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Arms companies are making money by taking over UK schools

By Andrew Smith | Open Democracy | June 2, 2015

Corporations have already established a growing foothold in many UK schools, but the idea of Europe’s biggest arms company running a school still seems like something out of an Orwellian nightmare.

However, it may be about to happen in Barrow, Cumbria, where BAE Systems is on the verge of taking over the faltering Furness Academy. The proposal is currently going through due diligence before being opened to a consultation with stakeholders, parents and staff, where it is expected to be supported. If it is agreed, BAE will become the school’s sole sponsor later this year. They will also take responsibility for the ‘strategic direction’ of the school.

Education isn’t just about grades, it’s also about promoting values, informing perspectives and expanding minds. Could a weapons manufacturer ever act in the best interests of school children? How can a company that profits from international hostility ever be trusted to teach about areas like conflict resolution or the human cost of war?

BAE has a shameful, inglorious history of corruption and deals with dictators. It has been the subject of investigations across a number of countries and was fined $400 million in the US for bribery. It has also sold weapons to human rights abusers and dubious regimes across the world, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Bahrain and Egypt.

Despite all of the ramifications for education, the move has been welcomed by local MP John Woodcock, who greeted it as a “really exciting” development. Furness Academy’s acting head called it “a fantastic opportunity.

Arms companies and schools

If education is a public good, should it be given away to big business? Arms companies already spend a lot of time and resources on infiltrating schools and trying to influence the curriculum.

One way they are doing this is through their marketing and promotional materials. Raytheon, an arms company that has been linked to the production of bombs used against Gaza last summer, hosts competitions for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students. Similarly, fighter jet manufacturer Boeing works with schools to design mock military planes and BAE runs a schools “ambassador” program, with the stated objective of improving its “corporate reputation at both a local and national level.”

Things will get worse this September, with the opening of a number of institutions that are directly tied to arms companies. These include South Wiltshire University Technical College, which will teach science and engineering to 14-18 year olds “in the context of the defence industries.” Its ‘sponsors’ include Chemring, which has been linked to the use of tear gas in Hong Kong and Egypt, and QinetiQ, which has applied for arms export licences to sell weapons to countries including Bahrain, Pakistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Although these arms companies are described as ‘sponsors’, their roles will include “helping to construct the curriculum”, allowing them to build “close links with students who will be potential future employees.”

The end goal for these companies is not to help produce an educated, questioning cohort of young people, it is to normalise their business practices and influence potentially impressionable young minds, while making a profit.

The militarisation of classrooms

All of this represents a worrying expansion of militarism into our schools, but it’s not the first sign of it. Forces Watch estimates that around 900,000 young people come into contact with the armed forces every year through their schools.

A disproportionate number of these students are those from disadvantaged backgrounds, which is where many of the resources are targeted. Some of this is done through recruitment fairs, and some through the government’s own ‘military ethos‘ programme, which brings military veterans into schools to “build character, resilience and grit in their pupils.”

The military also provides free support and resources for schools; these include promotional materials for classrooms and Armed Forces Day assembly plans for children as young as seven.

In simple terms the military wants to transform our schools into a recruitment ground. This is acknowledged by the head of army recruitment, who described army careers advisers as “skilled salesmen”, saying: “It starts with a seven-year-old boy seeing a parachutist at an air show and thinking, ‘That looks great.’ From then the army is trying to build interest by drip, drip, drip.”

As Turkish academic Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu has said: “Schools provide fertile ground for militarism: there is a captive audience, a comprehensive mandate, a hierarchical structure and a clear power differential between students and professionals.”

Groups such as Veterans for Peace and the Peace Education Network do crucial and invaluable work in promoting peace and non-violence in schools and countering the growth of youth militarisation by offering an alternative to the army’s pro-military messages. But neither has anywhere near the same level of access and support that is enjoyed by the armed forces or the arms industry.

What kind of education do we want?

Central to the debate is the wider question of what kind of values we want in our education system and what kind of future we want for young people.

Arms manufacturers would not commit to these kinds of programmes if it wasn’t profitable to do so. These companies may pay lip-service to encouraging critical thinking and promoting positive learning outcomes, but their shareholders will always be the main beneficiaries of any arrangement.

This kind of involvement gives them a chance to gloss over the human rights abuses they facilitate and to present themselves as legitimate businesses. It also gives them direct access to potential future employees and allows them to influence young people’s decisions and direction.

Schools are fundamental to our society. They are meant to be safer places for learning and should not be sold hotbeds for militarism and corporations. They exist to educate children and young people and to develop their ideas and understanding of the world. They should not be allowed to become training grounds for arms companies and those that profit from war.

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | | 2 Comments

MoD sought sensitive children’s data for possible recruitment drive

RT | June 6, 2015

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) has been blocked from accessing highly sensitive data on school students, including how rich their parents are and their academic record, which they sought to better inform them of military career opportunities.

The MoD made a request to the National Pupil Database (NPD) last year, according to the magazine Schools Week.

A spokesman for the MoD insisted to Schools Week that the request was an “error” made by someone “outside the Army’s recruitment branch.”

However, Forces Watch, a campaign group that scrutinizes recruitment in the military, said the fact that the request had been denied showed “how inappropriate the MoD’s use of the data was.”

The information the MoD was trying to get hold of is not easy to access; it is labeled Tier 1 and includes school children’s most personal details.

As well as ethnicity and address, the database includes descriptions of pupils’ academic records and special educational needs, as well as how often they were absent from school and if they receive free school meals, an indication of how wealthy their parents are.

Applying to the NPD for such information is a complex and time consuming process. An applicant must answer 20 security questions and enter encryption details into their computer. For Tier 1 data, applicants must say exactly why they need this information and why they are unable to use less sensitive information.

A final decision on whether information will be released is made by senior Department of Education (DfE) staff on the Data Management Advisory Panel.

The news that the MoD had made a request surfaced after all NPD requests were released under transparency laws. Since 2012, only 9 out 460 requests have been refused.

“We only disclose information from the NPD for the purpose of conducting research and analysis that will promote the education or well-being of children in England,” A DfE spokesperson said.

While the MoD said that the request was an “error,” the release from the NPD listed the reason for their request.

[The request was] “To determine if we can use targeted messaging to better inform young people of the career opportunities open to them in the Army (Regular and Reserve) so that their decisions about seeking a full or part time job are better informed,” according to the transparency release.

However an MoD spokesperson insisted that the request was not in line with army’s recruitment policy.

“We can confirm that a request was made in error to the DfE for access to elements of the NPD by an individual who worked outside the Army’s recruitment branch. This is not in line with Army policy and the request has been halted,” they said.

However, Owen Everett from Forces Watch said that the army is struggling to recruit new soldiers.

“That the MoD have now attempted to obtain this vast database of school students’ personal data in an attempt to improve Army recruitment, at a time when Army recruitment continues to be struggling, and when the armed forces policy of recruiting 16 and 17 year-olds is shortly to be challenged in a judicial review, is no coincidence,” he said.

Everrett also pointed out that many teenagers from poorer backgrounds and less wealthy areas of the country end up joining the army because they have no other prospects of full time employment and are, thus, particularly overrepresented in the infantry. In Afghanistan infantry soldiers had a far greater risk of being killed and injured in action.

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , | 5 Comments

US VETERANS Gassed by US Army troops – 1932

In 1924, a grateful Congress voted to give a bonus to World War I veterans – $1.25 for each day served overseas, $1.00 for each day served in the States. The catch was that payment would not be made until 1945. However, by 1932 the nation had slipped into the dark days of the Depression and the unemployed veterans wanted their money immediately.

In May of that year, some 15,000 veterans, many unemployed and destitute, descended on Washington, D.C. to demand immediate payment of their bonus. They proclaimed themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force but the public dubbed them the “Bonus Army.” Raising ramshackle camps at various places around the city, they waited.

The veterans made their largest camp at Anacostia Flats across the river from the Capitol. Approximately 10,000 veterans, women and children lived in the shelters built from materials dragged out of a junk pile nearby – old lumber, packing boxes and scrap tin covered with roofs of thatched straw.

Discipline in the camp was good, despite the fears of many city residents who spread unfounded “Red Scare” rumors. Streets were laid out, latrines dug, and formations held daily. Newcomers were required to register and prove they were bonafide veterans who had been honorably discharged. Their leader, Walter Waters, stated, “We’re here for the duration and we’re not going to starve. We’re going to keep ourselves a simon-pure veteran’s organization. If the Bonus is paid it will relieve to a large extent the deplorable economic condition.”

June 17 was described by a local newspaper as “the tensest day in the capital since the war.” The Senate was voting on the bill already passed by the House to immediately give the vets their bonus money. By dusk, 10,000 marchers crowded the Capitol grounds expectantly awaiting the outcome. Walter Waters, leader of the Bonus Expeditionary Force, appeared with bad news. The Senate had defeated the bill by a vote of 62 to 18. The crowd reacted with stunned silence. “Sing America and go back to your billets” he commanded, and they did. A silent “Death March” began in front of the Capitol and lasted until July 17, when Congress adjourned.

A month later, on July 28, Attorney General Mitchell ordered the evacuation of the veterans from all government property, Entrusted with the job, the Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two marchers killed. Learning of the shooting at lunch, President Hoover ordered the army to clear out the veterans. Infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks were dispatched with Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur in command. Major Dwight D. Eisenhower served as his liaison with Washington police and Major George Patton led the cavalry.

By 4:45 P.M. the troops were massed on Pennsylvania Ave. below the Capitol. Thousands of Civil Service employees spilled out of work and lined the streets to watch. The veterans, assuming the military display was in their honor, cheered. Suddenly Patton’s troopers turned and charged. “Shame, Shame” the spectators cried. Soldiers with fixed bayonets followed, hurling tear gas into the crowd.

By nightfall the BEF had retreated across the Anacostia River where Hoover ordered MacArthur to stop. Ignoring the command, the general led his infantry to the main camp. By early morning the 10,000 inhabitants were routed and the camp in flames. Two babies died and nearby hospitals overwhelmed with casualties. Eisenhower later wrote, “the whole scene was pitiful. The veterans were ragged, ill-fed, and felt themselves badly abused. To suddenly see the whole encampment going up in flames just added to the pity.”

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

CEO: Orange in Israel ‘for good’

AFP – June 6, 2015

PARIS – The chairman of Orange told AFP on Saturday that he “sincerely” regretted a “controversy” over the French telecoms group’s relations with Israel, saying, the Orange Group “is in Israel to stay.”

Stephane Richard denied that the company’s decision to end its brand-licensing agreement with Partner, Israel’s second largest mobile operator, “as soon as possible from a contractual point of view,” in any way implied that Orange was seeking to withdraw.

Richard touched off a firestorm of criticism on Wednesday when he told reporters in Cairo he was ready to “withdraw Orange brand from Israel.”

“Our intention is to withdraw from Israel. It will take time,” but “for sure we will do it,” Richard said during an interview with Egyptian newspaper Daily News earlier this week.

Partner, which has a license from the French company to use its brand, has been attacked by rights groups for operating in illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

At the end of May, five non-governmental organizations and two unions in France asked Orange to state publicly its willingness to sever its ties with Partner and denounce “attacks on human rights” allegedly carried out by the Israeli firm.

Despite this, Richard said at the time it was a purely business decision, not political, that Orange does not license its brand.

The comments touched a raw nerve in Israel, which is growing increasingly concerned about global boycott efforts and the impact on its image abroad.

A furious Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the decision by Orange, which is part state-owned, as “miserable.”

The fresh Franco-Israeli spat comes after a high-profile diplomatic row in December when French lawmakers voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state.

France’s top diplomat Fabius also said that Paris and the European Union “have a consistent policy on settlement-building that is known to all.”

In addition to drawing criticism from the BDS movement, Partner’s servicing of settlements throughout the West Bank also point to larger inequalities between residents in Jewish-only settlements throughout the West Bank and neighboring Palestinian locals.

While Partner’s business activities allegedly contributing to the economic viability of illegal settlements, Israeli policies regarding mobile service itself in the occupied West Bank have been criticized by rights groups.

As countries across the Middle East graduate to 4G mobile service, service providers in the West Bank are unable to provide even 3G mobile data due to a refusal by Israel to grant the Palestinian Authority the bandwidth necessary.

As a result, Palestinians are forced to choose between outdated 2G service or buying contracts with Israeli companies servicing settlers illegally residing throughout the West Bank.

Despite rejection by French leadership of the potential break of Orange from Israel’s Partner, the BDS movement has gained momentum in France in recent years, with French corporate giant Veolia selling nearly all of its business activity in Israel last month.


Ma’an staff contributed to this report.

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

Family Raided by SWAT and their Dog Shot, for Being Unable to Pay Utility Bill

By Matt Agorist | The Free Thought Project | June 5, 2015

St. Louis, MO — Nothing says Police State USA quite like a SWAT team raiding a family home and killing their dog because they are unable to pay their natural gas bill.

The woman whose dog was killed and home destroyed by SWAT officers is Angela Zorich, and her story about her police state experience will shock the conscience.

According to a federal lawsuit filed this month, Zorich was the victim of a massive military-style raid and subsequent puppycide. The raid was carried out because police said they needed “to check if her home had electricity and natural gas service.”

“This is an example of police overreaching and using excessive force to get a family out of their house,” said Kenneth Chackes to the Riverfront Times, the attorney who represents Zorich.

According to the lawsuit, on April 25, 2014, St. Louis County Police officers came to her house. Her son cussed at them. They inspected the home’s exterior and placed a “Problem Properties” sticker on the front window.

Days after being publicly shamed and labeled by the St. Louis Police Department as a “Problem,” on April 28, Zorich called them to follow up. She was told by police that she was being investigated for failing to have natural gas or electric service; two violations against city code.

Zorich admitted to the police that she did not have gas, but said that she did have electricity. Zorich asked for another inspection to prove that she had the utilities. The officer told her that was fine, but that the investigation would continue.

The next day, on April 29, 2014, the home of Angela Zorich was raided by multiple officers from the St. Louis County Police Tactical Response Unit.

The Riverfront Times outlines the details of the lawsuit:

Zorich was at home with several family members and her pit bull, Kiya, when a St. Louis County Police Tactical Response Unit burst through the door without knocking, according to her suit. The unit had at least five officers with M-4 rifles, supported by at least eight uniformed officers.

The officers entered so quickly, Zorich’s suit alleges, that Kiya didn’t even have time to bark. A tactical officer fired three shots into the dog, and the dog’s “bladder and bowels released and she fell to the floor.” The dog “was laying on the floor in her own waste and blood struggling to breathe. She had a gaping hole in her chest.”

Zorich claims the officers kept trying to talk to her about the natural gas, but she was focused on her dog, whom she’d raised as a puppy and who (she says) had “never shown aggression to any person.”

At one point in the raid, Zorich alleges, an officer pointed his firearm at her son’s head and said “One word, motherfucker, and I’ll put three in you.”

Zorich was subsequently taken into custody at the police station. When she was finally let go and allowed to return to her home, she found it to be completely trashed. Beds had been overturned, and items that were once on shelves had been thrown to the floor.

The citations issued to Zorich, which had allegedly justified the heavily militarized raid on her home, were for substandard siding, guard rail, screens, window glass and deck.

A dozen armed men dressed for war, were dispatched to a woman’s home, killed her dog, and kidnapped her because of some moldy wood and her inability to pay her gas bill.

In what world is this considered “justice”?

The apologists will say that Angela Zorich provoked police into this action against her. If she didn’t want to be raided, they will say, she should have just paid her gas bill. The thought of the raid being retaliatory in nature won’t enter their minds.

Named in the lawsuit is the county of St. Louis and two officers, Corey Zavorka and Robert M. Rinck. Her allegations include unlawful seizure and unlawful infliction of emotional distress (for the killing of the dog) and unlawful retaliation.

Hopefully, with her legal team, Zorich will get the actual justice she deserves.

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Former FBI Anthrax Investigator Files Lawsuit Claiming Retaliation

By Janet Phelan – New Eastern Outlook – 03.06.2015

Retaliation. It is becoming a rather consistent sub-text in growing numbers of reports coming in concerning US policies—domestic as well as international. On the domestic front, attorneys are being suspended from the practice of law for protesting that the courts are corrupt and an intelligence whistleblower flees the US for safety in Russia. These stories have the element of retaliation in common.

And now, we have reports of the FBI retaliating against one of their own former agents, allegedly for criticizing a high profile and troubled investigation. Richard Lambert, former Inspector in Charge of the 2001 anthrax investigation (AMERITHRAX) has filed a lawsuit against former Attorney General Eric Holder, former FBI Chief Robert Mueller and others in the Justice Department, alleging retaliation.

Richard Lambert, whose criticism of the FBI’s  investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks became public fare on 60 minutes, has filed a tort claim in US District Court, alleging that an erroneous legal opinion, written by FBI attorney Patrick Kelly and circulated both within and outside of the FBI, resulted in Lambert’s being fired in June of 2013 from the position of Senior Counterintelligence Officer with Oak Ridge National Laboratories, a position Lambert took in 2012 after retiring from the FBI following 24 years of service.

