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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Cyber intrusion at USA multiple nuclear power generation sites this year

Nuclear breach opens new chapter in cyber struggle, Blake Sobczak and Peter Behr, E&E News reporters Energywire: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 U.S. authorities are investigating a cyber intrusion affecting multiple nuclear power generation sites this year, E&E News has learned.

There is no evidence that the nuclear energy industry’s highly regulated safety systems were compromised. But any cybersecurity breach — targeted or not — at closely guarded U.S. nuclear reactors marks an escalation of hackers’ probes into U.S. critical infrastructure.

Electricity-sector officials confirmed yesterday that they are working to unpack the significance of the secretive cyber event, code named “Nuclear 17.”

Asked about the case, a representative from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) said the nonprofit grid overseer “is aware of an incident” and has shared information with its members through a secure portal.

U.S. energy utilities pass around information on the latest hacking threats and vulnerabilities through NERC’s Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center. That organization “is working closely with the government to better understand any implications this incident might have for the electricity industry,” NERC spokeswoman Kimberly Mielcarek said in an emailed statement.

E&E News has reached out to nearly two dozen owners and operators of nuclear power plants for comment. None of the companies that replied by last night shared additional information on the incident, the details of which may be classified…….

Nuclear 17 and recent threats

An incident of this kind would almost certainly attract the attention of the Department of Homeland Security and the broader intelligence community, though a DHS spokesman did not confirm whether the agency was involved yesterday. If the threat rises to a certain level, members of Congress with intelligence oversight would also be looped in. Senate staff members would not confirm if they’re looking into the nuclear breach when asked for comment yesterday afternoon.

Even relatively routine cyber intrusions at sensitive facilities can trigger a high-level response from government and industry, given the potential stakes involved. In another recent nuclear breach, a South Korean state-owned utility reported losing potentially sensitive data to hackers in 2014 and 2015, though the attackers didn’t get into operational systems (Energywire, July 14, 2015).

Earlier this month, however, back-to-back cybersecurity warnings from U.S. officials put grid operators on high alert.

The twin threats came from Hidden Cobra, the U.S. government’s nickname for North Korean government-sponsored hackers, and Electrum, a separate group that cybersecurity firm Dragos Inc. has linked to a first-of-its-kind hacking tool designed to disrupt power grids.

NERC posted its first public alert of the year this month about that grid-focused malware, which Dragos calls “CrashOverride.” Experts claim it was used last December to briefly knock out power to part of Ukraine in an attack tentatively linked to Russia-based hackers. DHS issued its own alert about CrashOverride, then followed up with a separate report on a far-reaching campaign of North Korean cyber activity hitting “critical infrastructure sectors” in the United States and globally.

It’s not clear where Nuclear 17 fits into that timeline of recent cyber events. But even if it never jeopardized nuclear processes or grid reliability, a successful breach of non-safety systems at a nuclear power plant is troubling, said David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“If they are able to introduce mayhem there, what else could they do?” he said.

Nuclear plants had an extra margin of safety in their legacy controls that were “old tech” and thus harder for outsiders to penetrate. “As more and more systems are converted to digital controls, there could be more and more opportunities for problems to crop up, deliberate or inadvertent,” Lochbaum said.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the industry are not unaware of that threat,” he added. Even if safety systems were not apparently affected as part of Nuclear 17, malicious actions directed against comparatively less critical equipment could still have knock-on effects if hackers managed to unexpectedly disconnect a nuclear plant from the grid, experts say.

Such a sudden disruption would send a pressure “pulse” back to the reactor and turbine, which would still be generating electricity with no place to send it. The reactor would immediately “trip,” setting in motion a series of planned actions designed to bring the reactor to a safe shutdown condition…… https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060056628

June 28, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

South Africa’s govt and nuclear power utility Eskom undermine renewable energy development

Nuclear and coal lobbies threaten to scupper renewables in South Africa The Conversation,  Hartmut Winkler
Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg June 27, 2017 South African power utility Eskom recently repeated that it will not conclude supply contracts with the developers of new renewable energy power stations. These developers were selected under a programme to facilitate private sector involvement in the building of medium-sized renewable energy power stations.

The programme has won plaudits for its success in facilitating the establishment of multiple solar and wind farms in record time. But Eskom is once again stalling.

The power utility’s stand threatens the viability of the entire renewable energy sector in the country. It’s hostility also defies logic given that the whole world is embracing renewable energy as key to a clean energy future and combating climate change.

So what lies behind the opposition?

The answer lies in the fact that two powerful lobbies are at work in South Africa. One is pro-coal, the other pro-nuclear. This has made the success of the renewable energy projects a target for attacks from interested parties in both. Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear.

The lobby groups attached to coal and nuclear appear to have had powerful allies on the state utility’s board. There is mounting evidence that they have been furthering the interests of a group linked to the Gupta family. It in turn has been accused of capturing state entities to further its own ends, as well as those of President Jacob Zuma, his family and allies.

t has also been widely argued that the massively expensive proposed nuclear build is being driven by the same interest groups.

The battle over renewables is therefore closely linked to a wider political confrontation over control of key aspects of the South African economy.

Eskom’s flawed argument

The renewables dispute centres on the state utility’s refusal to endorse 1121 MW of new renewable energy….

The Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been disingenuous in citing cost as a reason to stop the last phase of renewables. The higher costs she recently quoted were presumably those associated with the first round of renewable energy projects. These contracts were concluded in 2012 and prices for renewables have come down considerably since.

For its part Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways.

Powerful forces at play

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. It threw its weight behind previous power procurement plans.

But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO.

Molefe and his successor Matshela Koko are both linked to the controversial Gupta family. Their names featured in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report as well as in a bulk leak of emails which implicated the Guptas and other leading figures in the state capture network.

