Sunday, December 08, 2013

PNN Women's Rights 2013-2014


Join News Director Rick Spisak, and special Co-Host Meredith Ockman Vice President N.O.W. of Florida as they discuss 2013 and 2014, with some of Florida's Finest Women Leaders
Jeanie Economos Farm Workers Association
Anita Stewart Water Quality Activist / Progressive Journalist
Ann Fonfa Anti-Cancer Activist
And Special Reports by Harriett Heywood TPP Activist and Essayist and Attorney Lilllian Taylor  who will offer her tribute to Nelson Mandela

1. FAST TRACK approaching quickly… 
    engineer at the helm is feeling WOOZY

Negotiators from the House and Senate are nearing an agreement that would “fast-track” the sweeping trade deal the Obama administration is negotiating with a dozen Pacific nations, officials said Thursday.
Such fast-track authority is generally considered a prerequisite for achieving a major trade pact, as it would ensure that the package cannot be filibustered or subject to amendment by Congress, giving confidence to the foreign partners negotiating with the United States that any deal they agree to will stick.
A congressional aide close to the negotiations said that both sides had made significant progress on reaching a fast-track deal, also known as trade-promotion authority. But the aide, who declined to speak on the record because of the delicate nature of the talks, emphasized that an agreement was not complete.
Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, have been working on a deal for months.
They are expected to bring forward a bill next week, during the last few days Congress will be in session this year. But the plan still faces several obstacles, including opposition from some Democrats and Republicans in the House. Aides doubted that the fast-track legislation would reach a floor vote this year, given the crowded the Congressional calendar.
The bill is strongly backed by business but generally opposed by labor unions. Many lawmakers have argued that a Pacific trade deal to lower some barriers to exports and open markets at home and abroad, and a sweeping deal the White House is working out with the European Union, would provide significant gains for the United States economy and help expand global commerce.
But the still unconsummated trade deals face skepticism from both sides. And some Republicans and Democrats have objected to the way the White House has dealt with Congress during its negotiations, signaling that they fear that granting trade promotion authority would cede too much power to the Obama administration.


2. Everything you's like to know is "Secret" - and the Engineeris also feeling WOOZY and his name is SECRET!
Shinzo Abe secured final passage of a bill granting Japan’s govt sweeping powers to declare state secrets. The Bill won final approval of the measures at about 11:20 p.m. Tokyo time after opposition parties first forced a no-confidence vote in Abe’s govt in the lower house. The first rule of the pending Japan’s Special Secrets Bill is that what will be a secret is secret. The right to know has now been officially superseded by the right of the government to make sure you don’t know what they don’t want you to know. It might all seems like a bad joke, except for the Orwellian nature of the bill and a key Cabinet member expressing his admiration for the Nazis, "just as Germany needed a strong man like Hitler to revive defeated Germany, Japan needs people like Abe to dynamically induce change."
Submitted by Subcultureist of Japan's Subculture Research Center blog,
The first rule of the pending Japan’s Special Secrets Bill is that what will be a secret is secret. The second rule is that anyone who leaks a secret and a reporter who writes it up can face up to ten years in jail. The third rule is that there are no rules at to what government agency can declare state secrets and no checks on them to determine they don’t misuse the privilege; even of no longer existent agencies may have the power to declare their information secret. The fourth rule  is that anything pertaining to nuclear energy is of course a state secret so there will not longer be any problem with nuclear power in this country because we won’t know anything about it. And what we don’t know can’t hurt us.
The right to know has now been officially superseded by the right of the government to make sure you don’t know what they don’t want you to know.
Legal experts note that even asking pointed questions about a state secret, whether you know or don’t know it’s a secret, could be treated as “instigating leaks” and the result in an arrest and a possible jail term up to five years. Of course, the trial would be complicated since the judge would not be allowed to know what secret the accused was suspected of trying to obtain.
Ask the wrong question, five years in jail. 
And of course, trials about state secrets, would by the nature of the law, also be secret trials and closed to the public.
At this point in time, no one has really claimed authorship of the secrecy bill. The author is a secret. Kafka would seem the most likely scrivener for this perplexing legislation, if he was still alive, but ruling coalition members acknowledge that another famous white man from the past may have provided the real inspiration for the bill and its implementation.
An Upper House member of the Diet said on background to JSRC,Deputy Prime Minister Aso Taro sort of telegraphed the punches of the administration by expressing his admiration for how the Nazi Party forcefully changed the German constitution this summer.
Obviously, we’re not Nazis in Japan–because we hardly have any Jews, but we are like the defeated post World War I Germany in that we do not have the right to wage war to defend ourselves from our enemies. Just as Germany needed a strong man like Hitler to revive defeated Germany, Japan needs people like Abe to dynamically induce change.”


3. Radiation high enough to kill in 20 minutes Found at Fukushima
Outdoor radiation levels have reached their highest at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant,warns the operator company.Radiation found in an area near a steel pipe that connects reactor buildings could kill an exposed person in 20 minutes,local media reported.

The plant’s operator and the utility responsible for the clean-up Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) detected record radiation levels on a duct which connects reactor buildings and the 120 meter tall ventilation pipe located outside on Friday. TEPCO measured radiation at eight locations around the pipe with the highest estimated at two locations - 25 Sieverts per hour and about 15 Sieverts per hour, the company said.

This is the highest level ever detected outside the reactor buildings, according to local broadcaster NHK. Earlier TEPCO said radiation levels of at least 10 Sieverts per hour were found on the pipe.

The ventilation pipe used to conduct radioactive gasses after the nuclear disaster may still contain radioactive substances, TEPCO added.

The earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that hit Japan’s coast, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi plant and causing the meltdown of three nuclear reactors. The crippled reactors burnt through the concrete basement while the water used to cool them has been leaking into the soil and contaminating the ground water on the premises of the nuclear facility. The radioactive water stored at the site has been seeping into the Pacific Ocean.

The water leakage has raised health concerns among Japan’s neighbors. For instance, South Korea has been testing fish caught off the country's coast, according to the country’s fisheries ministry.

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission assured that the radioactive water will reach the US West coast at safe levels.

“The highest amount of radiation that will reach the U.S. is two orders of magnitude - 100 times - less than the drinking water standard,” Allison Macfarlane said in Tokyo on Friday as cited by Bloomberg. “So, if you could drink the salt water, which you won’t be able to do, it’s still fairly low.”

Currently 400 tons of contaminated water is being produced at the site on a daily basis. In an attempt to solve the storage problem the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposed on Wednesday to consider dumping toxic water into the ocean after lowering the level of radioactive materials.

"Regarding the growing amounts of contaminated water at the site, TEPCO should... examine all options for its further management, including the possibility of resuming controlled discharges (into the sea) in compliance with authorized limits," the IAEA said in a statement.

TEPCO has been testing a high-tech water processing machine called ALPS, which can remove all radioactive materials from the water except tritium. However, the low-energy isotope is considered to be less dangerous than other radioactive isotopes such as caesium and strontium, also contained in the tainted water.


4. Atomic mafia: Yakuza ‘cleans up’ Fukushima, neglects basic workers' rights

Homeless men employed cleaning up the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, including those brought in by Japan's yakuza gangsters, were not aware of the health risks they were taking and say their bosses treated them like “disposable people.”

RT's Aleksey Yaroshevsky, reporting from the site of the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, met with a former Fukushima worker who was engaged in the clean-up operation.  

"We were given no insurance for health risks, no radiation meters even. We were treated like nothing, like disposable people – they promised things and then kicked us out when we received a large radiation doze," the young man, who didn't identify himself, told RT.

The former Fukushima worker explained that when a job offer at Fukushima came up he was unemployed, and didn't hesitate to take it. He is now planning to sue the firm that hired him.

"They promised a lot of money, even signed a long-term contract, but then suddenly terminated it, not even paying me a third of the promised sum," he said.  

 While some workers voluntarily agreed to take jobs on the nuclear clean-up project, many others simply didn't have a choice.

An investigative journalist who went undercover at Fukushima, filming with a camera hidden in his watch, says that many of the workers were brought into the nuclear plant by Japan's organized crime syndicates, the yakuza.

"In Japan, quite often when a certain construction project requires an immediate workforce, in large numbers, bosses make a phone call to the Yakuza. This was the case with Fukushima: the government called Tepco to take urgent action, Tepco relayed it to their subcontractors and they, eventually, as they had a shortage of available workers, called the Yakuza for help," Tomohiko Suzuki told RT.

According to Japanese police, up to 50 yakuza gangs with 1,050 members currently operate in Fukushima prefecture. Although a special task force to keep organized crime out of the nuclear clean-up project has been set up, investigators say they need first-hand reports from those forced to work by the yakuza to crack down on the syndicates.

Earlier this year, Japanese police made their first arrest, detaining one yakuza over claims he sent workers to the crippled Fukushima plant without a license. Yoshinori Arai regularly took a cut of the workers' wages, pocketing $60,000 in over two years.  

 Meanwhile, according to Tepco's blueprint, dismantling the Fukushima Daiichi plant will require at least 12,000 workers just through 2015. But the company and its subcontractors are already short of workers. As things stand now, there are just over 8,000 registered workers. According to government data, there are 25 percent more openings for jobs at Fukushima plant than applicants. Tomohiko Suzuki says these gaps are often filled by the homeless and the desperately unemployed – people who have nothing to lose, including those with mental disabilities.

Due to the fact that the Japanese government has been reluctant to invite multinational workers into the country, its nuclear industry mostly uses cheap domestic labor, the so-called "nuclear gypsies" - workers from the Sanya neighborhood of Tokyo and Kamagasaki in Osaka, known for large numbers of homeless men.

"Working conditions in the nuclear industry have always been bad," the deputy director of Osaka's Hannan Chuo Hospital, Saburo Murata, told Reuters. "Problems with money, outsourced recruitment, lack of proper health insurance – these have existed for decades."

The problem is that after Japan's parliament approved a bill to fund decontamination work in August 2011, the law did not apply existing rules regulating the profitable construction industry. Therefore, contractors engaged in decontamination were not required to share information on their management, so anyone could instantly become a nuclear contractor, as if by magic.


5. Help save HB1 to Label GMOs in Florida -- Click: HOUSE BILL 1
{General Bill   by Rehwinkel Vasilinda (CO-SPONSORS) Berman; Kerner; Pafford; Peters; Pritchett; Stewart; Zimmermann
Genetically Engineered Foods: Provides list of commercial commodities commonly cultivated in genetically engineered form; requires DACS to publish list by specified date & annualy update list; provides mandatory labeling requirements for genetically engineered raw agricultural commodities & processed foods made with or derived from genetically engineered ingredients; provides for enforcement of labeling requirements; provides civil remedies & penalties.}

PART ONE: (Volunteer) *If you'd like help out more and to be connected with groups across FLORIDA sign up on and be sure to let us know the following:

1. You'd like to volunteer 2. Your ZIP, CITY, PHONE & EMAIL 3. How you'd like to help

PART TWO: (CALL The Committee - Start today) Please share and ask your contacts to do the same.

HB1 to Label GMOs needs your support! This is the last chance we have to place it on the Committee Contact Tom Goodson, the Vice Chair of the Ag & Natural Resources Subcommittee, and ask him to co-sponsor the bill because you NEED TO KNOW IF IT'S GMO.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO? Please contact the committee members and ask them to support HB1. The bill needs more public support for it to pass out of committee. Every call makes a difference! Call and get others to call.

WHEN DO YOU NEED TO DO IT? Start calling all through the weekend until Thurs, December 12th. This is our deadline to get as many calls in as possible.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO SAY? If you do not know what to say when you call, here is a simple script to help you along:

THE SCRIPT: “My name is ______________. I'm calling today to urge Representative Goodson to co-sponsor House Bill 1, the bill to label genetically engineered foods, because my family and I need to know if a product contains genetically engineered ingredients. Please put HB1 on the Committee!”

WHO DO I NEED TO CALL? The committee members are listed below. If you can only call one person, call Rep. Tom Goodson. If you can call more, call as many as you can!

COMMITTEE CALL LIST: Tom Goodson: Phone: (321) 383-5151 Email:

Katie A. Edwards: Phone: (954) 838-1371 Email: "Matt" Caldwell: Phone: (239) 694-0161 Email:

Kevin Rader: Phone: (561) 218-5010 Email:

Halsey Beshears: Phone: (850) 653-1213 Email:

Jim Boyd: Phone: (941) 708-4968 Email:

Larry Lee, Jr.:

Phone: (772) 595-1391 Email:

Cary Pigman: Phone: (863) 386-6000 Email:

Ray Pilon: Phone: (941) 955-8077 Email:

Elizabeth W. Porter Phone: (386) 719-4600 Email:

Betty Reed: Phone: (813) 241-8024 Email:

Patrick Rooney, Jr.: Phone: (561) 625-5176 Email:

Clovis Watson, Jr.: Phone: (352) 264-4001 Email:

Thanks and look forward to connecting with you.


6. Canada Busted Covering Up Spikes In Fukushima Radiation
Posted on December 5, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
Falsely Stated That There Were No Unusual Radiation Levels

The governments of Japan, America and Canada have covered up the severity of the Fukushima crisis ever since it started in March 2011.

They’ve cut way back on radiation monitoring after the Fukushima meltdown, underplayed the amount of radiation pumped out by Fukushima, and raised acceptable radiation levels … rather than fixing anything.


British news staff may face terrorism charges over Snowden leaks --Lawmakers put it to Rusbridger that he had committed an offence under Section 58A of the Terrorism Act. 03 Dec 2013 British police are examining whether Guardian newspaper staff should be investigated for terrorism offenses over their handling of data leaked by Edward Snowden, Britain's senior counter-terrorism officer said on Tuesday. The disclosure came after Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, summoned to give evidence at a parliamentary inquiry, was accused by lawmakers of helping terrorists by making top secret information public and sharing it with other news organizations. Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who heads London's Specialist Operations unit, told lawmakers the police were looking to see whether any offenses had been committed, following the brief detention in August of a man carrying data on behalf of a Guardian journalist.

MPs' questions to Alan Rusbridger: do you love this country? --Key extracts from the Guardian editor's appearance before the home affairs select committee over the impact of NSA leaks 04 Dec 2013 Committee chair, Keith Vaz: You and I were both born outside this country, but I love this country. Do you love this country? ... Conservative MP Michael Ellis: Mr Rusbridger, you authorised files stolen by [National Security Agency contractor Edward] Snowden which contained the names of intelligence staff to be communicated elsewhere. Yes or no? Rusbridger: Well I think I've already dealt with that. ... Ellis: Do you accept that that is a criminal offence under section 58(a) of the Terrorism Act, 2000? ... Mark Reckless: I think you have committed a criminal offence in your response. Do you think that it would not be in the public interest for the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] to prosecute or should it be dealt with by the authorities in the normal way?
Guardian will not be intimidated over NSA leaks, Alan Rusbridger tells MPs --Editor tells parliamentary committee that stories revealing mass surveillance by UK and US have prompted global debate 03 Dec 2013 The Guardian has come under concerted pressure and intimidation designed to stop it from publishing stories of huge public interest that have revealed the "staggering" scale of Britain's and America's secret surveillance programmes, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper has said. Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee about stories based on the National Security Agency leaks from the whistleblower Edward Snowden, Alan Rusbridger said the Guardian "would not be put off by intimidation, but nor are we going to behave recklessly".

NSA gathering 5 billion records per day on cellphone locations --NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide, Snowden documents show 04 Dec 2013 The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, according to top-secret documents and interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals -- and map their relationships -- in ways that would have been previously unimaginable. The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices, according to the officials and the documents, which were provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. New projects created to analyze that data have provided the intelligence community with what amounts to a mass surveillance tool.

Edward Snowden revelations prompt UN investigation into surveillance --UN's senior counter-terrorism official says revelations 'are at the very apex of public interest concerns' 02 Dec 2013 The UN's senior counter-terrorism official is to launch an investigation into the surveillance powers of American and British intelligence agencies following Edward Snowden's revelations that they are using secret programmes to store and analyse billions of emails, phone calls and text messages. The UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC said his inquiry would also seek to establish whether the British parliament had been misled about the capabilities of Britain's eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, and whether the current system of oversight and scrutiny was strong enough to meet United Nations standards.


Thanks in part to the expansion movement, Social Security benefit cuts are all but off the table.2 But to ensure that Social Security isn't slashed at the last minute, we've got to double down and get every Democratic senator on the record in support of expanding Social Security benefits.

Senator Bill Nelson has not added his name to the list of senators who support expanding Social Security benefits. Will you call Sen. Nelson and tell him that you want him to co-sponsor the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013? - Sen. Nelson: 904-346-4500 

Thousands of protesters are expected to demonstrate during a Day of Rage against an Israeli government plan that would evict up to 40,000 Bedouin citizens from their homes and force them into impoverished townships.

The Israeli government's Prawer-Begin plan, officially known as the Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, will move the Bedouin from so-called unrecognised villages into government-planned towns, where poverty is high and services are few.

The main protest was to be held near the Bedouin township of Hura on Saturday afternoon, while other demonstrations were planned in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and in several cities across Europe, North America and the Middle East.

"The government is trying to present the plan as 'in the best interest of the Bedouin', while with one hand it is acting to destroy Bedouin villages… and with the other it is building new Jewish localities in the Negev, some of these in the very same places where the [Bedouin] villages stand today," Huda Abu-Obeid, a Bedouin activist, said in a statement.

About 200,000 Bedouin currently live in the country's southern Negev desert.

Half of those live in seven crowded Israeli townships, while the other half live in 35 villages, which lack basic services such as running water, electricity, paved roads or schools.

Israel says these villages are illegal, accusing the Bedouin of a conducting a land grab in the Negev.

The government says its proposal aims to modernise the Bedouin, and improve their quality of life. It says it has earmarked $340m - to be spread over the next five years - to support the community's development.

"The idea is to ... better integrate Jews and Bedouins; to bring many more Bedouins to our work force; to employ and educate many more women for employment; and to build new communities; and to expand some of the current communities and make them modern," Doron Almog, a retired Israeli army general charged with implementing the government's plan, told Al Jazeera in August.

But critics say the plan fails to recognise Bedouin land claims and ignores the community's needs.

"You cannot uproot an entire population and urbanise it without consultation - and that is precisely what the government is doing," said Fadi El-Obra, a resident of Rahat, the largest government-planned Bedouin town in the Negev.

The plan has been condemned internationally.


Sunday, December 01, 2013

PNN - 2013 in the RearView Mirror

7-7:10 -      rws
7:11-7:16 - Hans Myer
7:16-7:45 - Denis Campbell (PreRecorded) 
7:50-7:55 - Anthony Noel
7:57-8:02 - Gwen Holden Barry 
8:03-808 -   
8:09-8:15 - Steve Horn 
8:16-8:21 - Luis Cuevas 
8:22-9:00   GROUP

1. TEPCO too busy doing damage control to do science
 Bangkok Post, Nov. 24, 2013: There have been charges that both the government and Tepco have been too concerned with damage control and not been proactive enough in dealing with this crisis nor forthcoming with details of its magnitude. [...] In July, it was confirmed that some 300 tonnes of underground water, which included contaminated water, were flowing into the sea every day. [...] To be fair, Tepco has been dealing with an enormously complicated situation that is giving the best nuclear scientists in the world nightmares. [...]
Indian Country Today, Nov. 25, 2013: [...] How much you know about the situation on the ground at the crippled Daiichi plant depends on how much you are intentionally seeking the information. Many people I talk to still don’t seem to fully comprehend the scope of the problem, likely because it hasn’t dominated the evening news. There is a lot to know but the most troubling facts are 1) that 300 tons of radioactive water have been spilling into the Pacific Ocean every day and is seeping into the groundwater; 2) the clean-up process is so risky that it continues to be delayed and has been called [...] potentially the biggest ticking time bomb in human history. [...] what keeps me awake at night is the radioactive plume making its way across the Pacific. It worries me because I live in a Southern California beach community [...] I think also of the many Native nations in the US and Canada whose ancient ways of life depend on the “big waters” of the Pacific [...] The proliferation of nuclear energy is a symptom of the insanity of Western-based modern science. It is reflective of a people who have so little respect for life that they are willing to sacrifice their own grandchildren’s generation [...]
Tepco has recently revised the daily flow of contaminated water into the ocean from 300 tons per day to 400. See: Japan Times: Now 400 tons a day of toxic water is estimated to be entering Pacific from Fukushima plant; 100 more tons per day than wha

2. Strange Doings in the Pacific
. New York Times, November 24, 2013: It began with the anchovies, miles and miles of them [...] in the waters of Monterey Bay. Then the sea lions came, by the thousands [...] the pelicans [...] bottlenose dolphins [in groups of 100 or more have been spotted] [...] But it was the whales that astounded even longtime residents — more than 200 humpbacks [...] and, on a recent weekend, a pod of 19 rowdy orcas [...] the water in every direction roiled with mammals [...] For almost three months, Monterey and nearby coastal areas have played host to a mammoth convocation of sea life that scientists here say is unprecedented in their memories [...] never that anyone remembers have there been this many or have they stayed so long [...] Last month, so many anchovies crowded into Santa Cruz harbor that the oxygen ran out, leading to a major die-off. Marine researchers are baffled about the reason for the anchovy explosion. [...]
Baldo Marinovic, research biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz: “It’s a very strange year [...] The $64,000 question is why this year? [...] Now [the anchovies are] all kind of concentrating on the coast.”
Just a few weeks ago similar sightings were reported along Canada’s Pacific coast:
Vancouver Sun, Nov. 6, 2013: An extraordinary string of recent whale encounters around Vancouver Island is likely due to luck, not one factor, experts say. “This has not been a typical year,” said John Ford, head of the cetacean research program at Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. [...] The “biggie” of the bunch is the endangered North Pacific right whale, spotted twice in B.C. waters for the first time in 60 years. [...] There have been other remarkable whale encounters [...]  passengers aboard the B.C. ferry between Galiano Island and Tsawwassen were treated to the sight of a superpod of about 1,000 Pacific white-sided dolphins [...]
Nick Claxton, Indigenous academic adviser at the University of Victoria: Recent whale encounters could have a deeper meaning, according to an Indigenous worldview [...] “We see them as our relatives, as ancestors. All of these occurrences remind us of our place here and our connection to the natural world. It’s for the better of all of us to listen.”

3. Can't afford safety / cannot afford to know what's going on
With the first plume of water carrying radionuclides from Fukushima due to hit the U.S. West Coast any day now, [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Senior Scientist Ken] Buesseler’s latest project is to convince the federal government to monitor radiation levels in the sea water. [...] He predicts the radiation will be so diluted after the long journey across the Pacific that it will pose no threat [...] But he knows that’s not enough to reassure the public. [...] he knows people are concerned [...] he fields regular phone calls from surfers and salmon fishermen as well as congressmen. [...]

4. BANKING Cayman Islands & Costa Rica - Now Open
The United States has signed agreements with the Cayman Islands and Costa Rica to help those countries' banks comply with an anti-tax evasion law starting next year, the Treasury Department said on Friday.
The deals are part of the US effort to enforce the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which was enacted in 2010 and is set to take effect in July 2014. FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to tell the US Internal Revenue Service about Americans' offshore accounts worth more than $50,000. It was enacted after a Swiss banking scandal showed that 17,000 US taxpayers had hidden substantial fortunes overseas. On Thursday a former UBS banker, Raoul Weil, agreed to be extradited to the US to face charges arising from that scandal.
With these two deals, both signed this week, the Treasury has now finished 12 FATCA "intergovernmental agreements" (IGAs), which help countries' financial institutions comply with the law.
The FATCA agreement with the Cayman Islands was initially agreed to in August. The island territory of 53,000 people has no income tax and is frequently labelled as a tax haven by critics. It is one of the world's most popular destinations for investment funds to organise for tax purposes.
Costa Rica was one of three Central American countries the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD) has tagged as a tax haven. Panama and Belize were the other two. Significantly, the Costa Rica deal is reciprocal, meaning the Costa Rican government can get tax information about its citizens with assets in the United States.
The trading of financial information, though not part of the Cayman Islands deal but included in many of the other 11 FATCA agreements, has rankled US banks. In April, the Texas Bankers Association and the Florida Bankers Association, both industry groups, filed a lawsuit attempting to block a Treasury Department rule that would allow the IRS to send certain bank account information to foreign governments.
The case, filed in the US district court for the District of Columbia, is awaiting a judge's ruling on whether the bankers' associations have standing.

5.ethnic cleansing of the Negev - by Israel 
More than 50 public figures in Britain, including high-profile artists, musicians and writers, have put their names to a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land – an act condemned by critics as ethnic cleansing.
The letter, published in the Guardian, is part of a day of protest on Saturday in Israel, Palestine and two dozen other countries over an Israeli parliamentary bill that is expected to get final approval by the end of this year.
The eviction and destruction of about 35 "unrecognised" villages in the Negev desert will, the letter says, "mean the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation".
The signatories – who include the artist Antony Gormley, the actor Julie Christie, the film director Mike Leigh and the musician Brian Eno – are demanding that the British government holds Israel to account over its human rights record and obligations under international law.
According to Israel, the aims of the Prawer Plan – named after the head of a government commission, Ehud Prawer – are economic development of the Negev desert and the regulation of Palestinian Bedouins living in villages not recognised by the state.
The population of these villages will be removed to designated towns, while plans for new Jewish settlements in the area are enacted.
But Adalah, a human rights and legal centre for Arabs in Israel, says: "The real purpose of the legislation [is] the complete and final severance of the Bedouin's historical ties to their land."
The "unrecognised" villages in the Negev, whose populations range from a few hundred to 2,000, lack basic services such as running water, electricity, landline telephones, roads, high schools and health clinics. Some consist of a few shacks and animal pens made from corrugated iron; others include concrete houses and mosques built without necessary but unobtainable permission.
The Bedouin comprise about 30% of the Negev's population but their villages take up only 2.5% of the land. Before the state of Israel was created in 1948 they roamed widely across the desert; now, two-thirds of the region has been designated as military training grounds and firing ranges.
Under the Prawer Plan, between 40,000 and 70,000 of the remaining Bedouin – who became Israeli citizens in the 1950s – will be moved into seven over-crowded, impoverished, crime-ridden state-planned towns. The Israeli government says it is an opportunity for Bedouins to live in modern homes, take regular jobs and send their children to mainstream schools. They will be offered compensation to move, it adds.
Miranda Pennell, a film-maker and one of the letter's signatories, said: "Citizenship counts for nothing in Israel if you happen to be an Arab. Tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin are being forcibly displaced from their homes and lands. At the same time, there are Israeli government advertisements on the web that promise you funding as a British immigrant to come and live in 'vibrant communities' in the Negev – if you are Jewish. This is ethnic cleansing."

6. TPP and secret corporate Courts
alternet/democracy center
Last week the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement leapt from behind the closed doors of negotiations to the front pages of major newspapers, thanks to  information from Wikileaks revealing previously unpublished details of the proposed intellectual property chapter of the deal.

If you hadn't yet heard about the TPP, there is a reason for that. Not even members of the US Congress have been allowed to see the negotiating text. Thanks to a set of leaks however, we´re beginning to get glimpses of exactly how dangerous the agreement is. The Wikileaks revelations have shone an urgent public light on the agreement’s onerous implications regarding intellectual property.
In 2012, however,  another leak uncovered what may be an even more dangerous aspect of the TPP. The proposed investment chapter of the deal revealed plans to expand the system of international investment tribunals that deal with what is called ‘investor-state dispute settlement’. These are closed-door courts that take direct aim at the ability of governments across the world to enact environmental, public health and other protections for their citizens.
We don’t need much help to imagine what a world under these provisions of the TPP would look like. We need look no further than some of the current investor-state dispute cases in which powerful international corporations are demanding millions – sometimes billions – of dollars in claims, against countries both poor and wealthy, for the sin of protecting their citizens.
This is the very same system that the Bechtel Corporation used to attempt to drain $50 million from the Bolivian public treasury after the corporation had been thrown out during the  Cochabamba Water War.
This is the same system that Canadian mining firm Pacific Rim, recently taken over by Oceana Gold, is using to try to extract over $300 million from the people of El Salvador for having rejected mining operations that threaten to contaminate their drinking water.
And it’s the same system that Philip Morris, the tobacco giant, is using against Uruguay and Australia to try to eliminate important public health regulations designed to reduce tobacco consumption.
The number of these investment cases has exploded in recent years, with 2012 breaking all  records. Cases such as these, with serious implications for government ability to regulate for public health, environmental protection and access to water, are now being heard far away from domestic legal systems in international investor-state arbitration courts. Decisions in these closed door tribunals are made by three investment lawyers working on a for-profit basis with no obligation to balance the public interest with the profit-making interest of corporations. Governments, meanwhile, have no corresponding right to bring legal action against corporations in these arbitration tribunals when they breach national environmental regulations or human rights laws. It’s all one-way traffic.
The evidence is there to show how the investment rules system is poisoning our democracies; its huge expansion under the guise of the TPP threatens to serve up this toxic dish to millions more citizens. The proposed investment rules chapter will grant more rights to corporations, expand their access to this system of international investment tribunals and open the door for many more of these cases.
The conflict of interest between corporations hard wired to maximize profit – even if it comes at the cost of our fresh water sources, our public health laws and our basic services – and policy making designed to serve the public interest is nowhere more apparent than in these arbitration cases. The means of mediating this conflict of interest and blocking unbridled profit-making is the democratic process.

7. trannsylvannian anti-frackers
“Do you think they're about to have sex?” one of the activists whispers. I'm in Transylvania, in central Romania, crouched in the bushes with a bunch of hardcore anti-frackers in balaclavas, spying on a car that's crept to a halt close to where we are hiding. “No, it must be the cops, you can see the light from the mobile phone,” another one says. Time to move on.
It has been over an hour since the group started trashing equipment owned by the gas exploration company Prospectiuni, playing a game of cat and mouse with the security teams and police vehicles that are now sweeping the hilltops looking for us. Another light tears around the bend on the road and the shout goes through the team to hide. I throw myself down in the cool, damp grass of a Transylvanian meadow. It's going to be a long night.
In recent weeks, the sleepy Saxon communities and protected forests of Sibiu county in Transylvania have become the battleground of a new war, one that has pitted gas exploration companies, the Romanian government, and international investment firms against a small band of environmental activists. The activists, who have come here from across Romania, are working side by side with local farmers to resist the gas and oil exploration they claim is taking place illegally on their land.
The Romanian gas company Romgaz has had a long-stated desire to explore the low-lying hills of Transylvania, but it's only this month that it has started exploration in earnest. Thirty-four-ton seismic testing trucks—used by drilling companies to create artificial earthquakes in order to see what's under the groud—soon growled along the muddy tracks to the villages accompanied by cohorts of security guards and busloads of workers.
Today the villages and fields are laced with strips of ribbon, which stretch like spaghetti across the ancient landscape of beech forests, beehives, and the harvested stubs of cornfields. The ribbons indicate where the companies plan to lay their cables and plant the explosives for the seismic fracking tests. Locals told me that they awoke to find ribbons being laid across their land, with some even attached to their garden fences.
All the seismic tests are taking place inside Romania’s largest EU Natura 2000 site, which is strange, given that the stated aim of the Natura 2000 program is "to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats." These remote communities now resemble a territory occupied by a hostile army. When I arrive in one village, I watch as a team of workers prepares a hole with dynamite a few yards from the village soccer pitch. On the high street, private security jeeps are parked up at a crossroads, black uniformed men filming and following our every move.
My guide for the day, community activist Hans Hedrich, says such intimidation tactics are typical for Romania. “You must understand that in Romania, people are still afraid to speak out. All this security makes it seem as though the people have no right to object to what is going on. You could easily be forgiven for forgetting that this is the 21st century, and that we are within a democratic country and in the EU,” he says, exasperated.
At the end of the road an elderly orthodox priest ushers me inside nervously, asking not to be identified. “They told me not to talk with you,” he says. “The bishops say it is not the role of a priest to get involved in community affairs.” He pauses, a flash in his eyes, almost thinking aloud, “We thought they had come to rebuild the playground—then the earthquake happened, shaking the houses here, causing cracks and breaking ornaments inside the houses. The people were scared. Nobody asked us permission, they didn't even tell us what they were doing.” He is interrupted by the shrill ringtone of his mobile. Fifteen minutes later, he returns to the kitchen, having been told again by his superiors to keep quiet. The interview is over. “They know you are here,” he says, showing us the door.
We keep moving out of the village, following the ribbons and the intermittent booming sounds of controlled explosions echoing through the valleys. Away from the security guards, a woman speaks up, “They are thieves,” she hisses. Her neighbor comes over, begging for answers. “We’ve heard the land will be poisoned, is this true? We live from this land, we don’t have salaries!”
At the top of a hill I find a giant geological lab on wheels, antennae dangling from the top and men poring over electrical equipment inside. A small, portly man introduces himself as is Gheorghe Daianu, a seismologist and director of operations for Prospectiuni, the exploration company that has been subcontracted for 40 million euros ($54 million) to carry out tests in the region. Daianu condemns the protests against his work, calling opponents of gas exploration “neo-fascists.” He is insistent that the company has permission to be on every square foot of land where the tests are taking place, a claim he says can be backed up with paperwork, before he orders us to leave the area.
I head to the nearby village of Mosna, to the home of farmer Willy Schuster and his wife Lavinia, who've invited me to stay while covering the next day's anti-fracking protests. Chickens cluck, fires roar, and cheese is made in the kitchen as a dozen activists begin to arrive from across the country, checking Facebook and charging their cameras for the following day. This will be the first protest against gas exploration in Transylvania, they explain, urging me to get an early night's sleep. But first I have another appointment to keep.

8. peoples budget
Monday's public forum in front of the St. Petersburg City Council over the funding of a future police headquarters, St. Pete's latest civic headache, brought a passionate crowd out, upset with what they felt was the misuse of the funds that should be intended for neighborhood projects.

The move prompting the forum was city official's plans to take $4.77 million from the referendum approved Penny for Pinellas fund, which covers capital improvements in the county, and put it towards the funding of the headquarters. The police headquarters, a major aspect of the 2007 referendum campaign, is currently without a plan but will be estimated to cost between $40 and $68 million.
Largely represented by the People's Budget Review, members of the audience spent two hours making clear that while they understand the need for a new headquarters, it should not come at the expense of the more community focused initiatives.
"I would like to express our strong opposition against this council's proposal to take roughly 4 million from funds meant for neighborhoods, local recreation projects, and cultural facilities, to be used for the construction of a new police facility,” said Louis Brown. “This transfer will further reduce the balances of both the neighborhood and citywide infrastructure and recreations project funds, which have suffered sharply reduced revenues as a result of the recession … As with any budget decision this is a matter of priorities. In the past two years, thousands of residents have made their vision and values in St. petersburg known and they are expressed time and time again, the longing for critical investments into our neighborhoods and into our youth. This decision, if it is approved, does not represent that vision. In fact it is turning a deaf ear on two years of unprecedented public engagement to this body and dialogue on the future of our city.”
Brown and other members of the People's Budget Review pointed out projects covered by Penny for Pinellas that could be scrapped due to the transfer of funds, including the acquisition of property for new affordable housing, street-scaping, landscaping and green-scaping for neighborhoods, recreation center improvements and enhancements, library additions, improvements and replacements, the Chiles Park corridor, the arts maintenance program, improving streets, roads, sidewalks and ramps, storm water drainage improvements, improvements of pedestrian walkways and bike lanes, historical renovations and new park facilities and playground equipment.
While the audience was in a clear majority of opposition towards the diversion of funds, there were some who felt that the new headquarters was necessary.
“While we owe the residents to respond to the People's Budget Review,” said one woman who CL was unable to identify, "the referendum where we promised the voters that we would support a police headquarters I think is a greater obligation. Most of the speakers who have gotten up so far say they do not oppose building a police department and certainly for the fourth largest city in the state of Florida, we have an obligation to the public safety of our citizens. We have fine officers sitting over here. I'm sure if they had the opportunity to speak, they would also voice the opinion that they need the resources to do their job.”

9. Pig Protection
Whistleblower Jim Schrier never would have thought that speaking out for the welfare of pigs would land him 120 miles away from his family, but it did. Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t easy – especially when you’re a whistleblower brave enough to take a stand against Big Ag. Whistleblowers not only take professional risks such as demotions and terminations, but truth-telling and subsequent retaliation can exact great tolls on their personal lives. 

On Giving Tuesday, your generous contribution can help the Government Accountability Project's Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) support whistleblowers like veteran meat inspector Jim Schrier, truth-tellers who make sure that the food at your table is produced in a way that is consistent with your family’s values and beliefs. 

In late 2012, Jim – who has dutifully served as a USDA meat inspector for 30 years – blew the whistle on inhumane handling of pigs at a Tyson Foods slaughter plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa. He witnessed improper stunning of pigs before slaughter, a direct violation of federal humane handling regulations that require pigs to be completely unconscious and unable to feel pain prior to shackling. Jim thought he was simply doing his job when he brought these concerns to his supervisor, but instead of enforcing the regulations, management became angry and moved Jim to another slaughterhouse more than 120 miles away. The action forced Jim to often stay in a hotel near work and miss time with his family, an unfair and unacceptable punishment for speaking the truth! 

The Campaign took on Jim's case, worked with media to cover his story, and supported a petition launched by his wife, Tammy, to bring her husband back to his original post. She collected more than 200,000 petition signatures urging the agency to return Jim home! 

The good news is, with public pressure from FIC supporters like you, the USDA finally agreed to negotiate, and by late 2013, the agency moved Jim back to work at a facility near his home and family. It’s been quite a year for Jim, but we're glad he can now spend time with his loved ones over the holidays. 

Assisting whistleblowers like Jim and protecting them from retaliation is no easy feat, and we need your help to bring success stories to more brave truth-tellers! On December 3rd, you can double the push for food transparency by making a gift to FIC for Giving Tuesday. Your donation will be matched by the CS Fund* and help whistleblowers freely speak out against threats to food integrity.

Your friends, 
GAP President Louis Clark & FIC Director Amanda Hitt

10. 8 reasons to OPPOSE NSA Spying
  • Point out how mass surveillance leaves you at the mercy of not only the NSA, but also to the DEA, the FBI and even the IRS. We know that the government claims that any evidence of a "crime" can be sent to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. 
  • Tell them that, even if you don't think you have something to hide, it's possible the government thinks you do, or can create some concern about you (or your friends or loved ones). There are so many laws and regulations on the books, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner said the Congressional Research Service did not have the resources to count them all.  One legal expert has argued that the average person likely commits three felonies a day without ever realizing. So, you may be technically breaking a law you have no idea about.
  • We all benefit from a system that allows privacy. For example, when journalists can speak to sources without the specter of surveillance, helping fuel investigative journalism and the free flow of information. And this is not just a hypothetical--the Department of Justice subpoenaed the phone records of Associated Press journalists in an effort to track down government whistleblowers. And it's not just journalists. Activists, political organizers, lawyers, individuals conducting sensitive research, businesses that want to keep their strategies confidential, and many others rely on secure, private, surveillance-free communication.

11. Church Group Trying to Feed the Homeless Ordered to Stop
Story by Israel Balderas / CBS 12 News
LAKE WORTH, Fla. -- Happy Thanksgiving to all, but apparently not for the homeless living at Palm Beach County’s John Prince Park in Lake Worth, FL.

This holiday is supposed to be a day to think of others, which is exactly what church members from Acts 2 Worship Center in Loxahatchee, FL wanted to do.

But when the small group tried to deliver food to the homeless living at the park, a park ranger ordered them to stop.

"God takes care of us,” said Steven Griffin, who’s homeless. “We don't starve. We're grateful."

Griffin and his wife Dominique have lived at John Prince Park in Lake Worth for years, and they're not the only ones.

"You get all these other people coming in,” said Griffin, as his wife nodded in agreement. “I guess it’s because of the economy.”

For that reason, a dozen church members like Tereza Del Rio from Acts 2 showed up with packaged Thanksgiving meals.

"We do a lot of mission trips and helping the homeless and stuff like that,” said Del Rio. “I do whatever I can.”

"We brought our kids out here so they could see what it’s really like for people that are struggling,” said church member Brian Oakes.

And this act of kindness was greatly appreciated. 

“We’re grateful you know,” said Kevin Rudd, who’s also homeless. “They hand out; we meet the guys and stuff. They give us a prayer and everything.”

But then, just as the homeless like Kevin were being fed, a Palm Beach County park ranger came up to the church group and ordered them to stop and leave!

“And everybody just went, ‘huh?’” said a confused Rudd.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Brian. “We didn’t intend for this today. We just wanted to give the food and be able to bless people.”

So CBS 12 news walked around Prince Park and followed the church members who just wanted to deliver the remaining Thanksgiving packages. This despite being told by the park ranger they had to leave or else be ticketed.

“Thank you very much,” said a family receiving the food.

“Mr. Park Ranger,” said CBS 12 reporter Israel Balderas, “how are you sir?” 

CBS 12 tracked down the park ranger that witnesses say was kicking out the church members.

“I'm not allowed to talk with you,” said the park ranger, also identified as Mark. “You have to take your questions to the administration building.”

“They’re saying that you told some church people to leave,” said the reporter to the park ranger.

“Hi,” waved the park ranger to the camera. “I can’t talk to you; my bosses don't want me to talk.”

Park Ranger Mark said he was ordered to warn the church members that they were violating county ordinances. When he was asked to cite the specific law that gave him the authority to kick out church members from a public park, he couldn’t do it. So he called dispatch to ask for help. 

“Channel 12 is here, wants to talk to me about previous activities gone on here,” said the park ranger to dispatch. “And I’m not allowed to talk to them.”

The previous activity being referred to was the ranger telling the church group that they couldn't feed the homeless.

At first, CBS 12 was told only the director of parks would talk on camera, but he wasn't available today.

Dispatch said that feeding the homeless was not a permitted activity by a large group. But CBS 12 asked, “What constitutes an activity and what size is too large?” 

CBS 12 waited for Mark’s supervisor, Max Steward, to show up at Prince Park. But that never happened.

“And I’m sorry I couldn't talk with you but they put strict orders,” said the park ranger.

“Mark, you were following orders, is that fair?” asked reporter Israel Balderas

“Yes sir!” said the park ranger, with a sigh.

By the time CBS 12 finished talking with the park ranger, Acts 2 church members were done passing out the food they had. The homeless at the park were thankful for people giving of their Thanksgiving Day to think of others.

Tomorrow, they’ll be hungry again, and if someone tries to feed them, that activity could be a violation of the law. For now…

12 WikiLeaks
In the face of the US government¹s three-year attack on WikiLeaks, an anonymous Department of Justice official talking to the Washington Post now claims that there is little possibility of prosecuting Julian Assange for publishing, but that a Grand Jury remains empaneled and the situation may change. So, we have a much-hedged statement by someone who cannot be identified claiming that the government may not indict Julian Assange for publishing. This is hardly the assurance that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange need. It is hardly the assurance that others who seek to reveal material that might offend the government need to carry on their activities. The damage to a free press by this heavy-handed, unwarranted and continued investigation into a publisher is severe.
The anonymous assertion that Julian Assange may not be indicted for publication of classified documents, even if true, only deals with a small part of the grand jury investigation. That investigation has been primarily concerned with trying to prove somehow that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were involved, not merely in publication, but in a conspiracy with their sources. There is also the question as to the status of the DoJ investigations into WikiLeaks involvement in the Stratfor and Snowden matters.
For three years WikiLeaks and its publisher and founder Julian Assange have faced an unprecedented and wide-ranging Grand Jury investigation into its publishing and sourcing activities, with claims that somehow these activities might constitute a conspiracy to commit espionage, theft or access violations. That investigation, which has involved paid informers, unlawful interrogations in Europe and subpoenas to WikiLeaks supporters and social media companies, has caused untold damage to the free press. It has chilled other publishers and journalists from publishing articles and documents to which the public ought to have access. It has made many fearful of association, including PayPal, Visa, Bank of America and other financial services companies, who continue to blockade transfers from us, from our supporters and even donations to our political party in Australia. Despite these and many other efforts, the US government has failed to destroy WikiLeaks, which remains a vigorous publishing organization.
The formal position of the US Department of Justice is that the investigation continues. Rather than caveat riddled claims from anonymous officials with undefined motivations, the government ought to do the right thing: close the investigation and formally and unequivocally tell WikiLeaks that no charges will be brought. Despite our lawyers’ repeated requests, they refuse to do so. Presently, the situation for WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assaunge remains unchanged. Perhaps with such an assurance this dark chapter for freedom of the press can be closed.
Hours prior to receiving a copy of this statement, I published a post commenting on the significance of the grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks and how it is still ongoing. The entire investigation into Assaunge and WikiLeaks has always been motivated by the lawful publishing of documents, which Justice Department officials are now apparently ready to admit is not criminal conduct.
What that means is the investigation has been purely political, a fishing expedition to find and uncover some kind of aspect of WikiLeaks’ operations, which they could focus upon to bring charges against Assaunge and its staffers/volunteers. They appear to have come up empty-handed after three years, but that does not change the fact that the Justice Department should never have exercised its discretion and launched an investigation into everyone tied to the organization in the first place

13. Insiders: State secrets bill meant to suppress Fukushima news — Japan public stunned, citizens could face years in prison — Man has mouth “stuffed with cloth” after voicing opposition — Toxic leaks into ocean seem unstoppable, gov’t must plug the information instead
Mainichi, Nov. 27, 2013: The ruling coalition’s ramming of a controversial special state secrets bill [...] through the House of Representatives on Nov. 26 has stunned the public. [...] it could discourage citizens as well as journalists from seeking access to such information for fear of harsh punishment, blocking government information from circulating in society [...]

Japan-based Investigative Journalist Jake Adelstein, Nov. 29, 2013: [...] even politicians inside the ruling bloc are saying, “It can’t be denied that another purpose is to muzzle the press, shut up whistleblowers, and ensure that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima ceases to be an embarrassment before the Olympics.” [...] And most tellingly, Masako Mori, the Minister of Justice, has declared that nuclear related information will most likely be a designated secret. For the Abe administration this would be fantastic way to deal with the issue of tons of radiated water leaking  [...] There seems to be no end to stopping the toxic waste leaks there but the new legislation would allow the administration to plug the information leaks permanently. As [it] continues to pour into the ocean and our food supply, it is an ominous sign that the Japanese government refuses to disclose information about the levels of pollution [...]

Mainichi, Nov. 27, 2013: Under the bill, ordinary citizens who aid and abet or conspire with others in leaking information classified as special state secrets could face up to five years in prison even if the information were not actually revealed. If citizens were indicted for obtaining special secrets under the legislation, they could be convicted without the content of the information being clarified.

Mainichi, Nov. 27, 2013: One of the [Fukushima] residents angrily said, “How far are they going to go in fooling us?” [...]  a member of the Diet’s investigation committee on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, said, “I hope information involving the lives of residents will not be made secret.”

14. no news
The Japanese government, which already has a long history of cover-ups and opaqueness, is on its way to becoming even less open and transparent after the lower house the Diet, Japan’s parliament, passed the Designated Secrets Bill on Tuesday. With new powers to classify nearly anything as a state secret and harsh punishments for leakers that can easily be used to intimidate whistleblowers and stifle press freedom, many in Japan worry that the if the bill becomes law it will be only the first step towards even more severe erosions of freedom in the country.
Even politicians inside the ruling bloc are saying, “It can’t be denied that another purpose is to muzzle the press, shut up whistleblowers, and ensure that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima ceases to be an embarrassment before the Olympics.”
The new law would enact harsher punishment to leakers and ominously would allow journalists who obtained information by “inappropriate means” and whistleblowers to be jailed for up to ten years. The law would also allow the police to raid the offices of media organizations and seize evidence at their discretion.
The bill has even grants no longer existent agencies the power to classify secrets.

Despite the bill’s enlargement of the state’s power over information, it contains no oversight process to act as a check on ministries and government agencies designating large amounts of information as ‘secret’ for capricious or self-interested reasons.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

PNN - November Notables

PNN - 11/24/13

Kelly Martin
William Rankin CFO Candidate
Citizen Clean Water Summit

2013 Earth First! Film Fest
Three days of new and classic films from the front lines of the global ecological resistance
Location: Friends’ Quaker Meeting House, 823 North A Street, Lake Worth, FL
Nov 29 - Dec 1

Thursday December 5, 2 p.m. 
National Day of Action: Delivery of our Social Security advocacy message
Florida Senator Bill Nelson is a member of the Senate Budget Committee. That committee is meeting NOW and might consider such drastic measures as:
·        Cuts to Social Security
·        Raising Medicare beneficiary costs
·        Reducing Medicaid funding
Senator Nelson’s West Palm Beach office
413 Clematis St. #210
WPB, FL 33401
RSVP Midge Dosch - 561 301 4676


1. Dump It in the Ocean: TEPCO's Plan for Radioactive Fukushima Water
'There's no risk to public health and safety,' pronounces consultant working for the nuclear plant's owner

A nuclear expert helping with the clean-up at the crisis-stricken Fukushima plant has joined a chorus of voices saying that all the accumulating radioactive waste water must eventually be dumped into the ocean.

Speaking with Australia's ABC, Dale Klein, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and current head of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee hired by plant operator TEPCO, described the situation at the plant as "challenging."

Massive amounts of radioactive water used to cool the reactors continue to build up daily in hastily built storage tanks, some which have already leaked, creating an unsustainable scenario.

Eventually, Klein told ABC, that water must be treated to reduce its radioactivity and then dumped into he ocean.

"At the end of the day, when the water is discharged, it will be released in a way that it's diluted," he said.

"So there's no risk to public health and safety. But it's an emotional issue."

More mishaps at Fukushima, like when a rat chewed wiring and caused a power outage, are likely to come, Klein warned.

"I think we will see more of those. When you look at that site, it's massive," he said.

"It's a big site and it's not unusual to have other things like that," he told ABC.

Klein's comments that the waste water will head to the ocean echo those that Lake Barrett, a former NRC official who also serves on TEPCO's committee, offered in an op-ed in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in September.

Barrett wrote that

    Spending billions and billions of yen on building tanks to try to capture almost every drop of water on the site is unsustainable, wasteful, and counterproductive. Such a program cannot continue indefinitely. [...]

    I see no realistic alternative to a program that cleans up water with improved processing systems so it meets very protective Japanese release standards and then, after public discussion, conducts an independently confirmed, controlled release to the sea.

Also among those calling for the water to be dumped into the ocean is Shunichi Tanaka, head of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority, who said in September, "I'm afraid that it is unavoidable to dump or release the water into the sea."

Meanwhile at the crippled nuclear plant, workers this week began a risky yet pressing operation to remove over 1300 fuel rods from Reactor 4.

Explaining why the removal is dangerous yet must be done, nuclear expert Dr. Arjun Makhijani told The Real News Network's Jaisal Noor:

    Now, the spent fuel pool number four at Fukushima, which is in question currently, has the most spent fuel of any of the damaged reactors. And the building itself is damaged. And if it is left there, there may be another earthquake. And if the spent fuel pool is destroyed in the next earthquake, there could be a much more severe environmental catastrophe than there was in 2011, in some ways, because the long-lived radioactive material in the spent fuel is more than what was emitted during that accident. I'm talking about long-lived material—cesium, strontium, and so on.

    So I believe it is very important to empty spent fuel pool number four especially and put that spent fuel in safer storage.

    Look, there's no low-risk solution to this problem. Leaving it there is a significant risk, and removing it also involves significant risks. The spent fuel may be difficult to dislodge because it's no longer in its proper original position. The fuel rods may break, and the fuel may wind up at the bottom of the reactor in the spent fuel pool. There may be an accident of criticality. I haven't examined their plans in detail, but I do think it is very essential to remove this spent fuel, because in my judgment, the bigger danger is leaving it there and waiting for the earthquake to happen. [...]

    These pools are sitting high up in the building, and above them there are cranes that move above the spent fuel pools and reactors that transfer fresh fuel into the reactor and used fuel out of the reactor into a pool. So these are pretty heavy pieces of equipment. And those frames were destroyed, along, you know, with the building infrastructure on which they were constructed. So they've had to build a whole new basically impromptu infrastructure to handle this spent fuel that—one hopes that is as precise as the other one, but it's doubtful whether it can replicate the precision of the old, original crane, which could go back and forth above the pool. But it is—you know, they have actually built some kind of a structure, protective structure, not like the original containment. And they also have built a new crane and remote handling for the fuel.

2. us house passes bill
The US House passed Wednesday two bills that would demand a $5,000 filing fee for any individual that wanted to hold an official protest of a drilling project, and that would give the feds less authority nationwide over hydraulic fracking rules.

HR 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, imposes a $5,000 fee for anyone wishing to file for an official protest of a proposed drilling project. An amendment to the bill offered by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) that would have clarified the fee to make sure it was not in violation of First Amendment rights was defeated.

In addition, the bill would allow for automatic approval of onshore drilling permits should the US Department of Interior (DOI) take over 60 days to act on an application. DOI would also be required to begin commercial leasing for development of oil shale - not to be confused with “shale oil” - which is rock that must be heated to about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to yield crude oil.

The controversial practice has been largely nonexistent in the US since the days of President Herbert Hoover, who prohibited leasing federal lands for oil shale, “the dirtiest fuel on the planet,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The oil shale process “takes a large amount of energy and money, as well as 3-5 barrels of water per barrel of oil produced, a dangerous issue in the parched West,” according to Jessica Goad of the Center for American Progress’ Public Lands Project. 

Large tracts of land - especially in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming - hold deposits of oil shale. The bill would require the federal government to open up 10 leases of its land in 2014 for research and demonstration projects, with further developments by 2016.

The House passed the measure, sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), by a vote of 228 to 192, with seven Democrats supporting it and only one Republican in opposition.

The other bill - HR 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act - would put more authority of hydraulic fracking in the hands of states that already have rules on the practice. Unless a state has yet to set guidelines on fracking, DOI would have no authority over whether companies disclose what chemicals they use in fracking fluid, whether water from fracked wells is polluted or whether anyone can request public hearings regarding fracking permit applications.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 235 to 187, as 12 Democrats supported it and only two Republicans did not.

Hydraulic fracking is the highly-controversial process of injecting water, sand and various chemicals into layers of rock in hopes of releasing oil and gas deep underground. The practice is opposed worldwide, as shown by global protests against fracking in October, for its damning environmental impacts. 

Supporters say it brings jobs and opportunities for energy independence, though detractors have pointed to exaggerated employment claims. Multiple reports have found any jobs created by fracking usually go to established, already-employed oil industry workers from places like Texas rather than local citizens.

Meanwhile, more money is being thrown at the US political class to support fracking, representing the rising popularity of it among energy companies. Calculations released Wednesday by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics Washington show fracking industry contributions to congressional campaigns went up 231 percent from 2004 to 2012 in districts and states where fracking has occurred.

The two bills have little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate. Even if it did, President Obama has stated he would veto the legislation should it get that far.

House Democrats opposed to the bills decried voting on such measures that have no chance of becoming law. “The galleries are empty, the floor is empty, because we’re not doing anything,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said Wednesday on the House floor. “And it’s not because we don’t have a lot of things to do.”

“I won’t apologize for any action that’s been taken by the majority of this house to try to reign in the excesses of this administration,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) said in response. 

3. Erik Prince on NPR - no rebuttal

4. Florida locks up more people than 
    the brutal communist government of Cuba

5. Polishing our Apples - in secret of course
Now they're engineering our apples!
It's just not natural for food to look like this

Only the biotech industry could make an apple act like junk

Don't let biotech mess with our apples!

You've seen the stories, maybe on the Internet, maybe on your local news. It's a gross curiosity: someone shows off junk food that they claim they've had for 40 years, but it looks like it was made yesterday. These stories give us all the creeps, because it's just not natural for food not to decay. You should feel the same way about genetically engineered (GE) apples — these "Arctic" apples won't turn brown when you cut them up!

Apples are great just the way they are; there's no reason for biotech companies to change them. Browning is nature's way of showing how fresh an apple slice is. A little browning never hurt anyone, and a lot of browning is a sign that an apple slice is getting old... unless GE apples get approved.

If that happens, you won't be able to tell just by looking at an apple how fresh it is, and because GE apples aren't labeled, you won't have the option to avoid them. Tell the USDA that non-browning apples are just unnatural, and you don't want them at your grocery store.

There's more wrong with this Arctic apple than its unnatural good looks. The creators of this apple used a controversial new engineering technique to silence the gene responsible for browning. Unfortunately, changing DNA isn't that simple — different genes within an organism interact in ways that are hard to predict, so you can't just flip off a gene like a switch without side effects. In the case of the GE apple, the browning gene is also tied to the apple tree's natural defenses against pests. The USDA simply hasn't done enough research to know what effect that could have on the plants themselves and on people who eat the apples.

The GE apple is steadily moving along its path to approval, but it's seriously controversial. Even some major food companies, like Gerber and McDonald's, have already said that they won't use the GE apple. We need to show the USDA that the public — that's you — overwhelmingly opposes this freakish fruit. Can you add your voice to the growing outcry against GE apples?

6. Zombie Politics & Casino Capitalism
    on the Bill Moyers Show - from TruthOut|-henry-giroux-zombie-politics-and-casino-capitalism

This week on Moyers & Company, author and scholar Henry Giroux explains how our political system has turned people into zombies – “people who are basically so caught up with surviving that they become like the walking dead — they lose their sense of agency, they lose their homes, they lose their jobs.”

Also on the broadcast, Bill looks at Birth of the Living Dead, a mesmerizing new documentary that examines the singular time in which the classic 1968 film Night of the Living Dead was shot – when civil unrest and violence gave the nation nightmares and zombies were a metaphor for a troubled and distressed American public.

HENRY GIROUX: What's at stake here is not just the fact that you have rich people who now control the economy and all the commanding institutions of society. What you have is basically a transgression against the very basic ideals of democracy. I mean, it's hard to imagine life beyond capitalism. You know, it's easier to imagine the death of the planet than it is to imagine the death of capitalism.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. A very wise teacher once told us, “If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.” Then he gave us some of his favorite examples. You think of language differently, he said, if you think of “words pregnant with celestial fire.” Or “words that weep and tears that speak.” Of course, the heart doesn’t physically separate into pieces when we lose someone we love, but “a broken heart” conveys the depth of loss. And if I say you are the “apple of my eye”, you know how special you are in my sight. In other words, metaphors cleanse the lens of perception and give us a fresh take on reality. In other words.

Recently I read a book and saw a film that opened my eyes to see differently the crisis of our times, and the metaphor used by both was, believe it or not, zombies. You heard me right, zombies. More on the film later, but this is the book: “Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism”. Talk about “connecting the dots” -- read this, and the headlines of the day will, I think, arrange themselves differently in your head -- threading together ideas and experiences to reveal a pattern. The skillful weaver is Henry Giroux, a scholar, teacher and social critic with seemingly tireless energy and a broad range of interests. Here are just a few of his books: America's Education Deficit and the War on Youth, Twilight of the Social, Youth in a Suspect Society, Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education.

Henry Giroux is the son of working class parents in Rhode Island who now holds the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. Henry Giroux, welcome.

7. US Court Denies Halt on Pipeline Set to Replace Keystone XL Northern Half

The ever-wise Yogi Berra once quipped "It's like déjà vu all over again," a truism applicable to a recent huge decision handed down by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 
That 600-mile long, 600,000 barrels per day proposed line runs from Flanagan, Illinois - located in the north central part of the state - down to Cushing, Oklahoma, dubbed the "pipeline crossroads of the world." The proposed 694-mile, 700,000 barrels per day proposed Transcanada Keystone XL northern half also runs to Cushing from Alberta, Canada and requires U.S. State Department approval, along with President Barack Obama's approval. 
Because Flanagan South is not a border-crossing line, it doesn't require the State Department or Obama's approval. If Keystone XL's northern half's permit is denied, Flanagan South - along with Enbridge's proposal to expand itsAlberta Clipper pipeline, approved by Obama's State Department during Congress' recess in August 2009 - would make up that half of the pipeline's capacity and then some. 
At issue in the District Court was the legality of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issuing a Nationwide Permit 12 to shove through the Flanagan South (much like the Appeals Court case covered here on DeSmogBlog just weeks ago with Transcanada's Keystone XL's southern half, rebranded the "Gulf Coast Pipeline Project" by Transcanada). 
Sierra Club and NWF argued for an injunction - or halt - in constructing and pumping tar sands through Flanagan South until the legality of issuing a Nationwide Permit 12 is decided, an issue still awaiting the decision of Judge Jackson. Like the Keystone XL southern half case, Nationwide Permit 12 was used instead of going through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
by Steve Horn

8. MORE MORE MORE - Snowden's latest release says they wanted MORE!
from New York Times
fficials at the National Security Agency, intent on maintaining its dominance in intelligence collection, pledged last year to push to expand its surveillance powers, according to a top-secret strategy document.
In a February 2012 paper laying out the four-year strategy for the N.S.A.'s signals intelligence operations, which include the agency's eavesdropping and communications data collection around the world, agency officials set an objective to "aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age."
Written as an agency mission statement with broad goals, the five-page document said that existing American laws were not adequate to meet the needs of the N.S.A. to conduct broad surveillance in what it cited as "the golden age of Sigint," or signals intelligence. "The interpretation and guidelines for applying our authorities, and in some cases the authorities themselves, have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on N.S.A.'s mission," the document concluded.

New underwater footage inside Unit 3 pool shows fuel rack covered in rubble
Die-offs of mammals, birds, reptiles in Western U.S. — “So many diseases afflicting such a wide variety of animals” — Names out of sci-fi thriller: hemorrhagic disease, sylvatic plague — Studies now underway to find out why
Billings Gazette
llings Gazette, Nov. 18, 2013: Jared Jansen [...] said, he and his father, Mike, have seen up to 100 dead deer at a time along the Musselshell River. [...] die-offs have whittled the once hardy deer herds down to a handful [...] “I’ve only seen three does this year. [...] It used to be when I was haying along the river, early in the morning, I’d see 200 to 500 head in the meadows.” [...] The names sound like something out of a science fiction thriller: epizootic hemorrhagic disease, sylvatic plague, bluetongue, brucellosis, chytrid, chronic wasting disease [...] Yet the all-too-real afflictions threaten to reduce the populations of wild mammals, birds and reptiles across Montana, Wyoming and other regions [...] “There is a general consensus among scientists that we are seeing more disease,” said Jonathan Sleeman, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. [...] so many diseases afflicting such a wide variety of animals [...] A study is being conducted in northwestern Montana to examine the possible causes [...]

10. Cris Costello
      Regional Organizing Representative
      Sierra Club
      2815 Proctor Road
      Sarasota, FL 34231-6443
      Office:  941-922-2900
      Cell:  941-914-0421 

11. 90% of the way to Qualify the Water & Land Conservation Amendment 
      for the November 2014 Ballot

 I'm delighted to report to you that we are 90% of the way to qualifying the Water and Land Conservation Amendment for the November 2014 ballot!

This is a huge achievement, and it is all because of the tireless commitment of volunteers and supporters like you. Together, we're creating the largest dedicated funding source for water and land conservation and restoration in the country.

With only 12 days remaining to gather signatures, we can't afford to slow down now! We are counting on everyone who has already invested time and energy in this campaign to dig a little deeper for just a little while longer. We must be bold. We must be brave. And we must be quick.