Archive for February, 2012

Is the Era of Nuclear Power Coming to an End in the US?

February 29, 2012

Is the Era of Nuclear Power Coming to an End in the US?

By Steven Wishnia, AlterNet
Posted on February 27, 2012, Printed on February 29, 2012

http://www.alternet.org/story/154260/is_the_era_of_nuclear_power_coming_to_an_end_in_the_us

 

Nearly one year after the Fukushima disaster, 23 nuclear power plants of the same model are still operating in the United States, many of them pushing 40 years old — and despite the risks they pose, a recent federal court decision will make it harder for states to close them down.

On January 19, federal District Court Judge Garvan Murtha ruled that the Vermont legislature had exceeded its power when it voted in 2010 not to let the Vermont Yankee nuclear-power plant operate after its 40-year operating license expires on March 21 this year. Under federal law, the judge wrote, only the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has the power to rule on issues related to radiation safety.

Vermont Yankee is a telling example of the dangers that nuclear power in the US could pose and of the regulatory red tape (bolstered by political might) that communities face when they try to take on the industry.

The NRC renewed Vermont Yankee’s license last March despite the state legislature’s desire to have the plant closed after several safety lapses. The 40-year-old plant, on the Connecticut River just north of the Massachusetts border, will stay open while the Vermont Public Service Board ponders whether the plant serves the public good. The court decision “did not preclude the state’s process,” says Sarah Hoffman, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Public Service Commission. The board can still judge the plant on other criteria, such as its reliability and environmental issues not related to radiation.

Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell has appealed Judge Murtha’s decision.

Vermont Yankee is the poster child for the country’s aging nuclear plants, says Allison Fisher of Public Citizen’s Climate and Energy Project. About half of the nation’s 104 nuclear power plants opened in the 1970s, and their operating licenses are beginning to expire. Indian Point 2, a longtime bugaboo of environmental activists because of its location 24 miles north of the New York City line, comes up for renewal next year. Pilgrim, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, will in June. Like Vermont Yankee, it is a General Electric Mark I boiling-water reactor — the same model as the three that blew at Fukushima.

How Safe Are We?

If there’s going to be an accident at a U.S. nuclear plant, it’s going to be at one of the Mark I reactors, predicts Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear engineer who served on the state’s Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant Oversight Panel in 2009.

“Fukushima showed us that it’s a very unstable, unforgiving design,” he says. The “fatal flaw” in the Mark I design, he explains, is that the structure containing the reactor is only a tenth the size needed to contain the pressure generated by an accident; at pressures of more than 100 pounds per square inch, the bolts that hold the structure’s top down will stretch, letting radioactive gases and explosive hydrogen escape. In 1989, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommended that Mark I reactors be retrofitted with vents, which would allow the release of radioactive material, but were supposed to relieve pressure buildup in time to prevent an explosion. At Fukushima, Gundersen says, “the vents were open, but the reactor still blew.”

The NRC has known about this problem for decades, he says. In 1971 and 1972, S.H. Hanauer, a senior engineer at the Atomic Energy Commission, the NRC’s predecessor, wrote to director Joseph Hendrie that the Mark I reactor’s container was small enough that valve failure would lead to dangerous increases in pressure that might cause a “blowdown” — and that the valves were “not easily inspected” and “do not have a very good reliability record.”

“GE wants us not to mention the problem publicly,” Hanauer wrote. “In any event, this is probably trouble for the Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim hearings; it will have to be faced and a real solution found.” Hendrie replied that other designs were safer, but that acceptance of the Mark I design was “firmly embedded in the conventional wisdom,” and that “Reversal of this hallowed policy, particularly at this time, could well be the end of nuclear power. It would throw into question the continued operation of licensed plants.”

Another problem with the Mark I design, Gundersen says, is the core shroud, the doughnut-shaped concrete rings that surround the reactor to absorb neutrons and keep the reaction from getting out of hand. By the late 1980s, he says, these had become so brittle they were “literally beginning to shatter” in some reactors.

The Japanese shut down reactors to replace these core shrouds, interjects Maggie Gundersen, her husband’s partner in the Fairewinds Associates energy consultants in Burlington, Vt. The Americans just put bolts in to reinforce them, says Arnie Gundersen.

Two other safety issues at Vermont Yankee, says Maggie Gundersen, are the plant’s “uprating” — after Entergy bought the plant in 2002, it began running the plant at 650 megawatts, 20 percent over its previous capacity — and waste storage. As the U.S. has no permanent facility to store radioactive waste, Vermont Yankee now has 33 years worth of spent fuel on the site. These old fuel pools contain 10 times the amount of radioactive cesium-137 that was released at Chernobyl and three times as much as there was at Fukushima, she says.

Entergy, a Louisiana-based power company that operates 12 nuclear power plants at ten sites in seven states (including Pilgrim and Indian Point), declined to comment. The company Web site for Vermont Yankee says it produces more than one-third of the state’s electricity, and says the uprate was important “because more electricity will be needed in the coming years.” When a federal waste-storage facility opens, it says, “Vermont Yankee will be among the first plants in the country eligible to ship spent fuel there.” (A 1982 law says one was supposed to be opened by 1998, but the federal government’s plans to do that at Yucca Mountain, Nevada have been stalled by opposition from state residents and the engineering difficulties of designing a structure that would last for 10,000 years.)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission insists that the Mark I plants are safe. At Fukushima, says Northeastern-region spokesperson Neil Sheehan, “a severe earthquake knocked out the offsite power, and then a tsunami knocked out the backup power” — a combination highly unlikely to happen in the United States, especially at inland plants.

There have not been any issues with the core shrouds since the 1990s, he says, since they were repaired at the Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey and Nine Mile Point in upstate New York.

Since Fukushima, Sheehan says, the NRC has begun reviewing seismic conditions around nuclear plants and their operators’ plans for coping with flooding, supplying backup power, and emergency preparedness. These reviews are “still in the early stages,” he says, but “in the meantime, we think the plants can continue to operate safely.”

The NRC believes the plants can run safely for at least 60 years, he says. Its “aging management” program includes inspecting the condition of the reactor-coolant pump; assessing the frequency of maintenance, testing, and replacement of parts; and testing the structural integrity of pipe supports. The 40-year length of the initial operating licenses, he says, had more to do with economic and antitrust concerns than with safety.

“That’s not my understanding,” responds Public Citizen’s Allison Fisher. The reason for the time limit, she says, was because a nuclear plant contains thousands of components, and a breakdown is more likely the more those parts age. But not only is the NRC relicensing 40-year-old plants for another 20 years, she says; the industry is “pushing them to produce more power, a lot harder than they were designed for.”

It wouldn’t take an earthquake-tsunami combination to cause a nuclear accident, environmentalists contend. A blackout, terrorist attack, flooding, human error, or any combination thereof could cut off the electricity that powers the pumps that cool the reactor and the spent-fuel pools and keep them from blowing up, they say.

What We Can Learn from Vermont

Vermont’s Public Service Board, a three-member panel, still has to decide whether to approve letting Vermont Yankee keep running. Though the court decision barred it from considering safety issues, it can still consider the economic effects on Vermont and the environmental issues surrounding decommissioning the plant and cleaning up the site, says Sarah Hoffman.

The plant was built by a group of eight New England utilities, and the original deal required it to sell them power at a discount. When Entergy bought it, it was required to set one rate that would last a full year, providing a stable price for customers, Hoffman explains. That agreement also expires on March 21, and the area’s utilities have begun purchasing most of their power from other sources — hydropower from Quebec, wind from New Hampshire, and to the dismay of environmental activists, nuclear from the Seabrook plant in New Hampshire, which in in 1977-78 was the scene of the Northeast’s first big anti-nuclear protests.

“I don’t think anybody’s worried about our utilities having enough power,” says Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. It’s likely that Vermont Yankee will end up selling all its power out of state under the new license, he adds, as it has not signed any new contracts with utilities in the state.

Others say the board could also consider the viability of Entergy’s evacuation plan, which currently covers the area within a 10-mile radius of the plant.

The PSB is now hearing arguments on whether it should only consider evidence presented up through 2009, as Entergy wants, or consider new evidence, such as Fukushima and a 2010 leak of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, into the Connecticut River.

The NRC’s Sheehan says the radioactivity that leaked, which has been detected near the river’s west bank, was “well within permissible limits.” By the time it reaches the river’s center, it will be diluted enough to be “virtually undetectable.”

Entergy has “sentinel wells” to check groundwater contamination, he adds, and was able to find the leak’s source in an underground drain box. “We were satisfied that they had done the right things, with the caveat that they have to continue.”

George Harvey of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution, a Brattleboro-based antinuclear group, agrees that the tritium leak was relatively minor. The issue, he and other activists say, is that it raised serious questions about Entergy officials’ honesty. The tritium “leaked from underground pipes that Entergy had sworn didn’t exist,” says Paul Burns.

Another issue is that Vermont has not granted Entergy a permit to take water from the Connecticut River. The state has filed a lawsuit on that issue.

Environmental activists also question Entergy’s upkeep of the aging plant. In 2007, a wooden cooling tower collapsed. “How bad must your maintenance be for a cooling tower to actually collapse?” wonders Burns. “It’s astonishing.”

Is the End of Nuclear Near — Or a Revival?

The Fukushima disaster came at a time when the nuclear industry and the Obama administration were pushing for a revival of nuclear power in the U.S., which had largely stalled after the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979, the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, and the 1989 bankruptcy of the Long Island Lighting Company, which had spent $6 billion on a Mark I plant that never opened because the company could not develop a viable evacuation plan. (The only ways off Long Island, where New York’s densely populated eastern suburbs stretch for 45 miles, are by ferry or through the city on highways that are clogged in a normal rush hour.) The last two nuclear plants to come online got their licenses in 1993 and 1996.

That may be changing. On Feb. 9, the NRC voted 4-1 to let Southern Co. construct two new reactors at its Vogtle plant in Georgia, and it is expected to approve three others in South Carolina and Tennessee. NRC chair Gregory Jaczko dissented, citing Fukushima. On Feb. 16, a coalition of nine Southeastern and national environmental groups filed a lawsuit with the federal D.C. Court of Appeals, alleging that the NRC was “violating federal law by issuing the Vogtle license without considering important public safety and environmental implications in the wake of the catastrophic Fukushima accident.”

The coalition also charges that if the plant is redesigned to take the lessons of Fukushima into account, it will “add major delays and cost overruns” that will be passed on to ratepayers. Georgia and South Carolina are among the states that let utilities pass the cost of new plants on to customers before they come online, under a system known as “Construction Work in Progress.” (The new Vogtle reactors are scheduled to come online in 2016 and 2017.) The Obama administration has offered Southern $8.33 billion in federal loan guarantees through the Department of Energy.

Nuclear energy’s supporters tout it as a technology that’s already on-line and doesn’t burn fossil fuels. (Some cynics speculate that President Obama’s sympathy for it might have something to do with the large contributions made by Exelon, a Chicago-based company that is the nation’s largest provider of nuclear power, to his 2006 run for the U.S. Senate and then his 2008 presidential campaign.)

Its opponents say the risk is too big — the possible damage in a disaster is almost infinite. Vermont Yankee is 17 miles from the Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to the Boston area. Pilgrim is 38 miles southeast of Boston. Indian Point, though not a boiling-water reactor, has an estimated 21 million people within 50 miles of its location on the Hudson River in New York’s northern suburbs. The oldest of the three reactors at that site was closed down in 1974 after radioactive isotopes, tritium and strontium-90, leaked from the spent-fuel storage into nearby groundwater.

“The Japanese were actually lucky,” says Arnie Gundersen, because the wind blew 80 percent of the radiation released at Fukushima out to sea, instead of toward Tokyo.

