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Fraud, money-laundering, convictions of staff at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor

THREE CONVICTED IN DIMONA NUCLEAR RESEARCH AGENCY FRAUD, Besides the three individual defendants, the case also led to charges against two entities used by the defendants. Jerusalem Post, BY YONAH JEREMY BOB JULY 4, 2019
The Beersheba District Court has convicted three persons engaged by Israel’s nuclear research agency in Dimona of an NIS 3.2 million fraud scheme, including also money-laundering and breach of trust.

Announced for the first time by the court spokesperson’s office on Wednesday, the convictions and jail sentences of the three were actually handed down in April and earlier, but were under gag order due to the implications for national security.
Unlike a normal case probed by police, the investigation was led by a special division in the Defense Ministry which eventually worked with a special team in the state prosecution – again all due to the extreme sensitivity of all issues related to Dimona.

Israel has never confirmed that it has nuclear weapons, but according to foreign sources, the Dimona reactor has been used to produce between 80-200 nuclear weapons which Israel can deploy by land, sea and air.

The central defendant, an external consultant in 2002 who eventually became a senior manager within the Negev Nuclear Research Center in 2011, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined NIS 100,000. Another defendant was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined NIS 75,000. A third defendant had cut a plea deal with the state at an earlier date. Due to the cooperative plea deal, the third defendant received only six months of community service and a NIS 50,000 fine.

Unlike a normal case probed by police, the investigation was led by a special division in the Defense Ministry which eventually worked with a special team in the state prosecution – again all due to the extreme sensitivity of all issues related to Dimona.

Besides the three individual defendants, the case also led to charges against two entities used by the defendants.
Combined, the court fined those companies or seized assets worth NIS 450,000.

A statement by the Justice Ministry said that some of the defendants had appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. …….

Many of the details remain under gag order, but broadly speaking, the defendants started to scheme as early as 2011 to have the nuclear agency pay significant funds to outside entities, which the defendants controlled, for services…….. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Three-convicted-in-Dimona-nuclear-research-agency-fraud-594539
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July 4, 2019 Posted by | Israel, legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Settlement Talks Collapse in $200-Million Lawsuit over Savannah River Plutonium

BY DAN LEONE,  3 May 19, After settlement talks collapsed, a federal judge this week cleared the way for a long-awaited decision in a $200-million lawsuit between South Carolina and the Department of Energy over the federal government’s failure to remove plutonium from the state. The… (subscribers only)  https://www.exchangemonitor.com/settlement-talks-collapse-200-million-lawsuit-savannah-river-plutonium-2/

July 4, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Appeals Court Hears Argument On Nuclear Plant Decision

Appeals Court Hears Argument On Nuclear Plant Decision,Wabe.org,  • JUN 18, 2019  THE GEORGIA COURT OF APPEALS HEARD ARGUMENTS TUESDAY ABOUT WHETHER A STATE DECISION TO CONTINUE EXPANDING PLANT VOGTLE BROKE ANY REGULATORY RULES. A FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE DISMISSED THE CASE ON TECHNICAL GROUNDS IN DECEMBER, AND APPELLANTS ARE REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF THAT DISMISSAL.Georgia Power is expanding Plant Vogtle, a nuclear power plant near Waynesboro, Ga. It’s the only nuclear power plant under construction in the country.

The Public Service Commission, which regulates Georgia Power, has to review Plant Vogtle’s ongoing costs during semiannual Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) reports. Back in 2017, during VCM 17 the Commission had a big decision to make: should Georgia Power continue construction, even though its contractor was going bankrupt from building it?

The commission decided yes, the higher costs and longer schedule were acceptable enough for the project to continue.

The advocacy groups in court, including Georgia Watch and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light are trying to challenge the decision, saying it was more than just checking expenses.

“This didn’t limit itself to simply approving expenditures that had accrued and been spent,” John Salter, the advocates’ lawyer, said…

…Now the court will decide by the end of the year if the advocates have the grounds to challenge that 2017 decision. https://www.wabe.org/appeals-court-hears-argument-on-nuclear-plant-decision/

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

USA court deliberates on whether or not global warming violates children’s rights

US court weighs if climate change violates children’s rights    Business Mirror, By The Associated Press,

A Justice Department attorney warned three judges from the ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals that allowing the case to go to trial would be unprecedented and would open the doors to more lawsuits.

