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Boston Bombings to Boost Police State Spending

April 30th, 2013 - by admin

Salvador Rodriguez / Los Angeles Times & Kevin Cirilli / Politico & John Zaremba and Dave Wedge / The Boston Herald – 2013-04-30 02:41:42


After Boston, Spending on Video Surveillance Expected to Surge
Salvador Rodriguez / Los Angeles Times

(April 26, 2013) — Video surveillance, a market that was already on an upward trajectory, is expected to receive a big boost in spending following the bombings in Boston.

The market for video surveillance equipment was already forecast to grow to $20.5 billion in revenue in 2016, up 114% from 2010’s revenue of $9.6 billion, according to IHS, an insights and analytics company. But now, IHS says it is recalculating its forecast after the Boston Marathon bombings.

IHS says high-profile terrorist attacks historically have driven governments to increase spending on video surveillance equipment, and the same is expected following the Boston bombings, in which surveillance cameras played a key role in the investigation.

“While it’s too early to tell exactly what impact the Boston bombing will have, past events — like 9/11 and the London Underground bombings — have led to increased government spending on video surveillance for public spaces, particularly in the transport sector,” said Paul Everett, an IHS senior manager, in a statement.

IHS had anticipated under $15 billion in spending on video surveillance in 2013 and more than $15 billion in 2014, but those numbers are being recalculated and are expected to go up.

Prior to the bombings, growth in the market was being driven by a transition from analog technologies to network-based security systems.

Bill Maher Slams Boston Police
Kevin Cirilli / Politico

(April 27, 2013) — Bill Maher called Boston police officers “unprofessional” on Friday for shooting at the boat where Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding even though it turned out he was unarmed.

“I agree that we shouldn’t have given the kid his Miranda rights because he probably had information. We wanted to take him alive. We all agree with that.… there could’ve been bombs out there, there could’ve been an accomplice. So we wanted to take him alive. If you agree with that then what the cops did there was unprofessional. That’s called contagious fire,” Maher said on HBO’s “Real Time.”

According to reports, no gun was found inside the boat after Tsarnaev was captured, although the Boston Police commissioner had earlier said that cops had exchanged fire with the suspect.

Maher also said that America is becoming a “police state.”

“I want to talk about the police, who I am a supporter of… Look at this, I mean if this is what you have — why don’t you invade a country? …. I mean go up to Canada — take their oil…. This country is becoming a police state. And it is very troubling to me,” Maher said, while showing pictures of police officers patrolling the city and searching for Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev, 19, and his older brother Tamerlan, 26, are accused of being behind the bombings. Tamerlan was killed last week during a police pursuit of the two brothers.

Davis: Arm Us with Cameras, Drones
John Zaremba and Dave Wedge / The Boston Herald

BOSTON (April 24, 2013) — Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis is pushing for a city-run system of eye-level street surveillance technology and making a case for a dedicated NYPD-style anti-terrorism unit to protect Boston from another soft-target strike like the deadly marathon bombing.

“We need to harden our target here,” Davis told the Herald. “We need to make sure terrorists understand that if they’re thinking about coming here, we have certain things in place that would make that not a good idea. Because they could hit any place. They’re going to go for the softest, easiest thing to hit.”

Davis’ push for stepped-up security came as the youngest of the three people killed in Monday’s twin blasts, 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester, was laid to rest in a private funeral. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, faces capital charges for the terror plot after he and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, allegedly infiltrated the finish-line crowd of thousands, unloaded two backpacks containing pressure cooker bombs and detonated them. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed after a shootout with police in Watertown.

“We need to gather all the information we can as to what happened and make a determination as to the overall commitment the city of Boston has to the threat of terrorism,” Davis said. “That’s very, very important to me. It’s very important to the mayor. I’m sure there will be a lot of questions about that.”

Davis said he would also consider deploying domestic reconnaissance drones to hover above next year’s Boston Marathon.

“Drones are a great idea. I don’t know that would be the first place I’d invest money, but certainly to cover an event like this, and have an eye in the sky that would be much cheaper to run than a helicopter is a really good idea,” he said.

The use of domestic surveillance drones to hunt terrorists in US cities has been hotly debated, but yesterday New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said they were all but inevitable.

Davis said he’s envisioning a partnership between the city and businesses to buy and monitor lower-mounted cameras positioned more strategically to capture people’s faces. He said he has no cost estimate, and that he’s not sure whether he will request additional money or find it within the budget.

“There are people talking about it right now. I think that’s one of the things that we just need to put a comprehensive plan together, to be in good position in the future,” Davis said.

City Council President Stephen J. Murphy said he favors more cameras in the city, saying they helped capture the bloodthirsty bombers. He said federal Homeland Security money has been dwindling and suggested the city give tax breaks to businesses that install surveillance gear.

Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and frequent critic of government surveillance, said Davis may be giving cameras too much credit. “The record of cameras in catching terrorists has really been pretty lousy,” Reynolds said. “If in fact they caught these guys through the cameras, it’s pretty much the first time.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Jordanians Protest Buildup of US Troops Along Jordan-Syrian Border

April 30th, 2013 - by admin

Agence France-Presse & Al Arabiya & Alex Lantier / World Sociaiist Web Site – 2013-04-30 02:31:24


Jordanians Torch US Flag to Protest Troop Deployment
Agence France-Presse & Al Arabiya

AMMAN (April 26, 2013) — Jordanian protesters torched a US flag at a demonstration in Amman Friday against an American troop deployment in Jordan in connection with the war in neighboring Syria as hundreds also rallied in other cities.

An AFP photographer said about 400 people took to the streets of the old city of Amman after weekly Muslim prayers chanting: “We don’t want to see American” soldiers in our country.

The demonstrators set off from the Al-Husseini mosque in a protest organized by opposition leftist parties and youth groups, carrying signs that read: “The (Jordanian) Arab army protects us” and “US presence undermines national sovereignty.”

Some demonstrators set on fire a US flag before the rally broke off into two groups, one heading towards the royal palace that overlooks downtown Amman, while the other marched on the main square outside city hall.

Similar protests were held in the northern city of Irbid and in Zarqa, east of the capital, a stronghold of Islamists, where demonstrators chanted: “America is the head of the snake” and “Syria free, free. America out,” witnesses said.

Earlier this month US Defense Minister Chuck Hagel revealed that some 150 US military specialists have been deployed in Jordan since last year and that he had ordered a US Army headquarters team to bolster the mission, bringing the total American presence to more than 200 troops.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has been battling rebels trying to oust him from power since March 2011, warned in an interview this month that the war in his country could spread to Jordan, which he accused of allowing rebels free movement across the border.

But on Thursday a US Defense official played down chances of military action over Syria, despite an assessment from US spy agencies that the Syrian regime likely used chemical agents in the conflict.

US Deploys Troops to Jordan, Prepares to Invade Syria
Alex Lantier / World Sociaiist Web Site

(April 19, 2013) — In testimony before the US Senate Armed Forces Committee on Wednesday, top US defense officials announced that they are deploying 200 troops of the 1st Armored Division to Jordan. They will establish headquarters near the Syrian-Jordanian border and plan for a rapid build-up, involving 20,000 or more US troops, awaiting orders from the White House to invade Syria.

A US invasion force would reportedly include Special Forces troops and regular units preparing for operations inside Syria, as well as air defense units guarding against possible retaliatory Syrian air strikes on Jordan.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Senate committee that these deployments are part of “robust military planning for a range of contingencies,” carried out by the United States and its European and Middle Eastern allies.

At the same time, Washington is carrying out an international diplomatic offensive setting the stage for war with the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The topic of US military operations against Syria will reportedly be on the agenda of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s discussions in Turkey this weekend, of General Martin Dempsey’s talks with Chinese officials next week, and of Hagel’s upcoming talks with military officials in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.

As US officials admitted, invading Syria would likely involve the United States in a regional war throughout the Middle East. Hagel said that a US intervention in Syria “could have the unintended consequence of bringing the United States into a broader regional conflict or proxy war.” He noted that this “could embroil the US in a significant, lengthy, and uncertain military commitment.”

He detailed the streams of cash Washington is pouring into the anti-Assad opposition, including $117 million for “communications and medical equipment” as well as undisclosed US State Department and US Agency for International Development funding. Hagel explained, “The goal is to strengthen those opposition groups that share the international community’s vision for Syria’s future and minimize the influence of extremists.”

Hagel was apparently referring to Washington’s fears that ultra-right Islamist terrorist groups active in the opposition and funded by the United States’ Middle Eastern allies could take over Syria, should the Assad regime collapse. The Al Nusra Front, the military spearhead of the US-backed opposition in Syria, recently swore loyalty to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. (See “Syrian opposition militia declares allegiance to Al Qaeda”)

Though the US has been fighting a proxy war with Syria since 2011, Hagel’s comments were the first public confirmation that the Obama administration is preparing a direct US invasion of Syria. Launching such a neo-colonial war would be a historic crime against the population of the Middle East on the scale of the Bush administration’s unprovoked invasion of Iraq.

That such a war is being planned 10 years after the unpopular US war in nearby Iraq — which cost over a million Iraqi lives, tens of thousands of US casualties, and trillions of dollars — is a devastating exposure of the decay of American democracy.

The Obama administration and the Democratic Party, having come to power in 2008 with cynical and false appeals to popular opposition to the Iraq war, is pursuing similar policies, with total contempt for popular opposition to war in the US and Middle Eastern population.

In pursuing regime change in Syria, US imperialism is seeking to impose its hegemony on the entire Middle East. Besides Syria, it is targeting and trying to isolate Syria’s main regional ally, oil-rich Iran, which has emerged as the strongest regional power in the Persian Gulf. It also hopes that by eliminating Assad, it will cut off the flow of arms and money to forces and groups in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories opposed to Israel.

The Obama administration’s official justifications for the war — that war is necessary to secure Syria’s chemical weapons, or to restrain terrorist forces operating inside the US-backed opposition but that are somehow opposed by Washington — are absurd lies. They are contradicted even by the testimony of US officials.

Speaking in a separate meeting of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry made clear that Washington is working very closely with the countries that are funding Al Qaeda-linked forces in Syria. He said, “The United States policy right now is that we are not providing lethal aid, but we are coordinating very, very closely with those who are.”

As for Syria’s chemical weapons, General Dempsey told the Senate committee that he was not confident that a US invasion of Syria would secure them, as the Assad regime has been moving them to prevent them from falling into the hands of hostile, Al Qaeda-linked fighters. Dempsey explained, “They have been moving [the stockpiles], and the number of sites is quite numerous.”

Dempsey indicated that he was not sure that the US can “clearly identify the right people” to support inside the Islamist-dominated Syrian opposition. He added, “The introduction of military power right now certainly has the possibility of making the situation worse.”

The Senate Armed Forces Committee chairman, Democratic Senator Carl Levin, criticized Hagel and Dempsey’s testimony for not threatening Assad strongly enough. He told reporters that after the hearing, he had asked Hagel and Dempsey if they wanted to send a “tough message” to Assad, adding: “Their answer is yes. That’s not what came out in their testimony. We didn’t hear it.”

Levin recently co-wrote a letter with Republican Senator John McCain to Obama, calling on him to establish a “safe zone” for US-backed opposition fighters in Syria. The letter stated that “the time has come to intensify the military pressure on Assad.”

On Wednesday, the anniversary of Syria’s independence from French colonial rule, Assad gave a televised address denouncing the US-led war in Syria. While Assad’s reactionary regime is no friend of the working class — having imposed free-market policies in Syria and repeatedly made deals with US imperialism to crush opposition to Israel — Assad hit the nail on the head when describing the imperialist forces arrayed against him. They are waging a military campaign to re-impose colonial shackles on the Middle East.

He said, “The truth is, what is happening is a war. It is not security problems. It is a war in every sense of the word. There are big powers, especially Western powers, who historically never accepted the idea of other nations having their independence. They want those nations to submit to them.”

Asked about other Middle Eastern countries’ role in stoking the war on Syria, he said: “We mustn’t blame those countries, because they’re not independent. The decision is made by foreign countries.”

Assad tartly dismissed claims by the US and its European allies that they are waging “humanitarian” war in Syria, noting: “We saw their humanitarian intervention in Iraq, in Libya, and now we see it in Syria.”

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Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

CIA Funneled Millions in ‘Ghost Money’ to Afghan Leader, Warlords

April 30th, 2013 - by admin

NBC Nightly News & Matthew Rosenberg / The New York Times – 2013-04-30 02:14:45

$36 Million in Secret Cash to Karzai
NBC Nightly News

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Brian Williams: Throughout the past decade of deaths and injuries to americans fighting in afghanistan, including a cost to this nation of more than $600 billion, americans have been told our point man there is the popularly elected hamid karzai and we have been reassured he has US interests at heart.

Well, that took a blow today when we woke up to the news that Karzai has been receiving bags of cash from the cia among others. that would be US taxpayer money. our chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell has been following this story and is also in the DC bureau tonight. good evening.

Andrea Mitchell: Good evening, brian. somewhat incredibly Hamid Karzai today confirmed that the cia has been dropping off bags of cash at his national security office for years. he says it isn’t millions. it’s only $300,000 a month. do the math.

If you multiply that over ten years it adds up to $36 million by karzai’s own account. the new york times was first to report the payments today and said the cash was delivered sometimes in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags.

US officials say the money is used to buy the loyalty of warlords and cover off the book operations. we checked with the white house, state department and cia, none of whom would deny the report. in washington speak that goes to a confirmation.

I asked one official if payments of cash had, in fact, been delivered every day to karzai’s office. he said, well, we never said it was every day. one interesting footnote, by the way, iran had also been delivering payments to karzai until about a year ago when tehran cut off karzai supposedly because he was too close to the US.

Afghan Leader Confirms Cash Deliveries by CIA
Matthew Rosenberg / The New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan (April 29, 2013) — President Hamid Karzai acknowledged Monday that the Central Intelligence Agency has been dropping off bags of cash at his office for a decade, saying the money was used for “various purposes” and expressing gratitude to the United States for making the payments.

Mr. Karzai described the sums delivered by the CIA as a “small amount,” though he offered few other details. But former and current advisers of the Afghan leader have said the CIA cash deliveries have totaled tens of millions of dollars over the past decade and have been used to pay off warlords, lawmakers and others whose support the Afghan leader depends upon.

The payments are not universally supported in the United States government. American diplomats and soldiers expressed dismay on Monday about the CIA’s cash deliveries, which some said fueled corruption. They spoke privately because the CIA effort is classified.

Others were not so restrained. “We’ve all suspected it,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah and a critic of the war effort in Afghanistan. “But for President Karzai to admit it out loud brings us into a bizarro world.”

Mr. Karzai’s comments, made at a news conference in Helsinki, Finland, where he is traveling, were not without precedent. When it emerged in 2010 that one of his top aides was taking bags of cash from Iran, Mr. Karzai readily confirmed those reports and expressed gratitude for the money. Iran cut off its payments last year after Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership deal with the United States over Iran’s objections.

The CIA money continues to flow, Mr. Karzai said Monday. “Yes, the office of national security has been receiving support from the United States for the past 10 years,” he told reporters in response to a question. “Not a big amount. A small amount, which has been used for various purposes.” He said the money was paid monthly.

Afghan officials who described the payments before Monday’s comments from Mr. Karzai said the cash from the CIA was basically used as a slush fund, similarly to the way the Iranian money was. Some went to pay supporters; some went to cover other expenses that officials would prefer to keep off the books, like secret diplomatic trips, officials have said.

After Mr. Karzai’s statement on Monday, the presidential palace in Kabul said in a statement that the CIA cash “has been used for different purposes, such as in operations, assisting wounded Afghan soldiers and paying rent.” The statement continued, “The assistance has been very useful, and we are thankful to them for it.”

The CIA payments open a window to an element of the war that has often gone unnoticed: the agency’s use of cash to clandestinely buy the loyalty of Afghans. The agency paid powerful warlords to fight against the Taliban during the 2001 invasion. It then continued paying Afghans to keep battling the Taliban and help track down the remnants of Al Qaeda. Mr. Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali, who was assassinated in 2011, was among those paid by the agency, for instance.

But the cash deliveries to Mr. Karzai’s office are of a different magnitude with a far wider impact, helping the palace finance the vast patronage networks that Mr. Karzai has used to build his power base. The payments appear to run directly counter to American efforts to clean up endemic corruption and encourage the Afghan government to be more responsive to the needs of its constituents.

“I thought we were trying to clean up waste, fraud and abuse in Afghanistan,” said Mr. Chaffetz, whose House subcommittee has investigated corruption in the country. “We have no credibility on this issue when we’re complicit ourselves. I’m sure it was more than a few hundred dollars.”

In Afghanistan, reaction to reports of the payments ranged from conspiratorial to bemused. A former adviser to Mr. Karzai said the palace was rife with speculation that the details of the payments had been leaked to settle a bureaucratic or diplomatic score, either by Afghans or by American officials.

Outside official circles, some Afghans offered a lighter take. “They make it sound as if it was a charity money dashed by a spy agency,” wrote Sayed Salahuddin, an Afghan journalist, on Twitter, referring to the palace statement that money had been used to help wounded soldiers. “They must have ‘treated’ many people.”

Jawad Sukhanyar contributed reporting from Kabul.

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Medical Emergency at Guantanamo Prison Hunger Strike

April 30th, 2013 - by admin

Al Jazeera & The Miami Herald & Russia Today – 2013-04-30 01:57:10


Extra Medical Staff Sent to Guantanamo
Medical personnel sent to US detention camp as nearly two-thirds of the detainees join hunger strike

(April 30, 2013) — Extra medical staff have been sent to the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay to help address a hunger strike that has spread to nearly two-thirds of the detainees.

Some 40 US Navy medical personnel, including nurses and specialists, arrived over the weekend, said on Monday Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House, a military spokesman at Guantanamo.

“The influx of personnel was planned several weeks ago as increasing numbers of detainees chose to protest their detention,” he said.

With the strike now entering its 12th week, President Barack Obama has faced fresh calls to honour his promise to close the prison at the US base in Cuba, which holds 166 individuals captured as part of the “War on Terror.”

House said 100 of the 166 inmates are striking, a number that has not changed since Saturday. Of those, 21 are receiving feeding through nasal tubes, the spokesman said, one more than on Saturday.

Growing Anger
Five are hospitalised, he added in the statement, without specifying whether any were in life-threatening condition. Lawyers for the detainees have said around 130 inmates are observing the hunger strike, more than officially acknowledged.

The rapidly growing protest movement began on February 6, when inmates claimed prison officials searched Korans in a way they considered blasphemous, according to their lawyers.

Officials have denied any mishandling of Islam’s holy book. But the strike has now turned into a larger protest by prisoners against their indefinite incarceration without charge or trial over the past 11 years.

Calls for Closure
More and more critics have called for the immediate closure of the facility. Among them is former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, Air Force colonel Morris Davis, who warned that “unless President Obama acts soon, I believe it is likely one or more of the detainees will die.”

Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel and advocate at Human Rights Watch, said “there has never been such a critical moment in the history of Guantanamo.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, wrote a letter to Obama asking the administration to “renew its efforts” to transfer out the 86 detainees who were cleared for such a move by US military authorities.

She also called for the reassessment of the “security situation on the ground in Yemen, because is my understanding that 56 of the 86 detainees cleared for transfer are Yemeni.”

Obama imposed a moratorium on repatriating Yemenis held at Guantanamo in 2009 after a plot to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day was traced back to Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni franchise.

Follow RT’s day-by-day timeline on Gitmo hunger strike

Red Cross arrives at Guantanamo as Hunger Strike Hits 100 Mark
Carol Rosenberg / The Miami Herald

(April 27, 2013) — International Red Cross delegates began inspecting conditions at the Guantanamo prison camps on Saturday, as the US military said the number of hunger strikers had reached 100.

One-fifth of the hunger strikers were being force fed nutritional supplements through feeding tubes, said Army Lt. Col. Samuel House, a prison camps spokesman.

Five of the 20 men being force fed were hospitalized, although none “currently have any life-threatening conditions,” House said by email from the remote base in southeast Cuba.

In Washington, International Red Cross spokesman Simon Schorno said five delegates arrived Friday at the Navy base for a “an ad-hoc assessment visit” now that the majority of captives are in single-cell lockdown.

One delegate is a physician, he said, declining to identify the nationalities of any of the team members.

It’s the organization’s 93rd visit since the prison camps opened in 2002. Schorno said the goal was “to assess the immediate aftermath of that transfer and to monitor the current conditions of detention and treatment there,” in light of the lockdown.

“As always, the ICRC will address its findings confidentially and with US authorities only,” he said.

The Red Cross arrived as attorneys disclosed the identities of some of the men being force fed at Guantanamo, revealing that at least four of the captives were designated for release years ago.

Prison officials have refused to name any of the hunger strikers. But the Justice Department has been notifying the attorneys of prisoners who have become so malnourished that they now require the tube feedings.

The prison camps in Cuba have been wracked by hunger strikes from the earliest days. The most sustained, widespread known hunger strike took place in 2005 when, according to House, “we had a detainee population of 575 detainees with 142 detainees choosing to hunger strike in July.”

On average in July of 2005, he said, 30 detainees were “being enteral fed” — the Guantanamo term for the process of snaking a tube up a captive’s nose, down the back of his throat and into his stomach before pumping in a can of nutritional supplement.

(c) 2013 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Official Number of Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strikers Jumps to 100
Russia Today

(April 28, 2013) — The official number of hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay reached 100 on Saturday – three more than the day before. Twenty of the detainees are receiving enteral feeds, five of whom are being observed in a detainee hospital.

Follow RT’s day-by-day timeline on Gitmo hunger strike

Lawyers for the detainees contest the official numbers, saying that some 130 prisoners are actually taking part in the protest. The hunger strike began around February 6, when detainees claimed prison officials searched their copies of the Koran for contraband, according to their attorneys.

Prisoners are also protesting their extrajudicial incarceration at the prison. Most of Guantanamo Bay’s 166 detainees have been cleared for release or were never charged, a situation that has prompted criticism from human rights organizations.

“The illegal detentions without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay have gone on for more than a decade with no end in sight, so it’s not surprising that detainees feel desperate,” counterterrorism advisor at Human Rights Watch, Laura Pitter, said in a statement.

As the number of detainees being fed by tubes continues to grow, so does the criticism surrounding the practice of force-feeding. The Constitution Project, a non-profit group that promotes bipartisan consensus on legal reform, concluded in a recent report that “forced feeding of detainees is a form of abuse and must end.” However, Guantanamo authorities have offered a different assessment:
“I refuse to say ‘force-feeding.’ It refers to a cartoon where individuals are strapped, yelling, screaming, mouth open and food is dumped down the person’s throat and that is not the case,” Guantanamo spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House said, as quoted by AFP.

“We will continue to prevent people from starving. It is by all means the rights of detainees to protest, however it is our mission to provide a safe, secure and human environment and we will not allow our detainees to starve themselves to death,” House added.

Meanwhile, Pitter has urged the Obama administration to do more to end the “unlawful practice that will forever be a black mark on US history.”

White House spokesperson Jay Carney argued that Congress is to blame for the failure to close Guantanamo, not the Obama administration.

“The president remains committed to closing the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay,” Carney said in a statement. “A fundamental obstacle to closing this detention facility…. remains in Congress.”

President Obama pledged to close Guantanamo as he assumed office in 2009. However, he was unable to act on his promise after Congress imposed restrictions on Gitmo detainee transfers.

RT is currently on a waiting list for a media visit to Guantanamo Bay.

Some Force-fed Captives Are Cleared for Release from Guantanamo

(April 26, 2013) — At least four of the captives being force-fed at Guantanamo were cleared for release years ago. As of Friday, the US prison in southeast Cuba classified 97 of its 166 captives as hunger strikers, according to Army Lt. Col. Samuel House, a prison spokesman. Navy medical workers were administering tube feedings to 19 of the hunger strikers, five of them at the prison hospital.

Prison officials have refused to name any of the hunger strikers. But the Justice Department has been notifying the attorneys of prisoners who have become so malnourished that they now require the tube feedings.

Attorneys for eight of the men notified The Miami Herald of their identities.

One is Mohammed al-Hamiri, a Yemeni man in his 30s whose New York lawyer, Omar Farah, says he was told by the Justice Department that his client is “on hunger strike and is being force fed.” Hamiri is also one of 55 men that the Justice Department has named, separately, in federal court filings as eligible for release.

In 2009, the Obama administration assembled a Task Force of representatives from federal agencies, including the CIA, FBI and Pentagon, to examine the files of the detainees brought to Guantanamo during the Bush years.

It concluded that 46 of the 166 men now there should be held indefinitely, without trial or charge.

But it found that 56 were eligible for transfer and another 30 might be eligible for transfer if certain conditions were met. The majority are Yemeni men, like Hamiri, whose transfer has been put on hold by a combination of Congressional restrictions on releases and a White House freeze on transfers in particular to Yemen, which has a fervent al-Qaida franchise called Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Others identified by their attorneys as being force-fed include:

• Shaker Aamer, 46, a Saudi-born former British resident whom the Obama administration disclosed last year has been cleared for release

• Tariq Ba Awdah, 34, a Yemeni man whose lawyer says he’s been on an uninterrupted hunger strike since February 2007. “I haven’t tasted food for over six years,” he wrote his lawyer, Farah, this week. “The feeding tube has been introduced into my nose and snaked into my stomach thousands and thousands of times.” He has never been charged with a crime at Guantanamo’s war court, and his status is not known.

• Jihad Diyab, 41, a Syrian man whom the Obama administration disclosed last year has been cleared for release.

• Nabil Hadjarab, 33, an Algerian man whom the Obama administration disclosed last year has been cleared for release.

• Yasin Ismael, in his 30s, a Yemeni man who has never been charged with a crime and whose status is not known

• Fayez al Kandari, 35, a Kuwaiti, who at one point was considered for prosecution at the Guantanamo war court.

• Samir Mukbel, a Yemeni is in his 30s whose attorney helped him tell his story recently in a column published in The New York Times. His name is not among those the Obama administration has disclosed as cleared for release, and his status is not known.

Hunger strike figures have been rising steadily since April 13, when soldiers stormed inside Guantanamo’s showcase communal prison and put nearly every captive at the prison camps complex under lockdown.

Before the lockdown, the military counted 43 of the 166 men as hunger strikers.

The prison camps spokesman, House, said Friday afternoon that the 54 captives added to the hunger-strike roll since then had hidden their hunger strike from the prison by obscuring their cell surveillance cameras, the reason for the April 13 raid.

“All of the detainees who are considered hunger strikers were previously hunger striking,” House said, “but could not be observed or placed under medical care because they had covered or broken the cameras” at Guantanamo’s communal Camp 6.

The prison camps in Cuba have been wracked by hunger strikes almost from the start. The Pentagon set up the offshore detention center in January 2002. But the most widespread known hunger strike took place in 2005 when, according to House, “we had a detainee population of 575 detainees with 142 detainees choosing to hunger strike in July.”

On average, he said, 30 detainees were “being enteral fed,” the Guantanamo term for the process of snaking a tube up a captive’s nose, down the back of his throat and into his stomach before pumping in a can of nutritional supplement.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

ACTION ALERT: Four Guantanamo Prisoners Close to Death

April 29th, 2013 - by admin

Andy Worthington & The World Can’t Wait – 2013-04-29 01:48:46

EXCLUSIVE: A Warning from Guantánamo – Four Prisoners Are Close to Death, and the Authorities Don’t Care

“A Warning from Guantanamo:
Four Prisoners Are Close to Death,
And the Authorities Don’t Care

Andy Worthington & The World Can’t Wait

(April 28, 2013) — “I have just received a brief message from a credible source inside Guantanamo, about the situation in the prison today, which I wanted to make available because it exposes how four prisoners are close to death, as a result of the prison-wide hunger strike that is on its 80th day, and yet the guard force are behaving with brutality and indifference.

The source stated that it “looks like GTMO is going backward,” with the guards “putting people in isolation and all day long making lots of noise by speaking loudly, running on the metal stairs and leaving their two-way radios on all day and night. People cannot sleep.”

The source added, “There are at least four people that are at the very edge and one named Khiali Gul from Afghanistan is in a bad shape and cannot move and cannot talk or eat or drink. When other detainees tell the guards about him, they say, ‘When he is completely unconscious, then we will take him.’ The chances are that he will die.”

The source also explained that he has been trying to get an Afghan lawyer “to notify his family to at least call him and they might have a chance to talk to him for the last time.”

The source also stated, “There is such an arrogance inside the camp,” that, while a prisoner was meeting with his legal team, “a guard came and knocked on the door and said, ‘Your time is up.’ One of the lawyers said, ‘OK, can we have a few minutes to clean up?’ and the guard said, ‘No, your time is up.’ He kicked us out.”

Khiali Gul (aka Khi Ali Gul), who is 49 or 50 years old, is one of the 86 cleared prisoners still held because of President Obama’s inertia and the cynical obstructions raised by Congress, designed to prevent the release of any of the prisoners.

He is an Afghan who should never have been detained in the first place, as I explained last July, when I wrote about discussions between Presidents Obama and Karzai regarding the possibility of transferring some or all of the remaining 17 Afghan prisoners back to Afghanistan.

I first declared Khi Ali Gul innocent in my book The Guantanamo Files, published in 2007, and can say with confidence that I came to regard him as an innocent man wrongly detained while researching the prisoners’ stories in the summer of 2006…. ”

[Read the full article below]

Andy Worthington’s website is tirelessly providing news and information during these crucial days of the prisoners’ hunger strike – bookmark andyworthington.co.uk/ and check in daily!

Just announced:
The dates mark Day #100 of the hunger strike.
Watch here for further news and plans.

The world can’t wait — Close Guantanamo Now

World Can’t Wait is an all-volunteer national organization. Every action, every program, every news release and organizing project is carried out without paid staff.

A Warning from Guantanamo:
Four Prisoners Are Close to Death,
And the Authorities Don’t Care

Andy Worthington

LONDON (April 26, 2013) — I have just received a brief message from a credible source inside Guantanamo, about the situation in the prison today, which I wanted to make available because it exposes how four prisoners are close to death, as a result of the prison-wide hunger strike that is on its 80th day, and yet the guard force are behaving with brutality and indifference.

The source stated that it “looks like GTMO is going backward,” with the guards “putting people in isolation and all day long making lots of noise by speaking loudly, running on the metal stairs and leaving their two-way radios on all day and night. People cannot sleep.”

The source added, “There are at least four people that are at the very edge and one named Khiali Gul from Afghanistan is in a bad shape and cannot move and cannot talk or eat or drink. When other detainees tell the guards about him, they say, ‘When he is completely unconscious, then we will take him.’ The chances are that he will die.”

The source also explained that he has been trying to get an Afghan lawyer “to notify his family to at least call him and they might have a chance to talk to him for the last time.”

The source also stated, “There is such an arrogance inside the camp,” that, while a prisoner was meeting with his legal team, “a guard came and knocked on the door and said, ‘Your time is up.’ One of the lawyers said, ‘OK, can we have a few minutes to clean up?’ and the guard said, ‘No, your time is up.’ He kicked us out.”

Khiali Gul (aka Khi Ali Gul), who is 49 or 50 years old, is one of the 86 cleared prisoners still held because of President Obama’s inertia and the cynical obstructions raised by Congress, designed to prevent the release of any of the prisoners.

He is an Afghan who should never have been detained in the first place, as I explained last July, when I wrote about discussions between Presidents Obama and Karzai regarding the possibility of transferring some or all of the remaining 17 Afghan prisoners back to Afghanistan.

I first declared Khi Ali Gul innocent in my book The Guantanamo Files, published in 2007, and can say with confidence that I came to regard him as an innocent man wrongly detained while researching the prisoners’ stories in the summer of 2006. In my article last July, drawing on my analysis of his story in my book, I wrote:

[Gul] was captured in Khost and accused of taking part in a bomb plot and being part of a Taliban assassination team. During his long years in Guantanamo, he has stated that he fought with US forces in Tora Bora, and described one occasion when “the Americans were sleeping and we were guarding them.”

He added, “If I were their enemy, I would have killed them all.” He was captured at a checkpoint, where, he said, “there were some people that I had a dispute with,” and he added that they “told the American soldiers a lie,” and he was then arrested.

Last September, another cleared prisoner, Adnan Latif, died in Guantanamo, allegedly by committing suicide. President Obama needs to act immediately, so that other cleared prisoners, like Khiali Gul, do not die.

The President needs to understand that the hunger strike is a result of despair, and cannot be seen in the narrow context of the need to restore order in the prison, and, as commander in chief, he needs to rein in the guard force.

Most of all, though, he needs to release those like Khiali Gul who were told, at least three years and three months ago, in January 2010, when President Obama’s inter-agency task force issued its report recommending prisoners for transfer, indefinite detention or trials, “On January 22 2009, the President of the United States ordered a new review of the status of each detainee in Guantanamo. As a result of that review you have been cleared for transfer out of Guantanamo … The US Government intends to transfer you as soon as possible …”

Act now, President Obama, or these tragic and unacceptable deaths will be on your conscience.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon and two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield.
Also see definitive Guantanamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012,
“The Complete Guantanamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film,
“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD).
Also see my definitive Guantanamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the “Close Guantanamo campaign.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Public Protests Force Halt to Military Firing of Depleted Uranium Shells

April 29th, 2013 - by admin

Rob Edwards / Herald Scotland & WikiMapia & Ban Depleted Urainium / ICBUW & Secret Scotland.org – 2013-04-29 01:29:32


MoD Ends Scottish Uranium Shell Tests
Rob Edwards Environment Editor / Herald Scotland

(April 28, 2013) — The Ministry of Defence has been stopped from test-firing shells made of depleted uranium in Scotland by public opposition. Defence ministers have assured MPs a planned weapon-testing programme will use alternatives to depleted uranium (DU).

The toxic radioactive metal, used to harden armour-piercing tank shells, has been blamed for cancers and birth defects suffered by soldiers and civilians after the Iraq war.

The MoD had been expected to re-start test-firing DU shells at the Dundrennan military range near Kirkcudbright later this year.

Over 30 years, army tanks have fired 6700 shells into the Solway Firth from the range, containing nearly 30 tonnes of DU. Some shells were misfired and contaminated the range. High levels of DU were found in earthworms on the site.

Armed forces minister Andrew Robathan has now said the shells “can be tested by firing variants that do not contain DU”. Defence minister Philip Dunne has told the House of Commons testing “does not involve the firing of depleted uranium.”

Rachel Thompson from the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium hailed the MoD’s shift as a “major victory,” adding: “This U-turn is linked to increased parliamentary and public opposition to an environmentally dubious and potentially illegal practice.”

The MoD insisted the programme never required the firing of DU. “This is entirely unconnected to campaigns against test-firing,” said a spokesman.

Dundrennan Penetrating Weapons Test Site

Since 1982, more than 6,000 depleted uranium shells, usually in the form of anti-tank munitions, have been fired from the range into the Solway Firth. The majority of the 20-tons of shells remain on the seabed after firing, except one that was dredged up in a trawler’s nets.

All attempts to recover the shells have so far failed. The MoD claim that the range is subject to a number of strictly controlled conditions and there is a comprehensive monitoring programme to ensure that depleted uranium contamination is kept to a minimum.

Depleted uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, and the presence of depleted uranium ceramic aerosols can pose a long-term threat to human health and the environment. When in a solid form, DU is not very dangerous, the real hazard comes from dust that is produced when shells burn on impact with hard surfaces. At Dundrennan, the DU shells are fired through ‘soft’ targets — canvas or plastic targets suspended from gantries purpose built on the ranges – into the sea.

However, local residents of the range have complained that there have been misfirings and as a result, parts of the range have been contaminated with radioactive dust. In 1994, a tank containing DU munitions exploded during a ‘large bomb test’ scattering DU and shrapnel over a wide area. Despite advice from the MoD’s own scientists that debris and contaminated soil should be cleared, the tank hulk and scattered remnants still remain.

The MoD admit 93 misfirings at the range, for example, in 1989 a DU shell hit a wall causing radiation levels up to 24 times the MoD’s own safety levels. The MoD’s own surveys show that in places radiation levels in soil and grass from the range are “well above acceptable limits”.

Prior to the Iraq war, in February 2003, Challenger tanks used the Dundrennan range to test-fire DU shells in order to become battle ready. Almost 200 DU shells were fired on that occasion. Challenger II tanks almost exclusively fire DU munition

UK Resumes DU Testing at
Dundrennan Firing Range, SW Scotland

Ban Depleted Urainium / ICBUW

The UK Ministry of Defence has announced five days of test firing for its CHARM3 Challenger tank ammunition, beginning today.

(March 10, 2008) – According to the BBC, the trials involving the DU shells will take place over the next five days in order to carry out safety checks needed for military operations. The MoD said that only a small amount of the ammunition would be used and full monitoring would take place. The tests in southern Scotland will be conducted by the defence research agency, QinetiQ.

More than 6000 DU rounds have been fired into the Solway Firth from the south of Scotland range over the last two decades. They are fired through targets into the Firth – from where DU penetrators have repeatedly been dragged up by fishermen’s nets. This is the first test firing in five years.

In 2007, a report found high uranium concentrations in soils and earthworms at the Dundrennan site, while ex-workers have described lax safety and exposure standards.

Contamination has been caused by shells fragmenting upon firing and scattering DU particles across the range. Studies on the composition of UK DU shells used in the Balkans indicates that the US-supplied DU waste used in their manufacture had been contaminated by reactor products such as plutonium and the isotope U236.

In a statement the MoD said: “Agencies and regulatory bodies responsible for health and safety and environmental protection have agreed the arrangements.

“Comprehensive environmental monitoring programmes involving air, water, and soil sampling, have been in place at and around Kirkcudbright since the beginning of the DU munitions trials.

“The findings continue to show that DU does not pose a significant risk to the environment or to members of the public or site personnel.”

CADU Development Worker Doug Weir said: “It is ironic that the UK has fired more uranium at home than it has done abroad. The 6000 rounds fired into and around the Solway Firth amounts to more than 20 tonnes of nuclear waste.

Lurid stories of contaminated gun barrels wrapped in bin liners being transported by low-loader to the low level waste depository at Drigg in Cumbria abound, raising real concerns about the safety of open air testing at the site.”

The Solway Firth has long been seen as a dumping ground for the military and nuclear industry. Following WWII, thousands of tonnes of incendiary weapons were dumped there, while high levels of radioactive contamination from the Sellafield nuclear complex to the south remains in marine sediments. Leukaemia levels in the area are higher than the national average.

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium: http://www.cadu.org.uk

Assessing depleted uranium (DU) contamination of soil, plants and earthworms at UK weapons testing sites

BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/7287009.stm

Dundrennan Range
Secret Scotland.org

The Dundrennan Range is a weapons testing range on the Solway Firth near Kirkcudbright, southwest Scotland. Dating back to 1942, it is part of the Kirkcudbright Training Area, 4,700 acres of farming land acquired by the army during World War II to train forces in preparation for the invasion of Europe. It includes a 15 x 19 mile sea danger area, where projectiles are fired into the Solway.

The range is the site of the Electro-Magnetic Launch Facility where, since 1993, the MoD and the United States Army have been working on a research project aimed at developing an electro-magnetic launcher, or rail gun, which will last until at least 2009. Projectiles from the gun can travel at up to 7,500 mph, are the thickness of a broom handle and about a foot long. The projectiles carry no payload as the kinetic energy of their speed is enough to destroy a tank at a range of five miles, and render any armour ineffective.

It has been claimed that environmental damage could be or has been done by the testing of shells containing depleted uranium (DU) at this site. Over 6,500 are said to have been fired in the period up to 1999.

On March 10, 2008, five days of testing DU shells (tank ammunition) began at the range, reported to be the first firing of DU ammunition there for five years. The MoD stated that the testing was needed to carry out safety checks for military operations. The occasion was used by Mike Russell MSP, to state that he was disappointed at the lack of consultation regarding the exercise, stating “The Scottish Government has not been consulted on this issue and it is clearly disappointing that the MoD has not taken local opinion into account”.

South of Scotland SNP MSP Alasdair Morgan said he was also concerned at the decision. Local campaigners staged a protest in nearby Kirkcudbright against the test firing.

The MoD said comprehensive environmental monitoring had been in place around the military range for several years, and findings were that the DU shells did not pose a significant risk to the environment or people in the area.

MoD ‘Places’ Its Toxic Tank Shells in Solway Firth
Ministry of Defence uses semantics to evade ban on dumping of depleted uranium at sea

Rob Edwards / Herald Scotland

(March 10, 2013) — The Ministry of Defence has been evading an international ban on dumping radioactive waste at sea by redefining thousands of uranium weapons fired in the Solway Firth as “placements.”

Minutes of secret meetings released under freedom-of-information law reveal the MoD was worried about breaching an inter-government agreement on marine pollution by firing depleted uranium (DU) tank rounds into the sea from a military range at Dundrennan near Kirkcudbright.

But officials found a way round the problem, by claiming the munitions were not being “dumped” in the sea, but “placed” there. This is despite the fact attempts to retrieve them have failed, and their locations are unknown. DU is toxic and radioactive and has been linked to increases in cancers and birth defects in Iraq, where it has been used as a weapon. It has also been linked to health concerns among members of UK armed forces exposed to the shells.

Campaigners have accused the MoD of resorting to “semantic trickery” to justify its plans to dump more DU weapons in Scottish waters.

In the past 30 years, over 6,700 shells have been fired from the range, containing nearly 30 tonnes of DU. They pierce canvas targets on the cliffs, then plunge in the sea.

At an MoD meeting in June 2004, an official was minuted suggesting there could be “a future problem” firing DU into the sea. The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, known as the OSPAR convention, agreed by 15 governments, including the UK, said “it was illegal to dump waste into the sea”, he warned.

According to the minute, this provoked “discussion surrounding the wording”. But another official said there was no problem because the MoD’s interpretation was “the projectiles were placements not dumping”. The 1992 OSPAR convention says dumping does not include “placement of matter for a purpose other than the mere disposal thereof”.

Aneaka Kellay from the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium said: “The Scottish public will struggle to understand how the MoD thought they could evade their legal and moral responsibility not to pollute the sea by calling this a ‘placement’.

“However the MoD name their firing programme, the fact remains they have purposefully released nuclear waste into the Solway Firth, with little idea of how this will affect the marine environment.”

She called on the MoD to retrieve the DU rounds it had fired in the sea, and to refrain from firing more “as we seek legal advice on this glorified form of dumping.”

Katy Clark, the Labour MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said: “The legal basis on which the test-firing has occurred is open to serious questioning.”

An MoD spokeswoman said: “All testing is in accordance with procedures agreed with the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.”

The Scottish Government said it was “strongly opposed to the testing by MoD of DU shells on Scottish soil and in Scottish waters”.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

L.A. Air Radiation Surges 419%: EPA to Increase ‘Permissible’ Radiation Exposure 27,000 Times

April 29th, 2013 - by admin

Michael Collins / EnviroReporter & Jeff McMahon / Forbes – 2013-04-29 01:15:41


(April 13, 2013) — Dust aggregate over 27 days as collected from two HEPA filter machines and a new ionizer at Radiation Station Santa Monica, California. Aggregate measures 90.4% above background. Previous period of 58 days from just the two HEPA filter machines yielded dust aggregate that was 46.3% higher than background.

On a per-day comparison, the current period’s dust is 419% [greater] than the previous reading, a significant jump. This comes as EnviroReporter.com explores US EPA’s nuking of emergency radiation limits, a move so radical that the limits include raising the amount for Iodine-131 by 27,000 times.

Nuclear Industry’s Latest Lies

Nuclear Lobby Lie: Nuclear power plants have prevented 1.8 million air pollution deaths and a future build out could save 7 million deaths by 2050. (Mining.com 2 /4 /13).

This theory they get from comparing air pollution deaths from coal burning to those estimated from nuclear power plant air emissions, and their estimate of deaths from Chernobyl and Fukushima. Their estimate of Chernobyl and Fukushima caused deaths to 2050 total 4,900.

FACT: for accidents at :
• Chernobyl 2009 New York Academy of Sciences estimated 985,000 deaths (and rising).

• Fukushima Arnie Gunderen estimates 100,000 deaths by 2060 and beyond.

• Mayak, Russia a 1992 Institute of Biophysics at the former Soviet Health Ministry found that 8,015 people had died within the preceding 32 years as a result of the accident, and rising death toll- (how many since 1992?)

• Three Mile Island — number of deaths never properly investigated, but the number of cancers within 10 miles of TMI rose from 1731 to 2847 between 1975-79 and 1981-85. A 64% increase.
Now we haven’t even mentioned the deaths from other nuclear accidents — Chalk River 1952 and ’57, Windscale 1957, Tsuruga 1981, and many lesser commercial and military nuclear accidents. Nor did we count atomic bombs, bomb testing, and depleted uranium weapons, all of which projects require nuclear reactors from the start. Yet already, we have a death toll of 1093, 015 — long before 2050.

Nuclear Lobby Lie: people are exposed to more radiation from bananas than from Fukushima.

FACT: The potassium-40 n bananas is a particularly poor model isotope to use, because the potassium content of our bodies seems to be under balanced control. When you eat a banana, your body’s level of Potassium-40 doesn’t increase. You just get rid of some excess Potassium-40. The net dose of a banana is zero.

Nuclear Lobby Lie: we get a higher exposure from background radiation (when we fly, for example) and or x-rays then we get from nuclear accidents.

FACT: there was exactly zero background radioactive cesium or iodine before above-ground nuclear testing and nuclear accidents started.

Cesium-133 is the only naturally occurring isotope and is non-radioactive; all other isotopes, including cesium-137, are produced by human activity. The only naturally occurring isotope of iodine is non radioactive iodine-127.

Most derived radioactivity on Earth is man-made: an unwanted long-lived byproduct of early nuclear tests and nuclear fission accidents. The concept of “background radiation” is largely a misnomer. Most of the radiation we encounter today — especially the most dangerous types — did not even exist in nature before we started tinkering with nuclear weapons and reactors.

Nuclear Lobby Lie: Nuclear power emits no greenhouse gases, solves global warming.
FACT: nuclear power emits CO2 emissions in construction, mining, and manufacturing operations. Every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle — mining, milling, shipping, processing, power generation, waste disposal and storage — releases greenhouse gases,

Assume a 2% growth in primary energy demand per year over the next 35 years, and that demand will double to some 24,000 Mtoe. Even if nuclear power were emission free, to achieve this means building 11,000 reactors, on average, about one a day.

Furthermore, as climate change causes sea level rise and extreme weather events — nuclear reactors are especially vulnerable. Droughts and water scarcity, rising water temperatures also will severely affect nuclear reactors.

EPA Draft Stirs Fears of Radically Relaxed Radiation Guidelines
Jeff McMahon / Forbes

(April 10, 2013) — The acting EPA director on Friday signed a revised version of the EPA’s Protective Action Guide for radiological incidents, which critics say radically relaxes the safety guidelines agencies follow in the wake of a nuclear-reactor meltdown, dirty-bomb attack, or other unexpected release of radiation.

Although the document is a draft published for public comment, it takes effect as an “interim use” guideline. And according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), that means agencies responding to radiation emergencies may permit many more civilian fatalities.

“In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems,” PEER advocacy director Kirsten Stade said in a press release. “This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period.”

The non-binding document does not relax EPA’s standards, the agency has said in response to the criticism. But it directs agencies responding to radiation releases to standards at other agencies that are less stringent than EPA. Douglas Guarino has the scoop at NextGov, a publication that follows technology and government:

The new version of the guide released Friday does not include such dramatically relaxed guidelines in its text, but directs the reader to similar recommendations made by other federal agencies and international organizations in various documents. It suggests that they might be worth considering in circumstances where complying with [EPA’s] own enforceable drinking water regulations is deemed impractical….

For example, the new EPA guide refers to International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines that suggest intervention is not necessary until drinking water is contaminated with radioactive iodine 131 at a concentration of 81,000 picocuries per liter. This is 27,000 times less stringent than the EPA rule of 3 picocuries per liter.

via EPA Relaxes Public Health Guidelines For Radiological Attacks, Accidents – Nextgov.com.

That EPA rule was designed for a lifetime of exposure, the IAEA guideline for short-term exposure.

The document was signed Friday by acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe, but it developed under the Bush Administration and was revised under the supervision of Obama’s nominee for the top EPA post, Gina McCarthy, who has headed EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation since 2009. McCarthy faces a confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday.

EPA spokeswoman Julia Valentine told the Global Security Newswire that the agency “is not weakening cleanup standards,” but “building a bridge between managing the effects of a catastrophe and meeting existing environmental standards.” EPA updated the document to bring the science to current standards and to give agencies more guidance and flexibility in the wake of a catastrophe than a reiteration of EPA’s standards.

In a notice published Friday, Perciasepe states:

The 2013 PAG Manual is not a legally binding regulation or standard and does not supersede any environmental laws; PAGs are not intended to define “safe” or “unsafe” levels of exposure or contamination. This guidance does not address or impact site cleanups occurring under other statutory authorities such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund program, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) decommissioning program, or other federal or state cleanup programs.

As indicated by the use of non-mandatory language such as “may,” “should” and “can,” the 2013 Manual only provides recommendations and does not confer any legal rights or impose any legally binding requirements upon any member of the public, states, or any other federal agency.

Rather, the 2013 PAG Manual recommends projected radiation doses at which specific actions may be warranted in order to reduce or avoid that dose. The 2013 PAG Manual is designed to provide flexibility to be more or less restrictive as deemed appropriate by decision makers based on the unique characteristics of the incident and the local situation.

Inspector General Faults EPA Radiation Monitoring
Why Does FDA Tolerate More Radiation Than EPA?
Citizen Monitors Keep A Wary Eye On Radiation And Government

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Obama Raises ‘Permissible’ Levels of Nuclear Radiation in Drinking Water: Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket

April 29th, 2013 - by admin

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility & Global Research – 2013-04-29 01:06:52

Obama Approves Raising Permissible Levels of Nuclear Radiation in Drinking Water. Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket

Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket Following Radiological Incidents
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

WASHINGTON, DC (April 14, 2013) — The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication as soon as today, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the US population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:

In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period;

• In water, the PAGs punt on an exact new standard and EPA “continues to seek input on this.” But the thrust of the PAGs is to give on-site authorities much greater “flexibility” in setting aside established limits; and
• Resolves an internal fight inside EPA between nuclear versus public health specialists in favor of the former. The PAGs are the product of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation whose nomination to serve as EPA Administrator is taken up this week by the Senate.
• Despite the years-long internal fight, this is the first public official display of these guides. This takes place as Japan grapples with these same issues in the two years following its Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.”

“No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”

Reportedly, the PAGs had been approved last fall but their publication was held until after the presidential election. The rationale for timing their release right before McCarthy’s confirmation hearing is unclear.

Since the PAGs guide agency decision-making and do not formally set standards or repeal statutory requirements, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Superfund, they will go into full effect following a short public comment period. Nonetheless, the PAGs will likely determine what actions take place on the ground in the days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years following a radiological emergency.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

How the US Can Demilitarize Its Borders

April 28th, 2013 - by admin

Alexis Moore / Quaker Action Magazine – 2013-04-28 00:47:02


Borders, Not War Zones
Alexis Moore / Quaker Action

(Spring 2013) — Pedro Rios explains how the militarization of borders is ineffective, costly, and dangerous. We sat down with Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s San Diego program, to get his perspective on border policy.

Quaker Action: Demilitarizing the US-Mexico border is a policy priority for AFSC. But what does it mean that the border is “militarized”?

Pedro RIos: The “militarization” of the border refers to the use of military-style enforcement tactics, equipment, and strategies to “control” the border as if it were a war zone.

It has included an unprecedented increase in armed border agents along the US-Mexico border (now at over 21,000 agents for just one agency — the US Border Patrol — up from 11,684 in 2003); the use of drone planes, military helicopters, and occasional deployment of National Guard troops; and the coordination of local law enforcement with federal forces and dangerous vigilante groups.

These developments are raising concerns about the loss of protections to civil liberties and increasing cases of human rights violations. This has taken place throughout the US-Mexico borderlands for decades, and that’s our main focus, but we’ve been hearing similar concerns from residents along the US-Canada border in the past several years.

Quaker Action: What’s the connection between these policies and violent incidents along the border?

Pedro RIos: Because policymakers treat the border like a war zone, border policies do not factor in human rights concerns, and Border Patrol agents are rarely held accountable for civil and human rights violations.

The result is a culture that encourages Border Patrol agents to see violence as an appropriate tool for enforcing immigration laws. Human rights organizations have documented thousands of cases of violence perpetrated by border agents — denial of food and water, verbal and physical abuse, and torture. One small, but welcome, step is that the US Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General confirmed it will investigate cases of brutality by the Border Patrol

Quaker Action: How does militarization impact immigrants, border communities, and enforcement agencies?

Pedro RIos: Border and immigrant communities bear the brunt of brutal policies. The death toll from unsuccessful border crossings is over 6,500 since October 1994. In just the past two years, more than 19 people have been killed by Border Patrol agents.

These include US citizens and Mexican nationals shot while still in Mexico. A recent case of “friendly fire” resulted in the shooting death of one Border Patrol agent by two other agents responding to the same alert.

Quaker Action: How does AFSC support families directly affected by the violence?

Pedro RIos: For years, we have supported and accompanied family members who have lost loved ones as a result of Border Patrol violence, working with them to organize press conferences, plan community actions, and meet with local and federal officials.

Recently, we worked with the families of Munique Tachiquin, who was shot nine times by a Border Patrol agent in 2012, and Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a San Diego resident of over 26 years who was brutally beaten and attacked with a stun gun by border agents in 2010.

Quaker Action: What is AFSC doing to stop the violence and demilitarize the border?

Pedro RIos: We work with a border-wide coalition to bring accountability and oversight to federal border agencies. The coalition has met with high-ranking Border Patrol officials, White House staff, and congressional representatives to urge changes and transparency. Over a dozen members of Congress support these efforts.

We also work with border and migrant community members locally to challenge the militarization of the border. We’ve seen how disenfranchised community members can help lead social change when given the opportunity to share ideas and propose solutions.

In San Diego, grassroots leaders have created a human rights network where members support each other’s projects and collaborate to create greater political impact.

Quaker Action: How can Congress and the Obama administration end the militarization of the border?

Pedro RIos: The Obama administration and Congress must recognize, as dozens of civil society organizations have, that current border enforcement strategies are ineffective, costly, and deadly.

They can begin demilitarization by ensuring accountability and oversight in how armed border agents do their jobs. And they must begin examining the root causes that force people to migrate in the first place.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Guantanamo’s Death Row: A Plea to Save Lives and Build Peace

April 28th, 2013 - by admin

Tom Hayden / TomHayden.com – 2013-04-28 00:39:55


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dear Mr. President,

Your Guantanamo choice — to release the hunger strikers or let them die — reminds me of Margaret Thatcher’s similar choice in 1981 when “the Iron Lady,” as her admirers called her, allowed 10 Irishmen to slowly starve to death because she would not recognize their most basic human rights.

Thatcher’s stubborn reputation was preserved. But the whole world was watching. One of the strikers, Bobby Sands, was elected to parliament as he lay dying. The agony caused massive sympathy for Irish Republicans and led directly to the political success of Sinn Fein and the Good Friday peace agreement.

You alone face a similar crisis. Despite your original vow to close Guantanamo, members of Congress, Democrats included, have blocked your every effort. It is understandable that you would hesitate to unilaterally release detainees held in Guantanamo by your own administration.

But your policy of brutal force-feeding is an abhorrent example of torturing prisoners to “save” them. But if the alternative is to send an estimated 17 men to their deaths as martyrs, after excruciating treatment at the hands of their guards, under a global media spotlight, I believe that some in the White House are reconsidering the options. They must do so quickly.

The White House has the power to reframe the issue. Your political opponents and many moderate voters define the detainees as terrorists who deserve their fate, and who, if released, will return to the battlefield against the United States.

The facts are these:
The total number at Guantanamo has declined from 240 to 166 since your promise to close the facility.
There are 86 already designated for transfer, 56 of them from Yemen.
You have the power, on a case-by-case basis, to release them, although many in Congress will complain vociferously.

Sen. Diane Feinstein, however, already has called on you to lift the ban. Not only will such a step ease the Guantanamo crisis, it may facilitate the stalled talks with the Taliban. The release of one US prisoner held by the Taliban, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, has been blocked by House Republicans objecting to an exchange for some Taliban detainees in Guantanamo; the exchange was meant to be a step toward a negotiated settlement.

The principle reason the Guantanamo detainees are willing to die is that that they believe, on the basis of all they know and have experienced, that there is no hope whatever for release in their lifetimes. While suicide bombers have committed their bodies as weapons, these prisoners are using their bodies nonviolently in a form of radical suicide.

So here is a proposal:
Commit to ordering the immediate release of a meaningful number of detainees already designated for transfer, in an attempt to persuade the hunger strikers to break their fast to the death.

Give them hope. Stop delaying the de facto parole hearings you have promised, and to which the CIA objects because of the evidence of torture that might be introduced. Block the $200 million funding for permanent new prison facilities.

Let us re-examine more critically the “threat” posed by releasing the Yemeni detainees. It is claimed by US intelligence that between 16 and 25 percent of the original Guantanamo detainees rounded up by George Bush are confirmed or suspected of having returned to terrorist battlefields. As the New York Times analysis points out, that implies that 72 percent “are living quietly.” (New York Times, April 25, 2013)

Without question, of the official definitions, this would mean that up to 13 or 14 Yemenis now detained might well join ranks with Al Qaeda. Though your right-wing critics would inflate the threat and castigate your “softness,” the truth is that 14 more supporters of Al Qaeda in Yemen would make no difference at all.

One might even argue that they serve Al Qaeda’s purposes more effectively in Guantanamo detention than using their English-language skills to become translators in some Sana underground office. Sen. Feinstein’s letter suggests that Yemen’s current regime, heavily bolstered by US forces, is capable of providing adequate security assurances for the detainees. In that case, there would be no problem whatsoever.

The benefits to your administration and to the inevitable peace process ahead far outweigh those of helping the CIA or Guantanamo bureaucrats save face by hiding secrets, which someday will be revealed anyway.

To summarize, free some Guantanamo detainees in order to end the Guantanamo hunger strike and restart the stalled peace talks with the Taliban.

In Ireland, the polarizing reputation of the Iron Lady lives on, but the republicans she sent to Long Kesh are serving in the elected Irish government and a multitude of respected civil society institutions.

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are received routinely at the White House, and especially by Rep. Peter King, the Republican who screams most loudly against any accommodation with “terrorists,” at least the dark-skinned Islamic variety.

Do not go the way of Thatcher, Mr. President. Releasing some Guantanamo detainees will save lives, will be a gesture toward peace and will salvage some global respect for our country.

Tom Hayden

Article originally appeared on tomhayden.com (http://tomhayden.com/).

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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