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Fact sheet on the cover-up of LA’s Nuclear Secret- radioactively polluted Brandeis-Bardin Institute

truthFlag-USALA’s Nuclear Secret: Camp Cover-Up Fact Sheet  NBC4  14 Jan 16     KNBC has received a lot of emails since we aired two reports in November 2015 about contamination found at The Brandeis-Bardin Institute near Simi Valley. Viewers have asked us to summarize our in-depth investigation, the voluminous amount of data we gathered, and to clarify the main questions we have posed to the owners of Brandeis, the American Jewish University, for which we have not yet received answers. So we’ve prepared this fact sheet summarizing our investigation.

KNBC’s investigation concerning The Brandeis-Bardin Institute (BBI) began after we aired a September 2015 report about the history of nuclear accidents at the Santa Susana Field Lab. After that report, KNBC received emails from people with long associations to BBI, urging us to investigate contamination on Brandeis land. Those people included two former BBI directors, three former senior managers, and former board members. They all told us they had asked former BBI Board chairs — Helen Zukin and Judge Joseph Wapner — if they could see the decades of environmental tests that had been conducted, but were told they could not see that data.

The Brandeis-Bardin Institute is next door to the Santa Susana Field Lab, where a partial nuclear meltdown occurred in 1959, as well as other nuclear accidents, and where decades of rocket testing occurred between 1947 and 2006. These activities resulted in contamination of Santa Susana, as documented by the US EPA, the US Department of Energy, and Boeing.

Environmental tests have found radioactive and chemical contamination has migrated from Santa Susana to Brandeis, contaminating its soil and water. Since at least 1991, BBI had its own consultant routinely testing its water, soil and vegetation. AJU has said in recent statements that based on these tests, “Brandeis-Bardin is safe.” AJU has declined to share with KNBC, or the public, many of those tests done by its consultant.

The former BBI associates who contacted KNBC said their concerns began in 1995, when Brandeis filed a federal lawsuit against the owners of Santa Susana, including Rocketdyne — alleging that “harmful” radioactive materials and toxic chemicals from the Field Lab had contaminated Brandeis soil and water. Brandeis settled that suit confidentially in 1997. Read that lawsuit here and the settlement here.

KNBC retrieved records from the lawsuit, and found documents such as a 1997 report prepared for BBI by its longtime environmental consultant, Joel Cehn. In that report, based on years of tests, Cehn wrote: “Brandeis property is contaminated, at both the surface and subsurface, with radiological and chemical contaminants.” “The levels of contamination are highest at the southern end of the property …” “Contaminated ground water is moving toward the center of the Brandeis property.” “Soil on the Brandeis property is contaminated with (radioactive) tritium, strontium-90 and dioxins.” “During rainwater runoff this (contaminated) soil is carried to the central and northern areas of the Brandeis property.” Read Cehn’s full report here.

Scientists from state and federal agencies told KNBC that when those radioactive contaminants land in soil in places like Brandeis, they remain “hot” or radioactive for up to hundreds of thousands of years.

Documents reviewed by KNBC suggest that there may be years of environmental tests done at BBI, conducted by their consultant Joel Cehn, that haven’t been made public by AJU, including:………

Among the questions we want to ask AJU:

  • Has AJU released all tests its consultant has ever done on BBI land and water? If not, why?
  • AJU said on December 2, 2015 it is hiring “additional independent consultants” to do more environmental testing. Who will choose these consultants and what the process will be to select them?
  • Would AJU allow the US EPA to test Brandeis soil, water, and vegetation, anywhere on the property? Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks told NBC she believes the EPA is the only reliable government entity to do testing.
  • Were children or adults at BBI in 1959, and in four decades that followed, ever at risk from radioactive fallout from the ’59 meltdown, from other nuclear accidents, from the burning of radioactive waste at Santa Susana, or from the thousands of rocket tests there that emitted toxic fumes? AJU says on its website “AJU acquired the Brandeis-Bardin property after conducting due diligence.”……….
In addition to the above referenced testing done by Brandeis’ consultant, KNBC suggests/requests that AJU make public all evidence collected by Brandeis’ lawyers for its 1995 lawsuit against the owners of Santa Susana, concerning the claim that the Field Lab was contaminating BBI, including witness depositions, studies, and tests. Finally, KNBC would request AJU respond to questions raised by BBI families and former employees about the safety of the property.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 2 Comments

Taiwan nuclear phaseout tipped as result of coming election

ballot-boxSmflag-TaiwanTaiwan election points to nuclear phase-out by 20231, Climate Home,  14/01/2016, 
Ing-wen Tsai, who leads the presidential polls, envisions a ‘nuclear-free homeland’ with a bigger role for energy efficiency and renewables
By Megan Darby

Taiwan is facing a phase-out of atomic power, with nuclear sceptic Ing-wen Tsai tipped to win a presidential election on Saturday.

The island state’s three operating nuclear plants are due for retirement by 2023. A fourth, 90% built, was mothballed last year in response to protests from a public spooked by Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

Opinion polls predict a landslide victory for Tsai, with her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in with a chance of its first ever parliamentary majority……

Setting out her green energy platform in September, Tsai predicted NT$1 trillion (US$30 billion) of investment in the renewables sector.

“The time is ripe for Taiwan’s green energy development — what we lack is a government determined to see it through,” she said in remarks reported by the China Post…..

Tze-Luen Lin, energy and climate expert at National Taiwan University, expressed confidence the emissions targets were attainable…..

January 15, 2016 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Follow the money trail: how the nuclear industry escapes taxing for its toxic emissions

If a tax were to be put on the nuclear industry for all of their toxic emissions, they would be paying the highest tax of all polluting industries, bar none, and they would be forced out of business IMMEDIATELY. You know who is in power by who cannot be critiqued or talked about in a negative way, and in this case, that is the nuclear industry. 
nuke-greenwashCitizens Climate Lobby Promotes Carbon Taxes, Another False Solution, Being Pushed By Pro Nuclear Promoters To Ensure Profits For Nuclear Power Industry, Be The Change You Want To See A Green Road Magazine, 14 Jan 16  “…….In the opinion of AGRP, millions of people are being misled via an active disinformation and/or greenwashing campaign that is being orchestrated from the top down in both the carbon and nuclear industry. Millions of people are wasting their money, time and energy in promoting faux groups that pretend to be for a clean energy future, but in reality, they are promoting either the carbon industry or nuclear power behind the scenes, in secret.

DON’T BE DECEIVED AND HOODWINKED. Ask the hard questions to get to the truth and follow the money, because the money trails never lie.

Ask the leader of your group what their vision of the future is. Does it include carbon and/or nuclear, or is their vision a nuclear and carbon free future? Will they put that IN WRITING as a vision statement, or as a policy statement? If not, you have uncovered the hidden secret that no one will talk about inside the upper management of these greenwashing organizations, because they are being controlled by ‘outsiders’, who have something to gain by hiding the truth.
The answer from the leadership will tell you who they are secretly supporting or being controlled and steered by. Be very clear about which group you support and why. Don’t tolerate greenwashing and/or sitting on the fence and talking about ‘clean energy’. Help your local, state, national and international group get clear on this issue. Promote a carbon free, nuclear free future, because anything less is a huge waste of time.
The solutions are all there, but are being hidden or denied by the carbon and nuclear fuel industries.
Renewable Energy Usage And Costs Compared To Nuclear And Coal; via A Green Road

Continue reading

January 15, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Cyber attack: Nuclear Threat Initiative finds 20 countries vulnerable

cyber-attack20 Nations’ Nuclear Facilities Said to Be Vulnerable to Cyberattack, NYT By  JAN. 14, 2016 WASHINGTON — Twenty nations with significant atomic stockpiles or nuclear power plants have no government regulations requiring minimal protection of those facilities against cyberattacks, according to a study by the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

The findings build on growing concerns that a cyberattack could be the easiest and most effective way to take over a nuclear power plant and sabotage it, or to disable defenses that are used to protect nuclear material from theft. The countries on the list include Argentina, China, Egypt, Israel, Mexico and North Korea.

The survey, by one of the nation’s leading nuclear nonproliferation watchdogs, was based on a nation-by-nation review of basic, publicly available data, and some of the countries may claim they have classified protections in place.

But the list is damning. The group looked, for example, at whether any cyberprotections are required by law or regulation at nuclear facilities, and whether cyberattacks are included in the assessments of potential threats to the security of those installations. One question asked whether there were mandated drills and tests to assess responses to a cyberassault, rather than just a physical attack on the facilities.

“Twenty countries failed on all the indicators,” said Page Stoutland, one of the authors of the report. Because of the secrecy surrounding military nuclear facilities, it was impossible to determine the levels of cyberprotection used to protect nuclear weapons in the nine countries known to possess them.

The report also concludes that President Obama’s global initiative to sweep up loose nuclear material, which will be the subject of his third and final nuclear security summit meeting this March, has slowed substantially…….

The Nuclear Threat Initiative, which publishes an annual index of nuclear security around the world, notes that a dozen countries have eliminated all weapons-usable nuclear materials since the summit meetings began. Many more have greatly improved the security surrounding lightly guarded materials, which are stored every place from hospitals to research reactors on university campuses.

But at the very moment that the black market in nuclear materials remains active, the report found that 24 nations still have more than 2.2 pounds of weapons-usable nuclear material, “much of it still too vulnerable to theft,” and many have just begun to think about their vulnerability to cyberthreats that could enable an attacker to sabotage a site without breaking through fences or risk setting off perimeter alarms.

The most famous cyberattack on a nuclear facility was done by the United States and Israel: the effort to destroy and disable nuclear centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear enrichment plant in Iran. That program, code-named Olympic Games, used a worm that was later named Stuxnet to knock the centrifuges out of operation. It did not release radioactive material into the atmosphere, but it was a vivid demonstration of the vulnerability of nuclear facilities to cyberattack. Iran had completely isolated the Natanz facility from the Internet, but the originators of the program found ways to insert it.

The lesson of Stuxnet, however, has apparently been lost on many nations that have yet to develop requirements that nuclear facilities have cyber protections in place before they can operate.

“Too many states require virtually no effective security measures at nuclear facilities to address the threat posed by hackers,” the study, in which the Economist Intelligence Unit also participated, concluded. Of the two dozen nations with weapons-usable material, nine got the maximum score for cyberindicators, and seven got a score of zero.

In 23 nations that possessed no weapons-usable materials, but had nuclear power plants or other nuclear facilities that contain fuel that could be converted to weapons use, 13 got a zero score.

More than 80 percent of all nuclear stockpiles are classified as military material, meaning they are largely used in weapons programs, and all of those are outside international security review, including the guidelines issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency for the protection of civilian nuclear stocks.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

For China,nuclear reprocessing is both too costly and too dangerous

While reprocessing reduces the level of radioactivity in nuclear waste, The Union of Concerned Scientists – an advocacy group that was founded by scientists and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – says it does not reduce the need for storage and secure disposal of waste.

Some within China’s own nuclear establishment are also questioning the merits of reprocessing as the nation mulls huge capital investments in the sector, U.S.-based experts say.

China is an important market for the world’s nuclear industry giants, including the United States. The U.S. last year eased restrictions on its civilian nuclear cooperation with China to allow the reprocessing of fuel from U.S.-designed reactors

Book Cost of Reprocessing in ChinaChina faces nuclear energy choice: reprocess or not? WT, By MATTHEW PENNINGTON – Associated Press – Thursday, January 14, 2016 WASHINGTON (AP) – China is coming to a crossroads as it hurriedly increases nuclear power production to cope with rising electricity demand and cut carbon emissions: Should it reprocess its nuclear waste or store it?

Nonproliferation advocates warn that recycling waste would generate weapons-usable plutonium, posing a security risk and potentially stirring a nuclear rivalry in East Asia. A new Harvard University study, co-authored by a senior Chinese nuclear engineer, gives another reason against reprocessing – it doesn’t make economic sense. Continue reading

January 15, 2016 Posted by | China, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Russia punishes environmental groups as “foreign agents”

civil-liberty-2smflag_RussiaRussian green group labelled ‘foreign agent’ in crackdown on NGOs
Dauria, that has led ecological campaigns for 20 years, joins nearly 100 environmental and human rights groups hit by law preventing them from receiving funding from abroad,
Guardian, Alex Luhn An ecological centre in Russia’s far east has become the latest environmental group to be declared a “foreign agent” amid a wider crackdown on NGOs.

The justice ministry ruled that Dauria, which has led environmental campaigns in Chita and the surrounding Zabaikalsky region for nearly two decades, was a foreign agent under a law that prohibits NGOs that allegedly engage in political activities from receiving grants from abroad. The label, which has all the connotations of the word “spy” in Russian, requires groups to undergo audits and declare this status on all their materials or face large fines.

The accusations stemmed from a joint programme between Dauria, Russian mining giant Polyus Gold and the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation. Dauria was in charge of selecting students for educational activities, while funding for the programme came from abroad.

Dauria head Natalya Kovalyonok, who is also a public chamber member, told local publication Zabaikalsky Rabochy that a hotline she ran for voters to report violations during elections had been deemed to be political activity, even though it did not agitate for any specific candidate.

“Obviously it was unbecoming for the region not to have its own foreign agent, and they really had to find one,”Kovalyonok said.

“Dauria is a conscientious organisation working to protect the earth, and declaring it a foreign agent is a result of … individual groups in the government trying to strengthen their position by cracking down on made-up threats,” Igor Shkradyuk of the Biodiversity Conservation Centre, who has frequently worked in the Zabaikalsky region, told the Guardian.

A growing number of environmental and human rights groups have been declared foreign agents in what Mikhail Fedotov, head of the presidential human rights council, has called a “witch hunt”. Nearly 100 organisations have been added to the foreign agent list, forcing many to cease activities, and the number of NGOs in Russia has reportedly decreased by a third since the law came into effect in 2012.

Last year, president Vladimir Putin signed a law banning “undesirable” foreign organisations that allegedly threaten national security.

Most recently, the Nizhny Novgorod-based Dront Ecological Centre was declared a foreign agent and fined 300,000 roubles (£2,700). Prior to that, the well-respected Sakhalin Environmental Watch was forced to return $159,000 (£110,000) it had received from Leonardo DiCaprio’s foundation after it wasdeclared a foreign agent in September. In recent weeks, the group has been fighting to contain an oil leak from a tanker that ran aground on a shoal off of Sakhalin island.

The environmental groups Bellona Murmansk, Ecodefense, and Planet of Hopes have also been added to the foreign agent list.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, Russia | Leave a comment

Citizens Climate Lobby actually promotes nuclear power

The Clean Energy Act funds mountain top removal for dirty coal, new nukes and ineffective bio-fuels, but NOT clean energy.
This law is just one example of how the huge carbon and/or nuclear energy monopolies create laws tht sound good on the surface, but if one digs below the surface, one can find out what the real agenda is.
Citizens Climate Lobby Promotes Carbon Taxes, Another False Solution, Being Pushed By Pro Nuclear Promoters To Ensure Profits For Nuclear Power Industry, Be The Change You Want To See A Green Road Magazine, 14 Jan 16 
At least some Clean Energy laws have been coopted, taken over, or pushed by huge corporations that hide behind the scenes, but pull the strings of political, media and non profits through various mechanisms.
In many cases, bills and laws with ‘Clean Energy’ in the title or body are actually proposals being pushed by either the nuclear or carbon industry behind the scenes. This article lays out how this hidden behind the scenes string pulling and corruption of the law making process works, and how the Citizens Climate Lobby law promoting carbon taxes is actually promoting nuclear power, plus being ‘pushed’ by pro nuclear industry promoters such as James Hansen.

New Study Exposes True Extent, Influence Of Climate Denial Echo Chamber For First Time, Indigenous Press Conference Demanding True Climate Solutions at COP21, New York AG Subpoenas ExxonMobil

NASA, PBS, EPA, Alaska Inuits And Dr John Church Explain Ocean Level Rise And Very Fast, Massive Carbon Dioxide, CO2, Methane, And Nitrous Oxide Global Warming Gas Increase


January 15, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power pushers are self-centered criminals

buyer-beware-1Karen Harvey: Nuclear power pushers are self-centered criminals Jan 13, 2016 

Dear Editor: This letter is in response to the column John La Forge wrote regarding the Legislature’s proposal to do away with the moratorium on nuclear plant construction in Wisconsin. First I want to thank John for his insights and forbearance on the nuclear issues we face as a state and global community.

Nuclear energy has created far more problems than solutions.

The old argument that nuclear power is cheap has proven to be false over and over again. The new argument that nuclear power will help to solve the global warming/climate change problem is simply not true.

Look at Fukushima — the meltdowns and the resultant deadly oceanic and atmospheric radioactive contamination. The oceans produce much of the world’s oxygen while they absorb much of the greenhouse gas CO2. The Pacific Ocean is experiencing a critical die-off that mainstream media don’t recognize. Marine nuclear radiation contamination is destroying the phytoplankton-based ocean food chain. Sea life is rolling up on shores as never before.

We are in a global crisis, with extinction levels at an all-time high. Nuclear destroys fertility and mutates/damages DNA. In the face of these truths, and consequences, how dare they promote nuclear energy! Ask the Japanese if they want another nuclear plant! Ask the indigenous nations if they want another uranium mine. The nuclear industry has brought unprecedented suffering, death and tragedy. It has not, and will not, contribute to global climate stability, prosperity, or a healthy world.

The nuclear industry and “radioactive waste trade” is toxic to all life and as such it must end. The nuclear pushers are self-centered criminals of the highest degree — careless of all earth-life and should be held accountable for what they have already unleashed against humanity and earth!

January 15, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Simulated pre-emptive nuclear strike on North Korea in the planning?

exclamation-Flag-USAflag-S-KoreaUS and South Korea plan simulated nuclear strike on North Korea plans would help them prepare their defenses against a potential nuclear strike from Pyongyang By Julian Ryall, Tokyo.  14 Jan 2016

 South Korea and the US are considering a military exercise that would simulate a pre-emptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities.

In November, the two governments agreed upon an updated set of plans to defend South Korea from missile, nuclear, chemical and biological threats. Known as the 4D Operational Concept, the plans are designed to detect, disrupt, destroy and defend the South from threats posed by the North.

The additional capability would be on top of the military hardware that South Korea has asked its closest security partner to provide.

In the wake of Pyongyang’s fourth underground nuclear test on January 6, however, Seoul and Washington are examining the possibility of conducting manoeuvers to extend the reach of the plan, the Chosun Ilbo reported on Thursday. The two countries are discussing ways to reflect parts of the 4D concept during the joint annual exercises in March and then to develop it as a full scale operational system”, an official of the defence ministry in Seoul told the newspaper.

Analysts say the two governments – along with others in the region – will have drawn up contingency plans for a number of possible scenarios on the Korean peninsula, including indications of an imminent nuclear strike, an invasion of the South with conventional forces or the collapse of Kim Jong-un’s regime.

One situation that military planners are particularly concerned about would be the current regime imploding but a number of factions – potentially armed with nuclear or other non-conventional weapons – jostling for power.

“North Korean assets that are capable of waging nuclear war will obviously be of the highest priority”, Lance Gatling, a defence analyst and president of Nexial Research Inc., told the Telegraph.

“These will be the mobile launch tractors that the North has for its tactical medium-range ballistic missiles, which can reach targets in South Korea and Japan”, he said.

“They will also be targeting the openings to underground facilities where weapons are stored in preparation for launch, although it can be very difficult to find all these sites”.

The US has said it will “not accept North Korea as a nuclear armed state”.

Pyongyang has in the past condemned joint US-South Korean military exercises as provocation and preparations for an invasion of the North. It is likely to react angrily to suggestions that its perceived enemies are preparing a first-strike capability.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Propaganda war between the two Koreas

flag-N-Koreaflag-S-KoreaKoreas Ramp Up Psychological Warfare After Nuclear Test VOA News, Brian Padden January 14, 2016 SEOUL—North Korea’s fourth nuclear test earlier this month ended a short period of inter-Korean cooperation and restarted the Cold War standoff between Seoul and Pyongyang.

While avoiding direct military confrontation that could easily escalate into a hot war, both North and South have resumed psychological war games and tactical maneuvers to demonstrate military readiness and resolve.

On Wednesday a suspected North Korean drone was sighted crossing the inter-Korean demilitarized zone. South Korean forces responded by firing about 20 machine gun rounds at the unidentified flying object but apparently did not hit it.

“Our military fired warning shots after broadcasting a warning. Then it returned to the northern side of the border right away,” said Jeon Ha-gyu, the head of public affairs for the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea’s armed forces.

North Korean propaganda

There have also been reports this week of pro-North Korean leaflets scattered throughout Seoul and its suburban areas. South Korea’s military suspects the propaganda leaflets were sent from the North by hot air balloons.

“North Korea was seen scattering leaflets from the northern area yesterday afternoon and early this morning,” Jeon said Wednesday. …….

Defense officials from China and South Korea are scheduled to meet Friday in Seoul to discuss the increasingly tense security situation on the Korean peninsula.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, psychology and culture, South Korea | Leave a comment

Did North Korea fake its footage of submarine-launched ballistic missile?

flag-N-KoreaClaims North Korea faked test footage to hide ‘catastrophic failure’ of submarine-launched ballistic missile, ABC News 14 Jan 15  Experts analysing footage released by North Korea last week showing the firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile say the images appear to be faked. In defiance of a United Nations ban, North Korea said it tested ballistic missile technology that would allow it to launch a nuclear warhead from a submarine.

North Korea released the submarine launch footage after it separately conducted a fourth nuclear weapons test on January 6.

Two days later, North Korean state television aired footage of the submarine test which it said took place in December.

Unlike a previous submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test in May, it was not announced at the time.

At the weekend, South Korea’s military said North Korea appeared to have modified the video and edited it with Scud missile footage from 2014.

However, an official said the ejection technology might have improved since that test.

Now, analysis by the California-based James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) shows two frames of the state media video where flames engulf the missile and small parts of its body break away.

“The rocket ejected, began to light, and then failed catastrophically,” CNS senior research associate Melissa Hanham said.

“North Korea used heavy video editing to cover over this fact.”

Ms Hanham said North Korea state media used different camera angles and editing to make it appear the launch was several continuous launches, when in fact it was a single event.

Launch likely from barge, not submarine: expert

She said the CNS study showed editors used rudimentary techniques to crop and flip old video footage of an earlier SLBM test and Scud missile launch.

John Schilling, an aerospace engineer who is a specialist in satellite and launch vehicle propulsion systems, said it appeared from the video that the launch was conducted from a submerged barge rather than a submarine…….

Crispin Rovere, an Australia-based nuclear policy and arms control specialist, said the 5.1-magnitude tremor detected at the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site was too small to support Pyongyang’s claim.

“The seismic data that’s been received indicates that the explosion is probably significantly below what one would expect from an H-bomb test,” Mr Rovere said.

“So, initially, it seems to be that they’ve successfully conducted a nuclear test but unsuccessfully completed the second-stage hydrogen explosion.”

This test came just two days before leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday. Analysts said the leader had been looking for a major achievement to highlight at a rare ruling party congress scheduled for May, the first gathering of its kind for 35 years.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iraq war is a bonanza for US weapons salesmen

weapons1Even as the Obama administration stumbles and bumbles along in search of a magical political strategy in Iraq that would make sense of everything, American weapons-makers can expect a bountiful future. In the meantime, Washington is putting forces in place that, by doing more of the same for the third time in a disintegrating Iraq in the middle of a fracturing region, guarantee more of the same. In that sense, you might say that American forces are partly in place to help promote the investment. If one needed an example of how the military-industrial complex works today, that might be it. Every mistake by Washington is a boon for future arms sales.

Once Again, American Weapons-Makers Are Making a Killing in Iraq Our battle with ISIS lacks goals and direction, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a profit to be made.Mother Jones—By  Fri Jan. 16,his story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.

The current American war in Iraq is a struggle in search of a goal. It began in August as a humanitarian intervention, morphed into a campaign to protect Americans in-country, became a plan to defend the Kurds, followed by a full-on crusade to defeat the new Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS, aka ISIL), and then… well, something in Syria to be determined at a later date.

At the moment, Iraq War 3.0 simply drones on, part bombing campaign, part mission to train the collapsed army the US military created for Iraq War 2.0, all amid a miasma of incoherent mainstream media coverage. American troops are tiptoeing closer to combat (assuming you don’t count defensive operations, gettingmortared, and flying ground attack helicopters as “combat”), even as they act likearchaeologists of America’s warring past, exploring the ruins of abandoned US bases. Meanwhile, Shia militias are using the conflict for the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis and Iran has become an ever-more significant player in Iraq’s affairs. Key issues of the previous American occupation of the country—corruption,representative government, oil revenue-sharing—remain largely unresolved. The Kurds still keep “winning” against the militants of IS in the city of Kobani on the Turkish border without having “won.”…….

there is one bright side to the situation. If you can’t create Victory in Iraq for future VI Day parades, you can at least make a profit from the disintegrating situation there.
Team America’s Arms Sales Force

In the midst of the December holiday news-dumping zone, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) quietly notified Congress of several pending arms deals for Iraq. DSCA is the Pentagon office responsible for coordinating arms agreements between American defense contractors and foreign buyers.

Before those thousands of not-boots-on-the-ground troops started hemorrhaging back into Iraq late last year, DSCA personnel made up a significant portion of all US military personnel still there. Its staff members are, in fact, common in US embassies in general. This shouldn’t be surprising, since the sales of weaponry and other kinds of war equipment are big business for a range of American companies, and the US government is more than happy to assist. In fact, there is even ahandbook to guide foreign governments through the buying process.

The DSCA operates under a mission statement which says the “US may sell defense articles and services to foreign countries and international organizations when the President formally finds that to do so will strengthen the security of the US andpromote world peace.” While the Pentagon carries out the heavy lifting, actual recommendations on which countries can buy US gear are made by the secretary of state, and then rubber-stamped by Congress………

Would You Like the Extended Warranty?

Iraqis have a saying: “The rug is never sold.” It means that there’s always more money to be made from any transaction. General Dynamics would agree. Arms sales work remarkably like consumer electronics (and Iraqi carpets). Want the extended warranty for your new smartphone? Extra battery? Accessories? Insurance against loss or damage? Suddenly the cost of your phone doubles.

Same for tanks. The M1 is a complex beast. You’ll need to pay General Dynamics for trainers to teach your guys to operate its systems. You’ll need lots of spare parts, especially operating in the desert. And it won’t be long before you’ll want to do some upgrades—maybe better computers or a faster engine. The US is currently working on “urban warfare” upgrades for the 140 M1s the Iraqis have hung onto. In the defense world, these after-sales are known as the “tail.” And the longer the tail, the bigger the profits.

For example, built into the contract for the new M1 tank sale is the provision that “approximately five US Government and one hundred contractor representatives [will] travel to Iraq for a period of up to five years for delivery, system checkout, program support, and training.” And that isn’t going to come cheap from General Dynamics, though the five government employees may be a bargain financed by American taxpayers.

None of this even touches on the potential for repeat sales. ………..

from any point of view except General Dynamics’s, the Islamic State’s, or maybe the Iranians’, these tank sales don’t add up.
Call Your Broker

It’s easy enough to toss around terms like “military-industrial complex” and equally easy to slip from there into what some might consider blood-for-oil conspiracy theories or suggestions that Iraq War 2.0 was all about the mega-contractor Halliburton’s bottom line. While oil and Halliburton were certainly part of that past war’s calculus, they can no more account for it than the piles of money General Dynamics is about to make selling tanks can alone account for Iraq War 3.0.

Still, it’s hard to ignore the way defense companies find themselves buried in cash from selling weapons that aren’t needed to people who can’t use them, sales that are, in the end, likely to harm, not help, America’s geopolitical interests. Perhaps it is better to see the immediate profits from such deals as just a part of a muchbigger process, one that demands America have enemies to crusade against to ensure the survival of the national security state.

To such a “wartime” paradigm one just needs to plug in new bad guys from time to time, which is proving an ever-easier venture, since each of our previous wars and conflicts seems to offer a remarkably helpful hand in creating them. In this way, radical Islam has proven, with Washington’s help, a worthy successor to the Soviet Union, itself once a superb money-making venture and a great way to build a monumental national security state.

Even as the Obama administration stumbles and bumbles along in search of a magical political strategy in Iraq that would make sense of everything, American weapons-makers can expect a bountiful future. In the meantime, Washington is putting forces in place that, by doing more of the same for the third time in a disintegrating Iraq in the middle of a fracturing region, guarantee more of the same. In that sense, you might say that American forces are partly in place to help promote the investment. If one needed an example of how the military-industrial complex works today, that might be it. Every mistake by Washington is a boon for future arms sales.

So if you’ve got money to invest in General Dynamics, you might want to call your broker.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Iraq, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons material: North Korea’s reactor not fully operational

flag-N-KoreaNorth Korea nuclear reactor not fully operational: US think tank January 14, 2016  Seoul (AFP) – Recent satellite images suggest the nuclear reactor seen as North Korea’s main source of weapons-grade plutonium is still not operating at full capacity, a US think tank said on Thursday.

North Korea mothballed the Yongbyon reactor in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord, but began renovating it after its third nuclear test in 2013.

When fully operational, the reactor is capable of producing around six kilos (13 pounds) of plutonium a year — enough for one nuclear bomb, experts say.

Analysing satellite imagery from late 2014 to the end of 2015, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) concluded the reactor has been operating intermittently or at low power throughout the period.

Using tell-tale operational markers, including steam emissions and hot water discharges, the ISIS experts discerned a pattern of limited operations for a few weeks, followed by an apparent shutdown.

“The reasons for this type of operation are unknown,” the institute said.

Its findings contradict a North Korean statement in September last year that all facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex were working normally.

The ISIS experts did detect signs that a gas centrifuge plant for enriching uranium was operational, given snow melt on the roofs of the plant’s main buildings.

Activity at Yongbyon is closely monitored for any sign of reprocessing activity.

At some point North Korea is expected to shut down the reactor, discharge the spent fuel, and chemically process it in a nearby radiochemical laboratory to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

North Korea has carried out four nuclear tests since 2006, the most recent being last week when it announced it had detonated its first hydrogen bomb.

Experts have disputed the H-bomb claim, saying the yield from the test was far too low for a full-fledged thermonuclear device.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Global nuclear security system has major gaps – Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) Nuclear Security Index

safety-symbol1As Final Head-of-State Nuclear Security Summit Approaches, Nunn and NTI Warn of Slowing Progress on Preventing Nuclear Terrorism 2016   NTI Nuclear Security Index finds countries unprepared for cyber attacks on nuclear facilities; introduces new “sabotage ranking”  JANUARY 14, 2016 WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/– At a time of escalating threats and as world leaders prepare to gather for the final Nuclear Security Summit, the third edition of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) Nuclear Security Index finds that progress on reducing the threat of catastrophic nuclear terrorism has slowed and major gaps remain in the global nuclear security system. The 2016 NTI Index, which has become a critical resource and tool for assessing the security of the world’s deadliest materials, also finds troubling shortfalls in areas assessed for the first time: how well countries are protecting nuclear facilities against sabotage, as well as the emerging threat of cyber attacks. Continue reading

January 15, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Solar is the solution for economic growth in rural locations

sun-powerSolar: The Catalyst for Economic Growth and Improved Health in the World’s Most Rural Locations,  , 15 Jan 16 

Late last year my colleagues and I visited a remote village in rural Rajasthan, India. We were greeted by village leaders offering fresh flower garland necklaces while a joyous collection of enthusiastic, young boys beat drums and tins of all sizes in the background. Following a few moments of warm “Namastes,” we were escorted up the path to a terrace adjacent to the village’s central building where we participated in a town hall meeting. To discuss what? Bringing electricity for the first time to this community of 400 families.

Solar is the solution. Solar panels are the fastest-to-deploy, most cost-effective and cleanest electricity option available to bring electricity to villages like this one and provide essential, basic services, including clean water, pumps, light, refrigeration, and connectivity. To many of us in developed countries, the simple concept of light is taken for granted. Flip a switch, right? In many parts of the developing world there are no “switches” – to get light, you must burn diesel or kerosene, both of which produce harmful emissions. In fact, kerosene lamps lead to 1.5 million deaths per year– more than five times the annual malaria deaths. Simply replacing those kerosene lamps with solar-powered lamps would save more lives than eliminating malaria.

My company, SunEdison Frontier Power, is in the business of building solar-powered mini-grids in villages like this one. We design, construct and operate rural utilities that offer communities light, water pumping, phone charging, refrigeration, connectivity and other modern amenities. Children can study at night. Water can be purified. Medicines and food can be kept cold. Businesses can expand their operating hours. While this has terrific community benefits, both in terms of human health and the economy, it isn’t charity. The villagers and local businesses – in this case a flour mill and several shops – pay us for the power they consume. And at the town hall meeting in Rajasthan that day, there was overwhelming support for doing just that: the town agreed that the solar-powered mini-grid should be built. We will be starting construction early next year.

Access to non-polluting electricity in the developing world is mission-critical for enabling health and preventing disease, as well as in facilitating commerce. Over 1.3 billion people are completely without power; another billion have electricity for just a few hours a day. The economic upshot is clear: a recent International Monetary Fund report names “severe” electricity shortages as a significant contributor to Sub-Saharan Africa’s reduced economic growth. The sooner the developing world gains greater access to cost-effective clean energy, the quicker these issues will be alleviated. And it all starts with solar power.

In many remote areas, solar power is now more cost effective than diesel or kerosene. With solar now cheaper than kerosene, we can eradicate kerosene lamp deaths and remove the health impacts of burning fuel inside and around homes. By offering cost-effective electricity we can deliver other essential services and catalyze the growth of local economies – without waiting for power plants and transmission lines to be built. It takes only a few months to power a village with a solar mini-grid, whereas extending the electrical grid frequently takes several years.

Just as remote areas leapfrogged wire phone lines for mobile phones, solar can leapfrog the old way of providing electricity by skipping the capital-intensive, centralized power plants and long-distance transmission infrastructure. Solar has been used for decades, often paired with batteries, for a range of remote applications, from telephone stations on mountain tops to villagers requiring water pumping. Today a local solar mini-grid can help provide reliable internet services as well, supporting businesses, clinics, schools and families.

As a global society it is in our collective best interest for the developing world to “develop” in a way that is economically and environmentally sustainable. We want to improve health, build economies and save lives. We want to do this as fast, effectively and cheaply as possible. Looking at the numbers, these objectives add up to solar as an answer. As countries continue to work through the best ways to address climate change, we are hopeful that they realize that reducing greenhouse gas emissions needn’t mean stifling growth or compromising health in developing economies. The opposite is true. Reducing carbon, improving health, enabling commerce and securing access to clean energy are not mutually exclusive; they are in fact, inextricably intertwined.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | Leave a comment