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Saturday, February 01, 2003

Making the World Safe for a Sarcoma Near You...

Radioactive releases up to 1989 will cause 65-million deaths worldwide in total, a report commissioned by Greens in the European Parliament (EP) claims. The report, to be released Jan. 31 in Brussels, is by the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), which was instructed to ignore all previous scientific studies and reconsider radiation releases and their relation to human diseases. Sponsoring Greens specifically rejected claims that low radiation doses were not harmful and dismissed all previous studies that did not find a link between increased cancer incidence and radiation. According to the EP Greens, the ECRR study "uses a new risk assessment model developed over the last five years" and "concludes that the present cancer epidemic is a result of pollution from nuclear energy and of exposures to global atmospheric weapons fallout, which peaked in the period 1959-63." Green MEP Caroline Lucas said previous studies finding releases didn't cause cancer clusters "was more a reflection on the research methodology than the acclaimed safety" of nuclear. The study was funded by the Pew Foundation and environmental group Bellona.

http://www.platts.com/stories/nuclear2.html

Posted by Richard
2/01/2003 09:09:11 AM | PermaLink

Bush Has Okayed Use of Nukes Against Iraq

The Times of India is reporting that a highly sensitive document has been leaked that declares Bush's ok to use nuclear weapons against Iraq in the event that chemical or biological weapons are used against US forces if/when they invade that country.

I can't begin to convey my feelings as I read and think about this...it once again proves that the real nuclear threat on the block is not Iraq, and not Al Qaeda, but the United States of America. Which is not to downplay or deny the possible threats of other "enemy" countries manufacturing nuclear weapons for terrorist use against American civil populations, but it is to highlight that -- comparatively -- those threats do not arise in a vaccum. They arise in the face of an imperial agressor who happens to be very armed and very dangerous.

What exactly is the diplomatic strategy here, we might wonder? If Saddam Hussein has not been willing to listen to George W. Bush's "reason" on any other account, if he has refused to back down to the heavy and humiliating state rhetoric that big-talking George has laid out now for over a year, what makes military officials think that the nuclear threat will make Saddam finally cave in and "play fair" now?

Clearly, there is a disconnect somewhere. We can, I suggest, read this logic in two ways so as to make more sense of this nuclear policy --

1) the Bush administration and American military are happy to break the US's own nuclear first-strike policy, irradiate the Iraqi environment and murder (either outright or over time) thousands, tens of thousands, potentially hundreds of thousands of non-military Iraqi people (a war crime), if Saddam and his military don't play ball.

or,

2) the objective in attacking Iraq, as with the first Gulf War, is not really about "regime change" at all -- that might be too dangerous and too risky for the American military and it certainly would be too costly for the present American economy. Further, with such potentially high losses and an American and Global public already non-plussed about George Jr.'s War, a means of controlling Iraq indirectly would be much more highly favored as a result. Thus the true military objective of the new war -- it is about destroying as best as possible Saddam's military and industrial complex outright and forcing him to submit via military/political treaty to hand over the daily ever more precious oil supply (and maybe a little oil territory to boot!) at a very favorable rate over the next decade.

In this scenario, Saddam would be left in power (as he was before) because American control of Iraq would be next to impossible -- it's difficult enough for international team to control Afghanistan. Placing a "puppet" leader in Saddam's place might be possible, but again, too risky because such a leader might easily be assassinated in a military coup and the republican guard could then issue its own dictator -- as in Pakistan. Though, George W. made quick friends with General Pervez Musharraf when the War on Terror demanded it, this is not the type of situation that the Bush administration wants to go to war to end up with. Even worse for the Americans, a non-secular (such as Saddam), Islamic leader could rise to power -- and then the situation suddenly involves a holy war scenario -- very very bad for the Americans. Instead, as with Gulf War I, a severely cowed and weakened Saddam makes the most sense in many respects.

Thus, threatening Saddam with nukes would be a sensible threat in Scenario #2 because, again, as with the previous Gulf War, Saddam (despite being characterized as a "madman") is in fact a highly dangerous and savvy dictator who wants power and knows how to keep it. Saddam withheld from using his chemical and biological weapons in the previous war for exactly these reasons -- the possiblity of the level of retaliation against him could throw his nation into a situation in which it was no longer feasible (or worthy) for him to hold power. By keeping the conflict at the level of a conventional engagement on the outskirts of Bagdhad, however, he could retreat, accept his losses, and retain control.

In conclusion, then, this new policy by Bush points in one of two directions -- both of which the American populace should find highly suspect and as proof that this administration (or anything resembling it) is not worthy of the job. Either we have military madman who can only think in terms of winning wars, with acceptable "collateral damages" of illegally nuking the Iraqi people and landscape in order to gain victory or we have proof that all of the talk about "regime change" is just more state rhetoric for a war that is not about what it seems.
WASHINGTON: Supporting reports of possible use of nuclear weapons by US against Iraq in case of a war, it was revealed on Friday that President George W Bush has signed a secret document explicitly allowing their use in response to biological or chemical attacks.

The US will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force, "including potentially nuclear weapons, to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the US, our forces abroad, and friends and allies," states the National Security Presidential Directive 17 signed by Bush on September 14 last year.

In the public version of the document, released on December 11 as the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, the explicit parts were left vague.

Instead of the phrase "including potentially nuclear weapons," the public text used the phrase "including resort to all of our options," reported Washington Times, which claimed to have seen the secret version.

A White House spokesman declined comment on the report.

A senior Administration official told the paper, however, that using the words "nuclear weapons" in the classified text gives the military and other officials, "a little more of an instruction to prepare all sorts of options for the President" if need be.

The official, nonetheless, indicated that ambiguity remains "the heart and soul of our nuclear policy."

In the classified version, nuclear forces are designated as the main part of any US deterrence, while conventional capabilities "complement" the nuclear weapons.

"Nuclear forces alone...cannot ensure deterrence against weapons of mass destruction and missiles," the paragraph in the secret document says.

"Complementing nuclear force with an appropriate mix of conventional response and defence capabilities, coupled with effective intelligence, surveillance, interdiction and domestic law enforcement capabilities, reinforces our overall deterrent posture against (weapons of mass destruction) threats," said the secret document.

For public consumption, the White House changed that paragraph to "our overall deterrent posture against (weapons of mass destruction) threats is reinforced by effective intelligence, surveillance, interdiction and domestic law enforcement capabilities."

The classified document is known better by its abbreviation NSPD 17 as well as Homeland Security Presidential Directive 4.

The new disclosures follow reports that planning for a war with Iraq focuses on using nuclear arms not only to defend US forces but also to "pre-empt" deeply buried Iraqi facilities that could withstand conventional explosives.

For decades, the paper notes, the US Government has maintained a deliberately vague nuclear policy, expressed in such language as "all options open" and "not ruling anything in or out."

It is evident in the language used by US officials.

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, for instance, said last week that the US will use "whatever means" necessary to protect its citizens and the world from a holocaust."

But in the paragraphs marked "S" for secret, the September 14 directive clearly states that nuclear weapons are part of the "overwhelming force" that Washington might use in response to a chemical or biological attack.

Posted by Richard
2/01/2003 08:22:48 AM | PermaLink

 
Friday, January 31, 2003

Arctic Shipping Lanes -- Save a Few Bucks, Destroy a Region

Due to the massive thawing out of the ice caps around the arctic circle that is now underway, it is being reported that many shipping companies are seeing this as a chance to capitalize and cut short their routes. As airplanes have always done on trans-Atlantic journeys, if ships were to follow the curve of the Earth over the north pole, they could substantially cut their route time and energy costs.

This might sound good. Unfortunately, there is a heavy downside to this. As we have seen off the coast of Spain recently, and in the English channel as well, large ships have this way of "breaking apart" and sinking, with the result being environmental catastrophe. In this light, if the oil spill off of the coast of Spain is proving difficult to control and clean, as thousands of tons of oil are continuously released into the surrounding waters, think about how difficult it would be to handle a disaster above the Arctic circle...the cost of such an operation, even if possible, would be so high that hardly any nation would even attempt it.

You might think -- who care's, it's just a bunch of ice (melting ice). But, in fact, the Arctic is a very important and specialized habitat for a number of species (including people). Sending shipping traffic through the arctic, even without the accidents that will surely occur, disintegrates the region in other ways also. The increased shipping will only further heat a region (remember, only the slightest bit of temperature increase may be necessary to cause rather dramatic effects in ice melting) that is already distressed from increasing temps. This leads to more rapid melting and tundra breakdown -- and this, even for those who still don't care how that affects northern ice caps, will have (and is having) a decidedly negative affect upon more temperate regions. If it continues unabated, many leading scientists believe that we will see unprecedented coastal flooding around the world producing upwards of hundreds of billions of dollars in damage.

But the big ships also -- as we see from the shipping channels in Canada -- kill species outright by running them down (unthinkingly) and over. Whales, especially, are often found dead with huge gashes on their bodies which obviously came from freighters who plowed along without notice.

People need to be aware of the ramfications of using the newly opened Arctic as a shipping lane. It will make money for people in business, and it will even have a slight benefit toward reducing fuel use (in the short term anyhow). But its costs are potentially many and highly undesireable. The media needs to focus on this issue and force this into a larger debate -- not just at the level of state policy but in the public mind as well. For while the melting ice sits far enough north that few people even give it the time of day, it appears that the transformations of global heating will be bringing the effects of the destabilized polar cap to a city near all of us soon enough...


Posted by Richard
1/31/2003 09:37:31 AM | PermaLink

Arianna Huffington Fired from the Portland Oregonian for SUV Campaign

The Portland Oregonian has sacked Arianna Huffington as an Op Editor for her "SUVs Support Terror" campaign against the fuel and driver unfriendly rigs. The claim? She's stopped being a journalist and is now an activist!

This is utter nonsense and typical of the way that any journalism that strikes at the heart of vested commercial (i.e. advertising or ownership) interests is labelled "biased" and "politically slanted." The history of journalism has always been political slant and its always involved subjective bias on a number of fronts. It's true that during the so-called Golden Age of Journalism, professional schools taught a form of the craft that aspired to "neutrality" and "objectivity." But this was during the hey-dey of science when scientific method made a broad-based appeal that through careful research and experiment one could ultimately arrive at truth. This methodology, while still functional, has since been revealed as nonsense and without application as anything other than a lab-room method proper. We believe now that one is closer to objectivity the more one becomes aware of one's subjectivity and highlights that in the findings. There is, then, no standard of neutrality -- no God's eye view -- from which to perceive events and the personal is always the political.

More so, this has always been the case with Op Eds! If in no other place within a paper or tabloid, one could always turn to the Opinion Editors for just that -- opinion! It just so happens that if your opinion doesn't meet the standards of the people who own and run the paper, however, it isn't worth printing...which is fine, to some degree, as long as they come out and say that -- which the Portland Oregonian has not.

Posted by Richard
1/31/2003 09:12:43 AM | PermaLink

 
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Majority of Americans Want More Wilderness

More than six in 10 Americans do not believe enough wilderness has been protected for future generations, according to a new poll by Zogby International.

The poll, conducted for the Campaign for America's Wilderness, shows strong support for increased wilderness protection across political parties, regions, age groups, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

More than two-thirds of respondents - 71 percent - believe that 10 percent or more of all lands in the United States should be protected as wilderness. When told that in fact only 4.7 percent of the land in the U.S. has been permanently protected, almost two-thirds feel that is "not enough."

A majority of Republicans - 51 percent - said that 4.7 percent is not enough wilderness, as did 70 percent of Independents and 72 percent of Democrats.

"The American people want to see more land preserved as wilderness, and regardless of party or region of the country, they feel very strongly about this," said John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International.

The new survey was released as the Bush administration increases pressure to open much of the country's remaining unprotected wildlands to energy exploration. Last week, the Interior Department issued a draft proposal for widespread oil and gas leasing in the northwest part of the nation's largest remaining block of unprotected public land: the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, or Western Arctic Reserve. Leasing this entire area, home to some of America's most unique wildlife and wildlands, would be the largest single onshore offering to industry in the nation's history.

Tens of millions of acres of wildlands across the western states, including Alaska, are at risk from another Bush directive: a rule allowing an archaic mining law to grant private "rights of way" across public wildlands, permitting the bulldozing of a network of roads and highways through now pristine public lands including national parks, forests and wildlife refuges.

"Support for permanent protection for wilderness has never been higher," said Mike Matz, executive director of the Campaign for America's Wilderness, a national initiative to protect the nation's remaining wildlands. "People from all walks of life, from every region of the country, across political and ethnic lines value the solitude and recreational opportunities that wilderness provides. As Americans deal with the threat of terrorism, an impending war, and a troubled economy, our special wild places are clearly more important to us than ever."

The poll of 1,001 likely voters chosen at random nationwide, was conducted January 4-6 as part of a larger poll by Zogby International. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percent.

The new Zogby numbers are consistent with polling about wilderness issues over the last four years, as compiled by the Campaign for America's Wilderness and released in a report titled "A Mandate to Protect America's Wilderness," available at: http://www.leaveitwild.org

The review, the first of its kind, includes all recent major public opinion findings on wilderness issues by polling firms, the media, and the U.S. Government's National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, coordinated by the U.S. Forest Service.

"The administration and Congress must recognize that support for wilderness is strong and deep," said Matz. "Congress can protect millions of acres of wilderness in states like California, Idaho, Alaska, and Utah, and they can be confident that this is exactly what their constituents want."

Posted by Richard
1/30/2003 10:49:37 AM | PermaLink

Environmental Nuclear Disaster Made in USA

U.S. charges that others illegally produce "Weapons of Mass Destruction" rings false when the Pentagon has the preponderance of the nuclear weapons that menace the rest of the nations on Earth.

The weapons themselves, as well as the storage facilities and laboratories for them, threaten residents of nearly every state in the Union.

According to a 2002 report by the Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science, the United States has produced 67,500 nuclear missiles since 1951. The cost: $5.5 trillion.

A Brookings Institution study, the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project, reveals that as of August 2002 some 10 million acres of land around the globe housed U.S. nuclear weapons. Almost all that land, 15,654 square miles of it, is in the United States.

In Montana alone there are 50 of the W62/Minuteman III warheads, 400 of the W78/Minuteman III warheads, and a missile field that covers an additional 24,000 square miles in that state.

Missouri has a missile field that covers 10,000 square miles.

At the Georgia Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base/Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic there are 1,600 of the W76/Trident I warheads, 400 of the W88/Trident II warheads and 160 of the W80-0/Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles.

New Mexico is filled with every imaginable nuclear device and installation. Kirt land Air Force Base and the Kirtland Underground Munitions Storage Com plex hold 85 of the B61-7 gravity bombs, 600 of the B61-3, -4, -10 gravity bombs, 365 of the W80-1/Air-Launched Cruise Missiles, 450 of the W56/Minuteman II warheads, 60 of the W78/Minuteman III warheads, 550 of the W69/Short-Range Attack Missiles, and 400 of the W84/ Ground-Launched Cruise Missile warheads.

The Natural Resources Defense Coun cil's Nuclear Weapons Databook Project reports that 43 metric tons of plutonium are in weapons stored in the United States.

Some 12,067 dismantled plutonium "pits" are stored at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The states with the most nuclear weapons are: New Mexico, with 2,450; Georgia, with 2,000; Washington, with 1,685; Nevada, with 1,350; and North Dakota, with 1,140. (Washington, D.C.: Natural Resources Defense Council, March 1998)

Costs money and lives

The cost of maintaining this nuclear arsenal in the United States is $35 billion per year, the Brooking study shows. (U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project.) These funds could be used for food stamp programs or urban schools, Medicaid or libraries.

The cost is also in human lives.

From 1946 to 1970 approximately 90,000 canisters of radioactive waste were jettisoned in 50 ocean dumps up and down the East and West Coasts of the United States.

The Critical Mass Energy Project of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen, Inc., tabulated 122 accidents involving the transport of nuclear material in 1979, including 17 involving radioactive contamination.

In 1979 a dam holding radioactive uranium mill tailings broke, sending an estimated 100 million gallons of radioactive liquids and 1,100 tons of solid wastes downstream at Church Rock, N.M.

The Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Com ponents Plant at Oak Ridge, Tenn., has reportedly released 1,200 tons of mercury, as well as PCBs and heavy metals into the region's air, soil and streams.

Between 1944 and 1966, the Hanford reactors in Washington state discharged billions of gallons of liquids and billions of cubic meters of gases containing plutonium and other radioactive contaminants into the Columbia River. The cost of clean ing up was estimated to be $48.5 billion.

In 1997 a 40-gallon tank of toxic chemicals (stored illegally at the U.S. government's Hanford Engineer works) exploded, causing the release of 20,000-30,000 gallons of plutonium-contaminated water. (www.ratical.org)

Late in the 20th century, it was discovered that the Southwest contained uranium and the continent's richest supplies of mineral wealth. With the complicity of the U.S. government the energy companies formed tribal councils, controlled by their corporation lawyers, whose main purpose was to sign leases for the mineral-rich land of the Hopi and Dineh people.

The Native people who then worked in the uranium mines are now dying of uranium poisoning and cancer at rates much higher than the general population.

Uranium mining pollutes and irradiates the Southwest's water. In 1984 a flash flood washed four tons of high-grade uranium ore into the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. A September 1990 flood carried water from uranium mines on the canyon's rims to the floor below, destroying the homes and farms of the Havasupai and Hualapai people. (Uranium Mining at the Grand Canyon, Southwest Research and Information Center)

U.S. tests and nuclear weapon transport have led to nuclear accidents in Panama, the Marshall Islands, France, Germany, and England. U.S. use of depleted uranium weapons has coincided with an increase in cancer and birth defects in Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, and Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The Bush administration has been pressuring for a renewal of the nuclear power industry and for upgrades of the U.S. nu clear arsenal. This means more profits for the uranium mining and milling industry, as well as the nuclear weapons manufacturers and the nuclear power industry.

http://www.workers.org/ww/2003/environ0130.php
By Heather Cottin

Posted by Richard
1/30/2003 08:37:45 AM | PermaLink

Nuclear Lab Safety Manager Is Suspended

Energy Department officials suspended a senior safety manager at Los Alamos National Laboratory without explanation after he pushed an investigation into unsafe storage of plutonium-contaminated waste and other safety problems at the lab run by the University of California.

Before his suspension in November, Christopher Steele, a 10-year veteran at the nuclear weapons research center, had doggedly pursued an investigation into the lab's use of an unauthorized steel shed for five years to store the radioactive waste.

Until the material was moved in 2001, the New Mexico lab failed to take measures to ensure that it would not be released in a fire or earthquake, according to Energy Department documents.

Steele, a nuclear engineer with a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was in charge of ensuring that the lab met federal nuclear facility requirements. He works for the Energy Department's National Nuclear Safety Administration, which oversees the nation's nuclear weapons complex.

Energy Department officials put Steele on administrative leave after he raised concerns about the unauthorized storage facility and broader questions about safety procedures involving the handling of radioactive materials, according to department memos and other internal documents.

http://www.latimes.com/la-me-alamos29jan29,0,1668978.story
By Ralph Vartabedian and Rebecca Trounson, LA Times
Times Staff Writers

Posted by Richard
1/30/2003 08:30:24 AM | PermaLink

 
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Bush on the Environment -- Short on Statistics But Still a Bevy of Lies

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28 U.S. President George W. Bush focused largely on making a case for war against Iraq. However, in the first part of the speech, Bush addressed domestic issues such as the economy, healthcare, and the environment.

Following are the environmental issues he mentioned:

• Bush said his energy plan promotes energy efficiency and conservation, the development of cleaner technology, and the production of more energy at home.

(Read: More funding for and less legislation controlling big energy industries in America, including (gulp) nuclear power -- an industry so discredited as "unclean" that Bush's attempt to sell this plan as friendly to anyone but industrialist bankbooks is laughable.)

• He mentioned his clear skies legislation that mandates a 70 percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years.

(read: Here's the lies, damn lies and statistics part. Why did Bush choose 15 years as his number? Because his CSI initiative, which he backed against the Clean Air Act -- which would have eliminated a lot more pollution and done so immediately and across the board -- has two effective dates 2010 and 2018. At 2010, the "Clean Skies" cuts a little nationally (as an average) and at 2018, it cuts a lot more. The only problem is that the 2018 figure has an asterisk that declares that this figure is NOT MANDATORY but will be evaluated at that time and a figure arrived at then that makes sense. See: http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/tdh0602.asp for more on how the Clean Skies doesn't mandate anything and Bush is simply lying. This is typical of how he does business -- he lobbies and outpowers progressive legislation and then promotes his own neo-liberal fantasies as being the equivalent -- but if they're the equivalent Mr. Bush, why did the other legislation worry you so much that you had to construct your own industry version of the same?)

• He said his healthy forest initiative will help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife, and burn millions of acres of forests.

(read: I've posted about this so much that I can't utter it again, it makes me so sick. Search the archives for 'wildfires' or 'healthy forests' and see why the Healthy Forests initiative is simply a disaster for wilderness but good for timber and paper industries. Why just the other day -- below this post -- you'll see that thanks to this new initiative, companies are going to log 3000 truckloads of trees out of Sequoia land...but they weren't going to touch the "old growth" now were they Mr. Bush -- just those dry little twigs that cause the big fires. Somebody tranquilize me...)

+ Bush said environmental progress will come not through lawsuits and government enforcement of regulations but rather through technology and innovation.

(read: Neo-liberalism at its finest. Transnational capitalism brings the world environment to its knees -- we are undergoing an extinction crisis unprecedented in the last 60 billion years on Earth and the United Nations says we have until 2032 to radically change the way we live and go about our business lest we pass a threshold toward global catastrophe that cannot be returned from, and the Bush plan remains "Business and American know how" will find a way out of this mess! Yes, they will -- they'll build nuclear powered rockets to take Mr. Bush, his rich friends, and family away to Mars (or the like), while the rest of us rot amidst what's left of our once beautiful planet become toxic, desertified dumping ground.)

• He proposed $1.2 billion in research funding for hydrogen-powered automobiles, saying that bringing these cars to market will make the United States less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

(read: I can't say that I'm expert enough on this to make a fair critique. Two points that I see, though, are: 1) despite a recessionary economic situation, Bush is proposing 1.2 billion dollars to the auto and energy industry in the name of "sustainable" living, this as he attempts to eradicate altogether all of the puny 7 million dollars that usually are allotted each year to promote environmental education -- again, neo-liberalism at its finest; and 2) my understanding of the hydrogen power that is being spoken about here is that it is manufactured by (you guessed it) -- natural gas! So it's not like Bush is getting out of the gas and oil business -- he's simply saying that since the technology exists, we should shift from an oil dependent mode of transport to a natural gas mode. Just so happens that Bush and his crowd (e.g. Cheney) are up to their necks in natural gas corporations and developments. There is a ton of this to be mined domestically as well -- so that's Bush's real point (give me Alaska to drill and I'll give you "sustainable transportation"!). I don't think this is what Jeremy Rifkin had in mind Mr Bush...)

Posted by Richard
1/29/2003 12:40:53 PM | PermaLink

Japan 'Loses' 206kg of Plutonium

The Financial Times (ft.com) is reporting that Japan on Tuesday admitted that 206kg of its plutonium - enough to make about 25 nuclear bombs - is unaccounted for. Hmmm, let's see -- is it a) on the black market and ready for sale to terrorists, b) on its way to North Korea or some other nuclear upstart / hopeful (like Iraq), or c) in Japan's own military bases, refined and readied, as about 25 nuclear tipped missles (despite Japan's own constitutional declaration against WMD). Aint the nuclear reality great? Let's continue this until we all blow the world sky high...sounds like a great plan.

Posted by Richard
1/29/2003 08:41:18 AM | PermaLink

Top Interior Official Broke Law By Deleting Indian Trust Records

Washington DC -- The former head of Indian affairs at the Interior Department broke federal law by deleting months of records related to a lawsuit alleging the government lost billions of dollars in American Indians' money, a court-appointed investigator said Monday.

In a deposition under oath last December, then-Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Neal McCaleb said he didn't know he was supposed to be storing copies of his e-mail and he thought his assistant was doing it.

But court-appointed special master Alan Balaran said McCaleb's story is unbelievable, citing numerous written directives and pair of meetings in which McCaleb was instructed by Interior official to keep the electronic correspondence.

"What began as an inquiry into a possible error in judgment resulted in the discovery that the most senior official of the Bureau of Indian Affairs ... violated court orders and federal law by destroying individual Indian trust records with impunity," Balaran wrote.

The documents in question relate to a 6-year-old class-action lawsuit on behalf of 350,000 Indian landowners which claims the government mismanaged as much as $137 billion in oil, gas and timber royalties from Indian land since 1887.

The documents include daily spread sheets indicating payments from oil, gas and timber leases.

In response to the report, Interior Department spokesman Dan DuBray referred to a statement McCaleb made last October that the e-mail deletions were a mistake, and that McCaleb notified the court as soon as they came to his attention.

The Interior Department has all along disputed the $137 billion figure, but also has acknowledged mishandling of Indian claims and records over the years.

Balaran filed his report with U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, who is presiding over the case. Last September, Lamberth held McCaleb and Interior Secretary Gale Norton in contempt of court for failing to comply with his order to fix the trust management accounts.

McCaleb retired from the Interior Department at the end of last year, saying he took Lamberth's contempt citation personally and was hurt by it.

In addition to scolding McCaleb, Balaran also criticized McCaleb's deputy and interim replacement, Aurene Martin, for helping McCaleb craft a story to explain the deletion.

"When his actions came to light, he fabricated a story that attempted to blame others for his misdeeds," Balaran charged. "Simply stated, McCaleb proved to be as complacent with the truth as he was with his fiduciary responsibilities" to manage the Indian money.

Dennis Gingold, the attorney for the Indian plaintiffs, said that the investigation confirmed that McCaleb "knowingly destroyed federal records."

"That is a crime," said Gingold. In addition, he said that McCaleb lied under oath, both in his deposition and in an affidavit he signed.
-----------------------
On the Net:
Indian Plaintiffs: http://www.indiantrust.com
Interior Department Indian trust site: http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

From theSanta Fe New Mexican
By ROBERT GEHRKE | Associated Press

Posted by Richard
1/29/2003 08:33:52 AM | PermaLink

 
Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Nuclear Weapons in the Netherlands?

As the report on Iraq's potential nuclear arsenal is compiled and delivered, the Mother Earth group (associated with Trident Ploughshares) in the Netherlands finds evidence that a secret nuclear stockpile exists there at the Volkel military base. Here is there report in Microsoft Doc form: volkelreport.doc.

Posted by Richard
1/28/2003 09:08:21 AM | PermaLink

I TOLD YOU SO: Logging in Sequoia Monument Plan

The writing was on the wall this summer when the wildfires were set in Colorado and Arizona (whatever happened to those people anyhow? i don't remember the press following up on those trials...). I blogged about it all season long, as industry ideologue after industry ideologue was given press coverage and senate hearing time. I shouted like Cassandra time and again that the Bush administration was making an industry-led spectacle of the fires and using them to enact logging rights that otherwise would have been intolerable. The situation got so bad that even Tom Daschle unhelpfully through his hat in the ring and secretly gave up logging of the Sierras in return for some porkbarrelling in SD. It was all TO PROTECT AMERICA"S FORESTS! I asked then, as I ask now, how one is protecting anything but industry economics by logging the wilderness to death?

And it begins...
When 34 groves of giant sequoias and 300,000 surrounding acres were named a national monument by President Clinton during his final year in office, a long fight over protection of some of Earth's most majestic trees appeared to end.

It didn't. Last month, the U.S. Forest Service released a proposal for managing the Giant Sequoia National Monument that has flabbergasted environmentalists and revived their quarrel with the agency's stewardship of sequoias, which can live for millennia and reach skyscraper heights.

Though the monument designation bans commercial logging, the management blueprint would allow, in the name of reduced fire risk, the cutting of enough commercial timber to fill 3,000 logging trucks a year.

It would permit the felling of trees, including sequoias, as much as 30 inches in diameter -- a size the Forest Service is now barred from cutting in much of the rest of the Sierra Nevada. It would allow loggers to clear openings as large as two acres and to use heavy equipment in the groves.

By Bettina Boxall
Full story at Los Angeles Times


Posted by Richard
1/28/2003 07:52:53 AM | PermaLink

 
Monday, January 27, 2003

Student Challenges University's Animal Rights Policy

Freshman Jared Milrad says that students should be able to use non-animal alternatives in classes that require animal practicals. And he's right too!

Read the full article

Here's an article I wrote recently to Nancy Cantor, the Chancellor of Univ. of Illinois, UC, on this subject:
Dear Chancellor Cantor,

I am writing to you as one of a growing cohort of humane educators around the country and the world who are awakening people to the needless use of dissection and vivesection for purposes of knowledge and study.

I am also a doctoral student within the Graduate School for Education and Information Sciences at UCLA, whose research involves new modes of education and the politics of eco-justice. My work has been well received and I have been granted publishing opportunities around the world. This just to let you know that those who are against research universities mandating V&D practices can be thoughtful and respected members of the university community proper.

My work also involves the progressive use of technology as an educative device. And this really is where V&D are no longer necessary, and so mandating the use of them for research has now been made unethical by technological advances. A variety of softwares and even free web sites offer advanced simulations of V&D practices and they have been well-documented to meet the needs of students and researchers alike for most educational concerns.

If you would like, I would be happy to provide more information regarding these and how they can be obtained.

To move to the use of technology and provide student choice is the wave of the future. It is more efficient, less costly, has less political drawbacks, supports democratic approaches to learning and research, and frees the university of involvement in a great deal of animal research practices that amount to left-over barbarisms from the age of Descartes.

If major universities, like Univ. of Ill., are not yet ready to do away with practice upon animals wholesale, everyone should be able to rejoice in outmoding at least this one use of animals for V&D in labs and classes. Its a win for students and teachers, for administration, and for animals.

I strongly encourage you to investigate this matter more and call for the increased adoption of new V&D virtual technologies within the university.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Richard Kahn

Posted by Richard
1/27/2003 06:32:11 PM | PermaLink

Going Vegetarian is Increasingly Cool with Teens

There truly is no fooling the children...bring it on next generation! You are the hope!

The Miami Herald | 01/23/2003 | Going vegetarian is increasingly cool with teens

Posted by Richard
1/27/2003 06:25:14 PM | PermaLink

Get Vegan Tee Shirts -- 100% Cotton only $15 Dollars includes Shipping (for donation only)

GetVegan.com is a not for profit operation -- our educational mission does not involve a price tag and you are not our consumer! Still, in the overdeveloped world in which we have come to exist, even running our website and updating the Vegan Blog begins to have a cost (a rather high cost) associated with it.

We hope that you find the information available here helpful. If so, and if you can afford it, we would like to offer one of our high quality, Champion 100% cotton, crew neck tees (featuring our unique Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan! logo on the front and our getvegan.com url on the sleeve) as a thank you gift for a mere $15 donation to our site. This first batch comes in tech orange and neon green...

[Note: these tees ARE from Champion -- this is not 100% strict organic vegan stuff, though it is high quality...simply put, at this time we had to use Champion because of cost. Help us move this batch so we can offer the real vegan goods for batch two!]

Please donate now and fill out the information at Paypal -- including shipping address and what size tee you wear (M, L, or XL) -- and we will be glad to send you your own GetVegan.com tee right away as our way of saying thanks back.















Posted by Richard
1/27/2003 04:12:57 PM | PermaLink

Computer Chip Production Raises Environmental Questions

The production of computer chips -- the thumbnail-sized bits of silicon at the heart of any information-age appliance -- is a massively wasteful process and one that may be dumping an unknown level of toxic chemicals back into the environment, a new study says.

The study, led by Eric Williams of the United Nations University in Japan, says the production of a garden-variety computer chip known as DRAM consumed 800 kilograms of fossil fuel and chemicals for every kilogram of DRAM chips made -- a ratio of one unit of chips for 800 units of input.

By comparison, it takes about two tonnes of fossil fuels to make a car that weighs a tonne, a ratio of 1:2.

Moreover, almost none of the chemicals used to produce computer chips end up in the final product, Mr. Williams said, which means most of that material must be discarded or reused.

And researchers say there is little publicly available data about those chemicals or the environmental effect of the semiconductor industry.

"Microchips themselves are small, valuable and have a wide variety of applications, which naively suggests that they deliver large benefits to society with negligible environmental impact," Mr. Williams wrote in the December issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology. "On the other hand, the semiconductor industry uses hundreds, even thousands of chemicals, many in significant quantities and many of them toxic."

High-tech industries have long fashioned themselves as environmentally friendly and capable of supporting sustainable development policies. But Mr. Williams's work raises some fresh questions about that assumption.

New anecdotal evidence is also coming to light about some of the manufacturing operations of the world's biggest high-tech companies.

In Albuquerque, N.M., for example, residents say air pollution from a chip-making plant there is making some people sick. Intel Corp., the company behind the Pentium microprocessor, has its biggest chip-making operation in Rio Rancho, a suburb of Albuquerque.

"The people who live nearby and downwind report a great deal of sickness and their sickness coincides with when they smell strong chemical odours when the wind is coming their way from Intel," said Fred Marsh, who lives a few kilometres from the Rio Rancho plant and who recently retired from his job as a research chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "While we don't have absolute proof, the circumstantial evidence is very strong. Also, the sicknesses began about 10 years ago when Intel did its first major expansion. Before that, there were no complaints. There are so many facets, so many different angles here to be concerned about. It is not a clean, simple situation or problem by any means."

Intel has refuted the claims made against it and says it is complying with all environmental regulations.

On Wednesday in Mountain View, Calif., a suburb of San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a public meeting to tell residents there that levels of trichloroethylene -- a solvent used to clean microchips and degrease industrial machinery -- were 65 times higher than normal in parts of the city. Intel, again, and other chip makers have been linked to one of the sites where the higher-than-expected chemicals were found.

Mr. Williams and his colleagues did not set out to assess the semiconductor industry's environmental record. But in his paper, he wrote, "It is plausible to believe [industry] claims that emissions issues have been largely addressed. However, little real evidence exists to support or refute this."

Mr. Williams also said significant data has not yet been put on the public record that independent researchers could use to assess the industry's environmental record.

For his paper, titled The 1.7 Kilogram Microchip, Mr. Williams was able to secure some data from an anonymous industry source that detailed some of the materials used in a U.S. semiconductor company. The researchers also relied on data provided by various government agencies in the United States and Japan, industry association data, and some company data.

Using all those sources, Mr. Williams and his research team concluded that the total weight of secondary fossil fuels and chemical inputs to produce a single two-gram 32-megabyte DRAM chip is 1.6 kilograms.

So, to produce one kilogram worth of computer chips -- or 500 two-gram chips -- a manufacturer would use up 800 kilograms of fuel and chemicals.

As for energy consumption, using Mr. Williams's calculations, it would take more than 300 megawatt-hours of electricity to produce one tonne of computer chips. By comparison, it takes just 75 megawatt-hours of energy to produce a tonne of aluminum, long believed to be one of the most energy-intensive materials manufactured.

A 32-megabyte DRAM chip is a garden-variety memory chip, used in millions of devices around the world, including personal computers, video game consoles, cellphones and even cars. DRAM stands for dynamic random access memory. Even though the study looked at this particular kind of microchip, the results would be broadly applicable to almost any other kind of computer chip.

"The materials intensity of a microchip is orders of magnitude higher than traditional goods," Mr. Williams wrote.

Computer chips, containing hundreds and often thousands of individual electrical circuits, are manufactured on thin wafers of silicon. Silicon is the world's best-known semiconductor.

Online here at The Globe and Mail
By David Akin
David Akin is national business and technology correspondent for CTV News and a contributing writer to The Globe and Mail.

Posted by Richard
1/27/2003 09:51:28 AM | PermaLink

 
Sunday, January 26, 2003

More on DU Use in Iraq and the Upcoming War

Despite whitehouse.gov's insistence that its all just a propaganda campaign, the Christian Science Monitor weighs in with some reporting, which if it isn't exactly courageous, at least highlights some of the reality.
A 'silver bullet's' toxic legacy -- If US fights Iraq, it would use a weapon that left a radioactive trail in Gulf War
The Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1220/p01s04-wome.html

GRAVEYARD: Southern Iraq, littered with tanks destroyed by the US in the 1991 Gulf War, is contaminated by low-level radiation from depleted uranium artillery. SCOTT PETERSON/GETTY IMAGES
http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1220/csmimg/p8a.jpg
Meanwhile, this article documents the Pentagon's upcoming strategy of "Shock and Awe" -- to destroy Baghdad's military and urban services utterly in one multi-blow of 300 to 400 missles and so to create a crippling psychological effect that will force a quick end to the fight (one expert notes happily how it will be like Hiroshima's nuclear launch). But we don't target civilians, no...

The article points to a Shock and Awe launch date in March, but this piece declares that the Japanese are ordering all business closed and for evacuation from Iraq by Wednesday at the latest. A concurrent attack as Bush delivers the State of the Union, for maximum dramatic effect is hypothesized -- in any event, March would seem too distant a time frame. Beginning February has been on the table of discussion since this summer...we can see how much democratic discussion is able to interface with and transform the imperial strategy of geopolitical control (my apologies for such cynicism in advance).

Finally, the LA Times has been running articles documenting that tactical nuclear weapons are on the menu for Bush should he choose -- this to me, as I have written previously, simply says it all...there can be no rational argument with or about people who are acting at this level of insanity. See:

1) U.S. Weighs Tactical Nuclear Strike on Iraq -- For what one defense analyst says is a worst-case scenario, planners are studying the use of atomic bombs on deeply buried targets.
by Paul Richter
Los Angeles Times January 25 2003
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-nuke25jan25,0,2718283.story?coll=la%2Dhome%2Dheadlines

2) The Nuclear Option in Iraq -- The U.S. has lowered the bar for using the ultimate weapon.
By William M. Arkin
Los Angeles Times; January 26 2003
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-op-arkin26jan26,0,4889056.story?coll=la%2Dhome%2Dheadlines

Posted by Richard
1/26/2003 09:39:28 AM | PermaLink

US Moves Towards Biological Warfare In Colombia

U.S. legislators are making new threats to use biological weapons in Colombia's civil war. In December 2002 a plan resurfaced in the U.S. House of Representatives to employ an untested pathogenic fungus, Fusarium oxysporum in Colombia's U.S.-funded "War on Drugs." Critics say the plan proposes illegal acts of biological warfare, poses major ecological risks to one of the world's most bio-diverse countries, and will increase the human damage of a failed eradication policy. The new fungal agents were dubbed Agent Green by the Sunshine Project, a non-governmental organization opposed to the use of biological weapons, and were developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and by two other facilities using U.S. government funding--a private company in Montana, and a former Soviet biological weapons facility in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The lead agents are types of Fusarium oxysporum (to kill coca and cannabis) and Pleospora papaveracea (to kill opium poppy). Their ecological and human health safety is very poorly tested, and they are known to impact non-target species.

In June 1999, the U.S. Senate approved a US$1.3 billion aid package in support of Colombia's "War on Drugs," that required testing of the fungal pathogen as another weapon to be employed against illicit drugs, along with conventional pesticides. The plan was opposed by civil society worldwide, and President Clinton eventually waived this requirement, citing concerns for the proliferation of biological weapons. Colombia also rejected proposals to test this pathogen due to environmental risks.

Read More
From: Pesticide Action Network Updates Service

Posted by Richard
1/26/2003 09:25:30 AM | PermaLink

On the Other Hand...

To help combat the festering consciousness occluded by war mongering is the 80th Meditation Focus -- suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, January 26, 2003.

http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus80.htm

Posted by Richard
1/26/2003 07:48:01 AM | PermaLink

Fórum Social Mundial

Over the weekend the World Social Forum got underway at Porto Allegre -- see the informative homepage in English at: Fórum Social Mundial.

I have yet to read of anything concrete emerging from the WSF, if anyone here's of an important declaration passed or alliance struck, then I would appreciate it if you comment about it here.

It is important that people gather to bring about world solidarity. It is also important that leftists gather to bring about left solidarity (it can be a difficult thing). At the moment, however, I am slightly skeptical about the possibilities in these giant conferences -- as any academic will tell you, most conferences are just rounds of ponderous papers, bored audiences, and resume builders that allow you to go to interesting global locales. They also cost a lot of money to stage.

If they're going to keep having these, I would like to see something basic and tangible emerge from each one -- like a general agreement to have a global strike over a series of days. THAT WOULD BE MEANINGFUL. Otherwise, we have more micro political strategy with a lot of loud rhetoric, most of it anti-war.

But the problem these days isn't war -- war is simply a mode of the larger problem of empire. Let's see a radical strike at the economic heart of the thing -- and less dancing in the streets. If people are serious about their commitment to antiwar -- it may be time to reveal how tenuous the American economy truly is under this president. Even a three day mass strike sponsored by all the organizations at the WSF would send a shockwave across the body politic that the media would not miss...

Posted by Richard
1/26/2003 07:45:16 AM | PermaLink

The Animals Came Dancing, by Howard L. Harrod

An interesting book review as a letter to the author by Michael Vandeman. The book is an examination of Native American mythic symbolism and narrative re: animals. Vandeman points Harrod's view out as romanticizing native practice, but Vandeman himself makes a critique of this idealization of the native from the standpoint of radical animal rights -- with an interesting conclusion...

Michael also has a great webpage filled with his writings and hundreds of useful links, though it is short on aesthetic arguably. Warning: if you are into automobiles or mountain bikes, Michael doesn't like you...

Posted by Richard
1/26/2003 07:20:27 AM | PermaLink