Spotlight: Fury sparked in Japan as companies found duping foreign refugees into decontamination work in Fukushima 2017-03-17 TOKYO, March 17 (Xinhua)— “Such scams are a shame to Japan,” said a reporter from Tokyo Metropolitan Television Broadcasting Corp., referring to a recently-exposed scandal involving labor dispatch agencies duping foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima.Various local media have exposed recently that some Japanese companies have swindled foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima with empty promises that such work might help extend their visas to stay in Japan.
Fifty-year-old Hosein Moni and 42-year-old Hosein Deroaru from Bangladesh were both caught in such a scam, according to a recent report by the Chunichi Shimbun, one of the largest newspapers in Japan.
The two came to Japan in 2013 seeking to be recognized as political refugees. In Japan, foreigners are given temporary permission to stay for up to six months at one application before they are recognized as refugees and given status as residents.
According to government data, the number of refugees actually afforded recognition as refugees in Japan is disproportionately low among developed nations, while the numbers of those applying for refugee status has been rapidly increasing in recent years in Japan.
The government received some 5,000 such applications in 2014, but only 11 were granted refugee status, according to the data.
Moni and Deroaru were told by a so-called labor dispatch agency in Nagoya that they could do decontamination work in exchange for an extension of their visa.
The two, knowing little Japanese and trying to seize every opportunity they could, accepted the job and worked in Fukushima for three months in 2015.
But when they finished their work and went to the local immigration bureau to extend their stay, they were told by officers there that they knew nothing about such a policy.
They later found out that the construction company that had hired them had changed its company name, and its Fukushima branch had closed.
Half of the 20 workers that they had worked with in Fukushima were foreigners, many of whom had been applying for refugee status in Japan, the pair later recalled. Their work mainly involved clearing away contaminated soil with spades, and while they were at work might well have been affected by high levels of radiation. “The radiation detectors we brought with us kept sounding alarms, which was rather scary,” they were quoted as saying.
The incident, after been exposed by local media, also caused a splash on social network sites. Many Japanese netizens felt indignant that such scams were happening in their homeland…….
Most of the foreign workers could hardly speak Japanese. As anti-radiation brochures provided by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), were only available in Japanese or English, many of the workers could not understand it, Ishikawa was quoted as saying.
The foreign workers, to some extent, saved the contractors and TEPCO by pushing forward the decommissioning work of the nuclear plant, remarked the report…..http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/17/c_136137295.htm
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
UK 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.
“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.
Gag Order Or Not, Here’s Why Trump Cracking Down On Government Science is So Scary, Modern Farmer By on January 25, 2017 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.”
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/
Trump 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
President-elect Trump has called global warming “bullshit” and a “Chinese hoax.” He has promised to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate treaty and to “bring back coal,” the world’s dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuel. The incoming administration has paraded a roster of climate change deniers for top jobs. On Dec. 13, Trump named former Texas Governor Rick Perry, another climate change denier, to lead the Department of Energy (DoE), an agency Perry said he would eliminate altogether during his 2011 presidential campaign.
Just days earlier, the Trump transition team presented the DoE with a 74-point questionnaire that has raised alarm among employees because the questions appear to target people whose work is related to climate change.
For me, as a historian of science and technology, the questionnaire – bluntly characterized by one DoE official as a “hit list” – is starkly reminiscent of the worst excesses of ideology-driven science, seen everywhere from the U.S. Red Scare of the 1950s to the Soviet and Nazi regimes of the 1930s.
The questionnaire asks for a list of “all DoE employees or contractors” who attended the annual Conferences of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – a binding treaty commitment of the U.S., signed by George H. W. Bush in 1992. Another question seeks the names of all employees involved in meetings of the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon, responsible for technical guidance quantifying the economic benefits of avoided climate change.
It also targets the scientific staff of DoE’s national laboratories. Continue reading
Karen Gay Silkwood (February 19, 1946 – November 13, 1974) was an American chemical technician and labor union activist known for raising concerns about corporate practices related to health and safety of workers in a nuclear facility. Following her mysterious death, which received extensive coverage, her estate filed a lawsuit against chemical company Kerr-McGee, which was eventually settled for $1.38 million. Silkwood was portrayed by Meryl Streep in Mike Nichols‘ 1983 Academy Award-nominated film Silkwood.
She worked at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site plant near Crescent, Oklahoma, United States. Silkwood’s job was making plutonium pellets for nuclear reactor fuel rods. This plant experienced theft of plutonium by workers during this era. She joined the union and became an activist on behalf of issues of health and safety at the plant as a member of the union’s negotiating team, the first woman to have that position at Kerr-McGee. In the summer of 1974, she testified to the Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns.
For three days in November, she was found to have plutonium contamination on her person and in her home. That month, while driving to meet with David Burnham, a New York Times journalist, and Steve Wodka, an official of her union’s national office, she died in a car crash under unclear circumstances.
Her family sued Kerr-McGee on behalf of her estate. In what was the longest trial up until then in Oklahoma history, the jury found Kerr-McGee liable for the plutonium contamination of Silkwood, and awarded substantial damages. These were reduced on appeal, but the case reached the United States Supreme Court in 1979, which upheld the damages verdict. Before another trial took place, Kerr-McGee settled with the estate out of court for US $1.38 million, while not admitting liability. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Silkwood
Questions Still Remain In Suspicious Death Of Karen Silkwood
Nuclear Whistleblowers Report Criminal Acts by Multiple US Government Agencies; Affidavit Ties Lockheed-Martin to Karen Silkwood’s Death.
“Nuclear Whistleblowers Proof of Criminal Acts by Multiple Government Agencies“, 3 Hour Video here: http://youtu.be/x1usmYI-v88 Partial summary of case below Affidavit. (This video gets more interesting as it goes along and is worthwhile, though so long we didn’t finish it. It also discusses Silkwood’s death.)
Today, February 19th, Texas born Karen Silkwood would have been 70 years old. Instead she was killed in 1974, at age 28, in a car crash while en route to meet with a New York Times reporter, and a US AEC (NRC-DOE) official. She reportedly had “discovered evidence of spills, leaks, and missing plutonium…“,  as well as defective fuel rods, at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Facility in Oklahoma. She had just left a union meeting, and “another attendee of that meeting later testified that Silkwood had a binder and a packet of documents with her… Silkwood’s relatives, too, confirmed that…
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Outa says there is no case for nuclear http://www.iol.co.za/business/news/outa-says-there-is-no-case-for-nuclear-7126828 BUSINESS NEWS / 8 December 2016, Emsie Ferreira Cape Town – Civic rights organisation Outa on Thursday said it believed the case for building new nuclear energy reactors had been dismantled after the energy minister’s advisors told public hearings there were cheaper viable options.
Documentary film-makers face decades in prison for taping oil pipeline protests https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/20/north-dakota-oil-pipeline-protest-film-makers-face-prison
Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel face felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press, Guardian, Sam Levin , 23 Oct 16, Two documentary film-makers are facing decades in prison for recording US oil pipeline protests, with serious felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press.
The controversial prosecutions of Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel are moving forward after a judge in North Dakota rejected “riot” charges filed againstDemocracy Now! host Amy Goodman for her high-profile reporting at the Dakota Access pipeline protests.
But authorities in other parts of North Dakota and in Washington state have continued to target other film-makers over their recent reporting on similar demonstrations, raising concerns that the lesser-known journalists are not getting the same kind of public support and national attention.
Schlosberg, a New York-based film-maker, is facing three felony conspiracy charges for filming protesters on 11 October at a TransCanada Keystone Pipeline site in Pembina County in North Dakota, with prosecutors alleging that she was “recruited to record the criminal activity”.
The 36-year-old – who produced a documentary called How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change – could face 45 years in prison. US whistleblower Edward Snowden recently tweeted his support of Schlosberg, writing: “This reporter is being prosecuted for covering the North Dakota oil protests. For reference, I face a mere 30 years.”
Grayzel, an independent film-maker from Portland, Oregon, was also arrested and jailed on 11 October while filming at a separate pipeline protest in Skagit County, Washington. She and her cinematographer, Carl Davis, had their footage and equipment seized and were kept behind bars for a day.
The two were filming activist Ken Ward attempting to shut down the Trans Mountain pipeline, and they now face 30 years in prison for a felony burglary charge, a felony “criminal sabotage” charge and a misdemeanor trespass offense. There were a series of pipeline protests across the US on 11 October.
“Everyone needs to be afraid when our first amendment rights are in jeopardy,” Grayzel, 41, told the Guardian on Thursday before her criminal arraignment. “This is not just about me. This is not just about Carl. This is not about Amy Goodman … This is about the public’s right to know what is going on in this country.”
Free-speech advocates said that both cases are unusual and troubling given that prosecutors have admitted that the defendants were acting as film-makers and are still pursuing aggressive felony cases.
While it’s not uncommon for journalists to face arrest and misdemeanor charges for trespassing or disorderly conduct while reporting at controversial protests, conspiracy, burglary and sabotage offenses are rare for members of the media.
“It’s outrageous. It’s an assault on the first amendment,” said Neil Fox, one of Grayzel’s attorneys. “It’s shocking, but it is the kind of climate that we’re living in right now.”
Fox cast blame on the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who has made vicious attacks on the media a cornerstone of his campaign. “This is certainly the result of the toxic language that Trump brings to the election.”
Although Ward, a climate activist, had gained access to a fenced enclosure owned by the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the Skagit County sheriff’s report noted that Grayzel and her cinematographer were “just outside the enclosure … taking photographs and video”. The report said they confiscated the film-makers’ phone and “assorted camera equipment”, actions that have raised further concerns about press intimidation and free speech violations.
Washington prosecutors are relying on laws that were passed in the early 20th century to target labor rights’ protesters, Fox added. “There’s been a revival in the state of Washington of the use of these statutes against labor activists and against environmental activists.”
In Goodman’s case, a judge forced prosecutors to drop a serious “riot” charge, which was centered on Goodman’s viral coverage of the intense Native American-led protests. But prosecutors and sheriff’s officials said they may continue to pursue other charges against the critically acclaimed journalist.
In Schlosberg’s charges, North Dakota prosecutors have alleged that she was part of a conspiracy, claiming she traveled with protesters “with the objective of diverting the flow of oil”.
“I was surprised at the conspiracy charges. I never thought that would ever happen,” her attorney Robert Woods told the Guardian. “All she was doing was her job of being a journalist and covering the story.”
Prosecutors in both cases declined to comment.
Amy Goodman showed us the perils of standing up to the fossil fuel industry https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/18/amy-goodman-perils-standing-up-fossil-fuel-industry
The rights of activists and journalists are under threat wherever communities challenge Big Oil – in North Dakota and beyond. For far too long, the world had been ignoring the North Dakota anti-pipelines protests. Then the Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman captured private security forces (employed by a fossil fuel company)sicking dogs on Native Americans during a peaceful demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which encroaches on their sacred lands and waters. For that, she nearly went to jail.
The video made Goodman a target of North Dakota authorities, who brought charges of trespassing and rioting against her and the native leaders on the ground during the dog attack. Yes, a journalist was threatened with punishment for reporting on the horrific attack on indigenous people.
Authorities said Goodman didn’t deserve press protections because her opinions made her an “activist” instead of a journalist. Are we to punish every journalist who calls out state violence as he or she sees it? How could you not have an opinion in the face of such brutality? Should Walter Cronkite have gone to prison for his words about Vietnam?
Clearly not. Organizations defending freedom of the press decried the charges against Goodman. Activists like ourselves rallied behind her cause online because we understand the importance of a free press to social change. And on Monday, a North Dakota judge dropped the charges due to lack of probable cause.
It’s a win for freedom of the press, but intimidation by the fossil fuel industry and its government allies is far from over. Native leaders at the Standing Rock camps know this all too well, as they continue to face arrests by North Dakota police and pressure by Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline.
There’s no question that Goodman’s fearless reporting helped make this act of brutality a turning point in the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Soon after her broadcast, the Obama administration stepped in and paused the project until there could be “further consultation” of indigenous peoples. Suddenly, TV news and the mainstream media took up the story in a serious way for the first time. Thousands of more people headed out to the camp.
The trampling of our rights as activists, or as journalists, isn’t just a problem in North Dakota. It’s also a fight that’s playing out around the world wherever communities stand up to the fossil fuel industry and other corporate interests destroying our communities and climate.
We see it in the murder of activists like Berta Cáceres in Honduras. We see it in the Philippines, where anti-mining activists are being murdered by paramilitary groups. According to a report by Global Witness, 185 environmental activists in 16 countries were killed last year and the number is just going up.
Despite this violence, the movement to challenge the fossil fuel industry has continued to grow more powerful, and we’re not backing down. As the work to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline continues, I’m honored to stand in solidarity with the incredible Native American leaders at Standing Rock who are putting their bodies on the line to shut this destructive project down. The photos and videos of their brave actions have become lightning rods, channeling tremendous new energy into this movement. This is a historic fight unfolding in real time.
The images of resistance at Standing Rock are a call to action. We cannot let the rights of indigenous peoples be sidelined by the fossil fuel industry, and we can’t afford another pipeline if we want to maintain a livable planet.
We also must fiercely defend the rights of activists and journalists alike to tell stories like these, stories that often unfold in sacrifice zones far from the “halls of power”, and to tell them fairly and honestly. This won’t be the last fight against a pipeline and Amy Goodman won’t be the last journalist brought to court for reporting about the fossil fuel industry. The struggle continues, together.
Washington moves to silence WikiLeaks, WSW, 19 October 2016
The cutting off of Internet access for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is one more ugly episode in a US presidential election campaign that has plumbed the depths of political degradation.
Effectively imprisoned in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over four years, Assange now is faced with a further limitation on his contact with the outside world.
On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry of Ecuador confirmed WikiLeaks’ charge that Ecuador itself had ordered the severing of Assange’s Internet connection under pressure from the US government. In a statement, the ministry said that WikiLeaks had “published a wealth of documents impacting on the US election campaign,” adding that the government of Ecuador “respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states” and “does not interfere in external electoral processes.” On that grounds, the statement claimed, the Ecuadorian government decided to “restrict access” to the communications network at its London embassy……
WikiLeaks cited reports that Secretary of State John Kerry had demanded that the government of Ecuador carry out the action “on the sidelines of the negotiations” surrounding the abortive Colombian peace accord last month in Bogota. The US government intervened to prevent any further exposures that could damage the campaign of Clinton, who has emerged as the clear favorite of the US military and intelligence complex as well as the Wall Street banks.
Whether the State Department was the only entity placing pressure on Ecuador on behalf of the Clinton campaign, or whether Wall Street also intervened directly, is unclear. The timing of the Internet cutoff, in the immediate aftermath of the release of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches, may be more than coincidental…….http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/10/19/pers-o19.html
“This is a basic crackdown on freedom of speech. If RT UK incited terrorism or cultural violence, the blocking of its bank accounts could have been understandable,” he said. In this vein, he pointed to the UK’s current bad record of press freedom, saying that among such countries as Latvia, Ghana and Uruguay in terms of backsliding on human rights.
“It looks like another stage in a propaganda war between the two sides,” he pointed out. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the issue by saying that London has seemingly abandoned all of its freedom of speech obligations. According to RT UK, National Westminster Bank said its parent organization Royal Bank of Scotland Group would refuse to service the broadcaster and was “not prepared to enter into any discussion.” Earlier, a member of the Russian Lower House’s International Affairs Committee told Sputnik that Russian lawmakers will demand an explanation from UK authorities over the actions. “We will also demand that international organizations, including the United Nations and the Council of Europe, clarify their stance on the issue,” Sergey Zheleznyak said.
Following Simonyan’s statement on Twitter earlier in the day, RT UK said it had been informed by National Westminster Bank that it “will no longer provide” banking arrangements for the broadcaster. RT operates a number of cable and satellite television channels in a multiple languages and is directed at a foreign audience. The channels provide 24-hour news coverage, as well as airing documentaries, talk shows and debates.
Nuclear secrets: The ex-Westinghouse employee accused of helping a foreign power Power Source By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette September 15, 2016 Following the arrest of Allen Ho this spring, FBI agents appeared on the doorsteps of nuclear scientists across the United States.
In Murrysville, they met with Charles Beard, a retired Westinghouse Electric Co. software engineer who first connected with Mr. Ho in the 1980s when both men worked for that company. In 2011, Mr. Ho had approached Mr. Beard to consult for his Delaware-based firm Energy Technology International, according to documents in the case.
Mr. Beard had just retired and wasn’t sure it was worth it. He quoted an hourly rate so high it was intended to repel the advances, Mr. Beard told the FBI. But Mr. Ho agreed to the money, and so did Mr. Beard.
And thus he became part of a group of consultants — retired nuclear specialists, many from Cranberry-based Westinghouse — that Mr. Ho assembled on behalf of the China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN), one of several state-owned nuclear firms in one of the world’s largest commercial nuclear markets.
The consulting team was to “provide technology transfer in design, manufacturing, related training and technical support,” Mr. Ho wrote in an e-mail later obtained by the FBI. “They said budget is no issue.”
Since mid-April, Mr. Ho, 66, has been in jail in Tennessee awaiting a trial in which he faces a potential life sentence for violating a 60-year statute that has never before been tested in court. He spends 23 hours in a cell, in solitary confinement, according to his attorney.
In its case, the government has said that Mr. Ho’s consulting services amount to nuclear espionage and that he was acting as a foreign agent when he recruited nuclear scientists to educate China’s nuclear engineers on aspects of commercial reactors.
Mr. Ho, and one of his former consultants Ching Ning Guey whose plea deal last year helped the government build a case, are the first people to be charged under a statute of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 that says people who help make special nuclear material outside of the U.S. have to ask the Secretary of Energy for permission.
They are the only two people that have been charged in this case.
The “special nuclear material” in question is plutonium — a byproduct of the nuclear reaction that takes place inside commercial power plants. By helping a Chinese company with its operations, Mr. Ho was involved in making plutonium, the government said.
Last month, despite a slew of character letters from friends, some of which pledged their homes as collateral, Mr. Ho was denied bail.
Even if he were stripped of his U.S. and Chinese passports, and outfitted with a tracking anklet that confined him to his home, Chinese operatives might shepherd him out of the country, prosecutors warned. They cited his expensive house in Delaware, an apartment in China and a child he fathered there nine years ago………
Mr. Ho had, in fact, applied for the special authorization required by the Atomic Energy Act.
In 2013, he sent two letters to the U.S. Department of Energy describing his activities in China. One said he and his consultants were engaged in IT support work, such as converting code from one language to another and updating it with more recent fission and heat transfer models.
In less than two months, the energy agency replied to Mr. Ho that these activities don’t need special permission……..
The government’s argument on the dangers of Mr. Ho’s actions follow two paths. On the one hand, the FBI has alleged Mr. Ho was selling commercial secrets, violating intellectual property protections and helping Chinese companies get ahead by bypassing the expense and time of research and development.
On the other hand, the government and the FBI agents that conducted the interviews with Mr. Ho’s consultants have sprinkled in questions about possible security concerns, given that the plutonium produced at commercial nuclear power plants can be used for military purposes.“Our idea of how China works, is that at the end of the day, whatever’s good for commercial is also good for military,” the federal agent told Mr. Ho after his arrest.
That dynamic is the focus of the Atomic Energy Act, a law passed in 1954 that guides how the U.S. balances the promotion of nuclear trade in the electric sector with the goal of keeping nuclear proliferation at bay.
There are 50 countries for which a special authorization is not required. For all others — including China — activities ranging from document transfers and e-mails to the “transfer of knowledge and expertise” in the area of nuclear reactors call for special permission from the Secretary of Energy.
George Rudy, who consulted for Mr. Ho, told an FBI agent on April 15 that Mr. Ho didn’t seem to understand the logic behind the authorization rules. “He felt that the requirements were the NSA and DOE trying to impede his progress,” Mr. Rudy told the FBI.
A 2014 Government Accountability Office report looking at how the Department of Energy handles the special authorization statute found that U.S. nuclear firms and the Nuclear Energy Institute commonly felt the requirements and the long approval times put U.S. firms and the interest of commercial nuclear development at a disadvantage to suppliers in other countries.
It’s OK for Westinghouse………
China’s nuclear ambitions are second to none. It is gobbling up Western nuclear technology and expertise, and developing its own in service of an aggressive plan to build dozens of reactors in the next decade.
“This whole thing doesn’t make any sense, because Westinghouse sold AP1000 reactors to China along with all of their proprietary information,” Mr. Rombough said this month. “If doing nuclear reactors in China is so off limits, why did they allow Westinghouse to do that?”
David Seel, another retired Westinghouse engineer, told FBI agents in April that his concerns “were mitigated by the assumption (Westinghouse’s) presence in China and AP1000-related business dealings illustrated consulting such as his was not prohibited.”………
While he declined to speak about Mr. Ho’s case in detail, Mr. Zeidenburg said it “falls into a long and depressing line of cases where the Department of Justice has arrested a Chinese-American first and asked questions later.”
In court filings, he has argued that the government — unable to find an espionage statute that sticks — has tried to “shoehorn” Mr. Ho’s legitimate commercial work into a statute that has never been tested in court.
Mr. Ho’s trial is scheduled to begin in January.
Anya Litvak: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1455.http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/companies/2016/09/15/Nuclear-secrets-The-ex-Westinghouse-employee-accused-of-helping-a-foreign-power/stories/201609140193
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