nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Radiation Free Lakeland investigates radioactive beach, while Cumbrian media doesn’t bother to

Advertisements

December 4, 2018 Posted by | environment, media, UK | Leave a comment

Guardian newspaper has, unfortunately, helped false propaganda against Julian Assange

Indeed, we could see those articles as pivotal in the current hostile environment against Assange; the purpose of which is presumably to prepare the way for the extradition of Assange to the US. Meanwhile, the Mueller inquiry into alleged links between US president Donald Trump and Russia – and Assange – is gaining headlines on an almost daily basis. And there is evidence that Assange has been secretly indicted and that an extradition request is imminent.

In such an environment, media outlets must provide hard evidence to substantiate allegations, and not simply fall back on anonymous ‘sources’ (usually code for spooks). The people these allegations target deserve better, and so do readers

Former diplomat challenges ‘fake’ Guardian claims about Julian Assange meeting Paul Manafort  The Canary Tom Coburg  3rd December 2018 A former consul and first secretary at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has spoken out against a “fake story” from the Guardian. Speaking to The CanaryFidel Narváez insisted that the claim that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is entirely false.

The Canary has also seen a copy of correspondence to the Guardian from the same diplomat. In these, he makes a formal complaint, accusing the newspaper of fabricating an earlier story about a Russian plot to smuggle Assange to Russia.The Manafort claim  The Canary previously reported on criticisms from WikiLeaks and others which stressed that Guardian claims about Manafort meeting Assange in 2013, 2015 and March 2016 were false.

WikiLeaks said it was preparing to sue the Guardian on the matter. And Manafort is also considering legal action, saying this story is “totally false and deliberately libellous”.

Narváez was initially consul and then first secretary at the Ecuadorian Embassy from 2010 to July 2018. He has now told The Canary that, to his knowledge, Manafort made no visits at any time during that period. He insisted:

It is impossible for any visitor to enter the embassy without going through very strict protocols and leaving a clear record: obtaining written approval from the ambassador, registering with security personnel, and leaving a copy of ID. The embassy is the most surveilled on Earth; not only are there cameras positioned on neighbouring buildings recording every visitor, but inside the building every movement is recorded with CCTV cameras, 24/7. In fact, security personnel have always spied on Julian and his visitors. It is simply not possible that Manafort visited the embassy. 

In response, the Guardian told The Canary:

This story relied on a number of sources. We put these allegations to both Paul Manafort and Julian Assange’s representatives prior to publication. Neither responded to deny the visits taking place. We have since updated the story to reflect their denials.

Prior to the Guardian publishing the article, however, WikiLeaks did deny that the visits took place. It did that via a tweet in response to an email to Assange’s lawyers from one of the journalists who authored the article, saying how the Guardian was planning to run the story. The first published version of the article did not contain this WikiLeaksdenial.

And that’s not the only disputed Guardian piece…

There is another Guardian story by the same authors that Narváez also disputes.

On 21 September 2018, the Guardian claimed there was a plan to smuggle Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy via a diplomatic vehicle, and from there to Russia. But according to the article, the plan was called off after UK authorities refused to recognise that Assange was due diplomatic protection. The Guardian also referred to an alternative plan that would have seen Assange transported to Ecuador…………..

…. according to the Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald:

There are all sorts of internecine battles being waged inside the Ecuadorian Government that provide motive to feed false claims about Assange to the Guardian. Senain, the Ecuadorian intelligence service that the Guardian says showed it the incriminating report, has been furious with Assange for years, ever since WikiLeaks published files relating to the agency’s hacking and malware efforts.

……..A hostile environment of reputation-damaging ‘fake stories’

Narváez is accusing the Guardian of multiple fabrications. This is made worse by the fact that the articles in question were subsequently reproduced by numerous media outlets.

Narváez told The Canary that:

Luke Harding and Dan Collyns, the authors of the Manafort fake story, are the same ones who wrote the Russia smuggling plot fake story, and their ‘sources’ are most probably the same. I find it incredible that the Guardian allows these people to repeatedly damage the paper’s credibility and reputation.

Indeed, we could see those articles as pivotal in the current hostile environment against Assange; the purpose of which is presumably to prepare the way for the extradition of Assange to the US. Meanwhile, the Mueller inquiry into alleged links between US president Donald Trump and Russia – and Assange – is gaining headlines on an almost daily basis. And there is evidence that Assange has been secretly indicted and that an extradition request is imminent.

In such an environment, media outlets must provide hard evidence to substantiate allegations, and not simply fall back on anonymous ‘sources’ (usually code for spooks). The people these allegations target deserve better, and so do readers.https://www.thecanary.co/exclusive/2018/12/03/former-diplomat-challenges-fake-guardian-claims-about-julian-assange-meeting-paul-manafort/?fbclid=IwAR04oGf3Xk5F1zWzMUQw_qUxx8CTKZhKy4QjPck_fp9Y0LGO-vzihujyeRY

December 4, 2018 Posted by | media, UK | Leave a comment

Doctors dispute media claim that fire at Santa Susana Field Laboratory (Rocketdyne) poses no radiation danger

RESPONSE TO LA MAGAZINE ARTICLE: https://www.psr-la.org/woolsey-fire-burns-nuclear-meltdown-site-that-state-toxics-agency-failed-to-clean-up/

On November 10, Los Angeles Magazine ran an article claiming there was no risk related to SSFL contamination from the Woolsey fire that we now know actually began on the SSFL property itself. Below is our response.

Los Angeles Magazine must print a correction – this article is filled with errors and misinformation:

  1. There is no need to put quotes around “significantly contaminated” – SSFL is one of the most contaminated sites in the nation, subject of a promised but long-delayed state and federal cleanup; it is heavily contaminated with well documented nuclear and chemical contamination, from, among other things, a partial nuclear meltdown.
  2. The claim in the first hours of the fire by DTSC, an agency that has no public confidence to the point that the state legislature commissioned an Independent Review Panel to investigate its failings (which include the Exide fiasco in Vernon,) that it didn’t “believe” there was a risk is cover for its failure to live up to its cleanup commitments (it had promised the site would be cleaned up by 2017 and the cleanup hasn’t even begun). It is pure conjecture. DTSC does not have have any scientific data to back up the claim. It based the spurious assertion on its claim that the fire in its first hours was not in areas where contamination could be released, but the state fire department now shows almost all of the contaminated site as within the fire boundary.
  3. DTSC did not release it’s statement in response to the Forbes article, it released it the night before, when virtually nothing was known about the extent of the fire at SSFL
  4. SSFL is NEVER referred to as Area IV – that is simply one area in the site, the area where most of the nuclear activity occurred
  5. Given the extent of contamination in the site’s soil and vegetation, it is indeed possible and likely that contamination from the site was spread further from the fire in smoke, dust, and ash.

The bottom line is it irresponsible to claim that SSFL contamination was not spread further by the fire. Los Angeles Magazine may wish to read its own cover story from 1998: HOT ZONE – Rocketdyne’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory was on the front lines of the Cold War. Now some who lived near “The Hill” say they share two distinctions: chronic illness and the unswerving belief that the lab caused it.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Californian fire – a classic case of how the media damps down nuclear radiation risks.

With the wildfires still raging in the area of the Santa Susana nuclear disaster, the mainstream media does what it always does –   tries to reassure people, make the public comfortable that there is no radiation danger.

The government and nuclear experts can be depended on to do what they always do in such situations –   make sure that no genuine measuring  or assessment of the radiation risk is made.

Then they can say with confidence  “There is no evidence of any danger” –  having made sure to not look for any evidence.

Experts Say Rumors of “Radioactive Ash” from the Woolsey Fire Are Unsubstantiated  “……. authorities from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control who oversee the site say there is no evidence that smoke from the area around the SSFL is any more dangerous than other wildfire smoke……….“Our scientists and toxicologists have reviewed information about the fire’s location and do not believe the fire has caused any releases of hazardous materials that would pose a risk to people exposed to the smoke,”……

The responding fire agencies from Ventura and Los Angeles Counties also consulted independent hazardous materials coordinators who agreed with the conclusion that toxic material from the site was unlikely to have been spread due to the fire…….”  more  https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/santa-susana-woolsey-fire/

 

BUT – readers of this article were not impressed:  below some samples of the comments 

Los Angeles Magazine must print a correction – this article is filled with errors and misinformation:

1) There is no need to put quotes around “significantly contaminated” – SSFL is one of the most contaminated sites in the nation, subject of a promised but long-delayed state and federal cleanup; it is heavily contaminated with well documented nuclear and chemical contamination, from, among other things, a partial nuclear meltdown.

2) The claim in the first hours of the fire by DTSC, an agency that has no public confidence to the point that the state legislature commissioned an Independent Review Panel to investigate its failings (which include the Exide fiasco in Vernon,) that it didn’t “believe” there was a risk is cover for its failure to live up to its cleanup commitments (it had promised the site would be cleaned up by 2017 and the cleanup hasn’t even begun). It is pure conjecture. DTSC does not have have any scientific data to back up the claim. It based the spurious assertion on its claim that the fire in its first hours was not in areas where contamination could be released, but the state fire department now shows almost all of the contaminated site as within the fire boundary.

3) DTSC did not release it’s statement in response to the Forbes article, it released it the night before, when virtually nothing was known about the extent of the fire at SSFL

4) SSFL is NEVER referred to as Area IV – that is simply one area in the site, the area where most of the nuclear activity occurred

5) Given the extent of contamination in the site’s soil and vegetation, it is indeed possible and likely that contamination from the site was spread further from the fire in smoke, dust, and ash. The bottom line is it irresponsible to claim that SSFL contamination was not spread further by the fire.

See our press release here http://bit.ly/SSFLfire
Also, Los Angeles Magazine may wish to read its own cover story from 1998: “HOT ZONE – Rocketdyne’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory was on the front lines of the Cold War. Now some who lived near ‘The Hill’ say they share two distinctions: chronic illness and the unswerving belief that the lab caused it” [https://www.enviroreporter.com/hotzone]

Karen Nickel

I don’t see anywhere that they are actually doing real time monitoring for radioactive particles…did I miss it?

Robbin Ellison Dailey

Nope, you didnt miss a thing, Karen Nickel! They’re trusting other’s data…what ever that means.
Do not believe to have spread..unlikely to have spread.
All conjecture, no testing verification

Melissa Bumstead

I spoke with South Coast Air Quality and they said there wasn’t any monitoring done and it would be through the EPA. We spoke with CalEPA and they didn’t even know what areas of the site were burned yet. #DTSClies

Melissa Bumstead

The DTSC has lied to the community for years. You didn’t mention the 60% cancer incident rates for residents within two miles of the site, or the above average pediatric cancers, or invasive breast cancer rates 20% above the rest of CA, or that 9 out of 10 would get cancer if they lived there- and yet DTSC says that site poses no risk to the public. Why did you only interview them for this article. It seems very biased to me when we have experts backing up the claims against the DTSC. www.SSFLworkgroup.org

…….and there are more

November 11, 2018 Posted by | media | 1 Comment

The personal struggle – a rare brain cancer – nothing to do with his radiation exposure at Los Alamos National Laboratory?

Half Life Chad Walde believed in his work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Then he got a rare brain cancer, and the government denied that it had any responsibility , Pro Publica, by Rebecca Moss, The Santa Fe New Mexican, 26 Oct 18,“………A Gap Between Records and Recollection

CHAD WAS CLEARED TO RETURN TO HIS JOB at the lab in late January 2015, four months after his diagnosis. He’d undergone radiation and two chemotherapy treatments, and Los Alamos’ occupational medicine staff said he was fit to continue working with classified material, his medical records show. At risk for seizures, he couldn’t drive or climb stairs or ladders. Chad carpooled and had Angela drive him to the laboratory several times a week. His supervisor offered him a desk job, a step down from his managerial role — but one that kept his health insurance running. He accepted. The only real alternative was termination.

Roark says the lab’s goal is to treat all employees with debilitating conditions with “utmost respect” and says when employees are unable to perform the functions of their jobs, Los Alamos “makes reasonable efforts to accommodate them,” which can result in job reassignment.

Separately, to process his claim for cancer benefits, the Department of Labor also told Chad it would need all of his medical and radiation exposure records from the lab. The Department of Labor sends these to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, another federal agency that uses a probability equation to determine if a worker had a high enough dose of radiation to cause cancer. If the computer found a 50 percent or higher correlation, Chad would get benefits.

When the records arrived from Los Alamos, containing a single CD and a brief letter, it was the first time Chad realized that his own experience differed from what the lab had noted in its records.

The lab had found “no records” of Chad having been exposed to anything or other environmental occupational hazards, the letter said. And his dosimetry report, a spreadsheet that showed his total dose of radiation annually, was scant.

The lab had not tracked Chad’s radiation exposure in 1999, his first year on the job, the report indicated, or in 2000, when the Cerro Grande fire burned. External monitoring began in 2001 but showed a clean zero for 11 out of the next 14 years. (Only in 2008, 2013 and 2014 were there any hits on the report.)

The report said his total dose was 0.254 rems over his career, well below safety limits and slightly less than an average person gets from background radiation from the sun and environment in a single year. A rem is a unit used to measure the absorbed dose of radiation, with 1 rem equivalent to a CT scan, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Chad marveled at the document. It didn’t track with his memory — or hold any record of the time he’d been called in for going over his limit and accused of taking his badge to the airport, or when he was sent home wearing disposable clothes.

“They aren’t on here,” Chad said when he looked at the document.

It also seemed impossible there were so many years that were completely blank.

Asked about the discrepancy between Walde’s memory and the reports, Los Alamos spokesman Roark said, in general, that the lab “maintains a comprehensive archive of worker radiation dosimetry data” and that it “provides any and all records in response to requests as quickly as possible.”

When NIOSH reviewed the records, it had a simple way to fill in the gaps. For the two years when Chad was not monitored, NIOSH assumed the maximum dose he could have been exposed to was the maximum background radiation at the lab (which was 0.4 rem), adding in the possibility of a couple missed readings.

NIOSH said Chad’s records showed he had been exposed to “various sources of radiation during his employment,” but the maximum dose he could have received at the lab, based on its calculations and assumptions, was a 3.744 rem dose to the brain. The agency modeled his probability for cancer based on how this amount of radiation would affect and mutate cells of the thyroid. It does not have a model for how external radiation might impact brain tissue.

On a phone call with a NIOSH claims representative in September 2015, Chad asked why the agency used general air monitoring data to fill in his missed readings. Chad, who made a recording of the call, said this would fail to account for the radiation present at the more dangerous nuclear areas he had been assigned to.

He told the representative how his badge often took hits. Like he’d told his father-in-law, and his friends, Chad said his boss kept asking him why his readings were “above the reporting levels.”

I “wonder if we are not missing something,” Chad said on the recording. “I also worry about the Los Alamos reporting,” relaying instances in which the lab certified an area free of radiation only to discover contamination later while he was working on a maintenance job. Chad began to talk about something he witnessed at the liquid radioactive waste plant but trailed off, saying, “I don’t know if I am allowed to say any of this stuff — never mind.”

image.jpeg

Chad Walde’s radiation shells hang in the garage of his family’s home. The shells help keep the head still while a patient receives radiotherapy. (Adria Malcolm, special to ProPublica)

Stu Hinnefeld, director of the divis  Stu Hinnefeld, director of the division of compensation analysis and support for NIOSH, said in an interview that those exposed to radiation have a “relatively low” likelihood of developing brain cancer compared with lung and thyroid cancers. He said the institute’s risk models, as a result, require a worker to have a much higher documented exposure to radiation than many of the other cancers in order to get compensation.

The Department of Labor concluded there was just a 2.67 percent chance his cancer was related to his radiation exposure history. His claim was denied on Jan. 14, 2016.

Chad’s dates of employment made him more likely to be rejected than if he had worked at the lab in a prior era. Overall, the Department of Labor has approved nearly 60 percent of claims filed by Los Alamos workers for cancer and beryllium disease. But for workers who started working at the lab after 1996, that figure falls to 45 percent, according to data requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor said, “While gaps in past records have existed at some sites, workers in the modern era have more extensive monitoring records. There are no unexplained gaps or readings in this employee’s radiation dose records.”

Still, Chad wanted to appeal. Over the next year, he would undergo another surgery and start experiencing frequent seizures, at one point spending two days in a coma in Texas, where the family had traveled for the twins’ volleyball tournament, when the spasms refused to subside. The family held “Gray Be Gone” fundraisers, referring to the color of the tumor tissue, to raise money to send Chad to MD Anderson for treatment. He also started clinical trials with a doctor in New Mexico.

During that time, Chad learned that he was not the only person at Los Alamos who thought missing records had led the Department of Labor to deny a claim.

For more than a decade, workers at Los Alamos have been telling federal officials that similar data and records problems have prevented them from getting compensation. In June 2005, at a NIOSH forum for the lab’s technical workers’ union, one worker said the lab “had lied and falsified documents right and left … the monitors were turned off, people weren’t qualified to be doing the monitoring, the equipment was never calibrated,” according to meeting minutes.

Another man, an X-ray technician, said his personal radiation badge always showed up with zero contamination.

Falsified radiation data or medical records have been documented at other labs, including in 2003 at Savannah River Site in South Carolina and Hanford Site in Washington state. Radiation records also were falsified at an Ohio nuclear facility in 2013. The Department of Energy fined lab managers in South Carolina and Ohio more than $200,000 each for “willful falsification.”

Los Alamos has not been fined for willful falsification of health records, but it has been cited within the past year for serious safety violations and for failing to check laboratory rooms for toxic chemicals before allowing workers to enter. Internal incident reports from the early 2000s, obtained by NIOSH, described how records had been removed from radiation log books, “deliberate tampering” with nasal swipe samples (used to test if a worker inhaled radioactive particles) and problems with workers not wearing their radiation badges.

Soon after Chad’s diagnosis, another electrician on his crew, Cesario Lopez, told Chad he’d recently had part of his kidney taken out after being diagnosed with cancer. Both Lopez’s mother and uncle, who worked at the lab before him, had been diagnosed with cancer, too. Lopez applied for and was denied compensation by the Department of Labor but has appealed.

Then Chad learned about his friend Gilbert Mondragon. Mondragon started working as an electrician on the fire protection crew in August 1999, three months before Chad. Mondragon was just 19 and from the beginning saw Chad as a mentor. Chad, he said, taught him how to have a good attitude at work and find value in it. That became harder after Mondragon was diagnosed with kidney cancer in the spring of 2014 at the age of 34.

Like Chad, Mondragon’s radiation report showed 14 straight years of zeroes, and only two years, 2006 and 2007, in which his badge took any hits, totaling 67 millirems of radiation over 16 years.

“It’s not like people think it is,” Mondragon said about lab safety. He, like Chad, recalled several times he’d been decontaminated and given new work clothes or boots.

Mondragon believes some of the zeroes are also the result of being told, by his supervisors, to take his badge off when he was doing work in contaminated places. “Now I know better,” he said, “but it’s too late.”

Roark, the lab spokesman, denies workers were ever told to remove their badges, saying its “Radiation Protection Program would never allow, endorse or recommend removing dosimeters to avoid contamination.”

Ken Silver, who sits on a Department of Labor advisory board and is a professor of environmental health at East Tennessee State University, testified before Congressin 2007 that instructing workers to remove their radiation badges was a common practice for “cleanup crews” at Los Alamos in the past. Silver said this practice was based on the belief that if a badge was contaminated, workers would go on to spread radiation throughout the laboratory, which he called a “flimsy assumption.”

Los Alamos officials did not testify at the hearing. But the lab says its rate of injuries has dropped significantly since 2006 and is well below the industry average. The laboratory says it does not track the cause of death for its employees.

Hinnefeld said NIOSH has looked into allegations that workers were told to remove their badges and, “We hear that on occasion.” But he said, in the past, officials have concluded that this wouldn’t affect how the agency reconstructs a worker’s radiation exposure because a single missed reading is unlikely to hold much weight in the overall career of a worker.

Diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, which his physician has linked to chemical exposure, Mondragon resigned from the lab this winter. The doctors’ visits have consumed his life. His cancer claim, like Chad’s, also was rejected by the Department of Labor, but he was told he would likely be accepted if he were to develop another cancer.

For the last six months, he has relied on the help of an oxygen tank to breathe, trailing a long, green plastic tube wherever he goes…..more https://features.propublica.org/los-alamos/chad-walde-nuclear-facility-radiation-cancer/

October 27, 2018 Posted by | health, investigative journalism, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Australian commercial TV station now selling its soul to the nuclear industry?

The 60 Minutes Fukushima nuclear infomercial, Independent Australia Noel Wauchope 23 October 2018  A FEW YEARS AGO, Australian Channel 9’s 60 Minutes did an excellent investigation of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

This Fukushima investigation was compered by Liz Hayes. I recall that, at the time, the program was a much more thorough, serious and well-resourced presentation than anything put forward by even the ABC or SBS.

However, I was pretty appalled at the latest 60 Minutes coverage of the Fukushima issue, which screened on Sunday (21 October) titled, Is nuclear power the solution to our energy crisis?  

The main message of this program is a call to scrap Australia’s legislation against establishing the nuclear industry. The argument given is that we need nuclear power because it is supposedly cheap and dependable. We also need it because it is supposedly essential to combat climate change.

This time, the reporter is not Liz Hayes. It’s Tom Steinfort, who is described as a “seasoned Channel 9 star”. Does a seasoned Channel 9 star just accept without question the claims made in this episode?

Among claims made:

If Mr Steinfort really is a star reporter, I would expect him to have done his homework before swallowing these claims hook line and sinker. ………

So, what do we make of this latest offering about Fukushima, from 60 Minutes? It must have taken a lot of money and a lot of negotiation to get a 60 Minutes camera team inside the Fukushima nuclear station. I assume that the negotiations were largely arranged by Ben Heard, who has influential nuclear contacts overseas — particularly in Russia and South Africa, where he has been a prominent nuclear spokesperson. In Russia, Heard launched Rosatom National Geographic — a nuclear soft sell environmental program.

I think that we can be sure of one thing. As Japan plans for the 2020 Olympics – some sections of which are to take place in Fukushima Prefecture – the Japanese Government is not likely to permit a team with any anti-nuclear perspective access to the crippled nuclear power plant.

The 60 Minutes media team would have had to have the Japanese authorities on side. I would bet, some companies keen to set up the nuclear industry in Australia would also be on side and keen to assist.

There have been rumblings, too, of yet another resurgence for nuclear energy in Australia, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison declaring that he is ‘open to the idea of nuclear power’ and that ‘the source of Australia’s energy doesn’t bother him and he isn’t interested in an ideological debate’.

Is it too much to hope that Channel 9 might do something to correct this nuclear infomercial and give us a different, more comprehensive view, rather than one blessed by Japanese authorities and the nuclear power lobby? https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/the-60-minutes-fukushima-nuclear-infomercial,12023

October 25, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, media, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Here’s an example of the uncritical journalistic hype over the nuclear lobby’s new filmic advertisement

(Low on facts – high on uncritical enthusiasm)

A new documentary puts fresh, young faces on the old debate over nuclear power, Grist , “…….. David Schumacher’s new documentary, The New Fire,…. profiles young people working to invent better versions of nuclear power plants. There’s the couple with a simple reactor design who started the company, Oklo. And there’s the Bill Gates-backed TerraPower. …..the movie serves up hope and enthusiasm……..

I discovered these young people starting companies to build nuclear reactors. It was so audacious. They were so heroic and charming and just completely iconoclastic. They shattered the standard image of nuclear engineers……
I’ve had people come up to me and say this has totally changed my mind. At the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival, this couple approached me and said, “We started a chapter of the Sierra Club downwind of Three-Mile Island.” These are folks who would have been young adults at the time [1978, when the Three Mile Island plant had a partial meltdown]. “So we’ve been very anti-nuclear, but this film really changed our minds.” ……

October 20, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, culture and arts, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Countering the media’s very unfair attacks on Britain’s Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn

UpFront – Hans Blix backs Corbyn’s call to scrap UK’s Trident

As the media attacks Labour’s nuclear position, there’s one video we all need to watch https://www.thecanary.co/trending/2018/09/28/as-the-media-attacks-labours-nuclear-position-theres-one-video-we-all-need-to-watch/ SEPTEMBER 28TH, 2018 PETER BOLTON Labour’s position on nuclear weapons has hit the headlines this week, after Piers Morgan and shadow chancellor John McDonnell clashed on air. But one video from 2016 exposes the attacks from the right-wing media for the smears they are.

Keeping Trident

On 24 September, shadow chancellor John McDonnell confirmed that a Labour government would keep the UK’s nuclear arsenal. He said, however, that as prime minister Jeremy Corbyn would only use it in consultation with the cabinet, parliament, and the “wider community”.

Right-wing attacks

In spite of the comments, the right-wing media attacked McDonnell’s statement as too soft. The Sun, for example, said that McDonnell “sparked ridicule” for suggesting that a Corbyn-led government would only launch a nuclear strike after “ask[ing] for the British public’s permission”.

A favourite weapon

Indeed, Corbyn’s former opposition to renewing the UK’s nuclear arsenal, known as Trident, has been one of the right’s favourite weapons with which to attack him. Some right-wing media outlets have called him “loony left” for his life-long commitment to nuclear disarmament.

And some from the Blairite wing of his own party have also piled on the abuse. In 2015, then Labour MP John Woodcock, for instance, called Corbyn’s position on Trident “childish” and “dangerously naïve”.

Expert view

But a scarcely viewed video on YouTube shows that the anti-Trident position is actually supported by one of the world’s leading experts on nuclear weapons. In a 2016 interview on Al-Jazeera with Mehdi Hasan, former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix backed Corbyn’s call to scrap Trident.

Asked by Hasan whether he supports the scrapping of Trident, he replied:

Yes, I think it’s a tremendous cost, and I do not see that it really, perceptively adds to British security

Blix is a Swedish diplomat and served as minister of foreign affairs in the Ola Ullsten administration in the 1970s. He became famous for his role as a senior UN weapons inspector in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. He has also served as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Sentimental status-seeking”

And for Blix, it’s apparently the pro-Trident people who are being childish and naïve. He said that holding on to Trident is “more a question of sentimental status-seeking”. He added that the UK will keep its permanent seat at the UN Security Council regardless of whether it holds on to nuclear weapons. Interestingly, Blix also says that he does not “see any enthusiasm in Washington for Trident, either.”

The hard-hitting video makes nonsense of the right’s endless fear-mongering, and provides a welcome antidote to the attacks on the Labour leadership.

Fortunately, shadow peace minister Fabian Hamilton is reportedly drawing up a nuclear disarmament proposal for the shadow cabinet’s consideration. And it would be well served to heed Blix’s advice.

September 29, 2018 Posted by | media, politics, UK | Leave a comment

What to expect from media and politicians when we want action on nuclear wastes

We have to create such a social movement that the press cannot ignore it, and then the press starts reporting.
people, when they get themselves mobilized, can really have an effect on events

A conversation with Dr. Gordon Edwards: contemporary issues in the Canadian nuclear industry, and a look back at the achievements of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR), http://www.ccnr.org/Montreal, August 25, 2018,   Nuclear waste management: an exercise in cynical thinking. DiaNuke.org, 24 Sept 2018  “………… What to expect from media and politicians
I think you appear sometimes on CBC and they give you five minutes or ten minutes, so has any of that sort of transformed into journalists picking up the issue and working with it more seriously, or politicians bringing up the issue in parliament?

We live in a very scattered society right now with what’s going on with President Trump in the United States, and what’s going on with the media. The concentration of ownership of the media, the elimination of a lot of independent journalism, like neighborhood newspapers and that sort of thing, community newspapers. Even within the mainstream media there is the idea that journalists are now being shunted into media conglomerates where the reporting is expected to go simultaneously into numerous papers, and so this makes it more and more difficult for these kinds of things to be done. However, as I point out to my friends, we’ve had many, many examples like, for instance, apartheid South Africa, or the Soviet Union before its demise, where there was no free press, and yet people got things done. The thing is that I don’t think the absence of a vital press should be a serious obstacle. I think we have to use whatever tools we have available to us, and we in North America have all kinds of freedom to express ourselves, and so we have to use what tools are available to us. For example, we’ve had many victories.

19. VictoriesI could tell you a few stories because without knowing specific examples, it all sounds very airy-fairy. It all sounds very theoretical, but, for example, we have Bruce Power, which is a private company that rents publicly owned nuclear reactors in Ontario, eight of them, and operates them for profit. They wanted to ship sixteen contaminated steam generators through the Great Lakes and through the Saint Lawrence Seaway and across the ocean to Sweden for their convenience basically. It was for their convenience so that they could have these things dismantled in Sweden. And also some of the radioactive left leftovers would be in fact secretly blended, and I say secretly. They would not reveal the names of the companies involved. Those are secret because those companies would not want the public to know what they’re engaged in. And that was actually recorded in public hearings. They wanted to secretly blend some of this less radioactive metal with non-contaminated metal. So they wanted to deliberately contaminate scrap metal. They wanted to deliberately contaminate the scrap metal market without any knowledge or notification that this scrap metal contained post-fission radioactive waste. And of course more and more of this is going to be happening as time goes on.

So we managed to stop that, and we managed to stop that through very word-of-mouth methods. We managed to get hundreds of communities passing resolutions against it on both sides of the border, both in the United States and Canada. We got lawmakers in the United States sending letters objecting, and the press was never playing a leadership role in this, but as the story became more interesting they would report on it just because it’s a good news story.

But to expect the press to play any leadership role is dreaming in technicolor, I think, especially in today’s world. We have to create such a social movement that the press cannot ignore it, and then the press starts reporting. And the same thing goes with the government. In certain respects you could say that our government leaders are not leaders. They’re followers, and the largest voices, the loudest voices are usually the voices of industry, and so they follow what they’re being told by industry or by other countries, big players like the United States, for example, but occasionally the public voice becomes loud enough that it drowns out the industrial voice or at least rivals it. In those cases a government can finally act, in their own self-interest, but not totally in their own self-interest. I hope that there’s a glimmer of concern, genuine concern about the future and the environment and doing the right thing.

But you’ve got to have a combination. It’s often said, for example, in lawsuits that behind the technical judgment where a judge might make some technical decision which lets somebody off the hook or which convicts somebody of some crime, there’s often a non-technical reason behind. Certain evidence has been heard and certain issues have been raised which, if a judge is touched by those issues, and feels that this is a case which deserves very careful consideration, then without breaking the law or even bending the law, the judge can find some legal aspect which will allow her or him to do the right thing. That’s not the judge’s main prerogative. His or her main prerogative is to ensure that the law is obeyed, and that can be done, but there has to be some kind of a conscience involved there, too, and I think there often is.

I think it’s the same thing with government. As I’ve said to people here, even if you yourself were the Minister of Energy all of a sudden, you couldn’t just do what you wanted. You have to have the support of your colleagues in cabinet. You have to have the support of people who have contributed to the party, and so on. These are all considerations, but if you have a vocal public who are clamoring to have something done, and it’s something you agree should be done, it strengthens your hand as a political person to be able to enact a law or to be able to take some political step which can be justified to colleagues. I don’t know if I’m making much sense here, but we’ve had some very good examples of this, not only with the steam generators.

20. Cross-border activism for environmental protectionI’ll give you one other example. In Vermont, the US Department of Energy were hunting for a repository in crystalline rock for high-level radioactive waste. This is back in the 90s. We had a busload of people here from Quebec who went down to Vermont and participated in public meetings and so on, and the Vermonters were delighted to see us there. And we raised some very pointed questions which the industry found difficult to answer. For example, the first question I asked at a public meeting was, “If this project is so safe, why is low population density one of your criteria?” And the man from the Department of Energy said that’s a good question, and he went red in the face, and he couldn’t give an answer.

So this thing blew up until the point where we had many public meetings in Vermont and we, as Quebecers, were invited to attend, and the US Department of Energy said, “Look, we have no choice. We have to obey the law, and the law has been written by the US Congress, the highest law of the land, and they passed a law saying that there will be a repository in crystalline rock in the Northeast United States, so don’t blame us. We can’t just snap our fingers and say we’re not going to do this.” But the voices of the people were so strong, and what really happened here was that it became an international incident because a lot of the people who were interacting within this debate were from the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Sherbrooke in particular, and the Member of Parliament from Sherbrooke was Jean Charest, who subsequently became the premier of Quebec. He was at that time a federal member of parliament. He went to his bosses in his own party, and who were the ruling party at that time, and they had a diplomatic note delivered to the Americans through the Canadian ambassador in Washington, saying that Canada would not look kindly on a nuclear waste repository right on our border where the water flows into Canada from the United States.

So to make a long story short, what happened was the impossible was done. The law was rewritten, and there was no repository in Vermont. Now you might say, “Well, that’s just postponing the problem or pushing it off.” True. But it’s a victory for us, and it shows that people, when they get themselves mobilized, can really have an effect on events, and we’ve had many successes of that sort, here in Quebec, in particular, and we hope to have many more. But the purpose is not to pursue a NIMBY idea (not in my backyard). The purpose is to call attention to the fact that this whole exercise is really an exercise based on dishonesty. It’s based on the dishonest claim that they in fact know what they’re doing, and that they in fact know that this will be a solution. It is really the survival strategy for the nuclear industry rather than a strategy that will ensure the safety of future generations. So we don’t feel that we’re acting in bad faith. We feel that we’re acting in good faith, and we’re doing our best to enlighten people as to the nature of this bad deal, and the nature of the fact that the wrong people are in charge of the program.

21. High, medium or low-level waste: similar ingredients in all of themGE: We have concentrated a lot here on the high-level waste, but in fact this consortium is not dealing with high-level waste. They’re dealing with low-level waste, medium-level waste. I hate these words because, of course, it’s the same material in many cases. They are exactly the same isotopes that you find in the high-level waste in many cases. They’re just at lower concentrations, so it’s bad language from the nuclear industry that is again fundamentally dishonest. But it’s really the decommissioning and the storage of all those other post-fission wastes that most people have never even given a thought to because they’ve been misled into thinking they don’t exist…….. https://www.dianuke.org/a-conversation-with-dr-gordon-edwards-contemporary-issues-in-the-canadian-nuclear-industry-and-a-look-back-at-the-achievements-of-the-canadian-coalition-for-nuclear-responsibility-ccnr-http-ww/

September 26, 2018 Posted by | Canada, media | 2 Comments

Youtube – a far right propaganda machine?

Here’s how YouTube became a powerful far-right propaganda machine, Raw Story , NICOLE KARLIS, SALON –19 SEP 2018 

YouTube, long under fire for its role in disseminating far-right propaganda, was recently lauded for its decision to remove fringe conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ page from its platform. Yet a new report reveals the depths to which the Google-owned online video platform is adept at propagating far-right propaganda, running the gamut from white supremacy to racist alt-right ideologies.

A new report published on Tuesday by Data & Society Research Institute, an independent nonprofit, brings to light an entire network identified as the Alternative Influence Network (AIN), which, via the report, is defined as a network of 65 political influencers across 81 channels who profit from broadcasting their views. Many of these influencers openly support racism, misogyny, and white nationalism on the platform. Researcher Rebecca Lewis of Data & Society penned the report, which was published on Tuesday.

“The platform’s motto, ‘Broadcast Yourself,’ encourages individuals to build audiences and promote themselves outside of the confines of legacy media outlets,” Lewis explains in the white paper.  “YouTube also provides financial incentives for individuals to broadcast and build audiences.”

Specifically, Lewis points to a partner program the platform has, called the Youtube Partnership Program (YPP), which is accessible to content creators who have received more than 4,000 “watch hours” in one year, and who have at least 1,000 subscribers.

“YouTube gives these content creators a small proportion of advertising revenue for the videos they post (YouTube keeps the rest),” Lewis explains. “Content creators can also relay their popularity on YouTube into monetary gains on other platforms.”

As a result — and with the help of outside sources like Patreon which allows YouTubers to solicit donations — content creators can turn their YouTube channels into lucrative careers. While YouTube and YPP were not designed explicitly to fund fringe ideologues like Alex Jones and his wannabes, they have inadvertently helped their cause.  As I have previously written, YouTube’s incentivized creator programs likely enable sensationalist and oft-controversial YouTube stars like Logan Paul, too.

Lewis manually collected data between January 1, 2017 and April 1, 2018, and discovered influencers via what she described as a “snowball approach.”……..https://www.rawstory.com/2018/09/heres-youtube-became-powerful-far-right-propaganda-machine/

September 21, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | Leave a comment

The Fukushima nuclear crisis: How communities, doctors, media, and government have responded

Chapter Title: Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management Chapter Author(s): Adam Broinowski Book Title: New Worlds from Below [extensive footnotes and references on original]

Faced with the post-3.11 reality of government (and corporate) policy that protects economic and security interests over public health and wellbeing, the majority of the 2 million inhabitants of Fukushima Prefecture are either unconscious of or have been encouraged to accept living with radioactive contamination. People dry their clothes outside, drink local tap water and consume local food, swim in outdoor pools and the ocean, consume and sell their own produce or catches. Financial pressure after 3.11 as well as the persistent danger of social marginalisation has made it more difficult to take precautionary measures (i.e. permanent relocation, dual accommodation, importing food and water) and develop and share counter-narratives to the official message. Nevertheless, some continue to conceal their anxiety beneath a mask of superficial calm.

As Fukushima city resident Shiina Chieko observed, the majority of people seem to have adopted denial as a way to excise the present danger from their consciousness. Her sister-in-law, for example, ignored her son’s ‘continuous nosebleeds’, while her mother had decided that the community must endure by pretending that things were no different from pre-3.11 conditions.75 Unlike the claim that risk is evenly distributed, it is likely that greater risk is borne by those who eat processed foods from family restaurants and convenience stores, as well as infants, children and young women who are disproportionately vulnerable to internal radiation exposures. Most mothers, then, have an added burden to shield their children while maintaining a positive front in their family and community.

Some, such as Yokota Asami (40 years old), a small business owner and mother from Kōriyama (60 km from FDNPS), demonstrated initiative in voluntarily evacuating her family. She decided to return (wearing goggles and a mask, she joked) in September 2011 when her son’s regular and continuous nosebleeds (in 30-minute spells) subsided. The Yokotas found themselves the victims of bullying when they called attention to radiation dangers, and were labelled non-nationals (hikokumin 非国民) who had betrayed reconstruction efforts. Her son was the only one to put up his hand when he was asked along with 300 fellow junior high school students if he objected to eating locally produced school lunches. He also chose not to participate in outdoor exercise classes and to go on respite trips instead. When it came time to take the high school entrance exam, he was told by the school principal that those who took breaks could not pass. He took the exam and failed. When he asked to see his results he found that he had, in fact, enough points to pass (the cut-off was 156 while he received 198 out of 250 points). The Yokotas decided that it was better to be a ‘non-national’ and protect one’s health. Their son moved to live in Sapporo.76

In March 2015, Asami reported that doctors undertook paediatric thyroid operations while denying any correlation (inga kankei 因果 関係) with radiation exposures. They also urged their patients to keep their thyroid cancer a secret to enhance their employment or marriage prospects, although it would be difficult to conceal the post-operation scar.77 Yokota also indicated she knew of students having sudden heart attacks and developing leukaemia and other illnesses.78

This seems to be supported by Mr Ōkoshi, a Fukushima city resident, whose two daughters experienced stillbirths after 3.11. WhileŌkoshi found that doctors have regularly advised women in the area to abort after 3.11, presumably to avoid miscarriages and defects, they do not discuss direct causes. He also observed regular illnesses experienced by many of his friends, and some sudden deaths. After a friend (62 years old) started saying strange things, he was diagnosed with brain dysfunction. He died quickly. Another friend (53 years old) was advised by a doctor to monitor a polyp in her breast. When she sought second opinions, she discovered she had accumulated an internal dose of 22 mSv and had a rapidly developing liver cancer. She also died quickly.79 There are many more such stories that are being actively ignored by the authorities. As Shiina put it, ‘we’re getting leukaemia and cataracts and we die suddenly. The TEPCO registrar has been inundated with complaints’.80

While radiation contamination is clearly a health and environmental issue, state-corporate methods deployed by executives to protect (transnational) financial, industry and security interests and assets also make it a political issue.81 As things do not change by themselves, rather than turning one’s frustration inward in self-blame, turning to prayer or deceiving oneself into returning to pre-3.11 lifeways in contaminated areas, Shiina states that people, particularly those most affected, must develop political consciousness.

To achieve this ambitious objective is not as complicated as it might sound. Nishiyama Chikako (60 years old), for example, returned to Kawauchi village to run for the local assembly after the mandatory order was lifted in December 2011. She found, as she commented in her blog, a link between TEPCO and the tripling of the Kawauchi budget post-3.11. Subsequently, she reported that her blog was shut down by unknown hackers on several occasions.82

This sort of information and communication control appears to be widespread. After 3.11, the central government hired advertising companies Dentsū and Hakuhōdō (formerly McCann Ericson Hakuhodo) to run a ‘public acceptance’ campaign. Young teams were dispatched nationwide to conduct ‘public opinion guidance’ (yoron yūdō 世論誘導). The teams consisted of casual labour (earning 2,000–4,000 yen per hour) hired under a confidentiality clause (shuhi gimu 守秘義務) to manipulate information (jōhō kōsaku 情報工作) and harass internet users.83

Media professionals have been subjected to similar tactics. The Asahi TV journalist Iwaji Masaki (Hōdō Station), one of the few mainstream journalists covering the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in depth, for example, was intimidated by police for interviewing (December 2012) informal nuclear workers who showed shoddy decontamination practices that entailed contaminated waste disposal rather than removal and the mother of a child with thyroid cancer. Airing the program was delayed until August 2013. Before he could complete his planned segments on the US$1 billion class action for compensation for unusual and serious illnesses filed against TEPCO, General Electric, Hitachi and Tōshiba in 2015 by sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan (which provided assistance quickly after the disaster, and among whose crew 250 were ill and three had died),84 on 29 September 2013, Iwaji was reportedly found dead in his apartment (having suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in a sealed room as he slept). Much speculation followed on social media, including both plausible reasons for suicide and testimonies from friends that knew him well that Iwaji himself stated he would never commit suicide, but the story was conspicuously ignored by major news channels.85

The former mayor of Futaba village Idogawa Katsuichi was harassed on social media for calling attention to illnesses and for the resettlement of pregnant women and children. When Kariya Tetsu characterised Idogawa in his popular manga series (Oishinbo 美味しんぼ), and depicted the manga’s main character as suffering from nosebleeds after visiting Fukushima, Kariya’s editors shut the series down following accusations of ‘spreading rumours’ from some readers, media commentators and high level politicians. Similarly, Takenouchi Mari, a freelance journalist and mother who evacuated from Fukushima in 2011, received thousands of slanderous messages and threats to her two-year-old son and her property after criticising the co-founder of Fukushima ETHOS on her blog in mid-2012. She too reported that her internet account was suspended and her request for a police investigation ignored. She was counter-sued for harassment and subjected to a criminal investigation and civil law suit.86

Among the activists who have been arrested for anti-nuclear protests, the academic Shimoji Masaki of Hannan University (9 December 2012) was arrested by Osaka Prefectural Police and charged with ‘violating the Railway Operation Act’ for walking through an Osaka station concourse while participating in a demonstration against radioactive waste incineration (17 October 2012). Shimoji had reiterated that residents, due to radioactive incineration (which was due to commence in Osaka in February 2013), would be forced to bear the burden of air, food and water contamination.8

Despite such obstacles to developing a political consciousness as well as the obvious difficulties in permanently resettling large populations, it has been not only evacuees who have had to think about their fundamental life priorities after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear distaster. Some have adopted real (not only psychological) self-protection mechanisms. The  voluntary Fukushima Collective Health Clinic (Fukushima Kyōdō Shinryōjo 福島共同診療所), for example, is founded on three principles: respite (hoyō 保養), treatment (shinryō 診療) and healing (iryō 医療). Co-founder Dr Sugii, advocates a return to the 1 mSv/y limit, and seeks to inform those who for whatever reason cannot move from contaminated areas in Fukushima Prefecture.88 This is modelled on Belrad, the independent health clinic in Belarus run by Alexey Nesterenko, which prioritises knowledge, safety and open information on radiation and its health impacts. 86

To counteract the misinformation residents were exposed to post Chernobyl, over time and with limited resources, Belrad and other organisations have disseminated information and organised respite trips for children in affected areas. In 2015, for example, subsidised respite trips were organised for 50,000 children, and results have shown that  over  two  continuous years of respite those who accumulated 25– 35 Bq/kg had reduced the amount to 0 Bq/kg. Unlike the flat limit of 100 Bq/kg of Caesium in food in Japan (50 Bq/kg for milk and infant foods, 10  Bq/kg for drinking water), Belrad recommends an internal radiation limit of 10–30 Bq/kg in the body (although it advises below 10 Bq for infants to avoid lesions and heart irregularities).89 It should be noted that these limits do not guarantee safety against the effects of repeating internal radiation exposure from consuming contaminated foods, which is relative to the length of time the radiation remains and its location in the body.

While some communities, such as the town of Aketo in Tanohama, Iwate Prefecture, have struggled to block the siting of nuclear waste storage facilities,90 others are also organising to reduce radio-accumulation in their children through respite trips,91 as well as concentrating on indoor activities, measuring hotspots and decontaminating public areas and pathways, pooling funds for expensive spectrometers to monitor internal exposure and food and water, incorporating dietary radioprotection, as well as finding ways to reduce anxiety

Many local farmers cannot admit the already near-permanent damage to their land (which may continue for hundreds of years) because it would imply the devaluation of their property and produce as well as threatening their ancestral ties to the land, commitments and future plans. While many are keenly aware of their responsibilities, the push by the Fukushima and central governments to identify and gain access to markets for produce from irradiated areas would make it easier to overlook uncomfortable factors. Some have argued that given the reassurances of safety from the highest authorities, these offical figures should therefore relocate to contaminated areas and consume these products regularly. Despite the fairness of this statement, a more utilitarian logic has prevailed. In the name of reconstruction and revitalisation of Fukushima and the nation, the dilution of Fukushima produce with unirradiated produce to return measurements just under the required limits, radiation spikes in soil and food or the mutation of plants as Caesium replaces potassium (K40), for example, tend to be minimised. In this climate, the distribution and relabelling of Fukushima produce for urban and international markets (i.e. in a black market of cut-price bulk produce picked up by yakuza and other brokers) is likely to continue.

To date, the majority of evacuees have refused to return to (de)contaminated areas. Some claim they are yet to receive accurate information to justify it. Independent specialists such as Hosokawa Kōmei (Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy), who develops models for transition to renewable alternatives, anticipate an increase in evacuee populations as they predict increased resettlement of Fukushima residents over 20–30 years.92 As some evacuees recognise the potential for second or third Fukushimas, they have sought to strengthen their collective identities and rights. Through local organisation and alternative life practices, whether in micro-scale ecovillages and transition towns93 with communal occupancies and squats, parallel currencies and local exchange systems (roughly 70 substantive projects), organic food co-ops, self-sufficient energy systems, local production and recycling, carpools and free kindergartens, such groups are seeking to reconstruct and model core social priorities, focusing on clean food, health and community cooperation rather than the internalised and dreary competition for material accumulation.

Although the accountability of authorities with prior knowledge has yet to be properly investigated, one of the largest groups of collective legal actions  to be mounted in Japanese history includes some 20 lawsuits by  10,000 plaintiffs. The Fukushima genpatsu kokuso-dan (Group of Plaintiffs for Criminal Prosecution 福島原発告訴団), formed on 20 April 2012, filed a criminal case (lodged 3 September 2013, Fukushima District Court) against 33 previous and present officers of TEPCO, government officials and medical experts for ‘group irresponsibility’ and the neglect of duty of care, environmental damage and harm to human health. Mutō Ruiko, one of the key plaintiffs, declared the main aim to be symbolic: to publicly record injury, reclaim the victims’ sense of agency and protect the next generation. In short, they were seeking recognition of wrong and harm done rather than primarily financial redress. This moderate aim was undoubtedly tempered by recognition of regulatory capture: those who were cavalier with safety procedures ‘were now in charge of restarts; those responsible for the “safety” campaign were now in charge of the Health Survey; [there has been] no responsibility for the SPEEDI cover-up; and TEPCO is not being held responsible for [faulty] decontamination’.94

The judgement of this case was handed down at the Tokyo District Court on the same day as the announcement of Tokyo’s successful Olympics bid (9  September 2013). The case was dismissed on the grounds that the disaster was beyond predictability (sōteigai 想定外), which made negligence  hypothetical.95 A citizens’ panel (Committee for inquest of Prosecution) overturned the dismissal and renewed the claim against three TEPCO executives on 18 December 2013. They demanded, alongside a  ruling of negligence against three former TEPCO executives, the inclusion of physical, economic, social and psychological harms: illness, paediatric underdevelopment (radiation exposures, excessive isolation indoors), financial losses (unemployment, loss in property value, rental costs of two homes, relocation, travel, etc.), family and community division, ijime (bullying いじめ) and stress. Many plaintiffs also claimed that their disrupted reliance upon nature,96 as inviolable and precious,97 should be recognised as harm. This too was dismissed and again a citizen’s panel found against the three TEPCO executives.98 In May 2015, 10 groups of plaintiffs formed a network named Hidanren (被弾連, Genpatsu Jiko Higaisha Dantai Renrakukai) comprising 20,000 people. The Fukushima kokuso-dan again made a claim to another citizens’ panel, which found in July 2015 in favour of indicting the three TEPCO executives for trial.99 In addition, a civil case filed in June 2015 by 4,000 plaintiffs from Iwaki seeking to prove negligence and not just harm sought to use previously withheld evidence to show fair warning of a 3.11-type scenario was given. This case focused the court on the operator’s calculation of risk probability of a tsunami of that size and, rather than aiming at financial compensation, it sought to deter nuclear operators from future negligent practices if ruled in favour. In anticipation of out-of-court settlements, the Japanese Government increased the budget for compensation payments to 7 trillion yen (US$56 billion). https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/j.ctt1pwtd47.11.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Af507747c78b2f0fba7a19d91222e4a72

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Japan, media, politics, psychology - mental health, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Extreme heat is reported on news media, but climate change is rarely mentioned

Newspapers are failing to connect extreme heat to climate change https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/07/27/Newspapers-are-failing-to-connect-extreme-heat-to-climate-change/220822

During the recent heat wave, only about 11 percent of articles mentioned global warming, a new report finds  EVLONDO COOPER 

Almost 90 percent of articles about the recent heat wave in the biggest 50 U.S. newspapers failed to mention hot weather’s connection to climate change, according to a new report published by the nonprofit Public Citizen.

This unfortunate trend extends beyond newspapers. Media Matters has documented how rarely broadcast TV networks cover climate change. Our most recent study looked at how the major broadcast networks covered the links between climate change and extreme heat and found that over a two-week period from late June to early July, only one segment out of 127 about the heat wave mentioned climate change.

Public Citizen looked at coverage of extreme heat in the top 50 U.S. newspapers by circulation over the first half of 2018 and found that less than 18 percent of the articles mentioned climate change:

In the top 50 newspapers, a total of 760 articles mentioned extreme heat, heat waves, record heat, or record temperatures from January 1 to July 8, 2018. One hundred thirty-four of these pieces (17.6 percent) also mentioned climate change or global warming.

During the period June 27 to July 8, only 23 of 204 heat-related articles (11.3 percent) mentioned climate.

During the heat wave, there were 673 articles, with 26 (3.9 percent) mentioning climate.

In late June and early July, when a heat wave was afflicting much of the U.S., the percentage of articles mentioning climate change was even lower:

Public Citizen also looked beyond the top 50 papers to see how extreme heat was covered in papers in 13 states where 10 or more local areas broke heat records from June 27 to July 8. This more localized newspaper coverage was even worse:

While writers and editors may want to exercise caution in attributing any individual event to climate change, the science is clear that our warming climate is making extreme events like heat waves, floods, and fires more intense and more frequent. That’s why environmental journalists and communicators have been calling on major news outlets to do a better job of covering climate change and the environmental rollbacks that could make things worse.

Public Citizen’s report did highlight notable exceptions when newspapers did strong reporting to connect extreme heat to climate change — such as a story by Austin American-Statesman reporter Roberto Villalpando that explained how climate change is bringing 100-degree days to Austin earlier in the year. Despite this, the report concluded, “U.S. news outlets continue to tell only half the story. These exceptions need to become the norm if the public is going to wake from its slumber on climate change in time to take the bold action we urgently need to avoid catastrophic harm, and possibly even an existential threat to the U.S., later this century.”

July 30, 2018 Posted by | climate change, media, USA | Leave a comment

Public opinion being influenced by biased and inaccurate reporting on North Korea

They have thus obscured the reality that the fate of the negotiations depends not only North Korean policy but on the willingness of the United States to make changes in its policy toward the DPRK and the Korean Peninsula that past administrations have all been reluctant to make.

These stories also underscore a broader problem with media coverage of the US-North Korean negotiations: a strong underlying bias toward the view that it is futile to negotiate with North Korea. The latest stories have constructed a dark narrative of North Korean deception that is not based on verified facts. If this narrative is not rebutted or corrected, it could shift public opinion—which has been overwhelmingly favorable to negotiations with North Korea—against such a policy.

How the Media Wove a Narrative of North Korean Nuclear Deception 38 North, BY: GARETH PORTER, JULY 26, 2018

Since the June 12 Singapore Summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the US media has woven a misleading narrative that both past and post-summit North Korean actions indicate an intent to deceive the US about its willingness to denuclearize. The so-called intelligence that formed the basis of these stories was fed to reporters by individuals within the administration pushing their own agenda.

The Case of the Secret Uranium Enrichment Sites

In late June and early July, a series of press stories portrayed a North Korean policy of deceiving the United States by keeping what were said to be undeclared uranium enrichment sites secret from the United States. The stories were published just as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was preparing for the first meetings with North Korean officials to begin implementing the Singapore Summit Declaration.

The first such story appeared on NBC News on June 29, which reported: Continue reading

July 28, 2018 Posted by | media, North Korea, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Prosecuting Julian Assange – a dangerous precedent threatening journalists’ rights

Judges Hear Warning on Prosecution of WikiLeaks https://www.courthousenews.com/judges-hear-warning-on-prosecution-of-wikileaks/  July 24, 2018MARIA DINZEO   NAHEIM, Calif. (CN) – Prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing leaked documents related to the 2016 presidential election would set a terrible precedent for journalists, the top lawyer for The New York Times said Tuesday.

Addressing a room full of federal and circuit judges at the Ninth Circuit’s annual judicial conference, David McCraw, the deputy general counsel for The New York Times, explained that regardless of how one feels about Assange and traditional news outlets receiving the same kind of deference over publishing leaked materials, his prosecution would be a gut punch to free speech.

“I think the prosecution of him would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers,” McCraw said. “From that incident, from everything I know, he’s sort of in a classic publisher’s position and I think the law would have a very hard time drawing a distinction between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.”

McCraw went on to clarify that while Assange employs certain methods that he finds discomfiting and irresponsible, such as dumping unredacted documents revealing the personal information of ordinary people, Assange should be afforded the same protections as a traditional journalist.

“Do I wish journalism was practiced in a certain way, like it is with The New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal? Of course. But I also think new ways of publishing have their value. Our colleagues who are not only challenging us financially but journalistically have raised an awareness that there are different ways to report,” McCraw said.

“But if someone is in the business of publishing information, I think that whatever privilege happens to apply – whatever extension of the law that would apply – should be there. Because the question isn’t whether he’s a journalist. It’s in that instance was he committing an act of journalism.”

Assange has long considered himself a journalist operating no differently than other news outlets. This has complicated matters, because if Assange can be prosecuted for publishing leaked information, why not prosecute news organizations like The New York Times?

Earlier this month, a grand jury returned an indictment against twelve Russian military spies for hacking into the servers and emails of the Democratic National Committee and state election officials, stealing documents and staging the release of those documents to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. While the indictment did not name Assange and WikiLeaks specifically, it has been widely suggested that WikiLeaks received the materials and could very well be the group referred to in the indictment as “Organization Number 1.”

Barry Pollack, who represents Assange in an ongoing criminal investigation in the Eastern District of Virginia, weighed in on the indictment Tuesday.

“If you read the indictment that just came out on Russians and you look at what Organization Number 1, which is clearly WikiLeaks, is alleged to have done in that indictment, it is doing exactly what The New York Times and The Washington Post do every day of the week,” Pollack said. “He [Assange] is communicating with a source, the source provides him with information, he publishes that information.

“There are no questions about the truthfulness or accuracy or authenticity of that information. And then he encourages the source to give him more information. He says ‘don’t give it to my competitors, give it to me. This story will have more impact if I publish it.’”

Pollack and McCraw spoke as part of a panel titled “The Law of Leaks,” a session on how the United States has ramped up efforts to prosecute people who have leaked state secrets. Thirteen people have been prosecuted under the first law against leaking state secrets, the Espionage Act of 1917, most under the Obama administration.

President Donald Trump has waged an unprecedented war against the media, taking to Twitter last year to call the media “the enemy of the American people.”  Yet no publisher has ever been indicted over leaks, and both McCraw and Pollack expressed doubts about whether it will happen any time soon.

“Unlike firing off a tweet, bringing a prosecution requires a career professional prosecutor to sign off on the prosecution, so there also is a tremendous check there that doesn’t exist in some of the rhetoric we hear,” Pollack said.

“Prosecutions of journalists would be difficult,” McCraw said. “I think they’d be unpopular, I think they’d be wrong, and I think they’d be unsuccessful. I see this PR campaign against the press as almost an alternative to legal measures.”

 

July 28, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, media, USA | Leave a comment

TV News Media is letting the world down as it fails to cover unprecedented global heat wave

Global heat wave: an epic TV news fail https://thebulletin.org/2018/07/global-heat-wave-an-epic-tv-news-fail/?utm_source=Bulletin%20newsletter&utm_medium=iContact%20email&utm_campaign=July20  By Dawn Stover, July 19, 2018

This month’s scorching heat wave broke records around the world. The Algerian city of Ouargla, with a population of half a million, had a temperature of 124.3 degrees Fahrenheit on July 6, the hottest reliably measured temperature on record in Africa. In Ireland and Wales, the unusually hot weather revealed ancient structures normally hidden by grass or crops. In Chino, California, the mercury soared to 120 degrees. Another round of hazardous summer heat is expected this week, with record high temperatures possible in the southern United States.

The prolonged heat wave has been a staple of television news for weeks. However, most of the coverage has been sorely lacking in context: Humans are warming the planet, and scientists have already linked some heat waves to climate change. A recent analysis published in the journal Nature Climate Change concludes that human-driven climate change, rather than natural variability, will be the leading cause of heat waves over the western United States and Great Lakes region as early as the 2020s and 2030s, respectively.

Like the heat itself, much of the media coverage was stupefying. “Major broadcast TV networks overwhelmingly failed to report on the links between climate change and extreme heat,” according to a Media Matters survey. “Over a two-week period from late June to early July, ABC, CBS, and NBC aired a combined 127 segments or weathercasts that discussed the heat wave, but only one segment, on CBS This Morning, mentioned climate change.”

TV coverage would undoubtedly improve if weather forecasters were better informed about climate science. But four Republican senators with close ties to the fossil fuel industry are trying to eliminate government funding for a National Science Foundation designed to help forecasters (and by extension, the general public) “become more familiar with the science behind how their local weather and its trends are related to the dynamics of the climate.”

July 21, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, media | Leave a comment