Molefe and Koko played a pivotal role in helping the Guptas purchase a coal mine – the Optimum mine – and to secure a lucrative coal supply contract with Eskom. Both are also strongly pro-nuclear. They have also gone on record to argue that renewable energy is too expensive……https://theconversation.com/nuclear-and-coal-lobbies-threaten-to-scupper-renewables-in-south-africa-79799

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Hackers trading passwords used by managers at British nuclear power plants

Russian hackers trade passwords used by managers at British nuclear power plants – including ‘Rad1at10n’ and ‘Nuclear1’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4635420/Russian-hackers-trade-passwords-UK-nuclear-plant-staff.html, 

  • The passwords of two senior EDF nuclear plant managers were traded online
  • French-owned firm EDF Energy operates all 15 of Britain’s nuclear reactors 
  • Comes as thousands of government officials – including MPs – were hacked 

The passwords – ‘Nuclear1’ and ‘Radiat10n’ – are thought to have been used on the business site LinkedIn.

They were being traded by hackers who had easily guessed the letters and numbers.

EDF, which operates Britain’s 15 nuclear reactors, did not comment about the breach.

But the French-owned firm did say, according to The Times, that it is ‘continually reviewing its defences and preparedness in this area’.

The lists on which the passwords appeared were traded privately before being made public.

It comes as around 1,000 British MPs and parliamentary staff, 7,000 police employees and more than 1,000 Foreign Office officials were all understood to have had confidential information traded online without their knowledge.Even some of the prime minister’s closest government ministers, including education secretary, Justine Greening, and business secretary, Greg Clark, are thought to have been affected by the hack.

The huge database was being sold for just £2, with the low price justified by the fact it had already spent months being passed around. Its original price is likely to have been much higher.

Hackers can easily guess many passwords, especially those which are merely a word associated with a certain person but with ‘3’ instead of ‘E’ or ‘1’ instead of ‘I’.

There have been warnings that the hacked passwords could be used to blackmail workers in sensitive jobs, or even to break into government servers.

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

Nuclear deal with Russia is central to the corruption in South Africa

There’s more to state capture than meets the eye, News24, Sipho Pityana, 23 June 17, The leadership crisis and the ravaging uncertainty that South Africa is going through now affect all of us.

I say this because the ethical failures committed by Zuma are not confined to the president’s office. They are cascading down, like a disease, into every aspect of South African life. They are killing our country, and killing us with it. Every extra day Zuma remains in power, this erosion continues and our crisis deepens.

Zuma’s strategy is simple: keep the ANC firmly captured by stealing the leadership elections at the party’s elective conference in December, and install his protégé. His successor as president of the ANC – and, subsequently, the country – would make sure that he not only stays out of jail, but also that the state capture project continues unabated…….

 I believe it is true that the fish rots from the head. The problem we face, as South Africans, is that the rot is so advanced that it’s already approaching the tail. And unless we act soon, this beautiful creature that we call South Africa will soon be a rotten pile of bones…..
The state capture project, with Zuma at its epicenter, is effectively an international crime syndicate. It is a global mafia operation involving business and sometimes state interests in China, Russia, Asia, the Middle East and several African countries……..

Finally, there is Russia. The Russians have a very, very keen interest in the nuclear energy deals that the president allegedly signed irregularly on our behalf, which our courts have now stalled. There are billions of rands at stake. We have already seen indications that a deal is in the making, and there are consistent allegations that the captains of state capture, Zuma and the Guptas, have already received – or at least stand to get – massive kickbacks from any Russian nuclear energy deal.Given the scale of the deals (estimated at about R1.8 trillion), even a small kickback is going to run into hundreds of millions. And, as we’ve seen from the various reports on state capture – from the SACC, the Public Affairs Research Institute and the former Public Protector herself – the kickbacks are never small.

So if you join the dots: in effect, and based merely on the uncontested evidence we have at hand, we have a president and his cronies who stand at the centre of a global crime network that involves China, Russia, Asia, the Middle East and certain parts of Africa.

…….you have a South African president with an even more broken ethical compass than Trump? A president who is prepared to let business interests take precedence over the national interest? A president who is prepared to sell his own country to the highest bidder?……….

 – Pityana is the convenor of the Save South Africa campaign. This is an edited version of a speech on ethics he delivered at the annual meeting of the Marketing Code Authority in Johannesburg on 22 June…….http://www.news24.com/Columnists/GuestColumn/theres-more-to-state-capture-than-meets-the-eye-20170623

June 24, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Probe into Michael Flynn’s quiet trips involved in $100 billion nuclear energy plan with Russia and Saudi Arabia

House Dems probe into reported Flynn, Saudi Russia energy deal http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/19/politics/michael-flynn-russia-energy-deal/index.html By Jim Sciutto and Tom LoBianco, CNNJune 20, 2017 (CNN)A pair of top House Democrats are digging into whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn may have misled officials on his security clearance form about two Middle East trips — including one reportedly about building $100 billion worth of nuclear energy plants with help from Russia’s nuclear power agency.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s Michael Flynn involved in a secret hare-brained nuclear scheme with Russia and Saudi Arabia

the genius idea developed by Flynn and Co. was a U.S.-Russian partnership to build and operate nuclear plants and export the dangerous spent fuel under strict controls

It would be “funded entirely by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries” The kingdom’s upfront cost? “Close to a trillion dollars” 

the Saudis would recoup their costs by selling energy to Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar—

MICHAEL FLYNN, RUSSIA AND A GRAND SCHEME TO BUILD NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN SAUDI ARABIA AND THE AND THE ARAB WORLD http://www.newsweek.com/flynn-russia-nuclear-energy-middle-east-iran-saudi-arabia-qatar-israel-donald-623396
BY JEFF STEIN ON 6/9/17     By the time Michael Flynn was fired as President Donald Trump’s nationalsecurity adviser in February, he had made a lot of bad decisions. One was taking money from the Russians (and failing to disclose it); another was taking money under the table from the Turks. But an overlooked line in his financial disclosure form, which he was forced to amend to detail those foreign payments, reveals he was also involved in one of the most audacious—and some say harebrained—schemes in recent memory:

In 2015 and 2016, according to his filing, Flynn was an adviser to X-Co Dynamics Inc./Iron Bridge Group, which at first glance looks like just another Pentagon consultancy that ex-military officers use to fatten their wallets. Its chairman and CEO was retired Admiral Michael Hewitt; another retiredadmiral, Frank “Skip” Bowman, who oversaw the Navy’s nuclear programs, was an adviser. Other top guns associated with it were former National Security Agency boss Keith Alexander and retired Marine Corps General James “Hoss” Cartwright, former vice chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose stellar career was marred when he was prosecuted last year for lying to the FBI during a leak investigation.

In the summer of 2015, knowledgeable sources tell Newsweek, Flynn flew to Egypt and Israel on behalf of X-Co/Iron Bridge. His mission: to gauge attitudes in Cairo and Jerusalem toward a fantastical plan for a joint U.S.-Russian (and Saudi-financed) program to get control over the Arab world’s rush to acquire nuclear power. At the core of their concern was a fear that states in the volatile Middle East would have inadequate security for the plants and safeguards for their radioactive waste—the stuff of nuclear bombs.

But no less a concern for Flynn and his partners was the moribund U.S. nuclear industry, which was losing out to Russian and even South Korean contractors in the region. Or as Stuart Solomon, a top executive along with Hewitt at his new venture, IP3 (International Peace, Power and Prosperity), put it in a recent speech to industry executives, “We find ourselves…standing on the sidelines and watching the competition pass us by.”

That the oil-rich, sun-soaked Arab Middle East would pursue nuclear energy seems paradoxical. But as The Economist noted in 2015, “Demand for electricity is rising, along with pressure to lower carbon emissions; nuclear plants tick both boxes.” And some of the region’s major players, like Egypt and Jordan, don’t have oil and gas resources and “want nuclear power to shore up the security of their energy supplies,” The Economist said.

So the genius idea developed by Flynn and Co. was a U.S.-Russian partnership to build and operate plants and export the dangerous spent fuel under strict controls. Flynn’s role would be helping X-Co/Iron Bridge design and implement a vast security network for the entire enterprise, according to an internal memo by ACU Strategic Partners, one of the lead companies involved, obtained by Newsweek.

Not only would the project revive the U.S. nuclear industry, but it would cost American taxpayers nothing, its principals asserted. It would be “funded entirely by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries,” according to the ACU memo. The kingdom’s upfront cost? “Close to a trillion dollars,” says a project insider, who asked for anonymity in exchange for discussing internal matters. Theoretically, the Saudis would recoup their costs by selling energy to Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar—which hosts the largest U.S. military base in the region. (Qatar doesn’t seem to be an option for the moment, since six of the Arab states, led by the Saudis, severed diplomatic relations with it on June 5 over its alleged support of terrorism.)

Left out of this grand nuclear scheme: Iran (along with Syria, its war-ravaged Shiite proxy). In fact, “it was always part of the project that Russia’s involvement…would tilt Russia away from Iran,” Fred Johnson, ACU’s chief economist, wrote in an email to his advisers obtained by Newsweek. Not only would Russia earn cash for being a dumping ground for radioactive waste, Johnson wrote, but the consortium would purchase “Russian military hardware” to compensate Moscow for losing military sales to Iran.

“Further plans to sideline Iran,” Johnson wrote, included “the development of X-Co,” the Hewitt company that Flynn was advising, “with its very visible deployment of Sea Launch,” a Russian company “that would provide a platform for rockets.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions talks with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn inside of the inaugural parade reviewing stand in front of the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, 

It’s unclear whether Flynn was involved in negotiating with Sea Launch. The former general, now being pursued by federal investigators probing contacts between Russian officials and Trump’s inner circle, did not respond to an inquiry from Newsweek. People associated with the Middle East project say they thought Flynn’s involvement was limited to sounding out the Egyptians and Israelis on security aspects of the enterprise. He listed no income from X-Co/Iron Bridge on his financial disclosure form and “was not paid,” except for his travel expenses, according to Thomas Cochran, a prominent scientist and nuclear nonproliferation proponent involved with the project. (The cost of business-class round-trip airfare and exclusive hotels for the trip would have ranged between $10,000 and $15,000.)

Hewitt denied that isolating Iran was part of the plan. “X-Co wasn’t created to simply ‘sideline Iran,’” he responded to Johnson and their associates in an email. “It was designed to set the conditions for stability which were the precursors to building 40 plants” and to “solidify the GCC, Jordan, Egypt under a security construct, led by two superpowers, using state of the art capability.”

But the project faced opposition from the Obama administration, Cochran says. “They didn’t want to do it with the Russians and didn’t want to do it while they were negotiating the Iran deal,” he tells Newsweek.

Trump’s embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, offered an attractive possibility. And when Flynn, who had connections to the Russians, became the candidate’s national security adviser, the ACU team, led by British-American dealmaker Alex Copson, suddenly seemed to have an inside man. Last year, Copson was touting such connections when he tried to buy an unfinished nuclear plant in Alabama in concert with the Russians, telling a Huntsville reporter that “Alabama’s two senators”—both Republicans, and one, Jeff Sessions, then a top Trump campaign adviser—“can help the next administration move this project forward.” Copson’s bid for the plant failed.

When reports surfaced that the FBI was investigating possible collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, however, some of Copson’s partners and advisers decided it was time to walk away. “When Copson decided he was going to saddle up with the Trump team, that was the last straw for me,” the insider says. “I said it’s time to regroup.”

The Saudis hadn’t shown much interest anyway, the insider says. “Copson was promising the advisers lots of money if the Saudis put up money,” but it failed to materialize. “And so there’s nothing that anyone was going to gain unless the project was a success,” he tells Newsweek.

Hewitt and his associates also split from ACU to pursue their own path toward a nuclear-powered Middle East, one that would swap in China for Russia as a nuclear partner, two sources close to the project say. (Hewitt declined to discuss plans for IP3, telling Newsweek he was “working hard to create our public persona right now.”)

But the highly regarded Cochran stayed with ACU. A longtime senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he was director of its nuclear program, Cochran was the author of countless studies and articles over the decades and had initiated with Moscow the U.S.-Soviet nuclear test ban verification project in 1986. He “has extraordinary chutzpah,” a writer for Scientific American observed in 1998. “He is willing to take on what most people wouldn’t bother with because they assume it’s hopeless.”

Or nuts. In 2001, a writer for the left-wing In These Times weekly got hold of a draft proposal for a 1990s-era project that Cochran was involved in, the Nuclear Proliferation Trust, which envisioned taking control of spent fuel from reactors around the world and shipping it to Russia “on large ships mounted with an arsenal of weapons designed to ward off nuclear pirates,” wrote Jeffrey St. Clair. “The big question is what happens to the waste after it arrives in Russia.” Would NPT guards be authorized to fire on rogue Russian soldiers or Chechen rebels? And what would stop corrupt Russians from selling weapons-grade uranium to anyone who could pony up the cash?

Similar concerns are all the more reason to partner with the Russians today in an ironclad security arrangement, Hewitt says. “We’re always going to be engaged in the security of the Middle East,” he told a May gathering at the Nuclear Energy Institute. “It is in our best interests to ensure that nuclear power is introduced with all of the safety [standards of the U.S.].”

Cochran urges critics not to lose focus on the big picture, which he alternately likens to launching the U.S. Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, which tamed rivers and brought electricity and industrial development to the American South in the 1930s. “It would provide energy and jobs and so forth for countries like Egypt and others in the region,” he says, “so that these young men have got something more useful to do than go out and shoot each other.”

For a project fraught with such diplomatic and logistical minefields, however, Copson is an odd choice to lead ACU into the Middle East. “A sometime bass player with the British rock band Iron Butterfly,” according to Time, Copson once famously “described the natives of the Marshall Islands as ‘fat, lazy fucks’ when they nixed one of his nuke dump schemes” in the Central Pacific Ocean, the muckraking journalist Greg Palast wrote in 2001. (The islands are now disappearing under rising seas.)

Copson did not respond to several calls and emails asking for comment. But it’s not likely the Trump team, many of whom are under close scrutiny for their undisclosed Russian contacts, will be any help to Copson now. And the Saudis aren’t “taking the kind of steps that would be required to really get serious about setting up a civil nuclear-energy infrastructure,” says Tristan Volpe, a fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.

Others suspect the Saudis are up to something more nefarious because of the U.S.-led nuclear deal with Iran. The Saudis “have big ambitions for nuclear,” says David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C. “The issue is whether they cross over into any processing or enrichment” with secret partners like Pakistan or China, he says.

Flynn once expressed deep worries about a Saudi-Iranian nuclear arms race. In a January 2016 interview with Al-Jazeera, he sounded like Cochran, the elder statesman of the nonproliferation movement. “An entirely new economy is what this region needs,” he said, especially for the millions of unemployed young men living under corrupt autocracies and tempted by extremism. “You’ve got to give them something else to do. If you don’t, they’re going to turn on their own governments.”

But that was before he hitched up with Trump, who has embraced the Saudi monarchy and ratcheted up his rhetoric against Iran. Talk of a grand scheme to create jobs in the Middle East, meanwhile, has evaporated, with the Russia scandal enveloping not only Flynn but Trump’s entire presidency.

Correction: An earlier version of this story called Thomas Cochran a onetime president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. He was director of its nuclear program.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Russia, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Media coverage of Ukraine dictated by USA political interests?

It also remains a question why the U.S. mainstream media feels that it must protect the American people from alternative views even as the risks of nuclear confrontation escalate.

Why Don’t the U.S. Mainstream Media Report Vladimir Putin’s Take on the Ukraine Crisis? http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_doesnt_mainstream_media_report_putins_take_on_ukraine_20170614 By Robert Parry / ConsortiumnewsA prime example of how today’s mainstream media paradigm works in the U.S. is the case of Ukraine, where Americans have been shielded from evidence that the 2014 ouster of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych was a U.S.-supported coup d’etat spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi extremists.

As The New York Times has instructed us, there was no coup in Ukraine; there was no U.S. interference; and there weren’t even that many neo-Nazis. And, the ensuing civil conflict wasn’t a resistance among Yanukovych’s supporters to his illegal ouster; no, it was “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”

If you deviate from this groupthink – if you point out how U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talked about the U.S. spending $5 billion on Ukraine; if you mention her pre-coup intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who the new leaders would be and how “to glue” or how “to “midwife this thing”; if you note how Nuland and Sen. John McCain urged on the violent anti-Yanukovych protesters; if you recognize that snipers firing from far-right-controlled buildings killed both police and protesters to provoke the climactic ouster of Yanukovych; and if you think all that indeed looks like a coup – you obviously are the victim of “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

But most Americans probably haven’t heard any of that evidence revealing a coup, thanks to the mainstream U.S. media, which has essentially banned those deviant facts from the public discourse. If they are mentioned at all, they are lumped together with “fake news” amid the reassuring hope that soon there will be algorithms to purge such troublesome information from the Internet.

So, if Americans tune in to Part Three of Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews” on “Showtime” and hear Russian President Vladimir Putin explain his perspective on the Ukraine crisis, they may become alarmed that Putin, leader of a nuclear-armed country, is delusional.

A Nuanced Perspective

In reality, Putin’s account of the Ukraine crisis is fairly nuanced. He notes that there was genuine popular anger over the corruption that came to dominate Ukraine after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 and the selling off of the nation’s assets to well-connected “oligarchs.”

Putin recognizes that many Ukrainians felt that an association with the European Union could help solve their problems. But that created a problem for Russia because of the absence of tariffs between Russia and Ukraine and concerns about the future of bilateral trade that is especially important to Ukraine, which stood to lose some $160 billion.

When Yanukovych decided to postpone the E.U. agreement so he could iron out that problem, protests erupted, Putin said. But — from that point on — Putin’s narrative deviates from what the U.S. government and mainstream media tell the American people.

“Our European and American partners managed to mount this horse of discontent of the people and instead of trying to find out what was really happening, they decided to support the coup d’etat,” Putin said.

Contrary to the U.S. claims blaming Yanukovych for the violence in the Maidan protests, Putin said, “Yanukovych didn’t give an order to use weapons against civilians. And incidentally, our Western partners, including the United States, asked us to influence him so that he did not give any orders to use weapons. They told us, ‘We ask you to prevent President Yanukovych from using the armed forces.’ And they promised … they were going to do everything for the opposition to clear the squares and the administrative buildings.

“We said, ‘Very well, that is a good proposal. We are going to work on it.’ And, as you know, President Yanukovych didn’t resort to using the Armed Forces. And President Yanukovych said that he couldn’t imagine any other way of dealing with this situation. He couldn’t sign an order on the use of weapons.”

Though Putin did not specifically finger blame for the sniper fire on Feb. 20, 2014, which killed more than a dozen police and scores of protesters, he said, “Well, who could have placed these snipers? Interested parties, parties who wanted to escalate the situation. … We have information available to us that armed groups were trained in the western parts of Ukraine itself, in Poland, and in a number of other places.”

After the bloodshed of Feb. 20, Yanukovych and opposition leaders on Feb. 21 signed an accord, brokered and guaranteed by three European governments, for early elections and, in the meantime, a reduction of Yanukovych’s powers.

Ignoring a Political Deal

But the opposition, led by neo-Nazi and other extreme nationalist street fighters, brushed aside the agreement and escalated their seizing of government buildings, although The New York Times and other U.S. accounts would have the American people believe that Yanukovych simply abandoned his office.

“That’s the version used to justify the support granted to the coup,” Putin said. “Once the President left for Kharkov, the second largest city in the country to attend an internal political event, armed men seized the Presidential Residence. Imagine something like that in the U.S., if the White House was seized, what would you call that? A coup d’etat? Or say that they just came to sweep the floors?

“The Prosecutor General was shot at, one of the security officers was wounded. And the motorcade of President Yanukovych himself was shot at. So it’s nothing short of an armed seizure of power. Moreover, one day afterwards he used our support and relocated to Crimea (where he stayed for more than a week) thinking that there was still a chance that those who put their signatures on the (Feb. 21) agreement with the opposition would make an attempt to settle this conflict by civilized democratic legal means. But that never happened and it became clear that if he were taken he would be killed.

“Everything can be perverted and distorted, millions of people can be deceived, if you use the monopoly of the media. But in the end, I believe that for an impartial spectator it is clear what has happened – a coup d’etat had taken place.”

Putin noted how the new regime in Kiev immediately sought to limit use of the Russian language and allowed extreme nationalist elements to move against eastern provinces known as the Donbass where ethnic Russians were the vast majority of the population.

Putin continued, “First, there were attempts at arresting them [ethnic Russians] using the police, but the police defected to their side quite quickly. Then the central authorities started to use Special Forces and in the night, people were snatched and taken to prison. Certainly, people in Donbass, after that, they took up arms.

“But once this happened, hostilities started so instead of engaging in dialogue with people in the southeast part of Ukraine, they [Ukraine government officials] used Special Forces, and started to use weapons directly – tanks and even military aircraft. There were strikes from multiple rocket launchers against residential neighborhoods. … We repeatedly appealed to this new leadership asking them to abstain from extreme actions.”

However, the civil conflict only grew worse with thousands of people killed in some of the worst violence that Europe has seen since World War II. In the U.S. mainstream media, however, the crisis was blamed entirely on Putin and Russia.

The Crimea Case

As for the so-called “annexation” of Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea that was historically part of Russia and that even after the Soviet break-up hosted a major Russian naval base at Sevastopol, Putin’s account also deviated sharply from what Americans have been told.

When Stone asked about the “annexation,” Putin responded: “We were not the ones to annex Crimea. The citizens of Crimea decided to join Russia. The legitimate parliament of Crimea, which was elected based on the Ukrainian legislation, announced a referendum. The Parliament, by an overwhelming majority, voted to join Russia.

“The coup d’etat in Ukraine was accompanied by a surge in violence. And there was even the threat that violence would be perpetrated by nationalists against Crimea, against those who consider themselves to be Russian and who think Russian is their mother language. And people got concerned — they were preoccupied by their own safety.

“According to the corresponding international agreement [with Ukraine], we had a right to have 20,000 people at our military base in the Crimea. We had to facilitate the work of the Parliament of Crimea, the representative government body, in order for this Parliament to be able to assemble and affect actions in accordance with the law.

“The people had to feel they were safe. Yes, we created conditions for people to go to polling stations, but we did not engage in any hostilities. More than 90 percent of the Crimean population turned out, they voted, and once the ballot was cast, the [Crimean] Parliament, based on the outcome of the referendum, addressed the Russian parliament, asking to incorporate it into the Russian Federation.

“Moreover, Ukraine lost the territory, not due to Russia’s position, but due to the position assumed by those who are living in Crimea. These people didn’t want to live under the banner of nationalists.”

Stone challenged some of Putin’s concerns that Ukraine might have turned the Russian naval base over to NATO. “Even if NATO made an agreement with Ukraine, I still don’t see a threat to Russia with the new weaponry,” Stone said.

Putin responded: “I see a threat. The threat consists in the fact that once NATO comes to this or that country, the political leadership of that country as a whole, along with its population, cannot influence the decisions NATO takes, including the decisions related to stationing the military infrastructure. Even very sensitive weapons systems can be deployed. I’m also talking about the anti-ballistic missile systems.”

Putin also argued that the U.S. government exploited the situation in Ukraine to spread hostile propaganda against Russia, saying:

”Through initiating the crisis in Ukraine, they’ve [American officials] managed to stimulate such an attitude towards Russia, viewing Russia as an enemy, a possible potential aggressor. But very soon everyone is going to understand, that there is no threat whatsoever emanating from Russia, either to the Baltic countries, or to Eastern Europe, or to Western Europe.”

A Dangerous Standoff

Putin shed light, too, on a little-noticed confrontation involving a U.S. destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, that steamed through the Black Sea toward Crimea in the middle of the crisis but turned back when Russian aircraft buzzed the ship and Russia activated its shoreline defense systems.

Stone compared the situation to the Cuban Missile Crisis when a Soviet ship turned back rather than challenge the blockade that President John Kennedy had established around the island. But Putin didn’t see the confrontation with the U.S. destroyers as grave as that.

Putin said, “Once Crimea became a full-fledged part of the Russian Federation, our attitude toward this territory changed dramatically. If we see a threat to our territory, and Crimea is now part of Russia, just as any other country, we will have to protect our territory by all means at our disposal. …

“I wouldn’t draw an analogy with the Cuban Missile Crisis, because back then the world was on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse. Luckily, the situation didn’t go so far this time. Even though we did indeed deploy our most sophisticated, our cutting-edge systems for the coastal defense,” known as the Bastion.

“Certainly – against such missiles as the ones we’ve deployed in Crimea – such a ship as the Destroyer Donald Cook is simply defenseless. … Our Commanders always have the authorization to use any means for the defense of the Russian Federation. … Yes , certainly it would have been very bad. What was the Donald Cook doing so close to our land? Who was trying to provoke whom? And we are determined to protect our territory. …

“Once the destroyer was located and detected, they [the U.S. crew] saw that there was a threat, and the ship itself saw that it was the target of the missile systems. I don’t know who the Captain was, but he showed much restraint, I think he is a responsible man, and a courageous officer to boot. I think it was the right decision that he took. He decided not to escalate the situation. He decided not to proceed. It doesn’t at all mean that it would have been attacked by our missiles, but we had to show them that our coast was protected by the missile systems.

“The Captain sees right away that his ship has become the target of missile systems – he has special equipment to detect such kinds of situations. … But indeed we were brought to the brink, so to speak. … Yes, certainly. We had to respond somehow. Yes, we were open to positive dialogue. We did everything to achieve a political settlement. But they [U.S. officials] had to give their support to this unconstitutional seizure of power. I still wonder why they had to do that?”

It also remains a question why the U.S. mainstream media feels that it must protect the American people from alternative views even as the risks of nuclear confrontation escalate.

Regarding other issues discussed by Putin, click here. For more on Stone’s style in interviewing Putin, click here.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, “America’s Stolen Narrative,” either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

June 19, 2017 Posted by | media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine, USA | Leave a comment

New law in whistleblowing in France

Major Changes on Whistleblowing in France, Lexology 
Blog The Anticorruption Blog Squire Patton Boggs France June 16 2017

From January 1, 2018, there will be an obligation on almost all employers to implement reporting/whistleblowing schemes.

France has historically been very reluctant to support workplace whistleblowing, especially anonymously. Whistleblowing schemes were effectively only authorized in 2005 to permit US companies to comply with their SOX obligations. Those regulations were very restrictive, limited to employees and only in relation to certain legal breaches.

However, since December 2016, we now have a law relating to “transparency, the fight against corruption and modernization of business life,” also known as “Sapin 2.” This has introduced a number of changes, including the obligation to implement whistleblowing schemes and anti-corruption compliance programs.

Definition of Whistleblower

Sapin 2 Law defines a whistleblower (in French “lanceur d’alerte”) as:

  • Any individual (i.e., not limited to employees)
  • Acting in good faith
  • Reporting or revealing a crime, a serious and manifest breach to an international treaty, a serious breach of a law or regulation, or a serious threat or harm to the public interest
  • Of which he or she has personal knowledge……….

Principles Governing Reporting Schemes

  • Reporting schemes must protect the identity of the whistleblower, the identity of any person incriminated and the information collected. The disclosure of any of these details carries up to two years’ imprisonment and a €30,000 fine (€150,000 for corporations)……….

Breach of Secrecy by the Whistleblower

A whistleblower will not be liable for breaching a secrecy obligation by law provided that:

  • The disclosure is necessary and proportionate for the protection of the interests at stake, and
  • The reporting procedures provided by law are complied with

However, Sapin 2 does not allow a whistleblower to disclose information covered by doctor/patient or client/lawyer professional secrecy or national security.

No Retaliation

Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation in the hiring process, in terms of access to an internship or professional courses or in salary or otherwise. However, where the report is made in bad faith, the employee can:

June 19, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, France | Leave a comment

In court case, defendant makes claims about neo Nazi plan to hit Miami nuclear plant,

National Guard ‘neo-Nazi’ aimed to hit Miami nuclear plant, roommate says, Tampa Bay Times, Dan Sullivan, Times Staff Writer, 13 June 17 TAMPA — Brandon Russell, a National Guardsman and self-described neo-Nazi, had plans to blow up power lines in the Florida Everglades and launch explosives into a nuclear power plant near Miami, his roommate Devon Arthurs told police.

Prosecutors on Tuesday played portions of a recorded interrogation Arthurs gave in the hours immediately after he was arrested in the killings of Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk. In the video, Arthurs offers a justification for the killings, claiming that Russell, the surviving roommate, was preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

“The things they were planning were horrible,” Arthurs said. “These people were not good people.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office presented the video excerpts in an effort to get U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun III to revoke an order granting Russell bail, arguing that he poses a danger to the community.

Late Tuesday, the judge stayed the order. Russell will remain jailed while the judge reconsiders the issue.

Russell, 21, faces explosives charges after bombmaking materials were found at his Tampa Palms apartment May 19 during the murder investigation. Arthurs, separately, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in state court.

In the video, Arthurs sits beside a table in a white-walled interrogation room, his right leg resting over his left knee. He gestures with both hands as he casually describes Russell’s neo-Nazi beliefs and supposed plans to commit terrorist acts.

He said Russell studied how to build nuclear weapons in school and is “somebody that literally has knowledge of how to build a nuclear bomb.”

When a Tampa police detective asked Arthurs if his friends had any specific terrorist intentions, he said they had a plan to blow up power lines along Alligator Alley, the stretch of Interstate 75 linking Naples with Fort Lauderdale.

He also said they had a plan to fire mortars loaded with nuclear material into the cooling units of a nuclear power plant near Miami.

He said the damage would cause “a massive reactor failure” and spread “irradiated water” throughout the ocean……

Assistant U.S. Attorney Josephine Thomas noted during the hearing that the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station is near Miami. She also noted that when bomb squad members arrived at Russell’s apartment, their pagers alerted them to the presence of “two radiation sources.” The criminal complaint says those were thorium and americium, both radioactive metals.

Russell’s defense attorney, Ian Goldstein, noted that authorities have not charged him with possession of nuclear materials……http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/judge-sets-release-conditions-for-neo-nazi-in-tampa-palms-explosives-case/2327088

June 16, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Neo Nazi in Florida planned to bomb nuclear reactors

Florida neo-Nazi plotted bombings at nuclear reactors and synagogues: prosecutors,  HTTPS://WWW.RAWSTORY.COM/2017/06/FLORIDA-NEO-NAZI-PLOTTED-BOMBINGS-AT-NUCLEAR-REACTORS-AND-SYNAGOGUES-PROSECUTORS/  BRAD REED, 13 JUN 2017 A federal document filed by prosecutors this week alleges that a Florida-based neo-Nazi planned to kill civilians by planting explosives at targeted sites ranging from synagogues to power lines to nuclear reactors.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that prosecutors are alleging Tampa resident Brandon Russell had bombmaking materials at a garage adjacent to his apartment that he planned on using for the mass killing of civilians.

Officers arrested Russell after finding explosives in the garage at the same time they were investigating Russell’s roommate, Devon Arthurs, who is himself a former neo-Nazi who allegedly murdered his two other roommates after they mocked his conversion to Islam.

Russell admitted to police that the explosives in the apartment were his, and prosecutors say that Arthurs described Russell’s plans to plant them at nuclear reactors while being interrogated by police.

Prosecutors presented this new evidence in a fresh bid to get U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun to deny Russell bail. McCoun ruled last week that Russell was entitled to bail, although he still hasn’t set the specific amount.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

The revolving door- politician to nuclear lobbyist – UK former Energy Minister

Evening Standard 7th June 2017 Former Lib Dem energy minister Sir Ed Davey was today accused of “keeping quiet” about a paid job with a lobbying firm that represents the French energy giant he awarded an £18 billion deal.

The accusation came after Sir Ed sent voters in Kingston and Surbiton a summary of his career in an election leaflet. While the “CV” for voters in the key marginal said he had gone “back to consultancy” after losing his seat in 2015, it made no mention that he is working two days a month for MHP Communications, a company which specialises in influencing government policy on behalf of paying clients.

Among MHP’s clients is EDF, the French firm that struck a controversial deal to build the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset. The deal, overseen by Sir Ed as energy secretary in the Coalition, was attacked as poor value for the taxpayer by critics because it involved paying EDF nearly three times the current wholesale price of electricity in return for constructing and running the massive project. One expert called the contract the “worst deal I’ve ever seen”. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/ed-davey-kept-quiet-on-election-cv-about-energy-lobbying-job-a3558901.html

June 9, 2017 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | 1 Comment

USA, the Republican ideology of money, and the Paris climate agreement

Trump, the Paris Climate Agreement and Scrooge McDuck, https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/trump-the-paris-climate-agreement-and-scrooge-mcduck,10369 Independent Australia,  Jim Pembroke 6 June 2017To understand Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord we only need to follow the money behind climate change denial, writes Jim Pembroke.THE WORLD’S collective jaw dropped the other day, when U.S President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the plug on the Paris Climate Accord.

Sure, we knew it was coming, but no one thought it would really happen. We figured the whole Russian thing would destroy Trump long before he got a chance to destroy the planet. But quicker than you can say, anthropogenic climate change, the Yanks were gone.

But who is really to blame for this mess? Angry white men, people who didn’t vote, Donald Trump and his troupe of bad impersonators?

For an answer to this we need to dip our toes – once again– into the murky waters of secret donations, clandestine organisations and fictional Disney characters. This is a tale about the unidentified rich who sit high on a stack of cash in their air-conditioned money vaults, while secretly bankrolling climate change denial. The Scrooge McDucks of this world.

An imaginary Disney character is about as close as we’ll get to the identity of these cloak and dagger contributors, because the hundreds of millions of dollars they donate to climate denial organisations are routed via third party payments.

This “dark money” is channelled anonymously through conservative organisations, like Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, whose stated mission is a commitment to “liberty”. Now that sounds fine until you realise that this includes the freedom to fund think tanks and activists who spread disinformation and confusion, scorning global warming and climate science.

Despite all the cloak and dagger stuff, the donations of some of these wealthy birds have been well documented. The fossil fuel industry and, in particular, ExxonMobil and the Koch family, have considerable history in the climate denial space. Exxon have been accused of covering up climate change research and American businessman Charles Koch has reportedly funded climate denial activity to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

But it’s not just the wealthy ducks from the fossil fuel sector feeding the mayhem. Even companies who publically declare their grand support for climate action have made political donations to climate deniers. Google, Microsoft, eBay have all contributed to politicians who oppose climate legislation, while at the same time spruiking their own climate credentials to the public. The subsequent self-serving rationalisation of these Scrooge McDucks is evidence: there’s at least one thing they want more than improving the environment, their huge bank balances.

Likely, there were many factors affecting the decision to pull out of the Paris Accord. But without the confusion sewn by secretly funded denialists, it’s likely that rational, scientific thought would have won the day and the U.S. might still be part of the Paris Accord. However, the Scrooge McDucks of this world could never allow their ideology of money to be threatened by regulations — whether climate change is real or not.

You see, failing crops, water shortages, or savage storm events may wreak havoc on the rest of us, but won’t really affect the billionaires and corporations.

Like Uncle Scrooge, they’ll be swimming high on their mountains of coins, always safe from the rising waters of global warming.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Israel’s secret plan to detonate nuclear weapon in 1967

‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display, NYT,  JUNE 3, 2017 On the eve of the Arab-Israeli war, 50 years ago this week, Israeli officials raced to assemble an atomic device and developed a plan to detonate it atop a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces, according to an interview with a key organizer of the effort that will be published Monday.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate deniers hijacking a climate science conference in Rome

UN, EU Agencies Reject Ties to Conference Hijacked by Climate Science Deniers https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/05/31/wmo-eu-reject-omics-conference-hijacked-climate-science-deniers?utm_source=dsb%20newsletter

The organizers, India-based ConferenceSeries, promise their “4th World Conference on Climate Change” will attract “world class experts” from across the planet.

Anticipating “more than 500 participants,” the event claimed to have an organizing committee with representatives from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the European Space Agency, and the European Environment Agency (EEA).

But a DeSmog investigation reveals the event is being hijacked by a group of climate science deniers who have previously claimed they want to investigate climate scientists for fraud and have dismissed human-caused climate change as a hoax.

Since being contacted by DeSmog, both the WMO and the EEA have issued statements distancing themselves from the three-day conference, scheduled to start on October 19.

ConferenceSeries, also known as OMICS, promotes hundreds of meetings around the world and is behind the logistics and promotion for the Italy conference. In August 2016 the U.S. government’s Federal Trade Commission launched court action against the company, alleging deceptive marketing practices. The case is ongoing.

Two members of the Italy conference “organizing committee” — Nils-Axel Mörner and Franco Maranzana — were also organizers of a meeting for climate science deniers in London in September 2016.

Both are also founding members of a self-styled Independent Committee on Geoethics (ICG) — a group that, according to another founder Lord Christopher Monckton, was established to investigate climate scientists for fraud.

Seven presenters, including Monckton and Mörner, and one organizer of that London meeting, Maranzana, are also scheduled to speak at the Rome event.  Continue reading

June 2, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

FBI arrest member of Nazi ring, find radioactive and explosive materials

FBI busts ‘Atomwaffen’ Neo-Nazi in Florida for making explosives — and finds radiation materials

22 MAY 201 Shortly after news broke that Devon Arthurs, an 18-year-old Muslim convert and former white supremacist, killed two of his friends for attacking his new faith, more details have been revealed surrounding the murders.

According to the Miami Herald, Brandon Russell, Arthurs’ roommate, was in possession of multiple materials meant to build explosives, including a lethal bomb-making chemical named hexamethane triperoxide diamine. FBI and Tampa Police Department officers found the materials in Russell’s garage.

Russell was arrested on May 21 during a traffic stop in Key Largo, and police have not yet revealed why he was pulled over or what he was doing in the Florida Keys.

While in Russell’s bedroom, devices used by police bomb technicians alerted to the presence of radiation sources — thorium and americium.

Russell returned home from National Guard duty on May 19 to find that Arthurs had killed their friends. It’s unclear whether the bomb was intended for Arthurs’ or for another person or group.

Russell is an admitted “national socialist,” the name of the Adolf Hitler’s party that was soon shortened to “Nazi” during the lead-up to World War II.

The Herald also reports that Russell is a member of a group called “Atomwaffen” (meaning “atomic weapon” in German.) The group has been promoted by the white supremacist Daily Stormer website since last year. The racist site praised the group for holding a protest during “a homo vigil for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.”

In January, RadarOnline reported that the group’s leader was a nuclear physics student who was “trying to encourage members to conduct an attack similar to Timothy McVeigh‘s strike in Oklahoma City.”

Police reportedly found a framed photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in Russell’s bedroom. It is believed that he learned to manufacture explosives while at the University of South Florida, where he was a member of the engineering club.

According to the Chicago Maroon, the Atomwaffen Division group has described itself as a “very fanatical, ideological band of comrades who do both activism and militant training. Hand to hand, arms training, and various other forms of training. As for activism, we spread awareness in the real world through unconventional means.”

May 26, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment