Aletho News


Britain abandons international trade court fight on reneged 1970s Arms Deal

MoD owes Iran £400m on 30-year-old bill

By Cahal Milmo and Nick Dowson | The Independent | 24 April 2010

For Britain’s hard-pressed armaments industry, it was a lucrative deal with a trusted ally. Between 1971 and 1976, the increasingly despotic Shah of Iran had signed on the dotted line for 1,500 state-of-the-art Chieftain battle tanks and 250 repair vehicles costing £650 million. Even better, Persia’s King of Kings paid the British government for his new weaponry up front.

The problem came in 1979 when, with just 185 tanks delivered to Tehran, the Iranian Revolution deposed Shah Pahlavi and installed an Islamic Republic with a somewhat less warm stance towards the United Kingdom. The massive deal, fully sanctioned by the Ministry of Defence, foundered and the Iranians, perhaps understandably, asked for their money back.

London refused and – after flogging a number of its suddenly surplus tanks to Iran’s most bitter enemy in the shape of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – the British government has for 30 years fought a little-noticed but bitter legal wrangle in an obscure international trade court based in the Netherlands to hold onto what remains of the Shah’s money.

Until now.

The Independent can reveal that Britain is to pay back nearly £400m to Iran’s defence ministry after finally admitting defeat in the dispute in a move that will be heralded by Tehran as a major diplomatic triumph while it continues its international brinkmanship with the West over its nuclear ambitions.

Financial restrictions imposed by the European Union on Iranian banks which freeze any of Tehran’s assets held abroad, mean that Iran will not be able to access the funds. They will instead be held in a trust account overseen by independent trustees. The money will join £976m of Iranian assets already frozen in Britain… Full article

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News | 2 Comments

Toward a Better Understanding of Industrial Wind Technology

Michael Morgan | Allegheny Treasures | October 26, 2009

Jon Boone – Environmentalist, Artist, Author, Documentary Producer, and Formal Intervenor in Wind Installation Hearings

Introduction: It’s been extremely difficult to bridge the gap that exists between those who know little about the issue and those who have a more comprehensive understanding of the workings of the electrical grid and the related technologies that supply it, like wind energy.  For many, their only information comes from the local press, “green” promotions by so-called environmental organizations, and occasional visits to web sites dedicated to one side or the other.  It’s often a mind-boggling quagmire! The following conversation with Jon Boone, who now lives in Oakland, MD after a 30 year career at the University of Maryland, College Park, is an attempt to bridge that gap, perhaps allowing us to better understand the limitations of and problems associated with industrial wind technology. He has no dog in the fight.

Michael Morgan is Writer/Editor for Allegheny Treasures – An information resource dedicated to countering popular misconceptions regarding the impact of wind installations, and help preserve the historic mountains of West Virginia.

Allegheny TreasuresMr. Boone, wind developers and their supporters portray their technology as a viable source of renewable electricity, providing “nearly” free power by capturing the wind – a virtually inexhaustible source of energy. Their mantra is that wind energy is “free, clean, and green.” Can you explain your concern with this portrayal?

Mr. Boone:  Industrial wind technology is a meretricious commodity, attractive in a superficial way but without real value—seemingly plausible, even significant, but actually false and nugatory.  Those who would profit from it either economically or ideologically are engaged in wholesale deception. All adults should know that if something seems too good to be true, it almost always is. Although the wind itself may be “free,” the cost of converting it to electrical energy is extremely expensive. A 100MW wind project would cost, in today’s market, about $350 million, most of it paid for by taxpayers.

AT – MorganAnd—sorry to interrupt—what about its benefits, such as its alleged ability to shut down fossil fuel plants?

Boone:  In contrast to wind proponents’ alluring but empty promises of closed coal plants and reduced carbon emissions is this reality: wind energy is impotent while its environmental footprint is massive and malignant. It can’t dent a grape in the energy scheme of things; it’s a sideshow technology with great potential for mainline environmental harm. In some ways, it’s almost the perfect enterprise for our era, as it produces no meaningful product or service but is subsidized up to 80 percent by rate and taxpayers. Like many “celebrities,” it is famous for being famous, not for its actual performance.

AT – MorganWould you explain?

Boone:  A wind project with a rated capacity of 100MW, for example, with 40 skyscraper-sized turbines, would likely produce an annual average of only 27MW, an imperceptible fraction of energy for most grid systems. The electric generating units supplying the PJM grid, which serves much of the Middle Atlantic region, produce over 140,000MW at peak demand times.

AT – MorganWhen you say “average,” does that mean that even when the wind is inconsistent, we can expect equal contributions from other generators?

Boone:  In truth, more than 70% of any wind project’s rated capacity must come from other generators. More than 60% of the time, a 100MW project would produce less than 27MW and, at peak demand times, often produce nothing.

AT – MorganNothing … at peak demand times?

Boone:  This would be the case frequently. And it would rarely achieve its rated capacity, producing most at times of least demand.  Whatever it generated would be continuously skittering, intensifying, magnifying the destabilizing effects of demand fluctuations, for wind volatility is virtually indistinguishable from the phenomenon of people whimsically turning their appliances off and on. But wind fluctuations are in addition to those of demand, and even more volatile—both on a minute-by-minute basis and at wide scale, where whole days can pass with wind production at less than 10% of its rated capacity.

AT – MorganYou used the term “producing most at times of least demand” … and … “whatever it generated.”  Isn’t there an expectation of “control” to meet demand, even when the wind increases and decreases at peak and off peak hours?

Boone:  Control is expressed by the idea of capacity value, which is the ability to dispatch responsively just the right amount of energy to do the job—and withdraw it as desired. Wind projects can never produce capacity value, which is something that should be anathema to regulatory agencies, with their task of ensuring reliable, secure, affordable electricity. Most grids attempt to predict how much wind energy might be available at peak demand times by a statistical hedge known as capacity credit, which is based upon calculating historical averages of wind availability. Presently, the PJM has assigned wind a capacity credit of 13%, meaning that, over a three year history, the small number of wind installations in the grid produced 13% of their rated capacity at key peak demand times. Most regional grids have capacity credits of 10% or less. But, for the same reason that a baseball player’s batting average cannot predict what he’ll do in his next at bat, the grid cannot know how its fluctuating wind plants will do at any future time, despite such a statistical “credit.” Given the random nature of the wind, the past is never a certain predictor of the future. Persistent industry “predictions” about improved weather forecasting for wind availability have proven to be as reliable as rain dances.

The only way to control wind volatility is to shut the wind turbines down completely. This is in stark contrast with all conventional generators, which, of necessity, are completely controllable and highly responsive, able to dispatch their rated capacity, or a desired portion thereof, whenever asked.

The ability of machines to perform as expected on demand is the basis of modernity, underlying contemporary systems of economic growth, wealth creation and well-being.  Machinery that doesn’t do this is now quickly discarded.

This wasn’t the case for much of history—look at the early days of television or radio or even the automobile.  Only in the last hundred years or so has the West come to rely on machines with this standard. Wind energy is a throwback to pre-modern times. And the physical laws governing wind technology assures it will stay rooted in the past.

AT – MorganWould you please expand on the term capacity value?

Boone: Capacity value is a crucial idea, central to the success of our way of life.

Here’s a practical way to think about it. You don’t drive your car all the time, with the result that its capacity factor—the percentage of your car’s potential (its rated capacity) that is actually used—is something like 15-20%. But when you do wish to drive it, the car works virtually all of the time, getting you from point A to point B in line with your own continually changing schedule. This is its capacity value. Ditto with your chain saw—or television, or any modern appliance we all take for granted—because they work when we want them to work. Appliances that don’t do this are dubbed “lemons,” and we have even passed laws to protect consumers from such appliances. Conventional generators that fail to reliably respond on demand are quickly removed from the grid.

The critical test for “capacity value” is:  how much electrical output can we really count on when electricity demand is at peak levels?  Since we don’t know if the wind will be blowing at the time of peak demand, the real answer to the question is “zero.”

Consequently, wind provides no capacity value and can pass no test for reliability. One can never be sure how much energy wind machines will produce for any future time. And generating units that don’t provide capacity value cannot be meaningfully—and favorably—compared with those that do, just as unreliable automobiles—lemons—cannot be accurately compared with reliably proven automobiles.

Modern power vastly improves productivity and our quality of life. Wind energy reduces them. The best wind can be is an occasional substitute—a supernumerary; it is not, as frequently claimed, a rational part of any energy solution for modernity. Trading nuclear, or coal, or natural gas, or hydro generation for wind is akin to trading Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Sandy Koufax, or Willy Mays for a third string high school baseball player who made the team because of his father’s contributions to the alumni fund.

AT – Morgan: I understand the concept now, but I’ve heard that, even though the input from wind energy is variable, the electricity generated by these projects can still be added to the grid and somehow controlled. If so, doesn’t it really contribute overall?

Boone:  Adding wind instability to a grid may be someone’s idea of job security. But for rate and taxpayers, and a better environment, it’s criminal. For the grid is then forced to extend itself, since variable energy at industrial scale cannot be stored, at least not economically. As the wind bounces randomly around the system, operators must continuously balance it to match supply precisely with demand, compensating for the ebb and flow much in the way flippers keep the steel ball in play during a game of pinball.

I coined the term “Windball” to describe this concept.  Windball expends a lot of energy and takes a lot of coins. In real life on most American grids, more than 70% of any wind project’s rated capacity must come from the flippers of reliable, highly flexible, fossil-fired generation (typically natural gas) constantly turned up and back inefficiently to compensate for wind fluctuations. These inefficiencies will result in substantial carbon emissions and increased consumer costs. Wind volatility cannot be loosed on the grid by itself: it requires companion generation to make it whole. And the higher the wind penetration is on the grid, the more wind cuts into the grid’s marginal reserves, the greater the odds that the grid will TILT, ending the windball game—until compensating reliable generation is brought on board to secure it.

AT – Morgan:  But can’t the grid engineers somehow compensate for the variance? And why is it so important to balance supply and demand so precisely?

Boone:  Given what is known of demand cycles, grid operators, using computerized automatic generation controls, bring supply to match demand on a less than second-by-second basis within plus/minus one percent. And this includes balancing on-going demand fluctuations. After more than a hundred years of experience, grid engineers can predict demand very accurately, which is possible because aggregate demand is not fundamentally random, unlike wind volatility. If there’s too little supply, widespread brown-outs and black-outs will occur; if there’s too much supply relative to demand, the surge can fry both transmission lines and appliances. Even brief dips, like surges, can harm sensitive electronics that many of our lives depend on. Excess supply is also sometimes dumped, which is a financial loss to all tax and ratepayers. Dumping excess wind energy and/or shutting down the turbines, is a common situation in Germany, Spain, and Texas, made necessary when large spikes of wind threaten the grid’s security.

Yes, engineers can make-work by adding wind flux to the system, which further destabilizes the match between supply and demand. They can lead a horse to water; but they can’t make it change its spots.  By its nature, wind will require repeated flippering—lots of whips and whistles, even at small levels of penetration—in ways that will negate the very reason for its being—which is reducing CO2 emissions and backing down coal. This is why people quickly switched to steam 200 years ago. Retrofitting modern technology to meet the needs of ancient wind flutter is monumentally “backasswards.”  It’s also a sure sign that pundits and politicians, not scientists, are now in charge. It will take much more than a smart grid to incorporate such a dumb, antediluvian idea successfully.

And it’s not just the engineers who would benefit, for there are many “suppliers” only too happy to profiteer from this situation. General Electric, which bought out Enron’s wind projects when the latter company went belly up in 2001 and is today one of the world’s largest wind suppliers, recently gave a presentation to the Canadian government detailing all the problems with wind—followed by a long list of products that would assist wind’s grid integration. Look for GE wind ads on its subsidiary, NBC.

AT – Morgan: Isn’t there some discussion about hydropower working in tandem with wind … pump–storage systems similar those operating in the TVA network, for example?

Pumped storage and wind has a history of problems, not least involving economics and availability at critical times. Besides requiring new reservoirs, at least half of the energy produced by wind would simply go to pumping the water. Pumped storage’s time frame (mostly diurnal) is different from wind and its gustiness. The pumps are reversible, not separate. And they generally can’t respond fast enough to account for minute-by-minute wind flux. Balancing wind skitter with hydro, which also emits no carbon, would produce relatively “clean” energy. But a wind/hydro tandem would hardly be green, since both would collude to degrade vast sections of sensitive habitat. Besides, most locales have very little hydro—and what they do have is already being used for producing electricity. However, even if hydro were abundant, a wind/hydro combination would offset only marginally fewer amounts of CO2 than hydro would offset by itself—without any wind at all. Ditto for natural gas units, which do burn about 50% cleaner than coal. But a duo of wind and natural gas would offset, at best, only about 15% more CO2 emissions than could be offset with natural gas units alone, without wind.

Large coal and nuclear plants aren’t sufficiently flexible to be quickly turned up and back to balance flux, and therefore aren’t usually good partners for wind volatility.

AT – MorganSo the promise of wind power as a replacement for current power plants is, perhaps, not achievable?

Boone:  Physicists define energy as the ability to do work, while power is the rate at which work is done. Huge turbines can convert wind energy into electrical power. But they do so with the same performance standards that powered sailing craft and water pumps in the early nineteenth century. Wind therefore provides “power” capacity appropriate to 1810, not 2010. Consequently, wind provides only energy to a grid, not modern power. Pretending that zero capacity wind technology is an answer to building a responsive supply to replace aging power plants or to meet new demand is perverse.

Ontario has long promised to retire (but has never been able to do so) all its coal plants. Officials tout that they will be replaced by “renewables.” To hedge its renewable energy bet, the Ontario government is building natural-gas facilities as insurance against new wind projects. In other words, the province expects to replace coal with natural gas, not wind. The latter could not exist without either hydro, which presently provides the province about 25% of total generation (wind is about one percent) or flexible natural gas generators. Projections by the Ontario Power Authority depend upon planned conservation savings and natural gas, not wind, as a means of displacing coal. Similarly, boasts by the governor of Kansas that her state will not approve a new coal plant because of its increasingly expansive wind projects conveniently forget to mention how the state plans to increase its importation of, you guessed it, natural gas–at higher cost. 

Because of wind’s unpredictable variability, it can never replace the power performance—the capacity value—of conventional generation, especially a power source as reliable and inexpensive as coal, which is why China and India will continue to build new coal farms for many years to come. For example, a wind plant consisting of 2,500 turbines, 450-feet high and spread over five hundred miles, can mathematically offset a large coal or nuclear plant.  Unfortunately, they cannot do so functionally–for what do you suppose must happen when 5000MW of volatile wind is only producing 100MW at peak demand times, a common occurrence?

With nearly 100,000 huge wind turbines now in operation throughout the world—35,000 in the USA—no coal plants have been closed anywhere because of wind technology. And there is no empirical evidence that there is less coal burned per unit of electricity produced as a specific consequence of wind. Due to this reality, in many areas, particularly Germany and the USA, along with India and China, a large number of new coal plants are in the offing, as reported in Der Siegel and The Washington Post. This will be especially true when demand for electricity increases as the world recession improves.

There is simply no substitute for capacity value.

Most people simply assume, falsely, that any power plant wind displaces on the grid is coal-fired. It may in fact displace hydro, or natural gas. To the extent it displaces coal—sporadically—it also causes the coal unit to ramp up and back more inefficiently than it would do otherwise, in the process creating more CO2 emissions. One need only to examine wind performance in Denmark and Germany, two of the wind industry’s poster wind countries, to see this effect. Denmark’s wind displaces Scandinavian hydro, with no CO2 savings while, in Germany, there is evidence that, on a per capita basis, the nation has the world’s highest CO2 emissions, despite its 21,000+ wind machines.

Perhaps the dirtiest—and best kept—secret about industrial wind technology is that the increased thermal effects produced by “windball” largely subvert much of the CO2 offsets that wind might induce on most grids—and in some cases may even cause more CO2 to be emitted than would have been the case without the addition of any wind volatility.

AT – MorganYour statement is very timely.  Just a couple of weeks ago, speaking at the Grid Week conference in Washington, DC, Energy Secretary Steven Chu cited Bonneville Power in the Northwest noting, “it gets about one-fifth of its power from wind energy when the wind is blowing.”  “But when it stops blowing, that share drops to zero.” He did allude to “smart” grids and huge investments to compensate for the variability of wind, but, in reality, do you see a place for wind in the energy business?

Boone: This business is absurd. The whole point of modern power systems has been to move beyond the flickering flutter of variable energy sources.  Prostituting modern power performance to enable subprime energy schemes on behalf of half-baked technology is immoral, as is implementing highly regressive tax avoidance “incentives,” to make it appear that pigs can fly.

No coal plants will be shuttered and little, if any, carbon emissions will be reduced as a result of one 100MW project—or thousands of them. There is not a shred of evidence in the real world that coordinating the aggregate output of widely scattered wind projects will substantially improve upon wind’s predictability sufficient to give it meaningful capacity value—as is claimed by wind pundits.

AT – MorganJohn Droz, Jr. commented on a recent article by Dr. Michael Trebilcock at the Financial Post that “Wind needs to be in our energy mix to the same degree that Twinkies need to be in our diet.”

Boone:  Indeed!  Wind technology mirrors the subprime mortgage scams that wreaked havoc with the economy. Both are enabled by wishful thinking; bogus projections; no financial restraints, accountability, or transparency; no meaningful securitization; and regulatory agencies that looked the other way, allowing a few to make a great deal of money at everyone else’s expense while providing no meaningful service. As Twinkies have done for food, leading to a society that is overfed but malnourished, wind will do for electricity.

When placed on forested ridges, industrial wind projects will clear-cut hundreds of acres. Even small 100MW wind facilities would hover for miles over sensitive terrain, threatening vulnerable wildlife while mocking endangered species protections—and scenic highways strictures. They will cause unlawful, unhealthy noise for miles downrange. They will devalue properties in the area as much as 50%, if owners could sell them at all.

Dynamiting will threaten wells and aquifers. Out-of-region workers would perform most of the temporary construction jobs and only one or two permanent jobs would result, at modest wages. There would be little value added revenue. Claims about local tax revenues would be typically unsubstantiated and unsecured. Claims about union jobs are grotesquely overinflated.

AT – Morgan:  I must admit, in our community, the flash of tax revenue and jobs has sold the town council and two of our three commissioners.  Citizens who dare to question the concept are ridiculed as near Neanderthals, lacking vision.

Boone:  Wind is a faith-based initiative, to be sure. And there are none so blind as those who will not see, speaking of a lack of vision. Promises of tax revenues are merely hopeful thinking; they are not secured. What people should keep in mind is that claims made by limited liability wind companies are strictly put forth in a blatant attempt to gain a larger profit. Assertions by state tax offices are based on general mathematical formulas (vs. real world guarantees) that only indicate what may be obligated BEFORE ANY DEDUCTIONS THAT A WIND LLC MAY USE TO REDUCE THAT FORMULA OBLIGATION.

This is really what industrial wind is about, after all—finding ways to shelter income through tax avoidance, although a new Treasury Department program now provides the option of cash grants for production tax credits.

AT- Morgan:  You mention the state tax office.  It was noted in a recent article that a “senior official with the WV State Tax Department confirmed that property-tax revenue projections by the developer of the proposed Pinnacle Wind Farm are correct, and that the project will deliver an average of $433,000 annually to Mineral County WV, for a total of $11 million over the 25 years of its projected life.”  But the article immediately followed with, “If nothing else changes, these numbers are very solid numbers,” said Scott Burgess. “We’re pretty confident, given the level of costs, that that would be the tax generated for Mineral County.”  The term, “if nothing else changes …” seems a disclaimer by the State even before the first piece is delivered.  How do we know who or what to believe?

Boone: Citizens should demand promissory notes that unambiguously obligate the LLC to pay specific amounts of revenue at specific times. But they shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for this miracle to occur.

AT – Morgan: But if the taxpayers receive a commitment from the owners, or the LLC as you call them, aren’t they obligated to live up to them.  Won’t they face legal issues if they back away from their promise?

Boone: What are the penalties to a wind LLC for lying? If the amount of local taxes promised your community failed to materialize because of arcane legal tax offsets known only to skilled accountants, what could local officials do—contemplate a lawsuit? Wind developers anticipate and budget for the possibility of lawsuits from local government, as well as suits brought by private citizens aggrieved by the range of nuisances and adverse health effects wind projects produce. That’s also a major reason they are LLCs. What happens if an LLC goes bankrupt; e.g., the project doesn’t produce as expected and there isn’t enough revenue to pay creditors?  Is there any recourse to the parent company?

AT – Morgan: Before you go any further, could you explain the LLC concept and how it might play in the favor of the wind plant owners.  The project seeking approval here in Mineral County is a double LLC of sorts.  US WindForce LLC appears to have set up Pinnacle Wind Force LLC.  I’m sure the lawyers understand all that, but for some of us private citizens, it just looks like an additional shield to the parent company.  Am I off base, or is this just normal business?

Boone: All wind operations are limited liability companies—for a reason. They are structured to incur as little liability as possible for problems they create, allowing the LLC to dissolve quickly and morph into another LLC at the stroke of a pen, dodging responsibility—and blame. As I noted in “Life Under a Windplant,” even their “confidential” leases with property owners typically include language exculpating the LLCs from causing the very nuisances they claim don’t exist, while permitting the LLCs to abandon all the “equipment” to the property owner, usually on 30-day notice—all this while holding the owners feet to the fire for up to 50 years.

They know that costs of legal actions are difficult for private citizens and rural municipalities to maintain over the many years it often takes to resolve them. Moreover, if there’s illegal noise, who is going to shut a wind plant down, once it’s constructed? If, as is the case at California’s Altamont Pass, a wind facility slaughters thousands of wildlife species, the courts will likely refuse to intervene, arguing that those concerned about wildlife have no legal standing. When I asked a wind developer in the Maryland Public Service Commission hearing whether he would vouch for the $750,000 in first year taxes his company had pledged to a Maryland county in its written application, he stated only that he would “do what the law requires.”

AT – Morgan: But that runs counter to everything we’ve been led to believe.

Boone: We have arrived at a point in our legal culture where no negative consequences seem to exist for making false or misleading claims to sell energy. There is a wide range of wind plant-generated nuisances verified across three continents. The failure of many local governments to provide appropriate leadership on this issue is appalling—but not surprising, considering the highly technical nature of this situation. After-the-fact lawsuits brought because of predictable nuisances are difficult, expensive, and time consuming.

AT – Morgan: Your technical and economic arguments are quite convincing. What about the effects these projects have on communities?

Boone: These massive wind plants also precipitate incivility, pitting neighbor against neighbor. A major duty of government is to anticipate, then eliminate or mitigate this kind of incivility. Those who endorse or profit from placing such industrial complexes near the homes of others evidently don’t have a clue about how to foster civil society.

There is little that is cognitively more dissonant than supporting the concept of minimizing the human footprint on the earth while cheerleading for the rude intrusiveness of physically massive/energy feckless wind projects. The slap and tickle of wind propaganda flatters the gullible, exploits the well intentioned, and nurtures the craven. Industrial wind is a bunco scheme of enormous consequence. And people who value intellectual honesty should not quietly be fleeced by such mendacity, even from their government.

As even Huckleberry Finn knew, the Dukes and Dolphins of flim/flam lurk everywhere, dressed today in thousand dollar suits, spouting technical mumbo jumbo, bribing politicians, and selling all the stuff that dreams are made of… in an attempt to separate people from the contents of their wallet. They are a re-incarnation of the snake oil salesmen of our past. In those days, uneducated citizens were scammed of their hard-earned savings in hopes of attaining a miracle cure by swilling kick-a-poo joy juice. Despite our modern sophistications and our evident belief in our superiority over those who lived a hundred years ago, little seems to have changed….

AT – MorganMr. Boone, thank you very much for your time.  I noticed that among your many credentials, you chose to lead with Environmentalist.  This seems a clear signal that the environment is a high priority for you.  I hope you’ll consider another conversation in the very near future to discuss your position regarding the impact of wind plants on landscape and wildlife.

Boone: It would be my pleasure.

Jon Boone has been a formal intervenor in two Maryland Public Service Commission hearings. He produced and directed the documentary, Life Under a Windplant, which has been freely distributed within the United States and many countries throughout the world. The documentary is also available in three-part, YouTube format, here.  For your convenience, the Google presentation is at the end of this section.

Mr. Boone also developed the website Stop Ill Wind, where anyone can read his complete direct testimony, with many related documents, in the Synergics wind case before the Maryland Public Service Commission.

See also:

The Sierra Club: How Support for Industrial Wind Technology Subverts Its History, Betrays Its Mission, and Erodes Commitment to the Scientific Method

Jon Boone | April 18, 2010

Between the Gush for Wind and the Hard Place of Reality

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News, Deception, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Toward a Better Understanding of Industrial Wind Technology

US Rules Out Removing Its Nukes From Europe

By Jason Ditz | April 22, 2010

Despite increased calls from European officials to remove them, the United States today ruled out moving its hundreds of “battlefield nukes” from Europe, insisting that they must remain to ensure that Europe shares the “nuclear risks and responsibilities.”

The comments came in response to an open letter from a number of high ranking European officials, who said that the nukes were a Cold War relic with no practical value and were just a constant danger. They are also in conflict with President Obama’s ostensible hope for nuclear disarmament.

NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen defended the US position, saying the nukes remain “essential” as a deterrent. What the nations of Europe are supposed to need hundreds of nuclear weapons as a deterrent against, however, is unclear.

German FM Guido Westerwelle says that the withdrawal of the weapons would be a “peace dividend,” while his Polish counterpark Radek Sikorski added that there were “far too many” nuclear weapons in Europe.

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Militarism | 1 Comment

The Consequences of Chernobyl

By KARL GROSSMAN | April 23, 2010

Monday is the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident. It comes as the nuclear industry and pro-nuclear government officials in the U.S. and other nations try to “revive” nuclear power. It also follows the just-released publication of a book, the most comprehensive study ever made, on the impacts of the Chernobyl disaster.

Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment has just been published by the New York Academy of Sciences. It is authored by three noted scientists: Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the Russian president; Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist and ecologist in Belarus; and Dr.Vassili Nesterenko, a physicist and at the time of the accident director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. Its editor is Dr. Janette Sherman, a physician and toxicologist long-involved in studying the health impacts of radioactivity.

The book is solidly based—on health data, radiological surveys and scientific reports—some 5,000 in all.

It concludes that based on records now available, some 985,000 people died of cancer caused by the Chernobyl accident. That’s between when the accident occurred in 1986 and 2004.

More deaths, it projects, will follow.

The book explodes the claim of the International Atomic Energy Agency—still on its website – that the expected death toll from the Chernobyl accident will be 4,000. The IAEA, the new book shows, is under-estimating, to the extreme, the casualties of Chernobyl.

Comments Alice Slater, representative in New York of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation: “The tragic news uncovered by the comprehensive new research that almost one million people died in the toxic aftermath of Chernobyl should be a wake-up call to people all over the world to petition their governments to put a halt to the current industry-driven ‘nuclear renaissance.’ Aided by a corrupt IAEA, the world has been subjected to a massive cover-up and deception about the true damages caused by Chernobyl.”

Further worsening the situation, she said, has been “the collusive agreement between the IAEA and the World Health Organization in which the WHO is precluded from publishing any research on radiation effects without consultation with the IAEA.” WHO, the public health arm of the UN, has supported the IAEA’s claim that 4,000 will die as a result of the accident.

“How fortunate,” said Ms. Slater, “that independent scientists have now revealed the horrific costs of the Chernobyl accident.”

The book also scores the position of the IAEA, set up through the UN in 1957 “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy,” and its 1959 agreement with WHO.  There is a “need to change,” it says, the IAEA-WHO pact. It has muzzled the WHO, providing for the “hiding” from the “public of any information…unwanted” by the nuclear industry.

“An important lesson from the Chernobyl experience is that experts and organizations tied to the nuclear industry have dismissed and ignored the consequences of the catastrophe,” it states.

The book details the spread of radioactive poisons following the explosion of Unit 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant on April 26, 1986. These major releases only ended when the fire at the reactor was brought under control in mid-May. Emitted were “hundreds of millions of curies, a quantity hundreds of times larger than the fallout from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” The most extensive fall-out occurred in regions closest to the plant—in the Ukraine (the reactor was 60 miles from Kiev in Ukraine), Belarus and Russia.

However, there was fallout all over the world as the winds kept changing direction “so the radioactive emissions…covered an enormous territory.”

The radioactive poisons sent billowing from the plant into the air included Cesium-137, Plutonium, Iodine-131 and Strontium-90.

There is a breakdown by country, highlighted by maps, of where the radionuclides fell out.  Beyond Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the countries included Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The radiological measurements show that some 10% of Chernobyl poisons “fell on Asia…Huge areas” of eastern Turkey and central China “were highly contaminated,” reports the book. Northwestern Japan was impacted, too.

Northern Africa was hit with “more than 5% of all Chernobyl releases.” The finding of  Cesium-137 and both Plutonium-239 and Plutonium-240 “in accumulated Nile River sediment is evidence of significant Chernobyl contamination,” it says. “Areas of North America were contaminated from the first, most powerful explosion, which lifted a cloud of radionuclides to a height of more than 10 km. Some 1% of all Chernobyl nuclides,” says the book, “fell on North America.”

There is an examination of genetic impacts with records reflecting an increase in “chromosomal aberrations” wherever there was fallout. This will continue through the “children of irradiated parents for as many as seven generations.” So “the genetic consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe will impact hundreds of millions of people.”

As to fatal cancer, the list of countries and consequences begins with Belarus. “For the period 1900-2000 cancer mortality in Belarus increased 40%,” it states, again based on medical data and illuminated by tables in the book. “The increase was a maximum in the most highly contaminated Gomel Province and lower in the less contaminated Brest and Mogilev provinces.” They include childhood cancers, thyroid cancer, leukemia and other cancers.

Considering health data of people in all nations impacted by the fallout, the “overall [cancer] mortality for the period from April 1986 to the end of 2004 from the Chernobyl catastrophe was estimated as 985,000 additional deaths.”

Further, “the concentrations” of some of the poisons, because they have radioactive half-lives ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 years, “will remain practically the same virtually forever.”

The book also examines the impact on plants and animals. ”Immediately after the catastrophe, the frequency of plant mutations in the contaminated territories increased sharply.”

There are photographs of some of these plant mutations. “Chernobyl irradiation has caused many structural anomalies and tumorlike changes in many plant species and has led to genetic disorders, sometimes continuing for many years,” it says. “Twenty-three years after the catastrophe it is still too early to know if the whole spectrum of plant radiogenic changes has been discerned. We are far from knowing all of the consequences for flora resulting from the catastrophe.”

As to animals, the book notes “serious increases in morbidity and mortality that bear striking resemblance to changes in the public health of humans—increasing tumor rates, immunodeficiencies, decreasing life expectancy…”

In one study it is found that “survival rates of barn swallows in the most contaminated sites near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are close to zero. In areas of moderate contamination, annual survival is less than 25%.” Research is cited into ghastly abnormalities in barn swallows that do hatch: “two heads, two tails.”

“In 1986,” the book states, “the level of irradiation in plants and animals in Western Europe, North America, the Arctic, and eastern Asia were sometimes hundreds and even thousands of times above acceptable norms.”

In its final chapter, the book declares that the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear plant “was the worst technogenic accident in history.” And it examines “obstacles” to the reporting of the true consequences of Chernobyl with a special focus on “organizations associated with the nuclear industry” that “protect the industry first—not the public.” Here, the IAEA and WHO are charged.

The book ends by quoting U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s call in 1963 for an end of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.“The Chernobyl catastrophe,” it declares, “demonstrates that the nuclear industry’s willingness to risk the health of humanity and our environment with nuclear power plants will result, not only theoretically, but practically, in the same level of hazard as nuclear weapons.”

Dr. Sherman, speaking of the IAEA’s and WHO’s dealing with the impacts of Chernobyl, commented: “It’s like Dracula guarding the blood bank.” The 1959 agreement under which WHO “is not to be independent of the IAEA” but must clear any information it obtains on issues involving radioactivity with the IAEA has put “the two in bed together.”

Of her reflections on 14 months editing the book, she said: “Every single system that was studied—whether human or wolves or livestock or fish or trees or mushrooms or bacteria—all were changed, some of them irreversibly. The scope of the damage is stunning.”

In his foreword, Dr. Dimitro Grodzinsky, chairman of the Ukranian National Commission on Radiation Protection, writes about how “apologists of nuclear power” sought to hide the real impacts of the Chernobyl disaster from the time when the accident occurred. The book “provides the largest and most complete collection of data concerning the negative consequences of Chernobyl on the health of people and the environment…The main conclusion of the book is that it is impossible and wrong ‘to forget Chernobyl.’”

In the record of Big Lies, the claim of the IAEA-WHO that “only” 4,000 people will die as a result of the Chernobyl catastrophe is among the biggest.

The Chernobyl accident is, as the new book documents, an ongoing global catastrophe.

And it is a clear call for no new nuclear power plants to be built and for the closing of the dangerous atomic machines now running—and a switch to safe energy technologies, now available, led by solar and wind energy, that will not leave nearly a million people dead from one disaster.

Karl Grossman is professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. He is author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power, Power Crazy and The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat To Our Planet and writer and narrator of television programs among them Nukes In Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens (

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power | 12 Comments

Colleague Disputes Case Against Anthrax Suspect

By SCOTT SHANE | New York Times | April 22, 2010

WASHINGTON — A former Army microbiologist who worked for years with Bruce E. Ivins, whom the F.B.I. has blamed for the anthrax letter attacks that killed five people in 2001, told a National Academy of Sciences panel on Thursday that he believed it was impossible that the deadly spores had been produced undetected in Dr. Ivins’s laboratory, as the F.B.I. asserts.

Asked by reporters after his testimony whether he believed that there was any chance that Dr. Ivins, who committed suicide in 2008, had carried out the attacks, the microbiologist, Henry S. Heine, replied, “Absolutely not.” At the Army’s biodefense laboratory in Maryland, where Dr. Ivins and Dr. Heine worked, he said, “among the senior scientists, no one believes it.”

Dr. Heine told the 16-member panel, which is reviewing the F.B.I.’s scientific work on the investigation, that producing the quantity of spores in the letters would have taken at least a year of intensive work using the equipment at the army lab. Such an effort would not have escaped colleagues’ notice, he added later, and lab technicians who worked closely with Dr. Ivins have told him they saw no such work.

He told the panel that biological containment measures where Dr. Ivins worked were inadequate to prevent the spores from floating out of the laboratory into animal cages and offices. “You’d have had dead animals or dead people,” he said.

The public remarks from Dr. Heine, two months after the Justice Department officially closed the case, represent a major public challenge to its conclusion in one of the largest, most politically delicate and scientifically complex cases in F.B.I. history.

The F.B.I. declined to comment on Dr. Heine’s remarks on Thursday. In its written summation of the case in February, the bureau said Dr. Ivins’s lab technicians grew anthrax spores that the technicians incorrectly believed were added to Dr. Ivins’s main supply flask. But the summary said the spores were never added to the flask, suggesting that surplus spores might have been diverted by Dr. Ivins for the letters.

Some scientists and members of Congress protested in February when the Justice Department closed the case, saying it should have waited for the academy panel’s conclusions. The F.B.I. asked the panel last year to review the bureau’s scientific work on the case, though not its conclusion on the perpetrator’s identity.

Members of the panel, whose chairwoman is Alice P. Gast, a chemical engineer and president of Lehigh University, declined to comment on Dr. Heine’s testimony or his remarks to reporters. The panel is expected to complete its report this fall.

Since shortly after Dr. Ivins took a lethal dose of Tylenol in July 2008 and the Justice Department first named him as the anthrax mailer, some former colleagues have rejected the F.B.I.’s conclusion and said they thought he was innocent. They have acknowledged, as Dr. Heine did on Thursday, that they wanted to clear the name of their friend and defend their laboratory, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Dr. Heine said he had been treated as a suspect himself at one point and understood the pressure Dr. Ivins was under.

Asked why he was speaking out now, Dr. Heine noted that Army officials had prohibited comment on the case, silencing him until he left the government laboratory in late February. He now works for Ordway Research Institute in Albany.

Dr. Heine said he did not dispute that there was a genetic link between the spores in the letters and the anthrax in Dr. Ivins’s flask — a link that led the F.B.I. to conclude that Dr. Ivins had grown the spores from a sample taken from the flask. But samples from the flask were widely shared, Dr. Heine said. Accusing Dr. Ivins of the attacks, he said, was like tracing a murder to the clerk at the sporting goods shop who sold the bullets.

“Whoever did this is still running around out there,” Dr. Heine said. “I truly believe that.”

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | 2 Comments

ZOA lobbies Congress on Iran, PA

JTA | April 22, 2010

WASHINGTON — Activists for the Zionist Organization of America lobbied Congress to consider military action against Iran.

In more than 100 meetings with members of Congress on Wednesday, the ZOA said hundreds of its activists also asked the lawmakers to defund the Palestinian Authority, press the U.S. embassy issue and enshrine anti-Jewish discrimination safeguards in education legislation.

Thirty lawmakers addressed the group’s luncheon, the ZOA said.

The activists “urged the necessity of military action should peaceful, diplomatic measures fail to stop Iran’s drive to obtain a nuclear weapons capability,” a ZOA statement said, and called for a suspension of assistance for the Palestinian Authority until it ends incitement, outlaws terrorist groups and confiscates illegal weapons.

The statement also called for new legislation that would remove the presidential waiver from existing legislation requiring the United States to move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such a removal would likely have little effect; successive presidents have cited broader waivers to assert executive primacy in foreign policy.

The ZOA activists also sought congressional action “to make clear that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which protects against racial and ethnic discrimination — encompasses anti-Jewish incidents and protects Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation.”

This has been a thorny issue, as successive administrations and congresses have sought to include such protections while also protecting church-state separation. Bush administration appointees, for instance, were concerned that such language would inhibit proselytization.

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News | 2 Comments

Sanctioning Iran Is an Act of War

By Rep. Ron Paul | April 23, 2010

Before the US House of Representatives, April 22, 2010, Statement on Motion to Instruct Conferees on HR 2194, Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act.

I rise in opposition to this motion to instruct House conferees on HR 2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, and I rise in strong opposition again to the underlying bill and to its Senate version as well. I object to this entire push for war on Iran, however it is disguised. Listening to the debate on the Floor on this motion and the underlying bill it feels as if we are back in 2002 all over again: the same falsehoods and distortions used to push the United States into a disastrous and unnecessary one-trillion-dollar war on Iraq are being trotted out again to lead us to what will likely be an even more disastrous and costly war on Iran. The parallels are astonishing.

We hear war advocates today on the Floor scare-mongering about reports that in one year Iran will have missiles that can hit the United States. Where have we heard this bombast before? Anyone remember the claims that Iraqi drones were going to fly over the United States and attack us? These “drones” ended up being pure propaganda – the UN chief weapons inspector concluded in 2004 that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had ever developed unpiloted drones for use on enemy targets. Of course by then the propagandists had gotten their war so the truth did not matter much.

We hear war advocates on the floor today arguing that we cannot afford to sit around and wait for Iran to detonate a nuclear weapon. Where have we heard this before? Anyone remember then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s oft-repeated quip about Iraq, that we cannot wait for the smoking gun to appear as a mushroom cloud?

We need to see all this for what it is: Propaganda to speed us to war against Iran for the benefit of special interests.

Let us remember a few important things. Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has never been found in violation of that treaty. Iran is not capable of enriching uranium to the necessary level to manufacture nuclear weapons. According to the entire US Intelligence Community, Iran is not currently working on a nuclear weapons program. These are facts, and to point them out does not make one a supporter or fan of the Iranian regime. Those pushing war on Iran will ignore or distort these facts to serve their agenda, though, so it is important and necessary to point them out.

Some of my well-intentioned colleagues may be tempted to vote for sanctions on Iran because they view this as a way to avoid war on Iran. I will ask them whether the sanctions on Iraq satisfied those pushing for war at that time. Or whether the application of ever-stronger sanctions in fact helped war advocates make their case for war on Iraq: as each round of new sanctions failed to “work” – to change the regime – war became the only remaining regime-change option.

This legislation, whether the House or Senate version, will lead us to war on Iran. The sanctions in this bill, and the blockade of Iran necessary to fully enforce them, are in themselves acts of war according to international law. A vote for sanctions on Iran is a vote for war against Iran. I urge my colleagues in the strongest terms to turn back from this unnecessary and counterproductive march to war.

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 11 Comments