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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Attacks on climate scientists will continue

Climate scientists face harassment, threats and fears of ‘McCarthyist attacks’
Researchers will have to deal with attacks from a range of powerful foes in the coming years – and for many, it has already started “…….
The Texas Tech University professor Katharine Hayhoe, who has gathered a healthy following for her Facebook posts that mix climate science with evangelism, has opened her inbox to missives including “Nazi Bitch Whore Climatebecile” and a request that she “stop using Jesus to justify your wacko ideas about global warming”.

Threats and badgering of climate scientists peaked after the theft and release of the “Climategate” emails – a 2009 scandal that was painfully thin on scandal. But the organized effort to pry open cracks in the overwhelming edifice of proof that humans are slowly baking the planet never went away. Scientists are now concerned that the election of Donald Trump has revitalized those who believe climate researchers are cosseted fraudsters.

Mann said climate scientists “fear an era of McCarthyist attacks on our work and our integrity”. The odd unfulfilled threat may be perturbing but a more morale-sapping fear is that the White House and Congress will dig up and parade seemingly unflattering emails, sideline or scrap research and attempt to hush the scientific community…..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/22/climate-change-science-attacks-threats-trump

February 25, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Pressure on Hanford doctor to disregard worker safety

see-no-evilFlag-USAFormer Hanford doctor ‘under duress’ to disregard worker safety http://www.king5.com/news/local/hanford/former-hanford-doctor-under-duress-to-disregard-worker-safety/405358477  Susannah Frame, KING  February 09, 2017          In 30 years of medical practice, Dr. Loren Lewis of Spokane said he’s never seen tactics like those used at Hanford.

Instead of putting worker safety as priority number one at the former nuclear weapons complex, the occupational medicine expert said he felt “forced and under duress to…manipulate a medical policy” he wasn’t comfortable with.

From 2004 to 2006, Lewis was the top medical professional at the site, the Site Occupational Medical Director (SOMD). As per federal regulation, he was legally and ethically responsible for overseeing medical policy and programs for the 11,000 workers at the site. As SOMD, he was an employee of a federal government contractor, AdvanceMed Hanford.

Lewis said his supervisors at AdvanceMed Hanford and officials they reported to at the U.S. Department of Energy pressured him to abandon his adherence to the federal regulations and loosen medical policy as it related to keeping workers safe from a highly toxic metal at the site called beryllium.

“That was really a violation of their own regulations. They should have been aware that (the regulation) gives strict authority to the SOMD (to direct medical policy),” said Lewis. “To me, it is unthinkable that a medical professional would be forced to do things that are politically or have some other motivation besides the health of the person. That’s what we are trained to do and what the Hippocratic oath is about – the health of the person.”

In the mid-2000s, the subject of keeping workers safe from beryllium was a hot topic. The metal was used at Hanford in non-sparking tools and processes used to produce plutonium. It is one of the most hazardous metals on the planet, and some workers become allergic to it or contract a life-threatening disease called Chronic Beryllium Disease. The condition is an incurable lung disease that can cause a person’s health to decline over several years. It can affect not only a person’s lungs, but can also damage a person’s heart, nervous system, and mental health, as well as liver and kidney function.

After a worker would be diagnosed with an allergic reaction to beryllium, a condition called beryllium sensitivity, experts say best practice is to keep them away from beryllium to the greatest extent possible.

“It takes a seemingly trivial amount of beryllium to cause this disease,” said Dr. Lee Newman of the University of Colorado Denver. “So if you’re not being as strict as possible in controlling the exposures, it’s, unfortunately, easy for someone to be overexposed.”

Newman is considered the world’s leading expert on beryllium.

“There is no known safe level for someone who is sensitized,” said Newman.

But Lewis said his supervisors and a top U.S. Department of Energy official were pressuring him to come up with a safe level of beryllium and to put that measurement in Hanford medical policy for those who had become sensitized.

Hundreds of internal emails obtained by KING 5 show the bitter dispute over this issue between Lewis and his superiors.

“We received specific guidance from (U.S. Department of Energy administrator) Doug Shoop to reword the policy,” wrote Lewis’ boss on Oct. 8, 2006. “He (Shoop) specifically requested that the wording in the medical restriction document contain a reference to the maximum exposure limit…(but) you began questioning this direction…Such behavior is inexcusable.”

Lewis pushed back in dozens of emails.

“I cannot stress enough that it is very inappropriate for…DOE to exert duress and compulsion on the way that we practice medicine, on medical decision making,” wrote Lewis on Oct. 4, 2006.

“I cannot provide a ‘safe level’ of exposure because there is no medical support of such,” wrote Lewis. “(I’m being) forced and under duress to manipulate a medical policy (by people who do not have) a license to practice medicine in the State of Washington. (Going along) would put Hanford workers at increased risk.”

Shoop said he could barely remember Lewis and that he “didn’t believe” he had put pressure on the SOMD.

“My interest was the health of the worker and keeping them safe and not letting them go back into a situation where they could be harmed further,” said Lewis.

Lewis said making deadlines and getting the work done seemed to eclipse worker safety at the site.

“It was in the best interest of the employer and their profitability and getting people to do the work regardless of what the health consequences were,” said Lewis.

Lewis refused to cave under pressure. Nineteen days after he put his foot down once and for all, he was fired. “My supervisor gave me a note and said the Department of Energy had lost confidence in my leadership and fired me on the spot,” said Lewis.

Lewis said on behalf of the sick and forgotten at Hanford, the fight, the stress, the loss of a job was all worth it.

“It was very difficult to stand up against that,” Lewis said. “There was a lot of force…I was proud of myself that I was willing to stand my ground and stick up for my principals and the ethics I felt were important, and if I did it again, I would do the same thing.”

Lewis now works for the U.S. Department of Labor, helping sick nuclear workers.

During that time in the mid-2000s, he tried to get the word out about what was going on. He filed complaints with the Department of Energy in Washington D.C. Teams came out and investigated, but nothing ever came of it.

That’s why he’s speaking out now, to bring attention to what he thinks is most likely still going on at Hanford.

“The workers are not safe and protected by the system,” said Newman.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Britain’s Espionage Act change wanted: it could then be used to prosecute foreign journalists

flag-UKcivil-liberty-2smUK COULD PROSECUTE US JOURNALISTS WITH NEW ESPIONAGE ACT http://govtslaves.info/uk-could-prosecute-us-journalists-with-new-espionage-act/ [2/3/17]  KIT DANIELS–  The UK Law Commission wants to overhaul the country’s Espionage Act to prosecute foreigners who “leak confidential information” which “damages” national security and the UK’s economy.

This could, in theory, be used to prosecute overseas journalists – including those in the US – who release damning information on UK officials given to them by whistleblowers.

“Foreigners who leak information overseas that damages British national security could also be prosecuted in the UK for the first time,” the Telegraph reported. “This would include a non-British citizen seconded to a government department and in that role have access to information that relates to security and intelligence.”

“Currently, they can only be prosecuted if the leak is by a British national or happens on UK soil.”

And anyone who leaks “sensitive information” that “affects the economic well-being of the UK” would also be at risk for prosecution, an Orwellian premise given its broad scope.

If the UK adopts the Law Commission’s recommendations, prosecuted foreigners could face up to 14 years in jail – and the UK has extradition agreements with at least 105 countries, including the US.

In addition to foreign journalists, US whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden could also be targeted due to the global interconnection of spy organizations; his NSA leaks in particular also implicated British intelligence.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence already issues “D-Notices” to gag news stories from appearing in British media which the government claims is “harmful to national security implications,” including bombshell reports such as the Snowden leaks that exposed government criminality.

But now it appears the UK wants to go one step further and ensure that damning information is never released to the public to keep the population ignorant and under control.

February 6, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties | Leave a comment

Russia finally admits to a nuclear reactor failure that it covered up for 2 months

Russia fixes a reactor it initially refused to say was broken Russian nuclear officials say they’ve fixed a generator glitch that more than two months ago shut down its prized, first of a kind AES-2006 reactor under a cloud of embarrassment and initial secrecy. Bellona, January 31, 2017 by Russian nuclear officials say they’ve fixed a generator glitch that more than two months ago shut down its prized, first of a kind AES-2006 reactor under a cloud of embarrassment and initial secrecy.

The November 10 generator failure at the reactor, which began operating last year at the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant south of Moscow, was kept under wraps by nuclear utility Rosenergoatom.

Official Russian news agencies reported the hiccup six days later, and referenced a statement from Rosenergoatom published the same day. Since then, however, the utility appears to have backdated its initial November 16 Russian language Web post on the incident to November 10.

When the company finally did publish information on the cause of the unexpected shutdown at the flagship reactor, also known as a VVER-1200, which Rosatom is building for a number of foreign customers, it cited a short circuit as the cause.

The apparently re-dated release emphasized that the shutdown was not unusual, and that it had no effect on the radiation safety of the plant. But the utility’s late reporting of the incident gave rise reports in local publications that the plant had suffered an emergency.

On November 15, Bloknot Voronezh, a Web site published in Voronezh Russia, ran a report citing an anonymous witness who reported hearing an explosion near the nuclear plant’s turbine hall, and who spoke of a burned out generator. The witness also reported burned out electrical equipment and a telltale loud noise.

Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom has staked much of its reputation on the successful operation of the AES-2006, which had long been under development. Its launch at the Novovoronezh plant was initially scheduled for 2012, but there was a four-year delay in its construction…….

both the AES-2006 reactor, which is Novovoronezh’s unit 6, and the next reactor from the line at unit No 7 are already seriously behind schedule. The original launch date for unit No 7 passed in 2016.

Previous to that it had been expected to come online in 2014 and 2015 as well, so in total, it’s not on time at all, but rather running five years behind.

But don’t tell that to Belarus, which is currently building an AES-2006 reactor, or Finland, Turkey, and Hungary, who all have orders in for one.

And Rosenergoatom’s initial impulse to not report the shutdown of Novovoronezh’s unit No 6 appeared to be an effort to keep things hushed up. Not until rumors of something far worse bubbled up in the local press did the utility attempt to correct the record by admitting a minor malfunction.

Even then, it apparently rewrote the date when the malfunction occurred on its press release to make it look like it had spoken up earlier. By turns, any of Rosatom’s customers should likely be prepared to receive backdated bills for late reactors when they finally get to building them.

Andrei Ozharovsky contributed to this report from Moscow. http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-01-russia-fixes-a-reactor-it-initially-refused-to-say-was-broken

February 6, 2017 Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Fake charity (nuclear lobby) The Weinberg Foundation is whining about Britain leaving Euratom

text-weinberg-whinyLeaving Euratom: the government should reconsider, Weinberg Next Nuclear 27 Jan 17   “…….A complex set of negotiations will now have to take place as most nuclear co-operation with the UK relies on safeguards provided through Euratom. It may not be possible to agree and ratify new agreements before Britain leaves the EU in 2019. According to Vince Zabielski, a senior lawyer at law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, “current new build projects will be placed on hold while those standalone treaties are negotiated” meaning possible delays at Hinkley as well as Bradwell, Moorside and Wylfa.

The decision however is not just bad for the UK, but for nuclear as a whole. With the UK one of the last big supporters of the technology, weakening its strength in the field will give power to anti-nuclear camps across the continent.

Weinberg Next Nuclear is very concerned that the departure from Euratom could severely damage the UK’s nuclear industry, with impacts on energy security, industrial competitiveness and decarbonisation objectives. We find no reason why such drastic action needs to be taken. Article 50 deals with the two Treaties of Lisbon: the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. However the Euratom treaty is separate, not mentioned in either of the above treaties thus there is no reason for including Euratom in any part of Article 50 debate. As Jonathan Leech, a senior lawyer and nuclear expert at Prospect Law said, “there doesn’t seem to have been any real explanation as to why, because we are going towards the unknown at great speed. Legally we don’t have to [leave Euratom because the UK is leaving the EU],”.

Weinberg Next Nuclear thus urges the government to reconsider and avoid the highly damaging consequences this unnecessary withdrawal could have on the UK’s nuclear future. http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2017/01/27/leaving-euratom-the-government-should-reconsider/

January 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Conflict between Big Nuclear Reactor makers and Small Nuclear Reactor makers now coming out into the open?

Nuclear Options The Economist, print version, 28 Jan 17 “………Not one of the two technologies that were supposed to revolutionise the supply of nuclear energy—the European Pressurised Reactor, or EPR, and the AP1000 from America’s Westinghouse—has yet been installed, despite being conceived early this century. In Finland, France and China, all the EPRs under construction are years behind schedule. The main hope for salvaging their reputation—and the nuclear business of EDF, the French utility that owns the technology—is the Hinkley Point C project in Britain, which by now looks a lot like a Hail Mary pass.

Meanwhile, delays with the Westinghouse AP1000 have caused mayhem at Toshiba, its owner. The Japanese firm may announce write-downs in February of up to $6bn on its American nuclear business. As nuclear assets are probably unsellable, it is flogging parts of its core, microchip business instead……..

 the business case for a new breed of small reactors below 300MW is improving. This month, Oregon-based NuScale Power became the first American firm to apply for certification of a small modular reactor (SMR) design with America’s nuclear regulators.
nuclear-lobby-dispute-1

“Clearly the momentum seems to be shifting away from traditional suppliers,” says William Magwood, director-general of the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency……

The WNA also notes in a report this month a “revival” of interest in SMRs, partly because of rock-bottom sentiment toward large plants. Utilities are finding it tough to pay for big projects (Barakah, for instance costs a whopping $20bn), especially in deregulated power markets where prices have slumped because of an abundance of natural gas and renewable energy. Big investments can sink a firm’s credit rating and jack up its cost of capital.

It is less onerous to pay for an SMR, which means that even though they produce less energy, they can be cost-competitive with larger plants once they are being mass produced, says the WNA….

January 28, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Trump Wants “Alternative Facts” on Climate Change. We Saved the Real Ones.

 trump-burning-booksDaily KosBy Paul Bland for Public Justice  Thursday Jan 26, 2017 ·”……Today, the new White House team is taking a deeply troubling step to hide the truth by shuttering the EPA’s climate change website and, by extension, deleting volumes of important scientific information. And it is part of a very troubling pattern: President Trump once famously proclaimed that climate change was an idea “created by and for the Chinese.” And, in an all-out assault on science and reality, he has nominated Scott Pruitt – a man so extreme that we broke 35 years of silence on cabinet nominees to oppose his nomination – to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

January 28, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Another British nuclear mishap kept secret – the Scottish cold war nuclear submarine collision

exclamation-submarine,-nuclear-underwatScottish cold war nuclear submarine collision kept secret for 43 years
Documents published by CIA reveal crash between US and Soviet subs a few miles off coast of Scotland in 1974,
Guardian, , 26 Jan 17, Two nuclear submarines from rival sides in the cold war collided a few miles off the coast of Scotland in an incident that was covered up for 43 years.

The potentially catastrophic crash occurred in November 1974 when the SSBN James Madison, armed with 16 Poseidon nuclear missiles, was heading out of the US naval base at Holy Loch, 30 miles north-west of Glasgow.

Soon after leaving the port it hit an unidentified Soviet submarine that had been sent to tail it, according to a cable to then US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, marked “secret eyes only” [pdf].

The cable, sent by national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, said: “Have just received word from the Pentagon that one of our Poseidon submarines has just collided with a Soviet submarine.

“The SSBN James Madison was departing Holy Loch to take up station when it collided with a Soviet submarine waiting outside the port to take up trail.

“Both submarines surfaced and the Soviet boat subsequently submerged again. There is no report yet of the extent of damage. Will keep you posted.”

The cable was published by the CIA on 17 January as part of a mass release of more than 12m pages of previously classified reports in 930,000 documents.

The cable corroborates an until-now unconfirmed report on the incident in the Washington Post on 1 January 1975 by the investigative journalist Jack Anderson. He reported that the collision left a 9ft scratch on the side of the James Madison and that the two submarines came within inches of sinking one another.

Another document marked “top secret” [pdf]released in the same batch expressed alarm that the news of the collision had leaked.

It said: “On 3 January, the NID [National Intelligence Daily] ran an item on the collision just off Holy Loch of US Polaris submarine and a Soviet attack submarine. Unfortunately, Jack Anderson had run the same news in the Washington Post a day or two earlier.

“This pre-emption on Anderson’s part forced the surfacing (no pun intended) of a piece of information in a current intelligence 2 months after the event occurred. …..

Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said the secret cable exposed the “enormous risks” of nuclear weapons.

“The history of nuclear weapons is a history of near misses, accidents, potential catastrophes and cover-ups. This latest example joins 25 other near misses that could have led to nuclear war.”

CND is calling for an inquiry into Trident, the successor to the Poseidon programme, after it emerged that a malfunctioning missile with the potential to carry a nuclear warhead was forced to self-destruct in mid-air off the US coast last June.

Hudson added: “These enormous risks have to be acknowledged particularly when we also now face the increasing likelihood of cyber-attack on nuclear weapons systems. With advancing technological developments added to the already dangerous mix there can be no confidence that nuclear weapons are a credible part of British security in the 21st century……… https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/25/nuclear-submarine-collision-cold-war-cia-scotland

January 27, 2017 Posted by | history, incidents, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Trump gagging scientists – this is scary stuff

trump-anti-scienceGag Order Or Not, Here’s Why Trump Cracking Down On Government Science is So Scary, Modern Farmer By  You may have seen news about a crackdown on communications between USDA (and the EPA, HHS, and Department of the Interior) and the public. In this latest affront, the administration on Monday directed the USDA to stop all “outward-facing” communications. But by Tuesday night, the gag-order had been “rescinded.” So what’s going on? And what could happen if scientists can’t speak to the public?

It all started yesterday, when BuzzFeed obtained a memo distributed on Monday within the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The memo was written by Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for ARS, and it informed the more than 2,000 ARS scientists—who study everything from methane emissions to the economy of rural America and have a major focus on climate change—to, essentially, keep quiet. Here’s the text, provided to Modern Farmer by the Christopher Bentley, director of the office of communications at ARS:

“Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents. This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content.”

According to reports today, however, a second email went out to ARS late Tuesday evening stating that Drumm’s note should have never been issued and has been “hereby rescinded.”

Wait, what?

The Play-By-Play

Once BuzzFeed published the memo yesterday, people got loud. News of a gag-order on the USDA was the latest of several similar edicts:

  • The Department of the Interior, after tweeting images Friday comparing President Trump’s meager inauguration crowds to the throngs at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, found its Twitter account shut down, only to reappear the next day with an apology.
  • Tuesday, Badlands National Park’s account tweeted a few facts about climate change—a subject President Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed to be “controversial”—that were soon deleted.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was told not to respond to any public questions, but to wait for the new leadership to arrive.
  • And the Environmental Protection Agency—which Trump pledged to “abolish” during his campaign and whose nominee to head the department, Scott Pruitt, is an avowed enemy who’s currently suing the agency—has issued a complete freeze on all communications (including social media, email, press releases and website updates), as well as a funding freeze on its grants and contracts.

Trump ordering USDA scientists—who conduct a great deal of research on climate change given agriculture is a notable contributor—to cease communicating with the public seemed to follow a pattern……..

Even if the Drumm memo has truly been rescinded, similar policies have been enacted at other governmental organizations. This isn’t a weird aberration; it’s part of a systematic clampdown on the parts of the government that the Trump administration finds problematic. So let’s take a look at how a crackdown on government science could affect the nation……….

This isn’t just a matter of keeping reporters from doing their jobs,” says Humiston. “There are real safety issues at stake here.” http://modernfarmer.com/2017/01/gag-order-not-heres-trump-cracking-government-science-scary/

January 27, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump cracks down on scientists and science agencies

civil liberties USATrump Just Ordered Government Scientists to Hide Facts From the Public He also immediately suspended all EPA contracts and grants.Mother Jones, JAN. 24, 2017 Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign, he and his proxies consistently expressed hostility to government regulation, particularly of the fossil fuel and agriculture industries. Within days of taking over, the Trump administration has already put a squeeze on the two agencies that most directly regulate Big Energy and Big Ag, the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Agriculture.

At the EPA, the administration has  ordered that “all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately,” ProPublica writers Andrew Revkin and Jesse Eisinger report, quoting an internal EPA email they obtained. Myron Ebell, the climate change denier who led the Trump team’s EPA transition and directs the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, confirmed the suspension, Revkin and Eisenger report.

That’s potentially a massive blow to the agency’s core functions, says Patty Lovera, assistant director of the environmental watchdog group Food & Water Watch. “The EPA’s not necessarily out there running a bulldozer to clean up a toxic site,” she says. Superfund, an EPA program responsible for cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated land, is executed through contracts, she said. The EPA turns to contractors for “tons of water stuff, too”—from monitoring water quality downstream from polluters to helping municipalities update water infrastructure to avoid toxins.

“It’s one thing to put a pause on new contracts so they can be reviewed, but to reach back and stop existing ones is a whole other can of worms,” Lovera said.

in Flint, Michigan, where lead contamination has led to the nation’s most notorious drinking-water catastrophe in years, the announcement brought uncertainty and confusion. “State officials are seeking more information on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency freeze on grants and contracts and what it could mean to $100 million in federal funds already appropriated for the Flint water crisis,” the news site MLive.com reported Tuesday. In statement quoted by MLive.com, the press secretary for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder noted that “we haven’t received any guidance from the federal government” about the EPA’s funding to address the Flint crisis.

Andrew Rosenberg, who directs the Center for Science and Democracy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, adds research to the list. The agency funds crucial environmental science through contracts with outside scientists, and interruptions to their funding can be devastating, he said. He likened the situation to the government shutdown of 2013, which temporarily blacked research funding throughout the federal government, including the EPA. In a blog post at the time, Rosenberg quoted an EPA scientist he interviewed on the effects of such interruptions:

A toxicologist who works for the Environmental Protection Agency expressed great frustration that the crucial work of testing chemicals on the market for toxicity has been interrupted. This work had been slow and complex, and short of manpower. Now, things are worse, the scientist writes. “The next time you reach under the sink to pull out a cleaning product, ask yourself if you’d really like to know if it was causing cancer, or if it was safe.” The shutdown, the toxicologist concludes, will keep toxic chemicals on the shelves “longer than they otherwise should have.”

Of course, it remains unclear exactly how far-ranging the contract suspension is—and that brings us to another move from the White House: a media blackout.  . TheHuffington Post‘s Kate Sheppard got hold of an internal EPA email sent to staff Monday blocking all press releases, social-media messages, and blog posts. As for answering queries from journalists, “Incoming media requests will be carefully screened,” the email stated. My own calls and emails to EPA spokespeople on Tuesday went unanswered.

Meanwhile, over at the USDA, a similar media blackout is afoot, reports BuzzFeed‘s Dino Grandoni:………

f the funding interruptions and media blackouts continue, she said, much of what the USDA and EPA do to study and protect the public from polluting industries will be negated. And that might be the point, she said: If you can prevent public agencies from conducting vital functions, “you can say they don’t do anything and justify cutting their funding.”

On a positive note, all the information that emerged Tuesday on the EPA and the USDA came from internal leaks. Trump may be determined to keep these crucial watchdog and research agencies tightly muzzled, but at least some career bureaucrats and scientists appear unwilling to keep the public in the dark http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/01/trump-has-already-cracked-down-epa-and-usda

January 25, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Theresa May kept quiet, but SHE KNEW about the test missile mishap

may-theresaNo.10 admits Theresa May did know about nuclear test where missile ‘veered towards America’ Downing Street describes the operation as ‘successful’ – because the submarine and crew returned to service – but refuses to say what happened to the missile, Independent, Rob Merrick  @Rob_Merrick  24 January 2017

Theresa May did know about last year’s controversial test firing of a Trident missile, but No.10 is refusing to confirm that it veered off course.

Instead, the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman insisted the operation had been “successful” – because both the submarine and the crew were able to return to service.

 Her spokeswoman described repeated questions about allegations that the unarmed missile went astray as “minutiae and specifics”.

The admission that Ms May was informed about the results of last June’s test comes 24 hours after she refused – four times – to say if she had been aware of it.

She has been accused of covering up the test, which came just weeks before MPs backed the £40bn renewal of Trident by 472 votes to 117…….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-nuclear-test-error-trident-mps-vote-refuses-confirm-a7541481.html

January 25, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Israeli court convicts Mordechai Vanunu – again!

Vanunu,MordechaiIsraeli Nuclear Whistleblower Vanunu Convicted of Violating Restraining Orders http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.767211, 24 Jan 17 
Jerusalem court convicts the man who spent 18 years behind bars of holding unauthorized meetings with two American citizens three years ago and failing to report his move to another apartment inside the same building.
Jerusalem Magistrates Court has convicted Mordechai Vanunu of violating restraining orders imposed since his release a decade ago after spending 18 years in prison for leaking Israeli nuclear secrets to the media.
In its verdict on Monday the court also acquitted Vanunu of violating two other orders.
Vanunu had been jailed for leaking information to the media from his place of employment at the Dimona nuclear reactor in the 1980s.
The restraining orders barred Vanunu from meeting with foreign citizens, required him to report about any change of address and barred him from reporting any information he had received as a reactor employee.
The indictment accused him of three violations: Holding unauthorized meetings with two American citizens in Jerusalem three years ago, and changing his address without notification, for moving to a different apartment in the same building and reporting about it as part of an interview with Channel 2 television.
Regarding the change of address Judge Yaron Mintikovich called it a “minor change of moving from one apartment to another inside the same building.”
The judge called it a technical violation rather than criminal. He was acquitted of a third offense because the state had failed to prove that he had found out about information he provided to Channel 2 while working at the reactor, rather than afterwards.
No sentence was immediately given.

January 25, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, Israel | 3 Comments

Yet more corruption in the nuclear industry!

corruptionFlag-USAAnother nuclear weapons contractor pays millions to settle charges of illegally diverting federal funds https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/12/21/20559/another-nuclear-weapons-contractor-pays-millions-settle-charges-illegally-diverting?utm_content=buffer6a076&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=publici-buffer

Allegations of illegally spending federal funds to lobby for new funds now encompass contractors working at six of the eight U.S. nuclear weapons sites By Patrick Malone, December 21, 2016 
This article has been co-published with USA Today/Gannett.

A $67.5 million payment by a major nuclear weapons contractor to settle claims that it illegally spent federal funds is the latest in a series of settlements stemming from allegations that firms making bombs and cleaning up the resulting debris are using federal money improperly to win support for continued weapons-related work.

Altogether, the three companies that have made such settlement payments since 2013 are involved in the operation of six of the eight active sites in the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons program. Actions by the Energy Department’s contractors — including any misspending — have substantial impact, since contract work consumes roughly 90 percent of the department’s total budget.

The lobbying activities at the heart of the latest settlement helped one of the contractors win a $45 million award for additional cleanup work. Although work on energy generation and consumption garners more public attention and President-elect Donald Trump has nominated an oil-state politician — former Texas governor Rick Perry — to become the department’s new top manager, such nuclear weapons-related work accounts for nearly two-thirds of all the department’s activities.

The latest case emerged from a civil lawsuit that accused two companies of performing substandard work at a nuclear weapons-related waste site and said one of them had improperly spent government funds to lobby for more. The companies declared on Nov. 23 they would settle the allegations by making payments, mostly to the federal government, for a total of $125 million, a massive amount for alleged Energy Department-related malfeasance.

The settlement involves work by Bechtel National Inc. and its parent Bechtel Corp., and URS Corp. and its subsidiary URS Energy and Construction Inc., which together have been trying to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington. That’s where raw uranium was enriched into fuel for nuclear bombs during the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.

The firms have denied doing anything improper. But the settlement is part of an emerging pattern.

Lockheed Martin Corp., which operates one of three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories – Sandia, agreed in August 2015 to pay $4.7 million to settle a complaint by the Justice Department that it used federal funds to lobby for a no-bid contract extension. Last Friday, it lost that effort when the Department of Energy selected a different contractor team, led by Honeywell International, to run Sandia for up to a decade, beginning next year. Meanwhile, Fluor Corp. paid $1.1 million in April 2013 to settle accusations that it used federal funds to lobby government agencies for more business at its Hanford training facility.

January 23, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Acadenics, volunteers, hasten to preserve climate data against climate information suppression by Trump

truthFlag-USAThe Scramble to Protect Climate Data Under Trump Fearing what might happen to the data that catalogues the details of climate change in an administration with so many climate deniers, researchers rush to save it. Inside Climate News Lisa Song   and Zahra Hirji, 22 Jan 17  More than 250 people gathered at the University of Pennsylvania last week for Data Rescue Philly, one of the latest examples of a grassroots effort to save environmental and climate  change data that scientists fear could vanish under the Trump administration’s many climate deniers.

January 23, 2017 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Accounting scandal at Toshiba – ruinous overpayment for an American nuclear firm

corruptionToshiba admits to a ruinous overpayment for an American nuclear firm Its share price plunged by 40% in three days as investors worried about its financial viability, The Economist, Jan 7th 2017 | TOKYO THE probe in 2015 into one of Japan’s largest-ever accounting scandals, at Toshiba, an electronics and nuclear-power conglomerate that has been the epitome of the country’s engineering prowess, concluded that number-fiddling at the firm was “systemic”. It was found to have padded profits by ¥152bn ($1.3bn) between 2008 and 2014. Its boss, and half of the board’s 16 members, resigned; regulators imposed upon it a record fine of $60m.

Now its deal-making nous is in doubt too. In December 2015—the very same month that it forecast hundreds of billions of yen in losses for the financial year then under way, as it struggled to recover from the scandal—Toshiba’s American arm, Westinghouse Electric, bought a nuclear-construction firm, CB&I Stone & Webster. One year on, on December 27th, Toshiba announced that cost overruns at that new unit could lead to several billions of dollars in charges against profits.

 Its shares fell by 42% in a three-day stretch as investors dumped them, fearing a write-down that could wipe out its shareholders’ equity, which in late September stood at $3.1bn. Moody’s and S&P, two ratings agencies, announced credit downgrades and threatened more. Toshiba’s explanation for how it got the numbers so wrong on a smallish purchase is woolly. But it is clear that missing construction deadlines on nuclear-power plants can send costs skyrocketing. Its projects in America, and in China, are years behind schedule. Mycle Schneider, a nuclear expert, says that in America, as elsewhere, engineering problems are compounded by a shortage of skilled manpower. Few plants have been built there recently.

Part of the $229m that Westinghouse paid for CB&I Stone & Webster included $87m of goodwill (a premium over the firm’s book value based on its physical assets). It is that initial estimate that is now being recalculated.

Toshiba had looked to be bouncing back from its accounting nightmare………

Toshiba’s central part in a plan by the government of Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, to pep up growth by exporting nuclear-power technology to emerging countries may help. In June Westinghouse clinched a deal in India to build six new-generation AP1000 reactors, Toshiba’s first order since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in 2011. Toshiba is also involved in that site’s costly and complex clean-up. Some think that Japanese banks, known for keeping zombie firms on life support, will stand behind it, come what may. Shares in Toshiba’s two main lenders, Sumitomo and Mizuho, slid last week after the profit warning. Investors expect more big bank loans or a debt-for-equity swap, which allows a bank to turn bad loans into shares.

The consensus on Toshiba’s latest screw-up is that a long-standing culture of poor management is to blame…..http://www.economist.com/news/business/21713896-its-share-price-plunged-40-three-days-investors-worried-about-its-financial

January 6, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment