Aletho News


US: Senate plan could make Illinois ‘bullseye’ for nuclear waste

By Kari Lydersen – MIDWEST ENERGY NEWS – 05/08/2013

A proposal in the U.S. Senate has advocates concerned that Illinois could become a leading contender for storing nuclear waste from around the nation.

The discussion draft of a Senate bill released April 25 and open for public comment until May 24 launches a process to create a “centralized interim storage” site (CIS) for nuclear waste that is currently stored at reactors nationwide.

And a June 2012 study [PDF] by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory using spatial modeling suggests that northern Illinois would be among the top possibilities.

Many nuclear energy critics oppose the concept of centralized interim storage, saying that the long-distance transport of nuclear waste to such sites would pose serious risks, and that interim storage sites could become financial and safety burdens especially if a long-term waste repository is never created.

“It would be a radioactive waste shell game on roads, rails and waterways,” said Kevin Kamps of the Maryland-based watchdog group Beyond Nuclear, talking by teleconference with anti-nuclear activists in Chicago gathered at the Nuclear Energy Information Service office last week. “We could have de facto permanent parking lot dumps.”

The draft bill, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, is meant to carry out the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future [PDF], convened by the Department of Energy in 2010. Sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the bill deals with various nuclear waste issues including, centralized interim storage.

Public comments are also being accepted on additions proposed by Feinstein and Alexander specifically regarding centralized interim storage.

“There is no question that Illinois generally and Chicago specifically would see a high volume of [nuclear waste] traffic if the nation opts for centralized interim storage facilities,” said Dave Kraft, executive director of the Nuclear Energy Information Service in Chicago.  “We’re not merely at risk, we’re the bullseye.”

A ‘flawed plan’?

Currently most nuclear waste is stored on-site at plants, in the form of rods housed either in dry casks or pools. Critics say the pools pose serious potential danger in the case of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or accident, including a loss of electric power.

Kamps and other nuclear watchdogs advocate improving waste storage at the site of nuclear plants, including removing fuel rods from pools and storing them in dry casks.

“Waste needs to stay as close to the point of origin as possible, as safely as possible,” said Kamps. “There is no easy answer.”

Eventually, Kamps and other activists want to see a long-term storage site created in a geologically and geographically appropriate place. That was the idea behind the proposed long-term repository at Yucca Mountain, but that plan collapsed in the face of political opposition and complaints that it was not a suitable location.

Many industry critics see the interim storage plan pushed forth in the draft bill as a distraction, rather than a step in the process of finding a satisfactory long-term repository.

In a statement about the draft bill, the national watchdog group Public Citizen stated it “does little to correct the fundamental flaws in our country’s approach to nuclear waste management…Consolidated interim storage is an old plan that didn’t work when it was first introduced 30 years ago, or any of the myriad times it’s been proposed, because it does nothing to address broader storage and disposal issues.”

But Feinstein, in a statement released by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the bill “establishes a desperately needed nuclear waste policy, employing a consent-based approach that will expedite waste removal from at-risk locations and decommissioned plants.”

Who pays?

While Yucca Mountain appears to be off the table, government and industry actors have long been exploring the idea of long-term storage at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River, South Carolina site or at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, where defense industry radioactive waste is currently stored.

The push for centralized interim storage is driven in part by the risks and public concerns posed by waste stored onsite at reactors. Sen. Wyden’s constituents are particularly concerned about risk from nuclear plants along the Columbia River, including the closed-down Hanford site upstream in Washington.

The Blue Ribbon Commission’s January 2012 report proposed legislative changes which are enshrined in the proposed act. The commission noted that under current law one interim storage facility can be built, and only after a long-term repository is licensed. A similar provision was included in the 2012 Nuclear Waste Administration Act, which did not pass. The current proposal calls for multiple interim sites to potentially be built, and does not require a long-term repository be in the pipeline.

The discussion draft of the bill lays out a process for choosing a site, including creating evaluation criteria for sites, holding public hearings and “solicit[ing] states and communities to volunteer sites,” as noted in a Department of Energy summary. Sen. Alexander called for additions to the draft including a requirement the government issue a request for proposals for pilot storage sites within 180 days.

The Oak Ridge study includes various maps with proposed storage locations based on different factors including population along routes and transportation distance. In every scenario, northern Illinois is a likely contender.

The bill notes that consent from local officials, communities and Native American tribes is mandatory; and that any plan must be approved by Congress. Kamps said, however, that the definition of consent is vague, and the industry is known to have much influence with Congress.

“At least there’s some talk of consent,” he said. “But nuclear power is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington.”

The bill would also create a new federal agency, the Nuclear Waste Administration, that would take responsibility for the waste. Utilities with nuclear plants would continue paying into a capital fund meant to finance nuclear waste storage. Currently, about $765 million annually is paid into the fund, according to the Nuclear Energy Information Service.

However, if no long-term repository is identified by 2025, utilities could be released from the capital fund obligation.

In Kamps’ words, this means that “[utility] ratepayers and taxpayers, otherwise known as the American people,” will be paying for the waste storage for many years to come.

“The nuclear industry has a few lawyers on its team,” Kamps said. “If they can get out of paying into the capital fund, I think they will.”

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Nuclear Power | , , , , | Comments Off on US: Senate plan could make Illinois ‘bullseye’ for nuclear waste

Israeli Army Demolishes Shops Near Jenin

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | May 09, 2013

Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday morning, the Barta’a village, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, declared the village a closed military zone, and demolished 12 shops.

Ghassan Qabha, head of the Barta’a village council, reported that the army invaded the village after sealing all of its entrances, declared it a closed military zone and demolished the twelve structures.

Qabha added that 120 Palestinians work in the demolished buildings, and that most of them are the sole breadwinners in their families.

Furthermore, soldiers handed military orders to eight shop owners informing them the army will be demolishing their shops under the pretext that they were built without construction permits.

Qabha strongly denounced the Israeli attack, and said that the ongoing violations and assaults against the villagers aim at forcing them out of their village that became isolated and surrounded by Israel’s Annexation Wall and its illegal settlements.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israeli Army Demolishes Shops Near Jenin

UNASUR to Create Military Force

By Laura Benitez | The Argentina Independent | May 9, 2013

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has announced that it will create a united defence body to promote democratic stability among its member countries.

Military delegates of Argentina, Brazil, and Ecuador concluded a two day meeting yesterday in Quito, and agreed on creating the first South American Defence College (ESUDE) – a safety training centre with the aim of turning “the regions into a zone of peace”.

UNASUR has said that the idea behind ​​the project is to “eliminate outdated visions that have formed our military, with manuals and taxes from foreign powers.

“The goal is to start from scratch and consider a defence doctrine, without starting from the premise of opposing countries. It is important to define our role in the military, to assume responsibility for prevention, border control or emergency responses.

“We want to create a body of higher and postgraduate education to create a regional identity for civilians and our military, and to avoid interference of other countries or geopolitical zones,” a UNASUR spokesperson said.

The ESUDE proposal paper will be presented at the next meeting of the executive body for the South American Defence Council in Lima, Peru on the 16th and 17th May. Members who attended yesterday’s meeting in Quito will meet again during the second week of July in Buenos Aires, to define the Esude proposal.

One of the issues that is expected to be up for debate in the following meetings is the level of participation in the armed forces from each country.

The initiative already has the support of other member countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and Uruguay.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on UNASUR to Create Military Force

Brazil and Argentina Sign Agreement to Build Research and Radioisotope Reactors

Prensa Latina | May 8, 2013

Rio de Janeiro – Atomic power agencies from Brazil and Argentina signed an agreement to build two nuclear reactors for research and production of radioisotopes, said the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT) today.

The agreement, signed by the Brazilian National Commission for Nuclear Energy (CNEN) and the National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA), is centered on the construction of two reactors: the Brazilian Multipurpose Reasearch Reactor (RMB) and the RA-10 in Argentina, said a spokesman from the MCT.

The action meets the Bilateral Integration and Coordination Mechanism, established in the Joint Declaration of 2008 and signed by Presidents Cristina Fernandez and Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, said the source.

To carry out the project, both sides created the Bi-National Commission on Nuclear Energy (COBEN) which will be in charge of the construction of both reactors.

The atomic agencies of these South American countries have closely collaborated since 2008. Argentina provides Brazil 30 percent of the Molybdenum 99 (Mo99) radioisotopes which are indispensable in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Since 2011 both countries agreed to move forward on greater integration, and carry out a joint project to develop multipurpose reactors, demonstrating the mutual interest in increasing the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Both reactors, once manufactured and functioning, will have a total capacity to cover 40 percent of the world radioisotope market.

At the present, only France, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Argentina have the technology to produce radioisotopes.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Comments Off on Brazil and Argentina Sign Agreement to Build Research and Radioisotope Reactors

Correa Reiterates Warning Against U.S. Interference

Prensa Latina | May 8, 2013

correa_ecuadorQuito – President Rafael Correa reiterated his warning to U.S. Ambassador, Adam Namm, to comply with his diplomatic role instead of involving himself in anti-government political activities.

In conversations with reporters in the city of Guayaquil, the Ecuadorian president discounted the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador for now, but recommended that he be more considerate with this country.

Correa described the U.S. ambassador’s participation in an activity organized by a journalists’ guild opposed to the government, as “rude,” where the alleged lack of freedom of speech in Ecuador was criticized.

“Why don’t the other ambassadors participate?” Correa asked. “Rarely have we seen so much betrayal of a calling by the U.S. ambassador, who is really trying to create an uncomfortable situation,” the president said.

Citing Namm’s words that Washington is very concerned, Correa replied that he could go home and worry from there.

“This fact, I think, was a slip by the ambassador, which says a lot about his vision. He believes that he comes to impose conditions, and who has told him that is his role?” Correa asked.

According to Correa, the action is scarcely relevant, but warned against it continuing. “Make no mistake, we are facing immense power,” he said.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Comments Off on Correa Reiterates Warning Against U.S. Interference

The New York Times on Venezuela and Honduras: A Case of Journalistic Misconduct

By Keane Bhatt | NACLA | May 8 2013

The day after Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died, New York Times reporter Lizette Alvarez provided a sympathetic portrayal of “outpourings of raucous celebration and, to many, cautious optimism for the future” in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Her article, “Venezuelan Expatriates See a Reason to Celebrate,” noted that many had come to Miami to escape Chávez’s “iron grip on the nation,” and quoted a Venezuelan computer software consultant who said, bluntly: “We had a dictator. There were no laws, no justice.”1

A credulous reader of Alvarez’s report would have no idea that since 1998, Chávez had triumphed in 14 of 15 elections or referenda, all of which were deemed free and fair by international monitors. Chávez’s most recent reelection, won by an 11-point margin, boasted an 81% participation rate; former president Jimmy Carter described the “election process in Venezuela” as “the best in the world” out of 92 cases that the Carter Center had evaluated (an endorsement that, to date, has never been reported by the Times).2

In contrast to Alvarez, who allowed her quotation describing Chávez as a dictator to stand uncontested, Times reporter Neela Banerjee in 2008 cited false accusations hurled at President Obama by opponents—“he is a Muslim who attended a madrassa in Indonesia as a boy and was sworn into office on the Koran”—but immediately invalidated them: “In fact, he is a Christian who was sworn in on a Bible,” she wrote in her next sentence.3 At the Times, it seems, facts are deployed on a case-by-case basis.

The Times editorial board was even more dishonest in the wake of Chávez’s death: “The Bush administration badly damaged Washington’s reputation throughout Latin America when it unwisely blessed a failed 2002 military coup attempt against Mr. Chávez,” wrote the paper, concealing its editorial board’s own role in blessing that very coup at the time. In 2002, with the “resignation [sic] of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator,” declared a Times editorial, bizarrely adding that “Washington never publicly demonized Mr. Chávez,” that actual dictator Pedro Carmona was simply “a respected business leader,” and that the U.S.-backed, two-day coup was “a purely Venezuelan affair.”4

The editorial board—an initial champion of the de facto regime that issued a diktat within hours to dissolve practically every branch of government, including Venezuela’s National Assembly and Supreme Court—would 11 years later brazenly criticize Chávez after his death for having “dominated Venezuelan politics for 14 years with authoritarian methods.” The newspaper argued that Chávez’s government “weakened judicial independence, intimidated political opponents and human rights defenders, and ignored rampant, and often deadly, violence by the police and prison guards.” After lambasting Chávez’s record, the piece concluded that the United States “should now make clear its support for democratic and civilian transition in a post-Chávez Venezuela”—as if Chávez were anyone other than a fairly elected leader with an overwhelming popular mandate.

But there is a country currently in the grip of an undemocratic, illegitimate government that much more closely corresponds with the Times editorial board’s depiction of Venezuela: Honduras, which in 2009 suffered a coup d’état that deposed its freely elected, left-leaning president, Manuel Zelaya.

While the Times criticized Chávez for weakening judicial independence, the newspaper could not be bothered to even report on the extraordinary institutional breakdown of Honduras, when in December 2012, its Congress illegally sacked four Supreme Court justices who voted against a law proposed by the president, Porfirio Lobo, who himself had came to power in 2009 in repressive, sham elections held under a post-coup military dictatorship and boycotted by most international election observers.

When it comes to intimidation of political opponents and human rights defenders, Venezuela’s problems are almost imperceptible compared with those of Honduras. Over 14 years under Chávez, Venezuela has had no record of disappearances or murders of such individuals. In post-coup Honduras, the practice is now endemic. In one year alone—2012—at least four leaders of the Zelaya-organized opposition party Libre were slain, including mayoral candidate Edgardo Adalid Motiño. In addition, two dozen journalists and 70 members of the LGBT community have been killed since the coup, including prominent LGBT anti-coup activists like Walter Tróchez and Erick Martinez (neither case was sufficiently notable so as to warrant a mention in the Times).

And although the Times editors decried police violence in Venezuela, the Honduran police systematically engage in extrajudicial killings of their own citizens. In December 2012, Julieta Castellanos, the chancellor of Honduras’s largest university, presented the findings of a report detailing 149 killings committed by the Honduran National Police over the past two years under Porfirio Lobo. In the face of over six killings by the police a month, she warned, “It is alarming that the police themselves are the ones killing people in this country. The public is in a state of defenselessness…”5 Such alarm is further justified by Lobo’s appointment of Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla as director of the National Police, despite reports that he once oversaw death squads.6

Finally, the Times editorial board lamented Venezuelan prison violence. But consider for context that the NGO Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, consistently critical of Chávez, reported 591 prison deaths in 2012 for the country of 30 million.7 In Honduras, a country with slightly more than a quarter of Venezuela’s population, over 360 died in just one incident—a 2012 prison fire in Comayagua, in which prison authorities kept firefighters from handling the conflagration for 30 crucial minutes while the inmates’ doors remained locked. According to survivors, the guards ignored their pleas for help as many burned alive.8

Given the contrast in the two countries’ democratic credentials and human rights records, obvious questions arise: How has The New York Times portrayed Venezuela and Honduras since Honduras’s 2009 coup d’état? If, in both its news and opinion pages, the Times regularly prints accusations of Venezuelan authoritarianism, what terminology has the Times employed to describe the military government headed by Roberto Micheletti, which assumed power after Zelaya’s overthrow, or the illegitimate Lobo administration that succeeded it?

The answer is revealing. For almost four years, the Times has maintained a double standard that is literally unfailing. Not a single contributor in the Times’ over 100 news and opinion articles has ever referred to the Honduran government as “autocratic,” “undemocratic,” or “authoritarian.” Nor have Times writers ever once labeled Micheletti or Lobo “despots,” “tyrants,” “strongmen,” “dictators,” or “caudillos.”

n16255At the same time, from June 28, 2009, to March 7, 2013, the newspaper has printed at least 15 news and opinion articles in which its contributors have used any number of the aforementioned epithets for Chávez.9 (This methodology excludes the typically vitriolic anti-Chávez blog entries that the paper features on its website, as well as print pieces like Lizette Alvarez’s, which quote someone describing Chávez as a dictator.)

During this period, the paper’s news reporters themselves have referred to Chávez as a “despot,” an “authoritarian ruler,” and an “autocrat”; its opinion writers have deemed him a “petro-dictator,” an “indomitable strongman,” a “brutal neo-authoritarian,” a “warmonger,” and a “colonel-turned-oil-sultan.” On the eve of Venezuela’s October elections, a Times op-ed managed to call the Chávez administration “authoritarian” no fewer than three times in 800 words.10 And Chávez’s death offered no reprieve from this tendency: On March 6, reporter Simon Romero wrote about Chávez’s gait—he “strutt[ed] like the strongman in a caudillo novel”—and concluded that Chávez had “become, indeed, a caudillo.”11

These most basic violations of journalistic standards—referring to a democratically elected leader as a ruler with absolute power—does not simply end with its writers. On July 24, 2011, Bill Keller, then the newspaper’s executive editor, wrote the piece, “Why Tyrants Love the Murdoch Scandal,” which included a graphic of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe side by side with Chávez. Keller referred to them both when he concluded, “Autocrats will be autocrats.”12

But if despotism, defined as the cruel and oppressive exercise of absolute power, is to have any meaning, it must apply to the Honduran government, whose military—not just its police—routinely kills innocent civilians. On May 26, 2012, for example, Honduran special forces killed 15-year-old Ebed Yanez, and high-level officers allegedly managed its cover-up by dispatching “six to eight masked soldiers in dark uniforms” to the teenager’s body, poking it with rifles, and “[picking] up the empty bullet casings” to conceal evidence that could be linked back to the military, according to the Associated Press.13

The paradox of the Times—its derisive posture toward what it considers antidemocratic tendencies in Venezuela as it simultaneously avoids the same treatment of Honduras’s inarguable repression—can only be explained by one crucial factor: Honduras has been a firm U.S. ally since Zelaya’s overthrow.


Photo Credit: SOA Watch

In fact, the unit accused of killing Yanez was armed, trained, and vetted by the United States—even its trucks were donated by the U.S. government. As the AP further reported, in 2012, the U.S. Defense Department appropriated $67.4 million for Honduran military contracts, with an additional “$89 million in annual spending to maintain Joint Task Force Bravo, a 600-member U.S. unit based at Soto Cano Air Base.” Furthermore, “neither the State Department nor the Pentagon could provide details explaining a 2011 $1.3 billion authorization for exports of military electronics to Honduras.”14

The Times’ scrupulous, unerring record of avoiding disparaging characterizations of Honduras’s human-rights-violating government may explain why it has never once made reference to 94 Congress members’ demand that the Obama administration withhold U.S. assistance to the Honduran military and police in March 2012. Nor has the paper reported on 84 Congress members’ letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later that year, condemning Honduras’s “institutional breakdown” and “judicial impunity.”15

When evaluating the newspaper’s relative silence on Honduras, it is worth imagining if Chávez were to have ascended to power in as dubious a manner as Lobo; if for years Venezuela’s government permitted its security apparatus to regularly kill civilians; or if the Chávez administration presided over conditions of impunity under which political opponents and human rights activists were disappeared, tortured, and killed.

As a careful examination of the language and coverage of nearly four years of New York Times articles reveals, concern for freedom and democracy in Latin America has not been an honest concern for the liberal media institution. The paper’s unwavering conformity to the posture of the U.S. State Department—consistently vilifying an official U.S. enemy while systematically downplaying the crimes of a U.S. ally—shows that its foremost priority is to subordinate itself to the priorities of Washington.

1. Lizette Alvarez, ““Venezuelan Expatriates See a Reason to Celebrate,” The New York Times, March 6, 2013.

2. Keane Bhatt, “A Hall of Shame for Venezuelan Elections Coverage,” Manufacturing Contempt (blog),, October 8, 2012.

3. Neela Banerjee, “Obama Walks a Difficult Path as He Courts Jewish Voters,” The New York Times, March 1, 2008.

4. “Hugo Chávez Departs,” The New York Times, April 13, 2002.

5. “Policías de Honduras, Responsables de 149 Muertes Violentas,” La Prensa, December 3, 2012.

6. Katherine Corcoran and Martha Mendoza, “Juan Carlos Bonilla Valladares, Honduras Police Chief, Investigated In Killing,” Associated Press, June 1, 2012.

7. Fabiola Sánchez, “Venezuela Prison Deaths: 591 Detainees Killed Country’s Jails Last Year,” Associated Press, January 31, 2013.

8. “Hundreds Killed in ‘Hellish’ Fire at Prison in Honduras,” Associated Press, February 16, 2012.

9. Author’s research, using LexisNexis database searches for identical terms in reference to the two countries. For a detailed list of examples, contact him at

10. Francisco Toro, “How Hugo Chávez Became Irrelevant,” The New York Times, October 6, 2012.

11. Simon Romero, “Hugo Chávez, Leader Who Transformed Venezuela, Dies at 58,” The New York Times, March 6, 2013.

12. Bill Keller, “Why Tyrants Love the Murdoch Scandal,” The New York Times Magazine, July 24, 2011.

13. Alberto Arce, “Dad Seeks Justice for Slain Son in Broken Honduras,” Associated Press, November 12, 2012.

14. Martha Mendoza, “US Military Expands Its Drug War in Latin America,” Associated Press, February 3, 2013.

15. Office of Representative Jan Schakowsky, “94 House Members Send Letter to Secretary Clinton Calling for Suspension of Assistance to Honduras,” March 13, 2012. Correspondence from Jared Polis et al. to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 26, 2012.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The New York Times on Venezuela and Honduras: A Case of Journalistic Misconduct

Private Bank Profits Don’t Represent the Health of the Economy

By Arthur Phillips | CEPR | May 8, 2013

Bloomberg’s Nathan Gill wrote a particularly one-sided article on Thursday, in which he states that “Ecuador’s bid to reduce poverty by taxing its banks is threatening to deepen the nation’s economic slump.”

“Slump” seems somewhat dire to describe the state of the Ecuadorian economy. In 2012 the economy grew by 5 percent, and it is projected to grow by 4.45 percent for 2013.

The report also offers no convincing evidence that Ecuador’s taxation of its banks is hurting the economy.

The article specifically focuses on a set of reforms that took effect on January 1, including the elimination of banks’ tax deductions for reinvested profits and a 0.35 percent tax on assets held abroad. The reporter argues that a sharp drop in bank profits in the first quarter of this year was a result of the taxation. He then argues that an increase in the banks’ interest rates must also be due to the reforms:

Non-government banks, including Citigroup Inc (C).’s local unit, raised rates on corporate loans by an average 0.21 percentage point in the first quarter to 8.88 percent, the highest since November 2010, according to central bank data. That compares with a decline of 0.72 percentage point to 8.81 percent in Colombia and an increase of 0.01 percentage point to 5.79 percent for similar loans in Peru.

However, this causality is not at all clear.  It is more likely that this modest increase in interest rates is attributable to a recent uptick in inflation. Consumer prices increased at an annualized rate of 4.6 percent in the first quarter of this year, as compared to a rate of 0.2 percent in the last quarter of last year.

The reforms that increased taxes on the banks were reportedly enacted to pay for increasing cash subsidies for the country’s poor, and they were passed by congress in a 79-5 vote. Gill describes these changes as having been motivated by an election race that Correa was all but certain to win, rather than being the latest step in a determined and so-far successful process to transform a country that, like many in the hemisphere, has been historically plagued by inequality. It is perhaps worth noting that Ecuador has seen some of the region’s highest growth over the past few years. Furthermore, economic gains have been broadly shared and increased social spending has significantly improved the quality of life of a broad portion of the country’s citizens.

As CEPR’s recent report on Ecuador’s financial reforms describes, President Rafael Correa’s actions in recent years are a major reason why the government has raised revenue and consequently been able to pursue expansionary fiscal policy and increased social spending. The results of this policy regime have included the lowest unemployment rate on record, a near-halving of the poverty rate, and a doubling of education funding, among other gains.

Yet, from this article, one would be led to believe that new taxes on the financial sector have only led to lower bank profits, which are presented as a serious problem for the country’s macroeconomic outlook. Among Gill’s quoted sources are the CEO of Ecuador’s biggest brokerage firm, the director of a market research and consulting firm, and the president of the country’s Private Banking Association. Their views should come as no surprise, but they are not necessarily the full picture or even accurate.

The article (on the second page) also quotes Pedro Solines, Ecuador’s banking superintendent, as saying “Less profits for the banks, yes, but where does it go? To the people who receive the subsidy.” The quote continues with Solines saying, “If I receive the subsidy, I’m going to say that the impact is very good. If I run a shop where the person who receives the subsidy spends not $35 but $50, I’m going to say it’s good. If I’m a bank, I’m going to say I’m doing badly.”

Correa was re-elected on February 17, receiving 57 percent of the vote compared to his closest competitor’s 23 percent.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Comments Off on Private Bank Profits Don’t Represent the Health of the Economy

83-year-old nun convicted of sabotage for breach of US atomic complex

RT | May 09, 2013

Three activists, including an 83-year-old nun, who broke into a US nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee were convicted on Wednesday of interfering with national security.

In what The New York Times labeled the biggest security breach in the history of the atomic complex, the trio broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28, 2012 and defaced a uranium processing plant.

The Y-12 facility has been in operation since 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, and today is responsible for both the production and maintenance of all uranium parts for the entire US nuclear weapons arsenal. Over the years, the facility has also been the target of nonviolent anti-nuclear protests.

Now, a jury in Tennessee has charged the three protesters with sabotaging the plant, with a second charge of damaging federal property.

Defense attorneys for the three activists – Sister Megan Rice, 57-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, 64 – maintained that the prosecution had overreached.

“The shortcomings in security at one of the most dangerous places on the planet have embarrassed a lot of people,” defense lawyer Francis Lloyd said.

“You’re looking at three scapegoats behind me,” he added

Defense attorneys also noted that, once the three refused to plead guilty to trespassing, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, the prosecution introduced the charge of sabotage, which carries a maximum prison term of twenty years. They believed the higher charge should have been dismissed.

According to the Associated Press, which provided details of the court proceedings, the three activists have no remorse for their actions, and were pleased to have reached one of the most secure areas of the facility.

Prosecutor Jeff Theodore noted that the trio’s fate could have been far worse, as that area of the facility allowed guards to use deadly force.

“They’re lucky, and thank goodness they’re alive, because they went into the lethal zone,” said Theodore.

The three defendants spent two hours inside Y-12, during which time they hung banners, cut through security fences, strung crime-scene tape and sprayed “baby bottles full of human blood” on the exterior portion of the facility.

Boertje-Obed, who is a house painter from Duluth, Minnesota, explained why they sprayed the blood.

“The reason for the baby bottles was to represent that the blood of children is spilled by these weapons,” he said.

While inside the most secure portion of the facility, the three activists managed to hammer off what is described as a “small chunk” of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility.

During cross examination, Sister Rice stated that she wished she had not waited so long to stage a protest within the plant.

“My regret was I waited 70 years,” she said.”It is manufacturing which can only cause death.”

Prosecutors argued that the breach of security was serious, and caused the plant to shut down for two weeks as security staff were re-trained and defense contractors replaced.

Meanwhile, federal officials maintain that there was never any danger of the three activists reaching materials that could be detonated or used to construct an improvised bomb.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

End Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons, Prepare to Back Hunger Strikers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | May 8, 2013

Another prison hunger strike is looming in California, where more than 200 inmates at the Pelican Bay supermax have been in solitary confinement for between five and ten years and nearly 100 have been shut off from most human contact for 20 years or more. Across the nation, on any given day, more than 100,000 inmates suffer in solitary – about 25,000 in the federal system and another 80,000 or so in state facilities. That’s the equivalent of locking up every man, woman and child in Charleston, South Carolina, in their own little 8 by 12 foot box – for an eternity. Nothing like this American form of mass human torment has ever existed on the face of the earth: systematic, industrial strength torture, multiplied 100,000 times per day. Solitary confinement as a form of routine, mass punishment is beyond barbarity. Nowhere in human history do we find barbarians who tortured hundreds of thousands of people every day for decades at a time. Only in America.

Solitary confinement, by its very nature, is designed to ensure that no one but the torturers hears the cries of the tormented. However, knowledge of such monstrous evil compels decent men and women to action, in solidarity with those who have been wronged. The prisoners of Pelican Bay, who went on hunger strike in 2011, have sent word that they will do so again, on July 8, if the state of California does not meet their core demands. One demand is fundamental: that inmates not be confined to solitary unless they have been charged, “and found guilty of, committing a serious offense… a felony!” Instead, inmates are consigned to a life of oblivion based on anonymous allegations that they are affiliated with a gang, or for exhibiting the slightest hint of political thought – or for no discernable reason, at all. Not only is lengthy solitary confinement unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment, and a form of torture under international law, it is totally arbitrary and capricious.

In California, alone, more than 14,000 prisoners are held in isolation. The Pelican Bay inmates anticipate many of them will join the hunger strike, as thousands did in 2011, when 13 prisons were involved in the protest, and three inmates committed suicide. This time around, prison organizers have invited the participation of “all male and female prisoners across the U.S. prison systems,” both state and federal. Inmates in Georgia went on hunger strike in 2011 and again last year, pressing a range of demands.

If the California prisoners are forced to put their lives on the line again, on July 8, support networks need to be in place, beforehand. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is putting out the call, so that the inmates at Pelican Bay and throughout the vast U.S. prison gulag will know that folks on the outside have their back. June 21, 22 and 23 have been designated as Days of Solidarity With the Struggle to End Prison Torture, and to immediately disband the torture chambers. You can sign up by going to

Glen Ford can be contacted at

For more information, contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at:, or by calling (347) 979-SMIN (7646)

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on End Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons, Prepare to Back Hunger Strikers

Obama to support Internet wiretapping program

RT | May 08, 2013

United States President Barack Obama is likely to endorse a Federal Bureau of Investigation effort that would ensure all Internet companies in the US provide a way for the government to conduct undetected, backdoor surveillance.

The FBI has been considering solutions to their so-called “Going Dark” problem as intricate methods of encryption and advances in technology have made it increasingly difficult for the federal government and law enforcement to gain access to online communications conducted in the shadows of the Web. Should the latest efforts of the FBI move forward, though, Internet companies that act as any conduit for correspondence of any kind would be heavily fined if they don’t include in their infrastructure a way for the government to eavesdrop on that dialogue in real time.

At a press conference in Washington, DC in March, FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann said the Department of Justice was determined to have the means to wiretap any online communication by 2014 and called it “a huge priority for the FBI.” Further developments last month revealed that the FBI was considering a fine-based model under which Internet companies would be forced to comply or risk being penalized beyond repair.

On Tuesday, New York Times reporter Charlie Savage cited Obama administration officials as saying the president “is on the verge of backing” that very plan.

Savage explained that while companies would be allowed to operate without giving the government backdoor access, the fees would likely limit the number of entities willing to challenge the order. As RT reported last month, a company that doesn’t comply with the FBI’s orders would be fined $25,000 after 90 days. Additional penalties would then be tacked on every day an Internet service provider, website or other company fails to comply — with the price of the penalty doubling each day they don’t assist investigators.

While the FBI’s original proposal would have required Internet communications services to each build in a wiretapping capacity, the revised one, which must now be reviewed by the White House, focuses on fining companies that do not comply with wiretap orders,” wrote Savage. “The difference, officials say, means that start-ups with a small number of users would have fewer worries about wiretapping issues unless the companies became popular enough to come to the Justice Department’s attention.”

Savage quoted a statement in his article from Weissmann in which the FBI attorney said, “This doesn’t create any new legal surveillance authority.” Instead, said Weissman, “None of the ‘going dark’ solutions would do anything except update the law given means of modern communications.”

This always requires a court order,” he said.

Coincidently, that same issue has had major developments in its own right this week. On Wednesday morning, CNET reporter Declan McCullagh wrote that the Justice Department circulated memos in which they insisted that obtaining a search warrant isn’t necessary to eavesdrop on Internet communication of any sort.

The US Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages and other private files, internal documents reveal,” wrote McCullagh, citing a government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET.

According to McCullagh, those documents include very specific instructions from high-importance officials that demonstrate the Justice Department’s disinterest in applying established law when it comes to eavesdropping on Americans. While Weissmann made the argument that the FBI plan reportedly backed by the president won’t change what rules the DoJ operates by, the memos obtained by McCullagh paints the Obama White House as an administration unwilling to work with the already broad surveillance powers provided to it.

In one memo unearthed by the ACLU, McCullagh said the US attorney for Manhattan instructed his office that an easy-to-obtain legal paper that requires no judicial oversight is all that’s needed to obtain personal correspondence.

“[A] subpoena — a piece of paper signed by a prosecutor, not a judge — is sufficient to obtain nearly ‘all records from an ISP,’” McCullagh wrote.

In another instance, McCullagh said the US attorney in Houston, Texas obtained the “contents of stored communications” from another ISP without getting a judge to sign a warrant.

One current law that limits how and when authorities can obtain a suspect’s email pursuant to a criminal investigation, the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, provides that while a warrant is needed for relatively recent correspondence, a comparably easier to get administrative subpoena is all that’s required to get communication older than 180 days. Provisions of the ECPA have been largely unchanged since it was passed in the mid-1980s, but last month a Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment that would require a warrant in all instances.

In advocating for fewer restrictions when obtaining store communication, the FBI’s Wessmann said in April that another law, 1994’s Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, needs to be expanded so investigators can leap over current hurdles that keep them from conducting real time wiretaps of online discussions.

You do have laws that say you need to keep things for a certain amount of time, but in the cyber realm you can have companies that keep things for five minutes,” he said. “You can imagine totally legitimate reasons for that, but you can also imagine how enticing that ability is for people who are up to no good because the evidence comes and it goes.”

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, renewed calls across the country have been made to make it easier for investigators to quickly conduct surveillance — in and off the Web. A recent poll found that roughly two-thirds of Americans favored more surveillance cameras in public places, and now the nation’s top law officials are asking for increased spy power not just on the streets but on the Web.

Earlier this month, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said at a discussion in Washington, “When you come across an advocate for one thing — an advocate for security, and advocate for privacy — they’re often arguing from a position without understanding that it’s a two-edged sword.”

For example, very strong encryption would allow you and I to have a very, very secure communication: If we were criminals, if we were dissidents, if we were martyrs or if we were just doing a little business,” he said. “If you could figure out a way to ban very strong encryption from evil people and only allow good people…then this would be easy,” he said.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on Obama to support Internet wiretapping program

Group calls for U.S. troop withdrawal from Kyrgyzstan

Xinhua – May 8, 2013

BISHKEK – A group of Kyrgyzstan youth called for the withdrawal of American troops from the Manas airport on Tuesday to protest against the U.S. transit center in their country.

The “Jon element” (Just like) group wanted to attract public attention to the work of a U.S. military base that “carries a direct threat to the security of Kyrgyzstan,” said group leader Atay Beishenbek.

“The crash of a U.S. Air Force tanker in the country is one more proof that military aircraft should not place next to civilian aircraft at the international airport,” he said.

A U.S. military aircraft crashed on May 3 near the border with Kazakhstan shortly after taking off from a base used for flying troops into and out of Afghanistan and dispatching tankers to refuel warplanes in flight.

The U.S. transit center is adjacent to the Manas international airport 24 kilometers from the capital Bishkek.

President Almazbek Atambayev has repeatedly stated that when the agreement to use the base expires in 2014, the U.S. must withdraw unconditionally from the base, or in conjunction with a Russian Civic Center of traffic.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Comments Off on Group calls for U.S. troop withdrawal from Kyrgyzstan

This story is true; the facts have been fabricated to keep the false flag flying

By Greg Felton | Aletho News | May 9, 2013

For decades, pretentious wonks have declared that we live in “The Information Age,” as if information were a commodity unique to our time. Inanity aside, the claim is patently false, notwithstanding the advent of computers and virtually instant communication.

We do not live in an “Information Age” because “information” connotes data that is beneficial and objectively valid. Information can help solve problems, educate, and generally improve life. This was true of written language, movable type, the radio and the telephone, but look around today—do you see problems being solved, people becoming smarter, or life getting better? I thought not.

A more accurate expression for our time is “The Disinformation Age.” Though it is also not unique to our time, it at least captures the pervasive abuse of information that has made our society the opposite of an “informed” rational society: dissent is a subversive act; citizens are enemies of the state; the media conceal evidence; and the police enforce police-state edicts.

If these dystopian qualities were the basis for a movie or TV show, we could take comfort in the knowledge that justice would eventually prevail.

We’d be able to cheer for a rebellious anti-hero like John Connor (Terminator series), Det. Del Spooner (I, Robot), or Insp. Harry Callaghan (Dirty Harry series) to bring down the system. We would see detectives or scientists analyzing evidence (Columbo, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Bones) instead of destroying or ignoring it. We might be treated to the sight of the police treating a suspect humanely and reading him his rights (Kojak, Hill Street Blues, Dragnet). We might even see a dogged investigator exposing a cover up or government corruption (All The President’s Men, Erin Brockovich), instead of scheming to keep it hidden from the public.

This world of scripted entertainment, unreal though it may be, is able to depict healthy relationships between authorities and the truth, and between authorities and citizens. Such shows do not depict an idealized future; they give us fading afterimages of our society before the Military-Israel Complex and neo-conservative sociopaths gave us the “War on Terrorism” and declared justice obsolete. Here’s how the Boston Marathon bombing was scripted to serve the expanding surveillance state and stoke the “War on Terrorism.”

• Stage a lethal attack against a civilian U.S. target;
• Blame Arabs or some other Middle Eastern-looking types for the crime;
• Have FBI agents in place to ensure containment and control of the investigation;
• Justify their existence by having a “bomb drill” going on at the same time;
• Keep the public ignorant of the drill;
• Make sure the scapegoats are killed or otherwise kept away from the media;
• Stage conspicuous displays of gratitude for police agencies to reinforce the illusion that they are needed to fight “terrorism”; and
• Ensure that evidence is ignored or destroyed, and dissenting voices are harassed into submission so that the pre-established cover story can be marketed to a gullible public.

Like the 2001World Trade Centre Attack, which followed the same basic script although on a much larger scale, the Boston Marathon bombing story has come completely unraveled. Every couple of days it seems that some other detail comes out that demands to be investigated:

• No credible motive was ever given for the Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaerv to have made the bombs.
• The FBI failed to disclose knowing the brothers; the agency had had a relationship with them going back at least two years.
• The FBI had to know them because the boys’ uncle Ruslan Tsarni (formerly Tsarnaev) is an ex-contractor for Halliburton, and was married to the daughter of Graham Fuller, a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA and senior political scientist at RAND.
• Boston Police claim Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was shot in a gunfight, but video footage shows that he was unarmed.
• Dzhokhar was accused of leaving his bomb-laden backpack at the race, but a surveillance pic clearly shows him leaving with it.
• No explanation was given for the sudden appearance of Israeli police who just happened to be there to lend assistance.
• The public was not told that several members of a private security kill squad were on site.

This last omission, combined with the FBI’s immediate refusal to consider other suspects, clearly suggests a false-flag scenario. The following table identifies this kill squad.

Are these the Marathon bombers?

2013_05_09 Craft1

Click here for downloadable pdf enlargement.

To date, no news agency will touch this angle, even though these and other pics have been available on the Internet for weeks. Nevertheless, New Hampshire State Senator Sheila Tremblay correctly said that a black ops team was behind the bombing and even cast doubt on the claims of injury since one amputee did not look as if he were in pain. This was undoubtedly true because many of the amputees were paid actors who had already lost their limbs. Tremblay was pressured into issuing a political apology.

If this were part of a movie script, I guarantee there would be a crusading detective or journalist examining the evidence, interviewing people like Tremblay honestly, and asking intelligent questions like:

What was Craft International doing at the Marathon?
Why were they even needed?
How many Craft mercenaries were on site?
Who hired them—FBI, DHS, Boston police?
Why were amputee actors in the crowd, and who hired them?
What are the names of the two agents in pic #1?
Have these agents been interviewed regarding the missing backpack?
Has anyone proved that the exploded backpack even belonged to the Tsarnaev brothers?

2013_05_09 L.A. ConfidentialFor an excellent example of how justice triumphs over police corruption in the world of entertainment, the 1997 movie L.A. Confidential has thematic elements in common with the Boston bombing. [CAUTION SPOILER ALERT]

The film, centres around the culture of violence and corruption that pervades the L.A. Police Department in the 1950s. The catalyzing event is a multiple murder that takes place late one night in a seedy diner. A car belonging to “three negroes” was seen in the area at the time, and so the precinct captain makes them the sole focus of police inquiries.

Under interrogation, a career-minded but idealistic lieutenant realizes the story doesn’t wash, and starts looking for answers. He finds unlikely support from a thuggish officer and a sergeant who works on a TV show.

If you’re wondering what an honest investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing might have looked like, here are a few scenes for your entertainment. Shows like this accurately reflect our police-state but they can inure us to disinformation. This kind of entertainment has to be seen not as a comforting, nostalgic escape, but the basis for a new reality script since the one we have is transparently indefensible.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments