Sunday, August 28, 2016


1. Email

A new batch of emails released Monday by the watchdog group Judicial Watch illustrates the inner workings of the nation’s capital and highlights a system that allows big donors to receive the type of access unavailable to ordinary Americans.

The 725 pages of emails show that Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin was asked time and time again to provide Clinton Foundation donors with access to the Secretary of State. These requests often came from Doug Band, a top executive of the Clinton Foundation.

“[Crown prince] of Bahrain in tomorrow to Friday. Asking to see her. Good friend of ours,” Band wrote in a June 23, 2009 email to Abedin. According to the Clinton Foundation’s website, the crown prince set up a scholarship fund with a value of $32 million.
Two days later, Abedin confirmed an appointment with Clinton — after acknowledging that the Secretary of State had previously not wanted to commit to a meeting when it was requested through “normal channels.”

In another exchange, Band asked Abedin to help a member of a British soccer club get an interview at the embassy in London. This was done at the request of Casey Wasserman, who has contributed millions to the Clinton Foundation through his own foundation.

In this case, Abedin seemed to express reservations.
“I doubt we can do anything but maybe we can help with an interview. I’ll ask,” she wrote on May 5, 2009. However, in another email on the issue, Abedin wrote: “I got this now, makes me nervous to get involved but I’ll ask.”

A couple hours later Band answered: “Then don’t.”
Judicial Watch released the emails on the same day it was announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had discovered an additional 14,900 emails from Clinton  not yet turned over. The State Department and Judicial Watch now have to work out a plan for how these emails will be released. U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the process has to begin within a month and not in October, as the State Department has proposed.

In any case, the email issue will continue to haunt Clinton as she tries to win the presidency.

“These new emails confirm that Hillary Clinton abused her office by selling favors to Clinton Foundation donors,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “There needs to be a serious, independent investigation to determine whether Clinton and others broke the law.”

Clinton’s opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, has seized on the issue.
“Hillary Clinton is the defender of the corrupt and rigged status quo. The Clintons have spent decades as insiders lining their own pockets and taking care of donors instead of the American people,” Trump said in a statement Monday. “It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history. What they were doing during Crooked Hillary’s time as Secretary of State was wrong then, and it is wrong now. It must be shut down immediately.”
In a year in which anger at the establishment is particularly high, Clinton’s biggest liability has been that she is viewed as dishonest — in large part due to the email scandal. According to a recent NBC survey, only 11% of respondents said the statement that Clinton is “honest and trustworthy” applies.
The newly released emails will do nothing to change the perception of Clinton as an insider.

2. Wells 
After generating an uproar last summer over plans to drill for oil in the Everglades near Miramar, the Kanter family of Miami has submitted paperwork for state permits that could result in decisions by late summer or early fall.
The family has proposed a single exploratory well about six miles outside Miramar, in hopes of adding to the modest group of oil fields that have been operating in South Florida since World War II.
Environmentalists have denounced the proposal, and city commissions throughout Broward County adopted resolutions in opposition. Members of the Broward CountyCommission, from which the family would need to obtain a zoning change, have said they would never support it.
But the family pressed on and recently submitted detailed responses to questions from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in hopes of completing its applications with that agency. Once the applications are determined to be complete, the agency will have 60 days to decide on one of them and 90 days to decide on the other. Applications are also pending with the Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District.

Family patriarch Joseph Kanter, who developed real estate during South Florida's postwar boom years, accumulated 20,000 acres in the Everglades for a town that was never built.
John Kanter, president of Kanter Investments Inc., described the approval process as extremely thorough and said the company was committed to producing a plan that would protect the environment.
"I would tell you at this preliminary stage we are involved in the rigorous permitting process to address all comments and concerns of the Florida Department of Environment Protection," he said. "We are focusing all of our efforts on acting responsibly in accordance with the law, while protecting our water supply and the environment."
Opponents say they will fight the plans, if the project wins approval.
"We're just waiting to see what the verdict is going to be from DEP so we can ascertain what the next steps are going to be," said Miramar Mayor Wayne Messom, who has rallied much of the opposition to the plan. "The thought of oil drilling just outside our city limits, piercing our fragile drinking water supply out in the Everglades is just unconscionable. To think there would be any technology that could guarantee its safety just seems unbelievable."
The Kanter company filed hundreds of pages of documents to the state environmental department, in response to its request for details on construction plans, safety measures, standards for pipes and other equipment. It also asks what is being proposed to minimize impact to wetlands, monitor water quality and protect wildlife. In addition, the company had to specify its plan for a potential release of hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas that has been released by oil drilling.

The company said the risk of spills or blowouts is small because the oil likely to be found there would be thick and under little pressure, contrary to the popular image of the Texas gusher.

"The Sunniland Trend contains minimal amounts of natural gas, so the oil is under low pressure," the company told the environmental department. "As a result of the low pressure and viscous consistency, the oil does not naturally come to the surface in the manner most people associate with oil wells. Submersible pumps are required to bring the oil to the surface."
At the same time, the company applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for permission to destroy 6.83 acres of wetlands, which would be "mitigated" by improving or expanding wetlands elsewhere. The Corps recently received additional information requested from the Kanters and is now evaluating whether the application is complete, spokeswoman Nakeir Nobles said.
The applications are for an exploratory well only. If sufficient oil is found to make recovery financially worthwhile, the family would have to go through another round of applications for permission to extract and ship the oil.
3. gouging with an epicene

4. Nestle’s Thirsty
Nestlé's arrogance is so stunning it's almost impossible to believe.
After decades of Nestlé pumping water out of the San Bernardino National Forest virtually free of charge using an expired permit, we sued.
In response, the Forest Service offered them a new permit to keep pumping for 5 more years. All Nestlé had to do was sign on the dotted line.
And Nestlé STILL refused -- because they said it would be a violation of THEIR rights to even seek a permit.(1)
The judge hearing our lawsuit is on the verge of making a ruling, and we have a good chance to win. But the longer this case drags on, the more our legal bills pile up. Will you chip in to help keep the pressure on and see the case through?

Numerous rulings by a former Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) favored energy companies his lobbyist wife worked for at the time, a DeSmog investigation can reveal.
Philip Moeller left FERC in late 2015 after nearly ten years on the Commission.
Throughout his entire tenure, Moeller’s wife, Elizabeth Moeller, was employed as a lawyer and lobbyist for the Washington DC-based firm Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw & Pittman LLP (Pillsbury Winthrop).
According to internal FERC documents obtained by DeSmog, the Commission’s counsel repeatedly authorized Moeller to rule on matters concerning companies represented by his wife or others at Pillsbury Winthrop.
Elizabeth Moeller’s Timely Move to Pillsbury Winthrop
A month before Moeller was nominated by President George W. Bush to FERC in March 2006, Elizabeth Moeller, a veteran Capitol Hill lobbyist, moved from the firm of Squire Patton to Pillsbury Winthrop.
One of her first clients at the new firm was Puget Sound Energy (PSE), a FERC-regulated utility providing electricity and gas to more than a million costumers in the Northwest.
According to congressional disclosure documents, Elizabeth Moeller had consistently lobbied for PSE from April 2006 to April 2014 on various issues relating to climate change, energy policy, and taxation. During the same time span, Commisioner Moeller sat on many FERC rulings involving PSE, where he ruled in favor of the company.
In 2007, Moeller and the Commission approved the upgrade and expansion of a PSE storage facility.
A year later, they approved PSE’s merger with a consortium led by the investment firm Macquarie.
Soon after, Moeller was involved in approving PSE’s purchase of Sumas Pipeline Company’s natural gas import facility in Whatcom County, Washington.
In 2011, FERC approved PSE’s rate increase. Two years later, Moeller approved PSE’s new service agreements with Morgan Stanley Capital.

FERC Allows Moeller to Sit on Rulings

When first nominated to FERC, Moeller disclosed to the Commission the conflict relating to his wife’s work.
In a letter to FERC’s Designated Agency Ethics Official, Moeller stated he would “not participate personally and substantially, if confirmed, in any particular matter that will have a direct and predictable effect on my spouse’s employment interest in Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.”

Office of Government Ethics rules strictly forbid public officials from working on matters where they have a personal financial stake, unless authorized in writing by the agency’s Ethics Official.

Excerpt from Commissioner Moeller disclosure statement, March 2006
Internal FERC memoranda show the Commission’s legal staff repeatedly authorized Moeller to participate in rulings involving companies represented by Pillsbury Winthrop.

In February 2007, only months after his appointment to FERC, Moeller asked the Commission’s Ethics Official for a blanket waiver to participate in matters involving companies represented by his wife or Pillsbury Winthrop.

 The waiver was on the condition that neither Elizabeth Moeller or Pillsbury Winthrop was participating directly in the issue before the commission.

The official granted the waiver, arguing “[I] believe it is highly unlikely your Commission decisions in matters that involve your wife’s or Pillsbury’s clients, when represented by other counsel, would have any affect on the financial interests of either your wife or of Pillsbury.”

The Ethics Official also cited Moeller’s unique role in the regulatory process. “As a result, your role cannot be performed by another Commission employee and you should not be recused unnecessarily.”

Soon after, in early 2008, Moeller asked FERC’s counsel to participate in several rulings concerning PSE.

Even though Elizabeth Moeller was already lobbying for PSE at the time, FERC allowed him to participate after verifying that neither she nor her firm was directly participating in the specific matters before the Commission concerning PSE.

FERC’s counsel wrote, “in my view, these matters will not have any direct and predictable effect on the Moeller’s finances.”

In one of the rulings concerning PSE, Moeller stated: “Transparency in the Commission’s process is necessary in light of our significant enforcement authority.”

In late 2009 Moeller asked FERC for a waiver to participate in pending settlement rulings relating to California’s energy crisis of 2000-2001, where one of the parties in the matter, Chevron, was being represented by Pillsbury Winthrop.

Oddly, at the time Moeller told FERC’s counsel he was unaware his wife had become an equity partner at Pillsbury Winthrop 11 months earlier. This means Elizabeth Moeller automatically benefited financially with every increase in her firm’s total income.

Still, FERC granted him the waiver to participate in the settlements, saying: “Mrs. Moeller stands to benefit only in an indirect and attenuated way from the resolution of the Settlements.”

The Commission also cited the need to maintain a quorum of commissioners in such matters.

From a 2009 internal FERC memorandum, authorizing Commissioner Moeller to rule on matters involving companies represented by Pillsbury Winthrop

In 2012, Moeller was again authorized to rule in similar settlements involving Chevron. FERC’s counsel reasoned that “Mrs. Moeller does not work on matters involving Chevron, and has recently been ‘walled off’ from any profits received from the firm’s FERC’s practice.”

Elizabeth Moeller’s Fracking and Coal Clients

Lobbyist Elizabeth Moeller
Yet during these years Elizabeth Moeller represented other energy clients, of which there’s no evidence her husband asked for waivers to his obligated recusal.
In 2010, Elizabeth Moeller began lobbying for Mitsui Oil Exploration shortly after the company purchased agreements to drill for natural gas in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale.
Soon afterwards, Moeller and the Commission approved a number of new natural gas projects in the Northeast carrying fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale. These include Spectra Energy’s Texas Eastern Appalachia to Market project and New Jersey-New York Expansion project.
During her husband’s tenure as FERC Commissioner, Elizabeth Moeller also lobbied for Laurus Energy, which develops underground coal gasification. Apart from her lobbying activities, she serves on the Board of Directors of General Synfuels International (GSI), an oil shale gasification company.
DeSmog could not find evidence of any instance where Moeller recused himself from rulings involving his wife’s clients.
A FERC spokesperson declined to comment and referred DeSmog to former Commissioner Moeller.
DeSmog was unable to contact Moeller directly but Brian Reil, a spokesperson at Edison Electric Institute, where Moeller currently works, said: “Mr. Moeller followed the law with an abundance of caution and in accordance and consultation with FERC‘s ethics office. Regarding Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd., Mr. Moeller was only approached after he announced he was leaving FERC and was then recused on issues involving the company during his remaining time atFERC.”
DeSmog also requested comment from Elizabeth Moeller, but got not response.

Philip Moeller’s Own Revolving Doors
Moeller himself embodies the revolving door phenomenon, where public servants move seamlessly to and from the private sector, potentially blurring their allegiances and interests.

In the years before his nomination to FERC, he worked as lobbyist for Alliant Energy and Calpine Corporation.
Moeller also chaired the Federal Affairs Executive Committee for Edison Electric Institute, a national utilities trade and lobbying group.

Soon after leaving FERC in October 2015, Moeller went back to work for the industry he had until recently regulated.
Within three months of his departure, Moeller rejoined Edison Electric Institute, this time as Senior Vice President of Energy Delivery and Chief Customer Solutions Officer.
Moeller Joins LNG Company Board – Lobbied for by his Old Colleague 

Moeller then joined the Board of Directors of Liquified Natural Gas Ltd., an Australian company developing several LNGexport terminals worldwide.

Liquified Natural Gas Ltd is currently awaiting FERC’s approval for its Magnolia LNG, a large terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Liquified Natural Gas Ltd’s subsidiary for the project, Magnolia LNG, began its FERC review process in 2013, when Moeller still served as Commissioner.

The company has hired the firm K&L Gates to both manage its FERC application, and provide lobbying services.
One of Magnolia’s lobbyists from K&L Gates is Moeller’s ex-boss and longtime friend, former US-Senator Slade Gorton. Moeller worked as Gorton’s Energy Advisor when the former served in the Senate.

Lobbying disclosure documents show K&L Gates registered specifically to lobby on Magnolia LNG’s behalf to “[L]icense application with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” and that the entities it lobbied included FERC. Gorton himselflobbied on Magnolia LNG’s behalf in early 2015, while Moeller still served at FERC.
Within less than a year, Moeller would switch sides and join the Board of Magnolia LNG’s parent company.
Slade Gorton told DeSmog that although his firm K&L Gates listed him as a lobbyist for Magnolia LNG, he has “absolutely no memory of ever lobbying for LNG Ltd on any subject.”
As to his current relationship with Philip Moeller, Gorton, says he was “an outstanding member of my Senate staff whom I am delighted to see once or twice a year.”
In another project, Liquified Natural Gas Ltd recently announced it will connect its planned Bear Head LNG terminal in Canada’s Novia Scotia to a Spectra Energy pipeline in the Northeast US.
Spectra’s recent major upgrade to its New England pipeline – Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) – was approved by Moeller and the Commission in March 2015.
As DeSmog first reported, the environmental review processes for Spectra’s new natural gas projects in the region is mired with alleged conflicts of interest.
The contractor hired by FERC to assess the impacts of the company’s AIM and Atlantic Bridge projects – Natural Resource Group (NRG) – was already working directly for Spectra on related pipelines, suggesting it had a financial interest in approving the projects it was called upon to review independently.

6. Standing Rock Souix Pipeline

Judge Delays Injunction Ruling as Native American Pipeline Protest Grows
Protesters hoped a federal judge would halt the controversial Dakota Access pipeline being built across the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

Activists resisting a controversial oil pipeline in a growing protest camp in Cannon Ball, N.D. hoped to hear a federal judge side with them Wednesday by issuing an injunction stopping its construction. Instead, they learned they may have to wait up to two weeks to hear the judge's decision.

In the meantime, the activists, who have formed a camp of largely Native American protesters that has swelled to more than 1,200 people, vowed to keep fighting.

They were joined in protest by a group of about 300 who gathered outside the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday to urge Judge James Boasberg to issue the injunction. That group included environmental activists and celebrities, including Susan Sarandon.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, sought a preliminary injunction to stop construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline. An injunction would give the court time to assess the plaintiffs' claims that the pipeline violates the Clean Water Act and other federal statutes.

Boasberg is now expected to rule on the injunction by Sept. 9. 

The pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners did not respond to a request for comment. A company spokesperson told InsideClimate News last week that the pipeline is being constructed "in accordance with applicable laws, and the local, state and federal permits and approvals we have received."

The delay ensures continued tension between protesters and the company. 

"I think folks are frustrated," said Tara Houska, national campaigns director for Honor the Earth, an indigenous environmental justice group. "I'm frustrated... [But] it is not going to dampen our efforts to ensure this pipeline" doesn't get built, she said.

Houska is among the activists camped out at Sacred Stone Camp, an impromptu community of trailers, teepees and tents four miles north of Cannon Ball.

Dallas Goldtooth, a campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, said there was "confusion and bewilderment" in the camp when he announced the delayed court decision.

The $3.8 billion pipeline is designed to deliver 450,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois, where it will be shipped to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Construction began this spring, and the project hasn't gained nearly as much national attention as the Keystone XL oil sand pipeline, which became a touchstone climate change issue and President Obama rejected last year. Unlike the Keystone, which would have crossed an international border, Dakota Access doesn't require presidential approval.

The pipeline route crosses the Missouri River near Cannon Ball, on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The tribe fears a pipeline spill would contaminate the river, which provides water for drinking and irrigation and plays an important role in its culture.

The grassroots campaign against Dakota Access launched in April when a few dozen people set up Sacred Stone Camp. After the section of the pipeline crossing waterways near the reservation was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in late July, the activists sued to stop it. Hundreds more began to join the movement.

"It really is a temporary little town," said Houska, who drove from Washington, D.C. to Cannon Ball. "I've seen artwork displayed, concerts performed.... There is a sharing of culture, children playing together. It's a beautiful thing to see."

The chairman of the Standing Rock tribe, however, said local authorities have been increasingly hostile toward the protesters.

"In recent weeks, the state has militarized my reservation, with road blocks and license-plate checks, low-flying aircraft and racial profiling of Indians," David Archambault II wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times on Wednesday. "The local sheriff and the pipeline company have both called our protest 'unlawful,' and Gov. Dalrymple has declared a state of emergency."

A Lawsuit on Environmental Grounds

The tribe's lawsuit argues the Corps of Engineers failed to adequately survey for cultural artifacts along the route, or to fully account for the project's environmental impacts. The suit alleges violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

When protesters temporarily shut down construction near Cannon Ball last week, Energy Transfer Partners agreed not to resume building until after Wednesday's hearing, but the company did not comment on how it will respond to the delayed ruling.

Construction was also halted in Iowa, after state regulators ordered the company on Tuesday to stop building along part of its Iowa route, in response to a lawsuit from 15 landowners in the state. On Thursday, regulators denied the landowners' request, allowing construction to continue.

Energy Transfer Partners has claimed in court filings that more than half of the pipeline is already built, said Jan Hasselman, an attorney from the environmental law firm Earthjustice who filed the lawsuit for the tribe.  

"We're really concerned," Hasselman said. "This company has pursued a strategy of getting this thing in the ground so fast that the rights of people to be a part of the process have been trampled on. The law gives the tribes important rights to protect sacred places and cultural heritage, and even if we're right ... by the time a court can vindicate them, it'll be too late."

Energy Transfer Partners has filed a separate lawsuit against the tribe to ban protesters from the construction site. A hearing on that suit was originally scheduled for Thursday, but is now postponed until Sept. 8.

Protest Goes National

Jane Kleeb, president of the activist group Bold Alliance, was among the protesters in Washington on Wednesday, where she said the mood was "very serious."

"It definitely did not feel joyous," she said. "But there was a strong sense of solidarity."

Kleeb said the court delay gives protesters more time to organize and put pressure on the White House to intervene.

Hasselman hopes President Obama is already aware of the pipeline's significance.

Obama visited Standing Rock Sioux reservation two years ago, and gave a speech on government-tribal relations in Cannon Ball, just a few miles from where Sacred Stone Camp lies today.

"He stood at a site where you could see the crossing of the pipeline [route], at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers," Hasselman said. "That's where the tribe hosted the president.... So we know the [White House] is aware of this."

7.  Native American Pipeline Protest Halts Construction in N. Dakota
Construction halted after more than 1,000 people swarm to protest the Dakota Access pipeline they believe threatens the Missouri River.

A groundswell of Native American activists has temporarily shut down construction on a major new oil pipeline with an ongoing protest that has drawn around 1,200 people to Cannon Ball, N.D.

Construction workers walked away from their bulldozers Monday after protesters surrounded the equipment and called for an end to construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. A group of protesters on horseback also staged a mock charge toward a line of law enforcement officials guarding the site, and the county sheriff alleged others have fired guns and set off pipe bombs.

The $3.8 billion pipeline at the heart of the protest would carry about half a million barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken oil field to Illinois where it would link with other pipelines to transport the oil to Gulf Coast refineries and terminals.

The protest was staged at a spot where the pipeline would pass beneath the Missouri River, just upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, a community of 8,500 along the Missouri River in North and South Dakota.  

Protesters from dozens of tribes across the country are now camping in tents, tepees and mobile homes at the Sacred Stone Camp a mile and a half from the construction site. A video shows a second, more recently established campsite, the Red Warrior Camp.

"We have to be here," David Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who was arrested at the site last week, said in a statement. "We have to stand and protect ourselves and those who cannot speak for themselves."

The pipeline's builder, Energy Transfer Partners, said through a spokesperson that it is "constructing this pipeline in accordance with applicable laws, and the local, state and federal permits and approvals we have received."

"This is an important energy infrastructure project that benefits all Americans and our national economy," it said. The company did not respond to a request for additional comment.

The Standing Rock tribe, one of the poorest communities in the nation according to 2010 census data cited by the tribe, relies on the Missouri River for drinking water, irrigation, fishing and recreation, and for cultural and religious practices. The reservation covers about 3,600 square miles along the river.

"An oil spill would represent a genuine catastrophe for the people who live there," said Jan Hasselman, an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental organization that filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Standing Rock Tribe against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which approved the pipeline. "It isn't just cultural and religious, it's their economic lifeblood."

The suit alleges the pipeline violates the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

Protests against the pipeline have been ongoing since April. In July, a group of roughly two dozen from the Standing Rock tribe completed a nearly 2,000-mile relay from Cannon Ball to Washington, D.C. They delivered a petition with 150,000 signatures to the Corps calling on it to halt construction of the project.

On July 25, the Corps approved construction of the section of the pipeline upstream from the Standing Rock reservation, and ground was broken on August 10. Protests at the site started small, with about 50 people and grew to an estimated 1,200 on Wednesday, according to Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier.

Mekasi Horinek Camp, a member of the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma and coordinator of the environmental group Bold Oklahoma, claimed the Sioux bands "haven't come together in this traditional way since the Battle of the Little Big Horn."

"It's an historical time," he said, "and just a beautiful thing to be a part of."

As the number of protesters at the construction site and the nearby Sacred Stone Camp swelled, tensions between activists and law enforcement rose.

Protesters came on horseback Monday and a video shows what appears to be a mock charge aimed at law enforcement officials who had formed a line along a steep embankment near the entrance to the construction site. The video shows horses charging toward the officers and pacing in front of their line, directed by activists who yelled a "war whoop," or battle cry.

Neither the horses nor the protesters made physical contact with the officers, according to Montgomery Brown, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who was at the protest. The officers, however, appear visibly frightened in the video and quickly scrambled up the embankment away from the horses.

Camp said the demonstration was part of a traditional ceremony that brings in the spirit of horses, and Brown called it a traditional way of introducing warriors from separate tribes. The officers were notified of the ceremony ahead of time, Camp said, and were asked to back up to give the horses space.

Kirchmeier said the protest had become "unlawful" as his officers reported incidents of shots being fired, pipe bombs, vandalism and assaults on private security personnel. Construction on the pipeline near Cannon Ball has been "discontinued for the time being," Kirchmeier said.

Protesters denied those allegations. "Firearms and weapons are not allowed at the Sacred Stone Camp and our security has done an exemplary job at maintaining safety amongst the crowd," according to a statement released by Sacred Stone Camp protesters with the groups Honor the Earth and the Indigenous Environmental Network. "As our camp was established on an act of prayer, we are committed to nonviolence."

"We are disappointed that there are those who will put the lives of others in jeopardy," the Energy Transfer Partners' spokesperson said. "We will continue to put the safety of our workers and those who live in the area as our top priority."

The Army Corps of Engineers declined to comment on the project citing the ongoing litigation.

While the protest in Cannon Ball is primarily Native Americans, ranchers are challenging the project elsewhere along its 1,168-mile path. On August 9, lawyers representing 14 Iowa landowners filed a motion to halt construction of the pipeline across their property. The suit challenged Dakota Access's use of eminent domain to seize land for what it says is private use.  

Over the past year, protests  against fossil fuel infrastucture projects nationwide have increaseed, and at least 24 dozen projects have been rejected or canceled for myriad reasons, the most prominent among them the Keystone XL pipeline.

Protesters at the Sacred Stone Camp said they are hopeful that a federal court will rule in their favor when their case is heard on August 24. In the meantime, they are planning to continue their protests.

Brown, the Standing Rock member, who is also a former Navy medic, said he is seeking additional medical professionals to help ensure the demonstrations can last.

"One of my main concerns right now is either pneumonia or tuberculosis since we are camped so close around each other," Brown said. "From a medical standpoint, you are going to need a lot of staff for these people to self-sustain."  


Our Sante River folks are doing a great job here in High Springs Fl. The more collisions the louder our voice will be. To be heard a local group must be formed at each voting predicted in all counties from the panhandle following the pipeline down to its destination. My fellow ecocentrics, let's face reality, residents of South Florida, have never enjoyed the connection with the land. Poor city souls, never swam in a clean spring or river, never canoed down the Santa Fe and camped wherever the wanted at dusk. This is the most beautiful land in the U S. Let's divide into groups centered around polling locations. Activate to Educate
People won't know what they had until it is gone. We can do it!

8. OFF with their ALLIES
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — In January, a Muslim woman from Myanmar screamed “I did not kill” and pled with her attackers for mercy, but they showed none. In the center of an intersection, she was publicly beheaded in front of spectators, her death caught covertly on video.

It’s the kind of horrifying tableau that has become almost commonplace in Western media, as it plays out each time ISIS claims its latest victims. But this woman, Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, wasn’t a victim of ISIS, but one of 110 prisoners executed by Saudi Arabia so far this year. In fact, this U.S. ally has beheaded almost twice as many prisoners as ISIS in 2015 and may be on pace to achieve a record-breaking number of executions.

Iran’s PressTV reported on Basim’s death along with several others, both foreigners and Saudi nationals, in July:

“Basim then screamed as a sword-wielding man struck her neck. Second and third blows completed the beheading and authorities swiftly removed her body from the road.”

By the time of Basim’s death, Saudi Arabia had already executed more prisoners than it had in all of 2014, warned Amnesty International in July. Human Rights Watch noted that about half were killed for drug-related crimes, and Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, called the increased rate of executions “yet another stain on the kingdom’s human rights record.”

Saudi Arabia beheaded Mugrib al-Thanyan, a citizen convicted of killing another Saudi, on Aug. 3, bringing the kingdom’s total number of executions in 2015 to 110, according to a report from The Independent’s Henry Austin. Based on execution figures compiled by Agence France-Presse, Austin noted:

“[T]here has been no let-up in the number of beheadings and there are fears the nation will surpass its modern-day execution record of 192, set back in 1995. Saudi Arabia advertised eight new executioners in May to carry out and increasing number of death sentences.”

By contrast, ISIS has carried out 65 beheadings so far this year, according to figures compiled by the editors of Wikipedia. Khaled al-Asaad, an 81-year-old Syrian archaeologist, is ISIS’ latest victim. He was beheaded on Aug. 18 after refusing to reveal the location of certain antiquities from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, BBC News reported last week.

Al-Asaad’s death is part of an ISIS campaign against Palmyra and other historic sites in the Middle East that has shocked the world. Prior to his death, he was instrumental in having Palmyra declared an official UNESCO World Heritage site, and ISIS accused al-Asaad of “idolatry” for his dedicated work to protect the city.

However, while the actions of ISIS are condemned worldwide, Saudi Arabia continues to enjoy the political, military, and financial support of the United States, including direct support for the kingdom’s bloody bombing campaign against Yemen. And since candidates like Hillary Clinton benefit from Saudi Arabian money, even a new administration seems unlikely to unseat the nation from its role as a treasured American ally.

9. Harassing a negro… oops he’s the chief

It’s fairly common for New Yorkers who are stopped and frisked by the police to claim that they have been targeted, or profiled. But this time, a lot more people are listening to this claim than usual.

A Caucasian police officer has in fact been punished and pulled off active duty after he was proven to have have harassed NYPD Deputy Chief Douglas Zeigler.

Zeigler is the highest-ranking African American officer in the NYPD. He says point blank that he was the victim of racial profiling.

He explains that he was parked in a department-issued SUV, but was wearing plainclothes. That’s when two lower-ranking NYPD officers approached him, according to the New York Daily News.

“In his briefing to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Zeigler said the two cops, who are white, had no legitimate reason to approach his SUV, ranking sources said.

“After they ordered him to get out, one officer did not believe the NYPD identification Zeigler gave him.”

NYPD Chief Douglas Zeigler’s account is very different than the two officers claim.

“When one officer spotted Zeigler’s service weapon through the rolled-down window, he yelled “Gun!” according to sources who have spoken with the officers, the New York Daily News reports.

Both cops raised their weapons and ordered the driver out of the car, sources said.

Instead of saying he was an armed member of the NYPD, Zeigler shouted, “Don’t you know who I am?” the sources said.”

The two officers have been reprimanded, with the department acknowledging that this was a clear instance of racial profiling.

WCBS reports the following:

The incident was reported as police are being criticized for stopping and frisking record numbers of pedestrians — about 145,000 in the first quarter of this year. The majority of them were black or Hispanic.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been leading demonstrations in the city to protest the acquittals of three police officers in the shooting death of an unarmed man as he left his bachelor party, took note of the Zeigler incident while speaking at his weekly rally in Harlem.

“You can’t make this stuff up!” he said. “The problem isn’t that they didn’t recognize him. It is that they don’t recognize our rights!”

State Senator Eric Adams commented, “something is wrong with our Police Department and their interactions with people of color.”

Do you agree that there is a systemic problem with racial profiling amongst police officers? Or was this just an isolated incident?

8. Teacher shot 

Teacher Tries To Leave Party, Cop Jumps On Hood of Her Car, Opens Fire and Kills Her
A preschool teacher went to a field party. She ended up dead. In spite of the tragedy that has outraged the victim’s community, it was announced Thursday that her killer won’t face charges.

How could this be?

The facts speak for themselves. The shooter’s identity is known to police and prosecutors. The details demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooter acted in a criminal manner. But because of the profession of the shooter, he has evaded charges for his crime.

You see, the shooter was a police officer.

The gunman shot four times through 19-year-old Samantha Ramsey’s windshield after he ended up on top of her hood after trying to stop her from driving away from the party.

Just moments before he had been beside the car, but somehow just seconds later was both struck by the car AND had the ability to draw his weapon from a retention holster and fire four rounds through the windshield, killing Samantha.

Of course, if anyone not wearing a badge had done this, he’d be in jail a long, long time. But it was a cop, Deputy Tyler Brockman of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, in Kentucky, near the border with Cincinnati, Ohio.

The grand jury announced today there would be no charges filed.

Conveniently, Brockman’s microphone wasn’t working, and the shots were fired just out of view of his dashboard camera. He claims he hurt his footsie after falling off the hood of the dead girl’s car. But he did it all to protect the innocent, of course.

From his statement, we read: “The shots were fired not only to save his life, but also the pedestrians walking on the road and the officers currently just down the road initiating other arrests.”

And then there was the self-pitying statement from Brockman’s attorney:

“While Tyler and his family remain extremely thankful he is alive, his survival came with the heavy burden of doing what he had to do to protect himself and others. He sincerely regrets the loss the Ramsey family has suffered. “

Sunday, August 21, 2016

PNN 8/21/16 Global Voices

Emine Dilek
Afifa Kashif
Kkashif Mohammed
Voices from the Sierra Club Sugar Summit

0. Standing Rock Sioux 2500 block pipeline 
The Camp of the Sacred Stones has swelled from a few dozen to more than 2,500, according to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe officials. They are calling for further review of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the end of July without a full environmental assessment. Source: Indian Country Today
Last week, a few dozen Native Americans showed up to protest the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline that would cross right through their sacred land. As word spread, however, the few dozen turned into more than 2,500 native Americans. Because of the large turnout, a brief victory ensued for the people after the developers of the four-state oil pipeline agreed to halt construction until after a federal hearing in the coming week.
In spite of both the company building the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, and the federal government applying pressure, the Native Americans from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have remained resilient.
On Tuesday, the government placed a restraining order on the protesters prohibiting them “from interfering with its (Energy Transfer Partners’) right to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline (the “Pipeline”) in accordance with all local, state, and federal approvals it has obtained.”
However, the protestors remained steadfast — and peaceful.
“As we have said from the beginning, demonstrations regarding the Dakota Access pipeline must be peaceful,” Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II said in a statementto reporters on August 17. “There is no place for threats, violence or criminal activity. That is simply not our way. So, the Tribe will do all it can to see that participants comply with the law and maintain the peace. That was our position before the injunction, and that is our position now.”
“The pipeline presents a threat to our lands, our sacred sites and our waters, and the people who will be affected must be heard,” Archambault told reporters. “Peaceful demonstration can be very powerful and effective. But the power of peaceful demonstration is only diminished by those who would turn to violence or illegality. We cannot let that happen. The Tribe is committed to doing all it can to make sure that the demonstrations are conducted in the right way.”
In spite of the threat to the sacred land and the unscrupulous action of the state in taking that land on behalf of big oil, government officials maintain their justification.
“Dakota Access has obtained the necessary easements and rights of way to construct the Pipeline in North Dakota and the necessary federal, state, and local permits for the Oahe Crossing,” the court said. “In accordance with the permits and approvals obtained for the Pipeline project, Dakota Access has commenced construction activities in North Dakota.”
On Saturday, the group appealed to the United Nations in a last stitch effort to prevent their land from being taken from them and given to Energy Transfer Partners.
“We specifically request that the United States Government impose an immediate moratorium on all pipeline construction until the Treaty Rights and Human Rights of the Standing Rock Tribe can be ensured and their free, prior and informed consent is obtained,” Chairman Archambault and the Treaty Council said in their appeal to top U.N. human rights officials.

1. US Army Chaplain Resigns in Protest Over Drones, 'Policy of Unaccountable Killing'
"I resign because I refuse to support U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy and global power projection. "

An Army chaplain has resigned in protest over the United States "policy of unaccountable killing" through drone warfare and the nation's continued investment into nuclear weapons, which "threaten the existence of humankind and the earth."
In his letter sent April 12, 2016 to President Barack Obama, Rev. John Antal, a Unitarian Universalist Church minister in Rock Tavern, New York, wrote, "The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any tie, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials."
Antal served as a chaplain from September 2012 to February 2013 at the Kandahar Airbase in southern Afghanistan. 

"While deployed," he wrote in Feb. 2015 a the Times Herald-Record, "I concluded our drone strikes disproportionately kill innocent people."

Less than a month after I deployed to Afghanistan, on Oct. 24, 2012, a grandmother who lived over the hill from our base camp was out gathering okra in a field when she was killed by a U.S. drone strike.

Or was she?

Official sources claimed they killed "militants" that day; I didn't see her, or anyone else, die. All I saw were the drones, taking off, landing, and circling around. I did not even hear the explosion.

Months later I watched the testimony of 13-year-old Zubair Rehman, describing how he saw his grandmother blown to bits by two hellfire missiles on the day in question, asking his American audience: "Why?"

They didn't have an answer.

He added:
From the perspective of both religious wisdom and military values, drone warfare, as conducted by the United States today, is a betrayal of what is right. My faith affirms the inherent worth and dignity of all people, everywhere. I believe Americans who share that affirmation have a responsibility to advocate for a U.S. foreign policy that reflects our regard for human dignity. Military leadership also has a responsibility to advocate for a method of war-fighting consistent with military values like respect, integrity, and personal courage. Too often, I worry, our program of drone warfare falls short of these ideals.

"I resign because I refuse to support U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy, and global power projection," his letter of resignation states., which spoke to Antal on Wednesday, reports that he "remains a chaplain with the 354th Transportation Battalion at Fort Totten, New York" while his resignation is being processed.

Stopping drone strikes and providing transparency for ones that already took place is essential, Antal wrote last year.
"We owe this to Zubair, and the thousands like him. We owe this to our service members who yearn to fight justly. We owe this to the many veterans like myself living in moral pain."
His full letter of resignation is below:

MEMORANDUM FOR Commander-in-Chief, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20500

THRU U.S. Army Resources Command, ATTN; AHRC-OPL-P, 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Ft. Knox, KY 40122

SUBJECT: Resignation in Protest

Dear Mr. President:

I hereby resign my commission as an Officer in the United States Army.

I resign because I refuse to support U.S. armed drone policy. The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any tie, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials. I refuse to support this policy of unaccountable killing.

I resign because I refuse to support U.S. nuclear weapon policy. The Executive Branch continues to invest billions of dollars into nuclear weapons, which threaten the existence of humankind and the earth. I refuse to support this policy of terror ad mutually assured destruction.

I resign because I refuse to support U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy and global power projection. The Executive branch continues to claim extra- constitutional authority and impunity from international law. I refuse to support this policy of imperial overstretch.

I resign because I refuse to serve as an empire chaplain. 
I cannot reconcile these policies with wither my sworn duty to protect and defend America and our constitutional democracy or my covenantal commitment to the core principles of my religion faith. These principles include: justice, equity and compassion in human relations, a free and responsible search for truth; and the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Respectfully submitted,
Christopher John Antal

772-301-2736 - Emine Dilek

2. Fukushima clean-up chief still hunting for 600 tonnes of melted radioactive fuel

The operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant has revealed that 600 tonnes of reactor fuel melted during the disaster, and that the exact location of the highly radioactive blobs remains a mystery.

In an exclusive interview with Foreign Correspondent, the Tokyo Electric Power Company's chief of decommissioning at Fukushima, Naohiro Masuda, said the company hoped to pinpoint the position of the fuel and begin removing it from 2021.

But he admitted the technology needed to remove the fuel has to be invented.

"Once we can find out the condition of the melted fuel and identify its location, I believe we can develop the necessary tools to retrieve it," Mr Masuda said.

"So it's important to find it as soon as possible."

Clean-up to take decades, cost tens of billions of dollars

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant suffered catastrophic meltdowns in the hours and days after a giant tsunami swamped the facility on 11 March, 2011.

Thousands of workers are braving elevated radiation levels to stabilise and decommission the plant.

TEPCO says the process will take 30 to 40 years and tens of billions of dollars.

"In Reactor 1, all of the fuel has melted down from inside the pressure vessel," Mr Masuda said.

"In reactors 2 and 3, about 30 per cent to 50 per cent remains in the pressure vessel and the rest has melted down. But unfortunately, we don't know exactly where [the fuel] is."

The head of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at the time of the meltdowns at Fukushima doubts the fuel can be retrieved, saying such an operation has never been done before.

"Nobody really knows where the fuel is at this point and this fuel is still very radioactive and will be for a long time," said Gregory Jaczko in an interview with Foreign Correspondent in Washington.

"It may be possible that we're never able to remove the fuel. You may just have to wind up leaving it there and somehow entomb it as it is."

Radiation killing search robots inside reactor

For the first time, TEPCO has revealed just how much of the mostly uranium fuel melted down after the tsunami swamped the plant.

"It's estimated that approximately 200 tonnes of debris lies within each unit," said TEPCO's Naohiro Masuda.

"So in total, about 600 tonnes of melted debris fuel and a mixture of concrete and other metals are likely to be there."

TEPCO has attempted to use custom-built robots to access high-dose radiation parts of the reactor buildings where humans cannot go.

"All the robots have been disabled, the instrumentation, the camera … have been disabled because of the high radiation fields," former NRC boss Gregory Jaczko said.

Appointed to head the US nuclear watchdog by President Barack Obama in 2009, Dr Jaczko resigned a year after the Fukushima disaster.

A particle physicist, he now questions the safety of nuclear power.

"You have to now accept that in all nuclear power plants, wherever they are in the world … that you can have this kind of a very catastrophic accident and you can release a significant amount of radiation and have a decade long clean-up effort on your hands," he said.

10 million bags of contaminated soil in gigantic waste dumps

Another supporter turned opponent of nuclear power is Naoto Kan, who was the Japanese prime minister at the time of the Fukushima meltdowns.

He says those who argue that nuclear power is a safe, cheap source of energy are misguided.

"So far, the government is paying $70 billion to support TEPCO," Mr Kan said.

"But that is not enough. It will probably cost more than $240 billion. I think 40 years [to decommission the plant] is an optimistic view."

More than 100,000 Japanese are still unable to return home because their communities lie in elevated radiation zones.

Some people have returned to their towns and villages since the completion of decontamination work, which often involves the removal of up to 15 centimetres of topsoil from fields and from around homes.

More than 10 million large bags of contaminated soil and waste have so far been collected. The bags are now stored in thousands of sites around Fukushima, with some of the piles several storeys high.

"In order for people to come back, we need to show that the Fukushima plant is in a stable condition," Naohiro Masuda said.

"We need to make that the situation … we're working on something [for] which there is no textbook."

3. Highly radioactive ‘glass’ rained on Tokyo — Fukushima nuclear fuel with 500 Trillion Bq/kg found — 
“Significant consequences for human health” — Scientists: This changes understanding of disaster… Extreme importance… Our ideas of health implications should change… Do not discuss on social media

Public Release from Goldschmidt Conference, Jun 26, 2016 (emphasis added): New research shows that most of the radioactive fallout which landed on downtown Tokyo a few days after the Fukushima accident was concentrated and deposited in non-soluble glass microparticles, as a type of ‘glassy soot’. This meant that most of the radioactive material was not dissolved in rain and running water… The particles also concentrated the radioactive caesium (Cs), meaning that in some cases dose effects of the fallout are still unclear… Japanese geochemists… analysed samples collected from within an area up to 230 km from the FDNPP… [I]t had been anticipated that most of the radioactive fallout would have been flushed from the environment by rainwater. However… most of the radioactive caesium in fact fell to the ground enclosed in glassy microparticles… [T]hese particles… formed during the molten core-concrete interaction inside the primary containment vessel in the Fukushima reactor units 1 and/or 3. Because of the high Cs content in the microparticles, the radioactivity per unit mass was as high as ~4.4×10^11 Bq/g [440,000,000,000,000 Bq/kg]… Analysis from several air filters collected in Tokyo on 15 March 2011 showed that 89% of the total radioactivity was present as a result of these caesium-rich microparticles, rather than the soluble Cs, as had originally been supposed.

4. Radioactive cesium fallout on Tokyo from Fukushima concentrated in glass microparticles

The flooding of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) after the disastrous earthquake on March 11 2011 caused the release of significant amounts of radioactive material, including caesium (Cs) isotopes 134Cs (half-life, 2 years) and 137Cs (half-life, 30 years).

Japanese geochemists, headed by Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya (Kyushu University, Japan), analysed samples collected from within an area up to 230 km from the FDNPP. As caesium is water-soluble, it had been anticipated that most of the radioactive fallout would have been flushed from the environment by rainwater. However, analysis with state-of-the-art electron microscopy in conjunction with autoradiography techniques showed that most of the radioactive caesium in fact fell to the ground enclosed in glassy microparticles, formed at the time of the reactor meltdown.

The analysis shows that these particles mainly consist of Fe-Zn-oxides nanoparticles, which, along with the caesium were embedded in Si oxide glass that formed during the molten core-concrete interaction inside the primary containment vessel in the Fukushima reactor units 1 and/or 3. Because of the high Cs content in the microparticles, the radioactivity per unit mass was as high as ~4.4x1011 Bq/g, which is between 107 and 108 times higher than the background Cs radioactivity per unit mass of the typical soils in Fukushima.

Closer microparticle structural and geochemical analysis also revealed what happened during the accident at FDNPP. Radioactive Cs was released and formed airborne Cs nanoparticles. Nuclear fuel, at temperatures of above 2200 K (about as hot as a blowtorch), melted the reactor pressure vessel resulting in failure of the vessel. The airborne Cs nanoparticles were condensed along with the Fe-Zn nanoparticles and the gas from the molten concrete, to form the SiO2 glass nanoparticles, which were then dispersed.

Analysis from several air filters collected in Tokyo on 15 March 2011 showed that 89% of the total radioactivity was present as a result of these caesium-rich microparticles, rather than the soluble Cs, as had originally been supposed.

According to Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya;

"This work changes some of our assumptions about the Fukushima fallout. It looks like the clean-up procedure, which consisted of washing and removal of top soils, was the correct thing to do. However, the concentration of radioactive caesium in microparticles means that, at an extremely localised and focused level, the radioactive fallout may have been more (or less) concentrated than anticipated. This may mean that our ideas of the health implications should be modified".

Commenting, Prof. Bernd Grambow, Director of SUBATECH laboratory, Nantes, France and leader of the research group on interfacial reaction field chemistry of the ASRC/JAEA, Tokai, Japan, said:

"The leading edge observations by nano-science facilities presented here are extremely important. They may change our understanding of the mechanism of long range atmospheric mass transfer of radioactive caesium from the reactor accident at Fukushima to Tokyo, but they may also change the way we assess inhalation doses from the caesium microparticles inhaled by humans. Indeed, biological half- lives of insoluble caesium particles might be much larger than that of soluble caesium".

5. Sailor Dying from Fukushima Exposure

Spike in number of US sailors dying after Fukushima radiation exposure — Now over 400 veterans suffering serious illnesses — Former Japan Prime Minister breaks down crying, “This can’t be ignored any longer… The number of sick people is increasing and their symptoms are worsening”

Kyodo, May 19, 2016: Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has thrown his support behind a group of former U.S. sailors suing the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant… Speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Carlsbad, California, with some of the plaintiffs, Koizumi said, “Those who gave their all to assist Japan are now suffering from serious illness… I learned that the number of sick people is still increasing, and their symptoms are worsening,” he told the news conference… According to lawyers for the group, seven of its members have died so far, including some from leukemia [Three deaths had been reported as of last July].

Asahi Shimbun, May 19, 2016: Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi broke down in tears as he made an emotional plea of support for U.S. Navy sailors beset by health problems… More than 400 veterans who were part of a mission called Operation Tomodachi… filed a mass lawsuit in California against [TEPCO]. They are seeking compensation and an explanation for their health problems… Koizumi said: “U.S. military personnel who did their utmost in providing relief are now suffering from serious illnesses. We cannot ignore the situation.” Apparently overcome with emotion, Koizumi started crying… Theodore Holcomb [was] diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He died in 2014 at age 35. The Department of Veterans Affairs later cut off a study into the causal relationship between his exposure to radiation and his illness… Ron Wright, 26, worked on the deck [and] developed a swelling of the testicles and underwent surgery four times… A military doctor told him there was no relationship between his illness and exposure to radiation.

6. Florida's serious water issues. 

Recently, DEP refused the Seminole Tribe's filing requesting the Environmental Regulatory Commission (ERC) to hold a new hearing with a FULL Board present, to decide water rules for Florida.  In July, the ERC Board held a critical Hearing with two important seats vacant on their seven member Board: the seat for a "community board member" and the one for "a member of the environmental community" were empty, leaving only five members to decide water rules for all of Florida.

After around 80 people testified appealing to ERC members to vote NO to a bad DEP proposal to increase chemical levels in our waters, an ERC majority (three attorneys, one a former DEP employee) voted FOR big increases in toxic chemicals in our water. The two members who listened to the public and voted NO were:  Dr. Joyner who oversee's IFAS at UF and a S. FL Biologist who didn't agree DEP's unusual "Monte Carlo probalistic" method for determining chemical levels in FL waters.  No other state, or EPA, uses a method like Florida's to determine chemical levels.  

The Seminole Tribe pointed out to DEP in their filing, their customs of living off the land, eating fish and game that would be more contaminated if ERC's bad ruling stands and is approved by EPA. However, the Tribe's request was turned down due to being turned in a few minutes late.  However, the Tribe said that the DEP/ERC Hearing in July was held without proper notice. Now City of Miami, many local Boards and individuals all across Florida are demanding a rehearing by ERC with a full ERC Board present for a fair decision.

There is NO good reason to increase cancer-causing chemicals in FL waters --and every reason NOT to!  Our lives, our health and the health of future generations depends upon the hoped-for restoration of Florida's endangered waters-- AND a safe, protected CLEAN water supply.  And it depends upon DEP adhering, for once,  to their own DEP Mission Statement which says DEP is to protect Florida's environment. Not further pollute it.  Since I was a kid, we've gone from about 6 million pop. to around 20 million now --with less clean water than ever for drinking, agriculture and Florida's important tourism industry!  What will our future hold?  It is largely up to us to demand that "clean water" be a main priority of all we elect!

Never has it been more important to conserve the clean water we have left for our children-and the next generation!  It is up to each of us to REMIND all of Florida's elected officials and those seeking office to take a tough stand to protect what's left, especially when toxic algae over-growths are wreaking havoc on our waterways-- and the threat of fracking hangs over our heads. 

Some of those chemicals DEP proposed increasing, and ERC voted for, are fracking chemicals, like Benzene and others. That should inspire us all to write to DEP, ERC members and especially EPA, the body that will have the final word on Florida's water rules! Linda Young's latest newsletter gives the latest on this issue, as well as addresses to write to - which I will forward to you.

More than one in eight public water systems in Florida have pollution-related violations, many involving chemical or fecal contamination that can pose health risks, according to a new report by a nonprofit government watchdog group.

But water enforcement under Gov. Rick Scott has dried up to "almost undetectable levels," says Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

In its report, entitled “Don’t Drink the Water – Collapse of Florida’s Safe Drinking Water Enforcement Program,” PEER examined data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees drinking water.

"It's unmistakable, it's just like a roller coaster that never goes back up," Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former DEP enforcement attorney who analyzed the figures, said of DEP's enforcement efforts.

PEER's report found:

Almost 700 of 5,300 public water systems in Florida are out of compliance with safe drinking water rules;
Of the 1,842 violations in 2014, 295 were for excessive coliform, disinfection byproducts, organic and inorganic compounds, radionuclides and other contaminants. The remaining violations were monitoring and reporting violations;
DEP opened only five enforcement cases in 2015 and assessed fines in only two;
Both the number of enforcement cases and the amount of penalties assessed has plummeted since 2010. The number of assessments in potable water cases dropped from 141 in 2010 to only two; 
The amount of fines assessed plunged from abut $250,000 in 2010 to $12,000 last year. 
DEP officials defended their record of enforcement and monitoring of drinking water, saying the agency has adopted federal water drinking water regulations and other more protective state requirements to implement the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The number one priority for the department is to make sure our drinking water systems are being properly monitored and that any concerns are identified and corrected as quickly as possible," Dee Ann Miller, spokeswoman with DEP said via email. "Where there is an exceedance of a drinking water standard, facilities are required to increase their monitoring frequency. The Department closely monitors the subsequent results to ensure the system returns to compliance, and also makes these results available to the public."

But Phillips worries about a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to delegate more of its responsibilities under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to DEP, based upon Florida's 2013 application for more authority.

“Frankly, EPA’s abdication of its state oversight responsibilities is a big factor facilitating the utter evaporation of eco-enforcement that we have seen in Florida under Governor Scott,” Phillips said in a media release, citing summaries of DEP's enforcement compiled annually by PEER. “Now would be the absolute worst time to suspend federal oversight of Florida’s very sick safe drinking water program.”

PEER cited toxic algal blooms, saltwater intrusion driven in part by sea-level rise and depletion of groundwater aquifers as rising threats to clean water.

Algae is blooming in waterways all around the country

"The number of potable water assessments has declined steadily since 2010 to a point that it is all but nonexistant in Florida," PEER's report states. "This is the worst performance in the Department’s history dating back to 1988. None of the districts improved their performance in 2015. Only one, the South District, managed to equal the number of assessments that it had in 2014."

Earlier this year, Cocoa's supply — which serves about 80,000 connections in central Brevard County, including Kennedy Space Center, Port Canaveral and Patrick Air Force Base  — had a violation after the water tested at an annual running average for certain disinfection byproducts of 83.6 parts per billion. Violations occur when the running average of quarterly tests tops 80 parts per billion. One part per billion is comparable to an ink drop into an Olympic-size swimming pool.

The city was not fined and the city took steps to bring the byproducts down to acceptable levels.

The byproducts form when disinfecting chemicals such as chlorine are added to kill the much more acute health threat from viruses, bacteria and other microbes. Disinfection byproducts form when residual chlorine reacts with rotting leaves, algae or other organic matter.

Scott’s 2018 prospects are slimed by algae

Last year, DEP recorded 180 drinking water systems in Florida that exceeded the maximum limit of disinfection byproducts, according to a recent DEP report on 2015 drinking water violations. But few, if any systems get fined. Instead, the agency issues consent orders that spell out deadlines for water operators to fix the problem, or face penalties ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars per day for not complying with the orders.

Contact Waymer at 321-242-3663 or Follow him on Twitter @JWayEnviro

8.  Muslims Are the Sacrificial Lambs of Our Surveillance Security Apparatus: We Should Pay Attention

Muslims suffer the most invasive, traumatic manifestations of the state’s intrusion. The hyped danger is used to justify further expansion of surveillance.

For those of us who think or write about surveillance, the events of May and June 2013 represented a crucial turning point in our sense of what was possible. Edward Snowden’s release of classified documents changed the way many Americans thought about their relationship to national security agencies. It shattered the beliefs of many news consumers that their online or virtual worlds were private, protected spheres.

White progressives, notably, expressed a sense of outrage that the government had been not only spying on them, but lying about it. Activists organized to learn about encryption and online hygiene; some even mobilized to push for stricter legislation on dragnet surveillance. Their indignant sense of violation, and their proposed means of self-protection, revealed the racialized gaze through which we talk or think about surveillance in a post-9/11 world, because when they spoke about mass surveillance, only certain bodies seemed to matter.

The surveillance of American Muslims should concern us all. It is they who have experienced some of the most invasive and traumatic manifestations of the state’s gaze, and it is their “dangerousness” that has justified the broader expansion of state surveillance. So, why were the experiences and perspectives of American Muslims so absent from the eyes and ears of post-Snowden America? Why aren’t we addressing ways to protect Muslims from state intrusion? And how does ignoring what they are subjected to affect our broader understanding of the aims of surveillance, and the nature of its power?

Last October, I broke a story about an undercover NYPD cop, “Mel,” who infiltrated and spied on a group of young, devout Muslim women who attended Brooklyn College. Mel first entered the students’ lives in the spring of 2011, by “converting” to Islam at an on-campus event, presumably as a means of gaining the students’ trust. Over the course of the next several years, the light-skinned agent with the lilting voice wormed her way into the young women’s lives—attending Islamic study groups and social outings. She even served as a bridesmaid in one woman’s wedding.

What is it like to know someone for years and then find out that she was a spy all along? For Shereen, one of the women who knew Mel from the start, the revelations induced a kind of trauma. “For three days I couldn’t eat, sleep,” she told me. “I covered all the cameras on my phone.”

What was unusual about the Brooklyn College case wasn’t that the student group had been infiltrated—it was that the women discovered it. Muslim-Americans have long known that the FBI and NYPD use informants and undercover operatives to monitor their communities. According to a 2011 estimate published by Mother Jones, there are 15,000 FBI informants planted around the United States, many of them tasked with spying on Muslim-Americans, in addition to an unknown number of formally employed FBI and NYPD operatives.

At times, the surveillance of Muslim-American communities has made intimate personal relationships all but impossible. “There are a few of us who trust each other, and that’s good that we have each other. Some don’t even have that,” Shereen told me. “But in the back of all our minds, there’s always that suspicion, that either you are [a spy], or you think I’m one.”

It is an experience of being watched that few of us can understand. “This is what real fear of surveillance looks like: not knowing whom to trust, choosing your words with care when talking politics in public, the unpredictability of state power,” Arun Kundnani wrote in a March 2014 Guardian op-ed.

“Snowden has rightly drawn our attention to the power of what intelligence agencies call ‘signals intelligence’—the surveillance of our digital communications—but equally important is ‘human intelligence’, the result of informants and undercover agents operating within communities,” Kundnani wrote.

As noted by both National Security Agency insiders like former agent and whistleblower William Binney, and more visible NSA critics like Glenn Greenwald, it was 9/11 that triggered the expansion of the American surveillance apparatus. Mass surveillance was justified by the alleged dangers posed by Muslims. The use of informants and undercover agents is just one example of what Muslims endure.


“I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded,” Snowden said in a July 2013 interview with the Guardian. He speaks of himself as a citizen who believes in his right to a private self and in a democracy that fundamentally exists to protect his interests.

This perspective obscures and erases what is at stake for poor people and people of color when it comes to being watched. “When surveillance is understood as a privacy issue, namely the privacy of middle- and upper-class white Americans, it invisibilizes its violent nature,” said Lara Kiswani, the Executive Director of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, which has run community trainings in the Bay Area about the use of informants and undercover cops. “As Arabs and Muslims we understand the current targeting of our community as a way by which the state justifies policies, practices and institutions that further criminalize black and brown communities, bolstering the attacks on historically targeted communities in this country.”

While Snowden’s leaked “truths” were fixed objects—documents and slideshows— they were contextualized and presented by reporters and documentary filmmakers. If the national surveillance narrative has been “whitewashed,” did those storytellers play a part?

“The people who were telling the story were white, and they were focusing on how this happens to everybody, this impersonal surveillance that happens to everyone,” Naz Ahmad, a staff attorney with the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility Project (CLEAR) at the City University New York Law School, told me. “Even the term ‘mass surveillance’ glosses over and erases who has been targeted for years.”


Shereen never has been allowed the privilege to believe such illusions about the nature of state power. Surveillance not only determines how or when we are watched, but how the state creates and defines the object of our fear—the terrorist. Shereen understands how her government has defined her.

The Brooklyn College case was closed in early 2012, according to the NYPD. Then in 2013, the department reactivated Mel’s identity to investigative two women from Queens, Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui. In the spring of 2015, four years after Mel first appeared on Brooklyn College campus, Siddiqui and Velentzas were arrested on terrorism charges. The undercover detective appeared to have played an active role in the alleged plot.

Although the women from Brooklyn College did not know Siddiqui and Velentzas, they were deeply disturbed by their arrest. “[Mel’s] personality was very, very nice, very charming,” Shereen told me. “Had I not suspected [she was working undercover], it really scares me what kind of impact she would have had. What she could have done to me.”

Her fear was not unreasonable. In many terrorism arrests since 9/11, informants or undercover officers have preyed on vulnerable individuals, leading them to commit alleged “terror” plots that never would have occurred otherwise.

Still, media outlets continue to accept the government’s surveillance paradigm: because Muslims pose a threat, they should be watched. In fact, I was rejected by almost 10 different outlets before Gothamist agreed to run the Brooklyn College story. Several outlets told me explicitly that these women’s experiences with the NYPD did not warrant public attention.

One editor who I worked with briefly asked me to return to Shereen and my sources at Brooklyn College and ask them a question: If Mel’s presence at the college—her covert intrusion into their lives—had actually led to the arrest of “terrorists,” would they think the surveillance they had endured was justified? The fundamental assumption in the editor’s request was that the threat posed by the two arrested women was real.

While the use of informants or undercover agents is not the primary cause of every terrorism arrest since 9/11, this kind of surveillance has played a central role in “manufacturing” the very figure of the terrorist we so fear. In 2014, Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute released a report documenting the abuses of counterterrorism stings.

“Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the U.S.,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report. “But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring, and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts.”

In the post-Snowden era, surveillance is largely written about as a tool of social control. But there is little recognition of how surveillance is now and has always been a means through which bodies are both racialized and subjugated by the state. As Seda Gürses, Arun Kundnani, and Joris van Hoboken write in an April 2016 Media, Culture & Society Journalarticle: “The production of racialized subjects through surveillance has a long history, running through government censuses, police record-keeping, and colonial discourses of ‘tribal’ and ‘ethnic’ definition.”

For Muslims, surveillance does not just mean being watched—it means being fashioned into the very terrorists that the rest of us fear. “Racialization is essential to the surveillance mechanisms that are in turn intrinsic to the modern social order,” Gürses and her co-authors explain. “If we live in a panoptic society, it is also a racial panopticon.”

Muslim-Americans are the sacrificial lambs of our security apparatus; they are the means by which the government justifies spying on the rest of us. Unless we take into account the experiences of American Muslims, we will never confront the myth that is essential to our government’s crackdown on civil liberties—that the threat of terrorism is as real as the government claims, and that surveillance (“done right”) is our primary means of protection.


Although the story about the women at Brooklyn College was read over 11,000 times on Gothamist, one story can’t shift the national conversation on surveillance. Yet I could see the pain and hopelessness on my sources’ faces: they had shared their story, and nothing changed.

The NYPD confirmed to the media and attorneys engaged in litigation that Mel was sent to spy on the Brooklyn College students, insisting it was a legal and warranted investigation. The president of Brooklyn College did not apologize to the students nor did she admonish the NYPD for intruding so flagrantly into her students’ lives. Even in a post-Snowden world, where the word ‘surveillance’ trips across everyone’s tongue, many white Americans have few concerns about what these women endured, or for the routine practices of state surveillance that have traumatized Muslim-American communities and left young men locked up for life.

I wonder how things might be different if Shereen’s name and narrative were known in households across the nation, if she were thought of as the niqabi-wearing whistleblower who followed Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. My sources risked a great deal in sharing their stories for the sake of the public good. When will we recognize them as heroines?

9. NPR Host Demands Assange Do Something Its Own Reporters Are Told Never to Do

IN A TEN-MINUTE interview aired Wednesday morning, NPR’s David Greene asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange five times to reveal the sources of the leaked information he has published on the internet.

A major tenet of American journalism is that reporters protect their sources. Wikileaks is certainly not a traditional news organization, but Greene’s persistent attempts to get Assange to violate confidentiality was alarming, especially considering that there has been no challenge to the authenticity of the material in question.

In the interview, conducted over Skype, Greene pressed Assange to verify the theory that the 20,000 leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee that Wikileaks published came from Russia.

“Did those hacks that Wikileaks released, did those emails come from Russia?” Greene asked.

“Well we don’t comment as to our sources,” Assange replied. He remains confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has lived since 2012, despite a U.N. panel’s ruling that he has been “arbitrarily detained.”

Greene brought it up again: “Every cyber expert who’s looked at this has said it’s Russia. Are you telling me that that information did not come to you from Russia?”

Greene was exaggerating: Cybersecurity consultant Matt Tait recently told Politifact that “the consensus that Russia hacked the DNC is at this point very strong, albeit not unanimous.”

Assange replied to Greene: “No cyber expert has said that our emails that we have published have come from Russia, what they have said is that they have looked at some of the hacking of the DNC over the last two years and said that the malware in that hacking appeared to be Russian.”

Greene asked again: “Do you know where these emails came from?”

Assange replied: “Yes, I know where they came from. They came from the DNC.”

NPR’s own ethics handbook urges journalists to respect and protect sources: “As an ethical matter, we would not want to reveal the identity of an anonymous source unless that person has consented to the disclosure. That’s why we take the granting of anonymity seriously.”

NPR’s coverage of James Risen, the New York Times reporter who was pressured by the government to reveal his sources, was more respectful of the obligation to keep promises. Even Terry Gross, the notoriously tough interviewer who hosts NPR member station WHYY’s Fresh Air, did not ask Risen to reveal his sources.

Mark Memmott, NPR supervising editor for standards and practices, told The Intercept in an email: “It’s our job to ask people — experts, politicians, CEOs and even other journalists — where they’re getting their information. We should always be checking the credibility of our sources, no matter who they are. Mr. Assange was free to answer or not.”

Later in the Assange interview, Greene asked again: “Do you know the source that provided them to you?”

Assange replied: “We don’t comment on sourcing, because it makes it easier for any investigation.”

Greene began to ask again: “You brought up this question of whether there’s an argument that you’re a threat to national security. There are cyber security experts who say that someone in Russia, perhaps the Russian government, was responsible for getting this information to you. If you indeed –”

But Assange interrupted: “No there aren’t,” he said. “They’re speaking about the hacks of the DNC, not our publications. There’s a difference.”

Greene again: “If the United States government thought that you might have knowledge that a foreign government hacked into a political institution in the United States” — here Assange sighed — “during a presidential election …” Assange cut in: “They haven’t asked.”

Greene also referred to Wikileaks’ “alleged sources in Russia” and “actual sources in Russia.”

Finally, Greene asked why Wikileaks is offering a $20,000 reward for information about the death of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was shot and killed on July 10 in Washington, D.C.

“Any allegation that someone has been murdered because they are a Wikileaks source, even if it only has a small probability of it being true, is very concerning to us,” Assange said. “We have a perfect record in protecting the identity of our sources and we want to establish quickly exactly what the circumstances were in Seth Rich’s killing.”

“Was he a source of yours?” Greene asked.

Assange replied: “We don’t disclose sources, even dead sources.”

10. “Human Rights” Propaganda Campaign Paves Way For Military Escalation In Syria

Photographs and video of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh have rapidly become ubiquitous in the media in the US and Western Europe after being distributed by a group aligned with the CIA-backed Islamist “rebels” in Syria.

The toddler is shown sitting somewhat dazed in the orange seat of a new and well-equipped ambulance, his face covered in dust and tinged with what appears to be dried blood from what was reportedly a cut to his scalp. Video shows him waiting unattended as a number of photographers and videographers record his image to be broadcast around the world. Clearly, those in charge sensed that the boy, with a mop of hair covering his brow and a cartoon t-shirt, provided a marketable image.

CNN proclaimed the child “the face of Syria’s civil war,” while the anchor-woman theatrically burst into tears recounting his story. The New York Timescalled him “a symbol of Aleppo’s suffering,” while USA Today published a short editor’s note reading, “This Syrian boy is Omran. Will you pay attention now?”

More direct in its approach was the British daily Telegraph, which headlined an article: “For the sake of Aleppo’s children, we must try again to impose a no-fly zone in Syria.”

Among the most obscene pieces was one penned, predictably, by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, who conflated the plight of Syria’s children with the death of his family dog. He went on to invoke a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry that ISIS is engaged in genocide as a rationale for the US to launch cruise missile attacks on the Syrian government, which is fighting ISIS. The effort to obliterate rational thought in the name of human rights is stunning.

What we are witnessing is a carefully orchestrated war propaganda campaign, designed to appeal to the humanitarian sentiments of the population in order to corral it behind a new escalation of imperialist violence in the Middle East. Whether the incident with Omran was itself staged by the “rebels” and their CIA handlers, or Washington and the corporate media are cynically exploiting the real suffering of an innocent child, is an open question.

What is indisputable is that the feigned concern over this one child is being foisted upon the public with very definite and undeclared political and geo-strategic motives that have nothing to do with protecting the lives of innocent children. They have died by the hundreds of thousands over the last quarter century of US-led invasions, bombings and proxy wars throughout the region.

The image of Omran was chosen because it comes from the eastern sector of Aleppo, where roughly one-sixth of the northern Syrian city’s population lives under the domination of US-backed Islamist militias. The most important of these is the Fateh al-Sham Front, which, until last month, called itself the al-Nusra Front and was Al Qaeda’s designated affiliate in Syria.

Syrian children killed by the Al Qaeda militia’s “hell cannons,” fired indiscriminately into the government-controlled neighborhoods of western Aleppo, do not have the same effect on the tear ducts of newspaper editorialists and media talking heads. Nor, for that matter, do the images coming out of Yemen of children slaughtered by Saudi airstrikes carried out with US-supplied bombs and the Pentagon’s indispensable logistical support. The horrific video of US-backed “moderate” Syrian “rebels” sawing off the head of a ten-year-old Palestinian boy likewise provoked no significant outrage.

The driving forces underlying the renewed propaganda campaign are two-fold. In the first and most immediate instance, the “rebel” offensive—armed and funded by the US and its regional allies—to break the government siege of eastern Aleppo and intensify the war against the civilian population in the west of the city has stalled, and the Syrian army, backed by Russian air power, is again making significant gains on the ground. Hence the renewed demands for an immediate ceasefire.

More far-reaching in its implications is the development of closer collaboration between Russia, Iran, China and Turkey in relation to the five-year-old war for regime-change in Syria. Iran has over the past week allowed Russia to use Iranian bases to attack Syrian targets, while Beijing has announced an increase in military aid to Damascus. Meanwhile, in the wake of last month’s abortive US-backed military coup, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sought a rapprochement with both Moscow and Tehran.

Washington views this potential alliance with increasing disquiet, seeing it as an impediment to its military drive to assert US hegemony over the Middle East and its vast energy reserves. It cannot accept such a challenge and will, inevitably, prepare a military response. It is to this end that the “humanitarian” propaganda campaign to “save the children” of Syria—and rescue Washington’s Al Qaeda-linked proxies in the bargain—has been mounted.

The methods employed in this campaign are well-worn to say the least. Twenty-five years ago, the first Gulf War against Iraq was prepared with a chilling tale, told to the US Congress, of invading Iraqi troops stealing incubators from Kuwaiti hospitals and leaving babies to die. The supposed eyewitness to this atrocity, a woman identified as a nurse, was subsequently exposed as the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador and a member of the emirate’s royal family. The entire story was a propaganda hoax.

In the years that followed, the US imposed punishing sanctions on Iraq that claimed the lives of half a million Iraqi children, about which then-US ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright infamously declared, “The price was worth it.” Subsequent US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria have killed hundreds of thousands more.

In reviewing these 25 years of violence and bloodshed, the newly published book A Quarter Century of War: The US Drive for Global Hegemony, 1990-2016 by David North states:

“The scope of military operations continuously widened. New wars were started while the old ones continued. The cynical invocation of human rights was used to wage war against Libya and overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The same hypocritical pretext was employed to organize a proxy war in Syria. The consequences of these crimes, in terms of human lives and suffering, are incalculable.

“The last quarter century of US-instigated wars must be studied as a chain of interconnected events. The strategic logic of the US drive for global hegemony extends beyond the neocolonial operations in the Middle East and Africa. The ongoing regional wars are component elements of the rapidly escalating confrontation of the United States with Russia and China.”

The flood of war propaganda presaging an imminent escalation of the US intervention in Syria threatens to hasten such a confrontation, and with it, the real danger of a global nuclear war.

11. Mosquitos & Pesticide & Zika
      BRAZIL… LYNNWOOD…. Miami Beach…your town too

PAN (Pesticide Action Network) stands in solidarity with families that have been impacted by microcephaly and other serious health impacts of the Zika virus. Unfortunately, the primary response to the outbreaks to date has been widespread spraying with pesticides to control mosquito populations. Decades of vector management around the world show that this approach is not only often ineffective, it can also compound the risks to human health.

Zika is a mosquito-borne disease, spread by the daytime biting Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, and outbreaks are occurring throughout Latin and Central America — as well as parts of North America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  more than 2,250 cases had been documented in the U.S. as of August 18, with the states of Florida, New York and California among the most affected. In addition, more than 7,850 cases have been reported in the U.S territory of Puerto Rico. 

Urgent action to control the spread of this dangerous virus is clearly needed. Individuals can reduce their risk of exposure with the commonsense steps outlined below, and PAN International urges officials at all levels of government to pursue the safest, most effective approaches to controlling mosquito populations.

Integrated Vector Management works
Experiences from around the world in dealing with mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue and chikunguya have shown the hazards of relying on pesticide spraying as the primary tool to combat vector-borne (e.g. mosquito) diseases.

Mosquitoes rapidly develop resistance to pesticides, leaving the chemicals wholely ineffective. Successive generations of pesticides — from extremely hazardous ones like DDT to the present day use of pyrethroids — have demonstrated this trend. The World Health Organization underscored the problem in their 2012 guidance on policy-making for Integrated Vector Management (IVM):

Resistance to insecticides is an increasing problem in vector control because of the reliance on chemical control and expanding operations . . . Furthermore, the chemical insecticides used can have adverse effects on health and the environment.”
Many of the pesticides used in an attempt to control mosquitoes can be harmful to human health, in both the short and long term. Naled, for example, one of the organophosphate (OP) insecticides being used in response to the Zika outbreaks, is linked to a range of short term impacts including convulsions, dizziness, vomiting and unconsciousness. Long term impacts of Naled exposure can be serious — particularly for children — as it is a hormone disruptor and a reproductive and developmental toxicant.

Many studies have also linked prenatal exposure to OP pesticides to neurological harms, including increased risk of autism and reduced IQ levels.

In case after case, vector control relying on a community-based, least toxic version of IVM (see table below) has proven to be much more effective in controlling mosquito populations and, therefore, the diseases they transmit. As PAN Senior Scientist Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman notes:

Investing in least-toxic IVM is a win-win for communities. It's the best way to both control mosquitoes and avoid reliance on health-harming pesticides."

Commonsense steps for prevention
Individuals and communities can take effective steps to reduce mosquito populations in and around homes, and to reduce the possibility of getting bitten by mosquitoes. The Centers for Disease Control, the Hesperian Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council all provide tips for families and communities to prevent infection with the virus. A few key steps include:

Preventing mosquito breeding sites by regularly removing sources of stagnant water from bird baths, swimming pools, planters, etc.;
Preventing mosquito bites by wearing long sleeved clothing and applying repellents with safe biological and botanical ingredients including neem, lemon and eucalyptus;
Preventing mosquitoes from entering homes by repairing window screens and ensuring there are no unscreened openings through which mosquitoes can enter; and
Managing water bodies, like backyard or park ponds, that are potential larval habitats for mosquitoes through habitat modification, biological control (e.g., larva killing fish) or larviciding (preferably with biological larvicides).
With the concerted efforts of individuals, communities and vector control agencies, Zika and other vector borne diseases can be controlled safely and effectively — without harming human health or the environment.

See the table below to assess the relative risks of various mosquito control methods. For more in-depth information on IVM, please refer to PAN International's decision-making framework for malaria control.


ON MONDAY, A HACKING group calling itself the “ShadowBrokers” announced an auction for what it claimed were “cyber weapons” made by the NSA. Based on never-before-published documents provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Intercept can confirm that the arsenal contains authentic NSA software, part of a powerful constellation of tools used to covertly infect computers worldwide.

The provenance of the code has been a matter of heated debate this week among cybersecurity experts, and while it remains unclear how the software leaked, one thing is now beyond speculation: The malware is covered with the NSA’s virtual fingerprints and clearly originates from the agency.

The evidence that ties the ShadowBrokers dump to the NSA comes in an agency manual for implanting malware, classified top secret, provided by Snowden, and not previously available to the public. The draft manual instructs NSA operators to track their use of one malware program using a specific 16-character string, “ace02468bdf13579.” That exact same string appears throughout the ShadowBrokers leak in code associated with the same program, SECONDDATE.

SECONDDATE plays a specialized role inside a complex global system built by the U.S. government to infect and monitor what one document estimated to be millions of computers around the world. Its release by ShadowBrokers, alongside dozens of other malicious tools, marks the first time any full copies of the NSA’s offensive software have been available to the public, providing a glimpse at how an elaborate system outlined in the Snowden documents looks when deployed in the real world, as well as concrete evidence that NSA hackers don’t always have the last word when it comes to computer exploitation.

But malicious software of this sophistication doesn’t just pose a threat to foreign governments, Johns Hopkins University cryptographer Matthew Green told The Intercept:

The danger of these exploits is that they can be used to target anyone who is using a vulnerable router. This is the equivalent of leaving lockpicking tools lying around a high school cafeteria. It’s worse, in fact, because many of these exploits are not available through any other means, so they’re just now coming to the attention of the firewall and router manufacturers that need to fix them, as well as the customers that are vulnerable.

So the risk is twofold: first, that the person or persons who stole this information might have used them against us. If this is indeed Russia, then one assumes that they probably have their own exploits, but there’s no need to give them any more. And now that the exploits have been released, we run the risk that ordinary criminals will use them against corporate targets.

The NSA did not respond to questions concerning ShadowBrokers, the Snowden documents, or its malware.


The offensive tools released by ShadowBrokers are organized under a litany of code names such as POLARSNEEZE and ELIGIBLE BOMBSHELL, and their exact purpose is still being assessed. But we do know more about one of the weapons: SECONDDATE.

SECONDDATE is a tool designed to intercept web requests and redirect browsers on target computers to an NSA web server. That server, in turn, is designed to infect them with malware. SECONDDATE’s existence was first reported by The Intercept in 2014, as part of a look at a global computer exploitation effort code-named TURBINE. The malware server, known as FOXACID, has also been described in previously released Snowden documents.

Other documents released by The Intercept today not only tie SECONDDATE to the ShadowBrokers leak but also provide new detail on how it fits into the NSA’s broader surveillance and infection network. They also show how SECONDDATE has been used, including to spy on Pakistan and a computer system in Lebanon.

The top-secret manual that authenticates the SECONDDATE found in the wild as the same one used within the NSA is a 31-page document titled “FOXACID SOP for Operational Management” and marked as a draft. It dates to no earlier than 2010. A section within the manual describes administrative tools for tracking how victims are funneled into FOXACID, including a set of tags used to catalogue servers. When such a tag is created in relation to a SECONDDATE-related infection, the document says, a certain distinctive identifier must be used:

After viewing the code, Green told The Intercept the MSGID string’s occurrence in both an NSA training document and this week’s leak is “unlikely to be a coincidence.” Computer security researcher Matt Suiche, founder of UAE-based cybersecurity startup Comae Technologies, who has been particularly vocal in his analysis of the ShadowBrokers this week, told The Intercept “there is no way” the MSGID string’s appearance in both places is a coincidence.


This overview jibes with previously unpublished classified files provided by Snowden that illustrate how SECONDDATE is a component of BADDECISION, a broader NSA infiltration tool. SECONDDATE helps the NSA pull off a “man in the middle” attack against users on a wireless network, tricking them into thinking they’re talking to a safe website when in reality they’ve been sent a malicious payload from an NSA server.

According to one December 2010 PowerPoint presentation titled “Introduction to BADDECISION,” that tool is also designed to send users of a wireless network, sometimes referred to as an 802.11 network, to FOXACID malware servers. Or, as the presentation puts it, BADDECISION is an “802.11 CNE [computer network exploitation] tool that uses a true man-in-the-middle attack and a frame injection technique to redirect a target client to a FOXACID server.” As another top-secret slide puts it, the attack homes in on “the greatest vulnerability to your computer: your web browser.”

One slide points out that the attack works on users with an encrypted wireless connection to the internet.

That trick, it seems, often involves BADDECISION and SECONDDATE, with the latter described as a “component” for the former. A series of diagrams in the “Introduction to BADDECISION” presentation show how an NSA operator “uses SECONDDATE to inject a redirection payload at [a] Target Client,” invisibly hijacking a user’s web browser as the user attempts to visit a benign website (in the example given, it’s Executed correctly, the file explains, a “Target Client continues normal webpage browsing, completely unaware,” lands on a malware-filled NSA server, and becomes infected with as much of that malware as possible — or as the presentation puts it, the user will be left “WHACKED!” In the other top-secret presentations, it’s put plainly: “How do we redirect the target to the FOXACID server without being noticed”? Simple: “Use NIGHTSTAND or BADDECISION.”

The sheer number of interlocking tools available to crack a computer is dizzying. In the FOXACID manual, government hackers are told an NSA hacker ought to be familiar with using SECONDDATE along with similar man-in-the-middle wi-fi attacks code-named MAGIC SQUIRREL and MAGICBEAN. A top-secret presentation on FOXACID lists further ways to redirect targets to the malware server system.

13. U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business

THE ESCALATING ANTI-RUSSIAN rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.

Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.

In particular, the arms industry — both directly and through its arsenal of hired-gun, think-tank experts and lobbyists – is actively pressuring NATO member nations to hike defense spending in line with the NATO goal for member states to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

Retired Army Gen. Richard Cody, a vice president at L-3 Communications, the seventh largest U.S. defense contractor, explained to shareholders in December that the industry was faced with a historic opportunity. Following the end of the Cold War, Cody said, peace had “pretty much broken out all over the world,” with Russia in decline and NATO nations celebrating. “The Wall came down,” he said, and “all defense budgets went south.”

Now, Cody argued, Russia “is resurgent” around the world, putting pressure on U.S. allies. “Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. “We know that uptick is coming and so we postured ourselves for it.”

Speaking to investors at a conference hosted by Credit Suisse in June, Stuart Bradie, the chief executive of KBR, a military contractor, discussed “opportunities in Europe,” highlighting the increase in defense spending by NATO countries in response to “what’s happening with Russia and the Ukraine.”

The National Defense Industrial Association, a lobby group for the industry, has called on Congress to make it easier for U.S. contractors to sell arms abroad to allies in response to the threat from Russia. Recent articles in National Defense, NDIA’s magazine, discuss the need for NATO allies to boost maritime military spending, spending on Arctic systems, and missile defense, to counter Russia.

Many experts are unconvinced that Russia poses a direct military threat. The Soviet Union’s military once stood at over 4 million soldiers, but today Russia has less than 1 million. NATO’s combined military budget vastly outranks Russia’s — with the U.S. alone outspending Russia on its military by $609 billion to less than $85 billion.

And yet, the Aerospace Industries Association, a lobby group for Lockheed Martin, Textron, Raytheon, and other defense contractors, argued in February that the Pentagon is not spending enough to counter “Russian aggression on NATO’s doorstep.”

Think tanks with major funding from defense contractors, including the Lexington Institute and the Atlantic Council, have similarly demanded higher defense spending to counter Russia.

Stephen Hadley, the former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush now serving on the board of Raytheon, a firm competing for major NATO military contracts, has argued forcefully for hiking defense budgets and providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Hadley said in a speech last summer that the U.S. must “raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine,” adding that “even President Putin is sensitive to body bags.”

The business press has noticed the development. The Washington Business Journal noted that “if anyone is benefiting from the unease between Russia and the rest of the world, it would have to be Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp,” noting that the firm won a major contract from Poland, which is revamping its military in response to Russia. Roman Schweizer, an analyst for the defense industry with Guggenheim Securities, predicted last year that U.S. arms sales would continue to rise, particularly because “eastern NATO countries will increase procurements in the wake of continued Russian activity in Ukraine.”

At the Defence Security Exposition International, an arms dealer conference held in London last fall, contractors were quick to use Russia and rising defense budgets to hawk their products. “The tank threat is … much, much more closer to you today because Putin is doing something” in eastern Ukraine, a shoulder-fired-rocket touting representative from Saab told Defense One.

“Companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have pledged to increase the share of exports in their overall revenues, and they have been seeking major deals in East and Central Europe since the 1990s, when NATO expansion began,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy. Hartung noted that as some nations ramp up spending, U.S. firms will be “knocking at the door, looking to sell everything from fighter planes to missile defense systems.”

“Russian saber-rattling has additional benefits for weapons makers because it has become a standard part of the argument for higher Pentagon spending — even though the Pentagon already has more than enough money to address any actual threat to the United States,” he said.

14. RETIRED U.S. AIR FORCE Gen. Philip Breedlove, 
until recently the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, plotted in private to overcome President Barack Obama’s reluctance to escalate military tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine in 2014, according to apparently hacked emails from Breedlove’s Gmail account that were posted on a new website called DC Leaks.

Obama defied political pressure from hawks in Congress and the military to provide lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government, fearing that doing so would increase the bloodshed and provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with the justification for deeper incursions into the country.

Breedlove, during briefings to Congress, notably contradicted the Obama administration regarding the situation in Ukraine, leading to news stories about conflict between the general and Obama.

But the leaked emails provide an even more dramatic picture of the intense back-channel lobbying for the Obama administration to begin a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine.

In a series of messages in 2014, Breedlove sought meetings with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, asking for advice on how to pressure the Obama administration to take a more aggressive posture toward Russia.

“I may be wrong, … but I do not see this WH really ‘engaged’ by working with Europe/NATO. Frankly I think we are a ‘worry,’ … ie a threat to get the nation drug into a conflict,” Breedlove wrote in an email to Powell, who responded by accepting an invitation to meet and discuss the dilemma. “I seek your counsel on two fronts,” Breedlove continued, “how to frame this opportunity in a time where all eyes are on ISIL all the time, … and two, … how to work this personally with the POTUS.”

Breedlove attempted to influence the administration through several channels, emailing academics and retired military officials, including former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark, for assistance in building his case for supplying military assistance to Ukrainian forces battling Russian-backed separatists.

“I think POTUS sees us as a threat that must be minimized, … ie do not get me into a war????” Breedlove wrote in an email to Harlan Ullman, senior adviser to the Atlantic Council, describing his ongoing attempt to get Powell to help him influence Obama.

“Given Obama’s instruction to you not to start a war, this may be a tough sell,” Ullman replied a few months later, in another string of emails about Breedlove’s effort to “leverage, cajole, convince or coerce the U.S. to react” to Russia.

Breedlove did not respond to a request for comment. He stepped down from his NATO leadership position in May and retired from service on Friday, July 1. Breedlove was a four-star Air Force general and served as the 17th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe starting on May 10, 2013.

Phillip Karber, an academic who corresponded regularly with Breedlove — providing him with advice and intelligence on the Ukrainian crisis —  verified the authenticity of several of the emails in the leaked cache. He also told The Intercept that Breedlove confirmed to him that the general’s Gmail account was hacked and that the incident had been reported to the government.

“The last conversation I had about it with General Breedlove, he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been hacked several times,’” said Karber. He added that he noticed at least one of his personal emails appearing online from the leak before we had contacted him. “I turned this over to the U.S. government and asked them to investigate. No one has given me any answer.”

“I have no idea whose account was leaked or hacked,” said Powell, when reached for comment about the emails. Powell said he had no comment about the discussions regarding Obama’s response to the conflict in Ukraine.

In the European press, Breedlove has been portrayed as a hawkish figure known for leaning on allied nations to ditch diplomacy and to adopt a more confrontational role again Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. Breedlove, testifying before Congress earlier in February of this year, called Russia “a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies.”

Der Spiegel reported that Breedlove “stunned” German leaders with a surprise announcement in 2015 claiming that pro-Russian separatists had “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine with “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of the most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” sent to Donbass, a center of the conflict.

Breedlove’s numbers were “significantly higher” than the figures known to NATO intelligence agencies and seemed exaggerated to German officials. The announcement appeared to be a provocation designed to disrupt mediation efforts led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In previous instances, German officials believed Breedlove overestimated Russian forces along the border with Ukraine by as many as 20,000 troops and found that the general had falsely claimed that several Russian military assets near the Ukrainian border were part of a special build-up in preparation for a large-scale invasion of the country. In fact, much of the Russian military equipment identified by Breedlove, the Germans said, had been stored there well before the revolution in Ukraine.

The emails, however, depict a desperate search by Breedlove to build his case for escalating the conflict, contacting colleagues and friends for intelligence to illustrate the Russian threat. Karber, who visited Ukrainian politicians and officials in Kiev on several occasions, sent frequent messages to Breedlove — “per your request,” he noted — regarding information he had received about separatist military forces and Russian troop movements. In several updates, Breedlove received military data sourced from Twitter and social media.

Karber, the president of the Potomac Foundation, became the center of a related scandal last year when it was discovered that he had facilitated a meeting during which images of purported Russian forces in Ukraine were distributed to the office of Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and were published by a neoconservative blog. The pictures turned out to be a deception; one supposed picture of Russian tanks in Ukraine was, in fact, an old photograph of Russian tanks in Ossetia during the war with Georgia.

Breedlove stayed in close contact with Karber and other officials who shared his views on the Ukrainian conflict.

“Phil, can’t we get a statement to counteract the Russians on use of force? what can I do to help? If the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative, the Russians will see it as an open door,” wrote retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who forwarded on his messages with Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. He also passed along concerns from the Bulgarian president that Bulgaria might be Russia’s next target.

In other messages, Clark relayed specific requests for the types of military aid desired by Ukrainian officials. In addition to radar systems and other forms of military equipment, Clark recommended that Breedlove “encourage Ukraine to hire some first rate pr firms and crisis communications firms in U.S. and Europe.” He added, “They need the right tools to engage in information warfare.”

Ukraine did hire several D.C. lobbying and communication firms to influence policymakers. In June 2015, the government signed a deal with APCO Worldwide, an influential firm with ties to senior Democratic and Republican officials.

In an email in February 2015, Karber told Breedlove that “Pakistan has, under the table, offered Ukraine 500 TOW-II launchers (man-portable version) and 8,000 TOW-II missiles,” adding that deliveries of the anti-tank weapons could begin by the end of the month. “However,” Karber wrote, “Pakistan will not make these deliveries without U.S. approval; moreover they will not even request that approval unless they have informal assurance that it would be approved.”

Karber told The Intercept that the Pakistani arms deal never materialized.

Breedlove was most recently in the news explaining that he now thinks we need to talk to the Russian government to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. “I think we need to begin to have meaningful dialogue,” he said last week, while reiterating his views on the need for a strong NATO to militarily match Russia. “Russia does understand power, and strength, and unity,” he said.

The emails were released by D.C. Leaks, a database run by self-described “hacktivists” who are collecting the communications of elite stakeholders such as political parties, major politicians, political campaigns, and the military. The website currently has documents revealing some internal communications of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, among others.