Lambert alleges that Kelly’s legal opinion branded him as a criminal for taking a job wherein he had contact with the FBI, without allowing the one year “cooling off” period mandated by law for former FBI employees. Lambert points out in his lawsuit that Kelly misreported the law, which allows former FBI employees to maintain exactly such contact if they are in a position wherein they are “representing the US government.” Lambert’s position at ORNL– a Department of Energy facility– fulfills this stipulation, he maintains.

Lambert states he reported Kelly’s conclusions to the US Attorney’s office and to the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, both of which found Kelly’s findings to be “meritless.”

In his lawsuit, Lambert maintains that he was singled out for retaliation due to the animus created by his criticisms of the AMERITHRAX investigation, an investigation with which he, as Inspector in Charge, was intimately acquainted.  He states that in 2006 he provided a “whistleblower report” to the FBI’s Deputy Director, with concerns that the investigation was pocked with inadequacies, including understaffing, threats of retaliation should the understaffing be reported to the FBI Headquarters, as well as an extensive cover up of what Lambert calls “daunting exculpatory evidence” concerning the chief suspect, Dr. Bruce Ivins, a Fort Detrick researcher.

Ivins reportedly committed suicide in 2008 before he could be arrested. The FBI has continued to maintain that Ivins was the “anthrax mailer.” Letters laden with weaponized anthrax spores were put into the mail in the weeks following the attacks of September 11, 2001, killing five people and sickening at least seventeen others.

Lambert’s lawsuit describes some of the actions taken by the FBI and DOJ in efforts to brand him as a criminal in allegedly violating the “cooling off” period. According to Lambert, the DOJ “launched and sensationalized massive criminal probes, which included the dispatch of teams of OIG Special Agents …who raided and searched Plaintiff’s office at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, seized and analyzed Plaintiff’s personal documents and effects, and interrogated dozens of Plaintiff’s…coworkers and associates in a wild fishing expedition festooned with prurient inquisitions into the intimate and irrelevant details of Plaintiff’s private life and marital status.”

The DOJ, however, came up empty handed. No charges were ever filed against Lambert, whose lawsuit  claims: “Due to the stigmatizing publicity and notoriety surrounding Defendant (Patrick) Kelly’s legal opinion and Defendant’s inquisition, Plaintiff has been blackballed with the specter of illegal conduct and ethics violations, unable to gain reemployment despite his submission of more than 70 job applications to various employers.”

Lambert is seeking 2.5 million in compensatory damages.

Lambert, who holds a law degree and three Master’s degrees, is representing himself. His 24 year career with the FBI included a stint as Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the San Diego Division, Special Agent in Charge at the Knoxville Division and Inspector in Charge of the AMERITHRAX investigation, along with other positions.

Another attorney, Barry Kissin, of Frederick, Maryland, also publicly critical of the FBI AMERITHRAX investigation, was reportedly put on a terrorist watch list. Kissin is in private practice and also writes for the Frederick News Post.

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

US drone attack kills 15 in east Afghanistan: Officials

Press TV – June 6, 2015

Afghan officials confirm that 15 civilians have lost their lives in a US drone strike in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost on Friday.

Speaking to reporters, representative of nomads in the lower house of the national assembly, Haidar Naeemzoi, confirmed the drone attack in Alishir district in Khost province near the border with Pakistan.

He rejected earlier reports claiming that the victims were attending the funeral of a Taliban commander, saying the procession was held for a local tribesman.

“A US drone attacked people who were returning from the cemetery. The plane targeted two vehicles killing at least 15 people on the spot,” Naeemzoi said.

He added that six of the victims were members of a single family, including the father and five of his children.

Deputy Governor of Khost Province, Abdul Wahid Patan, said earlier on Friday that at least 34 people, all members of the Taliban militant group, have been killed in the US drone attack.

He added that the militants were holding a funeral ceremony for one of their leaders, who was killed by Afghan forces on Thursday.

The strike came a day after at least 17 people were killed in two US drone strikes in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar.

The US employs unmanned aerial vehicles in an alleged bid to target terrorists in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia. This is while local officials and witnesses say that the drone strikes have mostly claimed the lives of civilians over the past years.

June 6, 2015 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

@NOAA ‘s desperate new paper: Is there no global warming ‘hiatus’ after all?

By Patrick J. Michaels, Richard S. Lindzen, and Paul C. Knappenberger | Watts Up With That? | June 4, 2015

A new paper published today by Science, from Thomas Karl and several co-authors[1], that removes the “hiatus” in global warming prompts many serious scientific questions.

