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The Many Ways to Help Standing Rock

December 2, 2016

Published on
Friday, December 02, 2016
by YES! Magazine

Even if you can’t show up at the wintry encampments, you can join water protectors in other ways: from calling the North Dakota governor to breaking up with your bank.
bySarah van Gelder
4 Comments

Photo by Lori Panico.
The timing couldn’t have been more awful.

The day after Thanksgiving, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that people camped at the Oceti Sakowin Camp would be considered trespassers on that federally managed land after Dec. 5. With thousands of people, it is the largest of the water protectors’ camps. Next came the snow, which is piling up across the camp as I write. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple ordered an immediate evacuation allegedly out of concern for the well-being of water protectors in the “harsh winter weather.”

“He gave a whole list of concerns … that we’re going to freeze to death and the solution is to cut off emergency services,” said Tara Houska, an organizer from Honor The Earth, at a news conference on Monday. The move evokes the “collective memory of Native people being pushed off land,” she added. “In 2016, that history is still happening.”

“The most dangerous thing we can do is force well-situated campers from their shelters and into the cold,” Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. “If the true concern is for public safety than [sic] the Governor should clear the blockade, and the county law enforcement should cease all use of flash grenades, high-pressure water cannons in freezing temperatures, dog kennels for temporary human jails, and any harmful weaponry against human beings.”

An elder at the camp, Faith Spotted Eagle said, “It is so transparent that what they are doing is to protect the pipeline.”

What will you do? With these rapidly unfolding events at Standing Rock, what can you do? How can you support this indigenous-led nonviolent movement?

“We call on all people of conscience, from all Nations, to join the encampments and stand with us by Dec. 5 as we put our bodies in front of the machines,” says a statement from the Sacred Stone Camp, which also states: “We call on allies across the world to take action EVERY DAY starting December 1.”

How can we do something every day, as requested, to make a difference where we are?

When I interviewed Chairman Archambault earlier this month, he said this: “Follow your heart. If you want to be here, you’re welcome. If you want to pray from home, pray from home. If you want to send a letter of support, send a letter of support. If you want to send a contribution, send a contribution.”

Here are some things to consider as you decide what to do.

Show up

If you’re a veteran, consider joining the 2,000-plus veterans who are “self-deploying” to Standing Rock on December 4–7 to stand nonviolently with the water protectors.

People with skills like nurses and other medics are needed. Check with Oceti Sakowin camp or teams already on the ground to find out. And there is always work to do in the kitchen or chopping wood. People are also needed at the front lines to maintain a nonviolent presence; they risk arrest and attack from law enforcement’s “sub-lethal” weapons.

If you do go to Standing Rock, remember that this is a movement founded in nonviolence and prayer. Respect the indigenous leaders there and follow their requests about how to behave at camp in keeping with Lakota traditions.

But before you pack up your car and head out, consider the snow. You will need to be well-provisioned to avoid becoming a burden on the community there. Many of the organizers have asked White allies to consider whether the money spent to get yourself to Standing Rock would be better spent donating to the cause: covering mounting legal costs, provisioning an indigenous water protector, or helping the Standing Rock tribe pay for costs.

You may be a more effective advocate where you are, where you have easy access to elected officials and banks; at Standing Rock, access to phone and internet service is limited.

Break up with your bank

Banks are feeling the heat from the protests and from their own customers. One bank, DNB of Norway, has responded to pressure by divesting from Energy Transfer, the parent company of the Dakota Access pipeline. DNB is reportedly reconsidering more than $400 million in credit. The ING Bank of the Netherlands, which prides itself on its sustainability and human rights stance, posted a statement on its website expressing concern about excessive police force at Standing Rock.

If your bank is one of the direct investors in DAPL or one of the investors in its parent companies, Energy Transfer and Sunoco Logistics, ask them to withdraw support. Tell them you plan to close your account if their support continues. Photograph yourself cutting up your credit card, or share your letter on your social media networks. I posted my break-up letter to Chase Bank on my blog and on Facebook and Twitter—and was surprised by how many responded that they planned to do the same.

If you have a retirement fund or mutual fund, find out if it is invested in Energy Transfer Partners, Energy Transfer Equity, or Sunoco Logistics—or any of the 38 banks offering credit to the pipeline project. If so, let those investment companies know you object and tell them you would like the fund to divest or you’ll shift your account to a socially responsible investment fund.

Consider planning or participating in a nonviolent protest at a bank branch or headquarters. Sacred Stone Camp has posted a map to find bank branches near you and recommends actions beginning Dec. 1.

Banks are risk-averse, and this pipeline project has become quite risky because of public relations problems as well as the oil price bust and reduction of oil extraction in North Dakota. Banks and investors may be hoping for an excuse to back out. Your action could help tip the balance.

Call off the police

There are now dozens of law enforcement agencies participating in the multistate force that is shooting water cannons, pepper spraying, and shooting various “sub-lethal” weapons at unarmed water protectors.

If your police force is there, call them home. Although the police staffing is changing constantly, some sheriffs have responded to public pressure by refusing to send deputies. Contact elected officials, write to local papers and local blogs, and contact local media to object to law enforcement involvement at Standing Rock.

Complain to government decision-makers

Angry about the evacuation order? Talk to the person who made it:

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple

600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0100

Phone: 701-328-2200
Email: http://www.governor.nd.gov/contact-us

https://www.facebook.com/NDGovDalrymple

https://twitter.com/NDGovDalrymple

“Where is President Obamaand why does he remain silent on this issue?” Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network asked in a statement responding to the governor’s evacuation order.

When he visited Standing Rock on June 13, 2014, President Obama said this: “I promised when I ran to be a president … who honors our sacred trust, and who respects your sovereignty, and upholds treaty obligations, and who works with you in a spirit of true partnership, in mutual respect, to give our children the future that they deserve.”

Remind President Obama of this and of the way his decision on DAPL will shape his legacy.

President Barack Obama

Phone: 202-456-1111
Email: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

You can also call Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff, at 202-456-3182.

Contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is charged with making a decision about the permit to drill under the Missouri River. Tell them to reject the permit and order a full environmental impact statement.

The commanding general is Lt. Gen Todd T. Semonite

441 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20314-1000
Phone: 202-761-0011

https://www.facebook.com/USACEHQ/

Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of Army (Civil Works)

108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310
joellen.darcy@us.army.mil
(703) 697-8986

Col. John W. Henderson

Commander
Omaha District, USACE
1616 Capitol Ave., Ste. 9000
Omaha, NE 68102
Phone: 888-835-5971 or
402-995-2229

The Department of Justiceshould be concerned about the use of excessive force against the water protectors and alleged violations of civil and human rights.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch

United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Tracy.Toulou2@usdoj.gov

You can also call the Department of Justice Office of Community Relations, which offers mediation to communities facing racial and religious confrontations.

Federal office: (202) 305-2935

Regional office: (303) 844-2973

Askcrs@usdoj.gov,

https://www.justice.gov/crs/what-we-do

Remember to speak politely and factually about your concerns. If you send an email, copy it to your social media account to inspire your friends, and to local media.

Call out the media

If media outlets are ignoring or distorting the news, call them on it. Send open letters and share them on social media. Ask major media to fully and factually cover the unfolding drama at Standing Rock.

Donate

There are many opportunities to donate cash or supplies. Here are three that I can vouch for:

• The Standing Rock tribe, which is using the funds for their substantial legal expenses and for providing facilities for the camp: standwithstandingrock.net/donate/.

• Oceti Sakowin Camp is the largest of the water protector camps, the closest to the front lines, and is now facing evacuation: ocetisakowincamp.org/donate.

• The Water Protector Legal Collective (formerly the Red Owl Collective), which has been providing legal support to the many who have been arrested at Standing Rock: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/11B5z8

You can also support some of the key indigenous organizations that are leading this movement nationwide and worldwide:

• The Indigenous Environmental Network: http://www.ienearth.org/?s=donate.

• Honor the Earth: http://www.honorearth.org/.

You can raise more money for these and others by organizing support events and fundraisers in your community. Invite people who are curious about the issues as well as people who are already passionately engaged. Make it a celebratory or prayerful event in whatever way makes sense to your community.

Other options

Phone a bank. Invite friends over to make phone calls and send emails. It’s more fun together.

Resist extraction where you live. Join work to stop the pipelines, coal trains, fracking, and export terminals in your city or state and include #NoDAPL and #WaterisLife messages to remind people of the link to Standing Rock.

Resist but also renew. Remember that as you resist the dystopian world of extraction, Donald Trump, violence, and racism, you can also use your activism to build up the world you want. Do your own “just transition,” switching to clean energy, conserving, protecting the water, rebuilding the soil—while including everyone in a way of life that is more soul-satisfying and joy-filled.

Resilience for the days ahead

When I talk to people at Standing Rock, I feel the trauma and pain but also the resolve. The young people speak of being the Seventh Generation, the ones that were prayed for. And many speak of the suffering they are prepared to endure to ensure the next generations has the clean water they will need to survive. That resolve is helped by the support that continues to flow in from more than 300 tribes nationwide, and from hundreds of thousands of allies, including next week’s arrival of thousands of veterans.

“We are not standing down,” said LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, founder of Sacred Stone Camp, at a news conference on Monday in response to the governor’s evacuation order. “We are in our home, we are strong, and we have prayer.”

This article was written for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Sarah van Gelder
Sarah van Gelder is co-founder and editor-at-large of YES! Magazine, and author of The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000 Mile Journey Through a New America. Follow her blog and connect with Sarah on Twitter: @sarahvangelder

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No Discrimination, Oppression!

November 22, 2016

Friend —

Just a few weeks after my fifth birthday, in the spring of 1942, my parents got my younger brother, my baby sister, and me up very early, hurriedly dressed us, and quickly started to pack.

When my brother and I looked out the window of our living room, we saw two soldiers marching up the driveway, bayonets fixed to their rifles. They banged on our front door and ordered us out of the house. We could take only what we could carry with us.

We were loaded on to train cars with other Japanese-American families, with guards stationed at both ends of each car as though we were criminals, and sent two-thirds of the way across the country to an internment camp in the swamps of Arkansas.

For nearly three years, barbed wire, sentry towers, and armed guards marked home. Mass showers, lousy meals in crowded mess halls, and a searchlight following me as I ran from our barracks to the latrine in the middle of the night — in case I was trying to escape — became normal.

So when I hear Donald Trump’s transition advisors talk about building a registry of Muslims and his surrogates using the internment of Japanese-Americans as their model, I am outraged — because I remember the tears streaming down my mother’s face as we were torn away from our home. And I am resolved to raise my voice and say, loudly and clearly, that this is not who we are.

My mother was born in Sacramento, my father grew up in San Francisco, and my siblings and I were born in Los Angeles. We were American citizens, as proud of our country as we were of our Japanese heritage. But in the fear and mass hysteria of wartime, none of that mattered. When our government allowed hatred and racism to overtake our values, nothing else mattered.

We cannot allow our country to be led down that dark path ever again.

I am committed to fighting for our values, our democracy, and the moral character of our nation. And I am committed to standing with the Democratic Party against bigotry and oppression for the next four years and beyond, no matter what form it takes. I hope you will do the same. Add your name today to stand with me:

http://my.democrats.org/Next

Thank you,

George

All Governments Lie, The Movie

October 31, 2016

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Picture, if you will, video footage of vintage (early 2016) Donald Trump buffoonery with the CEO of CBS Leslie Moonves commenting on major media’s choice to give Trump vastly more air time than other candidates: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

That’s the introduction to a powerful critique of the U.S. media. A new film screens in New York and Los Angeles this week called All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone.

The website AllGovernmentsLie.com has screening dates, a list of lies, and a list of good journalists who expose lies. The lists on the website are not identical to the content of the film, but there’s a good deal of overlap — enough to give you a sense of what this project is about.

I’d have made various changes and additions to the film. In particular, I’m tired of all the focus on Iraq 2003. This film touches on war lies since then, but still gives that one particular set of war lies prominence.

Still, this is a film that should be shown in cities, homes, and classrooms across the United States. It includes and is driven by Noam Chomsky’s analysis of how the media system is “rigged” without those doing the rigging believing they’ve done anything at all. It’s a survey of skullduggery by corporate media. It’s an introduction to numerous journalists far superior to the norm. And it’s an introduction to I.F. Stone. It includes footage of a presentation of the annual Izzy Award which goes to journalists acting in Stone’s tradition.

One of the lies listed in the film and on the website is that of the Gulf of Tonkin (non-)Incident. Anyone paying attention knows of it now as a war lie. And it was a transparent war lie at the time in a particular sense. That is: had the North Vietnamese really shot back at a U.S. ship off their coast, that would not have been any sort of legal, much less moral, justification for escalating a war. I’d love it if people could grasp that logic and apply it to the Black Sea, the Red Sea, and every other part of the earth today.

But the Gulf of Tonkin lies about Vietnamese aggression against the U.S. ships innocently patrolling and firing off the coast of Vietnam were not transparent to people with faith in the U.S. role of Global Policeman. Someone had to make the lies transparent. Someone had to document that in fact the Secretary of So-Called Defense and the President were lying. Sadly, nobody did that in the first 24 hours after the Congressional committee hearings, and that was all it took for Congress to hand the president a war.

And it was decades before White House transcripts came out and before the National Security Agency confessed, and additional years before former Secretary Robert McNamara did. Yet, those revelations simply confirmed what people paying attention knew. And they knew it because of I.F. Stone who just weeks after the (non-)incident published a four-page edition of his weekly newsletter exclusively about Tonkin.

Stone’s analysis is useful in looking at the incident or lack thereof this past month in the Red Sea off Yemen. And in fact it is to Yemen that Stone immediately turned on page 1 in 1964. The United Nations, including its U.S. ambassador, had recently condemned British attacks on Yemen that Britain defended as retaliatory. President Dwight Eisenhower had also warned the French against retaliatory attacks on Tunisia. And President Lyndon Johnson, even at the time of Tonkin, Stone notes, was warning Greece and Turkey not to engage in retaliatory attacks on each other.

Stone, who tended to look even at written laws that nobody else paid any heed to, pointed out that three of them banned these sorts of attacks: the League of Nations Covenant, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and the U.N. Charter. The latter two are still theoretically in place for the U.S. government.

The United States in Vietnam, Stone goes on to show, could not have been innocently attacked but itself admitted to having already sunk a number of Vietnamese boats. And indeed the U.S. ships, Stone reports, were in North Vietnamese waters and were there to assist South Vietnamese ships that were shelling two North Vietnamese islands. And in fact those ships had been supplied to South Vietnam by the U.S. military and the good old American tax payers.

Stone did not have access to closed committee hearings, but he hardly needed it. He considered the assertions made in speeches by the only two senators who voted against the war. And then he looked for any rejoinders by the chairmen of the committees. He found their denials to be non-denials and nonsensical. It made no sense that the U.S. ships simply happened to be randomly hanging around in the vicinity of the South Vietnamese ships. Stone didn’t believe it.

Stone also filled in the background information. The United States had been supporting guerrilla attacks on North Vietnam for years prior to the non-incident. And Stone raised numerous suspicions, including the question of why the U.S. ships had supposedly made sure they were out in international waters for the (non-)incident to (not) occur, and the question of why in the world Vietnam would take on the United States military (something nobody could explain, though Eugene McCarthy proposed that perhaps they had been bored).

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核兵器禁止条約へ-ピースボートの国連・ニューヨークでのアクション

October 24, 2016

Suga, 2 other ministers admit filling out blank receipts received for payments

October 7, 2016

POLITICS OCT. 07, 2016 – 06:40AM JST ( 12 )
TOKYO —

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and two other cabinet ministers admitted Thursday to having their staff write amounts on blank receipts received for attending fellow lawmakers’ fundraising parties.

Suga, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi denied the practice constitutes a violation of the Political Funds Control Law, under which political fund reports containing such receipts had been filed.

The issue was raised in a House of Councillors Budget Committee session by Japanese Communist Party secretariat head Akira Koike. Koike presented the copies of receipts included in the fund reports for each lawmaker that he said were filled out in identical handwriting.

According to Koike, a total of 270 receipts submitted with Suga’s reports from 2012 through 2014 were filled out in the same handwriting, covering around 18.8 million yen, while 260 receipts submitted with Inada’s reports shared the same handwriting, covering about 5.2 million yen.

In Takaichi’s case, some 340 receipts submitted during the same period had been filled out in the handwritings of three people, totaling about 9.9 million yen, according to the JCP lawmaker.

Koike claimed the practice is against the spirit of the funds control law and could potentially be used to collect funds off the books.

While acknowledging that they had arranged for amounts and dates of payments for attending fundraising parties to be written onto blank receipts, the three Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers said the practice poses no legal problem because the receipts were filled out with the understanding of party hosts.

They also said the practice was to avoid congestion that could arise at the reception area if receipts had to be properly filled out on the spot at a large fundraising party where many people attend.

Suga told the parliamentary session that his office has never padded amounts written on such receipts.

Takaichi, whose ministry manages the issue, told the same session that the funds control law has no provision on how issuers of receipts should create them, and that receipts filled out by payers pose no legal problem as long as they are filled out with the understanding of party hosts.

Submission of income and expenditure reports is legally mandated for politicians, and receipts for attending fundraising parties of fellow lawmakers must also be attached to the reports.

Suga said at a press conference after the session that he wants to think of a way to manage receipts so as not to receive such attention in the future.

© KYODO

Why We Need a Universal Basic Income

October 6, 2016

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/39534-why-we-need-a-universal-basic-income

Robert Reich. (photo: AP)
Robert Reich. (photo: AP) go to original article

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog
06 October 16

magine a little gadget called an i-Everything. You can’t get it yet, but if technology keeps moving as fast as it is now, the i-Everything will be with us before you know it.

A combination of intelligent computing, 3-D manufacturing, big data crunching, and advanced bio-technology, this little machine will be able to do everything you want and give you everything you need.

There’s only one hitch. As the economy is now organized, no one will be able to buy it, because there won’t be any paying jobs left. You see, the i-Everything will do … everything.

We’re heading toward the i-Everything far quicker than most people realize. Even now, we’re producing more and more with fewer and fewer people.

Internet sales are on the way to replacing millions of retail workers. Diagnostic apps will be replacing hundreds of thousands of health-care workers. Self-driving cars and trucks will replace 5 million drivers.

Researchers estimate that almost half of all U.S. jobs are at risk of being automated in the next two decades.

This isn’t necessarily bad. The economy we’re heading toward could offer millions of people more free time to do what they want to do instead of what they have to do to earn a living.

But to make this work, we’ll have to figure out some way to recirculate the money from the handful of people who design and own i-Everythings, to the rest of us who will want to buy i-Everythings.

One answer: A universal basic income – possibly financed out of the profits going to such labor replacing innovations, or perhaps even a revenue stream off of the underlying intellectual property.

The idea of a universal basic income historically isn’t as radical as it may sound. It’s had support from people on both the left and the right. In the 1970s, President Nixon proposed a similar concept for the United States, and it even passed the House of Representatives.

The idea is getting some traction again, partly because of the speed of technological change. I keep running into executives of high-tech companies who tell me a universal basic income is inevitable, eventually.

Some conservatives believe it’s superior or other kinds of public assistance because a universal basic income doesn’t tell people what to spend the assistance on, and doesn’t stigmatize recipients because everyone qualifies.

In recent years, evidence has shown that giving people cash as a way to address poverty actually works. In study after study, people don’t stop working and they don’t drink it away.

Interest in a basic income is surging, with governments debating it from Finland to Canada to Switzerland to Namibia. The charity “Give Directly” is about to launch a basic income pilot in Kenya, providing an income for more than 10 years to some of the poorest and most vulnerable families on the planet. And then rigorously evaluate the results.

As new technologies replace work, the question for the future is how best to provide economic security for all.

A universal basic income will almost certainly be part of the answer.

WIPP nuclear waste accident will cost US taxpayers $2 billion

September 26, 2016

Dr Jim Green

20th September 2016

The clean-up after the February 2014 explosion at the world’s only deep underground repository for nuclear waste in New Mexico, USA, is massively over budget, writes Jim Green – and full operations won’t resume until at least 2021. The fundamental cause of the problems: high level radioactive waste, poor regulation, rigid deadlines and corporate profit make a dangerous mix.

The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state. It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now it will have to operate dirty. Nobody at the Energy Department wants to consider the potential that it isn’t fixable.

An analysis by theLos Angeles Timesfinds that costs associated with the February 2014 explosion at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) could total US$2 billion.

The direct cost of the clean-up is now estimated at US$640 million, based on a contract modification made in July with contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership.

The cost-plus contract leaves open the possibility of even higher costs as the clean-up continues and, as the LA Times notes, it does not include the complete replacement of the contaminated ventilation system (which failed after the 2014 explosion) or any future costs of operating the repository longer than originally planned.

The lengthy closure following the explosion could result in waste disposal operations extending for an additional seven years, at an additional cost of US$200 million per year or US$1.4 billion (€1.25b) in total. Thus direct (clean-up) costs and indirect costs could exceed US$2 billion.

And further costs are being incurred storing waste at other nuclear sites pending the re-opening of WIPP. Federal officials hope to resume limited operations at WIPP by the end of this year, but full operations cannot resume until a new ventilation system is completed in about 2021.

As expensive as the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster

The US$2 billion figure is similar to the costs associated with the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster. The clean-up of Three Mile Island was estimated to cost US$1 billion by 1993, or US$1.7 billion adjusted for inflation today.

Yet another cost for the federal government was a US$74 million (€66m) settlement paidto the state of New Mexico in January 2016. The negotiated agreement relates to the 14 February 2014 explosion and a truck fire that took place nine days earlier.

It sets out corrective actions that Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL – the source of the waste drum that exploded) and WIPP must take to resolve permit violations. The US$74 million settlement is in lieu of fines imposed on the federal government by the state of New Mexico for the two incidents.

Given that the February 2014 fire and explosion exposed multiple levels of mismanagement and slack regulation, it was no surprise that the immediate response to the incidents was problematic. As discussed previously in The Ecologist, everything that was supposed to happen, didn’t – and everything that wasn’t supposed to happen, did.

And in light of the systemic problems with management and regulation, it is no surprise that clean-up operations over the past 2.5 years have been problematic.

GAO identifies a host of problems

An August 2016 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the federal Department of Energy (DOE) did not meet its initial cost and schedule estimates for restarting nuclear waste disposal operations at WIPP, resulting in a cost increase of about US$64 million (€57m) and a delay of nine months.

Worse still, mismanagement of the clean-up has involved poor safety practices. Last year, the DOE’s Independent Office of Enterprise Assessments released a report that found that WIPP clean-up operations were being rushed to meet the scheduled reopening date and that this pressure was contributing to poor safety practices.

The report states: “The EA analysis considered operational events and reviews conducted during May 2014 through May 2015 and identified a significant negative trend in performance of work. During this period, strong and unrealistic schedule pressures on the workforce contributed to poor safety performance and incidents during that time are indicators of the potential for a future serious safety incident.”

The report points to “serious issues in conduct of operations, job hazard analysis, and safety basis.” Specific problems identified in the report include:

The Office of Enterprise Assessments’ report concludes: “The issues discussed above could be leading indicators of a potentially serious incident in the future. Many more issues involving conduct of operations, maintenance, and inadequate controls also raise concerns about the possibility of a serious incident.”

Earlier this year, clean-up work in two underground areas was suspended for one month due to poor air quality. Work was stopped on February 22 after equipment detected elevated levels of carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds.

Radioactive contamination of the underground remains a problem, albeit the case that the size of the restricted area has been significantly reduced. “The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state,” said Don Hancock from the Southwest Research and Information Center.

“It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now it will have to operate dirty. Nobody at the Energy Department wants to consider the potential that it isn’t fixable.”

Los Alamos National Laboratory at fault as well

While a number of reports have exposed problems at WIPP, others have exposed serious problems at LANL. An April 2015 report by DOE’s Accident Investigation Board (AIB) concluded that a culture of lax oversight and inadequate safety protocols and training at LANL led to the February 2014 explosion at WIPP.

“If LANL had adequately developed and implemented repackaging and treatment procedures that incorporated suitable hazard controls and included a rigorous review and approval process, the [February 2014] release would have been preventable”, the AIB report states.

“The ineffectiveness and weaknesses in the oversight activities were at all levels,” said Ted Wyka, the DOE safety expert who led the investigation.

The AIB report points to the failure of LANL to effectively review and control waste packaging, train contractors and identify weaknesses in waste handling. The board also found that LANL, contractor EnergySolutions and the National Nuclear Security Administration office at LANL failed to ensure that a strong safety culture existed at the lab.

The AIB found that workers did not feel comfortable raising safety issues and felt pressured to “get it done at all costs.” LANL employees also raised concerns that workers were brought in with little or no experience and rushed through an inadequate training program.

“As a result,” the AIB report states, “there was a failure to adequately resolve employee concerns which could have identified the generation of non compliant waste prior to shipment” to WIPP.

‘Lessons were not learned’

The immediate cause of the 14 February 2014 explosion ‒ mixing nitrate wastes with an organic absorbent (kitty litter) ‒ was recognised as a potential problem in 2012, if not earlier. One worker told the AIB that when concerns were raised over the use of organic kitty litter as an absorbent, the employee was told to “focus on their area of expertise and not to worry about the other areas of the procedure.”

Workers noticed foaming chemicals and orange smoke rising from containers of nuclear waste at LANL, but supervisors told them to “simply wait out the reaction and return to work once the foaming ceased and the smoke subsided,” the AIB report states. “Lessons were not learned.”

No doubt some lessons have been learned as a result of the underground explosion at WIPP. But Greg Mello from the Los Alamos Study Group points to a problem that is likely to recur. LANL receives bonuses from the DOE for meeting goals such as removing nuclear waste by a certain deadline.

That deadline pressure was very much in evidence at LANL in the lead-up to the WIPP accident and it will likely weaken safety practices in future. “You can’t just say everyone has to try harder,” Mello said. “Mixing profit, deadlines and dangerous radioactive waste is incompatible.”

A February 2016 report from the DOE’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was equally scathing of LANL. “Overall, we found LANL’s corrective action program did not always adequately address issues, did not effectively prevent their recurrence, and did not consistently identify systemic problems,” the report said.

Systemic problems

LANL managers said they agreed with the OIG findings and were working to resolve problems. “The Laboratory is working closely with National Nuclear Safety Administration to address the findings of the audit report”, LANL said in a statement.

But the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) – a semi-autonomous agency within the DOE – is itself a big part of the problem of systemic mismanagement of nuclear sites. A June 2015 Government Accountability Office report strongly criticised NNSA oversight of contractors who manage the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities.

The report points to a litany of ongoing failures to properly oversee private contractors at eight nuclear sites, including those managing LANL. The report found that the NNSA lacked enough qualified staff members to oversee contractors, and it lacked guidelines for evaluating its contractors.

Greg Mello from the Los Alamos Study Group was blunt in his criticism of the NNSA: “An agency that is more than 90 percent privatized, with barely enough federal employees to sign the checks and answer the phones, is never going to be able to properly oversee billion-dollar nuclear facilities of vast complexity and danger.”

 


 

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the newsletter, where a version of this article was originally published.

Nuclear Monitor, published 20 times a year, has been publishing deeply researched, often critical articles on all aspects of the nuclear cycle since 1978. A must-read for all those who work on this issue!

 

 

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Costa Rica Has Been Running on 100 Percent Renewable Energy for Months

September 10, 2016
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Costa Rica’s electrical grid has relied solely on renewable energy sources for 76 days straight, aiming for an all-renewable future

Costa Rica

While Costa Rica transitions to renewable energy sources, the U.S. is still relying on coal and natural gas to supply most of its electricity. (Photo: Arturo Sotillo/flickr/cc)

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ENENews: Alert: Typhoons cause failure of ‘ice wall’ around Fukushima reactors

September 9, 2016

ENENews


Alert: Typhoons cause failure of ‘ice wall’ around Fukushima reactors — Highly radioactive water flowing into ocean — Structure “critically affected” — Fears over multiple sections of barrier that have thawed — Expert: “The plan to block groundwater is failing” (VIDEO)

Posted: 06 Sep 2016 09:51 AM PDT

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U.S. Denies Entry to former British Ambassador Craig Murray

September 6, 2016

David Swanson via WarIsACrime.org

U.S. Denies Entry to former British Ambassador Craig Murray

The U.S. government, for no stated reason, and after having approved his entry in the past, has denied Craig Murray the usual approval to enter the United States without a visa that is given to UK citizens. Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004.

Murray was forced out of the British public service after he exposed the use of torture by Britain’s Uzbek allies. Murray is scheduled to chair the presentation of this year’s Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence to CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou, and to speak about diplomacy as an alternative to war at a World Beyond War conference planned for September 23-25 in Washington, D.C.

Please sign this petition to the State Department.

In 2006 Murray was himself awarded the Sam Adams Award, and the citation included the following: “Mr. Murray learned that the intelligence authorities of the UK and the US were receiving and using information extracted by the most sadistic methods of torture by Uzbek authorities. He protested strongly to London, to no avail. He was forced out of the British Foreign Office, but has no regrets. There are more important things than career…Mr. Murray’s light has pierced a thick cloud of denial and deception. He has set a courageous example for those officials of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ who have first-hand knowledge of the inhuman practices involved in the so-called ‘war on terror’ but who have not yet been able to find their voice.”

Shocked by the denial of approval to enter the United States without a visa, Murray stated: “I shall apply for a visa via the State Department as suggested but I must be on a list to be refused under the ESTA system, and in any event it is most unlikely to be completed before the conference.”

“It is worth noting,” Murray added,” that despite the highly critical things I have published about Putin, about civil liberties in Russia and the annexation of the Crimea, I have never been refused entry to Russia. The only two countries that have ever refused me entry clearance are Uzbekistan and the USA. What does that tell you?

“I have no criminal record, no connection to drugs or terrorism, have a return ticket, hotel booking and sufficient funds. I have a passport from a visa waiver country and have visited the USA frequently before during 38 years and never overstayed. The only possible grounds for this refusal of entry clearance are things I have written against neo-liberalism, attacks on civil liberties and neo-conservative foreign policy. People at the conference in Washington will now not be able to hear me speak. Plainly ideas can be dangerous. So much for the land of the free!”

The following joint statement has been signed by members of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence listed below:

News that former British Ambassador Craig Murray has been denied entry to the United States under the regular visa waiver program is both shocking and appalling. We Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) had invited Craig to be Master of Ceremonies at our award ceremony honoring John Kiriakou, the CIA torture whistleblower (more details atsamadamsaward.ch ), this September as part of the ‘No War 2016’ conference.

Now we’re wondering which agency’s long arms have reached out to disrupt our ceremony and to try to silence Craig.

Whatever they intend, it will be bound to backfire, since it only makes the US government look like some sort of monolithic repressive apparatus out to mimic the world’s worst despotic regimes. Ambassador Murray notes in his blog that Uzbekistan — whose government apparatchiks are notorious for torturing its citizens — is the only other country to have barred his entry. Even Russia – which Ambassador Murray criticizes freely – allows him to travel there trouble-free. What are the implications for US democratic values?

We strongly urge the State Department to reverse its decision and allow Ambassador Murray freedom of travel and freedom of expression without hindrance in the United States of America.

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA
Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Matthew Hoh,
former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan
Larry Johnson, CIA and State Dept. (ret.)
John Brady Kiesling, former US diplomat
John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer
Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.)
David MacMichael Ph.D., CIA, US Marine Corps captain (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East, CIA (ret.)
Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, JA, USA (ret.)
Diane Roark, former staff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (ret.)
Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel
Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.)
J. Kirk Wiebe, Senior Analyst, NSA (ret.)

World Beyond War has created a petition appealing to the State Department

World Beyond War, the organization behind the No War 2016 conference at which Murray is scheduled to speak, has created an online petition to the State Department.

David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War, said “This attempt to prevent a truth-teller from speaking in support of nonviolence is absolutely shameful. This is not a policy created to represent any view of the U.S. public, and we are not going to stand for it.”

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