Grave Dangers at US Nuclear Plants, CIA Spied on War Critic, Bill to Ban Livestock Antibiotics
Revealing News Articles
June 28, 2011
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on grave dangers at US nuclear power plants, White House-directed CIA spying on a prominent war critic, a bill to limit livestock antibiotics, 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.
Special note: For a four-minute video on how environmental activists are now being labelled and targeted as terrorists, click here. And for those following the most inspiring messages of Bill Ryan and Inelia, click here for their latest. For a shocking list in the CIA's World Factbook, look at this CIA link for the ranking of countries by their current account balance. If you are looking for the US, go to the bottom of the list, where you will see that the overall debt of the US is over seven times greater than the second most indebted nation. Quite sobering!
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Radioactive tritium leaks found at 48 US nuke sites
June 21, 2011, MSNBC/Associated Press
Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping. The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation. Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records reviewed as part of the AP's yearlong examination of safety issues at aging nuclear power plants. Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard – sometimes at hundreds of times the limit. At three sites – two in Illinois and one in Minnesota – leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes. At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean. Any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how slight, boosts cancer risk, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Tritium moves through soil quickly, and when it is detected it often indicates the presence of more powerful radioactive isotopes that are often spilled at the same time.
U.S. nuke regulators weaken safety rules
June 20, 2011, CBS News/Associated Press
Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril. The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety – and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public. Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed – up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards. Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes – all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered. Not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.
Note: Read this detailed report in its entirety to see the amazing range of serious problems in the US nuclear industry which have systematically been covered up by the NRC. For lots more from reliable sources on government and corporate corruption, click here and here.
Nuke plant averts shutdown from swelled Missouri
June 20, 2011, CBS News/Associated Press
The bloated Missouri River rose to within 18 inches of forcing the shutdown of a nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska but stopped and ebbed slightly [on June 20], after several levees in northern Missouri failed to hold back the surging waterway. The river has to hit 902 feet above sea level at Brownville before officials will shut down the Cooper Nuclear Plant, which sits at 903 feet, Nebraska Public Power District spokesman Mark Becker said. Becker said the river rose to 900.56 feet at Brownville on Sunday, then dropped to 900.4 feet later in the day and remained at that level Monday morning. The Cooper Nuclear Plant is operating at full capacity Monday, Becker said. The Columbus-based utility sent a "notification of unusual event" to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the river rose to 899 feet early Sunday morning. The declaration is the least serious of four emergency notifications established by the federal commission. The Cooper Nuclear Station is one of two plants along the Missouri River in eastern Nebraska. The Fort Calhoun Station, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, is about 20 miles north of Omaha. It issued a similar alert to the regulatory commission June 6.
Note: This same plant narrowly avoided a shutdown just a couple weeks prior due to an electrical fire. For the AP article on this, click here. On Monday, June 27, floodwaters collapsed a berm protecting the plant and flooded a building onsite. Authorities, however, still claim there are no dangers.
Ex-Spy Alleges Bush White House Sought to Discredit Critic
June 16, 2011, New York Times
A former senior C.I.A. official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him. Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war. In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted "to get" Professor Cole. Since a series of Watergate-era abuses involving spying on White House political enemies, the C.I.A. and other spy agencies have been prohibited from collecting intelligence concerning the activities of American citizens inside the United States. "These allegations, if true, raise very troubling questions," said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former C.I.A. general counsel. "The statute makes it very clear: you can't spy on Americans." Mr. Smith added that a 1981 executive order that prohibits the C.I.A. from spying on Americans places tight legal restrictions not only on the agency's ability to collect information on United States citizens, but also on its retention or dissemination of that data.
Note: For important reports from major media sources on a wide array of threats to civil liberties by out-of-control government agencies and officials, click here.
Antibiotics: Feinstein bill seeks to protect humans
June 18, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein renewed a decadelong push [on June 17] to phase out the routine use of antibiotics in livestock, hogs and poultry. Government officials have warned that increasing antibiotic resistance in humans poses a serious public health threat. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that 80 percent of all antibiotics are given to farm animals in low doses intended to stave off disease in large livestock operations. Many of the antibiotics are the same ones used to treat human diseases. Scientists have linked the practice to rising antibiotic resistance in humans, along with the overprescription of antibiotics by doctors. Feinstein's legislation, opposed by the National Pork Producers Council, would phase out the use of antibiotics considered "medically important" to humans and require new applications for animal antibiotics to prove that they do not endanger human health. The bill would permit antibiotics to treat sick animals. The California Democrat's bill is an identical version of a House bill, HR965, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., a microbiologist on a crusade to eliminate low-dose antibiotic use in livestock.
Note: For key reports on health issues from reliable sources, click here.
We invent enemies to buy the bombs
June 16, 2011, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Why do we still go to war? We seem unable to stop. Britain's borders and British people have not been under serious threat for a generation. Yet time and again our leaders crave battle. Why? Last week we got a glimpse of an answer and it was not nice. The outgoing US defence secretary, Robert Gates, berated Europe's "failure of political will" in not maintaining defence spending. He said Nato had declined into a "two-tier alliance" between those willing to wage war and those "who specialise in 'soft' humanitarian, development, peacekeeping and talking tasks". Peace, he implied, is for wimps. Real men buy bombs, and drop them. Libya has cost Britain �100m so far, and rising. But Iraq and the Afghan war are costing America $3bn a week, and there is scarcely an industry, or a state, in the country that does not see some of this money. These wars show no signs of being ended, let alone won. But to the defence lobby what matters is the money. It sustains combat by constantly promising success and inducing politicians and journalists to see "more enemy dead", "a glimmer of hope" and "a corner about to be turned". Victory will come, but only if politicians spend more money on "a surge".
Note: For a very similar, classic analysis of war profiteering by famed US Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, click here.
The two parties contesting this election are unusually pathetic
June 14, 2011, New York Times
The two parties contesting this election are unusually pathetic. Their programs are unusually unimaginative. Their policies are unusually incommensurate to the problem at hand. The election is happening during a downturn in the economic cycle, but the core issue is the accumulation of deeper structural problems that this recession has exposed – unsustainable levels of debt, an inability to generate middle-class incomes, a dysfunctional political system, [and] the steady growth of special-interest sinecures. Workers' share of national income has been declining since 1983. Male wages have been stagnant for about 40 years. The American working class – those without a college degree – is being decimated, economically and socially. Voters are certainly aware of the scope of the challenges before them. Their pessimism and anxiety does not just reflect the ebb and flow of the business cycle, but is deeper and more pervasive. Trust in institutions is at historic lows. Large majorities think the country is on the wrong track, and have for years. Large pluralities believe their children will have fewer opportunities than they do. Voters are in the market for new movements and new combinations, yet the two parties have grown more rigid.
The costly war on cancer
May 26, 2011, The Economist Magazine
Cancer is not one disease. It is many. Yet oncologists have long used the same blunt weapons to fight different types of cancer: cut the tumour out, zap it with radiation or blast it with chemotherapy that kills good cells as well as bad ones. New cancer drugs are changing this. Scientists are now attacking specific mutations that drive specific forms of cancer. A breakthrough came more than a decade ago when Genentech, a Californian biotech firm, launched a drug that attacks breast-cancer cells with too much of a certain protein, HER2. In 2001 Novartis, a Swiss drugmaker, won approval for Gleevec, which treats chronic myeloid leukaemia by attacking another abnormal protein. Other drugs take different tacks. Avastin, introduced in America in 2004 by Genentech, starves tumours by striking the blood vessels that feed them. These new drugs sell well. Last year Gleevec grossed $4.3 billion. Roche's Herceptin (the HER2 drug) and Avastin did even better: $6 billion and $7.4 billion respectively. The snag, from society's point of view, is that all these drugs are horribly expensive. Last year biotech drugs accounted for 70% of the increase in pharmaceutical costs in America, according to Medco, a drug-plan manager. Cancer plays a huge role in raising costs.
Justice Goes Global
June 16, 2011, New York Times
You probably missed the recent special issue of China Newsweek, so let me bring you up to date. Who do you think was on the cover – named the "most influential foreign figure" of the year in China? Barack Obama? No. Bill Gates? No. Warren Buffett? No. O.K., I'll give you a hint: He's a rock star in Asia, and people in China, Japan and South Korea scalp tickets to hear him. Give up? It was Michael J. Sandel, the Harvard University political philosopher. This news will not come as a surprise to Harvard students, some 15,000 of whom have taken Sandel's legendary "Justice" class. What makes the class so compelling is the way Sandel uses real-life examples to illustrate the philosophies of the likes of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. Sandel is touching something deep in both Boston and Beijing. "Students everywhere are hungry for discussion of the big ethical questions we confront in our everyday lives," Sandel argues. "In recent years, seemingly technical economic questions have crowded out questions of justice and the common good. I think there is a growing sense, in many societies, that G.D.P. and market values do not by themselves produce happiness, or a good society. My dream is to create a video-linked global classroom, connecting students across cultures and national boundaries – to think through these hard moral questions together, to see what we can learn from one another."
Panera Bread CEO Says Pay What You Can
June 14, 2011, Reuters News
One in six Americans live in "food insecure" homes. This means one in six Americans is seriously hungry, likely under-nourished or malnourished and doesn't know when he/she will have their next meal. When Panera Bread Founder and CEO Ronald Shaich learned this, he thought about how Panera Bread opens two restaurants every week, employs 60,000 people, and he knew Panera's resources could have impact on America's hunger problem. He personally set out to help, pitched his board (with a lot of respect and credibility under his belt), created a foundation and the result is a new kind of chain restaurant: pay-what-you-can Paneras. Panera Cares shops look like any other Panera Bread, but the prices are just suggestions. If you can pay, you do. If you can't, you don't. If you can pay more, you're welcome. More than one year into the program, Panera Cares has restaurants in St. Louis, Detroit and Portland, and the shops will serve between 500,000 to 1 million meals this year. Each restaurant must generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining, and so far, all of them are. One out of five customers leaves more than the suggested donation; three in five leave the suggested donation; and one in five customers leaves less or nothing, usually because they have real need. "People get it, people feel it and people appreciate it," said Shaich.
Note: It is interesting that no major media reported this inspiring Reuters article. Could it be that they don't welcome a new paradigm like this?
Company uses social media to streamline compassion
March 20, 2011, CNN News
Beremedy is an organization that utilizes social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs to streamline the donation of food, clothing and furniture to people in need. The name is a short way to say "you be the remedy for someone in need." Blake Canterbury is a charming 26-year-old with a background in new media marketing. He founded Beremedy in 2009, after flooding washed over parts of Atlanta, in order to get items such as baby formula and diapers to people in need. "Everyone I've ever met in my entire life wanted to help other people; they just didn't know where to start," Canterbury says. "We thought, 'What would this city look like with 10,000 people getting a text message at the same time of needs in their community? Surely people would want to help with that." The process is simple: Canterbury receives needs from nonprofits, school social workers and individuals looking for help directly on Beremedy.org. Canterbury and a team of four volunteers use Google Wave to communicate about what needs they will accept or deny. Once a need is determined, a member of the team is assigned as case manager and writes a blurb about the story. Canterbury blasts out the write-up on Twitter and Facebook with a link back to the full story on Beremedy's site.
Homeless students find hope in their principal
June 9, 2011, CBS News
Inside Whitney Elementary School in East Las Vegas, nearly 85 percent of the children are homeless. That's 518 kids out of 610. Principal Sherrie Gahn says, "I thought that I saw the ultimate poverty when I got here eight years ago and every year it has gotten worse and the recession made it ten times worse." Gahn knew she had a problem that a traditional public school could not fix. "When I saw the children eating ketchup for lunch, and wanting to take it home," she says, "it just crushed me." So Gahn came up with a plan involving the kids, their parents and the community. "I told the parents that I would give them whatever they need," Gahn says. "All I need them to do is give me their children and let me teach them. In turn I will give you food and clothes and we will take them to the eye doctor. I will pay your rent, pay your utilities, but keep your child here." The children get free clothes, free bread to bring home and even free haircuts. Almost all of it given by 500 donors and local businesses who drop off donations daily. Principal Gahn has a bold dream. "I tell every 5th grade class if you make it through junior high you make it through high school and you can't afford to go to college come see me and I will make sure that you go to college," Gahn says. "We have a small trust fund that we started."
Key Articles From Years Past
D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution
October 24, 2010, New York Times
Like so many highly trained young women these days, Elizabeth Scharpf has choices. She could be working in a Manhattan office tower with her Harvard Business School classmates, soaring through the ranks as a banker or business executive and aspiring to become a senator or a C.E.O. someday. After all, there's no question that women around the world enjoy opportunities that simply didn't exist a few decades ago. Yet the women exerting the greatest pressure for change often aren't the presidents and tycoons but those toiling further down the pyramid, driven by a passion to create a better world. And in particular, a better world for women. That's Scharpf's choice. Now 33, Scharpf was interning in the summer of 2005 for the World Bank in Mozambique, helping local entrepreneurs, when she encountered a business impediment that she had never heard of. It was unmentionable, and thus unmentioned. It was menstruation. And so Scharpf joined a revolution, so far unnamed because it is just beginning. It's all about what might be called Do-It-Yourself Foreign Aid, because it starts with the proposition that it's not only presidents and United Nations officials who chip away at global challenges. Passionate individuals with great ideas can do the same, especially in the age of the Internet and social media.
Note: For the website of the organization Scharpf founded, Sustainable Health Enterprises, click here.
Signs of Hope
November 24, 2009, New York Times
Is the economic, social and physical deterioration that has caused so much misery in the Motor City a sign of what's in store for larger and larger segments of the United States? I found real reason to hope when a gentleman named Stan Ovshinsky took me on a tour of a remarkably quiet and pristine manufacturing plant ... about 30 miles north of Detroit. What is being produced in the plant is potentially revolutionary. A machine about the length of a football field runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, turning out mile after mile after mile of thin, flexible solar energy material, from which solar panels can be sliced and shaped. Mr. Ovshinsky ... developed the technology and designed the production method that made it possible to produce solar material "by the mile." He invented the nickel metal hydride battery that is in virtually all hybrid vehicles on the road today. When I pulled into the parking lot outside his office ... he promptly installed me in the driver's seat of a hydrogen hybrid prototype – a car in which the gasoline tank had been replaced with a safe solid-state hydrogen storage system invented by Mr. Ovshinsky. What's weird is that this man, with such a stellar track record of innovation on products and processes crucial to the economic and environmental health of the U.S., gets such little attention and so little support from American policy makers. In addition to his work with batteries, photovoltaics and hydrogen fuel cells, his inventions have helped open the door to flat-screen televisions, new forms of computer memory and on and on.
Note: Ovshinsky has been at the forefront of new energy breakthroughs for years, yet has received very little press, likely because his inventions threaten the established oil industry. For a powerful, three-minute video showing how some of his key inventions have been shelved because they threatened profits, click here.
UFO spotters slam 'US cover-up'
May 10, 2001, BBC News
Neil Armstrong was not the first being on the moon. That, at any rate, is the position of the suitably sci-fi sounding Project Disclosure that launched a campaign in Washington ... aimed at persuading the US Congress to hold hearings on the existence of unidentified flying objects and extra-terrestrials. The campaign believes the US Government has known about the existence of UFOs for over 50 years but has been trying to hide it. Donna Hare was just one of over 20 witnesses, most of them ex-military, and all deadly serious. Among them was former Army Sergeant, Clifford Stone, who said the US Government had tried to suppress what he had seen one strange day in Pennsylvania, back in 1969. "I was involved in situations where we actually did recoveries of crashed saucers. There were bodies that were involved with some of these crashes. Also some of these were alive," he said. "While we were doing this, we were telling the American public there was nothing to it. We were telling the world there was nothing to it," Mr Stone added. Despite the impressive military credentials and undoubted sincerity of the witnesses, Congress is surely unlikely to move on their request for a hearing - unless a space ship lands on, or at least within sight of, Capitol Hill.
Note: For an excellent summary of testimony by top military and government officials who personally witnessed and/or took part in the UFO cover-up, click here. For a powerful, inspiring video interweaving top witness testimony with excellent UFO footage and lots more, click here.
Listen, Detroit: You'll Get a Charge Out of This
March 1, 1999, Time Magazine
Troy, Mich., in the belly of the automobile industry, is an odd place to spark a revolution against the internal-combustion engine. But, then, Stanford Ovshinsky is no ordinary gearhead. Although he never went to college, he founded a new field of physics based on the superconductivity of certain alloys. The company he formed in 1960, Energy Conversion Devices, makes the photovoltaic cells used on the Mir space station to generate electricity from sunlight. In the '80s the Japanese licensed his patents to produce digital video discs. But what really revs him up these days is a car battery. How dull is that? Not at all, if it can "change the world," as he claims with a subversive glint in his eye. When Ovshinsky talked of scaling up his battery to run a car, he was ridiculed. "The auto companies said it wouldn't work," he recalls. "Then, after one car got 200 miles on a single charge, they said it couldn't be manufactured. Now that we are making them, they say it is too costly. But that is a red herring too." Ovshinsky's team of engineers and electrochemists has slashed the cost 40% in two years, they claim. If automakers would commit to buying tens of thousands, Ovshinsky says, the batteries would make electric cars as cheap as gasoline models.
Note: Ovshinsky, who has over 200 patents to his name, was censured for publicizing his amazing battery. GM refused to use his superior battery in the GM's EV-1 when it first came out. The inferior battery they used instead ensured the car would not be successful. Once Ovshinsky's battery became even more effective and looked sure to overtake conventional gasoline as the more effective way to run a car, his company was then sold by GM to Chevron Texaco, who shelved the project entirely. To see a three-minute clip from the excellent movie "Who Killed the Electric Car" on this, click here. For more on this remarkable man, click here.
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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