Maintenance is another issue, says George Harvey of the New England Coalition. “These plants are not being run to retirement. They’re being run to failure,” he says. “Every nuke in the U.S. will run until it fails in some way. That’s not very comforting.” Rather than gamble with people’s lives and safety, he contends that alternative sources such as wind power and new technologies such as carbon sequestration of natural gas can provide an adequate supply of clean energy.

Paul Burns dismisses the NRC’s claims that nuclear plants are safe, saying the agency “is a cheerleader for the industry and an apologist for the industry when it behaves badly.” Nuclear power is cheap only “if you don’t consider the externalities,” he adds.

“I gave up thinking ‘shut it down,'” says Mary Lampert, a Massachusetts activist who has waged a seven-year campaign against renewing the Pilgrim plant’s license. “There’s a lot more that could be done to make it safer. Safe, no.” For example, she says, the pressure-relief vents could be passive, opening automatically in response to high pressure instead of electrically or manually, and have filters.

The NRC has rejected her petitions. Some of those decisions may end up being appealed to federal courts, on the grounds that the agency, which is required to consider new information under the National Environmental Protection Act, did not take Fukushima into account in its relicensing proceedings.

Lampert calls the NRC’s cost-benefit analyses, in which the agency weighs the cost of offsite damage from an accident against the cost of fixes needed to prevent accidents and mitigate damage, “baloney.” They have failed to consider possibilities such as the effect of contaminated water in Cape Cod Bay would have on Massachusetts’ marine industries, she says, and they grossly underestimate both the chances and the severity of accidents.

“If the probability is near zero, no matter how high the consequences are, they’re never going to do any mitigation,” she says. “This is a fantasy. They fear Fukushima might be the death knell of the industry. They’re circling the wagons.”

 

Steven Wishnia is a New York-based journalist and musician. He is the author of “Exit 25 Utopia” and “The Cannabis Companion.”

© 2012 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/154260/

February 29, 2012

Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman displays his number tattoo. (photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman displays his number tattoo. (photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

 

IBM at Auschwitz, New Documents

Edwin Black, Reader Supported News

28 February 12

 

ewly-released documents expose more explicitly the details of IBM’s pivotal role in the Holocaust – all six phases: identification, expulsion from society, confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, and even extermination. Moreover, the documents portray with crystal clarity the personal involvement and micro-management of IBM president Thomas J. Watson in the company’s co-planning and co-organizing of Hitler’s campaign to destroy the Jews.

IBM’s twelve-year alliance with the Third Reich was first revealed in my book IBM and the Holocaust, published simultaneously in 40 countries in February 2001. It was based on some 20,000 documents drawn from archives in seven countries. IBM never denied any of the information in the book; and despite thousands of media and communal requests, as well as published articles, the company has remained silent.

The new “expanded edition” contains 32 pages of never-before-published internal IBM correspondence, State Department and Justice Department memos, and concentration camp documents that graphically chronicle IBM’s actions and what they knew during the 12-year Hitler regime. On the anniversary of the release of the original book, the new edition was released on February 26, 2012 at a special live global streaming event at Yeshiva University’s Furst Hall, sponsored by the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists together with a coalition of other groups.

Among the newly-released documents and archival materials are secret 1941 correspondence setting up the Dutch subsidiary of IBM to work in tandem with the Nazis, company President Thomas Watson’s personal approval for the 1939 release of special IBM alphabetizing machines to help organize the rape of Poland and the deportation of Polish Jews, as well as the IBM Concentration Camp Codes including IBM’s code for death by Gas Chamber. Among the newly published photos of the punch cards is the one developed for the statistician who reported directly to Himmler and Eichmann.

The significance of the incriminating documents requires context.

Punch cards, also called Hollerith cards after IBM founder Herman Hollerith, were the forerunner of the computers that IBM is famous for today. These cards stored information in holes punched in the rows and columns, which were then “read” by a tabulating machine. The system worked like a player piano – but this one was devoted to the devil’s music. First designed to track people and organize a census, the Hollerith system was later adapted to any tabulation or information task.

From the first moments of the Hitler regime in 1933, IBM used its exclusive punch card technology and its global monopoly on information technology to organize, systematize, and accelerate Hitler’s anti-Jewish program, step by step facilitating the tightening noose. The punch cards, machinery, training, servicing, and special project work, such as population census and identification, was managed directly by IBM headquarters in New York, and later through its subsidiaries in Germany, known as Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft (DEHOMAG), Poland, Holland, France, Switzerland, and other European countries.

Among the punch cards published are two for the SS, including one for the SS Rassenamt, or Race Office, which specialized in racial selections and coordinated with many other Reich offices. A third card was custom-crafted by IBM for Richard Korherr, a top Nazi statistician and expert in Jewish demographics who reported directly to Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler and who also worked with Adolf Eichmann. Himmler and Eichmann were architects of the extermination phase of the Holocaust. All three punch cards bear the proud indicia of IBM’s German subsidiary, DEHOMAG. They illustrate the nature of the end users who relied upon IBM’s information technology.

In 1937, with war looming and the world shocked at the increasingly merciless Nazi persecution of the Jews, Hitler bestowed upon Watson a special award – created specifically for the occasion – to honor extraordinary service by a foreigner to the Third Reich. The medal, the Order of the German Eagle with Star, bedecked with swastikas, was to be worn on a sash over the heart. Watson returned the medal years later in June 1940 as a reaction to public outrage about the medal during the bombing of Paris. The return of this medal has been used by IBM apologists to show Watson had second thoughts about his alliance with the Reich. But a newly released copy of a subsequent letter dated June 10, 1941, drafted by IBM’s New York office, confirms that IBM headquarters personally directed the activities of its Dutch subsidiary set up in 1940 to identify and liquidate the Jews of Holland. Hence, while IBM engaged in the public relations maneuver of returning the medal, the company was actually quietly expanding its role in Hitler’s Holocaust. Similar subsidiaries, sometimes named as a variant of “Watson Business Machines,” were set up in Poland, Vichy France, and elsewhere on the Continent in cadence with the Nazi takeover of Europe.

Particularly powerful are the newly-released copies of the IBM concentration camp codes. IBM maintained a customer site, known as the Hollerith Department, in virtually every concentration camp to sort or process punch cards and track prisoners. The codes show IBM’s numerical designation for various camps. Auschwitz was 001, Buchenwald was 002; Dachau was 003, and so on. Various prisoner types were reduced to IBM numbers, with 3 signifying homosexual, 9 for anti-social, and 12 for Gypsy. The IBM number 8 designated a Jew. Inmate death was also reduced to an IBM digit: 3 represented death by natural causes, 4 by execution, 5 by suicide, and code 6 designated “special treatment” in gas chambers. IBM engineers had to create Hollerith codes to differentiate between a Jew who had been worked to death and one who had been gassed, then print the cards, configure the machines, train the staff, and continuously maintain the fragile systems every two weeks on site in the concentration camps.

Newly-released photographs show the Hollerith Bunker at Dachau. It housed at least two dozen machines, mainly controlled by the SS. The foreboding concrete Hollerith blockhouse, constructed of reinforced concrete and steel, was designed to withstand the most intense Allied aerial bombardment. Those familiar with Nazi bomb-proof shelters will recognize the advanced square-cornered pillbox design reserved for the Reich’s most precious buildings and operations. IBM equipment was among the Reich’s most important weapons, not only in its war against the Jews, but in its general military campaigns and control of railway traffic. Watson personally approved expenditures to add bomb shelters to DEHOMAG installations because the cost was born by the company. Such costs cut into IBM’s profit margin. Watson’s approval was required because he received a one-percent commission on all Nazi business profits.

Two telling U.S. government memos, now published, are remarkable for their telling irony. The first is a State Department memo, dated December 3, 1941, just four days before the attack on Pearl Harbor and as the Nazis were being openly accused of genocide in Europe. On that day in 1941, IBM’s top attorney, Harrison Chauncey, visited the State Department to express qualms about the company’s extensive involvement with Hitler. The State Department memo recorded that Chauncey feared “that his company may some day be blamed for cooperating with the Germans.”

The second is a Justice Department memo generated during a federal investigation of IBM for trading with the enemy. Economic Warfare Section chief investigator Howard J. Carter prepared the memo for his supervisors describing the company’s collusion with the Hitler regime. Carter wrote: “What Hitler has done to us through his economic warfare, one of our own American corporations has also done … Hence IBM is in a class with the Nazis.” He ended his memo: “The entire world citizenry is hampered by an international monster.”

At a time when the Watson name and the IBM image is being laundered by whiz computers that can answer questions on TV game shows, it is important to remember that Thomas Watson and his corporate behemoth were guilty of genocide. The Treaty on Genocide, Article 2, defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” In Article 3, the treaty states that among the “acts [that] shall be punishable,” are the ones in subsection (e), that is “complicity in genocide.” As for who shall be punished, the Treaty specifies the perpetrators in Article 4: “Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials, or private individuals.”

International Business Machines, and its president Thomas J. Watson, committed genocide by any standard. It was never about the antisemitism. It was never about the National Socialism. It was always about the money. Business was their middle name.


Edwin Black is the author of IBM and the Holocaust, The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation, newly released in the Expanded Edition.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

February 29, 2012

New Fukushima Report: “Devil’s Chain Reaction” Could Wipe Out Tokyo

Tuesday 28 February 2012
by: Gregg Levine, Capitoilette | Report

A new independent report on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster reveals that Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan fearedevents following the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami would require the evacuation of Tokyo. The report, conducted by the Rebuild Japan Foundation, a new policy organization comprised of college professors, journalists and lawyers, sheds new light on just how in-the-dark many were in the wake of natural disasters that left the Fukushima nuclear facility with damaged safety systems and without internal or external power.

The investigation underscores the conflicting interests of the Japanese government, the directors of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO–Fukushima’s owner and operator), and those on the scene at the crippled nuclear plant. Masataka Shimizu, president of TEPCO, is said to have ordered all of Fukushima Daiichi’s employees to evacuate the facility in the days after March 11, but Daiichi’s plant manager, Massao Yoshida, argued that he could get the damaged reactors under control if he and nuclear workers remained. PM Kan eventually ordered a skeleton crew to stay at the plant, fearing that Fukushima Daiichi, the nearby Fukushima Daini and a third nuclear facility could spiral out of control and start what has been translated as a “devil’s chain reaction” or a “demonic chain reaction” that would necessitate evacuation of the nation’s capital, a city of 13 million people, 150 miles south of Fukushima prefecture.

Given this new window on internal deliberations (far too nice a word–these were likely frantic, heated arguments) in Japan, the decision made by US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko within days of the quake to recommend evacuating American citizens from an area 50 miles around Fukushima seems downright conservative. In recent days, nuclear power proponents have used this action as their latest volley in their ongoing push to oust Jaczko and replace him with a more servile chief regulator.

Interesting, too, the objections of TEPCO’s president to the plan to pour seawater on the melting Fukushima reactors and boiling spent fuel storage pools. This last-gasp measure, apparently the idea of Yoshida, the Daiichi manager, is believed to have somewhat cooled the reactors and at least kept the fuel pools from completely emptying–which would have resulted in a much more serious outcome (hard to believe, but true)–though it should be noted that the radioactive runoff is now contaminating the ground, groundwater, rivers and the ocean around Fukushima. TEPCO brass no doubt did not want to use seawater because its corrosive effects would make it impossible to ever restart any of the Daiichi reactors (again, ridiculous in hindsight, but not hard to imagine inside the profit-above-people distortion bubble that exists at companies like TEPCO). (UPDATEJapan Times reports Kan was reticent to use anything but fresh water, but Yoshida ignored him and went ahead with the use of seawater.)

Other recent revelations–about how close Fukushima Daini came to a meltdown of its own, about how the Fukushima region is now more seismically unstable, and that the government had dire assessments of the disaster that it worked hard to keep secret–serve to buttress Naoto Kan’s fears that a string of nuclear disasters was a distinct possibility. And it should also serve as a warning that those fears are still a possibility if the region’s nuclear plants–whether or not they are still functioning–are not decommissioned and contained.

And all this information, and the new details on the lack of trust between the Japanese government and TEPCO, also paints a more nuanced–and, honestly, disturbing–picture of the environment in which US officials had to make decisions.

But, perhaps most importantly, this latest report is yet another data point against the absurd assertion that Fukushima Daiichi somehow proves nuclear power’s “defense in depth” safety systems work. The assertion that Fukushima isn’t a massive disaster, just as it stands today, is ridiculous, but reading about the lack of good information in the early days of the crisis, the internal fights and the government’s fears makes it clear that things could have easily been much, much worse. While there are still real concerns about just how much radiation residents throughout Japan will be expected to absorb, and there are still many technical questions that remain unanswered, it now appears that it was only a combination of an occasionally assertive PM, the heroism of about fifty Daiichi workers and maybe some dumb luck that gave the world the relative luxury of calling Fukushima an ever-metastasizing disaster, rather than an almost-instant hell on earth.

Fukushima nuclear plant still vulnerable, says director

February 29, 2012

Fukushima nuclear plant still vulnerable, says director

NATIONAL FEB. 29, 2012 – 06:40AM JST ( 10 )

Fukushima nuclear plant still vulnerable, says director
The damaged No. 3, left, and No. 4, right, reactor buildings are seen at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on TuesdayAP Photo/Pool

OKUMA —

The tsunami-hit Fukushima power plant remains fragile nearly a year after it suffered multiple meltdowns, its chief said Tuesday, with makeshift equipment—some mended with tape—keeping crucial systems running.

Journalists given a tour of the Fukushima Daiichi plant on Tuesday, including a reporter from The Associated Press, saw crumpled trucks and equipment still lying on the ground. A power pylon that collapsed in the tsunami, cutting electricity to the plant’s vital cooling system and setting off the crisis, remained a mangled mess.

Officials said the worst is over but the plant remains vulnerable.

“I have to admit that it’s still rather fragile,” said plant director Takeshi Takahashi, who took the job in December after his predecessor resigned due to health reasons. “Even though the plant has achieved what we call ‘cold shutdown conditions,’ it still causes problems that must be improved.”

The government announced in December that three melted reactors at the plant had basically stabilized and that radiation releases had dropped. It still will take decades to fully decommission the plant, and it must be kept stable until then.

The operators have installed multiple backup power supplies, a cooling system, and equipment to process massive amounts of contaminated water that leaked from the damaged reactors.

But the equipment that serves as the lifeline of the cooling system is shockingly feeble-looking. Plastic hoses cracked by freezing temperatures have been mended with tape. A set of three pumps sits on the back of a pickup truck.

Along with the pumps, the plant now has 1,000 tanks to store more than 160,000 tons of contaminated water.

Radiation levels in the No. 1 reactor have fallen, allowing workers to repair some damage to the reactor building. But the No. 3 reactor, whose roof was blown off by a hydrogen explosion, resembles an ashtray filled with a heap of cigarette butts.

A dosimeter recorded the highest radiation reading outside No. 3 during Tuesday’s tour—1.5 millisievert per hour. That is a major improvement from last year, when up to 10 sieverts per hour were registered near Nos. 1 and 2.

Exposure to more than 1,000 millisievert, or 1 sievert, can cause radiation sickness including nausea and an elevated risk of cancer.

Officials say radiation hot spots remain inside the plant and minimizing exposure to them is a challenge. Employees usually work for about 2-3 hours at a time, but in some areas, including highly contaminated No. 3, they can stay only a few minutes.

Since the March 11 crisis, no one has died from radiation exposure.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

February 29, 2012

Lessons from Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Report Shows Millions Remain at Risk

TOKYO – February 28 – Greenpeace today released “Lessons from Fukushima”, a new report which shows that it was not a natural disaster which led to the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant on Japan’s east coast, but the failures of the Japanese Government, regulators and the nuclear industry. The key conclusion to be drawn from the report is that this human-made nuclear disaster could be repeated at any nuclear plant in the world, putting millions at risk.

“While triggered by the tragic March 11th earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima disaster was ultimately caused by the Japanese authorities choosing to ignore risks, and make business a higher priority than safety,” said Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner. “This report shows that nuclear energy is inherently unsafe, and that governments are quick to approve reactors, but remain ill-equipped to deal with problems and protect people from nuclear disasters. This has not changed since the Fukushima disaster, and that is why millions of people continue to be exposed to nuclear risks.”

Greenpeace commissioned Dr. David Boilley, a nuclear physicist with the French independent radiation laboratory ACRO; Dr. David McNeill, Japan correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications; and Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds Associates, to write “Lessons from Fukushima” (1). The report, peer reviewed by Dr. Helmut Hirsch, an expert in nuclear safety, reaches three important insights:

1) Japanese authorities and the operators of the Fukushima plant were entirely wrong in their assumptions about the risks of a serious accident. The real risks were known but downplayed and ignored.

2) Even though Japan is considered one of the best-prepared countries in the world for handling major disasters the reality of a large nuclear disaster proved to be far worse than what was planned for. Nuclear emergency and evacuation plans utterly failed to protect people.

3) Hundreds of thousands of people have been deeply affected by evacuations to escape radioactive contamination. They cannot rebuild their lives due to a lack of support and financial compensation. Japan is one of only three countries with a law making a nuclear operator liable for the full costs of a disaster. Yet, the liability law and compensation schemes are inadequate in Japan. Even a year after the disaster began, impacted people are essentially left on their own and Japanese taxpayers will end up paying much of the costs.

“This disaster was predictable and predicted, but happened because of the age-old story of cutting corners to protect profits over people,” said Kazue Suzuki Greenpeace Japan Nuclear Campaigner. “The authorities are already recklessly pushing to restart reactors without learning anything from the Fukushima disaster and the people will once again be forced to pay the price of their government’s mistakes.”

“People should not be forced to live with the myth of nuclear safety and under the shadow of a nuclear disaster waiting to happen,” said Vande Putte. “Nuclear power must be phased out and replaced with smart investments in energy efficiency and renewable power. This approach will create millions of sustainable jobs, improve energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will also ensure people will never again suffer radioactive fallout from a preventable disaster.“

Greenpeace is urging the Japanese Government to not restart its nuclear power plants in favour of a strong push to energy efficiency and renewable power, and calling for a global phase out of nuclear power by 2035 (2).

###
Independent campaigning organization that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Greenpeace: Fukushima Disaster Caused by Japan’s Nuclear Authorities, Not Tsunami

February 29, 2012

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 by Common Dreams

Greenpeace: Fukushima Disaster Caused by Japan’s Nuclear Authorities, Not Tsunami

- Common Dreams staff

new report released today by Greenpeace argues it was neither the 7.1 magnitude earthquake nor the raging tsunami that followed which deserve the real blame for the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Diachi power plant last year. Rather, according to ‘The Lessons of Fukushima’, the real disaster was caused by hubris, greed, and the fact that repeated warnings over the unsafe nature of the nuclear plant were ‘downplayed and ignored’.

Litate village, 40km northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radiation levels found by the Greenpeace monitoring team are far above internationally recommended limits. (Christian Aslund / Greenpeace)“While triggered by the tragic March 11th earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima disaster was ultimately caused by the Japanese authorities choosing to ignore risks, and make business a higher priority than safety,” said Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner. “This report shows that nuclear energy is inherently unsafe, and that governments are quick to approve reactors, but remain ill-equipped to deal with problems and protect people from nuclear disasters. This has not changed since the Fukushima disaster, and that is why millions of people continue to be exposed to nuclear risks.”

The report was written by Dr. David Boilley, a nuclear physicist with the French independent radiation laboratory ACRO; Dr. David McNeill, Japan correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education; and Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds Associates. It was peer reviewed by Dr. Helmut Hirsch, an expert in nuclear safety.

“This disaster was predictable and predicted, but happened because of the age-old story of cutting corners to protect profits over people,” said Kazue Suzuki Greenpeace Japan Nuclear Campaigner. “The authorities are already recklessly pushing to restart reactors without learning anything from the Fukushima disaster and the people will once again be forced to pay the price of their government’s mistakes.”

“People should not be forced to live with the myth of nuclear safety and under the shadow of a nuclear disaster waiting to happen,” said Vande Putte. “Nuclear power must be phased out and replaced with smart investments in energy efficiency and renewable power. This approach will create millions of sustainable jobs, improve energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will also ensure people will never again suffer radioactive fallout from a preventable disaster.“

Jan Baranek, writing at the Greenpeace blogsays:

… The first crucial lesson [of the report] is that “nuclear safety” cannot be created. While the nuclear industry wants us to believe that the chance of a major reactor accident is one in million, the real frequency has been one meltdown every decade, on average. Fukushima also showed how quickly the multiple barriers that we were assured would prevent a large release of radioactivity failed. In Japan, all the barriers collapsed during the first day, and a hydrogen blast allowed radiation to directly escape to open air.

The second lesson is that the institutions that we have trusted to protect people from nuclear risks also failed completely.

***

WikiLeaks: Stratfor Predicts Huge Oil Profits From Attack on Iran

February 28, 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during a ceremony at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility. (photo: Reuters)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during a ceremony at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility. (photo: Reuters)

WikiLeaks: Stratfor Predicts Huge Oil Profits From Attack on Iran

By Anissa Haddadi, International Business Times

28 February 12

 

ikiLeaks has started publishing more than five million emails hacked by Anonymous from the servers of Stratfor, a US intelligence gathering company.

An email sent by Chris Farnham, senior officer for Stratfor, to an internal unnamed source inside the company titled “Israel/Iran Barak Hails Munitions Blast in Iran” provides details about who would benefit from an Israeli attack on Iran, and say such a plan would be motivated by economic factors.

According to the email, sent on November 13, 2011, supporters of an Israeli-led attack are Russia, India and Saudi Arabia, while the EU and China stand against such plans, mainly for economic reasons.

“Not many people know that Russia is one of Israel’s largest military partners and India is Israel’s largest client. If a direct conflict between Iran and Israel erupts, Russia and Saudi Arabia will gain the advantages on oil increasing prices. On the other hand, China and Europe are expected to lose from an oil crisis as a result of a conflict,” the email says

Farnham said that an attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities would last only 48 hours and be so devastating it would lead to regime change.

“Based on Israeli plans, the attack on Iran will last only 48 hours but will be so destructive that Iran will be unable to retaliate or recover and the government will fall. It is hard to believe that Hamas or Hezbollah will try to get involved in this conflict,” Farham wrote.

The Stratfor analyst then reveals that despite claims propagated in the media, an attack on Iran is unlikely since Israeli commandos have already targeted major parts of Iran’s nuclear programme.

“In the open media many are pushing and expecting Israel to launch a massive attack on Iran. Even if the Israelis have the capabilities and are ready to attack by air, sea and land, there is no need to attack the nuclear programme at this point after the commandos destroyed a significant part of it.”

Farnham said an attack would be motivated by economic factors rather than Iran’s nuclear programme.

“If a massive attack on Iran happens soon, then the attack will have political and oil reasons and not nuclear. It is also very hard to believe that the Israelis will initiate an attack unless they act as a contractor for other nations or if Iran or its proxies attack first,” the email concludes.

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Comment: All will lose by any war with all kinds of ripple effect eternally (never unilateral, no winners, multi-faceted economically, ecologically, ethically for generations and genera with – radiation – pollutions, never 48 hrs.)

Japan Weighed Evacuating Tokyo in Nuclear Crisis

February 28, 2012

Japan Weighed Evacuating Tokyo in Nuclear Crisis

Issei Kato/Reuters, via Bloomberg

Journalists, in protective gear, were taken on a tour last week of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, at the center of the crisis last year.

By 
Published: February 27, 2012

TOKYO — In the darkest moments of last year’s nuclear accident, Japanese leaders did not know the actual extent of damage at the plant and secretly considered the possibility of evacuating Tokyo, even as they tried to play down the risks in public, an independent investigation into the accident disclosed on Monday.

Follow@nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.

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Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News

Yoichi Funabashi set up the inquiry.

Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

Naoto Kan, the former prime minister.

Tepco/Handout/European Pressphoto Agency

Masao Yoshida, head of the Daiichi plant.

Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg News

Masataka Shimizu, president of Tepco.

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The investigation by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, a new private policy organization, offers one of the most vivid accounts yet of how Japan teetered on the edge of an even larger nuclear crisis than the one that engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. A team of 30 university professors, lawyers and journalists spent more than six months on the inquiry into Japan’s response to the triple meltdown at the plant, which followed a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that shut down the plant’s cooling systems.

The team interviewed more than 300 people, including top nuclear regulators and government officials, as well as the prime minister during the crisis, Naoto Kan. They were granted extraordinary access, in part because of a strong public demand for greater accountability and because the organization’s founder, Yoichi Funabashi, a former editor in chief of the daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, is one of Japan’s most respected public intellectuals.

An advance copy of the report describes how Japan’s response was hindered at times by a debilitating breakdown in trust between the major actors: Mr. Kan; the Tokyo headquarters of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco; and the manager at the stricken plant. The conflicts produced confused flows of sometimes contradictory information in the early days of the crisis, the report said.

It describes frantic phone calls by the manager, Masao Yoshida, to top officials in the Kan government arguing that he could get the plant under control if he could keep his staff in place, while at the same time ignoring orders from Tepco’s headquarters not to use sea water to cool the overheating reactors. By contrast, Mr. Funabashi said in an interview, Tepco’s president, Masataka Shimizu, was making competing calls to the prime minister’s office saying that the company should evacuate all of its staff, a step that could have been catastrophic.

The 400-page report, due to be released later this week, also describes a darkening mood at the prime minister’s residence as a series of hydrogen explosions rocked the plant on March 14 and 15. It says Mr. Kan and other officials began discussing a worst-case outcome if workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant were evacuated. This would have allowed the plant to spiral out of control, releasing even larger amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere that would in turn force the evacuation of other nearby nuclear plants, causing further meltdowns.

The report quotes the chief cabinet secretary at the time, Yukio Edano, as having warned that such a “demonic chain reaction” of plant meltdowns could result in the evacuation of Tokyo, 150 miles to the south.

“We would lose Fukushima Daini, then we would lose Tokai,” Mr. Edano is quoted as saying, naming two other nuclear plants. “If that happened, it was only logical to conclude that we would also lose Tokyo itself.”

The report also describes the panic within the Kan administration at the prospect of large radiation releases from the more than 10,000 spent fuel rods that were stored in relatively unprotected pools near the damaged reactors. The report says it was not until five days after the earthquake that a Japanese military helicopter was finally able to confirm that the pool deemed at highest risk, near the No. 4 reactor, was still safely filled with water.

“We barely avoided the worst-case scenario, though the public didn’t know it at the time,” Mr. Funabashi, the foundation founder, said.

Mr. Funabashi blamed the Kan administration’s fear of setting off a panic for its decision to understate the true dangers of the accident. He said the Japanese government hid its most alarming assessments not just from its own public but also from allies like the United States. Mr. Funabashi said the investigation revealed “how precarious the U.S.-Japan relationship was” in the early days of the crisis, until the two nations began daily informational meetings at the prime minister’s residence on March 22.

The report seems to confirm the suspicions of nuclear experts in the United States — inside and outside the government — that the Japanese government was not being forthcoming about the full dangers posed by the stricken Fukushima plant. But it also shows that the United States government occasionally overreacted and inflated the risks, such as when American officials mistakenly warned that the spent fuel rods in the pool near unit No. 4 were exposed to the air and vulnerable to melting down and releasing huge amounts of radiation.

Still, Mr. Funabashi said, it was the Japanese government’s failure to warn its people of the dangers and the widespread distrust it bred in the government that spurred him to undertake an independent investigation. Such outside investigations have been rare in Japan, where the public has tended to accept official versions of events.

He said his group’s findings conflicted with those of the government’s own investigation into the accident, which were released in an interim report in December. A big difference involved one of the most crucial moments of the nuclear crisis, when the prime minister, Mr. Kan, marched into Tepco’s headquarters early on the morning of March 15 upon hearing that the company wanted to withdraw its employees from the wrecked nuclear plant.

The government’s investigation sided with Tepco by saying that Mr. Kan, a former social activist who often clashed with Japan’s establishment, had simply misunderstood the company, which wanted to withdraw only a portion of its staff. Mr. Funabashi said his foundation’s investigators had interviewed most of the people involved — except executives at Tepco, which refused to cooperate — and found that the company had in fact said it wanted a total pullout.

He credited Mr. Kan with making the right decision in forcing Tepco not to abandon the plant.

“Prime Minister Kan had his minuses and he had his lapses,” Mr. Funabashi said, “but his decision to storm into Tepco and demand that it not give up saved Japan.”

Contagion and the Conflict Between Religious Beliefs and Immunization

February 28, 2012

Published on Monday, February 27, 2012 by Common Dreams

Contagion and the Conflict Between Religious Beliefs and Immunization

by Bill Moyers

Steven Soderbergh’s recent film Contagion is the most plausible experience of a global pandemic plague you’re likely to see until the real thing strikes. Stark, beautiful in its own terrifying way, and all too believable, the story tracks the swift progress of a deadly airborne virus… from Hong Kong to Minneapolis… Tokyo to London… from a handful of peanuts to a credit card to the cough of strangers on a subway. Rarely does a film issue such an inescapable invitation to think, “It could happen. That could be us. What would I do?”Frame from Contagion

Perhaps because the movie had invaded my head, for several days I kept coming across stories in the news about contagious disease. And the conflict between religious beliefs and immunization. Nothing new here about the basics: All fifty states require some specific vaccinations for kids. Yet all of them grant exemptions for medical reasons – say, for a child with cancer. Almost all of them grant religious exemptions. And 20 states allow exemptions for personal, moral, or other beliefs.

Some parents still fear a link between vaccinations and autism, a possibility science has largely debunked. Some parents just want to be in charge of what’s put into their children’s bodies.

And some parents just don’t trust science, period. So, you can see there are many loopholes. But now seven states are considering legislation to make it even easier for mothers and fathers to spare their children from vaccinations, especially on religious grounds.

In Oregon, according to a story by Jennifer Anderson in The Portland Tribune, the number of kindergartners with religious exemptions is up from 3.7 percent to 5.6 percent in just four years, and continuing to rise. This has public health officials clicking their calculators and keeping their eye on what’s called “herd immunity.” A certain number of any population group needs to have been vaccinated to maintain the ability of the whole population — “the herd” — to resist the spread of a disease. Ms. Anderson offers the example of what in my day was called “the German measles” — rubella. All it takes are five unvaccinated kids in a class of 25 for the herd immunity to break down, creating an opportunity for the disease to spread to younger siblings and to other medically vulnerable people who can’t be vaccinated. If you were traveling to Europe between 2009 and 2011, you may remember warnings about the huge outbreak of measles there — brought on by a “failure to vaccinate susceptible populations.”

Here in the U.S., several recent outbreaks of measles, have been traced to pockets of unvaccinated children in states that allow personal belief exemptions. The Reuters news service reports 13 confirmed cases of measles in central Indiana. Two of them were people who showed up for the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Patriot and Giants fans back east have been alerted. So far, no news is good news.

But this is serious business, made more so by complacency. My generation remembers when measles killed. Killed at as many as 500 people a year before we started vaccinating against them in 1963. My wife and I both lost grandparents in the great flu pandemic of 1918 that killed as many as forty million globally. Our generation was also stalked by small pox, polio, and whooping cough before there were vaccinations. In a country where few remember those diseases, it’s easy to think, “What’s to worry?” But as the movie so forcefully and hauntingly reminds us, the earth is now flat. Seven billion people live on it, and our human herd moves on a conveyer belt of constant mobility, so that a virus can travel as swiftly as a voice from one cell phone to another. When and if a contagion strikes, we can’t count on divine intervention to spare us. That’s when you want a darn good scientist in a research lab. We’ll need all the help we can get from knowledge and her offspring.

For all its many qualities, including some fine acting, Contagion was frozen out of the Oscars — not a single nomination. In fact, none of my favorites were nominated. Nonetheless, let’s go to the movies for some insights on our politics today, because when it comes to storytelling, Hollywood and Washington are co-dependents. Political conspiracies, skullduggery, and infighting have long provided solid plotlines for moviemakers. In turn, politicians try to embrace the values that movies depict as the noblest virtues of the American character: selfless courage, patriotism, sincerity and compassion. Both know that movie entertainment informs our image of what leaders should be but at the very same time capably and handily distracts us from certain grim truths.

 

Bill Moyers Essay: Are Immunization Exemptions Fair to All? from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Bill Moyers

Journalist Bill Moyers is the host of the new show Moyers & Company, a weekly series of smart talk and new ideas aimed at helping viewers make sense of our tumultuous times through the insight of America’s strongest thinkers.. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers andBill Moyers Journal. Over the past three decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation ContinuesMoyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason. He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards and is the author of three best-selling books.

WikiLeaks Publishes 5 Million ‘Shadow CIA’ E-Mails

February 28, 2012

Published on Monday, February 27, 2012 by Common Dreams

WikiLeaks Publishes 5 Million ‘Shadow CIA’ E-Mails

“Admit nothing, deny everything, make counteraccusations”

- Common Dreams staff

WikiLeaks announced tonight that it is publishing documents it is calling “The Global Intelligence Files” which includes over 5 million e-mails from the US-based “Global Intelligence” companyStratfor, the Global Intelligence Company described by Barons as the Shadow CIA, according to a statement the organization released Sunday night.

WikiLeaks has partnered with 25 media organizations to publish the documents including the McClatchy newspapers and Rolling Stone.

“The e-mails date between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.”

WikiLeaks will hold a noon-time press conference in London on Monday to explain the files. The full press release is available here.

* * *

UPDATE: Monday’s WikiLeaks London press conference has ended. The New York Timesreports:

“The material contains privileged information about the U.S. government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks,” the group said. “There are more than 4,000 e-mails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange.”

At the London news conference, Mr. Assange said the Stratfor statement seemed to confirm the advice offered by a senior figure in the company in one of the exposed e-mails which he quoted a senior Stratfor executive as saying: “admit nothing, deny everything, make counteraccusations.”Mr. Assange appeared Monday at a streamed news conference from the journalists’ Frontline Club in London.

Stratfor said in a statement that some of the e-mails being published “may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic,” the company said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

“We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them,” the statement said.

At the London news conference, Mr. Assange said the Stratfor statement seemed to confirm the advice offered by a senior figure in the company in one of the exposed e-mails which he quoted a senior Stratfor executive as saying: “admit nothing, deny everything, make counteraccusations.”

* * *

http://www.ustream.tv/embed/148332

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Technorati reports:

Wikileaks has begun publishing 5 million e-mails from Stratfor, the Global Intelligence Company described by Barons as the Shadow CIA.

At 00:01 GMT on 27 February 2011, Wikileaks started publishing the confidential e-mail communications between Stratfor and its informants which includes government employees, government agencies and corporations.

In a press release, the inner workings of Stratfor are described, painting a world where the government, corporations and Stratfor are intertwined.

Anti-Sec, part of Anonymous, proclaimed late in December 2011 that they had hacked into Stratfor and had managed to gain access to subscriber data. In a press release, Anti-Sec stated that the main reason they hacked into Stratfor was not for the subscriber data, but the trove of 5 million e-mail data, which would reveal the inner working of Stratfor and government agencies. It seems that it is these e-mails that are now being leaked by Wikileaks.

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