Saturday, July 12, 2008
UN Humanitarian Lawyer, Karen Parker, On the Violation of Human Rights in California
By Cathy Garger
Mar 18, 2008, 08:00
Email this article Printer friendly page
A raging human rights battle brewing between the federal Department of Energy and the people of California will soon be coming to a head. Citizen activists and environmental rights groups are up in arms over the right of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) - previously called the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory, and before that, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory - to explode toxic and radioactive materials into California’s air. Ever since this news story broke outside San Francisco in December, 2006, local citizens have opposed the Laboratory’s standard practice of exploding 1,000 lbs. of toxic and radioactive materials annually at its Site 300 location.
The origin of the face off between citizens and the federal government began a month earlier. On November 13, 2006, LLNL had received permission from the local San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) to allow explosions up to 350 lbs. per detonation. The decision to allow larger explosions was appealed and LLNL has since submitted another application for a new permit.
Desiring more “bang” for the taxpayer’s buck, Livermore Laboratory’s most recent April 24, 2007 filing of a permit application with SJVAPCD asked for permission to increase the detonations of sixty (60) dangerous materials - including Depleted Uranium - by 800 (eight hundred) percent.
In recent correspondence with Jim Swaney, Permit Services Manager for SJVAPCD, the permit is still on hold. The snag in the approval process involves the transition of management of the federal facility that develops and “tests” bombs. In October, 2007, the management of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was privatized. As Swaney explained, the new managing firm, Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC informed SJVAPCD “they needed time to finalize their contract procedures and budget the money” necessary for SJVAPCD to hire a contractor(s) to perform an environmental assessment, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.
Although a permit has been filed for permission to increase the quantity of materials by eight-fold, outdoor explosions of radioactive Depleted Uranium and Tritium is a time-honored tradition at the outdoor Site 300 explosion area. The 7,000 acre site opened for nuclear detonation “experimentation” in 1955 and radioactive explosions have been performed with regularity outside in the greater San Francisco Bay area for over five decades. As stated on the Laboratory's website, its "explosions, known as shots, result from destructive tests of high explosives… 100 to 200 of them a year in the last 10 years.”
The Livermore Laboratory is seeking to increase these frequent San Francisco Bay area “blasts” from the current 1,000 lbs. to 8,000 lbs. annually. The new permit states that up to 350 lbs. of materials may be detonated per explosion, “with no more than one detonation occurring in any given hour.” Under current provisions, up to 100 lbs. of materials per explosion are allowed.
Among the five dozen substances listed in the permit, public opposition centers around the most hotly contested nuclear weapons material called "Depleted" Uranium. A product of nuclear processing, Depleted Uranium is used in munitions which, when fired or exploded, produce up to 80 percent ceramic Uranium Oxide aerosols. This hazardous material is used in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq - and presumably in Somalia as well.
The use of Depleted Uranium in combat has been declared illegal under the UN Sub Commission of Human Rights. Its use is also a violation of various treaties, conventions, and international laws.
In order to determine the legality of Depleted Uranium use inside the United States via federal “experimentation” and “testing,” I spoke with Karen Parker, JD, founder of the Association Humanitarian Lawyers. The long term proponent of international human rights specializes in humanitarian law and provides expert testimony and legal counsel for the United Nations. In spring, 1996, Parker made a presentation on Depleted Uranium to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
On the matter of the extent that Depleted Uranium causes harm, Ms. Parker has written, “DU weapons 'kill' in inhumane ways, causing cancers, kidney problems, eye problems, lung diseases, and according to the medical researchers who have investigated it, many other serious conditions. Additionally, DU weapons cause disabilities in the children of those exposed – cranial-facial anomalies, missing limbs, grossly deformed and non-viable infants and the like – so in this sense are teratogenic."
“As these conditions can occur to non-combatants or may arise long after military operations have concluded, DU weapons are necessarily inhumane. The teratogenic nature of DU weapons raises the possibility of a genocidal effect. Finally, DU weapons unduly contaminate the natural environment, including water and agricultural land necessary for the subsistence of the civilian population for beyond the lifetime of that population.”
The United Nations Sub-Commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights passed a resolution in 1996 finding the use DU weapons "incompatible" with existing humanitarian law. This resolution began a series of initiatives by the Sub-Commission on DU weapons and several other weapons of concern, including fuel-air bombs, cluster bombs and "bunker busters."
Interview With International Human Rights Attorney Karen Parker
Q - In a telephone interview, I asked Ms. Parker, with regard to the UN resolution 1997/36, does this also apply to open air explosions and military training firing of Depleted Uranium used outdoors by the Departments of Energy and Defense within the United States?
KAREN PARKER - “Testing was part of the resolution…including stockpiling and trafficking. It’s not actually as clear as actual use in combat, whether the mere presence for instance of a nuclear bomb in your arsenal is a violation and a number of countries have nuclear weapons in their arsenals."
However, explained Parker, the US government “does not view DU subject to test ban treaties and therefore there is no international restriction on the testing.” Ms. Parker continued, “I would argue that there is an inherent violation of human rights if a weapon that releases dangerous substances is tested in an area where there are people who could be negatively affected. From that perspective, carrying out, say, a Depleted Uranium test, open air, in the Bay area is a crime - a violation of international law from the perspective of the right to life, the right to health and those kinds of rights.”
Q - Isn’t the explosive testing a violation of humanitarian law?
KAREN PARKER – “It’s not so much a violation of humanitarian law, because the weapon isn’t used in combat. The fact that it is a weapon and could be, and is intended to be used in combat doesn’t make a test of it a combat exercise.”
Q – Okay, so the explosions of DU as “tests” are not considered a combat exercise, and it’s not a violation of humanitarian law. But it’s certainly a harmful substance, is it not?
KAREN PARKER – “Depleted uranium weapons release dangerous substances. And so from that perspective, it becomes what we call a kind of a tort, only because it’s a dangerous substance. It's a strict liability and the United States is on notice that there are health consequences of Depleted Uranium. They of course, downplay them... but they have never denied that there aren’t any.”
“And there isn’t any way that you can carry out a Depleted Uranium open air test - or an open air test of weapons containing Depleted Uranium, without it having some effect on a very heavily populated northern California area. The central valley as a whole is fairly heavily populated and I’m certain that within a 50 to 100 mile radius of where they’re testing there are considerable population groups.”
NOTE: Within this 100 mile region exists a great many of California's farms and vineyards which produce vast amounts of fresh produce and wine that are shipped all over the world. In fact, the Livermore Laboratory monitors radioactive tritium in the crops grown there.
KAREN PARKER - “I just think again there’s no prohibition in our conflict law because they’re not being used in combat; however, there are probably prohibitions in a number of other areas including, of course, human rights but also in environmental… the environmental aspect, which is part of the four-point test so you can have environmental and personal damage - damage to people... that would be the United States in violation of its own law in many, many areas.”
Q- The US in violation of its own law? What law is that?
KAREN PARKER – “Well their Human Rights law… The United States has a duty to promote and protect the right to health. So if you’re detonating weapons that causes illnesses - preventable - You’ve violated that.”
“Obviously, environmental laws - both state and federal laws about releasing dangerous substances - the release of dangerous substances is, in a sense, automatically a violation of what we call domestic law or tort law. It’s a strict liability violation, meaning there’s no defense. It’s not like it’s negligence. It’s not like the US could be sued for negligence because of injury. In the case of hazardous substances, it’s strict liability.
It’s hazardous stuff. It’s strict liability - It means that there is no defense. It’s as if the United States wasn’t properly maintaining a dam and the dam burst. The US can’t use any arguments in its defense, saying well we didn’t have adequate budget for maintenance. It’s strict liability. The dam busts, you’re liable.”
Q - Are there any other types of violation of US law that DU breeches?
KAREN PARKER – “Under human rights law, you can’t do it in the first place. It’s not just a question of who pays for the damage. And one of the reasons the United States has been so blatantly mendacious about Depleted Uranium is to generate confusion as to what exactly does it do…So the government is taking advantage of what it expects to be elements of proof in a legal action. And it’s been very clever. They have taken many, many defensive postures in anticipation.”
Q - In my final question, I asked Ms. Parker, with regard to the 1994 Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment, if what I had read was true – that is, had she worked on this document? And, I asked, does this Declaration also apply for US citizens too, with regard to Livermore Laboratories’ Site 300 radioactive explosions?
KAREN PARKER - “I did indeed have a hand in the draft principles. Any UN documents holds equally for anyone in any country. That said, these are "draft" principles and did not "go up" to the General Assembly. Still, they are the "principles" the UN Human Rights Council's Special Rapporteur on Toxics uses. So they are operational. The question is, are they binding? But the underlying Human Rights law on which they are based is binding. So you can argue the underlying law, as expressed in the Draft Principles.”
1994 Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment
In May 1994, an international group of experts on human rights and environmental protection gathered at the invitation of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Club at the United Nations in Geneva and wrote the 1994 Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment.
These principles include every person’s right to a secure, healthy, and ecologically sound environment, an environment that adequately meets the needs of present generations, one that does not impair the rights of future generations to meet equitably their needs. Furthermore, this Declaration includes the right to freedom from pollution and environmental degradation - as well as activities that adversely affect the environment, threaten life, health, livelihood, well-being or sustainable development within, across, or outside national boundaries. In addition, all persons have the right to “protection and preservation of the air, soil, water, sea-ice, flora and fauna, and the essential processes and areas necessary to maintain biological diversity and ecosystems” as well as the right to “the highest attainable standard of health.”
Particularly applicable to the matter of using radiological munitions materials in the United States is the passage, “All States shall respect and ensure the right to a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment with the further provision that “These measures shall aim at the prevention of environmental harm, … and the … control, licensing, regulation or prohibition of activities and substances potentially harmful to the environment.”
Perhaps most incriminating with regard to the explosions of radiological materials at the Livermore Laboratory is the passage that makes it clear that “States and all other parties shall avoid using the environment as a means of war or inflicting significant, long-term or widespread harm on the environment, and shall respect international law providing protection for the environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further development.”
With a half-life of 4.5 billion years, this UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Environment clearly identifies the atmospheric use of Depleted Uranium as a significant, long-term, and permanent contaminant that causes widespread harm to public health and the environment for what amounts to over 45 billion years. This is, conservatively speaking, about ten times the half-life of the radioactive decay period of Uranium-238. While some experts claim it is more appropriate to multiply the half-life of U-238 by twenty times 4.5 billion years, it makes little sense to argue over radioactivity that lasts 45 billion years vs. 90 billion years.
Public Participation Critical In Defending Our Basic Human Rights
In a related measure, as part of the Department of Energy’s newest effort to increase its nuclear weapons production, public comment forums for the newly repackaged “Complex Transformation,” are being held throughout the country this month. To those unfamiliar with the vastly unpopular Complex 2030, (often called “Bombplex 2030”) the entire business of bomb making and nuclear “testing” locations and scenarios is being examined.
As the agency responsible for production and “testing” of nuclear weapons, the DOE is required to submit various alternatives and solicit public comments before making operational changes.
Radiological weapons production and above ground detonations involve nuclear weapons sites in TN, SC, TX, MO, NM, CA, and NV. All federal nuclear weapons sites emit toxic substances and hazardous radionuclides into the environment. Currently at stake is the adverse impact of these nuclear operations and “experimentation” upon public health and the environment.
In California this week, large numbers of concerned citizens are expected to present testimony in opposition to atmospheric explosions of lethal, chemically toxic and radiological materials at Livermore Laboratory’s Site 300. After the public comment period is over, the Department of Energy will be making a decision where to host its outdoor detonations of materials - some of which include radioactive Depleted Uranium and Tritium, and toxic chemicals such as Carbon Monoxide, Benzene, Chloroform, and six acid gases, including Ammonia and Cyanide.
The decisions made by the Department of Energy following the public comment period which ends on April 10 will directly affect the air quality of ten million who live within a 100 mile radius of the Site 300 site located in the highly populated greater San Francisco Bay/San Jose area.
Unhealthy air quality has been a serious problem for decades in the San Joaquin Valley. It is apparent that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is keenly aware of the gravity of the air problem, as he recently reprimanded the state and Valley air boards in October, 2007 for their decisions to delay clean-up of ozone pollution until 2024. The Governor even acknowledged the gravity of the situation by stating, "When one out of six residents in the San Joaquin Valley has been diagnosed with asthma, and one in five children carry an inhaler to school, it is a call to action."
What is most curious, however, is where the Governor's pointed the finger with regard to environmental toxic and hazardous pollution when he discussed strengthening state law and District regulations related to air quality. Conspicuously absent was any mention of the most lethal San Joaquin Valley air polluter of all - the local Lawrence Livermore National [Nuclear Weapons] Laboratory. One only supposes the Governor would suddenly find himself awkwardly exposed in some sort of Spitzer-ed situation should he endeavor to let California's glowing cat out of its quarantined hazmat bag. As the old saying goes, loose lips sink ships -not to mention steady political careers.
The radioactive explosions at Livermore Laboratory take place within San Joaquin County, one of the counties EPA has singled out as having unacceptable air quality. The EPA admits the air quality in San Joaquin County contributes to illnesses such as respiratory disease. As stated in a recent SF Chronicle Editorial this is “an especially important finding for California, home to some of the nation's dirtiest air in the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles basin.”
As the California Governor has stated, the loss of citizens' basic human right to breathe air that is not dirty, toxic, and radioactive truly is "a call to action." Public testimony on the activities and future of the nuclear weapons laboratories will be heard in upcoming weeks. Citizens throughout the country concerned about violations of their basic human right to enjoy a clean, safe, healthy, non-radioactive environment are encouraged to state their views regarding nuclear materials explosions.
Many thousands of Americans will be speaking up and out about their views on their right to live in an environment that has not been deliberately, permanently contaminated with dangerous toxic and radioactive contamination of their air, water, and soil by the US federal government. To see the schedule of upcoming meetings this week in California and New Mexico and future meetings in Washington, DC and New Mexico, visit this site. Those unable to attend a meeting but who would like to provide testimony are encouraged to submit comments via email, by April 10, to this address. More information concerning ongoing open air radioactive explosions throughout the United States is available by visiting the DOE website.
© Copyright 2008 by AxisofLogic.com
This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints must cite the author and Axis of Logic as the original source including a "live link" to the article. Thank you!
Key Documents on Human Rights Law
Courtesy, Association of Humanitarian Lawyers
"Uranium a big threat to Tracy"
Marion Fulk, retired Livermore Laboratory scientist
John Upton, Feinstone Environmental Award Winner
More Livermore Laboratory articles by John Upton
"Livermore to Poison San Francisco Area On Purpose"
Bob Nichols, Project Censored Award Winner
“DU Poison Explosions Target US Citizens”
"More To Die - Livermore Open Air Radiation Explosions"
Bob Nichols, Project Censored Award Winner
"What's a little depleted uranium in the yard if it helps defeat them terrorists?"
"The Nuclear Weapons Lab Bombing Range"
Bob Nichols, Project Censored Award Winner
"Radioactive Weapons Testing in California"
"Mini Bugs A Decoy for San Francisco's Even Dirtier, Hotter Secret"
"Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab's 200 Executioners Ready"
Bob Nichols, Project Censored Award Winner
With historic picture of Depleted Uranium blast from 1960
"More lies from Livermore nuclear weapons lab"
Bob Nichols, Project Censored Award Winner
"California Nuke Weapons Lab Creates Anxiety"
"Depleted Uranium Blasts to Increase at Livermore Lab" (with video clip)
"Mistresses of High Rates of Cancer Cover Up"
Friday, July 11, 2008
The Nevada Test Site is a United States Department of Energy reservation located in Nye County, Nevada, about 65 miles (105 km) northwest of the City of Las Vegas, near 37°07′N, 116°03′W. Formerly known as the Nevada Proving Ground, the site, established on January 11, 1951 for the testing of nuclear weapons, is composed of approximately 1,350 square miles (3,500 km²) of desert and mountainous terrain. Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site began with a one-kiloton (4 terajoule) bomb dropped on Frenchman Flat on January 27, 1951. Many of the iconic images of the nuclear era come from NTS.
Between 1951 and 1992, there were a total of 928 announced nuclear tests at Nevada Test Site. Of those, 828 were underground; seismic data have indicated there may have been many unannounced underground tests as well. The site is covered with subsidence craters from the testing. The Nevada Test Site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices; 129 tests were conducted elsewhere (many at the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands).
During the 1950s, the mushroom cloud from these tests could be seen for almost 100 miles in either direction, including the city of Las Vegas, where the tests became tourist attractions. Americans headed for Las Vegas to witness the distant mushroom clouds that could be seen from the downtown hotels.
On July 17, 1962 the test shot "Little Feller I" of Operation Sunbeam became the last atmospheric test detonation at the Nevada Test Site. Underground testing of weapons continued until September 23, 1992, and although the United States did not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the articles of the treaty are nevertheless honored and further tests have not occurred. Tests not involving the full creation of a critical mass ("subcritical" testing) continue.
One notable test shot was the "Sedan" shot of Operation Storax, a 104 kiloton shot for the Operation Plowshare which sought to prove that nuclear weapons could be used for peaceful means in creating bays or canals—it created a crater 1,280 feet (390 m) wide and 320 feet (100 m) deep that can still be seen today. While most of the larger tests were conducted elsewhere, NTS was home to tests in the 500 kiloton to 1 megaton (2 to 4 petajoule) range, which caused noticeable seismic effects in Las Vegas.
From 1986 through 1994, two years after the United States put full-scale nuclear weapons testing on hold indefinitely, at least 536 demonstrations were held at the test site involving 37,488 participants and 15,740 arrests, according to government records.
After the demonstrations, held by the American Peace Test, Nevada Desert Experience and Corbin Harney through the Shundahai Network continued to protest the government's continued nuclear weapons work and effort to put a repository for highly radioactive waste adjacent to the test site at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas
Although Congress has been unwilling to give President George W. Bush all the funding he requested in his budget proposal for Yucca Mountain, millions of dollars are being invested every year. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water agreed to more than $386 million for 2009, the same amount as for 2008. Chronic short-funding and delay mean the Energy Department is unlikely to meet its 2010 target date for implementation.
Nevertheless, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, whose full funding request was approved, will have enough money to process the Yucca Mountain license application.
Our representatives have focused so much effort on trying to stop Yucca Mountain or at least to delay it because their constituents don't want it here. To a large extent, they have been successful and are to be commended.
Besides the fact that no one wants a nuclear dump in their back yard, possible dangers to people and the environment during storage and while transporting the material from around the country top the list of objections to Yucca Mountain.
While Nevada seems to be alone in fighting the repository, most states will not want highly reactive nuclear waste to be shipped through their cities and across their farmlands. The project may never be completed, in fact, but the amount of investment in the development will be enormous. It is unfortunate that federal officials are willing to force the state to accept this project that so few people want. The biggest waste occurs as the result of that fight.
Meanwhile, the money would be better spent funding research into ways to use nuclear material more effectively, so as to minimize the waste and the possible dangers, and in devising safe methods of storing massive amounts of spent nuclear rods in one place.
Leak closes French nuclear plant
The Tricastin nuclear site contains a power plant and a treatment facility
France's nuclear safety watchdog has ordered a plant in the country's south to temporarily close after a uranium leak polluted the local water supply.
The plant's operator has been told to improve safety procedures at the site.
Waste containing unenriched uranium leaked into two rivers at the Tricastin plant at Bollene, 40km (25 miles) from the popular tourist city of Avignon.
People in nearby towns have been warned not to drink any water or eat fish from the rivers since Monday's leak.
Officials have also cautioned people not to swim in the rivers or use their water to irrigate crops.
Approximately 30 cubic metres of liquid containing unenriched uranium spilled from an overflowing reservoir at the Tricastin facility, which handles liquids contaminated by uranium, into the ground and into the Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers.
The site has a nuclear reactor as well as a radioactive treatment plant.
The leak happened late on Monday night, but people in the affected areas were not informed until 1000 GMT on Tuesday.
The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) inspected the Tricastin plant on Thursday and found that existing prevention measures were deficient and that its operator, Societe Auxiliaire de Tricastin (Socatri), had been too slow to inform authorities about the leak.
The ASN is to submit a report to the state prosecutor for possible legal action against Socatri. The company is a subsidiary of the French nuclear giant, Areva.
The safety inspection found that "security steps aimed at preventing any further pollution were not completely satisfactory", the ASN said.
The inspectors also found "irregularities" at the site's operations at the time of the leak.
Socatri has been ordered to implement "a reinforced surveillance plan, including analysis of the surrounding rivers and ground water".
French Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said on Thursday that there was "no imminent danger" to the local population.
Socatri has said tests of the groundwater, local wells and the rivers show they have not been contaminated.
One anti-nuclear organisation has said it will take legal action against ASN, saying it had delayed sounding the alarm.France is one of the world's most nuclear-dependent countries, with 80% of its electricity coming from nuclear power.
(1) "Military personnel "identify, segregate, isolate, secure, and label all RCE" (radiologically contaminated equipment).
1. medical care for all casualties,
2. thorough environmental remediation,
3. immediate cessation of retaliation against all of us who demand compliance with medical care and environmental remediation requirements,
4. and stop the already illegal the use (UN finding) of depleted uranium munitions.
References- these references are copies the actual regulations and orders and other pertinent official documents:
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
The new Farm Bill contains a sense of Congress resolution urging USDA to settle a class action lawsuit brought by Native American farmers and ranchers.
Let Vanunu go
Twenty-two years after Mordechai Vanunu told the truth about Israel's nuclear weapons, ordinary people must rally to free him
In 1986, a young Israeli man called Mordechai Vanunu followed his conscience and told the world that Israel had a nuclear weapons programme. He was convicted of espionage and treason and sentenced to 18 years in prison. After serving this (12 years of which were in solitary confinement), Vanunu was released. In April 2004, about 80 people from around the world went to welcome him out of prison. Unbelievably, upon his release Vanunu was made subject to severe restrictions, which forbade him many basic civil liberties (including his right to leave Israel, to speak to foreigners and foreign media) and restricted his travel within Israel.
Each year, around April 21, Vanunu receives a letter from the prime minister renewing these restrictions, and he starts, yet again, the process of appealing against them through the Israeli courts. Most recently, he has been charged with breaking the restrictions by talking to foreign media and sentenced to six months in prison; when he appealed, this was commuted to community service. On July 8, he will appear before an Israeli court regarding this service and his case.
Four years since leaving Ashkelon prison, and 22 years since he told the truth about Israeli nuclear weapons, Mordechai Vanunu lives in modest accommodation in East Jerusalem, unable to earn a living, unaware of what to do to gain his freedom, unable to leave Israel, left wondering if the Israeli security services will ever agree to let him leave the country. They say he is a threat to national security, but everyone knows that it is 22 years since Vanunu worked in the Dimona nuclear plant, and the nuclear industry has moved on. A well-known Israeli nuclear scientist has testified that Vanunu can know nothing about the contemporary industry after such a long period, yet Israeli security insists he is a risk to national security, and the Israeli courts and government refuse to let him go, thereby compounding an injustice, and breaking international laws.
Governments around the world have let Mordechai Vanunu down. They remain silent when they should be demanding that the Israeli government uphold its obligations under the universal declaration of human rights – according to article 13, everyone has the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return.
So will Vanunu remain in Israel until he dies, or can anything be done to secure his freedom? I believe his freedom now rests in the hands of the Israeli people themselves. Some years ago I asked a young Israeli friend why she though Israel was holding him. She replied, "because our government does not trust its own people" and she added "if the Israeli people demanded his release, it might be possible he would be free to leave Israel and get on with his life."
I don't know if she is right or wrong: I don't know the Israeli mind or politics well enough to guess. But what I do know is that in the Jewish faith and tradition, there is a great deal of emphasis put on justice and doing what is right. I can now only hope and pray that some Israeli voices will be raised to call for justice for Mordechai Vanunu, who has paid the high price of 22 years of his life for following his conscience. Whether you hate or love Mordechai Vanunu, you have got to admit that he has suffered enough: it's time to let him go.
I am responding to Jim Hightower’s column, “A toxic firm gets help from toxic politics,” (AC-T, June 26). Will any cheerleader for nuclear power please tell the U.S. Department of Energy that “Since nuclear power is clean and inherently safe, I can put some of the waste under my bed. This way I will help solve the nuclear waste problem?”
Since, however, the waste from making electricity will remain radioactive and therefore hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years, obviously this is no solution.
Peter Fox Sipp, Asheville
ROCKVILLE, Md. — Dragged by a federal appeals court into a rare public discussion of the risks that terrorists could attack a nuclear plant, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission heard arguments on Tuesday from a California group that the commission’s staff had overlooked one category of potentially serious attacks.
The commission, determined to dispose of the issue promptly, heard the arguments directly instead of delegating them to administrative law judges, the first time since 1989 that the sitting commissioners have heard such oral arguments.
But the three-hour session was not a revealing one, largely because the lawyer for the commission staff said there were major issues that could not be described in open session without compromising national security.
The commission’s ruling could be important because the spent fuel storage system proposed for the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, near Avila Beach, Calif., is being adopted at scores of other reactor sites around the country because of the Energy Department’s failure to establish a national burial site for used fuel. At issue was whether storage casks that the Pacific Gas and Electric Company wants to build at the Diablo Canyon plant could be hit with incendiary missiles, piercing the steel and concrete shell and lighting the metal cladding of the fuel. If that happened, plant opponents contend, the fire could turn radioactive cesium into a gas, which would float widely with the wind and then resolidify.
“I cannot discuss anything that concerns what scenarios the staff considers credible,” said Lisa B. Clark, the lawyer for the commission staff.
Ms. Clark added that the staff was aware of the mode of attack raised by the California group, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace. “It does not alter the staff’s conclusion that there would not be any significant environmental consequences of a terrorist attack,” she said.
But the lawyer for the mothers’ group, Diane Curran, said that the commission staff had provided a list of the background documents it relied on, and that these did not cover the threat described by her group’s technical consultants.
“The most obvious thing wasn’t even on the table, not even remotely,” Ms. Curran said.
In calculating the threat of accident, the commission takes into account the probability of the event, and its consequences, but the commission has long argued that it is impossible to calculate the probability of a terrorist attack and thus it does not need to take that threat into account when approving installations like the cask storage.
But the mothers’ group sued and demanded an analysis of that risk, and in June 2006 won a favorable ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. The commission staff then performed an environmental assessment, which is an abbreviated version of an environmental impact statement, and concluded that there would be no significant impact from the threat of terrorism against the casks.
The details of how the staff reached that conclusion were evidently murky even to one of the four commissioners who heard the case on Tuesday. The commissioner, Gregory B. Jaczko, asked how the staff could assume that the risk was low if it could not assign a numerical value to the likelihood of an attack.
“Well, you have to use your judgment,” Ms. Clark said.
For accidents, she said, “we’re very comfortable, and we understand how to deal with probability, how to evaluate it in quantitative terms.” But the threat of terrorism “is going to take us outside of that familiar space,” she continued.
Still, she asserted, “the staff’s judgment, based on their experience,” indicated that this was not a threat to the environment. The casks, she said, were “robust.”
Mr. Jaczko responded, “So we’re down to the staff’s belief that this probably isn’t going to happen?”
The chairman of the commission, Dale E. Klein, tried through questions to make the case that even if an attack were successful, people would be exposed to doses of radiation that were quite small.
The mothers’ group was advised by Gordon D. Thompson, a physicist, who said that the chimneylike design of the casks, intended to keep the fuel from overheating, could help fan a fire. Ms. Clark argued that Mr. Thompson had not seen the intelligence reports on the capabilities of terrorists, but Ms. Curran said equipment to do the job was available to “subnational groups.”
“It is clear that weapons are available that can penetrate a cask and start a fire,” Ms. Curran said. “U.S. Army-shaped charges are more than capable of penetrating concrete and armor plating.”
Monday, July 7, 2008
PM - Monday, 7 July , 2008 18:46:00
Reporter: Donna Field
MARK COLVIN: The ABC has abandoned plans to build its new Queensland headquarters at a site in Brisbane after discovering the possibility of radioactive contamination.
A year and a half ago, the national broadcaster had to abandon its Queensland headquarters at Toowong, because of a breast cancer cluster among staff.
Since then, staff have been working from several temporary locations.
The managing director Mark Scott says today's decision to terminate the contract for the purchase of land at Newstead was not made lightly, but the health and wellbeing of staff was the overriding priority.
Donna Field reports.
DONNA FIELD: The ABC in Queensland has been without a permanent home for a year and a half, after a breast cancer cluster forced the closure of its Toowong studios.
Since then, the national broadcaster has been searching for a new home in Brisbane. Last November, WATPAC Property announced it had secured one of the most prestigious and highly sought after tenancies available in the market.
The ABC had agreed to buy about 3,800 square metres of land at inner-city Newstead. But today, ABC managing director Mark Scott released a statement to staff explaining why the building won't be going ahead.
(Extract from ABC statement)
READER: Recently, following completion of site remediation work, the ABC discovered the possibility of radioactive contamination affecting parts of the site. Further investigation revealed elevated levels of radiation above the naturally occurring background levels.
The existence of any elevated levels of radiation is of great concern to the ABC. The breast cancer cluster amongst staff who worked at the former ABC studios at Toowong and the evacuation of those studios as a result of those health concerns, is well known.
DONNA FIELD: The ABC has terminated the contract of sale on the Newstead land, and started action in the Supreme Court in Queensland. The developer WATPAC says it will fight the action.
Managing director Greg Kempton says the ABC's decision came as a surprise because the sit now meets very tough environmental standards.
GREG KEMPTON: The contract was subject to a number of conditions, including a lengthy due diligence period in favour if the ABC. And removal of the fenced site from the environmental management registrar. The sale site was removed from the environmental management registrar on the 30 June 2008 and certified by the environmental protection agency as suitable for any use, which is the highest classification.
Furthermore, Qld Health, known as Radiation Health, in their letter to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), certified that the sale site has been successfully remediated. The contract is now unconditional and WATPAC regards the ABC as being breach of their contractual obligations.
DONNA FIELD: The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has welcomed the ABC's decision to abandon the Newstead site.
Spokeswoman, Michelle Rae.
MICHELLE RAE: Obviously, for the Alliance, the welfare of staff is paramount. So we find it very encouraging to hear that the ABC is taking serious, the advice they've received on this analysis. And what we hope is that they can resolve their long-term accommodation issues as soon as possible, but always maintain staff health and safety as a priority.
DONNA FIELD: Ms Rae says today's announcement will likely delay a permanent home for the ABC in Queensland and the union will be meeting members to gauge their reactions to that.
MICHELLE RAE: One of the things that we're concerned about is that these were always meant to be interim, and now that Newstead is not going to happen, it's becoming more of a permanent fixture. So we want to actually talk to members and actually start to resolve some of the issues that they may be facing.
DONNA FIELD: The ABC says it will start identifying alternate sites immediately. But the executive director of the Property Council of Australia, Steve Greenwood, says that may prove difficult.
STEVE GREENWOOD: Look, there's no doubt about it that the market in Brisbane are, for commercial and industrial sites, are very tight at the moment. There's no doubt about that. And as a result, cost of acquiring that land is, it's increasing. So if the ABC does pull out of this deal, it's going to have a bit of a challenge on it hands at wanting another suitable site, that's for sure.
MARK COLVIN: Steve Greenwood, executive director of the Property Council of Australia, ending Donna Field's report.
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP)—A $1 billion lawsuit filed Thursday claims that PacifiCorp hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River produce hazardous waste in the form of toxic algae that harms salmon as well as people.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by Klamath Riverkeeper, elders of the Yurok and Karuk tribes, and the owner of rental cabins along the river.
"PacifiCorp is both creating and releasing this algae, and they are refusing to take responsibility for the pollution their dams are creating," said Regina Chichizola of Klamath Riverkeeper, a nonprofit river conservation group.
PacifiCorp considers the algae a natural result of agricultural wastes running into the reservoirs, and not a hazardous waste created by the dams, spokeswoman Jan Mitchell said.
The utility is funding studies of the algae in the reservoirs and is working with others to find ways to reduce it, she added.
Noting that the law invoked in the lawsuit is designed to address municipal wastes, Mitchell said the lawsuit appeared to be a public relations strategy, not a legal one.
The lawsuit is the fourth filed by Klamath Riverkeeper against PacifiCorp in a campaign to remove four dams that block hundreds of miles of salmon habitat.
This one seeks $1 billion in damages under the Resource Conservation Recovery Act, which governs hazardous waste disposal, and a court order for PacifiCorp to stop producing the algae, which could require removing the dams.
The argument is that the Iron Gate and Copco dams south of the Oregon border in Northern California create the perfect conditions for the toxic algae Microcystis aeruginosa by slowing and warming the Klamath River in reservoirs, where the water absorbs agricultural runoff that help the algae grow.
"No one has brought this kind of case pertaining to solid waste, but we think the facts fit the law," said attorney Daniel Cooper of the San Francisco group Lawyers for Clean Water.
"There are areas with algae problems around the state and the country," he said. "The unique factor about the Klamath is there has been extensive sampling demonstrating that highly toxic levels accumulate in the reservoirs and are discharging in the river. And they sampled upstream reservoirs and found no detectable levels of the (algae)."
Flowing out of southern Oregon through Northern California, the Klamath was once the third-largest salmon producer on the West Coast, but has suffered from dwindling returns because of a long history of habitat lost to logging, mining, agriculture, dams, poor water quality and overfishing.
Studies by the Karuk tribe led to toxic algae warnings posted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on the Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs in 2005. Last fall, similar warnings were posted along 100 miles of the Klamath River downstream from Iron Gate.
No one has died from contact with the algae, which produces a toxin that harms the liver and produces tumors, but some of the plaintiffs have suffered symptoms consistent with contact with the toxin after being in the river, Cooper said.
Earlier lawsuits claim waste discharges from the Iron Gate fish hatchery violate the Clean Water Act, the algae is a public nuisance, and EPA has failed to take steps to clean up the river.
PacifiCorp is seeking a new federal license to produce electricity from the dams. The algae is likely to be an issue in meeting clean water standards for the license.
The utility is owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., based in Des Moines, Iowa, and controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett.
Jeff Barnard is an environmental reporter at The Associated Press.
The rules were enacted in 1980, five years after a potentially disastrous blaze at a generating station in Alabama exposed the vulnerability of power plants' automatic shutdown systems to fire. If the systems fail to function in an emergency, reactor cores can overheat and nuclear meltdowns can occur.
Federal regulators prescribed a long list of curative measures - automatic fire-suppression systems, fire barriers, flame-resistant wrapping for electrical cables, etc. - to safeguard the shutdown systems. But the cost-conscious industry found portions of the pill hard to swallow. Instead of complying, some power plant operators have continually sought and received exemptions to the rules, or instituted NRC-approved "interim compensatory measures."
The NRC's shortcomings were revealed in a report by the Government Accountability Office, which urged the agency to resolve "long-standing" fire safety issues. NRC officials said they will give the GAO's findings and conclusions "serious consideration." Kind of cavalier, don't you think? The NRC needs to make the industry put its atoms in order, now.
This should be a burning issue, even in Utah, where a nuclear power plant has been proposed. Already, nearly 3 million Americans live within a 10-mile radius of a nuclear generating station, and 125 fires have been reported at nuclear power plants since 1995. Each was a calamity in the making.
And, with the non-carbon industry on the cusp of a climate change-related renaissance - the NRC has received applications for 13 new commercial reactors since November and anticipates 14 more by the end of the year - the need for stringent regulations, aggressive enforcement and strict compliance will only increase.
Nuclear power, due to the risk of catastrophic damage to the environment and public health, plus the high cost of plant construction that is passed along to consumers, is a poor substitute for other clean and green alternative energy sources. But it's going to happen. For it to happen safely, the NRC needs to be the industry's master, not its friend.
Limiting S.C. nuclear-waste role
Tuesday marked the end of South Carolina's role as the low-level radioactive waste disposal site for much of the nation. Henceforth, the Barnwell waste site will operate at a sharply reduced level, accepting waste only from three states, including South Carolina.
The disposal site, operated by Chem-Nuclear, also will take waste from New Jersey and Connecticut under a multi-state agreement that provides the only mechanism for limiting the volume of waste accepted at the site, short of closing it down.
At the Barnwell site, South Carolina has provided the solution to many of the nation's nuclear waste disposal problems for most of its 38-year existence. South Carolina had planned to turn over that duty to North Carolina several years ago, under a long-standing pact, but officials there ultimately declined the responsibility.
The legislative creation of the new multi-state compact means that most of the states that have long dispatched their nuclear waste to South Carolina finally will have to come up with their own solutions. South Carolina was once regarded as a location where unwanted waste could easily be dumped. The previous closure of the Pinewood hazardous waste landfill and the new limits to the Barnwell site will diminish lingering associations with that dubious role.
There is some consternation in Barnwell County about the loss of revenue that will be a result of the diminished waste stream. But the agreement to close the landfill to most of the nation came eight years ago, after extended legislative negotiations. The Legislature made the decision to terminate the state's role as the nation's nuclear waste disposal site, while giving an extended advance notice so that all those affected could plan accordingly.
Closing the Barnwell site to most of the nation will retain most of its remaining capacity for South Carolina. Assuming safe management of the landfill can be assured, Barnwell will provide a long-term asset for hospitals and other waste generators in the state.
This week, the Blackfeet Tribe will lay the first stone of a medicine wheel monument — a healing symbol steeped in Native American history that tribal members hope will be a positive influence to help reduce alcohol-related vehicle crashes.
Timed with North American Indian Days in Browning, the community is invited to help celebrate the construction of the 50-foot rock medicine wheel at 10 a.m. Thursday.
A traditional feed will follow the prayer ceremony.
The idea for a medicine wheel sprang from a ceremony two years ago in Browning where 49 families gathered to mourn the sons and daughters who died in drinking and driving crashes.
The Blackfeet Indian Reservation has the highest number of Native American traffic fatalities in Montana, according to state statistics. Since the Montana Department of Transportation began sponsoring a local traffic safety program on the reservation in 2006, alcohol-related fatalities in crashes have decreased in relation to total crash fatalities on the reservation.
"Real change must come from the communities. I applaud the Blackfeet people for trying to find their own answers within their culture," Montana Department of Transportation Director Jim Lynch said.
In Indian Country, using phrases such as "fighting addiction" or "war on poverty" invites the negative forces or spirits to fight back, tribal officials said.
Native tradition holds that the medicine wheel, which is considered a symbol of peaceful interaction of the Earth's living things, represents harmony. Project supporters hope that the new wheel will inspire healthier lifestyle choices among tribal members.
"The process is not as simple as it might seem," said John Salois, president of Blackfeet Community College. "All of the materials that come to the site must receive special offerings and prayers, both before and after they are relocated to the site of the medicine wheel."
The project, approved by the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, is organized by Blackfeet Community College, which donated land, construction materials and labor, and the Montana Department of Transportation, which contributed $7,000 to launch the project.
DOT officials also hope to raise money to add benches, signage and landscaping to the site, which is located just east of the tribal college campus. An access road has been added since the project began a year ago.
"This is an idea that came from the community as a spiritual and educational focus against drunk driving and alcohol use," Lynch said.
While the medicine wheel is believed to have originated in the Blackfeet Confederacy, none have been preserved on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.
As many as 150 medicine wheels were identified in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, but the majority are in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Reach Tribune Staff Writer Kim Skornogoski at 791-6574, 800-438-6600 or email@example.com.
July 7, 2008
What if oil prices continue to rise with no end in sight? Even now with gas at $4.50 a gallon on the west coast, it's becoming difficult for many people to fill up their gas tanks. What's going to happen when it goes to $5.00, $6.00, $7.00 a gallon, or even higher? This will have an effect on all levels of society — from the poor, all the way to the White House. The entire economy of the country and the free world may be at stake. It could lead to war.
I'm not saying this is going to happen, but it could. It is just as likely that gas prices will start to decline by the end of the year. We are already seeing a small drop in consumption and demand, but no drop in prices as the price of a barrel of oil continues to climb. Some investment professionals are calling it an "oil bubble" that is soon to burst. I don't see it that way at all.
Let's explore the consequences of continued gas price hikes and what it will mean for our country. People who are now having trouble paying for gas are going to get angry. Their anger will soon turn to rage and they'll be looking for someone to blame.
It will start on a small scale with people stealing gas from SUVs. That much has already begun. When gas goes over $5 a gallon, they will start angrily, and mistakenly, attacking gas stations with vandalism and possibly fire bombings.
These are the people who believe that gas stations and American oil companies are responsible for the high price of gas because that is what they've been told by most everyone on the left. It must be difficult living in the world of liberal illusions.
They've heard politicians talk about the "windfall profits" of "Big Oil," and think this means that the oil company that is providing gas to their local station is screwing them while getting rich in the process. They have no idea that the profits are going to millions of people across the country to pay dividends on their retirement investments. They don't understand that most of the real culprits are not even Americans. They just pick the easiest explanation and the easiest target for their frustration.
They don't realize that Shell, Exxon-Mobil, Conoco Phillips, and other American oil companies are just small oil companies with only 3% of the oil market. They have no influence on world oil prices when competing against the real "Big Oil" — the national oil companies of OPEC. Still, the media has convinced them that American oil companies are responsible for the price at the pump and need to be targeted.
As gas reaches $6 a gallon and food prices rise accordingly, riots will break out. People will be screaming "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." They will attack any business that has been forced to raise their prices as a direct result of the rising oil prices and our misguided attempts to process our food into fuel. Yet these are the same people who support making ethanol from corn, and believe the high prices are the result of a vast right wing conspiracy against the poor and middle class.
As gas reaches $7 a gallon, people will be killed fighting over gas that only the wealthy can now comfortably afford. Word of civil unrest will eventually reach the government through the media, and Congress will debate for the rest of the year about what to do about it. Nothing will get done as usual, because Congress can't control the price of oil on the world market any more than Shell, Conoco-Philips, or Exxon-Mobile can.
If there is any intelligent life left in Washington, they will defy the special interests of the greenfreaks and pass legislation to allow for oil drilling in ANWR and offshore. If Congress won't do it, then the president should do it with an executive order. It won't be quite that simple, he will still need some cooperation from Congress to enforce it.
As gas goes to $8 a gallon, the president may have to declare martial law to try to contain the rioting and looting that continues to break out across the country. By now, he is beginning to realize that things are getting serious and he has a big problem to deal with. His economic advisors are briefing him on the inevitable collapse of the economy if something isn't done soon. He knows from recent history that federal price controls will only result in gas shortages and long lines at the gas pump, and that domestic oil companies and gas suppliers will be forced to try to operate at a negative income level. It could shut down the domestic oil industry altogether.
The State Dept. will begin to talk in stronger and stronger terms with the leaders of OPEC countries. They will try to convince them of the damage they are doing to the U.S. economy and the need to lower oil prices. There will be little response or cooperation. If India and China are willing to pay it, then why not the U.S.? Anyway, damage to America seems to be what some people, including some Americans, want.
In his lecture, Lindsey Williams places the blame directly on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (ie; the Bilderberg group), who supply the money to pay OPEC for their oil. Williams contends that it is the World Bank and the IMF who, on a daily basis, tell OPEC how much to charge for their oil. If the World Bank and the IMF are willing to pay it on behalf of oil speculators, OPEC is willing to take it.
Unable to influence OPEC and the World Bank, our government will begin to realize that this has become a threat to our economy and national security. The government will turn to sanctions against OPEC countries. This will also fail, as sanctions usually do, because the rest of the world needs their oil as much as we do. Their primary source of income and trade will continue to be available. Sanctions will have no effect and embargos would be impossible if they are to continue providing oil.
With gas at $9 a gallon, the U.S. could then fight fire with fire as a last resort, and offer Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries a bushel of grain for a barrel of oil or threaten to cut off their food supplies from the U.S. altogether if they don't significantly lower their oil prices.
The Arabs will likely respond by turning to other countries for grain and food stuffs, if they can find them, and retaliate by raising oil prices even more. Our "good friends" in the Mideast will cease being our "good friends," as we realize that they are holding America hostage at the gas pump. To prevent our economy and country from completely collapsing, the president will have to take stronger action.
When gas is breaking $10 a gallon, and depending on who the president is at that time, he will have just two courses of action. If he's a Democrat, he will raise taxes on the American people to attempt an increase in production of ethanol and biofuels, adding to the financial burden already being imposed on the people. This, of course, will have no effect on the price of gas for decades to come. It will only exacerbate the problem but will be consistent with the Democrats' solution to everything — raise taxes.
If he's a Republican, then he may address the American people and explain that our country has been attacked economically and this attack has done more damage to our country than the attacks of 911. He will be right. We were willing to pay a fair price for Mideastern oil but we can no longer allow the American people to be held hostage to unreasonably inflated oil prices. He will explain that he has no other choice but to send military forces into Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Mideast to secure the oil fields that we discovered and developed. But it's more likely that he will promote other reasons to launch an attack that doesn't mention oil.
This will not be ignored by other Islamic countries which will join forces with the Saudis in retaliation against America. Iran and Syria will find reason to become involved if they aren't already. This will be real war with Islam over oil, and yes, winner takes all. Our survival as a nation will depend on it.
There is just one problem — we don't have a big enough army. What we lack in manpower, we will have to make up for with technology and advanced weaponry. No war was ever won by overwhelming the enemy with compassion. Wars are only won with overwhelming force. Israel will be attacked by Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah, and the march to Armageddon will have begun.
Russia will side with Iran and Syria as war spreads throughout the Mideast. China will also be dragged into it. Nuclear weapons may be involved, although I don't believe they would be exchanged between the U.S., Russia and China, assuring mutual destruction. Bible prophesies may predict otherwise.
This scenario is, of course, highly speculative, but entirely possible if we don't take action now to avoid it. We have two choices. We can find some way of bringing down the price of oil on the world market (unlikely), or we can begin to end our dependence on foreign oil by using all of the domestic resources we have available. This alone will encourage foreign oil producers to lower their prices.
We will have to reduce our consumption of oil until such time that America is able to produce all of the oil we require. Petroleum products must be reserved exclusively for transportation fuel and synthetic products such as plastics and rubber. All factories now using oil should convert to natural gas, electric, or other sources of energy.
All production of electricity must be expanded by any and all means available. This includes wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal, hydroelectric, and new technologies in nuclear fusion currently being developed. Clean coal technology should be expanded and used extensively, even if it does make Harry Reid and the Democrats sick. Yucca Mountain in Nevada should be impounded by the federal government under "eminent domain laws" and declared the official nuclear waste depository over the objections of Reid.
But we cannot sacrifice our food supplies for energy. We need affordable food as much as we need affordable energy. Ethanol production must be ended and the greenfreaks must be defeated if we are to save our country. Ethanol works in Brazil because they have the climate for growing vast quantities of sugar cane; we don't. Sugar cane makes for practical and efficient ethanol without disrupting food sources; corn doesn't. As Raymond S. Kraft points out in his recent article, Ending Our Oil Addiction: Reality Check, compliance with recent ethanol mandates by Congress would be disastrous and impractical for the country.
As the world's largest consumer of foreign oil, just beginning a "moon shot" program toward oil independence will scare OPEC enough to begin lowering the price of oil in an attempt to persuade us to give it up. We played that game before and it worked, OPEC dropped their price so low that our efforts were cancelled. This time there must be no stopping, no matter how much oil prices drop.
I don't expect the scenario I have described actually to happen, but it could. I suspect we will find more peaceful ways of dealing with the problem in time. Gas is already selling for $10 a gallon in Europe. In Europe, cars are smaller, less powerful, and use less gas. Much of the European lifestyle revolves around bicycles and motor scooters. Some are suggesting that we should be more like the Europeans.
We are Americans, not Europeans. We have our own American lifestyle and we don't want to exchange it for a European lifestyle, no matter how much a tank of gas costs. $10 a gallon gas is going to hit us a lot harder than it hits Europeans because we depend on oil more than they do. Much of Europe is still living in the dark ages. That's fine for Europe, it's not fine for America.
The problem of our transportation costs are not going to be solved with "green" energy. Even if effective alternative fuels were developed and available today, the cars being sold today will still need gasoline for the next 20 years. Trucks, ships, and trains will need diesel fuel; aircraft will need aviation fuel, and homes will need home heating oil.
The only solution is to get serious about providing our own supply of oil to meet our national needs. This must be our first priority next to national security, before it becomes a national security issue.
A terrorist attack may destroy a city. This economic attack through oil and energy will destroy the country if it isn't stopped. We have the ability to stop it if we do it now. Congress must be made to listen to the American people — their bosses. If they won't listen, then we must fire those who are standing in the way when their terms expire. The consequences of not doing so could lead to the collapse of our country, or to Armageddon over oil if the present trend continues.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Pervez Musharraf 'approved' sale of atomic weapons to North Korea
The father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb has accused President Pervez Musharraf of approving the sale of atomic weapons to North Korea.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, who has lived under house arrest since 2004 when he confessed to selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, has said for the first time that Pakistan's army was involved in his proliferation ring.
"It was a North Korean plane, and the army had complete knowledge about it and the equipment," he said, describing the shipment of used P-1 centrifuges needed to manufacture highly enriched uranium.
"It must have gone with his [Mr Musharraf's] consent."
The explosive accusation has been swiftly denied by Pakistan's president.
"I can say with full confidence that it is all lies and false statements," said Mr Musharraf's spokesman Rashid Qureshi.
The shipment took place in 2000, a year after Mr Musharraf took power in a military coup d'etat.
Dr Khan had originally said that he alone was responsible for Pakistan's proliferation.
However, he has since retracted this confession, which he says was made to protect other Pakistani officials.
Regarded by many Pakistanis as a hero for developing the country's atomic programme, Dr Khan has grown increasingly outspoken since the election of a new government in February.
Mr Musharraf has previously written about his own efforts to stop nuclear proliferation, including ordering a raid on an aircraft suspected of carrying an "irregular" cargo.
His Western allies, including the United States, have long viewed nuclear proliferation as one of the greatest threats to world peace.
However, the country's foreign ministry says it will no longer discuss Dr Khan's case.
"The nuclear proliferation issue is a closed case," said the ministry's spokesman Mohammed Sadiq. "We do not think that a debate is required on it."
Canada is the new home to a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium from Iraq, the last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program.
The 550 tonnes of "yellowcake," the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment, was sold to Canadian uranium producer Cameco Corp. in a transaction the official described as worth "tens of millions of dollars."
A ship carrying the cargo arrived yesterday in Montreal and Cameco spokesman Lyle Krahn said the yellowcake will be processed at facilities in Ontario for use in energy-producing reactors.
"We are pleased ... that we have taken (the yellowcake) from a volatile region into a stable area to produce clean electricity," he said.However, there was no confirmation from the Port of Montreal. Robert Desjardins, co-ordinator of the port, said "we don't have any information" on such a shipment arriving there.
The deal culminated more than a year of intense diplomatic and military initiatives - kept hushed in fear of ambushes or attacks once the convoys were under way.
It was a significant step towards closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy.
But it also raises serious security concerns, an environmental activist said yesterday.
"I assume that this uranium still needs to be shipped from Montreal to Port Hope - if it hasn't already been sent. (It's) not clear whether that's going by land or by sea, could be either, or by air," said Dave Martin, the energy co-ordinator for Greenpeace Canada.
"I think Cameco and the Canadian government owe the Canadian public some disclosure on that front."While yellowcake alone is not considered potent enough for a so-called "dirty bomb" - a conventional explosive that disperses radioactive material - it could stir widespread panic if incorporated in a blast.