“This case would have earth-shattering consequences,” Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark said.

He called the lawsuit “a direct attack on the separation of powers” and said the 21 young people who filed it want the courts to direct US energy policy, instead of government officials.

The young people are pressing the government to stop promoting the use of fossil fuels, saying sources like coal and oil cause climate change and violate their Fifth Amendment rights to life, liberty and property.

The judges seemed to feel the enormity of the case, which the plaintiffs’ lawyer compared in scope to the US Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling that mandated desegregation of schools in the 1950s.

The dire threat to people, particularly the young, demands such action, said Julia Olson, chief legal counsel for Our Children’s Trust, which is representing the plaintiffs.

“When our great-grandchildren look back on the 21st century, they will see that government-sanctioned climate destruction was the constitutional issue of this century,” Olson told the judges.

The  lawsuit  asks the courts to declare federal energy policy that contributes to climate change unconstitutional, order the government to quickly phase out carbon-dioxide emissions to a certain level by 2100 and mandate a national climate recovery plan…….

The young people argue that government officials have known for more than 50 years that carbon pollution from fossil fuels causes climate change and that policies promoting oil and gas deprive them of their constitutional rights.

Lawyers for President Donald  J. Trump’s administration say the young people didn’t find any “historical basis for a fundamental right to a stable climate system or any other constitutional right related to the environment.”

The lawsuit says the young are more vulnerable to serious effects from climate change in the future. The American Academy of Pediatrics, 14 other health organizations, and nearly 80 scientists and doctors agreed in a brief filed with the appeals court.

They pointed out that the World Health Organization estimates 88 percent of the global health burden of climate change falls on children younger than five. The case has become a focal point for many youth activists, and the courtroom in Portland was packed.

If the ninth Circuit judges decide the lawsuit can move forward, it would go before the US District Court in Eugene, where the case was filed. The appeals court judges will rule later.  https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/06/10/us-court-weighs-if-climate-change-violates-childrens-rights/

June 10, 2019 Posted by | climate change, legal, USA | Leave a comment

Sweden’s Uppsala District Court rules against extraditing Assange to Sweden

4 June 19

Sweden’s Uppsala District Court has found in favour of Assange: the court ruled NOT to detain Assange in absentia. The preliminary investigation can proceed without Assange’s extradition to Sweden. This was always the case as Assange has always cooperated with the investigation.

Suzie Dawson on Julian Assange’s mistreatment #FreeAssange

June 4, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, Sweden | Leave a comment

Swedish court rejects effort to delay Assange hearing

https://www.theage.com.au/world/europe/swedish-court-rejects-effort-to-delay-assange-hearing-20190529-p51s61.html  29 May 19.   Stockholm: A Swedish court has rejected efforts to postpone a hearing relating to Julian Assange, a lawyer for the WikiLeaks founder says.

A Swedish prosecutor this month filed a request for Assange to be detained for a June 3 hearing about a rape allegation.

Defence lawyer Per Samuelson told Reuters he visited Assange in British custody on Friday before seeking to postpone the hearing.

“One of the reasons is that Assange’s health situation on Friday was such that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him,” Samuelson said.

“I meant that it should be postponed until I had time to meet again and go through the issues in peace and quiet. I suggested no specific date and meant it should be postponed until everything was ready, but the district court has now decided that this won’t happen .

he Uppsala district court, where the hearing is due to take place, was not immediately available for comment. A prosecutors’ office spokesman declined to comment.

Sweden reopened the investigation into alleged rape, which Assange denies, in early May. It was begun in 2010 but dropped in 2017 while Assange was in refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Assange was arrested in London last month after spending nearly seven years inside the embassy.

If the court order is granted, it would be the first step in a process to have Assange extradited from Britain, where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail.

US authorities are separately seeking to extradite Assange on charges relating to the public release by WikiLeaks of a cache of secret documents, and last week unveiled 17 new criminal charges against him, including espionage.

The British courts will have to rule on the two extradition requests, with the home secretary having the final say on which one takes precedence.

June 1, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, Sweden | Leave a comment

Court orders Swiss authorities to publish arms export data

Court orders Swiss authorities to publish arms export data  https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/war-materiel_court-orders-swiss-authorities-to-publish-arms-export-data/44918258 APRIL 24, 2019 Switzerland’s highest court has ruled that the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) must give a Swiss journalist company data on arms exports.

The Federal Court rejected an appeal by SECO which had refused to transfer detailed information to a journalist from the WOZ newspaper on companies that had filed arms exports requests in 2014.

In a decision published on Wednesdayexternal link, the court backed an earlier ruling by the Federal Administrative Court on behalf of the WOZ journalist, who had filed a freedom of information request.

Last March, the Federal Administrative Court had ruled in favour of the journalist, stating that it was public interest to ensure greater transparency and information on arms exports and that the media played an important role in holding the authorities to account in this regard.

SECO had argued that, in accordance with the law on war materiel, only the parliamentary oversight committee should be sent the details on Swiss arms exports. It said that publishing details on arms exports could also displease importing countries.

However, the Federal Court said publishing such information was not a threat for Switzerland’s interests. If there is no business secret involved, SECO must publish the firms’ names.

Hot topic

Rules governing arms exports and calls for greater transparency remain a hot topic in Switzerland. In 2008 the government tightened rules on arms exports; in 2014 it relaxed them on behalf of parliament.

In October 2018 the government abandoned plans to ease Swiss weapons exports following a public outcry.

In December 2018 campaigners started collecting signatures for a people’s initiative to prevent the Swiss government from relaxing rules for exporting arms to conflict-ridden states.

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Legal, media, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Torres Strait Islanders take their human rights case to UN against Australia, on climate change.

Torres Strait Islanders ask UN to hold Australia to account on climate ‘human rights abuses’ The Conversation, Kristen Lyons  Professor Environment and Development Sociology, The University of Queensland. May 27, 2019  Climate change threatens Australia in many different ways, and can devastate rural and urban communities alike. For Torres Strait Islanders, it’s a crisis that’s washing away their homes, infrastructure and even cemeteries.The failure to take action on this crisis has led a group of Torres Strait Islanders to lodge a climate change case with the United Nations Human Rights Committee against the Australian federal government.

It’s the first time the Australian government has been taken to the UN for their failure to take action on climate change. And its the first time people living on a low lying island have taken action against any government.

This case – and other parallel cases – demonstrate that climate change is “fundamentally a human rights issue”, with First Nations most vulnerable to the brunt of a changing climate.

The group of Torres Strait Islanders lodging this appeal argue that the Australian government has failed to take adequate action on climate change. They allege that the re-elected Coalition government has not only steered Australia off track in meeting globally agreed emissionsreductions, but has set us on course for climate catastrophe.

In doing so, Torres Strait Islanders argue that the government has failed to uphold human rights obligations and violated their rights to culture, family and life………

Torres Straight Islanders are on the frontlines

Some Torres Strait Islands are less than one metre above sea level and are already affected by climate change.

Rising tides have delivered devastating effects for local communities, including flooding homes, land and cultural sites, with dire flooding in 2018 breaking a sea wall built to protect local communities…….

Parallel threats across the Pacific

While the Torres Strait appeal to the UN is groundbreaking, the challenges facing Torres Strait Islanders are not unique.

Delegates at the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji last week described climate change as the “single greatest threat” to the region, with sea level rise occurring up to four times the global average in some countries in the Pacific.

Climate change is already causing migration across parts of the Pacific, including relocation of families from the Carteret Islands to Bougainville with support from local grassroots organisation Tulele Peisa.

The Alliance of Small Island States, an intergovernmental organisation, has demanded that signatories to the Paris Agreement, including through the Green Climate Fund, recognise fundamental loss and damages communities are facing, and compensate those affected.

The growing wave of climate litigation

Across the Torres Strait, the Pacific, and other regions on the frontline of climate change, there are a diversity of responses in defence of land and seas. These are often grounded in local and Indigenous knowledge……https://theconversation.com/torres-strait-islanders-ask-un-to-hold-australia-to-account-on-climate-human-rights-abuses-117262?

 

May 27, 2019 Posted by | climate change, Legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Trump violates US and International Law by threats to attack Iran

An Attack on Iran Would Violate US and International Law— 

Trump’s threats to use military force in Iran and the use of force itself are illegal under the United Nations Charter and the War Powers Resolution. Marjorie Cohn, Truthout   25 May 19,
President Donald Trump, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rattle their sabers, there is no evidence that Iran poses a threat to the United States. It was Trump who threatened genocide, tweeting, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” The Pentagon is now considering sending 10,000 additional troops to the Gulf region for “defensive” purposes and not in response to a new threat by Iran. Threats to use military force — like the use of force itself — violate U.S. and international law.Last week, Pompeo said U.S. intelligence had determined that Iranian-sponsored attacks on U.S. forces “were imminent.” The Trump administration asserted, “without evidence,” according to The New York Times, that new intelligence revealed Iran was sponsoring proxy groups to attack U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

The Pentagon announced its intention to deploy a Patriot antimissile battery to the Middle East. Three days later, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the United States would send up to 120,000 troops to the region if Iran attacks U.S. forces or speeds up work on nuclear weapons.

But on May 14, Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a senior British military official and deputy commander of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, told reporters at the Pentagon that “there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria.”

The U.S. and Israel Plan Regime Change in IranThe Trump administration and its close ally Israel have long had their sights on regime change in Iran…….

The U.S., Not Iran, Is Acting AggressivelyThe New York Times cites military and intelligence officials in the U.S. and Europe who maintain that during the past year, “most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran, but in Washington” where Bolton “has prodded President Trump into backing Iran into a corner.” Bolton “has repeatedly called for American military strikes against Tehran,” The New York Times reported.

Pompeo listed 12 demands Iran must meet to secure a new nuclear agreement. “Taken together, the demands would require a complete transformation by Iran’s government, and they hardened the perception that the administration is really seeking regime change,” according to The Associated Press.

The Pentagon has prepared plans for an air attack on Iran, veteran Middle East war correspondent Eric Margolis reported in July 2018. He wrote:

The Pentagon has planned a high-intensity air war against Iran that Israel and the Saudis might very well join. The plan calls for over 2,300 air strikes against Iranian strategic targets: airfields and naval bases, arms and petroleum, oil and lubricant depots, telecommunication nodes, radar, factories, military headquarters, ports, water works, airports, missile bases and units of the Revolutionary Guards.

Trump’s reckless withdrawal from the nuclear deal actually increases the chances Iran will develop a nuclear program. After complying with the JCPOA for a year after Trump pulled out of it, Iran is now threatening to resume high enrichment of uranium, which it had agreed to halt under the deal.Trump’s threats to use military force in Iran and the use of force itself are illegal under the United Nations Charter and the War Powers Resolution.

The U.S. Violates the United Nations CharterRatified treaties are “the supreme law of the land” under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. That means their provisions constitute U.S. law. The United Nations Charter, which the U.S. ratified in 1945, is therefore binding domestic law.

In Article 2, the Charter provides, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

The only exception to the Charter’s prohibition on the threat or use of force is when a country acts in self-defense or with the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

Countries may engage in individual or collective self-defense only in the face of an armed attack, under Article 51 of the Charter. Iran has not mounted an armed attack against the United States. Under the well-established Caroline case, there must exist “a necessity of self-defence, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”

Pompeo’s claim that Iranian-sponsored attacks will “imminently” occur against U.S. forces remains unsubstantiated. Nothing in the Charter allows a U.N. member country to unilaterally decide to use military force unless it does so in self-defense.  If the United States were to attack and/or invade Iran, it would be acting unlawfully and not in self-defense.

Violation of the War Powers ResolutionA U.S. attack on Iran would also violate the War Powers Resolution. Congress enacted that law to reclaim its constitutional authority to send U.S. troops into combat after the disastrous Vietnam War. The resolution allows the president to introduce U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities in only three situations:

First, when Congress has declared war, which it has not done since World War II. Second, in the event of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces,” which has not occurred. Third, when Congress has enacted “specific statutory authorization,” such as an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). There is no AUMF or other congressional statute authorizing the use of military force in Iran.

After the September 11 attacks, Congress passed an AUMF, authorizing the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

Although the 2001 AUMF was tied to the 9/11 attacks, it has been misused to justify multiple military operations in several countries, many of them unrelated to 9/11………   https://truthout.org/articles/an-attack-on-iran-would-violate-us-and-international-law/

May 25, 2019 Posted by | legal, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Judge: TVA Deal for Bellefonte Nuclear Plant Stays in Place

Power, 05/17/2019 | Darrell Proctor   A federal judge this week ruled the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) must continue to honor an agreement to sell the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant to a real estate developer who has said he would complete construction of the long-idled project.

U.S. District Court Judge Liles C. Burke, in a 17-page opinion issued after a hearing this week in Huntsville, Alabama, declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by developer Franklin Haney, who sued TVA in November 2018 for breach of contract after TVA said it could not complete the sale of the Bellefonte site and its assets to Haney’s Nuclear Development LLC.

Haney in 2016 was the winning bidder in an auction for Bellefonte, agreeing to pay $111 million for the twin-reactor nuclear plant. He sued TVA last year after the federally owned utility said it needed approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to authorize the sale.

TVA at the 2016 auction said the winning bidder would have two years to complete the purchase. Haney has argued he was ready to take over Bellefonte last year, though the NRC was still reviewing his application to resume construction at the site. TVA asked the district court to dismiss Haney’s lawsuit, saying federal rules require the sale to be authorized by the NRC, and thus TVA cannot legally sell the plant to Haney.

Nuclear Development filed a license transfer application with the NRC on Nov. 13, 2018, a couple of weeks after the sale’s original closing date, and just more than two weeks before an extended deadline to complete the sale by Nov. 30. TVA told Haney on Nov. 29 that it could not complete the transaction without approval of the license transfer by the NRC. In the sales agreement with Haney, TVA said “federal law at all times govern the validity, interpretation and enforceability” of the sale.

Developer: $30 Million Spent on Project……….

VA has until May 29 to respond to the court ruling. Burke has not ruled out that he could agree with TVA’s arguments if the case goes to trial. TVA, meanwhile, must maintain Bellefonte’s deferred construction permit for a possible transfer to Haney once a decision is reached in the case.

Haney has said his group can finish the nuclear plant, and sell its power for a competitive price. His group has not identified any utility or other customer that would buy Bellefonte’s electricity.

TVA has said that if the deal with Haney falls through, the utility would again put the site Bellefonte up for sale.

https://www.powermag.com/judge-tva-deal-for-bellefonte-nuclear-plant-stays-in-place/

May 20, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Legal challenge to stop New Jersey bailout for nuclear power

New Jersey’s $300 Million Nuclear Power Bailout Is Facing a Court Challenge. Does It Have a Chance? The state’s utility advocate said regulators should not have approved the subsidies for the energy company PSEG.by Talia Buford , May 16,

But some of the board members who voted for subsidies had openly questioned the need for them, echoing concerns expressed by the board’s staff and objections raised by utility watchdogs.

Now, the unusual circumstances around the vote are the basis of a legal challenge by the state-appointed utility advocate, who says the subsidies — and the surcharge financing them — should be cut off.

In an appeal filed on Wednesday in state court, Stefanie Brand, the state’s rate counsel, said that by ignoring its own staff experts and providing little basis for the amount of the surcharge, the board had violated the law.

“It’s very unusual and inconsistent with the statute,” Brand said.

But will that argument persuade a court?

“It’s hard, in general, to beat regulators at their own game,” said Ari Peskoe, a lawyer and director of the Electricity Law Initiative at the Harvard Law School. ……..

“The significant thing about this filing is the rate counsel was given this on a silver platter on why these subsidies are unwarranted,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “It’s not a surprise that she’d be filing an appeal. I think the surprise is the ratepayer has such a strong case.”

The appeal focuses on four issues: the staff findings that PSEG didn’t meet the criteria for the subsidy; the board’s dismissal of those findings; the lack of reasoning for setting the subsidy rate at $0.004 per kilowatt hour, which was calculated to provide a total subsidy of $300 milion; and whether the amount of the subsidy represented clean-energy benefits as legislators claimed.

PSEG’s Hope Creek and Salem plants in Salem County make up the second-largest nuclear facility in the United States, and they serve as an economic anchor for the area, which is represented by New Jersey’s most powerful legislator, Senate President Stephen Sweeney. New Jersey passed its nuclear subsidy last year after intense lobbying by PSEG, which spent nearly $4 million in 2017 and 2018 on the effort.

Similar measures that offer incentives for nuclear plants to stay open after the companies have threatened to close them survived challenges in federal court. This month, Pennsylvania legislators said they didn’t have the support to bring the proposed subsidy bill to a vote, prompting Exelon to announce plans to close Three Mile Island nuclear plant in September.

Since the debate over the New Jersey measure began in 2017, Brand has questioned how legislators came up with the amount of the subsidy…….

At the board meeting last month, BPU staff and an independent consultant reported that PSEG was including some ineligible costs and inflating others in an attempt to satisfy the statute’s requirements, but they said that the facilities were not actually in danger of closing. …….

While the run-up to the BPU vote was marked by full-page newspaper ads and stories in local media, the only indication that customers were subsidizing PSEG’s nuclear plants was, for some, a note on the top corner of their latest bills. https://www.propublica.org/article/new-jerseys-300-million-nuclear-power-bailout-is-facing-a-court-challenge-does-it-have-a-chance#

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. federal board rejects objections to proposed New Mexico nuclear dump 

Federal panel rejects all objections to proposed New Mexico nuclear dump   https://www.krwg.org/post/federal-panel-rejects-all-objections-proposed-new-mexico-nuclear-dump?fbclid=IwAR1ROpcdsAWDegwnW0vib6ICXXy3q2lzDVTrrOuEbKN4ZbM90Q169XCM6Cc

 • MAY 7, 2019  On Tuesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that its Atomic Safety and Licensing Board had rejected every objection made by intervenors challenging Holtec International’s application to build a storage facility for high-level nuclear waste in southeast New Mexico.

Among the requests the panel refused to consider was the objection raised by Sierra Club that U.S. law clearly prohibits nuclear waste being moved to interim facilities before a permanent storage site has been identified. No such permanent sites exist in the U.S.

“This ‘interim’ storage facility could well become a permanent repository without the protections of a permanent repository,” Sierra Club attorney Wally Taylor said in response to Tuesday’s ruling. “Now it is up to the people and public officials in New Mexico to protect New Mexicans from this boondoggle.”

“New Mexico citizens should be very concerned about this project,” Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Nuclear-Waste Co-Chair John Buchser said. “Energy Secretary Rick Perry has indicated he is OK with the storage-site proposal in Texas, just across the New Mexico border, becoming a permanent facility.  The Sierra Club is very concerned about possible radioactive releases from containers designed for short-term storage. The transport of this highly radioactive waste is even more risky, and the nation’s rail system is not safe enough to transport this waste.”

Taylor, representing the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, and attorneys for Beyond Nuclear, Fasken, AFES and transportation intervenors raised nearly 50 different contentions before the three-judge board during oral arguments in January in Albuquerque.

The panel, charged with ruling on petitioners’ standing and the admissibility of their contentions under NRC regulations, agreed that some of the six petitioners, including the Sierra Club, had standing, but ruled that not not a single one of nearly 50 contentions raised were admissible for even an evidentiary hearing.

“The board won’t even consider transportation risk,” Buchser said.

“This decision is a perfect example and a lesson for the citizens of New Mexico and the United States of how the NRC process is shamelessly designed to prevent the public from participating,” Taylor said.

“It’s clear from the hearings across the state that the people of New Mexico don’t want this. They need to join forces and make that clear to New Mexico officials,” Taylor said. “State officials can pass and enforce laws that would require permits or other protections from the dangers posed by the transport of high-level radioactive waste to southeast New Mexico.”

The next step for Sierra Club is to appeal to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | legal, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Chelsea Manning is denied bail, by U.S. appeals court

U.S. appeals court denies Manning’s bail request, upholds contempt finding, Sarah N. Lynch, 24 Apr 19, WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning will remain in jail after a federal appeals court on Monday denied her request to be released on bail, and upheld a lower court’s decision to hold Manning in civil contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

The ruling is a blow to Manning, who has been detained since March after she declined to answer questions in connection with the government’s long-running investigation into Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.

In a comment released by a spokesman, Manning said that while disappointing, the appeals court ruling will still allow her to “raise issues as the government continues to abuse the grand jury process.”

I don’t have anything to contribute to this, or any other grand jury,” Manning added.

Assange was arrested on April 11 at Ecuador’s Embassy in London, after U.S. prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia unsealed a criminal case against him alleging he conspired with Manning to commit computer intrusion.

The Justice Department said Assange was arrested under an extradition treaty between the United States and Britain.

……Manning has tried to fight the grand jury subpoena in the Assange case, citing her First, Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights under the Constitution.

Manning’s lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, suggested prosecutors were abusing “grand jury power,” and that “the likely purpose of her subpoena is to help the prosecutor preview and undermine her potential testimony as a defense witness for a pending trial.”

Her lawyers have also argued that the courtroom was improperly sealed during substantial portions of the hearing.https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-manning/us-appeals-court-denies-mannings-bail-request-upholds-contempt-finding-idUSKCN1RY14O

April 25, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

ANOTHER FEDERAL JUDGE RULES THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ILLEGALLY ROLLED BACK CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS 

ON EVE OF EARTH DAY, ANOTHER FEDERAL JUDGE RULES THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ILLEGALLY ROLLED BACK CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS  https://www.atg.wa.gov/news/news-releases/eve-earth-day-another-federal-judge-rules-trump-administration-illegally-rolled   Apr 21 2019

AG Ferguson’s 20th legal victory against Trump Administration

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson released the following statement today after a federal judge in Montana ruled that the Trump Administration illegally revoked an Obama-era moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands, and must comply with a federal law requiring environmental analysis before leasing coal-mining rights on public lands:

“It’s fitting that on the eve of Earth Day, another federal judge slaps down the Trump Administration’s illegal effort to roll back basic environmental protections,” said Ferguson. “The Trump Administration illegally revoked the Obama-era moratorium on leasing public lands for coal-mining even though its Interior Department admitted it did not fully understand the societal and environmental impacts of extraction. This ruling sends a clear message that the federal government cannot take an action that impacts our environment without careful review and deliberation – which, to be polite, is not a strong suit of The Trump Administration.”

Case background

In May 2017, Ferguson filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management over a program to lease coal mining rights on public land, which contributes to significant coal-train traffic through the state of Washington. The lawsuit challenged then-Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decision to restart the federal coal-leasing program without supplementing or replacing its nearly 40-year-old environmental study.

The lawsuit was jointly filed by California, New Mexico, New York and Washington in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Great Falls Division.

Coal from federal leases following Zinke’s order would be transported by rail across Washington. In particular, coal from the Powder River Basin is shipped to or through the state. According to the Washington Department of Transportation, the baseline number of trains in 2015 numbered 70 per day on some track segments in the state, including multiple coal trains. Diesel exhaust and coal dust from uncovered coal train cars can negatively affect air quality.

Washington has a further interest in the effects of increased coal production and consumption on climate change. Washington experiences many negative effects of climate change, including rising ambient temperatures, a diminished and unpredictable snowpack necessary for water consumption and hydropower generation, and ocean warming and acidification, which is harmful to Washington’s shellfishery.

The AGO’s Counsel for Environmental Protection is handling the case for Washington.

Attorney General Ferguson created the Counsel for Environmental Protection in 2016 to protect our environment and the safety and health of all Washingtonians.

Ferguson has filed 35 lawsuits against the Trump Administration and has not lost a case. Ferguson now has 20 legal victories against the Trump Administration. Eleven of those cases are finished and cannot be appealed. The Trump Administration has or may appeal the other nine, which include lawsuits involving Dreamers and 3D-printed guns. After more than two years of litigation, no court to rule on the merits of the Attorney General’s arguments in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration has ruled against the office.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Contacts:

Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov

April 23, 2019 Posted by | environment, Legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Lawsuit against Santee Cooper, claims that investors were deceived over nuclear project risks

Lawsuit: Santee Cooper misled investors about failed SC nuclear project, Post and Courier,   By John McDermott jmcdermott@postandcourier.comm Apr 17, 2019  

A Santee Cooper investor is suing the state-owned power company and its former chief executive, alleging they violated securities laws by not adequately disclosing the financial risks associated with the V.C. Summer nuclear project while selling debt several years ago.

Murray C. Turka is seeking class-action status to include others who purchased as much as $118 million of the utility’s “Mini-Bonds” from 2014 to 2016.

Lonnie Carter, who was Santee Cooper’s CEO at the time, is named a co-defendant in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston this week.

The lawsuit alleges Carter and other key decision-makers knew by mid-2015 that the expansion of the V.C. Summer power plant “was hopelessly behind schedule” based on a largely unfavorable assessment of the troubled project by the engineering firm Bechtel Corp.

Auditors found that the reactors’ designs were sometimes impossible to build, that construction wouldn’t be finished in time to qualify for critical federal tax breaks and that South Carolina’s utilities were either too “inexperienced or reluctant to act” as problems mounted.

“Still, executives disclosed nothing of this to Mini-Bond investors,” according to the complaint…….. https://www.postandcourier.com/business/lawsuit-santee-cooper-misled-investors-about-failed-sc-nuclear-project/article_2dc4cd10-612a-11e9-a41c-8f4e572cf265.html

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment