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A Nun Walks Free: Government's Sabotage Case Dismissed

Some here will recall that in the summer of 2012, three Plowshares pacifists - Gregory Boertje-Obed, Michael Walli and Sister Megan Rice - broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The culprits cut through four fences with bolt cutters, evaded intruder alarms, and eluded armed guards authorized to kill in order to reach the heavily fortified Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, aka the "Fort Knox of Uranium." Whereupon they proceeded to throw blood on its walls and spray paint some anti-nuclear war graffiti while they were at it.

At their trial in 2013 in Knoxville the three were convicted of sabotage and destruction of government property, and have been in federal prison ever since. On Saturday (May 16) the three were unexpectedly freed. Their attorneys won their appeal of the sabotage convictions from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision issued on May 8. The judges' excoriation of the government's absurd argument that the two 60-something pacifist men and an 85-year old nun had somehow managed to harm 'National Defense' by means of blood and spray paint on exterior walls. Per Judge Raymond Kethledge (appointed by George W. Bush),

The defendants' actions in this case had zero effect, at the time of their actions or anytime afterwards, on the nation's ability to wage war or defend against attack."
As to the argument that the action "diverted" guards of the facility from doing their usual jobs, the court pointed out that responding to intrusions IS the job of guards. The court vacated the prison sentences and sent the case back to the original judge for resentencing on their destruction of government property convictions.

Loyola University law professor William P. Quigley, a consultant for the defense team, said the "surprising" ruling and its scathing tone conveyed a radical message to the federal judiciary that "Peaceful protest isn't sabotage." I hope the federal judiciary takes serious collective notice. You never know when today's overmilitarized, steroid-addled law enforcement personnel might finally get the message, along with their enablers/defenders in prosecutorial ranks. They need to start losing regularly in their all-out push to criminalize peaceful protest in this country.


Fri May 01, 2015 at 09:51 AM PDT

Fire in Chernobyl Contaminated Zone

by Joieau


RT and The Ecologist report that a huge forest fire near the abandoned contaminated zone around the Chernobyl disaster site in northern Ukraine is releasing plutonium as well as cesium and strontium into the smoke and carrying it far downwind. Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday that the fire had escalated and strong winds were pushing it in the direction of the destroyed nuclear facility. It breached the 30km exclusion zone boundary and was about 20km from the Chernobyl installations.

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One of those fun 4-propeller remote control drones was found Wednesday morning on the roof of the Prime Minister's residence and administrative office complex in central Tokyo. It was discovered by a worker giving a tour of the building and it is not known how long it's been up there without being noticed.

Attached to the drone were a small camera and a plastic container bearing a radiation warning symbol. Police say they were able to detect "minute levels" of radiation from the vial and suspect the substance to be cesium. Which isn't difficult to come by in Japan since the mass meltdown and explosions at Fukushima's Daiichi nuclear facility in 2011.

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On Saturday, April 10 TEPCO inserted IRID's nifty new shape-changing robot into the first floor level of containment in Daiichi unit-1 to inspect damage and maybe find the missing core. This was the same unit that was muon scanned last month by two units from the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization [KEK] in Tsukuba, Japan. The scanners revealed that there is no fuel in the reactor vessel, so it was hoped the robot could get all the way around the interior containment catwalk to take photos, video and readings on radiation levels and temperature. Unfortunately, the robot only made it 2/3 of the way around, and then it died.

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News coverage of Fukushima disaster minimized health risks to general population

Sociology professor Caline-Marie Pascale of the American University in Washington, D.C. has published a research analysis of U.S. news media coverage of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi. Her analysis of more than 2,000 news articles from four major U.S. outlets from March 11, 2011 through March 11, 2013 found that only 6 percent of the coverage focused on health risks to the public in Japan or elsewhere.

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Sat Mar 28, 2015 at 02:46 PM PDT

An Anniversary of Sorts

by Joieau

Today is the 36th anniversary of the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island unit-2. Just noting that fact, since it's a fact.

We lived less than 50 miles away. It was early spring. What I remember as the eeriest thing of all was the pea soup fog. Couldn't see your hand in front of your face, as if everything not within a yard of your eyes didn't exist at all, but had to be created bit by bit as you got close enough to see it. Extremely creepy.

Marking time. Thirty-six years is a long time, and I'm getting old. Such is the way of things.


Previously Unannounced Muon Scans in 2014 Confirm Meltdown of Daiichi Unit-2

On Thursday of this past week I diaried about the announcement by Tokyo Electric Power Company [TEPCO] that muon scanning of Daiichi unit-1 had confirmed that no fuel remains in its original position in the reactor vessel. The scanners were installed in February by the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization [KEK] in Tsukuba, Japan. In that diary I noted that an article in the journal Science about the project explained that TEPCO was planning a similar probe of Daiichi unit-2 to begin in May of this year.

Somewhat surprisingly (because neither Nagoya nor TEPCO had previously mentioned it), the very next day - March 20, 2015 - Nagoya University issued a press release entitled, Nagoya University confirms Fukushima No. 2 reactor meltdown.

[Here is the press release in Japanese from Nagoya]

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"Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, destroyed 4 years ago in explosions and meltdowns triggered by an earthquake and tsunami, won't be truly safe until engineers can remove the reactors' nuclear fuel. But first, they have to find it."

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Wed Mar 11, 2015 at 06:46 AM PDT

Fukushima: 4 Years Later

by Joieau

The nuclear disaster at Fukushima marks its 4th anniversary today. This is a report on the conditions at what's left of the facility at this point in time. What has been tried and/or accomplished - or ignored - there in regards to ongoing radioactive pollution still leaking into the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean from the facility, and where TEPCO, Japan and the rest of the nuclear world both industrial and governmental plan to go with it from here.

Because this overview covers a number of developments over a period of years, I won't apologize for its length. But due to length, I have chosen developments of particular interest for what they convey about both the overall situation 4 years later and have summarized these as succinctly as I can.

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I've been watching and reading the anti-anti-vax diaries here for the past few weeks with some interest, as so many people seem to be freaking out about the latest measles outbreaks with enough emotion to warrant that "OMG! We're All Gonna Die!!!" stick figure graphic we used to laugh about (because it's so silly). As the fear and loathing has built into a cacophony over the last week, I've been seeing more and more proposals for draconian police state "solutions" to the "problem" of people willing to risk now-rare illnesses in their children by not vaccinating, as if that is somehow an existential threat to the ~92+% of Americans who are vaccinated or have had the measles and are therefore immune. The reasoning seems to have become steadily more detached from reality, and it's been semi-fascinating to watch.

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Thu Jan 29, 2015 at 12:39 PM PST

Let Them Eat Glyphosate

by Joieau

I am an organic gardener, small-time producer of vegetables, fruit and herbs in the mountains of western North Carolina. Have about an acre of truck and culinary herbs in terraced beds, grapes enough for jam, wine and vinegars every year, plus apples, pears, peaches, cherries and blueberries. In the forest I manage extensive crops of ginseng, black cohosh, goldenseal and assorted other medicinal herbs, and I tap more than a dozen big maple and hickory trees for sap/syrups. Have an acre of black elder as well, the most valuable of my herb crops (after the 'sang, but it's valued in situ and only a few of the elder man-roots are used/sold every year), from which I make tinctures and syrups for a steady stream of clients who use them to help ward off and/or shorten the duration of colds and flu. An anti-viral use for elderberry preparations that has considerable scientific support, just so you know.

My ~26 acres is surrounded by the Norfolk-Southern/CSX grade over the eastern continental divide, and they have been spraying Roundup (Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide) two or three times a year to beat back the voracious kudzu they stupidly planted many decades ago to anchor their railbeds. Duke Energy also hired some shifty fly-by-night operators to spray beneath the electric lines for years, until one time they sprayed some sort of evil mixture so toxic the drainage alone killed trees across the roads and driveways and drainage alone that runs outside my south garden fence wiped out even the unkillable mints and forced me to scrap the entire summer's harvest. Didn't even compost it, just threw it off the mountain because I figured there had to be 2,4D and/or dioxin in the 'usual' Roundup mix. We called the EPA on that one, they tested and immediately shut down the water supply wells all the way to the nearest downstream town, for days. Now Duke comes around every couple of years with a Bond, James Bond helicopter with a 100-foot hanging bar equipped with big rotary sawblades - great fun to watch - and follows up with the Asplundh lumberjacks and their big ol' chipper-shredders - even more fun to watch (daughters and I agree!).

Anyway, all that is to establish that I am no fan of Monsanto, their various agrichemical concoctions, or their genetically engineered staple food crops designed to allow for increased use of their agrichemicals. Like Roundup, a.k.a. glyphosate. 2,4D is an even more toxic component of Monsanto's Agent Orange, now being used on food crops in increasing amounts as the glyphosate resistance engineered into food crops has spread to invasive weeds (transgenes are promiscuous, it turns out). As herbicide use has steadily increased in our known to be unsustainable Big Agribiz monocropping food supply system, a compliant EPA [somewhat hilariously mis-titled "Environmental Protection Agency"] has agreeably and steadily increased its allowances for residues of these chemicals in our food and water supplies. It helps, of course, that Monsanto regularly loans its crop scientists to the U.S. government to help determine for the EPA and FDA how much poison is perfectly fine for citizens (including infants and children) to consume on a daily basis. This is known as the government-industry "Revolving Door" some of us are familiar with.

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I follow the various disciplines involved in the scientific quest to quantify consciousness. My interest arose from a 'miracle' of consciousness my family witnessed and experienced during a 3-month period back in 1992. At trial in a later civil lawsuit stemming from that incident, a "finding of fact" upon the testimony of a dozen medical/scientific 'experts' found that our son's conscious condition prior to his death did qualify as a genuine Miracle. For the mundane purpose of absolving his doctors from any responsibility to treat him for physical injuries they had diagnosed, but still. An odd finding in a court of law. While I was and am willing to entertain the existence of the miraculous, I had quite a different theory to explain how our son could be awake and functioning despite his doctors and their hand-picked experts insisting that such a thing was physically impossible.

The experience ignited my interest in where, exactly, science was on the subject of consciousness. My interest tends toward the various anomalies more than your standard daily awareness because I am convinced that no "Theory of Everything" [which must include Mind/Consciousness] can be considered comprehensive if it does not explain the anomalies as well as the common manifestations. And, of course, the fact that it's the anomalies that are most interesting.

In my diary Waking Up Dead - The Quest for Consciousness I introduced the subject of Near-Death Experience [NDE], and in a later diary A Question of Consciousness, the subject of Shared-Death Experience [SDE]. The resulting discussions have been quite interesting and educational, so for those who may wish to delve even deeper, keep going beyond the orange fleur de kos...

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