Sunday, July 28, 2013

PNN - The Food Safety Show

PNN - 7-27-13

 Michael Hansen        Sr. Scientist Consumer Union/Reports
 Jeanne Economos     Farmworker Pesticide Safety 
 Winona Hauter          Food and Water Watch
 Jeffrey Ruchs             Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
 Zack Kaldveer          Organic Consumer Organization 


0. Fukushima trench water crisis returns

Source: Kyodo
Date: July 27, 2013

    Fukushima trench water crisis returns

    Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that the trench problem at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has cropped up again and is sending highly radioactive water into the sea. [...]

    [The water] contains 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter [...]

    The trench is believed to be the source of the groundwater problem that’s been baffling Tepco’s experts for months. Their current theory is that the highly radioactive water found and left in the trench in 2011 is now leaking directly into the groundwater, which is seeping into the sea. [...]

    The utility hopes to halt the problem by building a wall out of liquid glass between the reactors and the sea and removing the contaminated water from the underground passage.

1. Extremely contaminated water is seeping into Pacific Ocean from under Fukushima Reactor No. 2 turbine building — Tepco: We believe ir’s staying in trench

Kyodo News, July 27, 2013: Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday it has detected 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter from water in an underground passage at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that is seeping into the sea [...] The trench, which is believed to be the source of the latest water leakage into the sea, is located below the No. 2 reactor turbine building. [...]

Asahi Shimbun, July 27, 2013: “We believe the highly radioactive water is staying within the pit,” a TEPCO official said, adding that the utility will nevertheless check carefully for possible leaks into surrounding soil and seal the ground to block such leaks from reaching the sea.

See also: WSJ: Extreme contamination found at Fukushima plant -- Cesium over 2 billion Bq/liter; Millions of times above limit -- Tepco 'trying' to stop it leaking into ocean -- 'Probably' from melted reactor core
Published: July 27th, 2013 at 10:38 am ET
By ENENews

2. Consumers Union statement on new long term study of feeding GE grains to pigs

Statement of Michael Hansen, PhD, Senior Scientist, Consumers Union on New Long Term Study of Feeding GE Grains to Pigs

The new peer-reviewed long-term pig feeding study just published raises important concerns about possible health impacts of consuming genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy. There have been very few animal feeding studies of GE food to date, and extremely few that lasted longer than 90 days. This new study looked at pigs fed GE corn and soy under commercial production conditions over a 22.7 week period. Compared to a control group that was fed conventional corn and soy, the GE-fed pigs showed significant increases in severe stomach inflammation and thickening of the uterus. The study in online here:

Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has long been concerned about the impact of GE crops and thinks these effects are a red flag and deserve further study.  We also believe this study underlines the need for labeling of GE food, since there still much to learn about their health effects. Consumers Union urges state legislatures, as well as Congress, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to require labeling of GE foods.

This new long term study, which looked at pigs over their normal commercial lifetime of five months, reinforces concerns prompted by the highly controversial Seralini study, which looked at rats fed GE food over a two year period, compared to rats fed a non-GE diet. That study also found differences in health outcomes, including higher rates of certain tumors, and liver and kidney problems, among rats fed a GE diet.

This new study of pigs, published in the Journal of Organic Systems is valuable because it used a relatively large study sample size (168 pigs including controls), and was conducted at a U.S. pig production facility in Iowa. The research was led by an Australian scientist.

The study found that the uteri of GE-fed pigs was significantly larger (weighed 25 percent more) than those of non-GE-fed pigs. In addition, the rate of severe stomach inflammation was more than 2.5-fold higher, on average, for GE-fed pigs compared to non-GE-fed pigs (32 percent vs. 12 percent, respectively).  Indeed, for male pigs, the rate of severe stomach inflammation was four times higher for GE-fed males to non-GE fed males, and for females, the rate was more than 2-fold higher.

As the authors conclude: “The results indicate that it would be prudent for GM crops that are destined for human food and animal feed, including stacked GM crops, to undergo long-term animal feeding studies preferably before commercial planting, particularly for toxicological and reproductive effects.”

Contact: Naomi Starkman, 917.539.3924,


3. Monsanto receives approval of refuge-in-a-bag product 2

Monsanto just received full regulatory approval for a single-bag refuge product for corn. The product is called Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete and can be planted across a corn grower’s entire field. It is a blend of 95% Genuity SmartStax corn seed and 5% refuge (non-Bt) seed. No separate, structured refuge is needed for either above- or belowground pests in the Corn Belt. Monsanto does caution that growers planting Genuity SmartStax without the RIB Complete will still need a refuge.

The Genuity SmartStax RIB is a combination of corn traits from both Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences. The two companies collaborated on the new product, which includes multiple modes of action for broad-spectrum control of above- and belowground insects, and also offers two herbicide-tolerance traits. It will be fully launched in 2012.
“Farmers have told us they want a true, single-bag refuge solution, and this registration enables Monsanto to deliver,” reports Brett Begemann, Monsanto CCO. “This is a new level of value that hasn’t existed to date, as Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete corn simplifies refuge management by eliminating the structured refuge, which can contribute to timely, more-efficient planting and one-farm productivity.” 



Editor’s note: Extension weed scientists are warning that farmers across the Midwest face increasing risks that weeds such as waterhemp, marestail or giant ragweed are developing resistance to glyphosate herbicide.

They point to farmers’ experiences in the South as an example of what can happen when growers lose a tool like Roundup Ready corn or soybeans.

In this article in our sister publication, Delta Farm Press, veteran weed scientist Ford Baldwin addresses the issues that face cotton, corn, rice and soybean producers in Arkansas and other Mid-South states. (Palmer amaranth is a cousin to waterhemp.)

I read a recent article written about the “PigPosium” held last November in Arkansas. I had never seen anything like it — 800 or so folks attending a meeting on one weed. Everyone left the meeting charged up full of vim, vam and vigor to go “whoop” this weed.

Somewhere between then and now the wheels came off. Ken Smith was quoted in the meeting saying, “No, I don’t think they’re [pigweed] going to take over the world and we’re not going to let them take over Arkansas under our watch.”
Those guys are working extremely hard, but as an industry we are not giving them much support. They are delivering the message and nobody is listening. I have sure found out that I do not have any influence either.

Folks, unless we can make some dramatic changes, pigweeds are going to take over Arkansas. If this year does not get your attention, I give up!

I do not have all the answers for the pigweed problem. We did not have to find the hard answers in the early 1990s. Roundup Ready came along and it WAS the answer.
However, there are a couple of statements I continue to hear that we have to get past. The first one is, “I just don’t have the problem yet.” Two years I was constantly told, “We have a rice rotation, so I am just not worried about pigweeds.” I have probably had more pigweed calls this year from the heart of rice country than anywhere else. If you are farming soybeans or cotton in Arkansas, you have the problem whether or not it is in a particular field yet.

While I do not have all the answers, I do have a good handle on some things that will not work and some things that are going to have to happen if we are to keep the pigweeds from winning. It has to start with respecting the enemy.

I am constantly told, “I just saw one here and there for the first time last year and now look!” If we have not figured out by now they will overpower you with numbers, I do not know how else to say it.

My worst fear from five years ago has happened: that is we would not be willing to change until the pigweed populations were back to overpowering levels. That is statewide now.
Before Roundup Ready we could get 95% pigweed control from a program and we could not harvest the plots. In most cases 95% weed control is a great expectation from a program. We have field after field in Arkansas now where 95% pigweed control is a failure! You cannot treat Palmer pigweed like any other weed you have ever dealt with.
Another reality that must be dealt with is Roundup Ready as we have known it for nearly 20 years is dead, dead, dead. Until we come to grips with that we will continue to go backward. There is no one magic bullet that will make Roundup Ready what it used to be.

One of the things I have seen coming from a mile away is residuals are not the answer. They are a necessary part of the solution but a far cry from the answer. I was in research plots recently where residuals worked great. The researcher is doing a great job, but about the fourth time he told me residuals were the answer I said, “You don’t understand. Most of Arkansas went four to six weeks without rain on residuals. Unless you tell me you can make it rain, residuals are not the answer.” If we cannot control pigweeds when residuals do not work, we will lose the fight.

Another reality that many have not come to grips with is nothing is as good as “Roundup used to be.” We are all but making a surfactant out of the world’s greatest herbicide.
I believe that LibertyLink crops must be part of the answer. However, when you try to use Ignite on pigweeds like you used to use glyphosate, there is a good chance it will fail. The LibertyLink system has great potential, but it is not what Roundup Ready used to be. I do not believe any of the technologies on the horizon will be what Roundup Ready used to be either. Living in the past will not work; we have to learn to use the tools we must depend on now.


5. The EPA recently granted registration approval for Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera 3220 corn trait stack. This stack includes the Viptera trait for aboveground pest protection.
It also contains the Agrisure CB/LL trait for European corn borer, the Agrisure GT trait for glyphosate tolerance, and the Herculex I trait for second modes of both broad-spectrum lepidopteran protection and corn borer protection. Syngenta says this new Viptera 3220 trait stack is designed for geographies where corn rootworm is not a problem. The new trait should be available in 2012.

Syngenta also reported it submitted for EPA registration a new 5% blended refuge-in-a-bag product with the Agrisure Viptera 3220 trait stack. The company intends to market it under the Agrisure E-Z Refuge name when EPA approval is received.


6. The Frog Who Crushed The Planet

Did a French yuppie really create the Finance Crisis?
By Greg Palast for Vice Magazine
Tuesday, 23 July 2013

You just knew it had to be one of those brie-biting, Sartre-spewing, overly-garlicked Frenchmen who pushed the Earth's finance system over a cliff.

This week, US prosecutors finally began the trial of the only person on the entire planet whom they have charged with the financial crimes that sank worldwide stock markets by trillions in 2008 and left millions homeless and jobless, from Detroit to Manchester.

Amazingly, say prosecutors, it all came down to a single Frenchman, Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre, only 29 years old at the time. Even Julius Caesar waited until he turned 51 to bring the known world to its knees.

Here's the story which his defence team does not dispute:

In August 2007, hot-shot hedge fund manager John Paulson walked into Goldman Sachs with a brilliant plan to cash in on the US housing crisis.

He paid Goldman to announce that Paulson would invest a big hunk of his fund's wealth, $200 million, in securities tied to the US mortgage market’s recovery. A few lucky investors would be allowed to give Goldman their billions to bet with Paulson that Americans would never default on their home mortgages.

It was a con. Secretly, Paulson would bet against the mortgage market, hoping it would collapse – making sure it would collapse. All he needed was Goldman to line up the suckers to put up billions to be his "partners".

It was Goldman’s and Paulson's financial version of Mel Brooks' The Producers, in which a couple of corrupt theatre producers schemed to suck investors into a deliberate flop.

Throughout 2007 and 2008, Paulson & Co. worked with Goldman to create the financial equivalent of Springtime for Hitler.

Paulson personally chose the group of mortgages for the fund. Rather than pick the least risky, he deliberately loaded the fund with sub-prime losers. To polish this turd, Goldman and Paulson paid a highly respected risk analysis firm, ACA, to endorse the selection. Paulson and his vice president met with ACA to assure them of the value of the crappola – never telling ACA that, in fact, Paulson would profit if the securities failed.

Based on Paulson's pitch, ACA endorsed the value of these "synthetic derivatives" securities. This led rating agencies Moody's and S&P – recipients of fat fees from Goldman – to give the package an AAA rating – that is, marking them as safer than US Treasury notes.

In just a few weeks, by August 8, 2008, the securities lost 99 percent of their value.

The dupes paid up. One, Royal Bank of Scotland, handed over nearly a billion dollars ($840,909,090) to Goldman. Goldman then quietly shifted the loot, minus its fee, to Paulson & Co.

For more on Paulson and what he bought with your money, see Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.
The payout busted RBS. But don't shed tears. The Bank of England and British taxpayers took over the bank and covered the loss.

The collapse of RBS and the billions lost by others in the scheme fuelled a panic which caused banks in the US to shut their lending windows, refusing to re-finance sub-prime mortgages. Over two million American families now faced eviction.

Paulson was thrilled. Each default and eviction just made Paulson & Co. richer, altogether pulling in a profit for his hedge fund of over $3.5 billion on the Springtime-for-Hitler game. Paulson's personal earnings on this economic tragedy exceeded one billion dollars.

I happened to be in Detroit that August, at the home of auto union member Robert Pratt. He'd already received his eviction notice. Like almost all black home buyers in the USA, he was steered to a "sub-prime" mortgage. Under a formula years later deemed to be "predatory", his payments suddenly doubled. Pratt’s mortgage balance grew to $110,000 on a home worth $30,000. The bank would not refinance, so Pratt prepared to move into his car with his wife and four kids.

Government watchdogs hunted for the financial crimes perpetrators, and, discovering the Goldman/Paulson fraud, brought charges against... the French kid. Goldman had leant Fabrice Tourre to Paulson to take on flunky tasks, including putting together a 28-page "flip book" to lure European banks into the scam.

In a text message discovered by investigators, Fabrice admitted to a friend that he couldn't understand the insanely complex derivatives Paulson had crafted with Tourre's bosses at Goldman. He did, though, grasp that the strange securities were, he wrote, "monstrosities".  A collapse was coming that would "bring down the whole house", leaving Fabrice standing in a ruined planet – with a fat bonus.

What did the Feds do to Paulson? He received... a special tax break.

Am I defending the Fabulous Fabrice, the French-fried scapegoat? After all, he was just along for the ride. But he was deeply thrilled to carry water for the Bad Boys. And the charges against him are merely "civil", meaning he won't get jail time even if found guilty.

And what about Goldman, whose top brass knew of the entire game? The Securities and Exchange Commission did fine Goldman for its duplicity – a sum equal to 5 percent of the cash Goldman got from the US Treasury in bail-out funds.

After Goldman’s con became public, its CEO Lloyd Blankfein was hailed as a visionary for offloading mortgage-backed securities before the shit hit the finance fan. Blankfein hailed himself for, he said, "doing God's work". God did well. Blankfein’s bonus in 2007 brought his pay package to $69 million for the year, a Wall Street record.

Rather than prison or penury, Blankfein was appointed advisor to both the business and the law school at Harvard University.

So here’s the lesson all Harvard students are taught: If you can't do the time, don't do the crime... unless your booty exceeds a billion.


7. Fire shuts down Callaway nuclear plant, no danger to public after Friday night incident
Fulton Sun, July 27, 2013:

[...] At 11:49 p.m. Friday, Ameren Missouri Callaway Energy Center declared an “Unusual Event” due to a small fire in the turbine building, a press release from Ameren Missouri electric company stated. [...] Our first priority was stabilizing the nuclear plant … everything operated per design,” [Barry Cox, senior director of nuclear operations for the Callaway Energy Center] said. [...] There was no release of radioactivity to the environment above normal operating limits, the press release stated, and all appropriate federal, state and local agencies have been notified. [...] Cox said crews were on site Saturday afternoon to survey the damage [...]

Missourian, July 27, 2013: The Ameren Missouri Callaway Energy Center near Fulton is out of service as of Saturday afternoon after an “unusual event” occurred Friday night. [...] Ameren Missouri and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission are still investigating the cause of the fire and assessing damage to the plant, Cox said. [...] no radioactivity was released above the normal level. [...] An “unusual event” is the lowest of the four classifications the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has set out for nuclear emergencies. [...]

St. Louis Post Dispatch, July 27, 2013: There also were reports of black smoke, Cox said. [...] “It was not such a large fire that we had to call for assistance from outside sources or evacuate anyone,” Cox said. [...] “We are still doing our investigating as to the cause and assessing the damaged area,” he said. [...]

8. ‘Chaos’ over 4 underground oil blowouts in Canada: “Everybody is freaking out about this” —  Spills can’t be stopped, “There is no off button”, July 25, 2013 (h/t gottagetoffthegrid): Underground oil spills at an Alberta oilsands operation have been going on much longer than previously thought, according to new documents. Files released to the Toronto Star show the spills were discovered nine weeks ago, but new documents show that bitumen has been leaking since the winter. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. operates the Primrose oilsands facility three hours northeast of Edmonton where four ongoing underground oil blowouts have contaminated forest, muskeg, a lake and have already killed dozens animals including beavers, ducks and birds. According to a government scientist who has been to the site, neither government or industry are able to stop the spills. [...]

Toronto Star, July 19, 2013: The scientist, who asked not to be named for fear of losing their job, said the operation was in chaos. “Everybody (at the company and in government) is freaking out about this,” said the scientist. “We don’t understand what happened. Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.” [...] “This is a new kind of oil spill and there is no ‘off button,’ ” said Keith Stewart, an energy analyst with Greenpeace who teaches a course on energy policy and environment at the University of Toronto. “You can’t cap it like a conventional oil well or turn off a valve on a pipeline. “You are pressurizing the oil bed so hard that it’s no wonder that it blows out. This means that the oil will continue to leak until the well is no longer pressurized,” which means the bitumen could be seeping from the ground for months. [...]

9. Chris Hedges speaks on Court Setback
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has dealt a terrible blow to Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky and the other activists and journalists suing to prevent the indefinite military detention of American citizens. Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 would allow the military to detain indefinitely persons who are deemed to consort with terrorists or those who commit “belligerent acts” against the United States. Journalists, whose job it is to do just that, would undoubtedly qualify, Hedges has argued.
The plaintiffs have had successes and setbacks in court.
Here is what Hedges wrote after Wednesday’s decision:
This is quite distressing. It means there is no recourse now either within the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches of government to halt the steady assault on our civil liberties and most basic Constitutional rights. It means that the state can use the military, overturning over two centuries of domestic law, to use troops on the streets to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers. States that accrue to themselves this kind of power, history has shown, will use it. We will appeal, but the Supreme Court is not required to hear our appeal. It is a black day for those who care about liberty.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


PNN - 7/21/13
Rick  7:01-7:06
Sarab Al-Jijakli  7:09  -   7:24pm  (15)
Charlotte Kates  7:25  -   7:40pm  (19)
Moudy Khalil    7:45  -   8:05pm    (15)
Khaled Al­Sahili  8:06 -   8:17pm    (20)
Emine Dilek       8:27  -  8:37pm    (9)
Denis Campbell  8:38 -  8:58pm    (30)

1. Cong. Tommy Rooney
As many of you know, I have grave concerns with plans to provide weapons and support to the rebels in Syria.

With the knowledge that these rebels have been infiltrated by al Qaeda, we simply cannot in good conscience provide arms to these groups. We cannot spend American dollars to arm the enemy that attacked us on 9/11, whom we’ve fought for more than a decade, and whom our troops risk their lives fighting to this day. Arming the al Qaeda-backed rebels directly conflicts with our national security interests.

That is why, in my role as member of the House Intelligence and Appropriations Committee, I have offered an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill to prohibit funding for arms or support to any group engaged in military action in Syria. The House is scheduled to consider this bill next week.

2. 2 Choices - LISTEN

They do it all the time. For consumers in other countries.
It’s only here, in the U.S., where the food and biotech lobbyists have Congress in their back pockets, that more than 80 percent of processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients.
Those GMO ingredients are making Monsanto and Big Food rich. They’re making us sick. And the tons of herbicides and pesticides used to grow them are poisoning our soil and water.
Food manufacturers make GMO-free products for consumers in 64 other countries for one of two reasons: Either because consumers in those countries have demanded that GMOs be banned from their food supplies. Or because consumers have demanded GMO labeling laws.
In most cases, rather than label the GMOs in their products, food manufacturers have found alternative ingredients.
We can have GMO-free food, too. But only if we demand it.

3. Alan Maki - Left Unity - - LISTEN
Lots of people are talking about "left unity" and all other kinds of "unity."

I agree with the idea we need to be united. But, who are "we?" What do "we" stand for? Is support for Wall Street politicians like Obama the basis for creating "left unity;" or even a contributing factor to "left unity?" Is "left unity" all that we seek?
We should be seeking the unity of all Americans "fed up" with the Democrats and Republicans which would include many of those fed up trying to work for change from within and around the Democratic Party and even a few Democratic Party politicians who are just as fed up as the rest of us.

Many of those calling for "left unity" are doing so simply to divert our attention from the fact that they supported a Wall Street imperialist war monger like Obama and this support of theirs of Obama has become detrimental to "left unity" and working class unity and unity of liberals, progressives and the left.

Unity of working class liberals, progressives and the left and others who agree has been the only coalition that has ever won real change in this country or any place else in the world.

Unity has to be based on the fact that we are: "People uniting For Peace, Full Employment, Universal Health Care and Environmental Protection."

4. Should You Be Able to Buy Food Directly From Farmers? Regulators Don't Think So


Around the country, local farmers are selling meat, dairy products, and other dinner table staples directly to neighbors, who are increasingly flocking to the farms in search of wholesome food.
This would seem to embody the USDA’s advisory, “Know your farmer, know your food,” right? Not exactly.
For the USDA and its sister food regulator, the FDA, there’s a problem: many of the farmers are distributing the food via private contracts like herd shares and leasing arrangements, which fall outside the regulatory system of state and local retail licenses and inspections that govern public food sales.

In response, federal and state regulators are seeking legal sanctions against farmers in Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, among others. These sanctions include injunctions, fines, and even prison sentences. Food sold by unlicensed and uninspected farmers is potentially dangerous say the regulators, since it can carry pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli O157:H7, leading to mild or even serious illness.

 5. Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Wants to Outlaw Oral Sex—Yup, That Includes Between Married Couples

In an unusual move, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), his party’s nominee for governor, launched a  new campaign website Wednesday highlighting his  efforts to reinstate Virginia’s unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law. The rule, which makes felons out of even consenting married couples who engage in oral or anal sex in the privacy of their own homes, was  struck down by federal courts after Cuccinelli blocked efforts to bring it in line with the Supreme Court’s 2003  Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

6. You can't get there from Moscow on the Canal
Panama holds ex-CIA Milan officer in case of kidnapping, torture of Muslim cleric 18 Jul 2013 A former CIA base chief convicted in the 2003 abduction of a terror suspect from an Italian street has been detained in Panama after Italy requested his arrest in one of the most notorious episodes of the U.S. program known as extraordinary rendition, Italian and Panamanian officials said Thursday. Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA chief in Milan, entered Panama, crossed the border into Costa Rica and was sent back to Panama where he was detained, according to an Italian official familiar with Italy's investigation of the rendition of Cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr.

7. FAA warns public against shooting guns at drones [Nope. If people see a drone, they should *blow it out of the sky.* We're not tolerating the psychotic NYPD or Department of Homeland Stasi to deploy armed drones to buzz over our heads.] 19 Jul 2013 People who fire guns at drones are endangering the public and property and could be prosecuted or fined, the Federal Aviation Administration warned Friday. The FAA released a statement in response to questions about an ordinance under consideration in the tiny farming community of Deer Trail, Colo., that would encourage hunters to shoot down drones. The administration reminded the public that it regulates the nation's airspace, including the airspace over cities and towns. Under the proposed ordinance, Deer Trail would grant hunting permits to shoot drones. The permits would cost $25 each. The town would also encourage drone hunting by awarding $100 to anyone who presents a valid hunting license and identifiable pieces of a drone that has been shot down. [Excellent!]

8. Inexplicable - Mysterious Steam @ THE FUKE - - LISTEN

Steam rising from reactor building in Fukushima 18 Jul 2013 Steam is rising from a destroyed building that houses a reactor at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said on Thursday. The utility, widely known as Tepco, said the [sky-high] levels of radioactivity around the plant had remained unchanged and it was looking into what triggered the emission. The steam rising from the reactor No.3 building was spotted at 8:20 a.m. (2320 GMT) by a subcontractor who was filming the destroyed building and preparing to remove rubble from the site. It was still visible some two hours later, Tepco spokeswoman Maymi Yoshida said.

Retired postal clerk Jaymie Kelly of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is holding onto her home by a thread, despite having paid five times its value in ballooning monthly payments. She received a letter from the attorney general dated in May agreeing to delay eviction for 30 days past her redemption period, which expired April 24. The next day Freddie Mac filed an eviction summons, and shortly thereaftershe appeared in court with representatives from activist group OccupyHomes Minneapolis (OHM), which managed to convince Freddie Mac's attorney to back off temporarily.

"I've been on the block I'm living on for 58 of my 63 years," Kelly told Truthout. "This is my neighborhood. It's my everything. I really feel like I'm invested in this community. I have no plan B. Without [OccupyHomes] I would be homeless. It seems to me that it makes more sense for the bank to work with me."

With reports like these stockpiling under the OHM radar, activists spearheaded an initiative called the Eviction Free Zone (EFZ), encompassing the Powderhorn and Central neighborhoods in Minneapolis, where there have been 835 evictions since 2007, not including renters.

According to EFZ project organizer Chris Gray, the runaround Kelly is experiencing isn't unusual; homeowners frequently are served with eviction notices while actively negotiating with banks.


Lawyer Chris Byrd had just won a court victory on behalf of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. After a four-day trial, a jury had ruled that a Marion County couple had illegally filled in wetlands by an aquatic preserve along the Rainbow River. Instead of celebrating, the DEP attorney felt worried.
"As soon as the verdict came back, I had a sinking feeling," he said. "I thought, 'When (Florida Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary) Jeff Littlejohn hears about this, I'm probably going to lose my job.' "
Sure enough, Littlejohn met with the defendants and listened to their complaints about Byrd. Five months after his win, Byrd was one of four DEP lawyers ousted from their jobs.
Byrd and colleague Kelly Russell believe they were terminated because they frequently clashed with Littlejohn over how — and whether — to enforce state laws protecting the environment.
Although he's in charge of regulatory programs, "Littlejohn doesn't like enforcement," Byrd said. "He doesn't want the department to do any high-profile enforcement cases."
Russell, in an email to the Times, contended they were fired "because of direct or indirect encounters in which our legal advice — which was specifically sought and provided — was not well received by the deputy secretary, his appointees, or outside influences, including in interactions . . . with certain opposing counsel representing private property or development interests."
Another longtime DEP attorney who was let go, Teresa Mussetto, declined to comment.
The fourth of the ousted lawyers, Chris McGuire, said he got along fine with Littlejohn but had problems with Littlejohn's deputy, Mike Halpin, when Halpin oversaw the air pollution permitting section and McGuire was in charge of attorneys in that field.
"He expressed some dissatisfaction with the air attorneys," McGuire said. "They would say, 'You can't do things,' and he didn't want to hear that."

A Times request to interview Littlejohn and DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard was declined by DEP press secretary Patrick Gillespie. He said the firings had nothing to do with officials' disagreements with the attorneys.

Instead, Gillespie said, the firings were the work of the new DEP general counsel, Matthew Z. Leopold. Vinyard hired Leopold earlier this year from the U.S. Justice Department, where he worked on the 2010 BP oil spill. His resume includes no mention of any experience trying cases in Florida.

Leopold decided to get rid of four of his 42 attorneys because of a decline in his department's workload, Gillespie said.
"These staffing decisions were made as Matt came in as a new manager and assessed his team," Gillespie said. Because the agency is doing more to assist companies in complying with the law rather than punish them, "there have been fewer enforcement cases" needing attorneys.
Gillespie said that in 2010 DEP attorneys handled 2,289 enforcement cases. By 2012, that number dropped to 799, and as of the end of May, only 145 new ones have been filed this year.
Part of the reason for that decline, Byrd said, is the number of inspectors looking for violations has been "slashed and burned" in recent years. The other reason, he said, is because Littlejohn and Halpin control which cases reach the attorneys, even though neither has a law degree.
Littlejohn spent more than 10 years working as a consulting engineer getting state and federal permits for his clients. Vinyard hired him in March 2011 to oversee the DEP's regulatory programs, and he picked Halpin as his assistant deputy secretary.

Before any cases get to attorneys, Byrd said, they now must go through Halpin, and many are rejected. Before, when people failed to get permits for filling in wetlands or other activities, the agency went after them, he said. Now the approach is to grant them an after-the-fact permit and let it slide.
"It's like Alice in Wonderland up there now," Byrd said.
Even when cases did make it to the attorneys, "we were routinely overruled by Jeff Littlejohn," Byrd said. "Attorneys would be called to his office to brief him on cases that were not under (his division), and we were constantly having him argue with us over legal principles."
The four fired attorneys had all received stellar job reviews in recent years. One of them, Mussetto, had won a major victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009.
But as Byrd learned, victory in court is no guarantee of future employment.
After the Marion County jury ruled for the DEP in its wetland-filling case against John and Mona Rondolino of Dunnellon, Byrd was ready to push for the maximum penalty — until one of Rondolino's consultants invited Littlejohn to visit.
"He was on my property for 3 ½ hours," John Rondolino said. No lawyers were present, he said.
Rondolino said he told Littlejohn that the DEP attorney was a crook and a liar. He said Littlejohn seemed upset that Byrd had spent four years prosecuting a case involving a small residential lot but made no promises about what he would do.
On April 25, Leopold asked Littlejohn if it would be all right to "re-engage" with Rondolino's attorney on working out a settlement. Byrd was not included. So far no settlement has been reached.
Documents the DEP released in response to a records request included a May 13 email that Littlejohn sent to Leopold saying he needed to discuss a Pensacola court case — the one Russell and Byrd were working on when they were fired.
Leopold sent back an email to Littlejohn and Halpin that said thanks, adding, "I need input from you guys on the best role" for an attorney he had just hired, Fred Aschauer Jr. Added to the payroll just nine days before Leopold fired the four, Aschauer had spent the previous decade challenging DEP permit decisions.
"I suggest having him head up our permitting group, in charge of defending our permit decisions," Littlejohn replied. So that's the job Leopold gave him.

Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Craig Pittman can be reached at

11. Welcome to Florida's Water and Land Legacy Campaign! - LISTEN

Join our coalition of more than 4,000 individual volunteers and 300 conservation and civic organizations from across the state working to put the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment on the November 2014 ballot.

We're banding together because deep funding cuts are seriously jeopardizing the great work Floridians have been doing for decades to protect what's best about Florida: miles of beaches, beautiful parks, crystal clear springs, endless opportunities to swim, bike and fish, and an amazing diversity of plants and animals.  The Amendment will allocate less than one percent of our state budget (starting in with $625 million in 2015) to keeping our waters clean and to protecting our beaches, springs, wildlife habitat and other natural areas for future generations!

So far more than 150,000 Floridians have signed, but to get this important amendment on the November 2014 ballot, we need to gather a total of 683,149 valid signatures from Florida voters—and we need your help to reach that goal!
      Get started today by sending in your petition!


During the financial crisis, while Dr. Evil-ish Wall Street villains like Goldman and Lehman Brothers were getting all the bad press, pundits continually referred to J.P. Morgan Chase as the "good bank." The myth of Chase as the finance sector's one upstanding rock of rectitude reached its zenith in July of 2009 with an embarrassingly hagiographic piece in the New York Times entitled, "In Washington, One Bank Chief Still Holds Sway." In that one, the paper breathlessly praised Jamie Dimon for emerging from "the disgrace of his industry" to become Barack Obama's "favorite banker."

Chase and Jamie Dimon kept that rep for a good long time. As late as 2011, Dimon's name was being floated around Washington very seriously as a potential replacement for Tim Geithner's Treasury Secretary post. Even when Dimon showed up on the Hill last year to testify (read: obfuscate) about the infamous "London Whale" episode, Senators on the banking committee - who, as writer George Zornick noted, had collected a cumulative $522,088 in donations from Chase - slobbered all over Dimon and shelved the important London Whale matter to ask the great genius's advice on how to fix the economy.

Well, there's some more news about the "good bank" - Chase is about to pay yet another ginormous settlement for cheating and stealing from the public. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will fine Chase "close to $1 billion" for manipulating energy prices in Enron-esque fashion in Michigan and California. The story is interesting in itself - and we'll write more about it later - but for now, it's just the fact of yet another massive settlement for this bank that's so interesting.

In the three-year period between 2009-2012, Chase paid out over $16 billion in litigation costs. Noted financial analyst Josh Rosner of Graham Fisher slammed Chase in a report earlier this year, pointing out that these settlements and legal costs represented a staggering 12% of Chase's net revenue during this time. There couldn't possibly be a clearer demonstration of the modern banking model, in which companies break rules/laws as a matter of course, and simply pay fines as a cost - a significant cost - of doing business.

For sheer curiosity's sake, I thought I'd list, in capsule form, some of the capers Chase has been caught up in in recent years:

    They were fined $153 million for the infamous "Magnetar" fund case, another scam in which a bank allowed a hedge fund to create a "born-to-lose" mortgage portfolio to bet against. Very similar to the Abacus case that's at the heart of the ongoing "Fabulous Fab" trial;

    Chase paid $228 million for its role in the egregious municipal bond bid-rigging case we wrote about in Rolling Stone in 2011;
    Chase paid $297 million to the SEC last November for fraud involving mortgage-backed securities;
    Chase paid $75 million in cash and generously agreed to forego $647 million in fines in the Jefferson County, Alabama mess, in which a small-town pol was bribed into green-lighting a series of deadly swap deals;
    In two separate orders this spring, Chase was reprimanded by the OCC and the Fed for money-laundering behaviors similar to the infamous HSBC case, and also for regulatory failures and fraud in the London Whale episode. There was a separate FBI investigation into the London Whale probe in which they allegedly lied to customers and investors about the loss;
    They're under investigation for allegedly failing to disclose Bernie Madoff's trading activities to authorities;
    They were one of 13 banks asked to pay up in this year's $9.3 billion robosigning settlement;
    They were one of four banks last year to settle for a total of $394 million with the OCC for improper mortgage servicing practices;
    They were ordered by the CFTC to pay $20 million last year for improper segregation of customer funds (this was part of the Lehman investigation). The CFTC also fined Chase $600,000 last year for violating position limits in the cotton markets;
    Last year, Chase paid a $45 million settlement to the federal government for improperly racking up fees for veterans in mortgage refinancings. Hey, if you're going to steal from everyone, you can't leave out those veterans overseas!
    In 2010, Chase paid $25 million to the state of Florida for selling unregistered bonds to a state-run municipal money-market fund;

    The bank last year was convicted in Europe along with several other banks for fraudulent sales of derivatives to the city of Milan. A total of about $120 million was seized from Chase and three other banks.

There have been so many settlements with so many agencies around the world (I'm in a hurry and can't get to Chase's messes in Britain, Japan and elsewhere) that they're almost impossible to count. Some papers are reporting that Chase is being investigated by as many as eight different agencies in the U.S. alone.

There are some other civil actions left out, too, like the $110 million class-action settlement for improper charging of overdraft fees, or their part in the gigantic $6 billion settlement completed last year involving Visa, MasterCard and other credit card providers for manipulating card service rates. And states like California have only just begun crawling up Chase's backside for its role in the lunatic filing of erroneous credit card collection lawsuits, a scam outed by whistleblower Linda Almonte.

Chase is turning into the Zelig of the corruption era. In virtually every corruption scandal, the bank is in the background somewhere. The HSBC money-laundering mess? Chase was reprimanded for similar abuses. The Madoff story? They're under investigation there. MF Global? As banker to Jon Corzine's notorious firm, they were part of a $546 million settlement to return money to MF Global's outraged customers. Jefferson County? That was them. And again, you might have heard of Abacus, but Magnetar was just as bad. Not that anyone's counting or anything.

Memo to colleagues on the White House pool: could someone please ask the president if Jamie Dimon is still his favorite banker?

13. Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo! and Twitter Letter to Obama on Surveillance


Dozens of companies, non-profits and trade organizations including Apple Inc (NSQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NSQ:GOOG) and Facebook Inc (FB.O) sent a letter on Thursday pushing the Obama administration and Congress for more disclosures on the government's national security-related requests for user data.

General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, suggested he was open to the idea but that officials were trying to determine a way to disclose that information without jeopardizing FBI investigations.

"We just want to make sure we do it right, that we don't impact anything ongoing with the FBI. I think that's the reasonable approach," Alexander told the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, when asked about the letter.

Together with LinkedIn Corp (NYS:LNKD), Yahoo! Inc (NSQ:YHOO), Microsoft Corp (NSQ:MSFT), Twitter and many others, the companies asked for more transparency of secret data gathering in the letter addressed to Alexander as well as President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and national security leaders in Congress.

Tech companies have been scrambling to assert their independence after documents leaked last month by former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden raised questions about how much data on their clients they handed over to the government to aid its surveillance efforts.

The leaks have renewed a public debate over the balance between national security and privacy, and have put tech companies in an awkward position, especially because many have been assailed for their own commercial use of customer data.

Some companies, including Facebook and Apple, struck an agreement in June with the government to release some information about the number of surveillance requests they receive. But they were limited to disclosing aggregate government requests for data without showing the split between surveillance and criminal requests, and only for a six-month period.

In Thursday's letter, they asked to be allowed to regularly report statistics on the number and scope of user data requests done under specific national security authorities and the number of individuals, accounts or devices affected by those requests.
'They Don't Have A Choice'

Alexander said it was important to keep in mind that companies were compelled by U.S. law to hand over data.
"They don't have a choice. Court order, they have to do this," he said.
"From my perspective, what they want is the rest of the world to know that we're not reading all of that email, so they want to give out the numbers. I think there's some logic in doing that."

The letter also asked Congress to pass legislation that would require the federal government to make transparency reports and let companies disclose user data requests without having to ask a court for permission.

Co-signers included investors such as Boston Common Asset management and Union Square Ventures, as well as scores of associations including Human Rights Watch, Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform and conservative FreedomWorks.

One of the lawmakers to whom the letter was addressed was Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat who has introduced a bill that would expand reporting requirements for the secret programs, add more court reviews and move up the expiration of the authorization for some of the data collection by 2 1/2 years.

"Americans deserve to know how much of their communications data is being swept up by government surveillance, and the government's use of these authorities must be subject to strong oversight," Leahy said on Thursday.

He said the Judiciary Committee would hold another hearing on the issue later this month.

The White House and Department of Justice did not immediately comment on Thursday's letter.

 14. letter 2 - Governor Rick Scott,  - LISTEN

The death of Trayvon Martin and subsequent acquittal of his killer have exposed an unfortunate culture of targeting and criminalization of young people of color in Florida.

We demand a Trayvon Martin Act. We demand that you call a special session of the Florida Legislature to address the issues at the center of the Trayvon Martin tragedy: "stand your ground" vigilantism, racial profiling, and a war on youth that paints us as criminals and funnels us out of schools and into jails.

15. “Who Could Trust Such A Company?” – The Big Fat Lies About Radiation Exposure Of Workers At Fukushima - LISTEN
testosteronepit's picture
Submitted by testosteronepit on 07/20/2013 16:03 -0400

Wolf Richter

The nuclear fiasco playing out relentlessly in Japan since March 2011 has shaken the previously omniscient and omnipotent nuclear industry – and the government agencies that aided and abetted it. Yet they still obfuscate and minimize the consequences of the triple melt-down of the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. Latest revelation: the number of workers at the plant who had cancer-inducing radiation doses in thyroid glands from inhaling radioactive substances during the early stages of the crisis was elven times higher than disclosed last December.

Not 178 workers, as TEPCO, the bailed out and now partially state-controlled owner of the nuke had said, but 1,973 workers, as the Asahi Shimbun has “learned.”

Despite its erstwhile omniscience and omnipotence, TEPCO has been publically baffled by an endless series of mishaps, surprises, and occurrences that left it mostly helpless. For example, in mid-March, it disclosed that a month earlier (!), a greenling with 740,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram had been caught near the plant. That’s 7,400 times the government’s food safety limit, highest ever measured by TEPCO’s testing program. The prior record-breaking TEPCO fish had 510,000 becquerels. And they’re all part of the food chain.

Then, early last week, researchers determined that several Japanese sea bass caught off the coast of Hitachi, a city about 60 miles south of the plant – halfway toward Tokyo – had radioactive cesium levels of 1,037 becquerels per kilogram, over ten times the government’s food safety limit. It was the first time since April 2011 that such high levels of contamination had been found in that region. The researchers claimed they had no clue why this mega-dose was now showing up again, over two years after the accident.

Alas, cesium-134 and cesium-137 in groundwater at the plant suddenly started soaring in early July. When measured on July 8, levels were 90 times higher than those found on July 5 and reached 200 times the legal limit for groundwater. TEPCO was baffled. “It is unclear whether the radioactive water is leaking into the sea,” a company official said.

On June 19, TEPCO had already admitted that groundwater contamination of highly toxic, radioactive strontium-90, a by-product of the fission of uranium and plutonium, had increased by more than 100 times between December and May; and that the level of radioactive tritium, a somewhat less harmful substance, had increased by 17 times. And when the cesium levels were spiking in early July, it admitted in the same breath that tritium levels in seawater had soared to 2,300 becquerels per liter, the highest ever detected, and more than double the contamination measured two weeks earlier.

All this came at a very inconvenient time: TEPCO is cooling the reactors and spent fuel rods with a constant flow of water – 400 metric tons per day – and then stores that contaminated water in tanks on site. But some of them have been leaking due to sloppy workmanship. Plus, it cannot indefinitely build new tanks for that endless flow of water. So, it is trying to get approval to just dump that contaminated water into the Pacific. Whatever isn’t already leaking into it.

This is the backdrop to the revelation that TEPCO’s admission in December of radiation doses having exceeded the “safe” level of 100 millisieverts – and going as high as 11,800 millisieverts – in only 178 workers was a lie.

TEPCO might not even have studied the issue at all. Despite warnings from international health experts about the risks of radiation exposure, it didn’t launch an investigation into thyroid gland doses until it was essentially forced to by international pressure. So it finally collected thyroid data on 522 workers – of the 19,592 workers who worked at the plant over time, of whom 16,302 were employed by often shady contractors and subcontractors. It submitted the results to the World Health Organization last year but still refused to release the results until it learned that the WHO would publish them. Hence, the disclosure last December.

But no one believed the results. The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation questioned the reliability of the data; and Japan’s Ministry of Health pressured TEPCO to give the data another look. Which it finally did. The Asahi Shimbun reported:

    TEPCO and its partner companies not only re-evaluated the readings from thyroid gland dose tests, but they also estimated doses when the amount of radioactive iodine that entered the body was unavailable. These estimates were based on cesium intake amounts, the airborne iodine-to-cesium ratio on the days they worked, and other data. The latest study showed that doses topped the 100-millisievert mark in 1,973 workers.

For how long had TEPCO been dragging its feet? Since most of the exposure occurred during the early stages of the disaster, TEPCO had taken 28 months to admit that nearly 2,000 of its workers had cancer-inducing radiation doses in their thyroid glands. The workers themselves told the Asahi Shimbun that TEPCO "provided little or no information" about it.

So when push came to shove, TEPCO leaned over backwards to help these workers. “We will provide and pay for annual, ultrasound thyroid gland tests to all workers with thyroid gland doses in excess of 100 millisieverts over their lifetimes,” a PR person explained. “We have already notified those who are eligible for the checkups.”

True to its formerly omniscient manner, TEPCO didn’t know how many of those workers had actually taken the tests. And what if abnormalities were detected during the tests? TEPCO didn’t say. Hand in glove with TEPCO, the Health Ministry itself hasn’t examined the thyroid gland doses of the workers; it would be up to TEPCO on a “voluntary” basis.

Some workers complained that TEPCO hadn’t carefully explained the risks of radiation exposure in thyroid glands; and some employees of subcontractors complained that they’d never been informed about the radiation doses or the thyroid gland tests.

In July, Masao Yoshida, the plant manager, died of esophageal cancer. He was 58. He’d stayed at the plant for nine months after the accident, struggling to contain the accident and keep the reactors from overheating. He’d prevented a much larger fiasco. He resigned in December 2011, after having been hospitalized for what turned out to be cancer. TEPCO, suddenly omniscient again, and true to the manner of the nuclear industry, announced that his death was unrelated to radiation exposure. As in all such cases, no one could prove the opposite; it’s impossible to determine what exactly caused each individual cancer – the mantle the nuclear industry hides behind.

“Who could trust such a company?” said an exasperated Hirohiko Izumida, governor of Niigata Prefecture, after TEPCO’s board had decided on July 2 to restart two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant in his prefecture, despite a survey that showed that only 27% of the residents in his prefecture supported it. “There is no greater disregard for local people than this,” the governor said.

Researchers of Tokyo Woman’s Christian University presented a survey to the Cabinet Office’s Atomic Energy Commission on July 17. Among other results, it showed that 87% of the Japanese thought that Japan should get out of nuclear energy, either abandoning it as soon as possible (33%) or phasing it out over time (54%). And a full third thought that information propagated by the central government about nuclear issues was the most untrustworthy.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a staunch supporter of the nuclear industry [though he might face some dense pillow talk at home: read.... Akie Abe, His “Anti-Nuclear” Wife ]. Reestablishing the glory of the nuclear industry is high on the Abenomics wish list – even as the true cost of nuclear power will gnaw away at Japan for generations.

Such catastrophic nuclear accidents are very rare, we’re told incessantly. But when they occur, they’re costly. So costly that the French government, when it came up with estimates, kept them secret. But the report was leaked: the total cost over time of an accident in a thinly populated area could exceed three times France’s GDP. Read.... Potential Cost Of A Nuclear Accident? So High It’s A Secret!

On the lighter side, there is a Japanese ghost island, a speck of land that used to be a coal mine where 5,000 miners lived and toiled. In the 1970s, it was abandoned and the concrete structures left to decay, only to resurface in the last James Bond flick. Now Google captured it for Street View – and made an awesome brief video of this eerie industrial wasteland. Check it out.... Eerie Abandoned Japanese Island On Google Street View.

16. News:
The EPA wants to change radiation exposure standards that would make a 1 in 6 cancer rate after a nuclear accident acceptable. Please join us in voicing your strongest possible opposition! Sign our petition here: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), using advice from a nuclear industry-funded group, has recommended radiation exposure limits that could cause a cancer in at least 1 in 6 people, possibly more. Demand that EPA withdraw these "Protective" Action Guides or PAGs, which would be used after all kinds of nuclear catastrophes.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

PNN - Presents Patriots On Patrol

PNN -  7/14/13

PNN presents Patriot on Patrol - featuring activists and the challenges they've undertaken. Patriotism, isn't flag waving, flag wavings easy. Patriotism, isn't  shouting slogans, shouting slogans is easy. Activists undertake reducing mountains to little grindy pebbles.

 News, Rick …………………..7:02 PM
 News, Renee …………...….…7:13 PM
 Patrick Murphy…...……..……7:24 PM
 Jonel Jones …………...……... 7:55 PM
 Legal Shield-------.........---------8:11 PM
 Paige Hooper-Reichbart............8:13 PM
 P.E. Nolan …………………….8:29 PM
menopausal stoners, world wide hippy,
 Frank Day  ….……………….8:45 PM


News Stories

1. Insider Threat Program
In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.

Obama mandated the program in an October 2011 executive order after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and gave them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.

Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing “indicators of insider threat behavior” are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when “suspicious user behavior” is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to “insider threat personnel.”

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.
Over the years, numerous studies of public and private workers who’ve been caught spying, leaking classified information, stealing corporate secrets or engaging in sabotage have identified psychological profiles that could offer clues to possible threats. Administration officials want government workers trained to look for such indicators and report them so the next violation can be stopped before it happens.

Read more here:

2. Computers banned in Florida

The owner, Consuelo Zapata, is now suing the state after her legal team found that the ban was so hastily worded that it can be applied to any computer or device connected to the Internet, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Miami Herald.
    A.    ban defines illegal slot machines as any "system or network of devices" that may be used in a game of chance.
And that broad wording can be applied to any number of devices, according to the Miami law firm of Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, who worked with constitutional law attorney and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz.

3. black dust
Marco Kaltofen, President at Boston Chemical Data Corp. & Doctoral student researcher at Worcester Polytechnic Institute: [...] We kept hearing reports about something unusual, a black dust that was on the surface of soils or streets that was much more radioactive than any surrounding soils. So it was almost as if some concentrated radioactive contaminant from the accident was pretty much refusing to disburse, collecting in a certain gully or gutter and folks were getting it. So we finally got a very small sample of that [...]

What’s different about this material is unlike a lot of the soil and dust samples we’ve gotten, there’s a real uniformity to this stuff. It’s a single substance. It’s not a mix of mineral particles and pieces of dead bugs and plant matter and dust particles. It’s actually very homogenous and uniform when you look at it under the microscope. And it doesn’t look like the surrounding soils. And it is much more intensely radioactive than any other soil or dust sample we’ve gotten from around Fukushima Daiichi. So this material is different. It’s not a natural soil. There’s something unusual happening with this stuff. [...]

There’s not just the Cesium that’s in here. We also saw a good deal of radium. The sample had fairly high levels of radium 226. Now that’s not a radioisotope that we hear as much about. The radium 226 has almost as much activity as the radioactive Cesium in the sample. Radium 226 is a degradation product of uranium and we can’t really detect the uranium directly. [...]

And this tells me that this particle contains not only fission waste products from the reactor but very likely contains a concentrated unburned nuclear fuel. And that’s unusual. This sample had by far the highest level of uranium daughters that we’ve seen in a dust or soil sample.  We’re actually seeing material that might well have come from inside a failed fuel assembly.

Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds’ Chief Engineer: Okay. When I hear that, that’s clear evidence that the containment was breached. The interesting thing to me is that when I hear black, I think of like algae or fungi or something like that. But you’re saying this is not an organic substance. Is that right?

Kaltofen: No. It’s not an organic substance. It’s a mixture of very small particles and just the way they aggregate gives it the appearance of being black, but it’s – it probably – I won’t say optical illusion, but it’s an optical effect of the size of the particles and the way they’re joined together. [...]
Gundersen: Are these particles light enough for people to ingest them or breathe them in?
Kaltofen: Well, certainly they could be ingested [...] right now I would say they’re much more an ingestion hazard. And that usually tends to target children and agricultural workers. [...] A child on average consumes between 100 and 200 milligrams of soil a day because of hand-to-mouth activity. So that’s something to really think about.

4. tampons and maxipads banned from Texas Legislature
texas legislator panties in a twist

Democrats in the Texas Senate on Friday questioned whether proposed abortion restrictions are constitutional and whether they would make it more difficult for women in the state to obtain health care.

5.  Chevron Granted Sweeping Subpoena Of Critics’ Internet Data
By: DSWright Friday July 12, 2013 7:35 am fdl

A federal judge has granted Chevron a broad and sweeping subpoena for data related to the $18.2 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador. The subpoena is trying to gain information on journalists and activists who may have been critical of Chevron.
After more than eight months of silence, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan recently issued a long-awaited decision on the enforceability of a subpoena served by Chevron on Microsoft in connection with Chevron’s lawsuit claiming that it has been the victim of a conspiracy in the $18.2 billion judgment against it for massive environmental contamination in Ecuador. But Kaplan’s decision begs more questions than it answers.
The sweeping subpoena was one of three issued to Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, demanding IP usage records and identity information for the holders of more than 100 email accounts, including environmental activists, journalists and attorneys. Chevron’s subpoena sought personal information about every account holder and the IP addresses associated with every login to each account over a nine-year period.

Can you say overreach? The Electronic Frontier Foundation represented the accountholders and fought the subpoenas in courts in California and New York on First Amendment grounds – to no avail. The judge was seemingly determined to see it Chevron’s way.
Kaplan’s decision upheld Chevron’s sweeping subpoena with an argument that is as breathtaking as the subpoena itself. According to Judge Kaplan, none of the accountholders could benefit from First Amendment protections since the accountholders had “not shown that they were U.S. citizens.”
Now, let’s break this down. The account-holders in this case were proceeding anonymously, which the First Amendment permits. Because of this, Judge Kaplan was provided with no information about the account holders’ residency or places of birth. It is somewhat amazing then, that Judge Kaplan assumed that the account holders were not U.S. citizens. As far as I know, a judge has never before made this assumption when presented with a First Amendment claim. We have to ask then: on what basis did Judge Kaplan reach out and make this assumption?
Talk about a sweeping precedent. If you can not demonstrate your citizenship, you can not be protected by the Constitution. That would essentially kill anonymous posting on the internet.
This case, along with the NSA’s vacuuming up of everyone’s private information, demonstrates that there needs to be some sort of cultural awakening to both the value of data and the rights people already have (let alone should have) in protecting it.

6. Massive, uncontained leak at Fukushima is pouring over 710 billion becquerels of radioactive materials into atmosphere


The tsunami-caused nuclear accident at the Fukushima power station in Japan is the disaster that never ends, as new reports indicate that a wealth of new radioactive materials have been spewed into the atmosphere.
According to Singapore-based news outlet AsiaOne, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the multi-nuclear reactor power station at Fukushima, announced April 6 that some 120 tons of water that had been contaminated with radioactive substances had leaked from an underground storage facility at the No. 1 atomic power plant site.
Running out of storage room?
TEPCO officials announced the leak late in the day April 5, a Friday, "but said measures to address the problem had not been taken for two days because the cause had not been identified," AsiaOne reported. The company "assumed the water was still leaking."
According to company officials TEPCO estimates that the leaked water contains about 710 billion becquerels of radioactive substances, making it the largest leak of radioactive materials ever at the plant. Discovery of the leak led the company to transfer about 13,000 tons of polluted, radioactive water in the questionable storage area to a neighboring underground storage unit.
That storage unit, TEPCO said, is 60 meters long, 53 meters wide and six meters deep. It is pool-like in structure and has a three-layer waterproof sheet with a concrete cover.
According to the company, water that has leaked from damaged nuclear reactors is run through filters and additional devices in order to remove radioactive elements. The water is then stored in facilities for low-level contaminated water.

TEPCO began using the storage facility Feb. 1. As of April 5, 13,000 tons of radioactive water was being stored there - very close to the 14,000-ton limit.

More leaking contamination
AsiaOne reported that water samples taken by TEPCO from soil surrounding the damaged facility a few days later showed 35 becquerels per cubic centimeter of radioactive substances, which is abnormal. "Safe" levels of becquerels is 300 per kilogram of water, according to New Scientist.
However, TEPCO officials did not publicly announce their findings right away after not finding any other unusual changes in water quality data, such as chloride concentration.
On April 5, the report said, two days after the problem was first noticed, water with 6,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter of radioactive substances was located between the first and second layers of the waterproof sheet, which alerted TEPCO engineers and plant officials that a leak had occurred.
Per AsiaOne:
As the sheet's layers were joined when the facility was constructed, TEPCO assumed that the sheet may have been damaged, or that a mistake had been made during construction. An average of about 400 tons a day of groundwater seeped into buildings housing nuclear reactors and turbines, increasing the quantity of polluted water.
The latest problem will create a storage shortage; TEPCO officials said storage of polluted water at the facility will be reduced from 53,000 tons to 40,000 - a significant reduction. That will make it necessary for the power company to go over procedures for handling polluted water, which will include increasing the number of storage units.
The disaster that keeps on giving
TEPCO said earlier this month it expected the water transfer would take about five days to complete.
"As the height of the water storage facility is relatively low, we think it's unlikely that the polluted water mixed into underground water and reached the sea 800 meters away," said Masayuki Ono, the acting chief of TEPCO's nuclear facilities department, at a press conference April 6.
The plant was damaged by a huge earthquake-caused tsunami March 11, 2011. At the time of the incident, three of the plant's atomic reactors were shut down: No. 4 had been de-fueled and Nos. 5 and 6 were in cold shut-down for maintenance.
The remaining three automatically shut down at the time of the accident and emergency generators came on to keep coolant systems operating.

Sources for this article include:

Learn more:

7. Fukushima Situation Normal, in The SNAFU Sense of "Normal"
Bad as the situation is at Fukushima, it's gotten worse.

Perhaps you've heard that radiation levels of the water leaving the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear power plane and flowing into the Pacific Ocean have risen by roughly 9,000 per cent. Turns out, that's probably putting a good face on it.
By official measurement, the water coming out of Fukushima is currently 90,000 times more radioactive than officially "safe" drinking water. 
These are the highest radiation levels measured at Fukusmima since March 2011, when an earthquake-triggered tsunami destroyed the plant's four nuclear reactors, three of which melted down.
As with all nuclear reporting, precise and reliable details are hard to come by, but the current picture as of July 10 seems to be something like this:

"   On July 5, radiation levels at Fukushima were what passes for "normal," which means elevated and dangerous, but stable, according to measurements by the owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

"   On July 8, radiation levels had jumped about 90 times higher, as typically reported.  TEPCO had no explanation for the increase.

"   On July 9, radiation levels were up again from the previous day, but at a slower rate, about 22 per cent.  TEPCO still had no explanation.

"   On July 10, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) issued a statement saying that the NRA strongly suspects the radioactive water is coming from Fukushima's Reactor #1 and is going into the Pacific.

We Must Do Something About This Thing With No Impact
"We must find the cause of the contamination . . . and put the highest priority on implementing countermeasures," NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told an NRA meeting, according to Japan Times.
As for TEPCO, the paper reported, "The utility has claimed it has detected "no significant impact' on the environment."

"in the SNAFU sense of "Normal'"

Neither the NRA nor TEPCO has determined why the level of radioactivity has been increasing. Both characterize the increase as a "spike," but so far this is a "spike" that has not yet started to come down.  Here's another perspective on the same situation:

"   10 becquerels per liter --
The officially "safe" level for radioactivity in drinking water, as set by the NRA.

A becquerel is a standard scientific measure of radioactivity, similar in some ways to a rad or a rem or a roentgen or a sievert or a curie, but not equivalent to any of them.  But you don't have to understand the nuances of nuclear physics to get a reasonable idea of what's going on in Fukushima.  Just keep the measure of that safe drinking water in mind, that liter of water, less than a quart, with 10 becquerels of radioactivity.

60 becquerels per liter -- For nuclear power plants, the safety limit for drinking water is 60 becquerels, as set by the NRA, with less concern for nuclear plant workers than ordinary civilians.

"   60-90 becquerels per liter -- For waste water at nuclear power plants, the NRA sets a maximum standard of 90 becquerels per liter for Cesium-137 and 60 becquerels per liter of Cesium-134.

At some of Fukushima's monitoring wells, radiation levels were in fractions of a becquerel on July 8 and 9. At the well (or wells) that are proving problematical, TEPCO has provided no baseline readings.

9,000 becquerels per liter -- On July 8, according to TEPCO, the company measured radioactive Cesium-134 at 9,000 becquerels per liter.  Since TEPCO characterized this as 90 times higher than on July 5, the implication is that the earlier reading (about 100) was less than twice as toxic as the allowable limit and only 10 times more toxic than drinking water for civilians.

"   11,000 becquerels per liter -- TEPCO's measurement of Cesium-134 on July 9.   

"    18,000 becquerels per liter -- TEPCO measurement of  Cesium-137 on July 8.

"    22,000 becquerels per liter -- TEPCO's measurement of Cesium-137 on July 9.

"    900,000 becquerels per liter -- TEPCO's measurement of the total radioactivity in the water leaking from Reactor #1.  This radiation load includes both Cesium isotopes, as well as Tritium, Strontium and other beta emitters.  There are more that 60 radioactive substances that have been identified at the Fukushima site.

A becquerel is a measure of the radioactivity a substance is emitting, a measure of the potential danger. There is no real danger from radiation unless you get too close to it -- or it gets too close to you, especially from inhalation or ingestion.   
Nobody Knows If It Will Get Worse, Get Better, or Just Stay Bad
The water flow through the Fukushima accident site is substantial and constant, both from groundwater and from water pumped into the reactors and fuel pools to prevent further meltdowns.

In an effort to prevent the water from reaching the ocean, TEPCO is building what amounts to a huge, underground dike -- "a deeply sunken coastal containment wall."  The NRA is calling on TEPCO to finish the project before its scheduled 2015 completion date.

Meanwhile, radiation levels remain high and no one knows for sure how to bring them down, or even if they can be brought down by any means other than waiting however long it takes.    

xa. Judge: Chevron can access its critics' private user information
Posted July 08, 2013 by Marissa Vahlsing

After more than eight months of silence, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan recently issued a long-awaited decision on the enforceability of a subpoena served by Chevron on Microsoft in connection with Chevron’s lawsuit claiming that it has been the victim of a conspiracy in the $18.2 billion judgment against it for massive environmental contamination in Ecuador. But Kaplan’s decision begs more questions than it answers.

The sweeping subpoena was one of three issued to Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, demanding IP usage records and identity information for the holders of more than 100 email accounts, including environmental activists, journalists and attorneys. Chevron’s subpoena sought personal information about every account holder and the IP addresses associated with every login to each account over a nine-year period.

This could allow Chevron to determine the countries, states, cities or even buildings where the account-holders were checking their email so as to “infer the movements of the users over the relevant period and might permit Chevron to makes inferences about some of the user’s professional and personal relationships.” (see Order, below, p6). Confronted with this affront to their privacy and rights of speech and association, the account-holders, represented by ERI and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), brought “motions to quash” the subpoenas in courts in California and New York on First Amendment grounds.

Judge Kaplan, who presides over Chevron’s conspiracy lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, and who has been accused of prejudice against the Ecuadorians and their lawyers, managed to sit by “special designation” in the Northern District of New York so that he could decide the enforceability of the subpoena to Microsoft as well.

And decide he did. Kaplan’s decision upheld Chevron’s sweeping subpoena with an argument that is as breathtaking as the subpoena itself. According to Judge Kaplan, none of the account holders could benefit from First Amendment protections since the account holders had “not shown that they were U.S. citizens.”

Now, let’s break this down. The account-holders in this case were proceeding anonymously, which the First Amendment permits. Because of this, Judge Kaplan was provided with no information about the account holders’ residency or places of birth. It is somewhat amazing then, that Judge Kaplan assumed that the account holders were not U.S. citizens. As far as I know, a judge has never before made this assumption when presented with a First Amendment claim. We have to ask then: on what basis did Judge Kaplan reach out and make this assumption?

Whether or not this assumption was correct – and whether or not it matters – the account-holders were never given the chance to submit evidence on the question of their citizenship. Judge Kaplan is hoping he made a lucky guess, but First Amendment rights, and the account-holders they protect, are entitled to more respect than judicial guesswork.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

PNN presents - The Voting Rights Show

PNN - 7/7/13
Hosted by Associate Producer Renee Shaker & News Director Rick Spisak
[Listen Here]

Rick Spisak  ……………………..7:02 - 7:12pm
Renee Shaker …………………….7:13 - 7:20pm

Deidre McNab ………………….7:21 - 7:36pm
7:31 - 7:43pm
President League of Women Voters

Susan Bucher ………………….. 7:37 - 7:52pm
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections

Samantha Hope-Herring  ……...7: 53- 8:13pm
Vice Chair of Walton County DEC & State Committee Woman

Legal Shield ……………………8:14 - 8:15pm

Luis Cuevas ……………………8:16 - 8:31pm
Progressive Push's Executive Director

Corry Westbrooke ……………..8:32pm - 8:52pm
Candidate for the Florida Legislature from the Vero Beach area

0a. Asahi: Highest cesium levels in a year detected in Fukushima — 1,780,000 Bq/kg on downtown rooftop
    Radioactive cesium levels found in moss on a rooftop in downtown Fukushima exceeded 1.7 million becquerels, the highest levels detected in a year, researchers said.
[Ryoji Enomoto, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Cosmic Ray] measured radioactivity levels there on June 8. [...]
    A nonprofit group based in the city confirmed the original results; their tests detected 1.78 million becquerels of cesium.
    Radiation levels of about 0.5 microsievert per hour were also measured a meter above the moss. [...]

0b. Officials “Aghast”: High levels of cesium detected far from Fukushima — Radioactivity up sharply in mushrooms 100s of kilometers away — Over 2,000% increase in Tochigi
    [...] Tourism industry officials and restaurant operators have been aghast to learn that wild mushrooms picked far from the site of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture last year are showing high levels of radioactive cesium.
    Source: Asahi
    Last year, only wild mushrooms picked in Fukushima Prefecture were found to have cesium levels that exceeded legal standards.
    This year, however, wild mushrooms from as far away as Aomori, Nagano and Shizuoka prefectures, all more than 200 kilometers from Fukushima, have been found to be contaminated with cesium. [...]  Cesium levels have also risen in various areas compared with last year. [200 Kilometers = 124.27 miles]
    According to tests requested by the central government, the highest levels recorded this year were 120 becquerels in Aomori Prefecture, up from only 60 becquerels last year; 2,100 becquerels in Nagano Prefecture (1,320 becquerels last year); and 3,000 becquerels in Tochigi Prefecture (134 becquerels last year). [...]

“I also don’t want to explain why we can’t provide the mushrooms because that could lead to negative publicity that radiation is also a major concern in Aomori” -Tourism industry worker in Aomori Prefecture

[Listen Here]

1. EPA’s Abandoned Wyoming Fracking Study One Retreat of Many
When the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly retreated on its multimillion-dollar investigation into water contamination in a central Wyoming natural gas field last month, it shocked environmentalists and energy industry supporters alike.
In 2011, the agency had issued a blockbuster draft report saying that the controversial practice of fracking was to blame for the pollution of an aquifer deep below the town of Pavillion, Wy. – the first time such a claim had been based on a scientific analysis.
The study drew heated criticism over its methodology and awaited a peer review that promised to settle the dispute. Now the EPA will instead hand the study over to the state of Wyoming, whose research will be funded by EnCana, the very drilling company whose wells may have caused the contamination.
Industry advocates say the EPA’s turnabout reflects an overdue recognition that it had over-reached on fracking and that its science was critically flawed.
But environmentalists see an agency that is systematically disengaging from any research that could be perceived as questioning the safety of fracking or oil drilling, even as President Obama lays out a plan to combat climate change that rests heavily on the use of natural gas.
Over the past 15 months, they point out, the EPA has:
·      Closed an investigation into groundwater pollution in Dimock, Pa., saying the level of contamination was below federal safety triggers.
·      Abandoned its claim that a driller in Parker County, Texas, was responsible for methane gas bubbling up in residents’ faucets, even though a geologist hired by the agency confirmed this finding.
·      Sharply revised downward a 2010 estimate showing that leaking gas from wells and pipelines was contributing to climate change, crediting better pollution controls by the drilling industry even as other reports indicate the leaks may be larger than previously thought.
·      Failed to enforce a statutory ban on using diesel fuel in fracking.
“We’re seeing a pattern that is of great concern,” said Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington. “They need to make sure that scientific investigations are thorough enough to ensure that the public is getting a full scientific explanation.”
The EPA says that the string of decisions is not related, and the Pavillion matter will be resolved more quickly by state officials. The agency has maintained publicly that it remains committed to an ongoing national study of hydraulic fracturing, which it says will draw the definitive line on fracking’s risks to water.
In private conversations, however, high-ranking agency officials acknowledge that fierce pressure from the drilling industry and its powerful allies on Capitol Hill – as well as financial constraints and a delicate policy balance sought by the White House -- is squelching their ability to scrutinize not only the effects of oil and gas drilling, but other environmental protections as well.
Last year, the agency’s budget was sliced 17 percent, to below 1998 levels. Sequestration forced further cuts, making research initiatives like the one in Pavillion harder to fund.
One reflection of the intense political spotlight on the agency: In May, Senate Republicans boycotted a vote on President Obama’s nominee to head the EPA, Gina McCarthy, after asking her to answer more than 1,000 questions on regulatory and policy concerns, including energy.
The Pavillion study touched a particular nerve for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the former ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee.
According to correspondence obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Inhofe demanded repeated briefings from EPA officials on fracking initiatives and barraged the agency with questions on its expenditures in Pavillion, down to how many dollars it paid a lab to check water samples for a particular contaminant.
He also wrote a letter to the EPA’s top administrator calling a draft report that concluded fracking likely helped pollute Pavillion’s drinking water “unsubstantiated” and pillorying it as part of an “Administration-wide effort to hinder and unnecessarily regulate hydraulic fracturing on the federal level.” He called for the EPA’s inspector general to open an investigation into the agency’s actions related to fracking.
When the EPA announced it would end its research in Pavillion, Inhofe – whose office did not respond to questions from ProPublica -- was quick to applaud.
“EPA thought it had a rock solid case linking groundwater contamination to hydraulic fracturing in Pavillion, WY, but we knew all along that the science was not there,” Inhofe said in a press release issued the day of the announcement.
Others, however, wonder whether a gun-shy EPA is capable of answering the pressing question of whether the nation’s natural gas boom will also bring a wave of environmental harm.
“The EPA has just put a ‘kick me’ sign on it,” John Hanger, a Democratic candidate for governor in Pennsylvania and the former secretary of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, wrote on his blog in response to the EPA news about Pavillion. “Its critics from all quarters will now oblige.”
Before fracking became the subject of a high-stakes national debate, federal agencies appeared to be moving aggressively to study whether the drilling technique was connected to mounting complaints of water pollution and health problems near well sites nationwide.
As some states began to strengthen regulations for fracking, the federal government prepared to issue rules for how wells would be fracked on lands it directly controlled.
The EPA also launched prominent scientific studies in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania, stepping into each case after residents voiced concerns that state environmental agencies had not properly examined problems.
The EPA probe in Pavillion began in 2008 with the aim of determining whether the town’s water was safe to drink. The area was first drilled in 1960 and had been the site of extensive natural gas development since the 1990’s. Starting at about the same time, residents had complained of physical ailments and said their drinking water was black and tasted of chemicals.
The EPA conducted four rounds of sampling, first testing the water from more than 40 homes and later drilling two deep wells to test water from layers of earth that chemicals from farming and old oil and gas waste pits were unlikely to reach.
The sampling revealed oil, methane, arsenic, and metals including copper and vanadium – as well as other compounds --in shallow water wells. It also detected a trace of an obscure compound linked to materials used in fracking, called 2-butoxyethanol phosphate (2-BEp).
The deep-well tests showed benzene, at 50 times the level that is considered safe for people, as well as phenols -- another dangerous human carcinogen -- acetone, toluene, naphthalene and traces of diesel fuel, which seemed to show that man-made pollutants had found their way deep into the cracks of the earth. In all, EPA detected 13 different compounds in the deep aquifer that it said were often used with hydraulic fracturing processes, including 2-Butoxyethanol, a close relation to the 2-BEp found near the surface.[1]
The agency issued a draft report in 2011 stating that while some of the pollution in the shallow water wells was likely the result of seepage from old waste pits nearby, the array of chemicals found in the deep test wells was “the result of direct mixing of hydraulic fracturing fluids with ground water in the Pavillion gas field.”
The report triggered a hailstorm of criticism not only from the drilling industry, but from state oil and gas regulators, who disagreed with the EPA’s interpretation of its data. They raised serious questions about the EPA’s methodology and the materials they used, postulating that contaminants found in deep-well samples could have been put there by the agency itself in the testing process.
In response, the EPA agreed to more testing and repeatedly extended the comment period on its study, delaying the peer review process.
Agency officials insist their data was correct, but the EPA’s decision to withdraw from Pavillion means the peer-review process won’t go forward and the findings in the draft report will never become final.
“We stand by what our data said,” an EPA spokesperson told ProPublica after the June 20 announcement, “but I do think there is a difference between data and conclusions.”
Wyoming officials say they will launch another year-long investigation to reach their own conclusions about Pavillion’s water.
Meanwhile, local residents remain suspended in a strange limbo.
While controversy has swirled around the deep well test results -- and critics have hailed the agency’s retreat as an admission that it could not defend its science -- the shallow well contamination and waste pits have been all but forgotten.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the federal government’s main agency for evaluating health risk from pollution, has advised Pavillion residents not to bathe, cook with, or drink the water flowing from their taps. Some have reported worsening health conditions they suspect are related to the pollution. They are being provided temporary drinking water from the state in large cisterns.
The EPA opened its inquiry in Dimock, Pa., after residents provided it with private water tests detecting contaminants and complained that state regulators weren’t doing enough to investigate the cause.
When an elderly woman’s water well exploded on New Year’s morning in 2009, Pennsylvania officials discovered pervasive methane contamination in the well water of 18 homes and linked it to bad casing and cementing in gas company wells. In 2010, they took a series of steps against the drilling company involved, citing it for regulatory violations, barring it from new drilling until it proved its wells would not leak and requiring it to temporarily supply water to affected homes.
But residents said state officials hadn’t investigated whether the drilling was responsible for the chemicals in their water. The EPA stepped in to find out if residents could trust the water to be safe after the drilling company stopped bringing replacement supplies.
Starting in early 2012, federal officials tested water in more than five dozen homes for pollutants, finding hazardous levels of barium, arsenic and magnesium, all compounds that can occur naturally, and minute amounts of other contaminants, including several known to cause cancer.
Still, the concentration of pollutants was not high enough to exceed safe drinking water standards in most of the homes, the EPA found (in five homes, filtering systems were installed to address concerns). Moreover, none of the contaminants – except methane -- pointed clearly to drilling. The EPA ended its investigation that July.
Critics pointed to the Dimock investigation as a classic example of the EPA being overly aggressive on fracking and then being proven wrong.
Yet, as in Pavillion, the agency concluded its inquiry without following through on the essential question of whether Dimock residents face an ongoing risk from too much methane, which is not considered unsafe to drink, but can produce fumes that lead to explosions.
The EPA also never addressed whether drilling – and perhaps the pressure of fracking – had contributed to moving methane up through cracks in the earth into their water wells.
As drilling has resumed in Dimock, so have reports of ongoing methane leaks. On June 24, the National Academy of Sciences published a report by Duke University researchers that underscored a link between the methane contamination in water in Dimock and across the Marcellus shale, and the gas wells being drilled deep below.
The gas industry maintains that methane is naturally occurring and, according to a response issued by the industry group Energy In Depth after the release of the Duke research, “there’s still no evidence of hydraulic fracturing fluids migrating from depth to contaminate aquifers.”
In opening an inquiry in Parker County, Texas, in late 2010, the EPA examined a question similar to the one it faced in Dimock: Was a driller responsible for methane gas bubbling up in residents’ water wells?
This time, though, tests conducted by a geologist hired by the agency appeared to confirm that the methane in the wells had resulted from drilling, rather than occurring naturally.
"The methane that was coming out of that well … was about as close a match as you are going to find," said the consultant, Geoffrey Thyne, a geochemist and expert in unconventional oil and gas who has been a member of both the EPA’s Science Advisory Board for hydraulic fracturing, and a National Research Council committee to examine coalbed methane development.
The EPA issued an “imminent and substantial endangerment order” forcing Range Resources, the company it suspected of being responsible, to take immediate action to address the contamination.
But once again, the EPA’s actions ignited an explosive response from the oil and gas industry, and a sharp rebuke from Texas state officials, who insisted that their own data and analysis proved Range had done no harm.
According to the environmental news site Energy Wire, Ed Rendell, the former Governor of Pennsylvania, whose law firm lobbies on behalf of energy companies, also took up Range’s case with then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Internal EPA emails used in the EnergyWire report and also obtained by ProPublica discuss Rendell’s meeting with then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, though Range has denied it employed Rendell to argue on its behalf. Neither the EPA nor Rendell responded to a request for comment on the Parker County case.
In March 2012, the EPA dropped its case against Range without explanation. Its administrator in Texas at the time had been assailed for making comments that seemed to show an anti-industry bias. He subsequently lost his job. An Associated Press investigation found that the EPA abandoned its inquiry after Range threatened not to cooperate with the EPA on its other drilling-related research.
Agency critics see a lack of will, rather than a lack of evidence, in the EPA’s approach in Parker County and elsewhere.
“It would be one thing if these were isolated incidents,” said Alan Septoff, communications director for Earthworks, an environmental group opposed to fracking. “But every time the EPA has come up with something damning, somehow, something magically has occurred to have them walk it back.”
So where does this leave the EPA’s remaining research into the effects of fracking?
The agency has joined with the Department of Energy, U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Interior to study the environmental risks of developing unconventional fuels such as shale gas, but those involved in the collaboration say that little has happened.
That leaves the EPA’s highly anticipated national study on hydraulic fracturing.
When the EPA announced it was ending its research in Pavillion, it pointed to this study as a “major research program.”
“The agency will look to the results of this program as the basis for its scientific conclusions and recommendations on hydraulic fracturing," it said in a statement issued in partnership with Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.
That national study will concentrate on five case studies in Pennsylvania, Texas, North Dakota and Colorado.
It will not, however, focus on Pavillion or Parker County or Dimock.
Nor will it devote much attention to places like Sublette County, Wy., where state and federal agencies have found both aquifer contamination and that drilling has caused dangerous levels of emissions and ozone pollution.
It will be a long time before the EPA’s national study can inform the debate over fracking. While the agency has promised a draft by late 2014, it warned last month that no one should expect to read the final version before sometime in 2016, the last full year of President Obama’s term.

2. Britain has blocked the first crucial talks on intelligence and espionage between European officials and their American counterparts since the NSA surveillance scandal erupted.
The talks, due to begin in Washington on Monday, will now be restricted to issues of data privacy and the NSA's Prism programme following a tense 24 hours of negotiations in Brussels between national EU ambassadors. Britain, supported only by Sweden, vetoed plans to launch two "working groups" on the espionage debacle with the Americans.
Instead, the talks will consist of one working group focused on the NSA's Prism programme, which has been capturing and storing vast amounts of internet and mobile phone metadata in Europe.
The disclosures in the Guardian over the past month have triggered a transatlantic crisis of confidence and threatened to derail crucial free trade talks between the EU and the US, also due to be launched in Washington on Monday.
The talks on Prism and data privacy have been arranged to coincide with the trade talks in an attempt to defuse the transatlantic tension. EU diplomats and officials say the offer of talks by the Americans is designed to enable the leaders of Germany and France to save face following revelations about the scale of US espionage – particularly in Germany, but also of French and other European embassies and missions in the US.
Other aspects of the dispute, such as more traditional spying and intelligence matters, will be off limits for the Europeans after Britain insisted the EU had no authority to discuss issues of national security and intelligence.
"It was decided. It finished successfully," said Dalia Grybauskaitė, the president of Lithuania, which has just assumed the EU's six-month rotating presidency and which mediated the sensitive talks in Brussels over the past two days.
On Thursday, Grybauskaitė said the Europeans hoped to hold two separate strands of consultations with the Americans. By Friday she and José Manuel Barroso, the European commission president, conceded that the intelligence strand had been dropped. "Intelligence matters and those of national security are not the competence of the EU," he said, echoing the UK's objection.
Senior EU diplomats, officials, and government ministers confirmed that Britain opposed most of the rest of the EU on joint European talks with the Americans on intelligence and espionage, meaning that national governments will need to pursue the issues separately with Washington.
"The consultations in Washington will first of all address data protection matters. Addressing the intelligence topic is not expected," said a senior Lithuanian official.
The Lithuanian government phoned Carl Bildt, Sweden's foreign minister, on Thursday evening to try to remove the Swedish resistance, but failed, sources said. The talks in Brussels continued throughout the night as diplomats sought to come up with wording that would keep everyone happy.
Officials said the abortive attempt to come up with a common European position only served to highlight the divisions that have surfaced as a result of the espionage scandal, with the Europeans against the Americans, the French and the Germans against the British, and leading pro-EU figures arguing that the fiasco has underlined the case for Europe constructing its own cyber-defences.
"We need our own capacities, European cloud computing, EU strategic independence," said Michel Barnier, the French politician and European commissioner for the single market.
Such is the transatlantic and intra-European disarray over the espionage wars, that senior east and west European politicians and intelligence veterans privately suspect a Russian role in the intelligence row. They point to the presence of the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden – apparently still at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport – and to the controversy surrounding the Bolivian presidential plane. President Evo Morales, travelling from Moscow, was forced to land in Vienna after being denied permission to enter the airspace of several EU countries.
The surveillance dispute led to calls, particularly from France, for the long-awaited negotiations on a transatlantic free trade pact to be delayed. The simultaneous opening of talks on the NSA, Prism and surveillance is designed to mute such calls and give European leaders an opportunity to climb down while claiming concessions from the Americans, EU diplomats said.

[Listen Here]

3. The Brief Wondrous Life (and Long Dangerous Half-Life) of Strontium-90

Though military authorities and officials with the US Atomic Energy Commission initially downplayed the dispersal and dangers of fallout from these atmospheric tests, by the early 1950s, scientists in nuclear and non-nuclear countries alike began to raise concerns. Fallout from atmospheric tests was not contained simply to the blast radius or a region near the explosion; instead, the products of fission and un-fissioned nuclear residue were essentially vaporized by the heat and carried up into the stratosphere, sweeping across the globe, and eventually returning to earth in precipitation. A host of radioactive isotopes contaminated land and surface water, entering the food chain through farms and dairies.
The Tale of the Teeth
In order to demonstrate that fallout was widespread and had worked its way into the population, a group of researchers, headed by Dr. Barry Commoner and Drs. Louise and Eric Reiss, founded the Baby Tooth Survey under the auspices of Washington University (where Commoner then taught) and the St. Louis Citizens' Committee for Nuclear Information. The tooth survey sought to track strontium-90 (Sr-90), a radioactive isotope of the alkaline earth metal strontium, which occurs as a result - and only as a result - of nuclear fission. Sr-90 is structurally similar to calcium, and so, once in the body, works its way into bones and teeth.

While harvesting human bones was impractical, researchers realized that baby teeth should be readily available. Most strontium in baby teeth would transfer from mother to fetus during pregnancy, and so birth records would provide accurate data about where and when those teeth were formed. The tooth survey collected baby teeth, initially from the St. Louis area, eventually from around the globe, and analyzed them for strontium.

By the early '60s, the program had collected well over a quarter-million teeth, and ultimately found that children in St. Louis in 1963 had 50 times more Sr-90 in them than children born in 1950. Armed with preliminary results from this survey and a petition signed by thousands of scientists worldwide, Dr. Commoner successfully lobbied President John F. Kennedy to negotiate and sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, halting atmospheric nuclear tests by the US, UK and USSR. By the end of the decade, strontium-90 levels in newly collected baby teeth were substantially lower than the '63 samples.

The initial survey, which ended in 1970, continues to have relevance today. Some 85,000 teeth not used in the original project were turned over to researchers at the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) in 2001. The RPHP study, released in 2010, found that donors from the Baby Tooth Survey who had died of cancer before age 50 averaged over twice the Sr-90 in their samples compared with those who had lived past their 50th birthday.

But the perils of strontium-90 - or, indeed, a host of radioactive isotopes that are strontium's travel companions - did not cease with the ban on atmospheric nuclear tests. Many of the hazards of fallout could also be associated with the radiological pollution that is part-and-parcel of nuclear power generation. The controlled fission in a nuclear reactor produces all of the elements created in the uncontrolled fission of a nuclear explosion. This point was brought home by the RPHP work, when it found strontium-90 was 30- to 50-percent higher in baby teeth collected from children born in "nuclear counties," (PDF) the roughly 40 percent of US counties situated within 100 miles of a nuclear power plant or weapons lab.

Similar baby teeth research has been conducted over the last 30 years in Denmark, Japan and Germany, with measurably similar results. While Sr-90 levels continued to decrease in babies born through the mid 1970s, as the use of nuclear power starts to spread worldwide, that trend flattens. Of particular note, a study conducted by the German section of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize) found ten-times more strontium-90 in the teeth of children born after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster when compared with samples from 1983.

While radioactive strontium itself can be linked to several diseases, including leukemia and bone cancers, Sr-90, as mentioned above, is but one of the most measurable of many dangerous isotopes released into the environment by the normal, everyday operation of nuclear reactors, even without the catastrophic discharges that come with accidents and meltdowns. Tritium, along with radioactive variants of iodine, cesium and xenon (to name just a few) can often be detected in elevated levels in areas around nuclear facilities.

Epidemiological studies have shown higher risks of breast and prostate cancers for those living in US nuclear counties. But while the Environmental Protection Agency collects sporadic data on the presence of radioactive isotopes such as Sr-90, the exact locations of the sampling sites are not part of the data made available to the general public. Further, while "unusual" venting of radioactive vapor or the dumping of contaminated water from a nuclear plant has to be reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (and even then, it is the event that is reported, not the exact composition of the discharge), the radio-isotopes that are introduced into the environment by the typical operation of a reactor meet with far less scrutiny. In the absence of better EPA data and more stringent NRC oversight, studies like the Baby Tooth Survey and its contemporary brethren are central to the public understanding of the dangers posed by the nuclear power industry.

June and Sr-90: busting out all over

As if to underscore the point, strontium-90 served as the marker for troubling developments on both sides of the Pacific just this June.

In Japan, TEPCO - still the official operator of Fukushima Daiichi - revealed it had found Sr-90 in groundwater surrounding the crippled nuclear plant at "very high" levels. Between December 2012 and May 2013, levels of strontium-90 increased over 100-fold, to 1,000 becquerels per liter - 33 times the Japanese limit for the radioactive isotope.

The samples were taken less than 100 feet from the coast. From that point, reports say, the water usually flows out to the Pacific Ocean.

Beyond the concerns raised by the effects of the strontium-90 (and the dangerously high amounts of tritium detected along with it) when the radioactive contamination enters the food chain, the rising levels of Sr-90 likely indicate other serious problems at Fukushima. Most obviously, there is now little doubt that TEPCO has failed to contain contaminated water leaking from the damaged reactor buildings - contrary to the narrative preferred by company officials.

But skyrocketing levels of strontium-90 could also suggest that the isotope is still being produced - that nuclear fission is still occurring in one or more of the damaged reactor cores. Or even, perhaps, outside the reactors, as the corium (the term for the molten, lava-like nuclear fuel after a meltdown) in as many as three units is believed to have melted through the steel reactor containment and possibly eroded the concrete floor, as well.

An ocean away, in Washington state, radiological waste, some of which dates back to the manufacture of those first atom bombs, sits in aging storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation - and some of those tanks are leaking.

In truth, tanks at Hanford, considered by many the United States' most contaminated nuclear site, have been leaking for some time. But the high-level radioactive waste in some of the old, single-wall tanks had been transferred to newer, double-walled storage, which was supposed to provide better containment. On June 20, however, the US Department of Energy reported that workers at Hanford detected radioactive contamination - specifically Sr-90 - outside one of the double-walled tanks, possibly suggesting a breach. The predominant radionuclides in the 850,000-gallon tank are reported to be strontium-90 and cesium-137.

The tank, along with hundreds of others, sits about five miles from the Columbia River, water source for much of the region. Once contamination leaks from the tanks, it mixes with ground water, and, in time, should make its way to the river. "I view this as a crisis," said Tom Carpenter, executive director of the watchdog group Hanford Challenge, "These tanks are not supposed to fail for 50 years."

Destroyer of worlds
In a 1965 interview, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Manhattan Project's science director who was in charge of the Los Alamos facility that developed the first atomic bombs, looked back twenty years to that July New Mexico morning:

    We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.

"We knew the world would not be the same." Oppenheimer was most likely speaking figuratively, but, as it turns out, he also reported a literal truth. Before July 16, 1945, there was no strontium-90 or cesium-137 in the atmosphere - it simply did not exist in nature. But ever since that first atomic explosion, these anthropogenic radioactive isotopes have been part of earth's every turn.

Strontium-90 - like cesium-137 and a catalog of other hazardous byproducts of nuclear fission - takes a long time to decay. The detritus of past detonations and other nuclear disasters will be quite literally with us - in our water and soil, in our tissue and bone - for generations. These radioactive isotopes have already been linked to significant suffering, disease and death. Their danger was acknowledged by the United States when JFK signed the 1963 Test Ban Treaty. Now would be a good time to acknowledge the perspicacity of that president, phase out today's largest contributors of atmospheric Sr-90 - nuclear reactors - and let the sun set on this toxic metal's life.

4. Obama said
"I've determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one third." -- Obama's Berlin speech, Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2013.

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5. DOE to pay $136,000 fine in Hanford settlement

Read more here:

 By Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald
Richland — The Department of Energy has agreed to pay a $136,000 fine to settle Environmental Protection Agency allegations that it has violated legal requirements for storing radioactive and hazardous chemical waste at Hanford.

It has operated waste storage areas without a required permit, stopped using other areas for storage without closing them or requesting an extension and has not properly treated some waste, according to EPA.

DOE has argued that it long has followed requirements in the Dangerous Waste Permit issued by the state of Washington and the Tri-Party Agreement to store waste.

Hundreds of inspections during almost two decades have not raised issues with methods now being criticized, it said. However, the EPA National Enforcement Investigations Center conducted an inspection in March 2011 and questioned whether several waste storage units were covered by permits.

“When handling mixed (nuclear and hazardous) waste, there’s no such thing as being too careful,” Ed Kowalski, director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle, said in a statement. “Strict compliance with all dangerous waste requirements is the only acceptable path here.”

DOE had permits to store waste in units within T Plant, some double-lined trenches and the Central Waste Complex. But it also was storing waste in places in those facilities that the permits did not cover, according to the investigation. Most of the waste is material that has been set aside or temporarily buried and then retrieved to eventually be disposed of at the nation’s repository for transuranic waste, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in New Mexico. At Hanford, transuranic waste typically is waste contaminated with plutonium.

The waste also includes suspected transuranic waste that when tested was classified instead as low-level radioactive waste mixed with hazardous chemicals.

DOE considers the issue to be largely a procedural matter caused by a conflict between regulator-approved practices at Hanford and how permitting is approached nationally under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, it said.

Human health was not threatened because of procedural issues, and the storage units were managed and continually inspected just as those that EPA says were properly permitted, said Cameron Hardy, DOE spokesman.

But EPA believes it is important that each unit to store waste go through a separate permitting process, said Adam Baron, the EPA case developer.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act defines what can be done where so that when environmental cleanup is completed it is clear what areas were used for and what sampling should be done, he said.

It also matters for current management, providing guidance on how units should be inspected, he said. For example, it can help make sure that if liquids are included in waste being stored, secondary containment is in place to prevent leaks to the environment, he said.

A thorough permitting process also allows for public input, he said.

EPA also was concerned about DOE’s practice of treating waste in double-lined trenches. Containers of waste were lined up and then grouted together in a large monolith.

Regulations require that treatment be done outside the trenches, with each drum or container grouted separately so they then can be inspected individually, Baron said.

In addition, EPA said DOE needed to follow the same procedures required of private businesses that store waste. If storage is not used for more than a year, it must give notice to start closing the waste storage unit or request an extension to continue using it in the future.

DOE signed the agreement, but has not admitted nor denied improper storage or treatment of waste in the consent agreement.

“We have worked closely with the EPA to address the administrative issues identified by the inspection team,” said Hardy. “We are pleased to be moving forward with cleanup rather than adding to the expense of cleanup through a drawn-out legal battle.”

In addition to paying the fine to the U.S. Treasury, DOE also has agreed to change its procedures to better align with those used nationally.
It will stop using five areas in T Plant for storage and will stop using two outside storage areas at the Central Waste Complex. It also will stop using a small storage area south of Trench 34 in central Hanford. Within 120 days it will submit a permit modification request for closure plans for those eight units.

It also will either close or request an extension to continue using a railroad tunnel at T Plant and a unit at Building 2401 in the Central Waste Complex for storage. Although DOE has no current use for the railroad tunnel, it may be called back into service when K Basin sludge is moved to central Hanford.

In addition, DOE will stop the practice of grouting waste after it is placed in trenches.

“Today’s agreement includes commitments by DOE to address these allegations and ensure that these units are properly managed,” Kowalski said.

In some past cases, arrangements have been made to use fines for Hanford-area environmental projects that benefit the nearby community rather than adding the money to the U.S. Treasury. However, that is more costly, and DOE did not consider it an option to take more money away from Hanford cleanup at a time of forced federal budget cuts.

Read more here:

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It's unclear why the FBI did not immediately provide answers to Paul's 11 questions, but the delay could conceivably morph into an unwelcome spectacle for the Obama administration.
Paul inquired about the domestic use of drones in a June 20 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, after the director told the Senate Intelligence Committee his agency was using the unmanned devices without clear guidelines.
Paul asked Mueller to explain how long the FBI has been using drones, how many drones the FBI has, whether or not FBI drones would ever be armed, why they are used, what policies guide their use and what has been done with the information they collect.

Moira Bagley, Paul's communications director, told U.S. News Friday that the FBI has not provided answers to the questions. She declined to speculate if Paul would filibuster the confirmation hearing of James Comey to replace Mueller as FBI director in response to the delay.
Comey, a Republican, was nominated by President Barack Obama in June and is widely expected to be easily confirmed.
In June Bagley said it was "too early to tell" if Paul would filibuster Comey's nomination. Now, Bagley says, she would need to confer with other Paul staffers to learn what steps might be taken to wring out answers.
In March Paul stood on the Senate floor for 13 hours to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan to lead the CIA after Attorney General Eric Holder failed to definitively rule out using drones to kill people within the U.S.
[READ: Armed Drones Could Be Protected By the Second Amendment]
"I am disturbed by the revelation that the FBI has unilaterally decided to begin using drone surveillance technology without a governance policy, and thus without the requisite assurances that the constitutional rights of Americans are being protected," Paul said in his letter to Mueller. "As such, I am requesting your prompt answers."
Mueller's disclosure about domestic drone use by the FBI alarmed even the administration's most stalwart supporters, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, who called drones "the greatest threat to the privacy of Americans."
A spokesperson for the FBI director could not be reached by U.S. News for comment. "This is a weekday, a regular work day," an FBI phone operator said. "I don't have any idea why they wouldn't be here."
The FBI is "still in the process of responding" to Paul’s letter, spokesman Paul Bresson tells U.S. News.

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7. Massive, uncontained leak at Fukushima is pouring over 710 billion becquerels of radioactive materials into atmosphere

Learn more:

(NaturalNews) The tsunami-caused nuclear accident at the Fukushima power station in Japan is the disaster that never ends, as new reports indicate that a wealth of new radioactive materials have been spewed into the atmosphere.

According to Singapore-based news outlet AsiaOne, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the multi-nuclear reactor power station at Fukushima, announced April 6 that some 120 tons of water that had been contaminated with radioactive substances had leaked from an underground storage facility at the No. 1 atomic power plant site.

Running out of storage room?
TEPCO officials announced the leak late in the day April 5, a Friday, "but said measures to address the problem had not been taken for two days because the cause had not been identified," AsiaOne reported. The company "assumed the water was still leaking."

According to company officials TEPCO estimates that the leaked water contains about 710 billion becquerels of radioactive substances, making it the largest leak of radioactive materials ever at the plant. Discovery of the leak led the company to transfer about 13,000 tons of polluted, radioactive water in the questionable storage area to a neighboring underground storage unit.

That storage unit, TEPCO said, is 60 meters long, 53 meters wide and six meters deep. It is pool-like in structure and has a three-layer waterproof sheet with a concrete cover.

According to the company, water that has leaked from damaged nuclear reactors is run through filters and additional devices in order to remove radioactive elements. The water is then stored in facilities for low-level contaminated water.

TEPCO began using the storage facility Feb. 1. As of April 5, 13,000 tons of radioactive water was being stored there - very close to the 14,000-ton limit.

More leaking contamination
AsiaOne reported that water samples taken by TEPCO from soil surrounding the damaged facility a few days later showed 35 becquerels per cubic centimeter of radioactive substances, which is abnormal. "Safe" levels of becquerels is 300 per kilogram of water, according to New Scientist.

However, TEPCO officials did not publicly announce their findings right away after not finding any other unusual changes in water quality data, such as chloride concentration.

On April 5, the report said, two days after the problem was first noticed, water with 6,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter of radioactive substances was located between the first and second layers of the waterproof sheet, which alerted TEPCO engineers and plant officials that a leak had occurred.

Per AsiaOne:

As the sheet's layers were joined when the facility was constructed, TEPCO assumed that the sheet may have been damaged, or that a mistake had been made during construction. An average of about 400 tons a day of groundwater seeped into buildings housing nuclear reactors and turbines, increasing the quantity of polluted water.

The latest problem will create a storage shortage; TEPCO officials said storage of polluted water at the facility will be reduced from 53,000 tons to 40,000 - a significant reduction. That will make it necessary for the power company to go over procedures for handling polluted water, which will include increasing the number of storage units.

The disaster that keeps on giving
TEPCO said earlier this month it expected the water transfer would take about five days to complete. "As the height of the water storage facility is relatively low, we think it's unlikely that the polluted water mixed into underground water and reached the sea 800 meters away," said Masayuki Ono, the acting chief of TEPCO's nuclear facilities department, at a press conference April 6.

The plant was damaged by a huge earthquake-caused tsunami March 11, 2011. At the time of the incident, three of the plant's atomic reactors were shut down: No. 4 had been de-fueled and Nos. 5 and 6 were in cold shut-down for maintenance.
The remaining three automatically shut down at the time of the accident and emergency generators came on to keep coolant systems operating.

Learn more:

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8. Zee List of Words
List of words 'broad, ambiguous'
The list helps shed a little needed light on how government analysts like NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden are instructed on how to troll the Internet in search of threats, both foreign and domestic.

According to the Mail the words are contained in DHS' 2011 "Analyst's Desktop Binder," which is used by employees at the department's National Operations Center. There, workers are instructed to identify "media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities," the binder notes (you know, like this story, most likely).

Department heads had to release the binder in the wake of a House hearing regarding documents that have been obtained per a FOIA lawsuit, "which revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organizations for comments that 'reflect adversely' on the government," the paper reported.

Naturally DHS feigned innocence, insisting that the practice of targeting keywords within electronic communications is not policing the Web, per se, but rather only as a means of learning about potential threats.

Besides terrorism, analysts are instructed to look for any indicators of natural disasters in the making, threats to public health and serious major crimes, like mass shootings, major drug arrests and busts of illegal immigrants.

Once obtained, the list was posted online by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (see it here by scrolling to the bottom of the page), a group that advocates for increased privacy protections in the digital age. EFF filed a FOIA request before resorting to its lawsuit in order to force DHS to release the list.

In a follow-up letter to the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, EPIC said the words used by DHS were overly "broad, vague and ambiguous."

The group noted that the list includes "vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters."

'We're not actually doing what the manual says we are'
Following disclosure of the existence of the manual, a senior DHS official told The Huffington Post that the manual is just "a starting point, not the endgame" in establishing situational awareness of both natural and man-made threats to the American homeland. The official further denied that the federal government was trying to monitor signs of dissent - a claim which is bogus on its face, given that the manual actually instructs analysts to do that very thing.

"'To ensure clarity, as part of ... routine compliance review, DHS will review the language contained in all materials to clearly and accurately convey the parameters and intention of the program," DHS spokesman Matthew Chandler told HuffPo.

According to EPIC, "the records reveal that the DHS is paying General Dynamics to monitor the news," the group said on its website. "The DHS instructed the social media monitoring company to generate 'reports on DHS, Components, and other Federal Agencies: Positive and negative reports on FEMA, CIA, CBP, ICE, etc. as well as organizations outside the DHS.'"

Learn more:

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9. Fukushima Reactor No. 4′s problem is not only its nuclear fuel pool! —
Pit filled with highly radioactive materials

Worker: [...] I think the spent fuel pool is not the only problem reactor #4 faces.
There is a Device Storage Pit (DSP) on the other side of the reactor well opposite to the spent nuclear fuel pool. [...] Just before the earthquake, upon removing the shroud from the reactor well, it was cut off under water and put into the DSP. So inside the DSP of reactor #4, there are a lot of fragments of highly radioactive shroud. [...] The overall seismic resistance of the DSP was estimated for one year. Now that the nuclear reactor building is weakened by the explosion, I’m worried about what is going to be done with the DSP. When fuel rods from the spent fuel pool were about to be removed, a suggestion was made that materials stored in the DSP be removed as well, but it was rejected because “we don’t have enough budget for that, the issue of concern to the public now is the spent fuel pool

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10. TEPCO reports another rat problem, this time at Fukushima No. 2 plant

Date: July 04, 2013

    A rat caused a battery charger to break down in an emergency gas turbine generator vehicle at the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant, the latest rodent-related problem to hit Tokyo Electric Power Co.
    The rat is believed to have entered the vehicle through a 3- to 4-centimeter opening for cables and then shorted a switchboard, a TEPCO official said July 3. [...]
    The gas turbine generator vehicle was deployed for emergency use at the No. 2 plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake

11. Just take the dosimeter and sit down and shut up!

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12. Then, what is the most serious problem at Fuke?

Worker: That is undoubtedly reactor #2.
Professor of Tokyo University: As I thought! Even among researchers, the situation of reactor #2 is beyond imagination.

Workers: [...] But we are clueless about reactor #2. [...]

I’ll give you an extreme example. Let’s assume that the situation worsens to the point that it becomes impossible to pour water in order to cool off the reactor. For reactors #1, #3 and #4, a specialized squad prepared to bear the risks of radiation exposure can always enter the building and do the work required.

But in the case of reactor #2, radioactive emissions inside most buildings are extremely high that a prepared squad is likely to perish before it accomplishes its mission. [...

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13. American Intellectuals' Widespread Failure to Stand Up to Billionaires and Authoritarian Power
The majority of intellectual work in the U.S. is actually helping to prop up our unjust distribution of wealth and power.

Given the considerable resources in the United States spent to subsidize intellectual work, why are so many intellectuals—journalists, academics, writers—not critiquing the many hierarchical institutions and not highlighting the disastrous consequences of these systems?

Why are so many intellectuals instead providing support for the institutions and systems? Why is the majority of intellectual work in the United States not challenging but instead helping to prop up the unjust distribution of wealth and power, and the unsustainable extractive/industrial system?

Both intellectuals and the people who provide the resources that allow intellectuals to work should ponder this crucial question.

I am not suggesting that to be a responsible intellectual one must agree with me on all these issues, that anyone who does not agree with my approach to these issues is a soulless sell-out. My argument is that if we take seriously the basic moral principles at the core of modern philosophical and theological systems we claim to believe in, in light of the data on social injustice and the serious threats to ecological sustainability, these questions should be central in the work of intellectuals. Based on my experience as a journalist, professor, and political activist—a life in which I have always worked in intellectual professions and interacted with many other intellectuals in various settings—I have learned that the story is complicated but that a sharp critique of intellectuals as a social formation is warranted.

First, let’s recognize that intellectual work generally comes with considerable privilege. That does not mean that intellectuals don’t work hard, make sacrifices, or feel stress. But in general, intellectuals are compensated well for work that is not physically hazardous and can be rewarding on many levels. There are many intellectuals-in-training (graduate students) and underemployed intellectuals (adjunct faculty) who face overwhelming workloads and few perks, and so we should be cautious about generalizing too much about the category of “intellectual.” This analysis focuses on those doing intellectual work with the most privilege and the most autonomy.

Ideally, we pay intellectuals to help us deepen our understanding of how the world works, toward the goal of shaping a world more consistent with our moral and political principles, and our collective self-interest. What are the forces that keep people, especially relatively privileged people, mute in the face of such a clear need for critical intellectual work? The first, and easiest, answer is individual self-interest—the status and economic rewards that come to intellectuals who serve power. Upton Sinclair put it most succinctly: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

No doubt some intellectuals make calculations about how to use their abilities to enrich themselves, but in my experience such crass greed is relatively rare. I suspect that a desire to be accepted by peers is at least as powerful a motivation for intellectuals to accept the status quo. Humans are social animals who generally seek a safe and secure place in a social group, and there’s no reason intellectuals would be different. Even when concentrated wealth and power do not threaten people with serious punishments, the desire to be a well-regarded member of an intellectual community is a powerful conformity-inducer. When one’s professional cohort works within the worldview that the wealthy and powerful construct, the boundaries of that world seem appropriate. Curiosity about what lies beyond those boundaries tends to atrophy.

Those forces have been in play for a long time, but another potentially crucial factor is the way in which confronting the reality of injustice and unsustainability can be morally and psychologically overwhelming for anyone. As the documentation of human suffering and the threats to ecological sustainability accumulate, in an era when multiple communication channels make it easy to be aware of more and more of this information, that awareness can seem to be too much to face. The desire to rationalize the suffering and imagine an easy escape is easy to understand.

Rationalization #1: Justifying Hierarchy

When humans suffer in extreme situations, such as war or natural disasters, most people in most situations find it easy to care and respond. When the suffering is ongoing and apparently endemic to the systems of the world, staying connected to that suffering is more difficult. In such situations, it can be attractive to find ways to justify hierarchy and the resulting suffering, rather than to challenge power.

There is wide consensus on the values that are central to constructing a decent human society: justice, equality, compassion, honesty, opportunity, sharing. It is difficult to imagine such a society without these basic elements: (1) the belief in the inherent dignity of all human beings; (2) a sense of solidarity with at least those in one’s community, if not beyond; and (3) a commitment to achieving a rough equality so that everyone has access to the material requirements for a decent life. That list does not assume that people are morally perfect or perfectible, but instead articulates common aspirations for ourselves, others, and society.

How do we explain the fact that most people’s stated philosophical and theological systems are rooted in concepts of equality, solidarity, and the inherent dignity of all people, yet we allow violence, exploitation, and oppression to flourish? Only a small percentage of people in any given society are truly sociopaths, those who engage in cruel and oppressive behavior openly and without a capacity for empathy. In my experience, the most common way in which people make their peace with that contradiction is to accept the claim that hierarchy and injustice are inevitable, and that the best we can do is try to smooth off the rough edges of such systems. The process can be summed up like this:

--The systems and structures in which we live are hierarchical.

--Hierarchical systems and structures deliver to those in the dominant class certain privileges, pleasures, and material benefits.

--People are typically hesitant to give up such privileges, pleasures, and benefits.

--But, those benefits clearly come at the expense of those in the subordinated class.

--Given the widespread acceptance of basic notions of dignity, solidarity, and equality, the existence of hierarchy has to be justified in some way other than crass self-interest.

--One of the most persuasive arguments for systems of domination and subordination is that they are “natural.”

So, oppressive systems work hard to make it appear that the hierarchy -- and the disparity in power and resources that flow from hierarchy -- is natural and, therefore, beyond modification. If white people are naturally smarter and more virtuous than people of color, then white supremacy is inevitable and justifiable. If men are naturally stronger and more capable of leadership than women, then patriarchy is inevitable and justifiable. If rich people are naturally clearer-thinking and harder-working than poor people, then economic inequality is inevitable and justifiable. If the strong are, well, stronger than the weak, then the strong will rule.

As John Stuart Mill noted in his argument for women’s rights, “[W]as there ever any domination which did not appear natural to those who possessed it?” For unjust hierarchies, and the illegitimate authority that is exercised in them, maintaining their naturalness is essential. Not surprisingly, people in the dominant class exercising the power gravitate easily to such a view. And because of their power to control key intellectual institutions (especially education and mass communication), those in the dominant class can fashion a story about the world that leads some portion of the people in the subordinated class to internalize the ideology. A social order that violates almost everyone’s basic principles is transformed into a natural order that cannot be changed.

Rationalization #2: Celebrating Technology

Facing the ecological realities is even more overwhelming. People once spoke of “environmental problems” that seemed limited and manageable, but now the questions are about whether a large-scale human presence on the planet will be viable within the foreseeable future. An honest assessment of the state of the ecosphere is frightening, and it is easier to believe that the world’s systems can magically continue rather than thinking about how radical changes in those systems are necessary -- and how even with such radical changes there is no guarantee that we can avoid catastrophe.

That frightening possibility is why the culture in general, and intellectuals in particular, are quick to embrace technological fundamentalism, a form of magical thinking that promises a way out of the problems that the extractive/industrial economy has created. Technological fundamentalists believe that the increasing use of evermore sophisticated high-energy advanced technology is always a good thing and that any problems caused by the unintended consequences of such technology eventually can be remedied by more technology. Perhaps the ultimate example of this is “geo-engineering,” the belief that we can intervene at the planetary level in the climate system to deal effectively with global warming. Given massive human failure at much lower levels of intervention, this approach—which “offers the tantalizing promise of a climate change fix that would allow us to continue our resource-exhausting way of life, indefinitely”—is, quite literally, insane.

Those who question such “solutions” are often said to be anti-technology, which is a meaningless insult. All human beings use technology of some kind, whether stone tools or computers. An anti-fundamentalist position does not assert that all technology is bad, but that the introduction of new technology should be evaluated carefully on the basis of its effects -- predictable and unpredictable -- on human communities and the non-human world, with an understanding of the limits of our knowledge. We have moved too far and too fast, outstripping our capacity to manage the world we have created. The answer is not some naïve return to a romanticized past, but a recognition of what we have created and a systematic evaluation to determine how to recover from our most dangerous missteps.

But the technological fundamentalists see no reason to consider such things. They have faith in human cleverness. The title of a recent book by an environmentalist—The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans—sums it up: Technological fundamentalists believe humans can play God and control an infinitely complex universe with enough competence to save not only ourselves but the planet. There’s nothing new about that arrogance. In 1968, Stewart Brand began the Whole Earth Catalog with that famous line, “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” Four decades later, with the evidence of human failure piling up, Brand remained the loyal technological fundamentalist, arguing that his suggestion had become an imperative: “We are as gods and HAVE to get good at it.”

Our experience with the unintended consequences of modern technology is fairly extensive. For example, there’s the case of automobiles and the burning of petroleum in internal-combustion engines, which give us the ability to travel considerable distances with a fair amount of individual autonomy. This technology also has given us traffic jams and road rage, strip malls and smog, while contributing to rapid climate change that threatens sustainable life on the planet. We haven’t quite figured out how to cope with these problems, and in retrospect it might have been wise to go slower in the development of a system geared toward private, individual transportation based on the car and spend more time considering potential consequences.

Or how about CFCs and the ozone hole? Chlorofluorocarbons have a variety of industrial, commercial and household applications, including in air-conditioning. They were thought to be a miracle chemical when introduced in the 1930s—non-toxic, non-flammable and non-reactive with other chemical compounds. But in the 1980s, researchers began to understand that while CFCs are stable in the troposphere, when they move to the stratosphere and are broken down by strong ultraviolet light they release chlorine atoms that deplete the ozone layer. This unintended effect deflated the exuberance a bit. Depletion of the ozone layer means that more UV radiation reaches the Earth’s surface, and overexposure to UV radiation is a cause of skin cancer, cataracts and immune suppression.

But wait, the technological fundamentalists might argue, our experience with CFCs refutes your argument—humans got a handle on that one and banned CFCs, and now the ozone hole is closing. These gases, which were once commonly used in air-conditioning, were regulated in 1987 through the Montreal Protocol, which has reduced damage to the ozone layer. The oldest and most damaging CFC coolants have been largely eliminated from use, and the newer hydrochlorofluorocarbons that are now widely used have little or no effect on the ozone layer. That’s all true, but unfortunately we now know that the HCFC gases contribute to global warming. Scientists estimate that up to a quarter of all global warming will be attributable to those gases by 2050, so that “the therapy to cure one global environmental disaster is now seeding another.”

So the reasonable question is: If the dangerous HCFCs that replaced the dangerous CFCs are replaced by a new chemical that appears harmless, how long will it take before the dangerous effects of that replacement become visible? There’s no way to predict, but it seems reasonable to ask the question. Society didn’t react to the news about CFCs or HCFCs by thinking about ways to step back from a developed world that has become dependent on air-conditioning, but instead continues to search for replacements to keep the air conditioning running.


Intellectuals are in the business of assessing problems and offering solutions. Technological fundamentalism allows intellectuals to offer solutions that don’t threaten existing institutions and don’t make demands on society in general, which allows intellectuals to retain their status and level of comfort, at least in the short term. The obvious problem is that if we look only for “solutions” that don’t disturb existing systems, and those existing systems are unsustainable, then our solutions are at best irrelevant and at worst will exacerbate the fundamental problems and make it harder for people to imagine new systems.

This is not an argument to abandon all attempts to improve technology, stop exploring ways technology can contribute to a healthier planet, or halt research on renewable energy. A sensible approach to our cascading ecological crises is to pursue multiple strategies that mitigate the worst of what exists today while planning for a radically different tomorrow. Technological fundamentalism is dangerous because it encourages us to focus on the former and ignore the latter.

The problem, succinctly stated: When intellectuals limit themselves to inquiry that stays safely within existing systems, they are being unrealistic. That claim turns the tables on establishment intellectuals, who routinely criticize more radical colleagues for not being realistic. But imagine that you are riding comfortably on a train. You look out the window and see that not too far ahead the tracks end abruptly and that the train will derail if it continues moving ahead. You suggest that the train should stop immediately and that the passengers go forward on foot. This will require a major shift in everyone’s way of traveling, of course, but it appears to you to be the only realistic option; to continue barreling forward is to guarantee catastrophic consequences. But when you propose this course of action, others who have grown comfortable riding on the train say, “Everybody likes riding the train, and so telling us to get off is not realistic.”

In the contemporary United States, we are trapped in a similar delusion. We are told that it is “realistic” to capitulate to the absurd idea that the systems in which we live are the only systems possible because some people like them and wish them to continue. But what if our current level of First-World consumption is exhausting the ecological basis for life? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that take that lifestyle as non-negotiable. What if real democracy is not possible in a nation-state with 300 million people? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that take this way of organizing a polity as immutable. What if the hierarchies on which our lives are based are producing extreme material deprivation for subordinated people and a kind of dull misery among the privileged? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that accept hierarchy as inevitable.

The ultimate test of our intellectual abilities is whether we can face the possibility that there may be no way out of these traps and yet continue to work for a more just and sustainable world (more on that later). That is not easy, but to be a responsible intellectual is to be willing to get apocalyptic, and the first step in that process is to give up on the myth of neutrality. Intellectuals shouldn’t claim to be neutral, and the public shouldn’t take such

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