Sunday, September 28, 2014


PNN - 9/28/14
Steve Horn
Gwen H. Barry
Luis Cuevas
Dave Wilcox
Ruthann Amarietiio

Report: Treasury approved ‘excessive’ pay at bailed-out firms

1. Cleansing HISTORY… not in Orwell's Future but in Denver and Texas
Sanitizing history, removing unions, suffragettes, abolitionists, the steel strikers, the mine workers struggle, the red scare, the comstock raids, the triangle factory fire, Sinclair Lewis, Ida Tarbell, John Steinbeck and the brave Americans - Ronnie Reagan turned in when he was a unionist in Hollywood. This "cleaner" neater version of America cleansed of Selma and Ludlow is an affront to every American. It serves the Neo-monarchists and theocrats that would end once and all the experiment of American Liberty and self rule. We the people do not need a dumbed down faux-historie to love the country, we don't need to think no one protested the War to End All Wars, despite what Bernays thought. 
Stand for truth the ugly uneven truth of America, honor the struggle for a more perfect union. Respect the FACTS.

2. Senate Torture Report Vanishes
Philip Geraldi / OpEdnews
The crisis involving the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a Godsend to politicians, which is probably why the threat actually posed by the group is being hyped as it is while the White House and Pentagon continue to change the meaning of commonly used English expressions to enable the attacking of just about anyone anywhere.
We are told that the United States will have a free hand in bombing Syria, an independent nation with which Washington is not at war. The Administration has warned that if Damascus attempts to defend itself from the air armada there will be consequences in the form of "retaliation," suggesting that the US would be striking back after being attacked. Oddly enough, my dictionary suggests that it would be the Syrians who would be retaliating, but one supposes that in the Emerald City everything is not as it seems and certain words have little or no meaning.
The welcome distraction afforded by ISIS means that the issue of Gaza, which was recently devastated by the Israelis, has largely disappeared from the mainstream media, enabling Benjamin Netanyahu to steal still more land on the West Bank for new settlements. And remember MH-17? Still a whodunit and nobody cares anymore.
Back here at home, the dispute over the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture, a hot button issue earlier this year, has also benefited, largely disappearing from sight. The meticulously researched Senate report, covering 6,000 pages and including 35,000 footnotes, apparently concluded that torturing terrorist suspects was not only illegal under the United Nations Convention on Torture, to which Washington is a signatory, it was also ineffective, producing no intelligence that was otherwise unobtainable.
Since a "forgive and forget" forward-looking White House has already indicated that no one will ever be punished for illegal actions undertaken in the wake of 9/11, why is the torture issue important beyond the prima facie case that a war crime that was authorized by the highest levels of the federal government? It is important because of its constitutional implications and its impact on rule of law in the United States, which is again being flouted by the Administration in its rush to "destroy" ISIS, which is little more than a terrorist group du jour being exploited to terrify the American public.
The crisis involving the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a Godsend to politicians, which is probably why the threat actually posed by the group is being hyped as it is while the White House and Pentagon continue to change the meaning of commonly used English expressions to enable the attacking of just about anyone anywhere.
We are told that the United States will have a free hand in bombing Syria, an independent nation with which Washington is not at war. The Administration has warned that if Damascus attempts to defend itself from the air armada there will be consequences in the form of "retaliation," suggesting that the US would be striking back after being attacked. Oddly enough, my dictionary suggests that it would be the Syrians who would be retaliating, but one supposes that in the Emerald City everything is not as it seems and certain words have little or no meaning.
The welcome distraction afforded by ISIS means that the issue of Gaza, which was recently devastated by the Israelis, has largely disappeared from the mainstream media, enabling Benjamin Netanyahu to steal still more land on the West Bank for new settlements. And remember MH-17? Still a whodunit and nobody cares anymore.
Back here at home, the dispute over the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture, a hot button issue earlier this year, has also benefited, largely disappearing from sight. The meticulously researched Senate report, covering 6,000 pages and including 35,000 footnotes, apparently concluded that torturing terrorist suspects was not only illegal under the United Nations Convention on Torture, to which Washington is a signatory, it was also ineffective, producing no intelligence that was otherwise unobtainable.
Since a "forgive and forget" forward-looking White House has already indicated that no one will ever be punished for illegal actions undertaken in the wake of 9/11, why is the torture issue important beyond the prima facie case that a war crime that was authorized by the highest levels of the federal government? It is important because of its constitutional implications and its impact on rule of law in the United States, which is again being flouted by the Administration in its rush to "destroy" ISIS, which is little more than a terrorist group du jour being exploited to terrify the American public.
The constitutional issue, in its simplest terms, is that the CIA works for the president and when it operates without legally mandated oversight by the legislative branch and judiciary it does so in defiance of separation of powers, making the Agency little better than a secret army run by POTUS.
The inability of the Senate Committee to compel the Agency and White House to come up with an acceptable draft of its report and agreement over what parts of it can be made public is also important because it reveals that the best the US Congress can do to oversee the country's intelligence agencies is not very good at all. The past 22 months of delay in the report's release have demonstrated that the intel community, with the support of the White House, can stonewall any issue until the cows come home.
The latest account of the head-butting between the Agency and Congress reveals a bad working relationship between the Senate and CIA, while also suggesting that Langley is again closing ranks against its critics. At a top secret behind closed doors meeting on September 9, Agency Director John Brennan refused to divulge who at CIA authorized the actual intrusion into the computers being used by Senate staffers to compile their report. Brennan would also not address what the presumed legal authority to do so was. A shouting match with several Senators, all Democrats, ensued with several Senators demanding to know how Brennan could refuse to answer their questions.
The Agency had initially contended in its defense that the computer search was motivated by the alleged accessing and removal of restricted CIA reports by the Senate staffers, but it is no longer making that claim. Brennan reportedly refused to answer the two questions posed by the Senators because he did not want to "compromise" the ongoing investigations by the Justice Department and the CIA Inspector General into the computer hacking, but the committee felt he was stonewalling over questions that invited a relatively simple response. If he did not know the answers he could have said so. It might also be noted in passing that the two investigations are hardly independent, one being conducted in house by CIA and the other by a highly politicized Attorney General who will be inclined to protect the president.
CIA has also been working on its own rebuttal of the Senate report which is intended to demonstrate that torture actually worked and that no one at the Agency broke any laws. It is also reportedly seeking to redact major sections of the 60-page summary, which is the part most likely to see the light of day, an effort, which, if successful, will likely make the end product largely unreadable. It would probably also avoid including any blame or suggestion of "mission failure" which would be damaging to broader Agency political interests.
There also has been some speculation that the CIA would like to drag out the process in hopes that the Republicans will take control of the Senate in November, making any release of any part of the report unlikely. The White House has been brokering the review process between the intelligence community and Senate, but has been largely mum about its preferences. It would likely want the report to remain classified or in limbo as its release might increase pressure on President Barack Obama to do something about criminal activity that might be revealed, which would be politically dangerous ground.
CIA has also welcomed back former Director George Tenet to help in crafting its own rebuttal report that it hopes will exonerate it from any blame, or at least point the finger elsewhere. Tenet was in charge of the Agency when the torture took place, so on one hand he would be a logical choice to craft a defense, though on the other hand he would be keen to conceal any direct role on the part of himself and his accomplices, if only to preserve what remains of their reputations since there is no chance that any of them will be going to jail.
Let's review who George Tenet is. He is a Greek American from Queens who never was an actual spy or analyst but made his way upwards in the intelligence community through a series of staff positions in Congress. As senior staffer for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence he got to know many important politicians. George could talk the talk in an affable way with Bill Clinton, who eventually named him Director of Central Intelligence in 1997, and then went on to discuss baseball minutiae with George W Bush, cementing his tenure with the new Republican administration.
Tenet also presided over 9/11, which was a bit of an embarrassment for the Agency. He later utterly destroyed his own credibility when he declared that making a case for war with Iraq was a "slam dunk" before misleading both the United Nations and Secretary of State Colin Powell about the threat posed by Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Tenet later retired into some well remunerated directorships before writing a book called At the Center of the Storm whichreportedly earned him an advance of $4 million while demonstrating clearly that he is a great American hero.

So George will be reviewing what George did when he was good ol' George DCI. When I was with the government I once served in a foreign city where a new United States Consul General's residence was being built. It was so poorly constructed that there were holes in the ceilings and water running down inside the walls but the State Department Admin officer who was responsible left post before the project was completed. He came back a year later, after complaints, as the inspector to review the project. He determined that everything was just fine.

That is sort of like putting George in charge of investigating George, but if the ISIS thing continues to pick up steam everyone in the media and among the public will in any event forget that there was ever a Senate torture report. In intelligence slang, it will "be disappeared."

3.  Sampling Continues at Bayou Corne as Sinkhole Expands

Subra Company/Louisiana Environmental Action Network/Lower Mississippi River Keeper
The Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness has reported a series of expansions of the Bayou Corne sinkhole in recent days. Land and trees continue to disappear as the sinkhole grows in size. 
September 20, 2012: Approximately 25' of embankment on the east side fell into the sinkhole.
September 18, 2012: Texas Brine reported a slough-in of approximately 200' of embankment at the sinkhole.
September 17, 2012: Texas Brine reported a 20' x 20' growth of the sinkhole. 
The highest Volatile Organic Compounds concentrations were detected at Hwy 70 and Gumbo St. and Hwy 70 and Well Head Road on September 11, 2012.  Gator Stop was the location with the most frequent detectable concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds.  All  locations tested, with the exception of Sportsman Landing, had detectable concentrations of VOCs during one or more days of the sampling period.  
Sludge Material Floating on Surface of Sink Hole
On September 8, 2012, DEQ sampled the sludge material floating on the surface of the sink hole.  The material consisted of 48.1 % Diesel Range Organics and 15% Oil Range Organics.
Boston Chemical Data received a sample of surface material from the Bayou Corne sinkhole collected on September18, 2012.  On arrival, a portion of the sample was analyzed for radiation using an alpha and beta radiation counter, and a gamma spectrometer(Oil and gas production often concentrates naturally occurring radioactive material). The remaining sample was prepared for analysis of petroleum hydrocarbons, particularly diesel fuels. The results of which are still pending.

The gamma spectral results found 5.9 picoCuries per gram of radioactive decay products of naturally-occurring uranium and thorium.   Testing of total alpha and total beta radiation showed that these were at levels about twice the natural background.
State of Louisiana data shows that hydrocarbons in the sink hole sludge are dangerously elevated, while radiation levels exceeded background by only a small amount.  Based on this limited testing, this sinkhole sludge is a hazard because of the presence of the diesel fuel, which can contaminate air and groundwater. Hydrocarbon levels may also be in the flammable range.  
Radiation is still a concern.  The State of Louisiana found much higher levels of radiation in deeper parts of   the sink hole than the place where we received our surface sample.  There is enough radiation present to show that natural underground radioactive material has been concentrated in the sink hole.  Even though the diesel hydrocarbons are currently the greater hazard, radiation testing should continue.

4. Stop Sugar Hill/Buy the Land Press Conferences
Wednesday, October 1
5-5:30 pm at both locations:
In Ft. Myers: FDEP South District Office, 2295 Victoria Avenue, Ft. Myers, FL 33902
In Ft. Pierce: FDEP Branch Office, 337 N. U.S. Hwy 1, Ft. Pierce, FL 34952
Next week is the deadline for FDEP and SFWMD comments to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on the Sugar Hill Sector Plan - the DEO process is such that denial is impossible without negative comments from the agencies.
Despite what you may have seen/heard from Hendry County, all of the U.S. Sugar property in the Sugar Hill Sector Plan is included in the contract to buy U.S. Sugar land for Everglades restoration and the protection of the estuaries. Some of that property is for restoration projects and the rest of it is for swapping to get the non-U.S. Sugar lands in the EAA needed to send clean water south. Check out the attached map!
Join us to deliver a loud, clear message to FDEP, SFWMD and the Governor:
Stop the Harm
Buy the Land
Send Water South
Fund it Now
Save the Everglades
Please contact me for more information and to let us know if your organization would like to speak at the press conference.
Cris Costello
Regional Organizing Representative
Sierra Club
Cell: 941-914-0421
Office: 941-966-9508

If you ask an attorney if torture is OK, if broad based warrantless wiretapping is allowed, if wealthy private corporations can be absolved of felonies just because they are wealthy corporations, if American citizens can be executed with a no charges leveled against them or trial – it really doesn’t matter what political party they are affiliated with – a member of the bar will generally agree that none of the above statements make sense, and in fact, these statements actually contravene our laws, our treaties and our constitution.
But, if you are asking these questions of a member of the personal staff of the President of the United States, who happens to be an attorney, you can expect to get answers that turn your concepts of fair treatment under the law, constitutional guarantees and international law into shredded and masticated gloppy pulp.
Over the past decades the nation’s top attorneys, using the magic and misleading mumblings and deliberately deceptive diatribes of their clients, presidents of our United States, our Attorneys General have navigated into new territory as they justify clearly unlawful actions for their clients and set precedents, which have gone unchallenged by our elected officials, that will serve to deform the legal landscape in America for decades, generations.
As in:
“The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas.”
- Alberto Gonzales, US Attorney General, Congressional hearing, 01.17.2007
“Due process and judicial process are not one in the same.”
- Eric Holder, US Attorney General, Northwestern University Law School, 03.06.2012
The retiring US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has recently claimed, after six years, that he believes that cannabis should be considered for rescheduling, removing the substance from the Department of Justice’s list of most dangerous drugs. No useful purpose, susceptible to being abused, a designation that (oddly) also applies to the drug LSD but (oddly) not to the drugs heroin, meth and cocaine.
As is obvious to any sentient being – torture is always wrong and always at the apogee of immoral human behavior, recording and storing forever the private conversations of our citizens with no judicial order violates the Constitution, killing our citizens with no trial, no judge, no jury, no charges, no right to even articulate a defense makes a mockery of the basic principles that are woven into American law as it grew out of fundamental rights recognized by humans since before our country was founded, and cannabis is essentially benign and medically important, the prohibition of which has resulted in life changing arrests for over 600,000 Americans every year that Holder has held his appointed position as US Attorney General – that’s over 3 million Americans since Barack Obama became president, 3 million Americans who are overwhelmingly African Americans and Latino Americans.
I wonder, now that he soon will be no longer ‘retained’ by his former client, if Holder will eventually confide to Katie Couric that, he really, really believes, like all moral humans, that torture is wrong, warrantless surveillance violates our rights, corporations can be charged with crimes and every person deserves a fair trial before being executed.

6. LAT and the CRUSHING  Journalistic Independence and dissent
This is old news to those of us who followed it in the 1990s and early ‘Oughts, but in light of a new film coming out about it, it’s still interesting to see The Intercept‘s Ryan Deveraux detail the orchestrated assault that destroyed Gary Webb:
Eighteen years after it was published, “Dark Alliance,” the San Jose Mercury News’s bombshell investigation into links between the cocaine trade, Nicaragua’s Contra rebels, and African American neighborhoods in California, remains one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism.
The 20,000-word series enraged black communities, prompted Congressional hearings, and became one of the first major national security stories in history to blow up online. It also sparked an aggressive backlash from the nation’s most powerful media outlets, which devoted considerable resources to discredit author Gary Webb’s reporting. Their efforts succeeded, costing Webb his career. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead in his apartment, having ended his eight-year downfall with two .38-caliber bullets to the head.

Who were the perps? Reporters from the LAT, acting on orders from above – and with CIA help:
… newspapers like the Times and the Post seemed to spend far more time trying to poke holes in the series than in following up on the underreported scandal at its heart, the involvement of U.S.-backed proxy forces in international drug trafficking. The Los Angeles Times was especially aggressive. Scooped in its own backyard, the California paper assigned no fewer than 17 reporters to pick apart Webb’s reporting. While employees denied an outright effort to attack the Mercury News, one of the 17 referred to it as the “get Gary Webb team.” Another said at the time, “We’re going to take away that guy’s Pulitzer,” according to Kornbluh’s CJR piece. Within two months of the publication of “Dark Alliance,” the L.A. Times devoted more words to dismantling its competitor’s breakout hit than comprised the series itself.
The CIA watched these developments closely, collaborating where it could with outlets who wanted to challenge Webb’s reporting. Media inquiries had started almost immediately following the publication of “Dark Alliance,” and [former CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer Nicholas] Dujmovic in “Managing a Nightmare” cites the CIA’s success in discouraging “one major news affiliate” from covering the story. He also boasts that the agency effectively departed from its own longstanding policies in order to discredit the series. “For example, in order to help a journalist working on a story that would undermine the Mercury News allegations, Public Affairs was able to deny any affiliation of a particular individual — which is a rare exception to the general policy that CIA does not comment on any individual’s alleged CIA ties.”
The attacks worked. Reporters who could get away with the sloppiest stuff so long as they attacked the approved targets (hint: nobody ever lost a 1990s gig at the WaPo, LAT, or NYT for going after Bill Clinton or Al Gore, no matter how questionable the evidence), suddenly found themselves holding Webb’s work to much higher standards than they themselves observed.
Webb’s career collapsed, and his mental state collapsed along with it. In December of 2004, unable to make a living as a journalist, having been made a pariah by persons not fit to carry his laptop, he was found dead of two gunshot wounds to the head.

Police ruled the death a suicide. Yet one of the persons who helped wreck his career copped to feeling something approaching remorse for his role in Webb’s death:

As [investigative journalist Nick] Schou reported for L.A. Weekly, in a 2013 radio interview L.A. Times reporter Jesse Katz recalled the episode, saying, “As an L.A. Times reporter, we saw this series in the San Jose Mercury News and kind of wonder[ed] how legit it was and kind of put it under a microscope. And we did it in a way that most of us who were involved in it, I think, would look back on that and say it was overkill. We had this huge team of people at the L.A. Times and kind of piled on to one lone muckraker up in Northern California.”
As much as it’s true that he suffered from a clinical depression for years and years — and even before ‘Dark Alliance’ to a certain extent — it’s impossible to view what happened to him without understanding the death of his career as a result of this story,” he explained. “It was really the central defining event of his career and of his life.”
“Once you take away a journalist’s credibility, that’s all they have,” Schou says. “He was never able to recover from that.”

7. There is no such thing as EXCESSIVE COMPENSATION when it comes to Executive Salary? [NOW - Minimum wage is another matter]
The Treasury Department approved “excessive compensation” for top corporate executives while their companies were still on the hook for the taxpayer-funded bailout, the bailout’s official watchdog SIGTARP said Wednesday, going against the pay limits that the White House had previously set.
Under the bailout legislation that Congress passed during the financial crisis, firms that received taxpayer-funded bailout money were subject to certain limits on executive compensation. In early 2009, the White House took additional steps to restrict executive pay for bailed-out firms, limiting executive pay to $500,000. Treasury went too far in making exceptions to those new rules for top-earning employees at General Motors and Ally Financial, the bailout’s Special Inspector General concluded in a new report
President Obama originally announced the executive pay restrictions with great fanfare, vowing to prevent “executives being rewarded for failure.” At the time, the Treasury Department said that compensation in the form of stocks couldn’t be paid out until after the company had repaid the government for the bailout money.  
However, it was up to Treasury to enforce the rules, and TARP’s watchdog says that officials were too lenient in making exceptions to the rules at GM and Ally. 
“Treasury approved at least $1 million in pay for every Top 25 employee in 2013 and increased compensation by 28% for GM and Ally Top 25 employees from 2009 to 2013. Treasury tripled the number of GM and Ally employees who received cash salaries exceeding $500,000 from 2009 to 2013,” the inspector general said in the report.
What’s more, the report added, “Treasury approved $3 million in pay raises, ranging from 4% to 20%, for nine GM employees in 2013, most of whom received raises in consecutive years.”
The Treasury Department pushed back strongly against the report’s findings. SIGTARP’s report “unfortunately contains many inaccuracies and omissions.,” Treasury Special Master Patricia Geoghegan said in a statement. “The record shows that the Office of the Special Master has fulfilled its obligation to balance limiting executive compensation with allowing companies to repay taxpayer assistance.”
Treasury added that executive compensation at both Ally and GM were average for their industries, about 4% below the median cash salary and 56% below the median for “total cash compensation for similar positions at similar companies,” the department said in a letter to SIGTARP. It added that there was no legislative cap on executive pay at TARP-assisted firms in the law originally passed by Congress.
But SIGTARP pointed out that Treasury had approved the exceptions to executive pay at a time when GM and Ally still had not fully repaid the government for the TARP funds they received. Ultimately, Treasury sold stock in both companies at a loss to help the companies exit the program. In December 2013, GM exited TARP after Treasury sold its shares of GM stock at a loss, ultimately costing taxpayers $11.2 billion for the bailout, the report notes. A month later, Treasury sold Ally stock at a $845 million loss. 
“Loosening limits on executive compensation for companies unable to repay TARP subjects Treasury to criticism that is rewarding top executives at companies that are losing taxpayers’ money over the interests of the taxpayers already shouldering billions of dollars in losses on those investments,” the report concludes. 
The Treasury Department said taxpayers have recovered the vast majority of the $440 billion spent on TARP and that only one of the seven companies is still under its jurisdiction. That company is Ally Financial.

f you don’t know Ray McGovern yet, you probably should.
You see, Ray just beat down, in court, Hillary Clinton, the State Department, and a small part of Post-Constitutional America.
Who is this Guy?
McGovern is a changed man. He started out in the Army, then he worked for the CIA from the Kennedy administration up through the first Bush presidency, preparing the president’s daily intel brief. He was a hell of a spy. McGovern began to see the evil of much of the government’s work, and has since become an outspoken critic of the intelligence world and an advocate for free speech. He speaks on behalf of people like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.
Ray McGovern was put on the State Department’s Diplomatic Security BOLO list– Be On the Look Out– one of a series of proliferating government watch lists. What McGovern did to end up on Diplomatic Security’s dangerous persons list and how he got off the list are a tale of our era, Post-Constitutional America.
Offending the Queen
Ray’s offense was to turn his back on Hillary Clinton, literally.
In 2011, at George Washington University during a public event where Clinton was speaking, McGovern stood up and turned his back to the stage. He did not say a word, or otherwise disrupt anything. University cops grabbed McGovern in a headlock and by his arms and dragged him out of the auditorium by force, their actions directed from the side by a man whose name is redacted from public records. Photosof the then-71 year old McGovern taken at the time of his arrest show the multiple bruises and contusions he suffered while being arrested. He was secured to a metal chair with two sets of handcuffs. McGovern was at first refused medical care for the bleeding caused by the handcuffs. It is easy to invoke the words thug, bully, goon.
The charges of disorderly conduct were dropped, McGovern was released and it was determined that he committed no crime.
But because he had spoken back to power, State’s Diplomatic Security printed up an actual wanted poster citing McGovern’s “considerable amount of political activism” and “significant notoriety in the national media.” Diplomatic Security warned agents should USE CAUTION (their emphasis) when stopping McGovern and conducting the required “field interview.” The poster itself was classified asSensitive but Unclassified (SBU), one of the multitude of pseudo-secret categories created following 9/11.
Violations of the First and Fourth Amendments by State
Subjects of BOLO alerts are considered potential threats to the Secretary of State. Their whereabouts are typically tracked to see if they will be in proximity of the Secretary. If Diplomatic Security sees one of the subjects nearby, they detain and question them. Other government agencies and local police are always notified. The alert is a standing directive that the subject be stopped and seized in the absence of reasonable suspicion or probable cause that he is committing an offense. Stop him for being him. These directives slash across the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against unwarranted search and seizure, as well as the First Amendment’s right to free speech, as the stops typically occur around protests.
You Don’t Mess with Ray
Ray McGovern is not the kind of guy to be stopped and frisked based on State Department retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights in Post-Constitution America. He sued, and won.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund took up the case pro bono on Ray’s behalf, suing the State Department. They first had to file a Freedom of Information Act demand to even get ahold of the internal State Department justifications for the BOLO, learning that despite all charges having been dropped against McGovern and despite having determined that he engaged in no criminal activity, the Department of State went on to open an investigation into McGovern, including his political beliefs, activities, statements and associations.
The investigative report noted “McGovern does seem to have the capacity to capture a national audience – it is possible his former career with the CIA has the potential to make him ‘attractive’ to the media.” It also cited McGovern’s “political activism, primarily anti-war.” The investigation ran nearly seven months, and resulted in the BOLO.
With the documents that so clearly crossed the First Amendment now in hand, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund went to court. They sought, and won, an injunction against the State Department to stop the Be On the Look-Out alert against McGovern, and to force State to pro-actively advise other law enforcement agencies that it no longer stands.
McGovern’s constitutional rights lawsuit against George Washington University, where his arrest during the Clinton speech took place, and the officers who assaulted and arrested him, is ongoing.
Watch Lists in Post-Constitutional America
McGovern’s case has many touch points to the general state of affairs of post-9/11 government watchlists, such as No-Fly.
The first is that it is anonymous interests, within a vast array of government agencies, that put you on some list. You may not know what you did to be “nominated,” and you may not even know you are on a list until you are denied boarding or stopped and frisked at a public event. Placement on some watchlist is done without regard to– and often in overt conflict with– your Constitutional rights. Placement on a list rarely has anything to do with having committed any actual crime; it is based on the government’s supposition that you are a potential threat, that you may commit a crime despite there being no evidence that you are planning one.
Once you are on one watchlist, your name proliferates onto other lists. Getting access to the information you need to fight back is not easy, and typically requires legal help and a Freedom of Information Act struggle just to get the information you need to go forward. The government will fight your efforts, and require you to go through a lengthy and potentially expensive court battle.
We’ll address the irony that the government uses taxpaying citizens’ money to defend itself when it violates the Constitutional rights of taxpaying citizens another time.
Donating to The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
Persons wishing to donate to The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund may do so online. I have no affiliation with the organization and do not benefit in any way from donations.
Full Discloure: I do know and respect Ray McGovern, and was once the subject of a State Department Be On the Lookout Alert myself, following these remarks I made about Hillarly Clinton. I have been unable to ascertain the status of my own BOLO alert but believe it is no longer in force. The State Department refuses to disclose any information to me about my status.

9. runaway gmo experiment
The discovery of rogue genetically modified wheat plants growing in an Oregon field last year was officially deemed an unsolved mystery by the U.S. Agriculture Department on Friday, even as it revealed that a similar incident in Montana is under investigation.
The new discovery involves unapproved genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants found growing at a University of Montana research center, adjacent to fields where the herbicide-resistant plants were field tested from 2000 to 2003.

While the new discovery raises questions about the regulation of such authorized tests, it is unlikely to generate the same level of alarm as the Oregon find on May 3, 2013, which involved a commercial wheat field. That prompted Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to temporarily suspend purchases of western white wheat grown throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The USDA says that while GE wheat has not been approved for sale or commercial production in the U.S., it does not pose a food safety threat. But foreign markets have rejected GE wheat, even as they have embraced other genetically engineered crops like corn, perhaps because it is so ubiquitous in processed food products.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said in a news release that the two U.s. appearances of the GE wheat in the wild do not appear to be linked, as genetic testing showed the plants were from different stocks.
In the Oregon case, a small number of wheat plants genetically modified to resist the Monsanto herbicide Roundup were found growing on a single field. The service said its “thorough and scientifically detailed “ investigation had been closed without determining how they got there.
“After exhausting all leads, APHIS was unable to determine exactly how the GE wheat came to grow in the farmer’s field,” it said.

The release said that the presence of the “volunteer” plants was apparently an isolated incident and that more than 100 laboratory tests of seeds and wheat harvested from the unidentified farmer’s field found no evidence that the genetically engineered wheat had made its way into commercial products.
The agency also indicated that the wheat plants apparently were not descendants of genetically engineered wheat plants field tested in Oregon as recently as 2001, saying they bore “genetic characteristics … (that) are representative of a wheat breeding program.”
Ed Curlett, a spokesman for APHIS, explained that wheat breeders generally cross varieties to accentuate certain beneficial traits, such as resistance to a certain disease or bug, specific to the region. During such experimentation, he said, the plants initially exhibit “a lot of genetic diversity,” which is reduced as the researchers focus in on specific desirable traits. The Oregon plants appeared to be in the early stages of that process, he said.
The genetically engineered wheat plants found on July 14 at the University of Montana’s Southern Agricultural Research Center in Huntley were scattered over 1 or 2 acres adjacent to fields where Roundup-resistant wheat was field tested from 2000 to 2003 under a contract with Monsanto, according to university spokesman Tracy Ellig.
He said that scientists at the center carefully followed the USDA’s research compliance requirements, including monitoring after the field test concluded.
“This entire time we’ve always been in compliance with what USDA dictates with field testing,” he said. “We’re cooperating fully and whatever recommendations they make we will certainly follow them going forward.”

Charla Marie Lord, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, said that the APHIS investigation of the Oregon incident “affirms that no genetically modified wheat is in commerce and that the commercial seed and grain supply does not contain genetically modified wheat.”
As for the Montana discovery, she likewise pointed to APHIS’ conclusion that there is no indication the wheat was used in any commercial product and said “Monsanto is fully cooperating with that investigation.”
In a statement provided to NBC News, Philip Miller, head of Monsanto’s global regulatory affairs division, said the company also continues to refine its field test practices.
“While we believe our compliance program is best in class, we continuously review our processes and procedures to improve them, including site selection, field trial isolation and verification and auditing of field trial locations,” he said.
Follow NBC News Investigations on Twitter and Facebook.

But critics say that field tests of GE crops have frequently led to contamination of natural crops. And in the case of wheat, such accidental escapes would damage farmers’ livelihoods and cripple the U.S. export market, they say.
“Just as the USDA closes one fruitless investigation, it tries to bury the story of yet another contamination,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit public interest and environmental advocacy organization, said Friday in a statement. “USDA cannot keep treating these as isolated incidents; contamination is the inevitable outcome of GE crop technology. It’s time for Congress to take definitive action.”
10.GMOs not just for PLANTS and more
Cornell University wants to use new GMO moths on crops without a full safety review. These moths — engineered to kill off non-GMO moths on crops like cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts — could have unintended effects on our health, our food system and our environment.

The USDA hasn't yet figured out what impact these GMO moths might have on areas outside the test site. And let's face it — once released, these moths are going to fly, and there is no way to control where they're going to go, or what impact they might have on plants, animals or people outside the test area. If these GMO moths change the local population of moths (like they are supposed to), what does that mean for the ecological balance of the field trial and surrounding areas? The USDA doesn't know the answer to that question, but wants to release them anyway.

Cornell's plan for this proposed field test is lacking some important precautions — they don't have a plan to ensure that the plants these GMO moths touch are kept out of the supply chain, or to monitor the area outside the test area for stray GMO moths, or a plan to destroy all GMO moths in case of an emergency.

We cannot allow the release of these insects and their manipulated DNA into the world until we know how they will impact our food system and the environment.

Thanks for taking action with us,

Sarah Alexander
Deputy Organizing Director
Food & Water Watch

Major Tech Companies Cut Ties With The Secretive Conservative Lobbying Organization
Several tech giants announced this week that they are dropping out of ALEC, the conservative free-market lobbying group, partly over their spread of misinformation about climate change and lobbying against efforts to curb it.
ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, works by connecting corporations with conservative legislatures and drafts conservative model legislation on everything from health policy to education. It’s also been exposed as the designer of voter suppression laws used as models in various states.
The exodus started in August, when Microsoft announced that it would cease dealings with ALEC. This Monday, Google did the same, followed in quick succession by Facebook on Tuesday, Yelp on Wednesday, and Yahoo on Thursday. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt explicitly called out the group’s climate denialism as the motivating factor for the tech giant’s separation from ALEC: “Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place,” he said. “They’re just literally lying.” ALEC has worked to kill renewable energy programs and teach climate denial in schools.
This isn’t the first time that high-profile companies have fled from ALEC en masse. In 2012, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Wal-Mart and others left suddenly after the revelation that ALEC supports so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws like the one used to justify Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida. How those laws relate to corporations’ business interests is anybody’s guess.

11. FBI Director Equates Protecting Personal Privacy with Lawlessness
James Comey says that moves by tech giants to offer encryption to customers allows cell phone users to "place themselves beyond the law."
FBI Director James Comey has responded to recent moves by tech giants Apple and Google to offer better encryption services on their handheld devices by suggesting that giving people the ability to protect their private communications from state law enforcement agencies is akin to lawlessness.
In recent weeks both companies have rolled out new software enhancements for their respective smartphones that make it harder for police or federal agents to obtain emails, photos, or call information that may be stored on the devices. The encryption is also designed to protect against fraud, theft, and other digital invasions. The move was widely applauded by privacy rights advocates, who in the wake of revelations about NSA surveillance practices on the U.S. population made possible by whistleblower Edward Snowden say that the American people are rightly concerned about the ways in which government agencies and law enforcement are using digital means to spy on their personal lives.
But in statements on Thursday, Comey criticized the companies. The head of the FBI said that his offices have already been in touch with Apple and Google to express the government's dismay and told reporters he could not understand why companies would “market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”
The Washington Post reports:
Comey’s remarks followed news last week that Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, is so thoroughly encrypted that the company is unable to unlock iPhones or iPads for police. Google, meanwhile, is moving to an automatic form of encryption for its newest version of Android operating system that the company also will not be able to unlock, though it will take longer for that new feature to reach most consumers.
Both companies declined to comment on Comey’s remarks. Apple has said that its new encryption is not intended to specifically hinder law enforcement but to improve device security against any potential intruder.
Though Comey may not understand why such devices are increasingly appealing to customers, Apple's CEO Tim Cook seems to understand the reason very well.
In an open letter that accompanied the company's announcement of the new encryption service last week, Cook was explicit about understanding his customers' desires for increased privacy.
At Apple, Cook wrote, "we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled."
He also addressed the concerns raised over corporate complicity with government agencies that have been raised in the last 16 months, stating, "I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will."
In a blog post that followed both Apple and Google's announcements to ramp up encryption, the ACLU's Chris Soghoian called decisions a "step in the right direction." He explained:
Apple's new move is interesting and important because it's an example of a company saying they no longer want to be in the surveillance business–a business they likely never intended to be in and want to get out of as quickly as possible.
This was a big step for Apple, and one that likely required significant engineering work. What is so interesting and smart about this move is that rather than telling the government that they no longer want to help the government, they re-architected iOS so they are unable to help the government. Think of it as Apple playing a game of chicken, and the company has just thrown the steering wheel out of the window.

12. Veteran Seeks Answers on Depleted Uranium
I served as a Hospital Corpsman with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq. The fighting was heavy, and it was the bloodiest Marine battle since Iwo Jima. The city itself was left as a wasteland worse than anything you’d see in a Mad Max film.  There was enough loss of life, both civilian and military, to deal with without worrying about being exposed to toxic airborne chemicals. We never wore gas masks and our day-to-day clothing was barely enough to protect us from the sand, much less any chemical contamination. Fallujah, Najaf, and Basra account for almost a fourth of the chemical contamination that has been found across Iraq. 
One of the war's toxic legacies was our use of depleted uranium (DU), used to pierce through armor in different battles across Iraq. DU creates a fine dust upon impact that, when inhaled, settles into people’s bones and internal organs.  I know veterans who are unexplainably ill and have been refused testing for exposure to depleted uranium. When veterans who have been in the line of fire come home with failing health and the cause cannot be pinpointed, psychiatrists often ascribe it to mental problems.  We need to know what we were exposed to in Iraq to better understand our health problems and get the necessary treatment.
That is why my organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and the Center for Constitutional Rights today filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Defense to get more information about where and when DU was fired in Iraq. With this information, I and other veterans can make better conclusions and decisions about our health.
This information is not only critical for veterans but for Iraqi civilians as well. It’s no secret that large numbers of birth defects have been reported across the country, and recent studies suggest that DU leads to interference with the development of a fetus during pregnancy. Reports from Basra – another site of heavy fighting where, by experts’ estimation, DU was used on a large scale – are stark. Childhood leukemia rates in Basra more than doubled between 1993 and 2007.  Local authorities estimate that in the Basra area alone, 46,000 tons of weapons debris remains, which the wind picks up and blows into people’s homes, food, and lungs.
DU is also believed to be a carcinogen, and cancer rates in Iraq are spiking. We still don’t know everything about the effects of DU, but without knowing where it was used, there is no scientific way to study them.
Our government cannot expect us to accept unexplained sickness as part of the job or to let Iraqis continue to be exposed to depleted uranium remnants. The only thing the government has to do is own up to the locations where depleted uranium was fired in Iraq so that it can be cleaned up and we can have more information about whether or not we were exposed. They are not the ones who have to live with mysterious illnesses, PTSD, amputated limbs, crippling addictions, and a distrust of the very people we risked our lives for.  With new military actions in Iraq, questions about the use of weaponized depleted uranium become even more urgent.
I, and many veterans like me, would like to see Iraq cleaned up for the current and future citizens who live there. My brothers and sisters (even two biological sisters) have bled to ensure that the country was stable at the urging of the past and present administrations, to say nothing of the fact that it didn’t remain that way. It says a lot about this country’s veterans that we are committed to getting the necessary information to help humanitarian organizations clean up the toxic sites that continue to sicken Iraqis. 

Over the last several decades, the Pentagon,conservative forces, and corporations have been systematically working to expand their presence in the K-12 learning environment and in public universities. The combined impact of the military, conservative think tanks and foundations,  and of corporatization of our public educational systems has eroded the basic democratic concept of civilian public education.  It is a trend that, if allowed to continue, will weaken the primacy of civilian rule and, ultimately, our country’s commitment to democratic ideals.
The signers of this statement believe it is urgent for all advocates of social justice, peace and the environment to recognize the dangerous nature of this problem and confront it with deliberate action.
The most aggressive outside effort to use the school system to teach an ideology with ominous long-term implications for society comes from the military establishment. Over the last two decades, with relatively little media coverage or public outcry, the Pentagon’s involvement in schools and students’ lives has grown exponentially. Now, for example:
  • Every school day, at least half a million high school students attend Junior ROTC classes to receive instruction from retired officers who are handpicked by the Pentagon to teach its own version of history and civics. These students are assigned “ranks” and conditioned to believe that military and civilian values are similar, with the implication that unquestioning obedience to authority is therefore a feature of good citizenship.
  • Armed forces academies are being established in some public schools (Chicago now has eight), where all students are given a heavy dose of military culture and values.
  • A network of military-related programs is spreading in hundreds of elementary and middle schools. Examples are the Young Marines and Starbase programs, and military programs that sneak into schools under the cloak of Science / Technology / Engineering / Math (STEM) education.
  • Military recruiters are trained to pursue “school ownership” as their goal (see: “Army School Recruiting Program Handbook”). Their frequent presence in classrooms, lunch areas and at assemblies has the effect of popularizing military values, soldiering and, ultimately, war.
  • Since 2001, federal law has overridden civilian school autonomy and family privacy when it comes to releasing student contact information to the military. Additionally, each year thousands of schools allow the military to administer its entrance exam — the ASVAB — to 10th-12th graders, allowing recruiters to bypass laws protecting parental rights and the privacy of minors and gain access to personal information on hundreds of thousands of students.
Efforts by groups outside the school system to inject conservatism and corporate values into the learning process have been going on for a number of years. In a recent example of right-wing educational intervention, The New York Times reported that tea party groups, using lesson plans and coloring books, have been pushing schools to “teach a conservative interpretation of the Constitution, where the federal government is a creeping and unwelcome presence in the lives of freedom-loving Americans.”

14.'His Life Is Our Life': Tribal Elders Want Buffalo Back in the Ecosystem
By Nate Schweber, Al Jazeera America

Pact signed on Blackfeet territory establishes alliance among Native American groups to revive bison population

ate in the afternoon, dozens of young Native American children arrived in a yellow school bus and galloped across a sunny field on Montana’s Blackfeet Reservation while wearing buffalo robes as if they were superhero capes.
They play-acted a long-gone Blackfeet practice of stampeding buffalo off cliffs to harvest their meat. But the only leap on this day was taken by Landen Ground, 6, who belly-flopped onto a pile of buffalo robes as if they were autumn leaves.
“Whoo! It felt like a trampoline,” he said. “You just imagine me as a buffalo.”
But buffalo are not just a figment of the imagination. Inside a large white teepee rising from a grassy hill nearby Ervin Carlson, president of the InterTribal Buffalo Council, told a crowd gathered for atreaty ceremony that bringing buffalo herds back to North America was a vital task for Native Americans — whatever the difficulties that lie ahead in ambitious plans to restoring their place in the landscape.
“We slowly have to work on it and work it out,” said Carlson, whose group has helped coordinate the return of some 20,000 buffalo to tribal land in the U.S., including the Blackfeet’s herd of about 250 that was celebrated on Tuesday at the signing of a multitribal treaty calling for even more buffalo restoration.
The group’s work has been successful. The buffalo has long been saved from extinction, and buffalo ranches are commonplace. But conservationists say that buffalo need what they call a second recovery, a return to their historic role in the ecology of North America. Buffalo till soil with their hooves and fertilize plants and spread seeds with their waste. They create living spaces for birds, prairie dogs and other small animals and feed apex predators like bears, wolves and people.
“The buffalo is a fantastic environmentalist. We want to respect them,” said Leroy Little Bear, a member of the Blood Tribe, part of the Blackfeet Nation in Alberta, Canada, and a professor emeritus at the University of Lethbridge.
When buffalo (technically bison, not buffalo, but the name persists in common usage) were all but annihilated, from an estimated 30 million to about 1,000 by 1889, the survivors were penned in a few zoos, ranches and wildlife preserves. By the 1930s, their numbers had grown to some 20,000, though many were inbred. Conservationists call this the first recovery of the buffalo because it kept the species from dying out. But it also seeded the notion that buffalo must be kept fenced like cattle and other domestic livestock. From an ecological perspective, scientists say, buffalo went extinct.
“We need restoration in a scale and management level that allows bison to be bison, that allows bison-ness,” said Keith Aune, bison program director for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
While millions of acres that could support the return of roaming buffalo remain in western North America, cultural opposition is fierce. Ranchers and farmers in the sparsely populated parts of the rural West where buffalo restoration is most feasible have long railed against it. They argue that buffalo restoration has been accomplished by private ranchers in the U.S. and Canada, who now raise about 400,000 domesticated buffalo for meat.
The overarching problem, conservationists say, is that the opportunity was lost for communities in the West to learn to co-exist with wild buffalo. Before Western states and Canadian provinces were created and just before homesteaders settled there, the landscape was wiped clean of buffalo by unregulated hunters who killed them with the tacit support of Army commanders who were waging war on Native tribes that depended on the buffalo. Other animal populations were devastated too — including elk, deer, antelopes, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose and bears — but none as thoroughly as buffalo. In the 1900s, other species recovered naturally in the wild and are today a part of the cultural fabric of the West. Buffalo, conservationists say, never had that chance.
“We have a failure of the imagination in treating buffalo as a wild animal in North America. I I believe we have a historic wrong to right,” said Harvey Locke, 55, founder of the Canadian group Bison Belong, which is working to restore a wild herd of bison in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
Momentum has grown in the last 15 years for ecological bison restoration. New conservation herds were founded in Grasslands National Park in Canada and to the south in Montana on land owned by a private nonprofit, the American Prairie Reserve. Bison from Yellowstone National Park were transplanted to the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap reservations in Montana, and plans are underway to reintroduce herds on the Wind River reservation in Wyoming and Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
The U.S. Department of the Interior released a report this year in support of more bison restoration, and last week three dozen scientists sent a letter to the governor of Montana that urged him to support the same. “If you’re looking at a bigger vision, you have to get people to work together,” said Arnie Dood, a native species biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Last week’s signing of a Northern Tribes Buffalo Treaty was the first of its kind since 1855, when indigenous people from the northern U.S. and southern Canada met to establish boundaries for their buffalo hunting grounds. On Tuesday tribal elders shared a pipe while seated on buffalo robes and talked of their people’s ancient connection with the animal. This connection was noted in the 1890s by pioneering ethnologist and wildlife conservationist George Bird Grinnell, who visited Blackfeet country and translated from an elder a story about how of all the animals, the earth’s creator made the buffalo the most Nat-o’-ye, meaning sacred.
“The buffalo — we call him the Iinnii — he’s our brother, our sister,” said Larry Ground, 50, a member of the Blackfeet tribe’s Crazy Dog Society, who began the treaty ceremony with drums and song. “His life is our life.”
Around a campfire, attendees agreed that ecological buffalo restoration need not be accomplished by a single sweeping act. Separate herds of buffalo could be established in different places. The buffalo could be allowed to roam as naturally as possible on as many acres as is feasible, even in fenced areas. Herd managers could work to improve the genetics of their animals. Some herds could be managed by ranchers, others by hunters, others by natural predators and some by a mix of all three.
“It’s a gradual thing. It’s not going to happen overnight,” said Peter Weaselmoccasin, 59, a member of the Blood tribe from Standoff, Alberta. “But we feel it’s time.”
Most crucial to any buffalo restoration project is the support of surrounding communities. A fine example of that, tribe members and conservationists say, happened on the Blackfeet Reservation.
“The tables have turned,” said Angela Grier, a member of Piikani Nation, part of the Blackfeet Confederacy in Alberta. “We’re here trying to take care of these animals like they once took care of us.”

When Republicans can’t spread their crazy around the government enough, they head back to college. Florida State University has announced it has hired Florida State Senator John Thrasher as its new president. A Republican running a university is not shocking news in itself, but when asked about evolution, Sen. Thrasher talked about his religious beliefs, saying: "I have a great faith in my life that has guided me in my life in a lot of things I believe in." Thus, Thrasher implied that faith and science cannot exist side by side.
When Thrasher was pressed about climate change and whether he accepted the science behind it, he would not give an answer. This appeared to induce laughter from a few students in the front row. At this, Thrasher threatened to leave the podium, declaring that he "would not be heckled."  Congratulations FSU, the new person in charge of your public institution of higher learning is a climate change-denier and creationist, who can’t enjoy the irony of it all.

16. Please Join 
AWAKE Palm Beach County 
for coalition building and progressive action! 

Sunday, October 5th, 2014 
Ironworkers Hall, 1001 West 15th St. Riviera Beach, FL 33404 

Please come, bring a friend and an idea for an action project for which you are willing to take the lead, or just a willingness to jump on a couple of action projects and help out. If you have an action project you would like to see on our agenda, please send an email with "AWAKE agenda" in the subject line 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

PNN - Rehabilitation & Radiation

PNN - 9/21/14  - Rehabilitation & Radiation

Join Host News Director Richard W. Spisak Jr.
and his Guests:

Jessica Dylan Winter Co-Founder, Writer  Key Zine
and Anonymous (partner) []

Arne Gundersen
Timothy A. Mousseau
Helen Caldcott

1. Stop US Sugar's sprawling city in the Everglades!

U.S. Sugar unveiled plans last week to build a massive, sprawling city called Sugar Hill between the Everglades and its water source, Lake Okeechobee.

The project would bring 18,000 new residential units and 25 million square feet of commercial, industrial, office and retail units. The 67-square-mile development would have a devastatingly irreversible impact on the Everglades and coastal communities. This dangerous plan would also skyrocket the value of US Sugar's land, potentially derailing completion of the state of Florida's contract with US Sugar to purchase 153,000 acres in the Everglades for cleaning and restoration.

The decision will ultimately be made by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO), but Governor Scott has the power to direct their denial of the project. Now is your chance get him moving!

Tell Governor Scott to protect the Everglades and the coasts by immediately directing the FDEO to deny the US Sugar development plan.

Complete the form below with your information.
Personalize your message if you wish.
Click the Send Your Message button to send your message to Governor Scott and the South Florida Water Management Board.

2. 'The Argument Is Over. Climate Change Is Happening Now'
e have reached a milestone this year, exceeding a 400 parts per million level of carbon in the atmosphere. While it was reported, has the trajectory we are on been fully understood? In an era where we are still dealing with climate deniers amidst the biggest self-made global catastrophe facing humankind, it is time that the equivocating stop and the media move beyond climate denial.

The reason is simple. The late Dr. Stephen Schneider often reminded us of that we buy insurance for a less than one percent chance that our house will burn down. And yet, we are waiting for 100 percent certainty on climate science even though the very life support system of our planet is at stake. And the science is showing that Earth’s life support system may be truly at stake. Per Dr. Michael Mann and others, business-as-usual emissions could possibly threaten the whole web of life. It is our obligation to take every precaution in our power to prevent that calamity.

The web of life has collapsed several times in the past, including the Permian Mass extinction, during which over 95 percent of all life on Earth perished. We are, with our accelerated burning of fossil fuels, creating conditions similar to those that triggered the Permian Mass extinction. Last Hours, the second film in our Green World Rising series, explains why.

Given the state of the climate debate in this country, we may face consternation that we have told this story. But as Dr. Schneider said, why risk the very life support system of our planet? I believe that people should be treated as adults and be told the truth, even if it is strong medicine. Scientists themselves often have to pull back from sobering conclusions for fear that they get reprimanded. But given the levels of carbon in the atmosphere, it is time to comprehend the whole story. We must all take heed and listen.

The European Union adheres to the notion of the precautionary principle. The burden of proof rests with the state or corporation to prove a specific action or product is not harmful before implementing it. The burden there does not rest on the public or civil society to prove that an action or product is not harmful. In the case of climate change, this is prudent law and much worth implementing here in America.

Here, the fossil fuel industry undermines, obfuscates and threatens those who speak out. This should no longer be acceptable to the media even if it does sell ads. The debate is over. Climate change is happening due to human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. It is time to move on to a sustainable new world.

This new world would be stable and viable. We will show that a world powered by renewable energy resources will allow for a more equitable distribution of income and stable energy prices. Less carbon will be released into the atmosphere, pollution will be reduced and overall health will increase. We need to start putting this world in place immediately, and we are glad to see that it is starting to happen.

To companies sitting on gigatons of still-buried carbon reserves: Please start massively moving into this new world of sustainable energy. Citizens can do what they can, individually, like plant urban gardens, turn off the lights, compost and recycle. But we need companies and bigger players to step up and build the cars that run on electricity (thank you, Elon) and biofuel from non-food resources; make the planes that run on biojet fuel; and create the systems that power our homes and industry with solar, wind and geothermal.

As my late father said, who worked in the fossil fuel industry: Do not burn fossil fuels but rather, use them to make life-sustaining products. The oil molecule and others like it have many undiscovered properties and unlocked potential: burning them is the least interesting and most destructive.

A world based on fossil fuels has no future; so stop fighting for it. And if companies don’t want to invest in this sustainable, economically robust future; that's fine; but don't create barriers that prevent all of us from building this world; please step out of the way.

Humanity still has a bright future if we move as quickly as possible to a world based on renewable energy. Let’s fight for this world, and stop giving credence to the deniers and their junk science that has for so long kept us back and created our current state of peril. It’s time for all of us to work in harmony with nature to build this new world.

3.  GOOGLE acts like NSA
In interviews with BBC and Sky News, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange explains how Google's behavior, though legal, is like that of surveillance agencies.

Google's practices are "almost identical" to those of the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, Julian Assange has said.

The WikiLeaks founder made the charge Thursday in interviews with the BBC and Sky News. He spoke from the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where he has lived for over two years under political asylum.

"Google's business model is to spy," Assange told the BBC.

"It makes more than 80 percent of its money collecting information about people, pooling it together, storing it, indexing it, building profiles of people to predict their interests and behaviors and then selling those profiles principally to advertisers, but also to others."

"The result is, in terms of how it works, its actual practice, is almost identical to the National Security Agency or GCHQ," he said.

In similar comments to Sky News, Assange said, "Google has become, in its behavior, a privatized version of the NSA. It's not that it's doing things that are illegal. It's not," he said, explaining its profile-building practices.

"That is the same procedure that the National Security Agency or GCHQ goes through, and that's why the National Security Agency has then latched on top of what Google is collecting."

Google has been involved "since at least 2002 working with the NSA; in terms of contracts they are formally listed as part of the defense industrial base. Since 2009 they've been engaged in the PRISM system where information collected by Google, nearly all information collected by Google, is available to the National Security Agency."

"Google has been reasonably successful in the U.S. debate shifting its collaboration with the NSA towards the NSA itself," he said.

Though acknowledging that his current situation in the confines of the embassy are difficult and that the impact on his family has been severe, Assange said that there are others, including Chelsea Manning, in more difficult situations.

Asked by Sky News, "What next?" he explained how high the stakes are in determining the future rules of the Internet.

"The Internet, because it is merged with society, is now the future destiny of human society. Unlike our nation states, the Internet is a global phenomenon, so the laws and standards that we erect on the Internet we're erecting for the whole world at once. So if we get them wrong, it will affect everywhere at once, so those are the stakes."

4.Obama administration ‘blocking’ information from the press – AP
Uncovering information that should be available to the public has become increasingly difficult under the presidency of Barack Obama, an Associated Press bureau chief says. In some cases, it surpasses the secrecy of the George W. Bush administration.

The White House’s penchant for secrecy does not just apply to the federal government, according to AP's Washington bureau chief, Sally Buzbee. During a joint meeting of news editors, she stated that the same kind of behavior is starting to appear in state and local governments.

Buzbee pointed out eight ways that the Obama administration is stifling public access to information – including keeping reporters away from witnessing any military action the United States takes as it battles Islamic State extremists in the Middle East.

READ MORE: National security reporter shared drafts with CIA press office, emails reveal

“The public can’t see any of it,” Buzbee said, referring to the military campaign. “News organizations can’t shoot photos or video of bombers as they take off – there are no embeds. In fact, the administration won’t even say what country the [US] bombers fly from.”

She also expressed frustration with the government’s handling of the upcoming 9/11 trial, during which journalists are prohibited from looking at even non-classified court filings in real time.

“We don’t know what prosecutors are asking for, or what defense attorneys are arguing,” she said.

Meanwhile, basic information about the prison complex in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is being withheld from the public, despite the fact that the Bush administration freely shared this data. The media is unable to learn how many inmates are on hunger strike in the infamous prison, or how frequently assaults on guards take place.

5. Climate change not just for the North Pole Anymore
We're teaming up with hundreds of allied organizations—including, the Sierra Club, Avaaz, the Energy Action Coalition, and Service Employees International Union—to make sure world leaders understand that there's an overwhelming public demand for a strong, solutions-based plan for our climate.

Climate justice has been a vital issue for MoveOn members for many years. We organized a virtual town hall on climate change in 2008 that got all of the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination on the record. We pushed for a major clean energy jobs bill in 2010; our efforts helped strengthen the legislation that eventually passed the House of Representatives. We've supported allies' and members' work to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, which has become a referendum on domestic climate change action. And MoveOn members have supported dozens of campaigns across the country to stop major dirty energy projects that would increase the carbon pollution accelerating climate change.

6. Corporate Media: Don't Worry, Be Fracking

A new study shows that gas leaks from wells associated with the controversial drilling technique known as fracking are responsible for water contamination.  Over at Think Progress (9/15/14), the study was summarized under the headline "Study Links Water Contamination to Fracking Operations in Texas and Pennsylvania."
But other media accounts tell a different story–one that seems designed to send the message that fracking isn't causing these problems.
"Well Leaks, Not Fracking, Are Linked to Fouled Water" was how the New York Times (9/15/14) put it. At the USA Today website (9/15/14): "Study: Faulty Gas Wells, Not Fracking, Pollute Water."
Confusing, right?

The Times story begins:
A study of tainted drinking water in areas where natural gas is produced from shale shows that the contamination is most likely caused by leaky wells rather than the process of hydraulic fracturing used to release the gas from the rock.
The Times is trying to stress that fracking critics' claims have been challenged. As the Times' Henry Fountain reports, "Some environmental groups have suggested that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could cause the gas to migrate into drinking water aquifers." But this study, it's explained, says otherwise:
The researchers found no evidence that fractured shale led to water contamination. Instead, they said cement used to seal the outside of the vertical wells, or steel tubing used to line them, was at fault, leading to gas leaking up the wells and into aquifers.
But does this finding justify the "don't blame fracking" headlines? It's hard to follow the logic. These wells exist only because of fracking. If polluted water is linked with the fracking wells and not the actual cracks in the earth caused by fracking, that's important to know. But it still seems clear that fracking is to blame.
It's not like critics of fracking were previously unfamiliar with the dangers of faulty casings. In 2011, CNN (5/10/11) reported on a Duke University study that found high levels of methane in drinking wells near natural gas wells, and noted that study author Robert Jackson suspected faulty casings were involved. But that didn't mean fracking was off the hook:
The gas, which is usually located thousands of feet below the water table, appears to be entering the water wells either through cracks in the bedrock or, more likely, the casing in natural gas wells, said Jackson. Casings are steel and concrete barriers natural gas companies use to line a well where it passes through the water table.
Jackson suspects hydraulic fracturing may be to blame…. Jackson thinks the sand and high pressure used in the fracking process may be weakening the well's casing, allowing the gas to seep out.
The environmentalist Desmog Blog (5/10/11) cited CNN's report under the headline "Scientists Confirm Fracking Link to Flammable Drinking Water."

Problems with well cement were also involved in the greatest single oil disaster in US history; as the Times notes, "The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago was related in part to problems with cement that was supposed to act as a gas barrier in the well." So would anyone say the BP disaster is not really about undersea oil drilling? I don't think so. But in this case, readers are told that it's not fracking's fault that faulty fracking wells are polluting your drinking water.
The Washington Post did a better job with its headline (9/15/14): "Study: Bad Fracking Techniques Let Methane Flow Into Drinking Water." And then there's the larger issue of fracking-linked water pollution. As Katie Valentine of Think Progress pointed out:
But anti-fracking activists say that cementing and casing are only part of fracking’s contamination problem. For one, there’s the issue of fracking waste: In 2012 alone, fracking wells in the US created 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater, according to a 2013 report from Environment America. That wastewater often contains carcinogens and even radioactive materials, and the deep pits that the wastewater gets stored in are not foolproof. In New Mexico alone, the report states, chemicals from oil and gas waste pits have contaminated water sources at least 421 times.
And whether it’s the act of drilling itself or failures in casing or waste storage, contamination from fracking operations is a major problem in natural gas-heavy parts of the country. Last month, Pennsylvania made 243 cases of contamination of private drinking wells from oil and gas drilling operations public for the first time. West Virginia, too, has linked cases of well water contamination to oil and gas drilling. And this month, researchers at the University of Texas found that levels of arsenic, selenium and strontium were higher than the EPA's limits in some private wells located within about 1.8 miles of natural gas wells.


The Central Intelligence Agency has posted hundreds of declassified and unclassified articles from its in-house journal Studies in Intelligence, in an effort to settle a lawsuit brought by a former employee, Jeffrey Scudder. Until lately, the CIA had resisted release of the requested articles in softcopy format (Secrecy News, March 17), but the Agency eventually relented.

"Of the 419 documents that remain in dispute in Scudder, the CIA has produced 249 in full or in part by putting them up on the CIA website," the government informed Mr. Scudder's attorney, Mark S. Zaid, this week. They are posted here.

The newly posted articles cover a wide range of topics, and vary considerably in substance and originality. The CIA said that 170 other articles sought by Scudder had been withheld in full.

Jeffrey Scudder was profiled recently in the Washington Post (CIA employee's quest to release information 'destroyed my entire career' by Greg Miller, July 4, 2014).

8. Senate GOPers Filibuster Equal Pay For Women (Again)

Republicans in the Senate on Monday unanimously filibustered the Paycheck Fairness Act. Did you see this on the news? Did you hear about it on the radio? Did you read about it in your local paper? There is an election coming and accurate, objective information is essential for democracy to function.

The Paycheck Fairness Act "amends the portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) known as the Equal Pay Act to revise remedies for, enforcement of, and exceptions to prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages." It "revises the exception to the prohibition for a wage rate differential based on any other factor other than sex. Limits such factors to bona fide factors, such as education, training, or experience."

To sum up, it would put in place measures to ensure that women will be paid the same as men if they do the same work.

The vote was 52-40 in favor, but it was killed because it was filibustered by Republicans. Among the few outlets that even bothered to report that the bill was before the Senate, few reported that there was a Republican filibuster to kill the effort.

What Information Do Voters Get To Help Them Decide?

Politico at least reported that there was a vote: "Senate blocks pay equity bill." "Senate Republicans rejected a measure written by Senate Democrats aimed at bridging differences in pay between men and women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act fell short 52-40, failing to clear a 60-vote procedural vote hurdle on Monday evening, the third time the measure has failed since spring of 2012."

So women should be angry at "the Senate"? It "failed to clear" a "procedural vote hurdle."

What information do voters get from this, to help them decide who to vote for and against?

But wait, it gets better. After April's Republican filibuster of this bill Politico had the headline: "Senate GOP blocks pay equity bill." This time they took out "GOP".

9. Altered to Withstand Herbicide, Corn and Soybeans Gain Approval
The Agriculture Department has approved the commercial planting of corn and soybeans genetically engineered to survive being sprayed by the herbicide known as 2,4-D, according to documents it posted on a federal regulatory website on Wednesday.

Some corn and soybean growers have been pushing for approval, saying the new crops would give them a sorely needed new tool to fight rapidly spreading weeds that can no longer be killed by Roundup, known generically as glyphosate, the usual herbicide of choice.

But critics say that cultivation of the crops, which were developed by Dow AgroSciences, will mean a sharp increase in the spraying of 2,4-D, a chemical they say would be more damaging to the environment, nearby non-engineered crops and possibly human health, than Roundup.

“With this approval comes millions of more pounds of toxic herbicides dumped onto our land; it’s an unacceptable outcome,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group, said in a statement.

He hinted that the organization might file a lawsuit to try to reverse the decision, as it has done with other rulings related to genetically engineered crops.

The Environmental Protection Agency must still approve a new formulation of 2,4-D that is supposed to be used with the crops.

Dow AgroSciences, a division of Dow Chemical, has said it expects to have all approvals in time to begin selling what it calls the Enlist weed control system for planting next year.

The Agriculture Department, in its environmental analysis, predicted that approval of the crops would lead to a 200 percent to 600 percent increase in the use of 2,4-D nationally by 2020. But it said analysis of the effects of that increased use was the responsibility of the E.P.A. The Agriculture Department said its approval depended mainly on whether the crops would harm other plants.

The chemical 2,4-D was one component of Agent Orange, a defoliant used in the Vietnam War that has been linked to various health problems. But experts say the health effects were caused mainly by another ingredient in Agent Orange.

The E.P.A. has declined to remove 2,4-D from the market on health and safety grounds. The chemical is the nation’s third most widely used herbicide behind glyphosate and atrazine, and it also is used in many home lawn care products, according to the Agriculture Department.

Crops resistant to glyphosate, known as Roundup Ready crops, now account for the vast majority of corn and soybeans grown in the United States. That is because they make it easy for farmers to control weeds. Farmers simply spray glyphosate on their fields, killing the weeds while leaving the genetically engineered crops intact.

But it was so easy that farmers ended up relying too heavily on glyphosate, allowing many types of weeds to develop resistance. Weeds that can no longer easily be killed by glyphosate now infest about 70 million acres of American farmland, double the area in 2009, according to Dow.

Farmers have had to resort to using different chemicals, or higher doses of glyphosate, or to tilling their fields, which can increase soil erosion. Some farmers have had to go back to pulling weeds by hand.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
The new crops, which would also be resistant to glyphosate, would be a solution. Farmers could spray a mixture of 2,4-D and glyphosate, which would kill even the weeds that no longer succumb to glyphosate alone.

“We’ve used the latest science and technology to address problem weeds,” Tim Hassinger, president of Dow AgroSciences, said in a statement Wednesday. “Enlist will be a very effective solution and we’re pleased to have this technology one step closer to the farm gate.”

Monsanto, which developed the Roundup Ready crops, is now awaiting approval of crops resistant to a different herbicide called dicamba. But critics say it will not be too long before weeds develop resistance to 2,4-D as well as dicamba.

Both 2,4-D and dicamba have a tendency to drift or evaporate, allowing them to spread to nearby farms where they could harm crops not engineered to be resistant to the chemicals.

A group of fruit and vegetable growers and canners in the Midwest, calling itself the Save Our Crops Coalition, had initially opposed approval of Dow’s corn and soybeans.

But the group changed its stance after Dow promised to take certain steps to reduce the risk of drift. Farmers growing the corn and soybeans will have to promise to use the new herbicide that the E.P.A. is now evaluating. The product, called Enlist Duo, is a mix of glyphosate and a new formulation of 2,4-D meant to minimize drift and volatilization.

Farmers will also have to agree to certain other restrictions on how and when the chemical can be sprayed.

Dow had initially hoped to get its corn on the market by 2013. But the Agriculture Department decided to write full environmental impact statements, rather than less comprehensive environmental assessments, delaying the approval.

The agency received more than 10,000 submissions on its draft environmental impact statements during the 60-day public comment period, which ended in March. More recently, it said, it received petitions with more than 240,000 signatures opposing approval.

US threat of fines forced Yahoo to hand over users' data
Unsealed court documents have shown that the US government threatened Internet giant Yahoo with large fines if it failed to hand over user email data. The case dates back to George W. Bush's second term as president.
The US government asked a court to threaten Yahoo with fines of $250,000 (193,500 euros) per day unless it handed over customers' email information to intelligence agencies, court documents released on Thursday showed. The daily fine was to double each week. Yahoo email service is free for customers, but it generates revenue through advertising.
"Our challenge, and a later appeal in the case, did not succeed," Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell said, adding that the court material showed "how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the US government's surveillance efforts."
The Internet company on Thursday said that it would begin making more of the roughly 1,500 pages of court documents from its failed 2007 legal challenge publicly available.

Bell said that the court upheld a law that is the predecessor to Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, more commonly known as the "Prism" program unmasked last year by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.
"Despite the declassification and release, portions of the documents remain sealed and classified to this day, unknown even to our team," Bell said.
Failed Fourth Amendment challenge
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose members are appointed by a Supreme Court justice, has never held a public session. The documents remain heavily redacted, despite their release.

"International terrorists, and [redacted] in particular, use Yahoo to communicate over the Internet," US director of national intelligence at the time, Mike McConnell, said in a court document supporting Washington's stance. "Any further delay in Yahoo's compliance could cause great harm to the United States, as vital foreign intelligence information contained in communications to which only Yahoo has access, will go uncollected."
Yahoo had challenged the demands on the basis of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, guaranteeing that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…"
US Internet companies have been keen to disclose as much information as possible about the secretive procedure leading up to their releasing customers' personal data without public knowledge - in part because of concerns about an impact on their businesses. Earlier this year, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google began publishing details on the number of requests for data they receive.

11. Ecuador: WikiLeaks exposes how US sought to stop democratic process
Sunday, September 14, 2014
By Linda Pearson

Leaked US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show sought to stop President Rafael Correa (pictured) from pushing ahead with a constituent assembly to draft a new, more progressive, constitution.
In November 2006, leftist candidate Rafael Correa won the second round of the Ecuadorian presidential election with 57% of the vote, compare with his conservative opponent, Alvaro Noboa, who won 43%.

Despite the US’s failure to undermine Correa’s candidacy, as shown by diplomatic cables published by WIkiLeaks, further US cables suggest the US Embassy in Quito believed it could hold sway over the new government.

A December 2006 cable reported: “We are under no illusions that USG [US government] efforts alone will shape the direction of the new government or Congress, but hope to maximize our influence by working in concert with other Ecuadorians and groups who share our views.”

The cable identified a number of “red lines” that, if crossed, would threaten “core interests” and should therefore “trigger an appropriate USG response”.

Attacking political elites

The first “red line” set by the embassy was Correa’s move to dissolve the unpopular Ecuadorian Congress.

Congress was the cornerstone of Ecuador’s corrupt “party-ocracy”. At the time, it had a public credibility rating of only 6%.

Correa’s supporters had demanded that a constituent assembly be called to rewrite the country’s constitution and reform its political institutions, a move which would mean the dissolution of Congress.

The US Embassy viewed Correa’s assembly plans as a threat to US interests, in the same way it had viewed previous president Alfredo Palacio’s assembly proposal. In working covertly with Correa’s opponents against the assembly, as it had done during Palacio’s term, the embassy again demonstrated the hypocrisy of its stated claims to be concerned with “promoting democracy” in Ecuador.

Before Correa’s inauguration in January 2007, the embassy encouraged members of Congress to put forward their own reforms to head off the threat of more radical change presented by the constituent assembly.

A cable from December 2006 reported that the embassy would “open channels of communication with the incoming Congress to encourage dialogue and compromise to promote stabilizing reforms”, such as the introduction of congressional elections by district.

“If the new Congress acts quickly and boldly,” the cable said, “it would gain badly needed credibility and undermine momentum for the risky, potentially destabilizing constituent assembly.”

By the end of the year, congressional deputies appeared to have followed the embassy's advice. A cable from December 22 reported on a meeting between the then-US ambassador Linda Jewell and deputies from the Christian Democratic Union party (UDC), one of the parties receiving “technical assistance” funded by the US Congress-backed National Endowment for Democracy.

The cable said that leader of the UDC, Carlos Larreategui, told the ambassador that Correa’s economic policies were the “road to ruin”.

Larreategui outlined a strategy “to oppose Correa's Assembly”, which he said had been agreed upon by the UDC, Alvaro Noboa’s Institutional Renewal Party of National Action, the Gutierrez brothers’ Patriotic Society Party and the Social Christian Party.

According to their strategy, the 70-member alliance would “immediately set about passing its own alternative political reforms” after taking office. Their intention, as a later cable put it, was to “thwart the incoming government of president-elect Rafael Correa from imposing its own reforms via referendum and constituent assembly”.

As tensions between the Correa government and Congress rose, the ambassador wrote: “It is not in our interest to be seen as a protagonist in the brewing showdown, should it lead to instability.”

She planned to meet with the president of Congress on January 11 to “signal USG support for Congress as an institution, without commenting publicly on the assembly”.

Other cables show that the US Embassy continued to work with Correa’s opponents to try to stop the constituent assembly.

On his inauguration in January 2007, Correa issued a decree stating that there would be a referendum on April 15 on whether to convoke a constituent assembly. In February 2007, Congress passed its own law approving a referendum on a watered-down version of the assembly outlined in Correa’s decree.

Congress’s version of the assembly would not have the same powers to reform the country’s institutions. In particular, it would not have the power to dissolve Congress.

In response, Correa modified the congressional law in line with his original decree, and submitted it to Ecuador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) for approval.

Assembly approved

In face of mounting protests against Congress, the TSE approved Correa’s version of the assembly. Not to be defeated, congressional deputies then voted to illegally depose the TSE’s president Jorge Acosta.

In response, the TSE issued an order expelling from Congres the 57 members responsible for trying to unseat Acosta.

On March 19, US diplomats met with Lucio and Gilmar Gutierrez who were planning to form a Congress of the expelled deputies in Guayaquil. According to a cable reporting on the meeting, the Gutierrez brothers said that the “rebel” congress would consider trying to impeach Correa.

The embassy advised, however, that Congress would score more points against Correa by unilaterally revoking its resolution against Acosta.

The cable reported that the US Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) “emphasized the value of having the Congress regain the legal high ground; if Correa then declines to follow suit, the political equation changes and public opinion might start gradually tilting against him”.

The DCM further advised: “It is also important that the opposition offer a positive change agenda, not just a series of anti-Correa blocking tactics.”

In March, the embassy reported that the “usually fractious Ecuadorian private sector has begun to develop what could become a cohesive response to what it perceives as threats from the Correa administration”.

According to the cable, president of the Banco de Guayaquil, Guillermo Lasso, told the ambassador that he had formed a group called Ecuador Libre to “analyze the risks that Correa administration might take”.

The right-wing Lasso had previously served in two Ecuadorian administrations, leading the free trade negotiations with the US during Gutierrez’s presidency. The banker went on to challenge Correa unsuccessfully for the presidency last year.

When Ecuador Libre’s analysis had been shared with members of the business community, Lasso said, they had initially been “nervous” about doing anything. But then, “one by one they called him to sign up to an effort to counter Correa's policies”.

Lasso said their approach would be to “challenge the Correa administration on key principles, and not to defend particular interests”. Public relations efforts would “stress the importance of economic, political and individual freedoms”.

Lasso requested that the US government “echo the private sector's appeal for individual freedoms should the private sector come under fire from the government”.

Well-funded corporate intervention

The cable reported on another meeting with Gloria Alarcon, president of the Guayaquil Chamber of Commerce, and Miguel Pena, president of the Guayaquil Chamber of Industries. Requesting secrecy, Alarcon and Pena told the embassy’s Counsellor for Economic Affairs of plans to “address Correa’s call for a Constituent Assembly”.

The business community intended to identify suitable candidates to support in the assembly elections, who would “have a lot of money” for their campaign. They were also planning to use radio spots and TV ads to “raise questions in the public mind about Correa's objectives for the Constituent Assembly”.

According to the cable, some of the embassy’s private sector contacts wanted the US to “do their heavy lifting” and “take a leading role in challenging Correa's policy”. However, US diplomats had told them that achieving consensus within their sector and “offering responsible alternatives” was “a necessary pre-condition before any international engagement can be truly effective”.

The US Embassy’s efforts to help opponents of the assembly were ultimately fruitless. Substitutes who replaced the expelled congressional deputies accepted the TSE’s ruling. The referendum on Correa’s version of the constituent assembly went ahead in April 2007 with 82% of Ecuadorian’s voting in favour.

Meanwhile, polls showed that 93% of Ecuadorians viewed Congress as “bad” or “very bad”. In November 2007, Congress was dissolved by the constituent assembly and replaced under the new Constitution by the National Assembly of Ecuador.

[This is the fourth part of an ongoing series analysing about 1000 US diplomatic cables from Ecuador published by WikiLeaks, much of which has not been reported on before.]

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12. NSA Can Trace People 'Through Power Lines'
A former NSA worker says spooks can pinpoint your location using power lines - but forensic experts cast doubt on the claim.

An unnamed former staff member at the National Security Agency (NSA) says whistleblowers appearing on film can be traced using power lines.

Network Frequency Analysis (ENF) is usually used to prove audio and video has not been tampered with, but the source says it can be used to determine the physical location of someone.

The analysis is carried out by analysing the 50 Hertz (60 Hertz in US) energy sound generated by power grids - which is nearly inaudible.

The hum is captured by most audio recording devices, and investigators can peel away layers of audio until the bare hum remains. The hum can then be scrutinised for unusual variations.

This week, German website Heute.De reported an unnamed former NSA worker who said the agency can use the technique to determine where a recording of a TV interview or other video clip took place.

It works by comparing captured energy hums with those previously recorded across the grid.

But experts say that while in principle it could be possible, in reality it was unlikely to be practical.

Veteran ENF forensic expert Philip Harrison told The Register: "Let me start by saying that in principle it could well be possible to use ENF to determine the location a recording was made as well as the time it was made."

But he added that "hundreds or thousands of logging devices" would be needed across each country to locate a recording location accurately.

Ian Appleby, who has worked in the energy and defence sectors, was also sceptical: "You would need a tap on every one of thousands of transformers."


By Eiji Noyori and Hiroyuki Oyama / / September 11, 2014 / Three and a half years after the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, efforts to contain water contaminated with radioactive substances at the plant are at a crossroads.

Resolving the radioactive water issue is the first hurdle toward decommissioning the plant. However, despite the time that has passed since the beginning of the nuclear disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Co. has been unable to curb the growing volume of contaminated water.

The following is an on-site report about how work to address the contaminated water problem is being carried out at the power plant, where workers are struggling with this difficult task.

Stemming underground flow

As Yomiuri Shimbun reporters entered the Fukushima No. 1 plant on Monday morning, a series of vertical pipes could be seen inserted in the ground at intervals of about one meter, on the inland side of the No. 4 reactor building.

This was the construction site of an “ice wall” intended to freeze soil around reactor buildings Nos. 1 to 4 using coolant, circulating within 30-meter-long pipes, to block the flow of groundwater into the reactor buildings. The ice wall is planned to stretch for about 1.5 kilometers.

Out of 1,545 pipes scheduled for installation to create the ice wall, drilling work has only been completed for about 400 pipes. The government and TEPCO plan to start freezing the soil toward the end of this fiscal year, and to maintain the ice wall for seven years.

“It’s necessary to dig straight and deep into the ground without misalignment to freeze the soil for a long period of time with certainty. We’re gathering veteran drilling experts from across the nation,” said Tadafumi Asamura of Kajima Corp., a major construction company in charge of ice wall works.

Goal remains distant

On a hill overlooking the reactor buildings, about 200 meters toward the mountains from the construction site, wells that resemble metal barrels protrude from the ground. They are a part of the “groundwater bypass system” in which untainted groundwater is pumped up from 12 wells and released to the sea.

The ice wall will be completed next spring or later, but to pump up as much untainted underground water as possible before it flows into the reactor buildings, TEPCO started operating the bypass system in May.

About 300 to 400 tons of groundwater flows into the reactor buildings each day, and becomes contaminated with radioactive substances. Over the past 3½ years, TEPCO has been keeping the contaminated water in tanks, but these tanks can now be seen everywhere across the plant premises, thick like a forest, and they are steadily approaching the limits of their capacity.

Ocean still remains vulnerable

Leakage of highly contaminated water into the sea is another problem that must be dealt with immediately.

In areas around sea walls near the turbine buildings of the Nos. 1 to 4 reactors, structures destroyed by the massive tsunami remain as they were 3½ years ago. The removal of debris containing radioactive substances has been inadequate, with radiation levels still relatively high.

In coastal areas, another array of steel pipes, this time one meter in diameter, has been driven into the ground. This is the “ocean-side wall” intended to prevent contaminated water from leaking from the buildings into the port. Construction is still underway.

In addition, the government and TEPCO announced a plan in August to construct 42 “subdrain” wells near the turbine buildings and five wells near sea walls to pump up contaminated groundwater, and discharge it into the harbor of the plant after purification.

TEPCO expects leakage of radioactive strontium to be reduced to one-fourtieth of the current 4.8 becquerels a day if contaminated water is pumped out from the subdrain wells and pits after construction of the walls is completed.

However, such new measures are seen by a local fisheries cooperative association as additional burdens. Trial fishing began two years ago, with initial catches of three kinds of marine life, including octopus. This month it widened to 51 species.

“We’re getting back to a life where we can fish,” a fisheries cooperative association official said. Amid such circumstances, the new measures are a source of growing concern among local residents.

SOURCE: The-Japan-Times


via / 
September 1, 2014 / 
The governor of disaster-struck Fukushima agreed on Monday (Sep 1) to accept the “temporary” storage of nuclear waste from the Japanese accident, paving the way for an end to a years-long standoff.workers-move-waste-containing-radiated-soil-leaves-and-debris-from-the-decontamination-operation-at-a-storage-site-in-naraha-town-near-the-fukushima-nuclear-campus

Yuhei Sato has been cajoled and lavished with the promises of subsidies if he accepts a central government plan to build a depot on land near the battered Fukushima Daiichi plant.

“I have made an agonising decision to accept plans to construct temporary storage facilities in order to achieve recovery in the environment as soon as possible,” Sato told central government ministers in Tokyo.

The worst nuclear accident in a generation erupted in March 2011 when a huge tsunami swamped the plant on Japan’s northeast coast, flooding cooling systems and sending reactors into meltdown.

The resulting plumes of radiation contaminated areas far and wide, rendering a swathe of Fukushima uninhabitable, perhaps for generations, and forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.

Tokyo’s solution has been to try to scrub the radiation from the affected areas, often by lifting topsoil in the hope that contamination levels will go down. This has left the thorny problem of what to do with all the waste, with no community in Japan prepared to accept its permanent storage.

The government’s answer has been to seek a temporary fix while it works on getting a long-term plan in place. While observers have long said the area around Fukushima is the only viable option, people already displaced have seen it as unacceptable because it would in effect finalise the abandonment of their communities.

Sato’s acquiescence came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government offered subsidies worth more than ¥300 billion (US$2.9 billion), including land rent for the facility location. Under the plan, the government will build storage units on an area of 16 square kilometres near the still-fragile power plant.