The main claim[2] by the authors that they have uncovered a significant recent warming trend is dubious. The significance level they report on their findings (.10) is hardly normative, and the use of it should prompt members of the scientific community to question the reasoning behind the use of such a lax standard.

In addition, the authors’ treatment of buoy sea-surface temperature (SST) data was guaranteed to create a warming trend. The data were adjusted upward by 0.12°C to make them “homogeneous” with the longer-running temperature records taken from engine intake channels in marine vessels.

As has been acknowledged by numerous scientists, the engine intake data are clearly contaminated by heat conduction from the structure, and as such, never intended for scientific use. On the other hand, environmental monitoring is the specific purpose of the buoys. Adjusting good data upward to match bad data seems questionable, and the fact that the buoy network becomes increasingly dense in the last two decades means that this adjustment must put a warming trend in the data.

The extension of high-latitude arctic land data over the Arctic Ocean is also questionable. Much of the Arctic Ocean is ice-covered even in high summer, meaning the surface temperature must remain near freezing. Extending land data out into the ocean will obviously induce substantially exaggerated temperatures.

Additionally, there exist multiple measures of bulk lower atmosphere temperature independent from surface measurements which indicate the existence of a “hiatus”[3]. If the Karl et al., result were in fact robust, it could only mean that the disparity between surface and midtropospheric temperatures is even larger that previously noted.

Getting the vertical distribution of temperature wrong invalidates virtually every forecast of sensible weather made by a climate model, as much of that weather (including rainfall) is determined in large part by the vertical structure of the atmosphere.

Instead, it would seem more logical to seriously question the Karl et al. result in light of the fact that, compared to those bulk temperatures, it is an outlier, showing a recent warming trend that is not in line with these other global records.

And finally, even presuming all the adjustments applied by the authors ultimately prove to be accurate, the temperature trend reported during the “hiatus” period (1998-2014), remains significantly below (using Karl et al.’s measure of significance) the mean trend projected by the collection of climate models used in the most recent report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

It is important to recognize that the central issue of human-caused climate change is not a question of whether it is warming or not, but rather a question of how much. And to this relevant question, the answer has been, and remains, that the warming is taking place at a much slower rate than is being projected.

The distribution of trends of the projected global average surface temperature for the period 1998-2014 from 108 climate model runs used in the latest report of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)(blue bars). The models were run with historical climate forcings through 2005 and extended to 2014 with the RCP4.5 emissions scenario. The surface temperature trend over the same period, as reported by Karl et al. (2015, is included in red. It falls at the 2.4th percentile of the model distribution and indicates a value that is (statistically) significantly below the model mean projection.

The distribution of trends of the projected global average surface temperature for the period 1998-2014 from 108 climate model runs used in the latest report of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)(blue bars). The models were run with historical climate forcings through 2005 and extended to 2014 with the RCP4.5 emissions scenario. The surface temperature trend over the same period, as reported by Karl et al. (2015, is included in red. It falls at the 2.4th percentile of the model distribution and indicates a value that is (statistically) significantly below the model mean projection.

[1] Karl, T. R., et al., Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus. Scienceexpress, embargoed until 1400 EDT June 4, 2015.

[2] “It is also noteworthy that the new global trends are statistically significant and positive at the 0.10 significance level for 1998-2012…”

[3] Both the UAH and RSS satellite records are now in their 21st year without a significant trend, for example

[NOTE: An earlier version of this posting accidentally omitted the last two paragraphs before the graphic, they have been restored, and the error is mine – Anthony]

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Editors of World’s Most Prestigious Medical Journals: “Much of the Scientific Literature, Perhaps HALF, May Simply Be Untrue”

Zero Hedge | June 4, 2015

Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine are the two most prestigious medical journals in the world.

It is therefore striking that their chief editors have both publicly written that corruption is undermining science.

The editor in chief of Lancet, Richard Horton, wrote last month:

Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”. The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have now put their reputational weight behind an investigation into these questionable research practices. The apparent endemicity [i.e. pervasiveness within the scientific culture] of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. Our love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication. National assessment procedures, such as the Research Excellence Framework, incentivise bad practices. And individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct.


Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivised to be right.

Similarly, the editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Marcia Angell, wrote in 2009:

It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.

In her must-read essay, Dr. Angell skewers drug companies, university medical departments, and medical groups which set the criteria for diagnosis and treatment as being rotten with corruption and conflicts of interest.

And we’ve previously documented that the government sometimes uses raw power to cover up corruption in the medical and scientific fields.

Postscript: Corruption is not limited to the medical or scientific fields. Instead, corruption has become systemic throughout every profession … and is so pervasive that it is destroying the very fabric of America.

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Our Homeless, Explosive Radioactive Waste

By Paul DeRienzo | WhoWhatWhy | June 4, 2015

A 2014 explosion at a remote facility in New Mexico has exposed a cover-up of the mounting problems encountered in modernizing the United States nuclear weapons arsenal. What US officials have called “stockpile stewardship”—the maintenance of an aging supply of nuclear weapons without detonation—has failed its first major test: disposal of the waste from three-quarters of a century of weapons development.

The cause of the 2014 explosion? The inadvertent use of the wrong kind of kitty litter, the supposedly inert material prescribed for packing around the waste in steel storage barrels. While the Department of Energy (DOE) originally reported that the damage was only to one barrel, New Mexico state officials now say that the damage may involve as many as 500 barrels of radioactive waste.

The waste came from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the flagship of the US nuclear weapons complex, where instructions to pack the waste with “inorganic” material was reportedly misread as “in organic” material.

This error, which would be laughably absurd if the consequences weren’t so serious, neatly illustrates the high-tech/low-tech mashup that has made the storage of nuclear waste such a contentious issue over the past seven decades.


Government regulations currently recognize at least three categories of the nuclear waste stored at various locations across the country: high-level, low-level, and mill tailings. Anti-nuclear activists believe that dividing the waste into multiple categories is actually a bureaucratic tactic designed to fool the public into believing that the government is taking care of this massive  and potentially deadly problem.

The waste at WIPP—a byproduct of the US nuclear weapons complex dating back to 1942—is considered “transuranic” (TRU). This term refers to contamination by elements beyond uranium in the periodic table, including the plutonium used in nuclear bombs. This kind of waste is unstable and remains dangerously radioactive for a very long time.

For safety’s sake, TRU waste should be buried without possibility of human contact for more than a quarter million years. The US government has spent tens of billions to achieve that goal of virtually “permanent” storage. First proposed in the 1970s, the WIPP facility was completed in the 1990s and has been operational for about a dozen years.

But WIPP’s complex containment system was breached in last year’s fire and explosion, which spread plutonium for miles around the plant. Exactly what happened 2,000 feet underground to trigger this disaster is not known, because the DOE has not been forthcoming about the details. But the bits and pieces of the story unearthed so far are deeply disturbing.

Goodbye Kitty

WIPP’s radioactive waste is “in danger of explosion,” says Secretary Ryan Flynn of the New Mexico Environmental Department. Flynn warns that the facility poses an “imminent” and “substantial” threat to public health and the environment. In addition to the 369 at-risk barrels the state has identified at WIPP, at least another 100 barrels at a site in Texas are a source of concern. The exact location of these barrels has not been made clear.

The time bomb at WIPP began ticking when a truck fire followed by an unrelated explosion a few days later caused massive damage, according to the DOE report. Waste barrels were packed with commercially available “Swheat” brand organic kitty litter, rather than industry-standard “inorganic kitty litter.” The contents of the waste barrel reacted with the kitty litter and exploded in what US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz called a “thermal event,” which is government-speak for an explosion that generated an unusual amount of heat. The destruction seen on remote cameras sent to the site of the explosion shows flame-scorched drums oozing their deadly contents.

That crisis unfolded when workers heard what was described as a “green burst” and “popping noises” at the facility. A warning siren, the eerie harbinger of a nuclear accident, signaled a radiation release and emergency ventilation fans were switched on to exhaust the contaminated air through special filters—which failed. Thirteen workers underground at the time of the explosion tested positive for “internal radioactive contamination” from radioactive elements released by the explosion; another 21 workers on the surface were also exposed to radiation. Any unplanned exposure to radiation whatsoever is termed “dangerous” under US environmental law.

Because of the accident, it’s possible that WIPP will not be reopened for years and therefore won’t be able to receive waste from sites across the US.


This has turned a spotlight on the other sites in the US capable of storing nuclear waste.

One is the upstate New York hamlet of West Valley, due south of Buffalo, which houses Cold War-era nuclear waste mixed with waste generated by nuclear power plants. Like WIPP, the West Valley facility has a history of failed containment.

A Wee Bit of History

Back in the 1940s, the top-secret Manhattan Project, the massive industrial operation that built America’s early nuclear arsenal during World War II, left a poisoned legacy beneath New York state’s greenery. That legacy now threatens the vast Great Lakes watershed and the region’s superb agricultural assets.

The 3,300-acre disposal site was the brainchild of former governor Nelson Rockefeller, who planned to make New York State a leader in what was to be the emerging industry of nuclear waste reprocessing.

During the war, weapons-grade uranium for the A-bomb was recovered from raw uranium ore at the still-operating uranium refinery located in the lakeside community of Port Hope, Ontario. The partially processed bomb fuel was shipped to top secret factories near Buffalo for further processing, before being sent on to processing facilities across the United States.

In those days, environmental protections were virtually unheard of. Wartime expediency dictated that waste from the project was often directly dumped into rivers, lakes and streams as well as into the air and into landfills.

The Manhattan Project was followed by more than four decades of Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union. According to former DOE advisor Robert Alvarez, expansion of the American nuclear arsenal during this period left some two million cubic meters of deadly radioactive waste

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims the waste volume is only half Alvarez’s estimate. That would still be enough to fill somewhere between one and two Empire State Buildings, depending on how waste is defined. By anyone’s estimate, the immense quantities of clothing, machinery, and other gear contaminated by plutonium and other cancer-causing radionuclides add up to a multi-billion-dollar disposal headache.

Go West, West Valley Waste

The radioactive waste currently held at West Valley’s waste facility was earmarked for WIPP. Now, activists and New Mexico officials say it may have to wait years longer for removal. According to Diane D’Arrigo of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, an anti-nuclear group, if New Mexico’s WIPP stays offline, that means no West Valley waste goes west.

This poses serious environmental problems that earlier generations never foresaw. “The reality of West Valley is that it’s leaking into the Great Lakes,” D’Arrigo told WhoWhatWhy.

Government spokespeople have long maintained West Valley’s waste would never find its way from the site into the Great Lakes. Yet D’Arrigo told WhoWhatWhy, “Radioactivity is migrating into the [nearby] creeks and rivers, and plutonium has been found in Lake Ontario,” leading to mounting “concern that the waste can’t stay there.”

Upshot? Radioactive Musical Chairs

Joanne Hameister of the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Waste, an advocacy group of local activists and national anti-nuclear organizations, says of the local waste, “We do not suggest moving it until there is a verifiably safe repository.” Don Hancock in New Mexico says that WIPP cannot take on that role. Former New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman supports a 2004 letter to the DOE which asserted that weapons waste from the N-Reactor stored at West Valley was mixed with commercial non-defense waste and therefore the senator wrote: “I ask that you do not dispose the West Valley’s non-defense (waste) at WIPP…”

Radioactive contaminants in “small amounts” have already reached the Great Lakes, according to a negotiator facilitating talks between the state and federal government over West Valley’s future, who spoke with WhoWhatWhy on promise of anonymity. The danger of contamination was reported in an article in The Buffalo News, which called West Valley “arguably Western New York’s most toxic location.”

The wetlands of West Valley have leached a plume containing the radioactive isotope strontium-90 that’s migrating downstream, according to government sponsored studies. DOE has also identified plutonium, strontium and cesium, all dangerous radioactive contaminants, throughout the soil structure at West Valley.

Between five and 50 kilograms of plutonium-239, a deadly carcinogen and potential bomb fuel, has infiltrated  the soil underneath the site, says another knowledgeable source who requested anonymity. “Recordkeeping [in earlier decades] was not as precise as today and it’s difficult to reconstruct,” the source says. So no one knows for sure just how much uranium and/or plutonium has seeped from West Valley over the past 60 years. And with the explosion at WIPP, it could be another 60 years before a proper storage location for the waste from this notoriously leaky site is found.

Whether or not one believes the Manhattan Project’s lethal weapons should ever have been used, the old Roman dictum—“to the victors, the spoils”—was never more true. The spoils—the legacy of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—live on, intermingled with the radioactive offspring of “cheap power” in the wilds of West Valley.

“A secure nuclear deterrent,” said DOE Secretary Moniz at the dedication of a new nuclear weapons facility in Kansas City, “is part of a broader effort to transform our Cold War era infrastructure into a 21st century nuclear security enterprise.”

That transformation depends on solving 75 years of mismanagement by sweeping the waste 2,000 feet under the New Mexico desert. But recent events at WIPP cast further doubt on the notion that fallible human agencies can ever safeguard the inevitable byproducts of our nuclear enterprise.

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment