Japanese & US Nuclear Coverups, Cops Caught in False Arrest, Financial Martial Law in Michigan
Revealing News Articles
March 22, 2011
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on Japanese and US coverups of details of nuclear mishaps, British cops caught in a video plotting a false arrest, financial "martial law" in Michigan, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. The most important sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. And don't miss the "What you can do" box below the summaries. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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U.S. Declines to Give Details on Radiation
March 19, 2011, Wall Street Journal
U.S. government officials, in private sessions on Capitol Hill [on Friday, March 18], repeatedly declined to give details of radiation measurements at the stricken Japanese nuclear complex, saying the situation is shrouded in a "fog of war." Separately, the Obama administration said ... "miniscule quantities" of radiation from the Japanese nuclear accident were detected Friday at a monitoring station in Sacramento, Calif., a day after similar traces of radiation were detected in Washington state. The administration said the levels of the radioactive isotope xenon 133 were approximately equivalent to one-millionth the dose received from the sun, rocks or other natural sources. The Obama administration's reluctance to detail in public what it is learning from radiation-detection operations around the damaged Fukushima Daiichi complex in Japan ... comes after statements Wednesday by the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that painted a grimmer picture of the nuclear crisis than Japanese officials had offered, and suggested that the U.S. didn't trust the information coming from the Japanese government.
Note: Shouldn't the title be something more like "U.S. Refuses to Give Radiation Details for Fear of Industry Repercussions"? How sad that money often continues to trump public health in matters like this.
Fukushima: Mark 1 Nuclear Reactor Design Caused GE Scientist To Quit In Protest
March 15, 2011, ABC News
Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing -- the Mark 1 -- was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday's earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s. "The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh [said]. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release." Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power. In 1986, for instance, Harold Denton, then the director of NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, spoke critically about the design during an industry conference. Today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan.
Bungling, cover-ups define Japanese nuclear industry
March 17, 2011, MSNBC/Associated Press
Behind Japan's escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a comfy relationship with government regulators often willing to overlook safety lapses. Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all. In one case, workers hand-mixed uranium in stainless steel buckets, instead of processing by machine, so the fuel could be reused, exposing hundreds of workers to radiation. Two later died. "Everything is a secret," said Kei Sugaoka, a former nuclear power plant engineer in Japan who now lives in California. "There's not enough transparency in the industry." In 1989 Sugaoka received an order that horrified him: edit out footage showing cracks in plant steam pipes in video being submitted to regulators. Sugaoka alerted his superiors in the Tokyo Electric Power Co., but nothing happened – for years. He decided to go public in 2000. Three Tepco executives lost their jobs. The legacy of scandals and cover-ups over Japan's half-century reliance on nuclear power has strained its credibility with the public. That mistrust has been renewed this past week with the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. The vagueness and scarcity of details offered by the government and Tepco – and news that seems to grow worse each day – are fueling public anger and frustration.
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant 'near miss' in report
March 18, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
For 18 months, operators at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo didn't realize that a system to pump water into one of their reactors during an emergency wasn't working. It had been accidentally disabled by the plant's own engineers, according to a report ... from the Union of Concerned Scientists watchdog group, [which] lists 14 recent "near misses" - instances in which serious problems at a plant required federal regulators to respond. The report criticizes both plant operators and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for allowing some known safety issues to fester. The problem at Diablo Canyon ... involved a series of valves that allow water to pour into one of the plant's two reactors during emergencies, keeping the reactor from overheating. A pair of remotely operated valves in the emergency cooling system was taking too long to move from completely closed to completely open. So engineers shortened the distance between those two positions, according to the report. Unfortunately, two other pairs of valves were interlocked with the first. They couldn't open at all until the first pair opened all the way. No one noticed until the valves refused to open during a test in October 2009, 18 months after the engineers made the changes.
Japan disaster shows U.S. journalists unprepared
March 18, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle
If any institution needs to get back to basics and refocus on what it takes to survive a disaster - or report on it with integrity - it's the cable news business. The triple threat in Japan - earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactors in peril - is clearly demonstrating how reporters and anchors are bungling the basics and how the producers and executives in charge of them have fallen woefully short of leadership. Yes, the visuals were riveting and horrific, but context was lacking. Covering this trilogy of terror in Japan really underscores how much better prepared reporters and anchors need to be. The incessantly simplistic and embarrassing questions need to stop. It's a shame that going online to watch videos from NHK, BBC and Al Jazeera English was far and away the best option for Americans.
From Hiroshima to Fukushima
March 17, 2011, New York Times
The horrible and heartbreaking events in Japan present a strange concatenation of disasters. Succumbing to the one-two punch of the earthquake and the tsunami, eleven of Japan's 54 nuclear power reactors were shut down. Three of them have lost coolant to their cores and have experienced partial meltdowns. The same three have also suffered large explosions. The spent fuel in a fourth caught fire. Now a second filthy wave is beginning to roll – this one composed of radioactive elements in the atmosphere. They include unknown amounts of cesium-137 and iodine-131, which can only have originated in the melting cores or in nearby spent fuel rod pools. The Japanese government has evacuated some 200,000 people in the vicinity of the plants. The second shock was, of course, different from the first in at least one fundamental respect. The first was dealt by Mother Nature, who has thus reminded us of her sovereign power to nourish or punish our delicate planet, its axis now tipping ever so slightly in a new direction. No finger of blame can be pointed at any perpetrator. The second shock, on the other hand, is the product of humankind, and involves human responsibility. Until the human species stepped in, there was no appreciable release of atomic energy from nuclear fission or fusion on earth.
Note: For an excellent list of experiments in which humans, either individually or collectively as a species, are being used as guinea pigs in most unethical and dangerous ways, click here.
Scotland Yard officers in 'false arrest' investigation
March 14, 2011, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Three Metropolitan Police officers are under investigation after they were alleged to have inadvertently recorded themselves arranging to falsely arrest a protester during the student fees demonstrations. The officers, who have not been named, are alleged to have conspired to arrest a 20-year-old man who had broken through the police cordon during the protests at Parliament Square in December. The man was chased and caught and, it is alleged, was then struck in the face with a police riot shield which chipped his tooth. The officers are then alleged to have discussed how to arrest the man and are believed to have concocted a story in which they claimed the man had threatened to cause criminal damage to a nearby building. However one of the officers was wearing sound recording equipment which recorded the chase and arrest of the man and the subsequent conversation between the officers. The officers have each been served with letters telling them that they are now being investigated for gross misconduct and criminal matters – believed to be assault and false arrest. A total of 113 complaints were received by the IPCC about police officers behaviour during the four demonstrations. One of them concerns 20-year-old student Alfie Meadows, who needed brain surgery after he was allegedly struck on the head during a protest in December.
Note: For lots more on government corruption, click here.
Why cops lie
March 15, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America. Why do police ... show contempt for the law by systematically perjuring themselves? The first reason is because they get away with it. They know that in a swearing match between a drug defendant and a police officer, the judge always rules in favor of the officer. Another reason is the nature of most drug cases and the likely type of person involved. The defendant is poor, uneducated, frequently a minority, with a criminal record, and he does have drugs. But the main reason is that the job of these cops is chasing drugs. Their professional advancement depends on nabbing dopers. It's reinforced by San Francisco's own sorry history of infamous undercover narcotics officers promoted to top levels in the department despite contempt for the law shown by bullying, brutality and perjury in carrying out illegal searches and arrests. So the modern narcotics officer is just following a well-worn path.
Note: For lots more on government corruption, click here.
Michigan bill would impose "financial martial law"
March 11, 2011, CBS News
Michigan lawmakers are on the verge of approving a bill that would enable the governor to appoint "emergency managers" -- officials with unilateral power to make sweeping changes to cities facing financial troubles. Under the legislation ... the governor could declare a "financial emergency" in towns or school districts. He could then appoint a manager to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services - and even eliminate whole cities or school districts without any public input. The measure passed in the state Senate this week; the House passed its own version earlier. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said he will sign the bill into law. U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat who represents Detroit, said in a statement that in a given city, the governor's new "financial czar" could "force a municipality into bankruptcy, a power that will surely be used to extract further concessions from hardworking public sector workers." He said the legislation raises "serious constitutional concerns."
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley resigns after flap over his WikiLeaks remarks
March 13, 2011, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press
Chief State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley quit on [March 13] after causing a stir by describing the military's treatment of the suspected WikiLeaks leaker as "ridiculous" and "stupid," pointed words that forced President Barack Obama to defend the detention as appropriate. Crowley's comments about the conditions for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., reverberated quickly. Manning is being held in solitary confinement for all but an hour every day, and is stripped naked each night and given a suicide-proof smock to wear to bed. His lawyer calls the treatment degrading. Amnesty International says the treatment may violate Manning's human rights. Crowley, who retired as colonel from the Air Force in 1999 after 26 years in the military, was quoted as telling students at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology seminar on Thursday that he didn't understand why the military was handling Manning's detention that way, and calling it "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid."
Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media
March 17, 2011, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda. A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an "online persona management service" that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives. The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as "sock puppets" – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same. Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions.
Note: The Pentagon claims that the "fake persona" software will not be used on social networks in the United States, because that would break laws against using propaganda on US citizens. How much credence should be given to this assurance?
US Supreme Court won't review drug patent deal
March 7, 2011, The Guardian/Reuters
The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that drug companies can pay rivals to delay production of generic drugs without violating federal antitrust laws. The justices refused to review a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the dismissal of a legal challenge to a deal between Bayer AG and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd's Barr Laboratories. Bayer paid Barr to prevent it from bringing to market a version of the antibiotic drug Cipro. The deal, involving Bayer's 1997 settlement of patent litigation with Barr, was challenged by a number of pharmacies, which appealed to the Supreme Court. More than 30 states and various consumer groups supported the appeal. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has opposed such deals, saying they violate antitrust law and cost consumers an estimated $3.5 billion a year in higher prescription drug prices. It has supported legislation pending in Congress to prohibit such settlements, which it says have increased in recent years. The New York-based appeals court, in its ruling last year, cited its similar 2005 decision involving the drug Tamoxifen, used to treat breast cancer, infertility and other conditions. The Supreme Court declined to review that case. In the Cipro case, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal by the pharmacies without comment.
Vatican Radio is told to pay out over cancer risk scare
March 1, 2011, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Italy's supreme Court has ordered Vatican Radio to compensate a small town near Rome following claims that children there were at a higher risk of cancer because of the broadcaster's high-powered transmitters. Reports emerged in 2001 that electro-magnetic radiation produced by Vatican Radio's transmitters near Cesano was above the legal limit. The station cut the strength of its signals, but the case went to court when a health authority released a study claiming that children in the area were six times more likely to develop leukaemia than youngsters elsewhere. Codacons, the national consumer association which backed residents' claims, hailed the court's decision. "Finally justice is done and the people of Cesano will be able to have the compensation they deserve," said the president of Codacons, Carlo Rienzi. Some experts believe high-powered radio transmitters might raise the risk of cancer in children. However, unlike ionising radiation, such as X-rays, it is not clear how radio waves might damage cells in a way that causes the disease.
Note: For a related BBC article, click here.
Billions in Bloat Uncovered in Beltway
March 1, 2011, Wall Street Journal
The U.S. government has 15 different agencies overseeing food-safety laws, more than 20 separate programs to help the homeless and 80 programs for economic development. These are a few of the findings in a massive study of overlapping and duplicative programs that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year, according to the Government Accountability Office. A report from the nonpartisan GAO ... compiles a list of redundant and potentially ineffective federal programs. The GAO examined numerous federal agencies, including the departments of defense, agriculture and housing and urban development, and pointed to instances where different arms of the government should be coordinating or consolidating efforts to save taxpayers' money. The agency found 82 federal programs to improve teacher quality; 80 to help disadvantaged people with transportation; 47 for job training and employment; and 56 to help people understand finances. "Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services," the report said.
Note: For lots more on government corruption, click here.
Can you get hooked on diet soda?
March 2, 2011, CNN/Health.com
People who down several diet sodas per day are hardly rare. Government surveys have found that people who drink diet beverages average more than 26 ounces per day (some drink far more) and that 3% of diet-soda drinkers have at least four daily. Are these diet-soda fiends true addicts? And if so, what are they addicted to? Research suggests that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda (such as aspartame) may prompt people to keep refilling their glass because these fake sugars don't satisfy like the real thing. "Your senses tell you there's something sweet that you're tasting, but your brain tells you, 'Actually, it's not as much of a reward as I expected,'" says Martin P. Paulus, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego, and one of the authors of the study. "The consequence might be that the brain says, 'Well, I'll have more of this.'" In other words, artificial sweeteners may spur drinkers -- or their brains -- to keep chasing a "high" that diet soda keeps forever just out of reach. It's not clear that this teasing effect can lead to dependence, but it's a possibility, Dr. Paulus says. "Artificial sweeteners have positive reinforcing effects -- meaning humans will work for it, like for other foods, alcohol, and even drugs of abuse," he says. "Whenever you have that, there is a potential that a subgroup of people ... will have a chance of getting addicted."
Note: This article fails to mention the many scientists and brain surgeons who have gone on record describing the incredible dangers of aspartame, the main ingredient in most artificial sweeteners. To educate yourself on the serious health risks of aspartame, watch the very well researched documentary at this link.
'Barefoot' grandmothers electrify rural communities
January 26, 2011, CNN
Turning grandmothers into solar engineers is one of Sanjit "Bunker" Roy's favorite jobs. Roy is the social entrepreneur and founder of the Barefoot College and has been championing a bottom-up approach to education and empowering rural poor since 1972. It is now a global enterprise with roots in India. Roy recruits women from around the world to install and maintain solar lighting and power in their home villages. The United Nations estimates that around 1.5 billion people still live without electricity. "The way to go about this is not a centralized grid system, which brings in power from hundreds of miles away," he says. "It is to bring in basic light right down to the level of basic household wherein they take ownership and control over that technology." Women are the focus for the solar power projects that the Barefoot College runs because men "were very untrainable," says Roy. "(Men) were restless, compulsively mobile, and they all want a certificate and the moment you give them a certificate they leave the village and go to the cities looking for jobs. So why not invest in women, older women, mature women, gutsy women who have roots in the village and train them." Coming from countries across the world, the women are trained for six months before returning home. Many of the women have previously never left their villages before.
Please note that most of the summarizing of the revealing news articles in the above summary was done by Tod Fletcher of WantToKnow.info. Many thanks to Tod for all the time and skill he puts into this. The box below provides several ideas on what you can do to spread the news.
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