 fuel-rod assemblies that need to be removed from just this one reactor. In 2014, Tepco successfully removed 1,535 spent fuel-rod assemblies from the pool in the reactor 4 building. While that number was higher, the task was also significantly easier, as lower radiation levels meant human workers could oversee the retrievals more closely. In reactor 3, that’s not an option.
Efforts to clean up Fukushima, which is considered the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident in 1986, are under continued scrutiny after a series of blunders and Tepco’s admission that efforts in the short term to contain contamination may take as long as 30–40 years.
Of major concern is the leakage of water from the site, with signs of Fukushima contaminants having been discovered as far away as the west coast of the US – literally an entire ocean away from the disaster.

Within Japan, there are fears of ongoing health problems related to the accident, with researchers linking higher incidence of children’s cancer to Fukushima radiation, the impact of which has also been seen on animals in the wild.

11. Worried about ROBOT HEALTH?
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has postponed inspections by robots to finally confirm the location and state of melted fuel at two damaged reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The camera-equipped robots were scheduled to enter the containment vessels of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors within fiscal 2015, which ends in March. But TEPCO said Jan. 28 that a series of unexpected circumstances, such as poor visibility caused by murky radioactive water, have ruined that plan.

The robot for the No. 1 containment vessel will be redesigned, and the remote-controlled survey will be conducted in fiscal 2016, the utility said, without offering a more specific timetable.

Nuclear fuel assemblies in the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors are believed to have melted and fallen to the bottom of the containment vessels following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Radiation levels inside the containment vessels remain extremely high, making them too dangerous to be approached by workers.

The remote-controlled robotic probe was seen as crucial in determining conditions inside the containment vessels for the eventual decommissioning of the nuclear plant.

TEPCO conducted a preliminary survey using an industrial endoscope in the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor. It found accumulated waste turned the water murky and blocked the view.

For the No. 2 reactor, TEPCO had planned to locate the melted nuclear fuel using a robot last summer. But decontamination and cleanup work near the entrance to the containment vessel proved difficult. That prevented TEPCO from carrying out robotic survey as planned.

Marx & Lemon